#TBT Sports Blog: FIFA’s George Best

FIFA footballer George Best

Northern Ireland soccer great George Best: The Fifth Beatle

Today’s #TBT sports blog remembers the greatest band of all time along with one of FIFA’s most amazing, yet troubled players.

2014 celebrates 50 years since the iconic boy band The Beatles first appeared in America on the Ed Sullivan Show.

It was also 50 years ago that Northern Ireland’s fabulous footballer George Best became known as the Fifth Beatle.

Not only did the British group become the greatest band in music history. But, its global fame and distinct look engendered one of the best (no pun intended) nicknames in sports history.

Flamboyant FIFA footballer George Best from Belfast became known as the Fifth Beatle.

At the time, Best’s new moniker was regarded as the best sports and entertainment nickname on the planet.

Here’s a chapter excerpt from my best selling book Favorite Sports Nicknames available for just 99 cents on Amazon.

MIKE Top 25 Vol 1 Nicknames..…Music lovers believe that Great Britain’s Pete Best, the drummer who preceded Ringo Starr for the British band The Beatles, holds the revered rock n’ roll title as the Fifth Beatle.

However, soccer fans, especially those of British descent, strongly disagree. They recognize Northern Ireland’s George Best as the Fifth Beatle. For his iconic celebrity, he’s idolized as one of the most gifted and entertaining soccer players ever.

This 5’9″ Northern Irishman plied his trade for eleven years with Manchester United in the vaunted English Premier League. During that time, he scored an astounding 179 goals in 470 appearances.

Best’s speed, acceleration, brilliant footwork and hard charging style quickly made him a fan favorite and an elite EPL performer. His ability to regularly put the ball in the back of the net earned him the European Footballer of the Year Award in 1968.

Best’s emergence as a beloved English athlete took place in the British music era of the Beatles. They were exploding as the rock ‘n roll band that would eventually sell one billion records and become a world wide entertainment sensation.

Though he excelled as one of FIFA’s most dynamic stars while on the pitch, George Best also partied like a rock star when away from it.

Unfortunately, Best’s undisciplined and extravagant lifestyle contributed to his demise as a player and also as an individual.

One of the many colorful quotes attributed to this Fifth Beatle reads, “I spent 90% of my money on women, drink and fast cars. The rest I wasted.” The words were funny, but sadly, true.

George Best died an alcoholic in 2005 due to complications from a liver transplant.

On a mural in his native Belfast, Northern Ireland, these words are written to memorialize George Best. They illuminate what any soccer fan, plus all of the musical Beatles, would agree with concerning this Fifth Beatle, “Maradona good. Pele better. George Best.”

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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EngagingFans Interactive Displays Selects MIKE

MIKE to be seen on EngagingFans' Samsung interactive displays.

See MIKE on EngagingFans’ Samsung interactive touch screen displays.

Burlington, MA based EngagingFans selected the MIKE sports cartoon property to participate in its new interactive marketing campaign on touch screen Samsung displays.

EngagingFans Co-Founder Tim Connors commented, “We are excited that MIKE is partnering with us to more deeply engage fans on game day with fun sports commentary. We know that our viewers will love MIKE and his addition will strengthen EngagingFans’ already robust sports marketing campaign on its touch screen displays.”

EngagingFans plans utilize MIKE animated shorts, audio monologues and sports comics (as seen below) to entertain audiences.

MIKE Sports Comic: See Saw BattleWith 35 locations planned, Connors expects to deploy EngagingFans interactive platforms to hundreds of ballparks and stadiums around the country.

MIKE creator Jim Sweeney offered, “This is a fantastic opportunity for our MIKE sports character to be included in the same marketing campaign as McDonald’s, Extra Innings, Pro Batter Sports and Mizuno on EngagingFans’ touch screen displays. Many thanks to Tim Connors for finding MIKE and having the vision to incorporate our cartoon character into his plans.”

Entrepreneurs Tim Connors and Jim Sweeney were 1980 classmates at Boston College. They were joined by Maura Sweeney, Jim’s wife and MIKE business partner, and EngagingFans’ other Co-Founder Tony DiBona – an example of college campus life coming full circle.

For more information about EngagingFans, contact its Co-Founder Tim Connors at tim@engagingfans.com.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Adult Swim to Debut New Mike Tyson Cartoon Series

Retired boxer Mike Tyson

From Broadway to FOX TV to a new cartoon series!

Mike Tyson, the improbable star of both a one man Broadway show and a six-part reality television series on FOX, will debut again. This fall, expect to see Mike on the Adult Swim cartoon channel as a new action hero in Mike Tyson Mysteries. 

