humor

Rating the Presidential Candidates By Athletic Ability

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Photo credit: Business Insider

As the 2016 presidential race kicks into high gear, and Barack Obama gets set to pass the political football to his successor, you may be wondering “Who’s the best jock for the job?”

Okay, maybe you’re not wondering that. Still, many modern presidents have had strong sports associations, from George H.W. Bush’s playing days on Yale’s baseball team to Obama’s golf and basketball habits.

It’s a proven fact that playing sports develops good characteristics, like teamwork and discipline. And practicing how to cheat and get away with it.

For what it’s worth, here’s a breakdown of the main candidates’ athletic backgrounds or influences, and how it might translate to votes and political applications.

Jeb Bush was captain of his prep school tennis team. Those skills might come into play at some point, like volleying issues back and forth with other world leaders. Or, maybe physically clobbering Putin with a racquet. Otherwise, tennis may not be a big help. (B-)

Ben Carson, while appearing to be fit, does not seem to have any actual experience in sports, other than playing with his kids in the back yard. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. However, even Obama would probably poke fun at Carson’s basketball form and uniform in this picture:

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Photo credit: Victor Rodriguez

Untuck the shirt and ditch the belt. Come on, Ben! It’s game day! (C-)

John Kasich may not be much better at hoops. During a campaign stop at a gymnasium in New Hampshire, he displayed an ugly jump shot. But, at least he had the persistence to get the job done that day from behind the three-point arc, finally connecting on his ninth attempt in front of reporters and cameras. The only problem is: you don’t get nine tries to fix the economy or prevent a world war. (C)

Martin O’Malley maintains his physical fitness by following the rigorous P90X video workouts. If you’ve seen pictures of the former Maryland governor without a shirt, it’s clear that “gun control” is not an issue. (B+)

Ted Cruz has no apparent connection to sports other than through his body man. Bruce Redden was a placekicker for the Oklahoma State football team before hanging up his cleats and picking up a briefcase to trail Cruz around. Also, Cruz admits to playing some sports as a teenager, but only to avoid further ridicule he received as a young nerd. Cruz coincidentally resembles current Duke basketball star Grayson Allen, as The Washington Post pointed out in a 2015 photo comparison:

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Cruz is the one on the right. Of course. (D)

Marco Rubio played defensive back at a Miami high school and was good enough to score a football scholarship to Tarkio College in Missouri, where he spent one year before eventually securing degrees at the University of Florida and the University of Miami. If he’d played football at either of those schools, he wouldn’t be where he is today. (A-)

Rand Paul also played defensive back at his high school in Texas, and was on the swim team at Baylor University. So, he may be the field’s top pure athlete. (A-)

Chris Christie was a catcher on his high school baseball team. The position calls for brains and is considered a grind on the body, just like a political campaign. Christie’s body and popularity may be past their prime. (B)

Bernie Sanders ran track in high school and claims he once notched a 4:37 mile. The Vermont senator grew up a big Brooklyn Dodgers’ baseball fan and played slow-pitch softball for a team called the People’s Republic of Burlington. From the looks of the photo below, he wouldn’t have any problems throwing out the first pitch on Opening Day. But if he’s doing it as President, he’d better not go underhand. (B+)

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Photo credit: Burlington Free Press

Donald Trump warns that the socialism Sanders espouses will eliminate golf, a sport that is currently struggling on its own in many areas around the country. Trump is a single-digit golf handicapper. His game will no doubt suffer if he ever really gets the chance to Make America Great Again. (B)

Hillary Clinton has listed speed-walking as a pastime she’s enjoyed. So, she might want to pick up the pace. (D)

Based on these stats, who do you like in 2016?

Dave Coombs hosts a morning radio show on 100.7 FM WUTQ. He rides a bike and will never run for president.

Halcyon Schayes

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The phrase “halcyon days” is derived from a Greek tale and describes the period of calm during the winter, when storms do not occur. It also frequently conjures images of nostalgia, when times were good. It fits Dolph Schayes, who passed away this week at 87.

