Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Realigning MLB like the NBA

This is just me typing stuff out, so don't think I'm a nut. I like the idea of a National and American League.

I just had a wild hair about the possibility of baseball realigning completely by geography.


Boston Red Sox
New York Mets
New York Yankees
Philadelphia Phillies
Toronto Blue Jays

Atlanta Braves
Baltimore Orioles
Florida Marlins
Tampa Bay Rays
Washington Nationals

Cincinnati Reds
Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Milwaukee Brewers
Pittsburgh Pirates


Chicago Cubs
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
Minnesota Twins
St. Louis Cardinals

Arizona Diamondbacks
Colorado Rockies
Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers

Los Angeles Angels
Los Angeles Dodgers
Oakland Athletics
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants

Now, it isn't perfect ... but it isn't that bad. The hiccups were in the team that would be in the Central Division with the Reds, Indians, Pirates and Tigers. The next closest would be one of the Chicago teams and I didn't want to split them up. Next option was Milwaukee, which I wanted to keep with the Chicagos but they made more sense then anything else. I can't take the Cardinals away from the Cubs ... or the Royals away from the Cardinals ... leaving the Twins or Brewers. It's the Brewers!

The other issue was the teams between Kansas City and California. Since there are five Cali teams, it was easy to throw them together. So the other five teams ... which spread from Houston to Seattle ... are stuck with each other. It's a larger geographic area than I like, but it works in real life with the Rangers and Mariners in the same division.

List of NFL's Hottest Seats

Here is a quick list of the levels of hot seats in the NFL ... as of Week 3:


1-Jim Zorn, Redskins. He moves to the top of the list with the loss to Detroit. Zorn has two advantages, though, that could allow him to keep his job for the season: replacing him is difficult to do mid-season since he holds many responsibilities and he was hand picked by owner Daniel Snyder. Other than that, he's hated by fans, disprespected by media, ignored by players and knows that Snyder has an itchy trigger finger.

2-Jim Fox, Panthers. It's not all Fox's fault. He cannot go on the field and stop Jake Delhomme from turning the ball over. Fox has been on thin ice for a couple of years now. With prime candidates (Bill Cowher) available on the market, a poor season in Charlotte should end Fox's reign. He's a very good coach, but he may have stayed too long.

3-Dick Jauron, Bills. Jauron has been on the hot seat all offseason when it was a mild surprise that he kept his job. Now he has the bumbling situatons involving Turk Schoenert and Terrell Owens and the team looks lost on the field.


4-Eric Mangini, Browns. No one knows how Mangini wiggled his way into the job after his flaming exit in New York. Then he brings over the Jets that they didn't want anymore, tries to be coy with naming a starting QB and has mismanaged this team. This is a really bad team.

5-Jack Del Rio, Jaguars. Sort of like John Fox's situation, Del Rio has been walking on hot coals for a while now ... and a poor season could finally see the axe fall.


6-Wade Phillips, Cowboys. As long as the Cowboys stay in the thick of things, he's fine. But Jerry Jones isn't interested in having his beautiful stadium being coached by a guy that can't get results.

7-Brad Childress, Vikings. Childress put his neck on the line with the whole Brett Favre thing. Right now, it looks like it is paying off. But when the schedule gets tougher and Favre gets further in the season, we'll see what happens.

8-Gary Kubiak, Texans. This is his fourth season and the team has been mired in mediocrity. Mediocrity again could allow him to stay, but a 5 or 6 win season may get him canned.

9-Tom Cable, Raiders. Hey, when you are the Raiders coach, there is no job security.

10-Norv Turner, Chargers. The guy who was fired before Turner could get into the postseason but couldn't do anything once he got there. Norv wins a game, but not much after that.


11-Marvin Lewis, Bengals. Aside from going 4-12 ... he'll be back.

GUYS WHO JUST STARTED AND HAVE AT LEAST A YEAR AND A HALF LEASH: Rex Ryan, Jets; Raheem Morris, Buccaneers; Steve Spagnuolo, Rams; Jim Schwartz, Lions; Jim Mora, Seahawks; Jim Caldwell, Colts; Josh McDaniels, Broncos; Todd Haley, Chiefs.


GUYS WHO HAVE SOME GOOD WILL IN THE BANK TO STAY PRETTY SAFE: Mike McCarthy, Packers; Sean Peyton, Saints; Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals; Mike Singletary, Niners; Lovie Smith, Bears; Andy Reid, Eagles; Mike Smith, Falcons; Tony Sparano, Dolphins; John Harbaugh, Ravens.


GUYS WHO HAVE A TON OF GOODWILL IN THE BANK ARE ARE TOTALLY SAFE: Bill Belichick, Patriots; Tom Coughlin, Giants; Mike Tomlin, Steelers; Jeff Fisher, Titans;

Monday, September 28, 2009

Chad Pennington Done For the Season

Expect Dolphins' QB Chad Pennington to be the 2010 NFL Comeback Player of the Year. That's because he'll be missing the rest of the 2009 season.

Pennington was diagnosed with a torn capsule in his throwing shoulder and is shut down for the year. Chad Henne will take the starting gig immediately.

Pennington had surgery on this same shoulder while with the New York Jets in 2004 and 2005. He missed most of 2005 with a rotator cuff injury, but would go on to win the 2006 NFC Comeback Player of the Year award. Pennington struggled during the 2007 season and was eventually benched in favor of Kellen Clemens. When the Jets acquired Brett Favre last summer, Pennington was released and later signed with the Dolphins.

He led the 1-15 Phins to an improbable AFC East title last season and the 2008 Comeback Player Award. He'll have to pull it off again if he or the Dolphins want to get back to division superiority.

The NFL Season Is Taking Shape, So Now Let's Make Predictions

The NFL is almost three weeks old. We've had some pleasant surprises and some interesting disappointments. So what do I think will happen looking forward?

NFC EAST: 1-Giants, 2-Eagles, 3-Cowboys, 4-Redskins.
The Giants look like the best team in the NFC right now. The fact that no one is noticing it just shows what I'm talking about. I like the way Philly is keeping afloat without Donovan McNabb. I also like Dallas, who took the G-men to the limit before losing and seem to be a bit looser than in years past. Redskins are on the Jim Zorn Countdown watch.

NFC SOUTH: 1-Saints, 2-Falcons, 3-Panthers, 4-Buccaneers.
N'Awlins really impressed me in the way they shut down the Bills in Buffalo yesterday. If they can get some consistent defensive play, this team will be scary. Atlanta has been better than I thought, but I still think they are another year away from a Super Bowl type team. Carolina and Tampa are on the back end of things. The Panthers have an ugly remaining schedule that will keep their record worse than what they really are.

NFC NORTH: 1-Vikings, 2-Packers, 3-Bears, 4-Lions.
All of them won on Sunday. Amazing, huh? Minnesota has the most complete team. There is just something about the Packers that make me not trust them. Same with Chicago who look like a typical 9-7 type team. Congrats to Detroit for their first win.

NFC WEST: 1-Niners, 2-Cardinals, 3-Seahawks, 4-Rams.
The Rams are the worst team in the conference. San Francisco was a Brett Favre miracle from being the most surprising 3-0 team right now. They are the best team in the division, easily. Arizona has looked horrible in both their home games and needs to find some sort of running game if they want to get back to the playoffs. Seattle? Who knows?

AFC EAST: 1-Patriots, 2-Jets, 3-Dolphins, 4-Bills.
New England may not have a great featured back, but they have four guys that combined can do damage. They finally remembered that Tom Brady doesn't need to throw 50 times a game to be successful and beat a very good Atlanta team. The Jets are surprisingly 3-0 with rookie Mark Sanchez, but it's that defense that has been most impressive. I don't see them upending the Pats in the division, but this is a playoff team. Miami has a horrid schedule and is banged up enough that this will be a lost year. Speaking of lost, Buffalo is losing games and soon will lose their coach.

