Monday, December 27, 2010

NFL's Hypocritical Moving of Vikings-Eagles

The NFL moved the Vikings-Eagles game from Sunday night ... to Tuesday night. The reasoning? The NFL was a bit nervous that fans and stadium personnel could be stranded at Lincoln Financial Field after the night game ... and they don't want that.

This is the same league that has staged two Super Bowls in the Detroit area and one in Minneapolis. This is the same league that has had the Ice Bowl and a Bengals-Chargers game in negative-gajillion degree weather. This is the same league that touts the "Frozen Tundra" of Lambeau Field and night playoff games in New England.

I can give them a pass on that since those were all in years past and growth in safety is understandable in that aspect.

So they why hold a future Super Bowl in New York?

The NFL wanted a Super Bowl in the nation's largest city so badly that they thumbed their noses at that whole bad-weather thing and brought the game to the Big Apple. Fine.

But what if what happened this weekend happened during Super Bowl weekend? I mean, the NFL is hell-bent on having an 18-game schedule and doing so will most likely knock the Super Bowl to mid-to-late February. So what if a major storm hits the New York area during a Super Bowl? Imagine the nightmare of all those functions that New York will hold during that time ... not to mention the actual games.

And what if it is Dallas vs San Diego in that Super Bowl? Let's bring people in from those cities to try to hang with a blizzard. People in Buffalo and New England can deal with it: it's part of life. But ask the people in the South who just got him with nearly a foot of snow how they handled the weather.

Are the Vikings Leaving Minnesota For LA?

We may be seeing the last of the Vikings in Minnesota.

With one week remaining in the season (they play in Philly on Tuesday night and then at Detriot on Sunday), a possible lost NFL season in 2011 and their stadium ... which their lease runs out with after the 2011 season ... crumbling to pieces, it could be a wide open door for the Vikings to move to Los Angeles.

It is all set up for them. No one wants to see the Vikings leave the Twin Cities, but without a lease means they are without a home. The Metrodome may not even be worth fixing if there is no Vikings season on the horizon. And we all know that the massive snow storm that damaged the Metrodome's roof will happen again at some point.

When Zygi Wilf looks out there, he sees Los Angeles building themselves a nice new stadium. Nice and sunny new stadium. While the Twin Cities market (and the Vikings reach to the Dakotas, Iowa and Wisconsin) is nice ... it isn't Los Angeles. It would bring the Vikings to the NFL's second biggest market and would be only the 2nd NFC team in the state (the 49ers are the other). That means that So Cal fans could still see Chargers and Vikings games.

While I would never say it's a done deal ... I can say that this doesn't seem like a far out proposal either.

Now, if the Vikings do move to the Left Coast ... would the NFL keep them in the NFC North? While geography is a major factor in the divisional format, it doesn't trump everything. That's why Dallas plays in the NFC East, Baltimore in the AFC North and Miami in the AFC East. With the history there, the NFL could keep the Vikings in the NFC North.

But would it feel the same with the franchise moved? The NFL would be better off putting the Vikings in the NFC West with the Cardinals, Niners and Seahawks and putting the St. Louis Rams in the NFC North. The Rams should love that. The Rams-Bears rivalry would be big in central Illinois. Since Minnesotans are conditioned to hate the Packers, Bears and Lions, the Rams could snatch up that fan base. Plus they aren't stuck playing a slew of 4:00pm games each year.

Don't give me that "Rams don't really belong in that division" crap since ... well, why wouldn't they? The fact they play in "balmy" St. Louis? Have you seen Kansas City at this time of year? The fact they play in a dome? Um, the Vikings and Lions play in domes and have for 30 years or so. The fact that the Rams aren't historically a "black and blue" team? Neither was the Vikings in the Randy Moss era, the Lions during their run-and-shoot days or the Packers over the last 20 years. They have an emerging team that may win the NFC West next weekend.

This must we do know: the Vikings are unhappy about their situation and now have an out. Odds are they'll use it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Maybe Michael Jordan Could Buy "Hornets" Name Back

One thing Charlotte basketball fans hate is the Bobcats. No, not the team, but the name "Bobcats". Michael Jordan said we he bought the team that he was willing to think about changing the name. Everyone seems excited.

Now comes word that the NBA may buy the New Orleans Hornets from George Shinn. Less than a decade ago, Shinn moved the Hornets from Charlotte to N'Awlins. Shinn went from being the most popular man in the city when he got the NBA to expand to Charlotte for the 1988-1989 season, to being the most hated man in the city's history.

So if the NBA owns the Hornets and the NBA still in love with Michael Jordan, could we actually see Jordan try to buy the Hornets name back for the city of Charlotte?

Everyone in Charlotte would go for that. I still see a few people wearing Charlotte Hornets stuff. It could make all that hatred go away and would actually make the Bobcats more popular in the city if they just changed the name and identity back to the Hornets. Stern could then resurrect two franchises.

It isn't like the Hornets have been a New Orleans staple. They are averaging less than 14,000 per game despite getting off to such hot start to the season. In their eight years or so in Louisiana, they spent a quarter of it calling Oklahoma City home after Hurricane Katrina hit. I think a city like New Orleans would relish being able to name a team after itself in some way (similar to the New Orleans Jazz of the 1970s). Let them go nuts and name a team.

Just give "hornets" back to Charlotte. The hornets nest has been a symbol for the city for a couple of centuries and it just fits right. Hopefully Stern and Jordan can work something out and make it happen.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

World Sports Community (Again) Shows They Don't Need the United States

Earlier this year, the United States bid for the 2016 Olympic Games ... Chicago ... was beaten by Rio de Janeiro. That will be the first Games held in South America.

Today, the United States bid for the 2022 World Cup was beaten by Qatar ... the smallest country to every host the Cup. Ask most Americans and they have no idea where Qatar is.

In one year, the international sports community has basically said they don't need the USA like they used to.

Yeah, there are other factors out there. The fact that Rio would be the first Games in South America was a big selling point. Qatar is an oil rich nation and would place the World Cup in the part of the planet where events like this are rarely held. The USA has lost these things before and just did again.

What also is a factor is the fact that we're not that good at hosting these things. Sure, the 1994 World Cup was a success here ... even if the game hasn't caught the fire people predicted it would. But the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta was marred by a terrorist attack and an overkill of corporate powers that left a bad taste in the IOC's mouth. Then the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City is best known for the gift-giving scandal that caused the IOC to overhaul its rules. We haven't done it correctly.

In the past, that didn't matter. The international sports community needed the United States so much that they looked past all these kinds of things. They point to the 1984 Games in Los Angeles which showed the world that the games (after sucking the last several cities dry) that a city can thrive because of the Olympics. That momentum continued in Seoul and Barcelona and allowed the United States to quickly get the games back just 12 years later.

The world knew that the corporate dollars would pour in. The world knew that the USA would make it quite a production. The world knew that many eyes would be watching the games and the USA is very "foreigner friendly" so fans from other nations would feel at home.

That isn't the case anymore. Our standing in the world has fallen a bit ... not to mention our likeability. The massive corporate dollars aren't there anymore -- at least not as much to sway an event here. And while we may be more "foreigner friendly" than anywhere else, things have changed where bringing an event like that would be a logistical nightmare in our New America.

Those things are true everywhere, however, so it is interesting why the USA keeps getting passed over. Maybe we've overstayed our welcome on the world stage. Maybe we need to prove that we are worthy of the Games and Cup ... instead of trying to say they are worthy of being here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

After Adding TCU, Will the Big East Now Split In Two?

TCU announced today that it was leaving the Mountain West Conference for the Big East. Makes sense because nothing says "East" like Texas (or Louisville, Marquette, DePaul).

The move gives the conference a rising football power ... making it a 9-team football conference. It also makes the hoops side of things a 17-team conference where everyone will play each other once and every team gets two "repeat games". The Big East also extended a invite for Villanova to move their football program up from FCS to become the 10th football member (Nova is already a member in all other sports).

With the conference ballooning up to ridiculous heights, will a break up of the Big East happen? After all, with football running things there is no reason for many of the schools to keep carrying the others.

With TCU in the fold, the football members would be smart to break off into their own conference (TCU, Syracuse, Pitt, West Virginia, UConn, South Florida, Cincinnati, Rutgers and Louisville). That would leave the non-football members (Notre Dame, Villanova, Georgetown, St. John's, Providence, Seton Hall, Marquette and DePaul) to hold their own hoops conference.

Those football schools don't really need the others. In fact, aside from losing Nova and G'town (Marquette and Notre Dame would be marginal losses), the football schools actually make up a more powerful hoops conference. Syracuse, UConn and Louisville have all won National Championships over the last 25 years while Pitt, West Virginia and Cincinnati have been powerhouses during that span. Rutgers is becoming more of a force leaving only TCU and South Florida as the only "bottom feeders".

Not like the non-football schools. Sure St. John's is trying to turn around their fortunes. So is DePaul and Seton Hall. But aside from losing New York City as the epicenter of the conference (which they still could host their tournament there with Rutgers still around), is there any other real loss?

Maybe. Notre Dame has a big national following. You would also lose the Philadelphia, Washington, New York, Chicago and Milwaukee markets ... something the Big East really doesn't want to give up. But maybe they all work something out and just have two separate "divisions" in the Big East Conference ... similar to how the NFC and AFC work in the NFL. They have their own divisions and do their thing but also can play some games against teams in the other division. Breaking up from a hoops standpoint doesn't make total sense.

But if there is anything we've learned about this conference realignment is that basketball doesn't matter. After all, why in the hell would TCU want to go to the Big East? Recruiting? TV exposure? The great basketball tradition? No, they want to go there so they can whip the other schools in football and have an easier time to a BCS game. I mean, TCU had to be PERFECT to get into a BCS bowl this year. Meanwhile, a mediocre UConn team could be the representative from the Big East in a BCS bowl.

Football drives this all. So it wouldn't surprise me to see the football schools leave the others behind.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

R.I.P. Leslie Neilsen

Word just came that Leslie Neilsen has passed away. The world got just a bit less funnier.

Older cats knew Neilsen as a serious actor. Anyone under 40 knows that he starred in some of the funniest goofy comedies of the last 30 years.

This is a sports blog, but this is sort of a sports topic. After all, Neilsen starred in The Naked Gun films which also starred NFL legend O.J. Simpson. The first of the trilogy ended at a Mariners-Angels game where Neilsen sang the National Anthem, then was the home plate umpire then stopped Reggie Jackson from killing the Queen.

The Naked Gun movies were taken from the TV show Police Squad (if you don't know, go to netflix and check them out), and while many of the same gags appear in both places, both were hilarious in their own right.

My favorite Leslie Neilsen movie is Airplane! . I don't ever remember NOT knowing every line of that movie. The greatest gift Neilsen had was the fact he could play extremely straight and the comedy just launched all around him.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Are We Going to Enter Another Era Of Multi-Purpose Stadiums?

If you are in your mid-30s ... like me ... you remember the days where your local baseball team and football team shared the same stadium. The baseball experience gave us more foul ground and less fan interference. The football experience gave us funky site lines and blown knees.

We may have to get used to seeing that again. Maybe sooner than you think.

In our current economic climate, cities may look at getting more out of their stadiums. Last week, Wrigley Field (built nearly 100 years ago) hosted the Illinois-Northwestern football game. That night, New Yankee Stadium hosted Notre Dame-Army and will host the Pinstripe Bowl this winter.

While it isn't co-tenetcy (sorry if that's not a word) in the old fashioned sense, it is providing new revenue for an expensive lot just sitting around doing nothing. Right now, only two stadiums are homes to both an NFL team and an MLB team: Oakland Coliseum (Raiders, Athletics) and Dolphin Stadium (Dolphins, Marlins).

Back in the day, this was the norm:

-Three Rivers Stadium housed the Steelers and Pirates
-Riverfront Stadium housed the Bengals and Reds
-Shea Stadium housed the Jets and Mets
-Astrodome housed the Oilers and Astros
-Memorial Coliseum housed the Browns and Indians
-Memorial Stadium housed the Colts and Orioles
-Jack Murphy Stadium housed the Chargers and Padres
-Mile High Stadium housed the Broncos and briefly the Rockies.
-Veterans Stadium housed the Eagles and Phillies
-Metrodome housed the Vikings and Twins
-Fulton County Stadium housed the Falcons and Braves
-Kingdome housed the Seahawks and Mariners
-Candlestick Park housed the Niners and Giants
-Busch Stadium housed the both the football and baseball Cardinals
-Anaheim Stadium housed the Rams and Angels

That doesn't even take account stadiums like RFK, Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park or many of the really old digs that were NFL, AFL and baseball homes.

Of those 14 stadiums listed above, only Jack Murphy Stadium (now Qualcomm), Metrodome and Candlestick Park still operate as either an NFL or MLB stadium. The rest have been replaced by two brand new stadiums.

-Pittsburgh built Heinz Field and PNC Park
-Cincinnati built Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ballpark
-New York built New Meadowlands Stadium and CitiField
-Houston built Reliant Stadium and Enron Field (now Minute Maid Park)
-Cleveland built Browns Stadium and Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field)
-Baltimore built Ravens Stadium (now M&T Bank) and Oriole Park
-San Diego built PetCo Park.
-Denver built Invesco Field and Coors Field
-Philadelphia built Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park
-Minneapolis built Target Field
-Atlanta built Georgia Dome and Turner Field
-Seattle built Qwest Field and SafeCo Field
-San Francisco built Pac-Bell (now AT&T) Park
-St. Louis built TWA Dome (now Edward Jones) and New Busch Stadium

I doubt that we will see anything like that again and certainly not soon. Every city that has both a baseball and football team has a relatively new stadium that doesn't need replaced. But would a city ... especially a smaller market ... consider down the road building a multi-purpose stadium to save costs?

Until then, we may see some more college football games in baseball stadiums. College football could be the driving force behind what stadiums decide to do. Not only is Yankee Stadium hosting a bowl, but so does AT&T Park, Tropicana Field and Sun Life Stadium. Twelve NFL stadiums will host 15 bowl games this winter (University of Phoenix Stadium, Qualcomm Stadium and Superdome host two apiece).

Niche games like the ones played at Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium could be more attractive. It's worked in the NHL where baseball stadiums have hosted the Winter Classic hockey game on New Year's Day.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The End Of An Era In Several Conferences

Here we are right after Thanksgiving and there is a bit of nosalgia about college football. Not so much that we are in rivalry mode ... but the fact that several of the conferences we know will be altered quite a bit next year.

The most notable was the Nebraska-Colorado game. Both were playing in their final Big XII game as both will peel off to other conferences next year. Nebraska heads to the Big Ten; Colorado heads to the Pac-10.

The Big Ten will have 12 teams and employ a divisional format that could stop some of the most historic rivalries in the sport (some of these teams have played nearly every year for a century). Colorado ... along with the Mountain West's Utah ... will move out west and turn the Pac-10 into the Pac-12. Just like the Big Ten, the Pac-12 will split into two divisions and break up the schools.

Obviously that means the Big XII will return just ten members next year. So next week's Big XII championship game will be the last one ... of course, until they decide to add more teams down the road. Next year, the Big XII will have a true round robin in the schedule and everyone will play everyone else every year.

That's really all of the BCS conferences right now, but the two other major conferences -- the WAC and Mountain West -- will be drastically altered. The Mountain West loses Utah to the Pac-12, remember, and will lose BYU as they become an independant in football and a member of the West Coast Conference in other sports. The leaves the current 9-team MWC with just 7 teams.

The WAC will lose a lot to the Mountain West. Boise State was/is the first to leave the WAC for the MWC and will be the 8th member of the conference in 2011. Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada will all join in 2012, giving the conference 11 members. Hawaii isn't a given yet, but if they do join it will be in football only. No word if the MWC will go after a 12th team to get a championship game (Utah State?).

With the currently 9-member WAC losing Boise State, Nevada and Fresno State (and probably Hawaii) to the Mountain West, it would leave the WAC with just five members. To get at eight teams, the WAC reached down quite a few pegs to bring up Denver, Tx-San Antonio and Texas State.

Most of that won't happen until 2012 ... and most of you won't notice. Still, it is quite a sad and still exciting time to see the college football landscape change like this.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Stop Making NFL's Western Teams Play 1:00 Games

One of my pet peeves in the NFL scheduling is the fact that they keep scheduling western teams to play at eastern time zone teams in the 1:00 game.

Two years ago when I was working for AOL's FanHouse, I posted that NFL's western teams struggle when playing those games. In that post, those western teams were 0-12 (I'm not going back to see how it all ended up). Two years later, it is still the case.

This is the teams in the Pacific and Mountain time zones (Broncos, 49ers, Raiders, Cardinals, Seahawks and Chargers) playing teams in the Eastern time zone at 1:00pm ET. That means they are playing at 10am/11am local time. That's rough for a team that spends most of its season on the left coast.

There is less of a sample this year than in years past. The NFC West play the AFC West in the cross-conference scheduling format so any eastern games are limited to conference games. So far, there have been six that have been scheduled at 1pm:

Broncos at Jaguars
Broncos at Niners (in London)
Cardinals at Falcons
Raiders at Steelers
Niners at Falcons
Niners at Panthers

They are 0-6 in those games. Well, 1-6 if you count the fact that it was the Niners that beat the Broncos in London ... but then it isn't really a fair variable since both teams were western teams and one of them had to win.

So when a western team plays a 1pm ET game in the eastern time zone ... they are 0-5.

You could point to several reasons for this. Sure, the AFC and NFC West are probably the two worst divisions in the NFL ... and that doesn't factor in Central Time Zone teams like the Rams or Chiefs. You could say that most of the teams they have played were against teams among the league's elite (Steelers, Falcons). But how does that explain the Niners losing in Carolina to the Panthers? That one win could be the only one Carolina gets all year.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Is the Vince Young Era Over in Tennessee?

Vince Young left the 19-16 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins with an injured thumb. Titans head coach Jeff Fisher says that even if the thumb is fine, Young is no longer the starter.

Sounds kind of harsh, eh?

Well, not when you hear that when Young was finally shut down for the game (he was trying to get back in), he threw his shoulder pads up into the stands, came back out in street clothes and then bolted the team early and went home.

Fisher, at the post game press conference, said that there was no excuse for Young's actions and that he won't be the starter next week.

With the history of bad leadership from Young in Tennessee, is it time for them to cut bait and move on?

Shouldn't NASCAR's Finale Be a Demolition Derby?

Today is the final race in the NASCAR season (not too much longer before the first race of next season). Right now, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick are in the running to take home the Sprint Cup championship. It's the first time the title has been up in the air since NASCAR when to the Chase format in 2004. Should be great racing.

Now, I'm not a racing guy so forgive me if this sounds dumb. But why is NASCAR more about "I" then "team"? I mean, why do they have "teams" but NASCAR is telling everyone to let the race happen?

I mean ... duh. NASCAR can't have a demolition derby where Hamlin's, Johnson's and Harvick's teammates take out their competitors. It's not good for the sport nor is it good for the TV viewing audience. After all, Johnson and Harvick would have their teammates try and take out Hamlin in the very first lap if they were smart. That's what a good teammate would do.

In hockey, those guys are called enforcers. They used to have them in basketball (some still exist). In baseball, you get "purpose pitches" to send a message. We have various defensive players ... and Hines Ward ... who get excited about knocking someone out of a game.

If NASCAR has teams, then why aren't they allowed to use them? I mean, what's the point of having teams? I know, it's stupid.

Granted, NASCAR is actually more worried about a teammate "letting" one of the drivers finish ahead of them in order to have a better shot at the Cup Championship. If Dale Earnhardt Jr is up at the front of the pack, why wouldn't he help teammate Johnson by blocking out the others in the Chase and letting Johnson pass him by?

And what if a teammate doesn't care about NASCAR's demands and does take someone out? What would NASCAR really do? Fine the team? Well, you'd have to prove that it wasn't an accident ... and even if you do, are you going to actually rip the title out of someone's hands? You can't really deduct points from the winner if he had nothing to do with the wreck.

It's unlikely, though it is interesting.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What If the BCS ran other sports?

Ya know, maybe the BCS isn't the worst thing in sports. Maybe it is just so revolutionary that we just can't grasp the entire concept. I mean, why doesn't it just be mandatory in all sports?

I mean, we would have had a Rays-Phillies World Series that certainly would have better ratings than the Giants-Rangers series. No playoffs, just straight to the World Series.

We may as well go ahead place Duke in the NCAA championship. It will fun to see who they might face. It certainly wouldn't be Butler, since they are outsiders and shouldn't get a shot at a title. I mean, winning the Horizon League isn't impressive at all.

Over in the NFL, who knows? There are about 10 teams that have a shot at winning the Super Bowl. Eagles? Patriots? Giants? Saints? Jets? Colts? Packers? Falcons? It would be a mess trying to sort that out but the BCS always picks the best matchup of the most deserving team.

Man, just imagine how much easier sports would be if the BCS just put the Lakers-Heat/Celtics series we all know is going to happen.

Even if it really doesn't.

No more NFL playoffs, no League Championship Series, no Stanley Cup playoffs and no NCAA Tournament.

Just imagine how great all sports would be if we didn't have those things!

**This message brought to you by Sarcasm**

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Blazers: NBA's Snake Bitten Franchise

This week, it was revealed that Brandon Roy has bad knees that will most likely plague his promising career. Just another twist of bad luck for a snake-bitten franchise.

The Portland Trail Blazers are not the LA Clippers. They are not the Minnesota Timberwolves. They are not even the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Blazers have a World Championship under their belt and have been to two more Finals.

But it could have been so much better.

Portland has had the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft four times. Each time, they selected a center. Only one has worked out. That would be Bill Walton, who led the Blazers to the 1977 NBA championship.

The next season after Portland rushed out to a 50-10 start, Walton hurt his foot. Due to what he deemed as poor medical treatment, he demanded a trade out of the Pacific Northwest. And the would-be-dynasty was over.

Their other top picks haven't worked. In 1972, two years before the franchise drafted Walton, they selected LaRue Martin with the top overall pick. He was selected before future Hall Of Famers Bob McAdoo and Julius Erving. Martin played just four seasons and averaged 5.3 ppg.

In 1978, Minnesota's Mychal Thompson would be selected first overall by Portland (Larry Bird would be selected a few picks later). Thompson did okay in Portland, but was dealt to the Spurs after eight seasons. He would later be dealt to the Lakers and helped them to back-to-back championships.

The other top selection was, of course, Greg Oden in 2007. Oden missed what would have been his rookie season with a knee injury. Since then, he's barely shown an ability to stay healthy or to be dominant. It stings even more when a guy named Kevin Durant was selected directly after him.

Sam Bowie wasn't the top overall pick ... but he is regarded as one of the worst draft picks in history. Bowie was selected with the second pick in the 1984 draft -- one spot ahead of Michael Jordan. Charles Barkley and John Stockton was also selected in that draft.

But that isn't all. How about paying for Moses Malone in the ABA-NBA dispersal draft ... then dealing him away for a draft pick. Malone would go on to a Hall of Fame career, winning three MVP awards and one championship.

In 1986, the Blazers selected USSR's Arvydas Sabonis in the draft. He would make his debut in Portland nine years later. The team drafted Jermaine O'Neal in 1996, only to rarely play him and then dump him off before he had an All Star career.

The Blazers are also the franchise that had to deal with the "Jail Blazers" era, as well as dumping Darius Miles due to what they thought was a career ending injury. Miles came back from his injury and, in doing so, became a huge salary cap albatross to the Blazers (even though he was playing with the Grizzlies).

In 2005, the Blazers took Deron Williams with the third pick in the draft. They immediately dealt him to Utah for the draft rights to Martell Webster.

The Roy injury stings just because it may finally dawn on everyone that the Blazers may truly be cursed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

NFL Firings: Who's Next?

We had our first firing of the season when Dallas canned Wade Phillips. That means one less head on the chopping block. So which coaches should keep an eye out for a pink slip?

1-BRAD CHILDRESS (VIKINGS): How Chili hasn't been canned yet is almost a miracle. No coach has had a worse season than him. He cow-towed to Brett Favre, then seems to dis him at every turn. The team has greatly underperformed. The Randy Moss fiasco should have finalized it. This could seemingly happen any day now.

2-JOSH MCDANIELS (BRONCOS): After starting 6-0, McDaniels' Broncos have been 4-14. He ran both Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall out of town and his reign in Denver has been close to a disaster.

3-JOHN FOX (PANTHERS): Fox is a dead man walking in Carolina. He's run his course in Charlotte. With Bill Cowher on everyone's mind, this will be all but inevitable.

4-MARVIN LEWIS (BENGALS): I doubt that Lewis will technically be fired. He's in the final year of his contract and the Bengals will most likely wait until the end of the season to move on.

5-MIKE SINGLETARY (49ERS): A season filled with so much promise has turned sour. His "rat" rant showed everyone that he's losing it.

6-GARY KUBIAK (TEXANS): I doubt he'd be fired during the season, but I'm one of those people who are really disappointed in Houston. To have Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and all that talent on defense and still sitting in last place in the AFC South doesn't make sense. At 4-4, the Texans are at their usual mediocre spot.

The Cowboys Should NOT Have Fired Wade Phillips ... Now

Okay, okay, okay! Yeah, I'm a Redskins fan and of course I'm going to say that the Dallas Cowboys should not have fired Wade Phillips at the midpoint of the season. I mean, what Skins fan wouldn't want a few more years of this???

But in all seriousness, I don't think that Phillips should have been fired. Right now. Oh, fire him at the end of the season if you want ... but let him play out the string. I really think Jerry Jones wanted to do that. But back to back blowouts to the Jaguars and Packers pushed Jones over the edge and he did what he swore he wouldn't do -- fire Phillips.

The problem is that firing NFL coaches mid-season rarely amounts to anything.

It can work in baseball or even basketball. We've seen baseball skippers get canned during the year and the interim manager rallies the team into a pennant race. In basketball, a change at the guard sometimes can pay off (just ask Pat Riley). But it doesn't really work in football (just ask Mike Singletary). It hasn't really worked since Marty Schottenheimer took over the Browns in the middle of the 1984 season.

There's a lot of reasons why it doesn't work ... but the main one to me is that you rarely can bring in a guy you really want to take his place. It is usually an assistant coach that takes over and, due to the limited time, actually stays the course with the team and adds in just a few wrinkles. You won't get a big name coach to take the reigns in the middle of a season.

That's why you may as well keep your coach intact unless you really, really, really believe in the assistant you are replacing him with (this could happen in Minnesota as the team may want to keep Leslie Frasier in house).

A few years ago, you knew that Jason Garrett would take Phillips' job. You knew it. He was all but named Phillips' successor as soon as both of them were hired. But a lot of the problems with the Cowboys stem from both men and to fire one and promote the other seems rather odd.

The only way it could make sense is if Jones wants to see if Garrett has anything in him for the second half of the season and if he's worth hanging on to. If not, Jones can either let Garrett go, demote him back to offensive coordinator and hire the man he really wants to take the job.

Odds are, Garrett won't make a difference. And if he does get this team playing a bit better (like Singletary did), chances are it won't carry over down the road (like Singletary). Then you are back to square one. I mean, if Garrett was still thought of as highly as Jones did when he was hired, he would already have replaced Phillips in the last two offseasons.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Murder Suspect Arrested at Bobcats Game

Here is quite the story: a murder suspect was arrested during a Charlotte Bobcats game.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police captured the suspect during the Bobcats 91-88 loss to the Orlando Magic on Saturday night. Police arrested 24-year old Earle Barranco in one of the V.I.P. sections of Time Warner Cable Arena. Barranco is a suspect in a shooting at a New York City diner that ended in a death of a man two weeks ago.

Police say Barranco shot 28-year-old Corey Scott twice in the head and three times in the back after a confrontation at Good Stuff Diner on 14th Street in New York City, killing him instantly two weeks ago.

The New York Daily News reported that the shooting may have been sparked by a debt. Barranco and Scott knew each other.

Surveillance video taken from inside the diner shows Scott and several friends walking into the restaurant and confronting another group sitting in the back, the Daily News reported.
Barranco apparently had friends in Charlotte and was laying low with them. So going to an NBA game with 18,000 other people seems like a smart idea for a guy who is wanted for murder, right?

Are We Supposed To Make Everything Politically Correct?

ESPN's J.J. Adande wrote a very good piece about the whole Garnett/Villenueva war of words and how any use of the word "cancer" should be taken out of our metaphoric quotes. While I agree with him, I don't think it will happen. It hasn't yet. And it probably never will.

Cancer is a word that some people still whisper when saying it, lest they curse themselves with it. It is a horrible disease that just crushes lives.

But you know what else crushes lives? War.

The fact that we have yet to eliminate ... or even care to ... words that war brings us should show where we are in this discussion. Those words will last forever. Ever see how war can damage a person or an entire nation? It is one of mankind's most horrible capabilities, yet we don't have any problem throwing those terms around.

"It's a war out there", "blitz", "bomb", "shoot" and "battle" still are in our lexicon. Even words like "fore" and "caddie" have their roots in the military. "Dog fight" is still used even though it is both a war battle as well as the despicable act that imprisoned Michael Vick. Even other words, such as "killing" and "murdering" and "bloodshed", still have life.

Those will not go away. No matter how much you try, it won't. Just this morning, I heard Mitch Albom on ESPN's Sports Reporters say how Randy Moss was a locker room cancer ... which is usually how the term is used in sports and the manner Garnett says he used it.

Granted, we as a people have tried over the last 20 years to be a lot more careful in what words we do use. "Cancer" is one that does cause pain and should be removed, but we're not going to see that happen.

The fact that Garnett allegedly called Villanueva a "cancer patient" does need to go. There is no need for that. None. But no one is going to remove "he is a cancer to his team" from the sports world.

Monday, November 1, 2010

College Football: "Every Game Counts", My Butt!

I've said this before on this blog and I'll say it again: the BCS sucks! College football is fun to watch ... but the people who run it suck!

Today's sermon is about any college football honk's declaration of "the season is its own playoff". Get out of here with that crap! It isn't. Not in the slightest. In fact, more games DON'T count than do.

With the new BCS rankings out, one of the biggest benefactors was Alabama. Bama is the defending champion and probably the best team in the land. But they lost at South Carolina pretty handily. Meanwhile, Boise State, TCU and Utah are scrutinized by everyone for who they haven't played.

I'll admit: Alabama is most likely a better team than any three of those schools ... even if they had two regular season losses. But they shouldn't be National Champions ahead of those schools if they didn't follow your "every game counts" crap.

If "every game counts", they how can a one-loss Bama team get a shot at the title game ahead of an unbeaten TCU/Utah (these two play this Saturday giving one of them their first loss) or Boise State? If "every game counts", then Alabama's loss counts. I mean, isn't that like if Alabama played Boise in a playoff, Boise won, but they still advanced Alabama because ... well, they are really the better team?

Everyone with some sense (and who doesn't have their hand in the bowl money) knows that we need a college football playoff. As great a spectacle as college football is, it has the worst post season of anyone.

I mean, I love all the bowl games as much as the next guy and one of the few people that aren't completely put off by half the field getting bowl bids. Let these kids have their shine! But we must wait six weeks or so after the regular season ends to see the championship game. And don't give me "well, the NBA and NHL playoffs are nearly two months long" stuff because at least those teams in the Finals actually played games in the meantime.

But teams like Ohio State play their final regular season games before Thanksgiving ... then don't play again until the second week of January. It's ridiculous and even more of a sham to have your sport's title game happen between two teams that haven't played in such a long time.

Every game does not count. Just ask Boise State or TCU or Utah in a month.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Brad Childress Slams Brett Favre

Very interesting post-game news conference. Very interesting.

After the Vikings 28-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Vikes head coach Brad Childress ... though not naming Brett Favre ... slammed his quarterback. In his news conference, Chilli said this:

It still goes back to taking care of the football. You can't throw it to them. You gotta play within the confines of the system. It's okay to punt the football. And, you know, you can't give seven points going the other way. Not, not, not in a game like this. Not with a high powered team.

He would go on to imply that Percy Harvin was open and ... to paraphrase Chili ... Favre was looking the other way for some reason. Childress even stated that he was set to yank Favre from the game but gave him one more series to do something (Favre led them on a TD drive). Imagine if Favre was yanked on a Sunday Night Football game played in Green Bay? You can't get much more humiliating.

Again, he never said "Brett" or "Favre" but you have to be blind not to see what he was trying to say.

I cannot wait for Brett's reply to this. While Childress may be correct with what he said, a head coach just cannot throw his Hall Of Fame quarterback that you begged and begged to play for you under the bus.

NFL Sending Mixed Messages

The big story around the NFL this week has been player safety. Mainly all those brutal hits last Sunday and their future impact on player fines and suspensions.

This is a very controversial since it blurs the line between safety and keeping the game the fans love intact. We love big hits and physical play. That's part of the lure of the NFL. Still, none of us wants to see anyone suffer a life altering or threatening injury. That's what makes this such a tough issue to grasp.

So kudos to the NFL for caring about player safety.

Oh, by the way, they still want to hold an 18 game schedule.

Player safety is only important if it doesn't impact the owners' wallets. The NFL seems to care about instant effects than the long term ones. We don't want to see players carted off the field with a neck injury but we don't care if they are 50 years old and cannot walk anymore. That what it looks like to me.

This also brings up the fact that retired vets from back in the day are struggling to survive and the NFL does next-to-nothing to assist them. Again, player safety seems to only matter when the cameras are rolling and there are checks to cash.

Or why wouldn't the NFL consider carving back the season to 14 games? Or maybe keep the 16 game schedule and expand each roster by 5 to 10 players? They won't do that since it doesn't make any financial sense for them. But telling their players to play scared does.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Who Should NBA Contract ... If Anyone

NBA commish David Stern said that contracting teams would be "on the table". Of course, that's nothing more than a ploy in collective bargaining negotiations, but it is interesting.

So who would/should the NBA contract?

TORONTO: The Raptors seem like an obvious choice. No one wants to play there (aside from foreign players) and that will never change.

CHARLOTTE: The NBA's newest team could be contracted and no one would really care. But would the NBA actually clip off Michael Jordan's team?

SACRAMENTO: The Kings play in a barn and California is in such financial crisis that I don't see them really coming thru with a new arena. The team was already looking to move, anyways.

MEMPHIS: The Grizzlies just aren't working out. Ownership is bad and their fan base isn't rabid.

You could also make an argument for the Clippers, Hornets or even the LeBron-less Cavaliers. Again, I don't see it happening but you can't put anything past Stern.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Athletes Aren't Worse; We Just Know More About Them

This has been a bad time to hold an athlete as an idol. Right now, we have Brett Favre being questioned for lewd texts to a Jets employee. We have Cheetah Woods entire life crashing down after he crashed his car last Thanksgiving. We heard about the sad murder of Steve McNair ... and found out he was killed at the pad that the married McNair stashed his girlfriend away in.

Those are just a few of the examples of our beloved sports stars going off the moral track. We all know there are many, many others.

Some people will take this opportunity to slam today's athlete and actually spout "guys didn't do this kind of crap in my day." Bull.

The difference today is we all find out about it so quickly. Something gets leaked and all those news organizations and websites jump all over every detail. In our world today, everyone has the ability to be a "journalist" and like being the one to break a story or come up with a rumor. I'm not saying that's a good or bad thing, but it is the way the world is.

I know people who grew up with Pete Rose. My dad was one of them. When I was a kid, my dad told me some of the bad things Rose did. A lot of people knew about it ... including many journalists. They didn't report it because it wasn't news.

Think about how the exploits of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, Wilt Chamberlain or Joe Namath would be handled today? Heck, think how the exploits of Mike Tyson, Wade Boggs, Steve Garvey or Shawn Kemp would be handled if their controversies happened today and not around 20 years ago?

We are all watching.

Believe me, as a sports blogging O.G., I'm not dissing the way things are now. I've always said that information is only as powerful as the people's craving for it. It's true not only in sports, but pop culture and politics as well. It's the way our world works. Fair or not, athletes must know that it is extremely hard to keep your bad deeds hidden.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Told You, Scheduling NFL Rivalries Is A Good Idea

Today (October 17th, 2010), Jay Glazer said that the Houston Texans owner is pushing for one (maybe two) of those two extra games they are tacking on the season to go to obvious regional rivalries.

I said this back on September 26th, 2010. I figured it was a positive idea for everyone. Back them, I said this:

Have the Cowboys-Texans game every year. Redskins-Ravens. Giants-Jets. Eagles-Steelers. Buccaneers-Dolphins. Niners-Raiders. Rams-Chiefs.

Other ones that make sense are Bears-Colts. Lions-Bills (especially if the team moves to Toronto). Panthers-Titans. Falcons-Jaguars. Cardinals-Chargers. Seahawks-Broncos.

Some won't make sense.

The Packers, Vikings, Saints, Patriots, Bengals and Browns don't have a natural cross-conference rivalry. Figure out some rotation between those six or just force a "rivalry" down their throat (Pats-Saints? Bengals-Vikings? Browns-Packers?).

Sounds simple, eh?

The owner also said that maybe both those games could be rivalry games. Like the Texans would have the Cowboys and the Saints? The Cowboys get the Texans and Cardinals? The Buccaneers, Dolphins and Jags playing each other every season?

