"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.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

SERENA'S PREGNANCY, TIGER'S SURGERY, JUNIOR'S RETIREMENT

The last couple of weeks has brought us some varying news about three of the most compelling figures from the last twenty years in sports. It all demonstrates that even famous and accomplished athletes are not immune from age, injury or the realities of life.

Serena Williams is Expecting: In what I consider exciting news, twenty-three time singles Grand Slam tournament winner and thirty-five year old Serena Williams announced last week that she is pregnant and will miss the rest of the 2017 tennis season. I don't know her personally, but through the years I have come to have enormous respect for her in the way she graciously conducts herself off the court, as well as the way she performs on it. Her talent is immense, and along with Tiger Woods, I consider them the two greatest individual sport athletes this country has produced. Serena is arguably the greatest female athlete in history. I'm thrilled that she will be a parent, and am curious what her path will be over the next couple of years. Will she choose to return to competitive tennis, looking to eclipse Margaret Court's 24 Grand Slam singles titles? Or will her current open-era record be good enough to send her off into a period of parenthood and post-playing activities? Either way, up to this point, she's certainly earned the option to do whatever she pleases without criticism from any quarters. Many athletes of her gender have chosen to leave their sports behind, but several did not. Kerrie Walsh won an Olympic gold medal in beach volleyball, Evonne Goolagong won a tennis U.S. Open and Nancy Lopez continued to compete in golf following the birth of their children. Will she be as driven, be able to compete at the same high level and possibly get those two Grand Slams? I tend to believe that age, not her gender or childbearing, will be the biggest obstacle. But if she can take a year or so off and play at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows in 2018, I won't be betting against her chances for victory.

Is Tiger Done? After a fourth surgery on his back, fourteen time major tournament winner Tiger Woods is again sidelined for an extensive period of time. Most experts agree that it will take about six months of recovery and rehabilitation for Woods to return to playing golf, competitive or otherwise. The big questions remain: Will he be able to compete and will he want to compete, even if he's able? Who really knows? At the age of 41, it's highly unlikely that we will see Woods add to his major victory total, making Nicklaus' record of eighteen safe for the foreseeable future. Of current players, only Rory McIlroy is probably in a position to challenge the record. Sorry Jordan Spieth fans, but I just don't see it happening. I haven't seen the singularity of focus on the golf course from any of the current top golfers that both Nicklaus and Woods displayed in their prime. It's unfortunate that we haven't seen much of Tiger since a great 2013 season. It's my suspicion that outside of assistant and eventual head captains' roles at Ryder and President Cups, we've likely seen the last of him in an active role at a competitive golf event. But if it is the end, it's the end of one of the greatest runs in sports history. Not only did Tiger Woods win in ridiculous and exciting fashion, he transformed the game in the process. Who else but Tiger Woods could have forced Augusta National to significantly alter their beloved golf course? No one, that's who.

Fan Fave, Link to the Past: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. never won a Winston/Sprint/Whatever the Cup is called now title in his over twenty years of NASCAR racing. But he carried the name of one of the greats of the sport. Since Sr.'s death at Daytona over sixteen years ago, Jimmy Johnson has dominated on the track, but Dale Jr. has dominated in the stands and on the various networks that have carried the sports' races. Earlier this week, Jr. announced that this season would be his last. He sat out most of last year with effects from concussions and came back this season looking to be competitive again for Hendrick Motorsports. However, a series of DNF's, disappointing finishes and concern for his long-term health prompted his decision to leave the driving to younger guys with a passion for racing. I can't help but speculate that his father's death behind the wheel at Daytona in 2001 and Junior's recent marriage had to play a part in his choice. After all, he's a car owner, so he won't be leaving the sport he loves and grew up on. The bigger question is, in a crowded sports landscape, can NASCAR withstand the retirement of yet another popular driver?

Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.






Thursday, April 13, 2017

THURSDAY HOMER REPORT: HOKIES, REDSKINS, CAPITALS AND RAZORBACKS

As many readers of this blog know, I am a fan of the Virginia Tech Hokies, Washington Redskins, Washington Capitals and the Arkansas Razorbacks. I rarely take the opportunity to comment on them as a whole, but with a recent scheduling announcement, the NFL draft a couple of weeks away, the NHL playoffs just beginning and the NCAA baseball season in full swing, I thought I'd take a little time to review some current news.

