Non-sports Sports: NASCAR, Curling, Poker & More

MIKE Comic 40 Minnesota FatsThe list of non-sports sports is far longer than it needs to be.

It spotlights roaring races, organized parlor games and quirky contests that involve little or no athletes.

Skill and discipline are evidently involved in these competitions, but obviously none of an athletic nature.

Yet, these non-sports sports are openly, and tragically, called sports by major sports media outlets.

These non-sports are packaged and marketed like the real deal on ESPN, FOX, NBC Sports and the other major sports networks. They’re treated with the same respect as real sports played by accomplished athletes in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS.

That’s why the subject of non-sports sports claims the #4 spot in my FREE sports comic book Worst About Sports.

Worst About SportsThis mix of non-sports sports shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath as actual sports like football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, boxing and Olympic sports.

However, entertaining games, races and contests like NASCAR, bowling, poker, sailing, pool, curling and others don’t qualify as sports in my strongest of strong opinions.

A pre-requisite to qualify as a real sport should be sweating and breathing heavily while engaged in actual physical, athletic competition that you’ve trained for since your Little League, Pop Warner or biddy league basketball days.

Sure, I respect what non-sports sports’ participants do and applaud them for pursuing their passion for their game, race or contest.

But, I’m sorry. No one can convince me that a NASCAR driver, PBA bowler or sunglass wearing poker players are athletes.

Worse yet, I’ll never accept skinny Norwegian glee club looking members clad in red, white and blue argyle pants swooshing brooms across an ice skating rink as genuine Olympic athletes. Olympic participants yes, but Olympic athletes no!

The sport of curling, like bowling, sailing, poker and pool, scandalously skirts the sanctity of real sports by not requiring the remotest semblance of athleticism.

If you want to argue my point, just look at the comic of Minnesota Fats that starts this chapter.

Now there’s a “real athlete” playing a “real sport” for you!

MIKE on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Phillies’ Hall of Fame 3B Mike Schmidt

Philadelphia Phillies' Mike SchmidtVoted in 1983 as the greatest player in franchise history, this slugger spent his entire 18 year career in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform.

More than 25 years after hanging up his cleats, Mike Schmidt, or Schmitty, still holds 12 individual offensive records as a Phillies player.

Whether with a bat at the plate or a glove at third base, Schmidt’s total body of work in Philadelphia was impressive.

A sure-handed third baseman, Schmidt won 10 National League Gold Glove Awards while protecting the hot corner on the lightning fast synthetic turf of Philadelphia’s old Veterans Stadium.

Schmitty also utilized his raw power as a sculpted 6’2” and 205 lb. slugger to win eight home run titles during his career. In spite of an unorthodox batting stance, Mike Schmidt finished 15th all-time in Major League Baseball history with 548 dingers.

Schmidt kept himself in such great shape that legendary teammate Pete Rose made the following comment in his authorized biography Pete Rose: A Biography by David M. Jordan. “To have his (Schmidt’s) body, I’d throw in mine and my wife’s and some cash, too!”

He’s an easy walk-off pick for my #3 spot in Philadelphia Sports Icons.

Philadelphia Sports Stars and LandmarksIn addition to winning the National League MVP award in 1980, 1981 and 1986, the 12-time all-star retired with an enviable .267 batting average, 2,234 total hits and 1,595 RBI’s, 36th all-time.

Perhaps the highlights of Schmidt’s career were twofold: he hit four home runs in one game on April 17, 1976, and he won the MVP award while guiding the Phillies to the franchise’s first ever 1980 World Series title against the Kansas City Royals.

It’s no surprise that baseball writers voted Mike Schmidt into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1995 on the first ballot with 96.52% of the total vote. That ranks as the 4th best all-time.

The Phillies formally retired his #20 in 1990. In addition, the franchise honored Schmidt by adding him to the team’s Wall of Fame in Citizen’s Bank Park and erecting his statue. It was fittingly placed just outside the stadium’s third base gate to the ballpark.

The Sporting News recognized Schmidt’s stellar career twice. The publication named him Major League Baseball player of the decade in the 80’s. It also honored Schmidt as #28 on its list of top 100 greatest players ever and as the highest ranking third baseman on the esteemed list.

A rotator cuff injury derailed Schmidt’s career in 1989, but his memory continues to flourish in Philadelphia.

That’s why this Baseball Hall of Fame third baseman is an easy choice at #3 in Philadelphia Sports Icons and the subject of today’s #TBT sports blog.

MIKE – on sports!

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Immensely Important Inconsequential Bar Games

mike on sports podcast

You know exactly what I mean when I refer to immensely important inconsequential bar games!

Be honest. We all play them!

And, more importantly, we all love these seemingly innocuous bar games no matter how inconsequential they may appear to the uninitiated.

What are they, you may ask?

They’re the juvenile bar room competitions that we instantly turn into epic Olympic events.

They’re the mindless matches that puff up our pride and get our competitive juices flowing.

They’re the childish clashes that force us to focus, stand taller, talk tougher and take on challengers as if it’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

Sure, these games may appear to be immature and sophomoric, but they’re immensely important to those who play them.

Just click on the yellow cover below and listen to my rant on why immensely important inconsequential bar games like pool, darts, fuse ball and others are far more important then people realize.

MIKE on sports podcastIf you enjoy my podcast, please subscribe on either iTunes or Stitcher Radio and kindly rate and review it.

                          iTunes - MIKE on sports podcast     Sticher Radio - MIKE on sports podcast

I release at least two podcasts a week. All are about sports fun and sports humor and capture things about sports that the major networks like ESPN, FOX, TNT and others don’t cover.

That’s because it took someone like me to grab hold of the mic and record them for you.

Straight talk. No static!

