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

1927 New York Yankees Row

As we enjoy baseball’s World Series this week and prepare for Halloween next week, it’s only fitting that I recall this scary sports reference.

Today’s #TBT sports blog remembers one of the greatest and frightening World Series champions ever – the 1927 New York Yankees also known as Murderers’ Row.

Baseball historians have called the 1927 New York Yankees the best Major League Baseball team ever.

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

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

Deadly Sports Stuff

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

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

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

As a team, the 1927 New York Yankees were written about in a 1962 book entitled Murderers’ Row and were featured in a 1966 film by the same name. The team’s amazing 1927 performance included stellar individual seasons by American League Most Valuable Player Lou Gehrig who hit .373 and drove in an MLB record 175 runs.

That same year Babe Ruth posted similar MVP numbers. Ruth batted an impressive .356, batted in 164 runs, belted a league record 60 home runs and recorded the highest slugging percentage ever at .772. League rules barred him from being included in the 1927 MVP voting because he had won the same award the previous year.

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

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

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

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

It’s arguably the best team ever.

With a team nickname as frightening and deadly as the line-up that comprised it, the 1927 New York Yankees, also known as Murderers’ Row, is home run for today’s #TBT sports blog.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Worst About Sports: “Sports” That Really Aren’t Sports

Rudolf Wanderone Minnesota Fats

Pool hustler Minnesota Fats

Calling “sports” sports that really aren’t sports is without question my number one peeve about what’s worst about sports!

The list of these non-sports sports is far longer than it needs to be.

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

Skill and discipline are evidently involved, but none of an athletic nature.

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

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

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

FREE Worst About Sports

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

However, entertaining games, races and contests like NASCAR, bowling, poker, sailing, pool, curling and others don’t qualify as sports.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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LA Lakers Feeling Kobe Bryant’s Black Mamba Bite

NBA star Kobe Bryant

The Black Mamba Kobe Bryant

The Los Angeles Lakers are now finding out that Kobe Bryant’s, or the Black Mamba’s bite, is a lot worse than they ever imagined.

In Henry Abbott’s lengthy, unflattering piece in this week’s ESPN The Magazine, the columnist portrays Kobe Bryant as the seismic fault line in the Southern California team’s foundation.

And, few NBA insiders differ with his assessment.

Abbott writes about Bryant, “He is arguably the greatest player in the history of the Lakers’ franchise. He is also destroying it from within.”

Another NBA reporter commented in the ESPN piece. “Peek behind the banners,” says one longtime NBA agent, “and it’s rotten.”

Abbott’s detailed analysis of Bryant’s negative impact focuses on how the Black Mamba has snake bitten the Los Angeles franchise.

Abbott points at Bryant for not only gobbling up a disproportionate percentage of the Lakers’ salary cap by agreeing to a two year $48 million contract. But, the ESPN writer also accuses Bryant of chasing away potential marquee free agent signings because of their unwillingness to team up with Kobe on the LA stage.

Other anonymous agents have reluctantly confirmed Abbott’s assertions that Bryant has unwittingly torpedoed the Lakers’ efforts to sign top free agents, like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Chris Bosh and Paul George) to play along side the fourth best scorer in NBA history. Simply, these NBA stars don’t want to play with the aging Bryant, now listed 40th in a recent poll of NBA players.

Unfortunately, NBA fans are also growing weary of the negativity surrounding Bryant and are now finding out what NBA players, coaches, agents and media have always known – the Black Mamba is as biting, underhanded and lethal as his namesake suggests.

So, you may think I’m a Kobe basher, unfair and too harsh in my critique? Read a quote from another NBA agent.

“I’ve had a lot of clients in the last five years, good players, who didn’t want to play with Kobe,” says an agent who has had numerous NBA stars. “They see that his teammates become the chronic public whipping boys. Anyone who could possibly challenge Kobe for the spotlight ends up becoming a pincushion for the media. Even Shaq.”

Just ask Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol or Smush Parker who all sought one-way tickets out of LAX and aren’t expecting Christmas cards from their former teammate.

The Lakers have lived by Kobe Bryant and now they are wilting, nearly dying, because of Kobe Bryant. As the 36-year-old former superstar’s level of play has declined, so has the Lakers winning percentage from .695 to .621 to .549 to a woeful .329 last season.

This year may not be much better. With no other top NBA talent on its roster, the Lakers will once again struggle to reach the playoffs. ESPN currently ranks the team 28th overall in its latest poll.

The purple and gold seem as if they’re spiraling into an NBA vortex with no immediate reconstruction plan in sight. With five coaches in four years and an aging superstar’s tail wagging the franchise dog, the free fall will certainly continue.

