Dear Mr. Silver, 

            In a time when we are seeing so many teams intentionally fail their fans (because when you try to lose that exactly what you’re doing), I feel that it is my duty as a representative of all NBA faithful to write to you in regards to the draft process and how you can very quickly become a hero in all of our minds (which you’ve already got a foot in the door with your stance on gambling). 
            You see, as you already know, the current Lottery system is incredibly flawed.  I’m not one of those people who think that the current process is rigged, and in all honesty believe that if it was rigged that the world would know it pretty fast because trends and “coincidences” can only happen so many times before the red flag goes up (just ask the sport of Boxing how that worked for them).  I do, however, feel that thinking it makes even a bit of common sense to allow a team to be rewarded for going out and purposely giving away games because they want the opportunity to get as many combinations as possible, is about as far from “sportsmanship” as one come imagine.
            Being in a position to be a true protector of the game is something that I’m sure you take very serious.  You were selected because a group of people thought that you would make a positive impact and ensure that the NBA continues to grow and improve the product that is put out on the court for the millions of fans who tune in every night, or those who pay the price (which is high) to go and be present at the games.  Having that said, doesn’t it make sense to ensure that the teams are doing everything they can, every night, and every season, to be the best, and not the worst?  To compete regardless of skill level or “rebuilding period” to give the people who pay so much the entertainment that we all know can exist.  Doesn’t it make sense to put a process in place that ensures a top level of competition from all 30 teams in the league at all times?  Give each team a reason to compete as hard as they can for the opportunity to shine at the top of the basketball world?
            I have been curious, probably since about 1994, how a player on one of those teams who is competing for the most ping pong balls would feel?  Their dream comes true and they get the opportunity to play a game that most people can only play in their dreams.  They have the chance to make a very good living playing a game (can you imagine?).  However, when they get to the team, they learn that the franchise is trying to get really good…by being really bad.  So what does that mean to them?  How does that make them feel?  I can’t imagine that would be a good feeling, and let’s be honest about this, these players are people too.  Isn’t it your responsibility to protect them just as much as it is to protect the league?  We as adults are always preaching to our youth about sportsmanship…how does them equate to that?
            The worst part about this is the publicity of it all.  As fans, we have to hear about all the money that the league makes, the CBA deals that ensure these players can get more and more money each time it comes around.  Each player has to put up with the fact that their financial situations are out in the open, to be gawked at, and discussed as if it’s anyone else’s business besides their own.  We know what everyone is making, and it’s everywhere all of the time.  (I don’t blame this on you, if anyone I blame it on the media for making it such a topic of conversation…ESPN I’m looking at you). 
            So here is my proposal.  Below is just a suggestion on how you can really make a change for the better in this league.  A chance for you to make your mark very early in your career as the commish and shock the system all for the greater good.
          1.  At the end of the season, all teams will be evaluated based on their win/loss record for position of draft order.   The lotto system will be completely removed.
          2.  The top 3 teams from both the East and the West who missed the playoffs will be given the top 6 draft choices.  The order of those 6 positions will be determined based on W/L record and ties will be determined by coin flip.
          3.  Once those 6 positons are filled, the remaining teams who did not make the playoffs will be organized by W/L record beginning with the best record and working down in order from there.
Once each team has drafted the remaining teams (playoff teams) will draft based on regular season W/L record beginning with the worst team and working down to the best.
          4.  This order will remain the same for the second round of the draft. 

            This is simply a suggestion, however I think we can all agree this makes much more sense and encourages each team to try their hardest each and every game to win.  I understand that you can only do so much to protect things like integrity (nothing you do will fix that problem in Philly), however, at least this removes the idea that it is acceptable to let down the very people who make all of this possible, not to mention the kids who’s dream is to get the opportunity to compete at the highest level, on the highest stage.

            Sincerely,
                      Big Fan of the NBA         *By Hollywood

Dear Sports World,

            There has been an obnoxiously long debate going on surrounding the pace of play and length of games in Major League Baseball.  People have continually blasted the sport for being too “old school”, slow, and literally too long.  I have listened to all of these ideas on how to speed up the game, from pitch clocks, to not letting batters step out of the box after pitches, among other.  We live in a time of instant gratification, where everyone wants to fly through events, so they can move on to the next super important thing they have lined up on there Instagram or Pinterest list (I don’t really know how Instagram or Pinterest works, so don’t judge me if I got that relation wrong).  
            I find it very interesting that throughout all of the complaining about how boring baseball is, and how games seem to last forever, that no one seems to care to actually take the time to step back and look at the comparison between all of the major sports and the length of time each of them actually takes.  So here it is, the breakdown on how each of the four major sports compare in regards to length of play. 

