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Should MLK Day Be a National Holiday?

Should Martin Luther King, Jr. have a national holiday in his honor? Personally, I don’t think so. Not because I am white and he was black. I just don’t understand the significance of honoring this great man with a national holiday.

Ronald Reagan was a great man and president. By the way, he is the one who initially started legislation to make this a holiday in 1968. It became a national holiday in 1986. Reagan has no holiday. John F. Kennedy was a great man and president. He has no holiday. Franklin D. Roosevelt, to some the greatest president of all time, does not have a holiday.

What did Martin Luther King do? He was a very good man. He was a preacher and civil rights leader who fought tooth and nail against segregation. I applaud him most heartily for that. Is it the fact that he is the face of African-Americans? I certainly mean no disrespect to any of them or anyone else for that matter. I make no light or am not attempting to trivialize his life or accomplishments. I am just trying to make some sense of the pecking order which has been established to determine national holidays.

When I was a child growing up, there were holidays for both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I can’t recall, but I don’t think school was out or anything like that. Then later on, in a push to get another Monday off, the government decided to squeeze them both into one day and called it President’s Day. I don’t think kids get out of school for that. I may be wrong.

Ol’ Christopher Columbus discovered America and all he got out of it is a K-Mart holiday. Oh yeah it’s on the calendar, but nobody cares. Nobody celebrates it as we know the term celebration.

Is it the fact that he was assassinated at a young age? I remember that day and it truly was a sad day. My heart went out to his family and those who loved him. Still, after all that, is he deserving of a national holiday? Robert Kennedy was assassinated at an early age yet he has no holiday.

John Lennon was beloved by many and had millions of fans. He was killed in the prime of life and obviously there is no day to call his.

There have been many great men throughout the annals of history. Too many to mention in this article. Many of them are as deserving, if not more so, than Martin Luther King, Jr. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Thomas Edison are just a few of the names which I personally would place in front of the good doctor.

Could it be that the country felt so badly that the blacks had been mistreated for so long? Were they just trying to make recompense for that fact? Is it technically just a Black Holiday? Just askin’. I notice that St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t get so much notoriety  outside the Irish community. No school dismissed that day, sir. Just a day for the drunks to dye their beers green, eh?

Should Cinco de Mayo be a day celebrated by only Mexican Americans?

Just some things to think about. Maybe when the government decides they need yet another Monday off each year, Kennedy, Reagan or Roosevelt may get a holiday.

© 2011 Clifton Eastham. All Rights Reserved

NFL Playoff Format Needs To Be Tweaked

The current playoff implemented by the NFL is lacking.

The way it is now, each of the four division winners in both the NFC and the AFC reach the playoffs and all four are assured of a home game in the first round. The two teams with the best record receive first-round byes.

The third and fourth best records (of the division winners) host a wild-card team.

It makes no sense at all to see a team such as the New Orleans Saints with a record of 11-5 playing a wild-card game at a division winner such as the Seattle Seahawks with a ridiculous record of 7-9. Does anyone else see the complete lack of reasoning here?

I realize that the Seahawks upset the defending Super Bowl Champs but it still should not have been played in Washington.

For your perusal and edification I would like to propose some changes.

First, the only thing that winning a division will get you is a pennant to flap in the breeze in your stadium. Just  because you are the best of the worst gives you no entitlement here, sir.

The only purpose the divisional format would serve is geographical. If you win the division, albeit with a record that is under water, then you can raise your banner high. If, however, you record is not one of the top six in the Conference you call home, you may watch the playoffs with your wife and kids on television.

It is the pinnacle of absurdity to have the team with the second best record in the Conference playing an away game in the opening round. It takes absurdity to a new level to make them play that away game against a lesser qualified opponent.

Am I saying that the Seahawks do not belong in the playoffs. Yes indeedy!

I am also saying that the Saints should be the second-seeded team. You see, I am ranking them by their records, then applying tie breakers in the case of identical records.

