Friday, September 29, 2017

Lions Monday Night Secret

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
PHOTOS BY CANDICE EBLING

I have to hand it to the Detroit Lions, they certainly knew how to stay quiet about Coach Jim Caldwell's contract extension.

In Detroit's 24-10 win over the New York Giants on Monday, September 18, ESPN Announcer's Sean McDonough and Jon Gruden could have acted as agents to get Caldwell a contract extension. They were emphasizing to management how necessary it was to keep him.

Going into the contest, Caldwell had a 29-21 record.

What McDonough and Gruden didn't know is that prior to Caldwell, only four Lions coaches since 1951 had winning records.

Buddy Parker had a record of 47-23-2 .667 mark from 1951-56.

George Wilson led Detroit to a 53-45-6 .538 record from 1957-64.

Joe Schmidt had a successful tenure from 1967-72 leading Detroit to a 43-34-7 .554 mark.

In an interim role in 2000, former Michigan Wolverines Coach Gary Moeller led Detroit to a 4-3 .571 record only not to be retained by new CEO and GM Matt Millen the following season.

One Coach who nearly compiled a .500 record but holds the most wins in franchise history which dates back to 1930 when the team was the Portsmouth Spartans, is Wayne Fontes.

Fontes was 66-67 with a .496 winning percentage and his team, led by Hall of Fame Running Back Barry Sanders produced the squad's last playoff triumph over the Dallas Cowboys in 1991. Fontes piloted the team from 1988-96.

But Millen's tenure turned out to be a disaster in many ways.

Under his leadership from 2001-07, Detroit compiled a 31-81 record and a .277 winning percentage. The Lions compiled nine losses in each season and he hired Rod Marinelli, who would be the only coach in NFL History to record an 0-16 season.

Moreover, in 2003, the NFL fined the Lions $200,000 for failure to Interview African American candidates for the team's vacant head coaching job. The Lions immediately hired former San Francisco 49'ers Head Coach Steve Mariucci.

This would ultimately lead to the formation of the Rooney Rule.

But who would have thought that the only African-American Lions Coach in franchise history would have a 29-22 .569 mark going into Sunday's road game against the Minnesota Vikings?

Caldwell's body of work is equivalent to his classy demeanor as he never made a big deal about his contract and never wanted to be a distraction.

The guy has guided Detroit to a pair of playoff appearances, and has led the team into the post-season overcoming the retirement of future Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Calvin Johnson.

His QB Matt Stafford earned tremendous praise from McDonough and Gruden in the Giants game because of his scrambling ability along with his ability to extend plays with his feet, let alone a quick release.

Is Stafford worth the $135 Million contract that he recently inked which amounts to $27 Million Per-Season, which is the highest at the moment?

Judging by the sound of McDonough and Gruden's compliments, the answer is yes.

More importantly, there are a lot of teams that are having issues with their signal callers, but the Lions aren't one of them.

Former Florida Gators QB Tim Tebow is 1-1 in the playoffs and there are many signal callers that have been to the tournament many times that don't have a playoff victory.

A lot of Caldwell's wins are coming from the foot of kicker Matt Prater, who drills game winners and 50-yarders with tremendous frequency.

Against the New York Giants, Prater nailed a 56-yarder that dribbled over the goal post. I expect him to have a solid game in Minnesota, playing in a dome.

After the Lions win over the Giants, things would not get better for a team that actually plays in New Jersey.

New York Coach Ben McAdoo blamed Eli Manning for his sloppy play and also took responsibility for the Detroit loss.

Pro Bowl Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. made an idiot out of himself by celebrating active status with team handshakes.

He also tried to draw attention to himself by wearing gold cleats for the MNF Warmup.

McAdoo looked bad by ripping Manning. Eli was 22-32 for 239 yards, but was sacked five times by Detroit.

You don't throw the franchise QB under the bus, especially one that has won two Super Bowls.

As for Beckham, while he didn't get hurt, he did deliver a hit on Lions rookie first round linebacker Jarrad Davis, formerly of the Florida Gators. Davis would go on Concussion Protocol and missed the Lions 30-26 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at Ford Field.

Detroit dropped to 2-1 but came a yard short of yet another comeback win for Stafford.

Against Detroit, Beckham caught four passes for 36 yards.

How did Manning and Beckham do in week three against the Philadelphia Eagles?

Manning was 35-47, 366 with three touchdown passes and two interceptions. His numbers were better because he wasn't sacked.

Mr. Hotdog Beckham caught nine passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns, but once
again created drama for all the wrong reasons.

He took an unsportsmanlike 15-yard penalty and was fined $12,154.00 for pretending to urinate like a dog on the field.

Philadelphia won the game 27-24, thanks to a 61-yard field goal by rookie Jake Elliott, who is filling in for veteran Caleb Sturgis as the Giants dropped to 0-3. I wouldn't be surprised to see Elliott in another uniform once Sturgis returns.

One other thing that stood out in the Lions vs Giants game was when McDonough made a mistake as he said Lions Offensive Lineman Taylor Decker was from Michigan and Not from Ohio State.

I understand that Decker's very passionate about the rivalry, but everybody makes mistakes so get over it Taylor and focus on helping your team return to the playoffs and getting a tournament win, something that hasn't occurred since the 1991 Season when the Lions played at the soon to be demolished Pontiac Silverdome.

Since the Lions rarely appear on Monday Night Football, I rarely watch McDonough, 55 and Gruden, 54, but I have to admit these guys do a nice job together.

I'm looking forward to seeing them again on Monday, November 6, 2017 when the Lions visit their Wisconsin nemesis, The Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

This is a contest that I'm looking forward to writing about and I've seen these clubs meet numerous times both in Wisconsin and in Michigan.

I learn a lot from Gruden because he's a guy who won Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego as his Tampa Bay Buccaneers pounded the Oakland Raiders 48-21 with an average QB named Brad Johnson.

There will be no shortage of Honolulu Blue and Silver appearances as Detroit has five nationally televised contests this year including their annual Thanksgiving Game, so the Lions will be spread around all the networks.

This will save my pocketbook in the Sports Bars and I'll actually be able to hear what these commentators are actually saying.

One story line that could come up is whether Detroit will win a playoff game and perhaps more, under 92-year old Owner Martha Firestone Ford, who hired Caldwell and therefore, both have a 29-22 record.

One thing is for certain, there will be No Secret about Caldwell's contract the rest of the year when the Lions appear on another Nationally Televised Game, since his contract was just recently extended.

But Caldwell's success on the field will be decided by his Gunslinger Matthew Stafford and as I mentioned earlier, the leg of kicker Matt Prater.

While Prater will be kicking against the Vikings, ironically the Detroit Tigers will conclude their season in Minneapolis at Target Field against the playoff bound Minnesota Twins.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com and is a member of The Detroit Sports Media.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Monday Night Game Worth Watching

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

I can't remember the last time that I wrote a story on a Monday Night Football Game but this time I had a vested interest.

The one application that I use as a reliable source of information is called "The Score."

On Tuesday Morning, the application had 15 Headlines after the Detroit Lions defeated the New York Giants 24-10 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

I'm going to list all of them and then comment on the ones that standout.

1. McAdoo rips Eli for 'sloppy quarterback play'

2. Woeful offensive line destroying Giants playoff hopes

3. Giants offensive struggles gift victory to Lions

4. Giants McAdoo takes blame for dismal loss to Lions

5. Beckham had no setbacks with ankle after season debut

6. Lions rookie Agnew jukes his way to 88-yard return TD

7. Giants get booed off field after dismal 1st half

8. Watch Lions leave Giants Engram wide open for 1st career TD

9. Giants gift-wrap INT 1 play after fumble

10. Stafford opens the scoring with strike to Jones

11. OBJ celebrates active status with team handshakes

12. Beckham makes season debut vs. Lions on MNF

13. Look: Beckham wearing custom golden cleats for MNF warm-up

14. MNF brings huge implications for one Las Vegas parlay bettor

15. Giants Marshall laments 4th-quarter drop: 'I let my team down.'

How does one digest all of this?

First of all, New York is the No.1 Media Market in the Country and the Giants have won Super Bowls.

Second, the last time the Lions won an NFL Championship was 60 years ago, have one playoff victory and have never been to a Super Bowl.