Abbott’s pointed ESPN expose has proven that the Black Mamba’s bite has been far more painful on the franchise’s future than any Los Angeles Lakers faithful could have ever envisaged.

Ouch!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning Breaks NFL Record

NFL QB Peyton Manning

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning

Two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback and current Denver Broncos’ General Manager and Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway and 76,273 fans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium sprung to their feet and cheered.

Millions of fans watching at home more than likely followed suit. Regardless of team affiliation, every football fan had to join in the celebration and gush with admiration and respect for an incomparable quarterback accomplishing an incredible feat.

With about three minutes remaining in the second quarter of last night’s game between the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers, iconic QB Peyton Manning connected with WR Demaryius Thomas on his NFL record setting 509th touchdown pass.

Manning’s 8-yard strike enabled him to surpass Brett Favre as the all-time touchdown leader in NFL history. The 38-year-old Manning needed 246 games to reach this milestone, 56 fewer than Favre.

However, only a few years ago it seemed unlikely that Manning would be able to bask in such a big night. He shared openly, “I’ve discussed with some family and friends recently that [I] certainly didn’t think this would even be a possibility a couple of years ago.”

Amazingly, potential career ending neck surgery cast doubt on the elite QB’s future less than three years ago. However, serious spinal fusion seemed to infuse new life and greater purpose into a QB who had already proven himself over and over again as a winner and indomitable competitor on the football field.

Since returning from surgery, Manning has defied logic, silenced critics and lit up scoreboards. He’s started all 38 games since joining the Broncos and has performed brilliantly, albeit for one blowout Super Bowl loss less than a year ago.

Last night, his record breaking night could not have been better scripted. Playing on Sunday Night Football against a formidable foe, Manning enjoyed an epic moment that may never have happened, but for magnificent medical care, a little luck and the grace of God.

I loved watching the genuine reaction of teammates, coaches, officials, fans and even competitors to Manning’s historic night.

Following Manning’s 509th TD, the surprise game of keep away by Broncos’ receivers Wes Welker, Julius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas served as an exclamation point in paying homage to an exceptional athlete, expertly prepared QB and fun loving teammate.

The Denver receivers proved successful at keeping the ball away from the record breaking QB.

But, their playful game stood in stark contrast to that of opposing teams who’ve been unsuccessful at keeping Manning out of the end zone – now 510 times and counting!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Another Jameis Winston “Signature” Win for FSU QB

MIKE Vintage logo

Another Jameis Winston “signature” win for Florida State last night mitigated the star QB’s latest controversy surrounding purported NCAA “autograph” violations.

Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner was brilliant against a stout Notre Dame defense when the Seminoles needed him most in the second half. Amazingly, he excelled once again in the midst of the latest cause célèbre he brought upon himself and his university.

The QB led the #2 ranked team in the nation to its 23rd straight victory by besting the #5 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish 31 – 27 before 82,000+ fans at Doak Campbell Stadium’s Bobby Bowden Field in Tallahassee, FL.

The Seminoles remained unbeaten with a little luck normally reserved for the Irish. An Everett Golson 2-yard touchdown pass to Notre Dame receiver Corey Robinson on the game’s last play was nullified due to an offensive pass interference call.

Though some fans, especially Fighting Irish faithful, may dispute the game defining call, no one would argue that Florida State’s good fortune loomed large on a national stage once again last night.

Plus, few, except diehard Seminole backers, would disagree that the Seminoles’ “teflon QB” proved for what seems like the umpteenth time that self-imposed problems may circle around Winston. But,  they never preclude him from shining when the spotlight is brightest, the pressure hottest and the public criticism most stringent.

I’m amazed at the 20-year-old’s poise under immense pressure and his excellence on the football field in light of his lack of common sense and simple maturity away from it.

Because of his poor decisions and checkered off field behavior, I am not a Jameis Winston fan. Sure, he can really play.

However, petty thievery, vile language in a public setting, reckless behavior with a bb gun and the unsavory rape accusation have sullied my opinion of the certain first round NFL draft pick.

In spite of the aforementioned black eyes he’s foisted upon Florida State and in light of his recent “autograph” brouhaha, the reigning Heisman winner and national champion QB proved his brilliance last night against a formidable component with another “signature” win.

Now, that’s a win worth writing home about.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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NCAA College Football’s Scary RB Called The Earthquake

Earthquake Bill Enyart

Oregon State RB Earthquake Bill Enyart

As college football fans tune into the tube today with Halloween quickly approaching, I thought this flashback was fitting.

Today’s blog is a chapter from my FREE book Scary Sports Comics and features a frightening running back named Earthquake.

