Dolla’ Dolla’ Bills, Y’all: What the Redskins Should (and Shouldn’t) Learn from the Panthers Firing of Dave Gettleman

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Do you see this man?  He’s happier than you think he is.

Why wouldn’t he be?  Cuz is making bank!  You may think Kirk Cousins is upset with the lack of loyalty the Redskins have shown him, and their unwillingness to lock him to a long term deal.  But I assure you, he’s not worried. Not one bit.  After franchising him last year, the Redskins wanted to see if Cousins was more than a one-year wonder.  That was a logical thing to do, and Cousins made $20 million dollars by signing that contract. So Cousins went out the next year, set team passing records, and had another phenomenal season.  In nearly every scenario this would result in a long-term contract.  Generally, when an employee goes above and beyond, and has the respect of those around him, a company will want to lock that employee up for a while to prevent competitors from poaching him.

But not the Redskins.  Most definitely not the Redskins.

Instead of signing Cousins to that long-term deal, the Redskins signed him to yet another franchise tag, a one year deal that will pay the QB $24 million in 2017. This gives Cousins all the leverage…and $44 million dollars in two years. When the sides could not reach an agreement on a long-term deal, that pretty much assured that Cousins would be playing elsewhere next season.

The Redskins have become the poster organization for ineptitude.  I go into great detail here describing why and how they have a long history of poo-pooing fans under Snyder’s leadership.   But can they ever learn any lessons?  Perhaps they need to look south, to my beloved Carolina Panthers to get some ideas.

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Former Carolina Panthers’ GM David Gettleman

This week, the Panthers abruptly fired General Manager David Gettleman.  Gettleman was hired in 2013 to clean up a massive front office mess that former GM Marty Hurney left behind.  Hurney was notorious for looking in all the wrong places when it came to players.  He was decent when it came to first round picks (when he had them), but was horrendous in rounds 2-7.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look at his draft history here. In free agency, he shelled out loads of money to aging and oft-injured veterans like DeAngelo Williams, Jon Beason, and Olindo Mare.  After Jake Delhomme threw footballs to everyone not in a Panthers uniform in the playoffs at home against the 9-7 Cardinals (on his birthday, no less), Hurney signed him to an extension.  The term “cap hell” was commonly used to describe the Panthers’ financial situation because Hurney liked to make it rain year after year.

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Gettleman came in and immediately began getting the Panthers out of cap hell. To do so, he needed to make the hard decisions; decisions that angered a lot of players.  Gone were the days of veterans in their twilight getting big pay days just because they were loyal. Gone were the days of using most of the team’s cap space to keep intact a 2-14 team.  Gettleman chose winning over loyalty.  Yes, some fan favorites were shown the door, like Steve Smith, but talent that could contribute for years was locked up (Newton, Keuchly, Short), and expensive, aging veterans were let go.  It was a painful transition for some of the players, but it did lead to winning.

Gettleman’s approach of winning over loyalty was a hard concept for owner Jerry Richardson to accept.  Richardson has always been loyal to his players, as long as they showed loyalty to him and his franchise, and carried themselves in the right way.   Gettleman’s approach was different from that.  An example of his hardball tactics could be seen with how he handed negotiations with  cornerback Josh Norman. A lot of people around the league scratched their heads when the franchise tag was rescinded from the talented fan-favorite and he was allowed to leave for nothing.  It was a message that it was Gettleman’s way or the highway, and that no player was safe.  This strategy caused the Panthers to start two rookies at cornerback the next year, which resulted in one of the worst passing defenses in NFL history.  This year, with contract negotiations becoming tense between Gettleman and fan-favorites (and Richardson favorites) Thomas Davis and Greg Olsen, Richardson stepped in and put an end to the madness by giving Gettleman the boot.  Loyalty had to mean something.

What can Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder learn from this? Winning is important, but sometimes character and loyalty also come in to play with Pro-Bowlers who wish to stay with your team.  In Washington’s case, you have a General Manager who would rather play hard ball than sign one of the top QBs in the league to a long-term deal.  Cousins is a fan favorite (some would say THE fan favorite), and the unquestioned leader of this team.  In the NFL you cannot win without a top flight QB, and Cousins is the best one they’ve had in a generation.  What Dan Snyder should do in this situation is what Richardson did, which is step in and fire the incompetent Bruce Allen, then get Cousins signed to a long-term deal.  Show some loyalty to Cousins and I guarantee it gets reciprocated. Only then can the team can build around Cousins and move ahead.  

