Inspired by the NHL's decision to go with three-on-three competition in regular-season overtimes, this edition of The Rundown is dedicated to other rules changes that the major team sports ought to consider.
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The NFL's handling of Deflategate has drawn sharp opinions from all corners of football fandom. But no conversation is complete without feeling the pulse of the Blade Barbershop. Was four games too soft a punishment for Brady? Should the New England Patriots be treated as chronic cheaters? Check out what the guys have to say about it.
When it comes to celebrating the greatest American moments in which athletic competition and national pride intersect, lots of fans feel every event is playing for the silver behind the 1980 Olympic hockey's Miracle On Ice. But the field is deep as we discuss on this Fourth of July edition of The Rundown.
The Kansas City Royals could have heavy representation in the American League starting lineup at the MLB All-Star Game if early returns on the fan balloting prevail. This has caused some consternation among non-Royals fans, but is this really enough of a reason to change the voting process? We talk it over on this episode of The Rundown.
NBA All-Stars Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins each had a recent basketball encounter against a kid documented on video. Durant played to win against a youngster in an arcade shooting game. Cousins ended up on the receiving end of a tricky one-on-one move. Which approach should pro athletes take when going head to head against youth competitors? We tackle the issue on this episode of The Rundown.
Trick Shot Titus beat Kobe Bryant and Shaquile O'Neal in shooting contests on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. But Titus' dad, Joseph, recently told ThePostGame that he believes Kobe tanked his performance on purpose.
Las Vegas has a market population of 1.7 million with a combined metro population of almost 850,000. This would rank it around 13th among other U.S. cities. Its population has large numbers of rabid sports fans. It has major businesses that would buy luxury boxes, sponsorships and naming rights. Yet, it doesn't have a major professional franchise.
That is about to change.
Wealthy businessman Bill Foley recently announced a season-ticket drive for a prospective NHL franchise. He was flanked by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. A new 20,000-seat arena costing $375 million, located behind the New York-New York resort, is set to open in April 2016. It is being built by a well-heeled partnership of MGM Resorts International and Anschutz Entertainment Group. The response to the season-ticket drive showed real commitment in the Las Vegas market. At least 10,500 fans put up deposits ranging from $150 to $900 to reserve seats. Casinos will certainly buy more.
The argument against putting franchises into Las Vegas has always been a fear of gambling connection with the multiple casinos. Sports put a public face on a church-and-state separation regarding gambling. The reality is that leagues know that gambling on games provides major fan support for sports. There are also franchises benefiting from advertising in casinos, plus they take a position in fantasy sports.
Casinos have spread across the nation. Riverboat gambling goes on in New Orleans -- no one is threatening to pull the Saints or Pelicans from the city. Gary, Indiana, is close to Chicago and is the third largest gambling site in the country. The Bears, Bulls, White Sox and Cubs don't seem to be jeopardized. Casino gambling exists proximate to many major cities with franchises -- this is the new reality.
Las Vegas is no longer a city of tourists -- it has a huge and eager population. Green Bay, Salt Lake City, Orlando, St. Petersburg and Buffalo all have franchises, and they are dwarfed by the population of Sin City. Indianapolis, Columbus, Charlotte, Detroit, Seattle, Denver, Memphis, Boston, Nashville, Seattle, Oklahoma City, Portland and Milwaukee are all smaller than Las Vegas. The city clearly has the resources and attendance base to make any franchise successful.
The next specious argument is that there are few Las Vegas natives and their allegiance will be with teams outside the market. I remember growing up in Los Angeles as part of a baby-boomer generation that was born here. The same arguments were made doubting the willingness of a largely transplanted population. The Dodgers moved in 1958 and carefully marketed in the community like it was a small town. The team has led baseball in attendance for most of its’ history.
Gavin and Bill Maloof are partners and boosters in this effort. They own the Palms Hotel and were owners of the Sacramento Kings. They have the experience to make a hockey team a success. Las Vegas has great experience in hosting events. What happens in Las Vegas is about to stop staying in Las Vegas as a NHL team seems inevitable for the 2016-17 season. If the franchise is successful, it will open the door for other franchises to come.
Oscar De La Hoya has been making some noise about coming out of retirement as a 42-year-old. If that happens, Floyd Mayweather says he will accommodate him.
"If he wants to, we can rock and roll in September," Mayweather told reporters.
"He said he wanted a rematch," Mayweather said. "So if Oscar wants it, he can get it."
Mayweather defeated De La Hoya by split decision when they fought for the WBC super-welterweight title (154 pounds) on May 5, 2007.
A rematch never materialized. Mayweather fought Ricky Hatton in December 2007, then announced his retirement. He came back to fight Juan Manuel Marquez in September 2009 and has been active since.
De La Hoya's last bout before retiring was an eighth-round loss against Manny Pacquiao in December 2008.
