MLB Needs to Expunge Expectorating

Spitting in baseball is a Major League problem.

While watching last night’s All Star game on FOX, the disgusting discharges emanating from eminent National and American League players seriously sullied my spectating enjoyment.

I know all of America agrees with me that baseball players spit way too much.

The only thing more annoying than Tim McCarver’s minutiae or Joe Buck’s babbling about boring baseball statistics is seeing the sunflower seeds and spittle splattering the baseball diamonds of an All Star Game.

Major League Baseball needs to establish a No Spitting Policy immediately. Look at other sports. You don’t see Lebron launching a loogie into the lane before attempting a free throw or Michael Phelps flinging phlegm into the pool before diving off the starting block in a big race.

Before losing its faithful baseball fan base to saliva-free sports, the Commissioner needs to halt the hurling of hawkers by Expunging Expectorating from baseball!

Straight Talk. No static.

MIKE – thee American Made Voice on Sports!

Red Card the Refs!

OK, Sepp Blatter. Dust off your personal collection of Red Cards and start booking some of the bumbling blokes you assembled to referee in this year’s World Cup.
Red Card all the refs responsible for their awful officiating in South Africa…which was about as predictable as the flight of a Jubalani soccer ball.
Kick off (pun intended) the purging process by poking a gigantic Red Card under the nose of Howard Webb – the chap you chose to officiate yesterday’s plodding championship game between Spain and the Netherlands.
Who cares if Howard Webb was the best the English premiere league had to offer? So what if he issued 13 Yellow Cards and one Red Card during Spain’s 1 – 0 victory over The Netherlands in extra time.
There should never have been any extra time . . . thanks to Howie.
Oranje fans will never forgive this English ref for failing to book Spanish defender Carles Puyol in the waning moments of the match. Puyol grabbed fleet-footed Arjen Robben just outside the penalty area during the Dutch striker’s unobstructed path to the net.
Surprisingly, the Yellow Card Happy Howie inexplicably swallowed his whistle on this game-altering play. Howie allowed the action to continue unabated as Puyol improperly impeded Robben’s impending goal scoring run. Regulation time soon expired, and the Spaniards marched on to win the title in extra time . . . thanks to Howie’s inconsistent officiating.
Howard Webb may have missed this now infamous infraction. However, 700 million ESPN viewers from around the globe certainly saw it in stunning HDTV either in the luxury of their living rooms or while chugging a beer in their favorite pub.
Here’s hoping Sepp Blatter exhausts his personal collection of Red Cards on the woeful refs responsible for careless calls in South Africa. And, finally, before we samba on down to Rio for World Cup 2014, here’s hoping Sepp Blatter Heimlichs any refs content on choking on their whistles . . . instead of blowing them.
MIKE – Thee American Made Voice on Sports!

Lebron James’ Decision Part 1 – Me, Myself & I

Me, Myself and I were the only people that Lebron James ever cared about.

Us, We and Team never factored into Lebron’s decision to forsake his faithful fans and teammates in Cleveland and bolt to the broiling beaches of Miami.

Forget about family. Forget about friendship. Forget about fostering hope for a struggling region in our country. Fortune and fame were the only fundamental factors forcing the career choice of the selfish would-be king without a ring.

Last night in a tightly scripted declaration, the now former Cleveland Cavalier star finally decreed his royally self-serving plans to a national television audience. Lebron’s decision was all about him, himself and he! Never were any plural pronouns even considered in James’ edict.

The Press, most unnervingly ESPN, pandered pathetically to the hysteria hovering around Prima-don Lebron’s free agency announcement. Court jestering replaced ESPN’s normally respected journalistic coverage. Lebron’s hand-picked interviewer Jim Gray lobbied softballs at the reigning NBA MVP – smartly arrayed in a purple and white checked shirt . . . and thankfully not in purple robes, sceptre and crown.

