Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Bottom Of The Barrell

I’ve put up my “Elite 8”. I’ve put up my “non-BCS teams to watch”. Now, here is a look at the teams you DON’T want to watch. The worst of the worst. Programs that may wish to be back in Division II or just plain out of site.

BUFFALO BULLS. In 3 years at Buffalo, coach Jim Hofher has a robust 5-30 mark. They finished 1-11 last year…with their only win against 2-10 Ohio. They had losses to Rutgers and Colgate [yeah, Colgate…and at home] and had scores of 56-7, 38-7, 56-29, 40-9 and 59-3 dropped on them last year. The team revamped its coaching staff…but just doesn’t have the talent to compete with the better teams of the MAC.

IDAHO VANDALS. If you didn’t know, they play in the “Sun Belt Conference”….and a barn fro a stadium [there are basketball teams who play in a bigger arena. Troy State, which is in Alabama, is a conference foe. The team is bad…just not orca-bad. The offense did put up big numbers last year…and they did finish with a 3-4 conference mark. The defense, is horrendous…but getting better. They did lose 9 games last year….but played hard in most of them. They played well in a 24-10 loss to Boise State….and lost by a mere 10 to conference champion North Texas. So there is improvement. The problem is that they must play AT Boise State, Oregon and Hawaii in non-conference….plus play North Texas and Troy State….the top two Sun Belt teams….on the road. BTW, Joey Harrington’s brother, Michael, is the starting QB.

SAN JOSE STATE SPARTANS. I will say this, I will always remember the Spartans for the game, last year, in which the kid with the prosthetic leg came out on a punt team. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the emotion of that game. But, this year’s team will be bad. Only TWO offensive starters return…and the replacements everywhere else are untested from a team that won only 3 games last year [and one was over Grambling]. Defensively….ugh. They gave up 41 to Fresno and UTEP, 42 to Nevada, 65 to Florida and 77 to Boise State. They only have 5 home games….with MORGAN STATE as one of them??? They have roadies at Washington, Stanford and SDSU to top it off.

ARMY CADETS. I will say this, Bobby Ross may get Army back to respectability. Army has lost 15 in a row, the longest losing streak in the nation. The Cadets are undersized and slow compared to everyone else they play. Not to mention, the team ran an all-out passing offense last year….and this year they want a ball-control team. This will be the final year Army gets slapped around before going back to being Independent next year. They have every opportunity to possibly pull an upset before bouncing out of C-USA play. They have Louisville, Cincinnati, TCU, Air Force and UAB at home this year.

TEMPLE OWLS. Well, soon the pain will be over….as they will bolt the Big East and, like Army, will go back to being an Independent. At least this year, no more Miami or Virginia Tech. But, hello the rest of the Big East which still plans on stepping all over the Owls. And, with one less conference game, Temple adds another team that just wants that easy win. Virginia, Maryland, Toledo and Bowling Green….all bowl quality teams….are on the sked. Not to mention the Florida A&M Rattlers….who should send the Owls fans hope unhappy. If you need a reason to watch Temple…do it for the receiver named “Ikey Chuku”. Classic!

DUKE BLUE DEVILS. To be fair, I’ll put at least one team from a name conference on here. The worst team in a true-BCS conference is Duke. Roof is in his first full year…which saw him win 2 of the final 3 games on 2003, including beating rival North Carolina in Chapel Hill and a big upset over Georgia Tech. But, the ACC has become arguably the top football conference this year….and Duke isn’t ready to handle that. They, again, schedule nobodies out-of-conference [Navy, Connecticut and Citadel] to get their opportunities for wins. They miss out on Miami….but get Florida State, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech on the road….with Maryland, Virginia and Clemson coming to Durham. The offensive line is totally new…which isn’t good since the ACC features some of the top D-lines in the country.


We all know about those “BCS Conferences”. The ACC, Big Ten, Big XII, Pac-10 and the SEC. And, yeah, technically the Big East is still a BCS conference. But what about teams from those “other conferences”?? Every year, one of those teams surprises and gets onto the national stage somehow. Whether it is a superior record [like Miami-OH last year], a Heisman hopeful, a high-octane offense, or a big-time upset of a ranked team [N. Illinois over Maryland]….teams can get a little ray of sun here-or-there.

Here is my little attempt to shine a light on some of these programs and players [note: I‘ve omitted Louisville, Cincinnati and So. Florida from the mix due to their move to a BCS Conference next year] .

MEMPHIS TIGERS. This offense is explosive…and their defense is routinely efficient. DeAngelo Williams is one of the top backs in the league and led the nation in all-purpose yards last year. Their C-USA schedule has NO TCU on the docket….with Louisville and So. Miss coming to the Liberty Bowl to play the Tigers. Other than an opener against Ole Miss, the non-conference schedule is easy.

TOLEDO ROCKETS. Their schedule is fairly tough….and the conference has its speed bumps. No doubt that the Rockets will start off kinda rocky. But Toledo historically is a good MAC team. They have excellent backs and QB Gradkowski throwing it to the game-breaking Lance Moore. Their defense isn’t that great….but they have talent there.

TCU HORNED FROGS. I know, this one is kind of cheat. We all are aware of TCU’s emergence to the top of the non-BCS crowd. But, this program will soon be in the fourth different conference in a decade [SWC, WAC, C-USA and Mountain West]. TCU isn’t as good as the quick 10-0 start team of last year. But TCU’s schedule is pretty favorable for them to be unbeaten [or just 1-loss] before Halloween. There, the schedule gets tougher. The offense is balanced…and in a good way. They averaged 200 yards running and 200 yards passing. Their top skill guys are all back and an cohesive offensive line.

UTAH UTES. The Utes should run thru the Mountain West Conference for the 2nd straight year. Aside from a roadie to New Mexico and one to San Diego State, they have all their tough tests [Texas A&M, Colorado State, BYU, Air Force] in Salt Lake City. Alex Smith is back as their all-MWC quarterback and an offense that will let him sling it around. The defense has 7 starters returning from a team that allowed ZERO points to BYU and Southern Miss COMBINED in their final two games of 2003 [of course, they did allow 43 to Air Force and 47 to New Mexico in consecutive weeks].

MARSHALL THUNDERING HERD. They’re leaving for the Conference USA after this season….and they leave a conference they have dominated. Now, the Herd’s record won’t be that great early one…but the team will be. This “mid-major” has games lined up AT Ohio State on September 11th….then AT Georgia the very next Saturday. They do have their two biggest threats to the MAC East crown, Miami-OH and Central Florida, at home. They also don’t have Toledo or Northern Illinois on the slate. The big question is whether QB Stan Hill can come back to his old self after a knee injury.

BOISE STATE BRONCOS. The Broncos has quietly developed into a juggernaut in the WAC. Don’t be surprised to see the Mountain West going after BSU in further expansion. In the WAC, only Fresno State and Hawaii threaten to take BSU’s crown which has seen them win 18 straight WAC games. They do lose Dinwiddie…the most efficient passer in the NCAA. Michael Sanford is a senior…and has been in the offense long enough to hold it warm until Zabransky is ready to take over. Overall, the team must replace a ton of starters….but they’ve been doing that for a few years now. Now, take a look at the schedule. They play only FOUR games away from Boise…with THREE of them against the worst teams in the WAC [San Jose State, Nevada and UTEP]. The lone “tough” game is at Tulsa. They get Fresno, Hawaii and Louisiana Tech at home. As far as non-conference: Idaho, Oregon State and BYU. All games the Broncos will be favored to win. By the way….this school may be the next BYU, as they now have a strong recruiting base in the Pacific northwest and have shown signs of being able to dip into California for talent…having signed 14 California high schoolers this year. It would be nice to see them play a bowl game away from home.

The ELITE Eight of the Upcoming NCAA Season

1-USC TROJANS. Their schedule, though with some nice non-conference roadblocks, isn’t as difficult to navigate thru as the other title contenders. They do have to replace 10 starters…but Carroll has prepared well with his recruiting. Also, Leinart + Bush looks to be a nice combo.

2-OKLAHOMA SOONERS. A nice stat for ya….Oklahoma averaged 50 points per game against the 7 bowl teams that faced last year. The offense is pretty much intact….with super stud recruit Adrian Peterson to help the running game. Oh, and they have the defending Heisman winner as their QB. There are big games against Texas and AT Kansas State looming…not to mention games at Oklahoma State and A&M. The question is….can this team, who blazed thru the regular season, get it’s confidence back after losing their two postseason games badly??

3-GEORGIA BULLDOGS. I like Georgia to win the whole thing….if they can get into the big game, that is. Many people don’t realize that the Dawgs have averaged 12 wins a season over the past 2 years. Their defensive front seven is sick!! Pollack should rack up some awards and Greene could be a dark horse Heisman contender. Their schedule does, however, feature LSU, Tennessee, Florida and at Auburn….and then possibly an SEC title game rematch with LSU. If they can get to the SEC championship game…they’ll be in a BCS game.

4-MIAMI HURRICANES. Two reasons I have them this high. One, I feel they will beat FSU in the opener and cruise thru the ACC. Two, the non-conference schedule isn’t that tough. Yeah, La Tech, Houston and Louisville could pull the upset…but it is highly unlikely. As for the new ACC…games at NC State, at Virginia and at G-Tech could slip them up [not to mention the finale against Virginia Tech]. They do have some serious question marks, though. Is Frank Gore fully recovered from his knee injury?? And can Brock Berlin be the man in Miami?? If those two things work out…they could make a title run.

5-LSU TIGERS. LSU will again be amongst the elite….but the lack of an experienced QB and have to replace some of their defensive front. Also, the schedule is crazy. They are AT Auburn, AT Georgia and AT Florida in a 4 week span. If they can get thru that okay…then they could run the table the rest of the way….before meeting Georgia or Florida again in the SEC title game.

6-FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES. The ‘Noles 3 toughest conference games are on the road. In Miami, Raleigh and College Park. Clemson and Virginia in Talahassee isn't a picnic, either.  They get an advantage by playing both Duke and UNC [the two worst ACC teams] this year as well.....and missing out on the two "Techs"...Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.   The key is Chris Rix. He can play sooooo well…..then play sooooo bad. He stunk against Miami and Clemson….but did some nice things against NC State and Florida.  Rix is, sad to say, the best QB in the ACC [Clemson's Whitehurst may have something to say about that]...a conference that has seen Rivers, Shaub and McBrien all graduate. 

