Saturday, December 31, 2016

TWTW's Packers vs. Lions Sunday Night Football Preview

Danville, Kentucky -- President Reagan once said "it is better to be respected than loved." This motto was the driving force behind his administration as he restored American moral authority worldwide and brought an end to the Cold War. Reagan's timeless adage is not only true in the realm of politics; it is also true on the gridiron. But respect is earned, not given. Like many men of my generation, I learned this lesson on the football field.

In my youth, football was the sport of choice for young Danville men during the brisk Kentucky fall. Every day after school we'd head to a patch of grass near an old, abandoned bottling factory and play two-hand touch football. As a 3rd grader, I fell in love with the game of football. I fell in love with the smell of dead leaves, the feel of slick mud and grass stains on my pants, and the touch of the leathery pigskin in my palms.

But there came a day when my gridiron utopia was assaulted. Some 5th graders showed up at our favorite playing spot near the long-closed bottling factory. They took over the field and imposed their own rules. The big kids didn't want to play two-hand touch. They played tackle football, a scary idea given the size and heft of some of these 5th graders. I could've backed down that day, and found some other place to play football with kids my own age, but I didn't.

Against my better judgement and my mom's pleas to not play such a violent and dangerous game, I began to play tackle football with the 5th graders. It didn't go well initially. The 5th graders wouldn't pass me the ball. When they did, I'd immediately get decked by kids twice my size. They seemed to enjoy beating up on me. We didn't wear helmets or pads, folks; each tackle meant a mouthful of earthy muck and unsightly bruises.

I remember the day I earned the respect of the 5th graders. It was winter of 1966. The ground was damp, and cold. We had already played three or four games of football that day, and everybody was more tired and worn-out than Megyn Kelly's sorry excuse for a prime-time news show. We agreed to play one last game that day before we would all head home for dinner. My team -- a rag-tag bunch of my fellow 3rd graders and a couple of 5th graders nice enough to join us -- had trailed most of the game but had an opportunity to head home on a high note. The game was tied. It was fourth down, and we were deep in enemy territory.

I was playing fullback, because I was one of the few kids big enough and wide enough to not get totally knocked around and brutalized by the 5th graders. Our quarterback called a fullback dive. He put the game in my hands. He had faith that I could punch the ball across the goal line to give our team the win. He believed in me. But he didn't respect me. Not yet.

On that fateful final play, I scored a touchdown, but not before getting mercilessly slammed into the ground. After emerging from the mangled pile of limbs in the end-zone, I had done it. I had EARNED the respect of the 5th graders. With blood trickling from my knees and dirty grass stains on my favorite Cleveland Browns shirt, a wry smile crept across my face as my teammates congratulated me. I felt a special type of satisfaction as I ate my mother's meatloaf that evening at dinner.

Lions vs. Packers: Pride and Respect On The Line

This Sunday night, the NFC North title is on the line. But respect is on the line as well. Folks, the Detroit Lions are on the cusp of finally earning the respect of the NFL's big kids; of graduating from two-hand touch to tackle football. Having endured decades of ridicule and derision from the NFL's talking head commentators, the Lions have a chance to silence their doubters and begin a new era of football in the Motor City. All they have to do is beat the Green Bay Packers and their immaculately photogenic quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.

Folks, it won't be an easy task. The Packers are a formidable opponent, and it's no secret that the NFL would rather have playoff games hosted in Lambeau than Ford Field. The NFL has a financial stake in continuing the Aaron Rodgers iron man narrative; he's one of the league's most recognizable faces and sells a ton of jerseys. Roger Goodell and company want Rodgers to succeed, and they're perfectly willing to stack the deck against the Lions do to so. The NFL hasn't hesitated to keep the Lions down in the past. The history of the Detroit Lions is a history of questionable calls against them.

Remember the 2014 playoffs, when the refs called pass interference on the Dallas Cowboys, only to pick up the flag?

Remember the no-call on Seattle's illegal bat last season?

Remember the phantom face-mask last year that set up an NFL-manufactured Packers comeback victory?

Folks, just a couple of weeks ago a referee admitted to improperly penalizing the Lions for an infraction committed by the Chicago Bears.

This is but a small taste of the daunting task before the Lions: not only do they have to defeat the NFL's golden boy Aaron Rodgers, they have to defeat the officiating crew, which is typically composed of a bunch of closet cheeseheads.

Lots of folks dismiss this line of argument as conspiracy theorizing. But rigging happens all the time. Wikileaks showed us that the democratic primary was rigged against Bernie Sanders. The NCAA playoff selection committee was rigged against Penn State. What makes people think the NFL doesn't also engage in rigging, especially with so much money on the line? It's naive to suggest otherwise.


Fortunately, there may be hope for the Lions. Don't get me wrong. The Lions have their weaknesses. Their running game is weak. They are over-reliant on the passing game, and have struggled to score points in the red zone because they can't punch the ball across the goal line like I did back in '66.

But the Lions have several factors working in their favor. First, Wisconsin men are not men of their word. Aaron Rodgers promised that Green Bay would "run the table" in their final games of the season en-route to a playoff berth. Folks, I'm old enough to remember when Paul Ryan, a republican representative from Wisconsin and Speaker of the House, promised our nation Obamacare repeal, a restored economy, and high paying jobs. He's been the house speaker for a full year and we're still no closer to a return to small government principles. Men from Wisconsin often promise things they can't deliver, Rodgers is no different folks. The Packers may very well take this "L" like Paul Ryan has been taking Ls all year.

Second, the Lions have home-field advantage. Ford Field will be packed with tens of thousands of hungry Lions fans rooting for something that hasn't happened in Detroit for more than twenty years: a division championship. The Lions will be led by Matthew Stafford, an MVP candidate entering his prime. Folks, if I were a Lions fan (I'm not, I'm a Bengals fan wishing a blue collar team well from afar) I'd be encouraged by what I saw in the first half of their showdown in Dallas last week. Stafford looked like the best field-general I've seen since Douglas MacArthur. He orchestrated an excellent up-tempo, no-huddle offense that reminded me of the glory days of Jim Kelly's Buffalo Bills. Such an offensive assault may leave the defensively-challenged Packers in disarray.

