Monday, March 31, 2008

Some MLB Opening Day Thoughts

Today was the first day of the MLB season and you know what that means - six straight months of baseball in the news each and every day.  Brace yourself...

There were some very good baseball games on today's slate, the best of which was probably the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Atlanta Braves 12-11 in twelve innings.  The game went back and forth and just didn't seem to want to end.  Another great game was the Brewers versus the Cubs, at least minus the first eight (scoreless) innings of the game.  Starters, Ben Sheets and Carlos Zambrano, pitched some great ball, but when it came down to crunch-time in the ninth inning it was a completely different story.  Two of the most under-achieving pitchers in baseball took the stage.  

You guessed it, Eric Gagne and Kerry Wood.  In the top of the ninth-inning Wood gave up three runs to the Milwaukee Brewers, as they took the 3-0 lead.  Then in the bottom of the same inning something extraordinary happened.  Kosuke Fukudome, Japanese native and cousin of competetive hot-dog eater Kobayashi, came up to the plate.  The setting seemed electric as the entire crowd sang in chant, "Fu-ko-do-me", and on the fifth pitch of the at-bat he hit a home run to tie the game at 3-3.  Too bad for the Chicago Cubs that they still lost, 4-3, and still won't end their World Series drought of exactly 100 years.  Don't feel bad Kerry Wood, you aren't the least entirely.

My personal pick for the World Series champion this year is the New York Mets.  They are pretty good and if anyone has a chance to dethrone the gross Yankee-Red Sox duo than it's them.  So, come on, Johan Santana, don't win the World Series for yourself, or your team, or even your fans - do it for the Yankee haters.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Davidson Deserves A Hug

Before this NCAA tournament, like most people, I didn't know much about the Davidson Wildcat basketball team; other than they hadn't lost a game since Friday, December 21 of last year.  That left them coming into today's Elite 8 matchup with an impressive 25 straight wins.  And like I just said I hadn't really heard much about Davidson before Selection Sunday and wasn't a fan of them.  Yet at the end of the these last few games that I have watched them play in the tournament I have found myself rooting for them, even if that meant them messing up my bracket (which they did, by the way).

Davidson, the hero #10 seed, took down some of the best teams in the nation during their tournament run in #7 seed Gonzaga, #2 seed Georgetown, and #3 seed Wisconsin, not to mention playing Kansas, a definitive top four team in the nation, down to the wire.  It would have been real interesting if Davidson had the chance to play UNC next weekend for a trip to the championship, as the Wildcats lost a close 68-72 game to the Tar Heels in November.

As for Stephen Curry, and his 25.3 points per game this season (32 per game during the tournament), I think this definitely won't be the last we see of him.  First, Davidson only has two graduating seniors on their team, and have to be excited for next season.  Second, and probably more important to Curry as an individual, he very realistically could end up in the National Basketball Association.  But don't tell Curry that; if you ask him about his team's success in the tournament, he'll tell you what any good teammate says.  The Davidson Wildcats played as a team and won as a team.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The NFL Needs A New Statistic

Statistics have always been a big part of sports, and in football there are tons of them.  At the end of every year NFL players can marvel at themselves and keep track of how many yards, touchdowns, tackles, sacks, interceptions, or field goals that they stacked up in the previous season.  But it just feels like there is something missing.

With all the recent rule changing in the NFL, I propose that they add a new stat to the list: times arrested.  It's becoming so common recently that it would almost be a crime not to have it as a stat.  The NFL could have league leaders and even hand out a pretty trophy to the biggest outlaw every year; it would be great.

Speaking of the biggest outlaw, Adam "Pacman" Jones might actually make his way onto the football field in the 2008 season, after being suspended for the entire 2007 season.
It's not really clear exactly how many times Pacman Jones has been arrested, but it falls somewhere between two and six.  A few days ago Jones had a lengthy interview with the Michael Irvin Show and finally took responsibility for his actions, said he is a changed man, and that he promises to do gooder.  You really got to hand it to the guy because he hasn't been in legal trouble for over two months; good for you Pacman, keep that streak alive for a few more days.

In the last few weeks the Dallas Cowboys, America's Team (of Criminals), have expressed interest in Jones and it's really looking like he'll get to hang out with his law-breaking buddy, Tank Johnson, in Dallas.  I say that Cowboy's owner, Jerry Jones, just goes to a jail and pick up some guys for his team because it will probably leave him in a better situation.

The Cowboy's new slogan?  Where gangsters go to get clean.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Top 10 Most Underrated Things In Sports

Here is your third installment of a new column called 'Top 10 Things In Sports', a new weekly thing that I will do.  Here is your list of the Top 10 things in sports that we think are way underrated and want more people to pay attention to.

#10 Arena Football
I am definitely not arguing that Arena Football should become as mainstream as the No Fun League and college football, but it's still a good substitute in the spring and a fun sport to watch.  There is tons of scoring and it's very easy to understand, other than a few strange rules.

#9 Minor League Baseball
If you are a Red Sox or Yankee fan than you have permission to skip this one, but not all you fans of the twenty MLB teams that alway suck.  Sometimes it is good to get away from your lousy Kansas City Royals and go watch some good baseball.  Minor League baseball games are cheap and usually pretty entertaining; maybe you'll even see a future MLB superstar, or you know, Roger Clemens.

