Monthly Archives: August 2010

“Stadium Shenanigans”

Here is a chart used on the recent, "ESPN Outside the Lines" special highlighting the horrible truths about stadium concession stands.

I love going to ball games.  Whether it is football, baseball, basketball, hockey, etc.  Going to ball games at stadiums and arenas across the country is something that I love to do.  But I can only give you all one piece of advice when viewing sports at big time or even small time venues from here on out.  Do your best to eat beforehand or after.  Only eat food at sporting events in an act of desperation.

Recently, ESPN’s highly acclaimed television show, “Outside the Lines,” did a special highlighting how unsanitary stadium/arena food actually is.  They pulled 107 health inspection reports for concessions and restaurants at all 107 NBA, NFL, and NHL sporting venues in the US and Canada.  Their findings were absolutely astonishing.  And I mean astonishing in a bad way.  The results were truly mind-blowing and something that will change my lifestyle at games forever.  At 28 percent of the facilities, food establishments had incurred what are called “major” or “critical” violations.  Does this make you feel a bit squeamish?

Well I will give you some more details that may make your stomach turn.  Last evening, I had the pleasure of working a concession stand at the Bengals vs Eagles preseason football game at the beautiful Paul Brown Stadium.  This is an annual thing that I do with a group I participate in at school.  Every year, I feel more and more  nauseous realizing what actually goes on.

Here are a few words for the wise:

Number one, the majority of the workers do not even wash their hands once throughout the entire pre game, game, or post game.  And if they do, they may wash them once. Secondly, the food is old and gross.  The nacho cheese last evening had ants and grasshoppers crawling in it.  Some of the cups had dirt and dead bugs in them.  Some of the meat being used for the hotdogs and burgers had passed their expiration dates.  And you know that the dishes that were being used to cook with were not clean.  I saw what a post game cleaning is like.  So that is a major problem.  Thirdly, amateurs like myself who do not know how to fix these issues are back there.  I am no sanitation master.  But I realize what goes on at these stadiums is wrong.  When food is not cooked properly or people who do not even have clean hands are working, you open up a whole bag of worms, both literally and metaphorically speaking.  Lastly, people like myself are back there cooking!  My roommates the past 3 years at college have taken away my rights to use the stove and oven for a reason.  I have no business cooking for myself, much less thousands of fans.

So my  best advice for all of you.  Only eat at ball games if you are starving.  Do all that is in your power to eat before or after.  If you are to eat at the game, get items like peanuts and bottled waters, that are already pre-packaged.

Do not deal with stadium food shenanigans.

Eat at your own risk.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“Welcome Back Wes Welker”

Wes Welker has always had problems getting the ball out of his hands. The amazing 5 foot 9 slot receier is returning from major knee injuries and appears ready to break the League's single season reception record.

Last evening, the Patriots took on the Falcons in their 2nd preseason game.  And though the Patriots put on a solid performance winning 28 to 10, the real story was the return of super slot receiver Wes “the Wildman” Welker.  Boy was it nice to see the little speedster back on the field.  He corralled in two catches for 20 yards, and looked to be almost back to normal.  Though I am a Cincinnati guy, I definitely want Welker on that field for the Patriots come September 12th when the Bengals and Patriots do battle in Week 1.  Who would really want it any other way?

Welker possesses many attributes that American football fans find appealing.  First of all he is extremely undersized.  Our League today is dominated by big receivers such as Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, and Randy Moss.  All three of these guys are 6 foot 3 or above with amazing wingspans.  Therefore, Wes represents the everyday common man who sits and watches football on his couch every Sunday.  In addition, not to make this a race thing, but Wes is caucasian.  And really when receivers comes to mind, outside of Kevin Walter, I begin to draw a blank on big time white receivers in the League.  Next, Wes has been overlooked many times.  All of us have been overlooked in our lives or not given our proper due for something.  Well you have to respect that Welker has dealt with this just like the rest of us and overcome each and every time.  Lastly, Wes has an amazing work ethic and has kept his nose clean on and off the field.  Americans love the Rocky movies due to the amazing story and Rocky’s unheralded work ethic.  People also love guys who stay out of trouble on and off the field in a League today, that is full of prima donnas, who cannot stay out of trouble.  Welker has become a rare breed, and something that we as NFL fans should cherish.