Dolph was as sweet a man as he was a basketball player. And that’s saying something.

I knew the gentle giant during my many years as a broadcaster in Syracuse, where Dolph starred with the NBA’s Nationals, and where his son Danny forged his own basketball identity as a collegiate star with the Orange.

I’d bump into Dolph occasionally at a charity golf tournament or at Wegmans grocery store. He always met me in a friendly way, and personalized the greeting by including my name. I’ve had co-workers whom I see every day fall short of that standard.

On the court, this guy was a superstar–a word used far too liberally these days. He was selected as an NBA All-Star 12 times. Same number as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell. Pretty good company.

And Dolph was good company on the radio. He scored big laughs from me with this segment a few years ago, as he recalled the death of one of his contemporaries:


Dolph passed along his wit and intelligence, his gentle spirit, and a few of his basketball skills to his son Danny, who played 18 seasons in the NBA. Dan’s weekly radio segments with us were just as funny and well-informed as his dad’s clip above.

Dan also inherited his father’s class. When I lost my radio job earlier this year, Dan was one of the first guys to reach out to me and extend some kind words. The Schayes brand is forever stamped in my book.

Dave Coombs is a morning radio host on 100.7 FM WUTQ in Utica and a one-time solid 10th man on his Division 3 collegiate team.

The Bill of Rights and Wrongs

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The Hirshhorn wins one of our DC Civility Awards!

Washington, DC was a great place to spend Labor Day weekend. We learned about our nation’s proud history, saw The Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights, and encountered a number of heroes and zeroes in the civics department.

In fact, those elements all converged in one magical moment, with our eye-opening experience at the Lincoln Memorial. There, near the bottom of the august steps leading to the proud statue of the Great Emancipator, we witnessed a group of Confederate flag protesters.

Actually, it was more like a motley crew of rejects from The Jerry Springer Show. One fitness-challenged young woman clutched the rebel colors in one hand and a soda in the other. When she was done with the recyclable bottle of Coke (which was, ironically for her, a Diet!), she tossed it on the ground.

A humble offering to Honest Abe.

She took our Labor Day Weekend booby prize for the biggest violator of the values upon which the United States of America was founded. Ms. Dixie soundly defeated the surly employee at the Metro train station who offered a rude attitude when we politely asked questions about her company’s routes. She also edged out the discourteous teenagers who treated us to unruly behavior late at night in the hallway right outside our hotel room.

To be fair, the kids only finished third in the competition, by virtue of the fact that they probably couldn’t control their behavior because they were illegally drunk at the time. No doubt they were merely exercising their First Amendment right to “peacefully assemble and use the expression ‘fuckin’ dude’ at annoyingly strident decibel levels.”

This wasn’t the Washington our forefathers designed.

Fortunately there WERE manners, decency, and morals on display in OTHER quarters of our nation’s capitol.

The heroes of character included the kids who posed with their folks for a picture we snapped of them standing in front of The White House. Right before the shutter clicked, they knowingly asked their parents, “We should remove our baseball caps, first, right?”

There was also the humble and grateful African immigrant who served us a delicious dinner at his restaurant in Alexandria, even though it infringed on his normal closing time at Hawwi, the Ethiopian word for “dream.”

And thanks to the inquisitive employee at the Shake Shack for spotting my Washington Nationals’ cap and asking all about my interest in her favorite baseball team. She was friendly and charming and a fine ambassador for her employer.

First runner-up in the heroes department: the manager of a downtown CVS, who gave us a discount even though we didn’t have the requisite bonus card to present at the register. Honorable mention goes to the security guard at The Hirshhorn Museum, who let us sneak in a side door rather than walk all the way around the entire building in the searing heat to reach the main entrance.

So, civility DOES exist in Washington, DC. You just have to know where to find it. (Hint: it’s probably not waving a Confederate flag.)

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host whose show is on 100.7 FM WUTQ, and is also available on your computer or on your phone.

Oh, de Toilet!

Cimarron

My wife and I recently learned a few things while installing a couple of toilets ourselves. For instance, the names of the models are very creative. Want to play a round of Toilet or Automobile?

Cimarron. Both car and crapper, as it turns out. Cadillac cranked out about 133,000 Cimarron sedans in the mid-1980s. But a little research shows it’s also a novel, a movie, and a firearms company.  Plus, an herbicide, a mortgage firm, a golf resort, and a village in New Mexico. And that’s just from the first two pages of a Google search.

Prelude. I don’t know about you, but while I’m doing MY business, I don’t want the Prelude, I want the Finale.

Santa Rosa. I’m sure the folks in the charming town in the heart of Sonoma wine country in California are so proud to have a commode named in their honor. May we suggest an earthy Merlot with that?

Renaissance. Huh? As if you’re creating a work of art?

VorMax. Sounds more like a character in a Harry Potter book.

We went with the Cimarron (pictured above), but mostly because it fit the small space we were working with. I’d actually like to see some better names for facilities. How about the following ideas, complete with built-in celebrity spokespeople.

The John. Why not make the longstanding nickname official? It’s about time to formally honor John Harrington, the inventor of England’s first flush toilet. John Goodman is the obvious choice to plug this one.

The Lucy Loo. Come on! This is a natural! She hasn’t been real busy since Charlie’s Angels. She could probably use the income.

The Jenner. Unisex?

The Rock. Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?

The Schwarzenegger. All you’d really need is one of his most famous lines tied to the flush mechanism: Hasta la vista, baby!

The Trump. Who wouldn’t enjoy unloading on the Donald?

The Levine. The lead singer of Maroon 5 is everywhere else these days. Why not in the bathroom?

If you have any other brilliant ideas for toilet model names, please pass ’em along.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host and toilet connoisseur.

How Cyclists Are Like Voodoo Dolls

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Sometimes cyclists aren’t too smart. But, most of us are just minding our own business, trying to get in a little exercise.

Here in the U.S., we recently celebrated National EMS Week, in honor of the thousands of invaluable and intrepid souls who provide essential emergency medical services to those in need. Kudos to all! Except the one idiot I encountered last night.

When you’re pedaling your bicycle properly, in the correct direction, along the extreme edge of the shoulder of the road…is it standard procedure for the operator of an EMS vehicle to drive up beside you and blast his siren twice in your ear, triggering your heart to skip a beat, and causing you to lurch and nearly steer your cycle into a ditch, before continuing up the road?

And no, there was no emergency ahead. The vehicle in question continued driving at a normal speed, with no siren or warning lights. Maybe it was a slow evening and they were trying to create an emergency situation, so they could circle back and assist?

These are the same operators who expect us to pull over to the side of the road when we’re in our cars, in order to make it easier for them to pass by and do their jobs, right?

It’s always appalling when people in power abuse the trappings of their positions. We’ve all read about or suffered the rare circumstance of a rogue law officer who takes his position a bit too seriously, and then strong-arms a vulnerable citizen.

Same thing goes for someone driving a motor vehicle next a cyclist. Last I checked, the car usually outweighs the cycle by at least a couple thousand pounds. Great scenario for a bully to exert his advantage.

Another stat to consider: Cars on the road outnumber cycles 255 million to 60 million. It’s just amazing that there’s even a small percentage of the former that would treat the latter like a character in a video game who they get to torment, torture or endanger in some sort of real-life Grand Theft Auto.

Why the hatred for cyclists among some motorists? Is it kind of like the nearly universal hostility toward mimes? Certainly not all cyclists abide by the rules, and maybe some motorists take their frustrations out against specific cyclists taking too many liberties on the road?

Or, maybe it’s a jealousy issue? Could it be that some drivers are secretly covetous of the fitness being gained by cyclists, but they lack the discipline or desire to earn it themselves?

Someone needs to examine these phenomena and answer these questions. Maybe we could appropriate a portion of the $171,000 that funded the study on how monkeys gamble or the $331,000 dedicated to find out why “hangry” spouses stab voodoo dolls representing their partners. There’s a half million right there that could be better spent.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host, who still pedals the same Trek hybrid bike his mom gave him as a gift in 1990.

Think Macro, Not Micro

Micronesia Minnows Soccer

(Credit: Twitter)

We’ve all been on the short end of the stick in sports. Playing for and/or coaching teams that had no chance, or vying against opponents so superior that the match-up really wasn’t fair. But 114 goals to zero?

That was the aggregate score in three recent soccer matches against the team from Micronesia in a competition called the Pacific Games (which has a great website for you fans). Micronesia lost 30-0 to Tahiti, 38-0 to Fiji, and 46-0 against Vanuatu. So, they’re definitely not improving.

Maybe next year Micronesia should consider wearing shoes. That’s an exaggeration, of course, but seriously: in the team photo above it looks like one of the goalies is wearing jean shorts! Can’t the people at Nike just step in and fix that?

Perhaps switching coaches is the recipe for positive change? Easier said than done. The current boss, Stan Foster, claims he’s the only certified coach in Micronesia. Maybe he meant certifiable, because you’d have to be a bit nuts to put yourself through this much pain.

And it’s possible no one else wants the job. It comes with, um, challenges. Micronesia’s population of 104,000 is spread out across 7.4 million square kilometers of the Western Pacific Ocean and comprised of 607 islands. Finding, organizing and training a competent soccer team can’t be an easy task.

The Cleveland Browns may never win a Super Bowl. But at least their players don’t have to take boats to get together and practice.

The Federated States of Micronesia also face other challenges. Its four geographic states include ones named Chuuk and Yap. Let’s face it: I could’ve told you these were locales in a Dr. Seuss book and you would’ve bought it. But, breeding grounds for top midfielders and strikers–forgettaboutit.

Micronesia obviously needs to start THINKING bigger. When your soccer team gets skunked 114-0, maybe you should give them another name besides Minnows. Come on! There’s lots of fish in the sea. Minnows? Really? Change that, folks!

Or maybe it’s time to just give soccer a rest and dedicate your energies in a different direction. Micronesia has excelled at other sports in these 2015 Pacific Games. Weightlifter Manuel Minginfel won a gold medal in the Snatch and a silver in the Clean and Jerk. And certainly Micronesia has SOMEONE who can swim, right?

Now, we’re not saying there’s NO hope for Micronesia soccer. After all, if Jamaica can field a bobsled team, anything’s possible. But, it would take a miracle. Until then, Micronesia may have to hang its straw hat on offering some of the best SCUBA diving sites on the planet.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host who is wagering on Micronesia’s Va’a (canoeing) team.

Another 4th Down

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It was quite an Independence Day weekend at my house. To sum it up: red, white (black) and blue.

Red, from the cuts and abrasions I suffered. Black and blue, from the bruises on my back and side. White, because I’m just an ordinary average white guy trying to survive another suburban 4th.

I didn’t blow off any fingers. I didn’t try to launch fireworks off the top of my melon. I didn’t challenge any alligators by diving into their natural habitats. However, I did suffer a personal injury. My attacker is pictured above. You have to look REALLY close to make an identification.

Here’s the story…

Lugging overstuffed garbage bags and recyclables from the house to the garage, I fell down the front stairs. If any of our neighbors witnessed the incident from across the street, they must have laughed.

The fall was one of those slow-motion deals that seemed to take FOR. EV. ER.

Due to the garbage bags in front of me, I could not see anything below my waist, including the crucial stairs in the picture. At some point, one of my feet became twisted and I started to go down.

Let me get an important fact out of the way: I had NOT been drinking. Which actually kind of makes my lack of balance even more pathetic.

On the way down, I remember hopping on one foot once or twice and trying in vain to right the ship. Not sure if I did a complete 360 in the process, or just a partial, as I performed my dismount from the concrete staircase.