7-TEXAS LONGHORNS. Sorry, but I will start off by saying this: Mack Brown needs to prove he can win the big game. While at North Carolina….he failed to be able to beat the Mighty Seminoles. Now, at Texas, he can’t do the job against the Sooners. The Horns have no tough road tests…though Kansas and Colorado are formidable. Missouri does come to Austin…but the game on everyone’s mind is the OU-UT game. Cedric Benson is a legit Heisman guy who could be the next great Texas back. The QB, Young, has a year under his belt….but his receivers must step up into their new roles.

8-FLORIDA GATORS. Zook is on the hot seat…and needs this team to perform at a high level to keep his job….especially with a Spurrier out there jobless. Zook hasn’t won the SEC East or a bowl game. Unlike most years….the Gators schedule features only a few huge games. Georgia, FSU and Tennessee….teams they play every year. With Chris Leak entrenched as the starter from the beginning, the experienced offense should be ready to roll this year. The team was 8-5 last year….but lost a very close one in Miami and had one stolen away from them against Florida State. They were the only team to beat LSU…and they also popped Georgia. They did lose to Tennessee, Ole Miss and Iowa…..but only the Vols are back on the schedule.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The Story Of Walter Herrmann

During the Olympics, NCAA Basketball tournament and the Super Bowl media weeks….there are always human interest stories that are told to tug at our hearts and to “show that it is just a game” and that real life is much harsher. We get told of a player who came from a tough upbringing or someone who fought the odds medically just to compete. Sometimes the media gets sappy with these stories….and some of these stories are really, really heartbreaking.

The Olympics are usually chock full of these stories. One, so it brings us the viewer into these people and root for them because we seem to know them now after hearing of their troubles. If we see a story of the female judo entry and her battles with breast cancer…we are more apt to watch that event since we now “know” someone in the event. Two….especially when the athlete they are profiling is from another country….is shows that no matter how far apart and different our cultures may be…..people are people and we have the same kind of personal struggles no matter what language we speak.

One that really got to me is the story of Walter Herrmann. By now, many of you may know Herrmann as the “Lord Of The Rings” looking guy for the Argentine basketball team. The “white Karl Malone”….if that isn’t an oxy-moron. The guy had one heck of a semifinal game against Team USA. Then, later that night, I learned of his personal story…..which is truly tragic.


Herrmann is 25 years old. He is one of two new members to the Argentina team that won the silver medal in the 2002 World Championships. In 2002-2003.…he was the MVP of the Spanish league in which he played in as a rookie.

On July 18, 2003.…a car was driving along a country road and collided, head-on, with a car with an older couple. The car contained Herrmann’s sister, mother and fiancĂ©….as well as two friends of the family. Everyone in the accident died.

The day that happened, Herrmann was training with the National team. He had a little time off between practices….and called his girlfriend’s family, which is where the car was headed. That was when he learned of his fiancĂ©e dying. He was so upset that he trashed the hotel room in which he was staying.

Now, I just stated he learned of his girlfriend’s death…….no one told him of the others’ fate. In a car on the way to the airport [to go and be with his girlfriend’s parents]….he made a few phone calls and learned about the deaths of his mother and sister. He flew to Buenos Aires…drove a few hours to the village where all of the bodies were located.

After a period of mourning….Herrmann decided to rejoin his Spanish league team and resume his career. When the season ended, he went back to Argentina to try out for the Olympic team. He earned a spot on that team….and on the one year anniversary of the tragedy…July 18, 2004.…he had 38 points and 11 boards to win the South America Championship and a berth in the Olympic Games.

When Herrmann returned to his hotel room….he learned that his father died of a heart attack.

He surprised everyone and kept his commitment to the Argentine team. And now, he has a gold medal to remind him how strong he has been in a time that would have broken many of us. So when I saw him on the medal stand accepting his gold medal…..I just had to think…..how alone he must feel with his family gone in such a quick, tragic way. Yet, how proud he must be to achieve something in a team context like that. And yet….how admired he is by the world who just now has learned of his story.

Congrats Walter!!

Saturday, August 28, 2004

The Bucc Stops Here

Can someone be so right and so wrong at the same time??

Keenan McCardell….a wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers…is holding out for more money. I know….those greedy athletes!! HONOR YOUR CONTRACT!! In every other sport, I fully agree. But in the NFL, it is part of the game. The NFL is made up of one-sided contracts. You must honor your end of the deal….but the team can break you off whenever they feel like it. So, when a player has a shot at getting a better pay day….you really cannot blame him for going for the gold. I mean, in the NFL, you could be the league MVP one year….then two years later fighting for a job in New York against the top overall pick.

And that is what McCardell is doing. McCardell was the #1 receiver last year….and made it to the Pro Bowl. This season, Keyshawn Johnson is in Dallas….leaving Joey Galloway as the new Buc. Joe Jurevicic is injured. So McCardell, surveying the situation, must think that he has some power….and is trying to up his salary from $2.5M to around $4.5M. Tampa’s not budging. They recently signed Tim Brown to essentially take McCardell’s spot on the field. They are prepared to move on without Keenan.

He’s also claiming that Tampa coach Jon Gruden told him that he would be “taken care of” in the off season. Well, as you may know, the Buccaneers changed their GM….and Gruden is backing off of such claims. Tampa let Warren Sapp walk and cut John Lynch….so it doesn’t look like they’ll be buckling over a 34-year old receiver’s demands.

So this is a huge gamble for McCardell. He wins if he gets his raise or he gets dealt. But, the Buccaneers really aren’t in any hurry to deal him….nor pay him. So, to save face….he may have to sit out this season. And, in effect, what was the point of holding out??? The little extra cheese you wanted on your pizza isn’t gonna do you any good if they won’t deliver to ya!

Sure, Tampa sure could use McCardell in the tough NFC South. But, just as McCardell has the right to hold out….Tampa has the right to leave him out to dry.

Or crawling back with his tail between his legs.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Just Some Fun Sportz Questions

If you could go back into time….before you were born….and get front row tickets to any sporting event, what would it be??

How about an event during your lifetime??

What future sporting event would you want to see?

If you could match up any two teams from any different eras in the same sport…..who would they be?

Who would you root for in a Cubs-Red Sox World Series??

What is your favorite sports movie of all time?

Besides basketball….what event would you dream of competing in for the Olympics??

If you had the opportunity of going to the Super Bowl, the Game 7 of the World Series, NBA Finals or Stanley Cup Finals…..which game would you go to?

If you could own, for personal uses….not financial, any three autographs….which 3 would they be?

If you could have any pitcher come in and pitch the bottom of the 9th for you, who would you call in there?

What is the most memorable sporting moment that you saw on TV?

What is the most memorable sporting moment that you were actually at the venue?

Kevin Garnett or Tim Duncan??

Dan Marino or John Elway??

Which team would you rather own, the Yankees, Lakers or Cowboys?

Which team would you rather own, the Clippers, Devil Rays or Arizona Cardinals??

What city that doesn’t already have an NBA, NFL or MLB team deserves one?

Who has the ugliest sports uniform??

NASCAR: “great American sport” or “rednecks making left turns”??

Biggest draft bust: Pervis Ellison, Ryan Leaf or Todd Van Poppel??

Race horses…..athletes or not?

If the NHL folds after the current CBA ends…..would you care?

Brother vs Brother

Let me just put this out there before you read this. I am Class of 1993, Independence High School in Charlotte, NC. The Patriots have won 4 straight North Carolina High School Athletic Association football titles…..and are favored to win their 5th. They are currently riding a 62-game winning streak…and their nationally followed QB [Joe Cox] and WR [Mohamed Massaquoi] have both committed to Georgia. This from a school that, at least when I was there, was anything but a football power. In fact, it was more of a basketball school [Todd Fuller, former NBAer and NC State star went there].

September 18th could match two brothers at the quarterback spot in one of the top rivalries in college football. Tennessee vs. Florida. Or CJ Leak vs. Chris Leak.

The Leaks were at the helm of the Independence Patriots football team from 1996-2002. During that tenure, the Pats won titles in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 [the last one without a QB named Leak].

CJ Leak was the QB for Independence from 1996-1998 and pretty much helped put the school‘s football program on the map. He chose to go to Wake Forest over Notre Dame and Penn State….but in 2000 he suffered a horrible knee injury that sidelined his college career. The injury itself wasn’t so bad…but the infection gained was bad enough that they needed to place a catheter directly into his heart so he could inject antibiotics to his bloodstream. After that red shirt season….he left Wake to go to Tennessee. He sat out 2001 because he transferred…and got into 8 games over the last two seasons with the Vols. The six-year senior is #1 on the depth chart….but the job isn’t securely his. Behind him is his little brother of the guy he is replacing…..Casey Clausen’s brother Rick.

Chris replaced CJ at Independence….and won 3 North Carolina state titles. He left Independence at the all-time passer in high school history. Leak stole the show in Gainsville and became the full time starter after some impressive cameos early in the season. Now, he’s a serious contender for the Heisman in 2005 or maybe even this year. One interesting sidebar is the Vols’ fans hatred for Chris. Chris was “all but in the bag” for Tennessee, especially since big brother was there trying to bring him along. Instead, Chris spurned UT for their hated rival, the Florida Gators.

So, to me….and people in Charlotte….the 9-18 battle between the Vols and Gators could be a pleasure!

Thursday, August 26, 2004

NCAA Doesn't Nurture Bloom

The NCAA has, again, denied Jeremy Bloom’s request that he is able to play football for the University of Colorado….AND be able to keep his freestyle skiing endorsement deals.

The United States is one of the very few countries that doesn’t have its government fund the Olympic team. That is why endorsements are so critical….especially to athletes in those pure Olympic sports. Freestyle skiing is a Winter Olympic sport…and Bloom competed in the 2002 Salt Lake City games. To afford the training and travel needed to get to Torin in 2006.…Bloom needed the endorsements. The NCAA is fine with him being endorsed…..just that he’s disqualified from participating in varsity sports.

Of course, it is quite alright for coaches to sign ludicrous endorsement deals. In those endorsement deals [namely shoe companies], coaches must have the players [who cannot make one red cent] wear the company’s shoes and uniforms with the logo on the sleeve or pants leg. Of course, the coaches…..who are making the money off of this….still get to wear their Armani suits on the sidelines. So, coaches pimp their players to wear gear to make them money. Brilliant.