Gettleman was fired because he negotiatied too hard.  At least he put a winner on the field.  Allen negotiaties hard and still can’t get a winner on the field, which makes it even more preposterous that he’s still in his position.

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“If Cousins doesn’t take my paltry deal, he can hit the road to San Francisco! I don’t care if we get nothing in return!”

Though the firing of Gettleman should be a lesson on how to handle the current situation with Cousins, what the Panthers did next should be a lesson on what NOT to do.  Remember the guy I said earlier that Gettleman replaced in 2013?  The one that left the Panthers in cap hell for years and couldn’t draft anyone below round 1?  Well, he’s back.  He was introduced as the interim GM of the Panthers this week.  Needless to say, Panther fans are NOT pleased.  When the team broke the news, this was my reaction on Twitter:

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The lesson here is that loyalty can be seen as TOO important.  It should be important, but not everything. Loyalty might win you brownie points with the owner, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into points on the field.  What the Redskins need to do is find that balance.  Find loyalty but also work out a fair deal for both sides.

Who knows what the Redskins will do next.  It’s likely another boneheaded decision is coming.  Dan Snyder does love loyalty and he loves those that kiss his feet.  I’m pretty sure that’s what drives his decisions.

You know what?  There is a QB out there looking for work who held Snyder in high esteem.  A QB that knows the organization well and would welcome the chance to come back. Snyder loved him, and Snyder loves those loyal to him.  You might want to check out those sports apparel sale racks at Wal-Mart and get the jerseys before they go back up in price.  He might be back:

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You might think “hell nah!”  But think of this:  These are the Redskins.  This is Dan Snyder.  Dan Snyder feeds off your anger. Anything is possible.

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Major League Baseball: Stalvey’s First Half Awards

ledeOh my, the home runs!  Major League hitters are on pace to slug over 6,000 total home runs this season.  6,000!  That would shatter the record of 5,693 hit back in 2000, right in the heart of the Steroid era.  Right now, there are eight players with the potential to hit 50 or more home runs this season.

Naturally, when you think about who was hitting most of the bombs in 2000 and then look at the home run rate this season, the first thing to come to mind is “steroids?”  As much as the Steroid era made me a skeptic, I honestly believe that’s not the case.  Instead, I think what we are seeing are two things:  A completely new strategy in hitting, and juiced baseballs.  With the rise in sabremetrics, striking out is no longer seen as such a negative.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look at the records for single-season strikeouts by hitters.  Seven of the top 11 came within the last five years.  This season, Miguel Sano is on pace for 240 strikeouts, but 40 home runs.  In fact, ten players on are on pace to strikeout over 200 times, but eight of them are on pace to hit 30 or more home runs.  It’s all about go big or go home.  Rob Deer and Adam Dunn would be megastars in today’s MLB.

As for juiced balls, you can’t possibly tell me there’s not something fishy going on there.  What do most people want to see when they watch a baseball game?  A pitcher’s duel?  Stolen bases?  Singles? Doubles?  Well, according to MLB Commissioner Adam Silver, “our research shows that people love to see home runs.”  (I hate to think of how much was spent on that research…but I am also thinking of how I could get paid to do a research job that reaches obvious conclusions.)  So if MLB could find a way to tweak the balls a bit so that we see more home runs, you don’t think that they would?  You’d be naive to think they wouldn’t.

I suspect we will continue to see massive home run production throughout the rest of the season, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I’m more of a fan of pitching, which is also great for me because so many hitters are striking out at record paces.  Needless to say, the sport has been exciting to watch this year…unless you are a fan of the Padres, Giants, Phillies or any team in the AL West not named “Houston Astros.”  (Side note, the team that hit the most home runs in 2000?  The Houston Astros.  The team that currently leads MLB in home runs in 2017?  The Houston Astros.)

On to the mid-season awards!

AL Rookie of the Year:  Aaron Judge, Yankees.  No one in either league is playing to his level right now.

NL Rookie of the Year: Cody Bellinger, Dodgers.  While he’ll likely have a second half slowdown, his first half was one for the record books.

AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, Red Sox. Mowing down hitters like they’re ugly throwback White Sox jerseys.

NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer, Nationals. You get a lot of strikeouts when you pitch a lot of innings, and you get a lot of innings when your bullpen is a dumpster fire.