Worse yet, sports fans tolerated the pomp and circumstance surrounding James’ surreal free agency circus. Bracing for pain, we all tuned in to ESPN last night to witness the inevitable . . . all the time secretly hoping LBJ would never spurn the Rust Belt for the sun, surf and sand of South Florida.

Even the Cavalier franchise and the surrounding Cleveland community succumbed to carefully courting the king, cautious not to upset him while praying and pining that their hometown hero would eschew the bigger city spotlights for the rain-soaked shores of Lake Erie.

Other NBA owners frolicked in Lebronamania, knowing the word Billion was Lebron’s primary motivation and foolishly thinking 23 would move his monarchy to their metro markets.

Now jilted and scorned, we all had hoped the hometown hero would hunker down in Cleveland and bring the city by the lake that long sought after championship in pro sports for which it has thirsted for the past 50 years.

Okay sports fans, after all this ranting over Lebron’s leaving it’s now time for us to move on – let’s forgive 23 for forsaking us and wish the man the best in his quest for a ring in Miami.

Sure, Lebron should have stayed – but he didn’t. Sure, Lebron could have consulted with us – but he hadn’t. Sure, Lebron would have been forever loved in Ohio – but he won’t.

However, when you’re calling South Beach home, and the guaranteed millions are already in the bank, it’s easy to understand why . . . Me, Myself and I are the only three people on the planet that Lebron James ever cared about.

Straight Talk, No Static.

MIKE . . . Thee American Made Voice on Sports!

Diego Maradona: God’s Hand Returns to FIFA World Cup in South Africa

The Hand of God has returned to this year’s World Cup.

Not on the pitch – as in the famed 1986 England vs. Argentina World Cup quarter-final match in Mexico City – but rather on the sideline.

Once again, God has freely handed soccer fans across the globe the eternally entertaining gift of Team Argentina’s Coach – Diego Maradona.

Today’s chubby coaching caricature may look more like a trite Telemundo Talk Show Host than the world class player he once was. But, Maradona no longer needs a soccer ball to save and dazzle during this World Cup. He still can enrapture viewers every time ESPN’s wide angle camera lenses turn his way.

Long gone are Diego’s deft touches, sudden bursts of athleticism and scintillating soccer skills. Although Diego’s soccer lore has been resurrected, his long lost athletic glory has been replaced by melodramatic John Gotti type mannerisms, sharp blasts of profanity and elongated bouts of exxagerated emotion in which the quixotic coach warmly embraces the very same players he routinely castigates.

A sight to behold on the sidelines, the dapper Diego unabashedly sports identical wrist watches on either arm and matching diamond softball-sized studs in either ear. Squeezing into a freshly Armor-alled goonish grey suit, the mercurial Maradona looks more loan shark than soccer coach.

Passion personified, Diego smiles, snarls, steams, struts and stomps along the sidelines while relentlessly combing his jet black dyed mane with his 1986 beefy Hand of God miracle mitt. Barely able to corral his bullish frame within the obligatory coaching box, Maradona challenges every officiating call, while grasping his rosary beads with a vice grip and gesticulating un-sactimoniously for his worldwide audience to witness.

So, the next time we pay Penance by yawning through another listless France vs. Uruguay nil – nil draw, let’s offer our thanks to the Almighty for the gift that God so freely handed to us again in this year’s World Cup.

Diego may be the only salvation we’ll need to enjoy this year’s tournament.

MIKE – thee American made voice on sports!

Italian Creative Expression at FIFA World Cup 2010

For centuries, Italian creative expression has resonated throughout the world.

In Art, the brilliance of Italian masters Michaelangelo and Bernini has enraptured art lovers around the globe.

In Music, the virtuoso talents Andreas Botticelli and Enrico Caruso have serenaded millions of opera officianados.

In Fashion, the avant-garde designs of Gianni Versace and Salvadore Ferragamo have been exported to deep pocketed fashionistas from Berlin to Beijing to Buenos Aires.

In Architecture, the iconic landmarks of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and the Duomo in Florence have drawn countless pilgrims from every culture.

