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Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner is a picture of dejection as he leaves the field after committing an error that allowed the New York Mets to score the winning run in the sixth game of the 1986 World Series. / AP File Photo/Rusty Kennedy

Doldrums

We're here. 

Next deep in the summer slow swing that we can only hope Saban says something biting near a beach somewhere or that baseball has some knucklehead pitcher throw at a teammate of an exuberant hitter who took said knucklehead deep.

Look around there are not a lot of things happening.

Yes, we have a golf major on the horizon. Baseball is always there. Tennis majors in France and England — brought to by Alexian — are here and coming.

But with a slow NBA Finals schedule looming — Game 1 is Thursday, Game 3 is a week from today for Pete's sake — and still between 90 and 100 days from football starting we need to help each other help each other.

Because I am not going to be able to rehash this Lakers story for the next month.

We get it. Magic did some stuff and did not work really hard. Some didn't like it. Yawn. They were a lottery team with the best player of his generation, so we are supposed to be surprised there was dysfunction?

Now add to this that GoT is cooked and we need some help.

Gang, anyone got any binge-watching suggestions this morning?

 

Answering a complaint

OK, this is not Friday, so I am going to share some hate mail and answer it. Yes, that it is a dangerous trend, but the hand-wringing and the knee-buckling of Bill Buckner's death has been somewhat puzzling.

And yes, I loved what TFP ace sports columnist Mark Wiedmer wrote today. Read it here

But lost in all of this is the motive of all off this hand-wringing. 

This is to soothe your reactions or your guilt. Not to curb doing this again — because goodness knows that we are more cut-throat and devious and brutally bitter while being bitterly brutal on a slew of platforms that we were back then.

As Weeds pointed out, Buckner handled all of the avalanche of the angst with a great deal of grace. So much grace that he's a shining example of making lemonade in this life.

Buckner was unfairly turned into the modern-era picture of Red Sox Nation vitriol. He was the guy who made THE Error in the history of baseball and ended Game 6 of the 1986 World Series as a passionate fan base was starving for a title. (Wonder if we are going to be looking for the same level of self-cleansing and guilt-erasing when Steve Bartman dies too.)

But the mistakes in that series — the decision to keep Buckner in the game, the wild pitches, the inability of Roger Clemens of making a difference in Game 7 — reached far beyond Buckner's failure to field Mookie Wilson's grounder.

And yes, the fact that Red Sox Nation only deemed to forgive Buckner and embrace him after Boston won the World Series is at best convenient and at worst as disingenuous as Yankees fans wanting competitive payroll balance.

Still, that folks are irritated by my view of Buckner being an above-average-to-very-good-player in the days after his death is a little puzzling to me. And some what nonsensical.

Here's the most biting of the responses (again, names are not used, but this time I will respond):

"Damn you man. Let Billy Buckner be. He should be in the Hall but you hate-peddling media folks have made a career at taking shots and making fun of players. Shame on you."

Yawn. Or, in other words, whatever. And welcome to play one of modern-day America. Something happens. Blame the media. Rinse. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. 

Dear reader you're wrong — about Buckner in general and me in particular. Do I take shots? Sure, at times. But I participate in the praise way more than the persecution. And the persecution in Buckner's case was made by the fans rather than the media, which by and large carried a great deal of respect for the way Buckner handled his long-living miscue.

Rightly or wrongly, the reaction was what it was.

But I do know this: Buckner made tens of millions of dollars making a whole lot of plays — mostly good, some bad — over a 22-year career. And the reaction to those plays — mostly good, some very bad — comes with those checks with multiple commas.

I also know this: The folks who are banging the "Buckner Hall of Fame" drum are tone deaf.

Yes, Buckner collected 2,700-plus hits. Yes, he struck out very rarely.

But look at his 162-game average: .289 average, 11 homers (with a career-best of 18), 78 RBIs and a minuscule .321 OBP and a squirt-gun .408 slugging percentage. He finished no higher than 10th in the MVP voting and made one All-Star team.

Those are not Hall of Fame numbers, even for a compiler.  