MIKE on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: MLB’s Big Red Machine

MIKE Comic 62 Big Red MachineToday’s #TBT sports blog looks back on one of Major League’ Baseball’s most dominant teams ever.

As famous for its bold red color in its uniforms as well as its power on the baseball field, this big machine regularly bulldozed Major League Baseball opponents during much of the 1970s.

From 1970 till 1976, the Cincinnati Reds’ Big Red Machine was without doubt baseball’s best team. The Reds captured four National League pennants: 1970, 1972, 1975 and 1976. Plus, Cincinnati won back- to-back World Series titles in 1975 and 1976.

Bob Hertzel of the Cincinnati Enquirer originally coined the Big Red Machine nickname in 1969. Many believed the talented Reds team churned through opponents like a combine engine driving through a wheat field’s crop.

Managed by Hall of Fame skipper Sparky Anderson, the Big Red Machine featured a roster of powerful, fast and highly skilled baseball players. They dominated the National League for the six years they played together as baseball’s best overall team.

The Cincinnati starting line-up consisted of Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez as well as baseball’s all-time hits leader Pete Rose. In addition to their offensive might, all four of these Reds excelled defensively. They were clutch performers and heady players at the positions they played.

The remaining players on the Reds’ roster included star shortstop Dave Concepcion, speedy outfielders Ken Griffey, Sr. and Cesar Geronimo and home run hitting George Foster.

One of baseball’s best ever all-around teams, the Big Red Machine produced an amazing six National League MVPs, four National League Home Run Champs, three National League Batting Champs, 28 Gold Gloves and 63 All-Star appearances.

The Reds enjoyed their success while playing in Riverfront Stadium. The beautiful new park opened in 1970 when the Big Red Machine originally started slipping into gear.

The Reds began sputtering as a team in 1978, but their previous years of success from 1970 through 1976 will never be forgotten.

This Big Red Machine was truly one of Major League Baseball’s most powerfully built, well-oiled and talented teams ever.

Favorite Big Things in Sports Read more about the Cincinnati Reds’ Big Red Machine. The team is an easy pick at #4 in my sports comic book about all things big in sports called Favorite Big Things in Sports.

MIKE – on sports!

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NFL Suspension of QB Tom Brady Very “Ugg-ly”

2 Cent Tuesday sports blog

The NFL’s suspension of New England Patriots’ QB Tom Brady is nothing short of “Ugg-ly!” That’s right. “Ugg-ly!”

Today’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog focuses on yesterday’s shockingly ‘ugg-ly” story that has consumed our daily sports news.

The Australian Uggs designer boot celebrity endorsing Brady had to wince, maybe even shudder, when learning about his long awaited “Deflate Gate” fate.

MIKE sports comic - New England Patriots QB Tom Brady

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell came down with a very heavy hand in disciplining the four-time Super Bowl champion. Goodell’s decision is certain to sully Brady’s brilliant football playing legacy.

In addition to the handsome Aussie boot model and nine-time all-pro quarterback receiving a stunning four game suspension with out pay, the league levied a $1 million fine and the loss of two draft picks (a 2016 1st rounder and a 2017 4th rounder) against the Patriots franchise.

Goodell displayed a strict enforcement of league rules and acted in what he thought was in the best interest of protecting the integrity of America’s most revered professional sport. The Commish’s response proves that he believed Brady tarnished the sport for his knowledge of inappropriately deflating footballs to gain advantage in last season’s AFC Championship Game.

The Commissioner’s unprecedented response may have shocked his friend and business associate, Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft, but it certainly didn’t surprise staunch NFL fans and insiders who believed Brady’s actions comprised the integrity of the game.

Many pundits viewed the suspension positively. They echoed that no one is above the game and fair play needs to be protected at all costs.

The NFL’s 242 Wells Report provided a detailed account of the “Deflate Gate” investigation. It most notably cited Brady and the Patriots organization as neither forthcoming nor cooperative in its investigation.

Rival Patriots fans are basking in the news of Goodell’s strict suspension and accompanying fines. Many believed Brady got what he deserved for his aloofness and smug replies to any media inquiries involving “Deflate Gate.”

Distractors are also reveling in the poetic justice served. Ironically, the same Robert Kraft who demanded an apology from the league for its “Deflate Gate” investigation is now stewing in his own cauldron of angst, while he sifts through the mess for which his long time star Tom Brady is responsible.

Loyal Patriots’ backers will bemoan the fact that the suspension was entirely too harsh because four games has become the standard for steroid or banned substance abusers – NOT for a star QB seeking a modest advantage.

However, few NFL fans will argue that as a result of the Brady suspension, nine figure fine and loss of draft picks involving perhaps the league’s most successful and admired franchise, life in Foxboro has indeed gotten “Ugg-ly.” Very Ugg-ly!”

And, that’s my 2 cents.

MIKE on sports!

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Steroids and PED’s Sully Sports

SteroidsSteroids and PED’s (performance enhancing drugs) sully sports.

Sadly, steroids and PED’s tip the scales of fair play in favor of those who cheat for a competitive edge.

PED use will subconsciously rob these same cheaters of the joy of their unmerited riches, successes and rewards inappropriately earned from lapses in judgment when seeking competitive shortcuts.

Just ask two of the greatest Major League Baseball players ever – home run king Barry Bonds and seven time Cy Young Award winning pitcher Roger Clemens.

Both players posted Hall of Fame numbers during their lengthy and storied MLB careers . However, their checkered pasts due to purported PED usage will always add an asterisk to their names when discussions surface concerning iconic players and Hall of Fame worthiness.

More importantly, steroid cheats are actually the ones being cheated.

Steroids and PED’s may make them a better athlete today, but PED’s may more than likely cheat them of a healthy body in the future.