And now in Sports, Italy’s fabulous flopping footballers have mastered their imaginative machinations once again as the unrivaled diving divas of the soccer pitch.

Taking their melodramatic histrionics to unprecedented levels, Italian soccer stars have perfected their plunging panache and easily passed other wanna-be tumbling sports talents like Derek Fisher of the Lakers – and for that matter, every WWE wrestler – as they’ve mastered the art of unnecessary flailing and flopping.

Take the scene at yesterday’s rain soaked 1-1 World Cup match between the defending World Cup Champion Azzurri versus upstart and emotionally driven Paraguay.

In the game’s early minutes Italian Midfielder Daniele De Rossi sprinted toward the goal, eagerly anticipating a pass from a teammate. Next, ESPN cameras captured De Rossi on the rain soaked field grabbing his calf as if suddenly shot by a stinger missile. De Rossi’s apparent writhing in agony prompted panicked paramedics to race on to the pitch to administer emergency aid to the Azzurri’s injured Italian Midfielder.

At the same time, De Rossi’s succouring soccer teammates hovered around him, screamed wildly at the ref, then directed Neopolitan curses at their Paraguayan opponents, all while reciting rosaries in a last rites gesture for their teammate who was precariously fighting death’s door.

Suddenly . . . and you know what happened next . . . as if the Italian Midfielder’s soap opera nonsense wasn’t enough, the nearly slain De Rossi miraculously rose from the grave, er, the turf that is, sprinted around the pitch like he was running the Boston Marathon, then eagerly rejoined his teammates as the ref instructed both sides to resume play. What a show!

Despite having held up the game for several minutes, De Rossi’s antics didn’t even get a yellow card. I say for this exaggerated Italian expression, the refs should have awarded him an Oscar instead. Play on.

MIKE – aka Mike Raffone – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

World Cup 2010: It’s Time for FIFA to Red Card the Vuvuzela

The World Cup 2010 kicked off with a bang – or should I say – a curious, cacophonous chorus of South African vuvuzela.

Vu-vu-ze-what you might you might be asking.

No, vu-vu-ze-la, as in the Setswana name for a plastic three foot long noisemaking horn (emphasis on obnoxious noisemaking – like that of an ADHD kid juiced up on Mountain Dew) favored by South African soccer fans.

The vuvuzela vaulted into international popularity as soon as the oft maligned new Adidas soccer ball got kicked around the pitch in Johannesburg during this weekend’s opening game between host South Africa and Mexico.

However, the initially revered, but now increasingly embattled vuvuzela may may Red Carded sooner than expected based on the overwhelming reaction of a disgruntled international ESPN television audience.

Day 1 of ESPN’s television coverage witnessed intrigued viewers from around the globe immediately enraptured by the discordant din of these cheap plastic trumpets.

Day 2 television coverage showed a surprising shift in opinion as World Cup watchers warily became aware of the dissonant and disturbing drone of the reverberating vuvuzela.

On Day 3, however, viewers of ESPN’s television coverage voiced cries of victimization by the vile vmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm of these never ending vuvuzela.

So, once Day 4 coverage continues tomorrow, will FIFA, which governs the World Cup, muzzle these maddening monotone South African music makers which sound more like swarming locusts or angry bees in a very large hive?

OK, FIFA, if you really give a Desmond Tutu, ban the vuvuzela from stadiums during remaining World Cup 2010 matches. Let us enjoy world class World Cup soccer coverage without the low class, dreadful din of these hideous horns.

Yes, FIFA, it’s time to Red Card the vuvuzela!

MIKE – aka Mike Raffone – thee American made voice on sports!

World Cup 2010: FIFA’s Trans Atlantic Tussle

Never before has the Atlantic Ocean been considered chic conversation.

Typical chatter concerning the 4,000 mile expanse of chilly water separating the United States’ eastern shores from the rainy, cloudy British Isles generally generates genial jesting between long time friends and political allies.

