Mike vs Yadi: The Final Straw?

2 nights ago, I decided that I wanted to bring my mom to her first Cardinals game of the 2017 season. She doesn’t get to many, so I figured she would enjoy it. On the day of the game, I learned that Yadier Molina would be getting a night off and my first thought was disappointment that mom wouldn’t get to see Yadi play in what will probably be her only live game of the season.

But, when I thought about why Carson Kelly was starting instead, everything made sense from a baseball standpoint. The Cardinals need to get Kelly playing time in order to continue helping foster his growth; and with Luke Weaver getting a start – Kelly has worked routinely with Weaver at Triple-A over the course of the past season and a half – the fit was perfect.

I thought nothing more of it, went to the game, enjoyed it as much as I could when considering it was a long, boring shutout, and then went to sleep.

In case you haven’t heard, Yadier Molina resting last night was a much, much bigger deal than I just made it sound.

When asked about his decision to start Kelly, Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny pointed out that Carson Kelly needs playing time in St. Louis while he’s here, saying “we’re going to have to keep him engaged if he’s going to be able to contribute like he needs to.”

That reasoning makes perfect sense and should have been the end of Matheny’s answer. But, instead, the embattled St. Louis skipper foolishly took a presumably unintentional pot shot at one of the greatest servants in franchise history.

“Yadi’s caught a lot,” Matheny added. “Yesterday, just kind of watching him go around the bases too, you could tell that he’s, you know…”

I haven’t seen or heard Matheny’s comments, but I’m assuming that he realized what he’d done, tapered off his sentence and then went on his merry, mumbling way. Now, to his credit, Mike never actually said the word “tired” and he made sure to point that out today in his pregame comments. Matheny said something about how Yadi looked a little hurt while running the bases Wednesday and that was what he was talking about.

But what, exactly, had Mike Matheny just done? I’ll let Yadier Molina’s Instagram tell you.

 

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I don’t care what anyone says, shots have been fired. Public shots.

If you’re looking for a glimpse into the Cardinals’ clubhouse right now, this exchange pulls aside the 4th wall curtain and gives us a great feel for what’s going on with the struggling team.

What I see here is a clueless and ignorant manager pissing off the face of his franchise, who seems already fed up with the inconsistency and losing.

I completely understand the need to rest Yadier Molina. His health is imperative to the Cardinals being able to play winning baseball, and burning him out is reckless. But why would you come out to the media and broadcast the fact that one of your everyday players is tired? And then, the next day, why would you try and backtrack your comments and make it sound like he’s hurt?

I believe that Matheny tailed off his sentence halfway through it because he knew that he would be angering one of the most important players on his team. It’s a widely known fact that Yadier Molina prides himself on being able to play every day. He’s known to argue, scratch and claw his way into the lineup when his manager tries to give him a night off. If I know these things, Mike Matheny surely knows them. So why even insinuate that Yadi is tired or hurt if you know it’ll tick him off? And, even further, this begs a bigger question.

Why doesn’t Mike Matheny know?

Switching your story, talking about how your catcher is tired and hurt, reacting to what he thinks he sees by taking Yadi out of the lineup without consulting Molina first; all of these things are reasons why I believe Matheny is ignorant and clueless.

As a Major League manager, Mike Matheny has 25 players to keep track of. Yes, there are minor leaguers that he certainly cares about, but the 25 players that put on a big league uniform every night have to be Matheny’s priority. Yadier Molina, as I’ve harped on, is the face of your franchise and arguably the most important position player on the team.

How in the blue hell do you not know his fatigue or health level?

Watching Yadi over the past month or so, he has looked tired at times. During the series against the Rockies, there were several times that Molina, looking noticeably slower than usual, had to be held up on the base baths. From the stands, it appeared to me that Molina was struggling.

But I’m in the stands and have no access to the players. Mike Matheny spends nearly 8-9 hours each day with his players and can talk to them whenever he wants. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t know the daily health and fatigue level of every single member of the 25 man St. Louis roster.

Mike Matheny has done a lot of questionable things during his time in charge of the Cardinals. Bullpen mismanagement, player overuse, other miscellaneous poor decision making, the list goes on and on; but this should be the final straw.

Clubhouse dissension is something that the public often never sees. Beef between teammates is usually handled within the clubhouse confines and never sees the light of day. Thus, it’s easy for us to forget the fact that our favorite baseball teams spend nearly 7 months together and need to have an element of respect and love or else they’ll kill each other.

The tone of a clubhouse atmosphere begins with the manager and is carried out by the players. By my estimation, somewhere around the end of 2015, Mike Matheny ‘lost’ his clubhouse.

What I mean by ‘lost’ is that, for one reason or another, the players lost respect for Matheny and his leadership began falling on deaf ears. A lack of respect for the supposed leader of the team quickly generates tension and creates an atmosphere that feels like “walking on eggshells,” as Stephen Piscotty said during 2017 Spring Training.

Having to spend 8-9 hours in an atmosphere full of tension and annoyance every day is toxic and I believe it’s the reason why the Cardinals have significantly underachieved over the past two seasons. However, we have never truly had any evidence of Cardinal clubhouse dissension.

Until now, that is.

Yadier Molina’s comments, no matter how he tries to walk them back or clarify, peeled back the facade of respect that has been put up during Mike Matheny’s time as manager in St. Louis. What I read from Molina today showed a player who is completely fed up with his manager. Should this have been a big deal? No, but it’s just another example of Matheny’s ineptitude and someone is finally showing some anger.

To further the situation, Dexter Fowler, Kolten Wong, and Tommy Pham all ‘liked’ Molina’s post this morning, clearly showing how the other players feel.

Molina’s jab and frustration at Matheny wasn’t subtle, and the front office now has a serious situation on their hands. Fans have been calling for Matheny to be fired since for years, and for years the front office has been able to talk their way around and give the manager their support.

With the players publicly making their feelings known, how long will Cardinals’ brass continue to stick with a manager that is clearly unfit for the job? How much more will it take for the most obvious deadline move to finally be made?

That deadline move being Mike Matheny’s, you know…

 

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan

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Mike vs Yadi: The Final Straw?