That wasn't the only positive sign for the Lions last week. A legit running game option for Detroit emerged: Zach Zenner, an un-drafted free agent and former South Dakota State Jackrabbit. Folks, when I see Mr. Zenner pound the ball across the line of scrimmage, I see myself 50 years ago in that abandoned field back in Danville. This kid knows how to run. He's got more heart than all of Milwaukee. He may just help the Lions win their first division championship since 1993.

That's Zach Zenner in the thick of that dog-pile, being gritty as heck.
It won't be easy, folks. The deck is stacked against them. But the Lions might -- just might -- beat Green Bay tonight. With an NFC North title under their belt, the Lions will not only be beloved by their loyal fans: they will be respected by a league that was dead-set on their elimination.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Cracker Barrel Country: TWTW's Orange Bowl Preview

Danville, Kentucky -- Michigan football's renaissance can be chalked up to one man: Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh is America's coach, a coach of the people. No man in college football has better intuition than Jim. At a time when it would've been politically expedient for a man teaching in a liberal snowflake bubble town like Ann Arbor to be seen eating kale or driving a hybrid car, Jim took a stand for American family values and fine dining.

Jim felt the winds of change in the air. He correctly intuited that America is no longer a Chipotle country, or a Panera country. America is now a Cracker Barrel country. Jim knew this: just as the Crack Barrel ethos propelled Donald Trump to the presidency, it is now poised to make the Michigan Wolverines winners of back-to-back bowl games. 

Cracker Barrel is a restaurant (and old country store) where deep familial bonds of love are formed over hot plates of meatloaf and country fried steak. As a man who has dragged his children kicking and screaming to numerous Cracker Barrel establishments across our fine nation during family road trips, I can vouch for the restaurant's ability to nurture relationships. Kids love the gift shop, and the plump blueberries snugged tenderly into each buttery pancake. Adults like myself love the rustic, cozy atmosphere and great decorations, which are a throwback to simpler times. 

The best part about Cracker Barrel is that they don't try to shove robots down your throat. You won't find any of those annoying, gimmicky touch-screen tablet devices that are now all the rage at Chilis and Applebee's. Chilis and Applebee's love to plant these things on your table in hopes that your child will steal your credit card and pay $20 to play Angry Birds while you aren't looking. 

Not only are these tablets prone to abuse by unruly children, they also put perfectly suitable human employees out of a job. These tablets detach restaurant-goers from their fellow man by making face-to-face interaction with other flesh-and-blood human beings unnecessary. 

Cracker Barrel has resisted this technological onslaught. Cracker Barrel values old-fashioned human interaction. If you want to entertain yourself at Cracker Barrel, you have to play a simple, non-electronic game like the pioneers of old. It's not as flashy as Angry Birds, but the pegs game teaches kids the value of concentration, perseverance, and mental stamina. 

Mr. Harbaugh, a brilliant tactician on the football field, coaches like a guy who has completed the pegs game a few times. Yet Harbaugh's most shrewd tactical decision may have happened off the field when he decided to take his team to Cracker Barrel. The family that eats together, stays together. The family that eats Cracker Barrel's famous "Sunrise Sampler" together, triumphs together. It's no coincidence that Michigan football began to win again after hiring a coach who understands the restorative power of a hearty helping of hickory smoked country ham. 

Contrast Mr. Harbaugh to his counterpart from Florida State. Folks, Jimbo Fisher cannot win. Jimbo's wife left him after cheating on him with one of Jimbo's own wide receivers, landing a hefty divorce settlement in the process. Like Jimbo, I am also a coach (of my nephew's little league team) who has been through divorce. However, if my wife cheated on me with one of the kids from the team I coach, you can bet I'd have the decency to retreat from the public eye. Jimbo should have the good sense to get out of college football while he can.

Harbaugh and the Wolverines made quick work of the Florida Gators last year in the Citrus Bowl; I predict a similarly decisive victory over the Florida State Seminoles. When Jim faces Jimbo, don't bet against Harbaugh. Don't bet against the man who has Cracker Barrel on his side.

Friday, December 23, 2016

How to Conquer Coors Field and Make the Rockies Contenders

Danville, Kentucky -- Folks, I won't pretend to be a fan of the Colorado Rockies. I will always harbor reservations about a team that plays in a state conducting a dangerous experiment with legal marijuana. If it were up to me, baseball would only be played in the prairies and fields of America's heartland, not in the bizarre atmospheric conditions of the Rocky Mountains, a cruel and inhospitable terrain barely fit for habitation by humans.

Nonetheless, in spite of Colorado's deadly tryst with the devil's lettuce, the Rockies are here to stay. Coors Field and its anomalous playing conditions are also here to stay. The powerhouse New York Yankees of old used to dominate because they crafted a roster that gelled with their stadium: by pursuing left-handed power bats, the Bronx Bombers were able to create high-octane offenses that could take advantage of the short porch in right field with ease. The 2015 Royals won the World Series because they prioritized excellent defensive outfielders with the speed and range to patrol the spacious Kauffman Stadium. Colorado needs to follow this blueprint and construct a Rockies team that takes full advantage of their dinger-friendly stadium.

It's now or never for the Rockies. They have an opening to seriously compete in the National League West, but only if the front office shows some serious strategic vision. The Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres are not contending; a smartly-built Rockies team could rack up wins against these bottom-feeders. In addition, 2017 is an odd year, so the San Francisco Giants will suck. Throw in a Los Angeles Dodgers team that is just treading water by extending certain players like Kenley Jensen while allowing key pieces like Joe Blanton and Chase Utley to leave, and you have something of a power vacuum within the division. The Dodgers will still be the team to beat in the NL West, but with a good off-season the Rockies could give Los Angeles a run for their money and seriously contend for a Wild Card.

