Keith Strudler

Keith Strudler: NBA Draft Champions

Jun 21, 2017

Thursday is the NBA draft. You may or may not have known this, based on both your geography and relative interest in the sport. The draft isn’t for casual fans, those who enjoy the sport on occasion or perhaps when the games matter most – like the playoffs. The draft, for the NBA or any other sport, is for people who care how the sausage is made. It’s like people who watch CSPAN to see the party whip in action before a vote.

Keith Strudler: Grade School To College Football

Jun 14, 2017

Want to know what three numbers make most parents sick to the stomach? 5. 2. 9. That 529, the college account where families aspire to store away their extra change in the fading hope they might be able to pay for some small part of their kids’ college education. Granted, it’s a little like trying to climb Mount Everest. You can’t really make it a little a time, and you might just die trying. So, lots of families look for other ways to fund a college education.

Keith Strudler: Our Global Sports Neighbors

Jun 7, 2017

The US may have a new focus on nationalism. But it seems Canada may not. At least not Canadian hockey, which, if you know the country, is essentially one and the same. While Americans look for new and innovative ways to close our borders, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League is extending theirs – all the way to China. Beginning next season, Beijing’s Kunlun Red Star hockey club will join this Canadian sports organization, bringing the total number of teams to five. Three of those teams are in Canada, not surprisingly, and the other is in Boston. So I suppose this isn’t the league’s first foray into global markets, if the US is deemed that.

Keith Strudler: Pulling Punches

May 31, 2017

Weather permitting, today my 7 year old son Elliot will have his debut performance on the pitching mound in Little League Baseball. I’m not exactly sure what to expect, other than what I expect when I watch any baseball game of 7 and 8 year olds – a lot walks and dropped fly balls. He practiced pitching quite a bit yesterday – and by quite a bit, I mean like 15 minutes – and is pretty excited to have the spotlight. So excited he’s decided to skip today’s soccer game to play baseball instead, which, if you’re current on youth sports, is not a typical decision.

Keith Strudler: The Downside Of Being Happy

May 24, 2017

NFL athletes, you can now celebrate. I mean literally, you’re allowed to celebrate now. The NFL has just changed the rules that have shackled players for too long, rules that have made scoring a touchdown feel too much like touring a cemetery. Prior to this momentous rules change, players who scored a touchdown could not have choreographed, excessive, or prolonged celebrations. They also couldn’t spike or spin the ball, fall to the ground, or use any props – the ball or otherwise.

Keith Strudler: The French Open Rules

May 17, 2017

If you believe the common vernacular that star athletes get everything they want, and no ever says “no” to them, you should talk to tennis star Maria Sharapova. She wouldn’t agree with this at all.

Keith Strudler: Travel Soccer

May 10, 2017

So I’m going to say two of the dirtiest words in the history of the American version of the English language. Travel soccer. If you’ve ever so much as sat in a minivan before, those words make you curl up in a fetal position. It’s like saying tax audit or prostate exam. They’re scary because they’re real.

Keith Strudler: Rooting For Isaiah

May 3, 2017

It is hard not to root for Isaiah Thomas right now. I’m speaking of the younger Isaiah, the one that plays guard for the Boston Celtics, not the one that led the Knicks into a theme park like free fall. Let’s start with the fact that he’s managed to become an all-star despite his 5’9” frame. Having actually met him once and also standing 5’9”, I can attest to his stature. We were literally eye-to-eye. He looked like a college intramural player. So for that alone, he’s a fan favorite.

Keith Strudler: Humanizing Tiger Woods

Apr 26, 2017

Perhaps Tiger Woods isn’t that different from all of us. According to his agent Leigh Steinberg, Woods simply wants to be pain free, play with his kids, and go out in the backyard to have fun with his friends. He also said something about wanting to enjoy his boat, which probably creates some distance between us common folk. To achieve a pain free life, Woods just had back surgery, fusion surgery to be specific, to end back spasms and ongoing pain, which can be problematic for someone who makes his living twisting his body to propel a golf ball hundreds of yards at a time.