AL MVP: Aaron Judge, Yankees. I know sports writers hate giving two awards to the same person, but can you see anyone else making a case for this award?

NL MVP: Bryce Harper, Nationals. I want to put Paul Goldschmidt here, but let’s face it: MVP winners almost never come from teams not in first.  The D-backs have cooled off as of late.  If they make it to the wild card, PG could have a chance, but the Nats are too strong right now and Harper is more visible.

AL Manager of the half-year: Paul Molitor, Twins. Despite the fact that the Twins give up more runs than they score, Molitor still finds ways for this scrappy team to to stay in the hunt.

NL Manager of the half-year: Craig Counsell, Brewers. In a division featuring the Cubs and Cardinals, Counsell has kept his team atop the standings, surprising everyone.

The Brady Anderson “Where the hell did that come from?” Award: Dan Straily, Marlins. Straily has played on five teams in six seasons and sported an ERA well north of 4.00 before this season.  The key to his success this season is cutting his 2:1 K:BB ratio down to 3:1.  Must be the calm silence in Marlins Park that has settled him down.

The Kevin Maas “Where did he go?” Award: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies. I thought about putting Jose Bautista here, but his decline really began last year.  Alex Gordon also makes a strong case for this award.  But CarGo was a home run hitting and batting average machine for years.  Now in the last year of his contract, he is hitting a paltry .221 with 6 HRs and 22 RBI in 74 games.  A far cry from his 40 HR season of 2015 and his 100 RBI season of 2016.  Anyone who signs him risks an Andruw Jones contract-style fiasco.

Best Player No One Talks About:  Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks. He has a good shot at winning the NL MVP, but if he came to your door in street clothes, would you recognize him?

Player Least Deserving of a Roster Spot (Tie): Keon Broxton, Brewers and Chris Hatcher, Dodgers.  There are a lot of players that can win this award, but these two stand out the most right now.  As mentioned earlier, strikeouts for a hitter are no longer seen as such a negative stat…as long as you are hitting home runs and have a decent on-base percentage.  Broxton leads the NL in strikeouts and is hitting only .227 with a .304 OBP.  He also has only 14 home runs and 35 RBI, so the only thing he contributes are automatic outs.  Hatcher is the player that terrifies Dodger fans the most.  The way he seems to get hitters on base and blow leads is almost artistic.  He always finds creative ways to let opponents into games. How he’s been able to stay on the roster this long is still a mystery.

Book Review: How the SEC Became Goliath

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For those that don’t know, I’m a huge SEC fan.  A bit of a snob, really.  I grew up in South Carolina, pulling for the Gamecocks.  When they joined the SEC, Steve Tanneyhill was my favorite player.  I went to school at the University of South Carolina, graduated with a Bachelor’s in History in 2002 and a Master’s in Public History and Museum Management in 2005.  I worked at the University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum for nine years.  My blood bleeds Gamecock garnet and black.  The SEC is the conference of my beloved university and I will defend it as long as South Carolina is there.

A couple of months ago I came across the book How the SEC Became Goliath: The Making of Football’s Most Dominant Conference by Ray Glier.  It had been a while since I read a book on sports, so I thought I would give this a try.  What I expected and what I got were two very different things.  What I expected was a history of the Southeastern Conference’s rise as the top football conference in the country.  Instead, what I got was, well, a hodgepodge.

Glier starts the book well enough.  He talks about the SEC as both a dominant conference and one filled with flaws.  I think this introduction is meant to show that, although he is a fan of the SEC, he also recognizes its imperfections.  The first chapter is without a doubt his strongest writing in the book.  Glier talks about the early days of the SEC, and I do mean the early days, going way back to the early 20th century.  The stigma of the SEC as a “cheating” conference began much earlier than I had imagined.  It began when the SEC wanted to grant scholarships to college football players and other conferences complained, even though the other conferences were giving paid jobs to players like “shoveling snow by the L.A. Colosseum.”

After the first chapter, Glier just goes all over the place.  Suddenly you’re thrown into the 21st century, skipping over a few decades.  Not talked about at length are the Fulmer Tennessee teams, the Spurrier Florida teams or the Stallings Alabama teams.  In fact, other famous coaches and teams from the SEC are briefly mentioned, such as Les Miles and Gene Chizik’s Auburn Tigers. The bulk of the book’s coverage is about three men:  Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and Ron Zook.