Now many people do not realize that Welker is another one of those guys who really came from nothing.  Welker is your prototypical rags to riches story.  The heartfelt saga that we love as Americans.  He kind of shocked the world by even making it in this League, much less becoming the best possession receiver football.  A guy like Wes will not wow you with his size, his 40 time, his vertical leap, or any of the traditional athletic markers.  What he will wow you with is his ability to catch the ball and consistently make plays.  To be entirely honest, it was quite surprising that this guy even got to play Division 1 College Football.  Though Wes was a big time star at Heritage Hall School in Oklahoma City, he was vastly overlooked by recruiters.  Welker kind of lucked into a scholarship in that a recruit backed out of an offer from Texas Tech last-minute.  Whoever was the coach at the time made a smart decision.  Can you guess who that man was?

Try first year (at the time) coach, Mike Leach.  Does that name ring a bell?  Now Welker went on to have an outstanding career at Tech, really making a name for himself in the special teams aspect of the game.  He tied the NCAA record with 8 punt returns taken to the house.  Either way, Wes once again was overlooked and went undrafted.  This was beginning to become a reoccurring trend for the 5 foot 9 undersized receiver from Oklahoma City.  Either way, Wes kept at it and was signed by the Chargers as a Free Agent.

Now I will admit that Welker was cut by the Chargers after the first week of the 2004 season, but immediately picked up by the Miami Dolphins.  Welker was predominantly used on special teams over the next couple of years and did have a knack for making big plays.  Finally in 2006, he was given his shot as a receiver.  And you know that the little big man took advantage of it catching 67 passes.  In 2007, “little” Wes signed with the Patriots.  Well, and the rest is history.

This kid continues to fascinate me every day not only with his stats, but with his overall toughness and amazing work ethic.  I mean the man is 5 foot 9.  Kids that are 5 foot 9 are considered too small to play receivers on big time high school teams these days.  Try playing in the best League in the world at this size and thriving.  Wes has.

It was quite disheartening to see Wes suffer a major knee injury on January 3rd in the Patriot’s final regular season game this past season.  But you knew the guy would be back.  He always has a way to get through adversity and conquer.  Well this instance appears to be no different.

Wes had 123 catches in just 14 games last season.  This total ranks 2nd in NFL history.  You better believe that many are saying Welker cannot repeat this type of performance.  But you also better believe that Wes has always thrived on proving the naysayers wrong.

Defenses beware, the little big man Wes Welker is back, and ready to tear up any and all comers.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“What is Fraud?”

Earlier today, I had the “pleasure” of listening to ESPN’s own, Colin Cowherd, give his definition of “fraud.”  This was in response to a budding rivalry that has been developed between Cowherd and Ohio athletics.  And more specifically between Cowherd and Cincinnati Enquirer Sport’s Columnist Paul Daugherty (Cincinnati’s best writer).

According to the Merriam Webster diction, “fraud” is “a person who is not what he or she pretends to be.”  It is a negative term.  Not something that anybody would ever like to be referred to as.  According to Colin Cowherd, once he got through all of his rambling and talking around the actual subject, “fraud” in athletics is a team that does not bring home the championship.  Or at least that is what I got out of his shenanigans and incoherent thought process as he tried to stir up the pot in typical Cowherd fashion.  So if we were to go with Colin Cowherd’s definition, then every team in the NFL last year was a “fraud” except the New Orleans Saints.  Every team in the MLB was a “fraud” except the New York Yankees.  Every team in College Football was a “fraud” except the Alabama Crimson Tide.  And I could go on and on.

Also, Ohio apparently is the biggest “fraud” of them all.  Cowherd actually had the audacity to say, “You could argue no state has had more frauds over the last decade than Ohio.”  Boasting teams such as the Ohio State Buckeyes, the Cincinnati Bengals, the University of Cincinnati Bearcats, and the Cleveland Cavaliers.  According to Cowherd, “he owns Ohio.”

Well I hate to break it to you Colin, but you’re the “fraud” in this case.

Here is a message for Mr. Cowherd:

Number one, your definition does not make any sense.  Just because  a team wins a division in baseball, does not mean that they have to win the World Series in order to not be a fraud. Only one out of eight teams that make the playoffs every year win the World Series.  I and most of Cincinnati would be perfectly content with the Reds taking home an NL Central Crown and not winning the World Series.  We would not consider this team to be a failure who tricked us into believing that they were something that they were not. In actuality, they would be exceeding most of the city’s expectations.  You state that the AL has proven time and time again to being the supreme division in baseball.  And you are somewhat correct in this sentiment.  The AL once again won interleague play this year by the margin of 134 games to 118.  And they have won it every year since 2004.  Though the National League finally was able to win an All Star Game this year.  But you also talked about the American League proving their utter superiority in World Series victories.  Since the year 2000, the American League has won 6 World Series titles to the National League’s 4.  I would say that is pretty darn close.

You say the Ohio State Buckeyes are a “fraud.”  They have won 5 straight Big Ten titles.  And so what if they have struggled in BCS Bowl Games.  This does not make them a fraud.  Nobody has said that the Big Ten Champion will go on to win every BCS Bowl Game.  You call the Cavaliers a fraud.  So what if they had the best record in the NBA the past 2 years and did not end up winning the title.  Playoff basketball is a completely different beast than regular season play.  And then you called the Bengals a fraud for losing a home game to the lower seeded Jets in last year’s playoffs.  Most Cincinnatians were ecstatic that the Bengals even made the playoffs.  Very few actually expected the team to make a deep playoff run.  Also did you forget that the Jets had beaten the Bengals the week prior to the playoffs?  The Jets even went in and beat a seemingly invincible San Diego team the next week in San Diego.

So I guess according to your definition of “fraud,” all of the Ohio teams are “frauds.”  And for that matter, 99 percent of teams in athletics are “frauds.”  But according to my definition and everyone elses in America, just because a team does not win a title does not make them a “fraud.”  And I am proud of you for being undefeated against Ohio.  Most guys who call all teams a fraud that do not win the title set themselves up pretty well to go undefeated.  Even though I never realized that you were in direct competition with a state?

Why don’t you actually learn about the topics that you discuss?  The UC Bearcat’s football team was 12 and 0 last year heading into the Sugar Bowl, not 11 and 0.  And way to go picking Florida to beat us.  But also realize that this team had their coach abandon ship on them.  Nobody said that the Big East Champion was expected to go in and beat the SEC powerhouse.  Also, you are the same guy who claims to have never heard of Joey Votto before the All Star Break this year.  The man was putting up MVP numbers and you get paid to follow sports.  How wouldn’t you know who this guy is?

Lastly, don’t ever speak to or about Paul Daugherty in a demeaning manner.  He is the best sports writer we have in Cincinnati.  He actually understands the topics that he discusses in full.  Even if you claim to be undefeated against Cincinnati and the whole state of Ohio, we still claim our own such as Paul Daugherty.  A guy who does all the right things and is truly a great ambassador of the Cincinnati sporting scene.  Even people who do not agree with all of Daugherty’s opinions respect him and his amazing writing abilities.  He represents all that is right in sports journalism.

I will not consider the Reds a “fraud” this year if they win the NL Central, but come up short in trying to capture the World Series.

And by the way, your show SportsNation is awful.  People only watch it because of Michelle Beadle.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze