Top 10 Unwritten Rules in Sports

Unwritten Rules A successful bunt during a Major League Baseball game this past weekend caused an unwarranted brouhaha between a petty pitcher and a shrewd hitter.

Toronto Blue Jays’ outfielder Colby Rasmus laid down a perfect bunt against Texas Rangers’ pitcher Colby Lewis in the 5th inning of a 2 – 0 game. Rasmus’ infield hit irritated Lewis because his bunt single came during a defensive shift employed by the Rangers.

Lewis yelled at Rasmus when he successfully reached first base during the game and commented after the game that Rasmus’ ploy was unethical and violated the unwritten rules of baseball; namely, bunting against a defensive shift.

Lewis’ pettiness has prompted me to pen this blog.

That’s because the subject of unwritten rules in sports always stokes the embers of animated discussions among diehard sports fans.

Some fans immediately laud unwritten rules as time honored traditions that compliment the black and white regulations permanently etched in NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and FIFA rule books.

Other sports enthusiasts like me revile unwritten rules and dismiss these quirky superstitions as loosely interpreted gentlemen’s agreements. Breaking them is not illegal, but unwritten rules purists view any transgression as highly unethical.

Who can argue with the premise that if unwritten rules are so important to be followed, then they should be written down, chronicled and brow beaten into the hearts and minds of those who play, officiate, coach, report on or attend actual games.

It should come as no surprise that unwritten rules capture a written spot in one of my FREE sports comic books: Worst About Sports.

FREE Worst About SportsClick on yellow cover image above to safely download the FREE sports comic book: Worst About Sports.

Here are my top ten picks for one of the anathemas of the sports world – unwritten rules:

  1. in football, no contact should be initiated by the defense during a football kneel down at the end of a game whose outcome appears to have been decided.
  2. in baseball, a batter should never cross the pitcher’s mound after grounding or flying out.
  3. in golf, replace all divots, keep quiet when others are putting or driving, stand away from the pin, rake sand traps, etc. There are plenty of them in this sport.
  4. in hockey, only Stanley Cup Champions are allowed to actually touch the Prince of Wales Trophy.
  5. in soccer, giving up possession of the ball to the opposing team which just lost a player to injury.
  6. in basketball, dribble out the clock at the end of the game when the outcome has been decided.
  7. in baseball, don’t steal when several runs ahead.
  8. in baseball, don’t bunt when your team has a cushy lead.
  9. in baseball, don’t stand in the batter’s box admiring your home run and further embarrassing the pitcher.
  10. in baseball, discuss a no-hitter in the making.

I’m certain there are plenty more unwritten rules in the NFL, NBA and NHL. But, I won’t waste any more of my time writing down rules that other sports fans believe should be painstakingly followed, but never written down.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Sitting in Pigeon Heaven at an MLB Game

Seats in Pigeon Heaven

Pigeon Heaven Section

It may not be the best location in a baseball stadium. However, any seat in Pigeon Heaven is worth the price to some fans.

Whether you look upon Pigeon Heaven as a heavenly blessing or a hellish curse, the 300 and above levels in baseball stadiums are still desirable seats.

Fans who really want to attend a game and can’t afford a pricey ticket closer to the field consider these seats manna from heaven.

Their butts may be located a half-mile from home plate. Their bodies may be fighting off high altitude sickness. But they understand the brighter side of these seats – not just because they’re closer to the sun. For a lot less money, fans can cheer on the same players and teams as higher-rollers occupying box seats below.

Read more about Pigeon Heaven and my other MLB obsevartions by safely downloading my FREE MLB Comics book here.

MIKE FREE Vol 2 Baseball ComicsFans sitting way up there just need to remember to bring their binoculars. Pigeons or not, being part of the action at a Major League Baseball game is still heaven to any true baseball fan.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Former WNBA Star Lisa Leslie Leads Hall Class

Former WNBA great Lisa Leslie

Lisa Leslie

Four-time Olympic gold medal winner and three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie leads the 2015 women’s basketball Hall of Fame induction class which will be honored next June in Knoxville, TN.

Leslie is prominently featured in one of my sports comic books that I released earlier this year. Here’s a chapter excerpt that recognizes one of the finest female athletes of all-time…..

…..The WNBA could not have scripted a better person to become the “face” of its sport! She’s a slam dunk of a choice for the #6 spot in Favorite Female Athletes.

Favorite Female AthletesConsidered the greatest player in WNBA history, the beautifully poised and immensely talented Lisa Leslie graced the covers of magazine and television ads as a Wilhemina model at the same time she flourished as a professional women’s basketball player.

The 6’5″ University of Southern California grad became the number seven pick in the 1996 WNBA Draft while simultaneously signing on with one of the world’s most recognized modeling agencies.

Lisa Leslie graduated from USC as the PAC 10′s all-time leader in points, rebounds and blocked shots. She quickly asserted herself in the fledgling WNBA which debuted only a year earlier in 1995.

Leslie played brilliantly during her charmed 12-year career with her hometown Los Angeles Sparks. As the Sparks’ center, she led them to back-to-back WNBA titles in 2001 and 2002.