AFC SOUTH: 1-Colts, 2-Titans, 3-Jaguars, 4-Texans.
Who knew this division would be so bad? Indy looks like they should cruise to another division title. Tennessee is just too good to finish behind Jacksonville and Houston. Those two teams are pretty much the same: 5-11 ish.

AFC NORTH: 1-Ravens, 2-Steelers, 3-Bengals, 4-Browns.
Baltimore has been the best team in the NFL right now. The defense is there as always, but that offense has gotten ... dare I say it ... explosive. Pittsburgh is too talented and too well coached to fall to far back. They'll get it corrected. Cincinnati seems to have the chops to make a run for a postseason spot if Pittsburgh does struggle. The defense is much improved and the offense is getting back to being somewhat potent. Cleveland is the worst team in the NFL.

AFC WEST: 1-Chargers, 2-Broncos, 3-Chiefs, 4-Raiders.
San Diego will win this thing just because they are clearly the most talented team in the division. From there, they won't last long in the playoffs. Denver could challenge and it is obvious that Josh McDaniels can coach. Kyle Orton is playing well and the defense has improved. Kansas City and Oakland are just playing out the string.

Without looking at the schedule game-by-game, it's tough to get any prediction perfectly correct ... but here is my guess.

NFC PLAYOFF TEAMS: 1-Giants, 2-Vikings, 3-Saints, 4-Niners, 5-Falcons, 6-Eagles.
The Giants and Vikings will have the best records. N'Awlins has just enough of a tough road to not get a first round bye. Atlanta and Philly get the wildcard spots. I see the Saints beating Philly and Falcons over the Niners in the Wildcard Round. New Orleans takes down the Vikings in an upset and will face the Giants (who beat Atlanta) for the NFC Championship. I have to say New York is your NFC Champ.

AFC PLAYOFF TEAMS: 1-Patriots, 2-Colts, 3-Ravens, 4-Chargers, 5-Steelers, 6-Jets.
Yep, the Jets make the playoffs. This is a darn good bracket where any of them could win a Super Bowl. Baltimore takes out Rex Ryan and the Jets in a great Wildcard game (Steelers over Chargers in the other). In a great playoff matchup, the Steelers beat the Patriots in Foxboro while the Ravens upend the Colts. In a rematch of last year's AFC Championship ... this time in B-more ... the Ravens make it to the Super Bowl.

Yeah, I'm not too confident in a Giants-Ravens Super Bowl (a rematch of SB 35), but who was confident with a Steelers-Cardinals matchup this time last year????

Don't Give That "We Don't Put Names On the Back Of the Jerseys Because It's About the Name on the Front" Crap to Me!

I watched a good chunk of all the great football action this past weekend. Usually I watch a ton of NFL action but I rarely get a chance to sit back and watch the college game.

Which reminded me of one of the sports cliches I hate. Many college teams like Penn State, Notre Dame and USC don't put the names of the players on the back of the jerseys. That's fine -- to each his own. But please ... oh please ... don't give me that crap about "it's about the name on the front of the jersey that counts!"

Because you're right.

Except that I don't see Penn State written on the front of their jerseys. I do see Nike, however. Same goes for Southern Cal. I don't see Notre Dame's name on the front of the Irish's jerseys, but I do see their logo ... and Adidas' logo.

To be traditional and all about team are great things, but please don't use it to get high and mighty about anything. After all, these "amateurs" or "student-athletes" you love to make innocent are walking billboards for apparel companies.

I'm not trying to seem high and mighty about pointing that out or even questioning the irony of it all. Just remember that little tidbit before you do, too.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Forget Vick; Kolb Is the Future In Philly

Here are some of my musings from around the NFL on this Week 3:

KOLB IS PHILLY'S FUTURE: Much has been made about the Eagles picking up Michael Vick in the offseason and Jeff Garcia a couple of weeks ago while at the same time trying to figure out if Donovan McNabb has worn out his welcome. But the story has been Kevin Kolb, the guy who was originally drafted to be the heir apparent to McNabb. Kolb has thrown for over 300 yards in both of his starts ... and while it doesn't seem like much to light up the Saints and Chiefs defenses, it isn't too shabby for a guy no one thinks should lead this team.

McNabb deserves his spot back as the starter when he returns, but the Eagles should feel good that they have the man they need if/when he goes down again.

EMBARRASSED REDSKINS FAN: I am a Redskins fan and I'm embarrassed that we lost to the Lions. I wrote on this blog (actually at halftime of the game) that Zorn deserves to be fired. After this result, that seems as if it will happen at some point this season. He may last another week or so but rest assured that Danny Snyder is working the phones to see if any of those high-profile coaches (Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan, Brian Billick, Jon Gruden, Mike Holmgren, Tony Dungy) are interested in taking over a franchise that has talent, has an owner willing to spend and the possibility of no salary cap.

BENGALS WIN: Amazing that Ben Roethlisberger had never lost a pro game in the state of Ohio. Not too amazing when you remember that the state's two teams are the Bengals and Browns. Cincinnati made that stat go away with a thrilling 23-20 win over the Steelers. Yeah, Cincy is a freak play against Denver away from being 3-0 right now and have those still crappy Browns looming.

WHINY RECEIVERS: Two receivers really got me today. One is obvious: Terrell Owens. T.O. threw a hissy fit because he didn't catch a pass for the first time in a gazillion seasons. While he didn't openly question the playcalling, he did his typical T.O. backhanded swipes at QB Trent Edwards and coach Dick Jauron. You knew that was coming, but it is still disappointing.

Over in Seattle, T.J. Houshmandzadeh spent the week telling everyone that he was bent that the Chicago Bears weren't interested in him during free agency last spring. Mmmm. Okay. Why talk smack about a team that wasn't actively pursuing you about not pursuing you? So Housh has gone out and done nothing to show us that it was a mistake. Housh rewarded the Bears' decision by turning the ball over (and catching just 4 balls for 35 yards) during the Seattle loss.

THE NEW LIONS: Now that the Lions have won a game, let's look at the batch of teams that could match their 0-16 mark. It could really happen again. Look at Missouri for the Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Rams. Both are 0-3, both have a ton of problems and both have brand new coaches.

Another sad sack team is the Cleveland Browns (0-3) who are a complete mess. Either one of these three teams could pull off a winless season.

The Dolphins are down (0-3), but they are good enough to win a few games. No one expects the losing streak to continue too much longer in Tennessee (0-3). Tampa Bay is bad (0-3), but I don't think they are capable of losing them all. Carolina (0-2) has a horrible schedule but is way too talented to not pick up a few games this season.

GAG GREEN: The Seattle Seahawks need to hang up those neon green jerseys they wore during their loss to Chicago. That was horrible. It would only be cool if they were an Arena Football League team that plays in blacklight. "Wake me up before you go-go!" I know about the love of the 1980s, but no one was loving that. Ouch!

IMPRESSIVE COLTS: I'll be honest: I thought there was no way that the Colts would beat the Cardinals on Sunday night. Not to say I think Arizona is better, it's just what Indianapolis has been through. They played a barnburner on Monday night in Miami (which the defense was on the field for more than three quarters worth of game time) ... then with a short week went all the way out to Phoenix for a game.

Not only did Indy win the game, they destroyed the Cards. Defensively, they were up Kurt Warner's back all night and embarassed one of the perceived top offenses in the league.

NEXT MONDAY NIGHT: Just to remind you, Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings host the Packers next Monday. Let the ESPN hype begin!!!!!

Go Ahead and Fire Jim Zorn

I'm not going to sugar coat it: this Jim Zorn thing isn't working out. I didn't like the hiring of Zorn as our offensive coordinator in the spring of 2008. I really didn't like it when Danny Snyder decided to bump him up to the head gig a month or so later.

