Friday, December 28, 2007

Year in review, for the future

"History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon." - Napoleon Bonaparte

When we look back at the events that shaped the sports world in 2007, it is easy to assume that is was a very big year. Dogfights, gambling, spying, stealing, doping - you name it - it was a big black mark. But what will really be remembered after it is all said and done? There's no way to know exactly, of course, but if you really dig deep, you can get an idea. Here are the top stories of 2007, and what they will mean (maybe) in our near and distant future.

0-5 years

No surprise that most of the "big" stories in 2007 would hardly be remembered after their occurrence. The saddest one is Kevin Everett, who probably won't be mentioned in the seasons to come unless it's a book detailing the history of the Buffalo Bills.

Pacman Jones? Who was that again?

Kobe wants to be traded, then doesn't, then does again, and then - oops - turns out his team is actually good. This story will be buried in February, resurrected for the playoffs, and will die until his contract expires.

Don Imus's love for Rutgers got huge, national air time. Nobody cares anymore, already.

I don't even want to mention it, but the whole T.O./Jessica Simpson thing was a big story. Why, I don't know. But rest assured that it's already dead, which is why it shouldn't have been a story in the first place.

The college football upsets of 2007 were, well, awesome. But unless teams like Kansas, Missouri and Illinois actually become football powerhouses, I feel as though it will all be lost in the shuffle. Here's to hoping I am wrong, especially when it comes to Kansas.

And last, but not least, Michael Vick. Believe me, after he goes to prison, then comes back, I'll give it the whole six months it takes for him to realize he can't play again before nobody cares anymore. Plus, I just don't see this being relevant to historians. In hindsight, he was a mediocre player on a bad team who was into to murdering animals. I just get the feeling this will be omitted forty years from now. At least it should.

6-10 years

Congrats, NBA, you own this spot. Starting of is my boy Isiah Thomas. The only reason this goes past 5 minutes is because in a decade from now, when the Knicks are still horrible, we will be talking about everything that happened in the Thomas Era. And considering Isiah will probably still be coaching the team, I think it will be relevant.
The only other occupant here is referee Tim Donaghy, who fixed games (probably) for the mob. Well, 75% of the refs in this league have slicked back hair and look like extras in the Sopranos, so this wasn't a shock to anyone. But it will last, mostly due to the fact that when the federal investigation actually finishes (my guess: 6-10 years), we'll have to relive it. And if not, Suns fans will remind us.

11- 20 years

It's lonely at the top, which is why Spygate lands here all alone. For the next few decades, lazy sports writers will talk about how the lasting effect of the 2007 New England Patriots is that they were villainous cheats. But once that wears off, and we truly appreciate them for who they were, it will all change. See below.

20 years and beyond
The 2007 New England Patriots. Whether it be because they went 16-0, 19-0 or were the only team to get close to a perfect regular season, they will be remembered. Actually, all champions of 2007 will be remembered, because after all, that's what record books are for.

Then there is the Florida Gators, who won back-to-back basketball championships, with a football championship in between. They deserve special mention, because this might not ever happen again.

Barry Bonds breaking the home run record is definitely going to be remembered forever. Or at least until guys find better steroids and routinely hit 60-3,000 home runs per season. Which brings me to...

The infamous Mitchell Report. Every Hall of Fame vote, from here on, will be tainted by steroids. And this report will (hopefully) be remembered as the one that started it all, and lead to more investigations which busts guys all over again. Maybe this is just wishful thinking, but after this year, I don't blame myself.
Please bring me 2008.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Going Bowling

You'll just have to trust me, but I had picked Utah to win over Navy last night. Hard to bet on a team whose premier win was over Notre Dame. Well, here's the rest of my picks:

Boise State, South Florida, Alabama, Boston College, Brigham Young, Rutgers, Florida, LSU, Kentucky, USC, Cincinatti, Virginia, Oklahoma State, Auburn, Connecticut, UCF, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Tulsa, Kansas, Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Arizona State, Central Michigan, Tennessee, Oregon State, Cal, TCU, New Mexico, Florida Atlantic, Hawaii.

We'll see how I do.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

ESPN turning into TMZ

I can't live without ESPN. It's where I get my news, my insight and my stats. I enjoy the majority of their opinion pieces, whether I agree with them or not, and they are always on the ball. While they had the same rubbish as everyone else concerning the Vick, Donaghy and Clemens stories, there were plenty of good articles giving the opposing (and correct) views. Compared to news sources such as CNN and MSNBC, they cover their niche better than most. In my opinion, there is more sports information coming out of Bristol than anywhere, save for maybe the Sporting News. But I'm not sure this will last.

The continuing trend of covering tabloid-style non-stories is embarrassing. Like when Terrell Owens jokingly told Jessica Simpson to "stay away", making fun of the idea that she makes Tony Romo play bad. That's not sad by itself, but what came after was. Apparently, ESPN took this story seriously, since a front page headline on today was T.O. reportedly says Simpson remarks just a joke. Reportedly? Gee, you think? Did they actually think T.O. seriously believed Simpson needs to stay away from games? I'm amazed that they employ people to cover these stories, and then pass it off as quality journalism by using words like "reportedly" and writing straight pieces on a joke. A joke that everybody was on but them.

I have no problem with "The Worldwide Leader" having fun with these stories, making them filler conversations on programs such as "1st & 10" and "Around the Horn", but let's stop with this so-called investigative journalism. This is US Weekly, Tom and Katie bullshit. Making these joke stories into actual articles is not only a sign of ESPN selling out, but it also shows how incompetent some of these writers actually are. Seriously: someone thought that Owens really wants Jessica Simpson stop coming to games. This same person either is currently or some time in the future going to be relied upon to gain actual information about things we care about. This is not a good thing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Mitchell Report Worked

It was a witch hunt. Too much hearsay. Nothing would change. Yep, the naysayers were on the front line when the Mitchell Report came out, quick to dismiss what it had to say and to blast Bud Selig. After all, it was pointless, right? It's starting to look like a success to me.

We have Andy Pettitte to thank for that. His admitting to using HGH changed everything. When he washed the blood from his hands, players starting to get in line behind him, wanting to not to clear their name but to save their dignity. Since most of these fellows took the drug while it was still legal, the only stigma around them now is the burden of bad choices. The only ones with anything to lose are the liars.

Roger Clemens, where art thou? Ah, the Rocket has more to lose than his pinstriped friend. He has the Hall to think about. He's already denied the report, and there's no turning back now.

But the some players aren't as selfish. Brian Roberts and Fernando Vina have come clean. The admit to what we all know happen over the past couple of decades. And strangely, a simple "I'm sorry" has resonated more than anyone ever thought. Of course they feel bad about it, but nobody blames them. Nobody ever did. We know it was hard to turn down the juice back then, we understand.

But the further you dig that hole, the harder it is to dig yourself out. Every denial adds layers of anger. Some players, such as Clemens, just don't get it: we know what you did. Other players, hell, even one of his best friends, are proving the truth of the report. It's not a guessing game anymore.

So, Rocket, come clean. It's the only way to save your career. If Barry Bonds has a chance to get into the Hall, so do you buddy, but not if you continue lying. Voters tend to take that into account. Show some dignity, show some pride. Even if you don't get in, at least you'll be left out knowing you were a better man for it. You know, if that sort of thing matters to you.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Better than 16-0

Now comes the question: do the Patriots play their starters and try for a perfect season? Usually, I would say yes. But with this team? I have something even better.

Belichick should sit his starters right now. And I mean everybody. Make it completely obvious that you don't care anymore. No linemen, no receivers, no safeties, no anybody. Any player that has played more than 30% of the snaps should sit out until the playoffs. Purposefully tank the next two games.

Why? Because then you can hold it over the '72 swine forever. Show how you were better and had more class. Let everyone speculate on what would've happened. Every year, during the Dolphins' celebration of the only undefeated season, they will be reminded of the '07 Pats. It will be bittersweet. The champagne will not go down smoothly.

Belichick, I know you have it in you. It is the ultimate end to what has been the perfect villainous season. Don't let Don Shula and company congratulate you on being in their special fraternity. Make them publicly pat each other on the back, while the rest of the world knows what would have truly happened. Every year would be an embarrassment for them.