Few college football fans outside Oregon have heard of thunderous running back Bill Enyart who played during the 1960s.

A Richter Scale rating was never formally attached to this football playing Earthquake. However, would-be tacklers have never forgotten the terrifying magnitude of their collisions on the field with bruising running back Bill Enyart.

Oregon State University Sports Information Director John Eggers originally nicknamed Bill Enyart Earthquake when the big, fast and powerful 6’3″ and 245 lb. converted linebacker starred for the Beavers. He regularly churned through defenders with the ground breaking force of shifting tectonic plates.

The NFL has popularized cleverly named and immensely talented individual players like The Nigerian Nightmare, Mean Joe Green and Jack Hacksaw Reynolds.

If not for his career ending knee injury, the rugged, scary and appropriately named Earthquake Bill Enyart, would have been another one of pro football’s cleverly named seismic stars.

The Earthquake is one of 25 sports comics and accompanying short stories featured in Scary Sports Comics.

Safely download the FREE book by clicking on the title above.

Enjoy the read.

Boo!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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October: Best Time of Year to be a Sports Fan

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October always ranks as the best time of the year to be a sports fan.

The breadth of exciting games across multiple sports on television doesn’t get any better at any other time of the year.

Summer is officially over and some sports fans find it impossible to break away from their televisions and venture outside.

Wise sports fans add new batteries to their remotes, stock up their refrigerators with necessary beverages and snacks and make certain that all essential household duties are complete before planting themselves comfortably before their big screens.

Temptations to consider alternative forms of entertainment are quickly dismissed. That’s because everything a serious sports fan needs is available in stunning HDTV clarity in the comfort of his living room or man cave.

Simply, October for sports spectators offers a cornucopia of non-stop entertainment, not to be replicated at any other time of the year.

Here are some examples:

After the Major League Baseball ALCS and NLCS champions are determined, baseball fans enjoy the highlight of their season- the World Series.

Even though the Fall Classic may top the sports network ratings charts, professional baseball isn’t the only game in town to watch on the tube.

By late October each year, NCAA basketball is getting started, while NCAA football nears fever pitch as few unbeatens remain, perennial powerhouses jockey for position in the polls and Heisman hopefuls display their mettle.

Plus, all five professional leagues can be ubiquitously found on television. That’s because MLS, MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL are either swinging into high gear or launching new seasons.

Major League Soccer action is at its peak. Contending teams vie for the last remaining playoff spots.

Nightly NBA and NHL preseason games tempt fans of what to expect in each league’s pending campaign. If hockey or hoops are in your blood, then viewing these preseason contests is obligatory.

And lastly, NFL games and news dominate headlines. From Sunday Night Football to Monday Night Football to Thursday Night Football to comprehensive Sunday coverage, NFL fans are inundated with highlights, injury updates as well as pregame and postgame analysis on ESPN, FOX Sports 1 and the NFL Network.

October may be the highlight of the year for those who love cooler temperatures, changing colors of leaves or trick or treating.

But, for fans, October is universally known as the best time of the year for the most comprehensive coverage of sports on television.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Mr. October Reggie Jackson

Mr. October Reggie Jackson

MLB Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson

Today’s #TBT sports blog looks back on the incredible Fall Classic exploits of Mr. October Reggie Jackson.

This Hall of Fame baseball slugger wore the colorful uniform of the Oakland A’s and the traditional pinstripes of the New York Yankees.

He normally starred during the spring and summer months of the Major League Baseball season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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25 Years Ago Today: Wayne Gretzky Becomes All-Time NHL Scorer

The Great One Wayne Gretzky

The NHL Great One Wayne Gretzky

25 years ago today, hockey’s Wayne Gretzky, simply known as The Great One, surpassed another hockey legend Gordie Howe as the most prolific scorer in NHL history.

On the anniversary of that momentous event, allow me to share an excerpt from my sports comic book Hockey Favorites about one of the most amazing athletes ever, no matter what the sport.

…..Regardless of the sport, the subject of great games, great teams and great players always triggers debate.

However, no one will argue that only one great athlete could lay claim to this title – The Great One.

Wayne Gretzky’s amazing NHL success may never be duplicated. His Great One nickname may never be challenged by any player in any sport at any time.

Legendary NHL players like Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe and Phil Esposito may have excelled and even dominated during their careers. But, their hockey achievements pale in comparison to those of Wayne Gretzky’s.

The Great One’s hockey dominance dwarfs not just NHL Hall of Famers, but celebrated athletes in other professional sports as well.

He’s my undisputed choice at #1 in all-time Hockey Favorites.

