Good, Better, Best; Never Let It Rest ‘Til Your Good is Better and Your Better is Best

There’s a lot of people who think watching sports is a waste of time. They are well within their right to think so.

There’s also a lot of people who think it’s pointless to watch sports, and that doing so is for losers.

Well, I think those people are the real losers. If you cannot glean a lesson from another person’s greatness that’s been derived from a place of tireless work effort, that’s a you problem.

A lot of people, when studying the ‘greats’ of the world — as in, those who have invented revolutionary items/materials or achieved undisputed, unequivocal success in general — will often mention the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, etc.

The work ethic of athletes can be studied, as well. However, a ton of people write that off by saying, “Well, that’s all talent!” Oh? If it’s all talent, then you wouldn’t see so many draft busts in professional sports. You know what I mean: players with a lot of hype backed by a ton of talent who don’t work out very well in the pros. If you don’t think work ethic, mental/physical toughness and an unshakable, resilient drive through action to be the best is a factor in the lives of these folks, then you are a goddamn dunce.

I’m reading through “Relentless” by Tim Grover. It’s a terrific read so far. Grover has trained the likes of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and many other athletes around the world.

Everybody, no matter who you are, in all walks of life can peruse this book and reap lessons and motivation from this book. Grover preaches taking action and not thinking in order to be a go-getter. What I mean by not thinking is, overthinking! Overthinking kills your happiness and breeds self-doubt.

He also writes about consistency and overcoming mental/physical pains, knowing your limits and still doing what you need to do to work at your passion.

In one part of the book, he writes about how after every game he’d ask Michael Jordan, “five, six or seven?” in reference to when they were going to train the next morning. MJ would give Grover his answer and, sure enough, the next day Grover would be outside his door and they’d head to the gym, whether it was after a win, loss, good game, bad game, soreness, fatigue… didn’t fucking matter. Jordan would be working at his craft. Same with Kobe Bryant.

Even if you are a nail stylist… how can you not garner a remnant of motivation from that? You go out and be the best damn nail stylist you can possible be. Be the best in the world!

Be insatiable in your desire to work.

If you ever venture to Reddit, you’d know the /r/getmotivated subreddit is an absolute plague… Negative Nancys left and right.

Somebody made a post about a year ago about how you are not always going to feel like doing the things necessary to help you grow. That’s a truth. That person also wrote that, perhaps, for certain amounts of time you might find yourself in an occupation or at a school you aren’t going to want to be at, but since it’s temporary and you can find a light at the end of the tunnel, you could have the self-discipline to push yourself through bad days and otherwise tough times.

I agreed and agree (now) wholeheartedly with that.

However, a few of the good ol’ cynics, Simpleton Susies and negative Nancys of Reddit disagreed.

Some guy said, “Well, if you don’t do something you love, you are going to quit eventually or you are going to lose every ounce of your soul doing something that’s life-sucking.”

These people missed the point.

Life isn’t going to be sunshine and rainbows every day. You can’t enjoy every single thing you do. That’s not a negative mindset. That’s a realist view of the world. It’s not all black and white; there’s more gray than anything. There’s nothing wrong about going through a little bit of pain and despair to get what you want or where you need to be.

Wasn’t it Bob Ross, the painter, who said that you have to have some rain to appreciate the sunshine?

What separates the haves from the have nots is a willingness to not embrace excuses and to show up, do what you need to do regardless of whether you feel good or not.

Planning without action is mental masturbation. Action without planning is equally weak, because it’s not sustainable if you don’t know what the hell you are doing.

It’s a damn good book and I highly recommend reading it no matter where you are in life.

Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is Just a Money Fight, And That’s Alright

Many consider it a joke in the realm of combat sports, and quite frankly, it is. It’s a hybrid boxing/MMA debacle. Many will say they couldn’t care less, and yet they’ll still tune in.

My interest is low, but that’s because I’d rather see UFC Lightweight champion Conor McGregor defend the goddamn title.

This fight between him and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. — boxing rules, mind you, that will favor the golden oldie Mayweather — makes no sense and has no reasoning behind it…  other than m-o-n-e-y.

Both guys will walk away with hundreds of millions of dollars.

Good for them!

I just hope McGregor will return to the UFC and defend that Lightweight strap. That division is in a stalemate right now due to McGregor’s absence. He’s won the Featherweight title, too. He never defended it. He fought three times in 2016 and not once over six months in 2017. I’ve been a fan since before his popularity skyrocketed because he’s an offensively artistic fighter. He flows so well with his striking, and it’s a joy to watch.

A lot of folks like to dub McGregor/Mayweather, Jr. as the biggest debacle ever (again, in the realm of combat sports history), but a lot of people forget that in the early 1970s Wilt Chamberlain and Muhammad Ali almost fought. Now that would have been the biggest debacle ever, because at least McGregor has a background in combat sports and boxing. Chamberlain was just a monster who played basketball as one of the best to ever do it, and that shitshow would have been even more of a circus than what we have today with Conor and Floyd.

I see — all the damn time — people saying that boxing and MMA has been dragged down to the abyss because of this, that and the other and that neither will ever catch the NFL’s popularity again (by ever again, I’m talking about boxing, but people also say that MMA will never catch the same place in sports culture and popularity).

They are right.

But that’s not because of circus fights.

It’s because of the fact that boxing and MMA doesn’t have a place in the number one spot in American sports these days. Far too many people that aren’t fans view it as violent. On the forefront, yes, it is. Boxing has a history of CTE probably worse than the NFL albeit not as heralded (in recent years). MMA is too young to come up with a verdict on head trauma, although I genuinely believe MMA is much safer than boxing (wrestling, jiu-jitsu and shorter fights equate to the likelihood of less shots being taken to the head as opposed to boxing where shots to the head are inevitable).

But that’s OK. Boxing and MMA are both niche sports nowadays. There’s nothing wrong with it. I’m happy that, in the UFC, we’ve gotten to see some big fights between some of the best fighters in the world. In boxing, that just isn’t happening nowadays, what with the 3 billion different titles and organizations and fighters dodging each other. I am sick of a few fighters not wanting to defend their titles, though. That’s speaking purely as a fan. I don’t blame McGregor for taking this bout with Mayweather, Jr. because it sets him up for life with all that money. What kind of sane person who isn’t a jealous bumrat schmuck bash him for that? You and I would both do the same. Don’t lie.

Just kick back and relax. Complaining about this veritable money fight isn’t changing a thing.

I Started A Grilling/BBQ/Cooking Blog

Instead of polluting an old blog titled “Troy’s Thoughts on Sports” with posts featuring pictures, thoughts and commentary on food, I started a new blog:

Grizzly Grillin’ and BBQ

I haven’t had much to say in regards to sports commentary in a while. Most of my commentary is inane, directionless tangents, which I don’t really care, anyway. I still and always will enjoy writing. Occasionally I take breaks and I come back; it’s all good. Like I’ve said a billion times, when I started this shindig in March 2007, I wanted to be a sportswriter. That was many moons ago, and I dropped that ‘plan’ long ago. However, I continued writing about sports, because hell, it’s fun! Whether people read it or not. The views have been high throughout the years, so either I have a few anonymous admirers or the content is decent enough to skim through. Either way, I’ll keep TSTOS around forever, in all likelihood.

Yours truly, salt and pepper haired and all.

So, Grizzly Grillin’ and BBQ is another food blog adventure. I haven’t really done such a thing in a decent amount of years (four or five?) and I feel like I’ll give it another shot this time around, mostly because it’s fun to do.

My personal opinion is that WordPress has gone downhill over the years in that they changed and went away from essential things like the tags pages. Now, hold on, let me explain: the tags pages used to be a fun way to find content on WordPress. Up top would be the featured blog or posts, and then the rest of the posts — usually what’s been posted most recently — would show up. That’s been scrapped. The WordPress tags now are linear, with recent posts at the top. That would be fine, but now much of it is filled with spam, and about 60% (I’d say) of the posts are from news websites… not blogs… not even really sites that are truly powered by WordPress. And if you ask me, that muddles the water, don’t you think?

Alas, WordPress is still the top blogging platform out there. Back in 2007, Blogspot/Blogger was still giving them a run for their money. However, WordPress is the top dog now. Regardless of the dashboard being insanely cumbersome to navigate through sometime (when it used to be perfect), it’s still alright.

The inspiration behind “Grizzly Grillin’ and BBQ” is simple. Asides from a love for food, I’m a hairy dude. My girlfriend calls me her bear. Connection made.

Over there, I’ll do what I’ve been doing here: writing about food, posting reviews of certain products, giving thoughts about miscellaneous things in relation to what the blog is all about. It’s all about having fun, y’know?

LeBron (3-5), Mobility, Opportunities

Welp. So much for a seven game series.

The Warriors finished off the Cavaliers in five games and Kevin Durant got his ring. I was ready for the circus. I wrote in a post last year about it, and I’m too lazy to link to it. I have no issues with Durant joining the Warriors. Sure, it was “weak sauce” hopping over to the team you had just lost to in the Western Conference Finals (in 2016) after blowing a 3-1 series lead, but I’m all for mobility and movement in life. You wouldn’t bash somebody for taking a pay raise or career position upgrade, would you? So don’t bash pro athletes.

One thing I will never be able to — because I refuse to — empathize with is home city homer-ism. I will state what I’ve said since the beginning of TSTOS and before when I had project blogs on WordPress in 2005 and 2006: there are no pro sports teams (at least in the three major American sports) where I grew up in southwest Virginia. Not one. The closest pro sports franchises around are the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, etc. Outside of Virginia Tech sports programs, which of course is collegiate, I never had a ‘local’ pro sports team to choose from.

So, the Rams leaving St. Louis didn’t affect me other than making all my St. Louis Rams items collectors items. The Rams have left Cleveland, Los Angeles and St. Louis. I don’t even bother looking at the comment sections of Rams’ social media posts, because it’s always the same things: folks from LA and St. Louis bashing one another, all out of ignorance. Wasted endeavors.

With that said, over the years I’ve developed a broadened perspective on pro sports. It’s not just a black and white mentality to me, as a fan. I appreciate just about all teams in sports. I wish not only the Celtics, but the Lakers, Knicks, 76ers, etc. to be competent franchises in the NBA, because I think it makes the product better (to see classic franchises succeed)!

Before the 2011  MLB season, I wrote that I’d be OK with Albert Pujols leaving the Cardinals, as he was 31 or 32 and already spent his prime years with the Cards, and that I’d be annoyed if they rewarded him with a massive contract just for performing, that doing so would handicap the future of the franchise. The Cardinals won the World Series that year and ensuingly allowed Pujols to walk and go to the Los Angeles Angels for an egregious amount of cash. I was cool with it. Pujols was and is my all-time favorite baseball player, but I knew such a contract would be pure shit for the Cardinals. My buddy — who has since come around — was furious when Pujols left… it was smart for Pujols to take the money the Angels offered him, so I don’t blame him. And I don’t blame Kevin Durant for going to the Warriors because he wanted to win.

With all this bloviating, I still side with LeBron in 2010 — just as I did back then — when he left Cleveland. I never liked that he returned to Cleveland in 2014, though, just because of the way those idiots acted when he left. He’s the greatest athlete that has ever graced Cleveland (move over, Jim Brown), and they disrespected him by burning jerseys and all that jazz. I wield a little bit of bitterness over the Warriors blowing that 3-1 lead in the Finals last year, because I can’t help but contend that the city of Cleveland nor Dan Gilbert deserved that championship last year. It’s as though they were rewarded for the temper tantrums they collectively threw in 2010. That’s bullshit, to me.

LeBron James’ teams are 3-5 in the NBA Finals. So what? Jerry West is the logo of the NBA and his teams went 1-8 in the NBA Finals. Nobody bats an eye. My girlfriend — who enjoyed some parts of the NBA Finals but is relatively new to watching — asked me, “If LeBron is the best player in the world, why is he not so loved?” He’s always been polarizing. He’ll never get the full credit he deserves. He averaged a triple double in this Finals, and there are utter morons out there who are blaming him for the Cavs losing to a superior Warriors team. That is asinine.

The older I get, the less ‘crazed’ I am about the “my team vs. the world” mentality. I’m much more appreciative and open minded about hearing from fans who are impartial and objective about sports instead of eager to impulsively post hot takes on players or bash players for idiotic reasons whether for homer-ism of their own teams or blissful ignorance.

Why can’t we just appreciate what we are seeing?

We just watched the Warriors and Cavs play in back to back to back NBA Finals, and that’s awesome. We won’t get to see Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving play forever; they won’t always be in their prime forever. Also, how incredible was it to see both teams practically completely healthy? That’s amazing and typically unlikely. We are lucky to be able to witness this epic amalgamation of talent on the court all at once.

Yet people bitch, they moan, they cry, they whine.

I’ll pose this question again: did this kind of bitching happen in the 1980s when the Lakers and Celtics were virtually in every NBA Finals either against one another three times or against other squads?

Maybe it did. I’m sure if the internet and social media were around, of course somebody would have bitched, because in the heat of the moment, just like today, folks post their opinions at impulse without a moment of patience to allow a thought to process, settle and stew for a bit.

Yet all these bitchin’ folks watched the Finals, I’m sure, and I’m positive they enjoyed themselves watching them.

Sure, the regular season of the NBA is awful, but I’m weary of long, drawn out regular seasons, anyway. I wouldn’t complain if Adam Silver & Co. reduced the amount of games in the regular season. I don’t care about teams resting star players, because I hardly watch regular season basketball outside of highlights.

Moral of all the inane rambling above: let’s all collectively appreciate greatness. The Warriors are great. LeBron is top notch. Let’s stop bashing professional athletes for wielding the opportunity for mobility/upgrading. Be a fan of your team, not the city.

Warriors/Cavs: NBA Finals Part III and Grillin’

I’m not sure how the 2017 NBA Finals ratings are doing, but all the people who stated before the Finals that they are tired of this matchup are full of bologna. I wasn’t around in the 1980s, but everything I’ve read about that decade in regards to basketball suggests that pro ball had a revival thanks to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Funny. Those Celtics and Lakers teams were in the NBA Finals virtually every year of that decade, and nobody seemed to get tired of that occurrence. Maybe if Twitter and other forms of social media — along with the internet — had been around back then, people would have vociferated their annoyances impulsively like they do now. Who knows.

All I know is that the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are hands down the best teams in the NBA, and I’ve been looking forward to this rematch. One of my buddies who’s also a Spurs apologist like yours truly thinks the Spurs would have defeated the Warriors had Kawhi Leonard not been hurt, but I disagree — we saw the Spurs crumble after Leonard got hurt in game one of the Western Conference Finals. That one piece to the puzzle proved that the Spurs’ competence as a unit without Leonard is pretty damn tenuous! (Of course, the Cavs without LeBron might as well be Eastern conference cellar dwellers.)

The Warriors just blew out the Cavs in the first two games of the Finals. Somehow, LeBron (triple double in game two) managed to single-handedly keep the Cavs in the game until the fourth quarter of the second one. A lot of folks are already counting the Cavs out, but I’ll always believe in the mindset that a series ain’t a series until a home team loses. The pressure is on Cleveland Wednesday night. I have a feeling they’ll win game 3. I want this series to go the full seven, damn it! I was in Alabama last year and missed the last few games of the Finals.

Don’t forget that the Warriors jumped out ahead 2-0 in last year’s Finals with a 15 point win in game one and a 33 point win in game two. Then they led 3-1 before the Cavs ripped off three straight games. Yeah, I know, this is a different Dubs team; Kevin Durant jumped on board to chase a ring, but nothing is ever guaranteed or else that 2003-2004 Los Angeles Lakers squad with Kobe, Gary Payton, Karl Malone and Shaq would have beaten that awesome Detroit Pistons bunch.

Those are the burgers I grilled up on my STOK drum grill last night! They came out pretty damn good; no complaints from anyone, at least. I posted that to Reddit, and I made a mistake by mentioning STOK’s name, and a few idiots considered it a “hail corporate!” kind of thing. I wish! I’d love to be endorsed by STOK. I give them plenty of free advertising both on here and on Instagram.

It’s 73/27 ground beef. A 5+ lb. batch goes for about $10 at the grocery store. Whenever I grill them, I like to form the patties and put them in the freezer for a while to let them solidify, as it makes them much easier to cook. However, my family was so damn hungry I had to be a little quick. The problem with not doing the freezer method with these is that they fall apart. It’s difficult to sear them, because they are so fatty the fat drips onto the coals and induces plenty of flare ups. It wasn’t a huge problem last night. It at least made for some nice pictures. The burgers came out delicious and juicy, with a nice crust.

I give credit to this STOK grill because I love the cast iron grates. As I’ve said before, I’m a cast iron freak. Nothing holds heat better. I also love this grill, because with the basket you can use it as a direct/indirect grill, and what I plan on using with a “vortex” method pretty soon. I’m going to get some wings and start them off on indirect heat on the grill for 7-10 minutes per side with the lid closed before crisping them up, very carefully, on direct heat. Should be some damn good eatin’! The little lady loves crispy wings (hell… so do I), so this should be worth a shot on the ol’ STOK!

Baby Back Ribs (And More) on my Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker!

I was born in eastern Tennessee and raised in southwest Virginia. I’m a mountain boy! So it is fitting that I am now cooking with a smoker called the “Weber Smokey Mountain”. This is a huge upgrade over my previous smoker, where I had to constantly babysit the temperatures all day. I’m also now going to be a Weber fan for life, because their customer service is out of this world fantastic. The lid is kinda “out of round” where I have to force it down onto the top of the smoker, and Weber is supposed to send me a new one, free of charge. Can’t beat that kind of customer service.

I watched game one of the Warriors/Cavs NBA Finals Thursday night, went to bed past 12 and woke up at 4:30 Friday morning because I was so damn excited to smoke some meats on this thing. Whenever I smoke, I like to stuff the smoker full of food. I smoked a bacon-wrapped pork loin, two racks of baby back ribs, a family pack of chicken thighs, some chicken drums and bologna.

But I was most excited about the ribs. I didn’t foil them. Just used a dry rub (Uncle Yammy’s Memphis style chicken & rib seasoning). I spritzed them with a cranberry-apple juice I had (didn’t have any apple juice) a few times during the cook. The small rack came off about four hours in. The larger rack took about six hours! I didn’t want them fall-off-the-bone tender; I like a little bit of a bite and pull to my ribs, and they came out pretty great!

I used apple wood from my apple tree I pruned back in late February along with two little chunks of hickory. Yeah… I used the factory Weber temperature thermometer. Everybody says it’s crappy and that it’s “between 30-50 degrees off”, but it will have to do for now. Everything came out great. Dana loved it at first bite (the ribs).

A couple of people on the fans of WSM Facebook page kept advising me not to do a pork loin first since it was supposed to run hot in the beginning, but I wanted to play around with it, with a shorter cook before doing a pork shoulder. It came out perfect; juicy as all get out. I was going to pull it at 145-150 but according to my thermometer it got to 159, which is when I pulled it. I coated it with a thin layer of mayo and seasoning before I wrapped the bacon to, I guess, “protect it” and give it an extra layer of fat and flavor.

So juicy! What a smoke ring!

If Last Night Was Manu Ginobili’s Final NBA Game…

Then I must say: thank you, Manu Ginobili.

Ginobili is one of my top 10 favorite players of all-time. A great Spur in his sixteen years in San Antonio. I remember frequenting a sports forum back in the summer of 2006 that featured a member by the name of “koolaid”, who was a Los Angeles Lakers fan, a guy that believed Ginobili was on the same level as Kobe Bryant. Some might say that’s far fetched, and hey, in a way it is, but if you consider Kobe’s game to be ‘artistic’ in expression, in regards to his free-flowing offensive style, how can you not say the same about Ginobili, if you’ve watched him play? Sure, he was always a little awkward in his movements, but his dribbling and drives to the basket made for some of the best highlights in the history of the game.

My all-time favorite Manu game, prior to the 2005 NBA playoffs, was back in January 2005 when he scored 48 points on the Phoenix Suns! The 2004-2005 NBA season was a pretty damn fun one. It was Reggie Miller’s last year, the SuperSonics were damn good with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, it was Shaquille O’Neal’s first season in Miami with second year guard Dwyane Wade, the Spurs were potent and the Pistons were gung-ho on attempting a repeat (I loved that Pistons’ team, by the way; nowadays where a team must feature two or three stars, that Pistons squad functioned as a unit led by Larry Brown).

The Suns were fantastic in ’04-’05 with that “7 seconds or less” offense headed by Steve Nash! A lot of people call the Warriors of the last couple of years the greatest offense ever, but man, if you were too young to watch the ’04 or ’05 (especially the ’04, though) Suns, I feel sorry for you. Steve Nash was in the midst of his first of two back-to-back MVP season performances, and they were a thrill to watch if you enjoyed basketball.

Tensions were running high in January 2005 in the Western Conference. The Spurs and Suns were battling it out in an Old West duel for the top seed in the said conference. That night, January 21, 2005, I was finally switching to cable/broadband internet after having dial-up my whole life. It was an aggravation! However, while dealing with all that, the Spurs/Suns game was on ESPN and Ginobili, well, like I said, he lit the Suns up with 48 points and the Spurs won a thriller in overtime.

All my favorite players have just about retired!