Keith Strudler

Keith Strudler: Firing Josh Brown

4 hours ago

It is an overwhelming time in American sports. First, we have two feel good stories in the World Series and the end of at least one curse. It's also the midpoint in both the college and professional football seasons, when programs focus there gaze towards both the playoffs and bowl games. Add to that the start of the MLS soccer playoffs and, in case you missed it, the first game of the NBA season last night. It can be hard to simply know what's happening, much less to have any sense of mastery. So that said, it's fairly easy for the case of Josh Brown to be buried amongst the highlights. For the uninitiated, Brown is the newly unemployed punter of the New York football Giants. He was released this week by the team after spending last week on the NFL’s exempt list. Meaning he couldn’t play, but he did get paid. Which to be honest, is most everyone’s dream.

Keith Strudler: Chicago Cubs Fans

Oct 19, 2016

Cubs fans, it is now time to get nervous. A few days ago, you were up one game to zero in the National League Championship Series. Three more wins against the Dodgers, and it was off to the World Series, where you would be the favorite to win over what now appears to be the Cleveland Indians, who are up three-nil on the Toronto Blue Jays. This would be your first trip to the Series since 1945. And if you won, the first time since 1908. As you’re well aware as a Cubs fan, this is the longest championship drought in professional baseball. Or more precisely, in all professional sports.

Keith Strudler: Locker Rooms

Oct 12, 2016

This is a commentary about locker rooms. I know you’re heard plenty about locker rooms. First from presidential candidate Donald Trump. Then from most of his surrogates, who affirmed his narrative about crude discussion in that space. Then from a bunch of journalists that questioned locker rooms as a viable excuse to brag about sexual assault. And finally from lots of athletes who largely denounced the idea that locker rooms are in fact a place that enables such discussion, although a few did admit to some lude and obscene discourse. So we have heard more than our fair share of talk about locker rooms, which some of us primarily see as a place to simply get dressed and showered after working out.

Keith Strudler: Vote Like Lebron

Oct 5, 2016

As we all know from watching this peculiar presidential election, public opinion can change fast. NBA superstar LeBron James can attest to that. A few years ago, when Ohio born and raised James left the Cleveland Cavaliers to play for the Miami Heat, Ohioans treated LeBron like he was the Devil. If the Devil also stole your girlfriend and your parking spot. But only a few years later, after he came home and won the first championship in forever for the hard-luck town, those perceptions shifted a bit. So much that he could probably win the governorship right now. Without even campaigning. But LeBron isn’t a politician, at least not in the traditional sense.

Keith Strudler: The Sadness Of Death And Sports

Sep 28, 2016

Death is not a new story. It’s a news story, but not a new one. In fact, it’s one of the three things my grandfather told us we all had to do – the other two were being born and paying taxes, and apparently that third one is now up for debate. So perhaps Sunday’s somber sports news isn’t all that unique. That on Sunday, two prominent American sports figures passed away. First, we learned that Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez died during a late night boating accident. Then we heard that golfing legend Arnold Palmer passed away that same day, much more peacefully it seems. Hernandez was a promising young talent, all of 24 years old. He’s a two time all-star and won Rookie of the Year in 2013. In pure athletic terms he was likely reaching the peak of his career. From a fiscal perspective, the gravy train was nearly in his grasp. Hernandez was eligible for arbitration in 2017 and free agency two years later. And if his numbers stayed where they are, I’m sure he’d bank more than the $2.8 million he earns this season – and way more than the $651,000 he got last year. With all apologies if this sounds crass or insensitive – and it’s not meant to be – but Hernandez never was able to cash in on all his talent and hard work. If not for him, than perhaps for his first child that’s on the way.

Keith Strudler: Playing Up To Your Competition

Sep 21, 2016

Maybe the worst college football play last weekend – and there were a bunch – came with South Carolina State already down 14-0 mid-way through the first quarter to national juggernaut Clemson, which shares state boundaries and nothing more. Catching the ball in the end zone on a kickoff, State return man Ahmaad Harris threw the ball towards the ref before he took a knee. Which meant it was a live football, and wouldn’t automatically be put at the 20 yard line like Harris thought. Clemson defenders dove on the ball, and like that it was 21-0. It continued through the first half, which mercifully came to a conclusion with Clemson up 45-0. That led the officials to ask both head coaches if they could shorten the second half just a bit, which both agreed to. So instead of 15 minute quarters, they got 12 minute ones. Even that was probably too long. The second and third stringers only scored two touchdowns in the shortened second stanza, making it 59-0 in a game that oddly wasn’t as close as the score indicated.