Saban and Meyer are clearly excellent coaches who have shaped the SEC into what it is today.  Glier does an excellent job breaking down their recruiting methods, coaching styles, and how they relate to their players.  He talks about the impact they have had on player’s lives, and how many of their players have gone on to the NFL.  However, although Glier tries to not be too much of an SEC apologist, the deeper you get into the book the more he just turns a blind eye to anything negative.  For example, he extols the virtues of Meyer and how he built great teams, but he barely even glances at the fact that so many of his players at Florida had problems with the law. He doesn’t even talk about his “retirement” or the connection he had with Tim Tebow.  When it comes to Nick Saban, he goes on and on and on, from his time with the Cleveland Browns to the present day.  One would think that Glier is actually writing an autobiography on Saban and not the rise of the SEC as a power football conference.

While the book had some excellent moments, I feel that this was less about the “rise” of the SEC than it was a retrospective of Meyer, Saban and Zook (he is clearly a Zook apologist and spent a good portion of the book defending him as a great recruiter and coach).  Surprisingly, there is very little on Steve Spurrier, Marc Richt, or Phil Fulmer, three coaches who truly made the SEC into what it is today.  Oh, and if you’re a fan of any SEC team besides LSU, Alabama or Florida, don’t expect to read a lot about your team.  The book doesn’t follow any kind of chronological order, which is kind of what you expect from the title.  Instead, it jumps all over the place. Aside from the first chapter, there is very little history, and more a celebration of three coaches.

FINAL RATING:  2.5 of 4 stars.

Two Guys Talking Crap: The Podcast Begins!

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After weeks of planning and preparing, the first podcast of Two Guys Talking Crap has finally arrived!  Jason, a Mancunian from England, and myself, from South Carolina, talk a wide range of topics often with a mix of American and British perspectives.  The first episode looks at craft beer oddities, House of Cards, Star Trek: Discovery, and the power of the Handmaid’s Tale.  Click here to check it out:  https://soundcloud.com/user-39084080/tgtc-episode1

Also, if you have any suggestions for what you would like us to talk about, or want us to add something unique to the podcast, give us a shout at twoguystalkingcrap@gmail.com.

Enjoy!!

Books! The Top Ten

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I love to read.  Always have.  Recently, I began to exchange books to read with my neighbor, Olivia.  In the most recent exchange, I encouraged her to read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  Not sure if she will get some of the 1980s references, but I have a feeling she will love the video game and virtual reality aspects of the novel.  That got me thinking, I know Ready Player One is one of the best books I have ever read, but would I put it in my top 5? Top 10? I started to come up with a top 10 list but then realized, what does “best” mean?  As my wife read her book for book club, we started discussing that in detail.  It’s harder than you think.  For example, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card was a truly amazing novel that spoke to me on so many levels…when I read it as a nerdy, shy 13 year-old like Ender was.  I felt I really identified with Ender.  However, if I were to read it today, it would be a much different experience.

Coming up with my top 3 was easy.  Top 5 was a little challenging.  But coming up with a top 10 and ranking them truly required a lot of thought.  (You should try it sometime and leave your top 10 in the comments section or on Facebook!  At least give me your top 5!)  After careful thought and consideration, here is my list.  Starting with #10:

10. The Diary of William Byrd of Westover: 1709-1712

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When I was a senior in college thinking about graduate school, I debated between focusing on World War II history and the history of every day life in Colonial America.  This book convinced me to go the Colonial America route.  Not intended for publication, Byrd’s diary gives the insight into the life of one of the wealthy elite in Colonial Virginia.  Filled with stories of happiness, tragedy, sarcasm, the eighteenth-century diet, and a passionate marriage, it is the gold standard for all historic diaries.

9. Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

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Arthur C. Clarke has a writing style that really speaks to me.  The first half of his novels slowly buildup to something big, but you can never quite figure it out until it happens.  When the big reveal comes, it’s often earth (or universe) shattering and changes the entire course of the book.  Childhood’s End follows this pattern and goes away from the typical methods in which most novels depict the arrival of an advanced alien species to Earth.  It’s a book that leaves you thinking very differently about humanity.  The ending is both terrifying…and beautiful.

8. The Pearl by John Steinbeck

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When I was in the tenth grade, my English teacher assigned my class to start reading Great Expectations.  It became clear early on that no one in the class had any interest in reading it, not even those who liked being the teacher’s pet.  She then switched gears and had us read The Pearl.  To this day, it is still one of the best books I have ever read.  It’s a classic tale of how greed, materialism and evil combine together to challenge those with the purest of intentions.  It will make you scared to ever want to win the lottery.