If these headlines don't give the Lions much positive publicity, at least there was some with the ESPN Announcers.

Sean McDonough, 55, and his partner Jon Gruden, 54, do a nice job and appear to have good chemistry.

I've always admired Gruden's knowledge and has won a Super Bowl as a head coach with Brad Johnson as his signal caller.

Not the prototypical Hall of Fame signal caller, but Gruden got the most of Johnson as Tampa Bay routed the Oakland Raiders 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego.

There were some things that stood out about what these commentators had to say.

There has been a lot of talk about Matthew Stafford's $27-Million Per-Year Contract, the highest in the NFL at the moment.

There was no Stafford bashing on this telecast and by listening to Gruden, I even picked up some things about Matthew since I was watching the game at home and not in a loud sports bar with no sound of the Lions contest.

His calls in the huddle were Arkansas and (Clayton) Kershaw, his high school friend and star pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He must have liked hearing Peyton Manning using Omaha in the huddle when calling plays.

I've always been an admirer of Stafford's different arm angles as to how he releases the ball depending on the situation he's in. Plus, he does have a quick release.

He's also started in 99 consecutive games.

On Monday Night, Gruden mentioned frequently about Stafford's scrambling ability and his ability to extend plays with his feet.

The duo also let the National Audience know that Lions Coach Jim Caldwell is in the final year of his four-year contract and it hasn't been extended yet.

They said Caldwell didn't make a big deal about it and he's financially secure.

Perhaps he is, but don't think for a minute that Caldwell would like to be rewarded for his success. But Jim is too classy to make a big deal out of things and become a distraction.

Lions General Manager Bob Quinn, who has done a masterful job remaking the roster and led the Lions to a playoff berth in his first year, knows he has some work to do to keep his coach.

This is a coach that Owner Martha Firestone Ford has tremendous admiration for and also hired.
Ford's 92nd birthday was Saturday and after the win against New York, the coach invited her into the Lions' winning locker room and the team sang her Happy Birthday.

Detroit is 29-21 since Mrs. Ford became the team's principal owner in 2014.

In Caldwell's time on the job, he's led the team to a 29-21 record with a .571 winning percentage plus a pair of playoff berths and has assembled a coaching staff that has led to Stafford's development. Caldwell is also winning without Calvin Johnson.

In addition to Stafford's performance, after going through numerous field goal kickers, Detroit found a good one in Matt Prater, who kicks game winners and 50-yarders with incredible frequency. On Monday Night, he pulled the trick again nailing a 56-yarder that dribbled over the goal post.

But let's go back to the headlines.

It's easy for Giants Head Coach Ben McAdoo to rip two-time winning Super Bowl Winning QB Eli Manning for sloppy play because when New York's offensive line is playing poorly, what do you expect a signal caller to do when he's sacked five times?

Manning was 22-32 for 239 yards and one interception.

McAdoo should take blame for the dismal loss to the Lions because his QB is running for his life while Detroit actually had success with its running attack amassing 138 yards as a unit. Gruden wasn't shy about this crediting the Lions for staying with the ground game.

As far as the Giants' offensive struggles gift victory to Lions: give me a break. The Lions pass rush deserves credit for part of this as Gruden also noted.

While Stafford's 15-21, 122 yards and two touchdowns despite being sacked three times won't impress fantasy football owners, it's good enough to give Detroit a 2-0 record.

Add the 88-yard TD Return by Jamal Agnew which sealed the contest, and the Giants simply had a bad night on The Big Stage. Agnew won this week's NFC's Special Teams Player of The Week.

The Giants deserved to be booed after their dismal first half which wouldn't get any better the rest of the game.

The Giants can be thankful that franchise receiver Odell Beckham Jr. didn't suffer any setbacks with his injured ankle in his season debut.

But Beckham delivered a hit on Lions rookie first round linebacker Jarrad Davis, formerly of the Florida Gators, and he's now on Concussion Protocol. Davis status for Sunday's game at Ford Field remains uncertain.

Granted catching four passes for 36 yards does nothing for Beckham's fantasy owners, but please tell me this, who the heck cares that OBJ celebrates active status with team handshakes, and is wearing golden cleats for a MNF warm-up?

Seriously?

Giants newly acquired wide receiver Brandon Marshall should be aggravated with himself for dropping a key pass in the fourth quarter.

This is a guy that as McDonough and Gruden pointed out is on the down side of his career and in the past few years has played for the Chicago Bears, New York Jets, now the Giants after starting out with the Denver Broncos.

His shelf life is shortening by the drop.

I have no idea when I'll write my next Monday Night Football Story.

It might be Tuesday November 7, 2017, the day after Detroit faces the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Wisconsin.

We'll see what McDonough and Gruden have to say that night and if the Lions are still in playoff contention.

Regardless of what happens that night, the rivalry between Detroit and Green Bay is one of the best in the NFL.

Detroit has five nationally televised contests this year including their annual Thanksgiving Game so they'll be spread out around all the networks.

Winning games like this and having a gunslinger in Matthew Stafford will only give the Lions what Rodney Dangerfield didn't have, and that's respect.

But on a day where the headline writers gave the New York Giants more excuses and failed to give the Lions where credit was due, this was worth talking about.

But at least I came away that I might watch McDonough and Gruden because I enjoyed what they have to offer and learned some things.

The only mistake that McDonough made that I noticed in the telecast was when he said that Lions Offensive Lineman Taylor Decker was from Michigan and not Ohio State.

I understand that Decker's very passionate about the rivalry but everybody makes mistakes so get over it Taylor and focus on helping your team return to the playoffs and getting a tournament win.

In the meantime while the Lions victory over the New York Giants was ugly, they are 2-0 and know they'll need to play much better at Ford Field against the NFC Champions Atlanta Falcons to improve to 3-0.

Stafford knows his numbers must be better and he'll need a much better performance to earn the win against the Falcons, but he's no stranger to adversity while wearing the Honolulu Blue and Silver so nothing figures to change.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com and is a member of The Detroit Sports Media.  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Games Hurricane Irma Played

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

I've been through enough Hurricanes through the years in two separate tenures living in Florida, but I have to admit, Hurricane Irma was one nasty storm/lady.

How do you put into perspective about the damage a storm causes?

Is it property damage, the loss of power, deaths that result in a natural disaster, the media publicity that an area gets during such adversity?

I suppose that depending on who you talk to, you'll get a different opinion but there is one common denominator and that is these storms are extremely stressful!

My wife and I just returned from a two-week vacation from Hawaii and heard rumblings that Irma was going to be trouble.

From Paradise To Paranoia. The whirlwind was in full force. The 48-hour race to get out of town was on.

We went from people to roadrunners and through the years I've been a Road Warrior and this was a challenge I would be ready to tackle.

Luckily, we moved swiftly to keep our cats Bucky and Boots Morganroth at their veterinarian, then moved swiftly to get the Hurricane Shutters attached to our Villa in Deerfield Beach, FL.

There is no question that Social Media helped provide enough information to make a swift instinctual decision that was aided by my cousin Cindy, who told me there would be plenty of gas in Fort Pierce, FL., if we decided to evacuate.

When I heard comparisons that Hurricane Irma was being compared to a Category Five Hurricane named Andrew, then the decision was made for us.

Before I move ahead with what we did, here are the Top Five Costliest U.S. Atlantic Hurricanes.

1) Katrina 2005 ($108 Billion)
2) Sandy 2012 ($71.4 Billion)
3) Ike 2008 ($29.5 Billion)
4) Andrew 1992 ($26.5 Billion)
5) Wilma 2005 ($21 Billion)

Let's put these numbers in perspective.

Can you imagine 25-years later how much Hurricane Andrew would be worth to realize the severity of the storm? I get sick thinking about these numbers.

In Florida, Hurricane Andrew did $25.3 Billion in damage and almost all of the damage was caused by strong winds, therefore this storm has set new standards in building codes which exist now.

The extent of the damage was limited from Kendall to Key Largo and 99% of the mobile homes in Homestead, FL., were destroyed.

I've been told that the area looked like a war-zone.

Moreover, at the Homestead Air Force Base, most of the 2000 buildings on the base were severely damaged and rendered unusable.

The Cleveland Indians were planning to move their Spring Training Operation to Homestead but that complex was wiped out, therefore, they moved to Winter Haven, FL.

