This past week was vacation. The one week of the year where my son and I leave “the sticks” and head to the Jersey Shore(more on that later). Though my mind was filled with sun, sand, and soothing waves crashing the shore, I still stayed plugged in to the sports scene.

The main column part of my brain is still relaxing at the beach, so here are my takes on some of what was happening and being talked about last week.

Two Cent Takes

Football

#CrazyAB retires…or not

Early last week, Antonio Brown hinted at retirement with this tweet.

And this one, I assume because he forgot to call God in the first one.

The story doesn’t end there. It never does with #CrazyAB. A couple days later he posted this on his Instagram account.

My favorite part of his Instagram post is hash tagging his new CD, Himmothy. AB always thinking business, especially when it isn’t #Boomin.

The AB tweets prompted much social media debate about his career. Some were saying it was a Hall of Fame career, some were comparing him to another Hall of Fame hopeful, Hines Ward, and some were completely dismissing AB’s career.

On the field Brown was a stud. Period. Off the field he was a dud. His off field antics—and some on field antics—created a toxic environment in Pittsburgh. Bottom line is he created a losing atmosphere, a “me me me” atmosphere. He cared far more about his own numbers than that of the team. He proved it time and time again.

Hall of Fame? Tough call. Numbers tell me he is a Hall of Famer. However, he never won the big one. Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl either, and he is considered one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. So why not view Brown in the same way? The difference is, Marino wasn’t a distraction. He was the main attraction. In Brown’s case, he, too, was a main attraction. Unfortunately he was also the number one distraction.

As far as Hines Ward goes, he was an egomaniac, as well. Yet he was an egomaniac who would knock someone’s block off in order for a teammate to score a touchdown. Brown, on the other hand, would have been looking back at the quarterback with his hands palms up wondering why he wasn’t thrown the ball. Ward wanted his, but he also wanted Super Bowl rings. Brown just wanted his.

An addendum to this story occurred later in the week. CrazyAB had tweeted a while back that there would be no more white women in his life in 2020. Thursday he posted a video of the birth of his baby—and for the record I’ve lost count—with the baby’s mother…you guessed it, a white woman.

May I suggest the therapist CrazyAB claims he is seeing turns it up a notch.

Switzer(fantasy)land

A current—how is that still possible—Steeler wide receiver also took to social media last week. Ryan Switzer came out with this gem.

Yes, he said it. Yes, I had to pick myself off the floor. He also posted a picture of himself all jacked up. Muscles are great. Guys in gyms all across America have them, and it doesn’t make them NFL players. Switzer isn’t one either. How he is still on an NFL roster is astonishing.

To make a comment like that when the highlight of your current Steelers career is fair catching punts is pretty tone deaf. Maybe he is seeing the same therapist CrazyAB is.

Forgoing the Season

I saw where two of USC’s top 2021 recruits are going to skip their senior seasons—both had been moved to the spring—to enroll at USC in January 2021. Expect more of this as more high schools move fall sports to the spring.

Two things on this topic.

First, I hope we don’t start seeing kids do this after the virus has passed. College players have been skipping bowl games to prep for the NFL for a few years now. Hopefully high school players play, and enjoy, their high school senior seasons.

Second, moving fall sports to the spring in high school sounds like a great idea. It will be very difficult, however, for small rural schools to do that and have all of their sports. At small schools the same kids who play football also play baseball. The football coach is also the track coach. People forget that life is different at small schools, and a move like this would be difficult to accomplish.

Baseball

PNC not for the birds

The Toronto Blue Jays were set to call PNC Park in Pittsburgh home after Canada told them they couldn’t use their own home stadium due to virus concerns coming from America. Nice job, America. But then PA Governor Tom Wolf stepped in and said, “No can do.” Same thing. Concern over a possible uptick in virus cases. This decision caused the biggest meltdown in Western Pennsylvania since Kennywood got rid of the Log Jammer.

Talk about much ado about nothing. It didn’t cost anybody jobs. It would have given a couple hotels some extra business for thirty days. With no fans attending games the impact is minimal at best, and the outrage was a bit over the top. With a virus as unpredictable as this one, it was probably a prudent decision.

True Fans

The next meltdown(from some) came when Pittsburgh Pirates Cole Tucker, an infielder by trade, made a tremendous catch playing centerfield in an exhibition game versus Cleveland. Some were ga-ga over the catch. Yes, it absolutely was a great catch. A couple media members took umbrage with other media and Pirates fans who were critical of Tucker even playing outfield. Why couldn’t they acknowledge it was a great catch? Why do they even call themselves Pirates fans? Why don’t they find a new team or a new hobby?

This gets me steamed so heads up.

I’ve been a Pirates fan my entire life. The Pirates haven’t made it to the World Series in 41 years. They haven’t won a division in 28 years. They have won three playoff games in those same 28 years. This year’s roster is embarrassing. The owner gets cheaper by the day, no doubt devastated by losing out on the deal with the Blue Jays.

So, I don’t need to find a new team. I don’t need to take up gardening. I should have the expectation that the owner of the team I’ve always cheered for puts forth some effort in creating a winning team. I can acknowledge the occasional great play, the occasional home run, the occasional wins. They certainly don’t overshadow the disgust Pirates fans should have for the disaster this franchise has become. But, hey, if a converted shortstop making a great catch in centerfield does it for you then have at it.

