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Friday 22nd Sep 2017

OK, I am an NPR fan, and I am not a Fox News fan.

And, one of the reasons is that NPR really has always--in my experience--been solid at representing/presenting both sides of an argument, and while Fox says they also do this, well, again in my experience their reporters take things out of context.

In a fact a while back when the Shirey Sherrod story (remember her: made confessions about her own racism and relative epiphanies, and Fox took them out of context and subsequently HUD fired her and the NAACP distanced itself from her in the worst of knee jerk ways) hit, I wrote that sadly, it seemed like stupidity would become the great equalizer in our culture, transcending culture and race and religion, making us all the same and equals. Because we are stupid.

Well, now NPR has fired ten-year newsman Juan Williams for essentially making the same kind of comment as Sherrod. Williams basically noted when he was flying and saw someone whom he thought looked overtly Muslim, he got warning signs.

Williams, talking with Bill O'Reilly, did go on to explain that he knew this was a knee jerk reaction, and that all us human beings had to transcend such reactions. And, he is right. And, whether we like it or not, these kinds of reactive fears are very old I believe, going back to times when stranger pretty much meant enemy by rote.

But that NPR, the ostensible bastion of objectivity would not just react, but essentially fire Williams without discussion is inexcusable.

For we are allowed our opinions. And for NPR took the comments of Williams as much out of context, as Fox took the comments of Sherrod out of context. And that is simply wrong.

The underpinings are that because Williams did appear as a Fox guest, he did not seem to fit the perfect liberal profile now apparently required of an NPR reporter.

And, I would like to think that the one difference between the right and the left is some form of patience and tolerances and self actualization on the left that seems to be lacking on the right.

At least until now. I can still hope, but sadly with this action, once again the left has proved they can be just as stupid as the right.

In the words of Ross Perot, that is just sad.

Finally, the talk of the NFL is about the game itself and not some of the garbage that is better served populating a gossip rag than polluting the front page of your favorite sports section.  The NFL has vowed to come down hard on players administering “devastating hits”, subjecting them to immediate suspension without pay.  I will save the debate about how the league plans to determine a devastating hit for others to bandy about.   There is something else that has my dander up.

There are many players, analysts, commentators and fans that are proclaiming this to be the wussification of the NFL.  They contend football is a contact sport and the league is turning it into glorified flag football.  They say injuries are part of the game and that is part of what you sign up for when you strap on the pads.  They suggest the goal of a defense is to be physically intimidating so the offensive player is fearful of being hurt.

Eschewing the fear that I will soon have to turn in my man-card, while this tough-guy bravado is all well and good, I have a huge issue with this mentality.   To me, this is basically celebrated bullying.  I don’t want my defense to be a bunch of bullies.  Bullies are bullies because they have no other means of being successful.  To me, that is taking the easy way out.  I want my defense to be feared not because you may get concussed any time you touch the ball, but rather because you are going to have to work for every yard gained and point scored due to their superior athletic ability, intelligence and work ethic.

I do not want the opposing team’s wide receiver to have alligator arms because he is afraid of laying out over the middle because he will get whacked without being able to brace for the hit.   I want the opposition quarterback afraid to challenge my cornerback for fear of getting picked off.  I want the offensive coordinator to have to leave the tight end and running back in to pass block because my rush is so effective.   I want overall athletic ability to trump the “my job is to hurt you” mentality.

Look, I know football is a contact sport and a violent game.  The collisions in the trenches have often been described as akin to a car crash.  It is what I consider to be the gratuitous violence and the glorification of the act that bothers me.   Highlight shows routinely focus on so-called devastating hits, even if they have no impact on the play, let alone the game.  The viewer will not get to see the outstanding deflection of a would be touchdown or a shoestring tackle just as the ball carrier was about to bust one, plays that more directly influenced the outcome of the game.  Of course this is akin to showing a slam dunk in a 106-83 route or a meaningless home run.  But it is what the public prefers to see, unfortunately.

Perhaps what really bothers me is I see some of these viewpoints as somewhat hypocritical.  Before I make the upcoming analogy, I am by no means comparing the two situations ‘word for word’.  I am merely commenting on how some seem perceive the violence associated with each.  I am reticent to term the violence gratuitous in both as that may give an unintended connotation, though I do feel in terms of the football aspect, it is indeed gratuitous.  What I find a bit contradictory is how someone can vilify Michael Vick and glorify James Harrison.  Again, I am not comparing the respective acts apples to apples.  I just have an issue with how the violence is perceived.  I believe Vick got what he deserved and I do not believe Harrison is a criminal.  Maybe gratuitous is the right word and all I am trying to say is I do not need gratuitous violence in football for it to be compelling and entertaining.