The cover girl center distinguished herself during her playing days by retiring in 2009 with these individual accomplishments: 3x MVP, 8x All-Star and holder at the time of her retirement as the WNBA career leader in points and rebounds.

Leslie also achieved two other unrivaled individual feats as a professional women’s basketball player. In addition to being named regular season MVP, All-Star Game MVP and Playoffs MVP all during her epic 2001 season, Leslie eventually invested in the same team – the Los Angeles Sparks – that drafted her and became a co-owner of this WNBA franchise.

Apart from the WNBA, Leslie remains the most successful female basketball player of all-time. She’s also the only Olympian ever to win four consecutive gold medals in a team sport – in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 – an accomplishment which may never be duplicated.

Most fans recall Lisa Leslie for her extraordinary WNBA and Olympic success as well as being the first woman to ever dunk a basketball during an official game. And, many fans see her today on television as a knowledgeable studio analyst for women’s basketball.

However, I choose to remember this statuesque basketball playing model as an inspiring author and role model who willingly gives back to her community.

Also, I think that we can all agree that Lisa Leslie’s is a face that no one will soon forget.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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NBA’s Lebron James Should Don #64 for Cleveland Cavaliers

MIKE Comic 158This week NBA superstar Lebron James shrewdly enlisted sports fans on social media by asking for help in selecting his new Cleveland Cavaliers jersey number.

James engaged fans on both Twitter and Instagram by posing the question whether he should don the #23 he wore during his seven previous years in Cleveland or the more popular selling #6 jersey he sported as a member of the Miami Heat and USA Basketball.

A brilliant self-promoter, James got overwhelmingly positive feedback from fans regarding his new Cleveland Cavaliers jersey choice.

Though sports fans’ replies varied greatly, my two polar opposite suggestions were quite simple.

By the popular demand of fans, James should pick #1.

Quite simply, he is the best basketball player on the planet and just last week was acknowledged as the number one most popular athlete in the world according to a CBS Sports report. It was the first time in James’ well documented and hugely successful career he had been voted as the fans’ favorite.

He may still not be the number one paid player in the NBA, but without doubt he’s clearly the number one most respected, feared and coveted by players, coaches and fans.

And, #64 would be my alternate choice.

#64 would be a profound pick for basketball’s King James. At first glance, it may appear as an odd choice because no NBA player has ever worn this highly unusual and totally unglamorous number.

However, #64 as in 1964, is not just painfully known in Cleveland, but it’s universally understood by every sports fan throughout the Buckeye State and across our great country. James should wear the number as a constant motivator to lead the city of Cleveland to the professional sports league championship it has coveted since the Cleveland Browns last lifted an NFL championship trophy in 1964.

Sure, #64 may be interpreted as a sore reminder of Cleveland’s barren professional sports championship trophy case. But, it would be the premier protagonist for fans as well as for James whenever he sets foot in the Quicken Loans Arena and all other NBA venues.

With the swell of excitement and a tidal wave of expectation that James’ return has brought to Cleveland, the #64 on the back of basketball’s supreme talent just seems right to me.

Let Lebron don the unusual number until he wins an NBA title for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Then, let us all encourage him to ceremoniously retire #64 along with every Iron Belt sports fan’s 50 years of squashed dreams, unrealized expectations and aborted attempts at NFL, MLB and NBA championships.

Forget numbers 1 and 23; they’re passé.

Consider #1 in honor of the game’s top player.

But, choose #64 because sports fans everywhere will be rooting for the Lebron James led Cleveland Cavaliers to hoist the NBA’s Larry O’Brien Trophy in the city by lake.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Nelson Mandela’s Famous 2000 Sports Quote

Nelson Mandela - Source Wikipedia 2008

Nelson Mandela – Source Wikipedia 2008

“Sports have the power to change the world.”

So said 1993 Nobel Peace Prize recipient and former South African President Nelson Mandela. The beloved Mandela uttered these timeless words in a speech in Monaco in 2000 that many have lauded as the most poignant sports quote ever.

Today, we celebrate Nelson Mandela Day in honor of this great world leader. Though he passed away in 2013, may his legacy live on, especially his powerful sports quote.

However, Mandela’s famous quote, intended to extol the virtues of sports as an agent for moral integrity and positive social change, has been tested since his 2000 speech and has demonstrated just how powerful sports can be to the contrary, at least here in America.

Since 2000, reports of sordid behavior from star athletes, sports icons, trusted coaches and storied institutions have sullied the public’s perception and caused many to mutter that sports also has the power to change the world…..for the worse.

Scandals in the news have included home run king Barry Bonds’ sentencing on a perjury conviction, former Chicago Bears WR Sam Hurd’s arrest on drug trafficking, University of Notre Dame’s beloved football icon Rudy Ruettiger’s $382,000+ settlement with the SEC for bilking investors, MLB MVPs Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun’s charges of using performance enhancing drugs and PGA golfer Tiger Woods’ divorce due to serial adultery.

If the above run in negative sports news wasn’t enough, sports fans’ belief in Mandela’s moral mantra and social ideals was challenged further by disclosures that former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky used his position of trust to engage in sexual dominance over unsuspecting, innocent children.