For both a good laugh and a poignant take on the ill effects of taking PEDs, check out my podcast on steroids.

MIKE on sports podcastClick on yellow image to listen to podcast.

Athletes who secretly excelled because of banned juices, pills, creams and syringes could openly face severe health issues in the future for their foolish dependence in their past on restricted PED’s.

Guys who crave the extra muscles today may prematurely loose their vision and require a microscope to identify their shrunken anatomy tomorrow.

Ladies who desire a physical advantage today to compete need to consider whether they never again want to be the subject of desire tomorrow because they’ll soon have body and beard like Bridezilla.

So, don’t be a knucklehead.

The price of taking steroids you will pay tomorrow will never be worth the cost of taking steroids today.

That’s why steroids, which sully sports, also tops my list in my FREE sports comic book entitled Worst About Sports.

Worst About SportsFeel free to share the book with family and friends. No sports fan would ever argue that steroids and PED’s represent what’s worst about sports.

Enjoy the read by safely downloading a FREE pdf of the book.

Just click on the yellow cover above.

MIKE – on sports!

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New York’s Iconic Madison Square Garden

MIKE sports comic - Madison Square Garden

Billed as the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden is also an easy pick for my top spot as #1 in my FREE book New York Sports Icons.

The multi-purpose facility in midtown Manhattan sits strategically above Penn Station, a vibrant transportation hub with rail access to Amtrak, L.I.R.R. and New Jersey Transit.

Few would know that the current Madison Square Garden, which opened on February 11, 1968, is actually the fourth Madison Square Garden in New York City history.

The original Garden, named after former US President James Madison, debuted in 1874 on New York’s eastside. This first venue was roofless and had a banked oval velodrome.

In 1890, a second arena replaced the original structure, this time constructed with a roof. This second Garden served as New York’s only indoor sports and entertainment facility.

In 1925, Madison Square Garden’s owner Tex Rickard constructed a new facility designed specifically for boxing.

Rickard was a sports entertainment visionary whose intent was to build several Madison Square Gardens across the United States.

However, the 1929 Stock Market Crash thwarted his zealous plans. Only the Boston Madison Square Garden would become a part of Rickard’s ambitious expansion plans.

New York’s third Madison Square Garden appeared on 8th Avenue and 49th Street in the city’s Hell’s Kitchen district and thrived until 1968. Then, the Pennsylvania Railroad opted to tear down its above ground complex to make way for what would become the world’s most famous arena.

Today’s Madison Square Garden – the fourth – has flourished as the premier sports and entertainment destination in the world. Madison Square Garden’s continuous use prompted a $200 million upgrade in 1991 and a whopping $1 billion complete renovation between 2011 and 2013.

With state-of-the-art features like an in-house broadcast studio, massive LED video displays, plus wider concourses, better lighting and a bevy of food options, today’s newly renovated Garden is poised to carry on its unparalleled tradition.

The larger sports arena in the Garden is home not only to New York professional sports teams like the NBA Knicks, NHL Rangers, WNBA Liberty and the PLL Titans. It also hosts the Big East Conference’s Red Storm of St. John University.

In addition, the Garden’s smaller Theatre Room hosts the annual NFL and NBA Drafts as well as smaller concerts and other special events.

As chronicled in the released ESPN 30 for 30 documentary When The Garden Was Eden, this midtown Manhattan sports mecca has hosted some of the finest moments in New York sports’ history.

A few of the celebrated events include the 1972 and 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, the 1970 and 1973 NBA Finals, Wrestlemania 1985 and two decades of Big East Championship Tournaments. Professional rodeos, tennis tournaments and indoor track and field championships have also been held here.

Las Vegas has recently become the go-to destination for title fights. However, with a boxing legacy spanning four buildings and an 82 year history, Madison Square Garden has laid claim to hosting the best pugilists on the planet. Boxing luminaries like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Bernard Hopkins, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson and Jack Dempsey all competed for crowns in Madison square Garden. Even the Brown Bomber Joe Louis fought in the Garden on 12 separate occasions.

The March 8, 1971 “Fight of the Century” was perhaps the Garden’s greatest event. It pitted a 31-0 Muhammad Ali against a 26-0 Joe Frazier. Lasting 15 rounds, the bout exceeded every fan’s expectations. After an unanimous decision, Frazier was awarded the Heavyweight Championships Belt, much to Ali’s dismay.

Though probably best known for its incredible sporting events, Madison Square Garden also ranks as the third busiest music venue in the world. A line-up of “who’s who?” musical acts has performed there to include: Elvis, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Led Zeppelin, The Grateful Dead, The Police’s final show and honorary resident Billy Joel.

With more than 320 events per year, the Garden has also hosted the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Circus and both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

More than just a legendary sports venue, Madison Square Garden earns its indisputable title as the world’s most famous arena.

That’s why it gets top billing at #1 in New York Sports Icons.

New York Sports Stars and Landmarks

Click on the purple cover above and safely download my FREE sports comic book New York Sports Icons from this web site.

Enjoy the read and share the pdf of the book with others.

MIKE on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Chicago Cubs’ Mordecai Three Finger Brown

Former MLB Pitcher Three Finger Mordecai Brown

MLB Pitching Great Three Finger Mordecai Brown

Today’s #TBT sports blog recalls Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown of the Chicago Cubs. He’s one of the greatest pitchers in Major League Baseball history.

In the book Three Finger:The Mordecai Brown Story, Hall of Fame Chicago Cubs pitcher Ferguson Jenkins comments on a fellow Chicago Cub Hall of Fame pitcher who played 50 years before him. “When you start out with a disadvantage, you have to work harder to do what others take for granted. In the end, that gives you an advantage.”

