Let’s talk about sports

Let’s talk about sports, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let’s talk about sports
Let’s talk about sports

OK, so that’s the PG-13/Jock Jams version of the classic Salt-N-Pepa song.

But the excitement that the female hip-hop trio had for fornication in their early ’90s hit is the same excitement I feel right now for sports.

This is one of my favorite times of the year. March Madness is reaching its climactic end. The NBA and NHL are gearing up for the playoff season. And most importantly, baseball season is just days away.

There’s something about the great American pastime that invigorates me. The fresh-cut grass, the dirt spraying into the air when a batter slides feet-first into second base for a double, the mental chess match between a pitcher and hitter before a 3-2 pitch, and the arduous grind of a six-month, 162-game season where your team hopefully ends up on top.

When baseball is happening, it feels like natural order is being restored. It’s the only major American sport without a clock, which, in turn, has been a source of controversy as of late due to the increasing length of game times (an issue Major League Baseball targeted this year when they eliminated the need for pitchers to actually throw the baseball during an intentional walk).


I can’t help but think of the quote uttered by James Earl Jones in the movie Field of Dreams, as the character Terence Mann, whenever I want to describe what it is that makes me love baseball so much:

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.

When James Earl Jones talks about baseball, you listen.

Last year, I predicted my beloved New York Mets to win the World Series. Unfortunately, injuries derailed their season and they fell short, despite their best effort.

This year, they have nearly their full complement of young pitchers ready to go, and things look much more promising.

And even if things didn’t look bright, I’d pick them to win the World Series anyway. I will do it every year until they do. Hopefully, one year I will be right.

Baseball starts on Sunday. For many, Sunday is already a day of worship and reflection. For sports fans, it takes on extra meaning.

In other semi-sports related news, the North Carolina Legislature voted to repeal the controversial House Bill 2 today, also known as the “Bathroom Bill,” which required men and women to use public bathrooms that align with their gender at birth. Human rights advocates (and any one with any human decency) considered it egregiously discriminatory towards transgenders, which number more than 37,000 in North Carolina.

Tar Heels

The bill basically cost Republican Governor Pat McCrory his job, and cost the state from hosting the 2016-2017 NBA All-Star game, several NCAA March Madness games, and many other high-profile events.

The newly passed bill is not a straight-forward repeal, however, and as a compromise to right-wing hawks in the Legislature, it maintains a stipulation from the original bill that places a moratorium on local nondiscrimination ordinances through 2020, and thus leaves the regulation of bathrooms to state lawmakers.

LGBT activists say it still does not provide the protection needed to safeguard an already vulnerable population of people.

They’re probably right, but with Republican and Democrat ideologies being as divergent as they’ve ever been in the modern political era, sometimes a compromise is a victory. Even if it’s just in the short term.

The timing of the repeal is even more significant given that the North Carolina Tar Heels are one of four teams left in the NCAA Tournament, where they will face the Oregon Ducks on Saturday. The other game is between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the South Carolina Gamecocks.

They promise to be some pretty damn good games, and as an added bonus, if South Carolina beats North Carolina in the finals, I win $650.

Go Cocks!

…I stand by it.

Go home, North Carolina, you’re drunk

Up until about two months ago, whenever the state of North Carolina was mentioned, the first thought that popped into people’s heads was, well … nothing.

Absolutely nothing. There’s really not many more unmemorable states than North Carolina. Sure, you’ve got a couple good college basketball teams there, and it’s along the route when people want to travel southward to Myrtle Beach or Florida.

And that’s fine! There’s nothing wrong with being under the radar. It means you’re doing you’re own thing, and more importantly, you haven’t done anything stupid to bring negative attention to yourself.

Well that all changed in late March, when the state’s legislature and governor passed the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, which has been described as the most anti-LGBT legislation in the United States.

Since then, the backlash against North Carolina has been well documented.

Loretta Lynch.jpg

But it looked like this whole situation would finally come to a head when the U.S. Justice Department gave North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory a deadline to assure them that he will not enforce this law, stating that it is in direct violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

So that ended it, right? When the DOJ comes down hard on you, there’s really not much else you can do. North Carolina tried to pass a law, failed, and we move on to the next story. What else is happening in the news?

Wait, hold on a second. North Carolina did what?

Seriously? Ugh. Alright, let’s keep going.

On Monday, McCrory responded to that deadline by filing a lawsuit against the United States government, calling the Justice Department’s position a “radical interpretation” of the Voting Rights Act.

This prompted a counter suit by the DOJ, coupled with a dramatic press conference by newly appointed Attorney General Loretta Lynch — a North Carolina native — as she voiced her assurance that the Obama administration will do everything in its power to protect transgender rights.

At this point, it’s shocking how invested North Carolina is to go out of their way to inconvenience the lives of transgenders.

So what can us common folk do to stick it to North Carolina? (Other than blog about it). Well, we can go to their college basketball games and heckle their teams … when the college basketball season begins in November. Or we can drive around the state when traveling along the eastern coast, adding several hours to our commute.

Yeah, there’s not really much we can do. Boaty McBoatface2.jpg

Unless …. maybe I do have an idea.

Remember when I told you about the social media campaign to name a polar research vessel Boaty McBoatface?

Well, unfortunately it failed. Popular consensus did not prevail, and the environmental group that organized the contest will instead name the boat RRS Sir David Attenborough, all but guaranteeing that no one will ever care about this boat ever again.

How about we kill two birds with one stone?

Somebody design a massive boat (I’m talking Titanic 2.0 here), and let’s turn it into not a gay cruise ship, but a transgender cruise ship, and call it Boaty McBoatface. And where will it traverse?

The entire coast of North Carolina.

If that’s not the ultimate way to grandstand against discrimination, then I don’t know what is.

North Carolina was just dealt the worst form of punishment

With “religious liberty” bills popping up in states throughout the South, people are starting to get angry.

In today’s digital age, it’s become easier to put forth a uniformed approach to voice your disapproval of practically anything. In the past, protests really only made national waves if they were extremely massive. But now, when even one person, or one company, speaks out against something — it’s instant news.

Canadian Rock singer Bryan Adams, who most people know for his nostalgia of the summer of 1969, announced on Monday that he’s canceling his Mississippi tour date after the state passed a law that allows religious groups and private businesses to refuse service to gay couples.

OK, that’s fairly significant. He’s a noteworthy musician who was set to play before a 11,500-capacity crowd at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum. And if you were going to see Bryan Adams, still, 25 years after he’s really been relevant, then you are a true fan.

Bruce Springsteen USA.jpgAnd if you’re a true Bryan Adams fan, then you’re pissed at whatever it was that prevented you from seeing him. That’s 11,500 people that now hate their local government.

But that’s still doesn’t even compare to what happened two days earlier, when “The Boss” himself, Bruce Springsteen, canceled a North Carolina show in response to that state’s discriminatory law towards the LGBT community.

Now that’s making a statement. That is “The Boss” acting like a … well, a boss.

And this is someone whose proud of his country. “Born in the U.S.A.,” anybody? This guy wears American flag bandannas on stage when he performs. So what better person to speak out against a law that is so inherently un-American?

Still, though, not everyone is crazy about him. Most people like his music, but not everyone has the urge to see him live. So again, it’s just a small population of people that are truly being affected by this.

So how do you really offer a punishment that stings? That hits people where it hurts? What does everyone in North Carolina do?

Well, one website figured it out.

Xhamster, a popular porn site (… so I hear), banned North Carolina users from accessing its website as of 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday.

This is hilarious. And I strongly encourage all other pornographic websites to follow suit.North Carolina xhamster.png

All you have to do is take away their alcohol next and you’re going to have a lot of frustrated North Carolinians at about 6:30 p.m. every day, right after they come home from work. Also at right about midnight before they go to sleep.

And first thing in the morning. OK, you get the point.

The entertaining part of this will be seeing how North Carolinians actually discuss their unhappiness with this. This will piss a lot of people off, and yet, I imagine they won’t exactly be going into their office tomorrow and complain to their coworkers and boss about the porn site they’re restricted from.

It’s going to be a long, unstimulating road ahead for North Carolina residents.

That is, until their elected representatives get the memo and overturn their idiotic decision.

Until then, residents in the 49 other states can enjoy better bandwidth on Xhamster!

Hell yeah! Take that, North Carolina!

Villanova, North Carolina and Panama. Wait, what?

Well now that I’ve finished screaming at the wind like a senile old man, it’s time to move on to some more important topics.

Water cooler talk across the country this morning was dominated by the insane finish in Monday night’s NCAA championship game between North Carolina and Villanova.

After a gravity-defying, double-clutch three-pointer by North Carolina’s Marcus Paige, Villanova flawlessly pulled off a set play with under five seconds remaining to win the game, courtesy of a buzzer-beating three-point shot by junior Kris Jenkins.

It was the first buzzer-beating shot to end the NCAA’s biggest game in 33 years, and the first on a three-pointer.

And that’s just crazy. Every single boy in America has shot on the basketball hoop in the driveway of their childhood home, counting down in their head and imagining they’re taking the last-second shot in the country’s biggest game.


To actually be able to sink it must be a surreal, dreamlike feeling. For one moment, the little boy in all of us lived vicariously through that final shot in Monday night’s game.

You know what else every little boy dreams of? Opening their own offshore bank account because they’re so filthy rich and powerful that they don’t even feel the need to pay taxes.

Well, plenty of those people are coming out off the woodwork too, thanks to what is being described as the biggest data leak in world history.

By now you’ve probably all heard of the Panama Papers, and either were interested enough to do a light Google search, or just don’t care at all.

Basically, they are 11.5 million documens of offshore banking activity conducted by famous celebrities, athletes, politicians — implicating the likes of Vladimir Putin and the U.K.’s David Cameron — and other important figures through a Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca.

The papers were leaked by an unnamed whistleblower to a German newspaper, who then shared them with hundreds of journalists.

Now, having an offshore bank account is not illegal in of itself, but it’s commonly done forIceland protests.jpg the purposes of facilitating tax evasion or money laundering.

So if you’re just a rich person whose doing this, then god bless you. You figured out a way to sidestep laws and maximize your wealth, even if it’s at the expense of the middle class, who are legitimately paying their taxes.

But if you’re an elected official of a nation, and you’re involved in shady offshore dealings — that’s not good. Secret bank accounts are not the telltale sign of an honest politician.

And that’s what led to the demise of the first victim of the Panama Papers, Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugson, who resigned on Tuesday.

The Icelandic people protested the last couple of days after it was revealed that Gunnlaugson co-owned a shell company that, like most of Iceland’s people and businesses, went bankrupt after the country’s three major banks failed and the economy collapsed.

The shell company, called Wintris Inc., has since claimed more than $4 million dollars owed from Iceland’s banks — the very same institutions Gunnlaugson helped negotiate the recovery of following the 2008 recession, meaning he had a conflict of interest that he never disclosed.

No major Americans have been outed in the Panama Papers — yet. But, oh boy, they’re coming. Don’t you worry.

It remains to be seen what the overall fallout is going to be of this historic leak. But undoubtedly this is a win for truth. A win for journalism. A win for transparency and a win for anti-corruption. And Edward Snowden approves.

Until then, it’s just nice to see Iceland back in the news for the first time since their junior national hockey team lost in the championship game in D2: The Mighty Ducks, which undoubtedly, was the biggest sporting event of national intrigue since Villanova vs. North Carolina.

Don’t fact check that.

North Carolina, paving the way for discrimination

Things had been going too well for the LGBT community lately.

A few weeks ago it was the South Dakota Republican governor who vetoed legislation that would have prevented transgendered people from using the public bathroom of the gender that they align with. A similar bill in Tennessee died in committee just last week.

At the time of the South Dakota veto, I pondered what would have happened if the bill was passed into law, and what the public backlash would be? Since it never happened, it never really made it to mainstream news. Remember, it takes anger for most people to really become aroused enough to start caring about a particular topic.

Well, this week we found out what that backlash would look like.

On one hand, Georgia’s Republican Governor Nathan Deal pledged to veto a bill that would have threatened the civil rights of the LGBT community and likely would have opened the door for discrimination.

But there always has to be one state that just doesn’t get the memo. And this time, it was North Carolina. In a week that should have been headlined by the state’s predominant college basketball team making the Final Four, the nation’s focus was instead pointed towards the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature and governor, Pat McCrory.

North Carolina law.jpg

In a hastily called session that cost taxpayers $42,000, the Senate approved a bill that not only disallows transgenders from using the bathroom of the gender they align with, but which also, for good measure, overturned all local non-discrimination ordinances.

There’s so many despicable things that happened here. The first thing was the rapid, secretive method in which it was passed without public input. The state’s Democratic legislators were so against this bill that they actually walked out of the Senate chamber while it was being voted on.

But worst of all, it was done in response to a law recently passed in Charlotte that would have protected transgender rights. This new law was essentially created to undo the Charlotte one.

Oh boy. It’s been a rough few days for North Carolina since this law was passed last Thursday. Not only have major corporations and sports leagues like the NBA spoken out against it, but there was this amazing Tweet, as well as this equally amazing video North Carolina law2.jpgproduced by the comic website Funny or Die.

Finally, a coalition of individuals and organizations filed a federal lawsuit against the law, arguing that it violates the Constitution and federal anti-discrimination laws.

It just boggled my mind because, most of all, it just makes North Carolina seem like a hateful place. By virtue of one law, they’re obstructing social progress and advocating discrimination.

Supporters of the law say that women are in danger because they’ll be in the same bathroom as men (as in, people who have transgendered from man to woman).

First of all, this implies that all transgenders are sexual predators.

Second of all, sexual assault is illegal in all circumstances, regardless of what local laws there are.

Transgendered individuals are among the most vulnerable and discriminated people in our society. They deal with prejudice and inequality on a daily basis.

So yeah, North Carolina, go ahead and make their lives even worse. Good job. And Governor McCrory, good luck in your reelection this November. 

You know this is especially sad when, after spending time on this topic, I have to think about the presidential race in order to cheer myself up.

What a time we’re living in.