Keith Strudler

Keith Strudler: The Best/Worst Of Times

Feb 22, 2017

Perhaps it’s true that for women’s basketball as an aggregate, these are the best of times and the worst of times. Certainly, the University of Connecticut, whose women’s team has now won 101 consecutive games, is living in halcyon days. 

If the New York Knicks were looking for a diversion from either a) their abysmal play in a weak Eastern Conference or b) the fact that their vastly overpaid GM is openly mocking the team’s leading star, then I believe they’ve done a great job. Now, if they’re trying to at all change the narrative that this franchise is anything less than a traveling circus, then perhaps it’s less successful.

Keith Strudler: The Spoils Of Super Bowl Victory

Feb 8, 2017

As the saying goes, to the victor goes the spoils. While it pains me to say this, the victor on Sunday was the New England Patriots, who managed to essentially steal the Super Bowl from the Atlanta Falcons, who will now spend the rest of their lives answering basic math questions about clock management. So New England gets all the accolades, the rings, the bonus money, the parades – basically all of those tangible perks that go to the winning team, which, let’s be clear, would have been Atlanta had they had not made even one in a series of bad decisions in the fourth quarter.

Keith Strudler: Super Bowl Sadness

Feb 1, 2017

So in the grand scheme of American holidays, Super Bowl Sunday reigns supreme. With all deference to Thanksgiving and Halloween and even the 4th of July, nothing unifies this country in a singular activity like the Super Bowl. That activity being eating ourselves into a coma while watching a bunch of highly paid grown men wrestle for a pigskin. On Super Bowl Sunday, nearly half of this country does exactly the same thing at exactly the same time, invoking ritual and history, surrounded by friends and family. Compare that Labor Day. It’s not like we all go boating, or all picnic. Even on Christmas, it’s not like half of America goes to church as the same time. Besides, that’s not American holiday, but a religious one – although not if our current government has anything to do with it.

Keith Strudler: Members Only

Jan 25, 2017

If you are of a certain age, or have parents of that vintage that enjoy telling stories, you are familiar with the incendiary and offensive expression, “No Jews, No Blacks.” It was a common refrain for certain beach clubs, restaurants, and country clubs of our American past, found commonly in wealthy enclaves where a white religious majority could exclude those deemed as others. In some regard, this exclusion could explain part of the political cohesion of the Jewish and African-American communities throughout American history. Even if they have often suffered disproportionately, many of even America’s most integrated Jews recognize a common history of discrimination.

Keith Strudler: Leaving Paradise

Jan 18, 2017

A lot of people have a list of cities. A list of places they’d really love to live, if cost or work wasn’t an issue. For example, a lot of people might pick San Francisco, or Savannah. I’ve got Austin and Vancouver on my list, in case you’re wondering. But if you’re looking for a city that almost everyone wants to live in, look no further than San Diego. It’s sunny and warm all the time, the beach is perfect, and everyone is fit. It’s like living on the set of a Corona commercial.

Keith Strudler: Love And Football

Jan 11, 2017

This commentary will focus on a word, an emotion or action really, we don’t talk about much right now, at least not genuinely. That word, that sentiment, is love. I’m not talking about loving a sandwich, or even loving someone’s speech. But deep, emotional engagement that is the genesis of and motivation for so much of our existence. I understand that hate is far more in vogue right now, kind of the skinny jeans of the moment. But this commentary, while perhaps less cool, is about love.

Keith Strudler: The Party Before The Storm

Jan 4, 2017
The logo of the New York Giants
Facebook: New York Giants

No one would argue that the New York Giants drew the best playoff assignment by any measure. In taking an NFC Wild Card spot, they’ll travel this weekend to NFC North champ Green Bay, who rarely lose at home and might be the hottest team in the league. The temperature will probably sink to single digits by game’s end Sunday evening. And mind you, New York actually has a better record than the Packers, but with the logistics of the NFL playoffs, they are still the road team.

Keith Strudler: Why 2016 Wasn’t So Bad

Dec 28, 2016

The end of the year is when we try to create meaning, to put the past into context and begin to look ahead. By most accounts, a lot of people largely think of 2016 as a giant black hole. I’ve heard worst year ever, the end of the world as we know it, and a bunch of other things I can’t repeat on the air. Depending on your own personal experiences and your ability to ignore the hypothetical and/or live with cognitive dissonance, your own particular mileage may vary. Regardless, I doubt many of us will view 2016 as the height of American excellence. Granted, it’s not 1941, but that’s a low bar for measure.

Keith Strudler: The Downside Of Solidarity

Dec 21, 2016
The logo of the University of Minnesota

There is such a thing in sports as team solidarity. In some ways, it is the single adhesive that keeps disparate individuals together. It’s manifest when teams eat together, lock arms on the sidelines, attend family funerals of teammates, and so on. It’s a list of activities that often extend far beyond the sidelines in the widely accepted belief that teams that act as one will be stronger than those that don’t. Which theoretically means more wins and fewer losses, at least relative to your talent. If you’ve ever seen a team where the athletes look like they can’t wait to leave the arena and get away from each other, you’d probably agree. Jets fans know exactly what I’m talking about.