I do recall bouncing off the table-saw with my shoulder, dislodging a candle in a round glass case that shattered on the garage floor, slamming my spine against the garage doorframe, and landing in a sitting position on my ass–not hard, but in the sad fashion of someone trying and failing to claim the final seat in a game of musical chairs.

I ended up with a cut on my hand, a scrape on my upper arm, and bruises on my back. The drinking began shortly after that.

Next year, I’m sticking to my duties at the propane barbecue grill. Nothing can possibly go wrong there. Hope YOUR 2015 July 4th festivities were smoother than mine and injury-free. If not, I’d love to hear about it.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host who can’t wait to be back on the air.

Can We All Just Get Along…Still?

Bruno Caboclo

(Credit: Ron Turenne/Getty Images)

Today, and each June 24th, is the Day of the Caboclo. It’s not the title of a new horror flick. Nor is it the birthday of Bruno Caboclo, the 19-year-old forward of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors. It’s actually a celebration of mixed-race people in Brazil.

You’d be sued for that in this country.

Imagine the Day of the Mulatto or Caucasian Heritage Night at the ballpark. Wait, they tried the latter last week at a minor league stadium in Utah, but ended up canceling it.

I’m not suggesting the promotional idea by the Orem Owlz was a good one. But, it sure makes you wonder: When IS it acceptable to have a promotion in honor of a race of people? Where is the line?

Caucasians make up 63% of the population in the United States. When would it be okay to celebrate that faction of folks? When the percentage reaches minority status at 49%? Or 32%? Or 17%?

The point is that race is still such a sensitive topic in this country, while in other countries…not so much.

Maybe getting to know each other a little better, and experiencing what they experience, would help solve some of our issues.

I once had girlfriend who was African-American. Walking through a mall, we often received mean stares from whites and derisive comments from blacks. On the flip side, in the name of tolerance, I was completely accepted by an amateur soccer team on which I was the only white player.

If it’s okay in the sports world or in the realm of comedy, then it should be okay everywhere.

The story of the advent of the caboclo race in Brazil is interesting.

Caboclos are bronze-skinned folks hailing from the Amazonas region of South America. They are derived from the union of native Brazilian women and men of European descent. These interracial marriages were numerous in the 1700s, when white men were brought to the tropical jungle area of north central South America to help harvest the plentiful rubber supply.

Then, according to a Wikipedia entry “the men were never granted permission to leave, and thus married locally.”

The first part of that phrase sounds suspiciously coercive and maybe exploitative. And there are well-documented atrocities perpetrated against the men AND women of that region, all in the name of rubber greed. Too bad the bumper crop of latex used to create automobile tires and condoms could not have been harvested without a history of abuse.

Still, the Day of the Caboclo in the current age is honorable. No matter how an individual got here, his or her right to enjoy a day to honor his or her heritage should be protected. Or, perhaps we should decide that NO specific ethnic groups should be singled out and celebrated.

I do know this: people should not be defined purely by the color of their skin, but by their character underneath it. There are good Caucasians and bad ones–and those differing characteristics apply to people of ALL colors.

In the spirit of the Day of the Caboclo, I’m locating some bronze people today and congratulating them. I’ll begin at the tanning salon.

Dave Coombs is a longtime Caucasian morning radio host.

The Anatomy of an Award

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I tripped while receiving an award last year from The New York State Broadcasters Association and severely injured my pride. I’m still recovering from the embarrassment, which explains why I was not in attendance last night to receive my 10th annual NYSBA award for broadcast excellence.

(Kidding. I was fired earlier this year. I guess my invitation got lost in the mail.)

Since many of you who read this blog have listened to New York State morning radio shows I’ve worked with (WCMF in Rochester, WQBK in Albany, 95X and TK99 in Syracuse, to name a few), I thought you might enjoy a peek behind the curtain of these awards.

