"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Friday, July 31, 2015

TIGER'S LURKING AT QUCKEN LOANS NATIONAL: IS IT TOO EARLY TO SAY HE'S BACK?

As host of the Quicken Loans National, we would expect to see Tiger Woods show up ready to display his "A" game. Of course, if you watched any of his dismal play two weeks ago at The Open Championship, it would be difficult to think that was possible. But for the second day in a row, Tiger started out over par only to go six under the rest of the way and post 68 - 66 in the first two rounds. Today he hit 10 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, sinking some lengthy putts along the way and looking, well, okay, I'll say it. He actually resembled the Tiger of old, especially from a confidence standpoint. There is still the afternoon wave of golfers to play, but at the completion of his round, Tiger was in a tie for second, an almost inconceivable position given his poor play this year. Can it be that he's been right in insisting that his game was closer to coming around than it looked? Well, after being three over par after four holes yesterday, it appeared he was headed for another missed cut having to wait another couple of weeks at the PGA to see if he could finally turn the corner. But as if a switch was turned on, he's birdied twelve of his last thirty-two holes against a lone bogey to vault up the leaderboard, putting him in position to contend on the weekend.

At the Greenbrier Classic, he was five under beginning play on Saturday, then shot a one over 71 that took him out of any chance for a title. It will be interesting to see, depending on how far back Tiger ends up after today's rounds are complete, how he handles being in the hunt in the third round. My hope is that he does well, because as I've written many times in this blog, there has never been a more dominant or exciting player in the game when he's on. And I'm not alone. It just takes a cursory look at the ratings for tournaments where he's a contender versus the one's where he's not to show how popular he is and how important, even today, his presence is to the game of golf. I know the naysayers who don't like Woods for a number of reasons, including his off the course indiscretions. But as a sports fan, I don't watch games because the athletes are great people. I watch to be entertained by great athletic skill and execution. There are a lot of great guys out there playing on tour, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy included, but there's still only one Tiger Woods. If he's able to jump start his career, as Jack Nicklaus did in 1980, and go on to win another major or two, the game of golf will be better for it.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in the fall.





Thursday, July 30, 2015

NFL DEFLATE-GATE OVERLOAD - MISPLACED ATTENTION

If the media had spent as much time focusing on the Iran Nuclear Treaty or the events in Benghazi in the fall of 2012, we'd know a whole lot more about things that have potential impact on this country. But instead we're obsessing over whether a football was inflated below NFL standards, how much involvement star quarterback Tom Brady knew about it and what punishment should be imposed. Really? NFL commissioner Roger Goodell thinks it's such a travesty that he is invoking his authority under an "integrity of the game" clause in the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to throw the Patriots and Brady under the bus (assuming the tires are fully inflated). Now the NFL Players' Association has filed a suit in Minnesota to have the four-game suspension overturned based on procedural grounds, primarily maintaining that the CBA was violated by the league.At the end of the day, is it really that important? All parties in this matter, the NFL on one side and the Patriots, Brady and the NFLPA on the other, have done their best to turn the entire affair into an overblown fiasco. I've stated this in prior posts, but if the NFL had thought the inflation level of the balls was such an important aspect of the game, it should have been given specific penalties in the collective bargaining agreement. And if the Patriots didn't think they did anything wrong, whey were two clubhouse attendants fires as result of the infractions?

I don't really care how it all turns out, except for the potential impact on the games and standings if Brady is forced to miss four games. With the losses that the Patriots experienced from their secondary, I believe they'll need to rely more than ever on their offense in order to compete for the conference title. In addition, the Jets, Bills and Dolphins should all be better, creating a lot more competition for New England in the AFC East. What's really interesting about the suspension and subsequent court battle is that the timing of the games he might miss could be affected by a potential injunction issued by the court. If the suspension stays the way it is and covers the first four games, then only one division contest would be affected. However, there are other times during the season where as many as three of them would fall during the the time Brady is out of the lineup So although I see the rationale for fighting the suspension, but from a coaching, planning and competitive perspective it could end up having a further negative impact on the Patriots. The only positive I see is it gives the commentators something to talk about in the void that exists until college football begins on August 3. Or until Iran decides to ignore our treaty and start a nuclear holocaust in its attempt to blow Israel from the face of the earth. Just sayin...