I know it would be tempting for the Rockies to pat themselves on the back for the Mike Dunn signing and call it an off-season, but there's still work to be done to create a Rockies roster that fully exploits the idiosyncratic characteristics of Coors Field. Here's how to create a Rockies team danker than Blueberry Diesel:


There's no sugar-coating how bad Ryan Raburn's 2016 season was. The Rockies were expecting a little more productivity than a measly 9 dingers and 30 RBIs. But saavy baseball fans like myself could've seen this coming. In fact, Raburn's underwhelming 2016 campaign was totally predictable, and followed a long trend for the 35 year old slugger:

Raburn's numbers, 2011-2016
Raburn is a volatile player. In even years (like 2016) Raburn is all but useless, a worse investment than a donation to the now-defunct Clinton Foundation. In contrast, odd year Raburn is quite good, boasting a higher batting average, more power, and more RBIs. It's not Raburn's fault the Rockies signed him in the decline stage of his boom-bust cycle. That being said, the Rockies should absolutely bring Raburn back next year to reap the righteous harvest which they have sown. Sign him to another one-year contract and bask in the glory of odd year Ryan Raburn. Raburn's true power in Coors Field will be quite a sight to behold.


Folks, it's no secret that many of Colorado's problems are pitching related. The Rockies have great young position players like Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and reigning NL batting champ DJ LeMahieu, but have struggled at run prevention. Colorado's Achilles Heel is pitching. It's difficult to develop quality starting pitching in a punishing ballpark that gives up home runs more freely than Colorado's marijuana dispensaries wantonly give edible marijuana candies to unsuspecting children.

Which candies are safe and which are drugged? Children don't know either.
Enter Doug Fister. Doug quietly had a solid year with the Houston Astros last season, as he tried to rebuild his value on a one-year contract. There was a lot to like about Fister's 2016 season. Despite missing April, May, and most of June with an injury, Fister racked up 12 wins and pitched nearly 200 innings. The 180 quality innings that Fister threw last season would've been the 2nd most on the 2016 Rockies: only Chad Bettis, who threw 186 innings, pitched more. If healthy, Fister would be a lock to throw well over 200 innings next season. He's still just a few years removed from a borderline Cy Young campaign in 2014 with the Nationals where he had a 2.41 ERA and won 16 games. Not sold yet?

Fister isn't an enticing free agent option for the Rockies merely because of his workhorse, innings-eating track record. His profile would be an excellent match with Coors Field. Fister's xFIP and K/9 numbers aren't going to get the nerds at fangraphs hot and bothered; but when he's on top of his game, he generates lots of ground balls. Let me tell you something about ground balls, folks. When I was 6 years old, my father put me on his knee and taught me some life lessons I'll never forget: never drink on an empty stomach, don't eat the tomatoes at fast food restaurants, and don't let fly ball pitchers pitch in high altitude environments. Here's another true fact: balls hit on the ground can't be home runs, folks, unless through defensive incompetency someone nabs an inside the park homer. Fortunately, Dougie Fresh is a ground ball guru. He generated a whopping 19 double plays last year. The Rockies need guys who can keep the ball on the ground. The Rockies need quality pitching at an affordable price. They need Fister to team 'em how to Dougie.


There are tons of reasonably priced power bats available on the open market this off-season. If I were the Rockies GM, I would start by signing some guys who can actually play first base. Ian Desmond was a good signing, but he's never played first base before, and the Rockies' replacement options are weak if Mr. Desmond gets injured. I'm skeptical that Desmond, who played exclusively in the outfield last season, will seamlessly plug into first base. Playing first base isn't easy, just ask Ron Washington. Fortunately there are some solid options on the free agent market: Chris Carter and Justin Morneau in particular stand out.

If the Rockies are smart, they'll create a Chris Carter/Justin Morneau platoon at first base next season. Carter hit a whopping 41 dingers last season, 6th most in all of the MLB and more than every Colorado player except Arenado. Carter's right-handed bat would represent a fierce power threat smack dab in the middle of an already stacked Rockies lineup. Crucially, Carter's right-handed power would pair perfectly with the left-handed batting prowess of former Rockie Justin Morneau, another free agent first baseman. It's not everyday you have an opportunity to lock up the 2006 AL MVP, folks. Remember the good old days of Morneau in a Rockies uniform? In 2014, Morneau batted .319 with 17 HRs and 82 RBIs with Colorado. He looked surprisingly good in very limited action with the White Sox last season as well, providing modest power and a .261 batting average along with some veteran leadership. You could expect his offensive numbers to surge next season playing in the harrowing confines of Coors. As a package deal, you'd be hard pressed to find a better righty/lefty one-two punch at first base than Carter and Morneau.

Don't stop there either, Rockies. There's lots of other ways to upgrade the team's offense. Mark Trumbo is still inexplicably available. He hit 47 HRs last year with the Orioles in an MVP-worthy campaign. He could easily crack 60 dingers if he played a full year in Coors. A Rockies lineup that featured Trumbo, Carter, and Morneau would give Clayton Kershaw nightmares and make every opposing pitcher lie awake at night, terrified at the idea of pitching to that lineup in Coors Field. You might be wondering: what are the Rockies going to do with all these first basemen and outfielders? Let them duke it out for the starting roles at Spring Training, and deal the extra players for pitching. Get it done, Rockies.


The time to play it safe has come and gone. There is blood in the water in the NL West. The Giants' even year magic is dead. The Dodgers have not upgraded their roster and may even get worse in some respects. The time has come for the Rockies to get serious about contending. Their talented core of positions players isn't getting any younger. Some smart moves could easily get the Rockies into the 85-win range that would thrust them right into the thick of the Wild Card race.

The Rockies organization owes it to their fans to win a World Series championship before Colorado's medical infrastructure collapses under the weight of an imminent marijuana-poisoning epidemic. The leaf-lovers in Denver and Boulder are probably too stoned to care that the Rockies have not lived up to their potential. But the good people of blue-collar towns like Silver Cliff, Colorado -- a community built by the grandsons and granddaughters of hard-working silver miners -- deserve to see a World Series victory in their lifetime. If the Colorado front office stops messing around and locks up phenom talents like Mark Trumbo, they'll have taken a small step towards doing right by the folks in Colorado sober enough to appreciate a quality baseball team.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

My Little Caesars® "Pepperoni & Cheese Stuffed Crust Deep Dish Pizza" Review

Danville, Kentucky -- Folks, I'll be honest, I get depressed in the wintertime. Winter in Danville is dark, dreary, and cold. Come December, the rich Kentucky blue-grass is a garish, dead yellow color. Often times I find myself blankly staring out the window at the barren fields and mucky grey slush that litters our roads, wishing I were elsewhere. The numbing monotony of the lifeless, overcast skies sucks all the energy from me. There isn't much to look forward to in the midst of a Kentuckian winter. It can be hard to find the will to persevere.