And it isn’t just the coaches. We have NCAA stadiums and arenas with corporate sponsorship. Many schools play in NBA arenas plastered with corporate names. MCI Center, Continental Airlines Arena, and Wachovia Center just to name a few. Value City Arena for Ohio State, Comcast Center for Maryland, Allstate Arena for DePaul, Dunkin Donuts Center for Providence, the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. It’s not just the big schools, either. Alltel Arena for Arkansas-Little Rock. Or Siena’s Pepsi Center.

And how ‘bout them bowls?? GMAC Bowl. Continental Tire Bowl. Heck, the Hall Of Fame Bowl is now the “Outback Bowl”….the Copper Bowl is now the “Insight Bowl”….the Citrus Bowl is now the “Capital One Bowl”. And all of the other bowls have a pre-fixed sponsored name attached to them. The Diamond Nuts San Francisco Bowl, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, FedEx Orange Bowl, Nokia Sugar Bowl, Toyota Gator Bowl, Wells Fargo Sun Bowl. Even the Rose Bowl gets backed by AT&T.

Also, schools can completely disregard history and jump ship to another conference when they feel like it. The conferences love it to….as they will soon consolidate all of the upper echelon schools into a five, maybe six, mega-conference format…..all but hogging up the BCS money, which is supplied by those sponsors I was talking about.

And, if a guy is good enough to play college football and minor league baseball…..he’s able to play for pay in one and still have eligibility in the other. Huh?? Then what is different with Mr. Bloom? The NCAA allows a salary to be paid to an athlete as a professional in another sport. John Elway did it….so did Drew Henson. College sports are filled with this kind of thing. But Bloom is being sponsored for a sport that [I’m guessing here] isn’t part of the Colorado athletics department.

Yeah….it is an endorsement. And, I’m sure, the NCAA is protecting itself from bogus “endorsements” that will come down the pike in they decide to let Bloom slide. What is to stop a company from “endorsing” a football player’s…..uh…..skateboarding or bike riding or whatever else they work out.

With far more pressing matters in the NCAA and it’s schools….and a lot of them involving Colorado’s program….why this?? Clean up what is going on at Baylor. At Missouri. At Colorado. Fix the BCS. Fix the mess Clarett made and get Mike Williams back to USC. Figure out how to keep athletes interested in the college experience. I guess, Jeremy Bloom’s skiing sponsor is just more important than the school providing prostitutes to its football recruits.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

NFL Depth Charting

Kurt Warner will be the NY Giants’ starting quarterback when the season begins.  Not so much because he has earned the job over #1 overall pick Eli Manning, but to protect Eli.  Week 1, the Giants head into Lincoln Financial Field to play the eager Eagles and their bruising defense.  Not to mention, this is the Eagles MUST season…and you know they are ready to get going.  This isn’t to say Eli cannot handle it, but it will be easier to throw Warner out there and get knocked around…..then say, “well, let’s start Eli Manning” in the Giants home opener against the Redskins in Week 2. 


If Eli is the starter in Week 1…then they may as well just release Warner.  Yeah, they only have Jesse Palmer and Ryan Van Dyke as backups…..but if you wanna ride with Eli…then go for broke. 


Upstate, you have one of the classic battles in the NFL.  The Bills starting running back job.  Both Travis Henry and Willis MaGahee have stated that if they aren’t the starter they want to be traded.  I can see where Henry can be miffed.  He’s only rushed for over 3400 yards in his first 3 NFL seasons….including almost 1300 yards last year.  Now, MaGahee hasn’t played a down in the NFL.  The reason is his horrific knee injury suffered in his final collegiate game against Ohio State in 2003.  Knowing that he most likely wouldn’t play…the Bills still made him a first round pick and worked with him to get back to health.  Now, before his first NFL game…..he wants out if he doesn’t get what he wants???  I know there is no loyalty in the NFL…..but this is where a player at least needs to prove something before making demands.  WHATCHA TALKING ABOUT, WILLIS!?!??!


There are two more very interesting QB battles involving a rookie coming in to try to steal an incumbent’s job.  In Pittsburgh, Ben Rothlesberger could very well own Tommy Maddox’s job if he keeps performing well in preseason.  Maddox should still be the starter on opening day….but he may have a short leash.  The other battle is in San Diego….but not as fierce.  Drew Brees used this camp to really buckle down and make significant strides in running the offense.  Rivers may have scared him straight.  Of course, Philip Rivers isn’t too much of a worry right now.  Being the final first rounder to sign, Rivers has put himself at an obvious learning disadvantage [of course, how hard will it be to turn around at hand it to Tomlinson?].  NFL teams do not go back over things….so Rivers must put in a ton of work on his own.  And the shame is that he WOULD have been a starter if he came into camp on time. 


Now, Rich Gannon or Kerry Collins??  Tough one, since Gannon was the 2002 NFL MVP before being sidelined much of last year.  Collins also played horribly in a Super Bowl against a great defense…but he may have what the new coach Norv Turner wants, a guy who can get the ball down the field.  There are also interesting battles in the Browns backfield [Green or Suggs], Miami [Fiedler or Feely] and Washington [Brunell or Ramsey]. 

Other Olympic Things

I've been on the basketball team a lot.  Well, not just the team....but USA Basketball mainly.  But, there is so much more going on it Athens that I just needed to make little comments on:

PAUL HAMM. I’m am not a gymnastics fan. Not at all. But, you gotta be proud of the man winning the Gold medal. Sure, he has a voice which makes me sound like he represents the lollipop guild [the lollipop guild, the lollipop guild]. But, with any kind of judged competition, it has reared a controversial ending to it. South Korea feels they were robbed, which they probably were.  I mean, c'mon...learn how to do math!!!!  And you have a Russian gymnast complaining. WOW! And now Hamm settles for a silver even though he tied for first on the uneven bars. This after the whole figure skating debacle in Salt Lake City two years ago. Again, sports that involve judges only to score events WILL always have problems and controversy. There is no way around it if people, who have biases, are in charge of scoring.  Right, Roy Jones Jr??

USA SOFTBALL TEAM. Remember 12 years ago when the “Dream Team” bowled over opponents to win the basketball gold?? Well, that’s what this women’s softball team did….outscoring teams 51-1 over the Games. They allowed a mere 1 run. ONE!! And that was in the Gold medal game against Australia.

MICHAEL PHELPS WAS AWESOME. Stop saying Phelps “failed” to win 8 gold medals in a single Olympics. Yeah, and I “failed” to win $100M in the lottery. What he did in these Olympics is nothing short of spectacular. 8 medals….6 gold. And the unselfishness to take himself off of the relay and get the best team out there simply made him legend.

BASEBALL. Yeah, the Americans didn’t make it to Athens. Or did they?? Many don’t realize, but the Greek team….which is only in the competition because they are the host country…is completely comprised of Greek-Americans who found an opportunity to compete in the Olympics. The Greeks won their first every Olympic ballgame over Italy, 13-7. The team in made up of children or grandchildren of Greek immigrants. Former MLBers Clay Bellinger, Eric Pappas and Clint Zavaras are on the team. The team itself is funded by a son of a Greek immigrant….Peter Angelos. You may know him as the owner of the Baltimore Orioles.

NATIONAL DISGRACE. Four years ago, in Sydney, sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou medaled. Now, they are disgraces to the country hosting the Games. The sprinters “missed” a drug test by “staging” a motorcycle accidentin which neither was hurt. Now they’ve found 641 boxes of foods containing ephedrine in a warehouse owned by…..their coach. Nice.

ATTENDANCE. I don’t have the numbers in front of me….but my eyes work. And unless this is a George Lucas airbrush job on my TV screen, there aren’t many people at these venues. Yeah, I broke this story wide open, huh?? But, it is one thing to have empty seats……these are empty venues. Even the Olympic Stadium has huge gaps in the stands. And, maybe this is just me, but it looks as if organizers moved everyone to the center of the stadium so it looked good for the TV cameras. In the panoramic views, no one is sitting at the “end zones” of the stadium.

ALA’A JASSIM. An Iraqi woman competing in track and field. Amazing.

SPEAKING OF IRAQ….they are in position to medal in men’s soccer. Simply amazing with all that has gone on in Iraq and the history of torture and abuse by Uday Hussein.

BEACH VOLLEYBALL. This stuff is on at 2:00 am on ESPN2 all summer long. Why so much Olympic coverage of it on MSNBC or CNBC?? And why those camera angles during the woman’s matches??

THE 400 RACE. Wow. Over the past six Olympics….since the ‘84 Games in LA….Americans have won 13 of the 18 medals awarded in this race….including gold, silver and bronze today. Wow.

THESE ARE OLYMPIC SPORTS?? Every four years, I sit back and wonder why certain “sports” are in the Olympic Games. Yeah, handball, badminton and ping-pong head the list….but they do require some skill and activity. But still, there are events out there that boggle my mind. SAILING?? Why not auto racing then?? Synchronized swimming?? That is more like some staged magic show. I mean, why not have a line dancing team? I can just hear “ACHEY BRAKEY HEART” being played on the intercom. Equestrian events. I’m sorry…but I’ll never understand this crap. I sat and watched some dude just ride a horse around this little fenced-in circle. Not a running horse….one just trotting along. What is that?? Some guy in an 1890 aristocrat outfit is in the same Olympic village as a wrestler or shot-putter.

BEIJING 2008.  Is anyone looking forward to that??

Carolina Panther Hangover??


Can the Carolina Panthers reach the next step. That would be actually winning the Super Bowl instead of losing it in such a heartbreaking fashion. Heck, can they even get back to the Super Bowl?? Can they win their division again?? Or even get to the playoffs??

Well…who knows? It this day and age of parity, nothing is a given. I mean, who thought this Panther team would have gotten to the Super Bowl in the first place??? Just two years removed from a 1-15 season in which they lost the last 15 games. Not to mention that recent history is not on their side.

Over the past 5 seasons….only ONE of the Super Bowl losing teams actually made it to the playoffs in the next season [1999, 2000 Titans]. Over that span, those teams were 36-44 in the following season. Ugh. The Atlanta Falcons went from a 14-2 regular season record in 1998 to a 5-11 campaign in 1999. Double ugh.

Of course, the past 5 winners haven’t exactly lighted up the league either. Their record following their Super Bowl winning seasons is an average 42-38.….pretty much an 8-8 record. Of those 5 winners, only the ‘99 Rams and ‘00 Ravens actually made the playoffs in the following year…..and neither advanced to the Conference Championship Game.