In my playoffs, the NFC first round would pit (6) Tampa Bay at (3) Chicago and (5) Philadelphia at (4) Green Bay.

In the next round (1) Atlanta would play the Tampa Bay-Chicago survivor in Atlanta, and (2) New Orleans would play the Philadelphia-Green Bay winner in New Orleans.

Winners would play in the highest remaining seeds home town.

Doesn’t that sound reasonable? If not, why even play the regular season, if it is meaningless? As you can see, in my prototype, the only change in personnel would be the Bucs in and the Seahawks out.

The ranking by wins (performance) may seem new-age, but I believe that is the way it all started.

The AFC had it right in terms of who should play but wrong in where they play. The Jets should have hosted the Colts and the Ravens should have been home against the Chiefs.

I would like to see it changed, but I doubt it will. Call me old-fashioned but I don’t see the benefit of rewarding a team just because they are from the worst division in the game.

MLB Hall of Fame Voting 2011: Top Five Surprises

Andre Dawson - Jim McIsaac/Getty Images


It is easy to second-guess or to cry “foul” at the Hall of Fame voting done by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

At least this year they did pick the correct winners. Everybody knew it was only a matter of time before Roberto Alomar punched his ticket. He would probably have been a first-ballot man had it not been for the spitting incident.

He actually was the high scorer on the list with over 90 percent of the sports writers writing his name.

Had Bert Blyleven missed again this year, he would have had only one more shot. He cleared the hurdle this year with a surprisingly small amount of clearance. The “Dutchman” garnered 79.7 percent of the votes.

That was all well and good. My problem comes with a few players I thought would do much better.

Jeff Bagwell received only 41.7 percent of the votes and lagged behind nominee war-horses Jack Morris and Lee Smith.

“Bags” surely has the numbers to be included among the hallowed men of Cooperstown. He was a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, a four time All-Star, won three Silver Slugger Awards and one Gold Glove Award.

He hit 30 homers or more nine times and drove in 100 or more eight times. He finished with .297/449/1529. He had a most impressive OBP of .408, so what was there not to like?

The man was never mentioned in a steroid article or appeared on any list of “questionable” suspects.

Why so little love?

Tim Raines should already be enshrined, but I will go there anyway. Why is he constantly overlooked? He was not just one of the most prolific base thieves in history. He was on every NL All-Star team from 1981 until 1986 inclusive.

He led the NL in batting in 1986 with a .334 clip and also led in OBP with .413. He batted over .300 seven times and won one Silver slugger Award.

37.5 percent of the vote is disgraceful for a player on the ballot for his fourth time, with his credentials.

I was mystified that Larry Walker tallied only 20 percent of votes in his initial campaign. The man is legend.  He won an MVP, three batting titles, one HR title and finished his career with an OBP of .400.

Walker was a five time All-Star, won seven Gold Glove awards along with three Silver Slugger awards.

He batted over .300 nine times, hit 30 HR or more four times and once belted 49 and I don’t care that most came at Coors Field. His final numbers are .313/383/1311.

I was shocked that Alan Trammell received just over 24 percent in his 10th year of eligibility. He was my top pick for eligible SS not in the Hall of Fame in April of 2009. It is clear to me that he will not make the HOF and will be snubbed and written off as was Tommy John just a few years ago.

I think the biggest surprise to me was the total lack of respect for Rafael Palmeiro. I understand many have written him off as a “user.” Whatever he was late in his career, he was also on the very short list of players who hit 500 HR and collected over 3000 hits.

That list includes only Hank Aaron, Eddie Murray, Willie Mays and of course Palmeiro. Impressive wouldn’t you say?

It was also alarming to see that two time MVP winner Juan Gonzalez barely made the cut for next year. With a .295/434/1404 line you would think that he would have been more than just a one time appearance which is what he nearly was with only 5.2 percent.

Seattle Mariners’ Milton Bradley: The 2010 Version of Jimmy Piersall?

