Friday, January 29, 2010

Crosby Starts Growing Playoff Beard Early (satire)

After Thursday’s loss to the Ottawa Senators, Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby announced to the media that he has begun growing his beard in anticipation for the playoffs.

It is a common superstition around the NHL to not shave during the playoffs, but Crosby is the first ever to start before the regular season ends. Many speculate that the reason behind this move is that despite not shaving for the team’s long run to a Stanley Cup championship, Crosby couldn’t grow enough facial hair to keep his upper lip warm.

“We still give him crap for that. I have seen new-born Mexican babies that have better mustaches than him,” joked teammate Sergei Gonchar. “Hell, my mom grows a better mustache in her sleep.”

Crosby hopes that by starting his beard a few months before the playoffs, it will be at least quasi respectable by the postseason.

“It’s kind of depressing. I would trade my Stanley Cup without hesitation if I could have Ovechkin’s ability to grow a beard. I mean, I actually stopped shaving like a month and a half ago, but just forgot to tell anyone. I figured someone would notice eventually, so that’s why I waited until now to come forward about it,” Crosby said.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tech's Redick Continues Family Tradition

When your last name is Redick, you are bound to turn some heads in the sport of basketball, especially in the Atlantic Coast Conference. This is the dilemma for freshman forward Abby Redick, who enters the ACC under the shadow of her brother J.J.

If you have watched a Duke basketball game within the last five years, you know who her brother is.

J.J. is one of the most productive ACC basketball players in the past decade. After four impressive years at Duke, Redick holds the NCAA record for free throw percentage and three-pointers made. He also ranks fourth in ACC history with 2,527 career points.

He is now a guard on the Orlando Magic in the National Basketball Association.

If Abby’s brother’s stats weren’t enough for him to have a place in history, the way he was treated while on the road by opposing fans certainly was.

Redick earned a reputation in the ACC as one of the most hated players in the conference, mostly because of his great success. Fans of North Carolina and Maryland took pride in finding the most horrible things they could legally do or say to Redick.

Needless to say, most of the venom directed at Redick over the duration of his Duke career is not fit to print.

“I think the way he handled himself, where ever he went, just showed how much character he had,” Abby said.

When looking at schools to play for, Abby weighed these circumstances in her decision, but chose to play in the conference that revered and tortured her brother at the same time.

“Ultimately, ACC-wise, Tech was the only one who really recruited me, so it wasn’t really a contest,” she said.

“I can’t say that I would have gone to Maryland — no, I wouldn’t have. If the opportunity would have presented itself and I liked the campus and the players, then maybe,” she continued.

While J.J. is the most famous of the Redick children, the entire family is full of successful athletes. Older sisters Catie and Alyssa both played basketball for Campbell University. David is a tight end for Marshall’s football team and now Abby is a Hokie.

With the exception of her two older twin sisters, all of Abby’s siblings are at least three years apart. So while they all loved sports, there wasn’t a ton of competition amongst the kids.

However, Abby was helped a lot by her siblings’ support and knowledge of their past experiences.

“They were always supportive because they had already experienced what the younger one was experiencing,” Abby’s father, Ken, said. “They were always more inspiring to each other than competitive.”

In high school, Abby was Hidden Valley High School’s star player. As a junior, she averaged 11 points, almost seven rebounds and led the team in assists. That year, Hidden Valley won the group AA state championship for the second-straight year over Waynesboro, 59-45. Redick scored 16 points and had a team-high four assists in the game.

After her junior year, Redick didn’t get to enjoy another successful season, though. Instead, in August before her senior season, Redick tore her anterior cruciate ligament while in a camp at Vanderbilt.

Though she returned late in the season to help her team earn a fourth consecutive state tournament appearance, her high school career ended in a 45-57 loss to Ashby.

“I think anyone who gets injured, especially during your senior year of high school — it’s not something you want to do, but I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason,” Redick said of the experience. “I honestly learned a lot from the injury just like a lot of athletes do. ... I learned a lot and I guess it toughened me up.”

After the injury there were a few teams that stopped calling, but Tech kept actively pursuing Abby.

“Abby had just been to our camp and had done a great job,” Tech head coach Beth Dunkenberger said. “I really got to know her more as a person and a player and that is how she showed me how valuable she can be to the team. ... For me, it was a no brainer to stick with her.”

Now that she is a freshman at Tech, Abby has been able to make an immediate impact on the women’s basketball team. She has appeared in all 19 games this season as one of the first players to come off the bench for Dunkenberger.

She is averaging three points and almost four rebounds in just 15 minutes a game with her best performance coming against Longwood in her first game. To begin her career she tallied 10 points and six rebounds in just 19 minutes of play.

More than scoring though, Dunkenberger has been pleased with the skills Redick displays that don’t necessarily show up in the box score.

“I think she is doing a lot of the intangibles,” Dunkenberger said. “Her stats aren’t overwhelming, but I think she is adjusting to the speed of the game, especially at the ACC level.”

While most people would try to get out of their siblings’ shadow and make a name for themselves, Abby doesn’t see it as a problem.

“I’m okay with it because of who he is and who he is going to be in the NBA,” she said. “It just goes to show you how hard of a worker he is. I’m really proud of him.

“Maybe I’ll shy away from his shadow, but I’m just going to do whatever Tech needs me to bring to the table.”

Getting out of J.J.’s shadow will be a difficult task to accomplish, but Dunkenberger thinks that she has a lot of room to grow and will continue to improve.

“I certainly think her scoring will go up and her rebounding will go up, as well as her minutes,” Dunkenberger said. “As for watching her growth over the next three years ... right now she is playing more of a power forward spot. I think as time moves on she will be able to get away from the basket a little bit.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

For Lakers To Win, Kobe Needs To Sit

If you have watched Kobe Bryant over the last couple of weeks, you have seen a different player from what you have come to expect. Because of injuries, Kobe is playing worst than any other time in his career. Despite this, Kobe is playing through the pain to help his team. The question I have though, is whether or not he is actually doing a disservice to the Lakers long term.

Throughout his career, Kobe has always kept his injuries out of the public’s eyes. If a reporter ever asked about an injury, Kobe would give a look as if to say, “dude, are you really gonna bring that up?” He has never been one to use them as an excuse and I respect him immensely for it. However, I think that this time things are different.

Over the past few weeks, Kobe hasn’t been able to hide his pain. He has admitted that his back spasms are the most painful things he has ever had to experience. In addition to that, his broken finger causes pain that you can see after just about every shot. Now, it would be one thing if these injuries weren’t affecting his game, but they are.

Kobe is shooting less than 40 percent over the past 10 games, eight percentage points below his career average. He is only averaging 23 points per game and is actually taking more shots to get them. I understand that he needs to score to help his team win, but shooting that poorly isn’t helping as much as he might think.

Whether or not he is helping LA now is a question, but not what is the more pressing issue. Instead, I want to focus on the long term affects of the injury. A broken finger needs time to heal, something that playing every night isn’t going to provide. If Kobe keeps playing, that is never going to get better and we all know that the Lakers have NO shot to win it all with Kobe playing this way.

The NBA regular season is so long and drawn out that missing a few games isn’t a big deal. This is even more so with the Lakers because they are so much better than every other team in the West. LA currently sits three games ahead of Denver for best of the West, and that is only because they are slipping with Kobe’s injury.

In order for the Lakers to repeat, Kobe needs to take two weeks off. He would be back with plenty of time to lock in the number one seed (in the event that Denver passed them). More importantly though, he would come back with fresh legs, and the ability to shoot without pain.

For everyone who thinks that the Lakers need Kobe right now, I actually disagree. Kobe has said publicly said that the team needs to help him out more, and what better way to force it upon them by not playing. If Kobe sits, guys like Gasol, Odom, and Artest are automatically forced to take over because they can’t rely on Kobe. They spend two weeks getting back into championship form, and then they get their star back. The bottom line is that the talent around Kobe should be good enough to win without him anyways.

The biggest hurdle in this plan is getting Kobe to actually sit out. The guy is stubborn like a mule and really wants to play. The only way I see him sitting is if Phil Jackson makes him. It will be tough, but it really needs to be done. After all, the goal is to win in June, not in January.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Orioles Sign Miguel Tejada...Show They Are Trying To Win

Over the past few weeks, Oriole fans have begun to question GM Andy McPhail's plan for success. He has taken a lot of heat because he hasn't gone out and made any moves that made people feel that he is trying to win now. McPhail changed all of that today when he signed former Oriole Miguel Tejada for one year deal to probably play third base.

This deal is perfect for the Orioles, who were in need of a corner infielder and a big bat. While Tejada isn't a big homerun threat anymore, but his 86 RBIs would have been second on the O's last year. Him being in the lineup will help protect the young onslaught of players the Orioles will be molding. Guys like Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters, and Nolan Riemold are all great young talents, but because they are young, they are prone to slumps. This was very evident in the later part of the season, as a once productive offense struggled near the finish-line. Adding a veteran presence like Tejada to the lineup should calm down the younger guys and limit slumps; not to mention put up some runs when the guys do struggle a little bit.

The fact that it is just a one year deal is perfect as well, because the Orioles have guys in the minors that are almost ready to be called up. Josh Bell (the key piece of the George Sherrill trade) was dazzling in AA Bowie before the end of the season and could be called up as early as midseason. In just 33 games, he batted .289, with 9 dingers and 24 RBIs. With guys like him, first-baseman Brandon Snyder, and others, the Orioles don't need a long term guy. They just need someone who can help them win now and not keep Bell and the others from being called up and being stars for the organization.

Personally, I'm surprised Tejada was fine with a one year deal. Maybe that is all teams were willing to give him, but I thought Miggy would want a long contract because of his age, even if the money wasn't necessarily right.

I'm not dumb. I know the Orioles are looking at around 75 wins this year, but this signing is a sign that McPhail knows the fans are unhappy and he is attempting to make the product on the field watchable until he thinks our young team is ready to compete. That is probably going to be two years off, but I think the O's are on a good track and more importantly, it won't be painful to watch them until then.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Kobe Or LeBron...The Debate Continues Tonight

For the last two or three years, the entire sports world has been asking the question, “Who is better, Kobe or LeBron?” Every stat, single-game performance, head-to-head matchup, and playoff experience has been analyzed from every angle. Despite this, the answer is more polarizing than the opinion on the gender of Lady Gaga.

Since high school, LeBron has been as publicized as any person on the planet. He has been compared to greats like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Oscar Robertson…and those comparisons started when he was 17! Seven years later, he has done nothing but prove us right. He is not just one of the greatest basketball players; he is one of the top 5 freakishly amazing athletes in the world’s history.

LeBron is nothing less than a gift from God. While I assume that most people are created on an assembly line in Heaven, there are some people that you just know were hand sculpted by God himself. This small list of people includes the likes of LeBron, Adrian Peterson, Jessica Alba, and Bar Refaeli. To see him that jacked even though he never lifted weights until last year makes me sick. He isn’t a human being…he isn’t. There is no way he has the same type of DNA as me…no.

Even if we look past his natural abilities, his stats are just as impressive. He is a great rebounder, and one of the best team-players in the NBA. He always looks to set up his teammates, and makes the game more enjoyable for everyone who plays with him.