7. How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein

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If there is one thing I love more than sports or sci-fi, it’s maps.  Combine that love with my degree in history, and you have the perfect book.  This is my favorite non-fiction book of all time and one that I can easily read dozens of times in a year.  The book explores how the boundaries of each US state came into existence, and how many different factors contributed to them.  Some were defined by geography, some by politics, some by religion, some by the threat of vagabonds, and some by backroom dealings with Congress.  Of particular interest are the southeastern corner of Missouri, the northern border of Delaware, and the southwestern border of Massachusetts, among others.

6. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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If you grew up as a child in the 1980s, you’re going to love this book.  It tells the story of Wade Watts, a poor eighteen-year old kid who embarks on a journey through the OASIS to find the Easter Egg left by its creator.  Whoever finds the Easter Egg gets the keys to the kingdom, but the journey is filled with a world full of people also searching for it; including large corporations who want to control the OASIS.  The film adaptation is in the works and will be directed by Steven Spielberg.  I honestly have no idea how it will ever live up to the book, but we’ll see.

5. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller, Jr.

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The ultimate story of how history repeats itself, and how humanity never learns.  The book starts 600 years after humanity is nearly obliterated by nuclear disaster.  Those that survived stamped out all forms of higher learning, even reading, forcing humanity to re-evolve. The novel is split into three time periods:  the 26th century, 3174, and 3781.   Humanity slowly rediscovers reading, technology, and science with religion playing a pivotal role in those developments.  But can humans be saved from themselves?  Is religion the the best path to turn for salvation?

4. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

PotterI fought reading these books for so long.  I saw how obsessed everyone was with them and decided that it was just going to be a fad.  However, when I went to see the third film in theaters with friends of mine who had read the books, I had a million questions:  “What, exactly, are Dementors?”  “What’s the Shrieking Shack?”  The answer to each of those questions: Read. The. Books.  And so I did.  Over the span of a month and a half I read books 1-5.  I read The Half Blood Prince in three days and The Deathly Hollows in a day and a half (I actually called in sick to work so I could spend the day reading it).  Fun, tragic, heartfelt, funny, witty, scary, mesmerizing…there are just too many great words to describe these books.

3. The Acacia Trilogy by David Anthony Durham

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What’s the price of freedom? Before I had ever heard of Game of Thrones, I read The Acacia Trilogy.  (In fact, when I watched the first season of GOT, I thought to myself wow, this is a LOT like the Acacia Trilogy.)  The novel centers around the royal family and the empire of Acacia.  Long-buried, dark secrets kept peace throughout the kingdom, but eventually things unravel.  The first novel is good as a stand alone work, but then you learn that the larger world has greater threats than ever imagined and the whole story shifts gears.  It’s a complex trilogy, but a surprisingly easy read. Durham does an excellent job of character development. The way Durham intimately connects the characters  with the reader makes the plot twist that much more emotional. It’s the second best fantasy novel I have ever read.  And yes, I like it better than anything from George R.R. Martin.

2. 1984 by George Orwell

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What?!  You’ve never read 1984??  You of ALL people?!”

That was what my wife said to me seven years ago when I told her that I never got around to reading it.  Once I did, I felt pretty ashamed that I had not read it sooner.  It’s so good, that there are times I consider it 1A in my list of favorite books.  1984 is the ultimate dystopian novel.  I often think that governments around the world, including our own, use parts of it as a blueprint for political strategy.  Don’t believe me?  Look up the definition of “thinkspeak.”  Getting the populace to bow to the government’s will and getting them to believe anything they tell them doesn’t necessarily require force of arms.  The more you read it, the more frightening it is because you know it can happen.  And when it does, you might not even realize it has.  Big Brother is out there, and he’s watching you.  Do you love Big Brother?

1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

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When I read The Hobbit back in the late 1990s, I knew that I had to read this next.  I remember I got about 40 pages into the book and just lost interest.  It was slow and I didn’t care what Bilbo did for his 111th birthday.  Then, I heard they were making movies from the books and I decided to start them again.  When I read that last line “Well, I’m home,” I got a bit misty eyed.  I’ve never NOT wanted to finish a book more in my entire life.  I wished it could have gone on for another 1000 pages.  2000 pages, even!  It is the gold standard for all fantasy novels and has influenced countless authors over the past half decade. There are many imitators, but only one original.  It’s my favorite book.  It’s my favorite movie.

So what are your ten favorite books of all time?  Can you choose?

 

 

 

An Open Letter to Louisville Fans: Where is Your Line in the Sand?

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Dear fans of the University of Louisville athletics program,

Today has to be a hard day for you as the NCAA handed down stiff penalties to its basketball program in the wake of the prostitutes for recruits scandal.  As someone who lived in Louisville for four years, I came to understand the level of fan intensity you have for college basketball.  Granted, it took a while as I came from a school where college football is king.  I was there in 2013 when the Cardinals won the championship and pandemonium swept the city.  When Tom Jurich and the higher-ups at U of L decided to self-impose a postseason ban on the team after a wildly successful season last year, I knew it had to feel like a kick in the gut to you.  The penalties today had to feel like another kick, this time with steel-toed boots worn by Jean-Claude Van Damme.

While it’s a sad day for you, I do have to ask this:  Where is your line in the sand?  How much is enough?  Yes, you have a successful basketball program, a beautiful downtown arena, and a coach who knows the X’s and O’s.  But we all know the man is far from perfect and is not exactly the symbol of your great city that you know he should be.  Remember the scandal with Karen Sypher?  To me, it seemed the bigger story to those inside Jefferson County lines was that it was an extortion case on Sypher’s part.  And yes, Sypher was convicted of extortion and sentenced.  However, did you forget the details of that story?  How Pitino admitted to an extramarital affair with Sypher (having sex with her at Porcini’s while one of his aides relaxed in a booth nearby) and paid her money later for “health insurance?”   Now, Pitino has been suspended for the first five ACC games because his assistant paid prostitutes to woo recruits, and he is appealing that suspension. (Some inside analysts say that after hearing the testimony of former players and recruits, they are surprised the penalty isn’t far worse.)  Yes, Pitino did not order the prostitutes himself, but he hired the coach who did.  And with the small salary that coach was making, aren’t you even the least bit curious as to how he was able to afford all those prostitutes?

The penalties have been handed down and, instead of showing contrition for the actions of those he hired and using it as a learning lesson, Pitino and his bosses are fighting it.  They won’t deny that something happened, but they will scream how unfair it is to be punished like this.  I sincerely believe had they been more upfront about the whole thing earlier, the penalties would have been less severe.  Instead, there is a very real chance that games played with those recruits who received benefits from the prostitutes will be vacated.  That would include that beloved 2013 championship.  The NCAA is notorious for not showing enough teeth, unless there is some pretty damming evidence.  And in this case, there certainly seems to be.

Yet, so many of you still rush to support Pitino and stand by him, despite his past actions, despite the facts of what happened, and despite the testimony of former recruits. I ask you, why?  When do you say enough is enough?  How much goodwill does that one championship buy?  You can’t say it’s because he knows how to beat UK (a 2-8 record against them while coaching at U of L).  What has to happen for you to say “enough, you are a bad example to all that this city and University stand for?” While my alma mater, the University of South Carolina, does not have a championship in men’s basketball or football, I do know that if a coach had a 2-8 record against Clemson, he would be run out of Columbia in a hurry…and that’s without sex scandals!

You Louisville fans are an interesting bunch when it comes to undying loyalty. I dare say you take it to another level other college sports fans do not.  It’s not just with Pitino, but with coach Bobby Petrino as well.  If you want to recap all the ways Petrino has shat on his employers and fans, here’s a list. So far, he has remained at U of L. But do I need to remind you about the parable of the scorpion and the fox?  Despite the mountain of skullduggery that he brings everywhere he goes, he was welcomed back with open arms by the Cardinal faithful.  When I moved to Louisville in 2010, people there cursed his name up one side and down the other for the disaster he left the program in and how he stabbed everyone in the back.  Yet, the minute he went to coach for the Hilltoppers, U of L fans were counting the days down until he came back to coach the Cardinals.  Apparently, a high-powered offense more than makes up for being a snake in the grass who has repeatedly shown he gives less than two shits about everyone but himself.

Maybe it’s because Louisville is such a wonderful city that it makes the people who live there far more forgiving.  Maybe it’s the way the bourbon makes you turn a blind eye to the bad things and just concentrate on things that make you feel good.  Maybe Pitino just decided to take a different approach to the mantra of “Keep Louisville Weird.”  Who knows? All I know is that you defend Pitino and Petrino with every fiber of your being, even if you are some of the smartest people I have ever met; and that is something I need help understanding.  I do believe that either Pitino or Petrino could steal a car, race down Main Street in the opposite direction at 60 mph, do a line of blow off the dashboard while getting a hummer from an underage prostitute…all while carrying the Lord’s name in vain…and U of L fans would STILL defend them, as would U of L’s President and Athletic Director.

Fans of U of L, I do hope you have a line in the sand when it comes to this craziness.  I just hope you don’t have to cross the Ohio river with a scorpion on your back to get there.

Star Trek vs. Star Wars: A Collaborative Sci-Fi Throwdown!

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It’s a question that has been asked by countless fans across the sci-fi universe: Who would win in a Star Wars vs. Star Trek battle?  Star Wars has the Death Star, Darth Vader, The Force, The Rebellion, and Jar-Jar Binks.  Star Trek has the Borg, Kahn, The Federation, and Wesley Crusher.  Fans on each side think they have the side that would mop the floor with the other side.

For this post, I am collaborating with Star Wars aficionado and good friend, Chris Hayth.  Chris’s knowledge and love of all things Star Wars is very much like my knowledge and love of all things Trek.  He is someone that would very easily attend a Star Trek movie premiere dressed as Darth Vader, while I would very easily don my Captain Kirk tunic to watch a Star Wars production.

Recently, Chris and I took turns selecting four vessels, he choosing from the Star Wars universe and I choosing from the Star Trek universe, and matching them in four one-on-one battles.  We discuss the ships we choose, their capabilities, and why we feel they would win a battle.  Once the ships and battles are chosen we then ask you, the reader, to tell us what you think and who would win each battle.

So who do YOU think?  Which Star Wars/Star Trek vessel wins each battle?

On to the main event!!

Battle 1: 

Chris: I’m starting out with a big dog.  The Imperial Star Destroyer.  It boasts a complement of over 70 turbolasers of various sizes to fight against enemy ships, large and small.  It has a complement of over 70 fighter and bomber escorts to mop up any stragglers.  For land assaults, they carry AT-AT walkers, AT-ST walkers, and several thousand land assault troops.  It also has powerful tractor beams that can lock on to ships of various sizes, including consular vessels, and massive shielding that most weapons have difficulty draining. In short, its a carrier, a battleship, a transport ship.  Its a jack of all trades and it masters them all. Oh, and let’s not forget those ion cannons.  One shot from those renders any ship powerless.

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Imperial Star Destroyer

Nathan: To combat the Imperial Star Destroyer, I’m calling in the Borg Cube.  It’s three kilometers in length (making it three times larger than the Destroyer), and can bring the pain in a variety of ways.  It boasts shield draining missiles that can disable a ship’s shields in a matter of a few shots and even a polaron beam that can provide all the specs of an enemy ship in a matter of seconds.  Multiple powerful tractor beams can hold an enemy ship in place as a cutting beam slices it to pieces, or any one of a hundred high-yield gravimetric torpedoes can be fired for complete obliteration. However, it is more likely once a Borg Cube drains the shields, they would begin beaming over a majority of their 179,000 drones to begin assimilation. An enemy vessel such as the Star Destroyer might cause quite a bit of damage to the Cube at first, but once the Cube adapts to the weapons technology, enemy weapons are completely useless.  A Cube can even operate when 73% of it has been damaged.  Finally, the Borg have no central bridge or command area, so finding a clear target on the Cube is impossible (unless you are a reformed drone like Captain Picard).

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Borg Cube

Battle 2:

Nathan: For this battle, I am choosing the Reman Warbird, Scimitar, of the Romulan Star Empire.  The Scimitar is the perfect killing machine.  It has 52 pulse disruptor cannons, 27 photon torpedo launchers, primary AND secondary shields, and can travel up to Warp 9.7.  It has the maneuvering ability of a ship a fraction of its size.  Also, you can’t hit what you can’t see.  The cloaking device is, as Lt. Geordi LaForge of the Enterprise once called it, “perfect.”  You won’t know the Scimitar is there until you see torpedoes raining down on you.  And even then you won’t be able to see it, as it can also fire its weapons while cloaked.  The Scimitar is so bad-ass, that I would even pick it to go up against the Death Star.  Why?  Two words: Thalaron Generator. The ship itself turns into a massive thalaron particle weapon so powerful that, when fired, can kill every living thing on an entire planet. That combined with its cloaking device makes it nearly impossible for any ship of any size to go up against.