Keith Strudler: The NCAA And North Carolina

Sep 14, 2016

If five years ago someone told you that in 2016, the NCAA would boycott one of the two American Carolinas, you’d bet the farm it was South Carolina. You know, the one that flew the Confederate Flag at the statehouse. The home of Strom Thurmond. The one the NCAA already boycotted since 2001. And you would be wrong.

Keith Sturdler: Organic Sports

Sep 7, 2016

I have grown to believe, perhaps incorrectly, that Gatorade is the most important elixir in the history of the planet. It makes you run faster, jump higher, lift more, and generally perform like an elite athlete. I’ve also grown to believe it can cure most human illnesses, something affirmed both by having two kids of my own and during a short period earlier in my life when I dated a med school pediatric resident, and on pretty much every call she told some parent to just give their kid Gatorade and let ‘em sleep. Which made me believe that being a doctor wasn’t all that hard, at least that part.

Keith Strudler: The Racial Politics Of Sitting Down

Aug 31, 2016

This may seem odd, but I’ve always wanted the US to change our national anthem to God Bless America. It’s not that I’ve got any desire to place any god even more in the center of our national debate, nor do I have any particular distain for the Star Spangled Banner, even if it is a bit hawkish for my taste. It’s just that I think God Bless America is a much better song. It’s like comparing Midnight Train to Georgia to the Humpty Dance. They both have their place, but one’s just better.

Keith Strudler: The High Stakes Of An Arm Cross

Aug 24, 2016

Some people – I’d dare say most Americans – would believe that swimmer Ryan Lochte will be the most persecuted athlete in the wake of the Rio Olympic Games. For his foolish antics – and really, more for the bizarre cover-up than the crime itself – he’s lost potentially millions in sponsors, including Speedo, Ralph Lauren, and a bunch of other companies I’ve never heard of. He’ll also be the running joke of late-night TV and probably has keep his hair brown for the near future. But really, it’s not all that bad. I’d imagine he’s back in black within a few months and probably hosting another reality TV show not long thereafter. Don’t cry for Ryan Lochte, not that anyone really is.

Keith Strudler- The Cost Of Disappointment

Aug 17, 2016

By any estimation, this was a disappointing Olympics for American swimmer Missy Franklin. It could have been worse, I suppose. She wasn’t held up at gunpoint, like some of her male teammates. But for someone who four years ago was being called the female Michael Phelps, she’s not likely to confuse London with Rio. In London, Franklin won four golds at age 17, and a bunch more the next year at the World Championships. And, as we all know by now, Franklin passed on the big bucks in endorsement revenue that would have come with that so she could stay amateur and swim for a college team. Which she did – two years for the Cal Bears, where she won three NCAA Division I individual titles in 2015.

Swimming In The Spotlight

Aug 10, 2016

Outside of the Olympics, very few people in this country care much about competitive swimming. It’s a sport that largely exists in the shadows, musty natatoriums where the vast majority of spectators are related to the athletes. Hardly any Americans could name a swimmer besides Michael Phelps, and it only took him becoming perhaps the most decorated athlete in history to get there.

The Dissonance Of Olympic TV

Aug 3, 2016

There’s probably nothing new I can tell you about the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio. You likely know that Olympic sailors and open water swimmers will be submerged in water that makes a port-a-potty seem like a day spa. And you may have heard that the country is essentially bankrupt, likely increasingly because of the king’s ransom paid to host these Games, which include expenditures for stadiums that may lay vacant for years to come. You might have heard about the undue security risks, which include a fairly unprecedented message from the local police that they simply cannot guarantee the safety of visitors – or as a sign held by a police official read, “welcome to hell.” You may have seen photos of unfinished or at the least extremely uncomfortable housing at the Athlete’s Village, where supposedly the world’s finest would prepare for record setting performances. There’s the fact that most of the Russians are banned from competing because of rampant drug use, and we’re not sure if those that are there are clean or not – which pretty much goes for lots of countries. And there’s Zika, the mosquito borne virus that somehow is now like the fifth most pressing issue for these Games. I’m leaving a bunch out here, like transportation and the how human body parts recently washed up on the Olympic volleyball beach. So there’s that.