Jenkins was talking about Mordecai Brown, who was missing parts of two fingers on his throwing hand due to a farm injury suffered as a youth. The noticeable missing fingers on his right pitching hand led to his Three Finger nickname.

Oddly, Brown’s missing fingers served him extremely well. He overcame his physical limitation to become one of Major League Baseball’s best pitchers ever.

I also feature Three Finger in one of my sports books on Amazon named Favorite Overcoming Athletes.

Favorite Overcoming Athletes

Brown’s childhood injury forced him to grip a baseball differently than all other pitchers. Brown’s unique grasp of the baseball added tremendous spin to all of his pitches. Because of the surprising extra movement on his pitches, batters could not make true contact on any ball Three Finger Brown threw at them. Brown’s lively fastball, wicked curve and surprising change-up prompted baseball legend Ty Cobb to call Mordecai Brown one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the sport.

Brown excelled on the mound in a Cubs uniform between 1904 and 1912. During that time span, Three Finger won 20 or more games six times in a season. He helped the Cubs win World Series Championships in both 1907 and 1908.

One of the most amazing stories of his career centered on Brown’s rejecting repeated attempts to convince him to purposely lose when he pitched in the 1908 World Series.

As the story goes, Three Finger pitched victoriously in Game 1 of the series against the Detroit Tigers on October 10, 1908. Brown pitched brilliantly even though he carried several notes from the Italian Mob in his baseball uniform’s pants pocket threatening him if he won the World Series game.

Mordecai Three Finger Brown died in 1948 and was inducted into Cooperstown on the first ballot in 1949. He still holds the Major League Baseball record for lowest career ERA at 2.06 for pitchers with 200 or more career wins. His impressive 239 – 130 lifetime record included 55 shutouts and 1,375 strikeouts.

Ferguson Jenkins’s remark couldn’t be any truer for Mordecai Brown or anyone else in life, whether they play a sport or not.

In the case of Three Finger, his disadvantage proved to be a major advantage every time he took the mound. What an overcomer!

And, what a terrific #TBT sports memory!

MIKE on sports!

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Hockey’s Penalty Box or Sin Bin

hockey penalty box

The penalty box in hockey

In all of sports, this 10′ by 4′ glass enclosed structure stands alone as a unique piece of real estate.

Not only is hockey’s penalty box – or sin bin – the subject of my latest podcast, but it also it checks into the #10 in my sports comic book of Hockey Favorites.

Hockey is the only sport that boasts a physical cell of sorts with a wooden door and reinforced plexi-glass walls. This is where players are temporarily banished from the ice for their bratty behavior, like tripping, slashing, cross checking and excessively rough play.

Rugby, handball, field hockey, lacrosse and water polo may refer to their physical places of time out punishment as penalty boxes.

However, only the sport of hockey’s Penalty Box resembles an aquarium that could conceivably house your favorite fish. In hockey’s unique temporary accommodation, punished players serve out their penalties like little kids in a kindergarten time-out.

Sitting strategically at center ice between the red and blue lines, hockey’s small, isolated glass wall enclosure is visible to everyone in the arena. Fans instantly know who’s been naughty simply by checking out who’s in hockey’s “sin bin.” Otherwise, they can read the arena’s score board where a player’s violation is cited and their penance time is actually counted down.

For more on hockey’s penalty box, listen to my latest podcast.

MIKE on sports podcastClick on yellow cover to listen to podcast.

Thanks for listening and please share my MIKE on Sports! blog and podcast with other like minded sports fans.

MIKE on sports!

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NBA Names Warriors’ Steph Curry League MVP

2 Cent Tuesday sports blog

Here’s my 2 Cent Tuesday Blog on yesterday’s big NBA news.

The Baby Faced Assassin got what he deserved.

In an announcement Monday that should have surprised no one, the NBA named Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry the league’s Most Valuable Player for its 2014 – 15 season.

Congratulations to Curry for delivering such a brilliant NBA season. The slender 6’3” sharpshooter earned the award normally reserved for bigger, stronger and more physically imposing players.

Curry bested the electrifying James Harden of the Houston Rockets and the always dominant LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the award. Few outside Houston and the Rockets’ locker room would argue with this year’s MVP choice as 129 NBA writers cast their votes.

The likable Golden State Warrior received 100 first place votes while runner-up Harden collected 25 and third place finisher James got 5.

Emerging as one the NBA’s top players and the sports world’s most entertaining and admired athletes, the 27 year-old Curry is just flat out fun to watch. Once he crosses half court with the ball, defenses are stretched until he finds a creative way to snap them.

MIKE Comic Stephen Curry

Curry is a little unorthodox, very tricky and surprisingly quick with the basketball. Opposing defenses may go on high alert when Curry’s in the game, but their chances of stopping the Davidson graduate have been slim this past NBA season. Curry led the Warriors to a franchise best 67 wins. And, he broke his personal single season three point record with 286 made baskets from behind the arc.

Full court pressure, double teams and half court traps have all failed so far this year against talented Curry. The new MVP has often prompted Coach Steve Kerr to, at first, bemoan an ill-advised Curry shot, only to quickly retreat and then taste some humble pie, while congratulating his star guard for making the improbable shot.

In addition to being a lethal shooter from just about anywhere 35 feet from the basket, the Baby Faced Assassin exudes professionalism as a polite and polished individual.

His wholesome good looks and humble demeanor endear him to the masses. But, NBA rivals have quickly learned to fear this Baby Faced Assassin with the killer crossover and deadly three point stroke.

And, that’s my 2 cents this Tuesday on my favorite basketball player and newly named NBA Most Valuable Player.

Kudos to Steph Curry.

MIKE on sports!