Please make this happen.

Dolphins are no feel good story

Apparently sports has changed since I was a kid. I remember celebrating while being good, not when being bad. Yesterday, the Miami Dolphins were laughing, crying and high-fiving each other like they just won the Super Bowl. Why? They won their first game of the year - halfway through December.

What is it about the Dolphins that makes them so hateable? First, you have the crew of '72, whose arrogant champagne party celebrating their perfect season (which they've yet to have this year) makes them look like old buffoons. Then there's these guys. After beating one of the worst teams in the league, at home, needing overtime, to become 1-13 - you would have thought it was 1972 all over again. And they acted with the same amount of class.

I know it's a relief not to go down in history as the worst NFL in history, but c'mon, you're 1-13! I don't need to see the owner crying or the head coach pulling a Jimmy V on the sidelines. The whole scene made me sick. Act like you've been there before. And by "been there", I mean "won a game". After all, they opted out of starting their future QB (John Beck) for the best chance to win (Cleo Lemon). That's right, at a time when they are guaranteed to be the worst team, they rather win one meaningless game to save face then help their chances next year. Disgraceful. Any questions now why they went into this game winless?

Good for you, Miami. Soak it up, which you are, on all of the radio and television shows this morning. Have fun while it lasts. Because in a week, the New England Patriots are going to remind you of what you really are - the worst team in the NFL.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Explaining the Mitchell Report

There seems to be a lot of confusion about what is actually going on in baseball right now. Don't get me wrong, nobody is actually saying "I am confused". It's just that conflicting reports can give the wrong impression. So an explanation might be necessary.

1. George Mitchell

George J. Mitchell is not a Senator. He was, yes, but he no longer is. This is important because some people are under the impression that the U.S. government is heading this investigation. They are not.
Also, he is a director for the Boston Red Sox. Since the report named Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite, New Yorkers believe it's a conspiracy. This I cannot prove or disprove. Knowing politicians, he was probably elated to get a few big name Yankees, and more than likely tried to do so. But the reason for that is the net that was thrown to get these names happened to target that clubhouse. Whether that was on purpose or not doesn't really matter, since getting the users' names was the point anyway. I would suggest getting Rudy Giuliani to even things out, but he roots for whoever is leading the polls, so it's a moot point.

2. Legalities

Nobody is really in trouble. The report was done independently, with its focus directed on figuring what the hell went on and how to approach the future. Remember, the only reason Barry Bonds is being tried in court was because of perjury, not taking an illegal drug. None of these players would talk with Mitchell, so no perjury took place. Nothing extending to the courts should be done until Congress gets together in January to discuss the issue.

3. Consequences

The purpose of this whole report was to shed light. George Mitchell recommended that none of the players that were outed should be reprimanded, though it is likely Bud Selig will do a little house cleaning. What will happen now is unclear. MLB will likely implement a Department of Investigation, so the 90's will never happen again.

As far as the players go, nothing has been proven thus far. Just because the report says that players like Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite took steroids does not mean that it's proof. It was just an investigation, with the information mostly coming from a source the Players Union would call a disgruntled employee. But baseball, unlike other sports, encourages its people to look at reports like this when considering awards like being inducted into the Hall of Fame. There are no definitive lines; how this plays with the voters is completely subjective. However, I wouldn't expect Clemens to extend his career any longer.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Roger Clemens took it in the butt

Look what we've got here. Sitting on my bed, waiting for the Mitchell Report to come out, I found myself wondering why I cared so much. I would've put good money on the fact that no big name would've come out of it; I'm a fairly skeptical person. And then the names came out, none bigger than this one: Roger Clemens.

Oh, so that's how you are able to keep pitching when you're 45. According to the report, strength and conditioning coach Brian Mcnamee injected Clemens in the butt four times with Winstrol. The Cy Young winning pitcher also was in possession on Anadrol-50. And according to McNamee, Clemens "showed remarkable improvement" after taking the drugs.

So the question springs: should Roger Clemens be a Hall of Famer? I don't think he should. Critics, such as Mitchell himself, may argue that baseball is to blame, not the players. Let me give you an analogy. Were the 60s responsible for the deaths of Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix? Was the culture to blame for the independent choices of drug use that its members would partake? Of course not. When you make the conscious decision to stick a needle in your ass so you can gain a competitive advantage, guess what, you need to accept responsibility. Baseball didn't force you to do drugs.

Hey, we've already made our decision on Barry Bonds. He's not worthy. Following that line of reasoning, Clemens shouldn't even be considered for the HOF. We haven't been able to make an example out of Bonds, so let's make one out of a guy that everybody likes. Show kids that no matter how good you are, how popular you are or how much you've accomplished, taking steroids will only give you problems. Problems that Clemens now has to face.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Greedy as a Hog

I've never really had that big a problem with coaches bidding themselves off. I view the men and women of the sports world as I would if they were in business, even though they screw up constantly and actually have to struggle with employers to wear a suit and tie. Sports is, after all, a business. I assume that is a problem.

Bobby Petrino is just another coach leaving hardship for greener pastures, resigning from the hell hole that it the Atlanta Falcons to go lead the Arkansas Razorbacks. But that's what's troubling: he's just another coach doing what coaches do.

Now, I'm not going to fault Petrino for "lying" to everybody. With the way the media is now, people are forced to make decisions before they're ready, and usually choose the "I'm with my team" route. It's been an acceptable policy for coaches to leave on a whim, and the fault lies with the acceptance itself. Oh, people are lashing out now, but when the dust clears, Petrino will be a Razorback, and nobody will care any longer.

Football is no longer war. Generals are not rallying their troops to go into battle. Rather, hired hands are pitted up against one another, and the coach is little more than a micro-manager who tries to get his own players to care more than the other guys. They're seen as expendable by the league, and more importantly by the players. Loyalties are replaced by royalties, the heart with the brain. It's not Petrino's fault; he's just playing the game. Only, it's not a game anymore, it's a business.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Michigan has overestimated its influence

One of the more shocking moments lost in the heap of shocking moments from this year's college football season, was that Notre Dame proved to be one of the worst teams in the country. What wiped the surprise off of our faces were teams like Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Connecticut, who proved to us that Div. 1 football is anybody's game. So we got used to the fact that the schools who once reigned over the land were no longer in control. Notre Dame, Miami and Florida State have already shown us that. But remember who was the first dragon to be slain?

Nobody knew that Michigan's loss to Appalachian State would be a theme for the 2007 season. But what is more important is that it could turn out to be the theme for Michigan's future. They couldn't possibly fall into the depths of obscurity, could they?

Believe me, they're trying. The ASU loss put a black mark on the program, embarrassing them on national television for all recruits to see. Any to add to that embarrassment, now they are coming off like an obsessive ex-lover.

Reports are that, even after signing a contract extension, Michigan is still pleading for Les Miles to come back home. After all, they are running out of options. Rutgers coach Greg Schiano turned down the offer, even though his school is more famous for the hair styles of their women's basketball team than football.

Truth is, nobody wants the Michigan job. So now it has turned back to Les Miles, a coach who has already rejected the job once, and is expected to do the same again. The Wolverines are becoming a joke. When coaches rather stay in the SEC or East Rutherford than go to Ann Arbor, it's a sign that the times they are a changin'. And the recruits are watching.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Vick get 23 months, maybe

The saga is finally over: Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison on Monday. Most experts were looking at a 12-18 month sentence, but it looks as though the judge felt Vick's crimes needed more punishment. So, this means that the former Falcon will be gone for two years, right? Not so fast.

First off all, the sentence could be reduced by three months with good behavior. Which is fine by me. Hey, 20 months will probably send the same message, and prisoners should get a break if they're not running around in gangs and so forth.

But will Vick even get to 20 months? Maybe he needed to hire Paris Hilton or Nicole Richie as his lawyer, because they know how to get out of a sentence. The sobering reality is that celebrities rarely seem to serve a full sentence; they find some way to get out early.