            Football:  The new “American Past-time” according to some of you.  As a baseball “Mega-fan”, this one is my favorite to discuss.  You see, an NFL football game is unique, in that not only is it actually longer than your average MLB game, amazingly enough, there is less action in an NFL football game than any other sport.  An NFL game averages around 3 hours and 12 minutes of time.  From Kickoff to the final whistle, we have roughly 3 hours of coverage of the sport that everyone claims to be the best sport of them all.  The fascinating thing about an NFL game however, is there are actually only about 12 minutes of actual action in the entire game!  I mean think about it, between whistles, and play clocks winding down, QB’s calling plays at the line, and all that other jazz, you only see a little more than 10 minutes of true action in the entire 3 plus hours that the game is going on.  And we want to complain about baseball??!!  

            Basketball:  The good news about basketball is that you see more than 13 minutes of action from the teams on the court.  The average NBA game last 2 hours and 30 minutes, with 48 minutes of action in a game.  What’s great about this game, is the clock is only going when the players are going.  There is no dead time between offense and defense.  You simply play until a whistle, pretty cut and dry.  Still, when you think about 48 minutes of action, and length of time being 2.5 hours, I don’t think there is much room to complain about the length of a game, and this is one of the shorter events you can attend in sports.

            Hockey:  Ah the NHL.  Hockey is a sport that for whatever reason still hasn’t seemed to take off in the states.  I don’t think I know very many “casual” hockey fans, but more you’re either into it, or you’re not.  Hockey is a beautiful sport, that has a ton of continuous play with the average length of a game being 2 hours and 20 minutes.  Hockey is as elegant as it is violent.  The toughest people in sports, gliding across the ice, trying to smash into each other at a rate of speed people don’t really understand.  Hockey is the fastest sport there is.  It’s as tough as rugby, which is tough, only you risk taking a shot in the head at any moment from a puck that is traveling 100 miles per hour.  Hockey, minus commercial interruption, is a continuous game.  If you don’t know about it, I’d recommend you learn.


            Baseball:  Now for the grand finale.  The “OG” if you will of American past-times.  Baseball gets all this hate the for length of a game, but in truth, the average MLB game lasts around 3 hours.  That’s right, you read that correctly.  The game that has no clock, the game that is in complete control by the athletes on the field.  No clock to worry about, just a beautiful game that gets destroyed because people think that it’s boring.  The NFL is a sham.  It gives you 11 minutes of action in a 3-hour span.  Baseball doesn’t try to fake you out, and make you think you’re getting more than you really are.  Baseball gives us the greatest rally’s that we can have in sports.  There’s nothing more exciting than seeing a team get down to it’s last out, and find a way to get back in a ball game.  No clock to worry about, and as fans you’d think that would be something you would want.  The ability to have a great competitive game keep going, and not be decided by a buzzer sounding.  We talk about OT like it’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  We always hope for it in those epic games.  Baseball is the sport that can give you that on any given night…something that I for one, hope never changes.
                                 

                                     Sincerely,
                                            A Baseball Fanatic   

                                                                                 *By Hollywood

​It’s official, I’m done. 

