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.