Friday, April 8, 2011

The Dangerous Parts of the Game

They say football and hockey are the most violent sports.  I have seen boxing matches and MMA fights that were pretty bloody and looked painful.  My son wrestled this year and never really knew how hard those mats were until I heard him hit it pretty hard.  Rugby is pretty tough too.  What if I told you the most dangerous sport League Baseball.  Especially if you are a Dodger fan.

It has gotten out of hand in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium.  The senseless beating of the Giant fan on opening day was a travesty.  I heard all the politicians and community leaders today talk about how this can't happen, we will get the suspects, and every other politically correct statement.  But why did it have to come to this?  A few years back, a brother of one of my co-workers was killed in the parking lot.  But the parking lot was dangerous even before that time.  I am not here to pinpoint the exact date when Dodger Stadium became a scary place.  I am here to say it is and has been for a long time.

First, we must avoid stereotyping different cultures and people who attend the games.  I don't what color the perpetrators are, what they wear, or anything like that.  Whoever did this are gutless and aren't any better than terrorists.  Anyone who would attack another human being because of their game attire; well, those attackers are sick and deserve to be punished to the full extent of the law.

But let's get back to the issue at hand.  The parking lot at Dodger Stadium.  Simply, it needs better lighting, better exit strategy, and a better environment.  Dodger Stadium really starts as you enter the parking lot, not when you enter the park.  So make the parking lot look better, decorate it up a little.  Put the security guards who stand on the field in the parking lots before and after the game.  As Tim Conway Jr said in his radio show today, how many times have you seen 2 guys raking the infield and one guy attacks the other with his rake until all the security guards come running.  Hey, have enough guards on the field, but let's think of the safety of your fans all over Dodger Stadium...

Hiring former Chief Bratton as a consultant is a shrewd move.  You know what would be smarter, McCourt should sell the Dodgers.  The perception is that he and Jamie are selfish, broke, clueless, and don't care.  Maybe that is only partially right, but they just don't seem genuine.  And that has caused alot of the blame for this violence to land at their feet for not investing in security at the park.  But what is the answer?

Simple, the McCourts need to sell the team and get out...Fast!!  Mr. McCourt talk to Bud Selig and the other owners (though they may not want to talk to you) and find out how fast you could get out.  The fans don't trust you and unfortunately, they don't like you and that's not just because of your messy divorce.  Sell, sell, sell.  Maybe Bud or someone can broker a deal where you and Jamie make a little money, so you can start over selling crafts at a local Farmers Market or become a motivational speaker on how to own a baseball team with no capital and no money down.

Frank...Jamie.  Jamie...Frank...go back to Boston.  We appreciate the playoff appearances and hiring Joe Torre, but you just seem not to get it.  Baseball is really a family or group outing.  Peanuts, hot dogs, programs, Take Me Out to the Ballgame,double plays, Derek Jeter, infield pop up rule, etc.  Not kick the Giant fan in the head.  Or not come forward to help solve the crime of who kicked the Giant fan in the head.  Not email LA Times and say that anyone wearing Giants gear deserves what they get.  You see what I am saying...the culture and atmosphere at Blue Heaven on Earth has changed.  It has changed because Dodger management has let it change.  They have turned a blind eye to the crimes and violence.  They love to tell you the 2011 crime is less than 2010 crime, but that doesn't bring a Giant fan out of a coma.  Where is the type of security needed to keep fans safe to enjoy the game.  Oh yeah, the extra cost of security is somewhere in a Divorce Court being split different ways for the final settlement.  You see, to  the McCourts, the Dodgers, their fans, and the brand name in general don't count. 


Friday, April 1, 2011

Lakers Using Tough Love

You ever hear the phrase "tough love"?  Right now, the Lakers are showing the NBA what "tough love" really see, the Lakers love being counted out, told they are too confident, that they don't have the same fire, and what they really, really love is being told they are soft.  What did Jason Terry call Matt Barnes this morning on ESPNRadio-the "Charminator" because he is soft like toilet paper.  The NBA needs to wake up.  Some of the Lakers are not and never have been soft.  These Lakers have never given up and keep playing hard whether good times or bad.  These Lakers are, in no particular order, Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Matt Barnes, and Phil Jackson.