Usually when I sit down to write a blog, I address it to someone or some group, and try to address an issue, or perhaps educate from my perspective on a topic of discussion.  However, today that is not the case.  Today this blog comes from pure emotion, and frustration at society, and what we have allowed ourselves to care about, and create news from.  It also addresses a very depressing reality, where although I’m going to say things that could be considered controversial, I’ll probably be labeled raciest, or insensitive by a large group of people (good news, I don’t care).
     You see today I want to address the impact that the 24 hour news cycle has created on what is considered news.  For the record what sparked this article, was a “news” story that I read and heard about yesterday, when someone had their feelings hurt due to a comment that someone made, that was indirectly referencing him.  I’ll have another article addressing that individual, but for this piece we’ll call him ‘Mr. Carter’. 
     The news today is a joke.  We have replaced something that was a point of information that was important and informative, with nonsense.  If it’s not nonsense, it’s persuasive and designed to get you to buy into a narrative of opinion.  People today are more concerned with Hollywood actors and their relationships, pop culture stars making controversial comments, or Kanye West and his wife’s family.  This is a problem that everyone seems to continue to buy into.  Sure, I’m guilty of it too, during weird news every week I find the most obscure thing I can share with our audience, but it’s for entertainment purposes most of the time. 
     When you look at the scope of social media, where a very, very large portion of people get their “news” from Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, or whatever else is out there I’ve never heard of, that is very troubling.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand that the internet has been a huge information/communication vehicle that has allowed us to become much more informed, all of the time pretty much across the globe.  However, when you read articles on those same social media outlets that are 100% fabricated, and people believe in them without digging to make sure they have the facts, I think it’s safe to say we have a problem.  I blame this on a few things, mostly that people can’t seem to shut off and unplug today.  This has caused a serious need for distraction, and anyone who can get creative with a story is going to get “clicks”. 
     I want to get back to the topic though, because this isn’t about social media, this is about 24-hour news.  Having news all the time means finding things that people will follow and show interest in, not necessarily what’s important, but what is trendy.  Take for example the current situation in the Dakota’s; there are always 2 sides to every story but I don’t know half of even one side based on the lack of coverage.  There is a ton of back and forth that you have to dig for to find, but the media does very little to update a situation like that.  They’d rather let you know the latest Trump tweet, some heated debate on a satire show (Daily Show), or a country music singer slapping a fan during a concert (these are the current stories listed on CNN, that are apparently bigger news than the pipeline situation).  That’s what I’m sick of, and that’s why our country can’t get on the same page.  We can’t focus on the real issues in the country because not enough people are getting the stories that matter, and that’s because the “News Media” can’t stay focused and neutral anymore.  Too many people are paying to ensure that certain agendas are pushed, to ensure that messages are sent out to the masses, and that people don’t follow things that might have a negative impact to people behind the scenes who might be pulling those puppet strings.
     Don’t believe me, just look at CNN, MSNBC, FOX, or any other “big” news media company out there.  If you pay close enough attention, and really do some research of your own, you’ll start to see how agenda pushing is more important than the stories that matter.
     So to wrap it up, the 24-hour news cycle has allowed “news stories” that don’t have any real importance to creep into the center stage, and people are willing to publish anything that will get “click”, ya know, like a guy saying something that another guy feels is a dig at him, and is questionable on the whole racism thing, and then the media blows it up so we can continue to talk about segregation and focus on what a white guy says about a black guy, instead of identifying that in fact it was just what one guy said about another guy.  Race issues will go away when we decide to stop allowing other people to continue to focus on them, and simply make our own decisions, based on our own thoughts. 

-Hollywood          12/3/16            

​Dear Bryce Harper,

            I feel that as a fanatic of what I consider to be the greatest sport there is, it is my duty to address a few issues that seem to have your pretty pink panties in a bunch.  I caught your clever post-game interview after the Braves game this week.  How many times you dropped the word “fun”, obviously knowing that everyone had just read the statement you made calling out the game of baseball.  Baseball: the game that is getting ready to reward your unbelievable talent more than it already has.  I mean lets face it, at 23 years old, making 7.5 million dollars, and getting ready to get megabucks after this season, it would only make sense that you’d say the game of Baseball is well, “you know…boring”.  A game that has been played for over 100 years and been referred to as “America’s game”.  When you mentioned “flair”, just how exactly do you want to express yourself?  Are you talking about that time you and Papelbon “expressed” yourselves last season?  If you want to express yourself, go get a job working at Chotchkie’s, where they encourage people to wear as many pieces of flair as possible (you know, like Brian).           
            Baseball has been a game that millions and millions of people played growing up, and everyone single one of those people dream of playing in Major League Baseball.  Just the thought of playing such an amazing game that so many people love to watch would be incredible.  I remember that poem as a kid, “Casey at the bat”.  Baseball….what an amazing game… 
            What’s truly amazing is that if you’re really good, you have the opportunity to make a really good living playing this amazing game.  I hear the really, really good players make money in the hundred millions (are you excited?  I mean you’ve legit earned every bit of it, you’re a household name).  $7.5 million is amazing to begin with, so I can’t imagine that being a “small” income compared to much much more than that.  Such an opportunity to have life long success…playing an amazing game.
            What I’m getting at Mr. Harper, is that you should do something you truly love and love what you do.  If you want to express yourself in ways other than playing the game, and think you’ve got a good act, take a page out of Pat McAfee’s book and start an offseason standup bit.  But when you’re playing this game, maybe worry less about making a dramatic scene and focus more on playing with your heart; creating exciting drama through the game that we all want to watch and enjoy…because well, ya know…
            No one cares about you wanting to show your flair and express yourself….we want to watch you continue to amaze us playing the game.

Sincerely yours,
        Major League fans         *By Hollywood

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The History, The Curse, The Cure?


​​​When you tell people you are a Cubs fan, you typically get one of two reactions.  Most of the time, the response sends you into a mental cloud of anger, because they seem to always want to bring up the curse, and how the Cubs have been considered the “loveable losers” for so long, that it must be painful for you to watch them come up short year after year after year.  The other response, for as long as I’ve been able to remember…comes from other Cubs fans, which is always four simple words.  “There’s always next year.” 
We are 3rd generation Cubs fans.  Every time my wife visits with her grandmother, she is reminded that for her honeymoon, her and grandpa went to a Cubs game.  Her grandfather watched every game, and when the TV wasn’t available, he would go sit in his car and listen to the game, leaving grandma to deal with 8 children. When you live next to a baseball diamond, and request to have your final resting place be on a baseball diamond, it’s safe to say you are dedicated.  My earliest memories of the Cubs are when I would sit with my grandfather on the weekends and burn away the afternoons watching WGN in southern Indiana while listening to Harry make the call.  My grandfather taught me a lot about the game (mostly the inappropriate name calling that takes place when your pitcher has a bad outing, and the bats don’t seem to be working).  I learned about the history of the team, and that you didn’t get to pick who you were going to cheer for…because in this family, you could only cheer for the Cubs.  After he passed away, my grandmother would always check in with me and ask me how I thought they were doing while she browsed the newspaper for the current standings.  (she was always too busy reading her “erotic drama” books to actually watch a game (you know, like 50 shades of Grey, only before that was a thing).    
In 1990’s, we saw a strange change in the game of baseball. There was a strike, the playoffs were cancelled, and people were falling out of love with “America’s pastime”.  That of course changed in 1998, when two players decided that they would take the weight of the struggling league, and put it on their shoulders (and bats), to create one of the greatest races, and possible saving grace of the sport as we know it.  Luckily for Cubs fans, one of those players was Sammy Sosa.  The conversation started in spring training, when Mark McGwire was talked up as being the one to challenge Roger Maris for his 61 HR record, but the season would prove to be a 2 horse race, with Sosa and McGuire both passing him (70 McGuire, 66 Sosa).  All of this exciting stuff never amounted to anything for Cubs fans though.  Sure it was exciting, and it’s true it may very well have saved the game of baseball by bringing people back to the sport, but for Cubs fans, the best that those 66 HR’s got us, was a sweep in the NLDS by the Atlanta Braves. 
But I’m not here to give a book report on the history of our favorite baseball team.  I’m here to tell you how my loving wife and I decided we were going to be a part of it.  When you look at the history of any franchise, there are always shocking details that seem to blow you away about a club.  There have been 7 different owners since the last time the Chicago Cubs won a World Series Title.  They’ve been to the World series only 8 times as the Chicago Cubs, and have only been NL Central, or NL Division champions a total of 16 times.  When you think about the fact that they have been the Chicago Cubs since 1903, that’s a little mind blowing (I mean 113 years is a seriously long time).  For most of us, we know only the pain and suffering of years and years of mediocre teams that had potential that left us blowing in the wind, like the flags keeping us informed of who was leading the central division out in center on the scoreboard.  And as with all franchises, there are unique historic events that shape how fans look at a franchise, either good or bad.
In this case, the Cubs have what some could argue is the greatest story in baseball.  Granted, as I write this I can hear all of my friends screaming “Homer”, but when you hear about a curse that has been alive and well since Oct. 6th, 1945, even they can’t totally dismiss it.