Hockey favorites

The 6’ tall and 185 lb. Canadian won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player an unbelievable nine times.

Gretzky completed his career as the all-time leader in nearly every statistical and awards category.

This is an accomplishment that gods of other sports, like Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Lionel Messi, Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Tom Brady, will never come close to achieving.

The Great One shattered Phil Esposito’s record 76 goals in a season by putting the puck in the net an unheard of 92 times.

Gretzky also totaled 212 total points in a single season, one of four times he surpassed the remarkable 200 point mark.

No athlete in any professional league has ever dominated his sport like Wayne Gretzky reigned over hockey.

Gretzky’s career leaves no sports fan to doubt that this amazing hockey player will always be the only athlete known by the deserved lofty label – The Great One.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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ESPN MNF Remembers St. Louis Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf

Greatest Show on Turf St. Louis Rams

The NFL Greatest Show on Turf

More than 100 years ago P.T. Barnum, James Anthony Bailey and the Ringling Brothers built their famous traveling circus into the world’s greatest entertainment event. Traveling about the country under a big top tent, it was coined the Greatest Show on Earth.

These circus masters could never have guessed that a century later, an NFL team from the Midwest would borrow most of their nickname.

The St. Louis Rams did just that. They played their games on Astroturf under a modern day big top known as the Edward R. Jones Dome in St. Louis, MO. The Rams’ fast and entertaining style of play on the football field gave new meaning to the original traveling circus nickname Greatest Show on Earth.

The electrifying Rams were honored yesterday in St. Louis. Head Coach Dick Vermeil and several dozen players were on hand to recall their incredible football exploits from 15 years ago.

Last night on Monday Night Football, the current Rams sported the same uniforms the players on the Super Bowl XXXIV winning team wore. The bright blue and yellow jerseys sparked recollections of the team’s incredible season.

Chris Berman once remarked on ESPN in 2000, “Forget Ringling Brothers: the Rams are the Greatest Show on Earth.” After that, a new and faster moving traveling circus emerged – this time in sports.

Berman’s comment was soon changed to Greatest Show on Turf because of the artificial surface, or turf, in the Edward R. Jones Dome.

The Astroturf greatly increased the speed of the Rams’ already speedy receivers Tory Holt, Isaac Bruce, Ricky Proehl and Az-Zahir Hakin, and star running back and 2000 NFL MVP Marshall Faulk.

Rams offensive coordinator Mike Martz expertly called plays for two-time NFL MVP QB Kurt Warner. The QB masterfully directed the Rams’ passing game that ESPN.com Page Two named the best NFL offense of all time.

With the accurate Warner at QB, the Rams set NFL total yardage and passing records. They also scored 500 or more points in three consecutive seasons, still a league record.

Warner’s pinpoint passing on precision timing patterns to blazing receivers made them un-coverable, especially on Astroturf.

Warner’s throwing ability and the Rams’ talented wide-outs led the team to a Super Bowl XXXIV victory in 2000.

Circus legends P.T. Barnum, James Anthony Bailey and the Ringling Brothers might have created the original Greatest Show on Earth.

But, NFL football fans will always remember the exciting traveling troupe known as the St. Louis Rams.

With Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and speedy receivers performing under the lights of the Edward R. Jones Dome, the Rams will always be known in sports lore as the Greatest Show on Turf.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant Injured

OKC forward Kevin Durant KD35Trey

NBA All-Star Kevin Durant

Reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant carries two of the more colorful nicknames in sports.

The clever Slim Reaper and Durantula monikers have not only paid homage to Durant’s uncanny basketball ability, but they have also carried a foreboding peril for those who face the Oklahoma City star on the basketball court.

Sadly, with yesterday’s unexpected news, both catchy names now unwittingly portend peril for Durant’s immediate basketball future.

OKC Thunder General Manager Sam Presti announced that Durant will miss at least six to eight weeks due to a Jones fracture in his right foot. Surgery is scheduled for this week, and Durant will be more than likely miss 19 games.

Few NBA fans foresaw this grim news coming for the beloved Slim Reaper. Even fewer expected the surprising sting of Presti’s announcement that will sideline an indispensable player known as the Durantula who has only missed 16 games in his brilliant seven year career.

Durant’s injury report startled NBA observers, especially in light of his stepping away from Team USA this summer in order to rest and heal his taxed body that logged an NBA most 3,122 minutes last season.

The somber news signals an uncertain future for both Durant as well as the OKC franchise. Other NBA players Brook Lopez, Glen Davis and C.J. McCollum suffered the same Jones fracture and missed considerable time away from the court. Lopez required a second surgery and had to sit out the entire season.