So who's to say the same won't happen for Vick? I've already heard people saying, "It's not like he's going to serve the full sentence". That's right, we actually expect the famous not to be punished. This reflects rather poorly on our justice system, not to mention the message it sends to other young, rich celebrities.

But for now, we will wait. Maybe Vick will serve his sentence and be a changed man. But if history is any example, he'll be out on the streets within a year, at about which time everyone will have stopped caring (if they already haven't). For me, and for sports in general, we'll finally get to see if our justice system applies to men like Vick. My opinion: no, it doesn't.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Nuggets Are In Trouble

Waiting for the fourth quarter to start during last night's Lakers/Nuggets game, Allen Iverson had 49 points, and it looked as though L.A. had no answer for "The Answer". Furthermore, Kobe Bryant had only 13 points. The crowd was going nuts, AI was on fire, and everything seemed in place for a Nuggets win. But then, Kobe started going off, Iverson got cold, and the Lakers pulled out the W. So what happened?

The same thing as always. Denver started throwing up ill-advised jumpers, got away from Iverson, and failed to play any defense at all. There are two people to blame for all of this: George Karl and Carmelo Anthony.

A lot of credit is due to Phil Jackson and company, since they did a good job getting the ball out of Iverson's hands, who had only 2 points on 1-4 shooting in the fourth. But before the Lakers went on lock down mode, the Laker's best defense was Denver's offense. In the middle of AI's shooting spree, they went away from their star, settling for jump shots. Anthony did this the most, shooting fade aways and jumpers while double teamed, not even looking for Iverson. When a guy has 49 points through the first three quarters, you must attempt to look for him. The Nuggets did not.

George Karl didn't do much to help his team's cause, either. He obviously didn't do enough to make sure Iverson got looks, never reprimanded Melo for his selfish play, and as always, couldn't get his team to play a lick of defense. It's absurd how this team plays considering the talent that they have.

Unless they get things figured out, quickly, it will be another one-and-done come playoff time. Once the Laker's made a conscious effort to shut down Iverson, everybody else on the Nuggets seemed lost on what to do. So Anthony took horrible shots, and so did J.R. Smith. The Lakers basically played 3 on 4 defense and still shut Denver down.

With the lack of discipline and direction that is plaguing the Nuggets, one wonders what has to change. Either Karl or Anthony has to go. In Karl's defense, it's hard to have any chemistry when your franchise star is selfish. Anthony has to defense. He has a hard time sharing time with Iverson, even though the latter has changed his game to better the team. He has no concept of team play.

If the Nuggets want to make that leap towards the top, either Melo has to swallow his pride or the Nuggets need to deal him. But they won't let him go, so that leaves only one option. And since Karl can't seem to right the ship, Denver has to bring somebody in who can. Sad, yes. Fair, no. But it's the only way.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ravens need to shut their mouths

Before the start of Monday night's game, you wouldn't be able to convince anybody that the New England Patriots could end up as victims by the end of the year. They were supposed to be the villains; the ones who ran up the score and wanted to embarrass you. But if any of their remaining opponents act half as disgraceful as the Baltimore Ravens did, then it could very well happen.

Oh, where to start.

Let's work our way backwards. Check out these quotes from the Ravens' locker room after the game:

"Everybody is kind of cheering for them to go undefeated and break all
the records. They called them the greatest offense on earth. So who knows? ...
They made one more play than us and they got a little help."

"It looked like all 22 men on the field played as if no timeout was
called. But if it was called, it was called. I don't get into that part of the
game. I just do my job."

"It's kind of the feeling of the 2001 tuck rule. It kind of feels like
the tuck rule. That is the NFL for you, man. When they got a guy like that that
is selling a lot of tickets, you want to keep him selling

"I didn't hear a timeout. That was very convenient."
As Kid Rock would say, "Why don't you go to McDonald's and a get wah-burger and some french cries? How about a Whine-neken?" Ok, I'm done.

So, it's all a big conspiracy (again). The refs want the Patriots to win, so they robbed Baltimore of the game. Sigh.

How about this: do not throw an ill-advised interception at the end of the game. Do not call a timeout right before you stop the opposing team on fourth down. Do not hold in the end zone. Do not take the ref's flag and throw it into the stands. Do not get another personal foul on top of that. Do not jump offsides on the extra point. Do not let the opposing team kick off from your own 35 yard line.

I know that in the post-Tim Donaghy era, the idea of fixed officiating might not seem like a stretch anymore, but let's be real about this: there is no conspiracy to let the Patriots win all of their games.

The closer these games get and the more the losing team whines about their misfortunes, then you are going to see the Patriots go from the NFL's villain to simply what they are; one of the greatest teams ever to play the game. Nobody takes responsibility anymore. It's always somebody else's fault, whether it be the refs, coaches or whoever.

So Ravens, shut your whiny, adolescent mouths. Nobody cares what you have to say, unless it's "good game". Your season is done and the Pats are still going. After half of your defense is fined, your coach is fired and the talk starts to circle around next week, nobody will remember that you completely choked away this game. You make the Bengals look like Boy Scouts.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Coaches' votes revealed

Just hours ago, I wrote about how my anger over the BCS had turned to pure sadness. Well, that didn't last long. Check this out, it's the voting record for every coach who had the power to alter the national title game. Let's look at some highlights, shall we?
The coaches for LSU, Ohio State, and Oklahoma voted their team #1. How are they allowed to do this? They obviously are biased.

Georgia coach Mark Richt voted his team #2. Give him some dap for that one. Same with Illinois coach Ron Zook, who voted his team #9. Maybe that's a little higher, but at least he controlled himself.

Dennis Franchione, coach of Texas A&M, voted Hawaii #22! The Warriors are they only undefeated team. What the hell? He also voted Oklahoma as #6.

Bobby Bowden has Oklahoma #10.

Howard Schnellenberger, coach of Florida Atlantic University, has an amazing looking card. This includes Kansas #2, Hawaii #3, Missouri #4, Boise State #10, and USC #12.

Check out the rest of it yourself. But this tells us one thing: the national title game, in part, is a freaking popularity contest. I guess we all knew this, but when you actually look at the votes, it's simply amazing. Opinions of men who have biases and haven't seen half of the teams have a say in who is where. What a bunch of B(C)S.

There is no national champion this year

My birthday is on January 8. The day before, Ohio State and LSU will play in the BCS title game. But when I'm out with friends and family accepting presents, there will still be no national champion. Oh, the record books will tell you that somebody was. One group of fans will brag about how their team won. But they will be wrong. This is very depressing.

I'm no longer angry about the BCS. I am simply sad. When I watch the Buckeyes and Tigers square off, I will be merely watching another football game. I cannot force myself to care.

The system is a farce, we know. It's just another year where we get to watch big name programs play in college football's biggest game. The BCS is happy about this. They perceive this as a victory.

I'm off to watch basketball now. There are no feelings towards this 2007 season that I can express. Thank you, BCS. You have me not even caring about a sport I used to love. Even as a Jayhawk fan, who got lucky in their bowl selection, I'm done.

Call me when there's a playoff.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Sports is not math

The whole premise of sports media is to let you know what's going to happen before it does. This, of course, is impossible. That's one of the reasons I stopped making predictions; we all pretty much get the same amount of information. So, when it comes down to crunch time, just about every fan will try to find something to hang their hat on. Usually, they revert to comparing common opponents.

I can't tell you if Missouri will beat Oklahoma or if the Seahawks will beat the Eagles, though I have some pretty good estimations. As always, these estimations are based on the same information that you get, only we just reach different conclusions. But instead of doing the necessary homework to try to figure out what the outcome of the future will be (which is a time-wasting exercise), Sports Fan USA will take the lazy route; finding common opponents, comparing the outcomes and making a prediction. This is a dumb, not to mention wholly inefficient way to discuss sports.

The math goes like this: if A-C is more than B-C, than A is better. In actual mathematics, this works. In sports, not so much. That would mean since Seattle beat Chicago 30-23 and Philadelphia lost to Chicago 16-19, Seattle is 20 points better than Philadelphia. That would also mean Seattle is 17 points better than New England, who only beat the Eagles by three. Obviously, this is incorrect. So why is comparing common opponents such a popular way to determine who is better?