Certainly, this was not the kind of activity that Nelson Mandela had in mind when quoting his inspiring words. Who could deny that the pain Sandusky had wrought upon his innocent victims won’t endure for a lifetime?

Yes. Sports have the power to change the world.

But, at least in America, where sports entitles one to privilege, access, opportunity and, not to mention, blind eyes, Nelson Mandela’s words are taking on a whole new meaning.

Sports at all levels will forever be under the microscope as a result of the heinous acts of only a select few.

Let’s all hope that the rush of these deplorable disclosures in America’s world of sports cause society at large and those in positions of authority to exercise power to restore Mandela’s quote back to its original meaning and change the world for good.

Case in point. Just look at the touching story of NBA all-star Damian Lillard who invited a handicapped young man to walk the red carpet with him at Wednesday’s ESPY Awards in Los Angeles.

http://www.thepostgame.com/blog/good-sports/201407/damian-lillard-special-olympics-twitter-espy-comments-haters

That’s the type of selfless behavior Nelson Mandela had in mind when uttering the words, “sports have the power the change the world.”

Rest in peace, Nelson Mandela. in honor of your birthday, may the sports world remember your inspiring words and seek to arise to its own higher legacy.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Big ESPN Mistake Naming Drake 2014 ESPY Awards Host

ESPN ESPY AwardsAubrey Drake Graham, aka Drake, hosted the 22nd annual ESPY Awards at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles last night.

ESPN’s decision to have Drake host the sports world’s most recognized awards show led many sports fans like me to speculate.

Did ESPN drop the ball in asking a non-athlete and relatively unknown entertainer with a readily apparent insecurity of aligning himself with A-list sports celebrities to host a major event that reached 25 million+ households?

Absolutely!

In naming Drake host, ESPN just didn’t fumble the football here in the open field with no tacklers in sight. The sports media giant booted a lightly hit two hop grounder, air-balled a wide open layup and clanged the puck off the post of a wide open net.

Though slick and poised for a 27 year-old, the recording artist, rapper and actor failed to establish credibility and carry the weight that the wonderful awards show warrants.

Drake’s schtick just didn’t cut it as viewers could easily see right through the young man’s thin veneer of desperately pining attention from a national television audience.

ESPN allowed too much time on the self-aggrandizing Drake’s antics and short changed viewers the opportunity to see more of the athletes they love away from the field, court, pitch, diamond or ice.

Widely regarded as a jock sniffing, jump on the bandwagon of whatever team is cresting at the moment super fan, the self-absorbed Drake lacked credibility.

In spite of a cock sure persona, Drake could not carry the mantle as ESPY host. Viewers snickered at his purported close personal relationships with Lebron James, Johnny Manziel, John Calipari, Kevin Durant, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and others.

Drake failed to captivate an audience looking for smart entertainment. His infatuation with WNBA beauty Skylar Diggans came across as creepy, while his sophomoric skit with recalcitrant Chris Brown lacked relevance for a sports awards show.

While it was readily evident that Drake could carry a tune, his snarky “Side Pieces” song lampooning widespread philandering of so many of today’s athletes was totally inappropriate and not funny.

The only thing that could have made the night worse, and further detracted from ailing Stuart Scott’s spectacular speech, would have been giving Drake the microphone to sing one of his songs.

The handsome Drake’s ugly song lyrics would have awakened all sleeping FCC censors and his misogynistic, racially offensive and guttural lyrics would have further sullied the night and stolen the joy from so many worthy athletes being honored.

For a better ESPY Awards in 2015, ESPN needs to dunk Drake, dub a more seasoned, savvy and popular host who better represents the special night the ESPY Awards has become and allow Drake time to find and sniff the jock of the newest superstar in sports!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head in sports!

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Derek Jeter’s Magical Final MLB All-Star Game

Mr. November

New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter

On a warm July night in Minneapolis, Mr. November or The Captain – otherwise known as Derek Jeter – enjoyed a magical night in his 14th and final MLB All-Star Game.

Jeter went 2 for 2 in the mid-summer classic and further cemented his reputation as the most respected player in the game today.

A viral Nike Jordan Brand video attests to the level of respect #2 has garnered as top athletes, famous entertainers, fellow all-stars and even rival Red Sox fans tip their caps to the incomparable New York Yankees shortstop.

In typical Jeter fashion, The Captain remained stoic while being showered with adulation from players, sportscasters and fans.

Jeter’s demeanor has not only made him a fan favorite, but has also earned him entry into my sports comic book touting my all-time MLB Favorites.

As I tip my hat to The Captain, here’s a chapter excerpt for fans of all ages, even Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue jays and Tampa Bay Rays fans, can enjoy……

……This athlete tops the charts as one of Major League Baseball’s most admired and respected players ever.

In addition to Derek Jeter’s Captain Clutch nickname, this New York Yankee also came to be known as Mr. November.

Jeter got the name through unique circumstances surrounding the postponement of the 2001 World Series.

He’s earned his own separate month on the calendar and bats in at #2 in my book on MLB Favorites.

