Author Archives: Kent Sterling

I promise to stay positive and upbeat, regardless of Colts, Pacers, and Indiana Basketball results

Back when I was a cynic, I would have hammered the use of four synonyms among these 11 words in Indiana University’s social justice logo. But today, it’s all love, baby!

For as long as I can remember, I have been a guy who liked to call BS on cowardly management, corrupt policies, and bad mojo.

Until today.

Arrogance needed to be exposed as an unholy violation against humanity, or at least I used to think so.  Dishonesty?  It needs to be decried as the most repellent trait a person can exhibit.

Click here for your copy of “Oops – the Art of Learning from Mistakes and Adventures” by Kent Sterling

Not anymore.

Holding people accountable for lies, quirks, foibles, self-immersion, and misdeeds used to be fun.  I enjoyed being a thorn in the side of pompous asses who thought they had discovered the secret to keeping everyone from figuring out they are just as mortally flawed as the rest of us.

But I’m done with that.

I want to be positive – to find life-affirming stories that begin with an acknowledgement of our fallibility and end with an uplifting moment that allows for the hope that life can be measured by grace, reason, and generosity instead of zeroes at the bottom of a balance sheet.

My change of heart has been driven by a virtual lack of good news in media.  Between COVID, the election, and ongoing economic distress, I’m exhausted by bad news that triggers fear and loathing.

When the Colts fell behind 21-0 early in the second quarter of Sunday’s game, my mood turned dark.  Then I thought, “What the hell am I so upset about?”  A football game on a nice afternoon where 12,500 people sit and enjoy not thinking about all of the crap should not raise my blood pressure – regardless of the score.

Looking for the good seems like a better investment of my time and energy than pointing at idiots with dissatisfied sarcasm.

The tough part of this evolution is that do-gooders are outnumbered by publicly proud morons 20-to-1.  Busting balls of bad coaches who bloviate without meaningful oversight or consequence is necessary to insert some humility into their greedy and ridiculous existence, so this is going to be tough.

What makes this move possible is that the current state Indiana sports franchise leadership is very positive.  I believe Colts GM Chris Ballard, Pacers president Kevin Pritchard, Colts coach Frank Reich, and those in charge of college teams are generally good people who are handling their challenges with creativity and an acceptable amount of humility and honesty.

Butler’s LaVall Jordan, Indiana’s Archie Miller, and Purdue’s Matt Painter are well-rounded leaders aware they are responsible for the development of human beings rather than a simple stacking of college basketball wins.  Purdue Football’s Jeff Brohm appears to be a decent sort, and Indiana’s Tom Allen tells everyone “Love each other,” like he means it.

We have no idea who the next coach of the Pacers will be, but given the recent track record of hiring, there is no reason to believe he will be anything but another in a long line of good guys to deal with.  Both Frank Vogel and Nate McMillan were forthcoming and humble, and I would think whomever is next will behave likewise.

So like the radio show I hosted on CBS Sports 1430, people here will be treated with respect not derision, and stories of generosity and decency will be told.

About those I have nothing good to write or say, I will write and say nothing – just like the radio show where I avoided guests I didn’t respect.

Inflammatory and clever will be shelved for the moment – as long as my discipline holds out and Tom Crean stays in Georgia.

Breakfast with Kent – Colts love Eason; should Pacers extend Vic at $26M per; de Souza leaves KU Hoops

Inside Indiana Sports NOW! Frank Reich joins to talk Colts winning, Rivers, Taylor, and Eason

Colts are 4-2, and nothing else matters – enjoy these good times without being pessimists

Philip Rivers was smart enough to enjoy the moment yesterday after beating the Bengals. We should be too.

I’ve come to praise the Indianapolis Colts, not bury them.  The burial may come later, but let’s not rush into things.

The Colts won yesterday, so the last thing I want to be – or anyone should be – is negative.  All of us have enough to worry about with COVID and a presidential election just 15 days away, so why jump the gun and act like we know more than we do about Philip Rivers & Company’s pending fortunes.

Yesterday’s win was the biggest comeback in the history of the franchise in a regular season home game.  That is a reason to celebrate, not mourn.  Sure, the first 15 minutes were hideous, but the last 45 should have washed that sour taste out of our mouths.

Click here for your copy of “Oops – the Art of Learning from Mistakes and Adventures” by Kent Sterling

Yet I look at the 4-2 record, cobbled together against teams that are a combined 12-23-1 (including a 5-1 Bears team not nearly as good as its record suggests), and I cringe knowing what lies ahead.  After a game against a mediocre Lions team, the Colts play their next four against the Ravens, Titans (2x), and Packers – teams sporting a 19-2 collective mark.

This season has been a bit like a downhill bike ride where we have enjoyed churning the pedals with relative ease before we hit a vertical incline that will seriously test our fitness and resolve.  We have no reason to believe we won’t be able to gear down and keep moving forward, but there isn’t a hell of a lot of evidence to believe the ride will be completed without falls or failure.

Philip Rivers was good yesterday.  In fact, he was better than good, completing 29-of-44 passes for 371 yards, three TDs, and a single pick.  That’s the Rivers that wins games.  The knock on him with the Chargers was that he could manage wins from out front, but fall behind and it’s big trouble.  Yesterday, he found a way to outscore the Bengals 31-6 after the initial onslaught.

On the other side of the ball, the Colts defense was bad until it was good.  It was vanilla with a soft zone and minimal pressure with only the four defensive linemen until coordinator Matt Eberflus started dialing up blitzes and more exotic coverages.  The final blitz causing Bengals QB Joe Burrow to hurry his way into throwing the game-ending interception by rookie safety Julian Blackmon.

Anyone with a passing knowledge of football sees the flaws in the Colts, but this is not the time to dwell on the negative because at 4-2, all is still possible.

At a party once, Rams hall of fame sack king Deacon Jones was maybe a little too happy, and my wife asked if she could get him a glass of water.  Jones said, “What, and ruin this cool vodka buzz?”  That’s where we are as Colts fans today.  We have a cool vodka buzz working.  A hangover might be headed straight toward us like it did for Deacon the next day, but why ruin the present with worry about the future?

The Colts won yesterday.  Rivers looked good.  The defense closed the door on the Bengals.  A fourth-year pro named Marcus Johnson with 32 catches for 502 yards in his career prior to yesterday went off for five and 108 to make us forget about injured weapons like Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman.  Kicker Roberto Blankenship was perfect – again.

Keep reveling in the good, ignore the bad, and smile.  The uphill portion of the season is coming and its likely hangover looms.  But let’s enjoy the day, rather than cower in fear of the future.

Maybe the climb won’t be so tough and the hangover not too painful.  There is no glory in being a pessimist who is right all the time, so relax.

Enjoy the moment.  Enjoy the huge comeback.  Enjoy 4-2.  Smile.

Breakfast with Kent – Colts 21-point comeback biggest in home history! The good, bad, and ugly of a strange afternoon

Inside Indiana Sports NOW! Walking and Talking about Colts, Pacers, LaVall Jordan’s mom; and Bartman!

COVID tests negative – now the Colts need positive results against the Bengals

Now that the Colts possible positive COVD tests have been ruled negative, let’s get back to football!

The Colts have an opportunity to win against a lesser opponent this Sunday, and they need to take full advantage of it.

If they don’t beat the rebuilding Cincinnati Bengals to run their record to 4-2, and follow it up with another win against the hapless Detroit Lions, this season could head down a very unpleasant road.  All things are possible if the Colts win Sunday, but with a loss those dreams will ebb toward the very unlikely.

Click here for your copy of “Oops – the Art of Learning from Mistakes and Adventures” by Kent Sterling

That’s the way it works with a 16-game season.  In baseball and basketball, hope can flourish though 40 games.  In the NFL, because of the scarcity of opportunities fattening the win total against teams that should be beaten must be exploited, especially when the remainder of the schedule provides stiff challenges.

And those challenges get very stiff once the Colts are finished with the Bengals and Lions.

With nine games remaining in the regular season, the Colts will likely be favored in just three of them (two against the Texans and a second game against the Jaguars).  The combined records of the opponents in the other six games (Titans twice, Ravens, Packers, Raiders, and Steelers) is currently 23-3.

If a 9-7 record is needed to get to the playoffs, the Colts must beat the Bengals and Lions as well as the Jaguars and Texans (2X) in order to get to eight wins.  If any of those games are lost, the Colts will need to find at least two wins among the five opponents in six tough games mentioned above.

So how do they beat the Bengals.  On paper, it is easy:

Pressure Joe Burrow.  Darius Leonard said it yesterday when asked what the Colts defense needs to do to win, “Pressure!”  Burrow has been sacked an NFL leading 22 times through the first five games of his career.  Rattling rookie QBs is the key to beating them.  The Bengals are #2 in pass attempts, but 22nd in passing yardage.  Burrow has averaged 6.3 yards per attempt, which is one foot per pass fewer than the number that caused the Colts to move past Jacoby Brissett as a starter.

Run and run some more.  The Bengals run defense has been terrible, ranking 30th in yards allowed and in yards per attempt (5.2).  Colts losses have come in part because Philip Rivers has thrown it to opponents twice in each of those two games.  Turnovers kill mediocre teams, and so far the Colts fall into that category.  They have yet to lose a fumble.  Run the damn ball!

Run better!  Opponents know the Colts want to run the ball, and they load up the box with a seven or eight defenders.  The result has been the #31 rushing attack in average yards per run (3.6).  Starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo was full go in practice yesterday, so it appears the Colts will have their full compliment of road graters opening holes for Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines.  If those five need to block eight, that’s just the way it goes.  Get it done.

Get off to a good start.  So far this year, the Colts have been quite productive in their first offensive drive – scoring touchdowns in four out of five.  Do that against the Bengals, and Burrow may try to beat the Colts by himself.  In a couple of years, that could be a problem.  Not in his sixth game though.

Control the clock.  The Colts need to eat clock.  Old fashioned seven-minute drives will both score points and keep Burrow off the field.  Those drives are the result of short passes and runs that are less likely to cause turnovers, and as we’ve discussed turnovers will kill the Colts.

Get Burrow off the field quickly.  The killer for the Colts in the loss to Cleveland wasn’t the Rivers picks, although they did not help.  Allowing the Browns to convert on 10-of-17 third downs was brutal.  Earn a third and long, turn it into a punt.  Repeat!

Football isn’t brain surgery – hold onto the ball, move the ball, score the ball.  Beating the Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium must be the expectation for a playoff team, and the Colts need to meet that expectation.

The Colts passed their COVID tests this morning, and now need to pass their football exam on Sunday.  As Shakespeare wrote, “Cry ‘Havoc!’ , and let slip the dogs of war!” or consign yourselves to the ignominious multitude of inferiors.

Steve Bartman is still to blame 17 years later for Cubs 2003 collapse – as it shall be forever

It’s been 17 years, but idiocy is still idiocy.

Seventeen years later, I still blame Steve Bartman for screwing up the Cubs chances of playing in their first World Series since 1945.  I am aware that doesn’t make me a great human being, and that I might have some issues to work through as I move glacially toward enlightenment.

Sure, there were other moments in that game that changed its course.  Alex Gonzalez bobbled a ground ball that might have ended the inning and allowed the Cubs to win.  The next night, Kerry Wood wasn’t at his best against the Marlins and should have plunked Pudge Rodriguez in the top of the first (it’s a long story).

Click here for your copy of “Oops – the Art of Learning from Mistakes and Adventures” by Kent Sterling

To my credit, when I had an opportunity to sacrifice the billy goat that was led through the Billy Goat Restaurant on Clark Street prior to Game Seven, I passed.  It was unclear in my mind whether killing the goat would put an end to the curse placed on the Cubs during the 1945 World Series when a similar goat was denied a seat at Wrigley Field, so I decided it should not murder a defenseless animal that did not know a baseball from a cantaloupe.

I could choose be furious at the guy who occupied the seat next to Bartman.  He was equally eager to disrupt the decent of the foul pop headed for left fielder Moises Alou’s mitt.  Or I could hold culpable the entire Game Seven crowd of which I was a part who brought such a miserable and hopeless mood into Wrigley the next night that a loss was virtually guaranteed.

But I am not.

I am pissed at Bartman – the strange fellow in the green turtleneck, glasses, and oversized headphones who has still never granted an interview to explain either what he was thinking in the moment or how that night changed his life.

Maybe “pissed” is the wrong word.  I wish Bartman no harm or consequence for his role in the eighth inning meltdown that crushed the spirit of that team and fanbase.  If I ever met him, a hug, beer, and jovial conversation would be his.  But as I watch replays of his effort to catch that foul ball, my response is always the same, yelling “F***ING BARTMAN!”.

My wife always counters that shriek by trying to explain that he did what every fan does by trying to snag a souvenir.  I patiently explain the responsibility of fans in the front row to avoid interfering with a ball that could be caught – by a Cub.  If Bartman put his hands between the ball and Marlins left fielder Jeff Conine that night, he’s a hero!   But he didn’t.

It’s also explained to me when Bartman comes up that if he didn’t look so goofy and guilty, we wouldn’t judge him the villain of a game bought a ticket to experience, not affect.  True.  I have to grant that.  Bartman looked like a 10-year-old who got caught stealing baseball cards until ushers finally escorted him away.  If he had immediately owned what he had done, his life would be different.  Or if he had pointed at the schlub next to him, we would have likely forgotten about him in the confusion.

But he didn’t, so Bartman is a pariah among irrational Cubs fans – an all-inclusive subset of silly boob in which I proudly align.  His club is smaller than you might think.  Members include the aforementioned goat, Charlie Grimm (for malfeasance during the 1945 World Series), Don Young (for misplaying a fly ball in 1969), and Leon Durham (for allowing a ground ball to roll through his legs in Game Five of the 1984 NLCS).  That’s it.

Bartman is welcome in my home any time.  No harm will come to him if we meet, and I will join in any effort to repel a physical threat against him.

But the 2003 collapse is still his fault.

BREAKFAST WITH KENT – COLTS ORGANIZATION WITH POSITIVE COVID TESTS; Pacers search continues

Inside Indiana Sports NOW! Colts LB Darius Leonard joins with injury update; talks about how hard it is to watch