Laziness, probably. We have half a week to react to a certain sporting event, and the other half to predict the next slate of games, so at about noon on Wednesday, we are ready for the upcoming weekend. Breaking down matchups and watching past games not only requires you to know what you're looking for, but it is tedious work. I don't enjoy watching Knicks games. Doing a simple math problem is easy enough for any casual fan to come up with an outcome, though it has no bearing on reality.

But what confuses me is that people have two and a half days to study a game, but still seem to revert to inane concepts. Going through actual information would actually kill time. Thing is, fans would rather talk for an hour with five minutes of research than research for an hour with five minutes of talking. And I don't blame them.

Then again, don't we all come to relatively the same conclusions (around 50-60% correct predictions) anyways? Ahhh, now I get it.

Bill Simmons and the NFL Network

Bill Simmons (aka, The Sports Guy) is one of the few successful "fan writers" in the sports media, and is somebody who I generally like. While anybody's opinion on the actual sports can't really ever be described as right or wrong, it's his social commentary that seems to be what got him to where he is. The ESPN writer is usually somebody who connects with his readers, but in his latest article, he has done everything but.

Let me preface this with saying that I don't like to slam other writers. Not only is it pointless, but as a writer, it could only come back to haunt me. But this article, I cannot let go. While most of it is a mock letter to his 1982 self, it's the part about the NFL Network, more specifically last night's Packers/Cowboys game, that bothers me.

Did the "older you" complain about this particular slight? Actually, no. You happened to be working in New York City that day; once you discovered that your hotel room didn't offer the NFL Network, you got off your ass, met up with some friends and watched the game in a crowded sports bar that was screaming on every big play. Ironically, it turned out to be a more entertaining night than just sitting at home (or in this case, a hotel room) and watching the NFL Network. Is it a bad thing to get off your ass every once in awhile? Probably not. Everyone's incessant whining about "missing" NFL Network games made you realize that too much time was spent complaining about stupid stuff and far too little time appreciating everything that's happened for sports fans over the past 25 years. If traveling 5-10 minutes to a sports bar or a neighbor's house to watch the Packers-Cowboys game is our biggest dilemma of the sports week, then we must be in pretty good shape in 2007, right?

As with most holier-than-thou pieces, it completely misses the point of what everyone is complaining about. What most writers end up doing is that they try too hard to find the simplest, and mostly dumbest, reasoning behind popular thinking. Simmons concludes that the reason people are up in arms about the NFL Network is that they're lazy. Which is, itself, lazy.

Let's assume for a minute that most football fans are not rich sports writers who live in Los Angeles or in New York on business (which is probably a safe assumption). Then who are the fans? Most probably earn a modest income. A large amount probably have families. Let's say that 70-75% of real NFL fans fall into one of those two categories.

With the modest income group, there is one problem with going out to the bar with a bunch of friends: money. Five friends could easily only spend around $30 for their football party, assuming more than one of these people is are not alcoholics. At a bar, it could roughly be around $30 per person. Even one night a season to enjoy a game might be too much for these people (which includes college students, by the way).

The more problematic group are the ones with families. You could say that the modest income people could just go over to a friend's house, even though the reason they probably don't get the dish is because it's not available in their area. But some people simply cannot leave the house. They have kids to watch, wives to pretend to pay attention to. How many of these people could talk their wives into going to the bar to watch football on a Thursday night, let alone every Thursday night. It is, to say the least, an inconvenient circumstance.

But isn't Simmons' whole argument the amount of importance we put on inconvenience, you say? Perhaps, though I'm not sure Simmons, or anybody else for that matter, is qualified to make that statement. So, if you still side with the Sports Guy, I'd like to offer you another argument.

The politics of the NFL/Time Warner battle is what bothers me the most. Is short, The NFL took games away from the networks, then tried to sell them back to cable at a higher price than CNN, and then went on a public relations campaign about how Time Warner won't allow you to see their games. I'm guessing most of the PR people for the league have worked in Washington D.C. for some part of their lives. But with all politics, what is happening is that two companies - who make billions of dollars - are fighting over a figure that is minuscule compared to their overall income. Remember the movie "Trading Places", where the two old rich guys bet $1 to see if they could destroy/improve somebody's life? That's what's going on here. It's not about money - it's about power.

The great thing about sports, and entertainment in general, is that it's a break away from all of the corporate greed and politics of the world. Now, it determines which entertainment we get to watch. It would be one thing if we never had access to games before, like Simmons' 1982 self, and now get most of the games. But we used to get all of the good games, only to have them held hostage by the NFL for nothing more than a power struggle with another corporation. This is where the anger and confusion comes from. When things we like and pay good money for are taken away for big-money interests, people start to complain.

So maybe a simple trip to the bar or a friends house is the quick cure for our football blues. But as all quick cures do, it will only lead to a more devastating disease. After all, this is what the NFL wanted; a big-time game nobody could see, leading to the inevitable surrender of "we shouldn't be complaining". Unlike Simmons, I will not fall into this trap. To understand why you can't see the games is more important than how it affects you personally, which is itself more trite and ridiculous than not wanting to pay $4.00 for a PBR.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

And you thought you hated Boston...

Everybody nowadays is hatin' on Boston. The Patriots are undefeated and running up the score, the Red Sox won the World Series, the Celtics got Garnett and Allen, hell, even Boston College was a top-5 school at one point. And now the Sox are in talks with the Twins about a possible trade for Johan Santana. You think that makes you mad? Imagine how people in Minnesota feel.

First, you had David Ortiz. After he was released from the Twins, Boston picked up Ortiz as a free agent. He has since become one of the most feared clutch hitters of all time, leading the Red Sox to two championships. Twins fans must have felt sick after seeing one of their own sign on another team and have so much success.

Then you have Randy Moss. Unhappy playing for the Vikings, Moss was sent to Oakland, where he redefined what being unhappy really meant. He sulked on the bench, barely did anything on the field, and forced the Raiders to ship him to the Patriots for a measly fourth round pick. So what did Moss do while in New England? he has 71 catches for 1,095 yards and 16 touchdowns. Ouch.

At least there was one superstar who seemed intent on staying in the Twin Cities. Kevin Garnett, no matter how bad the team was, seemed like a Timberwolve at heart. Then the 2007 offseason came, where once again Boston snagged a Minnesota star. The Celtics are now 11-2, with Garnett becoming the anchor and is seemingly rejuvenated.

Which brings us to this report, stating the Sox and Twins are discussing a four player trade for Johan Santana, which includes Coco Crisp, Jon Lester and minor-leaguer Jed Lowrie. I can't even fathom how fans in Minnesota feel right now. If Boston was to once again rob them of their riches, the fans up north should think about just becoming Sox/Patriots/Celtics fans and save themselves the trouble. After all, once Adrian Peterson gets the call from Bill Belichick, there won't be anyone else to root for.

The BCS is here to stay

Everyone is getting a little tired of explaining why there needs to be a playoff in college football, and that might be what the BCS mob wanted all along. In a report from the Sporting News, BCS coordinator Mike Slive is still convinced that a playoff isn't the cure. Here are his reasonings:

"One is protect the regular season. It might be trite to say there's a playoff every weekend, but there is. Secondly, we value the Bowl system. It gives a lot of student athletes an opportunity to compete for additional championships. And thirdly, there's an academic component. I know there are cynics about that, but there's an academic component, and we are going to keep football as a one-semester sport."

Let's take this piece by piece.

1. Protecting the regular season
There is not a playoff every weekend. Want proof? Hop on a plane or boat down to Hawaii, and ask Colt Brennan and the gang if they feel they are playing in a playoff. The reality is that no matter what, the Warriors will never have a chance to play for a national title. And don't whine about their schedule; they tried to get Michigan to play them, who instead opted to play Appalachian State. Great decision.

2. Keeping the bowl tradition
Last I checked, there are too many bowls to begin with. Ranging from the Bowl to the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (those are real, by the way), are they really that important? And considering that most playoff scenarios only have eight teams, that's only four bowls that are missing out. Not to mention that either: a.) you can add more bowls, or b.) make the playoff rounds bowls.

