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Cubs Merchandise (Counterfeit) and (Licensed) is really hot right now

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The Chicago Cubs are the hottest team in baseball.

Thursday, Cubs merchandise was lining the front of a local megastore here in Indianapolis, IN. Mostly shirts announcing the Cubs as 2016 division winners. All of which was licensed apparel through Major League Baseball.

As I’m looking at the rows of shirts, I’m thinking ‘wow, I didn’t realize Indianapolis was so in tune with the Cubs and the pennant race.’  And I can’t remember a time when local stores kept up to the date as the season progresses. Especially merchandise for a baseball team. (We don’t have a pro team in Indianapolis) .

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-55-26-pmNone the less, all sorts of creative baseball memorabilia which usually bypasses the tightly licensed agreements MLB has with its vendors has popped up for years. The Cubs players themselves donned  David Ross a “Grandpa Rossy” t-shirts which appear to be only distributed amongst the team, but variations have appeared online, unlicensed from all appearances.


The Cubs meanwhile are cracking down on vendors around Wrigleyville, a section of Chicago around Wrigley field in which an entire micro-conomy exists because of the boys in white and blue.

Now, according to Crain’s Chicago Business, the Cubs are suing vendors around Wrigley Field for trademark infringement. Selling Merchandise that represents the Cubs without a license.

According to the report, “In a 32-page complaint (read it below), the league and team allege that dozens of individuals are violating trademarks with counterfeit merchandise, “deliberately free riding on the success of the Cubs” without a license or permission.

The Cubs seek to ban by court order the sale of unlicensed Cubs goods around Wrigley field.

The tradition of selling Cubs “stuff” without a license has been going on and around the streets of Clark and Addison for years, but perhaps for the first time in the franchise’s history, people actually care.


There’s an instability in the sports world, as Vin Scully says goodbye

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Wednesday night, ESPN did a fine job honoring Vin Scully on its baseball broadcast of the Giants and Dodgers at Dodgers stadium.

Vin Scully even called the 4th inning for the national audience. As ESPN broadcasters Jon Sciambi and Rick Sutcliffe tried, and they did well, to explain the reason it was such a big to-do that a broadcaster was leaving.

Sutcliffe talked about Scully moving west with the Dodgers in 1958. Leaving everything behind in New York for a chance to make it with the Los Angeles team, even though he held the same job in Brooklyn.

Sciambi talked about men from a certain era, such as Harry Kalas, the late Phillies broadcaster.


Meanwhile the news of the day was absolute outrage and a sense of anxiety and tension. A sense of anxiety and unrest that perhaps has never gripped the United States or at least its sporting world in this manner. More athletes are speaking out, choosing to kneel during the national anthem.

And sports isn’t about sports anymore.

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman refused to answer questions at a press conference Wednesday as a way of protesting the recent police shootings of African-Americans.

The entire Indiana Fever Basketball team kneeled during the National Anthem Wednesday night as a sign of protest. Steve Kerr said “every American should be disgusted with what is going on around the country.”

And what Scully represented more than anything was stability. Stability in the Dodger blue. Stability in the post-war 50’s. Stability in the changing 60’s. Stability in the financially uncertain 70s. Stability in the 80s when sports and TV offered more opportunities. Stability in the 90’s when maybe baseball took a back seat to other sports and finally stability in the new millennium with this thing called Twitter and Facebook and all this other stuff.

Every day Vin doing his job.

He truly was the voice of this summer and many others.

For Cubs fans, hope springs eternal, and now is the time

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Something that wracks my brain day and night: Will the Cubs faithful appreciate it this year if the Cubs win the World Series.

So many Cubs teams have gotten, well none of them have really gotten that close. 1989 the Cubs had Andrew Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, Shawon Dunston, Greg Maddux but it was all for not, loosing to the Giants in 5 games in the National League Championship Series. That was the team that was meant to make 1989 special. But it never happened.



It was 13 years ago, that the Cubs came up mercilessly to the Florida Marlins in the 2003 NLCS. Loosing to the Marlins in 7 games, 1 game away from the promised land.

In reality, those teams had some talent Sandberg, a juiced up Sosa, but not All-Star talent at every position like this 2016 Cubs team.

Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler, Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo,  Jayson Hayward all would be the “guy” on respective teams elsewhere, other key contributors like Ben Zobrist who was an all-star this season, and Javier Baez, Dexter Fowler, then a horde of pitching talent, Jake Arrietta, John Lackey, Arolidis Chapman and the list goes on.