MIKE MLB Comic CoverDue to the shocking September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, the Fall Classic between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks was delayed. Games were pushed back until late October. The Yankees won Game 4 of the series when Derek Jeter hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning. This extra-inning game took place for the first time during the month of November. The Yankee Stadium scoreboard recognized Jeter’s historic moment and immediately called him Mr. November.

Historically, Jeter has excelled in the post-season where he has won five World Series championships and batted an impressive .351. The Yankee shortstop has also played in a total of 152 post-season games. During that time, he has made 679 plate appearances and collected 191 hits. No wonder why Derek Jeter is known for being clutch.

In addition to his remarkable post-season statistics, Jeter has served as a terrific role model during his 18 years with the New York Yankees. The Yankee great is expected to be a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee.

This 1996 American League Rookie of the Year and 2000 World Series Most Valuable Player has made 12 All-Star appearances. Mr. November’s also collected four Silver Slugger Awards and won five Gold Gloves.

Legendary baseball coach Don Zimmer has rightfully called Jeter “the all-time Yankee.” As of the 2012 season, Jeter ranks as the actual all-time New York Yankees leader in hits, games played, stolen bases and at bats.

Over and above his baseball exploits, Derek Jeter’s leadership and ever present smile have made him one of the most successful product spokesmen in sports.

Global brands like Nike, Gillette, Ford, VISA and Gatorade pay Mr. November plenty to endorse their products – no matter what month of the year it is.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Remembering Hank Aaron: 21 MLB All-Star Game Appearances

MIKE Comic 58 HammerAs sports fans look forward to tonight’s MLB All-Star Game, let’s remember one of baseball’s greatest players ever who appeared in 21 mid-summer contests.

Here’s a chapter excerpt from one of my FREE sports comic book Scary Sports Comics…..

…..With this Hammer in your toolbox, or in your starting Major League Baseball line-up, success was guaranteed.

When away from the baseball diamond, Henry Aaron carried himself quietly. But, during games, this Hall of Famer nicknamed Hammerin’ Hank hauled an intimidating hammer of a bat whenever he entered the batter’s box.

Voted fifth best baseball player ever by The Sporting News, Aaron retired in 1976 as one of baseball’s greatest hitters of all time. The Hammer ended his career with 3,771 hits and a lifetime batting average of .308.

In addition, this 1957 National League MVP and World Series Champ won two National League batting titles and three National League Gold Gloves. He also made 21 MLB all-star appearances.

The Hammer unmercifully pounded pitchers during his 23 seasons. Aaron still holds Major League Baseball records for total bases (6,856), RBIs (2,297), extra base hits (1,477) and consecutive seasons (17) with 150 hits or more. Many fans regard Aaron as baseball’s true Home Run King for the 755 homers he hit long before anyone knew about performance enhancing drugs.

One of the most amazing athletes of the past century, Hank Aaron will not only be remembered for his brilliant play during his 23-year career. More importantly, The Hammer will be credited with helping to hammer racism out of America’s favorite pastime.

MIKE Vol 5 ScaryRead other great “scary” short sports stories in MIKE’s FREE book.

Click on the purple image above and download the book for FREE.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Monday Sports Monologue: Tattoos

MIKE Reporting on Sports!

I’m always happy to jump start the work week with some silly sports humor.

So, click on the yellow image above to listen to my latest Monday Sports Monologue.

Today’s nutty one minute rant focuses on tattoos.

My only questions is whether tattooed athletes actually think before they ink because they may not be happy with their body’s tattooed artwork later on in life.

Click here on the yellow image above and listen to my 60 second take on why I think it’s best to “think before you ink” whenever you’re contemplating getting a tattoo.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Germany Wins 2014 FIFA World Cup in Extra Time

The FIFA World Cup Trophy

FIFA assigns no significant monetary value to its World Cup Trophy.

However, Germany just discovered how the incredibly precious it is.

Substitute Mario Gotze scored on a brilliant volley in the 113th minute of extra time and helped Germany win its fourth World Cup title.

Gotze’s fabulous finish devastated an Argentine defense that seemed to stymie the steamrolling German scoring machine at every attempt.

For nearly the entire game, the South Americans marked their men marvelously and closed down German players at every turn.

Scrappy defenders Xavier Mascherano and Pablo Zabaleta stifled the powerful Germans who had blitzed the host Brazilians 7 – 1 in last week’s stunning semi final.

Argentina’s defense seemed as if they were holding on, confidently expecting superstar teammate, Lionel Messi, to break through the rugged Germans as he’s regularly done on the international football stage for the past several years.

Yet, in extra time, when the Argentines appeared impregnable, the shifty Gotze got behind the defense and then trapped and deftly redirected Andre Schurrles’ cross past goalie Sergio Romero.

A super substitute, Mario Gotze now finds his name etched in stone in German football history.

An incomparable FIFA footballer, Argentina’s Lionel Messi may still be the best soccer player on the planet, but he’ll continue living under the shadow of his fellow countryman and soccer legend Diego Maradona.

And, the powerful Germans will proudly hoist the smallish World Cup Trophy while coveting the invaluable worth the trophy represents.

