The Dumbest of the Dumb… My Personal Collection

Like most other folks, my bracket is garbage. I had Michigan State winning it all and Kentucky in the final four. This NCAA tournament has made both fans and analyst look quite foolish. I thought it may be fun to write about some of the other ridiculous sports opinions/predictions I have had over the years. I ended up looking real stupid on all of these. When it comes to sports though, not many people admit they were wrong. So, enjoy this.

  • When they were drafted, I thought Robert Griffin III would have a better career than Andrew Luck. After a promising start, RG3 has just found a new home in Cleveland after riding the bench in DC for most of the last two years. Luck has led the Colts to the playoffs every year that he has been healthy. He has never had a great supporting cast either.
  • I was sure Montee Ball would be the next great NFL running back. The NCAA’s all-time TD leader, Ball was drafted to my Broncos in 2013. With the numbers he put up at Wisconsin, I thought he would be great at next level. I am well aware that numbers do not always translate to the big time. His lack of speed really hurt him in the NFL and he could not stay healthy. He was released less than two years after being drafted and is now out of football. Ball appeared in the Broncos Super Bowl loss to Seattle.
  • I bought in to Josh McDaniels as an NFL head coach. Speaking of the Broncos, When Mike Shanahan was fired after the 2008 season, new coach Josh McDaniels instantly rubbed everyone the wrong way and obliterated the roster of all the decent players. Despite that, he and the Broncos started the ’09 season 6-0. I was all in. I was convinced he was a mad genius. I even bought a hoodie similar to the one McDaniels sported on the sidelines. The Broncos missed the playoffs in ‘09 and would win just 5 more games in the rest of McDaniels tenure. He was fired midway through the 2010 season and has not sniffed a head coaching gig since, and rightly so. Obviously, the Broncos organization has fully recovered from the damage the Belichick understudy did.
  • I thought A.J. Green would fall flat on his face with the Bengals. This was never a question of talent for me. It was question of fit. The Bengals have taken chances on questionable character guys before. Some before Green, some after. We are talking about guys like Adam Jones, Chris Henry, Odell Thurman, Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens and Vontaze Burfict. They have had mixed results. By the time they Green was drafted fourth overall in 2011, this reputation was firmly entrenched. The star wide out had missed time at Georgia for getting improper benefits. This turned out to be insignificant. However, I was nervous about a player with any kind of red flag at all going to the Bengals. Green proved me wrong by becoming an instant impact player and is now one of the best receivers in the league.
  • I mocked the Buck Showalter hiring. I am so happy that this is on the list. As a long suffering Orioles fan, I was less than thrilled when Buck Showalter took over the club as manager during the 2010 season. I just did not see how the 50+ year old who had been out of the game for 4 years would turn around more than a decade of losing. All he has done is post a 458-409 record with a division title and two playoff appearances. He has the O’s on a streak of three straight non losing seasons. When you consider the Orioles posted nothing but losing seasons from 1998-2011, that is a huge deal. He has given me a winner to cheer for in baseball, something I never thought I would have. Again, I am so glad I was wrong. Thank you Buck.
  • I wrote off Serena Williams… Twice. I still wonder why I was so stupid. The first time was at the start of 2007. Serena played just four events in 2006. She showed up to the “07 Aussie Open overweight, unseeded, and ranked 81 in the world. She won the event, demolishing top seed Maria Sharapova in the final. Five years later, Serena had not won a major since Wimbledon 2010 and had just suffered the only major opening round defeat of her career at the 2012 French Open. Pushing 30 and dealing with the many injuries that come with a long career, I did not see another run of dominance for her. She hired a new coach during this time. Since then, she has won 8 of 14 majors played and Olympic gold in singles and doubles. What a fool I was.

Well there you have it folks. The dumbest sports predictions/opinions I have ever had. I was not alone on these, but unlike most, I am willing to eat the crow.

The Maria Sharapova Drug Scandal- The Facts

Drug test bolg pic

Well, this is a post I never wanted to or thought I would write. Maria Sharapova announced Monday that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open in January and that she would be suspended on March 12th with the length to be determined by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). There has been so much info thrown out there on this, not all of it is true. So, I have to chime in. I am not an insider of any kind, but I am taking this story very seriously. I have done my homework, unlike a lot of other folks. As I have discussed before, Sharapova is my favorite player and somewhat of a role model to me. I will do my best not to let that slant this piece in any way.