Ryan Rants: Ronda Rousey

Think about ever great fall from grace that you have ever seen in sports. A few that come to mind are Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, O.J. Simpson and Michael Vick. And the thing that each of those falls had in common was that the infamous incidents which led to each respective athlete’s ‘demise’ occurred off of the playing field in some capacity.

Tiger Woods had a cheating scandal. O.J. had a double murder trial. Michael Vick had a dogfighting ring. Lance Armstrong got busted for steroid usage. Never has there ever been a fall from grace as dramatic as these that did not include ‘outside the lines’ influences as the primary source of demise.

At least not until now.

It has taken all of 6 minutes and 47 seconds for Ronda Rousey to transform from the most dominant athlete in the world to a washed up has-been; and the primary factors for her fall from grace did not occur outside the lines.

In just two fights – a second round knockout to Holly Holm that took 5 minutes, 59 seconds and a first round knockout to Amanda Nunes that took 48 seconds – the fighter that Joe Rogan once called, “a once ever in human history fighter” is now done. No, she hasn’t officially retired yet, but Ronda Rousey is done.

What I mean by that is that, no matter what she does from here forward, the image of Ronda Rousey has been forever shattered and is done. The unbreakable, unstoppable, “once ever” woman that transcended fighting and had a legitimate case for greatest athlete of all time is done. What we have now is a shell of that woman who simply wants to be left alone.

Before I really get into this article, I just want to put this warning out there.

I respect Ronda Rousey. I respect all of the work that it takes to reach such a high level. I respect how she has changed the fight game forever and all of the women she has impacted. However, I do not like Ronda Rousey, and that will very clearly shine through here. So if you’re here to read a positive view of Ronda, look elsewhere.

I want to start this by staying within the octagon, because that is something that I can at least somewhat factually analyze without too much speculation and subjectivity.

Within the octagon, Rousey has always had significant holes in her game. Her biggest calling card has always been her Olympic level judo game. She used her excellence in the clinch and thunderous takedowns to physically dominate opponents, take them to the ground, and transition into her patented arm bar. Her gameplay was foolproof through 12 fights and nobody had even come remotely close to beating her.

Then, she got exposed.

She tried to strike with three-weight-class world boxing champion Holly Holm and to say it didn’t go well is a vast understatement. Rousey got absolutely destroyed, needing plastic surgery after the fight to keep herself recognizable. And on Friday night, in her grand return fight against Amanda Nunes at UFC 207, Rousey got thoroughly mauled again.

If we’re being completely honest here, Ronda Rousey is not a good fighter. She is worse than poor on the feet and does not have a strong jiu-jitsu game. As I said earlier, her one calling card has always been an extremely high level judo game, which she uses to take an opponent down and transition into her one submission. Honestly, it’s amazing that it took 12 fights for someone to figure out how to beat Ronda Rousey.

Rousey’s game is comparable to that of a baseball player who’s only skill is stealing bases. Once they get on the base paths, they are extremely dominant and dangerous, but combating that skill is simple; just don’t let that player get on base. Easier said than done, but still simple. 

As Holly Holm showed last November, if you stuff Ronda Rousey’s initial takedown, she is useless and can be easily picked apart. In both the fight against Holm and Amanda Nunes, Rousey looked like an underprepared and untrained athlete attempting to get in the cage with seasoned strikers.

After her initial run of dominance, the fight game caught up with Ronda Rousey. She had no answer and was unable to adapt or adjust her game to match up with the game that had caught up with her. Great fighters make adjustments, and Ronda simply continued to stubbornly work her past game plan, and she paid the price for it.

One dimensional and too stubborn to make adjustments, Ronda Rousey was never a truly great fighter. After 14 fights, we now realize that.

Now, I’ve made my case why Rousey isn’t a good fighter, but I’m gonna take it one step further here. Ronda Rousey is not a great athlete.

Whoah whoah whoah, hold on a second. How can I say that an Olympic bronze medalist who dominated women’s MMA for over 4 years isn’t a great athlete? I can say it because all truly great athletes know how to deal with adversity.

Ronda Rousey let one loss break her.

If I’m supposed to believe everything that I’ve ever heard from people trying to motivate me, how you deal with success is not what makes you great; it’s how you deal with failure that separates the average from the great. And when Ronda Rousey faced the greatest failure of her entire life, she let it break her in humiliating fashion.

She spent a year away from fighting, cooped up in Idaho with just her boyfriend, Travis Browne, there to keep her company. She avoided all media except for a hefty paycheck from Ellen DeGeneres and talked about how she had contemplated suicide after her loss to Holly Holm.

Suicide?! Are you kidding me?! Please, tell me any other great athletes that have admitted to contemplating suicide following a big loss. Can’t think of any? It’s because every truly great athlete that has ever lived knows how to deal with failure. Ronda Rousey chose to sit and pout in Idaho for nearly a full year before deciding to make a comeback.

Now, the story of Ronda Rousey could be far from over. She could prove all of my words wrong and humble herself by coming back to the UFC, accepting a non-title fight against an opponent of far less significant stature, and try to pick up the pieces of her career. This could be just the beginning of a comeback story.

But she won’t.

Instead, Ronda Rousey will choose to quit. She’ll let two failures define her and she will quit mixed martial arts.

Now, I can understand quitting because you don’t have anything left to give. Miesha Tate quit the sport because she said she, “doesn’t care enough anymore.” That’s completely understandable. But, if I’m supposed to believe everything that I hear, Ronda Rousey is going to quit martial arts because she cares too much.

In a statement released by Rousey’s mother following Amanda Nunes’ destructive performance at UFC 207, the general public who criticizes Ronda Rousey for not being able to shrug off a defeat, “doesn’t understand that what made Ronda so successful is that she cares DEEPLY about winning to an extent that I don’t believe the average person can wrap his/her head around.”

My goodness, there’s a lot to unpack about that statement.

Firstly, as an “average person” myself, I believe I can speak on behalf of the people that Ronda’s dear mother is belittling in this statement. Yes, we get it, your daughter cares about her sport. Yes, we also understand that losing is hard – everyone has lost and knows the feeling. Yes, I can understand that I, an “average person” may not be able to understand just how deeply Ronda cares about mixed martial arts. But really? Am I really supposed to believe this?

Let’s look at some examples.

On the very same UFC 207 card, Dominick Cruz lost his bantamweight title to Cody Garbrandt in a hard fought, 5 round decision. This was Cruz’s first MMA loss in nearly 10 years. Afterwords, he congratulated Garbrandt, was gracious with the media, and vowed to come back stronger. The defining quote from Cruz’s sparkling press conference – seriously, go watch it, it’s incredible – was this: “This wasn’t a tough loss. Loss is part of life. If you don’t have loss, you don’t grow. This wasn’t tough, this was life.”

Now, are you gonna tell me that Dominick Cruz enjoys losing? Am I supposed to believe that anyone who can, “shrug off a loss” enjoys losing and can’t “wrap their head around” the extent to which a professional athlete cares about his profession?

Give me a break.

Let’s take another fighter for example; Jose Aldo.

In December of 2015, Aldo suffered the ultimate humiliation at the hands of Conor McGregor. For months leading up to the fight, McGregor belittled and taunted Jose to the point where Aldo seemed legitimately infuriated, yet Aldo remained quiet and insisted that he would let his fighting do the talking.

Then, on fight night, McGregor knocked him out in 13 seconds, took Aldo’s featherweight belt, and handed Jose his first loss in over 10 years.

Also was clearly devastated. He went into hiding for several months, yet collected himself and vowed revenge. He didn’t hide away and wallow in his sadness, avoiding all media. He sought out another fight to prove his greatness and swore that he would get his retribution someday.

Aldo’s comeback culminated with a convincing win over Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 to reclaim his featherweight belt, and while he continues to wait for his next chance at McGregor, Aldo has reminded the world of his greatness and proved that one night in December of 2015 was just an outlier.

But, if I’m supposed to believe Ronda Rousey’s mother, those two men’s ability to not be so totally and completely broken by their losses equates to them not caring about mixed martial arts to the extent of Ronda Rousey, and I just plain refuse to believe that. 

Ronda Rousey never won with grace, and she doesn’t lose with grace either.

Which extends into my last and final point, the fact that Ronda Rousey is no longer a role model that I want my future daughters to look up to.

What she has done for women’s MMA and women all over the world is undeniable. She broke barriers, stereotypes, and paved a way for women in combat sports; and I barely even scratched the surface of her global impact. In that right, her legacy is secure.

However, role models that I want my future daughters looking up to know how to deal with and fight through failure. The women in this world with true strength and true grit have been knocked down one million times and have gotten up one million and one times.

Ronda Rousey has been knocked down twice now, and instead of getting up, she’s curled up in a ball and told us to leave her alone.

Is that really the model we want our daughters looking up to? “Hey kids, remember that the most effective method of dealing with failure is to seclude yourself from society, seek sympathy and tell everyone to leave you alone so you can wallow in your sadness.”

It’s a powerful and poignant example of how not to deal with failure.

And, one last thing. Yes, I’m a clueless member of the media who is criticizing an athlete with a job much tougher than I could ever dream of, and I know that this will simply infuriate LeBron James and Jon Jones and Kobe Bryant, among all of the other athletes who can empathize with Ronda and encourage her to keep fighting and get back up.

But that’s what Ronda gets when she hides from the media. We get to make up our own storylines and narratives.

The queen is dead, and she’s not rising.

Ryan Rants: Ronda Rousey

Ryan’s Rants: Stan Kroenke, Worst Owner in Professional Sports (part 2)

            On the previous episode of, ‘Stan Kroenke Sucks’, we took a look at some of the poor reasoning behind Kroenke’s relentless desire to move the (for now) St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles. On today’s episode of, ‘Stan Kroenke Sucks’, we will continue to look at his poor reasoning and continue to be angry and sad and bullied.

At the very base of Kroenke’s argument is his claim that St. Louis cannot support 3 professional franchises, and that “Any NFL Club that signs on to this proposal in St. Louis will be well on the road to financial ruin, and the League will be harmed.”

He also had the nerve to declare that “The current Rams ownership’s investment in the on-the-field Rams team has been significant.” This “significant” investment has resulted in a 52% increase in wins over the 5 years prior to Kroenke obtaining majority ownership. “But despite these investments and engagements, Rams attendance since 2010 has been well below league average.”

The 5 years before Kroenke took over the Rams’ majority ownership, the club won a combined 20 games. In the 5 years since, the Rams have won 29 games. Besides the fact that this is a 45% increase and Stan clearly dropped out of math class, 29 wins is still bad, but it’s not quite as bad as 20 wins.

“I can’t believe that these damn St. Louis people won’t come watch my losing team; the prior losing teams lost way more often. What a terrible market!”

Somehow, this sentiment goes widely misunderstood. I don’t get what’s so hard to understand about it; if the team is historically and consistently awful, people naturally aren’t going to come out in droves to dish out their hard earned money. Have the Rams had bad attendance over the past few years? Yeah, there’s no defending that. But what I will defend is the fact that St. Louis will voraciously support a successful football team with loyal ownership.

As soon as 2007 – a 3-13 season that began a historically awful 15-65 five year stretch – the average attendance at Rams’ home games was 65,326, or 100.3% of the total capacity. Naturally, attendance has declined since then and in 2015 bottomed out at 52,402 (80.2% total capacity). But as I mentioned earlier, nobody wants to spend their hard earned money to go watch a consistently awful team with a horrible owner in a below average stadium. What’s so hard to understand about that?

Also, the statement that any NFL team that is based in St. Louis will be “well on the way to financial ruin” is way off, and I have math to support that.

On page 23 of the Rams relocation application, Kroenke cites the TPI (total personal income) that a market would need to support a sports team, based on team revenue and ticket prices. The TPI base needed to support an MLB franchise is at least $104 billion, while an NHL franchise checks in at $50 billion, NFL at $48 billion, NBA at $45 billion and MLS at $14 billion.

The report states, “St. Louis, with TPI of $132 billion annually, doesn’t have enough personal income to support the teams it already has. To support the Blues, Cardinals and Rams, more than $200 billion is needed, the report found, meaning St. Louis had a TPI deficit of $70 billion annually.”

As Forbes pointed out, both Pittsburgh (for comparison) and St. Louis have total personal incomes (population x median personal income) of $15.1 billion. Tack on the metro areas around both cities and St. Louis comes in with a TPI of $133 billion versus Pittsburgh’s $118 billion; and St. Louis has more Fortune 500 companies than Pittsburgh at nine and six respectively.

Pittsburgh has 4 professional sports franchises, so according to the math here, Pittsburgh’s deficit would be about $129 billion. Yet they’re doing just fine out there. Your thoughts, Stan?

Oh wait; he doesn’t know how to talk. Moving on.

So I bet you’re probably wondering where Silent Stanley gets all of his hard hitting information. You’d expect some hard hitting sources, right? Well…no.

Kroenke argues that the Edward Jones Dome is the worst venue in the NFL. He cites a Sports Illustrated readers’ poll from 2008 (!) and an ESPN NFL Nation report. Obviously, these reports claim that the dome is the worst stadium in the NFL. And if these remarkably credible sources weren’t enough, he cites a Time Magazine ranking from 2012 that says the Dome is the 7th worst stadium in the nation. Number 8 on that list? Fenway Park.

I get it, the Dome is certainly not ideal and it’s not state of the art, but it’s not a dump. Last time I checked there wasn’t raw sewage flowing into the bathrooms and plastic cups taped to the ceiling to stop leaks, (re: Oakland County Coliseum).

And as I briefly cited in the last episode of ‘Stan Kroenke Sucks’, it’s not like the city of St. Louis hasn’t done its part in trying to upgrade the NFL stadium here. When construction began on the Dome in 1992, it was 100% funded by public money. The final construction cost was $280 million, which translates to $435 million in present day value. An additional $78 million was required to buy out the Rams lease in Anaheim and build an additional practice facility and headquarters in Earth City, Missouri.

In the new riverfront stadium proposal, the city has put $560 million on the table. $400 million in direct stadium construction money and $160 million in seat license revenue. So over the span of 23 years, the city of St. Louis has committed $918 million to two stadium projects. And what has that nearly $1 billion investment netted? A grand NFL tradition of 4 winning seasons in 21 years. Oh but how could St. Louis possibly ever support an NFL team?

And also, what in the world have Oakland and San Diego done to defend their proud NFL franchises?

San Diego: Nothing except for a sort of promise that they’ll have a plan by summer of 2016, which might fly if the deadline to submit a stadium plan wasn’t December 30th, 2015.

Oakland: Nothing. They’ve given the NFL the ‘come back to us’ signal.

Boy it must be really tough for all of those ethical NFL owners to tell which city has done the most to try and retain their NFL franchise.

And just because I’m not done bashing Kroenke, here’s one final note. Kroenke pats himself on the back in pointing out that the Rams won the Philanthropic Organization of the Year in 2010. The Rams players and staff have logged over 12,000 hours of community service in the greater St. Louis area and have made a real, lasting impact that has affected countless lives in a positive manner. But has anyone ever seen a picture, let alone even heard a story about Kroenke spending even a second working in the St. Louis community. It’s despicable to claim this award as part of his credibility is disgusting, deplorable, and only goes to further the notion that he’s a greedy Grinch who cares about literally nothing other than money.

Thus, on that note, we conclude today’s episode of ‘Stan Kroenke Sucks’. Stay tuned for Wednesday’s real life episode, where we potentially discover the real fate of the Rams. In case you can’t tell, I hope they can somehow stay in St. Louis while Kroenke can go to Los Angeles by himself.

Thanks for reading…

-Ryan

 

 

Ryan’s Rants: Stan Kroenke, Worst Owner in Professional Sports (part 2)

Ryan’s Rants: Stan Kroenke, Worst Owner in Professional Sports (Part 1)

Folks today is a good day. The official baseball HOF revealing is this afternoon and it is a time to celebrate the greatness of those selected. Unfortunately, today is also the day after Rams owner Stan Kroenke submitted his official relocation application the NFL. I have read all 29 disgusting pages, and I’m angry. So here we go with the latest installments of Ryan’s Rants.

I’m really not quite sure where to even start on this. I have such strong feelings about Kroenke that if I truly let loose on him it would be quite vulgar and not professional in the slightest, so I’ll try not to tear into him more than I really need to. That being said, good lord do I hate Enos Satan Kroenke, (pronounced ‘cranky’ if you’re Jim Nantz).

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“I’m wearing a scarf in public, look how rich I am”

Whenever I see Browns fans complaining about how bad an owner Jimmy Haslam is, I shake my head and say to myself, “man, I wish we had an NFL owner that good.” Haslam’s biggest fault is that he wants to win a title for Cleveland so badly that he has almost zero patience with coaches and administrations and blows things up too often. Yeah it’s frustrating, but at least he cares.

And boy do I wish St. Louis had an NFL owner that even gave half of a rat’s ass about his team. ‘Silent Stanley’ has not once even remotely hinted at any sort of care about how the Rams do. He almost never shows up at games, he’s nowhere to be found for press conferences and he speaks publicly on the team maybe 5 times a year if he’s feeling generous.

So what’s he off doing?

Well, in case you didn’t know, Kroenke owns 4 other major professional sports franchises – the British Premier League Arsenal Gunners, the NBA Denver Nuggets, the NHL Colorado Avalanche, and the MLS Colorado Rapids. Now, besides this just being a recipe for disaster, the last time I checked the NFL had a rule that stated that no NFL owner can own a separate professional franchise. Somehow, Stanley is getting away with it.

And even though I don’t have personal insight on those other teams, I can almost guarantee you that he cares no more about them than he does about the Rams. Stan doesn’t care about the loyal fans that provide his franchises with the monetary support that eventually ends up in his pockets and he doesn’t care about the organizations under which his teams are run. No, Stan Kroenke only cares about one godforsaken thing.

Money

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“I don’t know what to do with my hands. Yay Rams”

Now, I’ve criticized the NFL in the past for only caring about money, but to their credit the NFL does actually try to take care of its loyal fans because they understand that without fans there is no NFL. They have their obvious flaws, but the basis of that is somewhat admirable. You take care of the people that support you. Pretty simple concept, right?

Not for Stan apparently.