However, on June 12th this brisk, blustery body of water will surface as the sports world’s salient subject – known to Yanks and Brits alike – as World Cup 2010’s Trans Atlantic Tussle. This ESPN televised event pits aspiring contender Team USA against soccer’s more established, football-rich Team England.

Expect the June 12th World Cup game to be much bigger than soccer bragging rights. This 2010 first round match in South Africa showcases the United States second fiddle Yanks against the more ballyhooed Brits and should settle scores more serious than any simple soccer game.

Also at stake are decades of debates, disputes and disagreements surrounding each country’s icons. Like the Buck vs. the Pound, American football vs. football the rest of the planet plays, White House vs. Windsor Castle, Bon Jovi vs. the Beatles, Disney vs. Diana, Broadway vs. Piccadilly and not to forget the all important delicacies of Hamburgers vs. Fish n’ Chips.

So, who cares whether you say How you doin’ or Cheerio or whether you drive on the right side of the road or the left or whether you display your red, white and blue colors on the American Flag or the Union Jack.

June 12th’s World Cup 2010 Trans Atlantic Tussle between the United States and England should be exciting for fans watching from Los Angeles to London and should settle several critical cultural clashes between these two nations….at least until they face each other again in a future World Cup.

And don’t you fugghedaboutit, old boy!

MIKE – aka Mike Raffone – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

NBA Needs to Say Enough of Kobe’s Beefs!

OK, I’ve had enough of Kobe’s “beefs!”

No, I’m NOT referring to Japan’s Kobe Beef… as in the finest steak in the world.

However, I am lamenting Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant’s non-stop bickering beefs; i.e. the murmuring, complaining, whining, sulking and moaning we witness every time this loquacious Laker steps on the hardwood.

Right now, Boston Celtic fans are probably scrambling to canonize me as the new patron saint of Beantown for my audacious, long overdue proclamation, while loyal Left Coast Laker fans are boiling mad with plans to excoriate me somewhere on ritzy Rodeo Drive for all of SoCal to see.

Hey, I’m the first to admit that Kobe Bryant is arguably the best player on the planet. Sorry, Lebron-lovers. But, hear me loud and clear Laker faithful, Kobe’s pissy attitude, once again, during the recent Laker – Suns Western Conference Finals was totally inexcusable.

Coach Phil Jackson should bury a baby’s binkie in Bryant’s mouth instead of tippy-toeing around the Lakers’ $30 Million per year Prima Donna. What a disgrace that Jackson goes along with his star guard’s glaring, glowering and grimacing every time he misses a shot – or sanctions the sulking sewage that flows offensively out of his mouth toward the refs just as effortlessly as BP’s blundering oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why don’t we hear Marv Albert or Kenny The Jet Smith or Charles Barkley or Jeff Van Gundy step up with some stones and speak out against the belly-aching Bryant? Sadly, we see plenty of other sniffling television sportscasters like Stuart Scott and Doug Collins molly-coddle Kobe’s contentious conduct and carelessly condone his condescending comments aimed directly at his very own Laker teammates.

Basketball fans, here’s hoping the diminutive NBA Czar David Stern, always eager to pontificate before a camera, bottles up the bickering, babbling Bryant before the Boston – Los Angeles series begins tonight.

Enough of Kobe’s “beefs,” so we can all enjoy a great NBA Finals!

MIKE – thee American made voice on sports!