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in the fall.



Saturday, July 25, 2015

COLIN COWHERD'S AWKWARD DEPARTURE FROM ESPN

ESPN parted ways with Colin Cowherd a week earlier than planned due to the radio host's disparaging comments about the Dominican Republic. Perhaps Cowherd, host for more than the last decade of "The Herd" that aired on ESPN Radio from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm eastern time, forgot that he hadn't yet left the network and was taking too many liberties with his comments. He's always been a bit caustic and controversial, but never really challenged the boundaries of the nation's largest sports network. On Wednesday, Cowherd confirmed and commented on what had previously been widely reported, that he would be leaving ESPN to pursue other opportunities, one of them something on Sirius/XM. The following day he said, and I'm paraphrasing here, that baseball couldn't be all that complicated since a third of the players are from the Dominican Republic, not exactly known for a great education system. While I can certainly understand where he was coming from, his comments were very clumsily delivered for a host with his experience. Is it possible he just had a little short-timers disease, failing to prepare as well as he normally does? He drew the ire of Dominican athletes as well as the Major League Baseball Players Association. As a result, ESPN has removed him from the air for the next week, unfortunately denying Cowherd an opportunity to leave the network with the amount of grace I'm sure he would have preferred.

More problematic than an extra week off for him is that it's been widely speculated, but not confirmed, that Cowherd is headed to Fox Sports. In addition to broadcasting the NFL and Nascar, Fox is the largest rights holder for Major League baseball, including the World Series and All-Star games. While it's highly unlikely that Cowherd would ever find his way anywhere near a baseball broadcast booth, the network as a whole might catch a lot of flak for putting him on the air after the criticism he faced from the sport. On the other hand, Colin Cowherd's audience most likely skews more affluent and thoughtful than a lot of local shows,so he might not be in as much danger of having alienated his core listeners as he transitions to a new network or networks. Either way, for a guy who didn't attract much attention outside the sports talk industry, he's certainly gotten noticed the last couple of weeks. In addition, if his comments give Fox Sports a reason to rethink their decision, it may leave Cowherd few options, maybe with nothing more than an independently produced podcast. Stay tuned.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in the fall.



Thursday, July 23, 2015

COLLEGE FOOTBALL SCHEDULES - WHO PUT ON THE BIG BOY PANTS AND WHO IS WEARING DIAPERS?

On a hot and humid July Thursday night, it's time to start looking forward to the upcoming college football season. I'm going to focus on exposing what I believe to be the most courageous and lamest non-conference schedules among major conference teams. We're now in the second season of the College Football Playoff era, and I believe any major five conference team without a non-conference game against another major conference team should immediately be eliminated from contention, with the exception of the conferences that require nine conference games. I understand the argument that tough conference schedules necessitate games against lesser foes, but some schools aren't even trying. Most conferences have eight conference games. That leaves three patsies and a decent matchup. I don't think that's unreasonable. Of all of the conferences, the ACC has the most opportunities for tough out of league schedules, with in-state rivalries against SEC teams and the inclusion of Notre Dame in the rotation. I'll start with the lame first, since these are far more entertaining.

Diapers:

N.C. State (ACC): Okay, so I said the ACC had opportunities for tough schedules. Apparently the Wolfpack didn't get the memo. The murderers row of Troy, Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominion and South Alabama will precede State's conference schedule. Really?

Oklahoma State (Big 12): I know I said I'd give the conferences with nine league games a pass, but is this a misprint? at Central Michigan, Central Arkansas and UT San Antonio.

