Basketball Hall of Fame: Air Jordan…..Now Grounded!

His tears were genuine.

He appeared poised, once again, to soar above all mere mortals in the basketball world.

However, the monumental chip on Michael Jordan’s shoulder loomed larger than any words 23 uttered at last week’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Jordan’s inexplicable words at first baffled, and then essentially grounded perhaps the Game’s greatest player in the eyes of expectant, but then bewildered contemporaries, teammates, coaches and fans.

On a special night when MJ could have perpetuated his larger than life legacy, he tethered himself to the induction ceremony’s podium in a self made pair of cement Nike Air Jordans.

Jordan unnecessarily took shots at vanquished opponents and coaches…..when none were necessary.

Jordan pontificated about his profound competitivenes…..when no one ever questioned it.

Jordan punctuated his speech with selfish, snarky remarks…..when he should have followed the new Hall of Famers previously inducted that evening with self-less comments filled with grace and heartfelt thanks.

The audience laughed awkwardly at MJ’s snide comments and applauded dutifully when 23 exited the dais. Sure, perhaps the best player on the planet was acknowledged and rightfully so. However, a once adoring basketball world was left to wonder what Michael still wants to prove.

In the eyes of many that evening, Air Jordan’s hubris grounded himself! However, here’s hoping that the next time 23 takes a stage somewhere, Michael leaves the monumental chip in the locker room…..allowing him to soar once again to basketball greatness untethered and unencumbered.

Straight talk. No static.

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

US Tennis Open: Serena Williams Needs a Tennis Ball Binky

Serena Williams - Source Wikimedia James Boyes

During Saturday’s US Open Semi Final match, Serena Williams would have been best served by voluntarily stuffing the same ball into her mouth that she rudely offered to shove down the throat of a timid line judge.

A make-shift “tennis ball binky” probably would have saved the whining Ms. Williams an inevitable suspension. More importantly, the “fuzzy round pacifier” would have pre-empted the reigning champ’s awkward threats and classless profanity laced tirade before a shocked Arthur Ashe Stadium Center Court crowd and a perplexed television audience.

Compounding her embarassing exit, the petty, potty-mouthed Williams pouted at the post match press conference, nervously fidgeting and never apologizing for her bratty boorish behavior. However, this petulance is what we’ve come to expect from Serena – YES, a world class tennis player and a winner of 11 Grand Slam tournaments, but, NO, not a champion YET… in the eyes of most until she learns to comport herself with dignity and grace.

Serena’s recent temper tantrum only adds to a growing fan discontent for her feigning mystery injuries when beaten, criticizing the ratings sytem when she’s not on top and failing to genuinely credit her victorious opponents.

The tennis powers must act swiftly and strongly against the shameless Serena.

Time to grow up, Serena. Watch your mouth, bite your lip and curb your tongue. You can do it!

Otherwise, a “tennis ball binky” should be the only piece of equipment you ever take to a match.

Straight talk. No static.

MIKE – thee American made voice on sports!

NFL Eagle’s QB Michael Vick is NO Vick-tim!

With a new NFL season scheduled to kick-off today, my timing is perfect to post this blog.

So, say what you want about Michael Vick.

Continue your debate.

Present your premise that Michael paid the time for his crime. Defend your dissertation that Michael has yet to pay a societal penalty.

Stand with the SPCA and protest games in which the new Eagle plays. Support the NAACP that Michael deserves a second chance.

Agree passionately with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to reinstate Vick. Disagree vehemently with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to reinstate Vick.

However, in spite of all the difference of opinions, we should all agree that Michael is NO Vick-tim and has never claimed to be a Vick-tim in the adversity that he created.

#7 has publicly pleaded for forgiveness, openly displayed remorse and genuinely accepted responsibility for his deplorable decisions.

Lefty never upbraided his upbringing, never pinned his predicament on his posse and never cited some outrageous excuse like Gremlins in his Gatorade for his thuggish behavior.

The beleaguereed Vick stepped up BIG when most other celebrity felons quickly shrink and shrivel from the spotlight.

I personally will root for this electric QB to succeed in what will evolve as a microscopically watched second chance…..because Michael’s certainly NO Vick-tim!

Straight talk. No static.

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

Seinfeld Over FIFA Soccer

In nearly every country across the globe soccer reigns supreme. Yet here in the USA, “The Beautiful Game” pales in popularity. American sports fans would rather watch Seinfeld reruns over FIFA soccer any day of the week because a deft, one touch pass leading to a goal still cannot trump barbs exchanged between Jerry and Kramer or Elaine and George.

Last night’s 1- 0 USA victory over Trinidad in a World Cup qualifier proves my point. The game wasn’t even broadcast on cable television, yet a litany of Seinfeld reruns was available for the viewer. Sadly, true soccer fans had to log onto to to witness Ricardo Clarke’s exciting goal from 25 yards out to give the Americans the win, putting them in first place in the Americas’ FIFA World Cup Qualifying Bracket.

Plus, last week, FIFA announced that the USA squad inched up to the #11 slot and Brazil nudged Spain again for #1 status as the world’s best team in the world’s most popular sport.

But, do Americans really care? The answer simply is NO!

American sports fans can’t stomach much soccer, and I know why. It’s the exxagerated histrionics. Sure, low scoring games probably bore modestly inquisitive American fans, but what really irks American fans is the overly dramatic actions of the gel-infused artsy-fartsy guys sporting knee socks, neon colored tee shirts and animated attitudes you’d normally attribute to overly pampered 5 year olds.

I know, I know, Americans revel in the soap opera antics of the WWF, but the drama queen dilettantes of soccer are far too melodramatic for the traditional, 3 yards and a cloud of dust American male mentality.

Want to argue my point? Tell me you haven’t guffawed at these over-reacting “athletes” every time they get touched. They get kicked in the calf, but by the way they jettison to the ground you’d think they got shot by a stinger missile. Next, tell me you haven’t grunted as panicking paramedics race onto the pitch with their all-too-familiar stretcher in a mad dash to resue the injured player. And tell me you haven’t shouted “disgratziad” as succouring soccer teammates hover around their fallen comrade, scream wildly at the ref, and practically recite the rosary in a last rights gesture for the teammate who’s precariously fighting death’s door.

Now…..if all this nonsense is not enough, you’re expected to stand up and cheer once play resumes and the injured player suddenly, as if risen from the grave, miraculously sprints into the thick of the action like he’s running in the Boston Marathon.

These silly shenanigans play way too much like a bad Italian Opera for gutsy American sports fans. So, that’s why American sports fans, if given the choice, will gravitate to a silly show about nothing and will always, yes always, choose Seinfeld reruns over soccer.

Straight talk. No static.

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

ESPN Foolishly Foments NCAA College Football Chippy Chatter

Although his punch paled to the devastating damage Kermit Washington’s delivered to Rudy Tomjanovich’s face in the 70’s, LaGarrette Blount’s jarring jab to Boise State’s Byron Hout’s jaw proved plenty powerful. The Oregon Running Back’s knuckle sandwich certainly served as fodder for a sports media food fest for the past three days.

Talk of Blount’s postgame punch punctuated tv and radio programs and inundated internet sites, first dissecting the jab, then decrying this now remorseful athlete’s uncalled for and unsportsmanlike act.

Sure, an excessively harsh one year penalty banning Blount from playing immediately followed, as did a tamer one game suspension for the taunting Hout. However, was this ugly incident inevitable? And were these two adrenaline induced athletes solely to blame? Or, did ESPN’s constant chippy chatter concerning its coverage of this collegiate clash contribute to the scary scenario of last Thursday night?

Absolutely! Da da Dunt!

ESPN’s cheeky chatter preceding the Oregon / Boise State matchup foolishly fomented this fated football fracas…. like churning chum in shark laden waters. The Worldwide Leader in Sports erred in its responsibility to deliberate pending trouble………… instead of instigating it. You bet execs in the Bristol’s hallowed halls know it, too!

Expect ESPN to exercise more cautionary coverage of tonight’s pre-game handshake of two rabid rivals Miami & FSU in another classic college football kickoff. Otherwise, continued chippy chatter from the Network could incite a potent punch far more horrific than Kermit Washington’s haymaker in Houston.

Straight talk. No static.

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

US Tennis Open: The Grunting’s Gotta Go!

Never knew tennis was such an obnoxiously loud sport.

Whoa! Tennis…loud? I know what you’re thinkin’. MIKE’s lost it ‘cause all sports fans agree that tennis is dignified, cultured, quintessentially British with polite clapping for pretty pony-tailed girls sporting shapely short skirts.

Well, that’s NOT the tennis I experienced last night from my $1,000 nosebleed seat at the US Open. Yup! The normally distracting drone of JFK jets overhead couldn’t drown out the ridiculous racket on the court below.

You see, my only expectation of noise at a tennis match was the bop of the ball off the racquet or the squeak of sneaks on the hard true surface. But, I never anticipated the unanticipated…. the grating grunting and groaning of a statuesque Russian blond careening around the court.

Witnessing this Canon Camera Cover Girl methodically manage her match against an upstart 17 year old sounded more like a wounded deer extricating itself from a bear trap.

Every serve seemed like the Russian’s last as primeval screams emanated from her very core. Every return volley resonated with a guttural bellowing burst. And individual hairs on every fan’s neck stood at attention every time Miss Sharapova shared her shuddering shrieks for all of the Flushing Meadows’ faithful to forbear.

I’m sorry, but grunting doesn’t add another 25 mph to your serve, doesn’t perfectly place a return volley, and certainly doesn’t enrich the overall fan experience, especially when paying for a ticket mirrors that of making a mortgage payment!

Hey, I’m all for cheering on pretty pony-tailed girls sporting shapely short skirts, but let me be clear, “The Grunting’s Gotta Go!”

Straight Talk. No Static.

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

ESPN’s Monday Night Football Draws Fanatic Favre Faithful

ESPN reported today that its Monday Night Football telecast earlier this week captured the Network’s best ever audience for a pre-season NFL game.

Whoa! Hard to fathom that so many fanatic Favre faithful still follow this oft retired, frequently un-retired grizzled QB recently signed by the Minnesota Vikings.

Just when we all thought this double-minded Mississippi Gunslinger officially hung up his cleats after last season’s NY Jets debacle, we find good ol’ #4 (in desperate need of some Grecian Formula for Men) back in our living rooms struttin’ his stuff and crack-backing an opposing team’s receiver during prime time coverage!

Once a faithful Favre fan myself, I’ll be watching very closely how the 39 year old Favre fairs against the much younger fellas from the defensive side of the ball. Plus, how Favre’s new teammate loyalty evolves in the Vikings locker room greatly intrigues me. A team schism surrounding a Vikings’ QB controversy has already surfaced.

However, all that who should be our QB non-sense will immediately evaporate when the vaunted Brett justifies his cool $12M salary by tossing touchdowns and leading the Vikes to victory after victory.

Viking Management signed Favre to a lucrative deal because they think #4’s still got what it takes to win in the NFL. Barring injury, Brett will win, schisms will be quickly forgotten and fanatic Favre faithful will become….. even more fervent!

Straight talk. No static.

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

MIKE – aka Mike Raffone – Who Am I?

MIKE here.

Originally created as Michael Anthony Raffone, I now just go by MIKE.

No last name. Just MIKE.

Like Lebron, Tiger and Shaq, I don’t need a last name.

Sports fans everywhere know me, and chicks love my bowtie!

Why am I so famous? And why does the Media refer to me as Thee Long Awaited Microphone Messiah…poised to save America from its own self-induced sports coma?

Because NOBODY knows more about sports than me….and NOBODY reports on sports in the ridiculously honest way I do!

You see, I was built to be THEE man with THEE big voice on sports!

Fans love me because I always report on what I know, what I see and what I think in my straight talk, no static style! Plus, I’ll make you laugh too!

So, sports fans. . . LOOK for me, LISTEN for me and LOVE me for who I AM…

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