Between him and his wife – who freaking owns Wal-Mart, might I add – Stan Kroenke has $10 billion. Now, this could just be my middle class quibbling, but what in the hell could you possibly do with $10 billion? I’d run out of ideas after like $2 million. No one can possibly need every penny of $10 billion, that’s just a simple fact of living.

This is why the fact that Kroenke wants to move his NFL team to Los Angeles to make more money just hurts my head to think about. He’s 68 years old, he is worth $5 billion, he owns 5 professional sports franchises, and he wants more money. WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU GONNA DO WITH MORE MONEY?

Is he saving up for something? Does he need a new Nissan? Does he need to save up to buy razors so he can trim the Hitler-esque mustache that rests above his lips? What could Stan Kroenke possibly need more money for?

Just based off that statement, one might fathom that Kroenke could care about the fans in LA and want to return their Rams to them. But then one would have to go back and realize that Kroenke was one of the main driving forces behind the team originally coming to St. Louis. And, as I mentioned earlier, he does not remotely care about any fan base, which pertains to Los Angeles as well.

In the Rams official, 29 page application to the NFL for relocation, Kroenke sights that St. Louis has promised their fan base a top flight NFL stadium for “30 years” yet that the Jones Dome remains “one of the worst stadiums in professional sports.” While I will not dispute the fact that the Dome is outdated and does need to be replaced, I will dispute the statement that St. Louis has promised a top flight stadium for 30 years.

The Rams just finished their 20th season in St. Louis. Last time I checked, 20 was less than 30. And also, the reason St. Louis hasn’t been able to deliver is because building a new stadium requires significant contribution from ownership, something Kroenke either doesn’t understand or simply laughs off because he needs to spend his billions buying modern artwork or another yacht.

For reference, when Busch Stadium III was constructed in 2006 it had a final cost of $365 million. Granted, this is nowhere close to the $1.1 billion required to construct the Rams proposed new riverfront stadium – we’ll get to that later too – but bear with me. Cardinal ownership footed the bill for $200.5 million or 54.7% of that total cost.

At the time, Cardinal owners were worth roughly $600 million, so this was clearly a huge gamble. The result of this gamble was one of the most beautiful stadiums in professional sports and franchise growth that now sees Cardinal ownership worth over $4 billion. And by the way, the DeWitts are among the most revered and admired figures in St. Louis and the Cardinals basically run this city. We love that team because it loves us.

Kroenke refuses to provide the necessary funds to make the St. Louis riverfront stadium project a reality while still stating that St. Louis has done nothing to make good on its promise to deliver a top flight NFL stadium. Yeah, besides providing a complete and thorough proposal that only needs a thumbs up from the NFL to begin construction, St. Louis has done nothing.

Also, Kroenke calls out Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, citing the “many months of silence” the preceded Nixon’s announcement of a stadium task force. Yeah, the guy who hasn’t spoken to the media since he hired Jeff Fisher in 2012 (that’s 4 years ago, by the way) is calling someone else out for being too quiet.

Kroenke 3
What the hell are you smiling about with your Donald Trump-looking toupee

The Rams were routinely criticized for their lack of action on a stadium task force while Kroenke never met with Nixon regarding the task force until November 30th of this year, nearly 3 months after the force was formed. And that meeting only happened because NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell nudged Kroenke into it.

As I continue to dive deeper into Kroenke’s comments in his 29 page report full of hypocrisy and filth I just continue to be disgusted and miffed that one man could be so horrible. But, such is the life of Stan Kroenke, the man who claimed in 2010 that he would do “everything I can to keep this team in St. Louis” and has now completely and unfairly torn the team from the city’s clutches without a second thought.

More to come soon, stay tuned.

Thanks for reading…

-Ryan

Ryan’s Rants: Stan Kroenke, Worst Owner in Professional Sports (Part 1)

Domestic Violence Double Standards

Domestic violence. Two words that I’ve had to think about way, way too much lately; specifically with regards to Greg Hardy, who I’m also sick of thinking about. But for this article I’m going to bring up another name that you might have forgotten about in the NFL’s domestic violence mini-epidemic.

Ray Rice.

Remember him? The guy who punched his wife unconscious before getting on an elevator in Atlantic City in February 2014. The NFL’s original domestic violence case.

Well, Ray Rice is back in the news with his announcement today that he hopes to someday work for the NFL to raise awareness of domestic violence.

In past articles, I’ve said that I typically want to give athletes the benefit of the doubt with regards to most things. And that being said, I want to believe that Ray Rice has sincere desires to make a positive impact on the NFL in light of his awful mistake 2 February’s ago.

In case you need a refresher on Rice’s story, here you go, cliff notes style.

In February of 2014, Rice and his fiancé Janay Palmer were arrested, detained, and released from jail on charges of a “minor domestic dispute.” TMZ released a video of Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer from an Atlantic City elevator a few days later, and in July the NFL suspended Rice for 2 games. You know, because they need to at least pretend to care.

Then, on September 8th, TMZ released the video of Rice punching Palmer out cold before dragging her lifeless body into the elevator and later dragging her out. The Ravens immediately released Rice hours after the video was released. The NFL then took until the next day to suspend Rice “indefinitely.”

Then came the controversy. The NFL claimed they had never seen the video of Rice punching Palmer until TMZ released it. “You’re telling me that the NFL, one of the most powerful organization on the planet, could not access a video of one of its high profile athletes committing a horrific crime before freaking TMZ could?! Are you kidding me?” I thought.

It was an absolute debacle, both for Rice and the NFL. Rice hasn’t played a down since being released, as he shouldn’t because there is no place in this league for a man who domestically abuses a woman.

But, through all of this, Palmer stood by Rice’s side and supported him. Publicly appearing at press conferences with him, having his back, doing interviews in support of him, even finishing the engagement and getting married.

And though I’m usually not much for athlete apologies, I really did feel for Rice because his remorse was clear and I truly believe he just made a terrible mistake that he’ll regret for the rest of his life.

But Palmer’s remorse also tells me she was nearly equally involved in the incident and feels responsibility for it as well, which doesn’t get talked about in the media because female-on-male domestic violence cases are mostly a joke to the general public. But that’s a different topic for a different day.