Keith Strudler -The NFL’s Problem With Numbers

Jul 27, 2016

As is often said, numbers never lie. People, on the other hand, are quite adept in the art. Particularly when it comes to numbers. It’s like Mark Twain popularized, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Keith Strudler: Tom Brady And The Supreme Court

Jul 20, 2016

I hung out with a lawyer friend of mine yesterday, and I’ve come to the very obvious conclusion that we live in a litigious society. I mean, you can literally take anything or anyone to court. Some of these cases get pretty serious, and some of them less so. But just because you don’t have a case doesn’t mean you can’t try. And, if you’re crafty enough and get the right lawyer, you might just win. Or settle, since apparently hardly anything actually goes to court anymore.

Keith Strudler: Summer Basketball

Jul 13, 2016

This week my two boys, age 6 and 8, started summer league outdoor basketball in my town of Beacon. For the uninitiated, summer ball is a particular basketball pleasure, an offseason gathering for those who truly love the sport. Its lacks the structure and perhaps urgency of winter ball, the sport’s natural regular season. It’s outdoors, instructional, and really for people that see basketball as not simply a sport on the rotation, but a year round pursuit.

Keith Strudler: Durant’s Heel Turn

Jul 6, 2016

In professional wrestling, the term “heel” refers to the bad guy. The guy who plays dirty and usually hits someone with a chair. The “face,” or “baby face,” is the good guy, the hero. He’s the one we all cheer for and always does the right thing, at least by professional wrestling standards. Perhaps the most dramatic moment in the sport – and yes, I know it’s fake – is when a good guy, a “face,” turns into a bad guy. It’s called a “heel turn,” and it’s as predictable as an episode of Bar Rescue. Hulk Hogan did it, Stone Cold Steve Austin did it. If you’ve been in the square circle long enough, chances are you went from good to bad. And perhaps back again.

Keith Strudler: Turning off the Train Wreck

Jun 29, 2016

Last week I told someone I was done writing about Johnny Manziel. His story went from journalistic to voyeuristic, which is where I vowed to get off. I didn’t want to chronicle one young man’s unstoppable fall from grace, even if that’s not exactly the right term. My conviction lasted for all of a few days, as I now find myself writing again on this very bizarre topic.

Keith Strudler: The Olympic Silver Lining

Jun 22, 2016

Some people believe there’s a silver lining to everything. If you’re one of those people, which for the record I’m not, you might think this about the Russian Olympic Track and Field Team. At least they won’t get mugged at gun point in Rio, the site of the upcoming Summer Olympics. The same can’t be said for members of the Australian Paralympic Squad, two of whom did endure just that welcome from local residents that held the Aussie sailors up with a pistol. All in broad daylight, at 7:30 a.m., as onlookers passed by, like it was a common occurrence. Which right now in Rio, I’m led to believe it is.

There’s nothing more dangerous in sports, from a TV network perspective, than a live mic on the field of play. Perhaps better put, it’s a high risk/reward kind of deal. On the one hand, it can be really cool to hear what a defensive back says about an offensive scheme or a player matchup. On the other hand, it becomes pretty clear athletes use the entire dictionary on the field of play, including words you don’t learn in school – not in the classroom, anyway.

Keith Strudler: Searching For Answers In Sports

Jun 8, 2016

Perhaps the most instinctive human process is the need to know “why.” As thoughtful beings, we don’t simply accept our reality. We question it, often in vain. Whenever someone does something wrong, the first question we ask is why. Why did they do it, what made them act that way. It’s often a fool’s quest, since we frequently do things that lack reason. That’s the reality of life, which might best be summed as a series of mistakes, where each day we vow to make just a few less.

Keith Strudler: End The Sadness

Jun 1, 2016

If you’re a basketball fan, this is what you’ve been waiting for. After months of regular season, followed by another lifetime of playoffs, we’ve finally arrived at the grand finale. The end of this wonderful tale. Thursday, the NBA Finals begins, a best of seven series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the defending champion Golden State Warriors, a rematch from last year. This is the matchup we’ve all waited for, the best team in the history of the NBA, at least according to their regular season record, against perhaps the best all-around player in NBA history, if you believe that about LeBron James, as many do. It’s small ball that the Warriors play, whipping the ball around the perimeter to 3-point shooters, against star ball, which the Cavaliers practice in LeBron, and to a lesser degree Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, the most current incarnation of a Big Three. It’s east vs west, San Fran vs Cleveland, and pretty much every other clichéd opposite you’d care to present. Just to put it in terms everyone can understand, both potential leads for Space Jam 2 will play in this game. That in itself should let you know how big this series really is.

