3-2-1 LIFT OFF. Sharks. Virtual fans. Mother Nature.

Today is National Friendship Day, so I’m accepting a friendly challenge to hijack the blog.  It happens to also be National Coloring Book Day, so in the spirit of staying inside the lines, I’ll try to honor them as well (no politics and no religion).  **Deep breath** Here goes…

What’s happening in soccer? Not a clue. You’re welcome. 😉

Mars 2020/Perseverance: At a price tag of $2 billion, Perseverance’s estimated time of arrival on Mars is February 2021.  And I thought Atlanta commute times were brutal.  On Thursday, Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover successfully left land, on its way to Mars, in a ferocious blaze of fire and fury.  Absolutely awesome to watch, even on TV (#bucketlist to see in person). 

Mars is dry and very cold.  As a matter of fact, almost all water on Mars actually exists in the form of ice.  Ironically though, Perseverance is going to land on a lake; a lake believed to have been created 3.5 billion years ago.  So, could Mars at one time have sustained life?  We shall see.  Looking for “biosignatures” will tell us more, so the mission will hopefully collect rocks and soil to help tell that story.  Also cool is that we will hopefully be able to hear what Mars sounds like.  Maybe coolest of all is MOXIE; an experimental device that will ideally convert Mars’ carbon dioxide into oxygen, thus paving the way for human exploration!  Beam me up, 2020 kinda sucks.

NASA’s helicopter that will hover over Mars’ surface.

Fins, Fins Everywhere: It’s beach and shark season.  But remember, shark attacks are rare and almost never deadly.  1 in 11.5M; your odds of getting attacked by a shark, and that is 11.5M beach-go’ers.  Odds are significantly higher of being killed by one.  In general, sharks do not eat people; they prefer marine life.  So if you find yourself in an uncomfortable spot with a shark, just don’t panic.  In all seriousness, you’ll appear to be defenseless and injured – therefore an easy source of food for them.  We kill more sharks than they do us.  I’m not #TeamShark, but just saying, it’s OK to go back into the water.  But not past your ankles. 

So Good You'll Scream: Shark Week Starts Sunday, July 28! - YouTube
Discovery Channel’s Shark Week starts August 9th.

Virtual fans:  I just don’t know about these.  Why?  And why just the heads?  And why no face masks on these heads?  I digress.  I do miss sports though.  And while I love tennis, I rarely ever watch women’s tennis; especially women’s doubles – snooze fest.  A few weekends ago, I found myself watching women’s tennis.  Doubles.  With people I have never even heard of.  ALL. DAY. LONG.  I really do miss sports.

The NBA restart has actual fans who are being projected as if they’re in virtual seats that are “court-side.”

Mother Nature is very curious.  Few know the answer to this.  What famous North American landmark is consistently moving backwards?  Wait for it….  The answer is Niagara Falls, the 2nd largest waterfall in the world.  Thanks to rock erosion from the rapidly flowing water (3,160 tons of water flows over Niagara Falls every second), it moves backwards about 3 feet annually.  But don’t cancel future plans just yet.  It will be around for at least 23,000 more years.  Whew!

The power of Niagara Falls

Happy trails!

Going Sports.

The ABA. Monster Of A Man. Diminishing Returns. 162 & 9 Does Not Make Sense. The Great Peter Green.

I have made an attempt to not focus on sports – websites are already saturated with sports information and blogs from many great journalists. With that said, I am going sports this week and my take on things that are top-of-mind.

As the National Basketball Association (NBA) gets ready to resume their season in the “bubble” at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, I reflected back to basketball and how much I enjoyed the sport. As much as soccer has been a part of my life from many different aspects, professional basketball has always been of high interest. Raised in Miami, there was not a local NBA team to follow in those days, so as a kid I became a NY Knicks fan. Fortunately, the American Basketball Association (ABA) started up and put a franchise in Miami. My father took my brother and I to many games, some of them played in a former aircraft hanger that was named Dinner Key Auditorium. The Miami team was only around for a few years and if I remember correctly they were not very good. With that said, I watched Donnie Freeman and Mack Calvin, two guards for the Miami Floridians, handle the ball and basically run the team on the court. What I did not realize at the time was that visiting teams playing in ABA included, in my opinion, a few of the greatest stars ever to play the game. Julius Erving (Dr. J), Connie Hawkins, Spencer Haywood, Moses Malone, and George Gervin all eventually moved to the NBA and went on to have incredible careers. I still hear people talk about how bad the ABA was but what they don’t remember is the number of superstars who came out of that league and helped make the NBA what it is today. I am hoping that the NBA has a great restart in the “bubble”, similar to the success that Major League Soccer is enjoying with their restart. Great memories.