The Thunder cannot afford to be without its star. The resilient team has excelled in recent years in spite of injuries to two key other players at the most inopportune times.

Durant carried his Thunder squad the past two seasons while All-Star guard Russell Westbrook and All-NBA defensive standout Serge Ibaka were limited due to injury.

Certainly, the Thunder has shown grit and determination the past couple injury marred seasons. However, without Durant in the line up, success will not be as assured as when KD35 is on the court.

Simply, no matter how grim or stinging it sounds, there is simply no replacement for the fabulous Durant in an OKC uniform.

Here’s wishing Kevin Durant a speedy, total recovery.

Like all NBA fans, the game is simply more entertaining and exciting to watch with the Slim Reaper and Durantula on the court.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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My All-Time NFL Favorites Sports Comic Book

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Here’s a look back at Volume 1 of the MIKE Sports Comic Book Series featuring my all-time NFL Favorites.

These football favorites include six famous players, three legendary teams and the single greatest play in NFL history.

My choices may not all be Hall of Fame players; however, they have all earned a spot in this book for their positive impact on the sport or lasting legacy with football fans, most notably me.

The three teams on my list have always been fan favorites.

The Dallas Cowboys, or America’s Team, introduced clever formations on both sides of the ball more than 30 years ago that most NFL teams still utilize today.

The St. Louis Rams, or Greatest Show on Turf, brought new meaning to the circus term “greatest show on earth” for their unprecedented offensive production under the modern day big top known as the Edward R. Jones Dome.

And, the NFL’s only community based franchise, the Green Bay Packers, top off my list of NFL Favorites because of their championship success and the intense loyalty of their Cheese Head fan base.

In addition, this book chronicles former stars and current NFL play makers who have become household names.

You’ll read about a quick, but sure handed Slot Machine and a future Hall of Fame quarterback who routinely passes for huge numbers.

You’ll smile as you recall the immensely (in more ways than one) popular defensive tackle and fullback known as The Refrigerator.

And, you’ll admire two Hall of Famers who never shied away from the spotlight on the biggest of stages – Prime Time and Broadway Joe.

Lastly, the heavenly heave from 40 years ago during an NFL Playoff Game still ranks as the most incredible moment in NFL history.

Plus, each of my top 10 NFL Favorites includes a special sports comic that captures the nickname of the player, team or play.

In addition to the comics, I include a little history in each chapter about my selection and explain why I chose it for NFL Favorites.

NFL Favorites

I’m certain you’ll enjoy my picks. And, email me at mikeonsports@yahoo.com with your own favorite football choices.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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NFL WR Calvin “Megatron” Johnson Listed as Doubtful

NFL receiver Calvin Johnson

Detroit Lions’ WR Calvin “Megatron” Johnson

NBC Sports’ Mike Florio listed Detroit Lions WR Calvin “Megatron” Johnson as doubtful for Sunday’s NFC Central game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Johnson missed the entire week of practice after displaying an inability to plant and cut on an aggravated ankle during last week’s Lions loss against the Buffalo Bills in which he had only one catch.

However, no NFL fan has ever doubted Calvin “Megatron” Johnson’s incredible ability and well documented toughness during his eight year career. Surprisingly, the All-Pro WR has only missed eight total games.

Following the 2013 season, Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson and DE Ndamukong Suh were voted as the most feared players in the NFL, according to an ESPN.com survey of 320 players.

Upon learning about the physical struggles of the amazing Lions wide out last season, Johnson immediately earned my vote, and probably those of the same 320 NFL players polled by ESPN, as the most respected player in the league.

Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew commented on his star receiver’s ailments following surgeries to #81’s knee and finger.

“Johnson played the entire season with a finger really that was pointing perpendicular from his body. He tried to catch the ball like that. He would never complain about that, but certainly that was a factor, I think, in the way he played.”

In spite of injuries that would sideline most other players, Johnson lived up to his clever Megatron nickname. The 6’5” and 245 lb. wide receiver played as if built like titanium. He also demonstrated that, in spite of his nagging injuries, he could regularly transform himself, like the Hasbro robot for which he was named, into the NFL’s most dynamic and feared offensive player.

Knee and finger surgeries may have contributed to his injured riddled 2013 campaign. But, Megatron still posted impressive numbers: 84 catches, 1,492 receiving yards and 12 TD catches. His 4.3 second speed and 44” vertical leaping ability enabled him to easily soar over frustrated defensive backs unable to guard him.

However, what impresses me most about the high flying Megatron is his consummate professionalism on and off the field. I never hear him complain. Nor does he ever make excuses that his lingering ailments limited his always expected electric performances on the football field.