Yet, Little Caesars has offered me hope in this deepest and darkest of winters. I'm blogging here today to spread the good word about an instant-classic 'za concoction from the good folks at Little Caesars.

I first heard about this pie during a commercial break while I was watching Hannity. It sounded like something out of a dream: a deep dish pie, with real pepperoni and mozzarella cheese stuffed into the crust.

Soak it all in, folks.
Folks, this pizza truly is a dream come true. Let me break down it's deliciousness:


Let's talk dimensions really quick. Upon opening Little Caesars' signature orange cardboard box I was taken aback by the sheer size and girth of this pizza. This puppy features 8 slices. I want to say there is about three and a half feet of crust. Each slice is about 1.5 or 2 inches deep. If you have to carry the pizza's box for an extended period if time, you'll immediately notice it's a heavy pie: I'm told it is 10-times heavier than a regular Hot-N-Ready pizza. It has 10-times the flavor too, folks.


While this pizza is extravagant in many ways, its toppings are understated. The culinary geniuses at Little Caesars are willing to let the quality of the pie speak for itself and not overload the pizza with extraneous toppings. Nothing is worse than a pizza with too many toppings, especially when we're dealing with non-meat toppings. Who wants to eat a pizza topped with pineapple, peppers, onions, or worst of all, mushrooms? Not me - if I'm at a party and see pizza with vegetables on it, I'll be headed toward the door before you can say "anchovies."

Fortunately, the pizza I'm reviewing today recognizes the beauty of simplicity. It is adorned only with pepperoni -- very crispy and spicy pepperoni, I might add. If you're lucky, the pepperoni might be a little burnt around the edges like mine was, which imbues a rich, smoky flavor. So far, so good.


The cheese on this bad boy was divine. Nice and greasy, goopy, and at times, baked right into the crust so that it's difficult to tell where the cheese ends and crust begins: one seamless, cheesy pizza masterpiece. Cheese is often a bit of a throwaway item on lesser pizzas, but Little Caesars outdid themselves here. When cooked to golden brown perfection, few pizzas utilize better raw materials than the cheese featured here.

You'll want to keep a lot of napkins handy. This pizza is more slippery than Ted Cruz; it's served fresh out of the oven and dripping with hot grease. You'll want to take a shower after eating it, but make sure to take the time to luxuriate in this flavor roller-coaster along the way, folks.


The sauce is the secret to this pizza's brilliance. It's sweet, tomato flavor is a perfect complement to the salty, savory taste of the pepperoni. On my pie, the sauce was piping hot and spilling out from underneath of its blanket of melted mozzarella cheese. It gets messy folks, which is just how I like my pizza. Be warned though, due to the greasiness and general sloppiness of this pizza, the Little Caesars® "Pepperoni & Cheese Stuffed Crust Deep Dish Pizza" might not be appropriate to eat at formal occasions like a business meeting or romantic encounter.


The pepperoni was stuffed in the breading with care.
The crust is where the magic happens on this pie, folks. Pizza novices should be aware that this is a Detroit-style, square deep dish pizza; not round, Chicago-style deep dish or wimpy New York-style pizza. Notably, each slice is a corner slice, intensifying the toasty goodness of each bite. Prepare yourself accordingly. This crust is not for the faint of heart. It's thick. It's heavy. It's dense. I skipped breakfast and fasted prior to eating this pizza for lunch; if you don't have an empty stomach before eating this pie you might not get through more than a half a slice.

The crust is perfectly textured: buttery, crispy, flaky, crunchy. Satisfying as hell to eat. But folks, let's get to the main attraction. You weren't here to read about the cheese or sauce or toppings. This pizza is all about what's hidden inside.

Folks, the pepperoni and cheese stuffed crust was world-changing as advertised. The entire length of the crust was stuffed with the equivalent of six-feet worth of spicy, tongue-singeing pepperoni and cheese. This is a very family-friendly pizza: if you have children, they'll love playing with the cheese that is stuffed in the crust, as it is very stretchy. For adult consumers, the savory notes of the "Pepperoni & Cheese Stuffed Crust Deep Dish Pizza" pairs nicely with Boone's Farm wines and Kentucky Deluxe whiskey.

The pepperoni in the crust was of an even higher quality than the pepperoni that rested atop the pizza; I can't confirm this, but my intuition is that the the pepperoni stuffed in the crust was closer to deli/sandwich style pepperoni. It was thinner, but had a richer, porkier taste. You could tell that each pepperoni was tucked into the crust with the same gentle, loving touch that a mother might use while tucking her children into bed. I could taste the care that went into making this magisterial pie, folks. You can't fake the deep, undying affection that goes into making this pizza. This is the type of pizza that could only be created by the warm, tender touch of a human. You'll appreciate your memories of eating hand-crafted delicacies one day when robots enslave humanity and force us to eat industrially-manufactured sludge.


The Little Caesars® "Pepperoni & Cheese Stuffed Crust Deep Dish Pizza" is a culinary triumph, a comprehensive victory unlike anything America has seen since Donald Trump's triumph on November 8th. I would give it two thumbs up, five stars, 10 out of 10, 100% fresh. You won't be disappointed folks, and if you're a fan of the Detroit Tigers, you should feel doubly satisfied as your money will go towards helping Little Caesars CEO and Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch pay the fantastic Mike Pelfrey's contract.

That being said, there is still room for improvement. For one, it's a travesty that Little Caesars doesn't allow you to order this pizza with bacon wrapped around the crust. A "Bacon-Wrapped, Pepperoni & Cheese Stuffed Crust Deep Dish Pizza" is exactly what America needs right now. In addition, Little Caesars should allow more customization of this pizza. Why not offer a meat-lovers version that is both topped and stuffed with bacon, ham, hamburger, and Italian sausage? In a country primed for an economic rebound because of the election of Trump, there would certainly be demand for such a hot commodity. In addition, Little Caesars should consider letting customers choose what type of cheese to stuff their crust with: offering some sort of three-cheese blend or spicy nacho cheese stuffing is a no-brainer, folks. In the long term, offering a mac-and-cheese stuffed crust pizza makes a lot of sense too.

