Goodbye Lance Parody

Today marks the final day that my All-Time favorite sports talk host takes a break from sports talk radio.  I’ve been listening to my man Lance Zierlein for over 20 years like a lot of other sports talk enthusiasts in the greater Houston area have been.  LZ, as he is commonly referred to as, always gave me a lane to express my love for music and sports by playing my goofy sports parodies over the airwaves.  So here’s my swan song for my boy(Even though we’ve never actually chilled or met) LZ.

 

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Introducing our newest Contributor…H-Town Wolverine

What’s the good word young World?  It’s ya boy 12 and I wanna introduce and welcome an old friend of mine to the Corner store and our fam(you the readers).  He goes by the name of the H-Town Wolverine and he’ll be providing articles from his unique perspective, just like all of the rest of the Corner Store contributors.  I asked him to shoot me few points about himself that I can pass along to the crew(you the readers), and this is what he sent me…

  • 39 year old white male, network engineer by day, rabid sports fan by night. Former Baseball Player, Former Student Trainer, Jackhammer of all trades, and one stubborn bastard…
  • – Teams –

o Any and ALL things Michigan Wolverines

o Big Ten Conference

o Houston Astros

o Houston Texans

o Houston Rockets

o Houston Dynamo

o Can we get a Hockey Franchise in Houston already?

  • – Favorite Quotes:

o “I don’t take vacations. I don’t get sick. I don’t celebrate major holidays. I’m a jackhammer. “- Jim Harbaugh

o “Attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind” – Jim Harbaugh

o “Never underestimate the heart of a champion.” – Rudy Tomjanovich

o “1, 2, 3, NUT CHECK!!!” -Fab Five

Does The Sports Media Intentionally Promote The Narrative of The Absentee Black Father?

Young World, Young World, oh my Young World!  I’m greeting you from my favorite place on Planet Earth, The Corner Store.  I feel like the God YHWH of the Bible when it was written that he rested after putting in all of that work.  I’ve been digging in deep in regards to taking in some NFL draft coverage over the last week.  The draft was held in Philly, Pa from April 27-29 and as usual I treated it like a three day vacation from the real world cuz I can do that.

My primary mission was to see who my beloved Houston Texans were gonna add to the mix in order to help us get over the hump(Patriots) and stay competitive for the foreseeable future.  I must say that I was pretty krunk about the additions of Former Clemson QB Deshaun “National Champ” Watson in the 1st round and the 2,000 yard rusher from the University of Hook’em Horns(Texas), and Houston/Galveston area(Texas-City) native D’onta Foreman.  I didn’t know much about the other picks, but I watched their highlights and looked over the player profiles provided by two of my most trusted draft resources in Lance Zierlein and Jayson Braddock.

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It would seem that we Texans fans have a lot to look forward to.  I believe with the acquisition of Watson, somebody has finally put a stopper at the base of our proverbial revolving door at the quarterback position.  All I have to say about that, and I’m sure that many a Texans fan will agree, is “Bout damn time!  This young man is going to do some special things in the NFL and I’m glad that he’s going to be doing it for my city’s franchise.

Many of you may have heard about Watson’s upbringing and it’s not much different than plenty of other young men that were drafted by the professional sports leagues in the US.  He was raised by a single mother in a rough area, but in contrast from most other stories, his family was blessed to receive a home that was presented to them by former NFL and Florida St Seminole(Go Noles) running back Warrick Dunn.

I sat through most of the draft and one story line became all too familiar.  Many of these young men, especially the black ones, didn’t have their father’s in their lives.  I’m not going to go into all of the social commentary on why I believe that is, and it’s nothing new since we hear the same narrative every draft season, but for whatever reason it just touched me enough this time around that I wanted to speak on it.

I decided to go at it from a different angle this time.  Today’s media is all about the click and I can’t explain why, but the clickers are drawn to the negative.  Even if it’s a feel good story like Watson’s that tells the tale of a young man that overcame all of the adversity he faced to become a highly coveted target in the 2017 NFL draft, it sometimes seems that the selling point isn’t that they conquered the issue.  It seems to me that sometimes the press wants to sensationalize the issue itself.

I’m actually starting to wonder if the majority of these athletes really did grow up without fathers in their lives or is that the only story line that the mic holders want put out?  It’s like they seek out the brothers that came from a broken home so that they can spin that angle.  I’m not saying that they make up these stories, or that they twist the words of the athletes in question, but I just feel like they seek out the hardship stories so that they can have a better story to report.