Congrats to Germany – 2014 FIFA World Cup champions of the world!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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FREE Book: Worst in Sports – Pa-role Models

MIKE Comic 73 Jailblazers

Here’s another chapter that warrants (pun intended) a premier spot in Worst About Sports.

Entries on this blotter, I mean list, are much longer than those in the previous chapter.

Instead of reciting names of the accused, I’ll just focus on the knuckleheaded behavior that earned these athletes a spot, or should I say time, in this chapter.

My collection of pa-role models includes wayward athletes of all races, sizes and sports.

Pa-role models are athletes who should be locked up rather than paid millions to run, block, skate, pass, hit, or shoot – a ball, that is.

They’re the foolish football, basketball, baseball and hockey felons who think they’re above the law and fail to exhibit respect or regard for it.

They’re the reckless renegades who endanger the lives of others with guns, alcohol, drugs and other rebellious endeavors.

They’re the hormone charged guys who sneak far too many past the goalie in far too many NFL, NBA and MLB cities. They don’t understand that any male can father a child, but raising a child takes a real man.

Totally dedicated on the field, these athletes lose all personal discipline when they leave it.

They’re the louts, cheats, drinkers, druggies and batterers.  They believe their athletic prowess gives them immunity from the laws that bind those not as fortunate to be paid to play professionally.

Pursuing their errant ways, these jailhouse jocks give their fellow law abiding athletes black eyes and cause their loyal sports fans to see red.

Idolized for far too long, these famous, yet foolish felons need to be locked up.

Instead of serving as role models in arenas and stadiums, they should be serving time behind bars.

Lock ‘em up and throw away the key until these pa-role models understand and appreciate the burden, unwanted or not, of being a role model in sports. Case closed.

That’s why pa-role models warrant (lol) a spot in Worst About Sports.

MIKE Top 25 FREE Worst About SportsRead what else is Worst About Sports in MIKE’s FREE book!

Click on the yellow image above and download the book for FREE.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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100 Years Ago Babe Ruth Makes MLB Debut

 

MLB Hall of Famer The Sultan of Swat Babe Ruth

New York Yankees legend Babe RuthLB Icon Babe Ruth

100 years ago today the iconic Sultan of Swat, Babe Ruth, debuted as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox versus the Cleveland Naps.

Who would have known that a century later Babe Ruth would still be memorialized as Major League Baseball’s one time home run king and most famous, and perhaps, best player ever.

Here’s a chapter excerpt from one of my sports comic books about the legendary Sultan of Swat.

……Baseball fans swooned whenever this iconic Babe stepped into the batter’s box. He’s my #3 favorite all-time Single Named Athletes.

Favorite Single Named Athletes

Perhaps the most famous Major League Baseball player ever, George Herman Babe Ruth, was for years the sport’s home run king and most beloved big leaguer.

Though he last played in 1935, Ruth’s impact on the sport has lasted ever since. Yankee Stadium, where Babe’s #3 was retired in 1948, is known as “the House that Ruth Built.” Baseball’s record books rank his successes from the 1920s and 1930s tops in several statistical categories. Sports collectors long for everything attached to him. And, baseball conversations still recall stories about him – whether fact or fiction.

The chubby faced Ruth attracted fans with his big bat, bigger smile and clever, colorful quotes. Ruth was once questioned if his huge 1927 baseball salary, which amounted to more than US President Herbert Hoover’s salary at the time, was too much. Ruth confidently responded, “No, I had a much better year than him!”

During his incredible career, Babe enjoyed much better years than nearly every other major leaguer who played the game at the same time. As a pitcher, Ruth compiled a 94-46 record and an impressive 2.28 ERA. As a batter, this Sultan of Swat retired with a lifetime .342 batting average. He also had a .690 slugging percentage and 714 home runs, a record that stood until Henry Aaron broke it in 1974.

Sports Illustrated named him the greatest athlete of the 20th Century.The Sporting News recognized Babeas the greatest baseball player of all time. And the Associated Pressvoted this 1927 American League MVP and four-time World Series champion the Athlete of the Century.

Off the field, sports collectors still swing for the fences for this Sultan of Swat’s impressive swag. A 1927 Babe Ruth bat brought in nearly $600,000. One of Ruth’s button-down New York Yankees road jerseys yielded a staggering $4 million.

Babe Ruth’s incredible career led to his immediate entry into Cooperstown in 1936. No baseball player ever has ruled over pitchers from the batter’s box like this legendary Sultan of Swat. 

It shouldn’t be a surprise to any sports fan that this Babe certainly earned his spot at #3 of my favorite all-time Single Named Athletes.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT FIFA Sports Blog: Brazil’s Pele

Brazilian soccer great Pele

With the 2014 World Cup winding down in Brazil, it’s only fitting that today’s #TBT FIFA sports blog remembers Pele – universally considered soccer’s greatest player ever.

Here’s a chapter excerpt from my Favorite Single Named Athletes sports comic book that acknowledges the incomparable Pele.

…..Mention the name Edson Arantes de Nascimento and only staunch soccer fans will recognize it.