You can actually take the streak further back. Back to 1987. From the 1969 Minnesota Vikings to the 1986 Denver Broncos….all 18 Super Bowl losers made it back to the playoffs the next year. Of the 16 Super Bowl losers since then, only half of them [which is 8] made it back to the playoffs in the following year. You know about the ‘99 Titans. The rest happened in a stretch from 1990 to 1997 where only the 1993 Buffalo Bills didn’t go back to the playoffs [Bills ‘90, ‘91, ‘92; Chargers ‘94; Steelers ‘95; Patriots ‘96 and Packers ’97]. And that brings us to the current 5 year period. Even the Super Bowl Champions have missed the playoffs FIVE times over the past 16 years [‘87 Redskins, ‘90 Giants,’98 Broncos, ‘01 Patriots and ‘02 Buccaneers….with the ‘91 Redskins and ‘99 Rams barely making the playoffs the following year].

And it isn't just the NFL.  The last NBA team to lose in the Finals and make it back to the Finals was the 1997 Utah Jazz.  And that was the only time since the 1988 Detroit Pistons.  So once in the last 15 years.  The 1991 Atlanta Braves were the last MLB team to lose the World Series then go back to the Series the next year.  But lots of those teams made it back to the playoffs. 

Which brings us back to the Panthers. Can they get back to the postseason?? Well….probably not. Last year, things really broke their way. They won 7 of the 11 games by a field goal or less….including a blocked extra point in Tampa which was an act of God and two more overtime wins on the road. Carolina only outscored opponents by a total of 21 points for the entire season. Also, they got some huge breaks. Vick’s leg break, for example, zapped the Falcons out early [they beat the Panthers with Vick late in the season]. Tampa had a Super Bowl hangover [see above]. Their schedule only contained FOUR teams that eventually went on to the playoffs [Colts, Titans, Cowboys and Eagles]. The Panthers were 1-3 against those teams.

Not to mention, the beginning of that 2004 schedule is pretty rough. Brett Favre and the Packers come in on opening Monday Night Football. Then the are at Arrowhead to play the offensive juggernaut Chiefs. A Week 3 bye before chasing Michael Vick and the Falcons around [which is the only team out of the first 5 games that didn’t make the playoffs in 2003]. Weeks5 and 6 are AT Denver and AT Philadelphia. Not to mention two games against the Buccs and Saints…and another one against Vick. They have the Rams and Seahawks on the slate. But, they do have cupcakes San Diego, Arizona and San Francisco…and who knows what Oakland will be.

Maybe the next Carolina.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Tar Heels Invading Athens

One thing I have noticed about these Olympic Games is the plethora of North Carolina Tar Heels participating in Athens.


Sure, there isn’t Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, JR Reid, Mitch Kupchak, Walter Davis or Charlie Scott on the men’s basketball team. But, Larry Brown, head coach of the USA team, is a Tar Heel [‘63]. So is Roy Williams….who happens to also be the head coach of the Heels.

Two sports who have been predominate with UNC is women’s soccer and track. The most famous name is Mia Hamm [’94]. Hamm is the all-time scorer in women’s international soccer history. Alongside her is Cat Reddick [’04], Cindy Parlow [’00] and Kristine Lilly [’93]. Hamm, Lilly and Parlow have been National Players of the Year. Lindsay Tarpley and Heather O’Reilly are on the current UNC team. The Lady Tar Heels have won 16 NCAA soccer championships in the 22 years it has been held.

As far as track goes….one men’s alum made it to Athens…..Allen Johnson [’93]. The women’s track team is filled with former Heels. By far, Marion Jones [’97] is the most decorated female track athlete right now. She is only performing in the long jump. Former Heels Latasha Colander [’98], Shalane Flanagan [‘04], Monique Hennigan [‘98], Blake Russell [‘97] and Tisha Waller [‘92] round out the team……while Laura Gerraughty and Crystal Cox are currently still at UNC. Colander anchored the 1600m relay in Sydney….where she won the gold. She will be competing in the 100m and 200m in Athens. Hennigan was also on that gold-medal relay team in Sydney. She will be in the 400m race. Flanagan will compete in the 5000m. Waller is in the high jump.

Oh, and that is just the Americans. There are four former or current Heels competing for other countries in these games. Nadine Faustin [’98] is competing in the 100m hurdles for her native Haiti. Vikas Gowda, a current Heel, is in the discus event representing India. Dominic Dmeritte [’99], of the Bahamas, is a sprinter and Natalie Anter [’02] plays for the Italian softball team.

So GO TEAM USA!!! And go Tar Heels!!!!!

Friday, August 20, 2004

ACC Migrates To Florida

Jacksonville was selected, unanimously, to be the host of the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Football game.  The two main competitors they beat out were Charlotte and Orlando.  Other cities interested were Landover, MD, Atlanta and Baltimore.

This was pretty much a given, since the ACC has been drooling over Florida State-Miami title matchups for years to come.  They've already put them in seperate divisions and scrapped the geographical format for the divisions as the SEC, MAC and Big XII have.  I mean, why else have them playing the first week of the season??  So no matter what happens....the rematch will still be interesting.  And where would you want such a game held??  Either Orlando or Jacksonville....where Canes and Noles fans can get there relatively easy. 

The bonus is that if Virginia Tech, NC State, Maryland or Georgia Tech stumble into the game...their fan bases will probably love a little December trip down to Florida.  And by no means is this conference a cake walk for the Canes or Noles.  But, the ACC would be [quietly] disappointed if it kept seeing V-Tech vs Maryland or NC State vs Georgia Tech in the game.  That's not what they are trying to sell ABC...who will televise the ACC title games. 

One factor in the reasoning Jacksonville's Alltell Stadium will get the game is the fact that the Gator Bowl is held there....and they've had excellent ties with the ACC.  My problem, however, is that most likely whomever loses the ACC Championship Game will then return to Jacksonville for their bowl game as the #2 ACC slot.  And if it is Miami or FSU....then they only have to leave Florida maybe 3-4 times all year.  Also, the Florida-Florida State game makes cameos in Jacksonville too.  So, the Seminoles may get 3 games in Altell Stadium. 

Yeah, it was a letdown for me, personally.  I was hoping the game would land in Charlotte...at least every now and then...which has a NFL stadium, pretty mild climate, strong ACC footprints, major corporate ties and the geographic center of the conference.  Now, it looks as if Charlotte may never get that game....as the ACC has hinted that it wants to fashion the game as an annual event in the same area.  Jacksonville gets the 2005 and 2006 title games....and the conference has an option to extend it 2 more years. 

I can't complain, totally.  It is pretty much a given that Jacksonville will have pretty good weather for the game.  Better than any of the non-Florida cities....with the exception of the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.  They also came at the conference will more money [$6M] and the conference won't have to rent out the stadium.  It is a beautiful city with a ton of things to do for tourists.....which the ACC is banking on it being similar to Super Bowl week [which Jacksonville hosts this February]. 

Since the vote was unanimous...you shouldn't hear any of the member schools moan about the Florida bias.  For those who don't know, the non-Carolina schools complain about the ACC Men's basketball tournament being held in either Charlotte or Greensboro on an almost permament basis.  Only recently has the ACC switched that up and started to hold games in other markets....with this year's game at the MCI Center in Washington, DC.  Of course, with Virginia, Virginia Tech and Maryland now together and all having realistic shots at getting to the football title game....you'd think FedEx Field may get a strong look in 2007.  

Hey....but where the game is held is fine.  The ACC is now emerging into a power conference in both football as well as basketball.  And there is nothing wrong with that. Well.....

Lawrence Phillips Sells His Championship Ring

When we talk about the biggest busts in NFL Draft history….names like Ryan Leaf, Aundray Bruce, Todd Marinovich, Steve Emtman and Akili Smith are bandied about. Most people tend to forget about Lawrence Phillips.

Lawrence Phillips cheesing for the camera. 

Sure, Phillips had his problems at Nebraska. But the guy had tons of talent and if he puts his mind to it he could have been a great NFL player after winning consecutive National Championships in college. He had a good shot with the Rams as the #6 pick overall but didn’t last. He even had a semi-solid career in the Canadian Football League. But that was long ago.

It has been reported in the Las Vegas Review Journal that Lawrence Phillips sold his Big 8 Championship Ring to a pawn shop called “Steve‘s Buy & Sell“……for $20. Yep….$20. The pawn shop owner said that Phillips told him that he was stuck in Vegas and needed to get out. So he sold his Big 8 Championship Ring for $20. The pawn shop owner turned around and sold the ring on Ebay for $1700.

How low has he sunk that he went from one of the most promising athletes in sports to selling his ring for $20? The owner said that Phillips had been going from pawn shop to pawn shop all day trying to sell his ring.

Well, while he was a gifted athlete…he was never the model citizen. He has had a history of sexual assaults, drunk driving, domestic violence, disorderly conduct and being a pain in the neck to his employers. Phillips went AWOL with the Rams after finding out he’s be coming off the bench. Miami and San Francisco got tired of his antics pretty quick. The CFL didn’t have much time for him, as Montreal and Calgary BOTH but his after shorts stays due to his attitude.

The sad thing is that this can’t end well. People have given Phillips second, third, fourth and many more chances just due to his talent. Now no one wants him around….and he must sell the only things he has to show for the best years of his life for a measly $20.

Cincinnati Is NOT The Top College Hoops Town

The Sporting News selected Cincinnati as the best college hoops town.


Sure, Cincinnati does have two pretty good programs there. The University of Cincinnati is annually a tournament team and has dominated the Conference USA since it’s inception. Xavier has also dominated its conference, is a constant in the tournament, and made an Elite 8 run last year.

But, neither school plays in a high profile conference yet. Next year, Cincinnati joins the Big East…which boasts the past two National Champions Syracuse and Connecticut. They also have solid programs at Seton Hall, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Pitt and Providence. Xavier plays in a better-than-average conference in the Atlantic 10. But, this isn’t the ACC, Big XII, SEC or Big Ten.

I’d put the #1 spot as the Research Triangle in North Carolina. Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill. NC State, Duke and North Carolina. In those three schools….you have 8 National Championships [Cincy area 2] and 32 Final Fours [Cincy area 6]. That area boasts 2 of the top 4 programs with the most wins. In fact, you could throw Wake Forest into the mix too…since they are in close proximity. Wake, Carolina and Duke will be in the Top 10 to start the season….most likely holding down the #1 and #2 spots. And, if I wanted to be strict about it….it does says “college sports town”. So that must include the women’s teams too. Well, UNC has a National Title and is ranked every year. Duke is a perennial power. NC State has Kate Yow, one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history.

