The Curse of Rush Limbaugh

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The Curse of Rush LimbaughSports is filled with tales and folklore. One of them is curses. Fans of teams that have not won a championship in years will often blame the drought on a curse. These so-called curses also result in other consequences. Take for instance the recent news of the St. Louis Rams going back to Los Angeles after leaving the City of Angels for the Gateway City 22 years ago. You can chalk that up to the curse of Rush Limbaugh.

Now some of you may be wondering: what is this Limbaugh curse and why is he the reason the Rams are heading to the west coast? First off, let me tell you who Rush Limbaugh is. Many who follow American politics knows Limbaugh. For those who don’t, he is the controversial US talk radio host known for his conservative views and penchant to ridicule liberals from Democrats to Hollywood. To say he is Barack Obama’s biggest critic would be an understatement.

Now that we know who Limbaugh is, let’s go into why I believe he is connected to the Rams moving back to LA. In 2009, there was a group that was looking into buying the Rams after owner Georgia Frontiere passed away. That group included former St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts and Limbaugh. However, there were a few NFL owners that did not want Limbaugh to own the team even if it’s a minority stake. One of them was Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts. Irsay was perhaps the most vocal in his opposition to having Limbaugh be part of the group. Checketts ended up removing Limbaugh from his group and continued his pursuit of buying the Rams. That deal eventually fell through and the team ended up being sold to current owner Stan Kroenke. Having Limbaugh as part owner of the Rams would not have prevented the team from moving. But it is hard to argue the futility the Rams have experienced since then. For the readers in Rio Linda, futility means a string of bad results.

The Rams are not the only team caught in the Limbaugh curse. The Colts themselves have been in a freefall since Irsay threatened to block Limbaugh from buying the Rams. The Colts continue to make the playoffs since 2009 but none of their appearances resulted in Super Bowl championships. Their franchise quarterback Peyton Manning was cut from the team after having two neck surgeries, and their current franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck, is dealing with his own health setbacks. Irsay himself was victimized when he was arrested for DUI and drug possession.

In 2003, Limbaugh worked at ESPN as an analyst on the Sunday pre-game show. His comments on former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb caused negative criticism particularly those from the black community. Limbaugh ended up leaving the show. He said the parting was mutual but you wouldn’t know it from his comments of the network after his departure. Since then, ESPN has lost a number of viewers to the point where they are laying off staff in order to keep the channel on the air. As I mentioned in a previous piece, no one is watching ESPN because of their lack of sports coverage.

The point here is anyone who has crossed, double-crossed, or attempted to cross Limbaugh has ended up hurting themselves. They won’t necessarily admit it but as I have explained in this piece they have gotten themselves into a deep hole that they have never been able to get out of. It is perhaps why Donald Trump is still in the running to become the next President of the United States. Contrary to popular belief, Trump and Limbaugh are often at odds on political issues especially on sending military troops to Iraq. But Trump has, to this point, managed to avoid getting into a war of words with Limbaugh.

The Limbaugh curse doesn’t have the notoriety as the Billy Goat or the Bambino. It is going to take at least another 10 years before it gets to that level. But it is hard to ignore the sports teams and figures who have not been able to get out of a funk as a result. Just ask football fans in St. Louis.

Also see:

Everyone’s a Critic
In Defense of George Stroumboulopoulos
Sports is Not a Platform for Activism

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Scott’s Removal a Bush League Move by the NHL

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A Bush League Move by the NHL

Say what you want about John Scott. I certainly took issue of him trying to pick on Phil Kessel during a pre-season game in 2013. But the latest move to prevent the now Montreal Canadien to appear in this year’s all-star game has to go as one of the lowest points in NHL history. Yes, even lower than his election to this year’s game in Nashville.

Scott was recently named by fans as the Captain of the Pacific Division all-stars. But he is not what you normally consider an all-star. Scott rarely scores goals or makes plays, he doesn’t block shots or takes away scoring opportunities. He is what we in the hockey world like to call an enforcer. These guys are more known for dropping their gloves and duking it out with their opponents. While some feel these types of players do nothing to promote hockey, their character and demeanour attracts the average Joe, namely you and I. You know, the ones that actually pay money to watch them play. It can be said that Scott doesn’t deserve to be in the All-Star, present company included. But this is what you get when you leave the rosters up to those with no vested interest.

Scott being named as a captain of an all-star team is a punch to the gut — deservedly in my opinion — to those who say the NHL does nothing for its fans. They are the ones who called on the league to remove Scott. They don’t care how it is done so as long as the ends justify the means. So much for integrity. The next time you hear them say they speak for the true hockey fan, just keep in mind that they are sharpening their knives as they say it.

The NHL has tried every avenue to remove Scott from the All-Star game, sending him to the minors, and now Arizona trading him to the Habs. This to me is a bush league move by a professional sports organization. The NHL has no guts to accept the results. If Scott’s election to the all-star game is a problem then by all means do something to fix it so that it never happens again. But to not accept and acknowledge the fan’s decision is no different than pissing on someone’s grave. It is appalling and outrageous. So much for the customer being always right. That’s a thought I never gave any credence but it will be a test for those who stand by it.

