Sunday, March 31, 2013

Houston has the best team in baseball...

Astros are 1-0 and are the best team in baseball as of April 1st... April fools, it's early.

March Madness has cooled off quite a bit, Tiger Woods is #1 again, and the regular season for baseball is now under way. With spring in full force, I think I'll hit this blog off with a bang.

The Miami Heat had their streak ended by the Chicago Bulls in Chicago on Wednesday ending the second longest winning streak in NBA history at 27 wins. LeBron haters also came back with moaning about his complaining that the Bulls were a little too rough in the way they played to end the streak. Can we step back and enjoy what we just saw instead of criticize LeBron for his complaining? Yes, he has been a little whinny about the officiating, but the guy just did something only one other great at his level (Wilt Chamberlain) has done: have a monster winning streak. It was a monumental night Wednesday, and to see the NBA in full force and to see competition at the level to the point where the post game high-fives and love taps were non-existence, it shows you how much better the product could be if players didn't take nights off in the regular season. Speaking of Wilt, Kobe passed him for fourth on the all-time scoring list on Sunday. Way to go Kobe!

Some NFL News, the Dolphins changed their logo to a really lame helmet-less dolphin in a league now predicating itself on safety. Ironic that a pansy logo such as a dolphin can now look mildly tougher (or depending upon how you look at it, the league looking weaker) with it's helmet being taken off. Tony Romo signed an extension to give the Cowboys six more years of misery as they now have officially relinquished themselves as being called Americas team. How the heck are you supposed to instill hope into your franchise if you re-sign the guy who has prevented you from doing anything when it comes to post season play? Not to mention, this guy does nothing but create havoc with his consistent inconsistency. I know Cowboys fans will hate it when I say this, but he does give the Cowboys an opportunity to win ball games in the 4th quarter and to be honest, who else is out there? Even though the guy doesn't perform to the standard that Cowboys fans want, he does give them a better chance then most of the QB's available. Sorry, but not sorry Cowboys fans. The Falcons made another big move by signing Osi Umenyiora to a two year deal, which should nicely replace the loss of John Abraham in one of the big releases they made prior to the free agency period. Other then that, not much free agency movement during the week.

The Major League Baseball section of the blog is now up and running as real games are finally starting to be played! This is where I lose about 80% of my audience for the summer because Football and Basketball run this country when it comes to mainstream popularity, but it's O.K. baseball is still hanging around as #3.

Justin Verlander and Buster Posey signed big time contract extensions on Friday making it truly a "Good Friday." Justin signed for 7 years 180 million dollars, and Buster "Gerald" Posey signed for 9 years 167 million dollars. To be honest, both these guys are the best at their respective positions in the game, so both of these contracts are well deserved. Texas and Houston opened up the season with an Astros victory, something you should take a picture of because many of them will not happen this season. The Astros start the season as the #1 seed in the American League. They better enjoy it because they got 100+ losses coming their way.

The Heat beat the Spurs without their superstars because they were injured. Funny how when the Spurs didn't have their superstars playing in November they got dinged quite a bit of cash but when the Heat have injuries they are O.K. It's interesting how interpretation can cost a franchise $250 K. Either way, both these teams may meet up in the Final this season, and this was just a mere tuneup before the playoffs begin in a couple weeks. Popovich's comments before this game was hilarious and Bosh doing something clutch for once was a serious mind boggle.

From sweet 16 to the final 4, we are squeezing out the rest of this College basketball season in style as Atlanta is now set for championship basketball.

Thursday and Friday had two of the best games in a very poor showing in the sweet 16 games. Ohio State and Arizona was a game to remember with Ross' game winning shot (Click here!), and who could ever forget Trey Burke and his shot from the suburbs (Click here!). Other then these two game, the sweet 16 was pretty weak. The only really good game during the elite 8 was between Wichita State and Ohio State. Ohio State had one heart wrenching weekend huh? The only reason this elite 8 game was intriguing was because Wichita State almost let the game go in the last five minutes. They eventually pulled it together in the final minute and made it to Atlanta as the unexpected team to make it out of the west region.

The saddest moment of the tournament was the final Elite eight game with Duke and Louisville when Kevin Ware broke his leg trying to block a shot in the first half. Both teams were shaken up, and if you watch the video, if your squeamish beware  (CLICK HERE!). It was really sad, and very gruesome. A very rare sight and something that almost makes you barf when you watch what happens. We all hope Kevin Ware successfully heals and comes back next season ready to play. But for now, Louisville gets set to play Wichita State in the final 4.

The Final 4: (Wichita State vs Louisville) & (Syracuse vs Michigan)

Juwanna man could not couldn't finish his career out at Baylor with a National Championship this season. Oh, my bad, I meant Brittney Griner. Louisville beat them 82-81 in what is viewed as one of the biggest upsets in women's college basketball history. I'm kind of glad to see Brittney Griner go and see what she can do in the WNBA because now we get to see how dominant she can be in the WNBA. I hope she breaks Bill Russell's record and gets 12 rings to put in her jewelry box. She's that dominant in her sport.

Happy Easter Everybody! I'll be posting a new blog up on Monday night April 8th after the National Championship game!

Friday, March 29, 2013

2013 MLB Pre-season Predictions

After looking at many of the MLB Predictions out there, it is looking like this year is somewhat wide open. 2013 is a year that looks to have much turnover from 2012 when it comes to who looks strong to make a serious playoff push. Oakland won't repeat what they did last season, the Yankees will be lucky to make the playoffs, and the Giants will be lucky to make the playoffs... Yeah, the defending world champions will be lucky to get it, that's the kind of turnover I'm talking about.

I live here in Seattle and am an optimistic Seattle Mariners fan this time of year, so my predictions may seem to be a bit skew considering my affiliation to the northwest. If you think about it, it's a lot like the east coast considering the west coast is so far away for them, so they completely forget about us. So I may forget about the east coast for a bit.. (not really). Everybody is picking the Nationals to do big things this season, but I think they are just the hot button team, and as we have seen in the MLB over the past couple seasons, the hot button team hasn't done very much.

This is the year that the Astros managed to join the AL West to make everybody have an even schedule which the MLB hasn't had in 20+ years since they started doing expansion with Florida and Arizona. Who remembers that time in history if you're in your mid 20's? Nobody! So this is the first time in a long time that Major League Baseball has evened out across the landscape. It's also rather comical because the Houston Astros are Major League Baseball's version of a minor league team. They will be lucky to win 60 games this season, and even getting 55 wins would be successful. The AL West is probably the most lethal division in all of baseball with the Angels stacked, the Athletics coming off a division title, the Mariners reloaded for a run, and the Rangers (even with their losses) have a shot with the chemistry they have produced the past 3-4 years. The Astros are walking into a minefield unfortunately and will only weaken the perspective that the AL West is one of the best divisions in baseball with it's arrival in 2013.

Considering the moves the Blue Jays have made this off-season, the age of the Yankees, the Red Sox not making much noise, you have to think that this is the year of the Orioles to make a serious run at a division title. Buck Showalter will get this team prepared to play this season and it would not shock me if they made a huge run in the postseason, especially with the experience they had together as a team in 2012. You get this feeling that the Orioles have a collective culture about them, that they are just starting what could become a dominate run in the AL East. Money can buy you a good team on paper (Yankees, Blue Jays, etc.), but growth of a franchise through it's farm system is priceless and can produce wins for a long stretch of years. Look at what the Rangers did for about 5-6 years in the AL West. They went through all those years of struggling and plummeting to last place in the early to mid 2000's. Now? They are revered as one of the most respected franchises in all of baseball, especially for the work they have put together those last 5-6 years.

The Detroit Tigers are still a power house, but everybody will expect Miguel Cabrera to drop in his statistical production next season. There is no way he gets another triple crown in 2013, could he? I see his stats staying in the top 5, but no way he finishes #1 in the 3 major categories again. I could see the White Sox doing something this season considering they were so close to Detroit in September. Other than that this looks like Detroit's division to lose. Yes, Kansas City has looked good in Spring training, but so has Seattle, and who honestly looks at Spring training as a place to recognize those who are improving? If you do, be seriously disappointed in Kansas City.