It may seem innocent, but if that’s all that, or most of what they are reporting then it leaves the viewing audience believing that growing up without a father is just part of being an African American.  Same way as when I was growing up, I thought everyone in Africa looked like the starving children in Ethiopia on those commercials who were being swarmed by flies and obviously suffering from malnutrition because that’s all I saw on TV about Africa.  That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve met dozens of Ethiopians and none of them look or have lived like that. I’ve met native born Africans from different parts of the continent and none of them have ever been starving like those commercials led me to believe.  True there are people starving in certain parts of Africa, but there are people starving in the 3rd Ward of Houston, Tx.  No one can paint the entire country of America as a nation of starving people because there is a pocket of the population that can’t enjoy a meal at their leisure.

I mean, I haven’t heard a lot about the quarterback that was selected by the Chiefs two slots before Watson’s name was called by my Texans(still krunk), Patrick Mahomes II.  He was raised by a black father who happened to be a professional baseball pitcher.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been articles written about Mahomes II hanging at the major league parks with his pops and there will continue to be mentions of it. I even found a quote from Kansascity.com about some jewels that the elder Mahomes dropped on his namesake.

“He gives me advice about how he transitioned into becoming a pro athlete and the work that you actually have to put into it,” Mahomes II said. “Not a lot of people see that when you’re growing up. You don’t get to see that people really have to work hard to become as good as they are. So, for me seeing that as a young age as I’ve grown up, has shown me that I have to work just as hard to get to that level.”

That’s a shining example of a Black father passing vital information onto his son.  All the stories aren’t heartbreaks and headaches.  It may just be me being sensitive, but I don’t see as much eagerness to push out stories of black fathers and sons building the kinds of bonds that result in boys growing into responsible young men.

So I’ll post a few of these positive images just to balance out all of the absentee black father imagery.

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You probably recognize most of the athletes in these photos, but there’s probably one that you don’t. The black and white picture on the left is Texans wide out Jaelen Strong with his late father “Big” John Rankin.
Here’s an interview from houstontexans.com of the latest Texans 4th round pick Juile’n Davenport.  He spoke about how spending time with his father kept him on the right path.
One of my favorite sports talk radio shows is Sports Talk 790s In The Trenches hosted by former NFL players Greg Koch and N.D. Kalu. I’ve heard N.D. speak on occasion about how his father stressed education and staying upright as a man. So I took it upon myself to reach out to brotha Kalu and ask him how his father influenced his direction and how much did it mean to him to have a father in his​ corner; especially during draft time. Here is his response.
“Man, words can’t express how much of an impact my father has had in my life.  Regarding the draft it was huge because it was such an emotional roller coaster.  Though we see so many great black men who only had their mother’s influence, for me I needed that man to teach me daily what it means to be a man through his words and actions.  I see on so many occasions when black men struggle or don’t get “their way” female like tendencies surface.  One minute I’m being told I could go as high as the 3rd round and then the next minute I’m seeing guys I knew I could out play getting their names called before mine.  Though disappointed, I still would just think about how good it was going to feel making a final roster and my dad’s words etched into my brain telling me that if I’m good enough, it won’t matter where I was drafted. Seeing how proud he was when Ray Rhodes of the Philadelphia Eagles called him and asked to speak to his son in the 5th round made all the gassers, Oklahoma drills and Bull in the Rings worth it!”
I appreciate N.D. for bringing the Trenches to the Corner Store for a few ticks and laying it down honestly like that.  Those are the type of stories that rarely see the light of day.
 Lastly I’d like to post a quote from the aforementioned, and pictured, D’onta Foremen talking about the warm moment he and his father shared when they found out that their favorite team, the Houston Texans, had drafted him in round 3 of the 2017 NFL draft.  This quote is also taken from HoustonTexans.com’s lead writer Deepi Sidhu.
“He was just smiling and saying he was so proud of me,” Foreman said. “It was pretty emotional for him, for all of us honestly – for me being drafted was a dream come true – but for me to be able to be a Texan, his favorite team, is crazy. I’m ready to get to work. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great journey.”
Unfortunately there are too many stories of young black children growing up without their fathers.  I’m not interested in making any excuses or psychoanalyzing it at the moment.  I just want to say that we as black men in general have to get on the good foot and stay active in the lives of our children.  I’m absolutely positive that there are thousands of stories of us that take up the necessary time with our children, but it never makes a headline.
I’ll be the first to say that my father, my grandfather, my uncles, my older male cousins, some of my big homies, and some of my OGs played major roles in steering me in the right direction.  My goal is to do the same for my Suns, daughters, nieces, nephews, and the other ‘Lil homies that I come across on a daily basis. I’m certain someone will point out that the picture of Shaq is with his step father Phil so in essence his father wasn’t there either. I beg to differ. His father is the MAN that’s smiling right next to him. I commend a MAN who raises another man’s child when that man isn’t MAN enough to carry out his responsibility.
I’m not Elijah Muhammad or Farrakhan, but I agree when they say that it’s up to us to tighten up our own backstroke.  If there’s no pool in the hood then we need to pool our resources and build a pool.
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James Harden Plays With The Craftiness of a Throw back White Player