So the Cubs enter the 2016 Playoffs as the favorite, in both leagues, the team that has the most talent, skill, momentum moxy to make it all, they won’t be as underdogs, and if they win it all, will it feel the same without a flaw.

Sometimes when the Cubs lost this season, it kinda seemed that the world was in a normal place. Just for a moment they don’t have to be perfect. Just for a moment they don’t have to come from behind and put up a seven spot in an inning.

It’s not just talent its the ability to win the baseball game.  The Cubs are 40-games over .500 with a 17 game lead in the division, they’re on pace for 103 wins. Wow.

The Cubs are now N.L. Central champions. No team has ever clinched the division faster than the Cubs did this year since the central division was created in 1994.


And this club knows how to have fun, as Paul Sulivan of the Chicago Tribune tells us regarding the Cubs clubhouse after clinching a day or so after clinching the division:

Dante the DJ spun tunes in the wild celebratory clubhouse, stopping for a moment as Chairman Tom Ricketts was called upon by players to make a speech.

Ricketts had taken a few hits since buying the team, but now The Plan was in full bloom and the championship he had promised Cubs fans seemed closer to becoming reality.

Players listened attentively, plastic cups half-filled with Jack Daniel’s in the hands of most of them, as Ricketts took the spotlight.

“All I did was buy some time with the fans,” Ricketts told the players. “And the fact is, we used that time for Theo and Jed (Hoyer) to go out and build the best team in all of baseball.”

Cheers went up, drinks went down. Dante the DJ took his cue, cranking up the song “All the Way Up” by Fat Joe and Remy Ma:

“Nothing can stop me, I’m all the way up. All the way up. I’m all the way up.” The party was just starting.
And no one wanted to see it end.

So this team has the all the potential. All of the talent. The right attitude, all the right stuff.

But can they turn that magic into a World Series title, the first for the Cubbies since 1908.


Jim Harbaugh: “Tom Brady can rip it”

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Tom Brady seems to be enjoying his off season. The former Michigan Wolverine served as an honory captain Saturday at the Big House while Michigan hosted Colorado.

On Friday Brady played catch with his son at Michigan Stadium, as shown in the facebook video below.

Then Saturday afternoon Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and Brady played a little pregame catch.

Regarding the pitch and catch session with Brady Harbaugh said post game, “Two great thrills, two great thrills, looking back in my career of playing catch with different peope that was right there with playing catch with my dad.”

“Tom’s got a good arm by the way. He can rip it, he can throw it well. I wish I wouldn’ve given him the wind. Big thrill.”

“His (Brady’s) pregame talk was outstanding. It was very good, very from the heart.”


Michigan is young, talented and untested

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—There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the Michigan football program. The six days in between games are almost assuredly going to be filled with some Jim Harbaugh related headline as was the case this week.

Colorado put out the fake depth chart with old cartoon characters and what not. Harbaugh said it wasn’t very amusing and we expected the Wolverines to trounce the Buffaloes. Then an actual football game took place.

The Buffaloes took an early 14-0 lead. And with that all the early season promise Michigan had shown seemed to be in jeopardy.

Michigan put a score on the board in the first quarter with a blocked punt return for a touchdown, but then Colorado made it 21-7 with a long ten play drive culminating in a touchdown.

Then Michigan put their foot on the gas. They scored two touchdowns and a field goal to give them a 24-21 halftime lead. Momentum blue, but still a very good change for the huge upset.

Those hopes looked very promising as Colorado scored quick to open the second half with a three play drive which included a 70-yard touchdown pass from Sefo Liufau to Shay Fields.

Once again Michigan would tighten up and slam the door shut scoring three straight touchdowns while allowing none to finish off the Buffaloes 45-28.



One thing is clear: Michigan can score.  The Wolverines have scored 159 points over their first three games and that’s a school record.

“They knew it was a fight, because heard them talking about it,” Harbaugh said post game.

“I look at every football game that has ever been played, or will be played, it’s a battle seeing who the best players are in a football games.”

It appears that Michigan has two Achilles heels: It’s defense and its youth.

“That’s a veteran team (Colorado). 20 starters I believe,” Harbaugh added.

And we’ve got quite a few guys who are playing in their second or third games, young to college football I thought they acquitted themselves very well.  We’re striving to get better as fast as we can.”

Tom Brady was a guest captain Saturday for his alma mater Michigan. Harbaugh said Brady gave a “great message” going through the “position groups” and letting them know they were expected to play as the greats have played at that position in the past at Michigan.

Harbaugh added, “Tom Brady has a great arm, he can rip it.”

Michigan opens the Big Ten season next Saturday against Penn State at Michigan Stadium.


Harry Caray: “Someday the Chicago Cubs are going to be in the World Series”

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“As sure as God made green apples, someday the Cubs are going to be in the World Series.”

“It may be sooner than we think,” Harry Caray told WGN TV viewers after the final game of the 1991 season.

“It seems to me that we don’t have too much time. It seems the ingredients, the nucleus is there. I don’t know who the manager will be.”

“It require’s a veteran manager,” Caray added.

Of course, Caray had a much shorter view of when that will happen, adding that they would need a veteran to handle the mixed of veteran and youngsters on the current roster. All of those players on that roster are long gone.

It’s 15 years later and Caray may be spot on.

Someday will come.

Someday is this year.

Harry Caray uttered those words in 1991. He would call his final game in 1997 and passed away early in 1998.

He never got to live to see this team or really a legit contender, but boy would he be bonkers about a club oozing with so much young talent it doesn’t even have room to fit them all into the lineup.

But this is the year if there ever was going to be the year. 2016 is World Series or bust for the Cubbies.

The Cubs magic number is down to one, the Cubs can clinch the NL Central Division title with a win tonight against Milwaukee at Wrigley.

Joe Maddon was asked what it would mean to clinch at Wrigley:

“Let’s do it, why not.”



Tony LaRussa wonders why Colin Kaepernick didn’t protest when he was “on top”

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Tony LaRussa, the former MLB manager, and current C.E.O of the Arizona Diamondbacks told Sports Illustrated’s Maggie Gay on Wednesday he sincerely doubts the sincerity of one Colin Kaepernick.

LaRussa couldn’t wait to give his opinion. As seen in this video:


“I really question the sincerity of someone like Kaepernick, I remember when he was on top I never heard him talk about anyone but himself,” LaRussa said.

“Now all of the sudden he’s struggling for attention and he makes this big pitch, I don’t buy it.”

“I think you have the right as an organization, about having a philosophy, about respecting, whether its our constitution, our country, our soldiers, however you feel, our flag,  I would not, to the best of my ability, sanction someone taking a knee, I think that’s disrespectful.”

“Even if he was sincere there are other ways to show your concern.”


In wake of Cam Newton pummeling, Roger Goodell pens letter on player safety

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—Thursday night to kick off the NFL season, Cam Newton got pummeled.

The hits were illegal but they kept coming.  Wednesday, the NFL followed up with fines for two Denver Bronco defenders. Brandon Marshall and Darian Stewart were each fined. Marshall just over $18,000 and Stewart about $24,000.

Marshall denied claims from the Panthers that the Broncos played dirty.

“We’re not dirty,” Marshall said via the Denver Post.

“When I think of dirty, I think of stepping on somebody’s ankle at the bottom of a pile (or) twisting somebody around. Stuff like that. We just play hard, man. We hit hard. We play fast. We play faster than any defense in the league. Just because we hit Cam in the head a couple of times, that doesn’t make us dirty. Look at some of the dirty plays in the league. There are a lot of dirty players, and that’s not our M.O.”

Further, things got testy this week when the media questioned Panthers head coach Ron Rivera as to why Newton was allowed to continue playing after taking several shots to the head.

“I’m not the doctor, my understanding is he went through the initial steps during the game and after the game, and my understanding he had several exams all of which he passed,”

“I’m not going to question the doctors,”

Embed from Getty Images


Wednesday commissioner Roger Goodell also penned a letter stating the NFL’s commitment to player safety. 

For the NFL league office, Wednesday’s letter or “announcement”, represents a continued, if not non-stop, effort to change the conversation and the public perception concerning player safety and concussions.

“Our game, of course, is a contact sport,” Goodell wrote. Fans love to see the action on the field, including the big hits. While we can never completely eliminate the risk of injury, we are always striving to make the game safer—for our professional athletes down to young athletes first learning how to play.”

“Fans love to see the action on the field, including the big hits. While we can never completely eliminate the risk of injury, we are always striving to make the game safer—for our professional athletes down to young athletes first learning how to play.”

Goodell also states the NFL has been a leader in the field of health and safety, a point that many would dispute given the evidence that concussions suffered by those playing the sport have had serious detrimental health effects. Some believe that concussions could be linked to the suicides of some former NFL players.