Keith Strudler: Learning From Major League Baseball

Dec 14, 2016

The low hanging fruit for sports commentary this week comes by way of Western Massachusetts, where the Amherst College men’s cross country team finds itself slowed to a halt because it was discovered team members had created a ugly newsletter that demeaned and dehumanized female Amherst students through describing their alleged sexual proclivity and faults. It’s the same juvenile crap we saw recently from the Harvard men’s soccer and cross country teams, begging the question, “Why are these college runners from elite universities so dense?” And I know that’s a simplification and really involves a discussion of privilege and what happens when you think you’re smarter than everyone else.

Keith Strudler: Riches To Rags To Riches

Dec 7, 2016

This isn’t a story about Mike Rice. But it kind of is. Rice is the former Rutgers men’s basketball coach who was fired and publicly rebuked after it was revealed that he physically and emotionally abused his players – most memorably by hurling a ball at them and hurling homophobic slurs at them as well. This led to his release and what many assumed to be his exodus from coaching. Which has been somewhat true, as Rice is far removed from the big time college ranks from which he was removed.

Keith Strudler: The College Football Playoff Dilemma

Nov 30, 2016

Before this past weekend, things seemed pretty okay. It was all falling into place, more or less. I’m talking about college football, not America. Before Thanksgiving, we had four logical teams to take the four top spots in the college football playoffs, which were created to end our endless bickering about the BCS – a computer driven model of picking the two top teams for a winner take all finale. But then a funny thing happened. Michigan lost to Ohio State, which meant that the logical Big Ten representative could be on the outside looking in. And Ohio State, now the only Big Ten team with only a single loss, is not playing in the Big Ten Championship game this weekend, which pairs Penn State against Wisconsin, both two loss teams that will finish behind Ohio State in the playoff standings, even though one won the conference and Ohio State didn’t. And all of them will point a finger at Washington of the Pac-12, who with only one loss likely sits in the fourth and final spot, despite the perception that they just aren’t that good, at least not relatively speaking.

Keith Strudler: Doctor’s Orders

Nov 23, 2016

My nine-year-old son is scared to death of shots. I probably shouldn’t say that on the air, since I’m sure it’s going to be used against me in family counseling someday, but it’s true. Now he get this naturally, since I freak out at the sight of needles as well. I’ve almost cancelled vacations because I had to get a vaccination first. So I understand why we have to convince our oldest son that it’s better to get a flu shot than the flu, even if I don’t always believe that myself.

Keith Strudler: Columbia And Harvard

Nov 16, 2016

In the backwash of the Presidential election, it might be easy to assume that the language of racism, homophobia, misogyny, and other assorted bigotry exists primarily if not exclusively in our nation’s rural environs. To discredit that hypothesis, you need look no further than the urban outposts of Columbia and Harvard Universities, where we’d assume the intellectual discourse would seem almost a different language from the hate speech of Middle America. In fact, it’s supposedly places like Columbia and Harvard that Americans are so angry about in the first place. Super rich, out of touch, too politically correct, too multi-cultural – whatever the alt-right says about places of deep thought on the coasts.

Keith Strudler: Finding Solace In Sports

Nov 9, 2016

I know most all of you don’t want to hear me talk about sports right now. You don’t have the appetite to consider the college football playoff rankings. Or whether NFL officials are missing too many calls. Or if baseball is a regional game. None of these topics sound important, and to be honest, they aren’t. Not relative to the fact that, in the estimation of a lot of reputable sources, we have just put our children’s future at considerable risk and destabilized the world. And potentially validated a pattern of bigotry, xenophobia, and sexism that’s largely unknown to this current generation of Americans. So I get that it’s kind of hard for you all to listen to me talk about sports right now without wanting to either change the station or, more likely, shove something down my throat. Let’s all agree that sports is simply not so important right now, even if it’s kind of what I’m supposed to do.

Keith Strudler: The Price Of Admission

Nov 2, 2016

One of the most power phrases in all of sports fandom is “I was at that game.” Like, I was at the Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid, when the American college kids beat the Soviets in 1980. Or “I was at the Wilt Chamberlain 100 point game,” which can’t be true for many people, considering the attendance barely broke 4,000 and the game was played in 1962. But if you talk to enough sports fans, you’ll hear a wide range of tales about what magical sporting moment they witnessed live. It’s like membership to an exclusive club, or flying first class. Even if everyone gets to the same destination, you got there differently. So millions of people might have seen Michael Jordan’s 1997 NBA Finals “flu game,” but only a few thousand were in the building. That is cache.

Keith Strudler: Firing Josh Brown

Oct 26, 2016

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.