I actually experienced Wilma and there was minimal roof damage, but that was taken care of by My Association, but the real impact I dealt with was going several days without power.

So when I kept hearing comparisons to Hurricane Andrew, this decision was an easy decision.

I'm really happy that My Parents were able to get one of the last flights out of Fort Lauderdale International Airport headed to Detroit Michigan on Friday September 8, 2017 so they could avoid this storm.

As far as my wife and I were concerned, we evacuated on Thursday Night, September 7, at 10 p.m and decided to visit family in Nashville, TN.

The photo provided here was on our way back home. But on the way north, traffic was bumper-to-bumper.

What we expected and what turned out to be has enabled me to put together a story where the title of this post is very appropriate and the roles, games I had to play being the pilot of an All-Wheel Drive Black Subaru Impreza, which would handle a lot of rain and get exceptional gas mileage.

1.  Checkers---Bouncing from one gas station to another. You never know where there would be availability. The rule of this trip is make a lot more stops and try not to get near a half a tank.

2. Chess---Trying to plan every move on the road as to when to leave and return home and minimize traffic. That wasn't easy the first night because when you have a Category Five headed in your direction, there are only three major highways that allow you to leave Florida heading north.

There is I-75, Florida Turnpike and I-95. I usually have a lot of success driving late at night, however, this challenge tops them all.

We were going 5 mph on the Florida Turnpike and saw a lot of disabled vehicles many of which ran out of gas, overheated or had accidents. There were a lot of drivers, myself included that decided to take u-turns on the Florida Turnpike and decided to backtrack and take I-95 North. It may have been a longer drive but at least the chances of running out of gas and being stranded decreased.

3. NASCAR Driver---When the traffic was fast, it wasn't hard to pass other drivers in an attempt to get out of this state ASAP. When things were slow, I had a Spotter otherwise known as My Brother-In-Law based out of Racine, WI., named Todd, who was giving me traffic updates on his computer and alternate routes in an attempt to avoid problematic areas during Friday's Insanity.

4. Golf---That was the card game that my Niece Emily wanted to play while we were in town. For a person that doesn't play cards much, I took a liking to this game.

5. Boxer---I felt like I survived 27 rounds and 43 hours of no sleep with this insane traffic, especially in Atlanta, GA at 9 pm which drove me crazy. Atlanta is a tough place to drive but during a weather crisis, this town can age you much faster.

When I looked at My Sister-In-Law Denise and gave her a hug when we arrived at her home, she knew I was a fighter that was tired but went the distance, despite eating dinner at 11 pm Central Time. We went the distance to win this match with Irma by being safe.

6. Football---I needed College
Football on Saturday and the NFL on Sunday to wind down and totally decompress. Denise's black leather couch was one of my best friend's last weekend.

7. Marathon Driver---The total automobile time round trip was 47 hours covering over 2000 miles.

8. Indy Car Driver---Needed to have that mentality because on that circuit there are many road courses, but this time it was through hills and mountains.

9. Baseball---We had a curve thrown our way as we were planning to cover the Milwaukee Brewers vs Miami Marlins game at Marlins Park, on September 16-17, but that venue was switched to Miller Park in Milwaukee, because of the backlash of Hurricane Irma.

10. Runner---I had to do more sprinting on this trip due to more frequent gas stops than normal because of the constant concern to find fuel.

But the journey itself would allow us to take gas stops in college towns such as Gainesville and Tallahassee, FL., in addition to Valdosta, GA and Troy, AL.

I saw more U.S. Highways on this trip than any other through much of my travels where I've driven in all 50 states. But some of them are nice especially the ones that don't have as many traffic lights.

When we were in Tennessee, there was a lot of good sightseeing and saw the Home Estate of Andrew Jackson which came off my bucket list.

It was a neat place if you follow American History. It featured a Museum, Movie Theaters and where the seventh President and his wife Rachel were Buried which is where I'm standing.

Yet we still were glued to updates as to when to drive back to Florida.

We ultimately left Wednesday Morning at 8:10 am local time and made it home at 5:30 am the following morning Eastern Time.

We did take a different route on the way back since I had no desire to return to Atlanta as most of our drive was through Alabama. At the beginning of it, we encountered Tropical Storm Irma. Highway 231 in Alabama is one that I'll see a lot more in the future.

What we would return to when we returned to South Florida would not be a pleasant sight as there were billboards with signs torn off, signs knocked down, trees all over the roads, lots of folks with no power, no internet, living off of generators and an entire state that had adversity because nobody was getting off easy.

Irma was a Category Five at one point and I can only imagine what the cost of the damage will be when the numbers are counted.

In addition to the Marlins, another South Florida team that felt the impact of Irma was the Florida Atlantic University Football team.

FAU decided to play their scheduled road contest on September 9 against the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison while other Florida teams either cancelled or postponed their contests.

The Owls played Wisconsin tough by losing 31-14 and earned more than guaranteed money for the athletic department.

Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez demonstrated class by offering to pay for any accommodations to FAU such as hotels, food, practice facilities, etc... if the Owls came north to play.

To demonstrate his appreciation for Wisconsin's hospitality, FAU Head Coach Lane Kiffin made a classy move by taking out a Full Page Ad in The Wisconsin State Journal thanking Badger Nation, mentioning Alvarez and Head Coach Paul Chryst for their collective generosity sharing their home with FAU for six days.

How did FAU do the following week against Bethune Cookman on Saturday, September 16?

The Owls slammed Bethune Cookman 45-0 at FAU Stadium.

While there are other storms lingering out there, Irma was the first one that I've ever evacuated because I've toughed a lot of them out.

But evacuating definitely provides more anxious moments than one would believe because you never know what you will and won't come back to.

The Games Hurricane Irma Played go beyond what one can imagine and does put things in perspective. They can turn your life upside down as they did to this stop sign.

Enjoy every moment because you never know when it's the last.

That's called The Game of Life.

On a side note speaking of storms, former Badgers and current Houston Texans Defensive End J.J. Watt spearheaded a campaign to raise over $37 Million for those affected by Hurricane Harvey in the Houston Metropolitan Area.

Watt's a winner on and off the field.

After living in the north at the beginning of my life, there is no storm or ice storm that can compare to these hurricanes.

Adversity always play games with us but these storms take things to another level and Irma is a storm which will impact many of us because of the roller coaster ride it created.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com and is a member of Detroit Sports Media.

Friday, September 15, 2017

This Summer's Main Event

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

I can't remember the last time I took a trip over seven days which didn't have a Sporting Event connected to it to cover.

But there is no better place to take such a trip than to Hawaii.

From August 23-September 5, I had the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

I went on My Honeymoon and saw My Niece Brooke Morganroth exchange vows with her new Husband Jake Schifko.

Brooke and Jake's Wedding occurred on Saturday, August 26, 2017 in Kauai in a breath taking beach ceremony in front of over 60 family and friends.

It was the same night of the Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor Fight in Las Vegas, NV.

I will talk about this fight later in the story.

Hawaii is an interesting place.

It was impossible for me to not look for Sports Updates of the Detroit Teams despite the six hour time difference. After all, we're in the Smart Phone age and with these little computers in our hand, My I-Phone 6-Plus gets a good workout.

For a Detroit Tigers game to start at 7:10 am local time is mind boggling.

During this time of the year, Hawaii doesn't switch because of Daylight Savings Time.

There is no doubt that it was easy to have jet lag and our travel time amounted to 12 hours covering four airports.

It's a different world in Hawaii.

I didn't rent a car for the first two days to get acclimated to the area.

But this Caged Lion managed to space out the rental to create a sensible schedule built around my tourist events and not get caught up in paying the outrageous food prices to the restaurants at the Grand Hyatt Resort.

I replaced Sporting Events with Ocean Rafting, A Trip To Pearl Harbor, Two Helicopter Rides, Ziplining and A Catamaran Ride, in addition to driving on Kauai and The Big Island of Hawaii seeing the Volcanoes and Black Sand.

But for those Subway fans, in Kauai, a six inch sub is $4, which is a treat for the area, but later on the trip on the Big Island of Hawaii, no such special existed.

