Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Draft Day doesn't delight, but Old Man Softball does

I recently saw Draft Day, Kevin Costner's ode to The Most Overblown Event In Sports, implausible storylines, ESPN, unpassionate love and, of course, himself.

OK, that sounds like the movie was horrible, and it wasn't. It was easy enough to watch, it maybe offered a little insight into the NFL Draft for those who don't follow football and there was nothing offensive in it.

Roberta said it felt as if she were watching a made-for-HBO movie. That's a pretty apt description, but I'd rather watch any episode of Game of Thrones.

Let's just say it wasn't one of Costner's best.

Costner is the general manager of the Cleveland Browns and he is feeling pressure to produce a winner after some lackluster seasons. The owner (played by Frank Langella, by far the best performance of any actor in the film) mostly wants to make a splash in the draft by trading up for the No. 1 pick to select the hot QB, while Costner -- son of a legendary former Browns coach -- wants to create a legacy for himself. Denis Leary plays a coach at odds with the GM, but comes across mostly as Denis Leary playing himself.

I don't want to give too much away here in case you still want to see it, so I will send out a SPOILER ALERT warning right now ...

Costner's wheeling and dealing as GM is so unrealistic that it borders on the ridiculous.

Actually, let me amend that: The border was crossed into abject ridiculousness.

Costner trades away a boatload of high draft picks (including the Browns' 7th-overall selection) to Seattle for the No. 1 pick -- OK, that kind of thing has happened, albeit rarely. He then uses the pick to select not the QB but the guy he wanted to take at No. 7 anyway. Farfetched? You betcha. And it gets even sillier.

Costner then trades two second-round picks to acquire the No. 6 overall selection (even with the great QB prospect still on the board). As if that isn't a dopey enough plot twist, he trades that pick back to the Seattle GM who fleeced him in the first place. Not only does Costner get back all of the draft picks he gave away but he convinces the Seattle GM to give him a great punt returner, too.

What, he couldn't get Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch, too?

And then there's this: Jennifer Garner is the Browns' salary-cap expert. She also is Costner's love interest, although there couldn't have been less chemistry between the two.

The kiss they shared at the end of the movie? Put it this way: Mike and Carol Brady had more passionate smooches 30 years ago than the Costner-Garner kiss -- and Mike didn't even like girls!

On my 1-10 ratings scale, I give Draft Day 5 Bald Heads. Which is my way of saying, "Meh."


Here's something that gets a far better rating: The Sons of Pitches are back, baby!

Yep, it's springtime in Charlotte, and that means it's time again for Old Man Softball.

I'm pleased to report that the Sons of Pitches are 3-0. Thanks to timely hitting and some clutch defense, we have won our three games by a total of five runs. Most importantly, none of us has had to be rushed to the Emergency Room.

We play the two other unbeaten teams over the next three weeks, so we'll see how good we really are.

As for yours truly ...

For the second time in three seasons, I'm my team's youngest player. That's right, The Kid. I need to cherish that "honor," because I'm miles from being the most talented player. Still, I did go 3-for-3 yesterday, with two solid singles to right-center and a fortuitous bloop (that looks like any other line drive in the box score). I'm batting .667 so far -- another thing I need to cherish while I can.

We have a great group of guys. We enjoy each other's company, we like to give each other crap and we even play some pretty good softball occasionally. Joining this league, and specifically playing for this team, is one of the most enjoyable things I've done since moving to N.C.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mortal Lock for NCAA title: Either Kentucky or UConn!

Well, I've embarrassed myself enough trying to make tournament picks, so I'll just slink away from basketball prognosticating for now!

Still, I do love the NCAA tournament. I love it when everybody is wrong, even when one of those everybodies is me. It is the one sporting event that never, ever disappoints -- and this year's tourney has been one of the best ever.

Funny that Kentucky and UConn, two of the most successful, big-time, big-name programs of the post-Wooden Era, have become underdog darlings, no?

Obviously, I wish Marquette had been one of the two darlings remaining, but we Warrior Eagle fans got our surprise a few weeks ago when Buzz Williams took less money to take an inferior coaching job, at Virginia Tech. There's way more to this story than we've been told, because that kind of thing simply doesn't happen.

Buzz gave us five excellent seasons (and one not-so-excellent season) and was an improvement on his predecessor, Tom Crean. And now I'm hoping our new guy, ex-Dookie Steve Wojciechowski, is an improvement over Buzz.

Awww ... who am I kidding. I'm just hoping I don't have to spell Wojciechowski too often! Let's go with "Wojo" from now on, OK?


Finally, appropos of nothing, I received a bit of an honor a few days ago when a highly respected Seeking Alpha writer named me one of the 25 best authors on the financial Web site.

I'm not gonna lie: It's always nice to have folks say nice things about you!

Friday, April 4, 2014

NCAA hoops pick: Don't do as I say, do as I dont!

I've been busy vacationing with my family in Vegas and Arizona. A lot more fun than blogging for free!

My NCAA bracket, like pretty much everybody else's, blew up a long time ago.

For the Final Four, I'm saying Florida handles UConn fairly easily while Wisconsin beats Kentucky in a close game featuring teams of contrasting styles. Then, Florida takes down Bucky Badger to win another title for Billy Donovan, the best coach (regardless of sport) that just about nobody talks about.

In other words, bet everything you have on UConn!