Kansas State (Big 12): South Dakota, at UT San Antonio and Louisiana Tech. Head coach Bill Snyder is really shooting for the stars, don't you think?

Arizona (Pac 12): UT San Antonio, at Nevada, Northern Arizona. Rich Rodriguez really knows how to prepare his team to face UCLA in the conference opener...NOT.

Colorado (Pac 12): Okay, I get it. The Buffaloes are trying to dig out of a big hole. But by travelling to Hawaii, they get an extra game and this is what they come up with after returning from the islands. Massachusetts, Colorado State and Nicholls State. Are you kidding me?

Vanderbilt (SEC): Even for a school that's marginally considered an SEC caliber football program, Western Kentucky, Austin Peay, at Middle Tennessee and at Houston is an embarrassment. Oh, and they play Texas A&M and Ole Miss from the SEC West. Of course, even with that cake schedule, they'll be fortunate to win four games.

Training Pants:

Boston College (ACC): Maine, Howard and Northern Illinois. I know NIU has played well the last couple of years, but that's not a game the Eagles should be worried about at home. The big game is against Notre Dame, but it's at Fenway Park. You can't get a better place to take on a fellow Catholic squad.

Florida State (ACC): Texas State, South Florida and Chattanooga. Enough said. Only the annual game against Florida and first year coach Jim McElwain keeps the 'Noles out of diapers.

Ohio State (Big Ten): After the opener at Virginia Tech, the Buckeyes have to run the gauntlet of Hawaii, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan before that treacherous Big Ten opener at Indiana. Oh my. Can Urban Meyer say 5 - 0?

Penn State (Big Ten): at Temple, Buffalo, San Diego State and Army. I would expect at least one  higher profile game from a school trying to restore luster to its tainted program.

Alabama (SEC): I get it, the SEC West is harder than the NFC South, but after playing Wisconsin in Dallas, the Tide take on Middle Tennessee, Louisiana Monroe and Charleston Southern. That slate sounds like the play-in games for March Madness.

Georgia (SEC): If it wasn't for their rivalry game at Georgia Tech to end the season, the Bulldogs could contend for the state high school championship with games against Louisiana Monroe, Southern and Georgia Southern.

Missouri (SEC):  SE Missouri State, at Arkansas State, Connecticut and BYU in Kansas City. Not to mention, although I am, that Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss and Texas A&M aren't on the schedule. Even at 12 - 1 and an SEC crown, I'm not sure this schedule can get the Tigers into the playoffs.

Arkansas (SEC): Another weak non-conference slate for an SEC west squad. UTEP, Toledo, Texas Tech and Tennessee-Martin will make it easy for the Hogs to put up lopsided wins. Their saving grace is the chance to post road victories at Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU.

Big Boy Pants:

Virginia Tech (ACC): Defending national champions Ohio State, at Purdue and at East Carolina. Okay, they play Furman along the way, but you have to admit they deserve a break for that one. And by the way, they were the only team to beat the Buckeyes last season.


Virginia (ACC): at UCLA, Notre Dame and Boise State. Not bad for a team that needs to win for coach Mike London to retain his job. Their patsy is in-state foe William and Mary, a perennial FCS contender that has beaten the Wahoos before.

Wake Forest (ACC): Army, Indiana and at Notre Dame. For a team coming off a 3 - 9 season, that's a pretty tough schedule, especially when they face Florida State, North Carolina, Louisville, Clemson and Duke in the conference. Good luck to the Demon Deacons. They're going to need it.

Michigan (Big Ten): New coach Jim Harbough will have a good idea of how good his team is after opening at Utah, then hosting Oregon State, UNLV and BYU. Oh, and the Big Ten opener is at a very good Maryland team.

Northwestern (Big Ten): Stanford, at Duke and Ball State. We can call the first two the ACT and SAT bowls, I guess. Of course, who would have thought that Duke would pose the challenge they do now?

