Monday, August 31, 2009

NFL Teams That Could Surprise

We all take this time to do our best effort to try and predict what will happen during the upcoming NFL season. Sure, we'll get a few of the playoff teams correct and may pull the Super Bowl winner out of our bottoms but we mainly fall flat on our faces.

Didn't a ton of people have the Cowboys in the Super Bowl at this time last year? How many had the Cardinals there? How many had the Falcons or Ravens in the playoffs? Who predicted that the 1-15 Dolphins would go on to win the AFC East?

That's my point.

So here is a look at a few of the teams that could turn into this year's version of the Dolphins, Falcons or Ravens. They are only teams that had double-digit losses last year.

GREEN BAY PACKERS (6-10): I am an Aaron Rodgers fan and I've also agreed with their stand with Brett Favre. I like the tools they have on offense especially if Ryan Grant can build on his strong finish. The defense will be the thing that could make or break them. Oh, and the fact that Favre is now in Minnesota could actually be a rallying point for the Cheeseheads.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (4-12): Injuries just destroyed the Seahawks last year. Now Matt Hasselbeck is back and they've added T.J. Houshmandzadeh to the mix. If Julius Jones can take over the running duties, the offense has some talent. Their defense isn't as bad as it showed last year either. This is a team that is used to winning so they will be quick to leave that bad taste of '08 out of their mouth. Seattle also plays in a very weak division that can be had.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (5-11): I'm not sold on them, but there are some people in the NFL that thinks they can make a move this year.

ST LOUIS RAMS (2-14): This is swinging for the fences but the Rams could make a dent this year. People think that Steven Jackson will explode for another big season and Marc Bulger is coming off an injury plagued 2008. Teams seem to get an uplift when drafting a franchise tackle near the top of the draft (Rams just did that). Just like with Seattle, the NFC West is there for the taking.

Categorizing the NFL Quarterback Situations

THE FRANCHISE GUYS: Peyton Manning (Colts), Tom Brady (Patriots), Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers), Eli Manning (Giants), Drew Brees (Saints). Duh on Peyton and Brady. Big Ben has two rings and fits his team perfectly. If only he could be a winner off the field too. Even if you don't think Eli is a true franchise guy, he's getting paid like it so he's in the club. When you put up a season like Brees had last year, you're also in.

THE COULD-BE FRANCHISE GUYS: Philip Rivers (Chargers), Tony Romo (Cowboys), Jay Cutler (Bears), Matt Ryan (Falcons). Rivers is on the cusp of greatness. Romo is the Cowboys' guy but he needs to take a few more steps ... like winning a playoff game ... before we all believe in him. Cutler is in sort of the same boat. He had a great season but is now moving to a team that doesn't have a good history of QBs. Ryan had a fantastic rookie season and has the look of a guy who will do great things in this league.

OLD GUY HOLDING OFF THE YOUGIN': Kurt Warner (Cardinals), Kerry Collins (Titans). Brett Favre (Vikings). Warner and Collins are weary vets who are starting in place of immature 2006 draftees. I'm not putting Favre into the "self-inflicted controversy" category because there is no way in Hades that they'll bench Favre in favor of Tarvares Jackson or Sage Rosenfelds.

ON THEIR WAY: Aaron Rodgers (Packers), Matt Schaub (Texans). Lost in this whole Brett Favre saga was the fact that Rodgers played pretty darn well last season for the Packers. He's also been tearing up the preseason. Houston has something if Schaub can stay healthy.

THE CHAD PENNINGTON CATEGORY: Chad Pennington (Dolphins). Is this the year he's supposed to get hurt?

INTO THE FUTURE: Mark Sanchez (Jets), Joe Flacco (Ravens), Trent Edwards (Bills), Matt Cassel (Chiefs). Sanchez, unlike Matthew Stafford, starts as a rookie QB. Good luck, young man! Flacco, to me, isn't in Ryan's status yet. Neither is Cassel, even though he's now making a lot of jack in KC. Is it more the Pats' system or that he's that good?

COMING BACK FROM THE DEAD: Matt Hasselbeck (Seahawks), Carson Palmer (Bengals). Remember ol' Matt Hasselbeck? He's coming off an injury plagued season and now doesn't have Mike Holmgren around to get him going. Palmer was one of the NFL's rising QBs before blowing out his knee in a playoff loss in 2005. After a string of injuries, he says he's healthy.

YOU BETTER BRING IT: Jason Campbell (Redskins), Jake Delhomme (Panthers), Marc Bulger (Rams), David Garrard (Jaguars), Jamarcus Russell (Raiders). Campbell is in a contract year and the Redskins made no secret that they were looking elsewhere for their QB of the future. His future in D.C. and the NFL hinges on what kind of season he has this year. Jake Delhomme left a bad taste in everyone's mouth when he had as bad a game as you could possibly have in the divisional round of the playoffs last year. Though there is really no one to push him out, he's grown out of favor with the locals. Bulger isn't the fantasy darling he once was. Unless he gives them a reason to keep him, St. Louis could be looking at replacing him soon. It still baffles me that Garrard is a starting QB. This is the year that Russell needs to show us that he may actually be getting it ... or if he is David Carr and Alex Smith rolled into one.

SELF INFLICTED QB CONTROVERSY: Donovan McNabb (Eagles). This Michael Vick experiment will get very interesting during that one stretch of the season that McNabb goes on his cold streak. Will Vick get more snaps then? If so, how does Donovan react?

YOU DON'T HAVE A QUARTERBACK: Byron Leftwich (Buccaneers), Daunte Culpepper (Lions), Shaun Hill (49ers), Brady Quinn (Browns), Kyle Orton (Broncos). Leftwich was a guy that hardly anyone wanted a year ago. Now he's the starter in Tampa? That's what happens when you give away all your QBs and draft a guy who is a project at best. In Detroit, Culpepper ... again another guy no one wanted a year ago ... takes the reigns of a 0-16 franchise. The question is when Matthew Stafford gets the starting gig. If the Niners had all that confidence in Shaun Hill, then why did they start three different guys last year? And why doesn't Cleveland just put their foot down and name Quinn the starter? C'mon! Also, do you expect me to believe that Denver is satisfied with Orton as their man?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Redskins' Greg Blache Overreacts

This little video has been making the rounds all over the internets. It's Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache overreacting to a question asked by a Comcast Sports reporter. Basically it comes down to why the pass rush wasn't getting to Tom Brady early on in the Redskins' 27-24 loss to the Patriots.