However, say the simple name Pele, and nearly everyone on the planet, whether soccer fan or not, will immediately recognize this extraordinary Brazilian.

Pele is synonymous with the world’s most popular sport. Universally regarded as the best international footballer (soccer player) of all-time, Pele received his simple nickname as a child in Brazil. A priest bestowed the moniker on him which, in Portuguese, aptly means “always playing soccer.” And that’s what Pele did; he always played soccer – often and brilliantly.

King Pele, the King of Football or the Black Pearl dominated international football whenever and wherever he took the pitch. Pele’s storied resume is perhaps the greatest in the sport’s history.

For starters, Pele’s individual accomplishments are staggering. In 1958 the powerfully built 5’8″ and 180 lb. Brazilian became the youngest player to ever compete in a World Cup. He was also the youngest to record a hat trick in World Cup play (that same year).

In addition, he scored an incredible 1,281 goals in 1,363 career matches. His speed and athleticism on the pitch were equalled by his uncanny footwork, ball control and pin-point passing.

Pele honed his amazing soccer skills by playing futebol de salao (indoor soccer) in Brazil where the action was faster on a much shorter and narrower field.

Pele’s awesome career was recognized in 1999. He was named Footballer of the Century by the International Federation of Football and Statistics and named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee.

On a broader scale, Pele’s team accomplishments are unrivaled. Pele stands as the only player in soccer history to play on three World Cup championships teams. He starred on Brazil’s 1958, 1962 and 1970 title teams. While teaming with fellow legendary Brazilian Garrincha, the duo never lost a match while wearing the Brazilian colors.

Thirdly, Pele’s off-field resume is extremely impressive as he has utilized his athletic fame for the overall good of society.  In 1992, this Brazilian was appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Ecology and Environment. In 1997 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

More than 40 years after his retirement, Pele’s legend continues whenever the sport of soccer is discussed. Perhaps the best way to remember this extraordinary athlete and his soccer brilliance is through the words of two other universally recognized international football legends:

Dutch midfielder Johan Cruyff claimed, “Pele was the only footballer who surpassed the boundaries of logic.”

German defender Franz Beckenbauer remarked, “Pele is the greatest player of all time. He reigned supreme for 20 years. There’s no one to compare to Pele.”

Wow! What endorsements for Pele from two of FIFA’s greatest footballers ever. It’s no wonder that the immensely likable, universally popular and inordinately talented Pele tops my list of all-time favorite Single Named Athletes.

Favorite Single Named Athletes

Click on the yellow image above to safely download Favorite Single Named Athletes from Amazon for only 99 cents. 

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Germany Stomps Brazil in World Cup Semi Final

Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio

The spectacular Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking Rio de Janiero’s stunning beaches welcomes all visitors to Brazil.

In yesterday’s World Cup semi final contest, Germany took the statue’s metaphoric greeting quite literally.

A powerful, organized and talented German side immediately made itself at home on the favored host nation’s home pitch in Belo Horizonte and thoroughly dominated the match.

In one of the worst losses and most astonishing performances in World Cup history, the Germans stomped the Brazilians 7 – 1.

Germany scored five goals in only 18 minutes against a porous, sluggish Brazilian defense. Surprisingly, the invigorated Germans looked far superior in the match than the listless Brazilian side.

The stunning defeat crushed the spirit of a once buoyant, expectant nation that seemed certain, even without stars Neymar and Thiago Silva, it would celebrate a fifth World Cup title after getting past the Germans and then the winner of the Holland versus Argentina game.

However, these now demoralized fans witnessed the unexpected, unimaginable and most embarrassing defeat in Brazilian soccer history. No one, not even the Germans, could have believed yesterday’s outcome.

An incredulous media was quick to comment on Brazil’s humiliation.

ESPN’s velvet voice sportscaster Ian Darke called the game a “thorough chastening.”

Darke’s broadcasting buddy Steve McManaman referred to Brazil’s efforts as “amateur hour.”

And, ESPN studio host Mike Tirico during yesterday’s halftime show remarked, “Brazil was completely eviscerated.”

In the soccer crazed country of Brazil, fans took the humiliating loss hard, very hard. Today, an anticipated, unofficial national day of mourning seems certain.

On a speculative note, expect to see Christ the Redeemer shedding actual tears and the girl from Ipimena burying her head in the glorious sand on Rio’s beaches.

And, perhaps Brazilian officials may consider changing Christ the Redeemer’s welcoming upraised arms from being so hospitable.

Just ask the Germans. They felt so welcome that they thought the Belo Horizonte pitch was their home to do whatever they wanted.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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The Worst From the World Cup: Flopping

MIKE Comic 150 Flopping

American sports fans may revel in the histrionic antics of WWF, but the drama-queen dilettantes of 2014 World Cup soccer in Brazil are far too over-the-top for the American male.

Most American sports fans still can’t stomach soccer.

And, it’s because of the flopping that would make NBA stars LeBron James and Manu Ginobli beam with pride!

Certainly the action at the 2014 World Cup has been exciting to watch, well at least until a player goes down on the pitch.

Tell me you too haven’t guffawed at the overreacting little guys on the soccer field every time they get touched. They jettison to the ground like they’ve been shot by a stinger missile.

Next, tell me you haven’t grunted as panicking paramedics race to the field with their all-too-familiar stretcher in a mad dash to rescue the fallen, injured FIFA player.

And, tell me you haven’t grimaced as succoring soccer teammates hover around their fallen comrade. They scream wildly at the ref and gather together in a last rites gesture for the prone teammate who appears to be fighting death’s door. But, you know what’s next.

If all the melodramatic nonsense isn’t enough, you’re expected to stand up and cheer once the play resumes and the “injured” player suddenly rises from his horizontal position and miraculously sprints to the pitch like he’s running the Boston Marathon.

The silly shenanigans of flopping in FIFA play way too much like a bad Italian opera for gutsy American sports fans.

Forget the flopping! Red card the floppers & watch the NFL instead.

I’ve included a special chapter about flopping in international football in my FREE sports book entitled Worst About Sports.

MIKE Top 25 FREE Worst About SportsRead what else is Worst About Sports in MIKE’s FREE book!

Click on the yellow image above and download the book for FREE.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Monday Sports Monologue: Baseball Statistics

MIKE Reporting on Sports!I’m always happy to jump start the work week with some witty sports humor. So, here’s my latest Monday Sports Monologue.

Click on the yellow image above to listen to my take on boring baseball statistics.

Because, when it comes to boring baseball statistics, I have employed the ultimate power tool. It’s that glorious device known as the remote control. I’m planning to exercise my God-given right and officially mute all Major League Baseball telecasts.

Now don’t get me wrong on this. You bet I love baseball, but I loathe the litanies of insignificant facts and figures foisted upon me during baseball telecasts.

You see, boring baseball statistics have always driven me bonkers and stifle my baseball likeability!

I’m opting to watch in silence and serenity the bountiful beauty of America’s favorite past time.

So, don’t forget to click on the yellow image above and listen to my 60 second take on boring baseball statistics.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Soccer Royals Advance to World Cup Semi-finals

 

FIFA football star Robin Van Persie

Manchester United’s Robin van Persie

In yesterday’s penalty kick shootout victory over Costa Rica, Netherlands star striker Robin Van Persie was held in check and failed to find the back of the net in 120 minutes of action.

Ironically, so were the celebrated scorers from the three other high powered teams whose recent victories enabled their countries to also advance to the 2014 World Cup Semi-finals.

Neither Thomas Muller of Germany, Lionel Messi of Argentina nor Neymar of Brazil were able to score in their sides’ respective wins. Like Van Persie of Holland, Muller, Messi and Neymar were heavily marked by multiple defenders during their entire matches.

Despite these four brilliant footballers being blanketed and held in check, four of international football’s royalty (Germany, Brazil, Argentina and the Netherlands) will square off next week to determine the 2014 champion.

Each country deserves its spot in the final four because of the overall strength and depth of their squads. It was extremely evident in yesterday’s Netherlands versus Costa Rica match. Though the Central Americans stifled Van Persie’s every move, Holland’s Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder seemed to run freely in all areas of the pitch.

The Costa Ricans’ emphasis on marking Van Persie opened countless opportunities for Robben, Sneijder and other Dutch players even though they were unable to convert them into scores.

Though he did not find the back of the net in yesterday’s overtime win, Van Persie’s presence was clearly felt.

The same could be said for that of Muller’s, Messi’s and the injured Neymar’s as their teams advanced without them scoring. All three positively impacted the matches for their teams.

However, with the tournament’s biggest games set for later this week, expect three of the sport’s most prolific scorers, Van Persie, Muller and Messi, to find a way to score in spite of two or three defenders shadowing every move they make on the pitch.

These supremely gifted soccer stars seem to shine their brightest when performing on the biggest stage.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: Soccer Footer

Brazil’s Neymar Injured: Out of World Cup

 

Brazilian Soccer Star Neymar

FB Barcelona striker Brazil’s Neymar

Across the globe, international football fans could hear the collective groan of a once exuberant, but now nervous nation when Brazil’s fabulous striker Neymar crumbled on the pitch.

As he was taken off the field by stretcher, tears could be seen on the face of the 2014 World Cup star.

Team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar confirmed that Neymar had broken the 3rd vertebra in the lumbar region of his back after colliding with Columbian defender Juan Camilo Zuniga.

The favored Brazilians now advance to next Tuesday’s semi-final without stellar defender Thiago Silva and Neymar, making their country’s hopes for a record sixth World Cup title harder than Zuniga’s tackle on the incomparable Neymar.

Oft compared to Brazilian soccer icons Pele and Ronaldinho, Neymar da Silva Santos, or simply Neymar, has monopolized worldwide sports media with tantalizing athleticism and surreal soccer skill.

With four goals in the tournament to date, he has lived up to the hype that touts his likeness on television screens, billboards, magazines, web sites, signs on buses and more at the World Cup cities in Brazil.

Neymar has captivated an international audience that eagerly awaits his next sensational goal. That’s why his #10 jersey is the most sought after souvenir at the quadrennial event in Brazil.