He's in over his head.

I live in non-Redskins Country right now so unlightened people keep telling me that "if you only had a decent quarterback" crap. To be honest, Jason Campbell has been playing pretty well. He's making good decisions and is rarely doing anything to hurt the team.

The problem is the offense, however. The offensive line is old and was barely tinkered with this offseason. The receivers are the smallish Santana Moss, the overpaid Antwaan Randle-El and the trio of sophomores of Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly and Fred Davis. And ... for some reason ... they cannot figure out how to best use Chris Cooley effectively.

Zorn cannot help that week to week. But the offensive philosophy and play calling has been very suspect. So much so that last week, Skins' legend Sonny Jurgensen openly questioned Zorn about it. Zorn was visibly unpleased. It was also visible of why Campbell isn't as successful as others would wish: Zorn doesn't allow him to be.

Jurgensen said he'd switch the play if Zorn told him to run a half-back pass on a 3rd and goal. Zorn told him that he'd pull him from the game, then. That's a legend, imagine what he tells Campbell. And that's why he doesn't have the tools to be successful.

There is also this listless about the team. The offense looks unemotional. They look as if they don't care. They look as if they are just cashing paychecks. As I type this, the Redskins are down 13-0 to the Detroit Lions at halftime. The Lions have a 22:00 to 8:00 advantage in time of possession. They've out passed the Skins 159-94. And the best stat of them all: the Lions have rushed the ball for 116 yards while the Redskins have ran for a grand total of ZERO. None. Zilch. Nada. In a game against an inferior opponent, Zorn is refusing to run the ball. And when he does call a run, it's a cutesy trap, draw or delay.

With Bill Cowher, Brian Billick and Mike Shanahan hanging out on their porches ... and with an owner who doesn't mind a quick change ... expect Zorn to get the axe at some point. Maybe during the season.

I hope.

UPDATE: Zorn seemed to remember that Portis was alive and actually gave him the ball. But a tough pass interference call gave the Lions a 19-7 lead and those bad first half decisions are coming back to roost. The Redskins became the first team to lose to Detroit since December 2007. Wonder if Sonny has any other questions for Zorn?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hey Roger! Are You Paying Attention To All These NFL Injuries?

The number one reason why I'm against the NFL expanding the regular season beyond 16 games is the injury factor. You can't ask guys to go full blast like that and not see a bunch of your stars fall down.

It is already Week 3 of the regular season. Donovan McNabb will probably miss his second straight game. So will LaDainian Tomlinson. Marion Barber, Randy Moss, Matt Hasselbeck and Justin Tuck will miss this weekend's games. Guys all over the league are nicked up already.

Just imagine what those extra two games will do to that.

Now, injuries are a part of football. Like it or not, the league doesn't stop when the stars go out. Just ask Tom Brady last year. But don't act like the league isn't trying to keep their stars from getting hurt. Look at all the rules surrounding contact with the quarterbacks and receivers now. Look at the fines for things that used to go on all the time.

An 18-game NFL season will add 32 more games where knees will get buckled, shoulders to get seperated, hamstrings to be pulled, muscles to be torn and heads to be knocked.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Carolina Panthers Could Face Tailspin

The Carolina Panthers have been one of the NFL's biggest duds this season. It isn't at all embarassing to lose to the Eagles and Falcons, but the way they were dismantled is troubling. Now they head to Dallas on Monday night to face a Cowboys team reeling from a tough loss.

The Panthers will probably be 0-3 next week and there will be tons of grumblings in the Queen City. John Fox knows his job is on the line and we all know that Bill Cowher is tucked away in Raleigh and would love nothing more than to take the job. Jake Delhomme knows that (a) the team is invested in him and (b) there is no one else on the roster that is any better. If they could throw him off the ship, they would have. They can't, so they won't.

The one thing to look forward to is a bit of a soft landing. Next week the Panthers come back home to host the struggling Washington Redskins (by the way, there will be a TON of Skins fans in Charlotte for that one). After that is at defensively challenged Tampa and at home against the Bills. None of those three are cakewalks, but then again nothing really is from here on out.

How's this? At Arizona, at New Orleans, Atlanta, Miami, at NY Jets, Tampa, at New England, at Minnesota, at NY Giants and New Orleans. That's their remaining schedule. YIKES!

This could/should end badly in Carolina. This could be a tailspin that will end up with Cowher replacing Fox, the Panthers using their top pick on one of the top QBs in the draft and Delhomme's days numbered. Julius Peppers will be gone. This could get ugly quick.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kidney Stones Suck! Luckily I Have a Hero

Sorry I haven't been posting over the past week. I was taken to the Emergency Room about 3:00am on Friday morning with a swift pain in my abdomen. Turns out that kidney stones struck for the second time in my life and boy does it hurt.

So, I've been under some really, really nice meds since and have a surgery set for Thursday to remove the stones (it's a surgery that sounds as bad as I expect it will feel). I'm a punk when it comes to pain ... I can admit that. And thanks to my lovely wife for dealing with a 34-year old man just living off the couch, leaving pee strainers in the bathroom, sweating then freezing, throwing up in her car (luckily there was a garbage bag in there already) and handling the bulk of my doctor's appointments and all. I am really lucky to have her on my side.

I did get to see a few things in the days since ... including the early NFL games on Sunday and the final quarter of the Monday night game. So here are my takes on the sports goings-ons of late.

RON ARTEST'S FAULT: Ron Artest says that if the Lakers don't repeat as champions, blame it on him. He is the major change in a championship team and the ax should fall on him. I'm not going that far. A lot changes on a defending champion even if the roster doesn't. Teams play you a little tougher, the hunger isn't as strong as it was last year (just human nature) and any little hint of a slump and everyone is doubting you. If the Lakers don't win, Artest will be the easy scapegoat even if he does everything right. But unless he causes some major problems on and off the court, I won't see it that way.

SONNY ON ZORN: Sonny Jurgensen and Jim Zorn got into it a bit over Zorn's playcalling. Sonny was a bit wrong in pretty much implying that Zorn's call of a halfpack pass inside the 10-yard line was stupid. I didn't like it when it happened, but it was close to working. It's also obvious that Zorn is feeling a bit of the pressure from Redskins Nation. Nearly everyone is questioning him and the job security as Danny Snyder's head coach is always shaky.

JORDAN-RUSSELL REMATCH: Really, who cares? Bryon Russell is nowhere near Jordan's stature in anything. He was a nice role guy on some really good Utah Jazz teams. So I don't need to see these two match up 11 years after the iconic shot that ended the 1998 NBA Finals.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

They Don't Spray Paint Lawns in Toronto, Do They?

If you haven't heard this, someone in the Buffalo area decided to go to Bills CB Leodis McKelvin's house and spray paint 25-24 on his lawn. McKelvin was the cat who decided to run out a kick instead of downing it in the endzone ... and who promptly fumbled away the ball 25 yards down the field.

The final score was 25-24.

There was also an obscenity spray painted there (don't know what it was yet). It is scary that this stuff happens. We live in a different age where security isn't a joke. Stuff that could fly a decade or so ago can't now.

Do people forget that Redskins safety Sean Taylor had a group of young adults come to his Miami home in order to rob him. Taylor was, unexpectedly to the thieves, there and ended up losing his life when he was shot. Since then, NFL players really don't want anyone coming up to their homes.

Buffalo has a passionate fanbase. With all that's going on in the world, that city doesn't have much to hold on to and the Bills are one of their pride and joys. You have to love when fans live and die with every game. But, people, that's a figure of speech. Look, I'm a sports nut! Half my wardrobe is sports jersey's, t-shirts and sweaters. But you cannot define your life by the teams you love. You cannot treat people bad because the team you love lost in a heartbreaking fashion. Being a die-hard fan doesn't give you the right to disrespect people.

Lack Of Sportsmanship This Year Has Been Rather Disturbing

Playing sports is fun. It provides great exercise, promotes teamwork, meet new people and let's us get that animal aggression out. The two main rules of any sport ... whether it is pee-wee football or the NBA ... is that you play fair and you exhibit good sportsmanship.

That hasn't been happening lately.

You have been reminded of the sad side of sports of late. LeBron James not congratulating the Orlando Magic after beating his Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals and then blowing off the media afterward is one example. Tiger Woods flinging golf clubs as he's dropping f-bombs is another. Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa and Manny Ramirez getting caught up in the roids scandal is another. How Serena Williams and Roger Federer acted in the US Open this past week was yet another. We saw a Boise State football player taunt an Oregon football player after a game ... with the Oregon player retaliating with a knockout punch.

What's going on? This has been a magical year for sports ... especially in my house. My North Carolina Tar Heels won the NCAA Tournament and the LA Lakers won the NBA Finals. But there has been much more. The BCS title game was pretty good. We were treated to the second straight awesome Super Bowl (I remember the days when it was routinely a blowout). Several of the NBA Finals games went down to the wire. These MLB playoffs look like they could be classic. We've had magical stories in golf this year (remember Tom Watson?), we saw both Serena Williams and Roger Federer bring back their dominance in tennis.

Now, are the examples of bad sportsmanship that horrid? I mean, we've seen the Malice In the Palace, John McEnroe berate officials, Bob Knight choke a player and throw fits, other roid users, people spitting on opponents/umpires, etc, etc. But what we have going on now is the faces of the sports they play acting like spoiled brats.

LeBron, Serena, Roger Federer, Tiger and A-Rod are among the best at what they do. They demand excellence and there is nothing wrong with that. So did Michael Jordan, who spent his Hall Of Fame speech reminding everyone that he's better than them.

But they've been playing sports their entire lives and they've all lost a few times during that time. They all know that only one person or one team can win the championship and everyone else was beaten by someone. I guess they don't realize that that person or team that gets knocked out could be them.

Bad sportsmanship is troubling. Not just the things they did but how they react to failure. When Serena or Federer loses in a grand slam event, it was because "they played poorly" and not because the other person was just better that day. When Y.E. Yang beat Tiger at the PGA Championship, Tiger lamented about his poor putting and not the fact that Yang was simply amazing in that final round. LeBron still hasn't acknowledged that his team was beaten by the surprising Orlando Magic.

Sure, we've all been there. We've all been good at something and have problems with the fact that someone else may be better at it. Heck, how many of you have played Madden and just kicked everyone's butt only to have some 9-year old smoke you? You get a little bent, don't ya?

But that isn't our living. We don't have cameras in our faces. And we don't get paid millions of dollars to play a game that we played for free as a child ... nor do we receive endorsement deals for being an athlete. We also aren't allowed to berate a co-worker, cuss like a sailor when we're mad, or have a Dominican cousin who can fly us up some PEDs.

I'm cool with getting bent sometimes. Baseball players get tossed. Basketball players get T'd up. Hockey players get into brawls. Tennis players smash their rackets in anger. I'm fine with all of that. Whatever. But throwing tantrums when things don't go your way just doesn't cut it. People forget that sports is a lot like life ... only that life isn't always fair.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sportz' Notes From Week 1 of NFL Season

As I was flipping channels and monitoring four TVs today, here are some of my takes from what happened during Week 1 of the NFL season.

REDSKINS PLAYED DECENT: Most of my attention stayed on the Redskins-Giants late game. The Redskins lost, 23-17, but I'm not that angry about it. Sure, the Redskins gave up a fumble that turned into a key TD, but they fought back a bit after being down 17-0 and 23-10. Still, they needed a fake field goal to score their first TD and faced a prevent Giants defense on their final score. The defense was pretty much bend and not break but this offense needs to show some sort of consistency. The Skins rushed for just 51 yards; Clinton Portis gained 34 of that on his first carry.

JAKE DELHOMME IN PLAYOFF FORM: That's not a good thing. Delhomme was trying to make everyone forget about his horrific showing in last season's playoff loss to Arizona. Throwing four interceptions and fumbling once won't do that. Here is the amazing part about that: Delhomme didn't even get to finish the 3rd quarter!!!! The Panthers have no other real option after Delhomme so he needs to get his act together.

SANCHEZ WINS! SANCHEZ WINS!: Congrats to Mark Sanchez, the rookie quarterback that led the New York Jets to a win in Houston.

BENGALS LOSS: It could only happen to the Bengals. A fluke tipped ball that landed in Brandon Stokley's mitts and Cincinnati went from 1-0 to 0-1.

BRETT FAVRE MAY ACTUALLY LISTEN: Favre typically is asked to be the offense for his teams. In Minnesota, he has the league's deadliest weapon standing behind him in Adrian Peterson. Some feel that Favre may elect to be the star of the offense and not fully utilize A.P.'s wares. But in the Vikes first game, Favre had no problem turning around and sticking it in Peterson's ribs.

DOLPHINS DROWN: Both Atlanta and Miami were surprise teams last year. Both are in my "teams to disappoint this season". And both played at the Georgia Dome today. Michael Turner didn't have a big day (which is my prediction and why I don't have faith in Atlanta) but that defense really stepped up and Matt Ryan continued his development.

DREW BREES = WOW!!!: The Saints are one of my surprise teams this year. When your offense is that good (Brees 6 TDs) then you always have a chance. Still, I'm not impressed with a N'Awlins defense that gave up 27 points to the crappy Lions who started a rookie QB.

BY THE TIME I GET TO ARIZONA: Uh oh. The Cardinals looked like a team that would follow the trend of Super Bowl losers missing the postseason.

GOD THE RAMS SUCK: Let's hope that stays true next week when they visit Washington!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Broncos Amazing Win Over Bengals

Is it fate that put Gus Johnson in Cincinnati to call this game? Who else could've called this better?

To set it up, the Bengals JUST scored a touchdown to take a 7-6 lead with less than :40 seconds left. After a poor kick return by Eddie Royal, this play happened.

Denver 12, Bengals 7

Did She Say It? Serena Williams Goes Off on a US Open Line Judge

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"Like, Um ... "

Here is Ellis Lankster. He's, like um, the rookie cornerback for the Buffalo Bills. Enjoy!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Madden Curse Alert! Troy Polamalu Out

Larry Fitzgerald better watch out! The strike of the Madden Curse has ... uh, struck ... again.

Last night, Steelers' safety Troy Polamalu jacked up his knee and will probably be out three-to-six weeks. Polamalu, as you may know, is the co-cover guy for Madden 10; Fitzgerald is the other.

I usually don't believe in curses. Like Babe Ruth's ghost had nothing better to do then keep the Red Sox from winning a World Series ... and he decided to take a break in 2004? Some goat keeps the Cubs from winning? And does that whole "William Penn Curse" still apply in Philly anymore?

It ridiculous ... but the Madden Curse seems to have them all beat. What are the odds that seemingly everyone who adorns the current Madden cover gets hurt? I know in the NFL that injuries are a part of the deal and you are extremely lucky to navigate through an entire season without getting banged up.

But since 2002, it has been insane. Daunte Culpepper (Madden 2002 cover; 2001 season) missed five games due to injury. The Rams' Marshall Faulk (2003; 2002 season) missed six games and started the end of his career. Michael Vick (2004; 2003 season) broke his leg in preseason and ended up missing 11 games. Ray Lewis (2005; 2004 season) bucked the trend by only missing one game. Donovan McNabb (2006; 2005 season) missed the final seven games of the season. Shaun Alexander (2007; 2006 season) broke his foot and missed six games. Vince Young (2008; 2007 season) missed just one game but he's played in just three games the following season. While Brett Favre (2009; 2008 season) didn't miss any games, he did suffer from a torn biceps for the final third of the season. Also, he was sporting a Packers jersey on the cover but spent the season with the Jets.