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Favorite Funny Sports Blogs

Spitting in Baseball

Spitting in Baseball

Sports comics and funny sports blogs are the perfect fit for the entertainment seeking fan. That’s why I’ve compiled my favorite funny sports blogs into a new FREE sports comic book.

Like burgers and fries, cookies and cream or Stockton and Malone, the clever sports combination of comics and funny blogs instantly attracts readers. That’s why fans of my articles and books have encouraged me to write more about the humorous side of sports.

They’ve asked me to lampoon the obvious. Expose the exaggerated. And, call on the carpet the irritating, the ridiculous and the flat out funny. Plus, they’ve called for a collection of my 10 best blogs from the past few years.

So, I’ve compiled them in this sports comic book.

FREE MIKE Vol 9 Funny Sports BlogsAn inventive comic accompanies each chapter. It gives reason to ponder my presumptions about the preposterous or to unleash a belly laugh about the ludicrous.

Enjoy my musings about a proposed ban on spitting in baseball.

Sign the petition to get rid of grunting in women’s tennis and ban the blatant adjusting of the fellas in baseball.

Plead with our President for change – on his alligator push shot that he believes is a sweet stroking jumper.

Scorn the missed free throw celebration in basketball and the overly dramatic displays of flopping in international soccer.

Scowl at Notre Dame’s mascot – the Lilliputian Leprechaun.

Shake your head at a Major League Baseball Hall of Famer’s head scratching Yogi-isms.

And lastly, deplore Twitter.

Enjoy the read and laugh loudly.

Just like Abbott and Costello, cheese and crackers or ESPN’s Mike and Mike, sports comics and favorite funny sports blogs are a splendid combination.

MIKE – on sports!

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The NFL Draft’s Final Pick: Mr. Irrelevant

Mr. Irrelevant

It’s the dubious distinction given to the very last or 256th pick in the NFL Draft.

Paul Salata, a former NFL wide receiver is credited with starting the good natured Mr. Irrelevant movement way back in 1976.

At first, some football fans snickered at the title given to the NFL Draft’s final selection.

And, many NFL prospects bristled at the thought of being picked last in the draft and then being jokingly called Mr. Irrelevant.

But, newly appointed Mr. Irrelevants have ample reason to celebrate.

By no means does carrying the mantle of Mr. Irrelevant imply that a player is inconsequential, insignificant or unimportant.

Upon further analysis and without any booth review, players and fans alike find that just the opposite is true.

Indisputable media evidence quickly proves that donning the Mr. Irrelevant moniker is NOT a bad thing after all.

Just ask these former final picks in previous NFL Drafts:

Mr. Irrelevant 2014 Lonny Ballentine signed a four year, $2.3M contract with the Houton Texans.

Mr. Irrelevant 2009 rookie kicker Ryan Succup tied an NFL record by converting 86.2% of his field goal attempts.

Mr. Irrelevant 1999 Jim Finn basked in Super Bowl 42 victory with the New York Giants.

MIKE on sports podcast Click on yellow image above to listen to podcast.

Over the years, nearly every Mr. Irrelevant has made an NFL roster.

Plus, the final draft picks unexpectedly find their social calendars busier than ever imagined.

They all join in the fun as their dubious honor is playfully mocked – all in the name of good will and charity.

In addition to being awarded the Lowsman Trophy – the opposite of the Heisman Trophy in which a player is shown fumbling a football – Mr. Irrelevant and his family are lavishly celebrated in Newport Beach, CA each July as guest of honor at the Mr. Irrelevant golf tournament, regatta and roast.

That’s right.

What some people have viewed as a dubious distinction, others, especially the actual Mr. Irrelevants, feel more like lottery picks for being the last player taken in the NFL Draft.

Straight talk. No static!

This is MIKE!

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Laila Ali: Delivers Blow on Mayweather Even Before Pacquiao Fight

Muhammad Ali's daughter Laila AliYesterday, retired boxer Laila Ali unexpectedly delivered an outside-the-ring blow to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. – a day before the undefeated fighter enters the ring tonight finally fight challenger Manny Pacquiao.

Arguably the greatest female fighter ever, the undefeated Ali surprised the boxing world with her comments on CBS Sports’ We Need to Talk regarding her friend and fellow boxing unbeaten Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Ali directed rather pointed remarks at Pretty Boy Floyd, referring to him as a “little boy” as well as a “broken person” who has a lot of money, but is surrounded by people who do his bidding instead of telling him what he needs to hear to get his life in order.

Ali unleashed her flurry of comments at Mayweather much to the delight of sports fans like me who have grown weary of the obnoxious, self-aggrandizing 38 year-old and his cocky demeanor and outlandish lifestyle.

Though she has not been denied access to tonight’s fight in Las Vegas, Laila was not the only respected female member of the media to comment so candidly about Mayweather and his checkered past.

ESPN’s Michelle Beadle and CNN’s Rachel Nichols both released revealing pieces about Mayweather’s excessive lifestyle and more specifically, his well documented history of domestic abuse toward women.

As a result, neither sports journalist will be allowed media credentials to tonight’s fight, a thorn of angst to many unbiased observers who view Mayweather’s control of this epic fight as well as boxing in general needs to be reformed.

pretty boy floyd

Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr

Though tonight’s overly hyped “fight of the century” is probably five or more years too late in coming to fruition, fans can count on detailed, entertaining analysis until Mayweather and Pacquiao square off later this evening.

However, in bars, living rooms and Pay-Per-View fight parties all across the world, recognize that throngs of fans, especially women, have flocked to Pacquiao’s corner, not only because of the excellent work of ESPN’s Michelle Beadle and CNN’s Rachel Nichols, but also on account of the string of verbal jabs and excoriating body blows Laila Ali delivered on boxing’s most divisive personality before tonight’s first real punch was ever throw.