As I mentioned before, a crowd of over 60 family and friends made the trek to this Destination Wedding and to the credit of both families, each invested to make this an incredible event as Brooke and Jake turned their six-year courtship into marriage.

Once again, it was an unforgettable beach ceremony with the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean and the reception was outstanding afterwards.

Brooke and Jake gave My Wife and I a priceless gift by posting a photo of themselves at our wedding on January 1, 2017 at Milwaukee's Miller Park at the table to pick up the seat assignments.

I was very proud in this photo to hold this picture up and my wife and I couldn't thank them enough by showing our appreciation to these great youngsters!

Jake was an usher at our event while Brooke overcame her nervousness of speaking in front of people to do an outstanding job reading a poem!

I joked with Brooke that this was good practice leading up to her memorable day.

I've always kidded around with Jake that at 6-8, if he ever moves on from his restaurant career, the NBA could use his services.

Take note Stan Van Gundy, Jake has the appearance of a small power forward.

But it was hard to not look for Mayweather vs McGregor updates which did generate over $55 Million in Pay-Per-View Revenues.

I did manage to get two dances in because that was all my 54-year old body would allow.

The Mayweather Fight began at 5:45 pm local time.

But two days before the event, Jake's Brother Robert Schifko and I got into an animated debate in the pool at the Grand Hyatt Resort in Kauai as to who would win the fight.

Robert picked McGregor while I remained consistent with Mayweather, a prediction I made two months ago.

Robert deserved an "A" for his passion but I told him in the pool that I've been covering sports for 38 years and Boxing has always been one of My Favorites.

Mayweather won the fight by technical knockout in 10 rounds of this scheduled 12 round bout.

After the fight, Robert, who is pictured with me, came up to me with a serious look and said, "Scott, You Were Right. You definitely described this fight as it happened. You got me this time and You know what you're talking about."

That was worth a hug to Robert but more importantly, he earned my respect because he possessed no ego and by coming up to me and owned this one.

After the fight we spent some time together and I told him that I've interviewed Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, James Toney, Chuck Wepner, Angelo Dundee, the trainer for Ali and Leonard, who was a dear friend of mine, plus Boxing Historian Hank Kaplan along with many others in Boxing, thus, I'd like to think I have enough knowledge and insights as to what's going on.

I've learned plenty from these Fighters and I enjoyed sharing these experiences with Robert.

But beyond the interviews, I've watched lots of fights and truly understand why Boxing is called "The Sweet Science" because the smartest guy who takes the least amount of punishment does win.

It sounds so simple, but it's not.

As the wedding continued, I spent time with Jake's father Jack.

During the couple days leading up to the wedding, I had the great pleasure of getting to know the rest of the Schifko family.

But during the wedding, I saw Jack wearing a pin on his shirt that Symbolizes Fighting Cancer.

We talked and Jack, who is pictured with me, told me his second daughter Kari Schifko, 31, was recently diagnosed with Leukemia.

He wanted to stay in Michigan and miss this event to support his daughter while she is going through treatment, but Kari convinced him to attend.

Throughout the years, I've lost some close people to this dreaded disease.

The Cancer victim that hurts the most is My Grandfather Sidney Morganroth, who passed away at age 55 in 1973 while I was 10.

He died of Lung Cancer, but in his memory, I vowed to be a nonsmoker and have kept his legacy alive by staying away from that expensive deadly habit.

Other deceased colleagues in Sports Media include Ernie Harwell, Bryan Burwell, Stuart Scott, Corky Meinecke, Shelby Strother, and former Detroit Pistons Coach Chuck Daly.

A very close friend and former colleague, who owned a restaurant in Michigan Gregory Nicholas was a victim of too much secondary smoke. Now Michigan has the Clean Air Act and doesn't allow smoking in restaurants, just outside of them.

In the past, I've bought autographed merchandise from My Friend Dick Vitale to support Cancer Research through "The V Foundation" and will always do anything in my power to support this dreaded killer.

I'm thankful that My Grandma Sophie Morganroth-Jacobs defeated Breast Cancer many years ago.

Recently, my own mother has beaten Lung Cancer because of her foresight to get a second opinion and took a proactive approach to go to New York University utilizing advanced medicine to her benefit. Although she's still dealing with breathing issues, she's been a trooper! I'm thankful she continues to plug away.

My message to Jack is I will continue to pray for his daughters recovery and I'm happy that he shared his information to me so that I can send prayers and hope my followers do the same.

But on August 26, 2017, the Real Stars of the night were Newlyweds Brooke and Jake Schifko.

In My Mind, Brooke and Jake were This Summer's Main Event!

I always knew Brooke would be a Beautiful Bride and anybody that has a different opinion needs to have their eyes checked!

It was nice to Not take a Reporters Notebook and Tape Recorder to be a fan of a personal piece of history.

Aloha to Brooke and Jake, and I Love These Classy Kids Very Much and it was a Privilege To Be At This Wedding!

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com and is a member of The Detroit Sports Media.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Milwaukee Tigers

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

The Milwaukee Brewers real name should be The Milwaukee Tigers because it seems as though there is a pipeline which runs six hours west of Detroit on I-94 in the city located off of Lake Michigan.

Former Detroit Tigers Assistant Hitting Coach Darnell Coles now calls the State of Wisconsin his professional home.

In 2016, third baseman Hernan Perez, 26, found himself bouncing all over the diamond in what I call The "Mr. Versatility" role which Andrew Romine wears well for the Tigers.

Last season, Perez appeared in 123 games, amassed 404 at bats, 13 HR, 56 RBI, with 34 stolen bases to go along with a .272 average.

He's a bargain for the small market Brewers as he earns $545,700, but has been a good find for the team which plays its home games in Miller Park, a venue, I got married in earlier this year.

Perez played with the Detroit Tigers in 2015.

Over the last few weeks, Milwaukee made attempts to trade for Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, however that situation never materialized.

But the bigger coup for Milwaukee has been the emergence of 25-year old closer Corey Knebel, the Denton TX. native.

Knebel is the primary reason the Milwaukee Brewers are contenders in a year which they projected to be in rebuilding mode.

Going into this post, the Brewers are 63-60 and trail the World Champion Chicago Cubs (64-57) by two games in the National League Central Division.

Knebel has been a steal for the Brewers earning $538,900.

He is 1-2 with a 1.41 ERA in 57 games, 24 saves in 57.1 innings striking out 98 hitters.

Knebel made his first All-Star Appearance in Miami earlier this year.
.
I had the chance to catch up with the Tigers former prospect during Monday's Media Day at Marlins Park at his table before other media members got to him.

Q: How excited are you being selected to the All-Star Game?

A: Being at the All-Star Game is a real big thrill for me. I enjoy being around my teammates and it's something I'll never forget. To create new friendships is real special.

Q: How do you like playing for a small market team in Milwaukee where there isn't as much media?

A: This is a great baseball city and the fans are real supportive. They come out to the ballpark and appreciate the effort we put on the field. When you have fans like this, it makes coming out to the ballpark more enjoyable. I can imagine what the crowds will be like as we get closer to the playoffs.

Q: Did you expect the Brewers to have success in a year where the expectations were not as high?

A: We felt coming into Spring Training we had a good team. We don't have the bigger names that other teams have, but we play hard. My teammates pull for one another in the clubhouse and I expect us to keep this going during the second half of the season.

Q: I view Milwaukee as a team which is on house money because the Chicago Cubs were the favorites going into the season. Does your team relish the underdog role?


A: We sure do because nobody expected us outside of the clubhouse to have success. So we're just going to enjoy this and continue to improve and get better. This will be great experience for us playing meaningful baseball, therefore it's easy to relax when expectations aren't as high, then teams begin to notice us.

Q: How much do you enjoy the challenge of being a closer?

A: The Tigers prepared me for this when I was in the Minor Leagues. I enjoy closing and my goal is to get better with every game that I play.

Q: Former Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez flamed out earlier this season and was cut by Detroit. I'm sure the Tigers could use your help now.

A: I enjoyed my time with the Tigers. I'm sure they'll figure all of this out. I wish them nothing but the best and appreciated the opportunity they gave me to play baseball in their organization.

Detroit drafted Knebel with the 39th overall selection in the 2013 draft.

He made his Major League debut for the Tigers in 2014 at 22 years old. Knebel appeared in eight games, posting a 6.23 ERA and 11 strikeouts over 8.2 innings pitched.