3. Academics
The worst reason of all. Do the Division II or III schools suffer from their playoffs? Do they not go to class? Why does it work for them but not for the Buckeyes and Gators? Take away the conference championships (which needs to be done anyways), and the month long layoff, and you could get the playoffs done by the first week of January. Remember: under an eight team playoff, only two teams would play three rounds.

So, in conclusion, this guy is full of crap. But we knew that already. Everyone who is not Slive or Kirk Herbstreit agrees on this. Somehow, we are still not closer to any real solution. I can't wait until March.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jimmy V Week

Please donate to the Jimmy V Foundation. Visit, or call 1-800-4JIMMYV.

Why Les Miles should go to Michigan

Normally I'm opposed to coaches abandoning their schools for old dream jobs. I prefer that these men carve out their own niches and create their own legends with whatever school was kind enough to give them the opportunity. The only time I can remember thinking a leaving coach had made the right decision is when Bob Huggins went to West Virginia. If he was still with Cincinnati, then that would not be the case, but he was only at Kansas State for one year. With that being said, I think it's time for Les Miles to pack it up and leave the bayou.

Playing in the SEC is basically being matched up with a ranked opponent every single week. This makes it very hard to get to the national title game under the current BCS system. So why wouldn't you want to coach in the Big Ten, where you have only one important game a year, the Ohio State game.

Speaking of OSU, they have an opportunity to reach the title game after facing an incredibly weak non-conference schedule, and losing to an unranked opponent at home. Pretty sweet deal, right? Now, imagine that you can have that and coach at your alma mater, a perennial power house.

Coaching at LSU is like dating a porn star. You can never live up to what you think you need to do, and her past relationship is on public display. Yes, he could be "the guy" at LSU, but at what cost? I can't imagine anybody who would want any part of that. For most coaches, it will be the best job they could ever get in college football. But for Les Miles, there's Michigan. If he doesn't take it now, then he should forget about it. We don't need another Roy Williams fiasco. Because as Williams showed, no matter how hard you want to stay, your heart will always tell you to go.

Monday, November 26, 2007

You don't know how to beat the Patriots

Most coaching decisions can be made by Ed at the end of the bar. My mother wouldn't kick to Devin Hester. My sister can manage the clock better than Herm Edwards. This might be the reason why everybody is coming out of the woodwork to proclaim that they have the formula that can beat the New England Patriots. All I have to say about that is, "No, you don't."

Yes, the Patriots' quest for an undefeated season was in jeopardy during Sunday night's 31-28 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Fact is, they still won. But that won't stop the presses from explaining to you that the Eagles laid the blueprint to beating the Pats. Actually, if you had a dollar for every time the word "blueprint" was used in sports articles today, you could buy your own NFL team and make yourself the coach and use these ideas yourself. And you would lose.

The article that stood out to me was from John Czarnecki of FOX Sports, which is titled "Here's how you beat the Patriots". That's right, he learned how to beat what is possible the greatest team in the history of the NFL by watching one game. Here is what he learned:

1. Teams must be physical with Randy Moss and the other New England receivers.
2. You must vary your blitzes on Tom Brady.
3. You must gamble and go deeper with your passing game.
4. You must be able to pass block on the edges.
5. You need a versatile running back.

So, to sum up all 1,080 of Czarnecki's words, you need to be physical, pressure the quarterback, make big plays, pass block and have a good running game. Very insightful. The Pats weren't going to blow out every single team, that we knew. So why is everybody convinced that last night's game is a sign of the Patriot's perfect season is almost over. Last time I checked, they're still undefeated. This is a good reminder that unless you're one of the 32 special few, you are not an NFL coach, no matter how hard you try. And you're definitely not Bill Belichick.

Chad Johnson has his own Camera-Gate

It would be nice to act like Chad Johnson is just a fun guy. After all, he has received nothing but praise while fellow troublemakers Terrell Owens and Randy Moss have been hounded by the media, who have tried to destroy the two receivers' reputations over the years. Johnson played class clown to Owens' problem child. Tony Kornheiser gets excited to see his new celebrations. He does his best Peyton Manning impression by during various advertisements. He will challenge you to a game of Madden. He is also one of the most selfish professional athletes I have ever seen.

I hate the rules barring players from celebrating touchdowns. While I understand that the NFL doesn't want Riverdance-esque choreography like the kind imagined in the opening credits of Baseketball, the fines and penalties the league has put in place over the last few years is nothing but an overreaction. With that being said, let me remind you: it is against the rules.

Owens, the Elvis of excessive celebration, is the cause for most of this. But when he was doing it, it was new. You didn't know how the NFL would react. We know now that not only will you be fined, but your team will suffer as well. This is why celebrations are selfish; you're willing to cost your team a penalty so you can have fun. And don't tell me that Johnson is pulling a Guy Fawkes and trying to send a message to the league. The fans pay too much money and the stakes are high enough where these kind of actions have no place.

Yes, it is sad that the No Fun League robs us of post-scoring theatrics. But as of now, it is against the rules. It is no coincidence that in the year where Owens and Moss have cleaned up their act, the national media is starting to condemn Johnson. As they should, because stupid rules and unnecessary enforcement is one thing, but selfishness is another.

Friday, November 23, 2007

LSU's Loss Makes Hawaii Look Good

Arkansas' win over LSU on Friday night was huge, but make no mistake, a lot of people saw it coming. With the regular season winding down, some fans were still convinced that elite teams and conferences existed. They don't. What separates LSU from Hawaii and Ohio State from Kansas is a very thin line. Any team can lose on any given week, whether it's Oklahoma losing to Colorado or Michigan losing to Appalachian State. Get it in your head now: Nobody is safe.

The talent pool is now flooded in college football. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a bad loss, since there are quality players up and down on every roster in Division 1. What this means is that whoever wins it all this year has much more to brag about. This is a year where consistency wins out. It is the year of the coaches, where every Saturday comes down not to who has the best players, but what coaches can get their teams ready.

This, above all, is the reason I believe Hawaii should be considered for the BCS title game. Just about every other team has shown that they don't want it. LSU couldn't handle it, neither could Arizona State or Ohio State. We'll see if the Big 12 champion can handle it. But when Big Ten schools can lose to Division II schools, it makes Hawaii's run so much better. Yes, they have the weakest schedule, but is there such thing as a weak schedule anymore? No game is a gimme, no team can ever look ahead.

Santa, please bring me a playoff.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dogging the Bounty Hunters

So, the Packers give incentives to their defensive players based on in-game performance. This, I don't have a problem with, and considering the lack of anger from fans of the other 31 teams in the NFL, nobody else does either. Even Jon Kitna has said, "I don't know if it is against the rules; if it is, it shouldn't be". So what makes this a story? This is yet another example of the NFL having way too many rules.

I have expressed my irritation with the NFL when it comes to leading with the helmet, protecting the quarterback and taking away celebrations. In my opinion, these are either rules which at times are impossible not to break, or take away from the overall enjoyment of a football game. At least they can be defended, though. You could make the argument that leading with the helmet can kill someone, or that quarterbacks should be given special treatment or that end zone celebrations are nothing but flashy displays of taunting. But why, exactly, is there a rule against bounty hunting?

First, let's not use the term "bounty hunting" anymore. All this does is bring up imagery of mullets, shotguns, shirtless convicts and, as of now, racism. So let's use the term "in-game incentives", shall we? Now that we got that straightened out, let's see what this means. Simplified, it comes down to a coach saying, "Go get (insert player), and I'll pay you". This doesn't mean that you're supposed to injure said player, but if you did, I believe that would qualify as shutting him down. So, in theory, you could get payed to injure another player. Still, I have no problem with that. But the NFL does.