This is already a perfect pizza but there's so much room to improve it and take it in new, exciting directions. I look forward to seeing the next generation of stuffed crust pizzas as Little Caesars continues to boldly innovate and experiment with tasty new varieties of a classic American staple. If nothing else, they've put a smile on one Kentucky man's face.

One of My Heroes Eating the Little Caesars® "Pepperoni & Cheese Stuffed Crust Deep Dish Pizza" 

Shut Down Duke Basketball

Danville, Kentucky - How did it come to this? Two weeks ago, Coach K was ready to lead the boys of Durham to another championship. Today, he should be ready to hand in Duke's resignation letter.

Related image
Jay Williams, bereft of knowing what would happen to Duke baketball, proudly representing his University before Grayson Allen ruined it for everyone

Duke basketball is a storied program. They feature some of my favorite players, like Jay Williams, Shane Battier, and Elton Brand. Those men are proven winners. They gave it their all on the court, and Elton Brand even stared in an episode of the last great Disney show, "The Jersey."

But Grayson Allen must go. We know of his crimes. Hopefully his resemblance to those that went after Kennedy is not true. 

Some would surmise that a man who so frequently calls for a ban or resignation does this once again with the ease of throwing away a Panera gift card. But I understand what it means to say Dak Prescott should resign, and I'm so upset while writing what must be written, I can't even link to my brilliant piece today calling for the deportation of millions of robots.

Folks, I do want to add some credibility to my insight. I was the one who rightfully said the Thunder should not resign Kevin Durant. And look at them now, Russell Westbrook may average a triple double for the first time since Oscar Robertson and the dream of Goldwater '64. And look at the Warriors, they're not going to win 73 games again. They're worse. The Thunder are better. And if you'd read me, you'd know this.

But anyone can get lucky once. I've gotten lucky many times, and in the bathroom of many Pizza Hut restaurants no less. Nobody is right more than I am because I only talk about what I know: fast food, politics, sports, life, religion, love, pop culture, and miscellaneous.  Few called the election. I did. I correctly predicted 49 of 50 statesI said the Royals would win the A.L. Central in 2015, and predicted they'd win the ALCS in six games and the World Series in five. Meanwhile, Fangraphs focused on mean variance or some other shit and took the 'not Royals'. I said the Blue Jays would win the A.L. East in 2015. In August of 2015 when the Nate Silver crowd said Verlander was done, I noted he'd be a winner again.

Image result for shane battier
How did it come to this? 

And as I've said: Grayson Allen must go. Allen has tripped not one, not two, and not even three players. Sure, the liberal media says he's tripped three guys. This is the same liberal media that said Donald Trump was going to lose. The same liberal media that said Chipotle wouldn't make us all sick. Chipotle has made us sick, and Grayson Allen is likely to trip a man to death if he's not stopped.

Allen has ruined a special season for Duke. Marquis Bolden is simply a player, folks. You can throw away the stat sheet with him. I've had love at first sight nine times. And noticing a great prospect is like that. When I first saw LeBron James, I just knew: hey, this guy is going to be good. Yet again, I was right. Luke K. is also the same way. Excellent player. He has incredible gristle (grit + hustle). Jason Tatum shoots like Dirk Nowitzki. A skill he developed by shooting a basketball. Imagine if Allen had done that, instead of tripping, folks.

This is when someone would say: Will, why not just ban Grayson Allen? Because Duke is a team. College basketball is a team sport. It's about 13 men who work day in and day out for literally zero money. They don't want any of Coach K's $7 million plus salary. No, they do it for the team.

And as a team rises together, they fall together. Grayson Allen has committed an awful offense. And now the whole team must pay. The rest of the team has done nothing wrong. Coach K has never done anything wrong in his entire life. But he too must pay. You see, folks, when our quarterback was caught with moonshine before the Kentucky state football semi-finals in 1974, no doubt precipitated by the unfair targeting of Richard Nixon in the Watergate investigation, he was suspended. But in a way, we all were because we were all at the party and also suspended. But had we not been at the party, we would have been suspended anyway. Our coach wouldn't have let us play in the game without our quarterback because we were a team. Duke is now in that same moment.

How Duke could disband their program is not easy. Coach K. is a true professional though. He'll think of the right way to handle this, which is why he wasn't focused on saying what penalty Grayson Allen would face. He was probably starting to think about dismantling a program he built. And now, a program he'll close.

The end of the night can be looked at a few different ways. Sure, sometimes the bar closes and deprives us of that one last series of fireball shots. One can sulk about that. One can become consumed by that. One can hate because of that. Or one can start anew. Don't cry for Duke basketball's end. Celebrate that it only took the life of Duke basketball to end Grayon Allen's tripping.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Trump's First 100 Days Agenda: Deport All Robots

Danville, Kentucky -- Folks, if there's one thing that liberals don't get, it's economics. That's because most of them have never owned a business or even held a job. In contrast, my family and I have years of experience working in many crucial industries. The Hart family has proudly labored in General Motors assembly plants, coal mines, oil drilling rigs, snow-plowing, and rubber manufacturing mills, to name a few. But one-by-one, all those industries have disappeared. Now I'm forced to blog about sports and politics to make ends meet.

For generations, good-paying jobs were abundant in this country. You could go as far in life as your ambition and determination took you. But lately quality, dignified jobs have hemorrhaged from America to foreign countries like Mexico, China, and Vietnam. These days, steady employment is harder to come by than an MLB player that knows how to bunt correctly.

Those of us on the front-lines of America's most productive industries -- energy production, heavy manufacturing, fast food -- know that the departure of blue-collar jobs is primarily due to several decades worth of awful, unfair trade deals like NAFTA and TPP. Lots of liberals on twitter like to accuse me of being a partisan hack just because I openly supported Donald Trump; but let me be the first to say that these awful trade deals are a bipartisan affair. They've been pushed and supported by both Democrats and Republicans alike. Reagan gave us the Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement. Bill Clinton gave us NAFTA. George W. Bush supported China’s entry into the World Trade Organization. And Obama gave us TPP. It takes two parties to tango, folks. We wouldn't be where we are without a bipartisan consensus in favor of hollowing out American industrial manufacturing.