#8 The Winter Olympics
From what I have looked at, the difference in television ratings between the winter and summer olympics is kind of staggering.  The 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece reached over 3.9 billion people while the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy reached a measly 200,000.  Even if that first number is a little high and the second, a little low, that is still quite a big hole in between them.  During the 2010 Winter Games at least check out curling in the middle of the day; it's kind of like icy shuffleboard without the old people smell.
#7 ESPN's Feel Good Stories
I know it may seem cheesy, but sometimes it's good to read something outside of the world of competitive sports.  E-Ticket, an ESPN weekly feature, features stories about different people around the sports world and most of the stories are very creative and fresh.  One of my favorite's features the journey of a North Alaskan high school football team.
#6 Outside of America - Every Sport Other Than Soccer
I only know a few people outside of the United States, but from what I have talked to them about soccer, it really is the phenomenon that everyone thinks it is.  If you are a big sports fan in the U.S. than just take a second to think about how much time you spend either playing sports or watching sports in a week; chances are that time is divided between more than one sport.  The rest of the world loves sports too, but the difference is that they spend all of that same time on one sport, soccer.  It's encouraging to see the NFL, MLB, and NBA go international and hopefully that will continue.
#5 Falling Asleep To Golf
Don't get me wrong, golf is great game, but if you are ever looking for a Sunday nap just turn some golf on TV.  Golf is a great bonding thing for father and sons to do, but you also have to admit that it's not the most exciting thing to watch either.  If you are feeling a little pekid next Sunday take a nap with some golf.  It'll do the body good.

#4 Fantasy Sports
To outsiders fantasy sports seem nerdy and pointless, but I really think that case can be made for just about anything in life.  If you are a big sports buff, and never been in a fantasy sports league, the least you can do is try it out.  Pick your favorite sport and if you really put some work into your team it will open up an entirely different side of sports to you.

#3 Crowd Brawls
When I think of crowd brawls the first thing that comes to mind is the infamous 'Malice in the Palace' involving Ron Artest, the Indiana Pacers, and the Detroit Pistons.  Personally, I think as long as no one dies or gets seriously injured, they are pretty funny.  The fact that athletes like Artest, who are getting paid millions of dollars, can't keep their cool when fans are talking shit about their momma is a pretty curious thing.  And the face of the fan who is about to get pummeled by a completely-built athlete, that's pretty funny too.

#2 X Games
I would hardly consider myself a skater or a punk, but many people associate the X Games with those two terms.  Let me just tell you, if you fall into that category than you are definitely missing out.  Some of the stuff those guys like Shaun White throw down is just amazing and seems to defy gravity.  When I go through my mid-life crisis I am going to make sure to try out for the X Games; or at least ride a dirt-bike or something.

#1 Rushing The Court/Field
People don't realize it, but when they are watching a college basketball game like Kansas State play #1 Kansas at Kansas State, they just want to see the crowd rush the court at the end of the game.  A college team can completely suck, but if they pull off an amazing upset at home and the crowd gets to rush the basketball court or football field than the season is suddenly a success.  Or at least should be cause of the awesomeness of it.  Which is why I think rushing the court and rushing the field should be introduced in pro sports.  How awesome would that be?  I'll tell you,  it'd be like being in college for life.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The No Fun League Is Here To Stay

At the end of the month the NFL, formerly the National Football League, teams will be voting to as to whether or not they should officially change names to the "No Fun League."  

The past few off-seasons the league has passed some really dumb rules to try to suck as much fun as they possibly can out of the game of football.  Today that fun-squeezing seemed to continue when I heard that the league's teams will be voting on a ban of player's hair flowing out of their helmets because "the hair could cover their name" and is a uniform violation.  Everyone knows that's not the real reason for their stupid new proposed rule, and I can't help but feel that the rule is directed towards a certain race, which is just wrong. 

Roger Goodell - if you ever find this article than I want you to leave my site with this simple and very non-vulgar statement engraved in your mind: Quit your job, you fun-sucker-out-of-er.

What would players like Troy Polamalu, Marion Barber, and Al Harris be like without long hair?  I'll tell you what, just boring old football players.

The picture above is of the famous Lambeau Leap, a precise art that is executed at home Green Bay Packer's football games by the receiver who catches a touchdown.  Now look at that picture and tell me how that is hurting anyone: beer flying everywhere, a massive celebration, and that beautiful cheesy grin on Donald Driver's face.

The NFL acts like everything that has to do with the league is a matter of national security, but the reality is that football is supposed to be a form of entertainment for fans.  Banning things like touchdown celebrations just take away an element of that entertainment value.
With that I just want to leave you with a simple statement and that is this -

I would demand he buy me another popcorn.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Yahoo! Second Chance NCAA College Brackets: Let's Win A Million!

9,223,372,036,854,780,000, the number of possible combinations in the 63 game NCAA college basketball tournament.  The experts say it's more likely for one person to be struck by lightning twice on the same sunny day than winning some state lotteries, so I can't really imagine what kind of hyperbole people could come up with for filling out a perfect bracket with more than nine hexillion possible combos.

Maybe - filling out a perfect bracket; less likely than Duke not choking in the first two rounds and advancing to the second week of play.  It's alright Coach K, you'll get that 70th career tournament win someday.

Filling out a perfect bracket; less likely than Memphis hitting their free throws at the end of a close game.

Or my personal favorite - filling out a perfect bracket; less likely than underdogs going 4-0 at a tournament site in the first round, including 2 #12 seeds and 2 #13 seeds.