Before the grumbling and nay saying starts, allow me to defend my choosing this boorish bully, convicted rapist and irresponsible spendthrift of a $300M personal fortune as the subject of today’s sports blog.

Everyone deserves a second chance in life, no matter who they are or where they’ve once been. I believe Tyson is remorseful and has made amends for his past sins.

With the release of Mike Tyson Mysteries, the former heavyweight champ has once again found himself under the media microscope. So, let’s give him a chance to prove he’s not the same guy we lampooned in the past.

Because the boxer appears to have overcome his past personal demons, Mike Tyson has earned a place in my blog as well as in my new sports comic book of all-time Favorite Boxers.

Favorite BoxersTyson was once dogged by alcohol addition, an acrimonious relationship with promoter Don King, cocaine and DUI arrests, a six-year stint in prison for a 1991 rape conviction and a colossal personal bankruptcy. Ouch! These are some very ugly demons!

Plus, the unending, unfathomable pressure of living under a microscope as one of the sports world’s wealthiest and most recognized athletes has nearly killed this retired fighter.

Mike Tyson’s riches, unfettered fame and unchecked personal behavior as a celebrity contributed to besmirching his once brilliant boxing career.

The once mega-rich athlete, formerly known as the Baddest Man on the Planet, has fortunately found new life outside the ropes. Here are some examples.

Tyson was a huge hit in Spike Lee’s Broadway show Undisputed Truth.

He performed admirably in the FOX reality series Being Mike Tyson: The Real Deal. Engaging, fragile, complex and even childlike at times, Tyson revealed himself both genuine and candid on stage and before the camera.

I’m now curious to see, or at least hear, how he performs as the original voice of his character in the upcoming animated series.

Here’s hoping Iron Mike returns to championship form by knocking out his own personal demons once and for all.

And, I’m anxious to warch how the former champ and his animated cohorts will solve crimes in Mike Tyson Mysteries.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Big Papi, Big Boasts, Big MLB Baby!

Big PapiLast week Boston Red Sox fans clucked when retired icon Carl Yastrzemski called current designated hitter David Ortiz the second best hitter in franchise history.

Yaz’s claim that Ortiz’s hitting prowess should be ranked above him and only behind the legendary Splendid Splinter Ted Williams surprised most baseball purists

However, no one outside New England with any knowledge of America’s pastime would argue if any MLB player, retired or current, would refer to Ortiz as baseball’s, and not just the Boston Red Sox’s, biggest blowhard.

Yesterday, the self-aggrandizing designated hitter proved why most MLB fans, and not just members of the Tampa Bay Rays, have grown weary of Big Papi’s antics.

The burly Boston slugger blasted a three run home run in the third inning off promising Rays’ pitcher David Archer. Ortiz once again unnecessarily lingered in the batter’s box to admire his laser shot as it found its new home in Tropicana Field’s right field stands.

And, before sauntering to first base with glacier like speed, the extra-large DH fed his super-sized ego by flipping his bat toward the Red Sox dugout. Ortiz’s intentional bat flip carried a deep rooted animosity toward his Florida opponents birthed in a brawl earlier this season. Yesterday’s bat toss nearly instigated another scrum with his team’s divisional rival Tampa Bay Rays players.

In addition, statistics infatuated baseball fans clocked Ortiz’s prolonged “scamper” from the left side of the batter’s box to first base at a slug like speed of 10 seconds. Furthermore, Big Papi’s extended home run trot defied baseball etiquette and broke one of the unwritten rules of the sport that the talented Dominican doesn’t believe belongs to him; i.e. showing up your opponent, especially in Hollywood like style.

Ortiz may be one the game’s best hitters, but his very large bat is not near as big as his unbridled ego and silly, hollow threats.

Following yesterday’s blast, Big Papi once again bloviated and blustered in the media. He talked tough, postured proudly and wagged his sausage like fingers at the Tampa Bay Rays.

But, baseball fans immediately knew that the chubby 38 year-old will never literally back up his boastful bark with the bruise-less knuckles that he buries beneath his leather batting gloves.

Big Papi has become MLB’s version of former Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett. With big skills and bigger, always revving, profanity laced motor-mouths, neither Boston sports figure has ever been able to keep his mouth shut or show the stones to actually get his fists going. They just give you impression they will.

Though both Big Papi and The Big Ticket have always chirped incessantly, they have possessed amazing ability on the hardwood and the baseball diamond to control their emotions and not carry out their threats. Sure, they usually instigate trouble for their teams, then shrewdly slip away and hide behind teammates and coaches to wisely avoid suspensions and fines.

