Keith Strudler

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.

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.