What CBS Misses in its March Madness Coverage

Going into this weekend, the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament has been officially trimmed to four fantastic teams, and this year’s CBS March Madness television coverage has once again frustrated the lucid, logical thinking of reasonably intelligent college basketball fans everywhere.
Big Dance diehards have fallen fast for the foolish fodder and boyish banter beaming from the CBS broadcast booth without ever questioning the corny, cliche cloaked commentary and overt omissions of CBS’ celebrated basketball announcers.
At times, CBS ignores the blatantly obvious right at the tip of your nose stuff, while hypnotically hounding fans with hokey, hyperbolic play-by-play analysis, subtly sucking viewers brains right out of their cranial cavities.
So, college basketball fans, put the Panasonic plasma on pause and ponder these missing March Madness oversights, compliments of CBS’ college basketball announcers.
Here are my first 4 forgettable picks:
#1. The Missed Free Throw Party – OK, so why can’t we find anyone in the CBS broadcast booth with some bravado to decry the dubiously dreadful display of celebrating shooting ineptitude nearly every time a free throw shooter misses a gimme from the charity stripe?
Doesn’t anybody else on the planet find it utterly ridiculous when teammates enthusiastically approach the brick-laying free throw shooter and congratulate him with high fives and pats to the butt after he just clanged an important freebie from 15 feet? Imagine if MLB infielders raced to the pitcher’s mound to bask in the embarrassment of a pitcher who’s last fast ball wound up 450′ away as some fan’s souvenir in the center field’s stands!
CBS’ silence on the Missed Free Throw Party makes no sense whatsoever to me.
#2. Tattoos – Once again, why doesn’t someone in the CBS broadcast booth blurt out the obvious and bemoan the proliferation of butt-ugly tattoos blanketing far too much of the basketball players’ exposed skin? After witnessing Northern Iowa’s upset of Kansas, I’m all for lobbying for an NCAA ban barring big, beefy boys without a tan from ever sporting multi-colored tattoos on any part of their bodies.
My second petition will be for the NCAA to mandate long-sleeved, turtle necked shirts to cover any future fashion paux of all heavily inked players because it seems like inebriated frat house friends frolicked with Etch-a-Sketch art on the chiseled players’ forearms, biceps, backs, necks and shoulders!
Perhaps CBS should initiate a think before you ink campaign to spare viewers at home from witnessing these unsightly tattoos.
#3. College Basketball’s Teflon Coated Coach – OK, why aren’t college basketball conspiratorial crazies feasting on the journalistic blackout concerning Kentucky coach John Calipari? Never heard a peep from any of the boys in the CBS broadcast booth scrutinizing this slippery and unscrupulous coaching cad from Lexington. College basketball’s highest paid coach is historically a walking NCAA infraction-in-the-making with a well-chronicled resume of recruiting players with no regard for collegiate consistency, scholarship and integrity within their university’s basketball program.
Perhaps the CBS boys believe Kentucky actually recruited Coach Calipari to improve its anemic 9% graduation rate or that the muck that Just in Time Johnny (getting out of the place before your sordid history catches up with you) left at Memphis and Massachusetts was merely coincidental. Duh!
#4There’s a Lid on the Basket – Doesn’t anyone else agree that this is one of the most over used cliches in sports? CBS sportscasters need to remove from their repertoire this ritualistic excuse for poor shooting. Come on, CBS, give the opposing team’s defense better credit and mute any mention of this trite expression citing a metaphorical metal disk hermetically soldered to a rim. There isn’t anything physical attached to the rim prohibiting the ball from going into the basket.
The only things preventing better shooting are better shooters or even better defense from the opposition….. and it doesn’t require a handsomely paid former player wearing a thousand dollar suit sitting in a broadcast booth to figure it out.
Maybe CBS should put lids on the lips of some of their basketball broadcasting boys in the booth before they blurt out any more corny cliches or totally overlook the obvious.
OK, college basketball fans, email me your selections of slack CBS sports casting and blatanly obvious omissions from this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Straight talk. No static.
MIKE – thee American made voice on sports!

Let the NCAA College Basketball Nail Biting Begin!

Maddened by another early March malaise, munchers, crunchers and nibblers alike will be unwittingly fidgeting and feasting on fingernails while watching their favorite schools participate in College Basketball’s Big Dance of 2010.

I say, let the Nail Biting Begin!

MIKE – thee American made voice on sports!

……MIKE’s “Let the Nail Biting Begin” post was selected as a finalist in the nationally recognized Last Fan Standing 2010 Sports Blogging Contest. To read MIKE’s “Let the Nail Biting Begin” blog in its entirety, click this link at