Two interesting comments the Sporting News made was (a) the Cincinnati-Xavier rivalry and (b) the 97% attendance rate for their games. Uh….what college rivalry is better that North Carolina vs. Duke?? During ESPN’s “Rivalry Week”….this is THE most hyped and THE most watched. No disrespect to the Crosstown Shootout….but Carolina/Duke is the best rivalry in college hoops. Also, the 97% capacity. I don’t see many empty seats in the Dean Dome or Cameron Indoor. In fact, is their ANY college atmosphere that can remotely compare to Dook’s Cameron Crazies???

I’d even throw Philadelphia in there. Sure, the city isn’t as relevant to the elitism of college hoops right now….but the Big Five games do draw major city interest and fierce competition. Drexel, La Salle, Penn, St. Joseph’s, Temple….and nearby Villanova make up an intriguing mix. The DC area isn’t bad either with Maryland, Georgetown and George Washington.

Again, no offense….but I think TSN just did this to grab a little attention. Well, I guess it worked.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

August Sucks

August is most likely the worst sports month of the year.

July isn’t that great. But the MLB All Star game is thrown in there with the Tour De France. But August sucks.

What if the Olympics weren’t happening?? How bored would we be?? Heck, maybe that’s why I’ve been watching ping-pong at 3 in the morning. Nothing in the sports world grabs my attention.

August means anticipation. The college football season starts at the end of August….with a full slate starting on September 2nd. One week later, the NFL season begins. All we have now of football is college camps and NFL preseason games featuring guys that will be laying blacktop next week. Heck, I am praying that no one else gets hurt before the season begins. It’s nice to see football on my TV…but it is more of a nuisance than treasure. Nothing real tangible yet

Yeah, the baseball races are heating up. But it isn’t the big stretch run until September. There lies the mad dash for the wildcard berths. Until then, we are only practicing futility by updating the wildcard standings every day. When September hits…and the pretenders start throwing out their farm prospects and the 12 or so teams fighting for the 8 spots start “making trades” on the waiver wires…then the drama will build. Unless you are a fan of a team that is barely sticking in there….there is no reason to get antsy yet.

Yeah, NASCAR is always here. But their new “Race For The Championship” races do not begin until September. Until then, there is just posturing to stay in the top 10 in the points standings. There are some NBA and NHL happenings here and there…but all of the big moves have already been made by now.

August is about injuries. All around sports. NFL injuries from practice or preseason games squash the hopes of fans. I am a Redskin fan…and the Jansen injury has really gotten me. Baseball as well. Ken Griffey, Jr is shutting it down for the season. So is Pat Burrell. Other big name players from teams that are out of it, will elect to just take the rest of the season off by going ahead and taking care of those injury problems.

So….hurry along August. Let’s get ready for some September!!!

The Lame Ducks In NCAA Sports

In two weeks, the NCAA football season gets underway. This will also mark the biggest lame-duck collegiate year in a long, long, long time. Of the 11 Division I football conferences, 7 of them will make membership changes in the next year. Only the SEC, Big Ten, Big XII and Pac-10 are staying put. The MAC loses two members and gains none.

Yes, Miami-FL and Virginia Tech have defected their way out of the Big East and into the ACC this season. All things considered, those two programs are the biggest two that will be moving. Miami is a power in football and baseball. V-Tech is a solid power. But that is just the appetizer. Wait until this time next year.

Boston College sits as the lone lame-duck in the Big East this year…and they already are getting angry. The football people dismiss their program and are still running with Pitt and West Virginia as the favorites. BC itself is whining about the lack of TV exposure in hoops action….even though they should be a pretty solid team this year. That will change when Boston College goes to the TV-magnet ACC. The Eagles wanted out with Miami and V-Tech, but the Big East wouldn’t let them. So they are stuck as traitors to the conference for at least this final season. Also, the state of the ACC will change, as they will begin to hold the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Championship Game that will generate big money for the conference. Not to mention they are still trying to woo Notre Dame.

To take the place of these schools, the Big East will be murdering Conference USA. They will add Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida for all sports and DePaul and Marquette for non-football sports. All of these schools have been solid hoops contributors over the years. The three football schools, however, do not replace what left for the ACC. Those programs have their moments….but nothing BCS-related. What this does is place the Big East as a weak football conference but a huge, excellent basketball conference. It also raises questions about the Big East’s place as a BCS conference. I’d make an argument for the Mountain West being more deserving than the Big East.

So Conference USA is losing those 5 schools. Well, more actually. Charlotte and St. Louis [who’d be the only non-football schools left] will be bolting for the Atlantic 10. Army is going back to its independency in football and TCU is leaving altogether. So 9 schools from the 14 team conference will be leaving. So c’mon down WAC and MAC teams!! UTEP, Rice, Tulsa and SMU will be leaving the WAC for the C-USA. MAC elitist Marshall and Central Florida will be joining as well….leaving the MAC with 12 members. This leaves the football membership to 12 teams…and a possible CUSA championship game. What it also does is make the conference a predominately southern conference….with only Marshall as the outsider. But, it makes it a suspect conference in every sport. Marshall should dominate this conference in football as it did the MAC. Neither UTEP, Rice, SMU or Tulsa are good football programs. Tulane, So. Miss and Memphis remain as the top football schools. Now, in hoops, Tulsa has been a pretty good program. And UTEP is developing into one. Rice is okay…as is Marshall.

TCU, as we said, will join the Mountain West. This puts the MWC at the magic number NINE schools. The shame of it is that TCU has been the high profile team for CUSA over the past few years.  Heck, since the breakup of the Southwest Conference....TCU has been in the WAC, C-USA and now the Mountain West.  Four conferences in the past decade. 

The WAC let go 3 schools from its roster of 10. But they added Sun Belt [in football] stalwarts Utah State and New Mexico State into their conference. Both are solid hoops programs as well. There are rumors of Hawaii possibly wanting to go to the MWC as well….so the WAC is looking at other Sun Belt teams. The Sun Belt has reached down and brought up Florida Atlantic and Florida International to join Troy State as new members.

We mentioned the Atlantic 10. This seems to be becoming one nice little hoops conference. Xavier, Dayton, Temple and St. Joe’s are common tourney teams. Charlotte is one too. Richmond is tough. George Washington has it’s moments. If the A-10 can cut off its dead weight of St. Bonaventure and Fordham….they really can make a name for themselves.

So, you may need a roadmap to figure out who is going where next year in the NCAA. Of course, there could be more changes on the horizon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The Backyard Games Are A-Commin'!!

I’ll admit it. I am a sucker for the Olympics. Every four years, I act like I don’t care about it….then I sit there at 4 am and watching badminton on Bravo.

The Olympics, to me, are pretty funny if you think about it. I categorize the Games in four columns. Mainstream sports, Ancient Olympic sports, popular Ancient Olympic sports, and sports added to the Olympics.

MAINSTREAM OLYMPIC SPORTS include all of the sports the world actually plays. Like soccer, basketball, baseball, tennis, boxing…..even water polo and vollyball. The problem with these sports are that they never are truly representing the culture of those sports. The NBA season is the true test of basketball. The World Cup is the true test of soccer. Would you really see Mike Tyson in these 2004 Olympic Games? The ATP tour is where tennis players earn their keep.

POPULAR ANCIENT OLYMPIC SPORTS are those sports whose origins come from the ancient games…but are still very popular today. Mainly track and swimming. I mean, one of the biggest honors that come out of the Olympics is the “World’s Fastest Man” given to the winner of the 100m race. I mean, what is more primal in sport than ‘who can run the fastest’??

ANCIENT OLYMPIC SPORTS are those that you can tell they originated from a simple time…but no one cares about except for that week that field events happen in the Games. You know…..hammer throw, javelin [stick throwing], shotput [rock throwing], fencing [sword fighting], weightlifting [pick up that big rock], archery [shooting animals], equestrian [look at my perty horsey], etc

SPORTS ADDED TO THE OLYMPICS is a category just as it says. Sports like badminton, handball, ping-pong, etc. Things that aren’t really “sports”.

I’ve said it before. We have these Olympic Games. We have the X Games, who seem to be more at the pulse of what the youth of the world is gearing towards. We even have Outdoor Games that involve cutting down trees and stuff. So why not just have the “Backyard Games”?? Games you can play in anyone’s backyard. Like badminton and ping-pong. You could add dodge ball, tag, “smear the queer”, hopscotch, shuffleboard, water balloon toss, potato sack racing, crochet, lawn darts, Frisbee and “red light, green light” to these Backyard Games. If curling is a winter Olympic event…then why can’t these “sports” make it.

Remember, it is called the Olympic “Games”….not the Olympic “Sports”.

WANTED: Point Guard and Shooter

Where is our point guard?

Jason Kidd declined to play in these Olympics. Not to mention he’s had injury problems this past year.

Gary Payton is old. Mike Bibby declined. Stevie Franchise isn’t there. Neither is Baron Davis. Sam Cassell has a career altering injury. Damon Stoudamire isn’t allowed to travel across national borders.

Tony Parker is French. Steve Nash is Canadian. Carlos Arroyo was on that Puerto Rican team that beat us.

Skip To My Lou a.k.a. Rafer Alston is available. So is Krik Hinrich, Jeff McInnis, Jamaal Tinsley, Mike James, Tony Delk, Jason Hart, Gilbert Arenas, Jason Terry, Tyronne Lue, Andre Miller, Antonio Daniels, Chucky Atkins and Derek Fisher.

Stephon Marbury [Knicks] is in Athens. What about Chauncey Billups?? Ya know…the MVP of the 2004 NBA Finals?? Or White Chocolate, Jason Williams?? If we’re gonna have our guys throw behind-the-back passes during this competition….then let an expert do it.


Odd that these are most of the starting point guards for the 30 teams in the NBA next year. The only one in Athens is Marbury…who functions more as a scoring guard. A lot of the names thrown up here aren’t great distributors either. But Billups has shown an ability to both lead his team, be a tough defender and a pretty good shooter. All things missing from Team USA.

Where are all our shooters?

I know that a Richard Jefferson is considered a popular up-and-coming player. So are some of these other guys. But, a team isn’t just made up of the 12 best players in the NBA. You got to consider what your team needs and work from there.

Anthony Peeler, Brent Barry, Fred Hoiberg, Brian Cardinal, Aaron McKie, Casey Jacobson, Mike Finley. All of these guys were in the top 11 in 3-point shooting last year. None, that I am aware of, were asked to be part of this Olympic team. Of all of the “star” players that were invited to attend, only Ray Allen cracks the top 20.