See, it is considered a loophole around the salary cap, a big no-no in this league. It's not about the welfare of the players or anything like that; it's about money, plain and simple. Why the NFL, a billion dollar operation, has a problem with millionaires receiving $500 for good play is beyond me. But they care, and technically, it's against the rules. But as Kitna says, it shouldn't be. This is football, and putting a price on another player's head is what this sport is all about. This wild west attitude cannot be extracted from the NFL, and when you make any hit deemed malicious illegal, then this is the proper evolution. Football breeds a bounty hunter way of thinking, and it will always be that way. So is the problem with the players and coaches, or does it come from higher up? One thing is for sure: once you take away the venom from the players, then there will no longer be any bite.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Nick Saban Is A Moron

No, not because he took the Miami job, though that was technically moronic. Nick Saban is a moron on the level that not many reach. He resides on a plateau of ignorance usually reserved for the likes of lawyers, congressman and Boston fans. Slightly above the Three Stooges and below your crazy uncle, Saban simply lacks the judgement that most of us have. Don't believe me? Then check out this quote:

"Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event. It may be 9-11, which sort of changed the spirit of America relative to catastrophic events. Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II, or whatever, and that was a catastrophic event."

Forget, if you can, that he said 9-11 "sort of" changed things and that Pearl Harbor "kind of got us ready for World War II, or whatever", and focus on the fact this he is talking about last Saturday's loss to Louisiana-Monroe. I'm surprised he didn't use the analogy of a loss to a team from Louisiana to Katrina. In the words of Garth Algar, "Are you mental?"

Losing tough games is, well, tough. Suffering the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history and a war that killed over 70 million people, however, is a little different. It's obvious that Saban has no idea how to get his team pumped, but comparing a football game to these catastrophes is a little out of line. The reason I have a problem with all of the "Never Forget" bumper stickers and politicians using 9-11 as a talking point during debates is the same reason I have a problem with what Saban said: when you bring these things up, you're reopening deep wounds.

We don't need this kind of crap in sports. Nick Saban is so far removed from reality right now that one would think he directs Chevy commercials. Of course, he will apologize soon, and everybody will forget. He might even get his team to win some games in the next few seasons, at which point everybody will be writing about how good of a coach he is. But when it comes to Saban, let me tell you, I will never forget.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Barry Bonds Indicted, A Look Back

With news of Barry Bonds being indicted on Thursday, we tend to forget about how we really feel in these situations. Plus, we don't really know anything at this time, so specualtion is all we can go on. For that reason, here is my article on Bonds that I wrote on August 26.

Barry, I Forgive You

I have hated Barry Bonds for a while now. Even before the steroid scandals, he just wasn't a player I could ever stand. So when he got closer and closer to Hank Aaron's home run record I joined the rest of sports nation and hated him even more. I prayed that he would twist his ankle while rounding second. I kept an eye on every report that came out about his alleged steroid use, hoping for something that could throw him out of baseball. I thought of him as what is exactly wrong with sports today. But I realize now that he is not the bad guy I have always thought him to be.

Is Bonds a likeable guy? Uh, not hardly. But alot of sports figures aren't likeable. Bobby Knight isn't likeable. Even Kobe Bryant isn't very well regarded. But even back in Bonds' days where the only knock on him was personality, he would've gotten nothing but cheers during his chase for the record. People tend to put personal feelings aside when they realize they are witnessing history. Steroids seems to be the issue for most baseball fans. "He's destroying the integrity of the game" and "Aaron would've hit 1000 homers on roids" are the common phrases thrown around while discussing Bonds. But of the sixteen players suspended for steroid use since the new policy has been in place, ten of those were pitchers. Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post once said that nobody can cheat during the Tour de France because everybody is on steriods. Well, if a juiced up batter hits a homerun off a juiced up pitcher, do they cancel each other out? And these juiced up pitchers actually inflate homerun numbers by themselves, since the faster the ball, the longer the hit. In the nineties, taking steroids wasn't getting a competitive advantage, it was simply a way to even out the playing field. If you want an asterisk next to Bonds' name, then you have to put one next to every player of the steroid era.

There's plenty of reasons to dislike Bonds. But if you watch baseball, even casually, then don't miss the opportunity that Bonds has presented this summer. It is very rare to be able to witness a feat like this. And I won't be watching with the bitter taste in my mouth the way I have thus far. I'll be watching with awe, excitement, and happiness. Happiness for Bonds, and happiness for myself, since I can finally say: Barry, I forgive you.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What Is A Good Loss? The Ultimate Guide

Following Wednesday night's thrilling game between #1 North Carolina and Davidson, most college basketball experts were quick to point out how the almost-upset was good for the Tarheels. The first thing that popped in my mind was: WHAT? Which got me to thinking that there needs to be a guide to what is a good loss, a bad loss, a good win and a bad win. Well here it is:

#1-10 team vs an unranked-unknown

Good Loss: The only way, and I stress only way, a top ten team can lose against an unranked-unknown (UU) opponent is if the loss is on the road, and the opponent shoots an unprecedented percentage of shots made, especially from 3-point range. I can't even find an example, since most top ten teams don't go on the road to UU schools.

Bad Loss: Just about any other situation, especially if the game is a defensive struggle. Any top ten team should be better at defense than a UU. Example.

Good Win: Any win where the UU was never in contention. Example.

Bad Win: Any win where a top ten team struggles to win against a UU and the UU didn't shoot amazingly well. Any close game at home. Example.

#11-25 team vs UU

Good Loss: Any loss where the UU rains threes, but it has to be on the road. The non-top ten teams have to prove themselves, and securing their home court is a part of that. Example.

Bad Loss: Any home game, or any game where the UU didn't shoot especially well. Plus, any loss that's more than ten points. Example.

Good Win: Any win over 10 points, or any win where the UU shot over 50%. Example.

Bad Win: Any win under 10 points where the UU shot under 50%. Example.

Unranked vs UU

Good Loss: Only against a UU that rained threes, and it must be within 10 points. These teams have no room to lose games. Example.

Bad Loss: Any game where the UU didn't shoot extremely well, or any home game. Example.

Good Win: Any win over 10 points, or any win where the UU shot over 50%. Example.

Bad Win: Any win within 10 points where the UU shot under 50%. Example.

#1-10 vs Unranked

Good Loss: Only if on the road, in conference or in a tournament, within 10 points, where the opponent shot over 50%. Example.

Bad Loss: Any loss at home, or any loss of more than 10 points. Example.

Good Win: Any win of more than 10 points, or any road win where the unranked opponent shot over 50%. Example.

Bad Win: Any win under 10 points where the unranked opponent shot under 50%, or any win under 10 points at home. Example.

#11-25 vs unranked

Good Loss: Any road game where the unranked opponent would become ranked after the win, within 10 points, or the opponent shot over 50%. Example.

Bad Loss: Any home game, any blowout, even if the opponent would end up becoming ranked. Example.

Good Win: Any road win if the opponent would have become ranked, any win of more than 10 points, or any win where the opponent shot over 50%. Example.

Bad Win: Any win within 10 points where the opponent did not shoot over 50%, any overtime win at home. Example.

Unranked vs #1-25

Good Loss: Only if loss was close, unless the unranked team blew a big lead. Example.

Bad Loss: Any blowout. Example.

Good Win: Any win. Example.

Bad Win: None.

* A 10 point win means that it was always a 10 point game, not a close game that ended up a 10 point win because of desperation fouls.

A-Rod Is Letting Us Down

Let's get this on the table first: Alex Rodriguez wants to be a Yankee, and the Yankees want Alex Rodriguez. Usually, it's good when you get a match like that in sports. So what makes this one different? When Rodriguez decided to opt out and become a free agent, it gave us non-Yankee fans a reason to be excited. We actually cared about where A-Rod went, we cared that it wasn't in New York, and (most importantly) we cared about off all this in November. But now it seems like nothing new is on the horizon, which means that baseball will have to go into hibernation.

Rodriguez is one of the greatest baseball players ever, and unlike Barry Bonds, he has nothing hanging over him (except for a postseason curse, which most teams don't care about). What was going to keep baseball relevant throughout the winter was the A-Rod tracker, which would have had a graphic on ESPN much like the Santa tracker on your local news. With the craziness of college football and basketball, the juggernaut that is the NFL, and the drama that is the NBA, can we really be expected to care about what's going on with Mike Lowell and Pedro Feliz?