Let's see what I predicted in the American league for 2013:

AL East
1. y-Baltimore 94-68
2. w-Tampa Bay 91-71
3. w-Toronto 88-74
4. N.Y. Yankees 85-77
5. Boston 65-97

AL Central
1. y-Detroit 91-71
2. Chi White Sox 86-76
3. Kansas City 80-82
4. Cleveland 77-85
5. Minnesota 76-86

AL West
1. z-L.A. Angels 98-64
2. Texas 87-75
3. Oakland 84-78
4. Seattle 80-82
5. Houston 50-112

AL Playoffs:
Wild-Card Game: TOR @ TB
ALDS: TB 1 @ LAA 3, DET 3 @ BAL 2
AL Champions: L.A. Angels

I have the Angels getting to the World Series in October considering they now have guys that have experience in the post season. They have the young superstar in Trout to get them going, and with a combination of Pujols and Hamilton, they will be very hard to beat. It may be too early to say the power duo could do anything with potential chemistry being an issue, but how can you say such a thing when the Tigers made it to the World Series with Prince and Cabrera in their first year as a duo? I think the match-up between Baltimore and Detroit really comes down to Game 5. Who is the best pitcher in baseball? Verlander. Who do you want in a win-or-go home scenario. You guessed it. That is really the only reason I have Detroit making to the ALCS, other than that I have serious praise for where Baltimore is right now as an organization. I think the Angels have the pitching to take them over the top this season with one of the more solid starting fives in all of the American League, even if their offense doesn't mash the ball when it gets cold in the fall, their pitching can definitely get the job done this year. I do not have the same praise for Toronto as much as others have for them. I think they made a ton of big moves in the off-season but I see the pressure of them succeeding early affecting how they play throughout the season. In saying that, I think they will make a push in September, and put something together to have an opportunity at a Wild card spot. The Orioles are a team that have no pressure on them to succeed once again, and I see them sprouting into a serious contender this season. Everyone is writing them off, I have them doing some serious work when it comes to the regular season, especially in a year that the Yankees are not a threat.

Lets jump to the National League and see what I have cooked up:

NL East
1. z-Atlanta 95-67
2. w-Philadelphia 93-69
3. Nationals 88-74
4. Miami 83-79
5. N.Y. Mets 68-94

NL Central
1. y-Cincinnati 93-69
2. Pittsburgh 85-77
3. St. Louis 83-79
4. Milwaukee 82-80
5. Chi Cubs 60-102

NL West
1. y-L.A. Dodgers 94-68
2.w-San Francisco 89-73
3. Colorado 78-84
4. Arizona 76-86
5. San Diego 70-92

NL Playoffs
Wild-Card Game: SF @ PHI
NLDS: PHI 3@ ATL 2, CIN 2 @ LAD 3
NL Champions: Philadelphia Phillies

The National League is really hard to pick this season. The Phillies last year got off to a rough start and the injury bug hit them constantly throughout the season and they still finished where they started (.500). This year they have everybody coming back healthy and they even upgraded with a solid contact hitter in Micheal Young to play at third base. I have the Nationals missing the playoffs but barely. It was really hard to leave them off especially with Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, and Gio Gonzalez who is a beast on the mound. I just feel that last year was a sign of things to come and that they will be back there and this year they definitely have a shot, but with the amount of spots that are available in the National League, I had to give one to San Francisco and one to Philadelphia because of these two teams pitching staffs which are absolutely haunting. I also think the experience and age of the Phillies will carry them through. The only real question I have about the Phillies is that their age is starting to become a factor. Their entire infield is in their mid-thirties and the big three (Lee, Halladay, & Hamels) are not getting any younger. If their is one more chance for the Phillies to do something it is this season because I see their windows closing in 2014. I also have the Pittsburgh Pirates jumping up in the Central. Looking at their team and what they did last season by improving 7 games from 2011 to 2012. I see nothing but more improvement and 85 wins as a definite target for them to achieve. The NL West is a two team race, but we all know how the Giants roll. They have won 2 of the last 3 World Series and they haven't done it in a fashion that leaves you thinking: Wow. They just come to play, get the job done, and go onto the next game. I see them making the playoffs again but there is no way they can compete with the Dodgers in the West with how powerful L.A.'s lineup is. Their outfield is monstrous (Kemp, Either, Crawford) and if they get it going, nobody will be able to stop them. I think Atlanta is going to do some serious damage this year as well, and they have a serious shot at being the best team in the National League. Considering the Chipper Jones show is over, they can now focus on really beating teams the way we all know the Braves can, especially now that they have both the Upton brothers in the outfield who hopefully can help fix Jason Heyward and his woes at the plate these last couple of seasons.

Now it's time to predict a World Series winner and since I'm sick and tired of the National League beating up on the American League, I'm going to pick the Angels to win it all.

2013 World Series: PHI 1@ LAA 4

Their two big hitters in the lineup played in a World Series two years ago against one another and both have been to five World Series combine. They have the experience, and it doesn't hurt to have one of the best catalysts in all of baseball with Mike Trout getting on base to stir up the other teams pitching staff. I think the Phillies have the pitching to get them to the World Series, but their offense by this point in the season will just be too old and the experience of Pujols and Hamilton will settle into a nice 2013 World Series Championship. This is the last year of the Phillies window, if they stay healthy they are a huge threat during the 2013 season. People forget two seasons ago they won 100+ games and got hit by the injury bug last season. They are coming into this season healthy and their pitching staff is scary.

AL MVP: Mike Trout LAA
NL MVP: Joey Votto CIN
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander DET
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw LAD
*I'm not going to predict ROY's (Rookies of the year) because I have no idea.

Monday, March 25, 2013

96 hours. 48 games. 16 teams left.

We are going to dive into the Ides of March here in a bit but lets delve away from the insanity for a bit and hit the side news first.

The Miami Heat have now won 26 in a row and had one of the most challenging games during their streak this week when playing the Celtics on Monday. Winning number 23 in a row on Monday only helped guide them to winning their next 3 in a row during the week. Guess who it was that led them to victory on Monday? LeBron James. The same guy a year ago revered by many as the biggest villain in the NBA, who now seemingly has zero backlash or has at least calmed the haters that he once had. He hit a spot up jumper to take the lead in the waning minutes against the Celtics to cool the crowd in Boston. The Wednesday night game against the Cavaliers in Cleveland was another incredible comeback during this streak. At one point the Heat were down 27 points in the 3rd quarter, and all they did was bounce back to win again. Who knows how long this streak is going to last, but considering the schedule they have lined up for them, expect it to last deep into this up coming week, and if they can get to Sunday and beat the Spurs, I'll be the first to let you know.

Baseball starts a week from today... Dang, spring training went quickly. The World Baseball Classic was won by the Dominican Republic, and they won every single game they played. More importantly, Hanley Ramirez goes down with an injury causing him to potentially miss the first month of the regular season. I could come on here and talk about how important the WBC is towards the culture of the game but let me be honest in saying that this is a sport seriously going down hill in popularity. It is especially detrimental when ESPN doesn't promote a majority of the tournament on it's main network affiliates. So where am I supposed to watch it at? I'm not going to watch it on ESPN Deportes because I can't understand 90% of what they are saying and I'm not going to listen to Hispanic jargon that's going to fly over my head when Pablo Sandoval pops out to second base. All I can say is, Congratulations Dominican Republic! You earned it! You actually do have one of the best lineups ever assembled, and when ever your pitching staff decided to put together a solid outing, we all knew you would win it in closing time. Enjoy your plantains, and please bring your fan base to America in October so we can remember what it feels like to be excited in the postseason, whether people have a team in the postseason or not.

I will have my MLB 2013 Preseason Prediction Blog up on Saturday, the day before opening day (Sunday March 30th). I will also have my regular blog up on Sunday. I just want to get my World Series prediction out there early so all of you can get my take on how the season will play out.

Let's get away from baseball and jump to football quickly.

Johnny Football got into a pushing match with a graduate assistant because the graduate assistant was gawking at being so close to Manziel. Seriously? He's a damn 20 year old who had an incredible freshmen year, but that doesn't mean you need to gawk him while he throws interceptions in a Spring Football game. I understand the perspective of Johnny Manziel, he's there to improve his ability to play the Quarterback position and he was struggling in a scrimmage practice. If some dumb graduate assistant can't distance himself from being a fan and being a co-worker, then I'd be pissed too. I would be like "Bro, help me out, I'm not superman. I make mistakes too. Just because I won the Heisman last year doesn't mean I'm not looking for a National Championship this season."

The NFL finally got rid of the tuck rule. Oakland is now saying, "It took you 11+ years to finally figure out this was a stupid rule?" We all know the Raiders would have won that game in the final game at the old Foxboro stadium if it wasn't for that terrible call. We also know we wouldn't have seen the greatest kick in NFL history if that call went undone. So as happy as I am this rule is gone, it still screwed over a franchise at a shot at an AFC Championship opportunity. At the same time, Adam Vinatieri would never have been viewed the same. Click here

The real rule change that will turn football into a powder puff league is the new "Delivering the blow" rule in the open field for an offensive player. Apparently you cannot plow over a defensive player with the "crown of your helmet" anymore when you are outside of the tackle box. Any body have any flags lying around... anybody have a tutu? Anybody? I can't buy a tutu? I thought this was football!!! I thought this was a sport embracing the violence of contact out in the open field!!! I understand the NFL is going through some serious legal ramifications when it comes to lawsuits and thousands of cases are being discussed about the impact of head injuries and what they do to individuals later in their lives. I get it. I really do. But this is absurd!!! This is a sport you sign up to play as a child and you grow up knowing that you are playing something that is violent and may cause you harm later on down the road. If you don't know that, then consider yourself an ignorant fool for not understanding the risk involved in this game. I've been saying it for the last 2-3 years now! When it comes to the health of American football, this sport will die by 2050. You know why? If it doesn't at least die, it definitely won't be what it looks like today, heck, football doesn't look today like it did ten years ago. Imagine what 2050 will look like? With the amount of technology and how soft our country is becoming and how sensitive every little thing is becoming, do you seriously think the most popular sport in the land will stay at this level? You better believe the sport will be gone in the future especially with the amount of money being paid toward lawsuit files and with how soft the sport is becoming when it comes to the way officials call games and lean on the side of protection over what the game represents (hard, physical, tough, bone crushing blows). I think all you need to do is look at Ray Lewis and listen to his take on how much the game has changed since he entered the league in 1996 and understand the amount of change he saw throughout his career up until he retired a couple months ago. Click here

Some NFL moves also took place in the 2nd full week of free agency. Brian Urlacher was officially let go of the Bears after both sides could not come to an agreement. Ed Reed signed with Houston, making them a bit stronger on an already vaunted defense heading into 2013. Dumervil found a spot in Baltimore after the Broncos duped him on a signing mistake. It seems for the most part a majority of big deals in free agency have come to an end. The only real question left is what will Victor Cruz do when it comes to his signing, and where will he go. Other than that, the free agency fireworks seem to be coming to a slow and steady halt.

One more NFL thing before we get to the madness. I have to get to this Robert Griffin III (RG3) "superhuman" story. I really hope this guy recovers and turns into the star that we all think he can become, but I am going to be completely skeptical going into next season for one reason and one reason only: He's a QB. The thing people forget about Adrian Peterson when he went down was that he wasn't anywhere near 100% until about November. The first 5-6 weeks of the NFL season, Adrian Peterson was not who he normally was, and the team even monitored his carries on the field. RG3 came into last season healthy as an ox and he still got banged up by the end of the season. Imagine how he will play if in week one he is thrown directly into the fire? We know this guy does not need to be a running QB to be successful as we all saw last season, but there is no way this guy is going to be running for at least the first month of the season. That will force him to adjust to becoming a pure pocket passer. This may cause RG3 to struggle and look worse compared to last season because the threat of him running will be mute for a while. If RG3 were any other offensive skill position, I would give him the nod and say he could do it. I also am hesitant to discount his ability to comeback because I was dumb enough to say Adrian Peterson's career was done on Christmas Eve 2011. I just think with the importance RG3 is to the Redskins, and how much they have invested in him, they need to seriously take caution with this situation, and make sure he is completely healthy. All it takes is one defensive end to trip and it could destroy RG3's career along with sending the Redskins into a tizzy for the next five seasons minimum.



Barack Obama picked Indiana to win it all, Sports Illustrated picked Louisville to win it all, and I picked Miami (FL) to win it all. We are all still in line to have our champions hold the title in Atlanta.

If you haven't already, check out my Tournament breakdown blog (which by now looks like a comic reel considering the upsets that have taken place, but look at it anyway for the fun of it). Here are the Sweet 16:

Michigan, Michigan State, Louisville, Arizona, Oregon, Marquette, Syracuse, Ohio State, Indiana, Kansas, Florida, Miami, Duke, Wichita State (huh?), La Salle (who?), Florida Gulf Coast..... wait... FLORIDA GULF COAST?

Let's get to the break down shall we?

Day 1:

The first game that caught my eye during the day was Saint Mary's vs Memphis (Click here!). Dellavedova caught a pass and let it go from three... Clang, the agony of defeat falls over the campus of Saint Mary's. Marquette vs Davidson wasn't a sleeper either (Click here!). A one point win as Marquette moved on to the round of 32, giving Davidson a heart wrenching feeling as their fans flew back to North Carolina. Gonzaga almost made the wrong kind of history as Southern nearly shocked the world as they battled the Zag's to the very end, coming so close to being the first #16 seed to beat a #1 number one seed. Both Oregon and Cal upset their opponents as #12 seeds after the PAC-12 received little respect with their at-large bid selections. Harvard as a #14 seed won their first NCAA tournament game upsetting New Mexico and wiping out about 99% of the perfect brackets left throughout day one (Click here!). Syracuse beat Montana by 47 in a first round drubbing. VCU did the same thing, except Akron had two players with the flu, and another with chronic back pain. After day one 1,238 brackets remained perfect on ESPN's Bracket Challenge. There were 8.5 million brackets filled out.

Day 2:

Day two merely destroyed anybody's hope at a perfect bracket. Another #12 seed in Ole Miss upset a consistent Wisconsin team who shut down Michigan and Indiana in the Big 10 tournament. Marshall "The Real Slim Shady" Henderson sharked it up against Wisconsin and won by eleven. N.C. State and Temple had an epic classic as Temple pulled out a four point win to move on to play Indiana. Creighton and Cincinnati also had an epic game with Creighton moving on to play Duke in the round of 32 with their four point victory. This is where day two got nasty. La Salle upset Kansas State (Click here!) making the West region officially the "Wild West" creating a round of 32 match-up in Ole Miss and La Salle on Sunday. Florida Gulf Coast University won it's first NCAA tournament game ever as they were the seventh #15 seed to ever win since the NCAA tournament expanded in 1985 to 64 teams. This is probably the most magical moment of the tournament (Click this!). Many people, such as myself, had Georgetown going deep in the tournament. Instead, Georgetown will be watching it from home the rest of the way. Western Kentucky almost scared off Kansas, similar to Gonzaga/Southern a day before. Except this time, Kansas put Western Kentucky away in the last five minutes. The way a #1 seed usually does it to a #16 seed. Another year the #1 seeds prevail. No more brackets were perfect after day two.

Day 3:

If there was ever a boring day in the first four days of the NCAA tournament, this was it. Almost every game was a blowout until the last couple games. There were two upsets though. Oregon and Wichita State solidifying their places in the Sweet 16. Now it's debatable that Oregon didn't really "upset" St. Louis considering they were not your generic #12 seed. It is somewhat of a joke that they were even placed that low in the tournament because they won their conference tournament in the PAC-12, but nonetheless, they still made it and won two tough games. With Wichita State sending home the first #1 seed in the tournament, it was the best story of the day by far. Click here! I want you to watch Ron Baker in this clip -> Click here! How could you not like this kid? He is what every kid in America should strive to be, especially with the way he handles himself after such an exciting moment. Beautiful stuff. Speaking of beautiful, Marquette won another close game over Butler, this time by two points (Click here!). Marquette won by a margin of three points combined in two games to reach the Sweet 16. You talk about close, this Marquette team knows how to make it exciting.

Day 4:

This is one of those days that if you were watching basketball, you will remember it forever, especially if you're from Florida Gulf Coast University. To start the day, Iowa State nearly out ran Ohio State but Aaron Craft had something to say about that with a game winning three (Click here!). There was a controversial charge call in the game that has been debated, either way Ohio State moves on to the Sweet 16. Olidipo hit a dagger three in the waning seconds to help Indiana stave off Temple who hung tight all game (Click here!). Then came the history maker. Cinderella was in the building, and midnight wasn't striking anytime soon. Click here! When McKnight got that Alley-Oop and followed it up with the block, you knew something special was going to happen. The first #15 seed to ever get to the Sweet 16 happened on Sunday March 24th, 2013 and  Florida Gulf Coast is only in their 6th year of existence as a Division I program. If that doesn't spell Cinderella, what does? Click here! It also doesn't hurt that La Salle beat Ole Miss, and that it was La Salle's first Sweet 16 in 58 years. They were a #13 seed that also made it to the Sweet 16, and it was only sweeter that they did it in the way they did. Click here!

These are things that make sports beautiful everybody. If this doesn't strike a chord somewhere, sports aren't for you. It's the representation that counts, and that's what these underdogs have done for those who don't have anything else. These kids play the game for the love of the game, and they play because it is something that has been in their blood ever since they could walk, dribble, shot, run. This time of year is not played for the paycheck. This time of year, is not about what could have been or what could be better. This time of year is the time to think forward, to think that anything is possible no matter your situation. It is the pure representation of the body, mind, and soul. Something we all have, and basketball is just a sheer metaphor of that very thing. Teams like Florida Gulf Coast, La Salle, Wichita State, and Oregon... They give us hope. They give us that feeling that even if we don't have the best tools available, we can still put together a masterpiece. Even if we are down, with the most dreaded of diseases or an obstacle blocking our path, our perspective can change in a flash, and our life can take on a new meaning of hope and prosper. That is what this time of year represents. A new season, a new hope, and a new chance at life.

I'll see y'all on Saturday with my MLB 2013 Preseason Prediction Blog! Enjoy your first full week of Spring! Enjoy the rest of the madness!

Monday, March 18, 2013

2013 Bracket Breakdown

The time has come to fill out your bracket and if you haven't done so, then what are you doing, get it done! Find a website, printable bracket, or a sheet of paper and pen and figure out what you need to do to fit in for the next three weeks! With that, let's start off the breakdown with the five most difficult games to pick:

5. Syracuse/Montana: Why? Because Syracuse has been so inconsistent all season and Montana comes in with nothing to worry about because they come in with no pressure. As easy as this game seems to be to pick for Syracuse because they are a nationally well known program, they have had some serious ups and downs throughout the last half of the season. Also, Montana has a pretty good guard duo. This does not help out the likes of Syracuse.

4. Oklahoma/San Diego State: Who? Exactly. Both of these schools are known for their football programs recently more than their basketball programs. Yes, San Diego State was fantastic last season, but this year, not so much, hence why nobody remembers them. Plus neither of these teams have been talked about and both of these teams will more than likely play Georgetown in the next round which likely means they both won't go very far. So I guess the committee decided to put together the two teams nobody has really heard about all season. That's what makes it hard to pick!

3. UCLA/ Minnesota: This one I picked UCLA on strictly because I live on the west coast, honestly though, I have no idea who I think is going to win this match-up. Minnesota has been O.K. all season but also being in the Big 10 which is a top conference in college basketball. UCLA has been a pretty good team in a "weak" conference. These games make me especially frustrated because I liked both of these teams to possibly have an opportunity at a sweet sixteen bid. Now only one has the opportunity and that makes it harder to pick, also the weak conference/good team vs good conference/average team is very hard to choose.

2. Cincinnati/Creighton: When you have baby Dirk Nowitski (Doug McDermott) on your team (Creighton) and the opponent is a team who is athletically gifted (Cincinnati) I really have no idea who to pick. I picked the athletic freaky team but they had so many lulls throughout the season you almost have no idea which team is going to show up. I personally also hate 7 vs 10 match-ups and this game just seemed really difficult to pick because one team you know will show up and play the way they have all season while the other is a toss up. Toss up match-ups are terrifying, this is nearly one of them.

1. Butler/Bucknell: I seriously just picked Butler because they sound familiar, but honestly this game scares me, and if I would have given time to think about it, I would have turned into a pretzel. This game is ridiculous. I can see either team winning, and considering the success Butler has had over the past few years in the NCAA Tournament (Back-to-back championship game appearances) and knowing the reputation of Bucknell whenever they enter the tourney (experienced & fundamental), have fun making a decision. As successful as Butler has been in the tournament, they only earned their due as a highly ranked team this year and they played average with the recognition. The Tournament is a different animal and who knows how Butler is going to respond.

O.K. Now that we are out of the woods on the hard picks, lets break down who I see going to the Final Four (along with teams I could see making to the Final Four in the given region).

Midwest Region:

- Considering this year has been all sorts of wonky, I see consistency prevailing, and what is more consistent than Michigan State and Tom Izzo? Nothing. But who can I see coming out of this bracket if MSU doesn't? Louisville and Duke. Everybody else doesn't seem to have the ability to stay with anybody else. But why do I choose MSU over the #1 and #2 seed? Louisville is a very hot and cold team, and when they are cold, they cannot hang with anybody. Duke lost to Lehigh last season (the biggest upset in NCAA history) and what makes you think I'll pick them again when it comes to winning the NCAA championship? I ate soap for betting on Duke over Lehigh last season, and I will not pick them to go as far until they prove it to me. Until they show me they can win something with substantial meaning (especially after losing to Maryland in the ACC tournament), I'm not going to carry them through this tournament. So Michigan State is a team I'm willing to ride to the Final Four.

West Region:

- This may have been the hardest bracket to choose when it comes to a champion. Yes, I'm aware Gonzaga was the #1 seed in this region, but that doesn't mean I think their schedule made their #1 seed easier to achieve compared to the other three #1 seeds. I just think everybody in this region if put in any other region is at best a #3 seed. I just found this region to be a very weak region overall. I picked New Mexico because they are the #3 seed where I feel they are the only correctly seeded team within this bracket. I think Ohio State and Gonzaga would be a #3 or #4 seeds in other regions to be honest, but in the West, they have a legitimate shot at doing whatever they want. I could see Gonzaga, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Arizona and Kansas State sneaking out of this region. It is that wide open! I also honestly don't think any of these teams are National Championship worthy except for maybe Wisconsin who showed in the Big 10 Tournament that they could beat teams like Michigan and Indiana, but other than that, everybody else seems to be a bit average.

South Region:

- First of all, did I tell you all that I love Trey Burke? Well if you don't know, now you know. This dude can carry anybody on his back if necessary and I have the faith he can do it all the way to the Final Four through the wretched South Region which does have some legitimate threats to win the Title this season. I got Michigan, but I can definitely see Georgetown or UNC taking their talents to Atlanta to compete for a shot at a National Championship. Georgetown is no sleeper, they have serious guard play and have the system to take them all the way this season. I have a friend who picked them, and it struck me a bit causing me to seriously consider them as a threat. They are coming out of an always vaunted Big East and setting themselves to do some serious damage in the NCAA Tournament this season. I would not be shocked if they beat Michigan in the Elite Eight and if they even tested the waters in Atlanta winning the National Title with the talent they have on their team. Other than those two teams in Michigan and Georgetown, I could see UNC upsetting Michigan in the Semifinals. I don't see Kansas doing anything, especially with the way they played in early February and how he nearly imploded the week they lost to TCU. Kansas doesn't have a shot at the Final Four in my view. Their is no way they are good enough to beat UNC, Michigan, and Georgetown three games in a row. If they do, they better damn well win it all because that is a vaunted schedule if I've have ever seen one.

East Region:

- I love Miami in this region. I picked them to win this region from the beginning because I see Miami as a team with fantastic guard play and experience that may not be matched by any other team. I can totally see Indiana doing something in this region as well, but unless they are tired or unprepared from their previous game (similarly to how they were unprepared in the BIG 10 Tournament with Wisconsin) I can see them getting knocked out early. Indiana is one of those teams where I really like them and think they are a solid team, but I worry about their longevity in the tournament. I can also see Syracuse making a run if they have a short memory of this past season, because they are definitely talented enough, but their play the last month has been dreadful. Indiana and Miami are really the only two teams I see making a run out of this conference and I'm not just saying that because they are #1 and #2 in this conference, but they are both truly the most well put together teams in this tournament. They can beat everybody they play if they wanted to and if Miami were put in the West Region they would be the #1 seed and destroy everybody in that region. If they meet in the Elite Eight, it truly is a toss up even though I love Miami a ton, Indiana is #1 for a reason. But I still have Miami.

Let's break down who I have winning in the Final Four, if all my teams make it (which won't happen and if it does this blog will make national news and I'll be all over the globe).

Michigan vs Miami: I have Miami winning this game for one reason, they have experience and a team that can really soften Robinson, Burke and Hardaway. I feel that Miami could out muscle the Wolverines and also out shoot them, which I know sounds strange considering Michigan can shoot with anybody. Considering the amount of times Burke has had to save Michigan at the end of games, and has made himself a target to be reckon with, he may become the focus that Miami looks at and places their game plan around because he is that good. Unless Burke is coming out of a phone booth in the next week, I don't see how he gets past the play of Miami in Atlanta.

Michigan State vs New Mexico: Seriously? I'm not even going to break this game down. By this point, New Mexico will have had so many stories about them and will come into Atlanta as the sentimental favorite. Michigan State will be another ho-hum story line as they again make the Final Four, giving them less of an awe-factor walking into Atlanta. It would just feel like another game to them when they get there, and with the competition they have felt all year in the Big 10, I just don't see how Michigan State walks out of this game with a loss. Considering the game in and game out competition of the Big 10, and the week off that both of these teams will have, Michigan State has the clear edge in this match-up. Michigan State goes to the National Championship.

National Championship Game: MSU vs MIA: I have Miami winning 62-59. Both these teams played early in the season against one another and Miami won 67-59. I think a similar result will occur, but I also think it will be a bit closer knowing how Izzo gets his teams prepared to play in the tournament. Miami is the team of destiny, and I think this is the year of the swagger. Michigan State has the most consistency when it comes to a programs success, but like many years when it comes to Michigan State, they have the system, but they do not have the "It" factor like Miami has for this season. Miami is a senior laden team and I can't see how they will die for the rest of the season. They have great guard play, they are beyond experienced, and they have the swagger of a team that looks hungrier than a pack of lions. They were the outright ACC champions this season and never lost to UNC and only lost to Duke once. When it comes to big time games and the spot light, they have done nothing but shown brightly and provided the effort to indicate they are ready for a title run. Only one bad loss since Christmas on February 23rd (Click Here). Other then that, they have been on a mission. You know who had one bad loss last season? Kentucky. Where did they end up. Champions. The Miami Hurricanes will be there this season, and the year of the swagger lives on.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Patty Cake. Madness. Bakers. March.

Hey y'all it's finally here, Selection Sunday. The day that we all print out our brackets, figure out our favorite upsets, and find ways to deke the boss so you can catch a sneak peek of those last second buzzer beaters. The madness is here, and I ask that you enjoy it all to the fullest. This is the week all true sports fans live for. From tip off till the cutting of the nets, it's the ultimate representation of heart and soul that no other sport can provide. That scintillating feeling of young men shooting, passing, and streaking towards the basket for a chance to take down Goliath, it is here once again. It is here only to send chills down your spine once again with the pulse of Spring hanging in the balance and leaving you wondering, how much better can this get. The NCAA Tournament 2013. Get your dancing shoes, and have a ball.

I'll have my bracket blog tomorrow to break down the picks I will have made. I have picked the last two NCAA tournament champions (UCONN '11, UK '12), and I'll try to make it three years in a row in this most unpredictable of years involving the tournament. Lets get to other news first shall we!

It's also free agency season in the NFL and this week did not disappoint although as a Vikings fan, it made me nervous until Friday.

Tuesday started off the new fiscal 2013 NFL season and free agency did not disappoint with a boat load of cap freeing releases along with signings that may help shape the landscape of the NFL. Teams were releasing players left and right and even releasing those who were once the face of their franchise or the position they played. The Dumervil scandal in Denver was probably the biggest story of the first week with his release after the team supposedly thought they had enough cap space to sign him to a deal. It was one of the most bizarre sequences I could remember in recent memory. First they said he was signed to a deal, then the next thing you know he was released and the team let him go. Now, Dumervil is letting go of his agent for how the deal was handled. Click Here for the entire story. Other than that the rest of the week went relatively smooth.

Percy Harvin was traded to the Seahawks Monday making them clear favorites as super bowl contenders. Especially after signing Cliff Avril and Micheal Bennett to short term deals, ratcheting up their front four on the defensive line, which was what their main goal was this off-season. All they have now is the draft, and all that does is help teams especially if their motto is competition all the time which Pete Carroll preaches constantly.

Anquan Boldin was traded to the 49ers after he threatened to retire if he was let go. Looks like he'll be gone soon, especially after being traded to the enemy. It must be especially insulting being traded for a 6th round pick when you were Joe Flacco's favorite target during the season. Understand business Boldin, you can be let go at any moment no matter what stature you hold on a team. One would think someone as experienced as Boldin would understand begging and pleading just doesn't work in the NFL when it comes to a long term deal. Apparently I was wrong.

Mike Wallace went to Miami on a five year deal, Wes Welker went to Denver, and Greg Jennings chose Minnesota over Green Bay. Considering what Minnesota lost to Seattle when it came to wide receiver production, they got it back by signing the NFL spokesmen for Old Spice. Now they have an extra two draft picks for this season, and one next season along with a veteran receiver who can make clutch catches for a team that desperately needs of a veteran presence at the position. Believe in your smelf Minnesota, you may have just jumped into the driver's seat of the NFC North division for 2013. The signing of Wes Welker may have also cemented Denver as the favorites in the AFC for super bowl contention in 2013, giving Peyton Manning another toy to play with in the off-season. Can anybody say Seattle, Denver, New York, February, and 2014? I sure can.

One cool signing occurred in Atlanta that should not be over looked. With Stephen Jackson going to the Falcons seeming to be his final full contract in the NFL (3 years/ 36 $million), he is going to a team set to make another run in 2013. Versatility is something that Jackson brings to backfield that Turner could not over the past couple of seasons. This will also be the first time in his career the team he is playing for has a legitimate shot at making a run in the post season, unless you count the Rams in the mid-2000's which were no better than a one-hit wonder who didn't have a shot at the big dogs in the NFC. Atlanta is a big dog in the NFC, and I hope Jackson stays healthy and does nothing but rip it up this season to give his team a shot at a super bowl run.

Let's jump to basketball then we can get out of here for the week (because next week is going to be crazy).

The Miami Heat have now run their winning streak to 22 games in a row tying them for the second highest winning streak in NBA history with the 07-08 Houston Rockets. If the Heat can run their streak to 30, that is when I'll start talking about the greatest streak ever. Right now, it is just very very impressive. Remember when I said the Knicks could possibly challenge the Heat as the eight seed heading into the NBA playoffs? Well let's just see if they can even get there at this rate.

Earlier this week the Knicks played the Golden State Warriors once again except this time on the west coast. Clearly the Knicks were not prepared to play. The Knicks only scored 63 points for the entire game and Stephen Curry didn't even go off like last time. It's amazing what injuries can do to a team, especially when both of their headline stars get injured such as Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. If only they had the same scheme as the Spurs, then maybe they wouldn't be in the rut they are. If you haven't checked out my special blog from this week, you should seriously check it out because it's about the Spurs and their 50th win this season (the most consecutive seasons doing so). Only if they were the New York Knicks... Click here for the link.

Kobe Bryant also twisted his ankle this week and was ruled "out indefinitely." He played the next game. Granted, he only played twelve minutes, but either way, he still came out and performed for the crowd. The man does not quit everybody. I'm telling you, if the Lakers somehow make the playoffs, Kobe Bryant will play 40+ minutes, bum ankle and all, because all the man wants to do is win. He does not care about his condition, and he does not care who his opponent is. I am not the biggest Kobe Bryant fan, but if you cannot respect what he has done to this point in his career and in the fashion he has done it (playing through pain, not taking games off, doing whatever he can to win whether it's having more assists than points, or sacrificing his scoring for the team) I seriously question your morale as an individual because this man comes to perform no matter the situation. Even if you don't like Kobe, understand that he is performing for you, even if you hate him. That's a true professional and that's what more of our world should consist of.

College Basketball, how are you doing?

While we put the NBA on the back burner for the next 3 weeks, we get to talk about the best sporting event of the year. First, lets get to highlights of the conference tournaments. Maryland upset Duke in the ACC tournament which opened the door for Miami to win the ACC outright. Miami has one of the best guard systems in the land this year as they bring experience into the tournament this season. They have the national spotlight with guys like Wade and LeBron going to their games, and they have the swagger of a team ready to explode towards a final four push. Conference USA had a double overtime thriller with the twentieth ranked Memphis Tigers beating the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles 91-79, where Memphis merely outlasted Southern Miss to automatically place themselves in the tournament.

Louisville ended the 34 year run of the greatest conference tournament of all time; the Big East Conference Tournament. Players from Patrick Ewing, to Kemba Walker, Ray Allen, and Carmelo Anthony all have competed in this amazing tournament which will look vastly different heading into 2014. Syracuse dominated in the first half leading by 13 heading into the break, but to symbolize their entire season, they completely shut down in the second half and did not make a field goal for over ten minutes. Peyton Siva won player of the tournament as the original Big East came to an end Saturday. With how the Big 10 conference has performed this season, we can only hope that conference becomes the new mecca of college basketball when it comes to conference tournaments. Considering the dominance of UNC and Duke in the current landscape of college basketball, it's looking like the ACC may take the cake for becoming the next mecca. Either way, the Big East will never be the same after this season, and it's a damn shame. Unfortunately, money talks and money listens, but this only indicates a new era in college basketball set to begin in 2013-2014.

We'll end it with this crazy women's college basketball game (another four-overtime game, no big deal). It would only be viewed as one of the craziest games in sports history if men were playing it. Hey sports world, figure it out that women can do some amazing things and that glazing over a four-overtime game is nothing to scoff at. Click here for the box score, and seriously take into consideration the amount of press this game would get if men were the athletes. No matter who would be playing this game, if men were involved in a four-overtime thriller in college basketball, it would be considered an instant classic.

Happy St. Patrick's day + Selection Sunday everybody! My Bracket Blog will be up tomorrow! If you follow my blogs, send in a comment on who you have winning the tournament, you can send in your bracket, or you can join my bracket Supah Scintillating Sigs! By clicking the THIS LINK and entering the password: madness2013. Thank you for reading this week's blog, have a great week!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Biggest "What-If" in Sports

The San Antonio Spurs.

Sixteen straight 50+ win seasons. (1998 being a strike shortened season but they still had a .740 winning percentage)

All for what? Little.

Today is the day that the Spurs won their 50th game in 2013 for the 16th straight time (technically 14th, but when it comes to winning percentage, it's a different story), the most in NBA history. An accomplishment over shadowed by the debacle in L.A. and Miami running train for the last month. It only leaves an individual, such as myself, asking one major question: What if San Antonio were a big market city? For this blog we'll just say New York.

The New York Yankees have been a franchise that has been long pronounced as Americas powerhouse when it comes to sports in the United States. They run a $200 million+ business (with only the players) and have been successful since 1995. Prior to 1995, they were an unknown commodity, they hadn't been to the playoffs since 1981 losing to the Dodgers in 6 games in the World Series. That is 13 straight seasons of ineptitude for a franchise, prior to 1995, as the most heralded franchise in all of sports with the most championships ever in American sports history.

Where do the Yankees fit in with the Spurs discussion? Understanding that the playoffs in baseball are much more difficult to attain than in basketball I will say that the Yankees were no slouch in the 1980's. They had three 90+ win seasons (post 1981) but they also had five sub .500 seasons leaking into the early 1990's.

The Spurs, since joining the NBA in 1976, have had six sub .500 seasons with five of them in the 1980's, similar to the Yankees. Even before this impressive run that the Spurs have been on, the Yankees have been more talked about even though their run is much similar to that of the Spurs. I'll dive deeper to give you more significance of this Spurs run.

The Lakers (7), Yankees (7) and Patriots (5) have all been to more Championships than the Spurs (4) since they started this run in 1997-98. I will admit, the greatness hasn't been their when it comes to making it to the NBA title compared to these three teams, but it is only these three teams that the Spurs really do not have much say in the argument with.

I will concede that the Lakers have been a better franchise during the same time the Spurs have been on this run. With the market the Lakers have, they are expected to keep a high level of consistency which even though they have in championships, they have not been to the playoffs every year the Spurs have been on this run. Also think about this as you rip the Spurs and give little respect to their small market:

Since the Spurs started this run, name the other three teams that have been in the NBA finals for the West since 1997-1998? Jazz (1998), Mavericks (2006,2011), and the Thunder (2012). 11 of those 15 prior Western Conference representatives have come from either L.A. or San Antonio and mind you both of them matched up in the playoffs several of those times and the Lakers won more often than not.

So the Lakers have it better, fine! But did they make the playoffs in 2005?

Does anybody remember the year after the Lakers put together that Hall of Fame crew with Gary Payton, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'neal along with getting swept in the finals? They were one of the worst teams in the NBA. While the Lakers were passing Kobe the ball on every possession and losing more than they had seen in a long time, the Spurs were dominating the NBA with their smash mouth defense and playing "un-watchable" basketball with games played in the 60's, and I'm not talking about the era, I'm talking about the score.

If the Lakers were playing this brand of basketball in the playoffs, people would say other wise and think that there was a transition occurring in the NBA. That's just how big markets work, things rotate around them so that the league can generate more money. But nobody remembers that because they were worrying about "the collapse" of the Lakers this season similar to that of the 2004-2005 Lakers squad. There's a rise, and there's a fall, and people like it when teams who are great rise and fall because it gives them a sense that even when they are down, they can get back up. A classic example of the Lakers. But the Spurs haven't done so in nearly a generation.

The New York Yankees of 2008. Does anybody remember this "collapse?" Granted, again, baseball is very hard to make the playoffs and win on a consistent basis, but if you're raking in $200 million+ of player salary (ungodly the most in Major League Baseball) you are expected to do so. The Spurs are no where near that level of a market and have been doing this well for so long. That year in 2008 the Yankees were a train wreck and somehow mustered up a second half comeback to make it back to respectability. But considering the hole they dug themselves, it was just too deep to climb out of. Then came talk on the four letter network of "the end of the dynasty" because it was the first year that the Yankees hadn't been to the Playoffs since the strike year of 1994. Again, very impressive and a 13 year run that in this era may not be duplicated again... but they still missed the playoffs. The level of success the Spurs have had since the 1997-1998 season compared to that of the Yankees is difficult to compare, but even this year they are talking about the fall of the Yankees once again for the possibility of them not making the playoffs.

The Patriots in 1999, 2000, 2002, and 2008 didn't make the playoffs. 2008 was an anomaly. The Patriots went 11-5 and somehow didn't make the playoffs which is still ridiculous to this day. Still, they didn't make the playoffs after their super bowl championship in 2001. They went 9-7 and barely made any noise in their second act during a super bowl championship defending season. The Spurs every year, after they have won their championships, have been in the playoffs to defend their reign as basketball's supremacy. Yes, they have never repeated like the three teams mentioned in this blog, but they can at least say they were around to defend each and every championship. Also, something fishy such as spy gate has never been brought up through the Spurs, and Greg Popovich never wears a hood on the sideline. Granted, the Patriots have never been a big market club either and have built their way up to get to where they have. They have done it in the most recent era, which I give them huge credit for, and have done it in the most popular sport in America... but they haven't won the equivalency of 50+ games every year for 16 years in a row.

Let's play fairy tale world for a bit with this Spurs franchise and imagine they were the "hot bed of sports." We all know that every time they come on SportsCenter or any other sporting news show they are either put up front, moved aside, mentioned with some historical anomaly, then forgotten throughout the program.

No team has ever done what this team has done. None. No franchise, no nothing has ever done what this franchise has put together, especially in an era where the individual and the spotlight are the main attraction. They don't want the spotlight, and still put together an incredible set of teams year in and year out. Their tactics are flawless, always set up to compete with the best even when their draft stock means absolutely nothing year in and year out. They always reload, always bring in the best foreign players and their scouting is the best in sports history, period. If this team played in down town Madison Square Garden and was doing what they have been doing the past 16 years, this franchise would be the heart of sports and the NBA would put them on ESPN every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and TNT would show them every Thursday night.

The NBA would not rotate around superstars, and the atmosphere would be the same from the superstars all the way down to the IR guys wearing the suits who can't play because they have the flu. Our society would value the team instead of the individual, and problems within the the individualistic mindset wouldn't be as valued as problems within the familial mindset. Imagine how much more powerful the brand of basketball would be around the world if the Spurs brand of basketball was in such a large market such as New York. Greg Popovich would be a media mogul and his style of basketball would get spread through the league quicker than a tweet from Richard Sherman defending his "All-Pro Stanford Graduate" status. Branding would be on team play, fundamental basketball, and games would be even more competitive in the regular season than they are today.

This is the part people miss about the NBA. Most people know that, yes, Jordan was unstoppable and a force to be reckon with, but when Magic and Bird ran the League in the 80's turning the league into what it is today, they would tell you first that their TEAM is what made them great. The players surrounding them is what boosted the NBA into what it has become, and it didn't hurt that they played in LARGE MARKETS so one player could be utilized to represent the team. But, this Spurs team is gritty, gutty, and will come to play every night and give you their 110% because they are paid professional athletes with no ego playing for a simple goal in a TEAM GAME. Yes they sit their superstars and certain players at certain times during the regular season, but even when their "best" are sitting, they can still compete with the Miami Heat.

It is something that the NBA is lacking, and something that we all wish the NBA could be again, especially today in this self-image promoting, media bonanza, me-me-me superstar driven league. The Spurs are running the most consistent organization sports has seen since the Celtics of the 60's. That was 40+ years ago. We may never see this again, and it is especially difficult knowing that all major media markets turn a blind eye to the beauty that is team sports. Put the Spurs product in New York, and don't tell me that the brand of the NBA would be completely different and an even better brand today.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sherman Debacle Breakdown

When it comes to this week in sports, I would have to say it was quite the disappointment. Usually there is tons to talk about, and a lot to cover. This week though, it didn't help that NFL Free agency is this upcoming week and that big Conference Tournaments all begin soon. March madness, and spring time are right around the corner, and I think this past week was the perfect time to catch a deep breath before the big push.

Sports Illustrated didn't help their cause by making a 75th year anniversary of March Madness when their first edition came out this week (they made a second one called "power issue"). Nothing but old photos of short shorts, black and white photos of legends, and stories from writers of the era talking about the greatness of college basketball. If I wanted to check these out I could go to Google images and find my own curiosity. After I received this I realized what kind of week I was in for; digging for things to write about.

So at least the week started off with one of the most intense women's basketball game of all-time. Triple over time in a #2 vs #3 match-up where the victor was lucky to come away with a win. I didn't watch most of this game or hear much about it until the next day, but from what I could tell it was an instant classic. Let's be honest, how many times do you see a women's college basketball game come down to this kind of ending? Many of them are blowouts, even when they are supposedly top ten match-ups. This kind of game doesn't get me interested in women's basketball, because nothing will, but this game will keep the girls on my radar... and not like that.

Shawne Merriman plans on retiring here in the upcoming weeks. For a good three to four year stretch, Merriman was one of the most feared linebackers in the game and unfortunately fell off the map after he became great with the Chargers. He eventually moved to defensive linemen, and from there he wasn't the same. He wanted more money on the Chargers, didn't get it, so he was traded to the Bills. Once he went to the Bills, nobody heard from him since. A solid all around player for the nine years he spent in the league, but his time has definitely run it's course. Not a Hall of Fame player, but either way, he was hardcore during his prime.

Speaking of retirements, Mariano Rivera plans on hanging up the final #42 to be worn in MLB history after the 2013 season. Known as the "Hammer of God" for his ability to shut down ballgames during the postseason, he only really did it with two pitches: the cutter and the fastball. It made him that much more incredible with the longevity he provided. With 650 saves (counting the 42 in the postseason) he is the greatest closer of all time and may never be passed up. To define Mariano Rivera, you only have to do one thing: put his face next to the word closer and the word class. Whenever the man would be warming up in the bullpen prior to the 9th, getting ready to enter the ballgame, you pretty much knew it was over. The only thing you could hope for was for his cutter to lazily drop into the strike zone. If it was on, you were done. This will be a year where you should enjoy the greatness of Mariano Rivera, enjoy his last year in the big leagues, because we most likely will never see this dominance out of a relief man ever again. Save a spot in Cooperstown for this living legend in 2018. He should be in now.

Basketball was crazy on Saturday! Besides the upsets earlier in the week with Georgetown and Miami losing to lower conference foes, Saturday was a day full of upsets. Air Force, Baylor, Utah, and Kentucky all upset conference foes on Saturday causing selection Sunday to have more suspense than it needed to prior to entering conference tournament week. It's strange to say Kentucky upset somebody, but they did. In my mind, they solidified a bid into the tournament with their win over Florida. Indiana won the Big 10 regular season outright with a comeback win over Michigan in Ann Arbor. Michigan was up by 4 with about a minute to go and they choked away a share at the regular season title at the free throw line. Kids, practice them free throws, because this game defined why.

The Miami Heat are still winning as they extended their streak to 18 wins in a row, the longest winning streak of the year. Hopefully they don't burn out by the time the playoffs start because the last thing we need to see is a banged up Knicks team challenge the Heat in the first round. Then I'll have to write about how Sportscenter thinks the Knicks pulled off the greatest upset in sports history... and none of you want to hear me rant right?

The L.A. Lakers are now in position to make the playoff push as they push themselves into the 8th seed of the western conference on Sunday. They won't make any noise unless they become the 6th seed or better because, let's be honest, they won't beat San Antonio or Oklahoma City in round one. So there is my two cents on the Lakers.

I'll throw my penny out there for some hockey talk in March. The Chicago Blackhawks ended their streak on Friday making it the only relevant news of the day. Getting blown out for the first time in a year shouldn't be something to pout about, especially since they had a 24 game-point streak to start the season. Now the Blackhawks should just rest all of their starters and let the Canucks catch up to take over the number one seed because since when does seeding matter in the NHL? Considering last years Stanley Cup team was the 8th seed in the West... Actually, I think I'm OK if the Blackhawks take the one seed. Y'all can have it.

NFL talk then we're out of here.

Next week is also going to be pure madness on the NFL free agency front as March 12th marks the day it all begins. Don't expect big time names to go early but expect mid to lower level players to get signed quickly this upcoming week. One player release really struck me and made me think for a bit; Jerome Harrison from the Steelers. He got released on Saturday and it got me thinking, who's going to sign him? The guy has been irrelevant the last couple seasons and doesn't do anything but say stupid stuff, rack up fines, and portray a negative image on himself... Hahaha... I know the perfect team for him. Click here!


OK, you all know I was going to jump on this but before I do, I'd like to clear up something before I get into this discussion on Richard Sherman. First of all the guy is awesome, he's the modern day Deion Sanders when it comes to his antics on the field, and if anything, the man may be smarter than Deion considering he is a Stanford graduate. Second, anything that I say about Sherman has nothing to do with race because I couldn't give more of a damn about what color the man is. Finally, third, I live in Seattle so I may be a bit biased on this subject. Even though I am not a Seahawks fan, I respect what they do. Here we go!

First of all watch this clip if you don't know what I'm talking about.

I agree with Sherman from the perspective that he is very accomplished and is one of the best at what he does and I do not knock him for going at Skip the way he did when it comes to his professional manner. That was all good by me. The problem I have with it, is when he clearly takes a shot at Skip about being better than Skip in every facet of life and diminishes the life that Skip lives.

First of all, I understand where Sherman was coming from when he ragged on Skip in that personal manner, I really do. As a competitor, you shouldn't care about your opponent, nor should you accept their existence. The one thing you should never do (and this counts for everything) is diminish the life of an individual because when it comes down to it, we were all brought into this planet by somebody and we are all going to leave this planet differently. That being said, how one has lived their life does not make that particular individual "better" than somebody else. What Sherman said away from the context of "I'm more accomplished, I'm better, etc." was degrading and thoughtless. Skip Bayless is a damn fool over 95% of the time, and he may make fun of you Richard Sherman, but he is still a human being, accomplished at what he does, and guess what (even better)? He gets paid to talk trash about you. So in that sense you are not as accomplished as Skip Bayless because even when your long gone or blow out your knee, Skip will still be singing the praises of Tim Tebow, ripping LeBron James, and beating his chest over some terrible play he saw because he gets freaking paid to talk about it.

Second, I think it is fantastic what Richard Sherman is doing within the communities that he is serving. He has this program named SWAG (Students with a goal) that helps open doors for kids giving them an education. Great stuff. No, better yet, amazing stuff. It doesn't mean you have to discount another individuals words by interrupting them while he's trying to ask you questions. It's completely disrespectful, and it doesn't matter who your talking to whether it's somebody you dislike or care deeply for. You should always hear somebody out in a debate or argument because they may raise a perspective that you never thought about. Maybe Richard just isn't good at debating or what not? Either way, completely disrespectful on his part.

Third, to call out somebody the way Sherman did was absolutely inappropriate for when he called Skip "Ignorant, Pompous, Egotistical, Cretin." It wasn't just uncalled for, but it was absolutely nonfactual. Skip says some pretty dumb things, but Sherman didn't help himself earlier in the interview with the demeanor he led off with. Therefore, what Sherman did was equally as nonfactual as what Skip does all the time. All Skip is trying to do is spark an opinion whether it's good or bad and many times he is playing devil's advocate because that's what he is getting paid to do on the platform ESPN provides him. So if Sherman doesn't understand that aspect of what Skip is trying to do for the show, then he is all those things he called Skip because he clearly doesn't understand the basis of what the show runs off of even though he said, "He's smart enough to understand what they are doing." It doesn't mean that you need to degrade somebody on national television.

Fourth, watch the end of the clip when he says, "There are facts to everything that I say." False. That is the part where you should seriously say "Really dude?" Facts are something that have a line of evidence to back up what you are trying to defend, opinions are thoughts and discussion on one's belief. First Take is an opinion based show with facts to set up the discussion of an opinion. Skip does not necessarily have to state facts to back up his opinion because the show does not force him to do so. Sherman, this is America and what you are saying is an opinion and nobody is going to take that away from you, but stating an opinion as fact along with running with it disrespectfully does not make you right on everything you say. Just because you walked the prissy lines of Stanford for four years doesn't give you the right to discredit someones body of work because they don't match exactly you. Everyone can do what you are doing Richard! They can do it to every single person in the world and they can say they are better than somebody because everybody is better at something than everyone else. You went to Stanford, cool, some dude in Iceland can live in weather that is constantly -20 degrees. Can you do that Richard Sherman? No, because you wouldn't find it important, just like how Skip doesn't find your two year NFL career as important or as solid as Darrelle Revis's six year NFL Career. 19 interceptions is better than 12 interceptions last time I checked, and I'm aware the careers and time span are different, but last time I checked, 19 > 12. That's a fact.

These two quotes will never leave my mind and I hope they don't leave yours:

"You have never accomplished anything." "There are facts to everything I say."

Criticism is out to get you Richard, because after something like this, your creditability only takes a hit. Stay classy.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Flacco Gets Paid

So It's the first weekend in March, meaning I should only be hearing about basketball, and only basketball (at least in the college realm). I should hear very little about the World Baseball Classic because, let's be honest, nobody really cares. If you do happen to care about the World Baseball Classic, I'm sorry for offending you. But seriously, if you like to watching this schmoozer of a joke that ESPN hosts, be my freaking guest, because I would rather watch paint dry. I'll talk about it once they hit the championship rounds which will be the same weekend as Selection Sunday... which means I AIN'T TALKING ABOUT IT FELLAS! Plus, by then, women will be wearing sun dresses, and do you seriously think I'll pass up looking at sun dresses for the first time in six months to watch some pointless baseball in the middle of the night... NO!

Jimmie Johnson won his second Daytona 500 only solidifying his spot as a top five driver of all time. The one thing that bugged me was that in the last five laps, nobody wanted to make a move. I thought this was called racing? I thought the goal was to try to win. Either way, Danica finished  8th solidifying her spot within a sport that nobody cares about. Good for her, I hope she succeeds and allows 2 x 3 inch sponsors on her car that only NASA can see from space. I'll get my binoculars out to check that out... NOT.

An even more important thing than NASCAR, the NFL combine 40 time. Marquise Goodwin now has the fastest time ever by a wide receiver with a 4.27 40 yard dash time. That's pretty quick, but remember he was also in the Olympics so it isn't really that impressive. With the way they hype these 40 times, you would think Goodwin will become the next Jerry Rice and catch 200+ touchdowns in his career. If you watch film of him, he still runs very stiff routes and has a hard time making defenders miss. His speed is NFL ready, but his catching is also suspect. I'm a Vikings fan, so I'll be doing a vlog prior to the draft on which receivers I will ultimately want in the NFL draft. This guy posses as a great potential deep threat. He might make an appearance in my list.

Quick baseball news before I get to basketball. Curtis Granderson broke his arm last weekend and he is projected to be out at least the first month of the season. This is a huge blow to the Yankees who will be banking on his success to ride them to another playoff appearance. I also thought Granderson had a great opportunity to take the AL MVP this season, but with his first month of the season gone for 2013, he'll have to make up a lot of ground to even think about being a consideration. I'll have an MLB prediction blog on the weekend before the regular season begins about month from now. Make sure to catch that!

Oh yeah, let's get into the basketball talk shall we! Click here!

Let's hit the college landscape first than touch up on the NBA.

Ryan Kelly scored an astounding 36 points on Saturday night after being out for nearly 2 months with an injury. He reminds me of a young Adam Morrison, a shooter who can light it up in college land but will do nothing at the next level. Either way, his shot was hitting from every where as Duke beat Miami 79-76 in an epic battle of ACC foes.

A boodle of upsets occurred this week only solidifying the Zags as the number one seed heading into this week. Minnesota, Tennessee, Penn State, and Virginia all took down top ten teams this week only making the tourney that much harder to predict this season. VCU also seems to be making another run after they destroyed Butler by 32 on Saturday. Shaka Smart seems to always get his team to play loose in March and I anticipate another sweet sixteen run by them.

There were two double-overtime games this week. One of the NBA variety and another of the NCAA variety. LeBron could barely hold off the Kings to keep their winning streak alive. Apparently they didn't give their best effort with videos like this popping up all over the Internet. Since when did America forget how to dance anyways? I'd like a documentary on that, pronto please. I guess it doesn't matter since the Heat have won 14 in a row, tying a franchise record... They can do the Harlem shake when ever they want when they are on a run like that.

The other double-overtime game consisted of another Big East classic. You tell me why the Big East is splitting up because I could watch games like this every day! Georgetown and Connecticut had a showdown for the ages on Wednesday night. Games like this just make me scratch my head when conferences split up. Imagine the cash money that college basketball could put together keeping this conference aligned, but I guess that's why they are splitting up, right? DOLLAR, DOLLAR, BILL, Y'ALL.

Another thing happened on Wednesday that I haven't even brought up yet and that is the smooth and silky shooting of Stephen Curry. ARE YOU SERIOUS! This guy shot the lights out of the Garden with his 54 points on his 11 three pointers, and they still lost. You know why they lost right? It's because David Lee wasn't there helping clean up half of Tyson Chandlers 28 rebounds. Yeah, you heard me right. 28 freaking rebounds. Wrap that around your head before you ooh and awe about Curry's magical night. Unfortunately, Curry can't do this because he's too short, because if he could maybe he would have scored 60 and won the game for Golden State.

What else do we got here...

We got Ty Lawson beating the Thunder on Friday, Tony Parker sprained his ankle so bad his own coach ousted him, the blown call at Iowa State versus Kansas... by the way, did anybody see that when Elijah Johnson was chucking it up from three point land like he was at a dance party? Dude had zero regard for anything when he was shooting at the end of the game. If you don't believe me just watch some of his shots in overtime, they were a bit ridiculous. It did win Bill Self his 500th game which is another congratulations for the week.

If you missed the classic in with Michigan vs Michigan State, you missed quite a show by Trey Burke! The guy put on a show solidifying his spot in the NBA draft as a top lottery pick. Also, if you missed this, prepare to laugh. Put that clip next to the definition of embarrassing.

Let's get away from basketball and run through the rest of these stories really quick.

Alex Smith got traded to the Chiefs for a second round pick. Everybody should look out for the Chiefs next year. These are the kind of moves that turn your team from zeros to heroes in a heartbeat. It also doesn't help that the 49ers have fifteen picks in the NFL draft now. I'm more terrified that the 49ers will stack up in the draft in April now that they have almost every pick, or that they will use those picks to fill a void on their team, A.K.A Darrelle Revis. I seriously want to be the coach in this clip towards Jim Harbaugh for taking all those picks and freaking me out as a Vikings fan. Damn you Harbaugh!

The Atlanta Falcons released bubble-butt Turner, Dunta Robinson, and Johnny Abraham to fix their cap situation heading into the off-season. It makes me wonder how competitive they will be knowing that they lost a heavy chunk of their backfield, a solid defensive back, and a defensive linemen that teams will be drooling over and lining up for in free agency. I don't think they will be as dominant as last season, but you can count on one thing, with letting go of Turner, that passing attack will not let up heading into 2013.

I'm going to end on a passionate note this week with something that truly pissed me off as a sports fan this week. On Friday, it was reported that Joe Flacco received a 6 year/ $120 million contract from the Baltimore Ravens. First off, congrats to Joe and his agent for getting that contract signed, sealed, and delivered because that is a fat chunk of cash heading his way. It doesn't mean it doesn't bug me. This guy won a Super Bowl, O.K., good for him. What needs to be realized by people is this: The guy is not a Top five QB and any knowledgeable human being would understand this. Name me five QB's better than Flacco... and GO! Brady, Peyton, Brees, Rodgers, Eli, Big Ben... Oh wait, that's six guys. He's not even near a top five QB and he's getting paid this? Not to mention this isn't just the biggest QB contract, it's the biggest contract in the NFL! Let that settle for a second... I'll let you wait... So Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson you are not the highest paid player in the NFL, How does that make you feel? Also let me remind you that, yes, Russell Wilson in his rookie season had a better year than Joe Flacco did last season with a better passer rating, more TD's passes, better completion %, and was drafted in the 3rd round? Joe Flacco wasn't better than Russell Wilson and I'm not a Seahawk's fan! I'm just stating the facts! You know who also had a better season than Flacco in 2013? Tony Romo. Oh yeah, and he's not elite, remember? The only thing Romo has in his knock against Flacco is he had 19 int's to Flacco's 10, but Romo still had better stats in every other category and by a huge margin. Here are other names who did better than Flacco last season, let's make a list shall we! All in 2012!

Higher Passer Rating (Playing in most games)

  • Rodgers, Peyton, RGIII, Wilson, Ryan, Brady, Big Ben, Brees, Schaub, Romo, & Rivers
More Passing Yards
  • Brees, Stafford, Romo, Brady, Ryan, Manning Bro's, Luck, Rodgers, Freeman, Palmer, Schaub, & Newton.
Completion % (of at least 300 completions)
  • Ryan, Manning Bro's, Rodgers, Romo, Schaub, Rivers, Brees, Brady, Dalton, CHRISTIAN PONDER, Palmer, Fitzpatrick, & Stafford.
  • Brees, Rodgers, Manning Bro's, Brady, Ryan, Romo, Freeman, Dalton, Rivers, Big Ben, Wilson, Fitzpatrick, & Luck.
Players in all four of these categories: Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, & Tony Romo.

Players in 3/4 categories: Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers, & Matt Schaub.

Players in 2/4 categories: Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford, Carson Palmer, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, & Josh Freeman.

So is Flacco worth $20 Million a year? No, and if you think he is, find him for me on this list of Total QBR for 2012. The dude is a middle of the road QB and just happened to have a good run this past post-season and good for him for doing that, but he is no elite QB. If Joe Flacco wins a second super bowl title, this argument will change, but for now, his contract is despicable and a slap in the face to all the other players who are better at their respective decisions. Good for him for getting the money, but it is not deserved at all.

Alright everybody, I'll see you on the 10th... conference tournament time. Have a great week!

***I may not post next week because my computer broke down, hence why this blog was late. The blog next week may be late or not even up so just be weary of that***