Stick two of these guys on this team….and it may be a little different story. One thing…if this guy starts hitting…then these foreign teams can’t play zone. If they can’t play zone….then the athleticism of this team can take over. I mean…couldn’t you have two of these guys on the team and dump Emeka Okafur and Shawn Marion??

Monday, August 16, 2004

Historic Basketball Loss

I know this isn’t a maverick take…..but Team USA’s loss to Puerto Rico in the preliminary round of the Olympic Men’s Basketball tournament is downright embarrassing.

Think about the historical nature of this loss. In Olympic history…the United States have only lost TWICE in men’s hoops action. The first one is the disputed and controversial gold medal game of 1972...where the Soviets had 3 chances to make a last second shot. Those silver medals still sit in a vault in Sweden. The other loss was in 1988 to the Soviet Union in the semifinals….leaving the USA to have to win their next game to claim the bronze. Because of that game…the NBA players were allowed to play for their country. Before this loss yesterday, the closest the USA with NBA players had ever gotten to losing an Olympic Game was in Sydney in 2000 when a last second heave by Lithuania almost ended the American’s reign in hoops. In 2002, in the World Championships, USA teams with NBA players lost THREE times….in Indianapolis!!!!

Then last night, they lost by 19. To Puerto Rico. And the USA were never in that game. Never.

I think most in the basketball community….and just fans…could accept this loss a little better if it was to Serbia or Russia or Spain or Argentina. Not Puerto Rico. No offense to Puerto Rico….but they’ve been the 2nd best team in North America over the past 20 years an no one knows it because they lagged waaaaaaay behind America for #1. And in every tune-up or CONCAF game, the USA ends up slaughtering the Puerto Ricans in the Finals or what-not. But in the same tone…if some small little country was going to pull of this upset….why not Puerto Rico? It is certainly better than Italy. They are considered the “51st State”….and US Olympian Carmelo Anthony was eligible to play for that team since his dad is a citizen.

Now, I’m not the “ugly American” and only root for us if we’re going to win. Not true. I am one of those people that believe that the players around the World are getting much, much better and their teams are constructed much better. Back in the day, these foreign teams were much too robotic and un-athletic that we could just run around, over and thru them to score. Their big men rather shoot jumpers that bang on the inside against Ewing, Robinson, Malone, Shaq, Barkley, etc. Now it is different. They’ve adjusted and improved on their games. It isn’t so much as we have to play the worst game ever in order to lose. Sure, we gotta play bad…..but these guys can BEAT us.

ESPN has made the big declaration that this USA team is “flawed”. Well….duh. There really is no true point guard out there. Yeah, Marbury and Wade play the point for their teams….but they are mostly scoring guards whose main purpose isn’t to distribute. Also, this team, unlike past Olympic years, is pretty small. Only Duncan is the true big man out there. Plus, as is evidenced by the 3-for-24 shooting from behind the arc….and the 35% overall shooting….we can’t shoot. Heck, they missed SIXTEEN 3’s in a row at one point. And, do ya think that the rest of the world is gonna zone out Duncan and let everyone gun for the next week or two????

I won’t put the blame of this loss on any one player….but I will say that Richard Jefferson doesn’t belong out there. I’ve watched quite a bit of this team play so far….and Jefferson shoots, and misses, a lot of 3’s. Two of his shots hit the side of the backboard. Tim Duncan is doing all he can….but he’s the only big man out there and everyone is sagging in on him. USA did dominate on the boards….but that means nothing if you can’t put the ball in the hoop.

And for the roster….have no one but USA Basketball and the NBA to blame. I made a Journal Entry a little bit ago blasting the fact that they get this team together in mid-July to be ready for mid-August. That’s insane. Sure, the NBA postseason barely allows time for the team to get together quicker. Well, then just take players off of teams that seasons ended by the 1st round of the NBA playoffs…and maybe add a few of the great players that advance [like Duncan] later to the practice. Iverson and LeBron’s seasons ended in April. Carmelo’s ended a week later. Get more NBA teammates on the USA team. Guys that have played together before.

How about getting more veteran players?? Think about it….Wade, Anthony and James were all rookies last year. Boozer just finished his 2nd season. Jefferson, Okafur hasn’t played an NBA game yet. Allen Iverson is the oldest vet….and is just an 8-year vet [if you don‘t count his “professional career“ at G‘town]. And he had the best quote about the Puerto Rican team, “They play the game like it is supposed to be played. It‘s good for the kids to see how the game is supposed to be played”. Wow. So what are the kids watching during the 4 years between Olympics?? Your selfish play.

But, that’s all for the future. This is our 2004 Olympic Team. And there are no more “wake-up calls” and “angering the beast” takes….because it is VERY obvious that this team cannot turn it on and decide that it will win.

This is a tournament, boys.

Friday, August 13, 2004

We Are Fam-i-ly!!!

Major League Baseball is patting itself on the back for going 10 years without a strike or a lockout.


Actually, they say “labor peace”…which is a lie. Even though the games are played….the same ol’ garbage gets dragged thru the streets. The owners gripe about players salaries. When the owners try to keep salaries down…the players cry ‘collusion’. Then owners are looking to contract teams just a few years after adding two teams. Neither side trusts the other.

The modern era of strikes began in 1972 when the players sat out the first 13 days of the season because of pensions. The very next off season, the owners locked the players out because of salary arbitration. There were more pre-season lockouts in 1976 and 1980. We all remember the split season of 1981 where 712 games were lost. There were mini-strikes in 1985 and 1990 before the mother of all labor problems. The 1994 strike started on August 12 and lasted until next March. That meant 920 games lost and the cancellation of the World Series. I don’t care what your stance is….but that is something that can NEVER be apologized for. Those moments are black eyes on the sport of baseball. Remember, the 2002 season was hours away from being interrupted before the MLBPA and MLB struck a deal. And that deadline, August 30th, was just two weeks before the 1st anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11th…..in which baseball was instrumental at getting people back into the flow of things.

And don’t think this is just today’s modern selfish athlete doing this. The first instance of labor problems happened in the 90s…..the 1890s. In 1890, the players revolted against the owners….who they claimed were high-handed and monopolistic. Those owners wanted….*gasp*…a cap on salaries.

When the current deal expires….all of the problems that were swept under the rug in 2002 will re-emerge. Plus, I’m sure the topic of steroids will be revisited as well. You have revenue sharing and luxury taxes that are still imperfect. The dreaded “salary cap” will come up too.

Not to mention, the actual state of the game isn’t what it once was. Despite what people may tell you….it is the NFL that is America’s Game. There still is a problem with the Yankees spending $200M in payroll and other teams spending $30M. And if baseball was such a great commodity, then why has it taken 4 years to find a home for the Montreal Expos??

Also, the old “we have money issues so if we throw up a new stadium…it can buy us some time” line has gotten rather stale. While it worked in the early-to-mid 90s….it hasn’t really done much for Brewers, Reds and Pirates. Heck, you have the New York Yankees trying to get out of Yankee Stadium….the American version of The Coliseum.

I just think that the reason baseball is patting itself on the back….is because it is looking for a knife.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Olympics Triplecast!!!

The Athens Games begin in two days and I hope they go off without a hitch. And, every Olympic time makes me think back to 1992. No, not because of the Dream Team. Well….kinda because of the Dream Team. But because of NBC’s “Olympics Triplecast”.

I was 17 years old when the Barcelona Games started….so I spent pretty much the entire two weeks glued to the TV. No job….summer vacation. All set.

The concept was actually quite brilliant. There were three channels. Red, white and blue. The blue network turned into my favorite. During the first week….it was all swimming all of the time. The second week was all track and field events. The white channel had gymnastics, boxing, rowing, equestrian and all of the other minor sports. The red channel had many of the team sports….like basketball, baseball, volleyball, water polo, handball, etc.

And it went in a 12-hour cycle. From 5am to 5pm [Eastern time], it was live events. From 5pm to 5am…it was an exact replay.

Why did I like it so much?? Well, it was about the sports and events….not just “America” and the medal rounds. During the swimming events…I saw all of the heats and the medal races. I saw many boxing and Greco-roman wrestling matches. Those three channels went wall-to-wall with their coverage of everything contained in the Olympics….not just what NBC wanted us to see. No commercials, since it was PPV. I loved the idea. On the red channel…Chick Hearn was the voice of basketball. And as a Laker fan, this was the first time I got to see and hear Chick call a game.

And those Olympics were important. Not only was the Dream Team competing for the first time….but you had Germany competing together for the first time since 1964 and the former Soviet Union competing as the “Unified Team”.

Well…NBC took it in the wallet for that…and it hasn’t been around since. Which is a shame. Since that point on….I really became enamored with the swimming, weightlifting and water polo sports….something I could care less about beforehand. But with NBC out of the major pro sports market in America [with the exception of NASCAR]….you’d figure they really try to lay out there as much Athens coverage as possible.

NBC will broadcast tape-delay events. MSNBC will have live coverage. Bravo, CNBC and USA Network will also share in on the coverage. But will it be wall-to-wall or just selected events??

Either way…let the games begin!!!

Shut Up, Barry Bonds!

Ya know….I’m not one of those guys that hates Barry Bonds. I actually root for him. Despite him being a jerk, and a [alleged] steroid user and for a team I really never liked….I root for him. He has the single season home run record and is chasing down Ruth and Aaron for the All Time HR mark. Now, I am 29 years old….so I never saw Aaron or Ruth play….and Bonds, to me, is the biggest and best player in my lifetime. Remember, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle all had their character flaws, too.

But being great and flawed doesn’t give you the right to be stupid. Here is a classic Barry Bonds quote just made two days ago:

“Walking is harder than hitting because you are on your feet all day. I never sit down. I’d go on the bases, stand up, go get my glove and stand out there, except for a few minutes, go and hit, grab my glove, run a base, score, whatever, grab my glove, go out there. That’s hard. That’s not easy. Let somebody do that and see how it feels.”

Um…..I’ll do it!! Pay me $17M this year to “stand around” all day and I think I could manage. Heck, pay me for a year what you make in a week….and I’ll stand there, Barry. C’mon Barry….you can’t be that dumb!!