What Rodriguez did when he opted out, was give us hope that in the very near future a mega-deal would have been done and a new A-Rod era would begin. Everyone was making their predictions, weighing the odds. Rodriguez got our hopes up, and now he is slamming that door of possibilities right back in our faces.

So, just like every other year, nothing exciting is going to happen this offseason. The pieces will fall in their mundane places, and fans across the country won't even notice. Baseball needed A-Rod to go somewhere else. Fans wanted him to go somewhere else. So now, I guess we'll pay attention to something else.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Phil Jackson's "Brokeback Mountain" comments getting too much attention

In case you haven't heard, Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson is getting the hammer laid down on him (no pun intended) for his comments after Tuesday night's loss to San Antonio. During the postgame conference, Jackson said, "We call this a 'Brokeback Mountain' game, because there's so much penetration and kickouts". This, in a word, is hilarious. It's funny, it makes sense, and it is something that obviously was being saved for the right game. Which means that Jackson thought of the comment, put it in his back pocket (no pun intended), and save it for a rainy day. And, oh, are people angry.

Take ESPN's "1st and 10", a show where they run down the day's headlines in a morning extension of "Around the Horn" or "Pardon the Interruption". ESPN Page 2 columnist Jemelle Hill and NFL "expert" Sean Salisbury were the commentators, and this is what they had to say:

Hill: "I can't believe someone as media-savvy as Phil Jackson would try out such a horrible example."

Salisbury: "For a guy so calculating, and as methodical as he is, I think it's pathetic."

Salisbury also mentioned that he's never seen the movie, which is necessary if he wants to show his face around the ESPN gym room any time soon. Of course, any personality whether it be on television, radio or newspapers has to express their anger. After all, Jackson made an analogy to a movie. Maybe if he said, "We call this a 'Brokeback Mountain' game, because everybody involved should go to Hell," then I could see the outrage. But in a society where we preach tolerance, we somehow also tend to punish those who seem to have accepted the ways of others.

This was not a story after the game. Actually, it wasn't until the NBA came down on Jackson that anybody knew about it. Listening to the audio, just about every press member started laughing afterwards, which tells us two things: that people are generally comfortable with it, and that publicly they have to act like their not. Hell, even the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation thought it was in poor taste.

So, everybody around the water cooler will be talking about Phil Jackson's poor judgement and that he should be fined, but if you listen to it by yourself or with some friends, more than likely you will find yourself laughing. It's not a gay thing or a straight thing, it's a comedy thing. Just don't get all angry because Jackson has a better sense of humor than you.

Four Down, One To Go

First time head coaches, even if they're winless, are just as smart (or dumb) as veteran coaches. Not at 0-7, not at 0-8, but it is at 0-9 that Cam Cameron decided to turn over the reigns to rookie John Beck. It is the right move. There is actually a reason for Dolphin fans to turn on the television come Sunday, much like me and my fellow Chiefs fans do. I pointed out five teams that needed to turn to their young guns on Monday, and after only two days, four of them have. The Bears are going with Rex Grossman and the Ravens are going with Kyle Boller. So, who's the odd man out? Oakland, of course.

The Raiders seem to be a long way from promoting first overall draft pick JaMarcus Russell to the starting quarterback. This is the team that is responsible for Grossman getting the starting job back, so that goes to show how bad they really are. They are done this season, which is pretty sad considering the state of the AFC West.

I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Oakland play the whole year without Russell getting a minute of playing time, which is just another inept move by this organization. I am one of the few people who think Russell shouldn't have been the #1 pick, so for me to think putting him out there is a good idea says a lot about how the Raiders conduct business. If you remember, Russell was barely a first day pick until he shined during his bowl game, which was against Notre Dame, by the way.

But at least the city of Oakland still has the A's....err....the Warriors....err....the 49ers....err....nevermind.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cy Young, MVP Awards Are Hurting The Game

With the announcement that C.C. Sabathia won the AL Cy Young Award over Josh Beckett, we are reminded that when it comes to the era of free agency and fantasy, the regular season is what matters the most. Sabathia was unquestionably the best pitcher in the American League this year, when it comes to the regular season. But Beckett was the greatest pitcher in the game; a 20-win guy who pitches like a man possessed when it matters the most. Beckett clearly out dueled Sabathia during the ALCS, where the Indians' pitching broke down faster than Britney Spears during a trip to Laurel Canyon.

This spring, Dirk Nowitzki was the MVP in the NBA. Nowitzki had an incredible regular season, and then completely disappeared during the Maverick's historical loss to 8-seed Golden State. Instead of carrying on the tradition of presenting the MVP with his award during the conference semifinals, David Stern was forced to hold a banquet to give the Dallas star his trophy. Needless to say, it was uncomfortable even for those of us outside the banquet halls. And that feeling stems from one universal emotion: shame.

It is a shame that the award is voted on before the postseason begins. It is a shame that the NBA, MLB and NFL (who started Pro Bowl voting weeks ago) can't simply honor their best players at a later date.

It is a shame that Alex Rodriguez will be this year's AL MVP. Of course, he had a magical regular season. But fans and players around the world will feel the same uneasiness they felt during Nowitzki's makeshift celebration. These leagues are collectively saying that the postseason doesn't matter, an idea usually relegated to fantasy commissioners. And the sad part is, they are probably right.

Monday, November 12, 2007

For The Chiefs, Bears And Others, The Future Is Now

I've taken a lot of shots at Eric Mangini this season, but I will give credit when credit is due. When it was obvious that the Jets' season was done for, Mangini made the proper call of putting in Kellen Clemens over Chad Pennington, getting a jump start on the young quarterback's future. Other head coaches around the league have got to start considering this move. What halts most of these decisions is that the coach believes his team still has a chance to compete, and he doesn't want to be seen as "throwing in the towel". Of course, that is completely valid. If you look at last year's Broncos, Mike Shanahan clearly conceded the season when he replaced Jake Plummer with Jay Cutler. The Broncos had a legitimate chance of making a playoff run, but Shanahan opted to start the future early instead of giving his team the best chance to win.

However, for a handful of teams, it is time to make the change. First off, let's look at Kansas City. Franchise hopeful Brodie Croyle came into the game late on Sunday against the Broncos, but it was only because starter Damon Huard was knocked out of the game. Watch SportsCenter, and you will hear about how the Chiefs' fans were booing Huard. In reality, they were booing Herm Edwards' decision not to throw in Croyle for a struggling Huard. Croyle came in, and he didn't look all that bad. He was much better than Huard was during the game, and for much of the season. Even though the AFC West is anybody's for the taking, the Chiefs have no shot at winning in the playoffs, and now is the perfect time to get Croyle started.

The Bears are a different story. After replacing Rex Grossman earlier in the season, Brian Griese was knocked out of Sunday's game against the Raiders. Grossman came in, threw a perfect 59-yard bomb, and led the Bears to victory. I know Grossman is Jekyll and Hyde, but Chicago needs to know before the end of the season if they need to get a new quarterback, and starting Griese solves nothing. Perhaps Grossman losing the starting job is the push he needed to get back on track. Personally, I do not believe that is the case, but what other options do the Bears have at this point? They are not a good football team, so letting Grossman have one more crack at being the starter couldn't hurt.

Miami's position is perplexing. Even though they are on the road to a winless season, Cam Cameron still refuses to start rookie John Beck over the lifeless Cleo Lemon. The only reason for this has to be that Beck hasn't shown that he is ready to be a starter, but you know, so what? Neither was Ben Roethlisberger, but he figured it out real quick when the team needed him. What better way to get the kid on the right path then letting him play the second half of the season? Nobody is worse than the Dolphins right now, and Lemon has proved game after game that he is not the guy. Take advantage of the losing season, Miami.

A few more quick hits.

For Baltimore, Steve McNair is done. Kyle Boller is the same age as Tony Romo, so let him have his chance of reviving this dead offense. Putting McNair out there makes no sense whatsoever. Nevermore.

I'm curious to find out how far along JaMarcus Russell is, because the Raiders are going nowhere in a hurry. As with Miami, they need to get their guy out there as soon as possible.