I must admit that this headline is my first attempt at a click-bait style title.  Not really my bag.  I just like to lay it out there and have a sensible rap session about whatever’s on the table to discuss.  These days journalists and bloggers have twisted the game up so bad that you have to say the most outlandish things just to get anyone to pay the slightest bit of attention to the submission.

The title of this article is my attempt at playing up the outdated stereotype that black players are the more athletic while the white players are more cerebral.  Of course this is foolishness based off of racial generalizations, but the generalizations are based in a bit of truth.  The problem is that most people based the blanket statement on race and race alone when it’s more about the physical make up of the individual player.  This year’s NBA MVP race proves this point to me more than any other topic that I’ve encountered in recent memory.

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Former Teammates Harden and Westbrook are still the front runners for the 2017 NBA MVP award

The 2017 NBA MVP race is nearing a head but there’s no clear cut favorite up to this point.  Lebron James and the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard have been strong candidates this entire season, but the main two names that continuously come up are OKC’s Russell Westbrook and Houston’s James Harden.  These two players have differing styles that bring my point home.

Westbrook is an explosive athlete who drives to the hole with no damns given.  He has been criticized for being “out of control” in many occasions.  I’ve even said that during his early years he played “dumb” like he didn’t know or cared about what was standing in front of him.  He just knew that he was gonna go.  Harden on the other hand is much less athletic than Russ.  He’s not a high flyer or speedster, but he has learned how to manipulate the flow of the game so that it moves at his pace.

Back in the days, especially after the integration of the major professional sports leagues, the white players were considered nonathletic but smart while the black players were considered great athletes but unable to think on a critical level.  These days it should be apparent that it’s really more about a person that knows they’re physically gifted verses those that know their physical deficiencies.

Athletes that are simply more talented tend to ignore the fundamentals of their respective sport because it just comes to them easily.  I like to say that they just come out of their mamas that way. Then you have the players that are more talented than the normal Joe and Jane, but when it comes to competing at the highest level they just don’t have that “quick twitch” that the superior athletes have.  Those are the ones that spend countless hours perfecting their crafts so that they can find the little advantages that will keep them competitive or even give them a good shot at winning.

I’d like to name a few examples from both sides of the argument from different sports.  The Houston Texans’ Jadeveon  Clowney is that freak athlete who ran in the high 4.4’s in his 40 yard dash even though he weighs over 260 lbs.  This young man gets off the line of scrimmage faster than most opposing offensive lineman can come out of their stances.  His strength is apparent in the way he sets the edge against much bigger men when he’s defending against the run, but his lack of refined pass rush moves have caused him to have low sack numbers in many analysts’ opinions.  Once he develops those techniques he’s going to be an extremely dangerous man.

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RAC and Vrabel will tighten up his technique

Steve Largent wasn’t the fastest wide receiver in the NFL, but he retired as the all-tine leader in the major statistical categories because he knew how to get separation by running precise routes and use defensive backs’ momentum against them.

Benard Hopkins was never known to have the quickest or heaviest hands, but he ruled boxing’s middleweight division for a decade because very few people in boxing history was better at the tactical side of ring generalship.  He made a career out of making younger more athletic fighters look foolish.

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On the other hand, Adrien Broner has that wow factor at times.  He’s a former four division champ and the reason he remains a former champ is because he refuses to take the science of boxing seriously.  He seems content with losing to hungrier, more focused, less talented fighters.

