Frank Gifford,legendary Giants Hall of Famer and broadcaster of ABC’s Monday Night Football,died Sunday at the age of 84.I remember watching him play towards the end of his career in 1963-64.I was only ten years old and had just started to understand football.My brother Ellis loved Frank Gifford and the Giants so I became a fan too.Back then we used to watch Frank on a show called Countdown to Kickoff on CBS which came on every Saturday at 4pm and previewed the Sunday games.That’s when he got into the TV business and after he retired following the ’64 season he got into it more and more.By the time he became the play by play man for Monday Night Football in 1971,Gifford had become a TV star from doing commercials and sports reports on the local news.With Howard Cossell and Dandy Don Meredith, Gifford became a broadcasting icon as Monday Night Football took off and became an event that even players and coaches in the NFL had to watch.As a lifelong Giants fan two of my proudest moments came when Pat Summerall,who also became an icon teaming with John Madden,broadcast Super Bowl XXI between the Giants and Denver Broncos and then Frank,Al Michaels and Dan Dierdorf broadcast Super Bowl XXV between the Giants and Buffalo Bills.The Giants won both games and I’m sure Giants pride was flowing through both of them although neither one could outwardly show it.The Giants were a bad team from 1964-1979 which included “the fumble”and it had to be painful for both men.So it was great that both got to do a Super Bowl game the Giants won.They are both gone now but Frank Gifford will always be in the discussion of greatest Giants of all time.For so many years he was the face of the franchise.He was and will always be Mr.Giant.That’s my opinion.
Training camps have gotten underway in the National Football League and the focus has finally been put back on the field instead of the courts.The NFL has been dealing with all kinds of issues from Ray Rice to Greg Hardy to now Tom Brady.You have Adrian Peterson returning to the Minnesota Vikings after saying he didn’t want to be there and being accused of beating his son with a stick.You have Sheldon Richardson of the Jets leading police on a wild chase with a 12 year old in his car.It’s absolutely ridiculous the behavior of these athletes today.They have everything they could want,money,fame,playing a game they always dreamed about and they just seem intent on throwing it all away.The Giants Jason Pierre Paul had to have his index finger amputated because he was playing with fireworks on July 4th.Richardson was reported driving 143mph and allegedly had marijuana in his car besides his 12 year old relative.The problem is that as long as all these guys (except Rice who can’t get a workout)are still productive and can help their team they will still have a job.You can be a knucklehead off the field and some team will pay you millions if you perform great on it.The only way these guys and others like them are going to get the message is if teams start putting more value in a players character and have no tolerance for such foolish and even criminal behavior.That’s my opinion.
Tonight is Major League Baseball’s allstar game.The game will feature some of the best young players around like Mike Trout of the Angels,Bryce Harper of the Nationals and Kris Bryant of the Cubs.This represents a changing of the guard in that twenty players in this game are 25 years old or younger.This also brings into question that the game counts because the winner will have home field advantage for the World Series.Many people don’t like this,they would rather have the team with the best regular season record get it.The problem with that is the teams play different schedules and it’s unfair that a team with an easier schedule should wind up with home field.The other is the reason this game now determines home field.The allstar game was losing interest year after year from players and fans.Nobody cared about an exhibition game in the middle of the season.Things really came to head in 2002 when Joe Torre,the AL manager,and Bob Brenly,the NL manager,had used almost all of their players by the ninth inning.Then the worst thing that could happen happened,the game went to extra innings and the pitchers that were in at the time would have to keep going until a team won.That couldn’t go on so the game ended in a tie and the backlash from the media was relentless.So to basically save the allstar game they got the idea to put a premium on it to make it more competitive,hence home field for the World Series goes to the winner.Frankly I think it’s been good for the game because now both sides are playing to win,the players are more into it so the fans get more into it.Also the way it was before,with home field alternating between the leagues each year was absurd.So enjoy the game tonight and if you’re team is in the American or National League with a chance to get to the World Series,you will be watching and rooting and that is why it was changed.It was a good move by Major League Baseball.That’s my opinion.