Here are the things no one disputes. There are not many. Sharapova tested positive for meldonium. The drug helps with chest pain, low magnesium levels, frequent flu symptoms, and diabetes precursors. Those were Sharapova’s reasons for taking it. However, it can also increase stamina and endurance. Thus, it was added to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned substance list on January 1. Meaning it was legal prior to that. That is key here.

To her credit, Sharapova took full responsibility for the failed test. In that way, she is different from every other athlete ever busted. Her explanation was mystifying yet plausible. She said she had taken the drug since 2006 for the health issues above. A fact confirmed by Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) officials. Sharapova declared that she was taking the drug before each test prior to this year. This is where it gets unbelievable. Sharapova said received an e-mail with the updated banned substance list at the start of the year, but did not bother to read it. That excuse is so pathetic it must be true. Apparently, Sharapova is not the only one who missed the e-mail. Several other eastern European athletes have be nabbed for the same drug in recent days. The drug is not FDA approved and is only made in Russia in Latvia, more info here:

Where Sharapova is concerned though, there is one nagging question for me. How can a woman who, by her own admission, is smart enough to remove labels from products to avoid endorsement conflicts not bother to read an e-mail with something as important as the updated banned substance list? I have no answer there and neither does Sharapova, other than saying she “made a huge mistake.” She sure did. Predictably, some folks have been quick to bury the Russian Ice Queen. The most common argument from her detractors is that the treatment course for the drug is 4-6 weeks, not the 10 years that Sharapova has been taking it. This is factual, but irrelevant. The drug was only banned January 1.

So, what does this all mean going forward? Good hell what a complicated question. First, there is a possible suspension looming. The tennis governing bodies mandate a four year ban for intentionally failed test, a two year ban for an unintentional failure, and lesser penalties for mitigating circumstances. A case can be made for all three of these. Sharapova and her lawyer John Haggerty will obviously push for mitigating circumstances and are negotiating with the ITF. A lengthy ban may be a career ender for the oft injured Russian who turns 29 next month, but there may be no ban at all. Only time will tell. Sharapova will sell her soul to play at the Olympics the summer. They are likely her last chance at the gold medal she does not have yet.

There is also a financial/business piece to this. Sharapova is the highest earning female athlete on the planet. Most of that comes from endorsements. Contrary to what has been reported, no company has dropped Sharapova yet. Nike and Porsche have suspended their relationship with Sharapova to wait and see how this plays out. Tag Heuer simply decided not to renew her contract which expired in January. Samsung and Evian have not made a move yet. All these endorsements could come back. Again, it all comes down to the punishment. Sharapova is of no use to these companies if she is not playing tennis. Interestingly, Sharapova’s racquet company, Head, announced an extension with her today. At the end of the day though, the money is already in the bank. Thus, it is reasonable to speculate the endorsements are somewhere down the list of Sharapova’s concerns. No matter what happens, she is not going broke.

The fascinating part of this though is who we are talking about, what she means to the sport, and what it means to her. We are talking about woman who broke in the gym to work out at 3 a.m. during the 2009 Australian Open. She missed the event with a torn rotator cuff and could not handle watching on television. Given that level of commitment, the fact that she left herself open to this kind of thing really is unbelievable. Also, Sharapova and Serena Williams are the only two players the WTA and ITF can count on to sell tickets everywhere they go. The new generation has not stepped up yet. Should Sharapova be treated differently because of this? No, will she be? I am willing to bet so.

If and when Sharapova returns, she will likely be painted as the villain, a role she will no doubt embrace. She makes no secret about the fact that she is not friendly with the other women on the tour. In her own words, she has never been “part of the rat pack.” All she wants to do is win and hold big trophies. Good or bad, she has never given a damn what the rest of the world thinks. If the Nike sponsorship does not come back, she will play in a potato sack and look stunning doing it. She loves the game that much.

The suspension will be handed down Saturday. Sharapova should absolutely be punished. Based on what I know, a four month ban and hefty fine seems sufficient. Unfortunately, Sharapova is very aware that far worse is a real possibility. I will leave you with this. Sharapova is the fiercest competitor the sport has ever seen. If given the chance, she will come back as strong and driven as ever.




