Friday, July 27, 2012

5 Things That I Am Watching This Week

1.  The Penn State Fallout.  Things are going to get worse before they get better at this institution of higher learning.  The Board of Trustees, Nittany Lion Football players, students, and the surrounding community are all upset at the NCAA and Interim President are upset about the penalties.  There are threats about going into the judicial system and about how the NCAA wasn't fair to Penn State about didn't follow their own investigating guidelines about this. 

Part of me wants the furor to continue and actually have the judicial system overturn the NCAA penalties due to lack of investigation.  And when the NCAA does do their investigation and comes up with even more infractions by the Penn State footbal program, instead of throwing the book at the Nittany Lions, just bury them.  Enact that 4 year death penalty.  Fine the institution $200 Million.  Have an 8 year probation period.  Eliminate all but 10 scholarships a year for a while.  And have the citizens of "Happy Valley" endure losses of Hundreds of Millions of dollars due to the loss of Penn State football for 4 years.  Then see how "unfair" the penalties of the NCAA were when putting sanctions on that quick.

2.  The Olympics.  I won't be watching hardly at all.  I will be on vacation for part of that time.  The other part, I will be ignoring most of it.  However, the best team in the world for men's soccer, Spain, has lost their opening game.  The U.S. Women's team rallied to beat France.  I want to see the medal accumulation by Michael Phelps.  I want to see if anybody can knock off the U.S. Men's Basketball team.  There are other events that I will follow, so not all the Olymics will I be trying to avoid.

3.  The MLB Trade deadline.  Already there have been a couple of eye openers, with Ichiro going to the Yankees being the biggest one in my eyes.  For myself, my team has traded all of the players it can.  The Astros have traded all their proven players.  Of course, losing 22 out of the last 25 games does mean that the playoffs might be out of reach this season.  We should reach out to the Red Sox and try and steal Carl Crawford in a trade.  Why not?  The Red Sox have said that they are willing to trade Crawford. 

4.  The start and continuation of NFL training camps.  Already, you have Adrian Peterson upset at the Vikings.  You have the circus at Jets camp.  The Dolphins need to get Ryan Tannihill into camp to get him up to speed and the QB battle they have there.  The QB battle in Seattle, Arizona, Kansas City, and other places.  The turnover of the bottom of the depth charts in cities.  I am started to get excited for Pro Football.

5.  The Continued Escalation of the Flyers-Penguins Feud.  Claude Giroux had surgery on both of his wrists and claimed the reason he needed the surgery is that Sidney Crosby on face-offs would not go for the puck but slash his wrists in the playoffs.  These 2 teams don't like each other and they are still barking at each other during the offseason.  For some reason, I can picture a scene like out of Rollerball when there were no rules at least once during a game in the coming year featuring these two teams.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Weekend In Boston

Howdy Guys!  It’s been a while since I posted, so I’ll keep this brief (promise). 

The Zebster’s been on me about posting a comment regarding my (not so) recent trip to Beantown to watch my Washington Nationals play in an inter-league game against the “Baaston” Red Sox.  Suffice it to say I had a GREAT, DRUNKEN time!  Gotta hand it to Boston!  It certainly didn’t hurt the party mood to find ourselves caught in the middle of a Gay Pride Day parade.
Awight—to sum it the weekend:  We got in town on Friday, were fed like kings by our hosts’ mom, then watched the Nats kick the crap out of the Sox in Game 1 from the comfort of my host’s patio—draining a 1.5 liter of Scotch and smoking copious cigars.  On Saturday, we commenced a bar crawl from the Old North Church to Fenway Park (visiting the grave sites of Paul Revere and Crispus Attucks along the way) where we eventually hooked up with the Z-man (10 beers later).  Somewhere after the 2nd inning, we lost our host (and a couple of the other guys), but I sat glued to my seat as the Nats kicked the crap out of the Sox in Game 2.  (Note:  I had to stay in my seat when I learned they don’t sell beer in the stands at Fenway!!!  (Huh!?!  Zeb tried his best to get me to drink a Coors Light….might as well slit my throat! Whatever!) 
After the game, the “plan” was to meet at a ‘baa’ near whatever that place is where the Celtics (supposedly) play basketball.  After walking about a mile and a half from Fenway, the five of us stopped at some posh hotel restaurant (people were wearing tuxedos—seriously) to have a cocktail (refreshing!).  After losing Zeb (he had to get back to Maine to go count moose, or something like that) we found a bar that was loaded with Boston University students and watched the Heat put the heat on the Celts.   When the game was over, and the bar converted to a loud, music-laced cheering fest, to a somber, murmuring tomb, I paid my bill, took a picture of the sad faces, cleared my throat and while dressed in my Nats gear, I made the following announcement:

“You Boston fans suck!  You can’t play basketball….you can play baseball….and you certainly can’t play hockey!  What the hell good are you???”  (seriously...I did say (yell) that!)  ;-)

Then proceeded to exit the ‘baa,’ stage right (waiting for that Sam Adams bottle to hit me in the back of the head). 

It was a great weekend spent in a historic ballpark (my 9th major league ballpark) with my good friends!  Next year, it’s Cooperstown, for sure!!!

AN UPDATE FROM ZEB:  Since the above post from G and my post a few weeks ago are regarding the same get-together, I'm adding a link to its sister post on each one.  So here's the link to my piece about this great weekend

Monday, July 23, 2012

Jackets Finally Move Nash

After months of speculation, Scott Howson has sent Rick Nash to the New York Rangers along with minor leaguer Steve Delisle and a conditional 3rd Round pick in 2013 for Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon, Artem Anisimov, and a 2013 1st Round pick. 

I do believe that the Rangers got the best end of this deal currently.  However, my mind could change if Dubinsky and Erixon become household names playing for Columbus.  We will see if Rick Nash is the high caliber talent that everybody has said that he is since coming out of the minors.  I believe that he is, but he hasn't proven it yet.  There are no excuses for him now.  It is either sink or swim.  Nash had a ready made excuse in Columbus with the lack of high end talent around him.  How are you going to say that with the Blueshirts? 

As for team prospects for the Rangers, this either causes the Rangers to have another big time scoring threat that will come through in the heat of the playoffs or cause them to lose some cohesion in the locker room and on the ice.  I, for one, am leaning towards the latter.  Nash has been great in the Olympics and playing for Team Canada.  However, that is playing with Crosby, Staal, and other players that are the best in the country of Canada.  I don't believe that the line of Nash-Richards-Gaborik will be enough to put the Rangers over the top.  The loss of Dubinsky and Anisimov is something that the Rangers believe that they can overcome right away.  I don't see this.  I see the Rangers as the 4th best team in the East right now as they are currently constructed.  I see the Penguins, Flyers, and Bruins as better teams right at this moment.

For Columbus, you could have a real good young defensive pairing for years with Exiron and Ryan Murray.  Add in Jack Johnson, John Moore, and Nikita Nikitin, you have a young defensive corps that in time could be one of the best if not the best in the league.  With Todd Richards as the coach and the experience he had in Minnesota and the youth movement there, I believe that the Blue Jackets are on the right track of rebuilding.  The next thing will be getting a couple of veterans that can show the kids how to do things and contribute to a team that will need leadership.  The Jackets will be in trouble if they cannot get a veteran that will play major minutes on the blue line and another veteran that plays in the Top 9 on the front end.

Friday, July 20, 2012

5 Things That I Am Sick Of

Decided to change things up this week and instead of the 5 Things That I Am looking forward to, I am listing the 5 things that I am sick and tired of hearing about.  Tim Tebow didn't make the list, but he was #6.

5.  NFL players attacking Roger Goodell.  Let me put this in simple terms so that even those people that have post-concussion syndrome that are suing the league can understand.  Goodell is trying to change the game so that it stays relevant in the future.  Attendance hit it's peak in 2007.  You have sponsors that are weary about young deaths that are attributed to football injuries.  More studies are showing that playing football causes years to be lopped off the end years of life.  Finally, there are some fans out there that are becoming turned off by the unnecessary violence and machismo that is exhibited during games.  So Goodell is trying to get the game to change to keep it viable in the long run.  And you have players that keep on criticizing him.  Look at what comes out of Pittsburgh.  The players there are convinced that the commish has it out for them, but then on the other hand, they are one of the dirtiest teams out there.  Polamalu lies about having a concussion to continue playing.  James Harrison has basically said that Goodell is the devil and must be stopped.  The players on the Saints ran a bounty system and yet they attack the commissioner because he says that isn't appropriate.  And over 30 players, many high profile, have been arrested during the off-season.  Maybe the players need to look in the mirror and start yelling at themselves for making the commish the man in the NFL that does everything for the good of the game instead of being bloodsucking leeches like the players.

4.  College Football Playoffs.  It is a sham.  All that the supposed playoff system does is extends the BCS championship by a round.  In a true playoff system, you would have conference winners advance into the playoffs.  Here, you have a selection committee that will have it's own biases and try to select the 4 best teams.  And about the time you get 3 SEC teams into this playoff system because of the bias towards that conference, the public might become vaguely aware of how flawed this concept is.

3.  Tiger Woods.  There is a bloody Tiger Tracker on for the Open Championship.  Each shot is recorded and commented on.  All I have to ask is where is the Keegan Bradley shot tracker?  Because each of these players, Tiger and Bradley have the same number of major titles over the past couple of years.  Zero.  I am tired of hearing that Tiger is the end all for anything golf.  The sport was around before Woods came and it will be here after Woods leaves.  I don't even think that he his the best ever in the game.  I wouldn't even put him in the Top 5.  People need to stop proclaiming him the sport of golf.

2.  Anything Boston Red Sox.  Oh my word.  I believe that my head will explode if I have to continue to hear and read about the Boston Red Sox.  The team is currently tied for 3rd in the AL East and 5th in the wildcard standings.  But yet, the publicity that they get is like the 1927 Yankees.  Let's see here, we have Bobby V. who causes havoc wherever he goes.  You have Carl Crawford saying that he was racially heckled during a rehab assignment.  You have the Kevin Youkalis debacle starting with Valentine dissing him.  You have a purported rift between the GM and Valentine.  You have coaches not talking to other coaches.  The players are not following what the coaches want them to do.  You have Dustin Pedroia not coming into a meeting on the mound.  Daniel Bard's shift into the rotation looked like a 3-year old made the decision.  Look at all the things listed.  Only one actually has to do with performance out on the field.  That is why I don't want to hear about anything Red Sox.  It doesn't have to do with on field performance for the most part.

1.  Dwight Howard.  This has been a year and a half waste of time.  He wants out, then decides to come back.  Tell upper management that he wants his coach fired.  Coach says something about it and Howard denies it.  Howard says he wants to come back and signs his option to go back to Orlando.  Says that he has worked things out with the coach.  Then says that coach stabbed him in the back.  Magic fire coach and GM.  Magic say they will build around Howard.  Howard says that the Magic extorted him into signing the option.  Now says that he only wants to go to Brooklyn.  Deal cannot be reached with Nets.  Now is open to Los Angeles and still wants out of Orlando.  Somebody needs to grab this kid, smack him upside the head and tell him to shut up go underground for a couple of months, popping up just long enough to say that he enjoyed his time in Orlando and is happy that he is joining his new team if in fact he is traded. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Big 10 Mascots Dancing To "Call Me Maybe"

Why?  Because it is funny and we need more content on the blog.

Friday, July 13, 2012

5 Things That I Am Following This Week

  1. Penn State Fallout.  This could be #1-5, but that would be too easy.  Therefore we will break it down even further.
    1. The NCAA.  I am starting to hear from some college football insiders that the NCAA might not have any rules against this.  Um, there is this little thing that brought SMU down called Lack of Institutional Control.  This is the ultimate case of Lack of Institutional Control.  If the football program isn't given the Death Penalty, then the Death Penalty will never be used.  If the NCAA can punish Boise State for allowing a recruit to sleep on a damn couch, they can penalize the school for allowing the Football Program to be the final arbitor of punishment to the players on the football team.
    2. The Alumni.  If I hear about how Joe Pa was just a human being that made a mistake one more time, I am going to scream.  He was a human being that allowed the raping of young boys by one of his friends and colleagues to go unfettered.  The "Penn State Way", which Paterno became famous for is wrong.  And the alumni know it.  A little bit of the blame for this should be put at the alumni feet.  It is because they loved Paterno that he couldn't be questioned and if he was that powerful alumni would threaten to withhold their money from the University.  
    3. The Football Program.  It continues to roll right along.  The pitch is that they weren't a part of this and that the new coach knows what it takes to get to the NFL.  For the program, it doesn't matter about the problems that currently embroil the school.  It is sad to see that those that have taken over don't want to look back and even tell the school administration that we need to shut down the program for a year, remodel the stadium trying to eliminate any residue of this problem and teach those football players that the sport that they love isn't the end all or be all of the Penn State experience.  But the program is more important than the school.  That has been shown each step of the way.
    4. The Administration.  The last one has been corrupt.  The Board of Directors doesn't seem to grasp that they messed up majorly.  And the new talking heads for the University don't seem to realize that even though the bodies have been dug up and exposed, that the University has done something majorly wrong.  I hear that they are taking steps to eliminate the chance that this happens again, but nothing about holding others responsible.  Nothing about changing the culture of Penn State.  It is missing the chance to become a true leader of major Universities.
    5. The Rest Of Major Football Programs.  We have all heard the stories about how college football coaches sort of have their little fiefdom at their schools.  Some bigger than others.  While this sort of criminal and ethical activity isn't happening at those schools, there are probably illegal activities that are being swept under the rug by those football programs that are renegade programs because the coach knows that they will be fired if the activities are known.  The University doesn't demand all the facts because of the money that football brings in.  So scandals like this will start to erupt more often and will continue until the University and NCAA become watchdogs of their respective programs. 
  2. The A.J. Allmendinger Suspension.  According to the A.J. camp, there must have been something in a supplement or some prescription drug that he received.  According to NASCAR, it probably doesn't matter.  A banned substance is a banned substance.  Allmendinger will have to travel the Road to Recovery and lose major money and sponsorship because of it.  He might not even make it back to Sprint Cup Racing just because of the stigma this will cast on him.
  3. Louis Freeh.  The man that wrote the scathing report on the Penn State Scandal is going south.  Specifically to New Orleans.  He has been hired by Saints Owner Tom Benson to investigate Bountygate and other scandals that has embroiled the football team.  Here is hoping that he does get to the bottom of everything down there and issues a report like he did with Penn State.  I can only hope that it is shorter so I don't have to spend hours reading the report like I did Thursday.
  4. The Boston Red Sox.  If I take one thing away from this Baseball season, it will be that the Red Sox importance to MLB must be high.  Because I am tired of all the speculation and innuendo from talking heads about what the Red Sox are doing and how the dysfunction is causing problems on the field.  Let me ask you this.  If this same situation was happening in Kansas City, would it get half the attention that it is getting now?  I know what my answer is.  I don't care if Terry Francona and the hierarchy of the Red Sox aren't talking still.  I don't care if the GM and Manager don't talk.  Until MLB figures out that to grow the game and get people interested, they need to push more teams besides Boston, New York, Texas, LA, and the huge metropolitan areas.  Until that happens, there are fans like myself that will pay attention but not be emotionally invested in following the game day after day.
  5. The Dwight Howard Fiasco.  This has been on Sports Radio and TV day after day.  I am tired of Dwight Howard.  He is starting to remind me of LeBron James.  Overexposed and looking like a fool.  I don't care what the Magic do with him, trade him, sign him to a 30-year extension, cut him.  It does not matter to me.  But his situation needs to be settled so I can listen to some different stories like Pittsburgh and Washington in 1st place of their respective divisions. 

Friday, July 06, 2012

5 Things That I Am Following This Week

1.  The debate about slavery that has popped up this past week.  Sprinter Michael Johnson says that descendants of slaves have a superior athletic gene that lets them be great athletes.  Chris Rock saying that the 4th of July is basically a white man's holiday because when the Declaration of Independence was signed, it didn't affect the black man and his fortunes.  And this is a conversation that is worth having.  Racism is still alive in America and it is alive in sports.  This conversation is needed in the entire context of America and why our history is sometimes glossed over in sports.  However, I am troubled about the way race is portrayed sometimes in the sports world.

2.   Wimbledon 2012.  In the Women's finals, you have a resurgent Serena Williams playing a Polish player in Agnieszka Radwanska who has a severe respiratory illness that has made it nearly impossible for her to speak.  Radwanska is the 1st Polish player since 1939 to make a Grand Slam Final.  Over in the Men's draw, it looks like Andy Murray might make the finals.  He plays Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in one semifinal while Federer-Djokovic match in the other semifinal is being looked at as the true title match.  There is lots of drama here and it comes to a head this weekend.

3.  The Doping Case Against Lance Armstrong.  Armstrong is using the vendetta defense against the U.S. Anti-Doping agency.  He is alleging that the anti-doping agency has caught others doping and is giving them leniency in exchange for false testimony against Lance to catch the big white whale in cycling.  Reports have 5 former teammates, 2 former team managers, and a fromer trainer willing to testify against Armstrong in exchange for 6 month suspensions for the people involved.  Without their testimony, they could be banned from the sport of cycling or face at least a year long expulsion from the sport.

4.  Formula One - Another week, more chaos.  Bernie Ecclestone has proposed a London Grand Prix.  The German banker convicted of bribery is appealing his conviction, he was involved with Ecclestone.  Marussia F1 test driver Maria De Villota lost her right eye after the race car she was driving crashed into the team hauler.  She was in surgery for approximately 18 hours according to reports.  She underwent procedures from nuerologists and plastic surgeons during her time in surgery.  Her head took much of the brunt from the accident.  An investigation is taking place because apparently De Villota was slowing down at the end of her run when the car suddenly accelerated and hit the team hauler.  All of that doesn't overshadow the British Grand Prix going on in Silverstone, England this weekend.  Fernando Alonso leads the points by 20 and Sebastian Vettel, a favorite to win the championship at the beginning of the season, is trying to turn qualifying performances into race results after June failed to produce a podium finish despite 3 poles.

5.  Golf and Tiger.  Tiger Woods has won 3 tournaments this year, although none of them a major title.  He isn't as consistant as he was when he was the undisputable #1 player in the world and has shown that he can crumble in a tightly contested tournament.  However, the biggest thing for the PGA is that Tiger still has the ability to pull in eyeballs.  Tiger is 8 wins behind Sam Snead for all time wins on the PGA tour.  Snead won an amazing 82 PGA tournaments.  Tiger is four major tiles behind Jack Nicklaus with 14 major titles.  Jack won an outstanding 18.  I think that he makes the Snead record, but narrowly misses the major tourney title.  I am sure that is OK with the PGA though.  What a storyline 4 times a year, with Tiger chasing Jack for the most major tournament titles. Even if tiger doesn't reach 18 major titles, golf's popularity will be increase.  Why?  Because America is a sucker for trying to see if history is achieved.  And if Tiger is on the verge of making history, then it should be where America and it's eyeballs watch to see if Tiger can pull it off, especially if Tiger is in that final pairing on Sunday.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

The Way That The NCAA Football Playoffs Should Be

If you have been following college football, you have no doubt heard about all the hullabaloo about how college football gets a National Playoff system with 4 teams.  #1 plays #4 and #2 plays #3.  sounds great.  That is, until you actually look at the way this is going to shake out.  This is the BDS on steroids and everybody in college football knows it.

Let us look at the way that the 4 teams are going to qualify for this thing.  They are going to be selected by a selection committee.  Oh boy!  Another selection committee that won't do the right thing.  Look at what March Madness brings.  Teams getting in because of ties to members of the committee, teams being left off out for some perceived wrongdoing to a committee member or their friends.  And the perception of the biased polling that is out there.  Don't look at me when I say that there will be bias in the polling for football, just look at what one of the all time greats of college football coaches has said about this selection committee, Bobby Bowden.  He said that if he was on the selection committee and he was trying to decide between Georgia and a team out west, let's say Utah, that he would pick Georgia because of the familiarity, friends, and reputation.  Coach Bowden isn't alone in that way of thinking.  Any coach will think the same way.  Almost every sportswriter would do the exact same.  Don't tell me that if a sports writer from Charleston, South Carolina has a voice on the committee and has the exact decision that Coach Bowden put out there hypothetically, that he isn't going to be biased towards the teams that he is familiar with.  So the selection committee idea isn't a real good idea.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Wild Minnesota signings

I know I've been out of the loop here of late but I doubt I'm the only one who didn't see both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter going there in financially cripling enormous free agent deals.  As a fan who loves the "silly seasons" of sports almost as much as the games themselves, these moves finally set in motion a full-blown free agency season in the NHL.  What do you think will happen now that the log jam has been broken?  The below link offers 10 things to consider in that vein.  Please also comment on the moves that your teams have made already...we've been far too quiet on here lately.
Ten potential impacts of the Minnesota Wild signing Parise and Suter, including a chance at the Winter Classic.