But many economists won't own up to this. They like to create all kinds of far-fetched excuses for the outsourcing of American jobs. They blame these losses on the uncontrollable forces of globalization, the tax code, cheap labor in other countries, climate change, and even robots.

Leave it to a bunch of ivory-tower computer geeks to totally misdiagnose the problems that America's manufacturing sector is facing.

A debate about the true causes of the decline of American manufacturing is healthy. The problem is, these bogus arguments that automation is the primary cause of industrial job losses get used to justify the status quo. Whenever a tough guy like Trump comes around -- who breaks from the bipartisan establishment consensus in favor of job-killing trade deals and speaks out in favor of re-making the rigged global trading system -- he gets hailed with a chorus of jeers from egghead academics who claim that the true cause of job losses is advances in automation technology that render humans expendable.

Folks, it's not an either/or, forced choice. The U.S. government should take actions to address the multiple economic factors that have contributed to the decline of good-paying jobs. Trump has proposed a highly detailed program of reforms that would accomplish precisely that. Trump should move forward with that program. He should build the wall. He should slap tariffs on companies that ship jobs overseas. He should re-negotiate awful deals like NAFTA. He should hold China's feet to the fire so they stop manipulating their currency and dumping their cheap products everywhere.

He should also deport robots.

Trump has already promised to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States in violation of our immigration laws. While he's at it, he should round up job-stealing automatons as well. Paul Krugman and the gang are wrong to say that automation is the primary driver of American job losses; the distinguished title of "biggest job-killer" still belongs with NAFTA, my friends. Nonetheless, they have a point. Robots have stolen plenty of jobs from hard-working Americans. They've stolen factory jobs. They've stolen cashier jobs at fast food restaurants. Combat drones have even stolen jobs from our soldiers, folks. That's why I'm proposing a complete and total ban on job-stealing robots. I urge President-elect Donald Trump to vigorously pursue this policy during his first 100 days in office.

The benefits of an aggressive robot deportation policy would be plentiful. First and foremost, deporting robots would bring back lost jobs, causing millions of down-on-their-luck Americans to re-enter the workforce so they can provide for their families and put Spinach & Artichoke Dip on the table.

Once touch-screen ordering machines are tossed out of the country, teenagers will return to work as cashiers in our nation's multi-billion dollar fast-food industry, learning the importance of hard work and proper facial hygiene in the process. Once those creepy claw-machine things are left for dead on the Mexican border, the assembly lines of our nation's automobile, steel, rubber, and textile factories will once more be operated by flesh-and-blood humans. When you call your credit card company to complain that someone in Hungary has stolen your identity and is fraudulently purchasing sewing machines in your name, you'll speak to a human being and not a pre-recorded robot voice. Hundreds of industriousness people around our good country will find employment providing family-friendly live entertainment and music at Chuck E. Cheese's restaurants once those automated performers they've used in the past are efficiently and humanely expelled from the United States.

The benefits of my robot deportation proposal don't stop there. It's not enough to bring back the jobs of yesterday; Trump must also help create the jobs of tomorrow. A robust robot deportation program can help there too. My robot deportation policy would create millions of new high-paying jobs in the police force. Kicking out every last robot will require a lot of manpower, especially since we can't use robots to do it (we don't want this to turn out like Robocop, folks). Pursuing a policy to deport all robots will instantly create demand for skilled workers capable of apprehending, de-programming, and destroying these robots while also suppressing any uprisings if necessary. It's a win-win for the whole economy!

I'm tired of being told by liberals that I lost my job as a factory worker because my skill-set is outdated and irrelevant in a high-technology society. That's just false. It's not my fault they didn't teach software programming at Danville High in 1972. We didn't even have software back then, folks. I'm smart enough and hard-working enough that I could get a high-tech job if I wanted. I'd just rather work at a job where I have to get dirt under my fingernails than some job where I have to push pencils and sit in a cubicle all day. There's no dignity in working for a software firm or a tech start-up and staring at a computer all day, folks. That's why millions of hard-working blue-collar Americans voted for Trump in droves this past November. We want the pride and dignity that comes with CREATING and BUILDING things. It's time for Trump to make good on his promises and bring back the glory days of American industry. Deport all robots. Make America Human Again, Donald.

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Reds Fan's Christmas List

Danville, Kentucky -- Sometimes, it's hard to criticize those you love. Pete Rose won my heart with his reckless slides, lunch-pail mentality, and gritty home-plate collisions. I'm a huge fan of Pete Rose, so I'm willing to overlook his questionable gambling decisions. I'm a big fan of chicken tenders and onion rings, so I'm willing to overlook that my unhealthy intake of cholesterol is slowly killing me.

Folks, I'm a life-long Cincinnati Reds fan. It's easy for me to play armchair General Manager and give advice to the Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, and Los Angeles Dodgers from the comfort of my favorite booth in my local Chilis. I don't care about their players like I care about my own team. But it's much harder to criticize the Reds, a team that has taken me to both euphoric heights and melancholic lows. I want to believe in my heart of hearts that Dick Williams, the Reds' new GM and successor to Walt Jocketty, understands the strengths and weaknesses of this Reds team well enough to make well-informed and competent decisions, but my faith has been shaken by the gross mismanagement of this once-proud franchise in recent years.

The Reds need a new direction. On their current trajectory it may take a decade for them to compete for the NL Central crown again. There's no sign of the Chicago Cubs' reign of terror ending any time soon. The cheaters from St. Louis have made some saavy moves this offseason, and with Cardinals Devil Magic™ on their side it is likely that any remaining roster holes will be filled by anonymous farmhands that unexpectedly become All Stars, à la Aledmys Diaz. This confluence of factors could leave the Reds locked in the basement unless radical changes are made.

This Christmas, I don't want a Playstation, a new Baseball Prospectus, Applebee's gift-cards, John Wayne DVDs, or expensive liquor. All I want is for the Reds to win again. Luckily, I know exactly what needs to be done to right the Reds' ship and restore glory to this franchise. My strategy might be bitter medicine or a difficult pill to swallow -- I for one routinely ignore warnings from my doctor that I should take my anti-cholesterol medication -- but it's absolutely what's needed to make the franchise competitive again.