Atlanta Braves legend Greg Maddux was known as the professor because he could school any bad-ass with a bat on any given night.  He didn’t blow batters with velocity, but could could place that ball where he wanted which was exactly where the batters couldn’t hit it.

Tom Chambers, Rex Chapman, and Birdman Andersen were all very athletic NBA players who happened to be white, but neither was on Kevin McHale’s level when it came to basketball footwork.  Neither one of them could pull a Bill Laimbeer and psych out an entire Portland Trailblazers roster in the NBA finals.

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The late Tony Gwynn didn’t have the body of a Greek or African god, but he perfected the art hitting the baseball.  Gwynn is universally recognized in the baseball world as one of history’s greatest hitters.

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I remember reading where former NBA star Nick Van Exel said that his friend Steve Francis only relied on his athleticism and never learned how to play basketball.  He went on to say that once Steve experienced a few injuries he no longer had the explosiveness that was his trademark which caused his NBA career to come to a premature close.

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Some athletes learn how to combine the physical and mental aspects of the game and go on to become the Michael Jordan’s, Larry Bird’s, Serena Williams’, JJ Watts, Muhammad Ali’s, Derek Jeter’s, Jerry Rice’s, Willie Mays’, John Stockton’s ,Steve Nash’s and Floyd Mayweather’s of the world.

So to close this thing out, even though I’m not the biggest supporter of Harden’s style of play, I have to give him all of the props in the world for being in the position he’s in.  He’s developed a style of play that highlights what he does well, and compensates for where he lacks.  He’s proven, though far from the first to do so, that being a crafty cerebral player isn’t exclusive to white athletes.  There are only a few games left in the 2017 regular season so lets see if he can prove to the voters that he deserves the MVP over his former more athletic teammate Westbrook.

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Would You Rather Wednesday

Peace Fam. Today I was assigned to write the Would You Rather questions for my favorite radio sports talk show In The Trenches on Houston’s Sports Talk 790. ND Kalu, Greg Koch, and their intern will be reading my questions live on air and giving their honest opinions on which way they’ll walk when they reach the metaphorical fork in the road. So check out their show and take some time to answer my questions right here at the Corner Store.

 

Ken Griffy Jr and Mike Piazza were inducted into the baseball hall of fame. If the playing fields were level in regards to hitting and defensive talent, would you rather draft an outfielder or catcher 1st over all?

 

With Michael Jordan breaking his silence on race relations and violence and all of the other pro athletes that have been expressing their feelings about the violence, would you rather have your superstars stay silent and do the community work behind the scenes or use their fame as a platform to speak out?

 

With Josh Gordon being reinstated and Greg Hardy looking for work,knowing their issues, if your team was in need of a DE and WR would you rather have Hardy or Gordon?

 

Would you rather go the Astros route and bottom out for a few years before becoming perennial championship contenders or the Rockets route and try the plug and play philosophy with mostly free agent acquisitions to stay competitive?

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When is bending the rules cool?

What up world? It’s ya man 12 again posted up at the corner store. Since the NBA playoffs have started and teams, like my Rockets, are being eliminated you hear the frequent complaints about the way games are being officiated.

Being a life long Rockets fan I’ve had a few teams that were the target of my sports hatred;mainly the Celtics and Utah Jazz.

These days it’s the record breaking Golden State Warriors. I’m constantly hearing my fellow Rockets fans call the refs out for letting the Ws get away with moving screens.

Well guess what Red Nation, too damn bad for us. The Warriors, led by the pure shooting Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, will continue to get away with moving screens because they can light it up.

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The NBA is popular because, unlike baseball and hockey, you get instant gratification. The scoring comes fast and in dramatic fashion. Each bucket calls for celebration. This allows fringe fans that don’t know much about the science of game to be involved.

Scoring sells tickets and no team can score in bunches like this incarnation of  Oakland’s beloved hoopsters. News flash, the NBA is a billion dollar entity and like all major corporations they are only concerned about capitalizing on the capital. They want that money. They can care less about the integrity of the rules. Maybe that’s another reason why baseball lags behind in the popularity race.

It’s the same with the music industry. Many of us wonder why there are so many talentless acts being pushed out there as the next great artist.  Fact is that the labels can care less about the art form. They care about the YouTube clicks. They are signing acts that have the ability to get young people left clicking on a mouse to see what they have going on.