Goodell says in terms of addressing “head injuries” (note the absence of the word concussion) he and the league’s 32 owners are not satisfied.

The hits in which Stewart and Marshall were fined were helmet-to-helmet hits. And it appears that would be the problem. Fines are nice, but ultimately for millionaires fines are not penal in nature, whereas suspensions and season-long bans are.

Dan Patrick on Wednesday asked Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com and NBC Sports on his radio show why the NFL does not have a targeting rule (where players are ejected for hits deemed to be targeted) like college football?

“I don’t know that they can change the rules that dramatically without union consent, but maybe they can,” Florio said.

“It could be they (NFL) are just not prepared to go to the bargaining table and make a concession to the union in order to get the ability in order to eject players for targeting.”



TBS we need Vin Scully on October 2nd

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Via Jack Acecroft

Vin Scully will broadcast his final Dodger baseball game after 67 years of brilliance on October 2nd in San Francisco.

God willing as Mr. Scully would say and has said.

All baseball fans will be tuned in, we’ll find a way, either MLB.TV or whatever, or stop at the TV store in the mall (oh wait those don’t exist anymore).

No this isn’t 1988 when Scully famously called Kirk Gibson game winning pinch hit home run in Game 1. This is 2016, and time does fly by so quickly, there’s a lot less gentle feeling and infatuation with the game we call baseball these days and for many teams the broadcaster is just a guy who might change every two years.

But Vin Scully was something different. For many of us we’re late to the party. A southern califorina treasure who without “pomp and circumstance” as he would say, also greeted us at different points on the national network broadcast but in general Vin Scully has gotten his greatest widespread audience in the era of MLB.TV and the internet age.

A little piece of us and the lives of many who listened to Scully for just a brief moment or even a few years will feel time passing ever so quicker and yesterdays so far away when Scully calls his final game October 3rd.

As Richard Sandomir of the New York Times eloquently positioned it Tuesday, TBS has an opportunity to broadcast or simulcast Scully’s game on October 2nd.

Vin Scully will conclude his 67-season run as the voice of the Dodgers on Oct. 2 in a game against the Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco. But it should be more than a local event for Scully’s fans in the Los Angeles area. When baseball’s greatest announcer retires, it is a national occasion.

It will be up to to TBS, Major League Baseball’s partner for Sunday afternoon broadcasts, to bring the last of Scully to the rest of the country. TBS is not saying what it will do, and the network will not decide which matchup to televise until seven to 10 days beforehand.

Simulcasting the Dodgers-Giants game should be the easy choice. Not only is Scully leaving, but the game may very well have playoff implications.

That will be a huge moment in American Sports history.

Let’s make it happen TBS.

Scully’s closing words surely will be the most poetic thing uttered in the sports arena in decades. The man who can quote Shakespeare and live to tell the true life stories of the Brooklyn Dodgers of course is a national treasure, and it will never be the same in Dodgertown without him.



NFL TV ratings are off to a slower start, but still really incredible

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The big one for a lot of people who follow these sorts of things and view TV ratings as a barometer for overall fan interest is the first Sunday Night NFL game of the year on NBC.

Just over 20 million people tuned in this season, down 18% from a year ago in the same time slot.

Not great, but still 20 million people is a tremendous rating for a regular season sporting event.

The first game of the season also broadcasted on NBC airing Thursday, September 8th drew at 16.5 overnight rating, which in terms of ratings is still really good, but down 7% from a year ago when the Steelers and Patriots played.

But the total number of viewers? 25.2 million.

That’s huge and the NFL has nothing to worry about just yet.

By comparison, Major League Baseball averaged just over 14 million for last year’s Mets-Royals World Series, and that was the highest rating in six years for the World Series.

That said 7% is not huge and not as meaningful considering about 14 years ago in 2002 the kickoff game scored a 12.2 rating, per Sports TV Ratings.


ESPN’s Monday Night Football was down as well, for the early game down 7% and the late game between the Los Angeles Rams and 49ers drew 25% less viewers compared to the second game of last year’s first Monday Night Football coverage on ESPN.

Overall, the NFL has lots of wiggle room to work with and probably is not concerned that it’s opening weekend in the second week of what is a busy September with good weather across the country-will turn the tides back to grossly huge numbers.

The Achilles heel for the NFL is not the lack of interest but perhaps a turn off by viewers at large for off the field incidents which continue to plague the league and keep league officials up at night. Further it’s yet to be decided what impact the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick’s protest during the singing of the National Anthem will do for the league in terms of viewership and fanship and the like.

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