MAINE'S SPORTS LEADAH!
August is the Target for Sports to Return
By Jeff Solari
If you had to guess, when do you think we’ll see sports resume in our country? In a time with so many bigger challenges, it might not be the most pressing question out there. But this is a sports e mail blast and to us sports fans it’s a legit question.

Saturday afternoon President Trump and the leaders of the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, NASCAR, MLS, PGA, LPGA, Breeders’ Cup, UFC and WWE did a conference call to discuss the current state of the business of sports in America.

Trump said he wanted the NFL to start on time in the fall. He also indicated he wanted fans back in stands as early as August. 

Let that sink in. August. At the earliest.

That's basically four more months, 1/3rd of the year, of waiting too see live sporting events. That’s as bad as waiting between seasons for Game of Thrones to return.

The WWE just hosted a Wrestle Mania in an empty building. Weird ambience but lots of pay per view money.

MLB has publicly considered playing games in front of no fans. For teams like the Red Sox, the TV money is substantial and playing games of any kind can mean big revenue. Even without sticking us for $10 hot dogs and $14 beers.

It would seem the NBA and NHL seasons are done. I think that makes the Bruins the Stanley Cup champs as they have the most points in the league? Not sure you can raise a banner for that though.

I think the NFL and college football can start on time.

It would seem baseball would have to play at least 100 games to justify returning and holding playoffs. To do that they need to start July 1 and host some double headers for sure. Maybe they play in empty stadiums until August? Will that happen? So many questions yet to be answered.

Weekly Poll
WHEN DO YOU THINK WE WILL SEE SPORTS BACK TO NORMAL?
MAY
JUNE
JULY
AUGUST
OTHER?


Gronk is a WWE Champion. Oh My!
By Sterling Pingree
Not a typo, Rob Gronkowski, in his first real work in WWE, won a championship at WrestleMania 36.

Gronk’s role as host included about 5 total minutes of screen time in the 2-night, roughly 6.5 hour broadcast. 

The title Gronk won? Something called the 24/7 championship, where it can be won or lost at anytime and is generally held by mid-card talents and special guests.

A group of wrestlers were brawling beneath the balcony that Gronk was posted up on for the weekend, and like Wayne & Garth at an Aerosmith concert, Gronk dove into the crowd of 10, found his buddy Mojo Rawley (current title holder) pinned him and ran out the door. 

Pro wrestling fans are generally very cynical, they hate everything first and hope they get pleasantly surprised. The feeling amongst many WWE fans is that Gronk is going to be a train wreck. There’s always been hard feelings amongst diehard wrestling fans for football players and I’m not quite sure why, most pro wrestlers have a football background. But WWE is going to have to be very careful how they use Gronk going forward, if they throw him out there and try to shove him down the fans throats, this won’t work.

I hope I’m wrong and Gronk goes on to have a long and successful career. My cynicism has more to do with lack of faith in WWE than Gronkowski as an on screen personality. 

24/7 champion Rob Gronkowski that is. 



Good Luck To Jeremy Swayman
This Weekend!


For Your Viewing Pleasure
During the Quarantine
By Ryan McLaughlin
In normal times, this is arguably the best time of year to be a sports fan. 

March Madness, on courts and ice rinks. The Masters. The Bruins and Celtics locking down playoff position.
The Red Sox and MLB.

Suffice to say, 2020 isn't your "normal year," with sports - from high school to professional - on hold around the world as the world tries to combat the Coronavirus. 

Even during this mass stoppage, there are plenty of ways to get your sports fix in that don't include playing Madden or NBA2K on your PlayStation 4. I'm talking about some inspiring sports movies.

Here are some great choices from each end of the spectrum, and we'll start with movies, fiction or based on true events.

"Miracle." 

Kind of a no-brainer given we're celebrating the 40th anniversary of arguably the greatest upset in sports history when a bunch of college hockey players found a way to beat the mighty Soviets en route to a gold medal in the 1980 Olympics.

Kurt Russell is a dynamo as coach Herb Brooks, and captures the late coach's passion and determination very well.

There's also a UMaine hockey connection. The late Michael Mantenuto, who had a cup of coffee with the Black Bear program under coach Tim Whitehead, played the role of enforcer and Boston University alumnus Jack O'Callahan. 

It's hard not to get misty-eyed when the audio of Al Michaels' legendary call is heard. 

"Varsity Blues" 

While there's no true story here, this late-90's film taps into the real, intense life of Texas high school football.

James Van der Beek was outstanding as backup quarterback turned starter Johnny "Mox" Moxon. Jon Voight's role as gung-ho head coach Bud Kilmer is a powerful one. Backup Mox is promoted to starter when Lance Harbour - played by the late Paul Walker - blows out his knee, and has the leadership and guts to stand up to Kilmer.

"Hoosiers"

If we're missing March Madness, the greatest hoops movie of all time should be a no-brainer.

Don't get caught watching the paint dry. Gene Hackman's character got his players to buy in, but it helped when superstar Jimmy Chitwood decided to play.

The finale is filmed at Butler (now Hinkle) Fieldhouse, an arena that's a must-visit for any hoops fan.

"Rookie of the Year" or "Angels in the Outfield."

Being a 90's kid, I had to throw these mid-90's classics in.

The former is always great for a laugh. A 12-year old kid (Thomas Ian Nicholas) breaks his arm, goes to a Cubs game after getting his cast off, and following Wrigley Field's "you can't keep a homer hit by the other team" rule, throws a 430-foot frozen rope to home plate, prompting the Loveable Losers to make Henry Rowengartner the youngest player in the big leagues. 

This was one of those feel-good films that also got Nicholas' career jumpstarted before his well-known role in the "American Pie" trilogy early in the new millenium.