For a man considered by many to be very talented, Milton Bradley has called eight cities “home” in 11 seasons in MLB.

I realize there have been other players who have become “shop worn” over the years. Kenny Lofton pops into my mind first. He played for 11 different squads in his very good 17-year career.

With Lofton 10 of those teams came in his final seven seasons after spending a decade with the Cleveland Indians.

Lofton was one point away from being a career .300 hitter. He showed skills and was not ejected from one town to another because of his personal demons.

Bradley, on the other hand has never measured up to the model many people had thought he had trying to burst out from the rough exterior.

In his career Bradley has only played one season in which he had enough ABs to qualify for any time of statistical reward, not that any would be due him.

In 2004 with the Los Angeles Dodgers he played 141 games and had 516 ABs. He batted only .267 with 19 HR and 67 RBI.

In four partial seasons he managed to bat over .300, his high-water mark being in 2008 when he batted .321 with the Texas Rangers.

His personality disorder(s) has made him the modern day Jimmy Piersall. Many readers are too young to remember him.

He was an outfielder with similar personal problems, mostly remembered as a member of the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians.

There was also a movie made about him starring Anthony Perkins, called “Fear Strikes Out.”

Most people don’t remember that he had a decent career, just that he was “not right”.  Is that the legacy Bradley will be faced with?

He has already had enough strikes against him to be called out, and I mean out permanently. He is the MLB version of Terrell Owens, without being one of the best at his position.

The baggage he carries is too much for any Skycap guy to handle. I am not certain where or when his problems actually began, but the first I am privy to is the incident in Cleveland.

At the beginning of the ’04 season he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Franklin Gutierrez and Andrew Brown after a confrontation with manager Eric Wedge.

In 2007 he was placed on the Disabled List after he tore an ACL while being restrained by San Diego manager Bud Black.

Bradley was in an altercation with umpire Mike Winters.

Winters had told the home plate umpire that in a previous at-bat Bradley flung his bat toward him (Brian Runge). Winters was subsequently suspended after it was found that he had used profanity at Bradley (where would we be if every ump that cussed a player would be suspended?).

No further action was directed toward Bradley by the league.

In 2008 as a Texas Ranger, Bradley had a confrontation with Kansas City Royals’ announcer Ryan Lefebvre in the press box.

Bradley took umbrage at a comment the announcer made comparing Josh Hamilton and Bradley. A full-blown confrontation was dismantled and Bradley was reduced to tears in a public display of emotion.

With the Chicago Cubs in ’09 Bradley was again at the center of controversy. He was suspended for arguing a call with umpire Larry Vanover.

After Bradley flew out in a game against crosstown rival, the White Sox, he and manager Lou Piniella had a blow-up and Bradley was told by the manager to go home.

After that particular incident, Piniella reportedly said, “This has been a common occurrence and I’ve looked the other way a lot and I’m tired… I’m not into discipline, I’m really not. I’m going to put his name in the lineup tomorrow and that’s it.”

The Seattle Mariners acquired Bradley in an off-season deal that sent pitcher Carlos Silva and cash to the Cubs. The Mariners (as was I) were in high hopes that he could help them get to their first World Series this year.

In a game a few days ago he became irate after striking out twice in a game. Manager Don Wakamatsu removed him from the game prompting Bradley to say, “I’m packing my stuff. I’m out of here.”

Bradley sent a message to ESPN’s Colleen Dominguez, saying, “Any reports that I said I’m packing up and leaving are 100 percent fabricated.”

My point is this: How many strikes do you get? He has proved himself to be a polarizing (negative) component everywhere he has played.

The Mariners are waiting for Bradley to seek outside help and create a plan for self-improvement before any further action is taken.

It is clear to anyone with eyes that Bradley has some emotional disorder(s). Hopefully, he can get his personal life worked out.

I am told he is a pleasant man to talk to, but when stress levels hit the boiling point, he is someone else. Does Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ring a bell?