Go the the 1:20 mark – Dr. J dunking from the foul line in the ABA slam dunk contest

Speaking of professional basketball and reflecting back to the earlier days of the NBA, I often compare the great players in the league now to years past. Of course Lebron James and Michael Jordan represent the amazing physicality of many NBA players, but my all-time favorite was Wilt Chamberlain. Some sports fans know that Wilt once scored 100 points in a game, but his lifetime statistics, including overall minutes played, are remarkable. I enjoyed watching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wes Unseld, Bill Russell, and Shaquille O’Neal play the center position, but as a kid I was amazed at Wilt’s ability to completely dominate a game. He has been called the strongest player ever to run the court, and it has been documented that he once bench-pressed 500 pounds. Here are a few items of note surrounding the career of Wilt Chamberlain and his NBA records that my never be broken:

  1. Points scored in one game 100
  2. Points per game in a season 50.4
  3. Career 60-point games 32
  4. Rebounds in a game 55
  5. Career rebounds per game 22.9
  6. Career minutes per game 45.8

With all due respect to the greatest of NBA players, pound-for-pound I will take Wilt Chamberlain as my GOAT (with all due respect to MJ and Lebron).

Wilt Chamberlain – the most dominant center ever to play basketball – IMO

I am not happy about it but I am not surprised at Atlanta United’s rough start to the already strange year of 2020. Three straight losses in the Major League Soccer restart tournament, along with the loss to Club America in the CONCACAF Champions League, have the team’s fan base (called the “17’s”) in an uproar. To be clear, I am disappointed with the results, the inability to score goals, and what seems to be a lack of tactical awareness and on-field leadership. Websites and social media called for the manager, Frank de Boer, to be fired and I agreed. Yes, I wish de Boer had come to Atlanta United with a few more years of managerial experience, and maybe a bit more personality from the sideline, but like all of us, his makeup comes from his DNA and upbringing. On Friday, Atlanta United ended their contract with Frank de Boer and most likely will use an interim manager to get through the rest of this season – if indeed the season continues. To all the “17’s” – would you want to be accountable for performance with a team that in one year lost Michael Parkhurst, Tito Villalba, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Darlington Nagbe, Justin Meram, Julian Gressel and Josef Martinez? The on-field leadership from Parkhurst and LGP; the high-energy performance standard set by Gressel and Tito; and the tremendous midfield ingenuity from Nagbe are difficult to replace and it is obvious that there is a gap to fill with these players now gone. Then there is Josef Martinez, who contributes most of the goal-scoring for United, going down with a knee injury. All I am really saying is that managing Atlanta United with the loss of these players is very tough, but at the professional level, the manager is paid to utilize his players to get results. Atlanta United’s ethos and brand promise has diminished and de Boer did not help with his communication, lack of tactical flexibility, and his general demeanor. Kudos to Atlanta United’s front office who made a tough decision but the right one. The good news: it is early on in the season, Jurgen Damm joins the team next week, and there are hints that the league will continue with regular season games on August 22nd.

Speaking of performance, Atlanta United’s rival Orlando City Soccer Club has done some magic with their coaching staff, front office, and player pool. It is very interesting to see and compare the season-over-season dynamics with Orlando City and Atlanta United. Orlando City has been invigorated and their fan base is loving it. While Atlanta United crashed out of the MLS restart tournament with three straight losses, Orlando City’s win last night puts them in the quarterfinals. A Harvard business case study on how to pivot performance.

Orlando City’s stadium is a short walk from downtown Orlando

Major League Baseball – good luck with your restart. Cutting down the number of games for this season is a blessing – now if you can only cut down the number of innings from nine to seven. Yes, I realize reducing the number of games and innings cuts into ad and sponsor revenue but let’s be real about the fortitude of a 162 game season in 2021 and beyond.