First of all, they’re voted upon by an outside source, in recent years by members of the Missouri Broadcasters Association. Folks there have no idea who I am, nor do they know CNY Central TV sportscaster Niko Tamurian. So, when one of us is fortunate enough to win an award, we know it didn’t result from fan-based ballot stuffing or inside connections, but was granted with complete impartiality.

It’s truly a merit-based award system. But I’m sending bottles of wine and chocolates to every broadcaster in Missouri for next year, just in case.

Here’s the entry that won the 2015 award for Best Sportscast:


The clips I utilized were a combination of real sports “actualities” from that day’s news, along with recognizable movie or TV clips culled from the flotsam and jetsam in the vast ocean of pop culture. It’s a body of water I’ve been swimming in ever since I can recall. I put special emphasis on grabbing the attention of the listener in the first 15-20 seconds, as I do whenever I go on the air.

Aside from the eight trophies I’ve picked up for Sportscasts, our former morning show at TK99 also won twice for Best Personality/Team. Here’s our winning entry from 2011:


This montage of highlights from that year featured celebrity interviews, some local and national content, original games, parodies, segments and production elements, creative “back-sells” of songs representative of the Classic Rock format of our station, all mixed together in a particular order and featuring a dash of production and attitude.

So, now I’ve earned 10 New York State Broadcasters Association trophies. The ones in my possession are gathering dust in a box in the basement, along with Punt, Pass & Kick trophies from my youth.

I’ve never really cared to display them; the work I put into them and the honor of the awards are most important to me, as opposed to the actual trophies.

When I return to the airwaves in my next job, I’ll give one away to caller #9. Each trophy resembles the Washington Monument and makes a great paperweight. Stay tuned for your chance to win.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host, who’ll be back on the air soon.

What’s Right and What’s Left?

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Doing laps on my bike around the path at the town park last night, I realized I was going the wrong way. I had begun my workout moving clockwise around the loop, but quickly reversed direction when I noticed people walking at me.

It got me thinking about why runners and horses and NASCAR drivers race counterclockwise around the track.

In auto racing, of course, it’s wise to keep the drivers away from the walls on the outside of the oval. Maybe that’s why NASCAR’S Australian version (AUSCAR) runs the opposite way; because the steering wheels and the drivers sit on the right side of the car.

Horse racing in other countries is a clockwise endeavor. It got flipped in the United States following the American Revolution. In 1780, a Kentuckian named William Whitley insisted that horses race opposite to the clockwise custom in England. Anything to rebel against the Empire.

It must have really busted the Brits’ stones at the time:

“I say, Reginald, can you believe what those despicable Colonials are up to now?”

“Yes, Rupert, letting horses run anti-clockwise?!? Balderdash!”

“Next thing you know, they’ll be trying to invent a machine that flies!”

“Rubbish! More tea?”

In human racing, it’s not exactly clear how we settled on the current format of left-hand turns around the track. One theory holds that it’s easier on the eyes of the spectators, most of whom are accustomed to reading in a left to right fashion.

I see no reason why we can’t switch things up. I swear my body felt more balanced after a week’s vacation years ago in Jamaica, driving on the other side of the car and the road, and shifting with my left arm instead of my right. As a baseball switch-hitter in my youth, I found I was able to make better contact left-handed (maybe due to my dominant right eye being closer to the ball), but I had more power from my natural right side.

I’m always advocating for balance, trying to convince my wife that switching our sleeping positions in bed would be wise. She won’t hear of it, but I think she needs to see the light. After all, she’s a Democrat, but she sleeps on the right! 

Aside from the benefits of balance, It does strike me that we might also be missing out on some variety and excitement when it comes to switching the direction of races:

Why not have a special Olympic running event in which the field of competitors is split in half and forced to race in opposite directions? Imagine the excitement at the end of a 1,500 meters, say, when the runners are converging toward the finish line and each other! It would be like a game of Track & Field Chicken. The winner gets a gold medal. The losers get removed on a stretcher.

We do not recommend trying this approach in the javelin toss.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host, who is always right.

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