Keith Strudler: Joe Mixon’s Descent

Apr 20, 2017

Joe Mixon is a likely third round pick hiding in a first round body. Or perhaps he’s a no round pick. What I mean is, Joe Mixon, the superstar running back from Oklahoma, would most likely be picked in the first round of next week’s NFL Draft. That is, if not for a video that was released in December of 2016 of Joe Mixon punching a female Oklahoma student in the face at an off-campus sandwich shop. Mixon had been suspended from the team for the 2014 season following the incident, in which he broke four bones in the woman’s face and was charged with a misdemeanor, but for the most part, it wasn’t until the video broke that he felt the wrath of the public and, now it seems, the NFL establishment. Teams are likely concerned either that this behavior will continue or, perhaps more cynically, might believe drafting someone with such incendiary video baggage might upset their fan base.

Keith Strudler: The Importance Of Rest

Apr 12, 2017

So last week I had the flu. I’m saying this mainly in the dim hopes of garnering sympathy from the listening audience. It also made me keenly aware of the importance of rest. When you have the flu, you pretty much live your life one long nap to the next, in-between which you change sweat soaked shirts and complain to anyone that’s close enough to hear. But no matter what you do, or what medication you take, or what faith healer you call, the only thing that’s going to make you better is rest.

Keith Strudler: Just Move Baby!

Mar 29, 2017

The definition of the word “raider” is someone who takes something by force. Or, someone who plunders or pillages. But that definition, the Raiders is the perfect name for the football team the city of Las Vegas forcefully took from Oakland, where the team has spent the vast majority of its 57 years. The soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders will move to Sin City no earlier than 2018, and perhaps as late as 2020, when the city completes its new domed stadium. Which means they’ll be something of a lame duck in the Bay Area for the next year or two. Talk about awkward. It’s like firing someone right before you start a cross-country drive together.

Keith Strudler: Getting It Right

Mar 22, 2017

No matter who you cheer for in college basketball, no matter how busted your bracket is, whether your Kansas or Kentucky, we can all agree on one thing during this NCAA men’s college basketball tournament. And that is, we all can’t stand the officials. Now that’s a normal truism in sports. No one ever really likes the refs. At best, we might concede the challenge in their jobs, which is predicated upon applying highly objective standards to a universe of subjectivity. Where you are deliberately judged and second guessed every moment of your workday, and even on the best of days, half of your customers are going to be angry on every play. Where there is literally no glory, something well indicated by your assigned wardrobe – usually a black and white striped jersey that’s oddly reminiscent of prison outfits of the early 1900’s. And where the speed and intensity of the games you officiate make precision an absolute impossibility – so much that your job is routinely supplemented by video replay. So I think rational sports fans might objectively concede how hard it is to officiate a modern sporting event – at least when the game’s over.

Keith Strudler: The Mensch Without A Medal

Mar 15, 2017

All dreams eventually come to an end. And such was the case this morning for Team Israel, or more specifically the national team from Israel that competed in the World Baseball Classic, the self-ordained World Championships of baseball. The Classic was founded in 2006, and perhaps took on slightly greater prominence once the sport was removed from the Olympics after 2008, making this event the most visible international championship among baseball playing nations – of which there are surprisingly few, at least compared to truly global sports like soccer or track and field.

Keith Strudler: The Nike Pro Yarmulke

Mar 8, 2017

A long time ago I competed in the Maccabiah Games in Israel, which is commonly or perhaps mockingly referred to as the Jewish Olympics. I say this not to brag – and I doubt anyone takes it that way – but rather for context. There, I raced in the triathlon and the half-marathon. And throw in any joke you’d like about the Maccabiahs doing a half-marathon instead of the full deal. If nothing else, it’s hard to go sightseeing on tired legs.

Keith Strudler: Hey Congress, Stay Away from Sports

Mar 1, 2017

In case after last night you didn’t hate Congress enough, or didn’t have enough reasons to believe they were sanctimonious wind bags that have less conviction than a wet noodle, maybe this will do it for you. This week, members of that elected body decided to give an ethics lesson, which in itself is rich. That lesson, served in the form of both lecture and discussion, went to the international Olympic community, including members of the IOC and the World Anti-Doping agency that were there in person. It came from House members on both sides of the isle from a bunch of sub-committees I’ve never heard of. And it came after Michael Phelps and shot putter Adam Nelson told the legislators about the lack of institutional control around Olympic doping and, in particular, pointed a finger at the freak show that is the Russian Olympic program, where doping has run far and rampant – and for years unchecked.

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.