Texas (Big 12): at Notre Dame, Rice, California. In his second season and coming off a drubbing by Arkansas in the Texas Bowl, Charlie Strong better hope his squad is ready for the season.

UCLA (Pac 12): Virginia, at UNLV, BYU. The Bruins should be ready to travel to Arizona for the conference opener.

Stanford (Pac 12): at Northwestern, UCF and Notre Dame. Now that's a heck of a non-conference slate when you also have nine games in your own league.

South Carolina (SEC): The Gamecocks open against North Carolina in Charlotte, play UCF later in September then finish against The Citadel and Clemson. Okay, maybe borderline for Big Boy status, but the Tigers are picked by some to win the ACC and Spurrier's guys have to face Texas A&M and LSU from the SEC West.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in the fall.







Wednesday, July 22, 2015

THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP: IS TIME RUNNING OUT FOR SERGIO, DONALD, WESTWOOD AND KUCHAR?

How Much Time?

With Zach Johnson's playoff victory in the Open Championship, another major golf tournamant has come and gone, leaving some of the top golfers outside looking in at golf's elusive club. Sergio Garcia showed flashes of possibility in the final round, but once again came up short. It's hard to believe that after giving Tiger Woods all he could handle in the 1999 PGA Championship, we would find ourselves almost sixteen years later questioning whether the dynamic Spaniard has what it takes to win a major.

It's not just Garcia, but Luke Donald is in the same boat. The former number one player in the world is now 37 years old, an age after which most golfers fail to close out major tournaments with victories. The biggest problem Donald has is his lack of distance off the tee, which puts him at a distinct disadvantage, especially against the younger, more athletic players now emerging onto the tour.

Lee Westwood, who turned 42 in April, is looking like a player whose best major chances are behind him. After dedicating himself to better physical training and practice a few years ago, it looked like he was poised to break through. But it just hasn't happened, and the sand is rapidly diminishing in the hourglass.

And finally, one of the more likable and affable guys on any tour and another 37 year-old, Matt Kuchar is still trying to win a big one. He's won seven times on tour and his game would appear to fit Augusta and most U.S. Open venues rather nicely. A straight and long driver with a pretty good iron game, Kuchar probably stands the best chance among this quartet to capture a major. But for all of them, time is definitely growing short.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in the fall.



Friday, July 17, 2015

MORE CHANGES AT ESPN AS COLIN COWHERD EXITS THE NETWORK

I didn't listen to a lot of sports talk radio prior to 2006, but one of the first shows I followed regularly was "The Herd" on ESPN Radio. As a Meals on Wheels volunteer, I found myself in my car for most of the duration of Colin Cowherd's weekday program. He brings a rather unique perspective and style to sports commentary that I still enjoy to this day, especially since I attempt to look at sports a bit differently in this blog. Following the departure of Bill Simmons and the planned separation of Keith Olbermann in July, ESPN will have lost at least three outspoken voices in a short period of time. Dan Patrick, who left many years ago to launch his own show that is now airs on NBCSports, competes with "The Herd", but without the benefit of ESPN's power. It's been widely speculated that Cowherd, whose contract expires later this year, is headed to Fox Sports after reaching a yet unannounced deal that would be a good bit richer than what ESPN was prepared to pay.  Does this represent a shift in programming for ESPN or simply a case where someone is prepared to profit from the notoriety the network made possible for Cowherd to enjoy? Mike and Mike is still the stalwart for ESPN Radio's daily lineup, but the rest of the day is continuing to undergo changes. Scott Van Pelt, who followed "The Herd", is in the process of developing a late night offering for ESPN and his long time partner, Ryan Rusillo, has taken over the spot. Following Rusillo is Dan Lebatard, another outspoken and sometimes unorthodox host who I don't believe will have a long tenure at the network, unless they tap him to move into "The Herd's" time slot. Don't get me wrong, I don't begrudge Colin Cowherd a dime. At age 51, this is probably the right time for him to cash in on his name and his style. I just wonder where ESPN is heading with their daily sports talk lineup and if they can, with the power that they wield, develop another strong personality to attract and retain listeners in what is fast becoming a crowded genre.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in the fall.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP: CAN JORDAN CONTINUE HIS STREAK?