Gratuitous shots of cheerleader cleavage and shapely backsides, on the other hand….

I remember in 1995, when Brett Favre was so new and hot. Cathy and I were living together for our first fall, and she generally went to tai chi Monday nights.

But, one Monday that fall, I asked her to stay home and watch the Packers with me because I wanted her to see Favre and his genius at work. And, football fan or not, Cathy had an appreciation of such skills, and Brett did not disappoint, I think tossing four TD passes and dropping her jaw more than once.

Cut to a couple of other things. Seeing the end of Steve Carlton's wonderful career in San Francisco, where sadly, the great lefty was more ineffective than Jamey Wright.

Or, cut to the 1973 World Series and Willie Mays, whom I saw in his prime at San Francisco, falling on his butt tracking down a ball in center frield.

Now we all know Favre has kept retiring and then un-retiring, which has become kind of irritating, but this year is the year Brett should have let it go.

Favre arrived to camp late and is clearly still playing "catch-up" and were the Vikings smart, they would have let go rather than cajoled Favre into another season.

Favre's team is not the team they were last year, and sigh, when the Bears are dangerous and the Pack superior, well, maybe it was time to look elsewhere.

But then there are those "personal" pics floating around cyberspace, and though I do have my questions about them, as in "where were they the past three years?" I also have to think there is something to them.

Because stuff like this does not just float out of the total ether, any more than aqua buddhas (Rand Paul) or anti-gay owners of gay bars (Carl Paladino) will have the truth about questionable behaviors revealed. Because there are no secrets any more.

Now, I don't care what Favre did, or how he gets his rocks off or who he solicits, any more than I care who Bill Clinton slept with or Newt Gingrich for that matter (my complaint with Gingrich is one of hypocrisy).

But, well, now all Brett is is a distraction. Worse, I have to think he will be suspended which pretty much puts the Vikes back on the path had Favre not come back in the first place.

Because, there has to be a little creedence to those photos and all I can think is Favre, like so many, is simply stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

He is a star, and thinking secrets would be cloistered is as naive as Tiger Woods thinking no one would ever find out about his exploits. And, again, I don't care what these guys do: but, I am shocked that they are shocked when they get caught doing something, uh stupid.

Let it go Brett. For all of us. We are sick of your unretiring. We are sick of playing innocent in the face of stupidity. We are sick of distractions.

Brad Childress, just consider this year a loss leader and find a new QB.

Because we want to watch football. Not a circus. And sadly, Brett Favre, like Mays and Carlton, had to stay one season too many.


I have no horse in this race.  While I am a life-long Red Sox fan, I am not a card-carrying member of Red Sox Nation that has two favorite teams: The Sox and whoever is playing the Yankees.  Just don't tell this to my niece.

Actually, I do have a rooting interest in the series, but it is for personal reasons.  If Texas plays San Francisco, my buddy Lawr is going to be able to meet up with his pal, Ron Washington on the field before Game 1 of the World Series.  This falls under the realm of "totally f'in cool" and is a moment I really hope he gets to enjoy.

With that as a backdrop, I thought so at the time and still may be proven wrong, but I think it was a mistake for Joe Girardi to flip-flop Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes in an effort to better match-up against Cliff Lee.  As an aside, if Lee keeps this up, a new term will be introduced into baseball vernacular.  An incredibly solid series of performances will be referred to as pitching cliffly.

Anyway, the primary explanation I saw written for the switch was so Pettitte would be able to square off against Lee in a deciding Game 7.  Some also pointed to wanting to break up the southpaws and some home/road splits, but the prevailing opinion was this was in reaction to combating Lee.  But you have to remember one thing: YOU HAVE TO GET THERE FIRST!!!  And while I am not saying Pettitte would have bested Colby Lewis in Game 2 and Hughes would have carried that momentum into Game 3, I do think starting what you consider your second best pitcher in Game 2, then your third best in Game 3 gives you the best chance for advancing to the World Series.

I have firsthand experience with the "you have to get their first" concept.  It was late October, 1985.  I was a 5th year senior at Division 3 Case Western Reserve University, playing center and defensive line for the undefeated Cutler Dukes, a 7 on 7 full contact flag football juggernaut.  Yes, back then we played both ways.  We were in the semifinals.  And while I tell everyone I stayed in undergrad a fifth year because I changed my major too late to accrue the necessary credits to graduate with a Biochemistry degree, the truth is I was not graduating until I secured an intramural championship.  Between men's and co-ed football and softball, I had failed on my previous 16 attempts, making the playoffs 13 times only to lose the championship game 8 times.  The 1985 Cutler Dukes were the best chance I had to graduate, I mean win my coveted championship.