And with Rice’s announcement that he is hoping to join the NFL in a role of raising domestic violence awareness is big; big for Rice, and big for the league’s image in trying to come out of a sort of Dark Age in player crime.

But with Rice’s announcement came a sad realization on my part that isn’t remotely surprising, but maddening and unfair.

Right now, the words ‘domestic violence’ seem to be synonymous with Greg Hardy’s name; and that was the first thing that came up in my mind with Rice’s announcement.

I’ve written on the league’s despicable enabling of Hardy solely because he’s a good player, and how unacceptable it is. But at the same time, the league has taken a strong public stand with regards to Rice’s case, suspending him for a really long time in conjunction with all the owners seemingly banding together to not employ him.

So it feels like they’ve done right with the Rice case. But they haven’t. Not even close. Everyone is lacking one key ingredient here.

Consistency.

There is only one reason why Greg Hardy still has a job in the NFL and Ray Rice doesn’t, and probably won’t. It’s because pass rushers are in higher demand and harder to find than running backs these days.

Think about it. Every team in today’s NFL needs a pass rush, it’s imperative to defensive success, and pass rushers are more overvalued than ever. But while every team also needs a running game, running backs have become much, much easier to find; as teams are now finding starting backs in late rounds of the draft and the Patriots just sign a new guy off the street and he runs for 200 yards the same week. So, in today’s NFL, the pass rusher is just worth astronomically more than the running back.

Greg Hardy is a very talented pass rusher, and is being paid and treated as such by the Cowboys, who continue to put up and enable all of his remorseless bullshit that hurts my mind every time he does something new and stupid.

Ray Rice is a talented running back, but running backs aren’t worth a lot anymore, so no team is willing to take the flak that will come with signing Rice when they can just go get another guy that can’t do the job as well as Rice, but won’t have all the baggage and won’t make their team image look so bad.

That, right there, is what’s wrong with the league and why I find myself trying not to like or support the NFL at any opportunity I can get. If a player is talented and can play a vital role, he’ll be coddled and enabled, no matter what kind of shit he puts up.

But if a player, like Rice, isn’t as useful to teams, they won’t even give him a remote glance because the negative pushback that would come from the signing just isn’t worth it to NFL teams’ precious reputations.

Again, let’s look specifically at the cases of Rice and Hardy.

As soon as the video of Rice punching Palmer was made public, Rice was released, suspended, ridiculed, and all good thoughts of him were exiled by the thought police. When the pictures of the injuries sustained by Hardy’s ex-girlfriend after his savage beating of her, the only thing that happened was a bunch of angry bloggers, feminists, and just people in general calling for Hardy’s job.

Did anything remotely close to what happened to Rice happen to Hardy? Absolutely not; in fact, I didn’t hear a peep from the Dallas Cowboys or the NFL after the pictures were released. They just sort of pretended that it wasn’t happening and that all was right with the world.

It’s completely unacceptable that guys like Hardy are enabled, while guys like Rice are spurned and ignored. Have some goddamn consistency and humanity. Have the balls to do what’s right and evaluate both these situations in the same light.

No amount of talent should ever dictate whether or not a player gets punished for breaking the freaking law and committing one of the worst crimes known to man short of murder. That’s just not how this world works.

But it’s how the NFL works. If you’ve got talent, you’ve got a spot in the league, no matter what you do. But if you’re expendable and your position isn’t valued as much as it should be, you better be an absolutely perfect human being, or one slip up and your job is gone.

Should this change? Of course; but will it? Not a chance. Money is king in the NFL, always has been and always will be. That will never change, and Greg Hardy makes the league a lot of money off his talent and merchandise credibility.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is a problem; a serious freaking problem. A problem that would take years to change because it’s deeply rooted in the culture of not just the NFL, but all professional sports.

I’m tired of writing about it, but I know this isn’t the last article I’ll be writing on this subject, and that makes me sad. But still I hold out hope that things can change, and these words will be my last on this despicable subject.

But until next time, I’ll let these be my last words.

God didn’t put men and women on this planet to be enemies, so stop treating them as such. Love each other, and be willing to forgive after an argument or dispute instead of looking to harm to get your point across. Violence is never the answer, in any case.

Thanks for reading…

-Ryan

Domestic Violence Double Standards

Ryan’s Rants: The NFL’s Culture of Ignorance in Favor of Talent

Sunday afternoon, my dad and I were watching the Cowboys-Giants game. Following a sterling Dallas victory, the Fox postgame show came on. After the highlights, host Curt Menafee harmlessly urged the rest of his panel, “Guys, let’s talk about Greg Hardy for a second.”

I immediately switched the channel to Formula 1 racing, much to the surprise of my dad. He looked at me with a puzzled expression on his face, silently asking me, “What was that for?” I explained, my exact emotions regarding Greg Hardy.

“I don’t even want to hear them talk about Greg Hardy”

Every time I hear his name or watch a Dallas Cowboys game, I find myself asking these questions constantly. There aren’t a lot of human beings on this earth that I’m just totally and completely disgusted by. Greg Hardy is one of these human beings.

What the hell is Greg Hardy even still doing in this godforsaken league? Why is he still allowed to play football under the tag of one of the biggest and most powerful organizations in the free world?

Look, we all have qualities about us that we’re not proud of and would love to change. None of us are perfect, but I’ll be damned if I’ve ever met anyone as half-hearted and genuinely awful as Greg Hardy.

My first contact with Greg Hardy came from an October, 2013 version of Sports Illustrated, in which he was profiled by Greg Bedard, (I believe, don’t quote me on that).

The article was written during Hardy’s 15 sack breakout campaign in 2013, while he was in Carolina.

Hardy sporting his trademark eyeblack for the Panthers. Photo by Chuck Burton for AP
Hardy sporting his trademark eyeblack for the Panthers. Photo by Chuck Burton for AP

The on-field brilliance was well documented – and don’t get me wrong, Hardy is an extremely talented pass rusher. But, briefly mentioned was something that really got my attention and raised some red flags for me.

While at Ole Miss, Hardy was frequently late to practice and meetings, and had a tendency to mix it up at practice a little bit; but would still produce on the field. When he got to Carolina, those things persisted.