Mayweather or Pacquiao? Laila Ali already called the fight for Pac Man.

Who’s your pick?

MIKE on sports!

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The NFL Draft and The Wonderlic Test

MIKE Sports Comic: XOXO is a Play

Now, here’s a strange name for a very important test!

Every year at the NFL Combine, draft prospects learn that there’s nothing wonderful about taking the Wonderlick test – that mandatory and daunting exam with a funny sounding & highly intimidating name.

That’s because potential NFL players can’t possibly prepare for the Wonderlic’s 12 minute, 50 multiple choice questions.

Similar to college SAT exams, the Wonderlic test focuses on math, vocabulary and cognitive reasoning skills….and, ironically, poses no questions having anything whatsoever to do with football.

Pro prospects might be able to show off their strength in the weight room.

They can demonstrate their athletic ability in the 3 cone agility drill.

And, they may be able to wow scouts with a killer 40 yard dash time and an impressive broad jump.

But, acing the feared Wonderlic cognitive reasoning test is about as unlikely as the Jacksonville Jaguars making the playoffs or new Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan keeping his mouth shout.

That’s right – it’s just NOT going to happen! Because…

…acing the Wonderlic is probably harder than blocking JJ Watt one on one or tackling DeMarco Murray in the open field.

MIKE on sports podcastClick on yellow image to listen to podcast.

History shows that Harvard grad Pat McInally posted the only perfect score of 50 at the 1998 NFL Combine.

McInally’s perfect score is totally impressive considering cerebral NFL quarterbacks Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson recorded much lower scores of 30, 28 and 27.

The Wonderlic test is supposed to judge aptitude and determine how well a player can follow instructions.

Well, knowing this, former Tennessee Titans’ QB Vince Young must not be able to find his way home from his own driveway. He purportedly scored a 6, yes, a 6 on a test that recognizes a 20 as an average score and a 10 as being barely literate.

So, during this year’s NFL Draft, let’s see how much emphasis coaches, GM’s and player personnel executives place on a prospect’s Wonderlic score.

If you ask me, if a draft prospect can run, pass, catch, block or tackle, my guess is little, very little.

Remember, Vince Young was the third overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.

Enough said!

Straight talk. No static!

This is MIKE!

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#TBT Sports Blog: FIFA’s Scarface Franck Ribery

MIKE Comic 55 ScarfaceToday’s #TBT sports blog looks back at Scarface Franck Ribery – one of FIFA’s most recognizable stars of the past decade for his play on the pitch as well as the instantly noticeable scars on his face.

FIFA’s Franck Ribery earned his nickname Scarface from facial scars he suffered in a car accident as a child.

Franck Ribery’s frightening speed, chilling patience and punishing style scare his opposition on the soccer pitch.

Plus, the scars on his face have made many compare Ribery to actor Al Pacino’s horrifying character Tony Montana from the movie Scarface.

This menacing looking Frenchman may resemble a backyard brawler. But, his game is beautiful on the soccer field where he’s scary good.

Legendary French midfielder Zinedine Zidane once called Ribery, “the jewel of French football.”

One of FIFA’s top overall players, Ribery signed with Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich in 2008. While with the German club, Ribery’s outstanding play has been key in Bayern Munich’s continued success.

Scarface’s Bayern Munich career has been slowed by nagging ankle and knee injuries. In spite of these problems, Ribery has appeared in 129 games. He’s found the back of the net 43 times and earned the German Footballer of the Year Award in 2008.

Many football fans focus on the scars lining Franck Ribery’s face. But, soccer Scarface’s energy, incredible pace and overall beautiful skill on the pitch have made him a sort of movie star like Al Pacino’s character. Not on the big screen, but in FIFA international football.

Thanks for reading today’s #TBT sports blog and please share it with friends.

MIKE on sports!

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Decoding NFL Draft Language

NFL Draft LanguageWhen organizing its first draft in 1936, the NFL never imagined how successful its new event would become.

Nor did the NFL realize its growing sport would spawn its own unique language complete with idiomatic phrases determining the future fortunes of  first round picks.

As the most televised non-athletic athletic on the planet, the NFL Draft calls for expert analysis like never before.

Once again, ESPN and NFL Network analysts will be called upon to expertly decode NFL Draft Day language.

These pigskin pundits will dissect dozens of NFL prospects parading across the stage in New York City while translating NFL Draft Speak into everyday language.

These famous football talking heads will endlessly debate who will be this year’s top pick until Commissioner Roger Goodell announces tomorrow, “With the number one pick in the NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select…”

Deem which sleeper will make the biggest jump up the board on Draft Day.

Distinguish between the speculation of a Mel Kiper Jr. Mock Draft and the certainty of the actual NFL Draft, while forecasting the futures of those who will figure prominently in next season’s NFL Fantasy Draft.

Differentiate between projected draft busts and draft blunders.

Brag about a team’s best draft bargain and boast about this year’s draft’s biggest bleepin’ steal.

Destine if the NFL Combine’s best Workout Warriors increased their draft stock more

Debate the salary cap considerations of NFL teams looking to trade up because they need a Cover 2 CB, a run stopper in the middle, or a game changer on the edge.

Dissect the times of certain first round picks in the 3 cone drill, 40 yard dash or 60 yard shuttle run.

Diagnose which QB prospects produce best in pocket or on a roll-out.

Decipher which players performed best on Pro Day, which were clueless at the Combine, and which diamonds in the rough will surprise on Draft Day.

Decree which rising stars excelled in their Cybex Strength tests, which brainiacs ranked highest in football smarts and sadly which dopes disappointed in their obligatory NFL drug tests.

Discuss why the dubious distinction of Mr. Irrelevant, the final pick of the NFL Draft, is really not a bad thing after all.