I’ve never witnessed Ortiz or Garnett throw a punch, and I’m certain I never will. However, I will expect to hear them continue jibber-jabbering and pointing their fool hardy fingers.

For example, calling Big Papi’s involvement in the late May 2014 Boston Red Sox versus Tampa Bay Rays misunderstanding a “brawl” is like saying high school girls’ powder puff football is a contact sport.

A shouting match teeming with too much testosterone is a better way of referring to this dust-up, petty pontificating, catty quarrel, silly scrap or feline finger pointing.

No one threw a punch. No one administered a double choke hold. No one spit. No one kicked. And, no one from either team did anything that a reasonable fan would say is “brawl” worthy.

Skinny David Price, who hit Ortiz with a retaliatory pitch back in May, couldn’t punch a bean bag chair without hurting something. And, Big Papi is an even bigger sissy than his girthy frame would suggest.

The same would have happened yesterday; namely, NOTHING. That’s right, nothing would have happened, but a lot of boasting.

Come on, MLB. Let the guys go at it.

The Rays and Sox don’t like each other. Period. Schedule the two teams for a main event. Call it the Rumble at the Trop or the Friday Night Fights at Fenway.

Once and for all, get rid of all their tongue wagging, finger pointing and heavy breathing and make way for some heavy hitting.

Let’s see who actually shows up.

My guess is that both Big Papi and David Price will stay in the dugout and out of the media.

And, somewhere in Brooklyn, an ever annoying Kevin Garnett will be watching all the blustering while hiding behind someone’s skirt and smiling approvingly!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!
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MLB Hall of Fame Class Includes The Big Hurt

Frank Thomas The Big Hurt

MLB’s The Big Hurt

In addition to former baseball managers Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox, three famous MLB players will be inducted today into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

A bruising batter best known for his frightening nickname is my favorite inductee.

This big time talent also begins my new sports comic book called Favorite Big Things in Sports.

Book 13 - Favorite BIG Things in SportsHard hitting Hall of Fame first baseman Frank Thomas became known as The Big Hurt in 1992 when a Chicago White Sox broadcaster’s innocent remark morphed into one of Major League Baseball’s best ever nicknames.

Ken Harrelson’s comment about how badly White Sox slugger Frank Thomas hurt the baseball when he made contact fostered the scary and formidable nickname – The Big Hurt.

While in the on-deck circle, Thomas even swung a hefty piece of rusted rebar that he salvaged from demolished Comiskey Park.

A first time Cooperstown ballot inductee in 2014, Thomas retired with 521 career home runs. He was also a .301 lifetime hitter, two-time MVP and five-time all-star during his impressive 19-year MLB seasons.

The Big Hurt perfectly described the rugged and tough 6’ 5” and 260 lb. former University of Auburn football player turned Major League Baseball star. Thomas regularly tormented American League pitchers during his lengthy career.

I loved Thomas’ imposing name so much that I also included it in the #7 spot in my FREE book Scary Sports Comics.

MIKE FREE Scary Sports Comic BooksThe intimidating Frank Thomas may have been a scary hitter whenever he stepped into the batter’s box.

However, this retired White Sox slugger is not just regarded as one of Major League Baseball’s best power hitters ever.

He’s also widely recognized among the most respected players who have ever played the sport.

Now, that’s big!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Dumb Sports Quotes

there's a lid on the basket

Sometimes in NCAA March Madness games it seems as if there’s a lid on the basket.

Great athletes may be able to run faster, jump higher and put a ball in a basket better than others.

However, there are no guarantees that they are smart.

The following chapter of dumb sports quotes proves my premise. It’s a collection from my book of all-time Favorite Sports Quotes.

Favorite Sports QuotesClick on the red cover above to safely download from Amazon.

In this chapter, you’ll definitely enjoy some of the crazy, idiotic and nonsensical things that have come off the lips of the sports world’s most celebrated stars.

Instead of the lid on the basket in the comic starting this chapter, it should have been tightly sealed over the lips of the athletes credited with the following ridiculous quotes.

Check out some of these noteworthy, but very dumb sports quotes:

“Chemistry is a class you take in high school or college, where you figure out two plus two is 10, or something.” ~ former NBA rebounding machine Dennis Rodman.

“I want to rush for 1,000 or 1,500 yards, whichever comes first.” ~ George Rogers, former New Orleans Saints running back.