The line that really got me was this. Paraphrasing, Hardy was described as being “brilliant when he wanted to be.” Basically, if Hardy didn’t feel like playing hard or giving his best, he flat out wouldn’t.

Does that just sound disgustingly selfish to anyone else?

I know that in any sport I play I’m always getting on guys that I don’t feel are giving 100% effort. I’ve got your back, I fully expect you to have mine. And particularly in football – an already tough game where teamwork is absolutely imperative – the thought of someone not going to war for you because they don’t feel like it just repulses me.

So red flags were going up all over the place for me. I usually like to give the benefit of the doubt to athletes because I know, contrary to popular belief, their jobs are quite difficult. But with Greg Hardy, who I hadn’t even known until this article, I had already taken that liberty away from him.

Fast forward about a year. The article had come and gone; Hardy had been brilliant on the field in 2013, but suddenly his 2014 season was abruptly halted by a bit of a shocking revolution.

A report came out last September that Hardy was being accused of domestically assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Considering the recent escapades of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, domestic violence and the NFL were going together like peanut butter and jelly. And the Hardy news only contributed to the epidemic.

Was I particularly surprised? Considering my opinion of Hardy, absolutely not. But when further details were released that a part of Hardy’s assault was allegedly throwing his girlfriend down violently on a couch full of assault rifles, I was shocked.

How can one human being treat another this badly? Especially when that human being is the one that you’ve given your heart and soul to? It just hurt my heart to think about, and made me angry as well. But the psyche behind domestic violence is a totally different subject for a different day.

Anyway, following the allegations – which Hardy was acquitted of, but never publicly denied – Roger Goodell did his typical Roger Goodell thing and waited around on making a decision. Why? Because Greg Hardy’s a good football player that sells jerseys and tickets and makes Goodell a lot of money, so Goodell won’t immediately suspend him even if his actions are absolutely despicable.

It was typical Goodell, and just completely follows suit with the NFL’s culture of ignorance in favor of talent.

Hardy didn’t play another down in 2014 and didn’t play another down for the Panthers, and rightly so. I began to think that maybe the NFL was making a change for the better and actually taking a stand against domestic violence.

I was wrong.

I was in a hotel room in Tampa Bay this past March when I flipped on SportsCenter to discover some news that I wasn’t at all happy about. Greg Hardy had been activated from the NFL’s restricted list and had been signed by the Dallas Cowboys.

You’ve got to be kidding me. We’re really going to pull this shit again NFL? Greg Hardy is just too talented and makes too much money for the league for us to really care about the fact that he showed no remorse for allegedly, (I have to say allegedly because he was acquitted only because of a lack of evidence I might add), committing one of the worst crimes I know of.

In staying true with their typical policy, the NFL suspended Hardy for the first four games of 2015, because they have to at least pretend they care, right?

Photo by Associated Press
Photo by Associated Press

So, for the most part, we all forgot about Hardy. We all went on worrying about bigger and better things. But, when Hardy was activated before week 5, he re-entered all of our minds in the worst way possible.

In his first access to the media, Hardy was asked how he would play. His response? “I’m gonna come out guns blazing.” He then proceeded to make misplaced and disrespectful comments about Tom Brady’s wife, Gisele.

After coming back from an incident in which he was accused of throwing his girlfriend down on a couch full of assault rifles, the first words out of Greg Hardy’s mouth were “guns blazing.”

At this point, we’ve crossed the line between poor media comments and just genuinely being an absolutely awful human being.

Greg Hardy had to pretend to respect women and be sorry for what he did for 12 minutes. TWELVE MINUTES. And he couldn’t even do that. But what did the NFL do about it? Absolutely nothing. No fines, no suspension, no public comments, nothing. And the Cowboys? All they did was “talk sternly” with Hardy to let him know that this wasn’t okay.

What are we, in pre-school? Talk sternly? Are we going to put him in timeout next? Come the hell on, this is the NFL, Greg Hardy is a fully grown man, you really think he’s going to positively respond to a stern talk? Once again, Hardy is given a pass by his employers because his talent is just so immense that the significant issues he brings are effectively ignored.

And then a new chapter was written in the Greg Hardy this past Sunday. It was normal football stuff, with Hardy getting into a shouting match on his own sideline with the special teams coach and anyone who would listen to him. How bad was it? Dez Bryant played the role of peacemaker; that’s right, Dez Bryant.

And after the game, as Hardy was talking to the media again, he interrupted every question with “no comment, next question.” So instead of handling the issue and addressing it like a man, Hardy simply acted like a little kid and avoided all questions.

But I’ve written enough words to give you an accurate impression of how awful Hardy is, let’s move on to the other side of the issue.

As reporters asked Cowboys owner Jerry Jones about Hardy, he responded with, “He’s one of the real leaders on the team and he earns it. That’s the kind of thing that inspires.”

Holy shit you can’t be serious with me right now.

You’re telling me that throwing a massive sideline tantrum earns you the tag of being a leader and inspires your teammates? As the kids these days would say, I can’t even.

When they initially signed Hardy, the Cowboys – and specifically Jones – emphasized that they’d “done their homework” on him and that there would be no more problems. Well guess what, there are still freaking problems guys.

Hardy’s actions are awful, and he clearly has no place in this league, but he really isn’t the real issue here. It’s everyone that gives him a damn job and lets him be an awful person in the limelight.

The NFL’s culture of ignoring big time issues because a player is immensely talented has to change. The fact that Greg Hardy continues to be enabled by Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett and Roger Goodell is unacceptable. After all he’s done he has never paid a single dollar in fines to the NFL for reasons off the field, and the worst thing that’s ever happened to him is a stern talking to.

That is not okay at all. But nonetheless, as Jones’ comments showed, Hardy will continued to be mollycoddled, endorsed and enabled because he’s good at sacking the quarterback. And further, Jerry Jones came out today and said that the Cowboys hope to work out an extension for Hardy, which means he’ll potentially be guaranteed a spot in this league for even longer.

There aren’t enough words for me to accurately express just how hurt and angry this makes me as a man.

NFL, you do enough awful things as is, and with your bullshit breast cancer “Crucial catch” campaign every October you even pretend to give a rat’s ass about women and how they view your league. So do them another favor and stop enabling a man who gives shows less respect toward them than few people I’ve ever seen.

