Following Passion

I didn’t get a chance to fulfill my weekly blog commitment by Thursday, this week, but here’s why:

I’m officially a collaborator with Cali Sports News. 🙂

My first article, Rams Seek Answers Around Goff, has been well-received by readers, is the top trending article on the site at the moment, and has received glowing praise from the EIC Mario Hicks and my fellow football collaborator LaVoy Briscoe. I have been welcomed with open arms to the team – to the “family” – as Mr Briscoe calls us, and I’m excited to get to work. If you haven’t read the article, please click and give it a read. Your feedback is direly important to me. I’ve already outlined my 2nd article and am working on the text of it now.

I don’t know if you can tell yet; I’m pretty excited. 😉

I don’t expect this to hinder my operations here, at all. I’ve been wanting to write more. As I’ve explained in past blogs, I usually want to get started on my next piece the moment I finish my current one. I haven’t done that. I didn’t want to overload my readers with Tom Being Tom; at least not all at once. I have a half-dozen completed articles I’ve never published, to be frank. Now I get to write all the sports stuff I want over there and continue Being Tom over here. Life is amazing.

Life is amazing despite the weird week in politics with you-know-who doing you-know-what exactly the way I warned you he would. Fight tyranny, America. We don’t need a king.

That last paragraph is probably indicative of what I’ll be doing my serious writing about when I do serious writing here. Tom Being Tom will continue to be about my life, but also about my thoughts. Major articles about sports will go there, but opinions about everything will go here. Like so:

The New England Patriots will beat the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl, further cementing the legend of Tom Brady as the #GoaT he has proven to be.

People ask me all the time how I can say that about a guy on a team I don’t normally favor (the Pats), and about a team that actually BEAT my team in the 2001 Super Bowl. Well, I can say that because I keep my bias in check. It’s the same reason I can dislike Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. When they both suck, they just do. And when someone is great, he just is.

If you disagree, let’s fight.

Figuratively.

With words.

Pleasant ones, please.

I’m a civil guy. 😉

Once again I want to thank you for joining me over the last year, and for reading my ramblings. I started this path a year ago, almost to the day, and you have made the entire journey something really special. I’m not done. I won’t be happy until my waking hours are filled with too much to write. It really is the best thing I do all week. Now I get to do it more, and I get to do it about something I really have a passion about.

Why didn’t I do it this much before?

Who cares. Life is never made to live backwards. Today is the most important day of our lives, until tomorrow comes. And it will come quick, much quicker than we expect. I know. I have deadlines.

Have a wonderful week, my friends. Join me here next time for short rants and join me over there for sports talk. Most of all, join me in living for our passions.

They are the reason we’re alive.

LA Story

I have a theory.

Bear with me, this one gets kind of wacky and involves a brief history lesson.

The history lesson starts in 1946. In 1946, Daniel Farrell Reeves, the owner of the Cleveland Rams, struck a deal with the National Football League and became the first person to own a professional sports team in the city of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Rams, with their iconic golden horns, stayed in the city of Los Angeles for 49 years.

In 1960, the Los Angeles Rams were joined by another football franchise, the Los Angeles Chargers of the American Football League. The competition with the Chargers lasted only one year, however. In 1961, Chargers owner and hotel magnate Barron Hilton moved the team to San Diego. The Chargers would stay in San Diego for 56 years.

In 1982, another charter member of the American Football League, who had merged with the National Football League in 1970, moved to Los Angeles from Oakland. The Los Angeles Raiders stayed in Southern California until 1995. When they left they had the distinction of being the only professional football team to bring a championship to Los Angeles, having won the Super Bowl after the 1983 season.

Still with me?

The same year that the Raiders returned to their birth city of Oakland, in 1995, the struggling Rams moved to St Louis. With the Raiders in Oakland and the Rams in Missouri, the city of Los Angeles was without a NFL team entirely, for the first time in almost 50 years. It would be another 21 years before any team in the NFL would call Los Angeles their home again.

If you’ll pardon the repeated use of a colloquialism for a minute, this sucked for the city of Los Angeles, sucked for fans of the LA market, and sucked for the NFL, who had lost out on the 2nd biggest media market in the United States. The loss of revenue was astounding.

Enter 2016. The St Louis Rams, who had fallen into decline as a franchise after bringing a championship to the city of St Louis in 2000, finagled their way back to Los Angeles under the wily machinations of Enos Stanley Kroenke. Kroenke is a real estate tycoon turned sports mogul and current owner of the Rams. With big money behind him, and big support from the powers-that-be, Stan Kroenke proposed to build an entertainment venue in Los Angeles like no other. As a token of goodwill, he also welcomed a co-sponsor or tenant to join him in the glitzy LA market.

At the same time, in 2016, the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders were putting in bids to be “the team” to finally take over the Los Angeles market after more than two decades of football vacuity.

I’ve been waiting nearly a year now to use the word “vacuity” in my blog.

The Chargers and Raiders lost out in their bids in 2016, and returned home to negotiate new stadiums in San Diego and Oakland, respectively. The following year, however – to the day – the San Diego Chargers owner Alexander Spanos announced that his team would be joining the Los Angeles market as the eventual tenants of Stanley Kroenke and his $3 billion stadium. Bereft of an NFL presence for two decades, the Los Angeles fans now had two teams to call their own.

Here’s my crazy theory:

The Los Angeles Rams will meet the Los Angeles Chargers in the Super Bowl in 2021, which will be held in Stan Kroenke’s brand spanking new multibillion-dollar venue.

Think about it. These crafty NFL tycoons lost out on billions of dollars when the LA market was vacant for 21 years, and they aim to get it back. In one night.

You might think me mad now, with visions of hippodroming* at the highest levels of our sport but mark my words. LA vs LA in LA for the biggest prize of all: money.

The following year for the Super Bowl has yet to be determined, as of this writing, but I have a theory about that as well. The Oakland Raiders, the big losers in the quest for LA, are now bound for Las Vegas, by all accounts. They’ll get their own home game in a Super Bowl the following year, against somebody from the NFC that doesn’t matter. Probably the Eagles. See, the Raiders had to be paid compensation for losing out on the nation’s second biggest market, a market where – by all accounts – they have the most fans of any of the suitors. So they were given Super Bowl LVI. The game is fixed in their favor. In Las Vegas. Go figure.

Thank you for taking the time to hear my tale. Now go about your day. Let this sink in.

You heard it here first. 😉

*Hippodroming is a word I just discovered, unlike vacuity, and it means, essentially, “to fix a sports contest with a predetermined winner.” Once I saw the word I had to use it in a sentence. Immediately. Good day!

On Giving the Man a Chance

“Give the man a chance.”

Politics are an amazing, blinding thing. A couple of months ago, the US  elected to president an egomaniacal, authoritarian demagogue. Followers of history might compare this man to Joe McCarthy, a similarly divisive and pompous politician. McCarthy, like Donald Trump, had a run of public success deriding his enemies in the public forum. In the end, however, McCarthy was condemned by his peers for conduct unbecoming. The man had no sense of decency, was exposed as a charlatan and a fraud, and was run out of office.

In other words, he was a putz.

“Give the man a chance.”

Barack Obama was elected president of the United States in November of 2007, and took office during one of the worst recessions we had ever seen. By no means a perfect leader, he nevertheless guided America from that purgatory into better days with a stable and reassuring hand. He has many documented successes. But throughout his scandal-free administration as the leader of the free world he was besieged with animosity by those who identify with the opposition party. They never gave him a chance.

“Give the man a chance.”

Eight years later, America is in a better place in almost every statistical category. And although there is much to chagrin about in the course of history there is a likelihood that the centuries will be much kinder to Barack Obama than to his predecessor or successor. Whatever the causes of success as a country, the leader during a recovery gets the credit while the president during a collapse – this time George Bush – gets the blame. As for Donald Trump, demagogic con-men are rarely remembered kind.

“Give the man a chance.”

Lest you decide, dear reader, to decipher the data above in an unkindly light, remember this: you will be measuring the successes of Donald Trump by the same values. Already the followers of the great charlatan of our time are touting his successes. “He has saved a 1000 jobs.” “The stock market has hit new records since the election.” Never mind that Barack Obama is credited with saving 1.2 million jobs in the auto industry in his early days and never mind that the stock market rebounded during his presidency from a historical fall to record heights. He deserves no credit whatsoever for such things. Barack Obama happened to be there when it happened; Donald Trump has (somehow) ensured that it has, by rhetoric alone.

“Give the man a chance.”

But almost nothing is true the way we see it in politics. Barack Obama deserves more credit than he is given by the opposition and Donald Trump less, already, than his partisans would like. And in the years that come it will undoubtedly ring true the other way. The biggest difference to my nonpartisan eyes is that Barack Obama, by all appearances, is a decent man and Donald Trump, by all evidence, is not. It matters very little to me what each espouse politically – politics is a game of lies, and the players of the game serve anything but the people. It only matters to me whether they are worthy human beings.

“Give the man a chance.”

Quit saying that now. The answer is no. The answer, in your heart, was no eight years ago when Barack Obama, the leader of the opposition party, took the oath of office. You never gave the man a chance. Instead of asking Donald Trump’s detractors to give the man a chance ask yourself why you have to ask that, and ask yourself with all honesty why you could not give that same graciousness before, in return. Politics is a fool’s game. You are being dragged about by your elephant trunks and donkey tails. In the world of politics, truth means nothing compared to zealotry. In your fervency to be the winner now you want to rewrite the rules of partisanship. The answer is no. Democrats will not give Donald Trump a chance any more than Republicans gave a chance to Barack Obama. We all root for leaders to fail when we disagree with their rhetoric.

I am neither Republican nor Democrat, though I tend to favor the platform of the left over the right. I wish that Democrats did, too, because then things would be easy. They do not. Politics, as I said, is a fool’s game. But although I am an affiliate of neither American institution I root for Donald Trump to fail. His blathering is the rantings of a buffoon. His policies are decadent at best and dangerous in all likelihood. He will set the cause of economic and human equality back half a century if he has his way. As a general rule I tend to root against anybody who reigns against the greater bulk of humanity.

Plus, he’s a putz.

So I won’t be “giving the man a chance” so much as combating his public stupidity with the marshaled forces of truth, accuracy, decency, and fact. The entire campaign was short on those four elements and, to me, they are more important than politics. If Donald Trump is the same president that he was a campaigner – that he has been a businessman or even a human being – he deserves no chances from me. He deserves none from you, either.

My eyes will remain opened for as long as this administration holds power. I only ask that you open yours as well, and keep them open the whole time. All presidents do great and terrible things, but let us not judge them any longer on what they do for your particular party, but instead judge them for what they do, or do not do, for the bulk of humanity.

All I ask is that you give that idea … a chance.

Forever and A Day

I’m getting married this summer.

Again.

Not like, “again,” like the first one didn’t work out so I’m trying another one. Not like “again” like I’ve done it a hundred times before, like “again” like I’m marrying the best person I’ve ever known all over again.

The good kind of again.

On July 19th, 1997, the lady and I stole away to Vegas with a few close friends and family members and swore in front of an officiant that we would love each other forever. We exchanged rings, exchanged kisses, took pictures and saved the video. I think we still have the video, somewhere. We just don’t have a VCR.

That’s for the best, I looked hideously nervous in the video and it embarrasses me to watch.

But the missus – though she wasn’t quite that yet – looked amazing. If you ever get a chance to watch it, you should, to see her and to hear her mom babbling off camera through the whole thing. That part is funny. Just remember what I said about me; you’ve never seen me quite like that.

I was so nervous in the hours before the ceremony that my soon-to-be betrothed demanded that I head downstairs, play blackjack, and drink some beer before we go on stage. She knew me that well. Told ya she was the best person I’ve ever known.

I got lucky. I found my soul one early. It was her. I got lucky because she feels she’s lucky, too. When you get it right the first time, and when you hang in there with each other through all of life’s changes, it’s really something special. She’s really something special.

That was 20 years ago this year. We had meant to renew our vows on our 10th anniversary, and even toyed with the idea around 15, but things just never came together. Whether it was money, new work schedules, or me being an occasional ass I don’t recall, but it didn’t happen then.

It’s happening now.

On July 22nd, 2017, Mr and Mrs C will reaffirm their bond in the city where it all began, near the chapel where it all began, with the promise to begin again. I can’t wait. She’s worth it.

Everyone is welcome.

Please be aware that if you are there I might not even notice. My eyes will be on her. My soul one.

There are more than a thousand Mondays in twenty years. More than a thousand. I say that because early on in our courtship we used to say we made it (through the wild weekend) to another Monday. It seemed when we were young that the people we knew were always breaking up on the weekends, but we would always marvel that we made it to another Monday. Now we say that we love each other times infinity, plus a Monday.

Forever and a day. A specific day, at that.

I hope you’ll join us in Vegas. I hope you’ll join us all year, at least, in celebrating our first two decades in matrimony. This summer we will vow for decades more. A lot of things can go wrong in this crazy journey of life, so it’s nice to pay heed to the things that went right. Just right.

I got it right, the first time. I’m a lucky guy.

So I’m getting married.

Again.

Jeff Fisher

I never really had a problem with the hiring of Jeff Fisher. If I could go back in time I would have made the same decision five years ago that the Rams did: hire the best man for the job. At the time, Jeff Fisher was the best man for the job.

We were hideous before Jeff Fisher. The worst team in the NFL. That’s documented. The year that Jeff Fisher joined us we were coming off the worst 5-year record in NFL history. That’s bad. That’s historically bad. We had no talent, no drive, no direction, and no business playing in the NFL.

Then, Jeff Fisher became available to us.

I said at the time, though no one really listened to me back then, that Jeff Fisher was the perfect 5-year hire. Fisher had a history of putting competitive ball clubs on the field that played hard, stayed in virtually every game, and eked out 8-8 records most years. Occasionally, his teams won a few more games than 8; occasionally a few less. But, mostly, they competed and hung around the .500 mark.

That’s what I wanted. A new culture of competitiveness. I wasn’t asking to go from 3-13 to 13-3 because, frankly, I didn’t see that kind of coach out there at the time. Jeff, I said, get us back to respectability. Get us back to the middle of the pack. If, in 5 years, we make the playoffs a couple times, great. If not, get us a chance in a few Decembers so that Rams football is fun again. Okay, Jeff said, I’ll do it.

Thanks.

That first year, he got us to 7-8-1, just as he promised. Well, he didn’t promise the tie but nonetheless, it was right there. We were an improved ball club. We were on the rise. The next year, about the same. The next year, a little dip.

That was enough for me.

At that point in time, after his third season, I figured we’d seen about all we were going to see from a Jeff Fisher team and it was time to move on. I fired him. Thanks, Jeff, for getting us back to mediocrity, now I need someone in there to take us to the next level. Okay, he said, thanks for the opportunity. I began looking for a new coach.

But the Rams didn’t.

The Rams kept him; they kept Jeff Fisher employed. Because of that, Jeff Fisher nabbed a running back #10 overall in the next draft, much to my chagrin. We had been running the ball just fine with a committee and we had bigger needs. Much bigger needs. Needs on the offensive line. My hashtag, #FireJeffFisher, started back then.

Todd Gurley, the running back we nabbed as a luxury we did not need, ran fine. We finished another mediocre 7-9 and Jeff Fisher headed into his 4th offseason. It was a good one, that offseason, because it was the offseason that took the Rams from their 30-year vacation to St Louis back to their home in LA. That’s really all I expected in that offseason, the move. But Jeff Fisher made another cockamamie move, his last one. He traded up to the 1st pick in the draft to grab the 2nd best QB available. Now we had a new home, a new QB, a semi-new RB, no offensive line and the same old mediocre coach. We were screwed. I said it. I said Jeff Fisher just drafted the nail in his coffin. I said that someone else will be developing Jared Goff because the best we can hope for from a rookie QB on this roster was a 6-10 record, and a 6-10 record would get Jeff fired.

The Rams went 4-12 and Jeff Fisher got fired. He was finally gone, two years too late. Now he hands the program over to somebody else, with as many question marks as the team had five years ago. Get us back to mediocrity, I said, then go away. He said okay. He lied. He lingered just long enough to get us back to historically bad.

Thank you, Jeff Fisher, for your time with the organization. Thank you for three or four years of almost getting back to .500 football. Thank you for making us tougher, sticking around too long, and making us weak again. Here’s your $35 million dollars, now go away.

The next person to step in has their work cut out for them. They have to rebuild the worst offensive line in football. They have to develop an offense without a wide receiver, with a struggling running back, and without a proven quarterback. They have to modernize the team that Jeff Fisher stuck in the 80’s.

Thank you again, Jeff Fisher.

The good news is that this is a year it can be done. There are some really good, young coaches out there with innovative ideas, coaches who have grown up in the modern era of the pass-first, run-next, score-points NFL. Offense brings fans. Offense wins games. Defense wins championships but offense wins games and there still isn’t a team in the NFL that can get to a championship without winning games. Start there, Coach Next-Guy, start there.

I’ll tell you who I want and I’ll tell you what I want from him and I’ll tell you how long I want him to stick around next time we talk. I’ll tell you, but you won’t listen. Jeff Fisher didn’t listen last time. The Rams didn’t listen last time. That’s the plight of the die-hard fan: we always know what’s best for the team, but the team never listens.

No matter how hard I yell.

So long, Jeff Fisher. You did your best and that was exactly what I expected you’d do. You weren’t cut out to be a winner, just a guy who could get a team to try for a couple of years. You did. We tried. Now we need to excel, and that’s a job for another guy.

I only wish you’d known that sooner.