Keith Strudler: Pass The Cup

May 25, 2016

Any boy who’s ever moved to a certain level in certain sports has had the unique and often uncomfortable option of wearing what’s commonly known as a cup. For the uninitiated, a cup is a hard plastic, well, cup, that fits over the male private region, strategically protecting male athletes from things like ill thrown baseballs or someone’s knee or perhaps a foot that misses its target or, and this is the worst, a low blow in boxing. It could happen in most any contact sport, from soccer to basketball to football – pretty much any place that something might end up where it shouldn’t. Being largely averse to contact and quickly gravitating towards track, I never actually wore one of these devices, which always seemed to me remnants of the dark ages. I suppose my JCC youth basketball league never got competitive enough to be concerned with shots to the groin, and make any circumcision joke you’d like. But competitive athletes in rough sports probably take more precautions.

Keith Strudler: Finding Jobs For Lawyers

May 18, 2016

I keep hearing about how there’s a glut of lawyers, and how people entering the profession can’t find jobs. I’m sure that’s true. But you’d never know it if you paid attention to international sporting events, where legal action seems as endemic as drug scandals. The two have converged in recent days as the US Justice Department is considering filing conspiracy and fraud charges against Russians involved with an exploding performance enhancing drug revelation involving Russian athletes largely around the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games, where the home nation had strong interest and opportunity for artificially boosting their team’s accomplishment and resulting medal count. All this is coming to light as various Russian coaches and officials reveal what seems a wide spread and highly systematic program of doping athletes and cheating drug tests by replacing tainted samples with clean ones. It’s the big reveal of something most everyone suspected but couldn’t prove – that Russian athletes set the bar for chemically enhanced performance. That perhaps explains how Russian sports programs continued to thrive as the rest of the nation seemed to collapse around them. For those longing for the good old days of the Soviet Union, this might be just what the doctor ordered.

Keith Strudler: The NFL Show Comes To Town

May 11, 2016

Today’s Las Vegas is far more than dirty casinos and adult night clubs. There’s high end restaurants, Broadway shows, five star hotels, and even a monorail that makes Sin City look more like Disney than Sodom and Gomorrah. For those seeking good clean fun, few towns offer more than Las Vegas.

Keith Strudler: Cinderella Soccer

May 4, 2016

If you’ve listen to my commentaries for any length of time, you’re fairly aware I’m no soccer savant. I watch the World Cup, and I’m old enough to remember Pele’s American conquest. But the vast majority of my soccer is tied to six and eight year olds playing for teams named after local hair salons and restaurants and, in one of the better strategic sponsorships of all time, a lice removal business.

Keith Strudler: Deflategate Redux

Apr 27, 2016

I work in academia. So I am painfully familiar with what one might consider a longstanding disagreement. In a work environment where people might stay in a job for 40 years, it’s not unusual for arguments to linger for a decade or two.

Keith Strudler: Facing Fears

Apr 20, 2016

I have no problem admitting that I am afraid of several things. Like roller coasters, I really hate roller coasters. I’ve been on two in my life, one out of stupidity and one for a girl, and neither was a good idea. I’ve got a little fear of heights, I’m scared to death of sharks, and so on.  If you are looking for a rugged, tough, fearless man, than you need to keep looking. I wear my fears like I do everything else – with confidence.

Keith Strudler: Payton Takes On Gun Culture

Apr 13, 2016

Sean Payton is no Saint. Which is odd to say, because technically he is exactly that, the head football coach of the New Orleans Saints. Perhaps more specifically, he’s not typically accused of unusual virtue, largely because of his tie to and subsequent suspension for Bountygate, where New Orleans players earned cash for hard shots on the other team. So his voice on ethical affairs will always be held, fairly or unfairly, with a degree of skepticism.

Keith Strudler: Golden State's Quest For 73

Apr 6, 2016

There was one huge upset last night in the landscape of elite basketball. It wasn’t the women’s college national championship game, where UConn did as expected in beating Syracuse by 31 for their 11th national title and 75th straight game, all by double digits. The surprise came further west, where the also history chasing Golden State Warriors lost a regular season home game to the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team that’s lost exactly twice as many games as they’ve won and are simply playing until their schedule runs out next week.