“I want all kids to do what I do, to look up to me. I want all kids to copulate me.” ~ Andre Dawson, former MLB outfielder with the Chicago Cubs, who should really research the meaning of copulate before using it in a sentence, especially when directed at kids.

“Left hand. Right hand. It doesn’t matter. I’m amphibious.” ~ Charles Shackleford, retired NBA player.

“I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father.” ~ Greg Norman, golfer. Maybe you get more than two parents in Australia.

“The word ‘genius’ isn’t applicable in football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.” ~ Super Bowl winning quarterback Joe Theisman, an NFL player and obviously NOT a physics professor or academician.

“I guess I’m going to slide into Bolivia.” ~ Mike Tyson, retired boxer, who meant to say “oblivion”. No surprise here.

“You can sum up this sport in two words. Never give up.” ~ Lou Duva, veteran boxing trainer. I think that’s three words, Lou!

“He’s a guy who gets up at six o’clock in the morning regardless of what time it is.” ~ boxing trainer Lou Duva.

“We’re gonna turn this team around 360 degrees.” ~ Jason Kidd, NBA coach and former all-star guard.

“Chuck Liddell is my role model. I look up to him, mainly because he is taller than me.” ~ MMA fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.

Better teams win more often than the teams that are not so good.” ~ Tom Watt, former NHL coach, with a “brilliant” observation.

“The Mets just had their first .500-or-better April since July of 1992.” ~ a usually sharper than this New York sportscaster Ralph Kiner.

“Sure there have been injuries and some deaths in boxing, but none of them that serious.” ~ an anonymous ringside boxing announcer. Hey, if I was quoted here, I’d definitely want to remain anonymous, too!

Write to me at mikeonsports@yahoo.com if you’d like to share any dumb and inane sports quotes that you would add to my always growing list of Favorite Sports Quotes.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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NFL Commissioner’s Ray Rice Suspension a Joke

Ray Rice #27

It’s a “good thing” Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice only punched his fiancé (now wife) in the face and knocked her unconscious in the Revel Casino elevator in Atlantic City.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell only suspended him for two games this coming season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

What a joke!

Ironically, Rice could have committed these “egregious” acts and faced far stiffer sanctions from the NFL Commissioner’s office.

Like the Indianapolis Colts’ Robert Mathis, Rice could have been hit with a four game suspension for asking a respected doctor to inject him with a fertility drug in order to impregnate his wife, so that couple could start a family.

Or, like the Oakland Raiders’ Terrell Pryor, Rice could have been banned for five games for acting as a reckless teenager and foolishly trading official NCAA licensed apparel for tattoos while attending Ohio State University.

And, like the Cleveland Browns’ Josh Gordon, Rice could have smoked some weed (which is legal now in Colorado and Oregon) and found himself sidelined for 16 games.

But, the little running back caught a huge break from the NFL’s Park Avenue offices in New York City.

In a hard hitting, spine altering, concussion conscious league, the Commissioner went soft, very soft.

Goodell levied an embarrassing slap on the wrist fine for Rice’s unconscionable act caught on a hotel surveillance camera.

The video clearly shows the Baltimore Ravens’ batterer dragging his unconscious fiancé Janay Palmer across the elevator’s threshold into the hallway of the Revel Casino.

The Commissioner could have utilized this horrible example to educate our country about domestic abuse, but didn’t. Rather, he fumbled badly on a topic that begs for national dialogue.

SafeHorizon reports that as many as three million children witness domestic violence each year and that one in four women will be affected by it during their lifetimes.

So, what message did Roger Goodell just send to an uninformed society that cringes when the subject of domestic abuse surfaces?

Doesn’t the Commissioner believe he bears some responsibility to educate fans about the ugly reality of domestic violence when it’s inflicted by some of his league’s very own players?

Like the league’s annual comprehensive campaign of building awareness about women’s breast cancer.

Like last year’s blanket educational coverage about the dangers of football related concussions.

And, like this year’s non-stop frenzy of media surrounding Michael Sam’s coming out of the closet.

May the NFL draft a new policy, dial up a blitzing educational campaign and design an expert game plan to educate fans about the swept-under-the-carpet subject of domestic abuse in our society.

May both male and female football fans rise up and get their voices heard. May they start web sites, share videos, boycott games, picket and protest to decry domestic violence.

The time is now for the muffled cries of battered women and children to be heard. Not just the sad story of Janay Palmer Rice.

Her husband Ray Rice may have gotten off easy with a $58,000 fine and a laughable two game suspension.