Sure, the idiomatic language of the NFL Draft may seem foreign to some. And yes, it may be confusing to the uninitiated.

But, let the football experts decode football’s most popular non-athletic telecast and help average football fans achieve their own personal Wonderlic best.

That way, the NFL Draft Day language of painstakingly probing player prospects who never even put on the pads on April 30, 2015 will be easily understood by all.

Straight talk No static.

MIKE on sports!

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Los Angeles Clippers: Biggest Cry Babies in NBA

2 Cent Tuesday sports blogFor the past few years, Houston Rockets star Dwight Howard has topped my personal list as the NBA’s most irritating cry baby.

However, Howard’s disreputable distinction now has a new title owner.

NBA all-star Dwight Howard

Houston Rockets’ Center Dwight Howard

In today’s Two Cent Tuesday blog, allow me to vent my displeasure about the unchecked immaturity I’ve witnessed in this year’s NBA Playoffs.

After watching just four games between San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers, I’ve decided to replace Howard with a newer, more worthy recipient for basketball’s biggest binky.

Stomping, wailing and moaning their way into my top spot as the NBA’s top bellowing brat is the Los Angeles Clippers.

As a team, the Clips have surpassed the Rockets’ mercurial center as professional basketball’s biggest bellyacher(s).

Certainly, Clippers Doc Rivers is one of the league’s best coaches. But, he’s also an epic moaner on the sidelines. Just watch game five in the series and you’ll immediately see what I mean. Rivers sets the wrong example for both players and fans. His non-stop bickering with officials is tiresome.

Seldom do TNT or ESPN cameras catch Rivers smiling. But, they regularly capture, in stunning HD quality, the Clippers coach scowling and contorting his face on what seems like every possession. The man can’t stop crying as he contests just about every call from NBA officials.

Rivers’ behavior should come as no surprise to experienced NBA fans who witnessed the exact same persona on the sidelines in Boston for several years. While coaching the Celtics, Doc allowed easily annoyed players Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo to ‘entertain” us with immature pouting whenever they failed to get their way on the Hub City parquet floor.

Rivers, and now his Clippers minions, must stop their incessant whining. Their hissing and hollering is hurting them. And, Rivers should know better.

Plus, ESPN’s NBA stats prove that the Clippers can’t bridle their on-court emotion and that they’re really good at is squawking.

According to ESPN’s NBA statistics, the Clips lead the league in technical fouls. Out of 360 total players in the NBA, the Clippers rank first in the league with the most techs, and dubiously place five of their players in the top 40 and three in the top 10.

To no one’s surprise the always protesting Matt Barnes tops the league’s “T” list with 11, followed by Blake Griffin’s 9 in the fourth spot and DeAndre Jordan’s 7 in sixth. A “better behaved” Chris Paul scoots in at #29 and reserve guard Jamal Crawford at #36.

Watching the Clippers on television is annoying. They yammer about nearly every call. They protest just about every whistle and seem to jaw with the refs whenever there’s a dead ball. And, sadly, so does their coach while no one in the broadcast says a peep.

Chris Paul is the biggest culprit. He may not get t’d up as often as his teammate Matt Barnes, but Paul is constantly jibber-jabbering, gesticulating and pouting.

The team’s constant bickering to officials affects their play on the court. Savvy and never shy TNT announcer Charles Barkley once cited their irksome behavior, but ESPN’s trio of Jeff Van Gundy, Mike Breen and Mark Jackson are mute and fail to cite the elephant, or in this case, howling coyotes, in the arena.

Rivers needs to set a better example, Barnes just needs to grow up and Paul must simply learn to bite his tongue. As team captain, Paul must eliminate the tempestuous body language he portrays on court.

And, as head of the National Basketball Players Association, he must set a better example to not only the fans, but for the players he represents.

Maybe even State Farm can intervene and give Chris Paul an assist.

Because not just me, but countless NBA fans have grown tired of Paul’s, Rivers’ and the Clippers’ constant tirades.

MIKE on sports!

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Yankee Stadium Featured in FREE New York Sports Icons Book

House That Ruth BuiltOverlooking the Harlem River in the South Bronx, a more modern version of its legendary predecessor, Yankee Stadium, rests comfortably in the #2 spot in my FREE sports comic book New York Sports Icons.

Built in 1923, the “House that Ruth Built” or the “Big Ballpark in the Bronx” has literally moved directly across the street from the original structure.

Today, the bigger and splashier $1.5 Billion stadium sits proudly and prominently on East 161st Street.

The gleaming new structure still evokes awesome memories of the New York Yankees’ glory years. Winners of 27 World Series Championships, the Bronx Bombers are the most winning franchise in Major League Baseball history.

Proving that copying is the highest form of flattery, the new Yankee Stadium closely resembles its predecessor which hosted some of the greatest baseball players ever.

In addition to the original home run king Babe Ruth, the Bronx Bombers’ franchise boasts 34 players and 9 managers elected into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

Over the years, baseball legends wearing Yankees’ pinstripes have included Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Ron Guidry and, most recently, Derek Jeter.

Such was the success of the franchise that the Yankees have honored a total of 17 former players over the decades. Their retired numbers are displayed in the new stadium’s Monument Park in center field.

It’s no surprise why fans also refer to the park as the “Cathedral of Baseball.” Inside the stadium, the Great Wall located between Gates 4 and 6 showcases Yankees’ history, tradition and memorabilia.

Another stadium highlight is the Yankee Museum Ball Wall which features signatures of former Yankee greats.

The new sustainable Yankee Stadium debuted in 2009. While adhering to a strict green compliance initiative, it was constructed with 11,000 pieces of Indiana limestone, granite and concrete.