Outside of the world of sports, we lost one of the best blues guitarists of all time. He co-founded Fleetwood Mac and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. RIP Peter Green.

Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac fame

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a nice Sunday.

I’ll Take A Go At It.

Virus Mitigation.

I have discussed what I call the ‘virus fatigue syndrome’ from reading and learning information that is inconsistent from epidemiologists, virus czars, the World Health Organization and The Centers for Disease Control. It really irks me that in mid-July we are still not sure of the real cause of this coronavirus (Covid-19), the exact transmission faculties, whether antibodies developed after contracting the virus remain substantial, and whether or not you can contract the virus more than once. I know people 10x more intelligent than I am (which, by the way, is not difficult) are working hard on the cause and effect, but it is apparent that there is no short endgame in sight with Covid-19. Therefore, it is time for me to put up or shut up so I will start with four top-of-mind issues. My recommendations have nothing to do with politics, bipartisan wannabees, or anything to do with socio-economics.

  1. Everyone must immediately wear a face cover anytime they are not in their place of residence. Don’t make it a rule, or a suggestion, make it a state law. I don’t give a damn about politics, about a November election, what you look like with a face cover, the fact that you may have to adjust it more than you want to, that the face cover messes up your makeup (yes, wear a lot of makeup during a pandemic), and how it affects your self esteem. If you have self esteem issues wearing a face cover, read Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Yes, read the the damn book – it basically spells out the importance of food and shelter. What the hell do you need more than that during a pandemic? If you are ticketed by police officers for not wearing a face cover outside of your residence, you are fined $500.00 which will immediately be donated to causes helping first responders and the healthcare workers trying to keep all of us alive. If you are caught not wearing your face cover a second time, it is another $500.00 fine and you lose your driver’s license for a period of six months. That way, you can stay home, sulk, and NOT HAVE TO WEAR YOUR FACE COVERING. The face covering is no different that any other clothing article. Get over yourselves and your so-called rights and wear a face covering. Look at the science and the data – you don’t have to be smart to figure out the correlation. Again, my recommendation has zero to do with race, creed, religion, or political alignment. This is about the welfare of our country, our businesses, and our families.
  2. No public gatherings, for any reason, until January of 2021. No pool parties, no clubbing, no street tweaking, nothing that puts more than ten people in any one area. Restaurant owners, I support you but until year-end, your interior space allotment is 50% of capacity. That means 50% of your maximum capacity at any one time. Figure out and learn how to drive ‘more turns’ in your restaurant, so instead of one turn, you market hard to drive customers to your restaurant early and later and possibly create demand for a second turn. So instead of one turn of 100 customers, you create 2 turns of 50 customers and you try to stay ahead of your revenue plan. Bars will now have 50% capacity and no more than two bar stools together at ANY time. No standing at a bar with a drink. You sit at one of the two seats that are together or go somewhere else. Sporting venues: attendance is cut to 40% of capacity and no more than four seats together. 40% of an 18,000 seat arena or a 70,000 seat stadium is better than zero. The same 40% of capacity goes for maximum capacity at theaters, trade show venues, and concert halls….40% at any one time.
  3. Schools will go to a four-day ‘hybrid’ week. Students will be split in half with 50% attending on Monday and Wednesday and the other half attending on Tuesday and Thursday. Virtual lessons and homework will be completed by students on the two days they do not attend school. Students, teachers and staff will now receive a three-day weekend allowing time for recovery, planning, and spending time with their families. Face coverings for all are mandatory and forty-five minutes of the school day is dedicated to a low level of recreation. Lunch rooms will have box lunches if students do not bring their lunch. No cafeteria lines, no picking and choosing of food. Parents: again refer to Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs. Mitigate the risk and keep our children safe and educated.
  4. Get off your home office desk chair or your couch and donate blood. It is simple, it is quick, and blood banks around the country are in desperate need for blood. I donated for the third time in the last three months on Wednesday of last week. I made my appointment online, arrived at 11:25am, and left the OneBlood facility at 12:30pm. Unless you are not feeling well or have another healthcare issue that prevents you from donating, get online and make your appointment. The donation organizations appreciate your donation and some of them provide you with antibody, cholesterol, and blood pressure results. Just get it done – it’s simple.