From there, Blache gets bent because he's tired of answering the same questions. I can see how that would suck, but everyone who has watched a Redskins game over the past couple years knows that they are one of the worst teams at getting sacks and forcing turnovers. It is a great defense ... even more-so since they don't make any game turning plays.

When I was in high school, we were showed this video of how Disneyland trains their employees. One of the things that I will always take from that is this: The number one question they will be asked during your day will be "Where is the bathroom?". They will hear that a gazillion times and, obviously, it will get old. But remember that just because you heard that question 100 times, the guy who just asked you where the bathroom only asked you once. It's not his fault.

That kind of applies here. I'm sure Blache is tired of answering why his defense can't get pressure on the QB (they did a better job later in the first half) ... but that studio guy wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't ask. Blache may have answered this 10 times in the last week but that guy and the people watching may be hearing it for the first time.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Top QB, RB and WR In Each NFL Division

Just got that new Sporting News the other day and they have their NFL preview. With that, they ask a former coach or G.M. in each division to list their "all-division teams".

It's an interesting exercise (side-note: I've always said to spice up NBA All-Star Weekend back in the day was to have a All Star team from each division ... back when there were only four ... and have them play a two day tournament. The winner would see its regular season champion get home court for the playoffs. I was young when I thought that, but I like the idea of having the divisional All-Star squads).

Obviously I don't agree with all the selections and I'm not going tit-for-tat on every one. I am going to put my stamp on who the best quarterback, running back and wide receiver is in each division.

NFC EAST: Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook and Santana Moss. This is exactly what Jim Fassel had, too. It's amazing that Moss is the best receiver in this division right now. But with no T.O. or Plaxico around, Moss is the guy. I also wanted to push Brandon Jacobs in there instead of Westbrook ... but I just can't.

NFC NORTH: Jay Cutler, Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson. Steve Mariucci had Brett Favre as the best QB in the division. I'm not seeing it, Lloyd. Not right now. In fact, I have him third in this division ... which isn't saying much since Detroit will be starting a rookie. I think Cutler is better right now as is Aaron Rodgers. The other positions aren't disputable.

NFC SOUTH: Drew Brees, Michael Turner and Steve Smith. Agree with Bruce Allen on this. Brees is easily the top QB. Turner gets some heat from D'Angelo Williams but pulls away. And Steve Smith is the biggest game breaker this division has.

NFC WEST: Kurt Warner, Steven Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald. Agree with Mike Martz on this. It's sad that Warner is easily the top dog in this division, but when your competition is Shaun Hill, a gimpy Matt Hasselbeck and a gimpy Marc Bulger that's what happens. Jackson beats out Frank Gore and Fitz beats out fellow Cardinal Anquan Boldin.

AFC EAST: Tom Brady, Ronnie Brown and Randy Moss. Herm Edwards picked Thomas Jones as the running back -- I can't do that. Brown was having an outstanding year in 2007 on a crappy team before injuries ended his season early. Yeah, last year he gained fame for bringing the Wildcat Offense to the NFL but he's still a solid back. Brady and Moss aren't touched here.

AFC NORTH: Ben Roethlisberger, Willie Parker and Hines Ward. All Steelers that were picked by Phil Savage -- a former Browns G.M. You can't really argue this either. Big Ben has two titles. Parker doesn't really have any competition right now. Cedric Benson? Jamal Lewis? Ray Rice? As for Ward, when they make a rule after you then you know you are a difference maker. Ward brings it every year which is why he beats out Chad Ochocinco and Braylon Edwards.

AFC SOUTH: Peyton Manning, Maurice Jones-Drew and Andre Johnson. Manning is a shoo-in here. Jones Drew does get some noise from newbies Chris Johnson and Steve Slaton ... but I want to see them do it in their sophomore year. Andre Johnson just beats out Reggie Wayne.

AFC WEST: Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson and Brandon Marshall. This is tough. Rivers easily is the top quarterback. In the past, LT would be a shoo-in for the running back. He still is when you factor in that Larry Johnson has been M.I.A., Darren McFadden didn't have a glorious rookie campaign and Knowshon Moreno comes into his first season with a bum knee. As for Marshall, I have him beating out Vincent Jackson and Dwayne Bowe because he is the best receiver in the division if he puts his mind to it.

Why is FIU Ducking North Carolina, Anyways?

All this fuss over Florida International getting bent that they have to go and play North Carolina instead of Ohio State just doesn't make sense. I can blame a lot on Isiah Thomas, but I won't blame him for this. Because of that, I don't think that he is ducking the Tar Heels because he doesn't want to start his college career with a blowout loss.

Maybe the university feels that way. Sorry, but I don't see what playing against Ohio State is better than playing North Carolina.

Play either and you're getting blown out.
Play North Carolina and you'll be in front of more faces (that's a good thing).
Play North Carolina and it shows that your program is willing to play the best in the business.
Play North Carolina ... because it is a lot closer to the FIU campus.

Also, FIU needs to shut their trap or the Gazelle Group (which runs several of these early season and holiday tournaments as well as the College Basketball Invitational) may decide to never do business with them again.

FIU's athletic director actually said this:
“Would they do what they’re doing to us to Duke, or to North Carolina? No,”
Um, yes they would. In fact, THEY JUST DID THAT TO NORTH CAROLINA! UNC thought you were playing Ohio State too and were thrown a bit of a loop when you were announced as their first opponent. Would they do that to North Carolina? Yes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What If Brett Favre Was a Woman? Really, ESPN?

(hat tip: Awful Announcing)

ESPN loves several things: Red Sox, Yankees, UNC/Duke, Roger Cossak, "top plays", LeBron James and Brett Favre.

So with all things Brett coming to a close, there needs to be a new angle that hasn't been approached. I know! "What if Brett Favre Was a Woman?"

Of course! Why didn't I think of that! Why didn't I ask what would happen if Brett Favre was a woman? I was working on a "What If Brett Favre Was a Potted Plant" post when I see that Mr. Scoop Jackson already "scooped" me with a better angle.

I thought Brett Favre was a woman! Not being able to make up his mind, wanting to have his career and a family, trying on different outfits to see which one he likes, jumps when a suitor offers him expensive things, crying for apparently no reason, makes decisions with revenge on his mind, high maintenence , craves attention and constantly complaining about his body.

Sportz Assassin's NFL Predictions

I do it every year ... even though I tend to do it wrong. So, after looking at my data set, here is my picks:

1-Giants (12-4)*
2-Eagles (11-5)*
3-Cowboys (11-5)*
4-Redskins (6-10)

I think that the NFC's three best teams reside in this division. So it will be one heck of a battle to sort them out. I think they all get into the playoffs since the NFC East gets to play the AFC West this year and will get a chance at stockpiling some extra wins.

1-Panthers (10-6)*
2-Falcons (8-8)
3-Saints (8-8)
4-Buccaneers (4-12)

This was a tough division to figure out. Carolina's schedule is brutal and I have them getting off to a poor start. I'm not as trusting in Atlanta as everyone else is (I don't think Turner is going to turn in another outstanding season ... just a hunch). I love the Saints offense but loathe their defense. And this is finally the year when Tampa bottoms back out.

1-Vikings (11-5)*
2-Packers (9-7)
3-Bears (8-8)
4-Lions (4-12)

I'm not a big fan of Minnesota bringing in Brett Favre, but the Vikings have a very easy schedule to open up the season. I think they start off hot and then cool off a bit down the stretch. I think the Packers will give them a fight but come up a few wins short. The Lions finally win a few games!

1-Cardinals (10-6)*
2-Seahawks (7-9)
3-Niners (7-9)
4-Rams (4-12)

I think Arizona easily has the best talent in the division. The Rams and Seahawks defenses are poor enough that Kurt Warner and the gang run through the division again. Seattle and San Francisco will attempt to battle for a wildcard spot but just won't have enough balance to do so.

Wildcard: Cowboys over Panthers, Eagles over Cardinals
Divisional: Cowboys over Vikings, Eagles over Giants
NFC Championship: Eagles over Cowboys

1-Patriots (14-2)*
2-Dolphins (8-8)
3-Jets (6-10)
4-Bills (5-11)

After the one-year hiccup with Tom Brady out for pretty much the entire season, New England will be back to their old ways. I think they could actually go undefeated again which would be simply remarkable. There are just a couple games out there that I think could slip them up. The Dolphins regress a bit since the schedule just got tougher and New England getting back on top. The Jets start off slow but build it up as Mark Sanchez and the Rex Ryan defense get rolling in the second half of the season.

1-Colts (12-4)*
2-Titans (12-4)*
3-Texans (6-10)
4-Jaguars (5-11)

I am surprised that I have the Colts winning 12 games, too. But there they are in a fight with the Titans. I guess that's my faith in a healthy Peyton Manning and a Haynesworth-less Tennessee team. Houston gets off to a good start and then flounders. The Jack Del Rio era in Jacksonville will end.

1-Steelers (13-3)*
2-Ravens (11-5)*
3-Bengals (5-11)
4-Browns (4-12)

Pittsburgh with Baltimore tailing them again. These are easily the class of the division and both have a good shot at getting to Miami for the Super Bowl. The Bengals will be a bit improved but not drastically.

1-Chargers (10-6)*
2-Chiefs (7-9)
3-Broncos (5-11)
4-Raiders (4-12)

San Diego easily wins this but takes a few hits from the shock of facing good NFC East teams. Don't ask me why or how Kansas City wins seven games but that's what I have. Denver will really sink since they don't have that high powered offense to outgun their horrible defense.

Wildcard: Titans over Chargers, Colts over Ravens
Divisional: Steelers over Colts, Patriots over Titans
AFC Championship: Patriots over Steelers

SUPER BOWL CHAMPION: Patriots over Eagles.

Evaluating the Tar Heels 2009-2010 Schedule

This will be an interesting season for the 2009-2010 North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team. They are defending champions but lost Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Danny Green, Wayne Ellington and Bobby Frasor. There are a lot of young guys coming in to big roles as well as role players now stepping into the spotlight.

The schedule has just been released and I'd like to take a look at what's on tap.

Coaches vs Cancer: This has gotten a bit more pub now that FIU is crying that they have to play UNC. Remember that Isiah Thomas won his 1981 NCAA Championship against the Heels. After that, UNC will play NC Central before going on the New York to face Ohio State and the winner of Cal/Syracuse.

Non-Conference home cookin': Before I get to the big games (and there are some), let's look at the lesser non-conference slate. Last year, the Heels spent a lot of time on the road. This year, they'll host Valpo, Gardner-Webb, Nevada, Presbyterian, Marshall, Rutgers and Albany. Interestingly, they will travel to College of Charleston for a game after the new year. Another year and another round of Valpo, Nevada and Rutgers.

Michigan State: The first big test for the Heels will be on December 1st against Michigan State. This is a rematch of the National Championship game as well as last year's ACC/Big Ten matchup. Remember that in both games, there were tens of thousands of fans at Ford Field ... and that UNC pounded the Spartans both times. Now Michigan State is the team with the title hopes and it will be interesting to see how they respond at the Dean Dome.

Kentucky: Four nights later, the Heels travel to Lexington to face the rebuilt Wildcats. The two winningest programs with 12 titles between them. UNC has won the last five meetings between the two which is symbolic since it marks both the Heels rise to power again (two titles, three Final Fours) and Kentucky's struggles (missed the NCAAs last year). Kentucky should be near the top of the polls as they will field a talented, albeit young squad. Of course all eyes will be on UK's John Wall who was spurned by the Tar Heels during the recruiting process.

Texas: One week after the Kentucky game, the Heels travel to Dallas to face Texas. This will be the first basketball game held at the new Cowboys Stadium. So the Heels got to face the huge Ford Field crowd twice last year (including the largest crowd in title game history) and now will play in front of 100,000 fans. Wow. And you wonder why the Heels keep racking up in recruiting.

ACC Schedule: After the first 15 games, the rest of the season will be exclusively against conference foes. It all opens on January 10th against Virginia Tech. The hot spots? Early February features a stretch at Virginia Tech, at Maryland and at home against Duke. A week later they travel to Georgia Tech (they will be much improved) and Boston College.