Every time I hear of one of Bradley’s outbursts I am reminded of the scene in “Fear Strikes Out” when Piersall (actually Perkins) begins climbing up the backstop.

What are your thoughts?

Will Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Knock Out Sugar Shane Mosley?

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Has anyone entertained the thought that Floyd Mayweather may knockout Shane Mosley on Saturday night?

I didn’t think so.

Floyd has never been hurt (I mean HURT), but obviously Mosley can’t say the same thing.

In Mosley’s first pro fight with Vernon Forrest, he found himself on the canvas in the second round. Forrest (may he rest in peace) was not considered a power puncher.

What would happen if just once, PBF opened up and showed the warrior mentality? I mean the grit, the rawness, the savage that is in us all waiting to be released. I am speaking of the decision to knockout or be carried out on your shield.

Would his underrated power show through? Would his devastating speed be enough to show Mosley his 38-year-old legs are not what they used to be?

This is food for thought, but as a boxing purist I am smiling as I write this piece. I believe Money has the ability, and all the tools, it takes to end the fight within three rounds. That being said, it probably won’t happen.

The fact remains that even though his defense is unparalleled in boxing history, and his speed is second to none, there is caution in his makeup that is frustrating to his fans.

Mosley can be hurt, Forrest showed us that. His resilience shone through and he collected himself in time to just be beaten badly, but not stretched out.

Had that been Money who had him on the canvas, I believe he would have finished him off. Just sayin’.

Mayweather always comes to the job in shape. His punches are like missiles being launched from a fighter jet with laser precision. He could sustain an assault for as long as it would be necessary.

If he would ever just “let ’em rip”, I think the boxing world would be shocked and awed.

Mosley is not a can of tomatoes or a punching bag, thus the rub. He will be throwing hands himself. He wasn’t nicknamed Sugar for nothing. He is most likely a future Hall of Famer regardless of the outcome of this fight.

Does Money have one-punch KO power? No. But you don’t have to be hit in the head with an anvil to be incapacitated. Usually 20 or 30 bees in your face can prevent you from doing anything but retreating. I speak from experience.

Will Money knock him out?

Probably not, though I think he could. I look for him to do what we have been accustomed to seeing. He beating his opponent to the punch consistently, using his defense in a superb fashion, and winning the fight decisively by points.

What are your thoughts? Be nice.

Aroldis Chapman Will See His First MLB Action Monday

Aroldis Chapman, the Cuban defector-turned-Cincinnati Red, will get his first taste of MLB action on Monday.

He will enter the game in a reliever’s role at Goodyear Park against the Kansas City Royals.

The 22-year old southpaw is being scrutinized carefully by the media. That is a bunch of attention for a man who hasn’t thrown an MLB pitch to date.

Chapman has thrown batting practice a couple of times and may see some action today in an intrasquad game.

Dusty Baker is not concerned about the outcome of Chapman’s performance on Monday. He said he was just wanting to watch the kid and see how he handles himself.

There has been no doubt about the velocity of Chapman’s fastball. He is one of a very few people who can throw the ball 100 mph. If he can work the corners of the plate and not be wild, he could be a very hard pitcher to bat against.

I don’t look for Chapman do be with the Reds when they break camp. I would think he would come up for a look somewhere between Memorial Day and the All-Star break.

I am one of the many who hopes the young man pans out because it sure has been rough not having a consistent southpaw starter for a number of years here.

One of the most difficult transitions for Chapman is the move from one country to another. The difference in cultures are sometimes hard to overcome.

His interpreter in spring training is Class A Dayton pitching coach Tony Fossas.

I am looking forward to the beginning of the season. I haven’t been this excited about the beginning of a season in decades.

Tiger Woods’ Apology Is Bad, But Not Among Five Worst

Apology is defined by as a written or spoken expression of one’s regret, remorse, or sorrow for having insulted, failed, injured, or wronged another.

We as a society have expected celebrities to be forthright towards us, acknowledging that they screwed up, and telling us how sorry they are.