Knebel falls into the category of what ifs and with the Tigers bullpen struggles through the years, with a little more patience, it's safe to say that the cliché which suits this situation is "The One That Got Away."

As of this post, the Tigers are 53-69 and now Detroit is heading for a massive rebuilding project.

The American League defeated the National League 2-1 in 10 innings in the contest which took place on July 11.

Knebel didn't have the opportunity to pitch, however, there is no doubt this is an accomplishment he'll cherish the rest of his career.

At the rate he's going I have a feeling that he'll see this Mid-Summer Big Stage again.

He won't be a bargain next season with a hefty raise and is going to make a seven figure income in 2017.

Scott Morganroth is a Member of Detroit Sports Media and took these photographs.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

July's Sports Shorts

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

Although Father's Day was June 18, 2017, there are a couple interesting story lines that are worth mentioning.

Both of these actually originate from Los Angeles, CA.

Let's start with the antics of LaVar Ball, the father of Los Angeles Lakers Guard Lonzo Ball.

Throughout the past several months, LaVar Ball has had a war of words with everybody on the basketball planet in college and in the pros as well as in the media.

Even legendary ESPN Announcer Dick Vitale took a shot at LaVar Ball.

Thanks to the luck of the lottery, Lonzo Ball, formerly of UCLA, did get drafted by his hometown Lakers as the No.2 Pick overall

How well Lonzo plays is anybody's guess.

But it won't be an easy task for Lonzo as Magic Johnson pointed out to him in the Lakers introductory press conference.

Johnson reminded Lonzo, with his father watching, of the Lakers rich championship tradition and also referenced how many numbers have been retired.

He told Lonzo that he expects more championships and to have his number retired one day.

If there is a pressure cooker, then this one is it!

LaVar Ball knows that Johnson and Larry Bird turned around the NBA's downtrodden near bankruptcy situation, which saw it's Finals games on Tape Delay in the late 1970's.

You can rest assure that before Lonzo was drafted, that Magic made it clear to LaVar that his actions and antics won't be tolerated in Lakerland.  Magic is one individual who won't tolerate any distractions.

Magic Johnson belongs on My Mt.Rushmore List of NBA All-Time Great Players.

He saved the league from being dissolved and going broke.

The players of today are getting paid a lot of money because of what Johnson, Bird, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and many others did to grow the game.

When the NBA Draft concluded, you can rest assure that everybody was glad that they were tired of hearing from LaVar Ball.

I realize LaVar did everything in his power to promote his kid's abilities and I commend him for doing that. He's an excellent father.

When the draft was over, LaVar Ball starred on WWE's Monday Night Raw on June 26, 2017.

More power to him.

He has a shoe deal that sells sneakers for $495.00 a piece.

Good Luck LaVar if anybody with any financial sense pays for these shoes.

If you can get that price, more power to you.

I wouldn't spend that kind of money!

But now that LaVar Ball his built his son up to be the next superstar, this will be a huge pressure cooker.

All I'll say is Lonzo will have the biggest Bullseye On His Chest than any prospect that I've seen in years!

Players will be hard fouling him and I'll be curious as to how many calls he gets early in his career.

The pressure is really on Lonzo Ball to not become a bust! I'll say this again, not to become a bust! I've covered the NBA for years and my gut feeling is he'll become a good player, not a great one.

I welcome the kid to prove me wrong because if I am wrong, the Lakers will once again become an elite organization.

If I'm right, and Ball struggles, and LaVar is loud and obnoxious, then Magic will make him disappear into the highest levels of the Staples Center.

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This next Father's Story is an Excellent One.

Former NFL Star Wide Receiver Keyshawn Johnson Sr. recently pulled his son Keyshawn Jr. out of Nebraska because his son was getting involved with Marijuana.

Johnson Sr. didn't want his son to hang around the wrong peer group and brought him back home to LA.

By taking away his son's opportunity to play big-time college football, this sent him a message that Johnson Sr. was protecting his son from himself.

In an ESPN interview, Johnson said his son is at home training hard and hopes to return to Nebraska one day.

Cornhuskers Coach Mike Riley has said that when the time is right that Johnson Jr. will be welcomed back into the program and get another opportunity.

Johnson Sr. has won a Super Bowl and was mentored by Hall of Fame Coach Bill Parcells.

Evidently Johnson Sr. has learned his lessons well.

I've always thought very highly of Johnson Sr. as a player but considering the way he's handled his son, now I've gained an enormous amount of respect.

Johnson Sr's actions should set an excellent example for all father's out there as to how to handle their son's and save them from self destructing.

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Please find me Bobby Bonilla's agent. It's been 16 years since Bonilla last played in the Big Leagues, yet the six-time All-Star is collecting a paycheck.

The New York Mets have been paying the 54-
year old Bonilla just over $1.19 Million Annually on July 1 since 2011. The Mets will continue to do so until 2035 as part of deferring $5.9 Million they owed him for the 2000 season.

Bonilla's agent worked out the deferred payment deal which came with an annual interest rate of 8%.

When it's all said and done, Bonilla will end up making $29.8 Million on the deal/$23.9 Million more than $5.9 Million he was originally set to make.

Best of all, Bonilla lives in Sarasota, FL., where there is No State Income Tax.

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Finally, I'm not losing any sleep that Mike and Mike In The Morning on ESPN2 will be coming to an end later this year.

Mike Greenberg will be getting his own show while Golic will be paired with Trey Wingo on another ESPN Station.

It's a shame that this duo is breaking up after an incredible 18-year run. Their 6-10 am time slot was ideal for my schedule.

I have now decided not to watch the program and have replaced it with Morning Walks. The mornings are cooler on Deerfield Beach.

Over the past three months, I've lost around 44 pounds and am working to lose more weight to get even healthier hoping that the long term outcome ultimately leads to getting rid of diabetes.

I'm currently weighing around 215 and hope to lose another 10-15 pounds by the time My wife and I depart for Hawaii for our Honeymoon, in addition to being at My Niece Brooke Morganroth's wedding to Jake Schifko on August 26, 2017.

I am currently working on other business interests that I will disclose when the time comes.

But I do wish Greenberg and Golic well in their future endeavors and enjoyed watching them through the years.

As they have moved on from their loyal followers, I've moved on from Greenberg and Golic.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com and is a member of The Detroit Sports Media.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Exclusive Interview With Muhammad Ali Jr

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
PHOTOS BY CANDICE EBLING

There are many namesakes that have attempted to follow in the footsteps of their legendary fathers.

Some have made it and others had difficulties due to the pressure of enormous expectations.

Pete Rose Jr., Tony Gwynn Jr., and Roberto Clemente Jr., were unable to sniff their fathers Hall Of Fame accomplishments.

Time will tell if Barry Sanders Jr., and Keyshawn Johnson Jr., will have the same success as their fathers on the gridiron.

Meanwhile, Cal Ripken Jr., Ken Griffey Jr., and Dale Earnhardt Jr., made their fathers proud and have created a legacy of their own.

Ken Norton Jr. decided to not pursue Boxing and has had a stellar NFL career as a player and a coach.

I know there are many other individuals that I've probably overlooked.

On May 19, 2017, I met another namesake and this one is a GIANT!

My friend Lisa Bartolo threw a birthday party for Muhammad Ali Jr. at Camuso's Lounge in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Lisa represents "JD & Lisa Entertainment" and we've worked together on past projects including our most recent one, "The Real Rocky" also known as Chuck Wepner.

I had an opportunity to meet Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the mother of Ali Jr. She's a nice woman that has an amazing sense of humor. In the photo she's on the far right.

Ali Jr. turned 45 and he's been in the news recently by being detained at two airports because of his Muslim Religion.

I will not address nor elaborate on the extent of President Donald Trumps travel ban on Muslim's although Ali Jr. was inconvenienced by this ordeal.

Since this story is sports, we'll leave it on a Sports Media Platform.

The entire focus on Ali Jr., will be sports based as we look at the Life and Times of the son of his legendary father, Muhammad Ali, also known as "The Greatest Of All Time."

As I got to know Ali Jr., I showed him a photo of myself and his iconic father which was taken when I wrote a story on "The Greatest Of All Time" at Allen Park Gym in North Miami Beach, FL., in 1982. As you'll see in this photo with Ali Sr., I definitely didn't need Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers diet.

In this photo, I was 19-years old and weighed 120 pounds and there was no sign of any gray hair.

But it was neat to speak with Ali Jr., and share stories that I had with his iconic father.

It was fun to watch Ali Jr. as he admired my photo and we got to know one-another then proceeded to take photos together.

I've been interviewing high profiled people for years and I have to admit that Ali Jr., was one of the most colorful individuals I've met.

In this Exclusive Interview, we'll look at the Life and Times of Muhammad Ali Jr.

Q: I followed your dad's career and his trainer Angelo Dundee was a good friend of mine. Did you ever consider a career in Boxing?

A: I considered a career but it wasn't boxing. When I was little, I told my father that I was going to be a Dentist. He said ' Why do you want to be a Dentist?' I said because I can knock the teeth out instead of pull them out. That's what a kid would say.

I was just a kid, so what I did I know. I was just being me. I don't want to be a Dentist anymore. I actually want to become the President of The United States and make the world a better place.

Q: Muhammad, what's it like for you to bear a name of such an iconic figure as your dad?

A: Sometimes it's really good because I get what I want. But sometimes it's really bad because people expect so much from you. Why don't you Box like your father?

It's not me. I don't have the heart to hit anybody. If he hit me, I wouldn't hit you back. That's the type of person I am. So it's hard. It's really hard.

Q: What type of relationship did you have with your father? As I understand, you were estranged from him for a number of years?

A: I was estranged from him for a number of years because of his wife. His wife stopped him from seeing his own blood brother. Me and my father's relationship was like a brother-to-brother relationship because we would talk about anything until she got in the picture. Then it was kind of hard to talk to him. I'm referring to his last wife Lonnie.

She made it where at times where I would see my father and I was hurting because I didn't have any money. I asked him for some money and he give it to me. But you know since he was married to her, I went to ask for money, she would pull me aside, and told me 'don't ask your father for money.'

I said, who the hell are you to tell me not to ask my father for money? You're not even a relation except by marriage. You're not family. You have no right to tell me not to ask my father for money.

That's like me coming to you asking and telling you, don't ask your father for money. I have no place in that. You're not my mother and no relation to me except but being his wife.

She had no children, just an adopted child. That all simply makes you the mother of a child. Legally it does because it's on paper, but biologically, no. So birth right, no.

I'm the only really be gotten son. I don't care if there is an adopted child or whatever. He's not the blood son of him. If he was the half son then maybe he's a blood son. But if you're not born of a woman and a man, then you're an orphan.

Q: Muhammad, I know when you have a father that's legendary, he's on the road a lot, and in many instances children of athletes are neglected especially since they have absentee fathers. I read that you were bullied by boys who wanted to prove that they can beat you up being a champion's son.

How difficult was that for you?

A: It really wasn't difficult because guys that pick on me wanted to see if you're like my father. Are you scared of me? I told them that I'm not scared of nobody but God. He hit me in the nose and made my nose swell up. After that, I was cool. We became friends. I stood for what I believed in. I'm afraid of God, not afraid of you. I'm not afraid of any man.

Q: But don't you feel at times though that normally when you're related to someone like your dad that guys would want to take a shot at you just to boost their ego or anything?

A: Who are you to show when you are no pro? You aren't standing for it. I mean sometimes you have to throw down just to get respect. Some people take an ass whipping to get respect. I mean you have to do something to stand your ground to get that respect and that's what I did. I got beat up and hurt for it but no pain and no gain, right?

Q: No conversation with an Ali would be complete without talking about your dad's epic and historic victory over George Foreman in 1975 where he regained The World Heavyweight Championship with an impressive eighth round knockout. I know you were very young. What were your thoughts about this fight?

A: Well I saw it as my father was in the early stages of Parkinson's Disease and it was actually bothering him. The footwork wasn't going so good.

He took a weakness and I don't know who else could do this but him. He took a weakness and turned it into an asset. He invented The Rope-A-Dope because he was cutting the ring off the way he boxed. He cut the ring off.

So I have to do something to stop him, something to make him tired. So I played with him a little bit. I needed to get the ropes stretched so he could punch himself out. Is that all you got? He hit like a sissy. Is that all you got? He tried to make him mad. He punched and gave it all he got. After he gave it all he got, My father said 'George is that all you got' and that messed him up.

I talked to George about the fight and asked George how did you feel after that fight? He said man, I couldn't sleep for a whole year after fighting your father. I said wow!

Q: During the course of your dad's career, do you think that was your favorite fight compared to the many other ones he had?

A: Yes, because when George Foreman went to Zaire, he had a Belgium Dog-German Shepherd, and to the people of Zaire, that was a Police Dog to them. So they didn't like George Foreman because he had that type of dog. So they rooted for My Father.

My father represented unity, peace and freedom. George Foreman with that dog represented The Police. So they really didn't like George Foreman. The crowd chanted Ali, boom by yeah, George Foreman, Ali kill him.

Q: Were there any other fights that stood out in your dad's career such as the great trilogy with Joe Frazier, plus the rivalry with Ken Norton Sr.?

A: My father fought Joe Frazier (In The Thrillla In Manila, Phillipines) and both of them were almost ready for the hospital after that fight. They both beat each other up big time.

Q: One of the newest fads going on right now is Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). What are your thoughts about MMA?

A: I'm not really into that. I mean I like it, but it's not my cup of tea.

Q: Finally, Muhammad, nowadays I hear you do a lot of Public Speaking. What do you talk about?

A: I talk about respect for all people, all life matters, not just black life. But there is always features on the TV with black people killing each other. You never see anybody else doing the same thing. Black life matters is not to be racial, it's because all life matters.

It's gotten to the point where black people are killing each other. Then you have cops killing black people. It really doesn't make any sense. The violence needs to stop. Whether the cops do it or we do it, it needs to stop.

After the interview, I have to admit that during the course of our interview that having spoken to Muhammad Ali Sr. and Muhammad Ali Jr. that they are indeed two different people.

But one thing remains the same with both. They're not afraid to speak their minds and are fortunate enough to utilize their platforms quite well.

Nevertheless, how often does an individual get an opportunity to speak with an icon then several years later speak with his namesake?

All in all both were totally rewarding experiences on much different levels.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com and is a member of the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Mega Event Of The Summer

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

It's very hard to not talk about what event will take place on August 26, 2017 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.

Would I dare to call the Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather The Fight Of The Century?

Absolutely Not!

But I will say this, it will be a huge payday for those involved.

There is no doubt that McGregor and Mayweather will earn hefty paydays for the bout.

The asking price for the right to be the title sponsor for the upcoming Mega Main Event between Mayweather and McGregor has been set at $10 Million.

That eight-figure sum nets the sponsor a logo in the middle of the ring, as well as branding the ring girls, two of the ropes, and the two non-fighter corners of the rings. The sponsor will also be featured in the first minute of every round.

WWE-IMG is also offering $5 Million each for the fighter corners, which entails signage and a presence on the broadcast corner camera.

In total, the $20 Million would be the largest ever for a fight, according to ESPN's Darren Rovell.

None of these numbers even include what this fight will cost on pay-per view.

I know I won't pay this astronomical fee because I'll be going on My Honeymoon to Hawaii, and also attending My Niece Brooke's Wedding. So there is a good chance many of us will watch this together somewhere in paradise.

The last time I bought a fight was on June 28, 1997 when Mike Tyson bit off part of Evander Holyfield's Ear and was disqualified from the match and lost his boxing license.

I paid $50 to watch a bizarre piece of history for all the wrong reasons.

But when you look at this fight as a whole, I'm glad that this is taking place.

First of all, all you'll have going on in late August is the MLB Regular Season and the NFL Pre-Season.

The promoters were smart by not setting the contest during the pennant chase for MLB in September. The timing will liven up the summer just before Labor Day. Plus, the NFL Regular Season will be underway.

I can only imagine what the ticket prices will be for this match. Fans better have deep pockets to attend this fight.

UFC President Dana White was smart when he didn't stand in the way and worked with McGregor to get his most valuable fighter a chance to get the biggest payday of his life.

Forget the fact that Mayweather is 49-0 and looking to improve to 50-0 with a win and McGregor would love nothing better to give him his first loss.

Over the next several weeks there will be more opinions about why this fight should or shouldn't have taken place. There will be so many predictions about who will win this fight.

However, I'm going to take a philosophical approach about what to expect in this crossover bout between MMA and Boxing.

McGregor has everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Many experts don't feel he belongs in the same ring with Mayweather, therefore in the eyes of many, nobody expects him to win.

But I believe that anything can happen when two fighters are in the ring.

There have been no shortage of upsets in boxing through the years.

Two that standout include Muhammad Ali defeating George Foreman and Buster Douglas defeating Tyson.

What I'm saying is if McGregor lands one devastating punch that hits Mayweather in the wrong place, Mayweather will drop to 49-1.

I do believe that defensive style and experience of Mayweather will be more than enough to defeat McGregor and he'll be 50-0.

But what if McGregor wins?

Will this open up the floodgates for more of these crossover matches to take place?

I would definitely say yes, and these promoters will work with White to create more bouts.

Where there is cash, there is opportunity and there will be no shortage of sponsors and television opportunities. After all, it's all about Entertainment!

Will McGregor take the Rocky Underdog approach and feel that he was competitive by going the distance with Mayweather, thus earning him a moral victory?

Definitely!!


So for all of those critics that are opposed to this fight, my advice to them is ride a mule in the Kentucky Derby because they're a bunch of clowns.

Mayweather has been a great champion in Boxing because he doesn't dodge opponents and will fight anyone.

All the money he's made is well deserved and he's an outstanding business man!

He's a future Hall of Fame Inductee.

When I was growing up, there were boxing matches all the time in all divisions.


Who can forget Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas
Hearns and many others?


Nowadays, fans can't identify Boxers anymore.


Chuck Liddell, who I'm with in the photo put MMA on the map, and now the sport is thriving thanks to the work of Dana White and it's gaining more and more respect by the minute.

So when I look at the Mayweather vs McGregor fight in perspective, whether Conor gets tattooed by Mayweather or Conor pulls off a major upset, I still will refuse to call this Event The Fight Of The Century,

It's definitely going to be one Huge Mega Event that is worth watching and talking about for years to come.

Entertainment is what this is all about!

This fight came together because the public wanted it and everybody worked together to make it happen.

So Let's Enjoy The Mega Event Of The Summer.

If by chance Mayweather were to lose this fight, can you imagine what a rematch would be worth?

So we'll just let our imaginations run wild about what the sequel would be like as many folks in the Boxing Industry experienced during the sport's heyday for many years.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com and is a member of the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Tigers Racing For Survival

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
PHOTOS BY CANDICE EBLING

There are certain checkpoints in the baseball season which are good gauges for which a team can determine whether they'll be buyers or sellers.

First, Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone as Auto Racing fans had their share of excitement with the Indianapolis 500 along with the Coca Cola 600.

Second, there is Fathers Day and it won't be very long until the All-Star Break takes place in early July at Marlins Park in Miami.

During Spring Training, the Detroit Tigers had high hopes that they would be playoff contenders as they nearly made the postseason in 2016.

The Tigers brought back a familiar face in Lloyd McClendon to be their hitting coach.

McClendon was a finalist for the job when Jim Leyland retired but Detroit hired Brad Ausmus to manage the club. McClendon would later manage the Seattle Mariners then proceeded to be fired after the Mariners brought in a different General Manager.

McClendon told me that the only thing he would predict is that "we'll score a lot of runs."
Time will tell during the course of the 162-game season whether McClendon's prediction comes to fruition. The recent loss of DH Victor Martinez due to an irregular heartbeat hasn't helped matters.

To date, the Tigers record is 32-37 following a 6-2 loss Monday Night in Seattle against the Mariners.

They're currently fourth in the AL Central ahead of the last place Chicago White Sox (31-37) by a half game.
Detroit is 5.5 games behind division leader the Cleveland Indians (37-31). This is a division which is definitely there for the taking providing the Tigers can put together a sustained winning streak and then play more consistent baseball in the second half of the season.
By now the Tigers problems are well documented as the lingering dilemma Detroit has faced the past several years remains a concern, The Bullpen.

Former closer Francisco Rodriguez has been replaced by Justin Wilson.

Shane Greene has done a nice job, while Alex Wilson has been solid at times.

Detroit has had a Super Shuttle to Triple A Toledo as there has been plenty of movement as the Tigers continue to find answers for The Bullpen.

Since trading away centerfielder Cameron Maybin to the LA Angels, there were hopes that Jacoby Jones could become his replacement. That hasn't transpired and Tyler Collins had an opportunity to win the job but he was sent packing to Toledo.

The most common name who has been in centerfield is Mr.Versatility, Andrew Romine.

This is a guy that hit a grand slam homer early in the season then was drug tested and he passed the test. No harm, no foul.



Romine could have played in any era even at a time when there was a 24-man roster many years ago. For a team loaded with many high profiled players, this guy is so valuable because he plays so many positions.

The only position Romine has never played is catcher.

During Spring Training, I spoke with Romine and he took a lot of pride about this and he said, "I'll do whatever it takes to help the team. I enjoy playing different positions because you get a different perspective of each game and are exposed to different positions."

When I asked Romine about playing catcher, he smiled and laughed then said, "One of these days I wouldn't mind catching. But it would have to be the right situation for Brad (Ausmus) to do this."

One of the interesting story lines in Spring Training was Detroit experimenting with the idea of converting outfielder Andrew Gose to a relief pitcher, figuring it would be an everything to gain and nothing to lose approach.

Ausmus said that he figured "Anthony would be a one inning pitcher, not two. We'll just see what happens."

Gose is currently pitching for the Lakeland Flying Tigers in the Florida State League, Detroit's Advanced Class A- Affiliate.
It will be interesting to see how this experiment plays out as time progresses.

Since the passing of Owner Mike Ilitch on February 10, 2017, it has been an emotional year for the Tigers. There have been patches on the team's jersey's, as well as tributes on the team's flag at Comerica Park and in the on deck circle.

Ilitch's Son Chris is running the show and now it remains to be seen what will happen in his regime.

Tigers Bench Coach Gene Lamont said, "It will be an emotional season for us. Mr. Ilitch meant so much to the city, fans, and everybody around him. I enjoyed working for Mr. Ilitch. He's treated me great and wasn't afraid to spend the money to make us an upper echelon team."

There is no question that the Tigers have a lot to do to make the playoffs and over the next month or so we'll find out whether J.D. Martinez and Ian Kinsler will be playing in new area codes and perhaps others.

Unfortunately for the Ilitch family, the Detroit Red Wings 25-year playoff streak came to an end this Spring.

But Manager Brad Ausmus and General Manager Al Avila definitely have a lot of work to do and it seems like they have their work cut out for them.

I and everybody else will be curious to see how the Tigers Race For Survival Turns Out to make the playoffs, or whether they'll be headed for a long rebuilding process.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com and is a member of the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sparring With The Real Rocky

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
PHOTOS BY CANDICE EBLING

The South Florida Region has always been kind to me when it comes to Boxing.
When I lived here from 1982-84, I worked for The Hallandale Digest and we covered Boxing hard when the situations presented themselves.

Interviewing and writing stories on the late Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard were unquestionably thrills of a lifetime.

I became friends with Ali and Leonard's Trainer, the late great Angelo Dundee, who taught me a lot about Boxing. The only thing Dundee didn't do was train me and be my corner man in a fight.

The old Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, FL., used to host events and I met prominent Judge Eva Shain. She became the first woman to judge a Heavyweight Championship bout. Shain was one of the judges at the fight between Ali and Ernie Shavers in 1977 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

I wrote a story on former Boxing Referee Joey Curtis at the Diplomat Hotel.

Curtis will always be remembered as a referee for taking a Boxer's safety first.

On December 10, 1982, he was chosen to referee the World Boxing Association's World Championship Fight between Champion Mike Weaver and Challenger Michael Dokes.

Dokes came out relentlessly early in the fight and hammered Weaver often. Curtis controversially stopped the fight in 63 seconds into the first round.

When we talked, Curtis told me that the Nevada Athletic Commission told him to be mindful of the condition of the fighters after the November 18, 1982 death of Korean Duk Koo Kim as a result of a fight with Ray Mancini in Las Vegas on November 13.