Ask a waitress if she would like to “see how it feels”, Barry. Or ask a construction worker. Or a salesman. Or a factory worker. Or a janitor. Or a fireman. Or a soldier. Or…pretty much anyone else in the world. I’d be willing to bet that 99% of the world’s population would love to switch lives with you Mr. Bonds. Most of the people I just named, barely make enough money to buy their family baseball tickets and get to go see you “suffer” standing in the outfield.

It must suck to be admired by so many kids….whose parents are away working to support them.

Look. I don’t need a “I’m so lucky to be a ballplayer” statement from you or anyone. But, I also don’t need someone who has never had to really work hard to make ends meet decide that their high-paying-standing-job is so hard on them.

Shut up.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The End Of The KINGS Reign??


The Kings may have blown it.  Their Mighty Pacific Division Dynasty may be crumbling before our eyes.

Over the past 4 seasons….they have won two Pacific Division titles and let a third one get away with a Kobe Bryant Hail Mary in Portland. They were winning in the 4th quarter of Game 7 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. They currently house the NBA’s second leading scorer. Yet, this franchise is at a cross roads.

The thing that the Sacramento Kings have hung their hat on over the past 5 years is their “team chemistry”. These guys love each other. The fans love them. They love the fans. Everyone is in love. Well, a breakup is looming. No one likes each other…and just as the Lakers are in a state of transition after their 4-Finals-in-5-years Era….the Kings and their role as the Wile E. Coyote are nearing the cliff as well.

The Maloofs, the Sigfreid and Roy look-a-likes who own the Kings, walked out of a stadium deal [btw, this would be their 3rd arena in 20 years in Sacramento]. I don’t care how much a city loves it’s team’s owners….stadium deals tend to get ugly and feelings tend to get hurt. Just ask Art Modell, George Shinn, Georgia Frontiere, etc. There is some speculation that they may be shopping around the other cities. Hmm…Vegas anyone?? Also, it seems that they aren’t willing to pony up money to keep their “deep bench” together. They let Jimmy Jackson walk….dealt Hedo…and let Vlade go. They have made it known they want NO part of the luxury tax…so scaling back payroll is on their minds.

Now the guys who actually wear the uniforms. Chris Webber ripped into the team after having one of his worst years in his career. It is someone else’s fault….but he’s not naming names. Webber was himself ripped when he came back from injury….since the Kings were a lot better record-wise with him out. Of course, C-Webb always goes on this kind of tirade every few years…and the seeds for this were planted when he actually wanted out in free agency a few years back but no one else would pay him top dollar.

C-Webb likes Mike Bibby……but wasn’t too cool with the Euros. Many feel Webber’s remarks are directed at Peja. Vlade Divac got out of town to the Hated Lakers. Yeah…the Lakers, to Vlade, seemed like a more stable situation than the Kings. Wow. Now, with Vlade out, Peja wants out too.

Peja is going no where….since he is the future of that franchise and a relatively cheap superstar. The fact of the matter is….Webber is more likely to be dealt, but the Kings aren’t going to get what they think they should get in any Webber deal. The guy is very injury-prone….and attitude. Damaged goods. But, hard feelings are hard feelings….and the team he knows may not be the same over the next few years. So the team may be better off breaking him off now than later when he absolutely alienates himself.

And then there is Bobby Jackson. Many felt that B-Jax should have tried to play in the playoffs instead of sitting out with his injury. And in all of this Peja mud-slinging….he’s taken the “deal Peja” stance. Odd…since there are rumors he wants out as well.

Rick Adelman held onto his job…..barely. Most people after the season believed some new leadership was needed. He did one heck of a job having the team in the position they were in for 2/3 of the season….until his decision to let Webber back in to get ready for a playoff run. Of course, the funny thing is Mrs. Doug Christie is all of the sudden unhappy in Sacto…which means Mr. Mrs. Christie is unhappy then, too. Plus he is aging and may not have too much left. Gerald Wallace, a bright young player that just was caught in a logjam in Sacramento…was picked up by the Charlotte Bobcats in the expansion draft.

And the sad thing is [well, not to me] that for all of this that the team has been over the past seasons in the Kings Dynasty….they never won a title….they never won the Western Conference….they’ve only BEEN to ONE Western Conference Finals. And if the team starts to trend downward….what will happen with their fan base? I’m sorry…but in sports history….usually a new fan base that has its first success tends to back off when the team starts heading downward. Look at Miami. Look at Charlotte. Maybe Sacto is like Salt Lake….and they’ll be there no matter what the team does because that’s all they got. Maybe they’ll get a little heartbroken and won’t be so hot-and-heavy for the Kings anymore. I don’t see the Kings totally imploding their team and starting over. But, there needs to be some pretty large changes for the team to get back to elite status.

Heck, the Kings may be in Las Vegas by then.

Monday, August 9, 2004

Who's Next??

Now that we have Barry Sanders and John Elway locked into the Hall Of Fame….WHO’S NEXT!?!?

Well…there are two guys that seem to be the Class of 2005’s…..uh…..class.

Dan Marino, who pretty much owns every passing record, will be red-carpeted in. He threw for 10,000 more yards than Elway [who’s 2nd all-time], 78 more TD than Tarkenton [who’s 2nd all-time] and is 6th all-time in passing efficiency.

The all-time efficient passer will also be on that ballot. Steve Young. Not all of Young’s numbers zing out at you….but some do. Despite riding the pine behind Joe Montana for a few years, he still has more TD passes than Bradshaw. But he has less than Vinny Testeverde and Dave Krieg….and just a few more than Randall Cunningham and Jim Everett. But, those 232 touchdowns along with the 33,124 yards and 64.3% completion rate should make him a solid lock for the Hall Of Fame.

After those two….it gets iffy. Michael Irvin has a good shot. He is 12th all time in receptions [with half as many as Rice] and almost 12,000 yards and 65 touchdowns. All that plus his 3 Super Bowl rings will get him in sometime….if not in 2005. Remember Lynn Swann. You also have three defensive players that will be on the ballot. Charles Haley, who has 5 Super Bowl rings, has a better than average shot. So does Kevin Greene and the late Derrick Thomas if the Hall looks at their sack numbers.

Beyond 2005, you will have Reggie White, Troy Aikman, Deion Sanders, Warren Moon, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed out there for 2006. ALL deserve to be in the Hall….but possibly only Moon, White and Sanders get in on the first ballot. But all of them deserve to be there…..possibly in a light class on 2007, where Bruce Matthews looks to be the only first year lock.

In 2008, Darrell Green and Chris Carter will go in. Carter may have some difficulty due to his early career problems….but the way he battled thru that may be the feather in his cap after the Hall took some heat over Lawrence Taylor. Randall Cunningham could have a case….and some people are on the Terrell Davis bandwagon [I’m not]. In 2009, it will be Bruce Smith’s coronation…with Gary Anderson coming close.

Our Olympic Basketball Team

Soon, the USA Men’s Basketball Team will play a game that matters.


You read that right….”USA Men’s Basketball Team” or “Team USA“. It hasn’t been called that since the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. Over the past 3 Olympic Games [Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney] they were called “Dream Teams”. Well…this team isn’t a dream team anymore.

And it isn’t the USA’s fault. They had RSVPs from the NBA’s elite. Of course, most backed out at the last minute….leaving the team with many B-level stars. It was not long ago that the US Team was embarrassed in Indianapolis [yeah…our home country] with at 6th place finish in the World Championships. And that rallied the troops. Everyone was gonna be on that next team. Well, on paper…for a while…they were. Then people have other concerns and the team gets thinner.

I’d like to think that if the NBA’s best were on Team USA….you may be able to call it a Dream Team. Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal, Kevin Garnett and Steve Francis joining Tim Duncan, LeBron James and Allen Iverson. Pretty nice team.

But the first 6 guys on that list aren’t there….so you have guys like Richard Jefferson, Amare Stoudamire and Carlos Boozer.

Not to mention, we have NO true center nor do we have a true point guard. The two most important positions in basketball….and we are weak in both areas.


Why does this team struggle?? Well, many reasons. First, we all know that the American players lack fundamentals….which is what Europe bases their games on. They move the ball around with passes. We try to break our defender down off the dribble. I mean, during the Tour…how many high-low passes have you seen from the Euro teams??? About a hundred??

Now, in my “Disappointment” section….I mentioned that we have our B-list stars out there. Those guys still are better than a team with Mehmet Okur and a bunch of nobodies. Talent-wise….our guys are superior. But they are a better team. That play as a team…together. Our team is set up like an All Star team. Just go out there and look pretty.

Well…these guys have played together for years. They went to that basketball camps as kids and learned the game together. It’s like a buddy of yours that you play alongside in a pickup game. Both of you know each others likes and tendencies.

Our ball movement is bad….and the outside shooting is worse. So teams sit in zones….which really hurts us. I’ve seen Richard Jefferson bricking up tons of 3s already.

One thing I’ve been proposing is making the US Olympic team up of players who were on teams that MISSED the playoffs….or were knocked out in the first round. Get the team selected in mid-May…then set a time in mid-June that they can start getting together and at least start practicing. Yeah, we’d miss out on Kobe and KG still….but we’d have some good talent still there and lots of time to get them on the same page. I mean, Iverson, James, Brand, Stoudamire, Marion, Ray Allen, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Boozer all missed the playoffs. Guys like Anthony, Francis, Pierce, Marbury, Baron Davis and Michael Redd were all ousted in the 1st round. Get ‘em together earlier and have them start practicing.


Now…after I said all of that…realize that this is a GOOD THING that USA Basketball isn’t as dominant as it once was. The entire reason the Dream Team was established has been a rousing success. I mean…instead of seeing some 60 point killing….we now get a competitive game.

Sure….some of it has to do with the level of talent on the USA team. But there are many, many NBA players on these other countries’ teams that just weren’t there back in 1992. Really, only Marcilonus, Divac and Radja had any NBA experience. Then came Sabonis and Kukoc. Now….most Olympic teams have an NBA player on their team. But, you’d figure a team of 12 NBA players would fare better than a team with 1 or maybe 2.

Sunday, August 8, 2004

Dog Days Ditties

*Roger Clemens was thrown out of his son’s youth league baseball game for arguing a call. Word is he contested a call against his son’s team, approached the umpire, and spit sunflower seeds in his face. Clemens was thrown out of the park. Wow. I guess this is what he meant by “spending time with his kids” when he “retired” from the Yankees last year.