I'm not just with the obvious regional rivalries. How about those man-made rivalries? The Colts and Patriots should play every year ... even if it doesn't fall that way on the current format. How about having Michael Vick play in Atlanta once ... or playing a Raiders-Rams game in Los Angeles? Just something outside the box.

If you are going to make a big change, make it so we like it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hey Bud! Speed Up the Postseason!

One of the most fan un-friendly things in sports is the milking of the postseason. The NBA used to make a 5-game series last for two weeks just for the TV revenue.

Well, it seems as if Major League Baseball has gotten on the bandwagon.

The ALCS ... featuring the Yankees, who clinched last Saturday, and the Rangers, who clinched on Tuesday ... will take place Friday night. That means Texas will have two off days while the Yankees have five. When you are used to a baseball season having 15 games nearly every day of the year, this is pain.

If you are waiting on the NLCS, you'll have to come back on Saturday. That's when Game 1 between the Phillies and Giants start. Philly clinched on Sunday, meaning they have nearly a week of downtime before suiting up again. That must really help the timing, eh?

Meanwhile, our World Series will take place in November. Why? Because they can't find the time to fit in all these games or something. The extra three or four days they could've shaved off this week could have knocked some of those November games back a month.

Remember when the Division Series were played in a six-day period? You'd play two in one park ... travel day ... two in the other park ... and if it went the full five games then it would be played immediately after Game 4. Screw it if it was Mariners-Rays! They must cross the country and play tomorrow!

Now they have an off day before Game 5. That's fine, since we only saw one series go that far, but keep it simple, stupid. But, no, they want to keep TBS and FOX happy by pre-scheduling the Championship Series so those networks can fit their programming around it.

Again ... this is baseball. They don't need off days like that. They're used to playing six games every seven days -- they've done it all year long!

So, again, why would any 5-game series last longer than a week? And why would any 7-game series last more than 8 or 9 days? And if the Phillies and Yankees clinch in four games, don't wait a week to get these two on the field again. Patience is not a virtue on these things.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Assessing the NFL At the Quarter Mark

With all but four teams finishing up their quarter mark of the season, let's go ahead and look at each division and try to figure out what's going on.

NFC EAST: This division is a jumbled mess -- three teams sit at 2-2. The Redskins, who were left for dead a week ago, has already won two division games. The Eagles have gone from Kolb to Vick to Kolb ... and probably back to Vick in a couple of weeks. The Giants looked outstanding against the Bears just one week after looking horrible against the Titans. I still think this division goes to the Cowboys, who just have too much talent to ignore. Injuries to the Eagles (Vick) and Redskins (Portis) should push them to the rear for now.

NFC SOUTH: The Saints aren't looking like world beaters right now, but you have some games like that when you walk in with that Super Bowl trophy. The Falcons are like any Atlanta team -- they can look really good but you're not sure if they can close the deal. Does anyone really believe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are any good? If Steve Smith is out for an extended period of time, the Panthers are then the worst team in the league. This division still belongs to the Saints.

NFC NORTH: Crazy division here. The Bears aren't as good as advertised and the Lions aren't as bad. This division comes down to the Packers and Vikings ... duh. With the Vikings getting Randy Moss, this really puts a shot in the arm in Minnesota. With Ryan Grant out in Green Bay, I think the Vikings pull this one out.

NFC WEST: Who knows? Who cares? This is the worst division in any sport. The sad thing is that the 49ers could turn this thing around and win the division. They could. They still get to play everyone twice but Seattle (just once more). The Seahawks are too inconsistent, the Rams too young and the Cardinals are praying Kurt Warner un-retires. The division, shockingly, goes to the Niners.

Who gets fired first in each division?
EAST: Wade Phillips, SOUTH: John Fox, NORTH: Brad Childress, WEST: Mike Singletary

Who has the worst quarterback issues?
EAST: Eagles, SOUTH: Panthers, NORTH: Vikings, WEST: Cardinals

Which team will turn it around (good or bad)?
EAST: Cowboys (good), SOUTH: Buccaneers (bad), NORTH: Vikings (good), WEST: Niners (good)

AFC EAST: The Patriots just dealt Randy Moss to the Vikings which eliminates their big play threat. It will be interesting to see how defenses adjust. The Dolphins' loss to New England may really kill any momentum this team was trying to create. The Bills suck. To me, the overwhelming winner of this division is the Jets. They have the studs despite missing guys to injury and not getting what they thought they'd get from Shonn Greene.

AFC SOUTH: The Houston Texans look like they could run away with this. I like the Colts, still, but they just seem to be missing something. The Titans are just too flip-floppy for me to take seriously. That defense can look really good or really bad. The Jaguars are tough to figure out as well, but they're right in the mix. Still, I think the Texans comes away with it. They are the hungriest team of the bunch.

AFC NORTH: It's the Ravens and Steelers. The Bengals just have too many flaws (*cough* ... coaching ... *cough*) and the Browns blow chunks. Both the Ravens and Steelers boast great defenses. I love what B-more's receivers are doing and giving Flacco a chance to succeed. But I'm going to side with the Steelers. It is impressive to me that they nearly went 4-0 with a bunch of crappy QBs. With a rested, humbled and focused Ben Roethlisberger back, Pittsburgh is set to make a move.

AFC WEST: Everyone is loving the Chiefs right now ... and they should. This is a speedy team with a lot of offensive firepower. The Chargers are the only real competition they have. I think closure of the Vincent Jackson situation would be ideal for San Diego, but you just don't know what A.J. Smith will do. The Raiders are still in too much disarray and the Broncos are mediocre, at best. I'm sticking with the Chargers to pull this one out.

Who gets fired first in each division?
EAST: Chan Gailey, SOUTH: Jack Del Rio, NORTH: Eric Mangini, WEST: Norv Turner

Who has the worst quarterback issues?
EAST: Bills, SOUTH: Jaguars, NORTH: Browns, WEST: Raiders

Which team will turn it around (good or bad)?
EAST: Patriots (bad), SOUTH: Colts (good), NORTH: Steelers (good), WEST: Chiefs (bad)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Let Donovan Have His Moment

On Fox's "OT" show, Terry Bradshaw took exception to Donovan McNabb's locker room dig at the Eagles.

First off, all Donovan said was "they made a mistake". Not too harsh and you know deep down that Philly knows it to. Bradshaw didn't like that McNabb said anything. I disagree.

It was in the locker room right after a hard fought win, on the road against a divisional rival. Cameras in there will pick up more true emotion and feeling then at any other time in an athlete's career. Then, McNabb just made a small comment; the Eagles organization all but spat in his face this spring. After all, they chose a guy with 2 starts to replace Donovan ... the franchise's career leader in virtually every passing stat. Then the fans fully embrace a guy who spent two years out of the league due to a prison sentence for dogfighting. Yetg McNabb was continuously booed despite leading the team to 5 NFC title games and a Super Bowl appearance.

I think I can excuse him for getting one little shot in.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ten NFL Coaches On the Hot Seat

We are nearing the end of Week 3 which means the bye weeks start next week. When a team wants to make a coaching change mid-season, they tend to like to do it during a bye week as to get the new regime going.

So who are the ten coaches who may get a little nervous as their bye week approaches.

1-JOHN FOX, CAROLINA: I think the ship has sailed on this one. The Panthers were hoping that Fox could at least get this young team pointed in the right direction. Right now, they are 0-3, they have no idea who their quarterback is and the running game that was supposed to carry the team has been nonexistent. Paging Bill Cowher.

2-ERIC MANGINI, CLEVELAND: The only reason this cat held on to the job after last season was because his Browns won their final four contests. Three games into this season, they are winless. And we all know that Mike Holmgren could just decide to take over this team whenever he feels like it.

3-NORV TURNER, SAN DIEGO: The Chargers had this division in their back pocket. The Broncos were gouged, the Raiders are the Raiders and the Chiefs are still a bit away. Instead, they are 1-2 and have looked bad against the Chiefs and Seahawks. Turner was hired to lead this team to the Super Bowl ... something they thought Marty Schottenheimer couldn't do.

4-TOM CABLE, OAKLAND: He's the coach of the Raiders. He has no job security.

5-WADE PHILLIPS, DALLAS: I don't think Jerrah Jones would fire Phillips midseason. He's never done that and he's had some reasons to cut bait early before. I think Phillips rides out this season, but if the Cowboys can't get this thing turned around then he won't make it to next year.

6-BRAD CHILDRESS, MINNESOTA: Where do we start with Chili? Same deal as Phillips, I think Childress makes it through the season. But this team had a lot of hope for this season, yet they look old. I think Childress will join Favre as ex-Vikings after the season.

7-RAHEEM MORRIS, TAMPA BAY: The surprising start to the Bucs season has turned Morris' fortunes around for now. But if Tampa spirals back down to where we all thought they'd be then Morris ... who barely survived last offseason ... could be out.

8-MIKE SINGLETARY, SAN FRANCISCO: Hard to imagine I'm typing this, but Singletary may be getting drowned out in the Bay Area. His "rat rant" makes him look a bit paranoid and too on edge for the job. The fact that the 49ers are starting 0-3 after being the buzz team in the NFC West really hurts.

9-JIM SCHWARTZ, DETROIT: He really doesn't have to do much to keep his gig. Still, he may not want to have another poor Lions season.

10-TOM COUGHLIN, NEW YORK GIANTS: Super Bowl winning coaches do get fired, and there are signs that Coughlin's hard line has worn out its welcome with the G-men. With the NFC West in a bit of flux and the New Meadowlands Stadium not selling out, I don't think the leash will be too long.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

NFL Should Schedule Rivalries

With the NFL apparently barrelling down to an 18-game season (bad idea), now the thinking is how they should schedule those extra two games. Who should they play? How will it work?

The first idea makes the most sense. However, I like my final idea a lot more.

KEEP THE SCHEDULE SOMEWHAT THE SAME: Right now, a team plays the other teams in their division twice (6 games), one complete division in their conference (4 games), one complete division in the other conference (4 more) and the two teams in their conference that finished in the same order in their division standings (2).

It would make sense to just schedule the teams in the other divisions that are near your standings. Dallas finished 1st in the NFC East. So they play the entire NFC North this year and the entire AFC South ... as well as the first place teams in the NFC South (Saints) and NFC West (Cardinals).

With my thinking, the Cowboys should have to also play the 2nd place teams in the NFC South and NFC West. So all 1st and 2nd place teams should face off against each other while the 3rd and 4th place teams do the same. Seems fair, right?

Or you can be a little more fair and make the division champ schedule the 1st place team in the other divisions AND the 4th place team. You get the best and worst ... while the 2nd and 3rd place teams get each other. Sounds like making the schedule a tad more fair, right?

Well, let's get unfair and a bit more fun.

SCHEDULE RIVALRIES: I'd love to see this. Screw having the schedule fair. It used to not be very fair so it isn't like we're going to something totally alien to the NFL.

Schedule natural rivalries. Have everyone play someone else in the other conference every year.

Have the Cowboys-Texans game every year. Redskins-Ravens. Giants-Jets. Eagles-Steelers. Buccaneers-Dolphins. Niners-Raiders. Rams-Chiefs.

Other ones that make sense are Bears-Colts. Lions-Bills (especially if the team moves to Toronto). Panthers-Titans. Falcons-Jaguars. Cardinals-Chargers. Seahawks-Broncos.

Some won't make sense. The Packers, Vikings, Saints, Patriots, Bengals and Browns don't have a natural cross-conference rivalry. Figure out some rotation between those six or just force a "rivalry" down their throat (Pats-Saints? Bengals-Vikings? Browns-Packers?).

That would mean that everyone would play 5 non-conference games. So where is the 13th conference game?

Just figure one out. Don't pre-ordain it. If the Colts and Patriots happen to not play one year, schedule them. Maybe there is a key trade or free agent move and you'd like to see if you could schedule them to play against their old team. Think LaDainian Tomlinson wouldn't want a crack at the Chargers?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Allow MLB Teams To Pick Their Playoff Opponent

We are coming down the stretch of the baseball season and it brings up one of my pet gripes. I think the MLB should allow the team with the best record in each conference to pick their first opponent.

Not that it would be that big of a deal. Right now, the top team plays the Wildcard team ... unless that team is in their own division then they play the division winner with the worst record. This year will most follow the latter scenario since the NL East and AL East will feature both the teams with the best record and the Wildcard Team. So the Phillies/Braves and Yankees/Rays will face off against a division champ with the worst record.

Also, let me make this clear, the team with the best record CANNOT pick the division champ with the second best record as their opponent. That team should be able to have their own homefield advantage, so it's unfair to make them play the best team right off the bat.

It seems, then, that there is no need for a new rule. But there could be instances where this rule would be needed.

Let's say this is how a baseball season ends:

NL CENTRAL CHAMP: Reds (100-62)
NL EAST CHAMP: Phillies (99-63)
NL WEST CHAMP: Giants (84-78)
WILDCARD: Braves (97-65)

If this scenario played out, the Reds ... who had the best record in the National League ... would have to face a Braves team that won just 3 less games than them. Meanwhile, the Phillies would play the relatively weaker Giants. Unfair, don't you think?

Under my proposal, the Reds would be able to pick from the Giants and Braves as their opponent. Obviously, they would rather pick the Giants.

Seems fair and would make the playoffs interesting. Especially since the team that was picked would feel a bit offended that they were deemed a lesser threat than the Wildcard team.

Even if they really are.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pete Rose's Hit Record Is One Of Our Last Real Record Memories

Yes, there is a lot of stink going around Pete Rose. But there's no denying that his record for most hits in a career is as pure a record as there can be.

Rose hit his 4,192nd hit on September 11th, 1985. Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the hit and Rose made his first on-field appearance in Cincinnati since being banned from baseball during the pre-game ceremony.

When we go through the baseball record books, there won't be many other pure record breaking moments that will live on in the media era. Yeah, we have Barry Bonds hitting home run 756, but that record has the stink of steroids all over it. Same thing goes to Mark McGwire's 62nd home run in 1998 or Bonds' record breaking 71st a few years later. There is Cal Ripken's amazing consecutive games streak that will never be approached, but that wasn't as much a celebration of a moment as it was a celebration of a career.

The only other moments don't count anymore. We don't have video or memories of Cy Young's win record or Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak. We do have Hank Aaron passing Babe Ruth ... but that isn't the record anymore (though many of us still value it as such).

So when Eric Show's pitch ended up as a turf hopper in left-center field, that moment will live on in all our minds, our TVs and our computers.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

New Big Ten Divisional Format Is Stupid

The Big Ten announced what their divisions will look like in 2011 and ... well sir ... I don't like it.

One division will have Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue and Indiana in it. The other will have Michigan, Nebraska, Minnesota, Northwestern, Michigan State and Iowa.

Sorry, but it makes no sense. Why must these football conferences get cutesy and decide to rig divisions and their conference championship games? Why do they think it will work?

For example, the ACC's divisional format follows no logic. The only line of thinking was putting Florida State and Miami in seperate divisions so they'd meet in the title game and hold the event in Jacksonville. The problem is that it has yet to happen like that, and now the title game has moved to Charlotte. I'm a diehard ACC fan and I still get confused about who is in what division.

Same thing in the Big Ten. They seperated Ohio State and Michigan ... why? So they could meet again in a Big Ten title game? That's the plan ... but it could really backfire. Having two teams play each other in back-to-back weeks isn't very cool. Neither is holding an Ohio State-Michigan game in a neutral site.

Do the right thing, Big Ten and just realign the division geographically so we can all enjoy.

EAST: Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue
WEST: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin.

The only time it would work? Well, the Pac-12. I like their idea of splitting up the regional teams so that everyone has a chance to go to everywhere in the conference (it helps recruiting). So something like this works:

X DIVISION: Arizona, California, Oregon, UCLA, Utah, Washington
O DIVISION: Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon State, Stanford, USC, Washington State

All the "University of" schools are in one division and the others are in the other.

But let's go back to the Big Ten. Here are reasons why splitting Michigan and Ohio State is bad.

-IT COULD MAKE THEIR REGULAR SEASON MEETING LESS MEANINGFUL: I know that's hard to fathom and I know that it will still be the biggest rivalry game in the country. But less could be on the line. Direct competition could be eliminated. For instance, what if both Michigan and Ohio State clinch their divisions by the time they meet in their regular season finale? Would they both call off the dogs as if not to show the other school their tricks? Yeah, a possible Big Ten title meeting could be epic, then, but it does rob then pageantry of their normal meeting.

-A MICHIGAN VS OHIO STATE GAME NOT IN EITHER OF THOSE TWO STATES: Hey, what city will house the Big Ten title game? Cleveland? Detroit? Probably not. Most likely any title game will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. I will admit that I'd be interested to see what a neutral site would mean to this rivalry, it really doesn't feel right.

-THEY MIGHT MOVE THE REGULAR SEASON GAME: Michigan vs Ohio State is usually played on the final weekend of the conference season. To keep my first point from happening, the league is thinking about moving the game to the middle (or even beginning) of the season. Going back to my ACC points, that conference did the same thing with Miami-Florida State. That game became their openers for several years ... until this one. Michigan-Ohio State works as the opener ... but would Michigan be willing to do that when Notre Dame is traditionally their first or second opponent every year?

-KEEPING THEM TOGETHER ISN'T A BAD THING: I'm not sure if you know this, but Texas and Oklahoma play in the same division (Big XII South). Alabama and Auburn also share the same division (SEC West). Those rivalries thrive on the fact that they are stuck in the same division.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Please, Pete Rose, Do the Right Thing

September 11th, 1985 is one of the biggest days in Cincinnati history. It was the date where Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb's record for most career hits. 4,192. Everyone in Cincy knows it and that single off of the Padres' Eric Show is locked in everyone's memory and will stay there as long as they live.

So September 11th, 2010 should be quite the celebration at the Nati's Great American Ballpark. That will mark the 25th anniversary of the event and the Reds want to honor and celebrate that. Even though Rose is banned from baseball, commish Bud Selig has allowed the team to honor Rose at a celebration (despite the whining of Fay Vincent). So everything should be great, right?


On that date ... the 25th anniversary of becoming the Hit King ... Rose will be sitting at Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, signing autographs for gamblers. Awesome. That really helps Rose's image of a seedy person who puts money above honor.

Instead, the plan is for the team to honor Rose on September 12th ... the day after the 25th anniversary of the hit. That sucks hard since it isn't the actual date (will the team celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Reds' 1990 World Series champion in 2011?). Also, the 12th (a Sunday) just happens to be the start of the NFL season. They can't move it back a day to Friday the 10th since that would just dump on high school football.

So it really is up to Pete to get this thing done. I'm sure the casino won't mind if Rose's appearance falls on a different date. They could have a weeklong celebration for him at the casino. No one would care. Yeah, it's still sleazy but he has every right to make money if he can. But to schedule this when the Reds ... the one franchise and city that has stuck by you through thick and thin ... plan to give you one of the biggest ovations of your career is really lame.

With three weeks left until this all goes down, I hope it works out. But, like anything in Pete Rose's post-playing career, it probably won't.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Jay Mariotti Arrested ... and the Blog World (Like Me) Are Giddy

Most of you have heard by now that ESPN's and FanHouse's Jay Mariotti was arrested for a domestic dispute. I don't know all the facts yet, but I can't say that I didn't laugh out loud on this one.

I am not a Mariotti fan. I'm not one of those whiny bloggers who hate all the sports personalities ... like Skip Bayless or Jim Rome or Tony Kornheiser. I don't like Mariotti because he really is a pompous ass and it is really, really, really, really hard to figure out if he even likes sports. He covers them with a chip on his shoulder and comes at anyone who doesn't see what he's seeing.

On a personal level, I'm not a fan of Mariotti because what it helped do to me on a personal level. I was a blogger at AOL's FanHouse ... back when it started and it was actually a blog. I worked there for three years and had been promoted to a college hoops lead blogger. But in the beginning of 2009, AOL decided to go after all those expensive newspaper columnists that got laid off after the economic crisis hit. Mariotti was their first big fish.

I was told that I wasn't good enough to stick around there anymore and they were basically shutting down my blogging because it didn't match those professional writers. They told me that my topics and enthusiam was great ... but I would put together too many run-on sentences and didn't have normal article structure. It's a freakin' sports blog -- that's how we all write and read it! Now AOL is filled with newspaper writers and the "blog" is now a "sports information website". Fine. They can do with that as they wish.

Still, I've never hit my wife and been involved in any domestic dispute. Very few people have called me an idiot about my writing and even fewer would want to kick me in the nuts if they ever met me. Now the shining knight has a big stain on him and anyone involved is scrambling to make press releases about how they are "looking into the situation."

We all have problems, but I'm not sorry that I have a bit of a smile on my face when I see a "professional" that I'm not good enough to associate with turns out to be a dirtbag piece of garbage.

Thank you for making me feel better.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

BYU to Leave Mountain West; Become Independent

BYU is looking to leave the Mountain West Conference and become an independent. Wow. After a summer of schools jumping from one conference to another, it is interesting to see that one school rather get rid of all of that.

BYU's position is pretty sweet. They'll be Independent in football but play their other sports in the WAC. It's similar to Notre Dame's status of football independence while playing in the Big East in other sports.

Could this turn into a trend the other way? Maybe, but don't get your hopes up too much. BYU most likely will not get the same BCS concessions that Notre Dame has (if the Irish finish in the top eight in the final BCS standings, they get to go to one of those bowls). Maybe BYU would have to finish in the top four of five to reach that status (the other two independents, Army and Navy, have to finish in the top two). That may not fly with schools from major conferences (I don't think Miami is going back to that), but it could be an excellent means for a non-BCS team.

BYU can make its own schedule. The can play whomever they want wherever and whenever. Their only stipulation is that they have to play four to six WAC teams every year in football. Whatever bowl they do get to, the keep the money for themselves instead of sharing it with the rest of the conference. It also allows BYU to form its own television network ... or use the current BYU-TV that's available on satellite systems already ... to gain even more money. That's quite a feat for a school that doesn't have a seat at the BCS table.

This could be something other big fish/small pond schools. Could Boise State think that this would be a good route for them, too? UNLV? In fact, I wouldn't put it past these schools to form a conference all by themselves in every sport ... EXCEPT for football. They all get what they want on the gridiron and still have a base in other sports. Who could ask for anything more?

Give kudos to Notre Dame for sticking with this plan as well. Despite everyone calling for them to join the Big Ten, the Irish have maintained their independent status. We all cried, "but you have to be in a conference to survive!" Um, no.

If this works out well for BYU, then look out. We could see a lot of teams from the WAC, Mountain West and Conference USA that will go the same route.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fantasy Footballers: Please Hold a Live Draft

It's August, so you have millions of men (and women) searching through magazines, websites and digging up all kinds of stats to help them with their upcoming fantasy football drafts.

Fantasy football drafts have turned into and adult Christmas morning. Remember as a child, you couldn't wait to wake up, run downstairs and see what you have waiting for you under the tree? Well, draft day is the same thing. You wake up excited and filled with hope as you wonder who will comprise your team this season.

In the last 10-15 years, fantasy football drafts have changed quite a bit. Most people elect to go through an online draft. You go to Yahoo!,,, Fleaflicker or any other host site and have them do all the dirty work. I must say that having your league there instead of digging through a USA Today on Monday morning with a pencil, pad and calculator is heaven. And, yes, I used to have to do that (the first fantasy football league I commished was back in 1990).

That being said, one great tradition of fantasy football has gone endangered: the live draft. Nowadays, people sit at a desk (or lappy or phone) and participate in an online draft (note: back in the day an "online draft" meant getting a chat room or email loop and them just posting your picks). That works great when you are in a league where you haven't met any other owner or when the owners just can't all commit to meeting at one time. But if you have a group of buddies in a league ... hold a freakin' live draft.

Again, it's like Christmas. It is a guy's version of a baby shower (funny thing is my wife is hosting a baby shower the same day as my Fantasy Football Draft). You get some food, fire up the grill, drink a few and just B.S. on all that's been going on in the real world and in sports (usually there's a baseball game on while we're drafting). Plus, it is the one day where everyone in the league is together, talking smack and actually conversating.

And the league I've run has had the same 8 members (save one, who left and was replaced). Through moving and life choices, those members hail from Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Yet all of them make the trek to the draft site every year. So it truly is the lone time we all get together.

Live drafts are great and give you an excuse to geek it up. Wear your favorite player's jersey. Make up shirts or hats with your fantasy team's logo on it. We actually bring a podium with a microphone that you must walk up to and make your pick. Everyone hears it and it brings a bit of drama to the proceedings. We all bring some food and usually spend another hour after the draft just catching up.

Soon, we will have an entire generation of people who never will experience this. That one guy who we added in our league had never been at a live draft until he joined. He absolutely loved it and said it was one of the cooler things he'd been a part of. I'm telling you, it works.

So when you guys are out there planning your leagues, see if there's any way to hold a live draft. Have it at your house, a hotel room or a place like Hooters or BW3 who actually promote for you having your draft at their place.

Give it a try. It will be your next tradition.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ten NFL Coaches On the Hot Seat

With the NFL season one month away, here is a list of ten coaches who need bright seasons if they want to keep their jobs.

10-BRAD CHILDRESS (Vikings): You better deliver Brett Favre. You better.

9-LOVIE SMITH (Bears): Yeah, they play in a division with the mighty Vikes and Packers, but Chicago has expensive talent on that roster and need to at least appear to be on the upswing.

8-TODD HALEY (Chiefs): Two years may not be enough ... especially when you took over one of the worst teams in the league ... but there is an opening in the AFC West to become San Diego's bridesmaid.

7-GARY KUBIAK (Texans): The shame is that the Texans are coming off their best season ever. Still, no playoffs despite having Matt Schaub slinging all over the place, Andre Johnson dominating and one of the better young defenses out there. Another 8-8 or 9-7 season may not get it done.

6-NORV TURNER (Chargers): Since taking over the Bolts, Turner has had a Super Bowl calibar team each year. Still, this team just can't get over the hump. Playing in a very weak AFC West should ensure another playoff appearance, but another postseason letdown could seal Noval's fate.

5-TOM CABLE (Raiders): Every coach under Al Davis is on the hot seat.

4-RAHEEM MORRIS (Buccaneers): He was almost fired after his first season in Tampa. Don't think for a moment that he couldn't be the first guy canned during the season.

3-WADE PHILLIPS (Cowboys): This Cowboys team may be the best one they've had since their Super Bowl years. The Super Bowl is in Dallas this year. Jerry Jones wants this sooooooo bad that if Phillips doesn't get them there, he may elect to get someone in there who can.

2-JACK DEL RIO (Jaguars): He seems to always be on the list ... but he doesn't get canned. Well, Jacksonville is in a tough spot right now. The fans aren't showing up and they play in a division with the Colts, Titans and Texans. Ouch. If Del Rio gets them into the playoff hunt, he could stay. A losing season may lead to his removal.

1-ERIC MANGINI (Browns): With Mike Holmgren now running things in Cleveland, Mangini better start getting Cleveland pointed in the right direction. Holmgren has many friends and disciples around the league that he'd love to make his new head coach.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

We Need to Stop Enabling Favre

Anyone hear anything new about Brett Favre? Anyone? Did his mom's uncle's wife's niece's former roomate tweet any little stupid detail that brings us closer to a resolution?

Despite what you think, I guess LeBron James had it right all along. Favre should just schedule an ESPN special to announce his decision. Maybe ... just maybe ... Favre will stick to it.

I'm tired of this. Id like to think media guys are tired of it too. This is the fourth stgraight year that Favre has waivered on retirement and it keeps getting later and later every year. ESPN spent all day Tuesday waxing poetic about Favre's career as if he really was going to call it quits. Only for the very next day it to be all redacted and Favre acting stupid during interviews.

I know it is important news. There is a big drop off from Favre to Tavares Jackson. But in our digital age of runor mongering, every little mundane detail is analysed and disected to the point of comedy.

Guess what! Here's my major prediction: we're going to have to deal with this next year too.

The Sad, Unecessary End Of Shaq's Career

Look, I'm rarely the one who screams that athletes should retire when I want them to. The window to be a pro player is so short that everyone should be able to squeeze every drop out of it.

That being said, sometimes players are squeezing too hard and finding nothing.

Shaquille O'Neal is one of those guys. Shaq has had an amazing career. Four championships, an MVP award, scoring title, yada yada yada. No one over the last two decades in the NBA has had a bigger personality than him. For a good ten year stretch, Shaq was one of the most feared and skilled big men that ever played.

That's what makes the end of his career so sad. Shaq signed with the Boston Celtics yesterday for the veteran's minimum. He wants to "win" a ring so "badly" that he's willing to take a major pay cut. That's fine for a guy to ride the coat-tails of someone else at the end of his career ... provided that it would be their lone chance to taste the championship spoils. But Shaq has won four rings. He was the Finals MVP on three of those teams. HE has been the focal part of championship teams already. Winning one with the Celtics while averaging 10 ppg and 6 rpg is beneath him.

When we remember Shaq ... we will most likely remember him storming into the league in Orlando, dominating with the Lakers then bringing a title to Miami. People hopefully will forget that destroyed path of playing for Phoenix, Cleveland and Boston to close out his career. In each instance, Shaq felt he was going to a team to win another title. In each instance, the team underachieved. Whether or not Shaq was the reason for it is debatable.

For those of us who remember that Shaq who tore down backboards ... the guy who was 350 lbs yet as nimble as a guard ... we are saddened at the fact that we will get to see that old Shaq lumbering up and down the floor, getting beat on defense and bowling around the paint for some baby hook shots.

The sad thing is that this is all unecessary. If Shaq wanted to really squeeze a few more drops out of his career then maybe he should've tried a little harder during his prime. It was seemingly always out of shape, always had nagging problems, barely worked on his free throws and rarely put up the effort on defense. He also couldn't handle Kobe Bryant and whined his way out the door in L.A. If he could have stayed with Kobe and had 50% of the intensity that Kobe possesses, Shaq would be sitting on 7 rings right now. You can't tell me that a Kobe-Shaq teaming during the mid-to-late 2000s wouldn't have netted several more rings; especially one where Shaq was committed to being ready to go at the start of the season.

For Shaq, he's holding on too long. While that's not a problem that he isn't retiring yet since that is his right, it just makes me feel weird watching it.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Top Super Bowl QBs Of the Last Decade

Now, this list isn't about what these QBs did during their Super Bowl appearance(s) or their placement among the all-time greats. This is just ranking the impact each of these guys had in the successes of their teams. This combines the Super Bowl teams whose regular seasons were from 2000-2009.

1-TOM BRADY (Patriots): He has three Super Bowl wins, another Super Bowl appearance, MVP award and an undefeated regular season on his resume. Not bad at all.

2-PEYTON MANNING (Colts): Four MVP awards, two Super Bowl appearances and one title. He's regarded as maybe the smartest QB to ever play.

3-BEN ROETHLISBERGER (Steelers): Two Super Bowl wins and one of the winningest QBs during his career. Yes, he's got some personal issues but this is one of the biggest, baddest quarterbacks out there.

4-KURT WARNER (Rams/Cardinals): The only QB on this list to lead two teams to the Super Bowl. He went to two of them this decade (he won his other appearance after the 1999 season). Warner owns the top three passing days in Super Bowl history ... amazing for a guy who came from nowhere TWICE.

5-DREW BREES (Saints): Brees has fought off all the naysayers and shocked the world by leading the Saints to a Super Bowl championship. His last two seasons can be placed among the greatest stretch in history.

6-ELI MANNING (Giants): Very good, but not great QB. Yeah, he won a Super Bowl MVP award, but that game was all about the Giants front seven and David Tyree's amazing catch (yeah, Eli threw it).

7-DONOVAN MCNABB (Eagles): The first guy on this list without a Super Bowl ring in his career.

8-MATT HASSELBECK (Seahawks): He was on the tier below the elites for a while. Now injuries have derailed his career a bit.

9-JAKE DELHOMME (Panthers): He could be exciting and great ... or frustrating and lousy. Sometimes in the same game. Like Super Bowl XXXVIII when Delhomme picked and chose his time to shine.

10-RICH GANNON (Raiders): Remember that he won an MVP award the year Oakland went back to the Super Bowl. He fell off just as quickly.

11-BRAD JOHNSON (Buccaneers): Most people don't remember that he was the QB of that Tampa team that won it all.

12-TRENT DILFER (Ravens): He may be among the worst QBs to ever lead his team to a Super Bowl victory.

13-KERRY COLLINS (Giants): You just cannot trust him. Especially when he put up one of the worst Super Bowl performances in history.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

We Better Get Used to These "Super Teams"

Depending on your point of view, the triumvirate of LeBron, Wade and Bosh banding together in Miami is either sickening or exciting. New school cats love it. Old school cats hate it. Either way, the Heat will be the talk of the league next season (it already is) and they don't feel bad about that.

The thing is, we better get used to it.

Reports are that the Knicks are hoping to deal for Chris Paul and find a way to get Carmelo Anthony to join up with Amare Stoudemire for another Big Three. Maybe the Orlando Magic will get Paul to pair up with Dwight Howard and either Rashard Lewis or Vince Carter. That could start a trend all over the league just to get attention and, plainly, to compete.

This isn't a new trend. Remember that the Big Three of Boston came together in the summer of 2007 when the Celtics dealt for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett (to join Paul Pierce). The Lakers dealt for Pau Gasol to pair with Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum.

The difference there is that those guys were all traded to their new teams (technically, so were the Miami Thrice as Bosh and James got sign-and-trade deals from their original teams). Gasol was a salary dump from Memphis. The teams dealing with Boston all were on the outskirts and were trying to get younger.

The Miami cats all were free agents and all three wanted to combine as one. Somehow, Chris Paul will get his wish. Maybe Carmelo will, too.

With the new CBA ready to come down next year, this kind of thing can happen a lot easier. The league is hoping to reduce the max years of contracts to the 4 or 5 year range. That would most likely mean that players will be signing for 3 or 4 years and having options after the second or third years. That will cause more turnover, more free agent bonanzas and more opportunities for teams to form these powerful teams.

Remember that LeBron, Wade and Bosh all saw this. All three signed similar deals that all ended this summer. They had kept in touch and knew that this was a great possibility since Miami had shed all kind of cap space. You can't tell me that other players won't follow suit ... especially guys who aren't already on one of these elite clubs. I mean, couldn't Oklahoma City with all their astute spending find a way to lure a couple of stars down there (it's hard to see anyone announcing they will be "taking their talents" to the OKC)?

That means that most of the stars in the league will be hoarded onto the top 5 to 10 teams. Meanwhile, we'll have a ton of teams wading at the bottom just hoping to draft the next big thing ... and watch him bolt to South Beach/Big Apple/Hollywood less than a decade later.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why the MLB All Star Game Has Become Unwatchable

The MLB All Star game came and went on Tuesday and no one seemed to care. According to ESPN, the game earned its lowest rating ever.

Why doesn't anyone want to watch it anymore? Why is it being pushed aside?

"THIS TIME IT COUNTS": I hate this. I loathe it. An exhibition game should not determine who gets home field advantage in the World Series (the league with more interleague wins should get the nod). It's a bad idea ... even to those who think it's a good one.

By the way, since the fact that home field advantage was on the line and no one still watched (which was the entire reason for pinning that prize to the game), can we just stop it? It doesn't work so let's scrap that.

While that prize puts a little more emotion and drama to the game, it doesn't make it better. One of the most memorable All Star moments in my adult life was the battle between Randy Johnson and John Kruk. Or remember Cal Ripken Jr's final All Star apperance and A-Rod game him his customary shortstop position when they trotted out on the field? Those kinds of things can't happen anymore. They cannot fart around, have fun and do things out of the ordinary.

And then the game gets weird. The managers are trying to find the line between getting everyone in there to play and actually winning the game. It's like Little League.

TOO MANY PLAYERS: Sorry, but there are just too many players on the All Star team. It reminds me of the proposed 96-team NCAA Tournament -- they hate leaving a couple teams out that they are willing to invite unworthy teams in. Same thing here. There are tons of guys having All Star worthy seasons but they can't all get on this team.

Of the 70 or so All Stars ... there were about 20 of them that I hadn't heard of until Tuesday night. And I've probably forgotten them already. To fit them all in, a manager has to use one to pinch hit, one to pinch run and one to be the defensive replacement the next inning. It's just stupid.

PITCHING IS TOO GOOD: We are just coming down from the steroid era where offensive numbers were staggering. After everyone got de-juiced, pitching has started to dominate. In an All Star game, a manager can run out about 4 or 5 aces ... then bring in dominant closers to get the game home.

Good pitching beats good hitting. So rotating great pitchers to the mound will keep the game low scoring and not as fun to watch.

People watch the NBA All Star game for the high offensive theatrics. The NHL and NFL All Star/Pro games are usually higher scoring than an average game. The great pitching makes the MLB All Star game lower scoring than an average game. We don't get to see those great hitters doing anything.

HOME RUN DERBY: I'm not a fan of this event, but I know people who love it. It's gotten so big that it ... at times ... trumps the game itself. Sort of like how the Slam Dunk Contest used to be in the NBA.

I just told you that pitching rules during the game, so the majestic offense fireworks are invited the night before it.

NOVELTY IS GONE: With free agent movement and salary dump trades all the rage in baseball ... not to mention interleague play ... the novelty of the game has worn off. It used to be that you could only see Roger Clemens pitching to Barry Bonds in an All Star Game. Now a David Price-Albert Pujols battle can easily have been seen before.