Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Baseball Anticipation

This is the first time that I can remember where I am staying away from any Super Bowl stories whatsoever. I even steered clear of Peter King's "Monday Morning Quarterback" this week, as I knew it would contain nothing but "did you know this about the Cardinals third-string left tackle?" type stuff. There's not really anything wrong with that kind of story I suppose, but those stories get a little old after two weeks. I'm reading about anything other than the Super Bowl right now, and I think I'm a better person for it.

I'm going to tell you what I did last night, and you'll not tell me that I'm a sad person.
On FSN, they were showing a full-game replay of a Reds/Brewers game from last year. Seeing as how I saw pretty much every game last season, I knew by the end of the first inning exactly what game it was. Now, I wasn't just sitting there watching it. I was doing some reading for my classes and whatnot. But there were moments when I actually stopped what I was doing and watched parts of the game. I found myself laughing out loud when Gagne blew a two-run lead in the bottom of the tenth...and I knew it was going to happen!
This is what happens when there's nothing left in the football season than the Super Bowl; I start pining for baseball. I really enjoy watching hockey (I just got done watching the Red Wings lose to the Blue Jackets), but I don't get to watch a lot of games. Whenever I'm home and there's a Blue Jackets game on, I'll try to watch it (that's right...I'm a big Blue Jackets fan now. They're not my favorite team or anything, but I really like that team), but I don't get to follow many teams, and there's usually only 3 games a week. The same goes for basketball. Seeing as how most games are either on TNT or ESPN (neither of which I get), I don't get to watch many games at all. This time of year, they start showing games on Sunday, so I try to catch those, but that's about it. That's one or two games a week for half a season. It's just not enough.
I watch baseball games pretty much every day during the season. I try to catch every Tigers game, and I watch the Reds every time I'm home and a game is on. It helps me feel more invested.
I can't explain it, but the anticipation for the beginning of the baseball season is really starting to get to me.
Are you anywhere close to the same boat, or are you even more so, seeing as how you don't watch hockey at all? (Speaking of which, you should really give it a shot. Great sport. Moves fast. Not a whole lot of time outs. Think about it.)

Going with basketball...
I watched the Celtics/Mavs and Lakers/Spurs games this past weekend. Blech. I don't think there are two more infuriating teams playing then the Celtics and Lakers. I mentioned this with the Celtics during the playoffs, but it's happening with the Lakers, too. They both get a HUGE hand from the refs. It's ridiculous. The opposing team seems to get a foul called on them for every contested shot, while they (let's say, the Lakers in this instance) can hack a man in the arm while going for a loose ball and not get a second glance (this happened in the game this past weekend). Or Paul Pierce can use his signature move anytime he wants: charge towards the basket with his head down, run into someone, throw the ball towards the basket. Foul on the opposing player. Every single time. He does it too much as it is, but if he wanted to, he could be putting up 60 points in free throws alone.
I can't remember getting madder at a game that I had no interest in than the Celtics/Mavs game. Just terrible officiating.

Kentucky lost tonight. I knew all those turnovers would bite them in conference play eventually. You just can't continue to win games when you're turning the ball over 20+ times in a half. You just can't.

On the matter of the Texas high school girls team: firing the coach is a terrible decision. Terrible. Should he have been full-court pressing the other team when his team is already up 60-0? No. But how do you dress a game like that up for the opposing team? If you put in all your backups, dribble the shot clock out and take off-balance three pointers the rest of the game, they'll feel humiliated. If you continue playing how you've been playing the whole game, they'll at least know that you weren't taking it easy on them. I don't think the coach made the right decisions. He should've put in some back-ups and play a soft zone defense the rest of the game, or something of that nature. But firing him? That just seems wrong.

The Packers hired a new defensive coodinator (Dom Capers) and a new linebacker's coach (Kevin Greene). It's tough to say how this will work out, but, based on my initial response, I would say that I'm excited. Capers likes to run a 3-4 defense, but he also uses the 4-3 pretty often. It's going to be interesting to see how a 3-4 would work with our current players, but it could be a good move. NFC teams don't really use the 3-4, so this different look could cause serious problems for offenses not used to seeing it. We have a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball, so we have that working in our favor. This could be really good. I'm already ready for next season.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hoops and hogwash

The Magic lost a tough one to the Celtics Thursday. I wasn't really surprised as the Celtics have been playing great ball lately. I'm actually surprised they didn't beat us by more. Other than Rashard Lewis, we shot the ball terribly and got absolutely nothing from our bench...and we still only lost by 10. A number of calls didn't go our way and I could see the team was flustered but they didn't give up and commit stupid fouls to get back at the Celtics and for that I'm proud. Whether we beat them that night or not doesn't matter: The fact is that they are a better team than we are and they are one team I do not want to see in the playoffs. Last night's loss to the Heat was the one that surprised me. We're easily a better team than they are, but I still want no part of them in the playoffs and we could potentially get them in the first round so I would have liked to have seen the team make a statement in this game. I do think this game was an anomaly though. The Heat turned the ball over 4 times the entire game, Mario Chalmers scored 20 in the same week he had 2 scoreless games, and their bench put up nearly 40 points. All those are unlikely to happen again, but you never know. What did bother me was the fact that again we got nearly nothing from our bench, and Dwight Howard got 2 technicals for the first ejection of his career. I kind of expected that kind of aggression against the Celt's maybe, but not the likes of the Heat. We've been playing above our heads for a couple of weeks and I wonder how the team will respond to a bit of adversity. I'm glad we are getting a taste of losing in the regular season, as opposed to the playoffs, and right before the All-Star break so we can regroup for a playoff run.

The Kentucky Jodie Meeks'...er Wildcats, have been playing good ball lately. They are 5-0 in conference play thanks to Meeks' averaging 31 a game over that stretch. Patterson has been up and down in SEC play, mostly because of foul trouble, but Perry Stevenson has stepped up nicely. If he can keep this up, a trio of Meeks-Patterson-Stevenson could do some damage in a weak SEC. They'll have to do because our bench is anemic. DeAndre Liggins was the only bench player to score during the Bama game, though to be fair Darius Miller had 7 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks off the bench. In the previous game against Auburn, 3 points by Miller was all the bench could muster for the entire game. I know the team has been winning lately, but I have begged of Gillispie to give Darius Miller some time at the starting SF. He may be forced to start now after the scary news of Ramon Harris collapsing before the second half against Bama. I hope all is well with him, but this opportunity could be Miller's time to shine. Coach G has still been limiting Josh Harrellson's minutes for some reason. He played double digit minutes against Bama for the first time this year, and that was only because of Patterson fouling out. There's no reason this team shouldn't be 8-0 in conference play before a home game against Florida, the only competition for the division crown.

I know you've heard about about that Texas high school girls team that beat another team 100-0. Then the story got worse when it was revealed that the defeated team dressed 8 players who suffered from conditions like dyslexia and short attention spans. My question is why is a team like that playing against playoff teams? Usually, I have no problem with running up the score, but ordering full court presses and keeping your starters in the 4th quarter seems to be a little much. Today the coach of the victorious team was fired, which seems a little extreme to me. He took a 2-14 team to championship contenders in 4 seasons and now he's jobless. What say you on the matter?

Are you like me? Are you soaking up all the Super Bowl off week talk that you can? I for one, can't get enough of the stuff. I love how Whisenhunt and Grimm used to coach for the Steelers is being beat into the ground! Did you hear that Fitzgerald's dad is a sports writer and has to cover his son in the big game?!? And apparently this Kurt Warner character is a Christian. Who knew? Not me. That's who.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Late hits and toothy grins

All fair points on the Cardinals winning it all, but I had the Steelers in the Super Bowl in the beginning of the season and I'm going to stick with them. Of course I had them losing to the Cowboys, but you had the Jaguars over the Bucs, so I feel a little bit better about myself. Thanks for that. I looked for Parker to have a better game against the Cardinals D than he did against the Ravens. I can't understand why Mewelde Moore has been utilized more by the Steelers but maybe he makes an appearance here. Big Ben didn't look too bad considering the defense he was going up against. He didn't throw an interception, avoided Ed Reed at all costs and had some big catches wiped out by drops. Also, the clip of Sweed dropping the ball and then faking an injury kills me every time. If I had a dime for every time I used that move...I'd have 10 cents. I also think the physicality of the Steelers receivers will cause problems for the speed of the Card's cornerbacks. The Cards front 7 doesn't bring a very strong pass rush, and giving Roethlisberger time to make his reads will hurt the Cards. If they can hit him early and have him looking to run around or get rid of the ball quickly, it will certainly help their chances, but I don't think they can do it. I think Hightower and James might as well be listed inactive, because they aren't running the ball efficiently against that Steelers D. Warner is throwing at least 45 times. Fitzgerald will be doubled, but will still get his numbers, but Boldin intrigues me. Not so much the sideline blowup or the leaving before celebrating, but the fact that it could all happen again. Boldin was upset because he was left out when the Cards went with a 1 WR formation...but it worked. They came back and beat the Eagles with it so why wouldn't they use it again? Especially when that extra TE will help block the likes of Harrison/Woodley/Polamalu. He may not get as much time as he did against the Eagles, and he caught only 4 balls there.

I think the "Whisenhunt/Grimm knowing Ben's tendencies" story is being a bit overblown. The last year they coached with Pittsburgh, the Steelers went 8-8 and Roethlisberger had his worst season as a pro. Granted, a little bike accident may have coincided with that, but Roethlisberger is a different QB now. He's more trusted with the offense, half of which attributed to his progression and half because of default. I think his tendencies have changed a bit, or at least become at least a little less detectable. I could be wrong though.

Also, does Larry Fitzgerald have dentures? That's the only viable reason his teeth are that large. I don't even think he's wearing a mouthpiece out there. Another thing about Fitz, how is everyone saying how good of a guy he is but conveniently forgetting to mention that he "allegedly" beat up the mother of his child! He pulled out her hair, but because he smiles a toothy grin and makes some great catches, all is forgotten? You've got a long way to go before women run from the mere mention of your name like they do with Larry Johnson, Fitzgerald. A long way.

I did catch those foolish plays from last weeks Championship games. The late hit from the Eagles was not only foolish, but about three touchdowns too late. I don't advocate cheap shots, but I do understand they were trying to send a message to Warner. But don't you do that before the Cardinals hang 3 touchdowns on you? Just a thought. Roughing the punter flops are worse than flops in the NBA. The punter was on his way down before the defender was within 2 yards of him! Why is there not a referee standing right there to make sure this atrocious call never happens again?

Random thought: Was I the only one waiting for the breaking news that in his last Presidential act, GW Bush pardoned Mike Vick, OJ Simpson and Charles Manson and they were all seen playing horseshoes on the White House lawn?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cardinals, Steelers, and Jerry Maguire (?)

I can get down with a Cardinals/Steelers Super Bowl. On the outset, it would appear that the Cardinals have no chance. On the contrary; I'm picking them to win this thing.
Their offense has been terrific. Fitzgerald has been off-the-map good. Boldin looked pretty good last week (besides his hissy fit on the sideline), and I'm sure he'll be close to 100% by the time the Super Bowl rolls around. That gives the Cardinals their top three receivers healthy and rested heading into the game.
Their defense has also been playing really well. Sure, they had their lapses in the second half against the Eagles, but their defense has looked better this postseason than it has at any point during the regular season.
Now, let's put that defense up against the Steelers offense. I know that the Ravens have a good defense, but that is no excuse for the way the Steelers looked this past weekend. Just horrid stuff. If Flacco had played even an average game, the Ravens would be playing in the Super Bowl. He couldn't throw an accurate ball to save his life, and, when he did, the receivers were dropping them. He's a rookie and the Steelers have a great defense. I get it. But he had time, and he still couldn't complete passes. The Ravens' offense gave me flashes of the Kyle Boller era...and that's never a good thing.
If the Steelers hit Warner hard and early, they have a shot (and they certainly could do something like that). But, if Warner side-steps a blitz or two and starts completing passes, Arizona will win.
I think we can also count on an interception or two from Roethlisberger.

Warner has been great this year, but he doesn't crack my top-10 quarterbacks list (I think I actually need to make this list). He's been great this year, and he had those amazing seasons with St. Louis. But he hasn't been consistent enough to crack that list. To play 5 good seasons in a career spanning 10...I just don't see it. When he's been on, he's been amazing. When he's been off...well. Do you remember his downfall with the Rams? You know, when he would throw 3 interceptions and cough up 2 fumbles a game? It's easy to look back on his career and see his amazing stats, but you also have to look at his terrible years. And he did have some terrible years. It's great that he's having a late-career resurgence, but he's nowhere close to being a top-10 all-time quarterback.

That Clark hit on McGahee was hard, but perfectly legal. I'm with you on the protection of quarterbacks thing. If that had been Flacco on the receiving end of that hit, Goodell may well have called off the Super Bowl.
Going with that theme...
Doesn't that late hit on Warner during the Cardinals/Eagles game have to be one of the dumbest penalties you've ever seen? There's a ref standing right there. The pass had been out of his hands for at least 5 seconds, then BAM...a guy lays a shoulder into him. Directly in front of the ref. That's an automatic 15 yards. What was he thinking?
Speaking of terrible penalties...
Did you see the roughing the punter call againg the Ravens?

In case you missed it, he was never touched. He kicked the ball, then fell over, drawing the roughing the punter call (15 yards, automatic first down). He walked off the field laughing. Man...what a bastard. (Completely disregard the last part of this clip. For some reason, someone felt it necessary to tack a long clip from Jerry Maguire to the end of this.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Warner! Roethlisberger! There is no love lost between these two!

You know, despite two good games, I'm feeling a tad bitter this evening. That's right my friend. Earlier I said I root for other traditionally incompetent teams like the Bengals to do well because I know how their fans feel. With the Cardinals making the Super Bowl, those feelings are no more. I was happy they made the playoffs, but making the Super Bowl is a little hard for me to swallow. So I respond that only way I know how: With pure, unadulterated hate. I wish ill will on them and hope they get blown out so they know the pain I feel. Keeping with this bitterness, I would like to retract my earlier advice to the Detroit Lions. Take Matt Stafford. A hot-and-cold SEC quarterback with that rocket arm? He's bound to be the next Jay Cutler. After you take him, trade up to make sure you get Mark Sanchez too. Nothing brings out the best in each player like a little quarterback competition. Next year, add Tebow to the bunch and now you're cooking with grease fellas.

Speaking of college players, I keep forgetting to praise Myron Rolle. He's the safety from FSU that graduated in 2.5 years and is now heading to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. First off, graduating college in 2.5 years is a feat in it's own right. Not to mention he probably did his own work, unlike some of the characters he called teammates. Now he does something that few people can claim and still gets a chance to enter the NFL draft next year. Good work Myron. I wish there were more kids like you and less like Pacman.

Gruden getting canned actually didn't shock me much. Losing 4 straight after starting 9-3 will get you fired. I was more surprised by his replacement Raheem Morris. Monte Kiffin has to be kicking himself a little for bolting for a job with Tennessee only a month before Gruden was fired and he could have stepped in as head coach. I've always liked the Bucs so I wish Morris well, but I do wonder how he'll do with few young coaches succeeding. Lane Kiffin and Eric Mangini didn't fare so well but Mike Tomlin appears to be doing well for himself.

Now for some thoughts on todays festivities.

That first half by the Cards was truly dynamite. How does Larry Fitzgerald keep getting single coverage? With respect to Andre Johnson and Jordy Nelson, Fitzgerald is the best WR in the game. Yet he kept drawing the likes of Asante Samuel in one on one coverage. Pull his dreads, mention the girlfriend he just beat up, do something to keep him from killing you. Make Boldin, Breaston or James beat you but not Fitzgerald.

If Arizona wins a ring, does Jake Plummer get a ring? I mean he practically put this team on the map!

But seriously, if Kurt Warner wins a ring and perhaps another Super Bowl MVP, where does he rank among the all-time QB's? His QB rating and per game numbers are up there with the best of them and 2 rings will look awfully good, but he doesn't have the longevity. Does he crack your top 10?

On the play where Arizona did the pooch kickoff and the ball was ruled out of bounds even though it shouldn't have been, and it was ruled dead so the Cards couldn't even challenge it. I hate that rule because once the ball is ruled out of bounds, the play is blown dead and can't be challenged. What kind of sense does that make? Who cares if it went out of bounds? It's a questionable call and should be reviewable. If Arizona gets that ball back, they likely score again and that game is over before halftime.

Instead, It gave Philly just enough life to come back. And that they did. They had their chances to win and didn't so I'm not going to harp on that, but I'm still in shock that the Cardinals are in the Super Bowl. This team lost by 20 or more points 4 times this season! They beat one team that made the playoffs in the regular season, and now they are in the Super Bowl?

The Steelers worried me a bit too. That Ravens offense had absolutely nothing going, yet the only lost by 9 points. Roethlisberger did well by not throwing near Ed Reed, but a lot of his yards came after the catch on great plays by his receivers. Still, this team has to be licking their chops to be playing Arizona.

Many Bengals fans hate the Steelers for the "rivalry" we've had going on with them over the years. In my eyes, it's not really a rivalry unless both sides are winning equally. The Steelers have been doing a good share of the winning for the last 10+ years. We're no more rivals than the Harlem Globetrotters and Washington Generals, as Dameshek would say. I hope the Steelers win because aside from Hines Ward, they seem like a decent bunch of guys and Tomlin seems like a guy I'd like playing for.

Why is that Ryan Clark hit on McGahee perfectly legal, as was his hit on Welker a few weeks ago? If a quarterback got hit like that, Clark would have been tried on attempted murder charges.

Please Detroit...Stay Away from a First Round Quarterback

My public service announcement for the Lions came before Sanchez declared for the draft. So I, like you, will add his name to the list of "do not touch this guy before the third round" for the Lions. Or for anyone badly needing a quarterback, for that matter. Your argument is a good one, and I always welcome an Akili Smith reference. But this is my main argument against Sanchez; I have never seen him in a game and thought to myself, "You know, he looks really good." He doesn't have a very strong arm, and he's not all that accurate, either. That doesn't work out too bad if you're playing crappy college teams, as the receivers are normally wide open. In the NFL, there are smaller windows to throw through, and a weak-armed inaccurate quarterback like Sanchez would be exposed. Who else had knocks like this coming out of USC? Matt Leinart...and we all see how well he made the transition.

For my playoff picks, I'm going to pick against what I really think, and then I'll try to make a case for it. Through the first 2 rounds, I think I picked 3 games correctly (including a stellar one-of-four last weekend). So, if I go against my initial reaction, I have a chance of doing better...right?

Arizona over Philadelphia. I know that Philly looked good last week. Their defense looked stout, and McNabb made a number of huge throws. It was a big upset...but it was also helped along by the ineptitude of Eli Manning. And there's a feeling I can't shake about the Cardinals. When the Colts won the Super Bowl, they didn't look great in the regular season. Their offense was good, but not up to its normal standards, and their defense (particularly their run defense) was just terrible. Then the playoffs come, and they're playing defense better than they have all year. I think they just woke up for the playoffs. And I can't shake that feeling with the Cardinals this year. Their defense hasn't looked great this year, but they suddenly look unstoppable in the playoffs. Add that to their great offense, and I can see them winning this game, possibly by more than 10 points. If they lose, it will be because of the pressure put on Warner...but he's been handling pressure much better this year than he ever has.

Baltimore over Pittsburgh. The first two games were close, and I think the Ravens will pull it out this time. Willie Parker won't have nearly as big a game today as he did last week. The Ravens corners are not great, so I can see the Steelers trying to test them with some bombs early, only to have Roethlisberger throw a pick or two. It'll be close (decided by a field goal), but I think the Ravens will pull this one out, due to a great defensive performance and a solid game from Flacco.

Gruden got fired. Surprised?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mo' Magic and Mo' Picks

First things first, I'm no Kobe fan, but do yourself a favor and watch this video. The video itself is pretty funny, but just thinking of Kobe wondering if this will make him cool, makes it even funnier. Second of all, the Lakers have lost two in a row and Kobe is bitching again. He threw up his hands three times in the final minute of the Spurs-Lakers game and appeared to have already given up before Derek Fisher stupidly fouled Roger Mason Jr. Last night Kobe was eating the Magic alive. He had a triple double by the third quarter but only had 17 points so I was waiting for him to explode and put us away in a close game. But a funny thing happened: he couldn't do it. Courtney Lee held him to 3-11 shooting in the fourth quarter and Kobe missed a open three that would have tied the game. The Magic appeared to have figured out how to defend tough perimeter players. I saw it with Joe Johnson, Kobe and most recently JR Smith: Lee is playing stellar defense but occasionally Dwight Howard comes out for the double team or trap. You think it'd be easy to hit Howard's man for an easy bucket, but Lewis and Turkoglu inch toward him and cut off easy passing lanes. The defender gets so flustered with Howard coming out of nowhere they usually get rid of the ball. We have a game coming up with Cleveland and I'd love to see how this works on LeBron. We're on pace for over 60 wins and Stan Van Gundy has to be getting some Coach of the Year consideration.

You put out a bit of a public service announcement to the Lions advising against drafting Matt Stafford and I'd like to add to that. Detroit, by all means stay away from Mark Sanchez. He started one season and played in a mediocre conference. I've heard talk of the Lions debating between Stafford and Sanchez for the first pick and that seems a bit to me like deciding whether I'd like to be electrocuted or submerged in ice cold water: Either way, I can't win. And neither can you. You just drafted a QB in the second round last year so take an offensive lineman and give Drew Stanton a chance. If he fails, there will still be some prospects for you in next years draft. Look at the top QB's in the league and remember that all of them started for at least 2 years in college. The last QB I remember starting one season and being picked high in the draft was Akili Smith. Don't make that mistake again.

Of course, in reality I'm begging for the Lions to take a QB so an elite OT can slip to us, but still. There are few teams in the NFL that a Bengals fan can pity and the Lions are one of them.

We're down to the Final Four in football and I'm getting sad thinking about a life without football. But the world is waiting for my picks so here they are.

Eagles over Cardinals- The Eagles massacred the Cards on Thanksgiving night but these are two different teams since then. The Cardinals have found a serviceable running game and are on a roll. However, the wins aren't very impressive when you look at them. The Falcons were led by a rookie and playing in a stadium that hadn't seen a playoff game there in decades. Then Jake Delhomme turned in maybe the worst playoff performance ever. I can't remember a quarterback since Favre threw 6 picks to the Rams and three were returned for TD's. The Eagles will do a better job covering Fitzgerald and an injured Boldin and the Cardinals run game still doesn't scare anyone. The Eagles on the other hand, have been playing great defense and McNabb is really playing well. McNabb knows his legacy is potentially on the line and there's no way he turns in a Delhomme-esque game. This is his best chance to win a Super Bowl ring and he knows it. If he turns in a stinker, he may as well pack his bags and head out of Philly. If he wins a Super Bowl here, he cements his legacy as a great in Philly. The ring will be all they remember in Philly and he knows that. Eagles 31, Cardinals 17

Steelers over Ravens- This could be a dynamite game. Everyone is talking about the Ravens, and deservedly so, but this Steelers defense wasn't only the best this season, but one of the best of all time. Willie Parker looked great last week and if Roethlisberger doesn't try to do to much, they can win easily. However if he gets into "I can win this game!" mode, all bets are off. You know that mode, where he fights off sacks when he should probably just go down, floats balls up and scrambles a little more than a man fresh off of a concussion should. I'm still not sold on Flacco, but he knows his role. He could probably run a little more with his surprising athleticism but he's doing exactly what they need him to do. My concern is with that Ravens running game. It's already inconsistent and that Steelers D won't help a bit. I'm rooting for the Ravens a bit for Ed Reed, but my better judgement tells me the Steelers win this one. Pittsburgh 20, Baltimore 13

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

No mas Favre

Easy to sniff out? Hardly. I go to a University ran by Lee Todd, buddy. Subliminal messages are what we do.

You make good points on Favre but I'm still led to believe Favre wasn't a great teammate. Of course no one in Green Bay would speak on this because it would indirectly lead to banishment from the team and city. His first year in New York and at least 3 teammates spoke out on him. Can't you see from second or third stringer from Green Bay writing a book 4 or 5 years from now detailing some of Favre's behind the scenes actions and shedding some light on the teammate Favre truly was? "Mein Kampf: A Season of Freedom" by Ruvell Martin will be hitting a bookstore near you soon! I'm done with Favre for now but I can't help but shake the feeling that Tim Tebow will get the hype/excuses Favre and Manning get and then some.

No one has been singing the praises of Ed Reed like I have, but there's talk of him being the best safety ever. I agree he is worth mentioning but I hate that when someone has a good streak of games, they have to be mentioned as among the best ever. Can we at least wait for him to finish his career? He's played 7 seasons for crying out loud! We just heard talk of LaDainian Tomlinson being the best RB ever and now there are rumors of him being cut or traded. Chill with the best ever talk people.

I don't know if you caught the Jodie Meeks show last night but it was the best performance ever. Just kidding but it was a damn good performance. 54 points, 15-22 FG, 10-15 3p% and 14-14 from the line. Not to mention 8 boards, 4 assists and just one turnover though he had the ball for a majority of the game. Granted Tennessee is not a very good team. As a matter of fact, they are awful. They have a team full of athletes but no basketball players. If we're running sprints or having dunk contests, give me Tennessee all day every day. Instead they played terrible defense on Meeks and attempted to match him in three point shots, which was an atrocious decision. No one else on UK scored in double digits and UK's 3 starting front court all had at least 4 fouls. There is no reason Meeks should have had as much space as he did to operate. He did hit a few deep shots, but still. I like how on ESPN, Meeks is being mentioned as college basketball's best player when before last night, no one on that network could have told you who he was. I love how Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless debated who has better NBA potential between Meeks and Stephen Curry. Meeks is bigger, stronger, shoots better from the field, three point line and free throw line, has a set NBA position and does it all in a better conference than Curry, yet doesn't "have the potential" that Curry does. Really? How many shooting guards trapped in point guards bodys are drafted every year? I'm not saying either will be dynamite NBA players, but of the two, Meeks has to have the advantage.

Orlando is still rolling strong and set a NBA record with 23 made 3pointers last night. I know it was against the King's but still impressive. 4 of those came from your friend JJ Redick. In that past 5 games, all wins by the way, Redick has went 15-23 from three and averaged over 12 points a game off the bench. He and rookie Courtney Lee have been playing great, but veterans Mickael Pietrus and Keith Bogans have battled injuries. When they come back, we will be exceptionally deep...at one spot. We have four quality shooting guards, yet no proven backup point guard or big man. I would love to keep Pietrus as starter, and bring Lee and Redick off the bench and trade Bogans, but he has no value. Lee is untouchable and we just signed Pietrus to a big deal. That leaves Redick who is only boosting his trade value. I would love a Redick for Mike Conley deal. Conley has fallen out of favor as Lowry has stepped it up and Mayo has been dominating the ball (no surprise to anyone that has followed his career). Too bad Conley may be on his way to Milwaukee. My second choice would be a deal for someone like Boobie Gibson. Cleveland replaces his shooting with JJ and we get a good backup. However I doubt Cleveland wants to mess with their chemistry for a marginal move and even more so, would hate to help a team they could potentially meet in the playoffs. Somebody like Sebastian Telfair would be my next choice, but I don't see what good Redick would do them because they have a surplus of guards. Sigh. The woes of a true fan. We've lost four time since Thanksgiving and I'm still trying to improve the team.

The Yankees spent a billion dollars and we haven't touched on it. I think they were good moves. Obviously they overpaid and I think they gave Sabathia too many years, but they have to go all out in the first year of that new stadium. I think they have a better season, but I'm still not even sure they make it into the playoffs this year. I think Smoltz to Boston is a dynamite move, because its a one year deal. If he holds up, he'll do well. If not, cut your losses and move on. The worst move of the offseason to me thus far? Derek Lowe getting 60 million over four years from Atlanta. There's no way Lowe and his 14 wins from last year take Atlanta from fourth place in the division to ahead of the likes of the champion Phillies, the improved Mets and the always frisky Marlins. Your thoughts on baseball's offseason?

Favre (Again) and Tebow

I see what you're doing. All this devil's advocate stuff is pretty easy to sniff out.
Still, I'll take the bait.
I'm not saying that a quote from an anonymous source is a lie, but I don't think it's necessarily trustworthy. So there may be some truth to what this source says...that doesn't mean it's 100% accurate. There's some embellishment that goes on. That's what I'm led to believe, seeing as how this person won't even say who they are. Who's being accountable for that quote? If we don't know who said the quote, then no one can be held accountable, so debunking that report would take a lot of energy to get absolutely nothing accomplished. Like I said, I'm sure there's some truth to that, but it's a bit odd that no one else is saying the same thing. Thomas Jones made his voice heard, then quickly went back and said that he was misquoted for a soundbite. Sure, he meant the things he said, but it wasn't as harsh as they originally came across. He did that because he respects Favre...as do the majority of people in that locker room. He's not a beloved icon in New York, but he's still a future Hall-of-Famer, and that warrants some respect.
Now, on to the Favre/Manning talk.
You're still looking at Favre as a guy who is a distant teammate. That is simply not true. He was loved in Green Bay, not just by the fans, but also by his teammates. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a team that loved their quarterback more than the Packers loved theirs. There was nothing but love for him in that locker room. Things split a little after his unretirement, but everyone loved him while he was playing there. I don't ever remember Favre throwing his offensive line under the bus like Manning did after that Pittsburgh game (which was more Manning's fault than the offensive line's, anyway).
You're also comparing a quarterback who has had a revolving cast of receivers (Favre) to a guy who has played with one of the best receivers of the modern era (Harrison) and one of the best #2 receivers for the past couple of years (Wayne). When Favre came into the league, he was throwing to Sterling Sharpe, which could've turned into an amazing connection. After his neck problems, Favre was throwing to Robert Brooks (who until that point was a #3 receiver and a special teams player) as his #1. After that injury? Antonio Freeman, who I'm pretty sure I could outrun. During their Super Bowl run, he was throwing to Andre Rison & Don Beebe. To be fair, he also had some great tight ends during that time: Mark Chumura and Keith Jackson, along with Dorsey Levens, a great pass-catching running back. That Super Bowl team was pretty loaded on both sides of the ball. But, throughout his career, the Packers have made a number of changes to receiver, and Favre never missed a step. There's not a whole lot of quarterbacks who could do that. Do you remember the Colts/Chargers Monday Night game from a couple of years ago? Manning threw 6 interceptions in the game, yet all the announcers did was make excuses for him: "He's throwing to a bunch of JV guys...this isn't his normal receiving corp, so it's no wonder why he's out of sync." He still had guys like Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark out there. Now realize that Favre has had a revolving door at receiver for pretty much his entire career. That's pretty impressive.
You're also comparing a guy with a losing postseason record (Manning, 7-8) to a guy with a winning postseason record (Favre, 12-10). When the Packers won the Super Bowl, Favre was unstoppable. When the Colts won the Super Bowl, Manning had a terrible game (as he had that entire postseason), yet won the MVP out of sheer pity and media bias.
I could go on all day, but I'll stop here.

The announcing crew for the National Championship game was really bad. As you said, they went on and on about Tebow, and how he practically sparkles when he eats breakfast in the morning. But they also appeared to know little about the game being played itself. The defining moment came in the first half. Oklahoma lined up for a play: 3rd and goal from the 2. Here was the call (as best as I can remember): "4th and goal. Big call by Oklahoma here. Gutsy call. I would just kick the field goal if I were them." Play gets stuffed. "Ohhh...the gamble doesn't work out. That was just a bad play call." In the meantime, Oklahoma has decided to go for it on what is now actually 4th and goal, but the announcers are still talking about how they should've kicked a field goal, completely oblivious to the fact that Bradford doesn't actually play on defense. It wasn't until the ball was snapped that they realized what had happened. Just shoddy stuff.

I'm right there with you on the Tebow to the NFL thing. After he graduates, I can see him going somewhere in the second round, and that team getting a steal. He won't be able to run over people like he can in college, but I can see him being a Roethlisberger type quarterback. Throw between 15-20 passes a game for around 200 yards, and let the running game/defense do the rest. I don't think he'll be spectacular, but he'll be good enough. Also, as you said, I would trust him more than Stafford...unless you want a guy who can overthrow open receivers by 10 yards. If that's what you're looking for, then Stafford is your guy.
While we're on the topic, I'd like to beg this of the Lions: don't take Stafford. Don't do it. Pick up a quarterback in the second or third round, or make a trade. If you take Stafford, you will be setting your already pathetic team back by 4 years. Don't do it. Don't do it.
Thank you.

Eagles/Cardinals for the NFC Championship game? Holy crap. I'm happy for both of the teams, and I'm hoping for the best, but I can't see how this will be a good game. I'll wait until later for my pick, but I'm leaning towards Arizona at the moment.
The Steelers/Ravens game, however, should be terrific. I'm pretty excited about that one.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Favre talk? You betcha.

You know, I threw the Favre comment in hoping it would rile you up a little bit. I hear you on him, and you're right, the aloof stuff was only out of New York but still. Even though it's from an anonymous source, does that make it any less true? No one came to back him up from my knowledge. You're right in the fact that not everyone connects with people right away, but as a quarterback, isn't it in the job description? Being personable with everyone would seem to help you because you are the leader of that team whether you like it or not. I've heard people say Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers made smooth transitions into the starters roles because they already had guys respect when they were backups. If Favre knows he's going to a new city with a chip on his shoulder, doesn't he have to be at least a little friendlier than he normally would be? The locker room was already split on whether to bring him in or not, so doesn't he have to go that extra mile to get guys on his side? You say he doesn't necessarily connect well with people right away and he may need a season or two. He's playing on a season to season basis. All he has is a season. It's not like he can scope things out this year, and warm up to people next year because he may only have one season in NY. He doesn't know if he wants to play anymore and if he does, I don't see how he could go back to a NY team that doesn't trust him as a quarterback. I can absolutely see him playing with Kansas City or another team with a need for a quarterback and having a similar season.

Speaking of Favre, I ran across his playoff numbers. Not too shabby as one would expect. Some great games and some stinkers. One Super Bowl that excuses the stinkers and three regular season MVP's. Sound familiar? That's right, I'm comparing your favorite and least favorite QB's in the league in Favre and Peyton Manning. I see similar unspectacular records in 12-10 for Favre and 7-8 for Manning. I see guys that don't appear to be overly friendly with their teammates, which I will admit is not a requirement for being a good quarterback, but seems to be beneficial. I see a few big games, but mostly in Wild Card games and QB ratings that decline as the games turn into divisional games and conference championship games. Granted, Favre performed much better in his Super Bowl appearances than Manning but in his first Super Bowl, two big plays helped his numbers look a lot better. What say you on this comparison? Riled up yet?

Now for a few thoughts on the games.

I picked Tennessee over Baltimore but I'm not surprised at the outcome. Chris Johnson's injury forced Lendale White to appear in more than his standard two goal line rushes a game, and put the game in Kerry Collins' hands. That sound you hear is Vince Young suting off the cobwebs for next season. Tennessee shut down Baltimore's run game and forced Flacco to beat them...and he did. Pittsburgh will more than likely shut down the run game and force Flacco to beat them, and I'm starting to think he can. Also, doesn't Jim Harbaugh have the best gig in the league? Every time they show him on the sidelines, he's clapping. Rex Ryan is handling that great defense and Cam Cameron is handling a competent offense and Harbaugh is playing motivator. He's a rich man's Wade Phillips.

I've never been big on Delhomme but it always seemed like he got the job done for the most part. But 5 interceptions and a lost fumble to the Cardinals of all people? It's not even like the Cardinals were playing lock down defense and making acrobatic plays. He was throwing the ball right to them. I'm no advocate of violence, but if Steve Smith is looking to punch someone in the face, we may have our next candidate. More on what Carolina should do a litte later.

As soon as Arizona won, McNabb knew he had to win. This could be his last, and most realistic shot at a ring. Beat the Giants, which they had already done earlier this season, and you get to play a Cardinals team that you blasted earlier. I somehow have a feeling that Plaxico Burress will find his way back on this Giants team. They need a big time receiver too much. That or they go after Terrell Owens. Seriously. They'll talk themselves into him, as some team always does, by saying that this is a team that has won before and that will keep him quiet. They've got a head coach and some guys in the locker room that won't let TO tear them apart and they'll make a push to get him. They get a big time receiver and TO gets the world's biggest stage to perform on. Everybody wins...for the first 11 or 12 games. In my dreams, they'd get Plax back, trade for TO and sign Pacman as Roger Goodell's head explodes.

No surprises in the fourth game. It was actually the only one I predicted correctly, so I've got that going for me. You do realize that this could be the worst final four that the NFL Playoffs have seen in a while. The Eagles tied a game with a team that won 4 games this year. The Cardinals won 8 games in the worst division in the world. The Ravens have no offense to speak of and Adam Carolla's illegitimate son playing quarterback. The Steelers have a quarterback who wasn't playing his best this season anyway, and just suffered his third football related concussion. Egads man.

Congrats to Florida on their win, but more so for Tebow coming back next year. If they get Harvin and Spikes back, they could potentially win every game next season by 40. As for the officiating, I didn't have nearly as much a problem with that as I did with the announcing crew. I understand Tebow has done some great things in his life, for which he deserves credit but goodness gracious. The man could do no wrong in the eyes of the broadcasting crew. One broadcaster remarked that spending 5 minutes with him will change your life forever. What could you possibly talk about in 5 minutes with a kid half your age that could change a middle aged man's life forever? One player got a taunting call and the broadcasters made the obligatory," There's no place for that in football." When Tebow does it, it's because of his competitive fire. I like Tebow as a college player and he seems to be a genuinely good person, but the media could force me to hate him like Brett Favre, and I'd really hate for that to happen. What I'd really like to happen is to turn to ESPN one day and see Ed Werder breaking news that Tebow's name is allegedly linked to a heroin and dog fighting empire that sells dead birds to blind children. That could possibly end the world as we know it.

With that said, I still don't understand why people are so down on him as a NFL prospect. You and I have talked about it before, but I'll say it again: I don't see any reason why he can't be a competent quarterback in the NFL. His throwing motion is no worse than Phillip Rivers when he came into the league. Alex Smith ran the same offense at Utah against much worse competition and was the number one pick. Do I think Tebow is #1 overall pick material? No. But if I have a veteran quarterback, maybe Carolina since they seem so reluctant to let Delhomme go, I can do a lot worse than having Tebow manage the game for me. His passing touch has got much better from last year and I assume it will improve more from this season to the next. He seems to be a smart guy that knows his boundaries. He is a leader and shows his religion but doesn't seem to force it on people so I think he can work in the NFL. Using Carolina as an example, they could let him sit for a year or two behind Delhomme and groom him into a guy that throws no more than 20 passes a game, relies on that dynamite running game coupled with Steve Smith and that defense to win games. He'll scramble for the tough yards and extend plays with his mobility and fire up the troops in close games. I would much rather have Tebow with a late first round or even second round pick, than Matthew Stafford at any point in the draft. Yet Stafford is projected as being the first quarterback off the board. Ridiculous.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Defending Favre, Making Picks, etc.

I'll get to picks and all that stuff, but I'd like to start out by responding to a comment you made about Favre last week.
"They loved Favre for so long but he never really had a personality. Unless you consider remaining aloof and getting addicted to painkillers a personality."
I take some sort of offense at this entire statement, but the part I'd like to talk about is the "aloof" part. Those comments about Favre being aloof never came out of Green Bay. His teammates loved him. His fans loved him. His coaches loved him (although they sometimes wanted to strangle him). When Rodgers was drafted, he said that Favre was friendly (but not overly-so) for the first year, but it wasn't until the second year that he really began to be friends with Favre. Jennings said that same thing after he was drafted.
So here's my thought: he's not necessarily good at connecting with new people right away. It's alright...not everyone is. He had a locker room full of guys in Green Bay that he already knew, and he still wasn't overly comfortable with reaching out to new people. How much harder do you think it is when you're in a totally new environment, knowing only one person in the locker room (Bubba Franks), and, instead of trying to get to know one new person, you have to get to know 50+ new people. It's not an easy thing to do. Perhaps he didn't go about it the right way, but I don't really see a problem with it.
Also, let's keep in mind that the "aloof" comment that came out of New York was from an anonymous source.
Alright...let's get to the picks.

Tennessee over Baltimore. Tennessee is the better all-around team in this game, and I don't see them losing it. Unless Collins completely breaks down, or Albert Haynesworth, Chris Johnson, and LenDale White all get injured.

Carolina over Arizona. The Cardinals played a great game last weekend, looking unstoppable at times. I can see them putting up some points, but the Panthers have looked too good over the last month.

Philadelphia over New York. I'm not a believer in the Eagles, but I'm also not a believer in the Giants. They looked great earlier this year, but they haven't really played a great game in over a month. They haven't shown they can win without Burress, and, if Jacobs' injury flares up again...well, it won't be pretty.

San Diego over Pittsburgh. The Steelers have a great defense. The Chargers have a good offense. But the Chargers also have a pretty good defense, and I don't think the Steelers' offense has enough to beat it.

Allow me to address the Darius Miles situation:
I don't really think it matters why a team would sign a player. If a team would like Miles on their team, then they should be able to sign him without getting a nasty letter. If they just want to stick it to Portland...well, they should be able to do that, too. After all, that's part of the business. It's really on Portland for signing him to a deal like that in the first place. It's a pretty interesting story, though; I don't think I've ever heard anything like it.

Big up to Florida on winning the National Championship. I kind of figured it would happen like that (close in the first half, then pull away in the second), but I thought there would be a bit more scoring. Florida's defense really came up huge in the first half on two Oklahoma red zone attempts. The goal line stand and the interception inside the 5 with 3 seconds left. Those really saved the game for the Gators.
All in all, it was an entertaining game to watch, even if it was a little frustrating sometimes. Answer me this one question: was that referee team really the best one they had?

I may have an addition...

to my top sporting events list. This past Wednesday night, I was in Atlanta and went with a friend, an avid Hawks fan, to the Hawks-Magic game. Of course I was the only Magic fan within my section, other than a guy wearing a JJ Redick jersey, but I didn't hear a peep out of him all night. During the starting lineups and anytime he touched the ball, Redick was booed loudly. He's not from Georgia so it's not like he passed on a local school to go to Duke. I mentioned earlier how badly he was booed at the Sweet Sixteen in Atlanta. I have no clue why Atlanta hates JJ Redick, but he shut them up all night. He had 11 points in 20 minutes and played surprisingly good defense. I was openly applauding he and the rest of the Magic as they jumped to a 15 point lead at halftime. I would often ask people what the scoreboard says because my eyes were on the fritz. Yea, I'm that type of guy when my team is winning in your house. The Hawks then made a comeback, to no surprise, and I had to endure their taunts briefly. I was legitimately nervous until 2 things happened: First, the Hawks kept missing free throws and we were making them. Even Dwight was hitting more than average. (Sidebar: Howard had the quietest 23-19 game in history. He made a few hooks and grabbed a few boards and threw down a slam or two, but I had no idea he was that close to a 20-20.) The second thing that happened, was during a big run for the Hawks led by Flip Murray and Marvin Williams, Hawks coach Mike Woodson put the rest of his starters in alongside Murray and Williams. Of course this messed with the teams momentum and they ended up losing. The missed layup by Bibby didn't help either. The Magic won a close one much to my delight. It may not crack my top 5 sporting event list, but its certainly up there.

The game I really would have loved to be at was last nights Hawks-Magic rematch in Orlando. A 38 point halftime extended to 50 in the third quarter before the benches were emptied and the Hawks lost by a respectable 34 points. Its tempting to say that I shouldn't get my hopes up because it's just the Hawks, but these aren't your grandfather's Hawks (Assuming your grandfather was a Hawks fan for some strange reason). This is a legitimately good team. I think they've been playing over their head a little and will fall back to Earth, but they'll still get a good seed in the playoffs. I am loving this Magic team right now. We've won 13 of our last 15 and have made it to second place in the Eastern Conference, thanks to the Celtics collapse. Jameer Nelson has looked great in that stretch and we're playing without two key players. Starter Mickael Pietrus and Keith Bogans have battled injuries and Courtney Lee and JJ Redick have picked up the slack beautifully. I wish we had a better big man and point guard off the bench, but Marcin Gortat and Anthony Johnson have done well. With the Bengals and UK football done, I am all about Orlando this time of year.

Keeping with the NBA, what are your thoughts on the Darius Miles saga? Basically, if Miles plays 10 games this year, the Blazers have to pay him 18 million which puts them over the luxury tax. This is no problem for owner Paul "Get your umbrellas, I'm making it rain!" Allen. The problem is that this takes away Portland's cap space for next season, when they could use that 18 million to sign a big free agent. The Blazers say they will sue any team that signs Miles just to spite them. The Grizzlies signed him anyway. I'm sure they say it is to evaluate his talent, but does a team thats 11-26, need to take a chance on a 27 year old with bad knees? Miles game is based on his athleticism and after 9 seasons and knee surgery, I'm not so sure that's there anymore. What say you on the matter?

Now for some picks.

Tennessee over Baltimore- These two teams are basically the same. QB that doesn't make mistakes, good running game, great defense and good coaching. I just think the Titans have the edge in all those categories, except for maybe defense. This Titans team has been forgotten a little bit and I think they make a statement here. Ed Reed picks one off but fails to reach then end zone with it. Titans 24, Ravens 10.

Panthers over Cardinals- This could get ugly. Boldin isn't 100 percent but I don't think it will matter much. DeAngelo Williams has a monster and the Panthers win an easy one. Panthers 34, Cardinals 17.

Giants over Eagles- A lot of people are picking the upset, but I can't see it just yet. Like the Titans, people have forgotten how good this Giants team was once upon a time. I think they handle their business and leave Philly with another offseason of "Should McNabb and Reid go?" (For the record, I say no on McNabb, yes on Reid)

Steelers over Chargers- Sproles had a great game...against the Colts D. Hardly a great defense. The Steelers D is a liiiiiiiiiiiitle bit better than that. Roethlisberger goes back to the Big Ben of old and throws around 20 passes and lets the defense do their thing.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lets start things out with a quote from yours truly

“Ed Reed will not take his MVP slight lightly. Chalk up 1 interception returned for a touchdown and a fumble recovery for good measure.”
-Me, the other day

What a dope I am. I said Reed would have an interception return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery when in fact he had 2 interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. I’ll try to get on the ball next time. I’ve gotten over Reed being forgotten about for MVP, but coming in third for Defensive Player of the Year? Unacceptable. Harrison had a great season, but 10 of his 16 sacks came in the first 8 games of the season. He tailed off toward the end of the season. He didn’t even lead the league in sacks, thanks to Demarcus Ware or even his conference. That honor goes to Joey Porter. Ware had three more sacks and one less forced fumble in a tougher division and is the only name I could accept other than Ed Reed for DPOY. Reed has 10 interceptions in his last seven games and not only are they usually returned for good yardage, but they usually come at critical points in the game. In Miami, his second INT came while the Dolphins had the ball in the red zone. If Reed turned in that gem of a performance after his MVP slight, I can only imagine what he’ll do when Kerry Collins leaves a pass or three in the air for a second too long.

Texas and Ohio State turned in an abysmal first half and a great second half last night. Even with the win, Texas didn’t impress me. I thought they would manhandle OSU and prove they deserved to be in the title game. Instead they squeezed out a win on what seemed to be blown coverage on OSU’s part on Quan Cosby’s game winning touchdown. This OSU team was in a rebuilding year after two losses. Texas couldn’t capitalize on the fact that Terrelle Pryor refuses to throw the ball over 10 yards or that Todd Boeckman throws the ball as soon as its hiked, but they expect to beat Florida? (Sidebar: If Randall Cobb of UK were 7 inches taller, he’d be Terrelle Pryor. Then again, if I were 7 inches taller, I’d be LeBron James.) With Ole Miss, the only team that beat Florida, beating Texas Tech, Oklahoma State losing by double digits to Oregon and Texas barely beating OSU, I think Florida has to be yearning for Thursday night. The class of the Big 12 is struggling in bowl season and that bodes well for Florida. Not to mention the OU cornerback saying Tebow would be the 4th best QB in the Big 12. Really? A man that’s been dominating the best conference in football for 2 years would be the 4th best QB in a conference that plays no defense? If Harvin is at 90 percent like it has been reported, I see Florida winning this easily. Like 56-42 easy, but OU gets a couple of easy scores late to make the score look respectable. For now, I’ll go with 56-42 Gators.

Speaking of the Gators, I was watching some of the High School All-American game and afterwards, some of the players make their college choice on the field. One WR from Atlanta had the hats of Florida, Florida State, Georgia and Alabama on a table and began the process of elimination. He first said, he wanted to go to a good school with a winning tradition and proceeded to remove Florida from consideration. Excuse me? The team with a chance for 2 championships in the last 3 years in football and has already won 2 of the last 3 national championships in basketball doesn’t have a winning tradition? He ended up going to Georgia, and I can’t fault his choice, but don’t lie to me and say Florida has no winning tradition.

UK lost a tough game to Louisville the other day. I was on the road for most of it but caught the last 8 minutes or so. We lost a game we probably should have lost on an impossible shot so I’m not too upset. Edgar Sosa stepped back to hit a 25 footer with a couple of seconds left. Seeing as it’s the first shot he’s hit outside of 12 feet since his freshman year, I can’t fault Michael Porter for playing a little off of him. Jodie Meeks scored 28 and Patrick Patterson had a 22-15, but our problem is pretty much any player after that. We got 4 points and 7 turnovers from our bench as a whole and no other player scored more than 7 points. On the season Meeks and Patterson are averaging 24 and 19, respectively, and the next closest scorer is at just less than 7 points a game. Gillispie keeps starting Porter, but I honestly think he’d be best suited to lead the second unit. Darius Miller’s confidence is at rock bottom and Ramon Harris still is a bit tentative after his injury. Harris doesn’t start but comes in after 3 or 4 minutes of play and gets the majority of the minutes for some reason. I think the starting lineup should be Patterson, Stevenson, Miller, Meeks and Liggins, with Porter, Harris, Harrellson and Stewart off the bench. Let Miller get his confidence back and let Liggins run an up-tempo game with the starters. Porter and Harrellson lead a steady bench that shouldn’t give up many leads. Instead, Gillispie chooses to start a different lineup every 2 or 3 games and, jerk around the minutes of key contributors. Liggins played 22 minutes against Central Michigan and 8 against Louisville. Harrellson got 17 minutes against Central Michigan and just 5 against Louisville. After a good game against Appalachian State, AJ Stewart has gotten 12 minutes combined the last 2 games. Walk-on Landon Sloane got 24 minutes against CMU and didn’t play at all against Louisville. I could go on. Also, the fact that Sloane is a walk-on and has gotten much more PT than scholarship players is a bit puzzling. I saw Sloane play in high school and he is a good ball player, but there is a reason he is a walk-on at UK, and not starring elsewhere. There has to be something else to the fact that scholarship player Kevin Galloway has played 25 minutes in his last 4 games: Sloane played 24 against CMU alone. Something is afoot at the Joe Craft Center. Meanwhile, Tubby Smith is 13-1 and…you know what, forget it. I’ve sung the praises of Tubby long enough and now hopefully now, people are starting to realize what kind of coach he is.

Friday, January 2, 2009

I didn't hit no woman? Au Contraire!

I hear your feelings on Favre. Earlier I mentioned how happy I am to see Favre flounder and hear players sharing their honest feelings about Favre. But I have no respect for anonymous quotes. Favre, as well as anyone else in the league, deserves better than that. I respect Thomas Jones because he openly voiced his opinions and backed them up a day later. I really do hope Favre hangs it up for his own good. If he comes back for one more year, he’ll just be trying to show up the Packers and Jets for thinking he was done. People always say older stars tarnish their legacy and the way people remember them by hanging on too long or playing for a different team, but I disagree. I’ll always remember Favre playing for the Packers and after a while, it will turn it to an “Oh yeah, he did have that season with the Jets” sort of thing. Cowher’s no dummy. I wouldn’t step into New York even without Favre. If I’m The Chin, I wait for the playoffs to end. It seems a playoff team or near playoff team always fires their coach after the season every year. I could see the Chargers, Vikings and even Cowboys jobs being open especially if Jason Garrett jumps at the Denver job. If not, he can always fall back on Denver and build around Cutler and a defense that has nowhere to go but up. At least until they add a 33rd team to the league.

One more thing on Chad and I’m done. You say the Packers receivers enjoy playing with each other. You don’t think they’d love playing with a guy that would draw attention away from them on nearly every play? They’d be downright ecstatic to have #85 lining up on the opposite side. I honestly think he’d be great for team chemistry and great for Green Bay. They loved Favre for so long but he never really had a personality. Unless you consider remaining aloof and getting addicted to painkillers a personality. He is a “look at me” kind of guy in the way of dances and such, but he only does it on touchdowns. At least he doesn’t celebrate after every first down like many do. When the team is losing, or he isn’t doing his part, there is no dancing. He truly wants to win. That’s what matters to him. I saw an interview with him where he talked about how he puts off time with his kids until he wins a Super Bowl. I didn’t say he was Father of the Year, but I do believe winning is first in his mind. You say you’d take him for a 3rd round pick and sadly, I think that’s the most we could get for him at this point. By all means I want him to stay, but I can absolutely see us trading him for 40 cents on the dollar only months after Roy Williams went for 250 cents on the dollar? Does that analogy work here? No more Chad talk…for now.

Now for my picks.

Arizona over Atlanta- Arizona hadn’t made the playoffs for years and then happened to win the division and host a playoff game at home. Sounds similar to the Bengals in 2005. If Kimo Von Oelhoffen doesn’t leave Kurt Warner in a crumpled heap on a dirty play, I think the Cardinals win. The crowd carries them to the win. I got goose bumps just listening to how loud the crowd was through the TV for the Bengals playoff game on. (Sidebar: How sad is it that I can call it “the Bengals playoff game”, and you know exactly which game I’m talking about because we only have one. Despicable.) Plus Larry Fitzgerald is mad. I mean really mad. But so is Michael Turner. If they’d hit women, imagine what they’ll do to the other team! Speaking of beating bitches up, I highly recommend checking out Dick Banks’ (of Dave Dameshek “fame”) smash hit “I Didn’t Hit No Woman” featuring your friend and mine, Mr. Randy Moss. It’s to the tune of “American Woman.” I’m trying to find a link to it. It’s golden.

Indianapolis over San Diego- In a battle of two of my least favorite athletes in Peyton Manning and LaDainian Tomlinson, I actually hope this game ends in a tie and both teams are banished from the league forever. Wouldn’t bother me a bit. By the way, Manning winning MVP is indeed ridiculous. What’s more ridiculous is that no defensive player even sniffed a vote. Chris Johnson, who is a fine player, got more votes than my man Ed Reed. Phillip Rivers who barely led a mediocre team to the playoffs got more votes than Reed. Also, if we’re going with an offensive player, how does Adrian Peterson not get more than 3 votes? Tarvaris Jackson and Chester Taylor are leading that team to a division title? Really? I’d love to see San Diego win to see the look on Peyton’s face this week and the look on Tomlinson’s face next week after they get smashed, but I think the Colts beat this awful Chargers team. And then they get smashed next week.

Baltimore over Miami- Ed Reed will not take his MVP slight lightly. Chalk up 1 interception returned for a touchdown and a fumble recovery for good measure.

Philly over Minnesota- I won’t pick against McNabb just yet. His team is playing well lately and he’s the best QB left in that conference. I won’t give up on him just yet.

UK pulled out a surprisingly good game and I’m happy for those seniors. Guys like Tony Dixon, David Jones, Braxton Kelley, Ventrell Jenkins, Dicky Lyons, Tim Masthay, Gary Williams and other seniors were just as crucial to this teams revival as last year’s more heralded names in Andre` Woodson, Rafael Little, Keenan Burton and Steve Johnson, etc. Jenkins and Jones provide two much needed touchdowns tonight with a fumble recovery and kickoff return, respectively. A few notes on the game.

-How this ECU team won 9 games is beyond me. Never during this game did I think, “Man this
team can hang with the major conferences.” The Conference USA Champ couldn’t beat a team that went 2-6 in the SEC. Just another testament to how tough the SEC is. That and Ole Miss smashing Texas Tech has to have Florida licking its chops to get at Oklahoma.

-There were 3 blocked extra points in this game. That probably shouldn't happen.

-What a terribly called game. ECU’s kick returner took a knee within the 2 yard line at least twice while returning kickoffs, yet only one was called. On the other one, the ref was standing right there and looking directly at his knee! Later, a fumble by ECU lead to a UK recovery for a TD, but that was overturned without indisputable evidence. Then on Jenkins return for a TD, his knee was obviously down. I’m not complaining because it won us the game but still.

-Hartline didn’t look terrible in this game. Yes he overthrew a couple guys and threw a pick, but he had some nice throws, especially a 48 yard beauty to Gene McCaskill to get the Cat’s rally on track. Say what you will, but Hartline was 6-3 in his 9 starts this season, his RS sophomore year. He threw for over 1,600 yards and 9TD’s with 8 INT’s. In Andre Woodson’s RS Sophomore year, he went 3-6 in his first 9 starts and had over 1,600 yards, 6 TD’s and 6 INT’s. I’m not saying he’s the next Woodson, but once he gets an offseason as starter under his belt and gets some weapons (He was without his top RB and top 3 WR’s(If you count Randall Cobb) for most of the season), I think he can be a good quarterback.

-Defense won us this game. Jeremy Jarmon, Micah Johnson and Trevard Lindley have all entertained thoughts of the NFL. Right after the game Jarmon and Johnson said they would be back. Nothing is set in stone, but I sincerely hope these three say no to the NFL and come back for their senior seasons. They could each raise their draft stocks considerably and partner another good defense with an improving offense. That offense was awful this year and we still won 7 games. It will get better and so will this team if all three juniors come back.

Favre, and those Favre-less playoffs

You asked me a question a couple of posts ago that I never responded to. It seems as though things have progressed since then, so I'll jump on it now.
You asked how I felt about the Favre situation, and how his season ended. Being a Packers fan, you wanted to know how I felt.
Favre is still my favorite quarterback of all time. I grew up watching him, and he really has had an amazing career, especially considering the quality of his receivers through the years. He's had some great receivers...yet every time one of them left, another one stepped up. That's not all receiver depth; it's a great quarterback that can make a great receiver.
This past offseason was tough. The situation that he put the Packers organization in was a difficult one, but, in the end, I think they did the right thing.
I rooted for him all year in New York. I really enjoyed seeing him play well, but it was still hard to watch him play in another uniform. When his play started to decline at the end of the year, it was not an easy thing to watch. If I had hated him, then his poor performance would've made me smile. But I didn't hate him. I would've like to see him come through at the end of the year. It's too bad that he didn't.
It's also too bad that you have Thomas Jones and the anonymous Jets player that have said how the team resented Favre, or that he should've been benched in the last game for playing so poorly. By the way, it was Jones who made the benching comment...he who sported a final line of 10 rushes, 23 yards in the final game. Way to talk a big game, fella.
He looked drained in his press conference. It's obvious that some of the people in New York don't like him there. This may be it for him. If it is, it's a sad way to go out.
One more thing: there was a report saying that Cowher wasn't interested in the Jets job because of Favre. If Cowher got the Jets job, he would have the power to get rid of Favre, either through a trade or just by dropping him. I really don't see how that report can be true, and I only saw it on ESPN. Good job.

More Packers talk? Okay!
Here is the only way I would take Chad Johnson; if I didn't have to give anything major up for him, and if the contract would allow me a way out. We talked about this before, but this is my main concern; team chemistry. The Packers receivers love playing together, and none of them are really concerned with their numbers. To add a me-first receiver to that group is to invite trouble. He's definitely not as bad as Terrell Owens, and he's not as frustrating to watch as Randy Moss. Johnson gives it his all on every play, and he still has terrific speed and hands. If I could be assured that he wouldn't draw heaps of attention on himself at every opportunity, I'd take him in a second. As it is, I'd give up a 3rd round pick for him and sign him to no more than a 2 year deal.

The playoffs start tomorrow. I'm extremely excited. Here's my picks for the first weekend:

Atlanta over Arizona. I know that the Falcons aren't a good road team. But I just can't take the Cardinals. I just can't.

San Diego over Indianapolis. The fact that Manning won MVP this year is ridiculous. This first round loss will eerily resemble when the Nowitzki won the MVP and the Mavs got bounced by the Warriors in the first round while Dirk had a terrible series, made all the more eery when Manning throws his 3rd interception.

Baltimore over Miami. The only way I can see Miami winning this game is if Flacco plays a terrible game.

Minnesota over Philadelphia. The Vikings have been playing much better than the Eagles as of late, even though most people have forgotten about it. With the thumping of the Cowboys last weekend, people seem to think that the Eagles are all better, and can kill anyone. But they're an inconsistent team at best, and I don't see them winning this game.

UK won their bowl game, but I only got to see 2 plays. Thoughts?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My Top Sporting Events

That’s a dynamite list my man, here’s mine.

1. Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (2003)- This was Vick’s first home game after coming back from that broken leg and missing the first 11 or so games. This one is #1 because it ranks high in terms of a great game and the atmosphere. I can’t begin to explain how big Vick was in Atlanta. Billboards, commercials, jerseys, he had it all. The entire city loved him at this time. He was fresh off beating your Packers in Lambeau (sorry), and took the Falcons to the Divisional round of the playoffs in his first year starting. This was before the “Does he run too much?” questions came. He ran not only Atlanta, but the state of Georgia. Throughout the entire starting lineup, people chanted his name and when he was introduced the crowd got louder than any crowd I’ve heard to this day. You could tell he had something up his sleeve and he wouldn’t let us leave without a good game.

He ended up rushing for 141 yards on only 14 carries, and for every one of the 14 the crowd was on his feet. He had a 43 yard run that had me high fiving complete strangers. He eventually tied the game with the Panthers, who went onto the Super Bowl that year, and in overtime, an interception ran back for a touchdown ended the game. Just a great experience overall.

2. 2006 NCAA Sweet Sixteen in Atlanta- I saw three great games so I have to combine them into one experience. In the first game I saw LSU, led by Tyrus Thomas and Big Baby Davis, beat Duke led by JJ Redick (Yes THE JJ Redick) and Shelden Williams. To this day I’ve never seen:

1. Anyone jump higher than Tyrus Thomas (I promise his hand got above the backboard)

2. Anyone get booed more than JJ Redick did in his last collegiate game. He had an awful game
and at the end Coach K took him out, JJ and Coach started crying and embraced and the crowd went wild. Phenomenal stuff.

In the second game I saw Boobie Gibson, LaMarcus Aldridge and Texas beat West Virginia, who were the Phoenix Suns of college ball in their day. Texas jumped all over them in the first half but WVU put together a great comeback and only lost by a couple.

The third game gave us Texas-LSU, in the game that sent Tyrus Thomas to the NBA. Just a great weekend overall.

3. 2007 First round of the NCAA Tourney in Lexington. Seriously, if you ever get a chance to go to any round of March Madness, I highly recommend going. Just a recap of all that happened to put it in my top 5.

- A friend and I had upper level seats but noticed the front row open so we figured to sneak down for half a game until we got caught. Turns out we didn’t and sat front row for 6 games of the NCAA Tourney.

- In Ohio State-Central Connecticut State, Oden had his way with anyone CCSU threw at him leading their best player to come off the court after the first timeout and scream, “He’s too f****** big!”. To which the Coach replied, “Well, I’m done. You guys got any ideas?” I think the coach was some kin to Wade Phillips, now that I think about it.

-BYU-Xavier turned out to be one of the better games of the round. Our seats were in BYU’s family section so we mingled with the parents and amazingly attractive wives/girlfriends of BYU players and I sat roughly 4 foot from Danny Ainge. Good times.

-Louisville-Stanford- Rick Pitino comes in a close second to Redick in terms of being booed by roughly 99% of the crowd. I also got my first peek at the Lopez Twins.

-Texas A&M- Penn- Not that good of a game, but got my first glance at Billy Gillispie, more on this later.

-In the OSU-Xavier, I saw Ron Lewis hit this shot, in a great game where I could have sworn Gus Johnson was going to run onto the court. He was that excited.

- Louisville- Texas A&M- Edgar Sosa and Acie Law went back and forth all game. Towards the end before shooting 2 free throws that would have won the game for Louisville, Sosa walked past the A&M bench, who was in front of us, and blew a kiss at them. He then missed the free throws and has never been the same. He scored 30something that game as a freshmen, and hasn’t averaged 8 points a game in a season since. I then saw Acie Law hit clutch shot after clutch shot to win the game and watch him scream, “This is what I do!” at his teammates after every shot. After the game, the crowd gave Gillispie a standing ovation for beating Pitino. On his way out, he acknowledged the fans, came back from the tunnel and soaked the applause some more, went back to midcourt and then came to soak once more. He had never seen anything like that. I knew then and there if Tubby left, this guy was next in charge…for better or worse.

4. UK-LSU football (2007) - UK beating Louisville earlier that season almost made the list, but it turned out that Louisville was awful. This game meant something. We beat the eventual National Champions and every player and fan in attendance really began to believe that the 2 win teams in UK’s past were dead. We could compete and win with the best of the best. The 3 aforementioned experiences were great, but I had no personal interest in the teams. I had long been a UK fan and this one meant a lot.

5. Dwight Howard in high school (2003) - Dwight Howard came to my native Macon to play in a high school tournament when he was a senior. The game wasn’t great, but I have never seen such dominance by one individual. I believe he had a triple double of points, blocks and rebound in the first half, but that’s not what I remember most. On one possession he dunked the ball harder than I’ve ever seen anyone dunk. The opposing team went down the court for their possession and when Dwight’s team came back, the backboard was still shaking. The crowd went wild. This began my linking of Howard and fate led him to my favorite team, the Orlando Magic.

Honorable Mention- UK-UL 2007- Really put UK on the map and the trash talking between the fans was off the charts. As I said earlier, if UL would have proved to be a decent team, this game would be on the list.

Warner Robins @ Central High- My alma mater of Central played annual juggernaut Warner Robins. We played them hard in the first half before they took over. This game makes the list for two reasons.

1. They had a running back named Alton Sanders who is the fastest man I’ve ever seen in person. I think he had three touchdowns of over 50 yards. On the second I said I’d clock him on his third, because I knew there would be a third. I promise you on the last TD, which was in the 70ish yard range, he ran the last 50 yards in a little under 5 seconds. Our fastest player ran a 4.3 forty yard dash, and wasn’t even close. He went to Middle Tennessee State, but I haven’t heard anything from him. What a shame.

2. We had a special guest at the game. At the time he was playing college football at Savannah State, which is a couple hours from us. A bunch of his teammates played at Warner Robins so he went back with them to watch the game. The man was none other than Tahj Mowry, of “Smart Guy” fame.


On the list of “Things you’ll never hear at a football game at any level”, the phrase “I heard the dude from Smart Guy is here. Oh, there he is,” has to be up there.