For now, Buffalo Bills fans are Living on a Prayer. It’s not the faint hope placed on quarterback EJ Manuel’s arm, which will likely require a whole lot of divine intervention. It’s the far more existential question of whether the Buffalo Bills will in fact remain that, the Buffalo Bills. What’s certain is that the team will have a new owner following the death of Ralph Wilson, who bought the team in 1959 and kept them in the post-industrial town despite its shrinking market size and clear opportunities to move to greener pastures, places with better facilities and greater revenue potential. But Wilson promised to stay, something that made him perhaps the most beloved sports figure in Buffalo not named Jim Kelly.
There is literally nothing one can say in defense of Ray Rice, the Baltimore running back just suspended two games for assaulting his then girlfriend/now wife Janay Palmer, the aftermath of which was caught on tape as Rice dragged a lifeless Palmer out of a hotel elevator. Even though charges were dropped, thanks largely to Palmer’s unwillingness to press them, the verdict on Rice’s character is long decided. The fact is and will remain that a brutish NFL star pulled an inert female out of an elevator as if she were a piece of luggage, an obvious victim of his brutality.
Talking about Derek Jeter is like talking about Ronald Reagan. No matter what you may think of him, it’s almost irreverent to say anything bad out loud. That was certainly the case at last night’s MLB all-star game, where Jeter was given a standing ovation that would approach Cats on its final Broadway appearance. For over a minute, the Minneapolis crowd and every other player on the field stood and applauded the 40 year old when he came to bat in the first inning of his final all-star appearance. That even included St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright, who took off his glove and stepped off the mound to congratulate the Yankees star.
Having played my share of youth soccer, the vast majority for the JCC, I’m well familiar with blowout losses. We once lost a game 14-0. I’ve seen countless scores that looked like they were from football – the American kind. And now that I’m paying attention to underage soccer once again, this time for my kids, I’ve grown to accept that soccer can be a lot like an episode of Dallas. A lot of scoring, and hard to watch.
Life is always relative. A good job for someone might be a failure to another. Gourmet food in one kitchen is another’s table scraps. But nowhere is that more true than when you talk about salary. One man’s fortune is another man’s welfare. That seems to be the current case of NBA basketball coach Jason Kidd. After one year of his first ever coaching job as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, the former all-star point guard has left New York for the same job in Milwaukee. Milwaukee. A city Brooklyn could swallow whole for breakfast. Who’s most famous resident was likely William Rehnquist. But it falls off quickly from there. Where they can’t get an arena built, a place NBA free agents see as some sort of purgatory between Boston and LA. That’s where Jason Kidd will spend his second year coaching in the NBA, just named head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Having my youngest of two boys three years into daycare and headed to pre-K, I’m well familiar with the kinds of behaviors that earn you a note sent home to parents. Hitting’s one. Certain adult language is another. But the gold standard of all pink slips is, of course, biting. Bite another kid, and your parents get something approaching a police report, and the other parents get a note branding you a common criminal. Hitting and name calling are bad, but biting is flat out felonious.
Take that, Ghana. After ending the run for the US men’s soccer team in the last two World Cups, we’ve finally struck back, defeating the Black Stars in our opening match of this event – and yes, national soccer teams do in fact have official names. That precious victory puts them in reasonable standing to survive their competitive preliminary group, known as the group of death, and advance to the round of 16. They’ll be up against Germany and Portugal, both of whom are more highly regarded than the Yanks. Regardless, the US took a critical first step in beating both the competition and their demons, reminding the soccer world that the last remaining superpower could in fact defeat a team from the world’s 85th largest economy.
For everyone who sits at home at watches, let’s say the Knicks, and thinks they could do a better job coaching the team than whatever clown they’ve got, here’s the good news. You may someday have a chance. Because it seems one of the historic barriers to getting the job, years of coaching experience, is no longer important. In fact, you don’t need to have coached a single basketball game in your life. Just ask Derek Fisher, the newly crowned coach of the Knicks. He’s never coached before, and now he’s got perhaps the biggest job in the sport. Same goes for Steve Kerr, who left the broadcast booth for his first coaching gig, head coach of the Golden State Warriors. Gone are the padded resumes and decades of apprenticeships. Gone are the so-called recycled candidates, coaches who’ve already led two or three other NBA teams. Here are the days of new faces and out-of-the-box thinking, which is one of the world’s most ambiguous catch phrases.
It’s cliché to say something is more than just a game. Or in this case, more than just a series. But for the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, it is truly more than simply the sum of its parts.