If you previously believed that God in fact cared about college football, last Sunday perhaps gave you pause. That’s because of the six schools in serious contention for the four college football playoff spots, the two left off the list were Baylor and Texas Christian – two religious institutions amidst a sea of state universities. Even though TCU seemed poised to make the final four, ranked third going into the final regular season weekend, it and Baylor were overlooked as Ohio State joined the presumptive list of Florida State, Oregon, and the consensus number one Alabama.
Perhaps the last thing the NFL needs right now is this. Just as league officials were looking for something, anything, to divert the national gaze from Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, they go from the frying pan to the bonfire. That oncoming train came in the way of the St. Louis Rams. During the introduction of Sunday's home game against the Oakland Raiders, five Rams exited the tunnel with their hands raised in the now familiar "Don't Shoot" pose synonymous with the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, Missouri. These five athletes, all African-American, received far, far more attention than the reported 75 or so protesters outside the stadium doing the exact same thing, only for a whole lot longer. The on-field statement lasted all of a few seconds, before the Rams proceeded to beat the Raiders by 52 points, which probably says more about Oakland than anything else.
The Washington NFL organization can finally rejoice that the public is talking about something besides their controversial name The Redskins. That’s the good news. The bad news is, that dialogue has been replaced with controversy on benching their beleaguered quarterback Robert Griffin III, or RG3. Two years ago as a rookie out of Baylor, Griffin was hailed the NFL prototype, a mobile quarterback that could create havoc by air or by land, stretching defenses and making the narrow confines of the 100 yard field feel much more spacious.
It will be slightly easier to swing for the fences next year in New York’s Citi Field. That’s because those barriers have been moved slightly closer to home plate. Around 10 ten feet in right center field. This is the second time those pearly gates have moved in since the parks opening in 2009, both moves done to create more regular home run opportunities for Mets power hitters. This time it’s so that Curtis Granderson and others might reap the benefits of what this year were simply near misses. That, according to Mets logic, would increase Mets scoring, let them win more games, and, by default, fill seats, of which there will be a few more thanks to the extra space in right field.
For Derrick Rose, the future is not right now. That’s likely disappointing for Chicago Bulls fans who have waited for some eternity for that moment to come. They’ve endured injury after heart breaking injury as perhaps the league’s third best player watched from the sidelines, keeping the Bulls from being little more than a playoff nuisance for the Eastern Conference’s elite. Now, after essentially two years of waiting, Rose is finally wearing something other than a suit and tie on the bench and can actually contribute to a team some consider, if Rose is playing and healthy, perhaps the best in the entire league.
Life doesn’t always go according to plan. If it did, I’d be writing this from my ski chalet in Switzerland while my 7 year old cures Cancer. Things haven’t gone exactly according to plan for the sports fans of Cleveland, either. That’s pretty much true for all of sporting history, but particularly true at this very moment, where their beloved Cavaliers are now 1-2 to start this NBA season. That wouldn’t be entirely unusual, if it weren’t for the fact that this season marked the return of the Chosen One LeBron James, who returned from Miami to finally bring a title to beleaguered city. And he brought all-star forward Kevin Love with him, who, along with point guard Kyrie Erving, would form the new holy trinity of power in the Eastern Conference, something the Heat managed for the past several seasons.
For all that say the south will rise again, perhaps you need wait no longer. Because right now, they’ve already risen to the top of the college football playoff rankings, with three of the four top teams hailing from Alabama and Mississippi, all three from the western division of the Southeastern Conference. The fourth team currently in that mix is Atlantic Coast Conference leader Florida State, located in the north Florida town of Tallahassee, a state where the more north you go, the more south you go. So if the season were to end today, which it won’t, the four team playoff would consist of schools that could meet for lunch and still make it home for tea.
I was always a huge fan of get-a-way games. Those are typically Thursday afternoon major league baseball games that stand in-between both squads getting on a plane for weekend series somewhere else. For the away squad, it’s often the only thing keeping them from a return flight home. For the home team, it’s often keeping them from a cross country flight and a reasonable dinner hour. So needless to say, the game plays at something of an up-tempo. I once saw the Mets break two hours on a hot July day. Fans barely had time to get through the Shake Shack line before the final out. Guys were swinging at pretty much anything in the atmosphere, and the pitcher looked like a tennis ball machine – just one right after the other.
I have long understood that college is a kind of suspended reality from the real world. It’s four years of limbo that separate the parental control of adolescence to the crime and punishment model of the adult world. In college, you are privileged – encouraged, even – to make mistakes. In some cases, that’s good. Like taking an acting class, or finding out you’re not good at fly fishing. But that latitude often extends beyond the benign to more questionable. Things that in the real world would earn you an arrest or even a conviction – and all the downside that comes with that. That’s what happens in the grown-up world. You commit a crime, and you suffer the consequences.
It was hard to tell former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling what to do, when the NBA and collective America wanted him to sell his team because of racist commentary. That’s because Donald Sterling was, and is very wealthy. In fact, at a net worth of $2.8 billion, he’s the 223rd richest person in America. So making Donald Sterling do something is like getting the chief of police to move his car. He just doesn’t have to. That is, until he’s replaced by, say, the secretary of defense. That’s essentially the case for the NBA, which strong armed the sale of the Clippers to Steve Balmer, who at $22.5 billion is the nation’s 18th wealthiest. It’s cliché, but Balmer could essentially buy and sell Donald Sterling – eight times, in fact. Which made it much easier for the league to strongly encourage this transaction, equipped with the knowledge they’ve got the biggest kid on the block in their corner. That, more than anything, made it much easier to get rid of one aging racist bully.