I realize that my recommendations are easier said than done but the famous cliche “doing the same thing over and over again without a result is insanity” has never been so relevant. I am not asking for martial law and I certainly understand the plight of the small business owner or people who have lost their jobs due to businesses having to basically stop doing business. I am asking for all of us to get serious, very serious, with stopping the spread of Covid-19. We cannot due March and April again. We cannot shut down this country again. We just can’t. That is my ‘go at it’….what’s yours?

Adios, be safe, pay it forward, and have a nice Sunday.

Ten To Ponder.

There Are Some Positives.

1. While America is struggling to provide consistent Covid-19 information, other countries have turned the corner with managing the virus. This is very positive and gives me hope that the U.S.A. can do the same. Sooner better than later.

2. Major League Soccer’s (MLS) restart tournament started last Wednesday and though two teams were sent home due to a number of their players contracting the virus, the tournament has come off well so far. This is positive proof point that under the right circumstances sporting events can be held in a relatively safe environment. As for Atlanta United’s start to tournament, let’s look forward to their second match on Thursday morning.

3. The National Basketball Association (NBA) joined MLS at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports last week to begin training for their restart tournament. Again, very positive using the same model instituted by the MLS with their tournament being “in the bubble” using the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.

4. The same may not hold true for college football and let’s be clear: Saturday is for football. I think it would be very positive for conferences to move forward with conference games only. I will take a reduced number of games over no games, and I am perfectly fine with Georgia not having to play East Tennessee State and GA Tech not having to play Gardner-Webb. Let’s get it figured out.

5. Children going back to school. This can be positive in many ways for both the kids and their parents but is there enough data to help ensure the safety of children? I feel for parents who will make a very tough decision – and though I miss the days of my daughter being school-age, I am fortunate that I do not have to make that decision. I am not sure how schools can safely conduct classes in school rooms.

6. The hope of a vaccine to combat Covid-19. It is reported that over twenty-five bio-pharmaceutical companies are racing to engineer a vaccine. This is very positive with one woman from Seattle already testing the vaccine – with positive results to date. Fingers crossed for a rapid response to develop these vaccines.

7. I have tried to stay away from media coverage of the virus as I am appalled at the conflicting information and political posturing (have I told all of you what I think of politics?). With that said, a friend did send this article to me which I found, to a certain point, very interesting. https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/neuroscientist-covid-brain-is-a-real-thing-heres-how-to-deal-with-it.html

8. The cash flow and balance sheet of many NFL teams remain very healthy. Proof point: young Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs’ talented quarterback, signed a ten-year contract reportedly worth $500m. This is problematic to many of us but the reality is that even in these uncertain times the NFL remains a ratings-generating machine. JP: tell us how you feel about the NFL? 🙂

9. Positive vibes from the late General Norman Schwarzkopf, who was not known for his diplomacy and made his points very clear. Two of my favorites from the late General with this first one very relevant to me: “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.” As for my second favorite, I want to be clear that I have no ill will with the people of France: “Going to war without France is like going hunting without an accordion.” Oh my.

10. And last but not least: you have fifteen seconds to think of the one letter of the alphabet that is not used in any of the fifty states of the U.S.A. No cheating Richie P.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday.

I Just Don’t Know.

Let’s Get On With It.

I don’t ‘love’ all animals. There is nothing about a armadillo that makes me smile. I can say the same for a bison – a massive creature that can weigh over 2,000 lbs. and stand 6′ tall. It can run (is that what a bison does?) at 40 mph and its sharp horns are 2′ long. So no, while I respect the physicality of a bison it would not be on my top ten list of favorites. I bring this random information to light because some people who love to photograph animals take it upon themselves to move in way too close. Have you ever been on the Blue Ridge Parkway and watched people stop and get out of their cars to watch roadside bears? The same is true for Yellowstone National Park, which just reopened a few weeks ago. A 72-year-old visitor to the park decided that it was a good idea to get close to a bison to take some photographs. How close? How does ten feet sound? The woman, now in an Idaho hospital, received multiple ‘goring wounds’. Why would anyone get as close as 10′, or for that matter, 50 yards, from that beast of an animal? Don’t get angry with me PETA, the bison is basically prehistoric.

Yellowstone’s senior bison biologist Chris Geremia is warning guests to “stay at least 25 yards away” from the wildlife, and to move, run away or find cover if they approach or charge.
Taking a photo from 10′ away? How about NO?