The engaging 22 year-old Brazilian, who has discovered enumerable inventive ways to find the back of the net, now needs to rest, heal and quickly find a way back on pitch for FC Barcelona in La Liga this fall.

Though his injury will make a Brazilian win that much more difficult, this year’s Wolrd Cup has been special to watch when Neymar has been on the pitch.

Get well soon!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: Soccer Footer

NFL Hall of Famer Warren Sapp is No Boy!

MIKE Comic 151 Broke Athletes

NFL Hall of Fame inductee Warren Sapp is not a boy.

However, he’s certainly not a man either.

I think sports fans can all agree that big ol’ former 99 is a big baby, a spoiled child, a disgruntled brat, an opinionated lout and a washed up one time NFL star whose behavior has grown tiresome.

Earlier this week the big fella proved just how small minded he’s become.

NFL fans have always known that Hall of Fame DT Warren Sapp has behaved like a bully.

However, football fans were flummoxed to find out just how petty the retired #99 has become. Sapp stiffed a waitress at a sports bar in St. Petersburg, FL and wrote on his receipt, “Boys don’t tip.”

The surly Sapp took issue to an upbeat waitress’ playful use of the word “boy” which, to itchy eared, highly irritable and easily offended black men with bolder sized chips on their shoulder like him who grew up in the South, can immediately trigger animosity and resentment.

Sapp senselessly and immaturely responded to the bantering by refusing to tip the server on a $69 bill and then engaged in a twitter altercation with ESPN’s Darren Rovell who broke the story.

However, Sapp’s been known for refusing to pay in the past; like child support for one of his out-of-wedlock children, or debts to a long line of creditors which led to his filing for bankruptcy in 2012 or respect to other NFL players.

Fans vividly recall the cheap shot he once unnecessarily administered on a blind side hit on Green Bay Packers’ OT Chad Clifton.

Plus, only a few months ago, the former NFL DT failed to pay any respect to NFL season sack record holder Michael Strahan.

Sapp uncorked the same boorish behavior when he bemoaned Michael Strahan’s consideration for the next Pro Football Hall of Fame ballot to be released on February 1, 2014.

Old #99 enjoys a fraction of his nemesis’ fame as an NFL Network analyst even though many viewers like me believe the big fella’s brusk on-camera babbling and high cackled laugh turn off fans.

Sapp should be grateful he’s employed because the bankrupt bloke obviously needs the money. The former Tampa Bay Buccanneer lineman filed bankruptcy last year after blowing an astounding $82,185,056 in career earnings.

His public bankruptcy auction included having to part with his coveted Super Bowl ring and a 213 pair Nike collection.

Knowing that Sapp’s off-field behavior and poor monetary decision making contributed to his squandering a personal fortune, it’s no surprise to witness his reckless rant and jealous jab at Strahan and, more recently, his stiffing a hard working waitress on a tip.

Sadly, the now broke big baby showed NFL fans just how small minded he’s become.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

 

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#TBT FIFA Sports Blog: Brazil’s Joy of the People

Joy of the People Manuel Garrincha

Brazil’s Joy of the People Manuel Garrincha

Today’s Throw Back Thursday or TBT FIFA sports blog remembers Manuel Garrincha, one of Brazil’s most decorated soccer heroes and a two-time World Cup champion.

This #TBT post is an excerpt from my book FIFA Favorites…….

……These words are written on the tombstone of our next nicknamed athlete. “Here rests in peace one who was the Joy of the People.”

Sadly, Manuel Garrincha passed away as a mystery. He was a brilliant footballer, beloved by Brazilians, yet he died as a poor alcoholic.

Many older soccer fans compare FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi to Garrincha. They both are of similar height, frame, quickness and skill and possess the ability to put the ball in the back of the net.

Garrincha is also my #5 pick in my book FIFA Favorites.

FIFA FavoritesThe Joy of the People exploded onto the world soccer stage after overcoming a challenging childhood in the projects of Rio de Janiero. He originally discovered his passion for football on the city’s playgrounds and streets. Garrincha played most of his club career for Botafogo in Brazil and quickly captured the attention of the Brazilian national team coaches.

During his time with the Brazilian nationals, Garrincha earned his Joy of the People nickname. Garrincha was an unstoppable right wing who led his country to World Cup crowns in 1958 and 1962.

The swift and powerful Garrincha became famous as one of the best dribblers in the world. He possessed amazing skill with both feet and had a unique ability to quickly and effortlessly change direction against any defender at any place on the pitch.

Garrincha never lost when he played alongside Pele, Brazil’s most popular star. While wearing his country’s colors, he racked up 57 wins, along with 7 draws and just one loss.

Brazilian soccer fans adored the dazzling Garrincha. It was only natural that they would give him the Joy of the People nickname.

Unfortunately, Garrincha did not love himself or value his health. In his post soccer playing days, this star striker suffered physical, emotional, marital and financial troubles.

To those who knew him, this pained man’s life may always remain a mystery. But to the Brazilian fans who loved watching him perform on the soccer pitch, Manuel Garrincha will never be forgotten.

He will always remain the beloved Brazilian soccer symbol simply known as the Joy of the People.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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