Wednesday, April 27, 2011

NFL Draft Not My Cup Of Tea

Yes, I'm the Sportz Assassin. Yes, I've been a diehard Redskins fan for nearly three decades. Yes, I'm very interested in who Washington picks with the No. 4 pick in the draft.

Other than that, I just don't care about the NFL Draft. It isn't for me.

I'm not one of those people who sets aside that weekend to watch the entire draft. I'm not one of those people who participate in mock drafts. I'm not one of those people who watch the combines or cares about draftees stock. I don't care about Mel Kiper Jr or Todd McShay. I don't.

I don't care to sit and watch an overblown production about the selection of players ... many of which I wouldn't know their names heading in. I follow and watch college football, but I'm not as big a diehard as I am the NFL. I don't care to sit and watch three days of drafting where ... on Day 1 ... when Kiper and McShay keep talking about certain player dropping or how some team is stupid for reaching for a guy. They, like everyone, cannot predict either the draft or the careers of those drafted.

Then I can't stand for the rounds past the first two. Because, you may as well not even televise it since ESPN won't even acknowledge those players. Oh, they will for guys they've earmarked as great stories or notable college players, but the last 150+ guys will get not love despite the chance that one or more of them will explode into impact players (I bet that Marques Coltson's name was just a blip on the crawl when he was drafted). And I HATE the length of time between picks.

Now, that's not to say I won't keep an eye on it. I'll check my phone periodically to see where certain guys may go. Yeah, I want to see who my Redskins add with their usually low allotment of selections.

Give me the NBA Draft. It moves at a great pace, the draft lasts one night, I'm much more familiar with the players and those guys could have more of an impact on their teams off the bat. The NFL Draft is okay, but it's not my cup of tea.

Selig, Goodell Seem to Have Switched Bodies

Remember those 1980s movies where two people switch bodies and hilarity ensues? Well, the 2011 edition of that role reversal just may be Bud Selig and Roger Goodell.

If you look at the Roger Goodell era of the NFL, you know that his legacy is discipling players for their off field transgressions. He has made everyone take concussions seriously. He has kept the NFL on that path of success that the league has ridden for the last 20 years.

Bud Selig? He's best known for cancelling the 1994 World Series due to labor strife. He also has that lovely Steroid Era he presided over (and apparently kept his head in the sand about) which all but made a mockery of those vaunted MLB record books that the league has and will always trumpet. He couldn't even figure out how to solve a tie game in a freakin' All Star Game.

But it is 2011 and it seems as if those two men have switched bodies.

The shine that has been on Roger Goodell has really tarnished over the past six months. He looks more like a hypocrite with each passing week of the current NFL labor mess. His seemingly innocent proposal of extending the regular season to 18 games has been met with overwhelming opposition from players and fans ... and sounds a bit fishy when the league has put so much emphasis on safety that they're willing to look the other way on what another two games would do to their players.

He has taken a very hands-on approach to this labor war ... a war that the owners are losing. This is a man whose "side" said that the last labor agreement was so bad that the NFL couldn't continue like that (the players wanted to keep everything exactly the same). Then, once the players decertified and made this a courtroom drama, Goodell wants to point out all the merits that the last labor agreement gave to both the players and the league. Uh ... way to play both sides of this coin.

Goodell goes on ESPN to tell us how grim the future of the NFL may be. Sorry, but that doesn't work anymore. We, as Americans, are kind of tired of being running multi-billion dollar businesses telling us how bad things are for them. I know we should feel bad for those owners who have to charge us normal folk $8 a beer, $30 to park, $100 for a nosebleed seat in a stadium that our tax dollars paid for. You're barking up the wrong tree here.

This could end bad for Goodell in a lot of fashions. His obvious siding with the owners has really created a divide with a players union that had given up a lot of concessions in his first years in office. Fans have lost faith in him. And if the players win this labor war (which they are right now), the owners will have a big problem with him.

Now let's look at Selig. The man known as "Bumbling Bud" has a league that has had labor peace since that 1994 season. Attendance numbers and TV numbers are up. There is no salary cap in baseball, only the Boston Red Sox (two) has won multiple World Series since 2001. You could argue that the fact that the '94 Series was cancelled led to all this labor peace, but that's a hard sell.

Same thing for the Steroid Era. It really cheated baseball and its fans. But from the ashes of it came extensive drug testing in the majors and minors and it has really worked. It ran several players out of baseball and turned the league into some statistical normalcy.

Controversial innovations like the wildcard, interleague play and the All Star Game determining home field advantage in the World Series are loved now. I mean, how did we go this long living without it?

What could be Selig's biggest coup is how this Dodgers situation unfolds. Remember that Selig bought up the Montreal Expos for next to nothing (in franchise value terms), moved them to Washington DC and then sold the team to local ownership for quite a profit. Just imagine what Selig could get for the Los Angeles Dodgers?

While Goodell and the NBA's David Stern are navigating through tough waters and having their names and their leagues stained, Selig will see Major League Baseball chug along and may not have to share any space on the sports page with football. With both the NFL and NBA facing possible cancellations of games, sports fans in cities that have MLB and NFL and/or NBA teams may decide to spend some of that disposable income on some pennant race tickets.

I know I will.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kentucky Needs To Pay Attention To NBA's Labor War

A very interesting development will happen when the NBA goes into their labor war this summer and autumn: the decisions the league and the players meet on will have a huge impact on college basketball.

In short, it could really impact Kentucky.

No coach has gotten more from the one-and-done era that John Calipari. Coach Cal does a great selling job to these guys that they just do their thing for a season and he'll put them in the NBA as a high draft pick. The fact that Derrick Rose (Cal's one-and-doner in Memphis) is tearing up the NBA and John Wall, like Rose, was a No. 1 overall draft pick means that these elite talents will take a strong look at Lexington.

Think about the type of success Calipari has had in the last six or so years that the one-and-done rule has been in effect.

The NBA and the players association could really put a damper on all of that. Maybe. Many people feel the NBA (the NCAA has no choice in these matters) will make a significant change in the one-and-done rule. The thinking is that the NBA will allow a player to jump to the NBA from high school or go to at least two years of college.

Think of the impact on the college game if this came to pass. All of those big-time recruits that Calipari has been ushering in to Kentucky and, before that, Memphis would not have been there. There would have been no John Wall, no DeMarcus Cousins, no Brandon Knight, no Michael Gilchrist and no Anthony Davis. They'd all have lept to the NBA and filled up the upcoming draft.

On the flip side, Kentucky fans would've most likely had two years of Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton and maybe Terrence Jones. Ya know, some sort of carry over from one year to the next.

One of the things that Kentucky fans whine about is that the players they fall in love with for a season are gone when the campaign is done. They hate it. But for any rule to be in place that would make players stay in college for two or three years will most certainly allow guys to jump straight from high school. So those elite guys Kentucky had been getting wouldn't be there.

This isn't to pick on Kentucky; many teams would have felt the pain of losing those one-and-dones. Heck Ohio State has had a steady diet of those kind of guys over the last five seasons.

So Kentucky fans ... even the ones that hate the NBA ... need to keep an eye on what goes down in the Association.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

MNF Slate Is Horrible!

The NFL released the 2011 schedule on Tuesday and the Sunday Night games are absolutely stacked! Great games with some outstanding storylines.

The Monday Night Football slate ... eh, not so much.

There are some diamonds in the rough. The Colts-Buccaneers game could really be good (it certainly was the last time Indy visited Tampa). Giants-Saints will be quite a good one. The Bears-Eagles game may be the best matchup of them all. Chiefs-Patriots features a lot of former Patriot coaches and players heading back to New England. The Falcons-Saints game to close out the MNF season is pure gold.

But there is a lot of crap along the way. Only the Falcons-Saints and Bears-Eagles games feature two teams that were in last year's postseason. Here are the top five mistakes on the Monday Night schedule.

5-THE LIONS? REALLY? The Detroit Lions make their first MNF appearance in over a decade. They'll host Da Bears in an NFC North showdown. Um, what have the Lions done to deserve a MNF appearance? I know they have some great young talent in Stafford, Johnson and Suh but they don't deserve a game on Monday yet.

4-VIKINGS VS PACKERS DOESN'T MATTER ANYMORE: Granted, the Vikings are still very talented and by the time the season rolls around, they could bring in a Donovan McNabb or Kevin Kolb to replace Brett Favre ... but this isn't the must-see game it has been over the last two seasons. Favre retired. Really. Seriously. He's done. I don't know if ESPN figured that Favre just may change his mind but this game is a huge letdown.

3-JUST ONE PACKERS AND STEELERS GAME: The Super Bowl participants make just one appearance each on Monday night. Green Bay, of course, hosts Minnesota. Pittsburgh travels to San Francisco. San Francisco?? Why are they on Monday night???

2-RAMS VS SEAHAWKS: This ended up being the final game of the 2010 season because the winner would make the playoffs. Seattle won and represented the NFC West with a 7-9 record. And why do we need this game again late in the season? It was horrible last year and will be horrible again this year. Speaking of that, why do the Rams ... one of the worst team over the past five years ... get two MNF games?

1-END OF SEASON: Okay, this takes out the Week 16 Falcons-Saints game. Before that, December's MNF is horrible. We get treated to Chargers-Jags, Rams-Seahawks and Steelers-49ers. Instead let's have Packers-Giants, Colts-Ravens and Jets-Eagles instead!

UNC Fans See a Familiar Trend

In case you didn't know, Harrison Barnes is coming back for his sophomore year.

That has placed the North Carolina Tar Heels as many people's top team for the 2011-2012 season. Carolina fans are understandably thrilled about their (should I say, our) team next year.

The reasoning isn't just what this team is bringing back ... which is a big deal. Returning are pretty much everyone from last year's team. The entire starting lineup (Barnes, Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Kendall Marshall and Dexter Strickland) is coming back as well as key reserves Leslie McDonald, Reggie Bullock and Justin Watts. The only player in their top nine rotation that is gone is senior Justin Knox.

He will be replaced with super frosh James McAdoo. McAdoo has been tearing up the High School All Star game circuit and will fit right in to that Heels' front line. He'd start for 99% of college teams next season ... but will suit up for the 1% that he won't. They also get long range bomber P.J. Hairston, giving the Heels SEVEN McDonald's All Americans on their roster. They'll also gain role players Desmond Hubert, Jackson Simmons and Stilman White.

Not a bad roster at all. It could house five first round draft picks in the 2012 draft (Barnes, McAdoo, Zeller, Henson, Marshall) and rival both of Roy Williams title teams (2005, 2009) in terms of talent.

Ah, those 2005 and 2009 teams! The 2012 team wants to join them in the rafter of the Dean Dome. There are some similarities to this upcoming team and some of those title teams in the past which makes Heels fans drool.

Obviously the amount of talent on the team. The 1982 team housed Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins and James Worthy. Two Hall of Famers and three very good NBA careers. The 2005 team was made up of Sean May, Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants and Marvin Williams. All four would be selected in the 2005 NBA Draft lottery. The 2009 team had Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green and Ed Davis. The 1993 team had talent (led by Eric Montross and George Lynch) but it really wasn't overly stocked with NBA talent like the others were.

How about some other weird facts?

Like having a center from Indiana? The 2012 team will be "centered" by Tyler Zeller from Washington, Ind. The 1993 team was "centered" by Eric Montross ... a high school legend in Indiana. The 2005 team was "centered" by May ... an Indiana lad who's dad was an All American for the Hoosiers. The 2009 team, well, Tyler Hansbrough was from Missouri ... but Zeller was a freshman reserve on that team.

How about impactful freshmen? Many feel James McAdoo will do for Carolina what Michael Jordan, Marvin Williams and Ed Davis did for their title teams as freshmen.

None of that in reality means anything. The 1984 Tar Heel team had Jordan, Perkins, Kenny Smith and Brad Daugherty and they couldn't get past the Sweet 16. The 1994 team brought everybody not named Lynch back from a title team, added Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and Jeff McInnis, and couldn't get out of the 2nd round of the NCAAs.

Should NBA Teams Have Second Home Courts?

I was reading Jason Whitlock's column on about changing the economic structure of the NBA. It's a great read and has a lot of radical changes to keep the league prosperous. One thing I found interesting (because I've been saying this for quite a while) is the NBA having satellite home cities. Meaning each team would have a second home court.

8. I’d contract two to four teams. I’d make the remaining teams play four games per season in a satellite home city. The Lakers would partner with Las Vegas. The Clippers would partner with San Diego. The Pacers could play in Cincinnati, the Cavaliers in Columbus.

I've loved this idea and it isn't like this hasn't happened before. Remember that the Boston Celtics played a few games each season in Hartford, CT and the Washington Bullets would go to Baltimore for a few games. On a more extreme note, we had the Kings playing in both Omaha and Kansas City.

I like it as it does a couple of things. One, it helps with the ticket burden on both teams and fans. For teams, it would be easier to sell a home game against, say, the Raptors if you held it in a city that only gets a taste of the NBA each year. They do this for preseason games so I don't see why they couldn't do the same for the regular season.

It would also expand the fan base.

For fans, it would also help with the season ticket plans. If there were 2 to 4 less home games you had to pay for, it would be an easier buy for you.

So what cities would the NBA go to?

LOS ANGELES LAKERS (Las Vegas): The Lakers and Vegas go together.

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (San Diego): The Clippers used to call San Diego home.

SACRAMENTO KINGS (Anaheim): Or vice-versa when it happens.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (San Jose): Not much of a move, but it would solidify the area.

PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS (Seattle): Well, until the Sonics come back home.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (Kansas City): This would also serve as a nice tester for the NBA to see how NBA-ready cities and arenas are before a team relocates.

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (Winnipeg): This could also help the NBA expand its international footing.

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (Pittsburgh): Nice that they'll be able to share something for the first time since the WWII-era Steagles of the NFL.

BROOKLYN NETS (Newark): May as well keep New Jersey loving the Nets. When they move to Brooklyn in a couple of years, make Newark the team's satellite city.

INDIANA PACERS (Louisville): The Ville wants a team? Here is their tryout.

Here are some other cities that seem possible:


Now, I don't have a natural satellite for Houston, New Orleans, Milwaukee or Detroit. Cities like Knoxville, Birmingham or somewhere like that could fit. I dunno, just a thought.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011