*Is there any pro franchise with worse luck right now than the Miami Dolphins?? First, another tank job in the late season. Second, hiring Dan Marino as a….uh….well….as “Dan Marino”. In the process, stabbing your head coach and former GM in the back. Then Marino quitting after everyone joked about him being a figure head. Then…still retaining Wannedstadt….albeit on quite a tight leash. Then, a week before camp opens….Ricky Williams quits. So, now David Boston….their big acquisition….tears up his knee in practice and is out for the season. Maybe he can pull a Pat Riley and “retire” a week before the season starts.

*Is the new Cubs’ double play combo of Nomar Garicaparra and Mark Grudzielanek have the longest combined name ever??

*I think Florida did an excellent job at the trading deadline. They got pitchers Rudy Seanez, Ismael Valdez and Guillermo Mota. Mota and Seanez could give them the late season push that Ugi Urbina did last year. They got Juan Encarnacian back to be a pitch hitter….and Paul Lo Duca as their catcher. He’s not as offensively gifted as Pudge was….but he is a leader, and may be the best catcher in the National League.

*As for the favorites to get to the World Series….I think the Cubs are back in the fray. Yeah, the Cards added Walker [and, boy is that lineup stacked] and other teams added some bats just like the Cubs…..but the Cubs have the better pitching staff, if healthy.

*The Dodgers let Piazza go…and the Mets now got him. No, I’m not a few years behind. The New York Mets acquired Tommy Piazza from the Los Angeles Dodgers and assigned him to the Gulf Coast League. Tommy is Mike Piazza’s 22-year old brother.

*Congrats to John Elway and Barry Sanders for the Hall Of Fame inductions.

Saturday, August 7, 2004

Sending Payton Packing

I really like this trade.

The Lakers traded Gary Payton and Rick Fox to the Boston Celtics for Chucky Atkins, Chris Mihm and Marcus Banks.

The deal ended Payton's tumultuous one year experiment in the purple and gold.  Needless to say, it wasn't very successful.  I will say this....while Kobe, Shaq and Karl were all out due to injuries, Gary was there playing.  But, his attitude and his eroding skills just didn't make Payton viable in the New Laker Era. 

Yes, Rick Fox was traded....but he wasn't really.  Fox won't suit up for Boston.  Not only does he want to retire a Laker....but he left Boston for LA on not the best of terms.  Foxy's body has fallen apart and he isn't the player he was just 2-3 years ago.  So he will probably hang it up....just as he would of anyways.

Which brings me to this:  What is Danny Ainge thinking?  He traded for Fox....who won't play there.....and traded for Payton, who showed last year that he really isn't that good anymore.  Also, Payton will be off the books next year.  So, Ainge traded two young guys for two old guys who won't be there long.  If it was for the cap room....I'd understand.  But it really didn't do that much.

As for the guys we are getting....well,....  The deal does add athleticsm, which has been something LA has been lacking.  Atkins can push the ball up the floor pretty well.  Banks is a young guy learning his way into the league.  Mihm is a big body who can block shots and play well around the basket.   But to give up a guy that will most likely retire and a guy you really didn't want anymore for 3 guys who can contribure something now is quite impressive.

And, no, I don't really see this as a set up to get Kidd.  Yeah, you could point to the fact that they could package Butler, Cook and Banks/Atkins for Kidd.  But, I don't see Jersey biting for that.  So I really feel that this is our squad this fall [aside from what Malone decides].

Anyways....great job Mitch!!

Thursday, August 5, 2004

"I Want Some Crack!!!"

Tony Montana would be proud.

Quincy Carter was fired today from the Dallas Cowboys for [allegedly] failing a drug test. WHAT!?!?!  A Cowboy on drugs?  NO!  And that drug is rumored to be cocaine.  NO!  There was other news that broke stating that Carter was in rehab during the past year.  GET OUTTA HERE!

I have always had this joke where I explain that the reason the Cowboys use artificial turf at Texas Stadium is because the Cowboys would smoke the real grass and sniff up the white lines off of the field.  It is unreal how one franchise can have THIS much drug use going on.  And not just like an isolated period of time.....the entire life of the franchise.

Michael Irvin was arrested in 2000 for possession of cocaine. Peppi Zellner was arrested for crack cocaine last year. Nate Newton was arrested for transporting cocaine. Leon Lett was a repeated offender of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Bob Hayes served 6 months for cocaine trafficking. Harvey Martin was jailed on cocaine charges. Lance Rentzal. Thomas Henderson. Clayton Holmes. Mark Tunei.

Nate Newton, the anchor on the mid-90s Cowboy O-lines, got caught moving a van full of the hippie lettuce.  A while awaiting trial....he got busted AGAIN!!  This wasn't just some backup player, he was an All Pro.

I mean….isn’t that why Michael Irvin really retired?? His probation stated that he couldn’t cohort with known felons. So he had to leave the Cowboys. Johnny Cochran is their “Defense Coordinator”. 

I know….I know…no team is exempt from this kind of thing. Heck, my beloved Redskins signed away Zellner and we were the home of Dexter Manley....who couldn't read his name and has battled drug abuse since...well the 5th grade.  Fellow NFC East rival New York had Lawrence Taylor.  The Carolina Panthers had Rae Curruth. And so on and so on.

But, you gotta admit that the Cowboys sure have stepped up their game as far as drug busts go.  And not just drugs.  Drunk driving, statutory rape, parties with "crack whores", etc.  But drugs is where they make their name. 

And it is pretty bad when the Cowboys fire you because of your drug abuse.  And, in the light of Ricky Williams' admission of quitting football for a life on the road following Phish on tour, the NFL really didn't need this.  A basehead as the QB of "America's Team".  DONT MESS WITH TEXAS!!!   

At least the Pot-land Trailblazers are glad that the heat is off them for a moment.

Well...at least until NBA camps open.  Watch out nannies!

Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Pete Can Repeat

USC and LSU enter this college football season as defending National Champions. USC handled Michigan in the Rose Bowl to win the Associated Press National Championship. LSU manhandled Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl to win the BCS [aka Coaches] Championship. It sure would have been nice to see these two play and settle who’s the best of 2003.

But that was last year. Which one of these schools has a good shot at repeating their championship season? USC? LSU?

I’ll take Pete Carroll’s USC Trojans.

USC’s offense is still formidable. Matt Leinart will be a Heisman trophy candidate from the start. I mean, they lose a Heisman winning QB in Carson Palmer, THEN go and win a championship. They did lose Kevin Colbert at the receiver spot….and who knows where Mike Williams stands. Those are just two of the 10 starters that the Trojans must replace.

For LSU, they will have to break in a new QB. Matt Mauck is gone…and it isn’t clear who his heir will be. But, as USC showed last year….you can lose a great QB and still go on to great things. The Tigers are a running team anyways, led by Justin Vincent and Joseph Addai. The defense, the strength of this team last year, should be the strength again this year. If they can get the young guys to step up on the D-line…then they could be back in the title hunt.

Of course, it isn’t always how good you are….sometimes it is your schedule. USC’s relatively easy schedule is what kept them out of N’Awlins last year. Well, it is a little tougher this year. There non-conference schedule does include a game against Virginia Tech in FedEx Field near Washington, DC…and a date at BYU and hosting Colorado State. And you always have that Notre Dame game. But the Pac-10 sked is pretty manageable. They don’t have to play Oregon this year…and have Cal at home. The biggest conference test will most likely be in Pullman against Washington State…then the next Saturday at Oregon State. If the wade thru that part of the schedule unscathed, they should run out the rest of the Pac 10. And remember, the Pac-10 doesn’t hold a conference championship game.

The SEC does….and that’s not all the SEC will hand the LSU Tigers. That LSU schedule is a doozy! The good news is that they only play 4 games away from Baton Rouge. The bad news is that those games are against Auburn, Georgia, Florida and Arkansas. Georgia is also in the hunt for the National Championship…and should be playing the Tigers in the SEC Championship Game. That means that LSU will most likely have to beat Georgia TWICE to even get to the BCS title game. If LSU can navigate thru the first half of the schedule…they should have an easy time with the second half. Troy State, Vandy, Bama and Ole Miss before the final game against Arkansas.

So, USC has an easier schedule and one less game to navigate thru. So, I’ll take them as the team more likely to repeat their championship season. Of course, look out for Georgia, Miami, Oklahoma and Florida State to try to keep that from happening.


It is simply amazing how players are viewed by the public and media.

I recently posted an entry on whether or not Barry Larkin deserves to be in the Baseball Hall Of Fame. If you look at his stats…he probably is not. That then brings up Fred McGriff, Rafael Palmeiro, Jose Canseco and others. I also talked about how Mike Tyson, though one of the most feared men of his time, really didn’t have that great of a heavyweight career.

It is funny, however, the amount of admiration certain athletes get for whatever reason.

Joe Namath is one of the most famous players in NFL history. His waving his finger as he ran into the tunnel after winning Super Bowl III is one of the most known images in all of sports. And because of that…and the fact he did that in New York….he is in the Hall Of Fame. I mean, after that magical 1969 season….Namath never led his team to a winning record again. He threw 173 touchdowns and 220 interceptions. His 50% completion percentage is rather low as well. Yet, he is one of the best known Hall Of Famers. Using Joe Namath as a measuring stick….then Kurt Warner should be a shoo-in for the Hall as well. Just like Namath, you could argue that Warner had just as dominant a 3-year stretch as Namath…and Warner went to TWO Super Bowls and had TWO league MVPs.

Lynn Swan is also in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. He was a Pro Bowler only 3 times in only nine seasons. He caught less than 350 catches….Art Monk, who can’t get into the HOF, has over 900 catches. He is not in the top 50 of any major career category for receivers. Yet he’s a Hall Of Famer.

Two of my biggest NBA gripes are Bill Walton and Pete Maravich. Yeah, both guys had their careers cut short by injury. Walton holds career averages of 13.3 pts and 10.5 reb. His top scoring output was 18.9 ppg in only 58 games in 1978.…his last in Portland. From there, his production drastically declined…and he only averaged 46.8 games per season….and only ONCE playing more than 67 games in a season. Pistol Pete’s career averages are much better. He averaged 24.2 pts over his career. But he played on bad Hawks and Jazz teams.

Pete Rose was one of my favorite ballplayers. He does own the all time hits record and #4192 will always be remembered in my heart. But, that’s the only thing he was better at Ty Cobb hitting-wise. For being dubbed “the hit king”….his career average was only .303. Cobb owned a .366 average. His best RBI season was 82. Yeah, I know….he led off a lot….but he only had 198 lifetime steals. Cobb had over 4 times as many steals and 7 seasons where he had 100+ RBIs.