The Old Course at St. Andrews hosts The 144th Open Championship this week, with Jordan Spieth gunning for the third leg of a potential calendar year Grand Slam. Ordinarily, the tournament known as the British Open in the U.S., provides a unique style of course. However, after the goofy golf we saw at Chambers Bay in the U.S. Open, St. Andrews may look like a normal layout. Even though Spieth is trying to deflect comparisons between himself and Tiger Woods, it's impossible not to start looking at the similarities early in their careers. I agree with the latest and greatest that those parallels shouldn't be drawn until his body of work in more complete. But after two consecutive major championships and two other wins this season, not to mention the absence of Rory McIlroy due to injury, it's impossible not to at least be tempted to put Spieth's record side by side with Tiger's. Their overall records are similar, but Spieth has already won more majors than Tiger had at the same age. It's easy to remember that Woods won the Master's in record fashion in his first full season on tour, but it was another two years before he recorded his second one at the 1999 PGA. Of course, that started an incredible run of five major wins in six tournaments, including the Tiger Slam, an unprecedented and almost impossible feat to duplicate at any age. What impresses me about Spieth,  and is the biggest similarity I see between him and Woods, is the ability to focus and close out victories. To win seventy-nine times on the PGA Tour takes more than just physical ability, and Woods has plenty of that. Will Spieth, at the age of thirty-six, be winning enough to be named PGA Player of the Year, as Tiger was in 2013? Or will a healthy McIlroy and any number of other twenty-somethings create more parity than Tiger saw in his prime? It obviously remains to be seen, but for now I'm excited for the game of golf and for a great young player like Jordan Spieth. But I'll leave you with this thought: How many guys have come onto the Tour in the last sixty years, started hot and were supposed to the be next Hogan, the next Palmer, the next Nicklaus, the next...well, you get the picture. David Duval? Jerry Pate? Ben Crenshaw? Bobby Nichols? They all had a modicum of success, even a major title or two. But it takes something incredibly special to climb to the top of the game and stay there long enough to post big numbers. Even Phil Mickelson, now with five majors, was thirty-three before winning his first, despite a stellar career where he has now amassed forty-two tour victories. As for Spieth, let's check back in say, maybe ten years.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in the fall.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

ANOTHER SERENA SLAM AND FEDERER RESURGENCE

Wimbledon Excitement: At age 33, Serena Williams is again in possession, for the second time, of all four women's Grand Slam titles at the same time for what is known as the Serena Slam. No woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 has won the calendar year Grand Slam, something Serena can accomplish by winning the U.S. Open in September. A victory in Queens would also tie her with Steffi Graf for a record twenty-two Grand Slam singles titles won entirely in the Open era. Margaret Court owns the all-time mark at twenty-four, but more than half of those were won prior to professionals entering the scene. But back to the present and one incredible athlete. Serena Williams continues to perform and dominate at a very high level, beating younger players with relative ease. Not only is she in the conversation about the greatest female athlete of all time, Serena definitely deserves mention for the most dominant athlete, regardless of gender. It's not just the numbers that put her in that category, but the way she wins. Her serve is unstoppable, her ability to win big points unmatched. She's been in twenty-five Grand Slam finals, coming out victorious in twenty-one of them. That is an incredible record, considering her career was in jeopardy not so long ago. And on top of it all, she seems like a genuinely nice and gracious woman. As for me, I'll be rooting for Serena and for history come September. Meanwhile, another 33 year-old, thought to be over the hill a couple of years ago, will be playing Novak Djokovic in the men's final. Roger Federer, whose seventeenth Grand Slam win came in this tournament in 2012, unexpectedly has a chance to add to his own record-setting career total. Andy Murray was run over by Federer, losing in straight sets in an effort to win a second consecutive Wimbledon crown. But that won't be happening, instead Federer will be taking on the world's number one player in an attempt to notch an eighth win on the fabled grass surface. I would have to make Djokovic a slight favorite, but in nine prior trips to the finals, Federer has only lost twice. This could be an epic match. At least I hope it is.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in the fall.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: SOCCER, TIGER AND ALL-STAR BUZZ