Also see:

Outsiders Strike Again
People Don’t Watch Sports, Fans Do
Leafs Nation Needs a Housecleaning

UPDATE (January 19, 2016):

Sportsnet is reporting that John Scott will indeed be in the All-Star Game.

UPDATE (January 31, 2016):

John Scott and his Pacific Division team wins the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament. Scott scores two goals and is named MVP.

They Don’t Call it Wild for Nothin’

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They Don't Call It Wild for Nothin'What a wild weekend of playoff football. There were four games played but only one had a predictable outcome.

The one that stood out was Bengals-Steelers. The last 5 minutes of the game would give the 7th inning of Game 5 of the ALDS between the Blue Jays and Rangers a run for their money. All that was missing was a bat flip. You had Ben Roethlisberger going out with an injury then coming back in late in the game and lead the Steelers to a game-winning field goal. That was aided by a late hit by Vontaze Burfict and ensuing provoked outburst from Adam “Pacman” Jones resulting in 30 yards and putting Chris Boswell in a position to make an easy field goal. By the way, I don’t think it was a direct head shot by Burfict (who got suspended 3 games as a result) on Antonio Brown as many have suggested but it was late and that really what the call was for. You also had Cincinnati who went with their back-up quarterback AJ McCarron and almost pulled out the victory for the Bengals and ended years of playoff futility. But once again, the Bengal was put to sleep.

Minnesota also had chance to end their playoff struggles when they took on the Seattle Seahawks and, like the Bengals, blew their opportunity. But unlike the Bengals, a dirty play didn’t cost the Vikings the game, a bad kick did. Or should I say a bad hold. Once the replay showed that the ball was positioned with the laces in, I immediately thought of the Jim Carrey movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. The role of Dan Marino in the game was being played by Jeff Locke. As for the Seahawks, that’s another play that went their way. It won’t be long before Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson get compared to Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

The Washington Redskins was supposed to beat the Green Bay Packers in their wild card game. Aaron Rodgers had other ideas as the Packers quarterback carved up the Redskins defense on their way to a convincing win. A lot of people are probably scratching their heads wondering if Green Bay’s offensive line, one that allowed almost 3 sacks a game, were playing possum the whole time. Rodgers was hardly pressured and managed to make some big passes. There is not a cheese head in the world today that is not screaming out “You like that?!”

The Kansas City Chiefs were expected to beat the Houston Texans in their wild card game. Perhaps the only question was by how much. It turns out it was by 30 points and a shutout to boot.

The Wild Card weekend lived up to its name. I can only hope that it will carry into the rest of the NFL playoffs.

Also see:

Rooting Against Someone is Gutless… and the Bat Flip Heard Around the World
Don’t Judge a Game by the Scoreboard
Only Losers Look for Someone to Blame

Why Great Goaltending Can Lead to Increased Scoring

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Why Great Goaltending Can Lead to Increase Scoring

Some of the best scoring teams in the NHL have good goaltending. No, make that excellent goaltending. It is the reason they can score a lot of goals. Confused? Allow me to explain.

The 1999-2000 Toronto Maple Leafs did not have a lot of talented goal scorers. Outside of Captain Mats Sundin, the Leafs had a lot of players that don’t necessarily scare the daylights out of opposing goaltenders. But that season, the Buds scored 246 goals, five shy of the defensive-minded New Jersey Devils for most in the Eastern Conference. The Maple Leafs would go on to a Northeast Division title.

But how come the Devils and Leafs end up finishing one-and-two in goals scored? The answer: goaltending. Namely Martin Brodeur and Curtis Joseph respectively. I have no scientific evidence to back it up. But what I do know is players are willing to take more chances in the offensive end without the fear of giving up an odd-man rush the other way if they have a goaltender who can stop anything that comes their way. The result sees players finding ways to get open more and that results in more goals being scored. Patrick Roy, Eddie Belfour, and Dominic Hasek are just 3 other goaltenders who fit the bill.

On the other side, if a team has suspect or inexperienced goaltending, they will not take as many chances and focus more on keeping the puck out of their own end. No better example of having my theory on display than the current Maple Leafs team. James Reimer is without question the better than Jonathan Bernier. Leafs players seem more confident when Reimer is in net and therefore you see them generate lots of scoring chances and not worrying about coughing up the puck and giving the other team a scoring chance the other way. Bernier has been playing well of late but at the start of the season he couldn’t stop a puck if his life depended on it. You hardly saw forwards try and make outlets passes to the other side of centre for fear of turning it over.

Yeah, having a guy like Steven Stamkos would help a team that is having trouble putting pucks in the net. But even a great goal scorer can’t win you games if his goalie can’t stop pucks from going into their net. Perhaps before throwing money to that soon-to-be free agent forward, maybe put some of that towards a backstopper.

Also see:

Price is Right for Canada
Still Think Defense is Overrated?
Getting the First Overall Pick: Big Deal? Or Big Deal?