Friday, November 9, 2007

They Might Be Giants

It looks like the Three 6 Mafia aren't the only ones sippin' on the syrup. The New York Giants are making all of the headlines in the NFL this week, with expert after expert proclaiming their greatness. I know the Patriots are on a bye, but is this the only story in the NFL? You can go here, here, or anywhere else where highly paid football prognosticators can be found to read articles that are so far in front of the bandwagon that eventually they will be run over. You will not, however, find it here. I have seen this all before. As Dr. Frank-N-Furter would want, let's do the time warp again.

2006: After starting 6-2, the Giants lost their next four games, finishing the season 8-8 and losing in the first round of the playoffs.
2005: After starting 6-2, The Giants finish 11-5, losing 23-0 in the first round of the playoffs.
2004: After starting 6-2, The Giants lose their next eight games, finishing the season 6-10, missing the playoffs.

The Giants are 6-2. Their six game winning streak has been against Washington, Philly, NY Jets, Atlanta, San Francisco and Miami. Those teams are a whopping 11-36. Don't listen to me, THIS IS THE YEAR! Oh, I'm sure it is. The only good teams the Giants have faced this year are Dallas and Green Bay, their only two losses, in which they lost by a combined score of 48-80. Don't listen to me, THIS IS THE YEAR!

I don't know why everybody is so high on Tom Coughlin's squad, a team that starts off on fire every single year and always fizzles down the stretch. That is what this team does. So what is making everybody guzzle down the love potion and causing all the monkeys to go bananas? Boredom, more than likely. The 2007 season is lamer than Barry Manilow right now, so why not make up a non-story about how the Giants are going to be different this year and how Manning #2 is finally becoming the leader we thought he was coming out of college (which is 1/10 the leader his brother is)?

Sorry, I'm not buying it. If the Giants somehow figure out how to play a sixteen game schedule, more power to them, but I'm not guaranteeing anything until they show me otherwise. If they walk like Giants, talk like Giants and look like Giants, then hey, they just might be Giants after all.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Whitlock on Reid

Kansas City Star and Fox Sports writer Jason Whitlock is known for sticking race into every argument. It's his ugliest trait, as well as the only reason he has a job. I have always his disliked him, mostly because I don't think he believes half the shit he says, but does it for the money. Which is probably true. However, in his newest race-fueled piece, I happen to agree with every word he says. You know the old saying: even a broken clock is right twice a day.

The article, which you can find here, makes some very good points, which are almost in direct contrast with my article Leave Andy Reid Alone. Whitlock points out that if Andy Reid was black or poor or both, the media would have handled his situation differently. Now, for a second, imagine if Andy Reid was black, and you learned that his sons had just been arrested for dealing drugs in the hood. Needless to say, the same old media song and dance would have gone on, and probably would still be doing so. If you deny that, then you are stupid or racist or both. Let me highlight a few key points:

If this was a ghetto tale, police would look at Tammy Reid the same as Brianna Barksdale, as a silent co-conspirator or possible user. Garrett Reid would have to squeal on his suppliers or participate in a sting. He certainly wouldn't be viewed as salvageable. He'd be seen as a tool to make a bigger case.
Garrett Reid's admittance that he's a drug dealer and the fact that large quantities of drugs and weapons were found at the Reid home would make their house subject to seizure by the state. The Reids would be targets, not victims.

Whitlock then goes on to say that Reid is a coward.

America's morally bankrupt war on drugs, a cause that has killed and destroyed more lives than Vietnam and Iraq combined, has finally put Andy Reid's kids on the front lines (incarceration), and Andy Reid doesn't have a damn meaningful thing to say about it.
That's unacceptable. It's cowardly.
Andy Reid knows my pain, and he's too worried about a freaking football game to verbalize it. He could make Middle America and the power structure understand the helplessness and the pain you feel when people you love get caught up in America's political ploy called a "war on drugs."

All of this I agree with. In my original article, I pleaded for people to leave him alone and that Reid could get things figured out in his own time. Which would be true if it weren't for the problems that Whitlock brings to light; the Reid household, in rich white suburbia, is affected by the same things as households in South Central. Which is true. The glorification of the illegal hip-hop culture reaches past the white fences, and that's why you have kids like the Reid boys saying things like, "I could go anywhere in the 'hood. They all knew who I was. I enjoyed it. I liked being a drug dealer."

The message here is that while black people are expected to make some kind of social commentary in these situations, Andy Reid gets away from it all by not addressing it. Part of it is people such as myself telling everybody to leave him alone, failing to see the social ramifications this was suppose to expose. White people see things differently than blacks or Hispanics, but trust me, most of us don't want to. Whitlock shows us that what happens to minorities within the war on drugs is tragic, though it isn't seen that way until it happens to somebody like Reid. Perhaps this is a radical view, as you have to believe that the war on drugs does more harm than good, a debate not really suited for this site.

I admit when I'm wrong, and I was wrong regarding this issue. It goes beyond the NFL, dripping in a hypocrisy that has had a stranglehold on our society for a long time. This story illustrates why there isn't change in this country, and how much race is still an issue in 2007. I don't think racism is as big as Whitlock would have you believe, but it does resonate here. It's just sad that nobody will care by the time Sunday rolls around.

November Madness

Forget football and the NBA, college basketball is here. And in case you're one of those people who believes that the college basketball season starts in February, how about this for some drama: Grand Valley State 85, Michigan State 82; Findlay 70, Ohio State 68; Gardner-Webb 84, Kentucky 68.

Parody isn't a strong enough word to describe what has already gone down in the NCAAs this year. In football, you have Michigan losing to Appalachian State and Kansas ranked #4, and now basketball is getting into the mix. Nobody is safe. What this means in the long run is two things: good teams start the season thinking they can beat anybody, and you shouldn't put money on your tournament bracket. Actually, the latter is always true. But this year seems to be different as far as the level of talent is concerned. Fact is, football and basketball are huge sports, and the talent pool breaks the confines of the traditional schools.

This is how you know that everything is upside down: as a Kansas fan, I am confident of the football team and sketchy about the basketball team. Even if I was 100 years old, that feeling would still be new. It all comes down to one thing, which is having a go-to guy that can rise above an upset. Kansas has that in football (Reesing on offense and Talib on defense), but not so much in basketball (Chalmers? Rush? Robinson? Collins?). That's why so many people are picking Memphis as NCAA basketball champions; they have a legitimate go-to guy in Derrick Rose, even if he is a Freshman. Same thing goes with North Carolina and Tyler Hansbrough.

Teams might get you upsets, but superstars are going to win you championships. Unfortunately, this goes against everything we've ever believed in. But with Grade-A players expanding all the way to Division II, it's reality. What this could mean is that players going from high school to the NBA might actually be a good thing, since it would rob schools of getting that superstar and completely open up the chances for any school to win it all. Good God.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Chris Henry and Pacman Jones Walk Into A Bar... DUCK!

Right when we learn that Pacman Jones won't have his year-long suspension shortened, news comes that Chris Henry isn't as eager to get back onto the gridiron. Henry, who was to return to game play this week after serving his 8-game suspension, is alleged to been involved in an altercation with a parking attendant Tuesday night. The report is that he parked his SUV without paying, and then screamed "Don't you know who I am?". Though no charges have been filed, this does not reflect very well on him.

I don't know what it is with these guys, but as the old saying goes, if you give them an inch they will take a mile. Henry had been reinstated for only two days before his next altercation surfaced. Do players like him and Jones even care about their careers at this point? Henry said in a press conference, "I've been sitting back and going through this little stuff, my little suspension or whatever, and I've had a lot of time to sit down and think about everything. I'll be back out here giving it my all." Well done, sir.

Commissioner Roger Goodell should just give him the Pacman treatment and say, "See ya next year!", hoping that the extended layoff would hurt their game enough that when they do come back (that is, if they don't get in trouble again, which is highly unlikely), they won't stick around very long due to their poor play. These people make me sick, seeing as how they're given every opportunity in the world, a pipe dream for the rest of us, and still find a way to screw it up. See you in the CFL in a few years.
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