Sometimes we receive just what we wanted to hear, a contrite, heartfelt statement that really makes us believe it will never happen again. Sometimes we don’t.

We go from one athlete, politician, actress or rock star gone astray to another. Whether it be a congressman playing footsies with another man in a public toilet, or a basketball player apologizing for the death he nearly caused because of a moment of madness.

Our latest hero-turned-villain is Tiger Woods. It all began with his automobile accident in his driveway on Thanksgiving of 2009.

His wife apparently took a seven iron to the rear window of his Cadillac and demolished it. We haven’t heard a word out of Tiger’s mouth since.

We have heard painful accounts, one after another, of his cheating, philandering and lying. Had it all been disclosed at once it perhaps wouldn’t have appeared so treacherous.

As it were, it resembled death by a thousand cuts. Seemingly each day another female would come forth with sordid details of her sexual relationship with arguably the greatest golfer in history.

It probably would not have been so painful had he not been presented to us as the all-American family man. He epitomized family values, he was the flagship of the American dream.

It has now been nearly three months since we have heard his voice. Sure, he released a public “apology” several days later after damage control had been assessed and thoughts put in order.

That was merely a plea for privacy on his behalf. Bleeding from probably 300 of the thousand cuts by then, he needed us to know he was still alive, loved his family and was sorry for letting us all down. Give me bull**** for $2000 please Alex.

He had a press conference today without taking questions. Does that really make it a press conference or just another PR statement, this time in the flesh?

Although it looked to me as though he was serious, I can’t help but think the little guy in his head was begging for it to all be over. I can picture the little fellow in his head lying in the fetal position rocking his head.

His apology was decent but not great. Not one of the best, nor one of the worst. He talked too much about the good things he has done. He read the statement instead of speaking from the heart.

He spoke too much about the privacy of he and his family. Surely, they are to be afforded that same privacy we all are entitled to. Nobody tuned in to hear him bitching about the press.

We wanted to hear contrition, which I don’t feel was totally sincere. Anger was near the level where it becomes visible. He also denied the fact that his wife hit him then, or ever. He denied the use of steroids. It was a shotgun apology that needed work.

That being said, here are five of the worst sports apologies in my opinion only. The offenses aren’t rated, only the apologies.

No. 5 – Roberto Alomar

Roberto Alomar drew the ire of the sports community when he spat in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck in 1996 over a disputed call.

He was given a five day suspension by the commissioner’s office. Umpires were livid about the fact that the suspension wouldn’t be during the playoffs but would begin the 1997 season.

When Alomar apologized a week or so later he blamed the incident at least partly on Hirschbeck, saying that he was distressed over the recent death of his eight-year old child. Apologies shouldn’t contain remarks that open older wounds.

No. 4 – LaGarrette Blount

LaGarrette Blount of the Oregon Ducks knocked down Byron Hout of the Boise State Broncos, with a straight right hand following the game which opened the 2009 football season for both squads.

No. 3 – Tim Hardaway

In 2007 NBA star Tim Hardaway made some “hate” comments on a Miami radio show toward the gay community.

Hardaway’s comments came on the heels of the release of a book by former NBA player John Amaechi. Amaechi’s autobiography entitled, “Man in the Middle” disclosed the fact that he was a gay man.
No. 2 – Mark McGwire

It is difficult to take a man’s apology seriously when it is nearly five years in coming. Not the offense itself, which was over a decade late, but not confessing to congress the depth of his culpability.

His apology was as transparent as a window pane. It was only when he was offered a job as hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, that he decided to inform the public what we already had surmised.

Had this apology come to us shortly after the season that he broke Roger Maris’ single season home run record, it would have at least appeared genuine. Considering the height of the mountain he climbed while on steroids, his apology fell on nearly deaf ears.

No. 1 – Kermit Washington

Kermit Washington, a great collegiate and good NBA player is most likely best remembered for one thing. That thing is punching Rudy Tomjanovich, with a near-lethal right hand in 1977 in a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets.