QUICK COUNTS : JANUARY 31
By Leo Haggerty

GOOD NEWS & BAD NEWS

First, the good news.  Chalk one up in the “even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then” column.  I get to take a bow for picking the Clemson Tigers to win the National Championship back in January of 2016.  Check out LOOKING THROUGH THE CRYSTAL BALL in the January 2016 archives for verification.

Now, for the bad news.  I had Dabo Swinney’s charges playing the Tennessee Volunteers in the Tampa College Football Playoff final.  Rocky Top started out like a house of fire and then, after catastrophic injuries especially on the defensive side of the football, cooled off in a hurry.  The downward spiral started with a home drubbing by Alabama. Hey, I had the right conference just the wrong participant.

Just a quick reminder.  I already pick Southern Cal to beat Penn State in next years CFP in Atlanta.  Tune in next year to see if the “blind squirrel” strikes again.

LITERALLY, ONE FOR THE AGES

The Australian Open gave tennis fans a flash from the past.  The four singles participants in the finals, both on the men’s and women’s side, were oldies but goodies with none of the quartet under the age of 30.

In the women’s finals, it was an all-Williams affair on the court.  Younger sister Serena, age 35, bested older sister Venus, age 36.  The final arithmetic was a straight-set 6-4, 6-4 triumph.  That gave Serena an astonishing 39th major championship.

In the men’s championship match, Roger Federer, age 35, defeated Rafael Nadal, age 30.  It was a five-set classic with the Swiss native besting the Spaniard 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.  That gave Federer a just as amazing 18th major title.

Tennis fans were treated to some amazing tennis from the Old Guard.  It’s a shame that a lot of people missed it and you can count me among that group.  A 3 am finals start time was just a little too much for this Oldie.  You can bet I’ll catch the replay.

ALL-STAR GAMES

All of the major professional sports leagues need to rethink their position on All Star games especially if they occur in-season.  The risk of injury highly outweigh the rewards of seeing the best in the game gather together.

Now, before all you hockey fans get all hot-and-bothered, I am not signalling out the National Hockey League but they are the perfect example.  Say, just for discussion, the Penguins Sidney Crosby falls into the boards and injures himself.  To make matters worse, the injury is the dreaded “upper body injury” and #87 is now going to miss month or even the rest of the regular season.

Roll out the same scenarios for the National Basketball Association as well as Major League Baseball who had this happen.  In the 1970 All Star game, Reds outfielder Pete Rose ended the promising career of 23-year old Ray Fosse when #14 went head-long into the Indians catcher permanently damaging his shoulder.

To me, that doesn’t seem fair to any organization.  If you get hurt during a game your scheduled to play for your team, that’s just the sports gods telling you it’s your turn to go on the injured reserve list.  The fact that an injury happens during a contest that occurs away from your team is hard for ownership as well as teammates along with fans to accept.

To me, it’s got to a point where there is too much money on the table.  With the contacts in the seven and eight figures before the decimal point, players are concerned about losing the ability to continue to make that money in the future.

Time for the different leagues to sit down with their respective players associations and end the All Star games.  It has, in my opinion, outlived its usefulness.