Billy Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, told the club that they would never win again, when he was asked to leave game 4 of the World Series vs the Tigers.  The Cubs were leading the series, and as we all know would lose the series, in what would begin over 100 years of pain and suffering.  The curse of the Billy goat is quite historic, and if you aren’t familiar, allow me to get you caught up.  Murphy the goat was forced to be tied up outside the stadium when other patrons of the game complained that he didn’t smell nice (go figure, he’s a goat).  Mr. Sianis took serious offense to this, and told everyone who would listen, that the Cubs would never win again.  So how does a goat named Murphy have an effect on the last 113 years?  Well the last owner of the Cubs to win a title was Charles Murphy.  In the 1969 season, the Cubs had a team that was “unable to lose” in the eyes of most….until they did (no thanks to that black cat).  They spiraled out of control and finished second behind the Mets, whose GM at the time just happened to be named Johnny Murphy.  (I’d like to note that the Mets game announcer was Bob Murphy).  In 1984, the Cubs finished first in their division, and found themselves in the NLCS vs the Padres.  They ended up losing that series 3 games to 2….and the location of the NLCS, was Jack Murphy Stadium.  Flash forward to just last year.  A new skipper who is a future HOF’er, coaching up a young stud team who looks like they can’t do wrong.  An incredible wildcard game against a rival Pirates club who won over 90 games, followed up with a huge 4-1 series win against the biggest rivalry in baseball, the STL Cardinals.  Once again the Cubs saw the Mets, in what many thought would be an amazing NLCS.  That is until Daniel Murphy had an MVP postseason outing, and single handedly took the Cubs out of it.
Now, you could argue that someone would have to go looking for all of that and really try hard to connect the dots and make this thing a story.  I mean let’s be honest, how can one single name carry the weight of over 100 years of bad luck?  However, if you are truly a lover of sports, don’t you have to have some level of superstition?  I mean sure these things could be considered a stretch….but that damned goat was named Murphy, and I just gave you decades worth of the same.
I know it all sounds crazy, but isn’t that the definition of “fanatic”?  Our son was born on December 9th, of 2015.  Just weeks after the Cubs came up short, we brought the next generation of Cubs fan into the world.  As any parent knows, naming a child is a pretty important and daunting task.  You have to find a name that is important to you, and one that won’t cause the kid TOO much grief throughout their life. (We all have stories of the name game from growing up).  We went back and forth for months trying to decide on what we would call our new little bundle, and one night when I came home from work, my wife dropped a name on me that I just simply couldn’t say no to.
If you were lucky enough to be around during the professional career of Michael Jordan, then you were lucky enough to see what most will agree was the greatest professional basketball career of all time.  In fact, when asking a random fan who has been around for longer than Lebron’s career, most would consider MJ the Greatest of All Time….or more simply put, the GOAT (like a Billy goat…see what I did there?).  My wife is probably one of the biggest Jordan fans I have ever met, so it was no surprise to me when she suggested that our son’s name have a connection to him.  As we continued to discuss what would prove to be the name we chose for him, I began to realize that not only did this name have significant meaning for her, but it connected so many dots that would suggest that he could complete a cycle that started so many years ago for all Cubs fans.  See, we were at game 3 of the NLCS in 2015 (props to my wife, she was a trooper), and as we entered the ball park on the Northside, she was met with cheers from strangers, words of encouragement and excitement that a woman who was basically weeks away from child birth would join the masses to cheer on our beloved Cubbies.  She was wearing a shirt that said “Cub in the oven”, and was being stopped for pictures like she was a celebrity.  I remember a woman yelling to her “start him early, we need more pitchers!”.  The Cubs may have fallen victim to yet another Murphy related curse in that series, but what they didn’t know, was that in doing so, they effectively paved the way to finish the ending of the story of the curse of the Billy goat.  They inspired us to stop standing on the sidelines and take Mr. Sianis head on with what will prove to be a historic decision (at least for us). 
Since his arrival, we’ve seen the Cubs acquire the exact pieces they were missing in 2015; a pitching staff that can compete with all others; a group of veterans with post season experience who will guide the young talent that has burst into the big leagues over the past two years; more than 100 wins, the most we’ve seen the club have since….well you get it.  I guess what I’m saying is seeing isn’t always believing.  When you are a part of a group, a club, a team…a fan base, you sort of agree to an unwritten contract.  You promise to stand with that collective no matter what happens, good or bad.  It’s not often that we get the call though, to buck the trend and change history, so when that opportunity presents itself, make sure you’re ready to act.
Our now 10-month old son may not be able to say it himself quite yet, but he has a message for all Major League Baseball, Mr. Sianis and his goat:

 The Chicago Cubs and their fans are done hearing the non-sense about all the reasons they have “bad luck”.  This year, they’ve got a good luck charm….whose name just happens to be Murphy.