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Reman Warbird, Scimitar

Chris:  To counter the Scimitar, I’m not bringing in a big gun. The Scimitar is primed for a fight against a massive ship or even the Death Star.  No, I’m thinking outside the box here. I’m bringing in a solitary fighter. The TIE Advanced X1. The TIE Advanced X1 is equipped with advanced engines, life support, heavy armor and shielding, missiles, and an advanced hyperdrive. While the formidable TIE is a ominous weapon by itself, it probably isn’t a match for the Scimitar. That’s why I’m bringing in a special one.  I’m bringing in specifically the X1 that is flown by the dark Lord himself, Vader. Even if completely cloaked, Vader would use the force to find the Scimitar and exploit any weaknesses. Even if his ship couldn’t destroy it, which is likely, he could use his powers to somehow make it on board and if you don’t know what he can do to a ship’s crew, watch the last five minutes of Rogue One!

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Tie Advanced X-1

Battle 3:

Chris: The next ship I submit is Slave 1. Piloted by perhaps the most resourceful bounty hunter in the galaxy, Slave 1 is not only fast, it’s crazy fast and hard to target. It has an impressive array of twin turrets and ion blasters as well as defensive seismic charges. Slave 1 would not fare well against a ship in a punching match but it’s the ultimate ship to take out bigger ships with guerrilla tactics. In short, it’ll take anything out with the death by a thousand cuts in the hands of a proper patient pilot, and nobody is more patient than Boba Fett.

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Slave 1

Nathan:  Slave 1. I dig it.  Respect the Fett!  To counter Slave 1, I will send out an even smaller vessel, but one that will get the job done: Nomad.  Nomad was an Earth probe launched in 2002 and merged with an alien probe in deep space named Tan Ru.  From them on, Nomad labeled all organic life as imperfect and set out to eradicate entire worlds.  In a matter of only a few minutes, it wiped out four billion people and sterilized an entire star system.  Nomad’s energy beam has the strength of 90 photon torpedoes and its energy bolts could track a moving target up to maximum warp.  While its offensive weapons are impressive, its defensive capabilities give it the edge against any vessel.  Nomad has defensive screens that absorb energy from enemy weapons and can block all sensor signals.  Nomad is tiny, only about five feet tall and 18 inches in diameter, so trying to hit it without targeting capabilities is nearly impossible.  You can’t see it, you can’t detect it, you can’t shoot it, and you certainly can’t run from it.

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Nomad

Battle 4 (Final):

Nathan: For my final vessel, I am bringing in the only ship the Federation ever made whose sole purpose was to be a weapon of war, the U.S.S. Defiant. The Defiant can hit speeds up to warp 9.5 and its sleek design makes it incredibly maneuverable.  The weapons system includes four phaser cannons, three phaser emitters, four forward torpedo launchers,and two aft torpedo launchers (both of which can fire either photon or quantum torpedoes).  In short, it doesn’t matter where an enemy ship is flying around, the Defiant’s weapons can hit you from any angle.  The phaser cannons were so strong during initial testing, that it nearly shook the hull apart when they fired. Its shield generators cancel out energy dampening weapons, so ion cannons would be useless against it.  It also has a Romulan cloaking device that gives it more of an advantage in close combat.  Whether facing a vessel the size of a Borg Cube, or a one-man fighter, the Defiant has one mission in life: destroy.

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U.S.S. Defiant

Chris: While the Defiant is certainly a force to be reckoned with, it isn’t invulnerable. Ask the Breen! While technically a space station, it is more than capable of light speed travel and movement. It’s no small moon, it’s DS1 aka the Death Star! It’s boasts over 750 tractor beams, 15k turbolasers, 2500 laser cannons, 2500 ion cannons, and, of course, the super laser capable of destroying an entire planet.  Any necessity to use them will most likely never come to fruition as the Death Star has a compliment of over 7200 TIE Fighters. Even ceding the Defiant could destroy a thousand of them, there’s plenty to finish the job.   The Death Star would destroy the Defiant and anything else thrown at it and move onto Earth but recent press releases indicate the US has the best death star ever (jobs?) and the fact that the Death Star destroyed Alderaan is fake news. Time will tell.

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The Death Star

So there you have!  Star Wars vs. Star Trek in four one-on-one battles.  Who do you think wins each battle?  Leave a comment below or let us know on Facebook!