As far as "Angels" goes, that's a great feel-good story with a dynamite cast (Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, Danny Glover, Tony Danza, Matthew McConaughey). Today's athletes, especially baseball players, should give this one a view. 

The final scene where Danza's character, an aging star pitcher, believes in angels then leads his team to a division title without divine assistance, can be a tear-jerker.

"Major League"

A classic. Plain and simple.

A young Charlie Sheen - a good baseball player in his time - was outstanding as Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn. 

There's also a bit of inspiration to go with the comedy, especially when Vaughn is told "This guy's the out you've been waiting your whole life for" by Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger), who took advantage of his "last chance," using baseball to turn his life around. 

Wild Cards: "Glory Road," "We Are Marshall," "The Mighty Ducks"

Next week I'll add some documentaries that you will love!




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Here's a Movie to Avoid During
Your Quarantine
By Sterling Pingree

Under the auspices of staying inside and away from people, I hunkered down on Sunday afternoon. While I scoured Netflix I stumbled upon Oliver Stone’s 1999 football flick, Any Given Sunday.

You might be shocked to learn, that I, Sterling Pingree, all-time sportsman and football guy (seasonally Big Bruins Guy ((Registered Trademark)) ) have never watched Any Given Sunday .

After hearing about how great this movie is for 20 years, mostly from my college roommate (shout out Tom Corbett), here’s a review.

The Good

I’m a sucker for sports movie cameos from real athletes. Larry Bird in Blue Chips, Barry Bonds in Rookie of the Year, Larry Bird in Celtic Pride, Drew Bledsoe in Jerry Maguire, and Larry Bird in Space Jam just make the movies more real.

Any Given Sunday doesn’t have cameos, they have NFL legends acting in the movie. Jim Brown plays the Miami Shark’s defensive coordinator, Montezuma Monroe. Lawrence Taylor plays a Shark’s linebacker (more on that in a minute). Johnny Unitas plays the Dallas head coach for crying out loud!

Charlton Heston played the commissioner! This movie is loaded with star power and that’s overlooking the fact that the grizzled head coach is played by Al Pacino, two star QBs are Jamie Foxx and Dennis Quaid. LL Cool J (who was huge at the time) was the bell cow running back. Cameron Diaz is the owner/gm (stretch but fine) Ann-Margaret is her mom (just fine) and then there is a hundred other actors you’d know by name that I won’t list.

Plus Oliver Stone oddly plays an announcer and Jesse from Saved By the Bell plays a prostitute. (I guess she got pigeon holed after Show Girls?)

The Bad

There’s a lot of bad. First off, any sports movie about a professional league runs the risk of looking silly when they can’t use real teams. Any Given Sunday is supposed to be a gritty and harsh look at professional football, so there was no way they were getting cooperation from the NFL, as the film depicts a players life of pain killer abuse, women, concussions, greed and delusion. That being said, the generic team names (and worse uniforms) hurts the film greatly. The Minnesota Americans? Miami Sharks? (wink wink) And the worst of all, the Dallas Knights. 

The Dallas Knights, opponent of the Miami Sharks in the FIRST ROUND of the playoffs, is the climatic game of the movie. The Dallas Knights are coached by Johnny Unitas (who gets ZERO lines) and play in Texas Stadium. All good right? Well they turn chicken salad back into chicken blank by shrouding the stadium in red, dressing the team in Miller High Life colored uniforms (shout out Bam), with no logos on the helmets, and GIANT Knight’s cross logos on the front of the uniforms BECAUSE THE FRONT OF THE UNIFORMS DON’T HAVE FREAKING NUMBERS ON THEM! How am I supposed to buy into this giant, meaningful, final game with the big bad Dallas team looking like something from an 80’s handheld game? 

There are a millions little things in this movie that drove me nuts.

Willie Beamen (Foxx) plays a game and a half (and not well) and he already had a hit rap song? The big final game is essentially a wild card game? The championship game is called the Pantheon Cup? (Seriously, it made me realize how a non-football fan must feel when we go on and on about someone winning a Super Bowl, it just sounds dopey!) 

But the worst, the absolutely worst thing about the movie is that they have Lawrence Taylor. LT. Greatest defensive player of all-time, lined up as a player on the Miami Sharks and they screw it up two ways. 
  1. In the movie, he wears #58. Excuse me, LT is 56, I know it’s a movie but COME ON!
  2. LT’s name in the movie? Shark Lavay. The star defensive player of the Miami Sharks, is nicknamed Shark. DID THEY PUT ANY THOUGHT INTO ANY OF THIS? 
The movie is 2.5 hours and is on Netflix. It didn’t hold my attention, but now I guess I can say that I have seen it. Can’t say that I’d recommend it, yet. But I guess that depends on how hard up we get for sports in the coming weeks.





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Lots of opinions from our bloggers again this week. As always they are just that, their opinions, and not necessarily shared by Jeff Solari and The Sports Chowdah, or our sponsors. We also from time to time share articles from other publications and websites. Obviously sharing links is very common today but we also like to share great content in its entirety. The authors' opinions and content belong to them, not the Sports Chowdah or Rock Lobster Media LLC.
Who Is This Jeff Solari Guy Anyway?

Jeff Solari is the President and owner of Rock Lobster Media and The Sports Chowdah. Jeff is also a former co-host of the regions most listened to afternoon sports talk show, The Drive on 92.9FM The Ticket in Bangor.

He has been in sports media since he was 17. He is not shy with his opinions or unique perspective on the world of sports.

Jeff is a graduate of Mount Desert Island High School and the University of Southern Maine.

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Jeff Solari | Sports Chowdah | (207) 735-7323 | jeff@sportschowdah.com  | www.jeffsolari.com