 

NFL labor issues

DeMaurice Smith is the head of the NFL players' association.

He and Roger Goodell are not besties.

The NFL's CBA runs through the 2020 season.

Smith fired the first salvo for these negotiations this weekend, sending an email to every agent with an NFL player on his roster telling them to help the players plan and save for a work stoppage that could last at least one year.

Is it a bluff? At this juncture we would say almost certainly.

But it also is a few other things.

It's good leadership because in sports-related work stoppages, almost every stand-off is decided in some part because the players need the checks more than ownership does.

It's simple math. When millionaires stand wallet-to-wallet against billionaires, millionaires lose.

Smith's email also is great PR — for his association and himself — in the sense that they appear ready and serious if things turn.

It also is strategic. As the NFL deals with almost every decision — discipline of everyone from Tyreek Hill to Bob Kraft to teams flirting with spending the salary cap floor to the growing desire of curbing testing for marijuana — knowing the NFLPA is watching is important.

 

This and that

— Loved this story of Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi, who has signed on with the Cleveland Browns. Sheehy-Guiseppi last played football at Phoenix College (seriously) in 2016 and lied to the lady working the try-out check-in that he knew Cleveland VP of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith. He's still a monster long-shot to make the 53-man roster, but man, if he does, it's a Vince Papale story.

— We mentioned the slow time of the sports world, well, did you see that one of the lead stories on ESPN was that Kevin Durant flew to Toronto for Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Yes, a member of the Warriors flew to the place where the Warriors are going to play a game. Stop the presses.

— OK, here's a contender for the worst first-pitch in MLB history. Oh my. 

— Some interesting "Should I stay or should I go" (Cue The Clash) from the SEC in terms of the NBA Draft. One, LSU is bringing a lot of dudes back. (Cue the "Those guys are fringe NBA players and if they are picking between LSU or the D-League, well, who wants to take a pay-cut," jokes.) Jordan Bone is reportedly staying in the draft, as is Georgia stud duck Nicholas Claxton.

— Jay Bilas is one of the best Twitter follows around. I saw this from his Twitter this morning, and man that 1986 Duke basketball team had a slew of dudes who, while other than Danny Ferry's above average NBA career, found a lot of great jobs in basketball. Here's the Tweet with current or former basketball jobs in parenthesis: "An incredible crew. A great night with great teammates and the men I admire most, the 1986 Duke Basketball team: Quin Snyder (head coach, Utah Jazz), David Henderson (former college head coach, current NBA scout), Johnny Dawkins (UCF head coach), Mark Alaric (got his MBA from Wharton business school), Coach K (Duh), Tommy Amaker (head coach at Harvard), Jay Bilas (Duh), Danny Ferry (former NBA GM at multiple stops), Billy King (former NBA GM at multiple spots)." Wow, on one team.

— Buckner's death — and all of the societal analyzing of his mistake and how it was treated — kind of overshadowed Bart Starr's death over the weekend.  

 

Today's questions

Which way Wednesday will start this way:

If Bill Buckner is the face of a good-to-very-good career (not Hall of Fame) that was forever known by a glaring postseason mistake, which average-to-above-average player has turned one postseason moment into his signature? (If I start with Joe Flacco, what do you cause me with?)

Heard this on Golic or Wingo and thought it was an interesting talking point. Golic mentioned that Peyton and Tiger were playing golf together at the Pro-Am at The Memorial today. 

First, if you played with a PGA pro, which tees would you play — the tips with them or your normal ones? Also, if you could play a round of golf with any star — stage, screen or athletics — which star are you choosing?

Today is May 29 — man we are abut to be in June friends — and on this day in 1942 Bing Crosby recorded "White Christmas" which went on to be the best-selling ever with more than 100 million copies sold.

JFK would have been 102 today. Bob Hope would have been 116.

Arguably the most important legal decision in sports happened on this day in 1922, when the Supreme Court ruled that baseball is a sport and not a business, and thus not subject to antitrust laws.

In honor of Bing and Bob — two all-timers who became synonymous with golf — Rushmore of Hollywood biggest celebrities who are the biggest sports fans.

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