Calvin Johnson gets my vote for most respected NFL player. In a star powered position that usually attracts double team defensive coverage as well as intense media scrutiny, the Lions star set a new standard for the wide out position that normally induces narcissistic personalities.

Most NFL fans grumble at the tantalizing talent, raw athleticism and elusive speed of wide-mouthed wide-outs like Dez Bryant, Steve Smith and DeSean Jackson.

But, let’s face it.

Who is really going to miss the boorish behavior, petty pouting, childish on-field antics and tiresome, off-field self-promotion of those football divas?

When you’ve got a guy like Calvin Johnson, it’s easy to cheer for Megatron who’s easily transformed the wide out position in the NFL.

Let him sit this weekend and rest his ankle and other assorted injuries because fans want to see a healthy Megatron lead his Lions team deep into this year’s NFL Playoffs.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Texans’ J.J. Watt Playing Like an NFL MVP Favorite

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If votes were cast this morning, the NFL’s new $100 million man would be a clear cut MVP winner.

Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt showcased his remarkable skills on Thursday Night Football’s first entertaining game of the season.

 

#99 also validated his franchise’s whopping nine figure investment in his football ability.

With a 45-yard fumble return for his third touchdown of the season, Watt further solidified his sterling reputation on the gridiron. He also recorded two sacks, tackled Colts’ RB Ahmad Bradshaw for a loss and deflected three Andrew Luck passes.

These gaudy Watt statistics seem like video game numbers. But, now they’re expected whenever the freakish talent takes to the field. And, he fails to disappoint.

Watt’s incredible defensive performance demonstrated last night why few football fans would argue that the DE is not just the best defensive player in the league, but the best NFL player period.

A one man wrecking crew, J.J. Watt has been most instrumental in his team’s 3 – 3 start and is expected to dominate for the remainder of the season.

Plus, with an offense that should continue to improve and the return of prized rookie Jadeveon Clowney, the Texans should evolve into a formidable opponent come the NFL Playoffs.

Watt has already paid dividends on his team’s lucrative contract, leaving no doubt that he’s a game changer at any moment on the football field.

Perhaps the only chink in Watt’s armor is his garishly awful dancing that wielded its ugliness again last night after his lengthy fumble recovery for a score.

Hope Texans’ management sacks Watt’s dance routine soon so as not to sully the DE’s growing glowing reputation.

However, Watt’s electric smile and mad football skills make up for the foolish dancing footwork of this $100 million man certain to be voted the 2014 NFL MVP.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Dallas Cowboys America’s Team

America's Team

The Dallas Cowboys – The Original America’s team

Today’s #TBT sports blog brings back the clever nickname that sports fans love to argue about – America’s Team.

And, I’m certain that calling the Dallas Cowboys’ America’s Team will immediately start a bunch of arguments.

But, the Boys are back, sitting atop the NFC East with a 4 – 1 record going into this weekend’s contest against the reigning Super Bowl champs the Seattle Seahawks.

The Cowboys are often referenced as the original America’s Team, but fans in all sports have their favorite teams.

In basketball, there are as many Los Angeles Lakers lovers as there are Miami Heat diehards.

In soccer, there are legions of FC Barcelona backers and Manchester United faithful.

When it comes to baseball, fan loyalty doesn’t run much deeper than followers of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

And, in football, New Englanders pay homage to the Patriots, and Cheese Heads in Wisconsin are equally as crazy about their Packers.

However, in spite of a few recent mediocre seasons, the Dallas Cowboys are back and may be re-emerging as the best NFL fraanchise from the 80’s and 90’s known as the original America’s Team.

Back in 1978, NFL Films innocently referred to the Cowboys as America’s Team. The nickname stuck. The Dallas Cowboys deserved the honor that NFL Films gave them because of their dominance and innovation on the football field.

Most fans loved the team’s exciting offense, stingy defense and colorful players. And, all football fans credit the Cowboys for the new, clever additions they brought to the game.

Legendary coach Tom Landry introduced the more up tempo shot gun offense, pre-snap movements and a swarming flex defense never before seen in the NFL.

The Cowboys were pioneers in the game of football that they dominated for nearly three decades in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

America’s Team won five Super Bowl titles. They also boasted some of the NFL’s greatest stars, like QBs Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, RBs Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith, WRs Bob Hayes and Michael Irvin and DEs Ed Too Tall Jones and Randy White.

During recent years the team has not been the dominating force it had been. Many can argue that the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers or Pittsburgh Steelers are more worthy to carry that title.

However, the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s earned the nickname America’s Team because of their unrivaled success.