Another friend of mine is old Boxing Historian, Hank Kaplan. I met Kaplan when I was covering events that he was promoting through Pugilistic Promotions. These fights would take place at the War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Kaplan and I would go out to eat often and we once talked about an idea of seeing whether it would be feasible to have a Boxing Match at Gulfstream Race Course (Home of The Florida Derby) since I knew President Doug Donn real well. Nothing came of that.

Now it's time to speed up the clock to the Fall of 2016.

I happened to be on Facebook and there was a link on My Timeline for an event to be held at Lauderdale By The Sea City Hall.

One of the promoters behind it was Lisa Bartolo.

Former Heavyweight Boxer Chuck Wepner was going to sign autographs and answer questions.

For those of you that don't know Wepner, 78, Chuck fought Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali on March 24, 1975. The fight nearly lasted 15 rounds. Wepner was knocked out with 19 seconds left in the 15th round.

The contest was held in the Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio.

Wepner's incredible effort as a heavy underdog to Ali was the inspiration for The Rocky Series.

Wepner, 6-5, would amass 51 fights, had a 35-17-2 record with 17 knockouts.

Wepner's main nickname is "The Real Rocky" and we had a chance to talk about many things in this Exclusive Q&A Interview.

The reason why I've decided to post the interview now is there is a new movie made on Wepner that is being released on May 5, 2017 titled "The Bleeder" also known as "Chuck."

Q: Describe what it was like to fight Muhammad Ali and be able to nearly go the 15 round distance?
A: It was the greatest fight of my life getting a shot at the title. It took 12 years and I finally got the shot, and I went 15 rounds to go at Muhammad Ali. I had the champ down and they made the movie Rocky about me. A lot of things turned out good for me.

Q: When you were fighting Ali, do you feel that he ever underestimated you going into this particular fight since you were a prohibitive underdog knowing you lost in a mere 15 seconds?

A: I definitely feel Ali underestimated me. He took the fight thinking it would be an easy one. This fight turned out to be one of the longest fights of his career.

Q: I know that your fulltime job was a liquor salesman.
What was it like to be without a trainer for much of your career until the Ali Fight?
A: It was hard. I would run in the morning, then shower, go to work all day, then go to the gym at night. It was pretty tough, but those are the things you face when you don't have any money backing you up.

Q: Did Promoter Don King get you a trainer for the Ali fight?

A: Don King took me on as a promoter at the end of my career, and he got me a guy by the name of Billy Prezent. He was a part-time cornerman . Billy helped me a lot. He gave me the attention I never got in the other fights in my career.

Q: I notice you were using "The Rabbit Punch" against Ali. How effective was it? Where did the punch come from?

A: I was tall and I seemed to be always punching down on guys. Guys would duck in and
I would really hit them. Even though it was an illegal punch, it worked for me because it used to wear guys down, and that's what I tried to do with Ali.

I try to get them out of his rhythm and make him go to war with me. I tried to get him to punch himself out. It worked to a certain extent. That was my signature punch.

A Rabbit Punch is only illegal only it it's on the back of the neck. In that fight, the punches were on the side of the face and neck which a lot of those punches their were legal. You try to throw the punches and when you throw them, the guy keeps ducking and they're close to the body, and it's legal.

Q: Let's talk about your boxing style. Did you ever view yourself as a brawler or a finesse fighter?

A: I was a brawler. I was a brawler that was a tough guy who could take a punch to wear guys down. I was just a brawler, that's all.

Q: Would you say that you were able to get that Ali fight because he was looking for someone white?

A: That's exactly what it was. He was looking for a white guy to fight for the title. I was the only Top 10 guy in the world. That's why I got the shot.

Q: After Ali's death on June 3, 2016, I heard you were giving a lot of interviews. Is that true?

A: Yes. When "The Greatest" was gone, I gave hundreds and hundreds. I also gave 34 on the phone and seven on national television totaling 41.

Q: What was your proudest accomplishment in your boxing career?

A: My highlights include winning the NABA World Title in 1972, and going 15 rounds with Ali.

Q: One of the many things I respect about you Chuck was you never dodged a fighter. Do you take pride in that?

A: Yes. In my era, it wasn't my style. I couldn't dodge anybody. I started late. I won the New York and East Coast Nationals at 25-years old. So I took on anybody that wanted to fight me, I would fight them.

Q: What fighter did you fear the most?

A: I didn't fear anybody. The toughest fighter I faced was Sonny Liston. I went 10 rounds with Liston and it was a brawl. I got banged up pretty good.

Q: Give me your observations about the Muhammad Ali vs George Forman fight that was held on October 29, 1974?

A: I didn't think Ali could beat Foreman and I was going to be fighting Foreman for the title after that fight. But low and behold, the great Muhammad Ali pulled it out of the bag and knocked him out in the eighth round. He outsmarted Foreman with "The Rope-A-Dope."

Q: One thing Ali told me when I interviewed him back in 1982 was he wore Foreman out and George had no gas in the tank. He boxed very patiently. Does that make sense?

A: Yes. I was at Ali's 70th birthday in 2012, and he said the things just as you have said. He wore me out and he hit me then the next thing I know, I look up, and I'm on the floor and he's standing over me. How did this happen? I didn't beat the count. I actually got up at nine but was stumbling, and the referee waived off the fight. It was a great fight. Ali proved his greatness that night.

Q: When you were fighting in your prime, matches used to go 15 rounds. It seemed like to me that fighters took more punishment, plus they were fighting more often. What do you remember about that?

A: There were a lot of better heavyweights. I was ranked in The Top 10 in the world 42 straight months. Nowadays, the heavyweight division is terrible.

Q: Let's talk about Sylvester Stallone and The Rocky Series. If I heard you correctly, The Rocky Series netted $4 Billion?

A: It was actually $4.4 Billion as of 2014 nationally. It's all over the world. It's more popular in Japan and in Europe than it is in the USA. You know how popular it is here. I get about 10 calls a month saying Chuck, Rocky is on. I've seen it 10 times, have watched it 10 times, and I'm not going to watch it again.

I think Sylvester Stallone is a great action actor, and he makes a lot of great movies. He's done a lot for me in the past and he's doing a lot for me now. He's one of the co-producers of My Movie, "The Bleeder."

Q: Chuck, I'm going to let you have the floor. Let's talk about the legalities of The Rocky Series and how it pertains to your life story. What's your relationship like with Stallone?

A: He made the movie. I'm deeply honored that I was the inspiration. As a matter of fact, in Rocky 2, he wrote a part into the movie, a boxer named Ching Webner, his best sparring partner. I read the part, but didn't do well. I didn't get the part. But that's alright. I'm not an actor. And Sylvester Stallone has done a lot for me.

There was never any sour grapes from me as far as I'm concerned. I didn't think there is from him either. Things seem to be alright.

Q: Would you say you've made out well financially over this?

A: I have made money throughout the years. Best of all, a lot of people call me "Champ" Rocky.

During the course of our conversation, it seemed that Wepner is at peace with himself.

Here is a guy that is called "Champ" because of his connection to The Rocky Series.

As aforementioned, Stallone wanted him to read the part again for Rocky 2 to be his "Chief Sparring Partner."

While it wasn't good enough to get in the movie, that never mattered to Wepner.

He also told me that he likes UFC/MMA because it's exciting and he hopes those fighters make good money like boxers.

But when you break down Chuck Wepner as a whole, this is a guy that almost went the distance with Ali.

He made a mere $100,000 for the fight, but amazes me in many ways.

Once upon a time, he couldn't afford a trainer in his boxing career.

But meanwhile, while many fighters have passed away due to head trauma as a result of excessive blows to the head, including Ali, when we met, Wepner was in Fantastic Shape!

What will Wepner's legacy be over time?

1. Will it be for the courageous fight with Muhammad Ali?

2. Will it be that he was "The Real Rocky?"

There are no wrong answers here and a good way to describe Wepner is he was a "Blue Collar Brawler."

For myself, I will say it was a thrill of a lifetime for me to spar and interview "The Real Rocky." I can't count how many times that I've watched the Rocky Series.

But I'll say this, I've had many great interviews in my 38 years in Sports Media, and this one will rank amongst the best!

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33.com and is a member of the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association.

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