If you want to get weird about this, Barry Sanders was on the Madden 2000 cover (1999 season; image behind John Madden). Sanders wouldn't play again after the 1998 season.

Now add this to the list: Troy Polamalu (2010; 2009 season) to miss at least three games with knee injury.

What Pete Rose Was Doing 24 Years Ago ...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Can You Blame Richard Seymour?

The Oakland Raiders are waiting for Richard Seymour to show up. The team just gave up a first round draft pick in 2011 to get the outstanding defensive lineman. Seymour, it seems, doesn't like this one bit.

Can you blame him? Up until this week, Seymour was playing for a team that had legit Super Bowl aspirations. He played for a franchise that is the model of winning in sports. He played for the most respected coaches of our time.

Now he goes to a franchise that has crumbled around the bumbling Al Davis. A team who likes flash over substance. A team whose coach punched out an assistant a few weeks ago. A team that has lost at least 11 games in each of the last six seasons (a 24-72 record over that span).

Contrast that to the Patriots, who have won at least 10 games in each of the last six seasons (a 77-19 record over that span). New England has won three and appeared in six Super Bowls since 1985. Oakland has been to just one Super Bowl since then and were completely trounced by the Buccaneers when they got there.

Seymour knows that this isn't just a one year suck fest. No, he knows that the Raiders will throw the franchise tag on him after the season and prevent him from leaving. I know that Oakland does some weird stuff in the past, but I don't think they are dumb enough to give up a top pick in 2011 for a one-season performance.

I know we, as fans, rip players for not honoring their contracts or not reporting to their jobs on time. But I agree with Seymour here if he decided to sit out the entire season. Yeah, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth about him, but everyone can kind of understand. I mean, if you were working for a prestigious law firm and they traded you to one of those ambulance chasers who advertise during Jerry Springer ... you'd be bent. If you were a chef at one of the finest restaurants in Paris and then dealt to become the fry cook at Burger King ... you'd be bent. For this exercise, you'd make the same money at both places ... but you know that you're new job sucks. That's where Seymour is right now.

I know being traded is tough, especially when the team you are leaving is good and the team your are heading to is bad. It has brought malaise to many players before and will do so in the future.

I'm just saying that I can see where Seymour is coming from.

I've Lost What Little Respect I Had For Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson has just gone on his Twitter page to tell us that he will indeed sign with the Memphis Grizzlies. He said "God Chose Memphis as the place that I will continue my career." Good luck.

If by "God" he means "the rest of the NBA" then he is correct. There are 30 teams in the NBA. Only two that I know of really wanted him: Memphis and Charlotte.

That's sad for a guy that will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. A guy who is one of the toughest cats to ever play in the NBA and one who didn't apologize for who he was. I could respect that. But he's burned every bridge he's come across to the point that no one wants him around.

Now he goes to Memphis where he'll back up Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo. What? Iverson couldn't back up Rip Hamilton last year in Detroit ... and he's actually won a championship! Now Iverson is going to be cool with backing up two guys that have done absolutely nothing in the League?

Which brings me to Memphis. If you were cool with being a backup ... then why go to Memphis? No offense, but the Grizzlies will be hard pressed to reach a playoff spot this season. The team has a toxic mix of Mayo, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and now Iverson. The Western Conference is loaded again. So if you were a 34-year old guard nearing the end of your career, wouldn't you try your best to win a championship?

Why not get your crap together and backup Kobe and D-Fish? Phil Jackson is the king of managing personalities. Why not be Rondo's backup in Boston? The Celtics added Stephon Crybury last year so you know they'd give you a look. How about the Cavaliers where they'll do anything to please LeBron James? Greg Popovich is secure in himself to take A.I. on his well behaved team. Why Memphis?

I cannot blame Iverson for going after the best deal possible. The $3.5M that the Grizz will be paying him next year is higher than what anyone else would give him. I understand the paper chase. I also understand that Iverson was paid $21M last season for basically disappointing everyone. I understand that he made $76M in the last four years of his contract. Do you really need that relative change over the prospect of playing for something meaningful?

A star piggybacking for a title doesn't always work. In fact, it hardly does. Charles Barkley couldn't get one in Houston. Karl Malone couldn't get one in Los Angeles. Alonzo Mourning tried to in New Jersey (and then again in Miami where he did win one as a backup). We'll see if Shaq can do it in Cleveland.

So enjoy your money, Iverson. You have been one of the best players of my age (being that we are the same age) but you will get on that list of one of the greatest players to have never won a championship.

Sportz' Week 1 Picks


STEELERS over TITANS: Hard to go against the defending champions on the season opener.

FALCONS over DOLPHINS: Two teams who came from nowhere last year to get into the playoffs. I don't believe that either team will make it back this year. I do believe in the Falcons ability to control the ball.

BENGALS over BRONCOS: Not so much that Cincinnati is that much better but that Denver is in such disarray right now.

VIKINGS over BROWNS: Mr. Mangini, it doesn't matter who your starting QB is here.

COLTS over JAGUARS: Normally a good game, this one turns sour.

SAINTS over LIONS (Eliminator pick): Detroit will win a game sooner or later. Just not this soon.

COWBOYS over BUCCANEERS: Tampa scares me in this one ... but just a little bit. Dallas wins.

PANTHERS over EAGLES: Carolina plays well at home (well except their last one) and the Eagles are dealing with some injuries. The game of the day.

RAVENS over CHIEFS: Do you think KC's offense can deal with that Ravens D???

TEXANS over JETS: Mark Sanchez, meet Mario Williams.


CARDINALS over NINERS: I just don't like the 49ers offense at all.

SEAHAWKS over RAMS: Seattle is my surprise team this year.

PACKERS over BEARS: I'm a Packer Backer this year. I think they'll be nice. Two of the top emerging QBs in this one.

PATRIOTS over BILLS: New England starts their quest to go 16-0 again.

CHARGERS over RAIDERS: Oakland tends to get blown out in this game each year.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Matthew Stafford Can Learn From Other Top Picks: You're Gonna Suck!

The Detroit Lions have named No. 1 pick Matthew Stafford as their starting quarterback. Good luck, Matt!

In my lifetime, Stafford is the 15th QB taken with the top overall pick. Nearly every one of them struggled mightily in their first real season. Below are the last 14 picks and their stats in the first season they played more than half the season's games.

2007-Jamarcus Russell (16 games in 2008): 13 TD, 8 INT, 77.1 QB RAT

2005-Alex Smith (9 games in 2005): 1 TD, 11 INT, 40.8 QB RAT

2004-Eli Manning (9 games in 2004): 6 TD, 9 INT, 55.4 QB RAT

2003-Carson Palmer (13 games in 2004): 18 TD, 18 INT, 77.3 QB RAT

2002-David Carr (16 games in 2002): 9 TD, 15 INT, 62.8 QB RAT

2001-Michael Vick (15 games in 2002): 16 TD, 8 INT, 81.6 QB RAT

1999-Tim Couch (15 games in 1999): 15 TD, 13 INT, 73.2 QB RAT

1998-Peyton Manning (16 games in 1998): 26 TD, 28 INT, 71.2 QB RAT

1993-Drew Bledsoe (13 games in 1993): 15 TD, 15 INT, 65 QB RAT

1990-Jeff George (13 games in 1990): 16 TD, 13 INT, 73.8 QB RAT

1989-Troy Aikman (11 games in 1989): 9 TD, 18 INT, 55.7 QB RAT

1987-Vinny Testaverde (15 games in 1988): 13 TD, 35 INT, 48.8 QB RAT

1983-John Elway (11 games in 1983): 7 TD, 14 INT, 54.9 QB RAT

1975-Steve Bartkowski (11 games in 1975): 13 TD, 15 INT, 59.3 QB RAT

Only one player (Vick) had a QB rating above 80. Only four (Russell, Vick, Couch, George) threw more touchdowns than interceptions ... and those four aren't known as all-time great quarterbacks. Also, several of the more successful first year starters (Russell, Palmer, Vick) got the full time gig in their second NFL season.

In fact, the "great QBs" on this list had their troubles. Elway and Aikman are the lone Hall of Famers on this list. They combined for just 16 TDs and 32 INTs.

Sure, most of the guys on this list started for a team that was coming off a horrific season. But none of them took the reigns of a team that was 0-16.

Good luck, Stafford.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sportz' Top Michael Jordan Moments

With Michael Jordan heading into the Basketball Hall Of Fame this coming weekend, everyone is going back and remembering their favorite Jordan moments. I'm doing the same, but from a different perspective.

I'm not doing a "greatest moments" package. I'm doing my own personal favorites list. What I will always remember about Jordan. As you can probably figure out from me being a Tar Heel fan, there are some Carolina-centric moments.

#10-I'M BACK: In a world where everyone wants to ramble on, Jordan's declaration that he was un-retiring with the simple press release, "I'm back", was classic!

#9-THE DUNK AGAINST MARYLAND: In an epic battle with Len Bias at Maryland, Jordan took a breakaway as the clock was expiring and brought down Cole Fieldhouse with a wicked dunk. Watch it here.

#8-DUMPING 63 ON THE CELTICS: Still a record for a postseason game, Jordan dumped 63 points on the eventual champion Boston Celtics. Amazing since he missed 64 games of that season with an injury.

#7-GOING OFF ON THE BLAZERS: His barrage of three-pointers in Game 1 of the 1992 Finals was amazing. He scored a Finals-record 35 first half points.

#6-HIS LAST SHOT AS A BULL: The free throw line jumper to beat the Utah Jazz for the 1998 NBA Championship should have been the perfect ending to a career. To many of us who forget his Wizards days ... it still is.

#5-1988 SLAM DUNK CHAMPIONSHIP: The best slam dunk contest ever. Maybe they look a little stale now, but this was the equivalent of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James having a dunk-off today. Two stars bringing their A+ game in Chicago.

#4-THE 1993 FINALS: This is one of my most memorable non-Laker Finals. I watched nearly every game at a local Hooters restaurant. And what a series it was! Jordan averaged a record 41 points in the six game series.

#3-THE SHOT OVER EHLO ... GOOD!: Amazing moment to end an amazing game.

#2-JORDAN'S RETIREMENT: I remember this vividly because I was attending UNC-Charlotte at the time. I was in the student hangout of the school when every television was on the news conference that Jordan was retiring. Remember, this was before internet and 24-hour news channels broke everything hours before the story was told. One of the reasons Jordan retired was due to his father's murder. As a young man living in North Carolina at the time ... THAT was the biggest story in quite some time.

#1-THE SHOT AGAINST GEORGETOWN: This is the first major Michael Jordan moment. Jordan hit the game winner against the Hoyas in the 1982 NCAA Championship game. The fact that a freshman on a team with James Worthy and Sam Perkins would even take a game winning shot like that is unreal. The fact that he hit it is legendary.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ricky Williams Gets Married ... and the Skies Open Up

Dolphins RB Ricky Williams married his longtime girlfriend Kristin Barnes on Friday. Reports are that Ronnie Brown, Chad Henne and Dennis Rodman (?) were in attendance. The best part was this piece of information:
A downpour began after they exchanged vows.
I thought they may have said that demons flew up from hell and drank the blood of the wicked. Nope, just rain.

Oh, and no word if the bride's wedding dress clashed with Ricky's or Rodman's.

Shawne Merriman Was Dating Tila Tequila?

What were you most amazed about when you heard the news that San Diego Chargers LB Shawne Merriman was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend, MTV reality star Tila Tequila?

That Merriman would do something like this or that he was dating Tequila.

Tequila (whose given name is Tila Nguyen) made a name for herself by posing nude on internet sites and Playboy. She's parlayed that into a gig at A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila on MTV. The show was built on the fact that 16 straight men and 16 lesbian women would compete for Tequila's love. You can define "love" any way you'd like.

And Merriman is dating this. Unlike a lot of bloggers, I really don't get into and know who is dating who in the sports community. I don't really care.

But this is kind-of nasty.

Merriman, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, is reported to have kept Tequila from leaving his home this morning by choking and phyically restraining her. She was hospitalized for the attack and authorities came and got him.

The NFL season starts this week.

... And This Is What College Basketball In Kentucky Will Be Like

I live here and that's about it. I don't care for Kentucky or Louisville. So hearing all the bickering going on (while my beloved Tar Heels sit as defending champions) can give a man a headache.

Lost in all the news of Rick Pitino's infedelity, John Calipari's burned bridges and Billy Gillispie's DUI is actual basketball news. So here comes the slime.

Pitino just hired Shabaka Lands as an assistant to the head coach at Louisville. Lands has ties with top recruit Marquis Teague. Lands is an assistant coach on the high school team Teague plays for. Nice.

Oh, and Teague just had his official visit to rival Kentucky.

Teague, from Indianapolis, is the brother of Jeff Teague, an All-ACC guard at Wake Forest last year (Wake is also on the younger Teague's list). Their father played for Pitino when he was the head guy at Boston University.

I wonder if Calipari will now try to hire Teague's dad as a special assistant to the coach or something now.

Bad Start For the ACC; Is This a BCS League?

The ACC isn't a football power ... even if they'd like to be. It's a basketball conference who likes to dabble in football to make that bank. They've screwed up the hoops side of things chasing the money.

I don't know how the ACC keeps its BCS slot. Virginia Tech's win over Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl last year was the league's first BCS win in forever. They never put two teams in the BCS bowls in the same season.

Meanwhile, Utah and Boise State are winning those BCS games and BYU is beating Oklahoma.

The BYU win is relevant since the ACC showed its lack of muscle on the opening day of the college football season.

Duke lost at home to Richmond. Sure, the Spiders are defending FCS champions ... but this is a BCS school losing to a FCS school ... again!

Duke wasn't the lone ACC team losing to a Championship Subdivision school: Virginia lost to William & Mary, 26-14. Unlike Richmond, William & Mary isn't a FCS power. This is their first opening game win since 2001 and first win over a FBS school since 1998 (and that was against lowly Temple).

Baylor went into Wake Forest and beat the Deacs. Not a surprise, but this was a game that Wake could've won.

In the two big games that involved ACC teams this week saw the league lose both contests. Virginia Tech fought hard but were beaten by Alabama, 34-24. On Thursday, NC State lost to South Carolina in Raleigh, 7-3.

As I'm typing this, Maryland is down to California 45-13 (note: it ended up finishing 52-13).

On Monday, the league's two football "powers" go at it as Miami faces off against Florida State. Wonder if the announcers will talk about the possibility of Bobby Bowden getting penalized several wins? Or how the Miami head coach is on the hot seat?

Yeah, North Carolina, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Boston College cruised to wins over FCS schools. And in that Clemson game, star back C.J. Spiller left the game with an injury. But none of that makes you believe in the league.

I hope the ACC can get it together and show that this was just a bad week and nothing more. Next week sees Virginia host ranked TCU, North Carolina visiting UConn, Duke traveling to Army and Wake Forest hosting Stanford -- all loseable games. Also, we have Clemson facing off against Georgia Tech ... meaning one of the best teams in the conference will get their first loss.

I'm an ACC guy and I know that it's tough for ACC fans to admit they aren't the best at everything. We believe it in basketball, starting to believe it in baseball, believe it in men's and women's soccer. We've always dismissed football as "not our thing" but that argument flew out the window when we added four schools with a football background (Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech, Boston College). The conference also places a lot of guys in the NFL draft.

So what's going on?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

NASCAR Lowers Driving Age to 14

Yeah, you read that right. NASCAR is lowering the minimum age for their entry level series to 14 years old. Amazing.

Amazing since I don't know where in this country you can obtain a driver's license at 14. Kids that age are still in junior high school. They can't grow facial hair, still watch "Land Before Time" movies and can barely get into PG-13 flicks.

Or they can learn how to drive hundreds of miles per hour with other teens. Whelen All-American Series will issue learner's permits for under-age drivers who qualify at NASCAR-sanctioned tracks starting in 2010.

I get what they are trying to do here. Getting these kids started as early as they can ensures a better driver sooner and NASCAR gets to help guide them. Yeah, the legal driving age is higher than 14 but the kids who take advantage of this have driven different kinds of vehicles at some point in their life.

Friday, September 4, 2009

UNC's Alumni Game is TONIGHT!

One of the things I love about being a Tar Heel fan is the fact that the players actually do love the university. The respect the school, the program and the iconic coaches.

One of the things that I enjoy is the alumni game. It is former Carolina players coming back to Chapel Hill and competing in a scrimmage. It's open to the public for $20 a ticket. It's a highlight of the offseason and just a joy to witness.

This year, the teams look like this:

Blue Team: Shammond Williams, Ed Cota, Ty Lawson, Vince Carter, Dante Calabria, Jawad Williams, Wayne Ellington, Rashad McCants, Brandan Wright and Sean May

White Team: Brendan Haywood, Raymond Felton, Bobby Frasor, Jackie Manuel, Jeff McInnis, Danny Green, Marvin Williams, Rasheed Wallace, Antawn Jamison and Jerry Stackhouse.

My money is on the white team. They have size with Haywood, Sheed and Jamison. They also have tough the defensive might of both Danny Green and Jackie Manuel and the athleticism of Stackhouse (well, did) and Marvin Williams.

Still, the blue team is no slouch. People forget that Cota is third all-time in assists in NCAA history. Also, Shammond Williams, Ellington, Calabria and McCants bring long range gunners that can counter the White's size. The key will be if Wright and May can look like their college selves or their disappointing NBA selves.

The matchup I want to watch in at point. Raymond Felton vs Ty Lawson. Awesome!

There actually was a draft (by Phil Ford and Pat Sullivan) to disperse the players. The overall No. 1 pick???? Antawn Jamison.

All these names aren't the only ones that will be there. During the past couple of days, those stars have been playing pickup games with the current Tar Heels ... including incoming freshmen John Henson and The Wear Twins. And you never know what kind of retired alums may show up.

The beauty of it all is that these guys get to go back. Most didn't enjoy the typical Senior Day moment that used to be a part of a college player's career. Guys like Ty Lawson, Vince Carter, Wayne Ellington, Rashad McCants, Brandan Wright, Sean May, Raymond Felton, Marvin Williams, Rasheed Wallace, Antawn Jamison and Jerry Stackhouse left before their senior year and didn't get that last love-in to cap their careers. They will all get that tonight.

Current UNC senior said it best. "I don't think any other place could come close to having this kind of weekend," Ginyard said. "There's a lot of things about Carolina you just don't find anywhere else."

Oh, and the 2009 National Championship banner will be unveiled tonight. There also will be a tribute to Dean Smith. Ho-hum. All this opens up the 100th year of Carolina basketball which the school ... and this blog ... will touch on quite a bit over the next several months.

The Sportz Assassin Sportz Room: 2009 Edition

Every year I take a bit of an opportunity to pat myself on the back and feed my ego about my Sportz Room. When we bought our first house five years ago, my wife "allowed me" to use the basement as my own Sportz Room.

Every guy needs a room like this. EVERY GUY! And, ladies, every wife needs to allow their men to have this space. It will pay off in the long run. Call it a Man Cave or whatever, it allows every guy to have complete control over one room of the house. It brings peace, gluttony, brotherhood and overall happiness to a sports lover's life.

Not to kiss my wife's butt too much on this, but I am grateful that I have someone who understands this and allows me to have a room like this.

The 2009 Edition is pretty similar to the 2008 edition. It isn't the greatest "man cave" ever, but it pretty good for what I can come up with. I still have four televisions on tap. One is in HDTV, one is an old school 36", another 27" and a 13". The two biggest TVs each have DirecTV's Sunday Ticket piped in. The two smaller ones are now hooked up to those hideous converter boxes and I use them to televise the games shown locally. The HDTV (which is new after my old one blew up right before Christmas) is usually set on the Redskins game or is used to flip around. The 36" is usually stuck on The Red Zone Channel or another game.

For the fantasy football manager in me, DirecTV has the ability for you to enter two fantasy team rosters and a screen will pop up if any of those players do anything of significance.

I've got my blue recliner which sits about six feet from the HDTV. Gotta futon and a smaller reclinerfor guests (and by "guests" I mean my dogs). The Sportz Room is in the basement ... an unfinished basement. So on the ceiling I have tiny pennants from all MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA teams as well as a couple of collegiate conferences. I also have about 60 McFarlane figures hanging up as well as posters and flags of my favorite teams (UNC, Redskins, Lakers, Reds, Red Wings).

This isn't a bragging thing at all. It isn't perfect, it's a bit messy and is a bit cluttered. And since my dogs live there, it has a nice canine smell to it at times. Still on Sundays, I will be sheltered down with a glass of Pepsi (I don't drink alcohol) and enjoying all which is man!

*-the above pic is not of my room

In Buffalo, Another Offensive Coordinator Bites the Dust

The Bills have fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert just 10 days before their regular season opener against the New England Patriots. This seems a bit justified since the Bills have looked dreadful this preseason and head coach Dick Jauron is on a very tight leash.

This marks the third offensive coordinator canned this week. The Chiefs dismissed Chan Gailey on Monday and the Buccaneers let go Jeff Jagodzinski yesterday.

Normally in a recession, it seems that management gets bigger while the middle class workers get smaller. Companies hire consultants and create cost savings departments while laying off the actual workers to help pay for it. In the NFL, it seems like it is the other way around.

That means there are three offensive coordinators that will be taking over just a week before the season starts ... and several others on very thin ice. With the money invested in Jason Garrett, will Jerry Jones pull the plug if the Cowboys offense suffers again? Everyone in Cincinnati was stunned that Bob Bratkowski got another year with the Bengals. Ron Turner now has Jay Cutler in Chicago so he's on the hot seat. Also, Bill Belichick is taking over the OC duties in New England while he grooms Josh Daniels' replacement.

In a year of organizations demanding immediate results, coaches aren't coddled. Normally the learning curve has a little more slack but in these times where several teams could have games blacked out due to lack of sell-outs, it is imperative that there is some excitement and promise shown in these offenses.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What's Going On In the Carolina Panthers Front Office?

Yesterday was a shocking day for Carolina Panthers fans. Team president Mark Richardson and stadium president Jon Richardson abruptly resigned from their positions immediately. Both men are sons of team owner Jerry Richardson.

From what the Charlotte Observer is reporting [1], the two sons were at odds about how the team should be run. The battle was so bad that the dad decided the best thing is to have both guys leave the organization.

This is an extremely interesting and potentially troubling move for Panther fans. Mark and Jon ran the team last season while Jerry was dealing with heart issues that resulted in getting a heart transplant. That move made many to believe that the elder Richardson may step further away from his duties and let his sons run the team (similar to the Yankees and the Steinbrenners). Carolina has been a family run franchise since the beginning and Jerry Richardson is revered as one of the best owners in the NFL.

The problem is that the dress rehearsal didn't go that well. Mark and Jon had equal power and neither answered to the other. So there was a great opportunity for heads to butt and feelings to get hurt. Just because you are brothers and both care about the same thing doesn't mean you'll see eye-to-eye about handling it.

The one silver lining is that this also shows us that Jerry Richardson must be feeling pretty good. The fact that he's been dealing with this and was able to make a decision like that is quite remarkable after what he's gone through. Jerry met with the minority owners (both sons still own a stake in the team) to assure them that he's running the ship and that the front office changes are for the better. He's not selling and the team is not moving.

What it does do is put the future of the organization in some doubt. As a Redskins fan, I remember seeing the ailing Jack Kent Cooke in the 1990s and wondered what would happen if he decided to sell or if he passed away while owner. I think the same thing for the Lakers' Dr. Jerry Buss (who also has a lot of his family involved in running the team). In a city that's built on banking, now isn't the time to think about a change in ownership or rocking the boat.


Should the Wizards Go Back to Being the Bullets?

Over at Mr Irrelevant, they been dogging the Wizards name and uniforms for quite some time. In a post about a possible name change, I've gotten on board with them. I hated that the Bullets became the Wizards. It makes no sense.

First off, I don't care about the Wizards/Bullets. I don't. But I like the Washington Bullets much better than the Washington Wizards. Yeah, the Bullets logo and uniform style were a bit bland but it just felt right.

The name was changed because team owner Abe Pollin decided that "bullets" was too violent. Okay, so why pick Wizards? Black magic and the occult are okay? Having a team's name also a high ranking of the KKK is cool? Nicking the name down a bit more gives us the "Wiz" ... which makes me think of making water in the toilet. Some people even go with the "Zards" card.

I didn't think "bullets" meant much more than the team was fast as a bullet. When you play in the same town as a team nicknamed the Redskins ... "bullets" doesn't look too bad.

Also, the Wizards era hasn't been too kind. They've won exactly one playoff series in the 12 seasons since the name change. Of course, there wasn't much in the seasons leading up to the change either. In the last 27 seasons, the Wizards have gotten past the first round of the playoffs just once.

Still, the Bullets won a NBA Championship in 1978 and returned to the Finals in '79. The Wizards have won a total of eight postseason games. With the Bullets, I think of Wes Unseld, Earl Monroe, Gus Johnson and Elvin Hayes. With the Wizards, I think of an old Michael Jordan and a too-young Kwame Brown. The Bullets had those retro cool red, white and blue striped jerseys. The Wizards have some sort of gold and black jerseys of a team that plays the Harlem Globetrotters.

I say go back to being the Bullets. Screw the PC agenda and do what makes you happy!

Preseason in College Football? Interesting ...

I don't know why, but all the sudden people are wondering why college football doesn't have at least one preseason game. It's a very interesting question.

The NFL goes through four preseason games before their 16-game season. MLB has over a month full of spring training games. The NBA and NHL have a few weeks to hold their exhibition tour across the country. Even college basketball has a semi-preseason with a couple of exhibition games as well as some cupcakes to start off the season.

I can see both sides of the argument.

FOR A PRESEASON GAME: Let 'em take on a cupcake before the real games begin. Let Florida vs Charleston happen last week and chalk it up to a learning experience. Let the kids go out and pound on some scrub school. The scrub school will nearly make up its entire budget by doing so. That's why Charleston is heading to the swamp this weekend.

Also, with "every game counting", wouldn't it benefit these schools to not open up with a top opponent? Either Alabama or Virginia Tech will be eliminated from national title contention after their opening week meeting this Saturday. Is that really fair?

AGAINST A PRESEASON GAME: Nearly every team in the FBS has a FCS team on their schedule. So why not make that a game that doesn't count instead? Also, this is football -- not basketball. Basketball teams can be formed at any time for any purpose. That isn't the case with football. There aren't any roaming exhibition football teams that can fill these spots up. So it will be those FCS schools anyways.

But my biggest gripe against it is because college football is bound by their rankings. If North Carolina basketball struggles to a win or even loses to a cupcake, it really doesn't matter if voters rank them down a bit. You can play your way back to the top. In football, that may not be the case. Say if Florida, Texas and USC are all undefeated at the end of the year ... but Texas struggled a bit in their preseason game ... would voters count that against the Horns? Will that be their "yeah, but ... "?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pac-Man Jones Fever Hits Winnipeg

Former Tennessee Titan and Dallas Cowboy Adam Pac-Man Jones has signed a one-year deal with the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Good luck.

The Bombers get what they want: a reason for someone to remember if Winnipeg has two i's or two e's. Jones gets what he wants: money and a chance to show anyone he's not a bad guy.

He'll also get cold. NHL guys are glad that the Winnipeg Jets moved because there is no where colder than that place during the winter. The good news is that the Blue Bombers are 3-5 right now so their season most likely will end in November. But think how cold Buffalo and Minneapolis (there's that word again!) are in the fall.

It will be interesting to see if he gets into any trouble in Winnipeg. It ain't Dallas or even Nashville. Also interesting since the Bombers ... like the Green Bay Packers ... are a community owned franchise (as are fellow CFL teams in Edmonton and Saskatchewan).

Rubio Delay May Pay Off For the Timberwolves

I can't believe I just woke up and typed two posts about the freakin' Minnesota Timberwolves.

Ricky Rubio will not come to Minnesota. Well, not now. He was traded from blah blah blah to blah blah Barcelona yesterday and will be staying in Spain until at least 2011. The Wolves brass tried a last ditch effort to reel him into the Land of 1,000 Lakes but was unsuccessful.

They will be disappointed, but this could pay off down the road for the Wolves.

RIGHT NOW: They have Johnny Flynn there to show everyone that he is the point guard of the future for the Wolves. There will be no weird rivalry between Flynn and Rubio for minutes at the point guard spot. It will give both guards a chance to develop at their own paces.

KEEPING/DEELING RUBIO: At some point, the Wolves will have to figure out if they are going to keep both or just one of the guards. I see them keeping Rubio because it isn't like he's a bargaining chip for a player that will turn them into a contender. In 2011, the Wolves won't be challenging for any titles anyway so they would be smart to just chill for a couple of years.

If Rubio does come in 2011, he'll only be 20 years old ... pretty much the age of a lot of rookies that get drafted. It will also allow the Wolves to hang onto Rubio for a longer period of time since his rookie scale contract won't start until he signs it. He will have a couple of seasons more to mature his game and as a man.

You will also get to see what Flynn has to offer and a grasp on what his future with the team is. Best case scenario is that both guys prove to be starters and the Wolves will have an overflow of talent. That would allow them to deal one of the two (I'd guess Flynn just because of the financial reasons) for another part they need or roll with a small backcourt.

Kurt Rambis, Bill Laimbeer and Reggie Theus Walk Into a Minnesota Bar ...

Here is quite an interesting band of brothers: Kurt Rambis is the new head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves and he's hiring Bill Laimbeer and Reggie Theus as assistants.

All three were players of the 1980s. Rambis wasn't much more than a role player but did play on championship teams. So did Bill Laimbeer, who was the face of the Pistons' "Bad Boy" persona. Theus won nothing, but had a very solid NBA career where he averaged 18.5 ppg for his career.

Also, these three bring quite an interesting coaching resume to the Wolves. Rambis got a good look at the Lakers job in the second half of the 1998-1999 season as an interim. However he was passed over for one Phil Jackson that summer. Theus lasted just 106 games as head coach of the Sacramento Kings before he was fired during last season. Theus brings roots from the college game as he was the head guy at New Mexico State and an assistant at Louisville.

However, his greatest contribution will be from the knowledge from his time as head coach of the Deering Tornadoes on the show "Hang Time". On the show, he was able to take a very un-athletic team with a female star and make them a winner. He was replaced in 1998 with ... off all people ... Dick Butkus.

Laimbeer brings some WNBA coaching experience. He led the Detroit Shock to three league titles before bowing out a couple of months ago.

So quite an interesting stable of coaches there.