But, going forward, may the sting of Ray Rice’s cowardly punch be metaphorically felt by those who would lift their fists to inflict violence.

May Roger Goodell feel it, too. For a powerful leader in a position to stem the tide or bring awareness to the ugly issue of domestic violence, may he choose not to slap perpetrators on the wrist.

But, opt to make the punishment truly fit the crime of striking and hurting a woman.

Man up, Commish!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: MLB’s Big Red Machine

Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds

Major League Baseball’s Big Red Machine

Today’s #TBT sports blog remembers one of the most powerful hitting teams in MLB history.

Here’s a chapter excerpt from my sports comic book MLB Favorites about the Cincinnati Reds’ Big Red Machine…..

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

It churns its way into the #7 spot in MLB Favorites.

MIKE MLB Comic CoverFrom 1970 till 1976, the Cincinnati Reds’ Big Red Machine was 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.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Trash Talk: Keith Olbermann on Tony Dungy

trash talking in sports

Trash Talk in sports

This week a new type of trash talk belched its way onto the American sports scene.

This new form of speech no longer encompasses Michael Jordan or Larry Bird inspired inventive barbs and testosterone infused smack.

The playful jibber-jabbering by sweaty, competitive athletes like MJ and Bird on the basketball court got usurped by more virulent diatribes emanating from the broadcast booth.

Sadly, the trigger happy, biting vilification of anyone, anywhere and at anytime who differs with someone else’s opinion or fails to align with an individual’s set of personal values has become a newer, but far worse form of trash talk. And, it wreaks of ugliness.

This new trash talk needs to be disposed of immediately, buried at the bottom of the biggest garbage dump in town and never recycled again because it stings with a bitterness that bites without remorse, no matter who you are or what team you play for.

An example of this new trash talk in sports wielded its ugly head on Monday when Keith Olbermann, a nationally recognized journalist, attacked Tony Dungy, an Emmy Award winning studio analyst and Super Bowl champion coach, for comments he made regarding recently drafted NFL lineman Michael Sam, who is homosexual.

The itchy-eared Olbermann’s unprovoked media attack on Dungy’s remarks smacked of hypersensitivity and political correctness run amuck. Olbermann pounced on the former Indianapolis Colts coach with the same ferocity and one-sided arrogance normally expected from FOX’s Sean Hannity when commenting on anything Obama or Clinton related. Simply, Olbermann’s rant spewed venom.

Olbermann unnecessarily called Dungy hypocritical and mocked him as the “Worst Person in Sports.” Warren Sapp or Alex Rodriguez maybe, but Tony Dungy. Are you serious?

The jaded journalist should have known better before besmirching a highly respected, thoughtful man like Dungy without fully vetting the coach’s words from an interview taken over a month ago.

Dungy’s remarks, as reported in the Tampa Tribune, addressed the anticipated media circus surrounding Michael Sam’s inevitable drafting by the St. Louis Rams. In the article, Dungy never judged Sam’s lifestyle nor disparaged his behavior in any way. He simply stated that because of the media storm distraction surrounding the defensive lineman’s sexual orientation, he would not draft Sam for his team. ironically, 31 out of 32 NFL teams eventually passed on drafting him, too.

However, Olbermann jumped on Dungy’s comments with Rush Limbaugh like vindictiveness. His response played more like a personal witch hunt than an impartial investigation of a respected football coach and analyst.

Certainly, reckless remarks and callous comments need to be immediately called on the carpet by responsible, impartial journalists.

But, in this case, Olbermann’s excoriation of Dungy was totally unwarranted and only fueled the flames of continued trash talk in the broadcast booth by other irresponsible talking heads. For the past few days, sports radio talk shows, web sites and sports television shows focused on Olbermann’s gutting of Dungy and unwittingly exacerbated a further polarizing of an already sensitive issue requiring civil dialogue.

Olbermann was wrong. He was ill informed and overly zealous in his attempt to discredit and marginalize Dungy.

May Olbermann bury his personal garbage of mis-directed thoughts and apply his public head hunting pursuits toward truly bigoted, mean spirited recipients who need to be unmasked and exposed for who they truly are.

Furthermore, may Michael Sam speak very loudly with his play on the NFL football field and may his lifestyle never become a lightning rod of divisiveness again in the media.

And, may the ugliness of Keith Olbermann’s trash talking be quickly buried in a landfill with all other hated and demented thoughts, beliefs and political positions that have continued to divide our country.

Like most Americans, I want to discuss how many sacks Michael Sam gets in his NFL playing days and not with whom he shares the sack.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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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.


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?


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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