Here's this Reds fan's Christmas wishlist:

1) A Trade That Sends Joey Votto to the Toronto Blue Jays

Folks, as someone who loved every minute of Joey Votto's 2010 MVP campaign, I feel totally comfortable saying that it is time to cut ties with him. Joey looks like he's fed up with the situation in Cincinnati; you can tell by the sullen look in his eyes that he's lost the passion he once had for the Redlegs and Great American Ballpark. Votto's contract has become an albatross -- his $225 million contract won't expire until 2023, well into President Trump's second term. Votto has become a one dimensional player: good at clogging the bases with his "plate discipline" and "OBP" but not the dynamic offensive player the Reds need.

It's time to send Joey across the border to his Canadian homeland. The Toronto Blue Jays are a perfect trade partner for the Reds. Bringing Toronto native Joey Votto home would be the most exciting thing to happen to Canada since the blockbuster R.A. Dickey trade. In addition, the Blue Jays will be in dire need of a slugger like Votto given that Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are likely to depart Toronto and sign elsewhere. Fortunately, the Blue Jays have some players that could help the Reds compete in the short term as well. The Reds should start by asking for Troy TulowitzkiFrancisco Liriano, and Jason Grilli in return.

Tulo -- a two-time gold-glover and perhaps the most sublime defensive shortstop in the MLB since Derek Jeter -- would solidify the Reds' shortstop position for years to come. In the meantime, infielders Zack Cozart and Eugenio Suarez could be converted to play first-base and third-base, giving the Reds sterling defenders around the diamond. It's a match made in heaven.

Francisco Liriano would give the Reds the starting pitching depth they desperately need. It's been no secret that the Reds rotation has been a bigger disaster than a Chipotle restroom since the misguided Johnny Cueto trade and the departure of Mat Latos. The Reds had a historically abysmal pitching staff last year. They even set a record for the most homers allowed in a single season. Only three starting pitchers threw more than 100 innings for the Reds, while only two threw more than 150 innings. That's a recipe for overworking an already soft bullpen. Fortunately, Liriano has thrown more than 160 innings in the past four seasons while posting a good ERA as well. Franky Liriano was a 16-game winner as recently as 2013. He'd easily plug into the top of the rotation and bring respectability back to the Reds' pitching staff.

Jason Grilli would instantly improve the horrific Reds bullpen. In 2015, Grilli amassed 24 saves with the Atlanta Braves; the Reds have had absolutely no stability in the closer role since they foolishly traded Aroldis Chapman to the New York Yankees in the biggest ripoff since the Corrupt Bargain of 1824. He'd be the cherry on top of what is already a great deal for the Reds. Do it, Tricky Dick Williams!

2) The Return of Jay Bruce

The Reds offense just didn't look the same after the New York Mets fleeced Cincinnati for Jay Bruce last season. They stranded so many runners in scoring position, mostly because of Votto's phobia of putting the ball in play. Folks, it's hard to score runs with men on second or third when Joey Votto only cares about drawing walks and getting to first base. It breaks my failing, decrepit heart to know that not all of Jay Bruce's 33 HRs and 99 RBIs in 2016 came in a Cincinnati uniform. Some analysts have suggested that the Mets might make Jay Bruce available. For the right price, the Reds should absolutely be in on him.

3) Joey Bats

Free agent dinger-machine Jose Bautista would not only give the Reds a formidable middle-of-the-order bat; he'd give the Redlegs what they need most: swagger. Folks, this Reds team had no personality last season. There's plenty of blame to go around for their 94-loss 2016 campaign, but let's not forget the lack of fire that the Reds showed sometimes. Joey Bats is the perfect guy to light a fire under this Reds team. He plays with gusto. Just imagine 42,000 screaming Reds fans on their feet after a titanic 450-foot no-doubt moonshot from Mr. Bautista. No team wins without a little attitude. For his star-power alone, the Reds must secure Bautista for 6 years and $150 million. Get it done, Dick.

4) Catcher Insurance

Folks, catcher Devin Mesoraco used to be one of my favorite Reds. I remember watching all 25 of his dingers in 2014. Devin might've been the best catcher in the NL Central not named Yadier Molina, but he's been perennially injured since then. The Reds need some insurance in the event that he is injured for an extended amount of time in 2017. The Reds could attempt to lure grandpa David Ross out of retirement; that would give the Reds privileged insights into the inner workings of the World Champion Chicago Cubs rotation. But the obvious solution is to bring Brayan Pena back, who was recently DFA'd by the Cardinals. Brayan had great chemistry with all our pitchers, and was a fan favorite during his tenure in Cincy. The Reds should have never let the emotional rock of their team go to their divisional rivals. I dare you to read Pena's tear-jerking expose on his defection from Cuba and tell me the Reds shouldn't sign him. Right this wrong, Mr. Williams.

5) Big Pasta

One of the only good moves the Reds made last offseason was bringing back Alfredo Simon to shore up the rotation. Unfortunately, the move didn't pay off exactly how the Reds wanted it to. Simon started only 11 games and pitched only 58.2 innings, thanks to injuries. It was a low risk move: Simon was only signed to a 1 year, $2 million contract. It's time to for the Reds to get a second helping of Pasta. Sign him to another 1 year deal. The last time Pasta was healthy, he won 15 games with the Reds in 2014 and 13 games with the Tigers in 2015. Pasta is only a couple years removed from being an All Star with the Reds.

When healthy, Pasta's eephus is meaner than Dick Cheney on a hunting trip.

What do the Reds have to lose by signing him? If he stays healthy and things go right, he has the floor of a back-end innings-eater and an All Star ceiling. It's a no-brainer.


The Reds are not as helpless as the biased mainstream baseball media would have you believe. Ken Rosenthal and the gang have already penciled the Cubbies in for another World Series victory, but with an aggressive offseason the Reds could put themselves right in the thick of things in the NL Central. Dick Williams can never undo the cataclysmic decisions to trade Cueto and Chapman, but he can restore a winning culture by bringing bonafide, proven major league talent back to Cincinnati.

The time for rebuilding is over. The Reds already have young stars like Billy Hamilton, Brandon Finnegan, and Eugenio Suarez to lead the team into the future. It's time to cut the dead-weight like Votto and give Cincy's young-guns a real supporting cast of productive veterans like Joey Bats and Tulo.