 No real need to explain Kobe's toughness, his inner strength, or competitive fire.  Sometimes, it looks like that fire will burn him up or that toughness will zap his energy, but it doesn't.  It is just time that all the bandwagon Kobe fans and Kobe naysayers admit one him or hate him, Kobe doesn't have too many equals today when it comes to competitors...especially in the NBA.  Maybe Duncan in his prime.  Or maybe Garnett or Pierce (nah, you have to have more than one championship really to know how tough winning is).  Kobe has always played tough and at times, had it tough.  He played thru all the junk that happened in Colorado.  He played thru the issues with Shaq and the constant barrage of gossip and insults in the media.  He played thru trade rumors, injuries, and shooting slumps.  Tonite, he banged the knee of Utah player and he stayed in to put the game away.  Kobe is tough...and only a few NBA legends are at or near his level.  Of course, MJ is right up there-probably a few notches higher.  Magic and Bird are right there as is Russell and West.  I would put Willis Reed, Havlicek, Frazier, Cowens, Wilt, Kareem, Duncan, and Hakeem right there. But they are below Kobe.

D-Fish is tough and I have explained it before.  He takes screens and give screens like a full back.  He hits shots with no time left.  Gets criticized for all of the Laker woes including getting killed by opponent point guards, not being quick to rotate or get back on defense, and inconsistent offensive execution.  You can't blame Fisher.  You should remember when his daughter suffered the eye cancer and how stoic he was.  He has given big licks and taken big hits.  And, he does not back down from anyone.  No matter how tall you are, look at Derek and tell me, he couldn't play fullback or safety in the NFL.  To measure his toughness, just ask the players that have been screened by him or charged into him committing an offensive foul.  Once those players get the little birdies to stop flying around their heads after running into D-Fish, they will try to tell you how tough he is, but it is hard to remember when you develop amnesia from that contact.

To observe how tough Barnes is, just watch last nite's melee and understand that is the reason Matt is here.  He will not allow anyone to push any teammates or cause any harm to the Lakers.  Some of you might say he is journeyman and not a real Laker.  I say, if he is getting paid by Dr. Buss and providing the supporting muscle, then he is a Laker.  Other teams may hate him but he wears the Laker colors and makes contributions not found on the stat sheet, so he is a Laker.  When it comes to mixing it up, no one is better.  John Ireland from the Mason and Ireland radio show in LA, said that Matt doesn't look to start a fight, but he looks to finish them.  

Phil is tough and provides the tough love.  This is not the easiest bunch of ballers to coach.  From Kobe's super competitive nature and complaining to Bynum's sulking to Artest's emotional pendulum to Lamar's new reality show to whatever else pops up, he does not get rattled.  However, he does know when to "zing" his players in the press, during the game, at practice, and pretty much anytime.  I don't hear Phil attending many of the players' birthday parties, graduation for kids, or going out for burgers and beers.  But he still cares and really what matters, he still wins more than other coaches.  The toughness Phil shows is when he criticizes the team, the league, or anyone else.  For one, he is usually right and Two, he always takes any responses or league warnings in stride.  He looks laid back, but he is tough as nails and cool as a cucumber during the finals.

Why the NBA needs to wake up is because the Lakers are making a historic run to a 3 peat.  They love being criticized, maligned, misunderstood, and insulted and they show the love by being tough on the other teams.  Just ask Michael Beasly of Minnesota, Coach Stott and Jason Terry of the Dallas Mavericks.  Also, just watch them.  Have you seen Kobe as engaged at any other time this year?  Jumping up and exhorting his teammates when on the bench.  Clapping and yelling after a Bynum or Brown dunk.  Double pumping his fist after someone else makes a big play.  He is focused in the right way.  He is holding himself responsible and mixing in tough love, encouragement, and leadership for his teammates.  Fisher is showing everyone but quietly remaining a human tackling dummy.  He doesn't go around picks, he rumbles nextto  them and hopes to side step the screen.  If not and he takes or gives a big hit-oh well.  Phil smirks from the sideline and calmly pokes Cuban, the league ownership of the Hornets, Jason Terry, the MVP candidates, and whoever else he needs to poke for his folly.  Barnes, well, as mentioned above, he is the muscle.  I know Artest is strong and Bynum is not backing down; however, Barnes takes his cue from other tough guys in Lakers past-Kurt Rambis, Michael Cooper, Rick Fox, and Happy Hairston.  He will never, ever back down unless on the bench.  He is here to provide the toughness and be a great teammate.  So where is this tough love?

In a nutshell, the Lakers love the fact people think they are tougher now than they have been in the past 5 years or since Shaq left.  If I were the rest of the NBA, I would start chewing some nails or gargling with paperclips in an effort to be as tough as the Lakers.