Duke/Carolina: The two dates to keep in mind? Wednesday February 10th at Chapel Hill -- Saturday March 6th at Durham. ESPN will have both games and you know will make it seem like a death match.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Beasley Breakdown Over Hippie Lettuce

It is easy to make fun of Michael Beasley right now. The "can't-miss" prospect who was nearly dealt this offseason was caught in a photo with a bag of hippie lettuce. From there, he posted some disturbing Twitter messages:
"Y do I feel like the whole world is against me…I can't win for losin"

"Feelin like it's not worth livin!!!!!!! I'm done."
That's a little scary. Now comes word that he's checked into a rehab facility in Houston and will be working with former NBA player/coach/mentor/addict John Lucas.

I'm not a fan of Beasley. I attended UNC-Charlotte and was thrilled that he would be our biggest recruit. That was until Bob Huggins hired away his runner and he bolted to Kansas State. From that point on, he was on my bad list.

But I'm not reveling in this most recent news about Beasley. He's only 20 years old and really struggled with the transition into the league. He (along with fellow rookie Mario Chalmers) was fined numerous times during the season for violations of team policies. He also admitted to being in the room at the rookie transition program that had marijuana. Those issues are his fault.

But don't make fun of the man for feeling like this and trying to find help. We've all been there when things seem so impossible when really it isn't all that serious. Any fine or suspension or whatever the NBA or the Miami Heat may impose on you isn't worth you losing your life. There have been tons of worse things that have happened in the League that makes his weed usage seem like vitamins. He needs to take responsibility for his actions, get better and improve his life.

Some Rules & Suggestions For Your Fantasy Football Draft

It is Fantasy Football draft time around the country which means grown men are getting their spreadsheets together, thumbing through magazines in the bathroom, picking out the jersey they plan on wearing to the draft and remembering that sleeper someone mentioned on some show on some network.

So here are a few things to think about when having your fantasy draft.

1-Have a offline draft somewhere. We like the online draft because we crawl out of our beds, sit with our coffee and surf the internet as we make our picks. Yeah, that's okay and all but it doesn't touch the experience of an offline draft. It's a mini-party where all the fellas can get together and have a good time. Also, it's more fun than having those couple guys sleep in or forget about the draft and get some weird team.

2-No spouses/significant others allowed. Don't bring your wife to the draft. Don't bring your girlfriend. And if you are a female in a league, don't bring your friend or some dude. Bring just you and we'll all have a better time.

3-Embrace your inner nerd. Look, fantasy football may be cool but it has a lot of nerdery involved. So embrace it. At our draft, we go all out with a podium, microphone and amp. So if it is your pick, you step up to the mic and announce it to everyone. Have names for your teams. Have logos. Make a homemade jersey for your team. Ham it up!

4-Bring your own materials. Don't be the guy who comes to the draft unprepared. Bring your book, magazine, papers or whatever you need to make picks. Don't think you can just borrow off of someone else.

5-Make time for the draft. We all have lives but let the draft be your time to set aside some time for yourselves and your buddies. Set the draft date early with everyone's availability in mind. There is nothing worse than a guy who is in a hurry because he has to be somewhere else.

6-Have a time limit that is rarely enforced. I said make time for the draft, but also make the draft last in a reasonable amount of time. We don't need someone taking 10 minutes to make their picks. Have a suggested time limit but don't put a running clock on them. Kinda like the free throw lane in basketball. The rules say you only get 10 seconds but there are tons of players who take longer. Very rarely does anyone get called out on it unless it is blatant. Also, slower people don't fare well when a clock is ticking in their face. You are actually making the process take longer.

7-Shut up! I hate when someone makes a weird pick and someone else screams "what are you thinking!?" Shut up. A bad pick by someone else just pushed another good player down your way. Also, who knows if it is a bad pick or not? Did anyone scream out when Joseph Addai was picked in the first round last year? Was Tom Brady worth a first round pick last season? Do you think owners of Eddie Royal were pretty happy?

8-Bring something to the draft. Again, it is a mini party so bring something. Whether it is some chips, pretzels, sodas, sandwiches or whatever ... just give to the cause.
9-Hash out all your issues at the draft. Usually the draft is the only time all season long that all league members are together at the same place. As a commish, take this opportunity to go over any questions that may come up. As a non-commish, search for some questions to ask so you understand the rules and understand what to expect.

10-Have fun. It is a serious day, but enjoy it. Crack some jokes, talk some smack make your predictions and just have a blast.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Iverson to Charlotte Makes Sense

There aren't many things that make sense about Allen Iverson. He is a first ballot Hall Of Fame, possibly the best pound-for-pound player in NBA history and averaged over 26 pts just a couple years ago.

Now he's in his mid-30s, has a rep for hogging the ball and doesn't want to hear anything about being a role player. He wants to score and that's that.

So looking at the NBA landscape, almost nothing made sense. Miami? A.I. would screw up Dwyane Wade's game. Memphis? They already have an O.J. Mayo there. Clippers? He'd set a bad example for their young guys.

All along, most people figured that Iverson to Charlotte is the best move. Iverson gets back with Larry Brown, who was his coach during his prime years and he goes to a team that needs "The Answer." There are plenty of shots for Iverson to take since the Bobcats are one of the worst scoring teams in the league. There is plenty of love for him since the fan-base needs something to get them buzzing.

He also won't be screwing anything up. Charlotte doesn't have anyone like Iverson on the roster. They don't have anyone that is the face of the franchise (the de-facto face, Emeka Okafor, was sent packing). This was a team that was in the playoff hunt in the final month of the season. A guy like Iverson could get them over the hump and into the postseason. That would finally get this organization on the map.

If he goes all A.I. on us and just runs and guns, who cares. Is he really stunting the development of anyone on the team? If he pouts or gets out of line, it would be very easy for them to wipe their hands of him.

I'm not going to say it's a win-win situation, but it is the best thing for both parties involved.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Disrespecting Giants-Rockies Huge Series

There is a big, big, big series going on this weekend and it has nothing to do with Fenway Park. Yes, pinstripes will be involved, but they aren't on the iconic Yankees duds.