And, so far this season, it appears as if the franchise’s success has returned because the Boys are back!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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FREE Sports Comic Book: Favorite Non-Athletes

FREE MIKE sports comic book

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some picks are as obvious as the bowtie I’m wearing. And, others on this list may surprise you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy my FREE sports comic book Favorite Non-Athletes in Sports!

Safely download the ebook by clicking on the purple cover above or the highlighted link in the previous chapter.

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

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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NBA Inks BIG TV Rights Deal with ESPN & TNT

NBA BIG

Popular NBA BIG Marketing Logo

With yesterday’s news that the NBA has inked a new lucrative TV rights deal with ESPN and TNT, professional basketball continues to be a booming business.

First we learned, “NBA action is fantastic!”

Next we decided, “I love this game!”

Afterwards we agreed, “the NBA is where amazing happens!”

And, now, best of all, we know that the NBA is, “BIG!”

These recent “BIG!” advertising jingles ring as familiar to NBA fans as its brightest athletic stars.

However, the “BIG” mantra can also refer to the recent megabucks nine year, $24 Billion deal new Commissioner Adam Silver just inked for the league.

“With these new agreements our passionate fans will continue to benefit from the exceptional coverage provided by [our partners,” Silver said at a news conference in New York.

The extraordinary contract is three times the value of the previous NBA media deal. Disney’s ESPN and Turner Broadcasting’s TNT are paying up $2.6 Billion per year for the rights to NBA broadcasts through the 2025-26 season. That’s a huge increase from the current $930 Million per year they are paying.

Both NBA owners and players alike are ecstatic. Based on their current collective bargaining agreement, the two sides will share 50 – 50 the influx of cash. That means, owners’ profits will soar and players’ salaries will escalate. The current NBA salary cap will rise from $58M to $65M next season and then is expected to skyrocket as much as another $15M per annum when the new media deal kicks in 2016-17.

Under the leadership of recently retired NBA Commissioner David Stern, it’s no wonder why the NBA has flourished. Its popularity has grown and its players’ salaries have become inordinately big to the tune of $5 million per year on average.

Already known for its big shots, bigger dunks and perhaps the biggest athletic stars on the planet like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Kevin Love, the NBA’s “BIG” marketing blitz has once again boosted the league’s already global visibility.

This is a league where the action truly is fantastic and where amazing happens on a routine basis.

So, it should be no surprise to interested sports fans that with the “BIG” campaign and an extraordinarily “BIG” television deal an already big NBA has gotten much bigger still.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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New England Patriots QB Tom Brady Bounces Back!

MIKE sports comic - New England Patriots QB Tom Brady

Tom Brady is back!

He may have only been “away” for a week, but he quickly bounced back last night.

All week long rival NFL fans have frolicked in Brady’s frustration following an embarrassing 27 point loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Several snarky NFL pundits declared that the 37 year-old was demonstrating signs of age, inaccuracy and declining arm strength.

And, even some New England Patriots faithful bemoaned that their golden QB was beginning to show signs of tarnish.

But, the three-time Super Bowl winning QB refused to listen to the naysayers and returned to his expected splendid form during yesterday’s NBC’s Sunday Night Football telecast.

The face of the Pats franchise stepped up when his team needed him most. Brady led the same struggling New England Patriots team from a week ago to a 43 – 17 walloping of the previously undefeated Cincinnati Bengals.

However, before last night’s kickoff fans and media alike were bracing for a continued Tom Brady free fall from the elevated perch among NFL elites that he’s held for the past dozen years.

Pre-game speculation specifically referenced Brady’s porous pocket protection and an anticipated fierce, athletic Cincinnati Bengal pass rush that would further flummox the deemed declining QB.

Yet, neither happened, much to the chagrin of the Brady haters and doubters.

Last night, Brady was masterful. He completely turned the tables on his critics and squashed the mounting negative talk about him.

The QB stood confidently and moved fluidly in the pocket as if walking casually with his super-model wife through the park on his day off in his favorite pair Uggs.

Also, Brady silenced those who basked in his perceived demise and others who pointed to the purported schism between players and management within the New England organization.

How ironic that the same guy who was unmercifully sliced and diced in the media for the past week expertly dissected an excellent Bengals defense less than week later.

Contrary to last week’s published reports that QB and coach no longer saw eye-to-eye, Brady and coach Bill Belichick not only appeared on the same page at all times in last night’s contest. But, they seemed as if they were beautifully singing from the same hymnal.

The QB spread the field and found multiple receivers, while the coach called a brilliant game plan that saw the Pats pile up more than 500 yards in total offense.