This year, in an effort to get more people to fill out brackets on their site, Yahoo! offered five million dollars for a perfect bracket, and of course could still feel comfortable that their money would stay safe in the bank.  Face it, I could offer my first-born and the right to have a personal flying carpet, and a perfect 63 game bracket would still never come to be.
But this weekend, all of you lazy workers looking for a big break may have caught one.  Yahoo! is offering one million dollars for a perfect second-chance bracket.  Starting with the sweet sixteen and only fifteen remaining games in the tourney, there is now a much more manageable 32,768 possible combinations in this bracket.  You know what that means?  For the next two days you need to fill out brackets every waking moment you are available; fill them out during breakfast, during work, during lunch, during class, when your wife is trying to have a conversation with you, and before you go to sleep.  Pick the obvious games and pick the upsets; make sure to mix and match crazy combinations.  And because I opened your eyes to these great new odds, please feel obligated to give me a fraction of your newly found fortune when you pick that coveted perfect second chance bracket.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dallas Mavericks: Looking Into The Crystal Ball

On February 18, three days before this year's NBA trade deadline, Jason Kidd finally made his return to Dallas. This, all after almost two weeks of different reports that J-Kidd was coming to be a Dallas Maverick. Since his acqusition, the Dallas Mavericks are a mediocre 9-8, four and a half games back of the Western Conference lead in seventh place, and most importantly 0-8 against serious NBA Championship contenders. These eight loses have included the New Orleans Hornets, San Antonio Spurs (twice), LA Lakers (twice), Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets, and Boston Celtics. Seeing the Mavericks lose nailbiter after nailbiter has to be completely disheartening for the Dallas fanbase, but at least there is a little good news. Dallas has competed in six of their seven losses, but they have failed to execute and make the neccesary big plays at the end of games. 

Not that it matters, but in their nine wins with Jason Kidd, the Mavericks have averaged nearly a twenty-point margin. The reason I say it doesn't matter is that unfortuanetely all nine of these teams are below .500 and all of them may not even make the playoffs.  

Earlier this season, Dirk Nowitzki was being reported as having an 'off-season', especially by many local reporters, mainly just because Josh Howard had emerged as having his best season in his career, thus far. In fifteen games with Jason Kidd, I don't think anyone should be complaining with Dirk's recent play which includes 27.2 points per game on 52% from the field and a few very big shots where he single-handidly kept the Mavericks in games (I.E. hitting a three-pointer at the end of regulation on March 2 in Los Angeles against the Lakers to force overtime). Mavericks' forward Brandon Bass has also really had a chance to shine with his recent play including his season-high point total earlier this month totalling in 19 against the New Jersey Nets on March 8. 

If the Mavs want to get out of their rut against good teams he will need to  become more of a consistent scorer.  Recently, the Mavericks picked up two solid role players in point guard Tyronn Lue and Jamaal Magloire.

Outlook & Predictions: Dirk Nowitzki was hurt in today's game against the San Antonio Spurs and if it is a serious injury than the Dallas Mavericks may be in serious danger of not even making the playoffs.  Assuming that Dirk is okay I say that the Mavericks finish the season 52-29 as the Western Conference's #6 seed and lose in the first or second round of the playoffs.  Unfortunately for the Mavs, Jason Kidd coming to Dallas in February may not have left enough time for him to get use to the Dallas Maverick's system; at least this season.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I'll Be Back Baby!

Hey Guys, just wanted to let you know that I will be out-of-town in a small, small place with no internet or new technological stuff like that for a few days!  I am sure you will have plenty of basketball to keep you busy and our time apart will go by quickly; it'll be nice to be on vacation for awhile!

Top 10 Most Overrated Things In Sports

Here is the second installment of a new column called 'Top 10 Things In Sports', a new weekly thing that I will do.  Here is your list of the Top 10 things in sports that we think are way overrated and people care way too much about.

#10 NHL Regular Season
There were a  lot of mixed emotions about me leaving off the NHL from 'The Top 10 Things in Sports That Suck', but don't worry hockey haters.  The shallow and pedantic NHL regular season makes this list instead.  Go watch a regular season hockey game and then tell me it should be on ESPN.  In the NHL, if it ain't the playoffs it ain't interesting, unless it is sixty minutes of fighting.

#9 Bad NBA Teams
The lowest-tier teams of the National Basketball Association may achieve a new goal this season by featuring three teams with less than twenty wins.  If it happens it will be the first time since 2001 that the league has at least three such teams.  The competitors this year are the Minnesota Timberwolves (17-50), the Memphis Grizzlies (16-51), the Seattle SuperSonics (16-52), and the current leading Miami Heat (12-55).  Next year, to be fair, I think the Heat should move down to NCAA College Division II basketball.  People have always said that any NBA team can beat another team on any given night, but if you are gonna tell me that right now, well than that's just crazy!

#8 Weird NFL Game-times
In case anyone was wondering, NFL games are supposed to be played on Thanksgiving Day, Sundays, and every Monday Night, but the league seems to think otherwise.  NFL, why don't you stop screwing with us and scheduling games on random Thursday and Saturday nights; it'd be much appreciated.

#7 Watching Baseball on TV
Don't get me wrong, I don't hate the sport of baseball, America's supposed "pastime", but watching baseball on television just isn't the same as being at the game.  The ball is almost never in play, you lose your focus so easily while doing other stuff, and you'll miss your entire episode of "Lost."  Just go to the ballpark next time.  Your league worst Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates or Kansas City Royals will really appreciate your business.

#6 Referees
As a kid I was always taught to treat the ref with respect and I did my best except for the time I punched the mean old guy (just kidding), but recently a lot of refs have really gotten on my nerves.  If these guys want respect from the players than they need to stop making horrible calls, and that's right betting on the games.

#5 Pro All-Star Games
I'm just going to go ahead and say it: If you watch the NFL Pro-Bowl you have way too much time on your hands.  You really need to go get a hobby or something if that's the case.  More than that I don't like All-Star games because who wants to see superstars play each other and look just ordinary when they can play mediocre players on other teams and look magnificent.

#4 Part of College Football's Bowl Season
It really bums me out when I see a bowl game is on TV the last week in December and then it's something like the New Orleans Bowl.  I think once, when I was younger, all of the bad bowl games actually made me sick, gave me chicken pox, and made me miss about a week of school.  But this year when they put the International Bowl on January 5 and the GMAC Bowl on January 6 it really made me want to upchuck.

#3 MMA
Before you attack me on this one, let me just say that I have watched mixed martial-arts before.  The problem is that any time I have ever seen it, the two guys "fighting" just end up on top of each other humping and fighting  like little girls.  At least the Rock had really moves in wresting, you know, like the people's elbow.

#2 Specific Knowledge Sports "Experts"
Guys like Mel Kiper Jr. and Joe Lunardi really piss me off because it seems like they are getting paid and get to be on TV for absolutely no reason.  Both of these guys are so called "experts" in the NFL draft and bracketology, respectively.  The problem I see with that is that they never tell me anything that I don't know or I can't look up.

#1 College Basketball RPI
The RPI, or Ratings Percentage Index, is outdated and because of the NCAA's flip-flop mentality they really need to just get rid of the thing.  It's obvious that the NCAA college basketball selection committee didn't use the RPI as much of a factor this year because while Dayton and Illinois State (ranked 32 and 33 in RPI) didn't get in the tournament, Kentucky and Oregon (ranked 57 and 58 in RPI) did.  Personally, I think it's a stupid and incomplete stat so NCAA should do us all a favor and get rid of it.  And you guys probably used the dumb thing to help fill out your brackets.  Suckers!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Glen Taylor Is A Nut Job

On June 28, 1995 the Minnesota Timberwolves chose Kevin Garnett with the fith overall pick in the NBA draft.  More than a decade of dominance and eleven all-star appearances later, Garnett is finally out of Minnesota and a member of the Boston Celtics.  Hopefully that's not news to you because he has been there since last summer.  During all of KG's time in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Glen Taylor (owner of the T-Wolves) was absolutely in love with him.  Now, more than seven months after Garnett has left Minnesota Glen Taylor is suggesting that his former star "tanked it" at the end of last season because he didn't play in the last five games.  For how bad the Minnesota Timberwolves have been the last two seasons, a combined 48-100, there is no way that KG could have single handily tanked last year's season; the team is much too horrible for that.  The only possible explanation for Taylor's recent angry comments is that Kevin Garnett is on a team that will very likely win more than three times as many games than that of Glen Taylor's this season.

But seriously put yourself in KG's position last year.  You are a superstar in the NBA playing for the 27-50 Minnesota Timberwolves, there are five games left in the regular season, your team is near the bottom of the league, and you are no where near 100% because of a quadricep injury.  Is it really worth it to risk an injury and more importantly, potentially millions of dollars?

The Classless move of the week goes to Mr. Glen Taylor.

Monday, March 17, 2008

NCAA Tournament Brackets: How To Fill 'Em Out!

Whether you are a casual sports fan or an avid college basketball know-it-all, chances are that you are filling out your NCAA bracket this week.  Here are some helpful guidelines for filling out your bracket that are very simple to follow.

1) Be Smart
Ah, one of my main guidelines for... - most things in life.  If you are in a office pool for money or just trying to impress someone else with a great bracket do a little research, it won't hurt anyone.  Keep in mind that seven of the last ten National Champions won their conference tournaments the same season, and many teams who make deep runs in the Big Dance have had success late in the season.  Don't make idiotic picks like #16 seeds over #1 seeds because it has never and may never happen.  Even if it does, it doesn't really matter because the risk isn't anywhere near worth the reward.  If you are having some trouble, here is a great webpage on ESPN to look at the history of seed-by-seed matchups in the tournament.

2) Find Your Balance
I have seen different sites that say, on average, there are anywhere from 15 to 21 upsets per year, so that is a good guideline to follow.  For all intensive purposes, an upset is going to be defined as a lower seed beating a higher seed, for instance, a #9 beating a #8 is considered an upset even though #9 seeds do have more head-to-head wins, historically.  The 2006 and 2007 tournaments were almost completely opposite in that '06 was full of surprises and '07 was completely predictable.  The first round in '06 consisted of 9 upsets, 8 of which were double-digit seeds, yet in '07 only two #11 seeds and three #9 seeds pulled off first round upsets.  Just know, if you have to pick between being safe and sorry, go with the safe.  If you don't really know too much about college basketball pick mostly high seeds and a few upsets.  Don't get too ridiculous with the number of upsets in your bracket because there is a reason that teams are a top four seed.

3)Know That Luck Is Involved
When #11 seed George Mason made the Final Four in 2006, no one could have predicted that, yet there were still brackets on Yahoo and ESPN that had all four Final Four teams correct.  It kind of makes you wonder if people sit in front of their computer and fill out hundreds and hundreds of brackets the week leading up to the tournament - hopefully, no one is that sad, but I have a sad hunch that some people are.  Just realize that a lot of making your bracket is luck, so if I were you I wouldn't put my life savings on things like March Madness.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

NCAA Basketball Tournament Thoughts

After a weekend full of college basketball conference tournaments, it is finally almost time for the Big Dance.  My conference tournament picks went a cool 15 for 30 and my picks from last month for the top 16 teams in the tourney went 8 for 16, both of those falling somewhere in between great and horrible.

Today I watched a lot of ESPN's Bracketology and I really got tired of Bob Knight and Jay Bilas talking about how there should be no automatic bids into the NCAA tournament.  It's really getting repetitive because it is all Bob Knight is talking about.  The main thing they were trying to say is that the way it is now the tourney does not involve the best 65 teams in NCAA, and that may be true, but the fact of the matter is that if a team is a top 30 team they make it to the tournament.  I love conference tournament week and it's what gives all teams a chance unlike the BCS does.  Contrary to popular belief, this tournament does not need to be expanded to 128 teams - that's just getting ridiculous.

I think the NCAA committee did a good job naming the four number one seeds: UNC, UCLA, Memphis, and Kansas, who all clearly proved that there were the four best teams in college basketball by winning their conference tournaments and regular seasons.

As a #7 seed Butler got absolutely shafted because 1 - they shouldn't be lower than a #5 seed and 2 - they shouldn't have to play an away game against #10 South Alabama (bubble team) in Birmingham, Alabama.

My favorite matchup in all of the tournament is probably #6 USC vs. #11 Kansas State because a big part of that matchup is freshman phenomenon's O.J. Mayo of USC and Michael Beasley of Kansas State.

From looking at the 34 at-large bids, Villanova was the lowest seed at #12, and to me that means they were the last team to get in the tournament.

The winner of the award for Biggest Snub goes to Arizona State (19-12, 9-9) who beat #9 seed Arizona (19-14, 8-10) twice and as you can see, has the better record.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Los Angeles Lakers: Looking Into The Crystal Ball

Since their recent acquisition of Pau Gasol the LA Lakers are 16-3.  Prior to the trade, the Lakers were an above average 29-16, but with the recent surge they are now 45-19 and have taken control of the Western Conference lead.  

In his first 18 games as a Los Angeles Laker, Pau Gasol has averaged 19.9 points per game, an amazing 58% from the field, and most importantly brought an important presence to the middle for the Lakers that had been missed since Andrew Bynum was playing in January.  But not everything in the team's turnaround has to do with Gasol.  Kobe Bryant has scored more than 30 points in ten of the Laker's past twenty games and Lamar Odom has had a double-double in most of the team's games since February 1st.  It just kind of goes to show you that not everything is about stats, as Kobe Bryant has had better numbers in past years.  Kobe has always scored plenty of points, but numerous times in the past month he has put this team on his shoulders and scored when it's been needed, making him a major competitor for this year's MVP award.  The Lakers are coming up on a very tough part of their schedule with six of the next seven against other playoff-type teams in the powerful Western Conference, five of which are on the road.  The team needs to stay focused throughout this stretch and not get dismantled if they lose a few in a row.  To the doubters out there, realize that the Los Angeles Lakers aren't even at full strength yet and soon center Andrew Bynum and forward Trevor Ariza will be back on the court.

Outlook & Predictions: The LA Lakers have gotten good.  I say they end the season 57-25 as the Western Conference's #2 Seed and I definitely can see this team getting to the Western Conference Finals.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Top 10 Things In Sports That Suck

I am introducing a new column called 'Top 10 Things In Sports', a new weekly thing that I will do.  Here is your list of the Top 10 things in sports that we are tired of hearing about, we hate, or just plain suck.

With that, let the sucking begin.

#10 NFL's Ban on Celebrations
The league's new rule that stops players like Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens use their creativity and grace for celebrating should be considered a crime.  Let the men spread their wings a little - no props allowed? that's just stupid.

# 9 ESPN's Hot Seat
At first the Hot Seat was cool and somthing new, but now is like a boring desk job - the same everyday.  For those who aren't familiar, the Hot Seat is a daily portion on SportsCenter where a guest is asked questions by an ESPN guy.  One of the main problems is when
 Skip Bayless who, by the way,is only a few spots out of this list, is in charge.  Instead of asking the other person their opinions, he just argues with them and hardly lets them get in a sentence.

#8 Yankees vs. Red Sox Rivalry
The most overrated and over-reported rivalry in all of sports.  The New York Yankees play the Boston Red Sox about fourteen times every season, but I don't care.  Every off-season is like a prime-time drama for these teams, and every year they add more big names to the two evil empires.  Please refer to what America's new immigration policy should be if you have any questions.

#7 Congress
Leave my sports alone Congress, no one wants you guys to intervene with stuff you have no idea about.  As if senators weren't happy enough with ruining our country, now they have to take away our sports.  Congress, go back home, and save some rain-forests or something.

#6 NFL Players' Arrests
Michael Vick, Jamal Lewis, Pacman Jones, Chris Henry, Tank Johnson, David Boston - the list goes on.  Whatever happened to professional athletes being good role models for kids because in the NFL, that has definitely gone down the drain lately.  Great job, Roger Goodell!

#5 Spygate
I really hope everyone knows that all NFL teams spy on other teams because if you don't, than get outta the bubble that you live in.  I don't want to hear about Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.  They were in the news everyday in the fall because of their chase for perfection; I don't want to see their ugly faces on ESPN's front page everyday in the spring too.

#4 Steroids in Baseball
Baseball players do steroids, why can't people just accept that.  No one cares about Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds anymore; sure they are cheaters, but so is half of America.  And in case anyone was wondering Bud Selig is part of the problem and just adding fuel to the fire.

#3 NFL Network
The only reason the NFL Network is ranked higher than Bryant Gumbel, is because they have other employees; it still sucks.  It really stinks for the fans of the NFL because the league sure doesn't care if anyone sees the NFL Network games.  You would think with all of the money they are getting for the high subscription rates that they could afford more than about four cameras for live broadcasts.

#2 BCS
As the 2007-2008 college football season proved, the Bowl Championship Series is one of the biggest jokes in all of sports.  Letting voters decide the fate of top teams with no playoff system is absolutely ridiculous, but don't worry sports fans.  If there are more years like this past one, a playoff will have to become closer to a reality... eventually.

#1 Bryant Gumbel 
Is there really any question whether or not the younger Gumbel brother is the worst sports announcer of all-time?  I could name about 100 (million) people that could do a better job than him.  He talks too much, interrupts the other commentators, and thinks he is the most important, but to put it simply, Bryant Gumbel couldn't commentate his way out of a paper bag.  This past season's Green Bay Packer - Dallas Cowboy game displayed him at his very finest, claiming that Romo was both the quarterback for the Packers and first name is Rick.  Rick Romo is sure to have great success in the NFL...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

NCAA College Basketball Tournament Bubble Trouble

According to ESPN's Bubble Watch there are still 31 teams that are on the bubble, that is either barely in the tourney or looking in from the outside.  ESPN says there are 32 locks, thus far, but a few of the teams that "should be in", and therefore not locks to be in, to me are locks.  These teams include West Virginia, Baylor, Kansas State,  and even teams like Kent State and UNLV.  This year, I see so many mediocre teams near the bottom of the field's bracket.  More than ever before picking the in teams and out teams is like splitting Don King's hair.  This week, fans from bubble teams have to be sitting on the edge of their seat during every conference tournament final game.  Teams like Gonzaga and Virginia Commonwealth losing in their conference finals definitely put a damper on the bubble because Gonzaga is a lock and VCU, the mid-major, deserves to be in the tournament a lot more than many other teams in major conferences.  After this week, everything will be sorted out, but there are several teams that are only one win away from being in the Big Dance - i.e. Ohio State / Texas A&M.

With every upset the bubble will shrink.  Let the upsets continue!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Utah Jazz: Looking Into The Crystal Ball

If you look in the NBA headlines on most big sports websites, you aren't going to find much news on the Utah Jazz; they have been flying under the radar the entire season, but I don't think that really bothers them.  Jerry Sloan and the Utah Jazz are 42-22 this season, and unlike many of the other teams in the Western Conference who change playoff positions on a daily basis, have a secure grasp on the 4th seed.  This is mainly because of their four game lead over the second place, Denver Nuggets, in the Northwest division.  Last year the NBA adopted a new rule that if a team in second place in any division has a better record than another division's winner, than that team could become the third seed.  Though this is likely to happen this year, the rule is limited to one team and therefore as long as the Jazz stay in front of the Nuggets they are ensured the 4th seed and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Jazz have an unbelievably balanced distribution of scoring with eight players averaging over eight points per game.  A big part of that is one of the best young point guards in the NBA, Deron Williams, who is averaging 10.3 assists per game.  This season, Utah ranks 5th in the league in scoring (106.3) , 2nd in assists per game (26.5) , and perhaps most impressively 1st in the league in field goal percentage (49.7%) - mainly because of their great shot collection and willingness to give up shots for other open men.  The Utah Jazz sport the best home record in the NBA this season, 28-3, including twenty straight wins at home.  This could prove to be very big in this year's Western Conference playoffs because if the Jazz could protect home-court than playoff series would become much more manageable to win.

Outlook & Predictions:  This Utah Jazz team is good, but they will have to keep playing well to the end of the season, as their last six games of the season are against potential Western Conference playoff teams.  I think the Jazz go 52-30, win the Northwest Division, and enter the playoffs as the Western Conference's 4th seed.  I believe Utah will lose in the second round of the playoffs, but they are definitely one of my dark-horse teams that could make a deep run in the playoffs this season - notice I am not bolding that.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

McFadden on the horizon for the J-E-T-S?

The New York Jets went on a wild spending spree at the opening bell of free agency. Lets recap the moves of the last week. On day one they began by trading for DT Kris Jenkins for third- and fifth-round draft picks. They then traded away Jonathan Vilma to the Saints for a conditional pick as they have high hopes for LB David Harris. They signed All- Pro left guard Alan Faneca, offensive lineman Damien Woody, linebacker Calvin Pace, and veteran Pro-Bowl fullback Tony Richardson. The Richardson signing I believe was the most telling. The Jets badly needed to upgrade the offensive and defensive line from last season, but why the 36 yr old fullback? Some mock drafts have the dynamic Arkansas rb going to the Oakland Raiders with the fourth overall pick. As there is a new trend developing in the NFL called the RB tandem, the Raiders already have Lamont Jordan, Justin Fargas and alot of other holes to fill. Miami, St. Louis, and Kansas City have franchise rb's. The Atlanta Falcons signed Michael Turner for $34.5 million, including $15 million in guaranteed money. Maybe the Jets also believe he will be available. Darren McFadden falling to the Jets would explain the Richardson signing. Updated round 1 mock Draft's have him falling to the sixth pick. There have also been some character issues adding to the suspense of where McFadden falls. The Jets would jump at the chance regardless. This would be the first explosive offensive player to be drafted by the Jets in ages. Keyshawn Johnson was suppose to be this. Johnny Mitchell was suppose to be this. Blair Thomas (heaven forbid we speak his name) was suppose to be this. Imagine a line of Ferguson, Faneca, Mangold, Woody, Moore, and FB Richardson blocking for McFadden. Can anyone say Rb off tackle left? In an off season that follows a New England Patriot perfect regular season and a New York Giant superbowl the Jets are looking for an answer, the question is will McFadden fall into their hands?

Friday, March 7, 2008

NCAA Basketball Conference Championship Week

It's March and you know what that means: ESPN's name for a week, "Championship Week", finally means something!

All throughout the college basketball season ESPN has an obsession with stupid, pointless names for every single week to try get people to watch like it's important.  Judgment Week, Bracket Busters Week, Rivalry Week - the list goes on and on, but the most important part of the season is finally here.

For all the mid-major times that have 20-odd something wins and have beaten up on crappy teams in their conference that no-one cares about, it means nothing if they can't beat the same crappy teams one last time.  Win the conference tournament and they make it to NCAA tournament and get to play a team like Duke; lose in the conference tournament and the season is over with.  Of the two choices I don't really know which one I would choose, but I am probably leaning towards the second.

It's times like these that really make me root for the underdog.  When watching conference tournaments that you don't really care about you have to root for teams like Rice, 3-25 overall and 0-15 in Conference USA play.  I just feel bad for New Jersey Tech, who won the award for worst Division 1-A basketball team by a landslide.  This season, the Highlanders went 0-29 and since they are an Independent they have no conference tournament to play in.  At least the good news is that they will do better next year...hopefully!

Here are my picks for the 30 remaining conference tournaments, since Cornell has already locked up a position from the Ivy League.  We'll just see how many I get right, but hopefully I'll do better than Robert Horry's alma mater NJ Tech.

Atlantic Sun: Belmont
Big South: UNC-Asheville
Ohio Valley: Austin Peay
Missouri Valley: Drake
Colonial: VCU
Metro Atlantic: Rider
Southern: Davidson
West Coast: Gonzaga
Horizon: Buter
Summit League: IUPUI
Sun Belt: South Alabama
Big Sky: Portland State
Northeast: Robert Morris
Patriot League: American
America East: UMBC
Atlantic 10: Xavier
Big East: Georgetown
Western Athletic: Utah State
Conference USA: Memphis
Mid-American: Kent State
Mid-Eastern: Morgan State
Mountain West: BYU
Pac-10: UCLA
Southwestern Athletic: Alabama State
Big West: Cal St. Fullerton
ACC: North Carolina
Big Ten: Wisconsin
Big 12: Kansas
SEC: Tennessee
Southland: Stephen F. Austin

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Eastern Conference: Looking Into The Crystal Ball

When you look at the NBA Eastern Conference standings this season, it's really not fair.  Many of the teams are looking for a playoff spot with a sub-par .500 record.  Much to their dismay, they are all fighting for third place.

The Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons are clearly the two elite teams in the Eastern Conference this year. By. Far.  If they were in the Western Conference, none of the of thirteen teams in the East would make the playoffs, as of March 5.  For as exciting as the Western Conference has been this year, with all of its crazy trades and new stars, the Eastern Conference is almost the complete opposite: boring and predictable.  No offense to teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic, but there is no way in hell that they will beat the Celtics or Pistons in  a seven game series, let alone both of them.  To be completely honest, I don't know who will come out of the East and go to the NBA Finals, but it will either the Boston Celtics or the Detroit Pistons.  No what-ifs, it will be.

Last year, most Celtics fans were probably ready to pack it in and give up after a couple of horrible seasons; about eight months later the Celtics are on the verge of clinching a playoff spot in the first week of March.  But don't think that Doc Rivers and his team are buying into that.  He even went as far as saying, "this team hasn't accomplished anything yet," which is a good thing because it's true, the playoffs are what truly matter - just ask the Dallas Mavericks from last year.  

There is no doubt that the Celts have  the best trio in the league compromising of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce, but in a long playoff series against a team like the Pistons depth may become a concern.  It will be interesting to see if newly acquired point guard Sam Cassell can be more of a constant than current PG Rajon Rondo.

If you take a look at the Detroit Pistons roster, and that alone, it may surprise you that they are doing as well as they are, but the fact of the matter is is that they are getting it done (once again) this year.  They have to have a sour taste in their mouth after letting LeBron James and the Cavs beat them in the Conference Finals last year, and they will be looking for revenge.  The one thing the Pistons have over all other teams, especially the Celtics, is depth and veterans with lots of experience.

So maybe David Stern should just make a new rule for this year in the Eastern Conference and skip the first two rounds of the playoffs because when the Eastern Conference Finals roll around, in May, it will be the Boston Celtics vs. Detroit Pistons.  Chalk it up.  I send my condolences to the rest of the East; better luck next year.  

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Brett Favre Was Good

Today I am 18 years and 331 days old.  The last time Brett Favre wasn't the Green Bay Packer's quarterback?...I was 3 years and 172 days old.  I woke up this morning to hear that Favre had announced his retirement, and in all honesty I wasn't that surprised because of what I saw last week from The Sporting Blog.  Last week, there was a headline about Favre retiring, and it was supposedly a mistake, but stuff like that wouldn't happen for no reason on the Packers' official website.

Am I disappointed? Yes, I am; a little part of my stomach feels the twist that is the reality that these Packers will have to keep playing without Favre and his magic.  I just cannot believe some of the disrespect I have heard about Favre, on television, from friends, online - everywhere today.  One guy went as far as to say that Favre's lasting impression will be the interception he threw in the NFC Championship against the Giants this year, in overtime.  Are you kidding me?

Dr. Z from Sports Illustrated needs to go see a doctor, after what he wrote earlier today.  His headline reads, "Popularity, skills prevented Favre from true greatness".  This guy thinks Brett Favre could have been greater - that is the message he wanted the reader to leave with after reading his article.  As one of those ESPN guys said this morning, Brett Favre's career isn't just about his stats and being ranked number one in just about every conceivable category that is important to a quarterback.  It is more about all of the great moments he has had: playing for his dad against the Oakland Raiders on MNF, that ridiculous pass to Greg Jennings the first play of overtime against the Broncos this year, and his shovel pass in snowy Lambeau in this year's NFC Divisional playoff game just to name a few.

Once Brett Favre started to play in the NFL, he didn't stop, stacking up 253 consecutive starts.  Anyone who is going to tell me that Favre never had to deal with injuries, that's simply not the case.  Favre was hurt in the game against the Cowboys, just this past season, sustaining an elbow injury AND separated shoulder, yet was still ready to go for the next game.  Now that Favre has announced his retirement from the game, Aaron Rodgers will take over, and as a Packer's fan you can't feel that bad; he's been learning from one of the best for a few years now, and actually played very well when he had to step in against the Dallas Cowboys, completing 18 of 26 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown.

The one thing, to me, about Brett Favre that shines above other NFL quarterbacks, is that he is a personable guy, he made plenty of mistakes; he is human.  I don't care what you say about him, Brett Favre will go down as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL of all-time.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Oakland Raiders Suck

The National Football League's restricted free agency period began at the beginning of this weekend on March 1, but before it began something else exciting happened.  The great football dynasty that is the Oakland Raiders signed Tommy Kelly, defensive tackle/ defensive end, to a seven year $50 million contract last week.  Yes, you aren't seeing things, that is the right number - $50 million, $18 million of it guaranteed, making Kelly the recipient of the biggest NFL contract ever given to a defensive tackle.  Tommy Kelly, a Mississippi State product, is in his fifth season in the league and had 30 tackles in 7 games in the 2007 season before getting hurt.  His best season was in 2006 with 68 tackles and 3.5 sacks.  Kelly is expected to play at defensive tackle for the Raiders in the 2008 season.

Now, come on Al Davis, this is just a ridiculous and unnecessary risk on a defensive guy that is coming off a serious torn ACL injury.  I am utterly and completely ashamed to have the same last name as you, Mr. Davis.  My prediction is that by the end of the month the Oakland Raiders will have a trade for Jerry Rice wrapped up.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Tech Rushes After Beating #5 Texas; Postseason Chances

In case you missed it, yesterday the Texas Tech men's basketball team upset #5 Texas Longhorns in Lubbock.

Here is the video of Texas Tech crowd rushing the court:

I was in that big blob of people so try to find me.

As far as Texas Tech's chances of making the NCAA Bracket of 65 teams they are now slim to none after the 98-54 beat-down they received from Texas A&M on Wednesday. Even with quality wins over #14 Gonzaga, #10 Texas A&M, #18 Kansas State, and now #5 Texas, Texas Tech will still need to beat #6 Kansas and Baylor this week to be on the bubble. On Monday the Red Raiders head to Lawrence to play Kansas, who is an undefeated 17-0 at home this season; I give the Red Raiders about a 1.5% chance on winning that game.  But one thing they do have working towards them, is that this will be both team's 2nd game in three days, which may make it slightly more likely for KU to fall.  A more attainable postseason goal for Texas Tech would be a Home NIT game, which is possible if the Red Raiders can beat Baylor at home next Saturday and get 1-2 wins in the Big 12 Tournament.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Steinbrenner Kids Unleashed, Bash Red Sox

New York Yankees new bosses Hank and Hal Steinbrenner added fuel to the rivalry with the Boston Red Sox with some verbal torpedoes aimed at the world champs."Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of [expletive] that is," Hank said in an interview with The New York Times' Play magazine. "That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans." Also in reference to the Yankee brand name he said "Go anywhere in America and you won't see Red Sox hats and jackets, you'll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We're going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order."
Hank's younger sibling, Hal Steinbrenner, who runs the business side of the Yankees, also made comments in an interview with on Feb. 19. "The defending World Series champions have "a lot of talent, and [have] done very well the past few years, but let me put it this way: I don't think [they] wanted to play us in the ALCS," Hal Steinbrenner said. "So I will concede nothing. I think we're better than [them]."
With the Major League Baseball season less than a month away anticipation awaits. It seems that not only are George's kids ready, but they are also getting sick of all the love the Red Sox are getting. The business as usual approach has gone out the window or maybe just to the west coast with Joe Torre. The Steinbrenner kids seem intent on lighting a fire in the organization. Why else would they give the defending champs bulletin board material?
Maybe the Hank and Hal have figured something out? Maybe the veteran lineup filled with past and present M V P's need to come out the gate this spring as the hunters instead of the hunted. Without a worlds championship to show for itself since the 2000 season, maybe they realize cruise control through the regular season is not an option anymore.
Make no mistake the Red Sox are the favorites as much as it pains me to say it. With arguably one subtraction in the rotation (Curt Shilling starting on the D.L) they will still trot out Beckett, Dice K, Wakefield, Lester, and Buchholz this season. They also signed former Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon to minor league contract as an insurance policy. They will also have intact the same lineup with an upgrade at leadoff in spark plug rookie Jacoby Ellsbury.
The New York Yankees will have their work cut out for them this season. No longer will a wild card be an automatic fall back option with the upgrades of Detroit and Seattle this season. They will need to set their sites on a division they have captured 10 out of the last 12 years. The battle lines have been drawn and round 1 is set for April 11, 2008.

San Antonio Spurs: Looking Into The Crystal Ball

As much as I hate the San Antonio Spurs, every year they rise to the top of the Western Conference.    This year this team is the oldest team in the National Basketball Association, yet they seem to still be getting better.  One thing I noticed about the Spurs is that when they where playing the Mavericks, just a few days ago, they didn't complain much the entire game.  They are a very mature team and that is easy to see.  

The Spurs have two veteran guards in Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, ;Ginobli must be have taken it personal that he wasn't named to this year's Western Conference All-Star team because he is having one of the best seasons of his career averaging a career high 20.5 points per game.  The SA Spurs also have a very consistent power forward/center in Tim Duncan, and a stifling defender in Bruce Bowen.  Bowen must either talk about lots of guys' mamas or just play really good defense, because he seems to piss off everyone he ever guards; I tend to think it's the later of those two.  Any player that comes to the Spurs seems to fit in to their championship equation: Robert Horry, Michael Finley, even Damon Stoudemire - the list goes on.  With their recent trade for Kurt Thomas, the San Antonio Spurs should be able to pick long-time veteran Brent Barry on March 21, just one more vital piece to their NBA Championship puzzle.

Outlook & Predictions: At the beginning of every season, along with fellow Spur haters, I argue that the team is getting too old and they will be beaten by a younger, up and rising Western Conference team.  The sad truth of it is, is that this team is complete, from top to bottom.  I think the Spurs finish the regular season finish the season 59-23 as the West's #1 Seed on their way to yet another trip to the NBA Finals.