Fire him and keep him far away. He has no place in your league and you need to realize that. You will make plenty of money without Greg Hardy, I promise. I say that because I know that’s the only thing you greedy blowhards care about.

His talent should not even matter when you stop to consider the things that he has done. Overlook it and remove him from your brand.

If you continue to enable Greg Hardy, you will continue to lose fans like me, and we’ll all look like one of the reporters listening to Jerry Jones’ mind-bogglingly insensitive tirade.

Hardy 1
Did you really just say that Jerry?

Thanks for reading…

-Ryan

Ryan’s Rants: The NFL’s Culture of Ignorance in Favor of Talent

The NFL: Hypocrisy and Damnation Galore

DeAngelo Williams, sporting the NFL's trusty pink attire that actually means something more to him than a paycheck and some positive flack
DeAngelo Williams, sporting the NFL’s trusty pink attire that actually means something more to him than a paycheck and some positive flack

In an attempt to salvage at least some of my readers, this is a disclaimer that there will be strong opinions and somewhat offensive language used in this article. I mean, we are talking about the NFL here. So anyway, on with your regularly scheduled programming.

There is a special place in hell for Roger Goodell and anyone else within the NFL front office that makes decisions and helps run, without a doubt, one of the most putrid organizations in the entire world. Seriously, if any other organization in the world even tried half of the shit the NFL pulls, they’d be shut down by a government or there would be military intervention.

Now, what’s got me so upset about the NFL this time? Well, besides the company’s overall lack of ability to even act like decent human beings would, cancer has me upset. Cancer is a total bitch, and I’d like to imagine that not a single soul in this world even appreciates a single bit about it.

So when the NFL does their annual October ‘tradition’, if you will, of letting players wear pink cleats and pink gloves and putting pink ribbons on their fields and having the neat little slogan, “A crucial catch”, it seems all fine and dandy. And having cancer survivors come out onto the field before the game to be recognized by the crowd and aid with opening ceremonies just puts it over the top. Like, good for you NFL, you really get it, don’t you? You’re full of great people who really care about the things that matter.

If you think that, you’re either too young to think for yourself, a hopeless romantic who pretends there isn’t any evil in this world, or someone who’s been so totally brainwashed by the NFL that you blindly accept whatever is thrown at you. The NFL is counting on you being part of the third party, and unfortunately too many of us are.

In reality, the NFL only sort of gives half a rat’s ass about cancer and cancer survivors. What they really care about is trying to uphold their already sketchy, at best, image. And the only thing they care about more than that is money. To me, as a human being, it’s embarrassing and angering. But it’s just the way it is.

Now, what’s got me particularly mad on this occasion is the NFL’s blatant shallowness and lunacy with regards to their recent rulings about DeAngelo Williams and Casey Heyward.

First, Williams. DeAngelo Williams’ mother recently passed away due to the NFL’s favorite money making disease, breast cancer. Without really needing to delve into personal details, Williams’ mother meant a hell of a lot to him, as one would expect, and he was deeply hurt by her loss. So, to honor her, Williams dyed the tips of his dreadlocked hair pink, and wanted to wear pink cleats, not just in the NFL’s standard of October, but all season.

So, in keeping true with their tradition of childish and senseless behavior, the NFL denied Williams that opportunity. DeAngelo Williams will not be allowed to wear pink cleats to honor his mother, who died from the very disease that the NFL ‘supports’ so strongly and profits off of. And it’s just a pair of freaking cleats.

The NFL has a uniform deal with Nike, and requires that all players’ cleats visibly have the Nike symbol on them. Williams would not be breaking that rule in the interest of himself, but since the NFL wants to be as much of an asshole as it can be, they are denying Williams the opportunity to simply, and quietly, honor his fallen mother.

Last weekend on Sunday Night Football, the always sharp announcing team of Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth pointed out Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive end Cameron Heyward’s unique eye black that night. On one strip of Heyward’s eye black read the world Iron, and on the other strip read the word Head. As Michaels pointed out, this was Heyward’s quiet tribute to his late father, Craig ‘Ironhead’ Heyward.

Later on in the week, as I expected, the NFL stepped in. Heyward announced, via Twitter, that he had been fined for his eye black tribute and that the NFL would not allow him to do it anymore. Again, really? Eye black? In all seriousness, has anything bad ever transpired because of eye black?

Are these two instances small? Absolutely, but it’s part of a much bigger problem that eternally damns the NFL in my mind. So what’s the big issue here?

During the aforementioned Sunday night game – which both Williams and Heyward happened to be playing in, mind you – a commercial came on. It was one of the NFL’s stupid, ‘Football is Family’ commercials where they try to pretend that they actually care about what football means to their fans. And who was in this particular commercial, talking about the impact that football has had upon his life? DeAngelo freaking Williams.

That’s right, the NFL denied Williams the opportunity to wear pink cleats to quietly honor his mother and raise awareness, yet still had the gall and insensitivity to put him in an NFL produced commercial about the NFL’s impact upon the lives of those it touches. DeAngelo Williams cares about his dear mother, and the NFL is carelessly profiting off of that by having him in a heartfelt commercial, yet won’t let him ACTUALLY honor her by wearing pink cleats to raise awareness for the disease that took her life. That is absolutely damning, and as a man I’m insulted and hurt that a fellow human being could be so heartless and cold.

All you have to do is have even just a little bit of human decency. We are all wired to care about our fellow man, every single one of us. So when a group of people in incredibly high power chooses to care more about a rulebook and a checkbook more than a man – a hurting man, and an employee too – it makes me angry. Damn right it makes me angry.

NFL, we know you don’t really care. We know the only things you care about are your public image – which is already in total shambles because of your complete and total incompetence and inability to have even a little bit of human decency – and your checkbook, already flush with billions of dollars of cash. But can you at least pretend to care?

Can you at least pretend to have the human civility to let two of your employees quietly and humbly honor their fallen loved ones and raise awareness for the disease that you profit from? The only thing you keep hurting is yourself. All of the heat from this keeps falling squarely on you. And speaking of heat, there’s a special brand of heat where you’re all headed.

Thanks for reading…

-Ryan

The NFL: Hypocrisy and Damnation Galore