It's Giants-Rockies time!

San Francisco visits Colorado in a pivotal series involving the top two teams in the National League wild card race. So, of course, ESPN and Fox have to keep riding that Sox/Yanks series instead. After all, the Yankees only have a 7.5 game lead over the Red Sox in the AL East standings.

It's just more sexier. People forget that the Colorado Rockies are one of the hottest teams in the league over the past few months. The Giants are a bit of an eyesore since they've scored the second-least amount of runs in baseball and rely on an insane staff of pitchers (they are easily ahead of everyone in runs allowed). Still, if I was a fan of the Dodgers, Phillies or Cardinals ... I'd be scared to death if the Giants got into the postseason. I'd also be scared to death the have to play in Colorado in late October.

Friday, August 21, 2009

ESPN GameDay Will Be At UNC-Duke

Get out of here. Really? ESPN will do their customary day-long homage to the North Carolina-Duke rivalry at Hansbrough Indoor Stadium?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Things Announcers Cannot Say Now That Vick Is Back in the NFL

We all know that Michael Vick is back in the NFL and we all know that the elephant in the room during every Eagles game was the two years he was away from the league for his role in a dogfighting ring. Those announcers will say things like "heinous crimes" and the like.

Announcers also need to watch their words. Because Vick is back in the league, there are a few things that networks may need to teach their announcers not to say.

-"Looks like we have a dogfight on our hands." We all know that dogfight is also a term used in war for arial assaults but it really cannot be said in football.

-"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." Always one of the most used quotes because it hypes up the underdog. Now it makes me think of Vick killing the dogs that lacked that fight.

-"Great execution by Vick!" That may get said during a Wildcat play or something. Again, I don't want to think about Vick executing anything.

-"Like two pit bulls going at it." Again, a reference to opponents just giving it their all and fighting all game long. Still can't go there.

-"Beating a dead horse." Overused expression (who beats a dead horse?). Though it doesn't involve dogs, beating dead animals is never a good reminder of something.

-"Laying down like a dead dog." The Detroit Lions could have been accused of this last year. But you can't say dead dog during NFL telecasts anymore.

-"It's a dog-eat-dog league." C'mon.

Again, I'm a dog lover who is completely disgusted by what he did. Whenever I forget, I just Google "Michael Vick" in the images and see the face of one of his fighting dogs that was rescued. So while my post above was poking some fun, one of those quotes could really come off very distasteful for an audience that doesn't want to be reminded about what kind of monster Vick was/is.

Shaq Says He Wants to Be a Laker Next Year

While promoting his "Shaq Vs" show, Shaquille O'Neal stated that he wanted to play out the final year of his contract in Cleveland and then see about coming back to the Lakers.

Um. Okay.

First off, I don't think owner Dr. Jerry Buss wants anything to do with Shaq. O'Neal really rubbed Buss the wrong way as he whined about his contract, got surgery "on company time", slacked off during the season and then throwing grenades as he was walking out the door in 2004.

Second off, this is only a good move for Shaq. Shaq back to the Lakers means we get to watch a reunion show of sorts. It would seem like all is forgiven and Shaq could retire from the team that will end up defining him.

Also, this isn't 2004. Shaq is declining, while Kobe is the league superstar. Kobe doesn't need Shaq and neither do the Lakers. Andrew Bynum will start earning major bank this year; Pau Gasol is paid even better; and Lamar Odom comes in to form a nice rotation. Plus, would you risk Shaq rocking the boat? This is a team that has a perfectionist in Kobe Bryant, a hot-head in Ron Artest, a moody Odom, an impressionable Bynum and could be coached by the Zen Master himself.

Why would Kobe want him back? Despite all the star power there, Kobe is The Man in Los Angeles. If Shaq went back, Kobe would still be the best player on the team but Shaq would turn into The Man among the media and, possibly, the other Lakers.

And finally, the Lakers cannot afford him. Unless he comes to LA for the veteran's minimum or the $2M exception, he can't fit under their cap or luxury tax threshold.

Shaq will be a Laker again when he's long retired. He'll come back to LA to see his No. 34 jersey retired among the other Laker greats. That's the only time he'll be a Laker again.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

At Least the Brett Favre Saga Is Somewhat Over

The funny thing about Brett Favre is that we talk LESS about him when he's actually playing. During the entire offseason, it has been Favre-a-paloosa. Will he come back? Will he go to Minnesota? Will he have the surgery? Blah blah blah.

I said from the get-go that Favre would be in Minnesota by the end of October. I figured that he and the team would keep tabs on each other and if Sageus Rosenjackson sucks than he will be in purple quicker than Prince.

That day, apparently, was today. Here are some of my quick hitting opinions on the matter.

-Of course he knew he was coming back the entire time. Ever since he asked the Jets to release him, he knew.

-I mean, after all, how does a two year deal worth $25M get drawn up and agreed to that quickly (uh, as a Redskins fan, don't answer that).

-I feel bad for Sage Rosenfelds. He asked to be dealt to Minnesota because they told him that he'd have an opportunity to become the starter. That's all out the window.

-This is a big year for Brad Childress. He has no excuses. He's got one of the NFL's best defenses and best running backs. Now he has a Hall Of Famer throwing the ball. He's also bailed on the T-Jackson experiment which was his pet project. If the Vikings flame out, Childress may be gone.

-Favre lied when he said that it wasn't about revenge. It may not ALL be about revenge, but that certainly factors into it. And he just pissed on all his Packer fans who will now see him playing for the hated rival.

Big East Defenders Get Shot at Tea-Bagging Paulus

Ex-Duke point guard Greg Paulus will be the starting quarterback for the Syracuse Orange this year. First off, how bad is it that a BCS school must start a cat who hasn't played football in four years and is on a one-year deal?

Second off ... who's gonna tea-bag Paulus next?

Any anti-Duke fan always will remember Paulus as the guy who got dunked on repeatedly. It wasn't just dunked on like the way Jerry Stackhouse or LeBron James got dunked on. No, he was dunked on as he was trying to take a charge. That means that the dunker's junk was all in Paulus' grill.

My favorites are when Danny Green got him in Cameron Indoor Stadium a couple years ago. There was also the famous Deron Washington "dunk" (it actually was a lay-in) and the Dwayne Collins embarrassment.

Now that Paulus is a QB, you know that he's going to roll out, pump fake and get that big defensive end in the air and then ... well, you know.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I Didn't Like Michael Vick's '60 Minutes' Interview

I've been one of those people who has had the needle move on my Michael Vick-O-Meter. As a player, I never was much of a fan. He lacked discipline and dedication to become one of the best throwing quarterbacks in the NFL. However, he was such a weapon of the likes we've never seen. And his teams usually were winners.

My thought process has been the same during the last two years. As a dog lover who doesn't even like seeing an animal get hurt in a movie, what Vick did just disgusted me. It sickened me to know that anyone could be so cruel. He deserved his sentence and all that has happened to him.

He also deserves to get a chance to redeem himself. He paid his debt to society and now should have a chance to pick up the pieces of his life and make something out of it. While I wouldn't want him on my favorite team, I don't belittle the Eagles for signing him.

So I wanted to see his interview on 60 Minutes to find out just where he was coming from. I have to say that I was let down quite a bit. While he said all the right things, it all came off as scripted or pandering.

It seems like he regrets getting caught more than for committing the actual crimes. That he feels bad for all the money and fame he lost instead of those animals he killed. He didn't really say that, but it did seem like the case. I think he really, really, really understands that what he did was wrong. I think he understands that it is cruel and he even said he knows it isn't "cool". But is he more remorseful for committing the crime or getting caught?

This is where I'm hoping Vick does the right thing. As he's going around apologizing to everyone so he can move on with his life, I hope he sticks with what his lawyers and public relations team is coaching him to say. I honestly think he's changed ... but will he stay that way?

No, he's not going to fight dogs ever again. I just want to see if he works with the Humane Society to try to do some good.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy 50th, Magic!

Sorry I'm a day late, but I've been busy. I had to take the time out to say "Happy Birthday" to Magic Johnson, who turned 50 yesterday.

Magic Johnson is one of the very few players that I can actually say that I idolized as a kid. Magic Johnson made me love the NBA. He made me love the Lakers. I don't care about the looks I get but I keep telling people that I think he's the second best NBA player ever (behind Wilt, not Michael).

Thanks to NBA-TV for replaying some old Magic Johnson games this week. I got to watch some of those epic Lakers-Celtics battle, Game 7 of the Lakers-Pistons series, his very first NBA game against the Clippers when Kareem hit the game winner, his 1992 All Star Game appearance and a bunch of games in between.

I always said that the one athlete that I'd die to meet was Magic. I got to "meet" him once when he was the speaker at an event at a local college. My (future) wife scored us tickets because she knew it would be so important to me. On the day of the event, my wife was very, very sick. But because I didn't know my way around, she went with me anyways. The speech was televised on local access or something late nights and we got to see how sick she was. One of my fondest memories.

It's funny because you kind of think that Magic would be older than 50. After all, he initially retired 18 years ago.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hootie Hoo!!! Rick Pitino Pays $3,000 For Abortion

The Rick Pitino saga has taken a turn for the strange. In an article from the Louisville Courier Journal, Pitino admits to police of meeting his accused extortionist at a restaurant and eventually had the sexy-time with her ... in the restaurant after closing time. While his assistants were still there and could hear what was going on.

A few weeks later, she called Pitino up to say she was pregnant, she wanted an abortion but couldn't afford to do it. So Ricky P gave her $3,000 to get rid of the problem. Nice. Wonder if Mrs. Pitino knew about any of this?

Just listen to the second verse of the song above (Andre 3000's verse) to get the gist of what happened.

All I can say is WOW. We knew that Pitino could dress like a pimp with his fine suits (even the white one) and his pinky rings but I had no idea he was the type of cat to cheat on his wife in a restaurant and then fork over money for an abortion.

Also, stop with the "he should step down" or "the University should fire him." Go to your work tomorrow and demand that everyone who has done any of this be fired immediately.

Monday, August 10, 2009

John Wall Dunks on Jerry Stackhouse

There is a bit of a difference between this video and the Crawford-on-LeBron video.

1-There was no cover up.
2-John Wall is 16 years younger than the soon-to-be 35-year old Stackhouse.
3-Recent injuries have really taken a toll on Stackhouse
4-This was a much more impressive dunk than Crawford's
5-Understand that Wall grew up in Raleigh; Stackhouse grew up in nearby Kinston.

(Hat tip: Deadspin)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Should You Use a Trick Play During the Preseason?

Preseason is about practice. It's about trying things you wouldn't normally do in a game that counts.

In the first possession of the first preseason game on 2009, the Tennessee Titans unveiled a trick play. A play that probably wouldn't have been called during the season (well, Jeff Fisher is known for going against the grain so maybe I'm wrong on that). The play was a fake punt that the punter then faked a behind-the-back handoff to a teammate. The punter ran 40+ yards for a touchdown. Great play.

Now, was it smart to run that right now? Yes and no.

There's no way that the Titans can run that again this season. Everyone either watched it as it happened or saw it on the highlight shows. And believe that every special teams coach across the league took notice of it. This is 2009 where information flows everywhere and secrets don't stay secret for very long.

But it is also a blessing. Now every opponent you go up against must spend valuable time putting in a play to defend it and practice it. Just look at the Wildcat Offense last year. Once Miami destroyed New England with it in Week 3, all the Dolphins' opponents had to prepare for it.

I know. It seems like a small victory and it is. But that's not all.

Just like the Wildcat Offense, the Titans could fake the fake. When Miami first unveiled the Wildcat, it basically was Ronnie Brown taking the snap, faking a handoff to Ricky Williams and then running. Everyone was prepared for that now. So in the next week, they started to pitch the ball to Williams and causing all sorts of confusion. A week later, Brown started throwing passes.

The Titans could have a punt called and then get back into that formation (one guy ran back from the line of scrimmage). The opponent will see this and think the fake is called. The punter then could go ahead and punt it to a returner that now lacks the proper blocking since they were all preoccupied with the possible fake. That could be a huge deal at the right spot.

The Titans could actually fake again and make the handoff. Maybe the opponent thinks the fake is on and rough up the punter (it would be a roughing the passer foul). The punter or runner could throw a pass out of the formation. Who knows?

What we do know is that the can of worms that Fisher opened is out there. And he's making all his opponents think a little bit more.

Good Luck, Kurt Rambis

I've always had a soft spot for Kurt Rambis. As a Laker, he was basically just the hard nosed workhorse with the nerdy glasses. When the expansion Charlotte Hornets selected him in the 1988 expansion draft, he quickly became one of the favorites for that same hustle.

After stops in Phoenix and Sacramento, Rambis came back to the Lakers organization as an assistant in the front office as well as for Del Harris and Phil Jackson (he briefly was the head coach in 1999, going 24-13). All that has changed was he was older and ... in such an L.A. move ... ditched the glasses.

So it is sad that the Lakers and Rambis will part ways again. Rambis is now the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. I wish him the best of luck.

It was always figured in Laker circles that Rambis would be the heir apparent when Jackson finally retires. I guess that wasn't the case since you'd think Rambis would wait just a little bit longer for one of the best jobs in sports than take on a rebuilding project in Minnesota. That was all but sealed when Rambis said "no" to the Kings when they offered him a head gig earlier this year.

The thing is that Rambis isn't "sexy" enough to be the Lakers head coach. You need that suave GQ guy like Pat Riley or be the ego-drive Zen Master of Phil Jackson. Guys that are bigger than life in a town that is filled with people like that.

Of course, Rambis-to-Wolves should send shockwaves to Tobacco Road. Yes, I know that Mike Krzyzewski says that Duke is the only place he will coach but Kobe Bryant may change a lot of that. The Lakers can offer K much, much more money that Duke could think of giving him and with K's love affair with the USA/NBA Olympic Team, he may decide to give it the old college try.

A Reverse Big East/ACC Raid?

Just read this somewhat interesting piece about a pie in the sky idea of the Big East expanding their football league by raiding the ACC. If you remember, the ACC raided the Big East earlier this decade (Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech) which left the two leagues as virtual enemies.

What the blog post says is that the Big East should go after Boston College and/or Maryland. We all know that all of ESPN's ideas are great ones ... right?

Again, this is all just made up in someone's mind and isn't happening. But I'm one of those cats who also tries to mix things up from out of nowhere so I respect what Brian Bennett (the blogger) is trying to say.

I don't see Maryland leaving the ACC. If this was a decade or so ago, I may have thought there was a sliver of a chance. They were whining about the Carolinas-centric view of the league. Since the expansion took place, Maryland gained two closer opponents in BC and Va Tech. Their basketball tradition in the ACC should keep them around.

Now, I can see BC leaving. The ACC really didn't want them anyway (they wanted Syracuse) and they stick out like a sore thumb. Oh, I enjoy the Eagles being part of the ACC as they bring an interesting dynamic to the league. But I couldn't blame them for wanting to leave a league where they have no geographic ties to for one that would include several nearby schools.

However, it doesn't make smart business sense. While the ACC football championship game hasn't taken off like the other conference's title tilts, it still is better than no championship game in the Big East. Unless the Big East expands to 12 teams (which would mean BC plus three other schools), there will not be a title game. Basketball wise, it should be nearly equal ... even though the ACC banks a bit better. And since it has a smaller hoops membership than the Big East, the pieces of the pie are a bit bigger.

The main point of this story is the fact that the Big East is at a bit of a crossroads. Rumors are that the Big Ten may look to steal Pittsburgh from the Big East ... leaving the league with just seven football members. It would be a great move for Pitt as the football prestige and coverage is much greater in the Big Ten as well as the fact that they fit a bit better there and would get a shot at a conference championship game.

I agree with your argument: But Sportz, the Big East just had the greatest hoops season in a long time and the football league has gotten a lot better. Yes, but it still would be enticing for Pitt to leave.

Where would that leave the Big East? Would they try to lure back Temple? How about luring Memphis? Maybe try to get Central Florida, Marshall, East Carolina or Florida Atlantic? And if that happens, what would the basketball side of things look like.

Still, the Big East must be proactive with this or else things could get messy.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Yes, Baseball Players Should Be Able to Throw Retaliation Pitches

Jay Mariotti over at my former home, The Fanhouse, wrote an article chastising baseball for allowing "purpose pitches." This obviously comes after that whole Prince Fielder fiasco a few days ago.

I disagree. It is one of those unwritten rules that help police the game. Sorry, but if someone purposely throws at my best player then we are throwing at your best player. If not, we will just have a bunch of headhunters who fear no retaliation.

In fact, I disagree that pitchers and managers should be ejected for retaliating. To me, it is bullcrap that the first guy gets to bean somebody ... but the second guy gets thrown out when he does it? I say "eye for an eye!" Then give the warning.

What makes me laugh is that Mariotti actually bought Fielder's "clubhouse rage". C'mon! That was all for show. Dude went to the door and didn't force anything until ... magically ... his teammates came to hold him back. Fielder was hit in his fat butt (not his head or knee) and Mota walked off the field to accept his ejection. On the field with everyone watching, Fielder did nothing but stand still. So an half and hour later it spilled into that? Yeah right.

No retaliation pitches means something bigger could occur and something much more dangerous than a bruise on your thigh.

I feel the same way about fighting in the NHL. If they weren't allowed to fight, someone would end up getting a stick in the back of the head. It's hard to stage that.

Bruce Smith Brings a Dose of Redskins With Him to Canton

Last year's Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony was very Redskins-centric. Art Monk and Darrell Green were both placed into the Hall as burgundy and gold filled Canton.

That will probably be the last real Redskins to get into the Hall for a while. So take some pride when Bruce Smith enters the Hall tonight. Remember that he ... like many of you ... grew up a Redskins fan, too.

Sure, he played just four years in Washington but he did set the career sacks mark during that time. While Smith was no where near the player he was in his 15 years in Buffalo, he wasn't too shabby. He recorded 29 total sacks with Washington, including 10 in 2000 and nine in 2002 -- and that was when he was really only playing on passing downs.

Of course, Smith also represents the Daniel Snyder era by being one of the first "over the hill" players that the Skins owner threw money at.

My favorite Bruce Smith moment is the one above (I still laugh at it every time I see it). Congrats to Mr. Smith!!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Why Is Everyone Surprised That LeBron Won't Sign Cavs' Extension???

The ESPNing of sports is back upon us. LeBron James unveiled his new shoe in Akron yesterday and addressed a variety of questions. One was if LBJ was going to sign the contract extension the Cavaliers have offered him recently. LeBron said no and that he wanted to keep his options open.

So news outlets are going bananas pondering if the city of Cleveland will be burning down and what teams he may bolt the Cavs for.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: He ain't goin' anywhere.

LeBron is smart to not sign the extension. Why would he sign it right now? This same extension will be on the table after the season. Signing it now would rid him of his one power play he has over the Cavs in that a threat to leave will keep the team trying to please him. Signing now would mean that the Cavs wouldn't have to push their resources to make the team better.

So stop the printers from making those LeBron Knicks jerseys. This news really isn't news at all.

R.I.P. John Hughes

As a child of the 1980s, there was not many pop culture items more memorable than John Hughes movies. Mr. Hughes died yesterday of a heart attack at the age of 59.

He directed, produced and wrote for some of the classics of the time. My favorite movie he directed was The Breakfast Club. It was funny, serious and filled with some of the most quotable lines in my life ("this is what happens when you spill paint in the garage"). My second favorite is Weird Science. Chet is hilarious in that movie ("do you realize it's snowing in my room") and ... as every young man wondered ... I was just waiting for the technology to make my own woman.

I love Ferris Bueller's Day Off just as everyone else does. I like Sixteen Candles, but it doesn't "pump my nads". I actually really liked She's Having a Baby. My wife loves Uncle Buck.

But when you go over his work, it just amazes me the amount of classic comedies that Hughes had a hand in. Mr. Mom, National Lampoon's Vacation (one of my top movies of all time), European Vacation and Christmas Vacation, Pretty In Pink, Planes Trains & Automoblies, the Home Alone series, Career Opportunities (when I was in love with Jennifer Connelly) and Beethoven. Maybe they weren't all the greatest movies of that time, but it sure brings back a ton of great memories.

So maybe tonight I'll put The Breakfast Club in the DVD player and go back in time a bit.

Dick Vitale Shows He's Nutty Again

Dick Vitale just released his pre-pre-pre season Top 40 for the college basketball season. And, for some reason, he has Duke up at No. 5.

How? I could roll with that if Elliot Williams and Gerald Henderson were still there. But neither of them are. Nolan Smith is their only guard with any experience and this team still has no proven big men. Dickie V mentions that with Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler coming back, this team is one of the best in the nation. No.

I'm not one of those people who dislikes Vitale. I actually don't mind hearing him doing the game I'm watching. If you've ever seen one of his speaking engagements, you will get caught up. And the work he's done for the V Foundation has been remarkable.

But Dickie V is turning into that grandparent you had that would just go on and on about something that (a) didn't make sense or (b) you know is wrong. But no one checks them on it because you don't want to hurt their feelings.

Again, I respect Vitale but his harping about Duke is getting old. His harping on these great college players becoming great pros (he used to always pound out that J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison will be great NBA players and we are dumb not to see that) is getting old. His constant slight of international players over college players in the NBA Draft is getting old.

Is Yankees/Red Sox Over Hyped?

Last night was the first night of the four-game Yankees-Red Sox series. Aren't you excited!?!?!?!

Of course the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry is a bit over hyped. I don't care about it at all. These teams play, like, 19 times this year so it isn't like it is that special of an event. Also, coming into last night, Boston had beaten New York eight times in the eight games they played thus far in the season ... yet the Yankees still held the lead in the AL East standings. So how important is it really?

Yeah, ESPN is a bit to blame for this. They are equidistant from the Big Apple and Beantown and I can understand them getting a bit caught up in the local hype. But it isn't all their fault. FOX will televise their games anytime they get a chance. Other sports outlets will make it a prime story. Of course we all care about anything coming out of New York, right?

And nothing is better than hearing about two franchises who have been stained with the Roid Scandal over the past couple of years.

I can't wait for the weekend to be over so we can hear about the next time these two will match up and over analyse that, too.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Raekwon!!! September 8th!!!

I know that this is my sports blog ... but the operative words are "my" and "blog" so you will listen to every damn word I have to say!!!!

Sorry about that. I'm just excited to see that Raekwon's new album, "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2" is just a month away. I pray that it is at least half as good as "Cuban Linx 1" and twice as good as "Immobilarity" and "The Lex Diamond Story".

Delonte West Makes Sitting In the Drive-Thru Awesome

I'm not gonna lie. I've never really been a big Delonte West fan. But Jim Rome has turned that around. First came his "better have my do-nuts" quote during a Jim Rome is Burning correspondent segment. Now comes this freestyle rap while D-West sits in a KFC drive-thru.


So next time you get pissed sitting in a drive thru waiting for your chicken or fries or whatever, just think about what Delonte just did.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Who Should Make Up a 40-School Redesigned BCS? has this interesting question: If we could weed out the crap from the 120 schools that comprise the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and make it just a 40 team outfit ... who would be those schools that make the cut?

My guess is that we'd have to create five 8-team conferences. Let's call them the Eastern, Southern, Midwest, Southwest and Western Conferences. Some of the decisions were difficult and there are conference alignments that I really didn't like doing. But it makes sense.

Before you get a bit bent, hear my explaination on this. My Eastern Conference comprises of a geographic region ranging from Boston down to Clemson ... which is about 2/3 of the current ACC area.

The Southern Conference pretty much comprises of the SEC and ACC. Two SEC teams didn't make this conference and were moved to the Southwest Conference. This was basically to satisfy the 8-team rule.

The Midwest Conference is pretty much six Big Ten teams, Notre Dame and a mystery guest. Out west, there really isn't much debate. Enjoy!

Boston College
Virginia Tech
West Virginia

Florida State
Georgia Tech
Ole Miss

Michigan State
Notre Dame
Ohio State
Penn State

Arizona State
Texas A&M

Boise State

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tiger Woods Farts On Camera (and Into Microphone)

Hat tip Awful Announcing.

Here is a funny moment during the final round of the Buick Open today. Tiger Woods was on the 18th hole when he decides to scream a vulgarity ... out of his butt. Yeah, his son Rip was on line toot. According to AA, this is legit. Enjoy.