Though not a Patriots fan, I’m still happy to witness Tom Brady rebound so quickly from last week’s embarrassing loss.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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NCAA College Football’s Most Chaotic Weekend Ever

MIKE Vintage logo

The headlines from two of today’s top sports web sites perfectly capture the most tumultuous Saturday in NCAA college football history.

Early October has never before witnessed such an entertainingly crazy, wild weekend which ESPN.com deemed Embrace the Chaos and USATodaySports.com called Chaos, Confusion Reign.

However, in spite of the surprising scores from Saturday’s premier games, the results proved to be a delight for some college football fans not accustomed to their teams’ unexpected success.

Never have five of the nation’s top ten teams gone down on the very same weekend. Upsets galore pervaded the college football landscape as fans witnessed the number 1,3,4,7 and 9 ranked teams in the Amway Coaches Poll tasted defeat.

Powerhouses Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas A&M and UCLA all lost and will certainly find themselves falling down or out of the top 10 poll when it comes out tomorrow.

But, the Magnolia State of Mississippi will be euphoric. Never in their state’s history has both Ole Miss and Mississippi State reached this stage of their respective seasons undefeated and poised to break into a top 10 poll position.

Besides both Mississippi schools, Fighting Irish fans are smiling today too after yesterday’s thrilling come-from-behind victory over Stanford. Notre Dame is certain to see its new ranking climb higher than number nine it held last week.

Florida State University should reside unchallenged at number one in the polls. However, don’t expect the Seminoles to run the table this season as marquee match-ups with Notre Dame, Florida and Louisville will test their mettle and find them knocked off the number one poll position perch.

In the ESPN College Football Game Day Studio, I wish I could hear the venerable Lou Holtz off-camera pontificating and prognosticating about perhaps the best college football season to date in NCAA history. Because, not even college football’s best pundits like him could have ever seen yesterday’s results coming.

May more upsets come, may more wild weekends entertain us and may college football fans bask in the chaos of it all.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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The Re-Birth of NBA Center Dwight Howard

NBA all-star Dwight Howard

Houston Rockets’ Center Dwight Howard

Yahoo Sports’ NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski just posted a feature column on the purported re-birth of Houston Rockets star center Dwight Howard.

Woj’s in-depth analysis chronicled the mercurial Howard’s rehabilitation from shoulder and back injuries. It also referenced the Rockets center comparing the public criticism he receives to that of the late NBA Hall of Fame center Wilt Chamberlain.

However, what the NBA writer’s column surprisingly didn’t address is what every basketball fan knows; i.e. Howard’s immense physical skills pale in comparison to the evident mental and physical lapses in his overall game.

And, that is where a re-birth, a transformation and an all out fresh start are needed for the petulant Howard to become an NBA champion.

Just replay any NBA video from 18 months ago. As a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, Howard’s “Dwight-mare” of a basketball season ended both ignominiously and fittingly with an embarrassing sweep in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

NBA fans observed his lack of leadership, his paucity of discipline, poor passing from the post and several inexcusable, selfish acts on the court. Not once did fans see Howard huddle his teammates together or openly demand more out of them, or better yet, himself.

Booed by his own fans and maligned by a Twitterverse, Howard deserved criticism. NBA fans witnessed Howard’s continued passive demeanor and petty pouting during timeouts or stops in play.

And, it didn’t change when he changed geography to Houston.

Fast forward from the early exit in Los Angeles to last season when NBA fans voiced their opinion of Howard in NBA All-Star Game voting.

Since receiving 3.1 million votes in 2009, Dwight Howard’s popularity with fans has revealed a steady drop.

NBA fans cast 2.3M votes for him in 2010, 2.1M in 2011, 1.6M in 2012, 922,000 in 2013 and only 653,000 this past year.

Last season’s first round NBA Playoffs loss to the Portland Trailblazers proved once again that any rebirth as an elite NBA player needs to begin with his leadership skills and his ability to carry his team to a playoff series victory. And, Howard has done neither.

Sure, basketball junkies might be able to live with D12’s woeful free throw shooting and developing overall offensive game. However, none want to cast their All-Star vote for an immature, undisciplined and still unproven (in the NBA Playoffs) talent.

Like Wojranowski, I’d like to witness a Dwight Howard re-birth, too. And, not just the re-birth of his physical skills.

I would like to see the long and “whining” road that Dwight Howard embarked upon in Orlando, that ended badly in Los Angeles and that is continuing to be traveled in Houston, eventually strengthen him.

May Dwight Howard learn from last season’s All-Star snub and early NBA Playoffs exit, and may he quickly silence the snickerers.

Most importantly, may D12 eventually mature into the player and man that NBA fans can admire both on and off the court.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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