Atlanta Braves Feel at Home in Miami

 For the Atlanta Braves, the first month of the 2017 season has been anything but pristine. While the organization relished in the opportunity to open their brand new ballpark, realists were not easily distracted by the opulence of SunTrust Park by focusing on the fact that the inexperienced roster would be fortunate to be .500 by the end of the year.

            The Braves did disappoint following early season success in a series against the San Diego Padres. Atlanta night after night seemingly vexed the public by presenting a team that did not differ too much from their minor league affiliate Gwinnett Braves. The only way fans knew that they were not duped with the names on the backs of the players’ jerseys.

            Despite their struggles, the Braves performed well with a win over the Miami Marlins on the road Friday. Atlanta was hopeful that momentum would continue on Saturday for consecutive victories. The Marlins had a picturesque evening for a game where the retractable roof was opened on consecutive contests, but the crowd was sparse during First Pitch and did not honor the proclaimed Cuban-American Night in proper fashion until the tardy began to arrive.

            In the Top of the 4th, Freddie Freeman hit what many considered a routine fly ball to mid-left field until the Marlins’ Marcell Ozuna could not track the baseball in the crepuscular sky that resulted in a double with no outs. RF Nick Markakis came to bat after Matt Kemp’s grounder for the first out; he managed to hit a line drive RBI double to center field that brought Freeman home for the game’s first run.

            This was the point in the contest when Miami’s Pitcher Edinson Volquez lost some composure. Following the Freeman run, Volquez threw a wild pitch that seemed to be headed towards Key West instead of home plate, which allowed Markakis to advance to third base. The scene was set for the struggling SS Dansby Swanson to hit a single into shallow left center to bring Markakis home for a 2-0 Braves’ advantage.

            Atlanta Braves Pitcher Julio Teheran maintained effective control of the ballgame through the fourth inning using a series of fastballs and changeups. Miami was able to make contact with the ball a few times but was thwarted by sensational fielding by Markakis and teammates.  

            In the 7th Inning, Eric O’Flaherty took the mound for Atlanta and faced an inauspicious beginning as his first pitch was hit for an upper deck homerun to right field by the Miami’s Justin Bour tightening the score 2-1. Nevertheless, O’Flaherty was able to regain control after the initial setback.

            When the Braves retired the side, Freeman hit another double to center field. Matt Kemp secured a hit along the third base line that forced a throwing error by 3B Derek Dietrich to drive in the crucial insurance run as Freeman crossed home. Atlanta played well enough to win another game for some much-needed momentum for the young club.

My Mixed Emotions About Tony Romo

   When most touted athletes approach the completion of a lengthy career in professional sports, people (fans, media, et cetera) tend to skew their reflection of that player in a eulogistic fashion. The series of articles purported to have announced the retirement of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in favor of CBS have resulted in some dementia or amnesia, to say the least.

    To reflect accurately on the eximious career of Romo (according to some pundits), one must first examine the state of the Dallas Cowboys by the time he took the reins. “America’s Team” (a titular term I believe they lost since Seinfeld went off the air) suffered a series of 5-11 seasons when and following Troy Aikman’s retirement, Emmitt Smith was about to play his final season as an Arizona Cardinal, Michael Irvin was already retired, and Bill Parcells took over for Dave Campo as head coach. Also, Dallas had an endless list of quarterbacks before Romo being anointed as follows: Randall Cunningham, Clint Stoerner, Anthony Wright, Quincy Carter, Ryan Leaf, Chad Hutchinson, Vinny Testaverde, and Drew Bledsoe.

    By 2006, Romo finally won the starting job by apparently default because he was the only quarterback on the Cowboys’ roster who could successfully pass a drug test, walk and chew bubble gum simultaneously, or was not too close to an AARP membership. He must be credited for exhibiting leadership while being such an inexperienced player who had to make the squad as an undrafted free agent three years prior.

    Romo and the Dallas Cowboys were finally beginning to compile victories during the regular season. He ascended to new heights after each win and John Madden’s comparisons of him having the grit of Brett Favre and others. The stage was set for Romo to take his place alongside Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman for the hearts and minds of those residing in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and beyond, but these regular season exploits never resulted in significant playoff victories.

    In truth, Romo was caught into the imponderable vice grip of roster deficiencies and solipsism. In other words, Tony Romo became a starter when his team’s offensive line was the most maladroit, even though he received kudos for his improvisational abilities despite the lack of talent along the line of scrimmage. By the time Owner/General Manager Jerry Jones managed to accumulate sufficient talent on the offensive line and beyond, Romo had suffered too many lacings for his body withstand.

    In conclusion, Romo did not always possess the complementary materiel needed for him to lead the Cowboys to the so-called National Football League’s Promised Land, but that does not excuse him from some of his most memorable foibles (interceptions and the like) throughout his career. While it is always impressive to see a quarterback be able to adroitly throw a football a myriad of ways down the field like a poniard, the greatest quarterbacks are those who can lead their teams to victories with the least amount of mistakes in order achieve the highest goal despite the odds against them.

    Can we say that about Romo? That is for you to decide as a fan on a personal level. For me, Romo’s career is one that is nondescript; he is worthy of a modicum of foofaraw and objective critiques without the crassitude exhibited by jeers.

The Raiders: A Personal Perspective

  Since the late 1970s, the only team in the American Football Conference that I had any rooting interest in was the Oakland Raiders. They personified my alter ego; the kind of personality that I often wished I could have exhibited without fear of being castigated by family, friends, and associates.

During that era, the late Al Davis strategically engineered a go for broke persona that seemed willing to do nearly anything to achieve his ultimate goal of winning. It did not appear to matter whether John Madden or Tom Flores coached or Ken Stabler or Jim Plunkett were the quarterbacks as long as the football was airborne instead handed off the majority of the time. It was beneficial to have offensive linemen such as Gene Upshaw and Art Shell as protectors.

Defensively, the hard-hitting traditions of the franchise are provided by the names as follows: Jack Tatum, George Atkinson, Ted Hendricks, Matt Millen, and Otis Sistrunk. Davis had a penchant for assembling cogs into his machinery by signing castoffs from other teams or ones who were considered dregs of the National Football League in general.

In fairness, these piecemeal efforts worked for Davis’ Raiders as they won three world championships in Oakland/Los Angeles from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties. As the old millennium succumbed to the new, it appeared that the unreconstructed regime of the Raiders was mired in a series of misfires that resulted in mediocrity until 2016.

Some historians argue that Davis’ battles with the league and municipalities regarding stadium issues may have distracted him in his judgment of personnel moves such as general managers and player selections before his death. While this premise has yet to be corroborated, it is certainly plausible that he could have been dismayed by the fact that his Raiders’ accommodations (in terms of stadiums) were meager with the infield for the Oakland Athletics running near the center of the field for almost a half a season and other amenities that were pale in comparison to the modern pharaonic majesty of newer stadiums.

Regardless, Davis’ mismanagement of Marcus Allen, unforeseen injury of Bo Jackson, the debacle in Foxboro, and QB selections of Todd Marinovich and JaMarcus Russell did not set the franchise in good stead either. In addition, the Raiders were constantly league leaders (or close to it) in infractions and disposed of head coaches like paper towels.

On the other hand, times change, and the City of Oakland knew they were headed for an impasse when a triumvirate of teams attempted to vie for two possible openings in the Los Angeles market. The Raiders were unwilling to be left at the alter without any potential suitors as a replacement. Thus, the franchise was open to listening to overtures from Las Vegas and San Antonio.

Of course, San Antonio was just a feint because the business savvy Jerry Jones was unwilling to cede anymore “assumed” Texas territory from his Dallas Cowboys. Since Las Vegas already scored with the Vegas Golden Knights of the NHL (founded a few months ago), the NFL apparently wanted to make this gambit for a potential jackpot. Well, the owners have already cashed in their chips with each franchise purported to receive approximately $50 million each.

In Search of Significance in Collegiate Athletics

  On Wednesday, March 16, 2017, 5:30 p.m. ET, Charles Barkley was beginning to communicate to his fellow esteemed panelists on the NCAA Basketball Tournament broadcast about the unique aspects of rooting for one’s alma mater in moments like this. Perhaps, this was in reference to the number of professionals who have been associated with Northwestern among other institutions represented in the tournament.

 I thought the tenor of the conversation was fascinating as I began to contemplate this fact in my own life, but I could not draw any comparisons. For instance, all of the universities that I have been enrolled for at least 15 minutes such as Oral Roberts University, Bowling Green State University, and the University of Toledo have not necessarily experienced tremendous success in both basketball and/or football for quite some time.

 Moreover, you could even argue that none of these institutions (chiefly in basketball) had experienced tournament success since the Commodores released Brick House from their eponymous album either before or shortly after the iconic song of the seventies was made public. Many events have transpired since this bygone era.

            The mere thought of many alumni who can roister with their alma maters of higher profile programs or HBCUs in significant sporting events made me feel a bit envious, even though I realized that there was a higher purpose (or call) for me in my educational journey.

Unfortunately, being devoid of collegiate pride makes me feel as if I am on a rudderless vessel surrounded close in proximity by an armada of corsairs (Big Time Schools) poised for an attack by a multitude of basketball fans who do have a dog in the fight so to speak.

 It is often humorous attempting to explain my background to individuals I meet for the first time. Often, their inquiries usually devolve into four distinct categories as follows: do I plan on founding a church, is Bowling Green in Kentucky, have I met Jamie Farr, and proving proof of the existence of the Toledo Mud Hens like they were Big Foot. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with these lines of questions, but I do feel as if I am confined to a proverbial box. Besides, I do not anticipate asking people for donations any time soon.

Many of my peers have taken this opportunity to become, in essence, mercenaries of college sports programs. These are individuals who usually align themselves with schools in their area or had a legacy of success.

 I have done this myself since my youth. I had communicated ad nauseam about my early interest in Michigan State University since my father informed me of Magic Johnson when I was approximately eight-years-old. This remained the case until my parents relocated to Columbus, Ohio following my collegiate experience and had some relatives enrolling at Ohio State as well, which piqued my curiosity in following the Buckeyes henceforth.

 Nonetheless, I have charted my course. Through the direction of my late pastor (Bishop William James), family, and friends, I have met a fantastic group of individuals including my wife during this process. So, my not an alma mater being a household name during major sporting events is not so detrimental after all; the totality of my other experiences has more weight than the propaganda arm of the NCAA. I can still dream, though!

Hoss Martin’s Autobiography

 

My parents discovered my obsession with sports and broadcasting when I “borrowed” their cassette tape recorder in a feeble endeavor to imitate Detroit Pistons’ venerated sports commentator George Blaha back in the late seventies. Of course, they opted to keep that amateur “podcast” for years instead of erasing it in a bribery attempt to be used against me when I got out-of-line. Henceforth, I spent most of my time in barber shops promulgating the merits of why my favorite teams should perform better, but I usually attempted to take notes of signature moments in sports for later usage consequently. Although I attended and received my Bachelor of Science in Mass Media Communications from Oral Roberts University in 1996, I never really had an appropriate outlet for these reflections of previous and current sporting events. I was finally able to unleash over 35 years of hidden frustration when I met DJ Mike (http://djmikeshow.com/), who was the impetus behind the establishment of Sports Round-Up With Hoss Martin on November 23, 2010, under the aegis of Chris Mar Studios. So, please enjoy these postings of blog entries, statistics, and links contained on the website; just do not inquire my parents about that tape mentioned above. Contact: hossmartin@hossmartin.com

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