Hokies to Open 2018 Against The 'Noles: In the prior four seasons, the Virginia Tech regular season football schedule has been absent of both the Florida State Seminoles and Clemson Tigers, the top two programs in the ACC Atlantic Division during that time frame. That changes this season, as the Hokies will follow up a close loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship game with a meeting in Blacksburg on September 30. In 2018, a schedule change announced this week will pit the Hokies against Florida State in Tallahassee to open the season on Memorial Day weekend. It's a shrewd move by the ACC, especially if Virginia Tech continues to make progress after last season's surprising performance under first year head coach Justin Fuente and transfer QB Jerod Evans, who is headed to the NFL. Given the recent success of Florida State and their last couple of recruiting classes, it's unlikely that the 'Noles won't be in the national championship mix for years to come. The advantage of having what could arguably be two of the top four teams in the league face off in week one is that early losses are much easier from which to recover than those incurred later in the season. It's unlikely that more than a team or two will go undefeated for the season, so a setback against a quality team to open the season can easily be forgotten by the time the playoff committee makes their final four announcement in December. Remember the Ohio State Buckeyes, the inaugural playoff champion? They lost to Virginia Tech at home in week two in 2014, but went on to run the table and lift the championship trophy. The ACC, with two of the last four national champions, is trying to oust the SEC as the top conference in college football, and opening season matchups like they'll put on display in 2018 can't help give them a boost in the court of public opinion, no matter how finicky that can be.

What Are The Redskins Thinking? It's been twenty-five years since the Super Bowl Trophy has resided inside the nation's capital. Given the way owner Daniel Snyder is handling things, it might be another quarter of a century until they see another one. Really? Another year of a franchise tag for Kirk Cousins? A mysterious firing of the General Manager? So that means no long-term deal for a quarterback that is easily capable of leading the 'Skins for the next five to eight years and a lack of football acumen in the front office. It's actually hard to believe that the NFC East, which recorded ten wins in sixteen Super Bowl appearances with every team in the division represented from 1971 - 1996, has just two wins in four appearances in the twenty years since. My point here is that unless things change quickly in Washington, I doubt they'll be among the division's teams other than New York to break through anytime soon. After drafting Kirk Cousins in the same draft where they took RGIII with the top pick, they've seemingly treated him as an afterthought, even though his play on the field has been stellar. I can understand the rationale for tagging Cousins and they can do it again in 2018 if they want to throw away a lot of money for a quarterback who will almost surely be playing elsewhere in 2019. Why not lock up the guy for a few years, especially since he is just entering what most experts consider to be a quarterback's prime? I don't get it, and apparently they don't either.

League Has Caps Right Where They Want Them: The easiest time to beat the Washington Capitals is in the playoffs. Despite sporting the best record in the league for a second consecutive season, few that follow the NHL expect the Caps to even get to the Eastern Conference finals. Last year, the Pittsburgh Penguins knocked them out of the playoffs on their way to the Stanley Cup title, something Washington is still seeking after more than forty years in the league. This year, if the Caps get by the Toronto Maple Leafs, they'll probably need to get past the Pens again to advance, historically a difficult match-up for them. It almost defies the odds that Washington has only been to a single Stanley Cup final in a league that has what is clearly the most unpredictable playoffs year in and year out. I've heard all of the analysis, from the position that the Caps don't play the right style of hockey to win in playoffs to one that their regular season wins don't really matter that much. The analyst in me wants to agree, but the fan side of me just wants to say "Puck You" and chalk it up to bad luck. Heck, the Cubs broke through last year, maybe it's the Caps' turn in 2017. Why not? Oh yeah, they're not built for playoff hockey.

Razorbacks' Baseball Bounces Back: Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn suffered through his worst season as a college baseball coach as the Hogs finished at 26 - 29, with a monumental meltdown in the second half of the schedule. Injuries and youth played a big part in that, and as of this writing they stand and at 26 - 8 overall, 8 - 4 in the SEC and ranked 15th nationally with an RPI of 22nd. With Georgia, not one of this year's SEC powers rolling into Baum Stadium for an Easter weekend series, the Hogs stand a decent chance of bettering those numbers. After an impressive Friday night win last week over LSU, Arkansas blew an 8 - 1 lead on Saturday, then suffered a hangover 2 - 0 loss on Sunday to spoil what could have been a breakout series. With series opening pitcher Blaine Knight virtually unhittable, the Hogs are certain to be in position to win every series the rest of the way. If they can avoid a bullpen meltdown like last Saturday's, it's possible for them to make a run at hosting a regional in Fayetteville and challenging for another berth in the College World Series in Omaha.

Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.