There are different reasons being given why Alex Rodriguez didn’t make the American League allstar team.One is that the other two candidates,Nelson Cruz of Seattle and Prince Fielder of Texas,are having as good if not better seasons than A-Rod.Another is what manager Ned Yost said about wanting to have versatility which is laughable.The third and I think primary reason is A-Rod would command most of the attention.The writers would be falling over themselves to get his comments and the TV cameras would be focused on him.The buzz that would be created would be tremendous and the ratings for the game itself would rise to a level MLB hasn’t seen in many years.I don’t believe it’s more because of his steroid use and what he did,like suing the Yankees and the players union,as much as it is that in this game of stars,he would be the biggest name and command the most attention.As a Yankees fan I’m not unhappy he didn’t make it.The Yankees are currently in first place in the AL East and are trying to make the playoffs for the first time in three years.Rodriguez has been a huge part of the teams success thus far along with first baseman Mark Teixeira.Since A-Rod will turn 40 by September it’s much more important that he take the four days the allstar break affords and rest up for the stretch run.He even said as much in a recent interview.The allstar game is important because home field advantage for the World Series goes to the winner.But first you have to get there and there is still a lot of baseball to be played and the Yankees getting there for the first time since 2009 (when Alex Rodriguez had his best playoff season)will depend on A-Rod being rested and ready to go.That’s my opinion.
The Major League Baseball season is heading towards the halfway point with most teams having played at least 77 games as of today.Right now the division leaders in the American League are Baltimore in the east,Kansas City in the Central and Houston in the west.The National League leaders are Washington in the east,St.Louis in the central and Los Angeles in the west.A bunch of teams are in play for the two wild card spots in each league.Both local teams,the Yankees and Mets,are in the race for both the division title and wild card respectively.What both teams need is opposite from what they have.The Yankees are second in MLB in runs scored to the Toronto Blue Jays but their starting pitching has not been good.The Mets are in the top five in pitching but their hitting has them near the bottom in runs scored.Both teams also need to get healthy for the second half.The Yankees are hoping center fielder Jacoby Elsbury will be able to play this weekend when they return home from their current west coast trip.The Mets just got second baseman Daniel Murphy back and are hoping catcher Travis d’Arnaud will also return soon.It will be very interesting around here if,come September,both teams are still in it because they play a huge three game series at Citifield that could go a long way in determining if one,or both,are still in it when the series concludes.Until then it’s going to be a wild and hopefully fun ride.Buckle up.That’s my opinion.
Tonight the NBA holds it’s player draft at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.While I do think that the NBA draft lottery is absolutely the stupidest way of determining draft order of all the sports,tonight guarantees to be an exciting night for cities like Minnesota,Los Angeles,Philadelphia and New York.Who will go where? The consensus is that center Carl Anthony Towns of Kentucky will be the first player selected.Then it gets interesting.The Lakers have the second pick and may pass up Duke center Jalil Okafor while the 76ers are said to really like European 7 footer Kristaps Porzingis.That leaves my team,the Knicks,with a chance to get either Okafor or Ohio St.point guard DeAngelo Russell.I would love to have Russell because he is a great passer and a great shooter.If the Lakers take him then the chance Okafor is there when the Knicks pick.Also possible picks for the Knicks include guard Emanuel Mudiay, guard/forward Justice Winslow and center Willie Cauley Stein.Phil Jackson has been criticized repeatedly by the know it all New York media for the players he’s acquired and let go this year.While I will admit he hasn’t done a great job,what he has done is get rid of players who weren’t any good and cleared cap room to acquire free agents.Now his job really begins tonight.He must pick the right player that’s going to help turn the Knicks around.Then he must sign the right free agents that can play in the pressure packed environment of New York City.I’ve said before it takes a special kind of player to thrive and win in New York.Phil Jackson knows that,now it’s his job to get them.It starts tonight.That’s my opinion.
Dylann Roof,21 years old,has been charged with killing nine people in Charleston South Carolina.The shooting took place at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston.It’s being called a hate crime because all nine people were Black.One of the victims,the Honorable Reverend Clementa Pinckney,41,was the second cousin of my sister’s husband.South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is looking for the death penalty.What made Roof do what he did? He was in a prayer meeting an hour before the shooting in that same church.Since the days of slavery Blacks and Whites have had a tension between them.I had my own experience when I was a kid and my grandmother lived in the town of Bishopville S.C.My cousin and I became friends with this white kid and after dinner we went over to his house to see if he could come out to play.To my surprise an elderly white man came out with a shotgun and told us that the kid was not coming out to play and for us to leave.When I told my grandmother what happened she told us in no uncertain terms not to go over there again.I didn’t understand it because I had white friends in my neighborhood.I learned quickly that the south was very different.Dylann Roof had to be taught to hate Blacks,he had to come from an environment that perpetuated hate.He had spent time with the people of that church praying while all the time he knew what was about to happen.It was cold blooded and calculated.It will be interesting to see if he actually gets the death penalty because after all,this is the south and somewhere there are some sick,bigoted bastards who like what he did.That’s my opinion.