Death and Taxes and…4 Certain Things In Sports
Death and Taxes and…
“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
This quote, made famous by founding father Benjamin Franklin, was actually talking about our newly written Constitution and how it appeared to be a permanent document for the United States. He was correct about our Constitution standing the test of time and I think he and our founding fathers did a great job. But I disagree about just death and taxes being certain. There are some things that tend to be certain for sports fans. They drive our passion for the players, teams and sports we have grown to know and love. And yes, I agree with death and taxes being certain, but I think even the Philadelphia resident, Ben Franklin, would have been a diehard Phillies, Flyers, Eagles and 76ers fan and would definitely agree with some of these certainties today in modern sports.
1. Death and Taxes and…
Opening Day Is Great!
Maybe or maybe not in the words of the great Yankee Yogi Berra, “A home opener is always exciting whether its home or on the road.” People pouring into the stadium wearing their team colors, walking through the tunnel to your seat, the fresh cut green grass, the national anthem, the cheers, the sound of the first pitch hitting the catcher’s glove, the first crack of the bat, the first run, the first win! There is a pure energy that surrounds opening day. It’s an energy that is felt throughout the city as more than 40,000 people converge on one area for one cause…Opening Day! And, Opening Day 2014 did not disappoint. Here are some of the highlights…
Chicago Cubs vs Pittsburgh Pirates: Francisco Liriano (6IP, 0ER, 10K’s) and Jeff Samardzija (7IP, OER) dueled on the mound while Pittsburgh native Neil Walker blasted a walk off Home Run in the bottom of the 10th to give the Pirates the 1-0 win.
Kansas City vs Detroit: Two of the best pitchers in the game, James Shields and Justin Verlander battled to a 3-3 tie until Alex Gonzalez hit the game winning hit in the bottom of the 9th for the 4-3 Tigers win.
Washington vs New York: The Nationals young pitching sensation Stephen Strasburg struggled some but still struck out 10. Nationals down 5-4 in the 9th to tie it up, then scored 4 in the 10th to take the lead. The Mets scored 2 in the bottom of the 10th to start the comeback but fell short for a very exciting finish.
Cardinals vs Reds: Adam Wainwright (7IP, OER, 9K’s) set the tone for the 1-0 shutout of the Reds. How many steals did speedster Billy Hamilton have? Zero! He struck out all 4 times. He shouldn’t feel to bad. Cardinals pitchers had 12 strikeouts total.
Mariners vs Angels: King Felix vs Jared Weaver was over shadowed by MVP chants for Mike Trout who smashed a 2 run home run in his first at bat of the year. I was at the game, the MVP chants didn’t stop and I’m sure they won’t all year long. I love watching this kid play.
I could go on for days about the highlights of everything that happened on Opening Day. Bring on day 2 and 3 and so on. I know that it is good to have baseball back and I’m certain about Death and Taxes and Opening Day is great!
2. Death and Taxes and…
The Spurs, “Just Win Baby!”
In the words of one of the founding fathers of college basketball Dick Vitale, all this team does is “Just Win Baby!” They currently have a 18 game winning streak and a 3.5 game lead over the Clippers with 8 games left in the regular season. They also have a 31 game home winning streak which is very important for the playoffs. Over the past 15 years, they have more number 1 seeds than any other NBA team (6 times). Twice they won the championship out of those six. They are very impressive and all they do is “Just win baby!”
During the regular season they are 0-3 against the Thunder and Rockets but also 3-0 against Golden State and 2-1 against the Clippers. No need to look at the regular season though. Everything changes in the playoffs. Look at everything they’ve done and continue to do. They were built for this time of year. And they don’t look like a team that will come up just short. Look for them to “Just win baby” and continue to be one of the most dominant, underrated teams in NBA history.
3. Death and Taxes and…
March Madness is truly madness!
March Madness is “Awesome baby with a capital A!” Since we are talking about March Madness now, I had to include that Dick Vitale quote here. I love March Madness. At what other time would you possibly be talking about Mercer, North Dakota State and Dayton in the same sentences? We get behind these Cinderella teams like we’ve been following them for years and although Mercer and North Dakota St were out quickly, many people really got behind the Dayton Flyers all the way to their Elite Eight loss against the #1 seeded Florida Gators for a Final Four berth. Adding to the madness, top seeds Whichita St (#1), (#2)Villanova, (#3)Duke, (#3)Syracuse and (#3)Creighton never even made it past the first weekend. So now we are set for this upcoming championship weekend. The Final Four has (#1)Florida vs (#7)Connecticut and (#2)Wisconsin vs (#8)Kentucky.
Can Florida prove their #1 ranking is deserved and win the whole thing? Florida is on a 30 game winning streak. Their last loss…Connecticut
Can UConn and Shabazz Napier have already beaten a #2, #3 and #4 seed. Can they keep it rolling by upsetting the #1 seed?
Will Frank Kaminsky and Wisconsin continue their roll and prove to everyone they are a legit #2? While 20% of brackets picked them to go to the Final Four, only 5% have them going to the championship. I’m guessing that 5% is largely located in the Wisconsin area.
The lowest seed Kentucky might just be the best team. They sure are playing like it. Calipari knows how to win in the tournament and freshman star Julian Randle could lead the way.
Make sure you find yourself in front of a TV this weekend. You are going to be treated to some great basketball games. Actually, these will be awesome games…Awesome with a capital A!
4. Death and Taxes and…
You Build Team Not Buy Team
“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” Clear as mud huh? That quote from NBA coaching legend Phil Jackson sums up how easy or complicated it is to become a team. As I sat in the seats at Angel Stadium on opening day, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the Angels. You would think they would start to gain some momentum moving into the 3rd year of having picked up Free Agent All Stars Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson and the 2nd year of All Star Josh Hamilton but it seemed like the same old Angels. It is the same with the Yankees and the west coast Yankees, the LA Dodgers. The Yankees have missed the playoffs the past 2 years and a lot of people assumed a West Coast World Series last year between the Dodgers and Angels but despite their payrolls, only the blue LA team has been to the playoffs since 2009.
Only 3 of the top 10 teams in payroll made the playoffs last year, the Dodgers (#2), Red Sox (#4) and the Tigers (#5). The playoff teams that show to me that they actually get the meaning behind Phil Jackson’s mystical quote are the Indians (#21), Pirates (#26), A’s(#27) and Rays (#28). These are the ones that build team, not buy a team. They do the hard work, from the ground floor and the blood, sweat and tears of scouting, coaching and building from the beginning, translate into success at the end.
2014 MLB Payroll Top 10
1. Los Angeles Dodgers: $235,295,219
2. New York Yankees: $203,812,506
3. Philadelphia Phillies: $180,052,723
4. Boston Red Sox: $162,817,411
5. Detroit Tigers: $162,228,527
6. Los Angeles Angels: $155,692,000
7. San Francisco Giants: $154,185,878
8. Texas Rangers: $136,036,172
9. Washington Nationals: $134,704,437
10. Toronto Blue Jays: $132,628,700
I know it’s a business, but I wish the strength of these teams would not come from the financial strength of the owner but come from the skill level of the scouts, coaches, managers and players who all contribute to the strength of each team and that will translate into success.