Every aspect of the new stadium follows stringent standards to lower carbon footprints. Energy efficient lighting, water saving restrooms and a focus on recycling all materials utilized in the food stalls set the bar for future environmentally friendly sports venues.

The late George Steinbrenner, who bought the New York Yankees in 1973 for $8.8 million, is primarily credited with restoring the fortunes of the franchise. He rebuilt it into one of the most admired and valuable teams in all of sports, transforming a teetering franchise into a sports entertainment powerhouse.

Steinbrenner’s vision to erect a new state-of-the-art ballpark has made the Yankees baseball’s most prized franchise. According to Forbes Magazine, the organization’s worth exceeds $1.6B or twice the value as its closest competitor.

The new Yankee showplace seats 49,642 fans for baseball including 4,300 club seats and 68 luxury suites. Surprisingly, its opening was not immediately embraced. Baseball pundits criticized the park, viewing it as a launching pad for the inordinate amount of home runs belted out of its ordinary 318’ LF, 314’ RF and 408’ CF dimensions.

Sportswriter Peter Gammons called the home run happy park one of the biggest jokes in Major League Baseball. Sportscaster Buster Olney mocked that the park’s design was a veritable wind tunnel.

Despite initial criticism and the preponderance of dingers, the HR frenzy abated. Yankee Stadium soon shone brightly as the jewel it was constructed to be among American ballparks.

As a footnote, Yankee Stadium serves as home to more than baseball’s Evil Empire. The new stadium hosted the 2014 NHL Winter Classic and it has served as the permanent venue for the annual December college football Pinstripe Bowl.

The stadium is now the new home of the city’s Major League Soccer franchise the New York City FC.

Sports fans expect that the long tradition of baseball excellence will continue in the South Bronx. They also anticipate that new history will be made in baseball and in other sports, too.

New York Sports Stars and LandmarksThat’s because the tradition rich, awesome atmosphere in which to watch baseball, football, hockey and soccer in a state-of-the-art environmentally friendly ballpark make Yankee Stadium a no brainer at #2 in New York Sports Icons. Safely download the FREE book now.

MIKE on sports!

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ESPN Sports Center Da Da Da! Da Da Da!

ESPN Sports Center Da Da Da!Every sports fan recognizes this siren song to ESPN’s flagship show.

That’s right! It’s the clarion call, or ice cream truck music, for sports fans to tune into ESPN Sports Center.

This instantly recognizable six note melody is intoxicating.

It’s my inspiration for today’s iTunes and Stitcher Radio sports podcast.

MIKE on sports podcastClick on the yellow cover above to listen to the podcast.

The staccato sound of Da Da Da! Da Da Da! woos you to tune into ESPN Sports Center – no matter what you’re doing at the time.

Like a giant magnet from inside your big screen television, the jingle coaxes you to stop whatever you’re doing and start humming.

Fess up, sports fans, we’ve all murmured Da Da Da! Da Da Da! by simulating orchestra sounds with our mouth.

Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you’ve probably heard the tune every day since it was composed in 1989.

But, hardly anyone knows that we have music producer John Colby to thank for this masterful melody that serves as Sports Center’s iconic intro.

Yes, Mr. Colby, thank you for:

Interrupting dinner

Cutting off important conversations

Making me drop everything to watch the latest sports news – huh! – even if it’s the top 10 highlights from the qualifying round to this year’s Little League World Series.

Sure, the melody may have prospered for 50,000 shows.

But, probably like you, in order for me to become addicted to Sports Center, it only took that one – Da Da Da! Da Da Da!

Straight talk. No static.

This is MIKE!

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New iTunes Sports Podcast: The Fat Lady

The sports world's fat lady.

The Fat Lady

Definitely not an athlete and seemingly out of shape, a popular chubby chick sings her way into my new sports podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

This likeable large gal is the famous Fat Lady of sports lore. She’s the elusive woman who is talked about, but never seen, at American sporting events that take longer than expected to finish.

How did she make this list among favorite non-athletes?

MIKE on sports podcastClick on the yellow cover to listen to the podcast.

Few sports fans know the genesis of how a pleasantly plump German opera singer became part of American sports culture.

Way back in 1876, the darling diva now known as the Fat Lady debuted on the German stage. She starred as Brunnhilde in Richard Wagner’s Gotterdammerung opera. Brunnhilde’s momentous 10 minute solo marked the close of Wagner’s seemingly endless 14 hour, four-part opera.

The American sports scene resurrected this singing sensation during a tirelessly long 1978 NBA game between the San Antonio Spurs and then Washington Bullets. The crowd was frustrated by delays in the long game. Comparing the extended play to the famed opera, American sportscaster Dan Cook remarked, “This game ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.”

Cook’s innocent comment caught the attention of other announcers and fans. They quickly adopted this wonderful woman into America’s sports culture, employing her during lengthy games in all sports.

Despite the fact that nobody’s ever seen her, sports fans know this beloved beefy woman’s role. The Fat Lady must belt out a few bars before the game, match or meet can officially end.

Until this glorious gal exercises her vocal chords and marks the completion of endlessly long competitions, fans are obligated to remain in their seats.

Calling her the Fat Lady might sound insensitive. But, this super-sized soprano, who carries a spear and wears a metal breastplate with a horned Viking helmet, is actually very secure in her generous frame.

Thanks to Mr. Cook’s now legendary remark, knowledgeable sports fans understand that every overtime match, extra inning contest or ridiculously long game will only end – when the Fat Lady sings!

FREE MIKE sports comic bookOne more thing about this bountiful beauty. She’s also #1 in my FREE sports comic book Favorite Non-Athletes in Sports!

Safely download a pdf of the book by clicking on the purple cover above.

MIKE on sports!

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