Really talented artists are dinosaurs for the most part because they are more concerned about maintaining a certain level of artistic integrity  and producing quality albums whlie the industry now revolves around catchy cookie cutter sounds and social media.

So as long as Steph and company can continue to run up the score on opponents, on national broadcasts, they will be able to slide with a moving screen here and there.

It’s nothing new. When the Celtics were in their dynasty years Bob Cousey, Havlicek, and Bill Russell dribbled straight up and down. By the time Magic Johnson played he was turning the palm of his hand over with the ball sitting flushly in it,But… Magic was the engine that made Showtime run.

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I know it’s blasphemy, but Michael Jordan palmed the ball regularly and pushed off with his off hand to get separation from the defender. Truth is that Jordan filled seats, sold jerseys, and had TV stations vying for the rights to “Air” #23s games. So he got away with whatever he needed to.

My favorite player, Hakeem Olajuwon, often switched pivot feet en route to putting opposing centers in a popcorn machine. But he was so amazing to watch. we also have to account for the fact that like New York, L.A. and Chicago, Houston is a major broadcast market so when the Rockets were good the ratings were high.

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Although David Stern detested Allen Iverson, he was must see TV. The little dude, by NBA standards, was  a scoring machine and was the main reason that the 76ers’ bandwagon was filled to capacity. His crossover is legendary, and also illegal by the rules of basketball. We can’t change the fact that A.I. sold tickets in his home coliseum and in visiting cities.

The NFL went as far as changing rules that allowed the offense to have the advantage against the defense so that scoring could increase. Fans love scoring, especially fringe fans. Only football purists can appreciate a defensive struggle that ends in a 10-6 score. Most fans find that boring so they lose interest.

We just have to expect that The Defending champs will continue to get preferential treatment just like every other player or team that has the ability to make fans tune in and spend bread. They won’t be the last team to get away with rule infractions and they most definitely aren’t the first.

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We Lost Phife, But Gained a Lesson

The cats that chill at the Corner Store are pouring out a little liquor for the homie Phife Dawg of legendary Hip Hop duo A Tribe Called Quest who recently transitioned to the realm of the ancestors. It’s not a stretch to claim that this group is perhaps the greatest Hip Hop group ever or at least in the upper echelon.

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Since this is primarily a sports blog I feel the need to explain how the loss of Malik the 5 foot freak is sports related.  For those that may not know Phife was an avid sports fan. I remember when he came to Houston and popped up at the radio station.  As he was famously known to do, Phife started free styling over an instrumental and made several references to Houston sports figures including former Major Leaguers Jeff Bagwell and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio. He was very knowledgeable with his commentary on Sports.

 

I didn’t want to spend much time talking about his lyrical proficiency or his love for sports as much as I wanted to address the illness that took him away from us in the physical sense. He battled diabetes for a very long time. In fact on the Busta Rhymes sample laced “Oh My God”, a track from the 1993 released LP Midnight Marauders, Phife spit the question “when’s the last time you heard a funky diabetic”.

Diabetes is a serious issue in the black community.  There are many different theories as to why we as Black people in America are more susceptible to this disease than our neighbouring ethnic groups, but whatever the reason it’s killing us at an alarming rate.

My great grandmother, grandfather, and my father have dealt with diabetes. I saw my grandfather, who was the strongest most independent dude I knew, reduced to an overweight one legged depressed human being before he transitioned. My paternal aunt and younger 1st cousin also have what many Blacks call “sugar”.

I decided to change my eating habits and embark on a new journey that lead to me making better choices about what I allowed to go into and out of my mouth. I also monitored what kind of messages went into my ears. In most cases a healthy mind leads to a healthy body. And a healthy body makes obtaining peace of mind more attainable. Behaving like this caused my family to swear that I converted to Islam. I guess changing my English name to an African one didn’t help much.

These athletes that we give so much of our adoration to pay close attention to what they put into their bodies so maybe we need to take a que from them and do the same. Also losing Phife at the age of 45 can show us that you don’t have to be old to be snatched off of this Earth. And being famous doesn’t make one immune to dis-ease either. Phife’s death can be a blessing to those that use his life as a lesson to take better care of ourselves at a young age. Remember he was the funky diabetic in his early 20s.

#RIPPhife Dawg. Thank you for being an inspiration and example of emcee excellence to spitters like me.

 

12 will carry the torch.

 

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