Being an Atlanta Falcons fan, I was never a big supporter of Cam Newton as he played for the division-rival Carolina Panthers. It is interesting to me that this former league MVP recently had some issues finding a job with a team – and now has landed in New England with the Patriots. With much less talented quarterbacks earning as much as $15M a year, Newton signed with the Patriots at an incentive-laden $1.1M annually, which at his tenure is the league minimum. I just find this a bit crazy and it may be due to his age and previous injuries. Some people are ‘joking’ that he made more at Auburn University then what he will earn with the Patriots. 🙂

The movement to do away with offensive nicknames, a.k.a. the Redskins, Chiefs, Braves, and Indians seems to be of the upmost importance right now. Why, with everything else the world has going on, would we now take on this issue? Don’t get me wrong. I am not in favor of any type of discrimination or bigotry, but this is just more social uneasiness that to me seems mundane. With that said, I am 100% in favor of establishing an American Indian council, consisting of different tribal leaders from all over the country. I mentioned in a previous post that I was fortunate enough to grow up with Tommy Tiger, a Miccosukee Indian whose reservation was west of Miami, located in the Everglades. Tommy’s father and grandfather were very proud American Indians, with a heritage that to this day I am envious of, with traditions and celebrations that were wonderful. Let’s bring together these tribal leaders and ask them for THEIR opinions – and if they agree that the nicknames are offensive then the owners of the teams should change them. We now have investment banks and sponsors involved with the issue. Why not ask our country’s American Indians how they want to handle this situation?

Buffalo Tiger, Miccosukee Tribe's First Chairman, Walks On
Buffalo Tiger, the first Chairman of the Miccosukee Tribe

We lost two great people of entertainment last week, Hugh Downs and Carl Reiner. Downs was a perennial host and news broadcaster, a talent with skills that many broadcasters envy to this day. Reiner was an actor, director, comedian and screenwriter who provided a path of success for hundreds. Both were incredibly talented and for many reasons will be missed. RIP Hugh Downs and Carl Reiner.

The incredibly talented Carl Reiner passed away last week.

Godspeed Major League Soccer who restart their season next Wednesday night with a tournament held within the “bubble” of the Wide World of Sports complex just outside of Orlando, Florida. Let us all hope that the tournament comes off relatively virus-free and sets the stage for other sports to restart.

From reading previous posts everyone knows that I am a proponent of NASA and their space programs, especially the initiative to privatize spacecraft design and development. NASA’s brilliance is well-recognized and documented. Then you learn they they enlisted a fragrance company to develop a perfume that ‘smells like space’. If you’re curious about what outer space smells like, Peggy Whitson, an astronaut and former resident of the International Space Station, told CNN: “It’s kind of like a smell from a gun, right after you fire the shot”. Another astronaut was a bit more vivid with their description: “a mix of gunpowder, seared steak, raspberries and rum”. Fantastic and I am sure I will be ordering soon. Really NASA?

It doesn’t get any better than this.

Year over year comparisons are part of financial statement metrics for most organizations. This is exemplified by this factoid from the National Football League: Fifty years ago, in 1970, the combined total revenue for the 26 teams in the NFL was $130M with a team’s payroll somewhere south of $2.5m. Today, 50 years later, the total team revenue for this season (pre-Covid 19) was expected to be $16.5B. Team payrolls for 2020 will surpass $240M. In a word, amazing.

Today is the 4th of July and though many celebrations and fireworks are cancelled due to Covid-19, let’s not forget what today is all about. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was enacted, declaring that the thirteen American colonies were no longer subject to the monarch of Britain, King George III. Some of us know the rest of the story. Today celebrates independence which becomes a very relevant word in this time of unrest. Let’s remember the first responders, the healthcare workers and all the people who support them. Let’s also focus on the women and men of our military forces, and hope that our allies stand with us and our enemies remember that we are a country that is not shy about using our massive armament. Let us hope that we do not have to use our devastating anti-missile defense system due to provocation. I am not exactly sure of the technology used with the anti-missile system in the video below. What I am sure about is that I would not enjoy being an enemy pilot penetrating this airspace. Happy Independence Day.

Can enemy aircraft escape this devastating barrage?

Adios, pay it forward and have a happy and safe 4th of July.