They’re playing baseball

On paper, the Pirates roster doesn’t have a lot of wins in it. Consequently, Pirates fans need to look for glimmers of hope, diamonds in the rough, and pleasant surprises. In that vein, I offer Nick Burdi. This kid hasn’t been able to stay healthy, but, boy, does he have closer stuff. Keep him healthy and you may just have your next closer.

Manager Derek Shelton got his first major league victory Sunday with the Pirates 5-1 win over St. Louis. He also had another first. The first masked up argument with an umpire. Home plate umpire Jordan Baker somehow heard Pirates pitcher Derek Holland complaining from the stands in left field, where he was seated for social distancing purposes. Even with no fans, those are some serious rabbit ears. For the record, Baker was terrible behind the plate. Shelton took exception with the ejection and wanted to be heard.

Ah, baseball in 2020.

On the other side of the state, this guy was on fire as he almost always is.

The team he cheers for was not. Losing two out of three to lowly Miami including a 11-5 Sunday loss to a coronavirus riddled Marlins team was not the way to start this shortened season. In all, the Phillies left 29 men on base and proved once again they don’t have many answers on the pitching staff.

What did you think of the Phillies performance, Ricky?

Watching games on TV was fine. I didn’t mind the fake crowd noise, and the rest of it was similar enough to regular games that I didn’t notice anything but the game. And, man, was this needed. It is hard to believe how much we rely on sports for normalcy. Though I still think an asterisk goes next to this season, it sure is nice to have baseball back.

A Penny For My Final Thought…

When I head to the beach with my son it means lots of mini golf. Two summers ago  during my first year here at PennSports.LIVE, I started a running gag about what qualifies as a sport. The gag was prompted by events like the hot dog eating competition and cornhole. I argued that if there is a ball(or puck) that it is a sport. Thus, mini golf is a sport.

This past week at the beach I decided to revive my plea with another—tongue firmly in cheek—video.

Want more proof? Check out the argument in this clip from the same course. I caught an older, married couple at odds over the results of a shot. This isn’t just a marital spat, but a sports brouhaha.

Aside from having some fun with the mini golf topic, being at the beach came with some trepidation. It would be my first look at how a large swath of people, from varied locations and backgrounds, would handle the virus regulations.

My hometown is a bad example of following the guidelines. You know, freedoms, rights, and such. So I was both a little nervous and also a little curious.

In stores, arcades, or any other indoor facility every person wore a mask. First, every place was requiring the mask or you weren’t getting in. But also, people genuinely seemed to realize it was the right thing to do. Plus, they wanted in the facility. I’m sure many hated wearing the mask. I have to admit that after a certain amount of time it became a bit uncomfortable. However, it wasn’t the end of the world.

Along the boardwalk it was far more hit or miss. That included when there were larger crowds. Overall, I was pretty pleased to see as many people following the guidelines as I did.

Most facilities made the proper accommodations, such as plexiglass shields at checkouts, between games, and at other places of necessity. Restaurants went out of their way to accommodate customers, certainly not wanting to lose any possible business. Hand sanitizer was everywhere. Equipment used, such as golf clubs, were all sanitized before being used again.

All in all, I felt pretty safe throughout the week thanks to a mostly mutual understanding that if you want things open, or you want sports back, that we all have to do our part. It was proven that, though a bit different, you can still do the things you normally do.

There were negatives, as expected. Many mini golf courses, in addition to sanitizing balls and clubs, had styrofoam “noodles” in the holes to prevent everyone reaching all the way into the hole to get the ball out. Many regular golf courses have gone to the same method.

The 60 something year old man in the #AreYouCrazy video above was removing them all because, “part of the fun is hearing the ball rattle into the cup.” It is this kind of idiotic attitude that creates problems. I need to hear the ball hit the cup, my rights are being violated, going to one party won’t be a problem, are all things you hear regularly from people that aren’t willing to make a small sacrifice for a relatively brief period. They will be the first people complaining if things shut down again.

The last negative I saw was with young people. There were plenty of kids following the rules. Good kids follow rules in school, and I think you find those same kids following these rules.

However, there were large groups of teenagers not adhering to the rules. Hanging out in groups of upwards of 20. Hugging and the occasional kiss came into play. You know, normal stuff for kids that age. Unfortunately we aren’t in normal times.

This made me think of college football. It is going to be extremely hard to make kids in this age group realize isolation, masks, and the rest is their best bet to avoid the virus, and thus keep hope alive that college football can occur.

It only takes one of those kids I saw on the boardwalk to have the virus, and the next thing 5, 10, or 15 mor have it. The same thing applies to a college player attending a frat party.

If we want sports to continue or come back, schools to open, businesses to stay open, restaurants to get back to normal, we need people to put aside their feelings and just follow the rules.

My first chance to see a large group of people interacting gave me hope. It was far from perfect, but I did come home hopeful.

Of course the beach always makes me hopeful. Sun, sand, and even the seagulls tend to make all seem right in the world. Let’s just not allow them to crap all over our hope.

Just my two cents…