But we were faced with a difficult decision.  Our star wide-receiver/defensive back was the starting off-guard for the basketball team (the real one, not intramural) and the coach would only let him miss one practice for football.  We had to decide if we wanted to have him play in the semis, and have him miss the finals or win without him and have him for the championship game.  Well, it is pretty obvious which direction we took and what happened, lest I would not be taking up bandwidth with this story.  We lost the semis without one of our best players and he was still able to make the next hoops practice.  And sure enough, the only score of the game was a bomb to the guy he would have been covering.

While I know it is not the best idea to base life lessons on a knee-jerk reaction to a singular incident, from that point on, I did adopt the credo to worry about today first and let tomorrow take care of itself.  And it has served me fairly well.  I figure so long as every tomorrow becomes today, the plan is working.

For those wondering, I was thankfully spared a sixth year at CWRU.  It took my 20th and final chance to get the job done. The underdog Cutler Dukes advanced to the men's softball championship after no-hitting their opposition in the semis. Then led by a one-legged first baseman who hurt his foot in the co-ed championship game, we finally enjoyed the sweet taste of victory with the game winning run being driven home by yours truly, after hopping on one leg to first base, narrowly beating the throw from the LEFT FIELDER as the winning run crossed home plate.  But that's a story for another time tomorrow becomes today.

Greetings from what I hope will be a fun, interesting, provocotive, and even controversial venue--and forway--and a departure for us at Mastersball.

Over the years, both CREATiVESPORTS and Mastersball have held audiences that rank amongst the most cerebral in the fantasy world, and, well, we also have the names, titles, and alumni to prove it.

Starting with Jason Grey, who founded Masstersball way back when, and me, who did the same at CREATiVESPORTS, who between us hold five AL Tout Titles over the past five years. Not to mention Todd Zola, Brian Walton, Rob Leibowitz and a bunch of other high profile industry names.

And, well, to be truthful, serious analysis and, sigh, dignity have always been at the forefront of what I wanted to present.

But, well, times change, not that I want to go anywhere undignified, but, well, I am manning this blog, assisted by Jason Mastrodonato, with chimings from from Mastersball mates as appropriate.

And, I want to dig into things. Now, we will still have room for fantasy baseball and related strategy, but the home source for that information with continue to the The Forum, so aptly maintained by my partner Lord Zola.

But here, we can talk about Brett Favre texting his personal pics. Here we can question why after Darren Oliver had a melt down in game one of the ALCS, why Ron Washington did not simply drop Neftali Feliz into the foray and try to stop the bleeding immediately. And, well, here we can talk about Glen Beck noting a few weeks back that slavery was not such a bad thing, that it was government regulation that was the problem (uh, excuse me Glen, but, owning another human being is ok?).

Or whatever.

Not that we want a circus free for all. As always, and comment, thought argument is welcome, especially if you have some thought and reason behind it. So, let's try to stay away from generalizations and finger pointing and realize there are times we will agree to disagree.

For that is not only fine, it is as American as anything. I well, I may be a Berkeley hippy, but my parents fled the holocaust and settled here as immigrants, so I have a feel for that experience. Similarly, am I grateful for the more than priviledged life I live here. In short, I love my country, but, I also see where it could be so much better. Where we have the resources to make it better for all, and to really grow and become part of a world community that pushes us all on.

It reminds me a lot of when radio was first popular, and the owners of the game did not want to have their games broadcast for they feared playing the games on the radio for free would cut into their attendance figures.

What happened was the opposite: that suddenly a larger fan base developed, and the owners had greater and greater attendance.

The same thing happened with television, but still owners could not see how such free advertising would enhance their business, but the truth is teams became even more successful with all that exposure.

So I believe it is with wealth and power and love and information, which are commodoties which somehow we think we need to guard to keep a share for ourselves. And, where the truth is, the richer, more powerful, more intelligent, and more loved we make those around us, the greater our own share of these commodoties also grows.

It is as simple as that.

So, with that as an opening caveat, look for at least one post, and then comments responding to your comments, every day here on the MASTERSBLOG.

And, also watch as we begin to revamp the site, making it as friendly for you to use as we can (while we are also working away on the products that will make the coming 2011 Fantasy Season a killer for all of you within our community, and especially to those we hope to hook in).

More to come. Let's make this fun!


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