Soccer Fever: Interest in the world's most popular game has been steadily growing for years in the United States, but last week's Women's National Team's third World Cup triumph followed by the Men's Gold Cup being staged in the U.S. might just give the sport another jolt of adrenalin.The women were dominant, going more than 500 minutes without giving up a goal, a streak that was broken only after surging to an insurmountable 4 - 0 lead over Japan in the deciding game. Television ratings were comparable to NBA Finals numbers, far exceeding the World Series. Last night, the men, led by Clint Dempsey's two goals, continued the American momentum by holding on for a 2 - 1 win over a game Honduras team in their opening Gold Cup match in Frisco, Texas, just north of Dallas. As usual, the men's back line was suspect, but goalie Brad Guzan made some nice saves to bail out the U.S. team's predictable porous defensive performance. Dempsey was spectacular and the mid-field played their usual stellar game, but if coach Jurgen Klinsmann is going to get this squad to the world's elite level, he needs to find a way to keep their opponents from making runs at the goal. But all in all, it was a great three days for American soccer, demonstrating the present is pretty good and the future is even brighter.

Tiger Woods Sees Some Improvement: Three rounds in the sixties and one of them bogey-free had the former world's best golfer showing signs of life. Despite finishing six shots out of the lead, he was really just a bad Saturday round away from getting into contention. But is his game in good enough shape to contend for the Open Championship at St. Andrews next week, a place where he's won twice before? Probably not, but he'll at least be in the discussion. That's not likely to be the case for top-ranked Rory McIlroy, whose own soccer fever resulted in torn ankle ligaments sustained while playing a pickup game. It's unfortunate timing, with Jordan Spieth making a run at the Grand Slam. A victory by the Masters and U.S. Open champ would be a bit tainted by the Irishman's absence, but there are 154 other players to contend with. The Old Course has produced winners such as Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods. But it's also had the likes of Kel Nagle, John Daly and Luis Oosthuizen hoist the trophy. The birthplace of golf, depending on the weather, can be brutal or benign. When Woods set the scoring record at nineteen under par in 2000, the second leg of his Tiger Slam, he took advantage of good conditions and unbelievably avoided hitting into any bunkers for four rounds. But he's a very diminished version of that dominant player who appeared poised to blow by Jack Nicklaus' eighteen major championships, making him a longshot this year. But Woods has comeback from injuries and swing changes in the past, so there is a slim possibility that he could find something to build on from his performance at the Greenbrier Classic.

All-Star Controversy: For a town that probably can't agree on the best barbecue joint, it's interesting that Kansas City fans could band together to totally disrupt the fan voting process for the Major League All-Star game. Royals faithful essentially used technology and lax rules to stuff the digital ballot box, sending four members of lasts year's AL pennant winners to the Midsummer Classic. Although it's caused a bit of concern among baseball's ultra traditionalists, I believe the game has lost significant interest among fans and the whole thing will probably be forgotten by, well, football season, which is what all of us are really waiting for anyway. On the "Lou in the Morning" radio show this morning, the host and I talked about the effects of free agency, interleague play and television saturation on the popularity of the All-Star game. On the flip side, there are 28 first time All-Stars, creating a lot of interest in a new crop of very talented and athletic big leaguers. A sport that a few years ago appeared headed for a very slow ride to extinction has suddenly been bolstered by athletes gravitating to baseball because of a concern of head injuries in football. Now all MLB needs to do is to figure out how to bring back some better offensive numbers that have been declining since the end of the PED era.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords.