Thursday, July 30, 2015

Real Winners

My favorite coach in all of professional sports is San Antonio Spurs head man Gregg Popovich.  Pop treats the mid-game timeout sideline interview with the TV reporter the way it should be treated: with absolute disdain and like the waste of valuable coaching time that it is.  And he has won five NBA Titles running an old-school ball-movement offense.  Now we know that he believes there should be winners and losers in sports.

Popovich was interviewed by KNBR Radio in San Francisco last week in a rare (for him) wide-ranging discussion of topics in and out of sports--and he was asked about our "trophy culture:

“We’ve all been involved in kid’s sports, whether it’s clinics or our own kids,” he said. “I’m a firm believer that the treats are OK at the end of game for the group, or a banquet-type thing at the end of the season. But awards are a different thing. Giving out awards after every game or clinic for no reason whatsoever, I think it takes away from people.

The education you get from disappointment, (compared to) winning and everything going your way all the time, where no matter what you do, it’s going to be rosy, that’s not (my belief). I think you learn to handle a little disappointment, handle a loss and figure it out, whether it’s with your coach or parents or a mentor. I think it’s a huge lesson that’s missed with a lot of kids.”

Now before you go off on Popovich as being a "cranky old curmudgeon" in that same interview he lauds the social changes that have taken place in the past decade as it pertains to women's and gay rights.  And he had a woman coach the Spurs Summer League team--saying that she was more than qualified to lead men (they won the Summer League title as well, by the way).

And like many of us in the business world, Coach Popovich finds this new generation of workers--we can call them the Millenials--are totally incapable of accepting failure or criticism as opportunities to become better.  They've always been told they are "the best", they have the participation trophies for just showing up so everyone on the team or the dance troupe were treated "fairly". 

Popovich isn't alone in his beliefs.  For a great expose on the "Trophy Culture", check out the latest HBO Real Sports to see what is happening to all of those kids with the rooms full of awards for just showing up


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Justice--NFL Style

As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan I'm glad to see that Jimmy Garoppolo will likely be the starter for the New England Patriots when they host the Black and Gold for the opening game of the NFL season.  Barring a legal injunction from a Federal judge, Tom Brady won't even be in Gillette Stadium that night--as he will be serving the first game of his four game suspension for deflating balls that were used in the AFC Championship game against Indianapolis last season.  Or at least requesting that the balls be deflated by now-former Patriots equipment managers.  Or maybe because he didn't "fully co-operate" with a league investigation that had neither the legal right to question Brady about what he knew or to subpoena and seize any of his personal property--like a cellphone.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell--acting as Prosecutor, Jury, Judge and Appeals Judge--is sticking by his original punishment of four games for Brady.  That would be the same number of games that Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Greg Hardy will be suspended for thowing his girlfriend into walls and furniture of their apartment, choking her and threatening to shoot her with the dozens of assault rifles that he had in the residence.  Crimes that he was initially convicted in a court of law of committing--before the verdict was overturned on a technicality and the victim no longer wanted to pursue prosecution because Hardy paid her a bunch of money.

The suspension that Commissioner Goodell has given Tom Brady is the same length that Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was given for allegedly forcing himself on a woman in a bar bathroom.  Criminal charges there were dismissed after the victim decided she no longer wanted the case to go forward.  That is double the length of the suspension given to former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for punching out his then-fiancĂ© in a casino elevator.  It was only after extreme public backlash that Goodell made Rice's suspension indefinite--a decision that was later overturned by a Federal court.  Tom Brady will also sit out one more game than Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Letroy Guion will miss for the possession of a large amount of marijuana, cash and a gun this past off-season.

So let's review the ranking of "seriousness of offense" in the eyes of Commissioner Goodell from least-serious to most-serious:

5--Punching out your fiancé and dragging her body around on the floor

4--Violating state and federal drug laws

3--Attempted sexual assault

2--Attacking and threatening to kill a woman

1--Taking air out of game balls.

Commissioner Goodell insists that Brady's punishment is "fair" given that he "tainted the integrity of the game".  How many games will we have to suspend Commissioner Goodell for doing the same thing?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Eternal Guilt Trip

I sometimes wonder why we don't have a steady stream of liberals jumping off of bridges and tall buildings in America.  There is no greater source for guilt and self-loathing than those on the left.  I found the latest example in a tweet from Slate.com on a man who writes about how much he hates to grill out.

In clicking on the link, I expected yet another article about the inhumane treatment of the animals that end up on our dinner plates.  Or maybe it would be another diatribe about how livestock farming contributes to global warming.  Perhaps the article would be about smoke from backyard BBQ's ruining the air quality of our neighborhoods.  Instead, author Jacob Brogan hates himself for working the grill be because grilling out is sexist.

In Brogan's liberal thought process, his making dinner over hot goals or open flame "perpetuates gender stereotypes".  Who hasn't noticed that the Kingsford Charcoal bag features a man at the grill.  Or that any ad for outdoor appliances, furniture or pools shows the men gathered around the BBQ holding the tongs and bottles of beer while closely monitoring the charred meat and probably talking about sports--while the women sit at the patio table sipping on their fruity drinks and likely discussing why Lydia down the street is getting a divorce.  Every time a man fires up the grill--whether it be for ribeyes or for hot dogs, he is "keeping a woman in her place".

Websites like Slate and Salon.com are a treasure trove for liberals engaging in self-flagellation over such egregious crimes against society as laughing at Seinfield reruns (because the show features an all-white main cast and the few people of color are portrayed in a "caricature" style) or watching The Cosby Show as a child (because that was a "false representation of the African-American family--starring a man who demanded accountability from the Black community--and was conveniently discredited by accusations and admissions of rape) or letting their children watch Disney Princess movies (because most of the Princesses are white and come from privileged backgrounds--while the antogonists tend to "darker in color").

While these articles never fail to provide with a few laughs, they also amaze me with the degree of self-importance and megalomania that Liberals possess.  These people really believe that their singular actions directly effect the lives and psyches of hundreds of millions of people.  I'm pretty sure that 99.99999999999% of American women had never heard of Jacob Brogan--and had no idea that he grills.  Yet in his mind, Brogan is "sending a message" to all of those women that "they don't belong at the grill" by doing so.  Of course now that he has published his "confession" on Slate--just 99.9999999998% of American women are unaware of his actions.  And the same goes for the guy who feels he needs to atone for laughing at Babu Bhat being deported because Jerry forgot to give him his letter from Immigration Services or the woman who really believed that there were Black OB/GYN's during the 1990's.  You can stop with the wailing in the street and gnashing of your teeth.  You just aren't that important--or influential.  So lighten up and try to enjoy your life. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Better Off Not Succeeding

While My Two Cents was on its annual EAA Airventure hiatus, golfer Jordan Spieth saw his attempt to complete the single-season Grand Slam come to an end--missing a playoff at the British Open by just one stroke.  As much as I like Spieth and want to see history made, it's probably a good thing that he will not come to Whistling Straits a couple of weeks from now with a chance to complete the Slam.

If Jordan had somehow come back to win at St Andrews last week, his quest would have moved from the sports report to the mainstream media's attention.  There would have been appearances on the morning shows, the network news broadcasts would have done features, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel would have been competing to get him on during late night as well.  It would have seemed that Jordan Spieth was everywhere.

And what America would have learned about its newest sports superstar is that he is a very polite, modest young man who still calls people "sir" and "ma'am" and refers to some of his elders on the PGA Tour as "Mister".  They would also learn that Spieth left college golf after just one year and turned pro without any playing status on any tour.  He then parlayed sponsors exemptions into enough good finishes to earn conditional status on the PGA Tour--and became the second youngest tournament winner in history by holing out a bunker shot at the John Deere Classic when he was just 19.  Advertisers would be dying to have him do for their brands what he has already done for Under Armor and its golf apparel lines.

But with this new-found celebrity would come inevitable backlash.  You know that websites like Salon.com and Slate would publish several articles pointing out that Jordan Spieth is a child of the "One Percent"--that his parents were wealthy Texans who could afford country club memberships and lessons with top swing instructors, short-game gurus and mental coaches.  They would sneer at the idea that it was a risk to leave college--as "Mommy and Daddy could just bankroll his athletic dreams" if he not earned his PGA Tour card.

And columnists like Leonard Pitts and Bryan Burwell and whoever is doing sports opinion for the New York Times now would question why America is so quick to embrace a 21-year old white kid as its new sports hero when there are so many African-American players in other sports that have "overcome real adversity" to succeed.  They too would portray Spieth as a spoiled, rich kid and claim that it's a lot easier to be "a gentleman-athlete" with his background than it is for the kids who grew up playing their sports on urban playgrounds.  By the time you would finish their articles, you would be convinced that the only reason Jordan's long putts and pitch shots are going in all the time is because of "white privilege".

So maybe it's better for all of us who appreciate greatness in sports that Zach Johnson won the Claret Jug last week instead of Jordan Spieth.  It means we can focus on the  final score--and not "social identity"--do determine our champions.

Friday, July 17, 2015

A Very, Very, Very Sad Day

This will likely be my final day as a Jeep owner--at least for a little while.  Frame rot has weakened by 2000 TJ Sport to the point that important parts of the drivetrain are at serious risk of falling off of the undercarriage.  Rather than put the driving public at risk, I've decided to park my trusty steed of the past 12-years and purchase another vehicle.  I'll let someone else buy her and try to fix her up or just use her for parts.

Fortunately, the weather has been good the past few days and I've been able to have a few final trips around town with the top down, the sun shining upon us and the wind whipping past us.  It was 4th of July night that I mentioned to my wife on the way to the fireworks how much I loved that feeling.

Unfortunately, thanks to our recent "best vacation ever" to Hawaii and a series of other "life happens" expenses, I don't have the cash on hand to purchase the next Jeep that I would like--a Rubicon JK (with the rock-crushing 44 Dana front and rear axles, lift kit, tow package and Sunrider soft top)--so I am faced with three choices:

One, I could just head down to the Jeep dealership and apply for a no-money down, 72-month loan for a brand new Rubicon that I mentioned before.  I would surely qualify for the lowest interest rate and the maximum amount of capital financed and could order every option I want right from the factory.  But as a disciple of the Dave Ramsey Way that would also put me into debt for six years--and even if you pay off the loan as soon as you can, the interest still increases the total purchase price.

Two, I could take the cash we have on hand and buy one of those boring, mid-mileage, mid-size sedans or crossovers that dominate the roads today.  It would reliably get me from point A to point B every day for several years.  But it would also mean a longer amount of time I would need to save for the Rubicon.  Plus, I'll become the guy who has to set off his car alarm with the key fob to figure out which tan four door is his in the parking lot of the grocery store because they all look the same.

Or three, I could buy what Dave Ramsey likes to call a "hoop-dee car".  A mechanically-sound vehicle that runs good but looks ugly for the lowest price I can find.  It serves as a reminder that a vehicle is simply a machine meant to transport you safely to wherever you have to go.  And it will provide me with a head start at saving for the vehicle that I actually want.

And that is the route that I am going to go--purchase what I need now for as little as I can--so that later on I can buy what I want at whatever price I need to.  Plus, getting into that hot, slightly-funky smelling interior every day for a couple of years will remind me of those sun-drenched topless days in my Jeep--and make it so much easier to transfer that cash into the money market account every month for my next top-down summer cruising experiences.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Strange Bedfellows

One  of the most interesting things about the debate over funding a new Milwaukee arena is the "strange bedfellows" that have been created in the negotiations to provide taxpayer money for the project.  Governor Scott Walker--who has been accused of "hating Milwaukee" and "trying to destroy the city" is teaming up with Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett--who twice ran against Walker for Governor on a platform that would "not reward billionaires and corporations with tax breaks".  And yet, there they were at at least one public rally for the arena just about holding hands and singing the praises of giving the billionaires that own the Milwaukee Bucks about 200-million dollars in state, county and city taxes and credits.

And one of those Milwaukee Bucks owners--Marc Lasry--is a campaign contribution "bundler" for Democratic candidate for President Hillary Clinton.  He was able to convince his friends to give Clinton 270-thousand dollars to the Clinton campaign in just its first "official week".  That cash could later be used against Scott Walker if he were to become the Republican nominee to challenge Clinton next year.  (Of course, who is to say that this Bucks arena deal might not include a little back door, unwritten agreement that Lasry and his friends might throw some difficult-to-track-down cash toward the Walker For President campaign as well.)

And now you have high profile liberals like John Oliver of Last Week Tonight taking aim on the liberal leaders of Milwaukee for their desperate pleas to give those billionaires the taxpayer money to build the new arena:



If he would have had his own show a couple of years ago, Oliver would have been hailing Tom Barrett as a national hero as he sought to "bring down the evil Scott Walker".  But in the world of doing everything you can to keep a semi-popular sports franchise in your city, the regular rules of politics apparently go out the window.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Exploit Her While You Can

The ESPYs are tonight.  In the realm of made up awards shows ESPN's effort is especially unnecessary because sports is one of the few areas in life where you actually have scoreboards and standings to determine who is a winner and who is a loser.  I tend to doubt that winning "Men's Basketball Player of the Year" tonight will assuage LeBron James' bitter disappointment in losing the NBA Finals last month.

One honor that was of note at the ESPYs over the years has been the Arthur Ashe Courage Award--named for the American tennis great who broke barriers as a black man playing a predominantly white sport--and who died from AIDS acquired during a blood transfusion--spending the rest of his life raising awareness of the disease and funds for a cure.  For most of the year it was assumed that Lauren Hill would be this year's Arthur Ashe Award winner.

Hill was a college basketball player at Mount Saint Joseph's University in Ohio who contracted Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma--a rare form of brain cancer that usually affects children in their first ten years of life.  Despite her diagnosis, Hill still worked with the team in hopes of making it into one game this past season.  In a rare class move for them, the NCAA even allowed MSJU to move up its season opener to before the mandatory start date for women's basketball to ensure that Hill might still be able to play.  The game was moved to a bigger gym and still sold out--with all proceeds going to cancer research.  To date, the Lauren Hill Fund has brought in over one-million dollars.

It was ESPN themselves that introduced Lauren Hill to the world, chronicling her story during a number of emotional features on SportsCenter and other long-form programs on the network.  Her appearance on the floor for that first game led that night's show--as did news of her death in April.  Winning the Arthur Ashe Courage Award would just add to her legacy and further her cause of awareness.  Well that is until Bruce Jenner had a sex change.

As has been promoted endlessly on ABC--which is airing the ESPYs for the first time ever this year--it will be Caitlyn Jenner that receives the Arthur Ashe Award--and not Lauren Hill.  The inspiring story of a small college basketball player dying from a rare disease is nice and all--but did you see the ratings for Jenner's "coming out" interview with Dianne Sawyer (also on ABC)?  Obviously that is the what "inspires" America!  And did we mention the ESPY's are on ABC this year?

It was announced this week that there would be a "special honor" for Lauren Hill's family during tonight's telecast--think of it as the "Participation Ribbon" of the ESPYs this year.  Hopefully it comes before CAITLYN JENNER'S FIRST LIVE NETWORK TELEVISION APPEARANCE--ONLY ON ABC!! so that America get can some inspiration before their heaping helping of exploitation leaves them with a sour taste in their mouths.