Top 5 Country Ballads: #1 George Jones- “He Stopped Loving Her Today”

It is the last day of my country music ballads countdown, and I truly am saving the best for last. Not only is it my favorite ballad ever, but it is arguably the best and most beautiful country song ever written. However, if you would like to look back at my choices for songs 5-2, you can do so below.

#5- …

#4- …

#3- …

#2- …

Now, my #1 country ballad is the 1980 George Jones classic “He Stopped Loving Her Today” It was written by a pair of Hall of Fame songwriters, Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman. It rejuvenated “The Possum’s” career, becoming his first #1 in 6 years. After Jones passed away in 2013, it reentered the charts for a week at #21, 30 years after its release. This cemented its place as the signature song of Jones’ legendary career.

The song itself is a tragic love story about a man who is unable to get over a past lover in life.   He struggles until his death. His lover comes to see him one more time before his passing, when he “stops loving her.” Jones famously said in interviews that he thought the song was “too damn said” to sell.

Well, thankfully for Jones, and all of us, someone talked him into recording it. The result is below. If this does not hit you right in the feelings, then you are a robot.

The song has been covered by everyone from Tom Jones to Alan Jackson. This broad appeal further drives home its greatness. I could never picture a female voice singing this song. Until… LeAnn Rimes covered it on her 2011 album Lady & Gentlemen. While nothing tops the Grammy nominated original, it is the best cover I have ever heard. I thought it was worth including below. I have enjoyed sharing these great songs with all of you. I will be back to sports blogging soon.

Top 5 Country Ballads: #2 Faith Hill- “When the Lights Go Down”

My country ballads countdown is getting closer to my top pick, but for today we are at my #2 favorite country ballad. The singer is probably my favorite ballad singer ever. The song has some of the most stunning vocals I have ever heard.

“When the Lights Go Down” from Faith Hill’s 2002 album, Cry is a song about being honest with yourself, even when it is tough to do so. A reminder we can all use sometimes. This song and the power and conviction with which it is sung gives me goosebumps to this day. Hill has produced some masterful ballads over the years Songs like “But I Will”, “It Matters to Me”, “I Can’t Do That Anymore”, and “Steeling Kisses” are all worth a listen at any given time. I really could do a countdown of just my favorite Faith Hill ballads. For me though, this song has always been a cut above those others.

The song was penned by a trio of songwriters, Rivers Rutherford, Jeffery Steele, and Craig Wiseman. They have created hits for everyone from Brooks and Dunn to Randy Travis. The one thing this song does not have going for it is that it only peaked at #26 on the charts. I will never understand why it was not a bigger hit. I guess all music is a matter of opinion, and in my opinion, this one of the best I have ever heard. The perfect marriage of singer and song. Whether you like this kind of music or not, the live performance below will leave your jaw on the floor. Hats off to Faith. Be sure to look tomorrow and see what my #1 ballad is. It is a song and singer everyone is familiar with.

Top 5 Country Ballads: #3 Shania Twain- “There Goes the Neighborhood”

My country ballads countdown continues today. My choice for #3 is another song that hits close to home for me. It is a song I am willing to bet none of my readers have ever heard. I hope this post changes that. Shania Twain is my all-time favorite artist. So, the fact that I managed to work her into this countdown should surprise no one. The song I chose is another story.

“There Goes the Neighborhood” was written by Tommy Dodson, Bill C. Graham, and Alan Laney. It was included on Twain’s unsuccessful self-titled debut album in 1993. It was not released as a single to radio. The album itself produced no top 40 hits and was not produced by Twain’s now ex-husband Mutt Lange. The man behind her other three albums that have sold over 70 million copies worldwide. It also did not include any of Twain’s original songs. She only co-wrote one song on the album. She and Lange wrote or co-wrote all of her other material

“There Goes the Neighborhood” is about a series of couples that decides on divorce and all of the terrible things and tough choices that come along with it. I did not even know the song existed until I was prepping to see Shania in concert over the summer. It was also recorded by veteran artist Joe Diffie. As a child of divorce, I instantly fell in love. Twain displays a vocal power I never knew she had. I am very fortunate to say that although they are divorced, I see both of my parents and have decent relationships with both. I know it often does not work that way. However, I also know as well as anyone that sometimes, divorce just sucks. This song is great for the sucky moments. Please give this hidden gem a listen below.