Every year at Christmas, Americans face a choice. They can take the easy way out and get their loved ones a candle or an Amazon gift card. Or they can go big. Reds General Manager Dick Williams faces a similar choice. 2016 could be another year of irrelevance for the Reds, another year of "trusting the process" and tanking. Or 2016 could be the year where the Reds push all their chips to the center and try to take the mighty Cubs head on. I know which one I'd rather unwrap on Christmas morning. Give Cincinnati the gift of winning, Mr. Williams.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

808s and Will Hartbreak: The SHOCKING Truth Behind Kanye's Body Double

Danville, Kentucky -- Folks, I'm no fan of hip hop music. It's too commercial, too crass, and too full of synthesizers and artificial sound-effects these days. I like music that can be performed live by real people playing actual instruments, not music that can be played by pushing a button on a computer or by messing around on Garage Band. Folks, nobody embodies the decline of American popular music better than Kanye West. After Kanye's meteoric rise to fame some 13 years ago, he's since devolved into a crude caricature of himself, a circus act of tabloid rumors, egomania, and vulgar narcissism. Mr. West used to be a perfect American success story: a self-made man who rose from obscurity to become fabulously successful. Now, Kanye is a symbol of the decadence and dotage of America's upper class. But it wasn't always this way, folks.

Hillary Clinton's body double with Kanye's body double
I'm no fan of hip hop, but even I can admit there was some merit to Mr. West's first two albums, the College Dropout and Late Registration. Those albums had several songs that my nephew and his buddies would describe as "bangers." Only a fool would deny that Kanye has written many classics. Kanye was once an excellent songwriter and rapper because he drew upon the pre-existing canon of American soul and blues music and modernized it: bringing the American songbook into the 21st century with swagger and style.

Take "Gold Digger" for instance. In this song, Kanye sampled Ray Charles' jubilant rendition of "I Got A Woman," a song released in 1954 that I remember hearing on the radio back in the sixties while riding in my daddy's truck. Whenever I paid a visit to my local diner to grab a malted milkshake, I'd spend a nickel to put that song on the jukebox. Mr. West took Ray Charles' joyous celebration of the bliss of requited love, and turned into a scathing criticism of gender relations circa the new millennium. The pain of a woman trying to take all your money is something I, a thrice divorced man, know all to well. Kanye gave voice to my pain and the pain of many other folks, thanks to his uncanny ability to create new music while building upon all that came before him.

How did Kanye West, the man who expressed such raw, authentic anguish and frustration on songs like Gold Digger, end up selling out and collaborating with softie euro-junk bands like Coldplay? How did the man who wrote something as visceral and real as "All Falls Down" write something as unabashedly abstract, pretentious, and awful as 808s & Heartbreak, which sounds as though Kanye recorded it while singing through a tin can? Kanye used to be a man willing to speak truth to power, a man willing to drop bombs like "George Bush doesn't care about black people" to a national television audience. Now Kanye is just a fake. Literally.

The enigma that is Kanye West has puzzled me for years. But now we have an answer. Kanye sold out and became an awful songwriter because he quite literally lost touch with himself. Everything Kanye has done since Late Registration has not been Kanye. It's been a body double.

It makes too much sense, folks:

We know Kanye's wife Kim Kardashian has been using a body double since her kidnapping scare in Paris earlier this year. We've known for years that Kimye have even gone so far as to hire a body double for their child North in the interest of protecting her. But now, thanks to Mr. West's high-profile meeting with President-elect Donald Trump, we now have decisive visual proof that Kanye himself has been using a body double.

The real Kanye had a smaller head, different skin tone, different jawline, different eye shape, and different cheek structure than the imposter Kanye photographed with Mr. Trump several days ago. The dyed blonde hair of Kanye's double is a false flag, meant to draw attention away from the obviously different facial features.

Let's take a second to do a deeper forensic analysis of Yeezy's facial features.

The proof is stunning and irrefutable. There's no doubt Kanye is using a body double. The mystery is why.

Kanye has flirted with a possible run at the presidency for quite a while now. We know the Democratic National Committee has mandated the use of body doubles for democratic presidential candidates in the past. Several months ago I laid out the iron-clad case behind Hillary Clinton's use of body doubles HERE. Hillary Clinton's body double served several purposes: having an imposter handy allowed the real Hillary to rest and recuperate from her numerous health issues while the clone flew around the country to appear in rallies. Having a body double also allowed real Hillary to court wealthy globalist foreign donors in secret while the faux-Hillary pretended to care about the American people by campaigning. The real Kanye may have quit music and decided to use a body double for similar reasons.

Here is the truth: sometime after the release of Late Registration (2005) and before the release of Graduation (2007), Kanye enlisted a doppleganger. This explains why Graduation, with its gaudy synthesizers and allusions to electronic house music, sounds so radically different from Kanye's first two albums. The real Kanye would have never made that terrible album or collaborated with Coldplay. The real Kanye also would've seen his planned tetralogy of education-themed studio albums through to its conclusion. Clone Kanye abandoned this plan and instead released albums that have nothing to do with college like 808s & Heartbreak and The Life of Pablo. What else can explain Kanye's musical U-turn over the past few years other than the fact that the real Kanye has gone the way of Jimmy Hoffa or Amelia Earhart, mysteriously vanished forever?

Donald Trump needs to watch out. I'm amazed that the secret service allowed him to meet with Kanye's double; there's no way the CIA and FBI aren't aware that Mr. West has been replaced by a body double. The democrats were likely using Kanye's body double to spy on Trump in hopes of providing sensitive information to democratic strategists. Kanye's body double may be planning to mount a presidential campaign in 2020 or 2024 to challenge Mr. Trump and the Republican Party. The House Benghazi Committee recently released its final conclusions and announced that it would be shut down soon. Now that Congressional Republicans will have a bunch of free time and money since Benghazi doesn't need investigating anymore, they should devote their attention to Kanye by launching a full Congressional inquiry into his use of body doubles, and possible ties to the Democratic Party. The truth must be revealed. Sometimes, the prettiest people do the ugliest things. The American people deserve to know why.