What makes LeBron special and not just a great player is his ability to drive the lane. In my opinion, the difference between a great player and a legendary one is that a legendary one does everything great, but has one thing that he does as good as any other person who has ever played. Shaq had his spin move that was quicker than anyone his size, Kobe has his constant ability to nail big shots (more on this later), and LeBron has his ability to get to the basket. The man is straight up impossible to stop if he goes to the basket. At 6’8, he is as powerful as anyone in the game, and is just as quick. After just one dribble, he has as much force as a train and if you are foolish enough to draw a charge, it is going to HURT. We will see someone with the shooting ability and the late game heroics of Kobe Bryant, but we will never see someone who can drive like LeBron can.

Let’s start my segment on Kobe with a question. Do you know why he nicknamed himself “the black mamba?” It’s because the Black Mamba is a very deadly snake that strikes with 99 percent accuracy. When a game is in crunch time that is what Kobe strives for.

Kobe’s stat sheet over the past decade is remarkable and is worthy of worshiping on its own. Since 2002, Kobe hasn’t finished outside the top six in points per game, or the top nine in minutes. He contributes to over 30 percent of the Lakers offense, and one of the most feared people on a basketball court. The fact that he has only won one MVP trophy in his career is a joke. My proof? He was named “player of the decade” by every single analyst asked.

What gives Kobe a legit argument to claim the “best player” title isn’t his stats though, because LeBron’s are more impressive. It is what he does in crunch time that makes him so feared. I’ll give you a scenario to show my point. Your team is up by a point with 15 seconds left and Kobe has the ball…what are the chances you win that game? 25 percent? 30? That is why people say he is the best. The fact that a team, who is winning with just seconds left, is actually more likely to lose than win illustrates why he is so deadly. When he shoots the ball at the buzzer, you just sit back and watch as the Black Mamba strikes again.

This argument was proven unequivocally in the 2008 Olympics during the title game. Spain had just closed a once double-digit lead to a one possession game with two minutes to play. This was everyone’s fear because our team was so star-studded, that people didn’t know whether guys would fight over the last shot. Nope. Without any discussion, players just gave the reigns over to Kobe and let him take over. Despite the fact that Dwayne Wade was the best player over the entire competition, Kobe was instantly “the man.” Turns out, the team made the right choice. Kobe got a four-point play right out of a time out and scored on the next possession. If there was any doubt about the games outcome, Kobe made sure it didn’t last. The fact that it was Kobe they trusted, and not LeBron, shouldn’t be understated.

In addition to the crunch time argument, the playoffs argument sides with Kobe as well. If writer Bill Simmons has taught me anything, it is that performances in big games mean more. That’s why I feel that Bill Russell is the greatest Player ever and not MJ. Did you know that Bill Russell never lost a game seven…ever? He was something crazy like 13-0. Well, if the post season is a factor, then Kobe’s four rings help win the case. Say what you want about him riding on Shaq’s coat tails for the first three, but last year’s was all Kobe. And you know what, the one he wins this year will be all him as well.

So, I just spent almost 1000 words breaking down the two guys who are the best of the best and even I have a hard time choosing. However, I tend to side with Jerry West on an opinion and this is it…LeBron is the best for the first 46 minutes of the game, but Kobe is way better in the last two. Whether you think what LeBron does in 46 minutes makes him better that Kobe’s two, or vice versa, is completely subjective.

Personally, I take Kobe. The average NBA game is usually a five or seven point game going into the final minutes regardless of whose playing, and if I have a player who can take over at that time, it is invaluable.

Tonight will be yet another opportunity to compare these two titans, but I suggest you take this game with a big grain of salt. Kobe is a guy who never uses an injury as an excuse, but he is in such obvious pain that he doesn’t need to. He has a broken finger on his shooting hand, that is drastically affecting his shot, and back spasms, which Kobe has said are the most painful thing he has ever experienced. I am not saying tonight’s game won’t be fun, I am just saying that we need to wait until one of them is the NBA champion to crown them, because I’m pretty sure one of them will be.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dunk Contest Lands "Most Valuable Puppets" (Satire)

Just days after LeBron James announced that he would not be entering the Sprite Slam Dunk contest, the NBA announced that they have landed puppet-LeBron and Puppet- Kobe from the popular Nike commercials.

Perhaps the person most excited about the news is Kobe and LeBron's neighbor from downstairs, Lil' Desmond.


Lil' Desmond continued to talk for another hour and a half, but was talking to fast to be recorded. It is unknown if his mother, Mrs. Lewis will let him attend the event that will take place in the Dallas Cowboys new stadium.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Boise State and The Mountain West Is a Match Made In Heaven

Over the past few years, the Mountain West Conference has tried just about everything to give the conference the respect that it deserves. It has submitted the idea of a playoff system, and when that didn’t work, it applied to become a BCS “power-conference” to receive an automatic bid into a BCS bowl. However, there is one thing that the conference hasn’t tried that would instantly give them credibility, get Boise State to join.

It is my opinion that the Mountain West deserves to be a power-conference to begin with. Over the past few years, the overall strength has been equal to, or even better than, that of the ACC, Big East, Pac 10, and possibly the Big Ten. Utah and TCU are starting to become elite programs, and BYU is always in the top 25. Air Force is beginning to turn some heads, and throttled a highly thought of Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl. Add a decent Wyoming team that won its bowl game as well, and you have a conference with five teams that shouldn’t be taken lightly. This season was the perfect example of its talent. The Mountain West went 4-1 in its bowl games, with its only loss being TCU’s Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State.

If the Mountain West can recruit Boise State, the conference becomes the third best in the nation behind the Big 12 and SEC. In fact, if you group Boise State with the conference, you have two top 10 teams, and four top 20. Having the Broncos would give the Mountain West the opportunity to show that the teams in their conference can compete with everyone.

From Boise State’s side, the merge is even more beneficial. Think about this, the Broncos have finished the regular season undefeated three out of the last four years and the results have been only two BCS bowls (both won) and a bid to the Poinsettia Bowl…zero national championship opportunities.

After winning another BCS bowl this January, many analysts predict that this next season will be the programs best opportunity to contend for a title because they have big out-of-conference games against Virginia Tech at a neutral site, and home against Oregon State. Can you imagine having a program that knows that they are good enough to be a champion year after year with no way to prove it before now? That has been Boise State over the past five years. What happens if they lose to Virginia Tech? The teams one shot for a long time is gone.

Even if they do run the table, there is no guarantee a spot in the championship game because those two big tests are so early in the season. After winning those games, they go back to slaughtering mediocre WAC teams, and getting no additional respect. However, if you were to face those two teams and then play TCU, Utah, and BYU every year, the strength of schedule is more than enough for an undefeated to be a legit title contender.

The BCS’ argument against giving another automatic bid will be the question of from where does the bid come. My suggestion is to take the promised bid for a non BCS Conference away. Why? Because that bid is almost always given to one of the teams that would be in the new MWC anyways. Since the bid for non-BCS conferences was promised in 2005, it has been given to Utah twice, Boise State once, TCU once, and Hawaii once. In addition, Boise State was given an at-large bid this year. Hawaii is the only team that would be given the shaft in my hypothetical scenario, and they proved that they had no business against power teams anyways.

If a team really deserves a BCS bid that isn’t included in the seven conferences that I would give an automatic bid, an at-large bid can be given to them. As I said before, Boise State got one this year.

I am slowly starting to realize that a playoff or plus-1 system will never happen because the BCS is so corrupt, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to change it in other ways. The little guys are catching up with the giant programs and that parody needs to be reflected in the ranking system. By giving an automatic bid to the Mountain West, you validate every team in the conference and give them the chance of being a national champion. If Boise State joins, there is no way that the BCS can say “no” and a group of ten more schools can dream big. It wouldn’t be huge progress, but it would show that college football is at least trying.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

For Some Quarterbacks, Age Is But a Number

For some reason NFL teams have started this trend that if you are 35 or older, you no longer have the right to be a starting quarterback. Whether you have shown sings of deterioration or not is irrelevant because franchises seem to think that training a young quarterback, who they deem “the future of the franchise” is more important. Because of this, guys who still are better than average quarterbacks are stuck behind mediocre youngsters without even the possibility of competing for the starting job. Let’s look at some of the guys who were thrust into a backup role too quickly.

Gus Frerotte-

Far from a superstar, Frerotte has bounced around the league as a backup ever since he left the Redskins in 1998. I’m not saying that he should have started everywhere, but definitely in 2008. In ’08, the Vikings had him and young question mark Tarvaris Jackson (“question mark” is being nice because he showed almost no sign of being even a decent quarterback). Instead of having a competition, the Vikings chose to give the reigns of a potentially great team to the youngster and put Frerotte on the bench. The result? Jackson was terrible in an 0-2 start and was benched for Gus, who went 8-3 in his 11 starts until an injury ended his season. This begs the question, “If Childress was so quick to pull Jackson after two games, why was he the starter to begin with?”

Todd Collins-

Collins has been a career backup everywhere he went. In Washington, he was never even mentioned as a contender for the job and even had to work hard to be the backup, as fans anointed Colt Brennan as the next big thing (they had already given up on Jason Campbell even in 2007). After losing four straight going into week 14, the Redskins were in a total free fall and emotionally unstable from the tragic death Sean Taylor. In a week 14 game against Chicago, Campbell went down with an injury and Collins came in as a nobody. Collins not only led the Redskins to a comeback win, but won the next three and clinched a spot in the playoffs. The Skins would lose to the Seahawks in the first round, but Collins had proven he could be a valuable asset. Despite out performing Campbell in the four games, Todd wasn’t even given the possibility to compete for the starting job in training camp.

Jeff Garcia-

This guy is one of the most underrated quarterbacks ever. After a tough 2004 season, he signed with the Detroit Lions to be Joey Harringtons backup. JOEY HARRINGTON! After that stay, he signed with the Eagles to back up Donovan McNabb and when McNabb went down, Garcia showed he was still starter-quality by leading the then 5-5 team to the second round of the playoffs. Garcia was finally given another opportunity to start in Tampa and showed he was worth it. He posted two seasons with a passer rating of above 90 and even made the pro bowl in 2007. Despite this success, Tampa would even resign him because of his age and he is now unable to compete for a job. He was even cut this year because the Raiders because they had JaMarcus Russell and had faith in their young quarterback (fail).

Kurt Warner-

Can you believe that in 2003, the St. Louis Rams let Warner go because they wanted to start Marc Bulger? Yea, let that soak in. After the former MVP was dumped, what happened? He was signed by New York…not to be their starter, but to simply hold the job until rookie Eli Manning was ready. After that season was over, the Cardinals did the same thing with him when they drafted Matt Leinart. It is very lucky for the Cardinals that Warner was there because Leinart has been nothing short of terrible and Warner got the job despite being “too old.” Since then, Warner has single handedly led a team with a tradition of failure to two division titles and even a Super Bowl appearance. Think about this, Warner led the Cardinal to an NFC championship five years after the Rams, and then the Giants, thought he was too old to start.

Steve McNair-

After spending his entire career as the leader of the Titans, he saw himself instantly being replaced by Vince Young. Not only did Tennessee not consult him on this, but they actually told him they wanted him to mentor the very guy that was going to replace him. One he said he didn’t want to and that he thought he still had talent, they banned him from the facilities and cut him. McNair was then signed by the Ravens who needed a quarterback that could win now, instead of later, and got just what they wanted. He led the team to a 13-3 record and even got to bean his old team 27-26 by throwing for 375 yards and three touchdowns.

Brett Favre-

I end with this guy because he defines my entire argument and everyone knows his story. After basically being forced to retire by the Packers after losing in the 2008 NFC Championship game, Favre decided to comeback to the dismay of the Packers, who were ready to start the Aaron Rodgers era. After a giant fiasco, Favre was traded to the Jets and had a mediocre season, where they started out brilliant and then faded in the final weeks to miss the playoffs. While that is far from an eff-you to the Packers, what he did this year was. Signing with the Vikings, Favre beat the Packers twice and is a game away from going to the Super Bowl. He is having one of his best seasons ever, and is showing everyone that age doesn’t matter.

I don’t know why teams are so quick to dump old quarterbacks so quickly. It is one thing to do it if you are the Lions last year and are rebuilding for success in three or four years, but when a team has the ability to be good now, why give the reigns to a young, unproven guy. Look at this year’s Jets. I’m not saying Mark Sanchez is going to be great, I’m just saying that he should be the starter this season, when the defense and running game are that of a Super Bowl contender. Why didn’t they bring in a veteran like Garcia to compete with instead of another young guy like Kellen Clemens?

Sunday's Action: Chargers And Cowboys Lead The Way

I didn’t do a preview for yesterday because I was busy, but most people with a brain would have picked the Saints and Colts. Yea, people talked about how both didn’t play well at the end of the season, but that didn’t seem to matter. Today has two games that are a bit more interesting.

Jets at Chargers-

This game is interesting because it will test the old adage that “you have to run and play defense” to win in the playoffs. If this has as big of an impact as people put on it, the Jets win because they have one of the best defenses and the best running game in the NFL.

Last week, the Jets dominated with the running game and made Mark “Sanchize” look like a superhero. The simple fact is that Cincinnati was never a good offensive team and that controlling the clock was the key to winning. This week, they are going to have to outscore a very high-powered offense, not just play defense and run. Sanchez is going to have to be a bigger part in the offense and that isn’t good.

I think the Thomas Jones has a good day, but ultimately, the Jets will be force to abandon the running game in the second half because the Chargers get ahead early. I think Sanchez struggles a good bit and makes a couple mistakes, including a few picks. Phillip Rivers will show why he is a top 5 quarterback in the NFL and even though Darrelle Revis should do a good job shadowing Vincent Jackson, they have no answer for Antonio Gates OR Darren Sproles on special teams.

Prediction: Chargers 27-13

Dallas at Vikings-

We have a very fun quarterback matchup here and that will be 90% of the talk in this game. You will here about “the monkey that is finally off Romo’s back,” and how well Favre has played despite turning 40 this year. Yea, those guys are stars and will be big in the game, but that isn’t where my focus is.

The biggest battle here will be the Cowboys front seven against Adrian Peterson. Peterson is such a big threat, but this year has not been nearly as good as his numbers suggest. He had almost 1,400 yards, which on paper is great. However, when you look deeper, you see that he failed to reach the 70 yard mark in six games. If the Vikings want to win this game, Peterson needs to be the guy that rushed for 143 yards against Baltimore in week 6 and not the guy who rushed for 19 against Arizona. My guess is that he will struggle against a Cowboy defense that is playing out of its mind and Favre will be forced to do a lot by himself.

The Cowboys running game is going up against an equally tough rush defense, but I think the versatility they have with Marion Barber, Feliz Jones, and Tashard Choice will give them some success. In addition, Romo will have a great day against a secondary with issues, including a banged up Antoine Winfield. As dirty as it makes me feel to pick the Cowboys, I don’t see anything else happening.

Prediction: Cowboys 24-21

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Endless Love: The Life of the Very Rare Orioles Fan

I don’t know why I chose to write this in the middle of football playoffs, but maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m addicted to something I KNOW is bad for me. Regardless, here I am watching Ravens game, but thinking about how I can’t wait for Oriole baseball…even though they are just terrible.

As a young, baseball-loving kid growing up in Maryland during the 90’s, I did what everyone was doing; worship Cal Ripken. During that time, my family split season tickets and I was as big of an Oriole fan as you were going to find, especially in an seven or eight year old. In 1997, when we lost in game seven if the ALCS to Cleveland, I cried harder than I ever have. I sobbingly told my mom the I “would never get to go to the World Series,” and she consoled me and said that wasn’t true. Ten years later, which one of us looks better

In the twelve years since then, we have seen just about everything except a successful season. We were one of the teams most mentioned on the Mitchell Report (no one really took notice because the Orioles aren’t on many people’s radar, but the O’s have so many people that took part in the steroid issue. David Segui, Jason Grimsley, Jay Gibbons, Raffy Palmeiro, Brady Anderson, Sammy Sosa, Miguel Tejada, etc.) and we still weren’t any good.

People look at fans revolting against Dan Snyder as big, but that is nothing compared to the hatred between Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos and the Baltimore natives. Oriole fans have tried everything from grouping together wearing shirts that say that they want Angelos gone, to staging a giant organized movement to have several sections just get up and leave during the game. Yep, that’s right. Instead of getting to watch baseball, fans are trying to get attention by paying the price of a ticket, and then leaving before the game is over.

What does a die-hard fan like me do during this abysmal time? You don’t root for wins anymore, you root for young guys to do well. If the Orioles lose 7-1, but that run came from rookie catcher Matt Weiters, that game wasn’t so bad. If you lose 6-5 in the ninth inning, I’m happy that rookie pitcher Brian Matusz pitched five innings and only gave up two runs (which I shouldn’t be thrilled about anyways). This is how I get by night to night. Has a Yankee or Red Sox fan ever come out of a loss and been somewhat happy about it? I do it three times a week.

Over the past few years, new GM Andy MacPhail has done some great things in the draft, and I am starting to think there might be some real hope. How do I know this? Because I follow the minor league affiliates nightly. I am so desperate to see some sort of success from the team that I love so unconditionally.

I pretty much pray every night that my eyes don’t deceive me, and that maybe I am right, but my brain tells me that I am fooling myself. I am so optimistic, but at the same time, I know that it is ridiculous for me to expect anything from such a beleaguered franchise. After all, how much confidence can you have in a guy who’s last name has the word “fail” in it?

Part of me wants to give up and just try to follow another team. I tried a few years ago and you know who I picked? The Cubs. I went to Wrigley Field that summer and began to love them. Am I just born to be let down?

After much soul searching, my conclusion is that I will always be the Orioles biggest fan. I have to…we are an endangered species. Maybe they will be good again before I die and I will get to go to a World Series like my mom promised, but if that day never comes, I think I can deal with it. I have become accustomed to failure anyways.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Who Knew Beating Your Players Was Taboo?

Over the past few weeks, college coaches have come across a fact that is apparently new to them; they aren’t allowed to beat their players like dogs. You have to believe that coaches around the country are collectively saying that players today are a bunch of pussies. Regardless, lets look deeper into the incidences in Kansas, Texas Tech, and USF to see how I can make yet another serious issue into a joke.

(I am well aware that that joke was in poor taste and blah blah blah, but I literally wrote this blog just so I could use that line. If you took that too seriously, stop reading now because it doesn’t get better. For everyone else, I hope you enjoyed it because PETA WILL hunt me down and you will never hear from me again.)

Let’s start in chronological order and start with former Kansas coach Mark Mangino. Now, most of you expect me to talk about his giant ass, but I am going to take the high road…ok not really. As the gay Asian guy from The Hangover famously said, “It’s funny because he’s fat.”

In an interview with Joe Schad, team captain Joe Mortensen said that Mangino “told me he'd send me back to Oakland where I could be drinking out of a brown paper bag," Mortensen said. "He told me, 'You were a shit friend to someone I knew that passed away.' He called me a bum. He showed me no respect. He told me he'd send me back to the ghetto.” Cold, right? But come on; are you really shocked that a ridiculously fat, over stressed guy is a jackass? I would be scared of the guy too. How many players do you think he has eaten over the years?

After hearing that entire quote, I seriously am questioning the intelligence of the pudgy coach. So he knew that this kid lives in Oakland, AND his best friend was just shot, yet he still decided to threaten the kid without even thinking that the kid wasn’t going to murder him. Even if you despise stereotypes, you still are pretty sure everyone in Oakland is a thug and looks like a crazy ass Raider fan. It just wasn’t a smart move.

The next story was about Mike Leach, who I actually think got the raw end of the deal. Remember the speeches your grandparents used to give you that started with “back in my day…”? Yea, neither do I. Those were insufferable…but I digress. Anyways, the point I was trying to make was that if you told them this story, they would be confused about why he was fired because all of the stories we did bother listening to involved how tough people used to be. Leach basically put Eric James in big-boy time out. The only reason it got big is because James is ESPN analyst Craig James’ son. That was Leach’s biggest flaw, he did it to the one kid who actually had unlimited resources to show the world how much of a whiny prick he really is.

Finally, let’s talk about Jim Leavitt and USF and how it wasn’t reported about almost at all. Seriously, we spent WEEKS talking about both Mangino and Leach, but Leavitt barely gets noticed despite the fact that he is the only one who physically struck a player. Please tell me how it is possible we have become so numb to these occurrences so quickly. Anyways, the former USF coach was accused of slapping and choking a player during halftime of the Nov. 21 against Louisville and at least two unnamed players corroborate the story. Yet despite this, Leavitt continues to say he did nothing wrong. Not only that, but he demanded that he be reinstated! He assumed the school would act like it had battered wife syndrome and go back to him. Wow, he should be put in a psyche ward so we can study him and his looney tune ideas on how the world works.

I wish that just one coach would stand up and say, “Damn right I choked the kid. He was being a bitch and we were going to lose the game!” He would never coach a game, but I would forever love him.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Your Parents Lied To You...You Should Be Scared Of The Thunder

Remember the first time you were in a thunderstorm and how terrified you heard the thunder crashing? Remember how your parents told you how it was just a noise and you shouldn't be scared? If you are playing the Oklahoma City Thunder, what your parents said was a lie. Thunder can, and will, hurt you.

A few years ago I told everyone how I was scared of two teams, Portland and Atlanta. Not because how good they were at the time, but because I saw an abundant amount of talent. Now, both of those teams are solid playoff contenders (Portland would be better than its 23-16 record if not for suffering about a million injuries). I look at the Thunder this season and think the same thing.

To say that they have a star in the making with Kevin Durant doesn’t do him justice. At the age of 21, Durant is one of the greatest pure-scorers of the game. Yea, a guy like LeBron is better overall, but Durant is an artist when it comes to putting up points. He is shooting .484 from the field this year, which is second amongst guards scoring at least 20 points per game. He might have an absolutely awful taste in shoes, but the NBA needs to get him in front of a national audience more often. As someone who doesn’t live in Oklahoma (which is a great thing 99.9 percent of the time), I don’t have the ability to see him much.

Durant isn’t the only reason I see great potential for the Thunder. Guys like Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green have developed into very good compliments to Durant, and rookie James Harden is doing a great job contributing off of the bench. The scary thing about the guys that I just named is that they are all 23 years old or younger.

Think about this, the Thunder only won 23 games all of last year; they have won 21 in just 37 games so far this season. They will surpass that total in a week or so and will finish the NBA season with the league’s most improved record. Going from 23 wins to a team that will probably make the playoffs is an achievement that shouldn’t be under-sold.

Another critical factor is the improvements they have made on the defensive end. They are currently 7th in the NBA in defense, giving up 96.1 points per contest. Last season, opponents had no trouble putting up big numbers, and averaged over 103 points. For those of you who can’t do math, that is a seven point difference right there.

If am the GM of the Thunder, my job is almost done. I have a young core of excellent guards that are progressing quicker than most thought. However, the Thunder still need somewhat of a low post presence if they want to be anything other then an annual playoff one-and-done. Right now, Oklahoma City is relying on guys like Nenad Kristic and Nick Collison, who aren’t averaging ten rebounds a game COMBINED.

The current GM seems to share this thought with me because he traded for Tyson Chandler last season, which was a great move. Unfortunately, Chandler failed the physical because of his toe. Considering the physical is usually just a formality, this was a surprise for us all. It’s a shame though, because Chandler could be great working with that group of guards.

In addition to that, the team needs a veteran guard to come off the bench to provide leadership and experience. Atlanta became my perfect example because they traded for Mike Bibby and now are serious contenders in the east. While nobody will say he is as good as he was in the early 2000’s when his Sacramento Kings went head-to- head with the Lakers several years in a row, he provided leadership to a Hawk team that had tons of raw talent, but had trouble converting that into wins. The Thunder don’t need a starting point guard like Bibby because Russell Westbrook is playing great, but I still think that adding a vet will be a good idea.

With teams eager to shed big contracts, adding these pieces shouldn’t be that difficult. The Thunder are under the salary cap and have three players who have large contracts that expire at the end of the season. This is invaluable to teams trying to shed salaries because it means that all of the money on the contract comes off their cap number at the end of the year. The guys that could draw some interest because of this are Etan Thomas (7.9 million), Matt Harpring (6.5 million), and Earl Watson (3.4 million). None of these players are contributing much to the cause and should be traded if given anyone of value. Hell, Watson isn’t even on the team any more!

Even if these moves aren’t made, you still have to keep an eye on this team. They might not be able to make much noise in the playoffs this year, but in a year or two, the Lakers better be watching their back.

News Flash: Lane Kiffin Is a Turd

It seems like such a long time ago that I defended Lane Kiffin during the debacle in Oakland, but in reality, it has only been a year and a half. It’s funny how time seems longer when you are able to make almost everyone in the country hate you in such a short period.

Back in 2008, I remember saying that I thought Kiffin was a good coach that was stunted because he coached the Raiders. Could you really blame me? It was his word against Al Davis, and since Davis looks like a scary mix of Skeletor and the corpse looking guy from Tales From The Crypt, I tend to side with whoever is in a fight with him. After all, if Satan himself was in a fight with some guy, would you even ask what happened? No. You would blindly take the side of the guy that isn’t the devil. This is what I did with Davis and Kiffin.

Now that we have a year to look back on, we have realized that things weren’t what they seem. It turns out that both guys were pure evil. Kiffin is nothing more than a spoiled brat, and Davis, is well, Davis. I generally make decision based on doing the opposite of what Al Davis does, but maybe he was right to fire Kiffin. We laughed at Davis when he called Kiffin a liar and ignored the possibility that it was true. After all, Davis is nothing more than a senile old fart. Looking back on it now, is it really that farfetched?

It wasn’t until Kiffin’s first acts as coach of Tennessee that I realized how much of a conniving child he was. Kiffin comes into the press conference with the cockiness of someone who has four or five championship rings and starts mouthing off. He targets Florida several times along with everyone else, and promised to revive the Volunteer football program. Instead of accomplishing these things, he has decided that Tennessee is not worthy of his awesomeness and left after just one season. The man, or should I say “boy,” has absolutely zero integrity and no one should believe anything he says.

As if his arrogance (that he had for seemingly no reason) wasn’t enough to hate him, his recruiting tactics and methods were trashy. He accused Florida’s Urban Meyer of recruiting violations and then bragged about signing the prospect despite the fact that the Gators “cheated.” The fun part? What Urban Meyer did that Kiffin said was supposedly illegal, was actually completely legit. What makes it better is that after all of the unwarranted accusations, it was Kiffin who was cited with about a dozen NCAA recruiting violations. Talk about a guy with zero class.

After soaking in all of this knowledge, is this really that shocking of a move? We are talking about a 34 year-old child who never grew up because his dad is legendary defensive coordinator and he was treated like football royalty his entire life. He is the first person to ever force me to share an opinion with Al Davis, and make me root for Florida. People might say that he made Tennessee football relevant again in just one year, but my response to that is, “yea, they became relevant because I wanted them to get embarrassed in every game. Not just lose, but get straight up obliterated.”

If you are a USC fan and you are excited, do me a favor and hit yourself in the head with a hammer. He will not help your program, and will never lead you to a national title. Expect temper tantrums, and a whole bunch of lies. If these things actually helped a team on the football field, the Trojans would be in great shape; however, that isn’t quite how football works. In fact, the only positive thing that comes from hiring Lane Kiffin is that his wife comes in the package as well. If they were to make her the head of recruiting, you wouldn’t lose a recruit ever again. I don’t care if she doesn’t know the difference between a touchdown and a basketball hoop.

To be perfect blunt here, I really don’t care that much because I don’t really like USC football. Oregon is looking like they will take the torch for best team in the Pac 10 and I am fine with that. I am just eager to see if Kiffin can continue USC’s proud history of illegal recruiting practices…yea, I went there.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mark McGwire is Hilarious

Remember the blog I wrote on Tom Cable where I probably made him want to cry? Well I’ve decided to do that again, and Mark McGwire has given me the perfect target. I know I use the phrase “accidently hilarious” a lot, but McGwire gets put in that category.

For those who haven’t heard the Big Mac admitted to using steroids yesterday, sending the sports world into a spiral. Ok, not really. The average response was very similar to when that American Idol dude announced he was gay; the entire nation collectively said, “yea, we know.”

First of all, why did he cry? He isn’t telling the world his uncle molested him as a child, he is saying he cheated over ten years ago. I mean come on. The first time we saw an athlete cry because he was admitting he took steroids, it was endearing. Now, it is as expected as Brett Favre retiring after every NFL season.

The best ever will always be A-Rod last season when he just randomly stopped in mid sentence and gave an Oscar winning performance. He even squeezed out a few tears for something he clearly didn’t care about. The whole thing could not have been more rehearsed.

Next came the excuses, which is always fun. I haven’t used “lol” since middle school, but this is the closest I have ever come. For McGwire to say that he didn’t take the steroids for increasing his power was a hilarious move. The American public is stupid, but not that idiotic.

My favorite part was when he said that “God gave him the gift to hit homeruns.” I might be able to let this slide if his stats didn’t say otherwise…that is unless God only gave him this ability for only four seasons. If the ability to hit homeruns was from God, then how did you only hit 30-35 homeruns a year for the Athletics until 1996? Is it just that God hate Oakland? I mean, everyone else does, but I thought God might be able to look past that.

Every sports outlet has covered all of this, and yet, not a single person has pointed out the best part of the entire interview. Mark McGwire has lost so much weight because he isn’t juicing any more that his neck definitely looks like a vagina. Seriously, look up the video. If you can take your eyes off his neck and concentrate on what he is saying, you clearly didn’t have as much fun as I did with that interview.

Never in my life have I seen someone who needed a scarf more than McGwire. I know that he hasn’t been relevant for ten years, but there is no way that he isn’t aware of High Def television. So there wasn’t one point during makeup where he realized that his neck needed to be hidden from my sight. After all, it is all about me.

The timing of this announcement makes a lot of sense because he is going to be the hitting coach for the Cardinals this year. What doesn’t make sense is why he is going to be the hitting coach. Even if we believe that he isn’t 100% full of shit about his homeruns, and is maybe just 50%, he still isn’t qualified to be a hitting coach. He had the most uppercut swing in all of baseball, and was a career .263 hitter. Now, if he had a title like “herbal supplement provider”, it would be understandable. After all, I wouldn’t say Albert Pujols is definitely on steroids, but

I would pay good money to go to the Cards’ first day of spring training to see the first conversation between McGwire and Albert Pujols. Does Pujols laugh when McGwire tries to give him advice? I would.

At the end of the day, this admission wasn’t a big sports story. In fact, it was covered less than any other steroid story since the beginning of “steroid era.” I just wanted to make sure you were able to see a neck that resembles the female reproductive organ so much, the FCC should have been forced to blurr it out.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pete Carroll Might Actually Be Making the Right Move

Unless something drastically changes, Pete Carroll is indeed going to be the next head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. Over the next few days, the national media and football fans will tell you how terrible of an idea this is, but I’m here to suggest the opposite. I think that this might be the perfect situation for both sides1.

For the Seahawks, it is simple; they need a guy to help build a team and Carroll is the biggest name on the west coast. Now before you tell me how college coaches NEVER do well in professional sports and how Carroll has already been in the NFL and failed, try doing some research. Carroll was an NFL coach for most of his career before becoming USC’s championship winning coach.

Carroll was a defensive backs coach for the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings for six seasons, and then defensive coordinator for the Vikings for another four. After that, he spent four years as head coach for the Jets and Patriots. Now, most people seem to think he was a terrible coach and went to college coaching with his tail between his legs. This could not be further from the truth. Carroll actually finished 33-31 in his four seasons and had two playoff appearances. In fact, the Patriots owner Robert Kraft has often said that firing Carroll was one of the hardest decisions he ever made.

These days, good coaches are few and far between. If Carroll was a good pro coach then (and anyone who has a winning record after four seasons is)2, then he has a good shot of helping Seattle. The odds get even larger if they give Carroll the ability to make personnel decisions, which is very likely to be the case.

Of the two sides though, Carroll will be criticized for leaving a perfect gig. The real question is whether USC is actually a perfect situation or not. In my opinion, it is not as cushy of a job as some say it is.

Things have changed dramatically in the last seven years. Back in USC’s reign over college football in the early 2000’s, the Pac-10 was a good conference, and more importantly, the gap between the elite teams and the others was much larger than it is today. Back then, the two national championship contenders were often undefeated because that gap was so large. Now, the gap has narrowed and with the exception of this year, title contenders are losing at least a game a year, making strength of schedule important…something the Trojans no longer have in the Pac- 10.

Despite all of this, Carroll described the USC job as his home and seemed content there. That means that something probably happened since then to make him think things might change. My guess is this “thing” goes by the name of Reggie Bush. Now we all know that the NCAA is investigating the Trojans for booster activity with Reggie Bush and OJ Mayo3, but we really have no idea what the situation is. USC came down hard recently on the basketball program, but anyone with a brain knows that is just a way to keep the pressure off the football team. This might be the first sign of things to come for USC.

I think that Carroll saw the writing on the wall and decided to get out before he was bound by the scandal forever. Carroll has probably always wanted to prove that he would be good in the NFL if given another chance, and with this all going on, he saw the Seahawks interest in him as perfect timing.

1. It is a good thing that my friends don’t read this or my friend Lauren would hate me for this. You see she lives. Eats, and breathes USC football, so this is absolutely killing her. Sorry Lauren I have journalistic integrity. Ok, not really, but for this article I do.

2. Dan Snyder still hasn’t found a coach who can do this.

3. OJ Mayo’s full first name is Ovinton J’Anthony, which is one of my favorite first names of all time. Also on the list is D’brickashaw Ferguson, Detron Lewis, Chone Figgins, and about 1000 others I can’t think of at this moment.