Mayweather, 38, just beat Pacquiao by unanimous decision in May and earned about $275 million in the process. It will be tough to duplicate that kind of a payday, but another fight with De La Hoya should still generate significant revenue.
Cindy Parlow helped the United States win two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup in soccer, and she was particularly skilled at heading the ball. Now she is paying for those repeated thumps on the head. As she tells Mary Carillo of HBO's Real Sports, Parlow began phasing out headers at the end of her career.
"Every time I headed the ball I would see stars," she says. "I was having a lot of headaches, a lot of jaw pain, a lot of fatigue."
Carillo asks how long the symptoms lasted.
"They've never gone away," Parlow says.
This is why Parlow, who retired in 2006, and Brandi Chastain are among the most influential voices calling for a ban of heading for players under 14. Soccer ranks second behind football in concussions sustained by the athletes, and the brains of youngsters are especially vulnerable because they are still developing. Here's a part of the Real Sports segment that premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT:
The NFL has maintained tight rules about what it considers to be legal celebrations on the field. This approach has led to the charges of it being the No Fun League. Professional dancer Tony Dow joins the crew at Blade Barbershop to discuss what sort of celebrations might be acceptable in sports and why this is an issue in the first place.
The Tiger Woods Era is over, and it happened at last week's U.S. Open.
From now on, Woods is merely an historic figure, same as Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus, even if he's still playing. He's no longer relevant as a contending player, but just a guy filling up his time until he's eligible to play on the seniors tour.
Sure, people are still interested in Tiger, but mostly as a celebrity. Two things that happened this past week marked the end of an era in which Woods was the pre-eminent player in the sport of golf.
First, Tiger's own atrocious play made him a pathetic and sympathetic figure - two words heretofore never associated with him. At least at the Masters Woods lurked at the fringe of the leaderboard even if he wasn't contending for the green jacket (though self-deludedly he thought he was). On the treacherous slopes of Chambers Bay, the only suspense was whether he'd break 80.
We saw Tiger chunk shot after shot, including one where his club flew farther backward than his ball did forward. We saw him fell on his behind trying to find his ball in the tall fescue. We saw him finish ahead of just three players in a field of 156.
What's worse was his post-round press conference. Some might like the kinder, humbler version of Tiger when in the old days he'd skulked off after a bad round, but what happened Thursday was absurd. After shooting a ghastly 80, Tiger deadpanned that "at least I kicked butt" of playing partner Rickie Fowler, who shot an 81.
Tiger Woods has officially become a farce.
The second thing that happened is that golf no longer needs Tiger to be interesting. There's this kid that did things that even Woods couldn't do in his heyday. Jordan Spieth won two majors at the age of 21 and now has a chance to become the first man to win the calendar year Grand Slam in the Masters era.
The Sunday prime time drama was compelling, to be sure, giving Fox a TV ratings boost despite an uneven performance in its first Open telecast. By the end of Sunday no one was talking about Tiger and his travails -- they were all too busy dissecting Dustin Johnson's colossal choke and Spieth's chances at the British Open.
But Tiger was old news even before that. While Fox stayed with Woods for most of his round of 80 on Thursday (well, who could take their eyes off a train wreck like that?), the network virtually abandoned him on Friday. It was somewhat unprecedented, but Fox executives were confident in their calculation that people would still tune in to watch players other than Woods. They proved correct.
Golf now not only has a new hero but also a phalanx of superstars. On the star-studded final U.S. Open leaderboard, five of the top nine finishers were former major winners. And as spectacular as Spieth has been, he's still not the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world. That would be Rory McIlroy, who has twice as many major championships as Spieth and just finished in the top 10 of a major for a fourth straight time and sixth in his past seven.
Which renders the No. 205-ranked golfer irrelevant except on the gossip pages and to people who are really into Schadenfreude. Woods last finished in the top 10 of any official tournament back in September 2013, and his last victory came a month before that. Adding further insult, for the first time since he turned pro in 1996, Tiger is not the highest-earning golfer, having been surpassed by Phil Mickelson last year - according to Forbes.
A month from now at the British Open, the focus of fans and media alike will be on Spieth's quest for the Grand Slam, and also the budding rivalry of Spieth and McIlroy, who between them own all four major trophies currently but have yet to go mano-a-mano down the stretch in any. Only a foolish punter would put a quid on Tiger winning at St. Andrews, knowing he's more likely to finish last in the field than first.
Chances are, Woods won't even show up at the Home of Golf. With his swing completely in a shambles, he might decide to sit out the last two majors before turning 40 in December, in the hopes of rehabilitating his mind and game. But either way, Tiger Woods will no longer be a headliner at a significant golf tournament. His time is now past.
Golf has moved on.
While the NFL and lots of fans have flipped out about Deflategate and Tom Brady's suspension, some notable figures in the football community have essentially shrugged. Joe Montana told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "It's no big deal." Recently retired NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew had similar thoughts, telling us, "If you're not cheating, you're not trying." Here's more from Jones-Drew: