Thursday, December 30, 2010

Young Sam Rothstein's Corner

Family, friends, fans, and followers this is the last post of 2010. I hope most of you have taken the opportunity to come away with some cash over the last few months and at the very least you learned something. Next Tuesday Young Sam will be taking on 3 sportsbook prodigies showing them the path to wealth. It should be interesting for you all to see how the process works in pragmatic fashion. I can't wait for the results. We'll keep it simple this week as most of the playoff spots have been clinched in the NFL and the big bowl games don't start until next week. Here's the final locks of the year.

San Antonio -3 1/2 over Dallas. With no Dirk Nowitzki the Mavs go from an elite team to an average team. The Spurs are an elite team. San Antonio by 10.

San Diego -3 over Denver. San Diego is embarrassed about not making the playoffs and somebody has to pay. That somebody will be Tim Tebow and the Broncos.

Tennessee +9 1/2 over Indy. Tennessee will not make it easy for the Colts to win the division and they still have Chris Johnson.

Chicago +10 over Green Bay. This is a must win game for Green Bay and Chicago will most likely rest their starters having already clinched a bye in the playoffs, but 10 points in a division game is too good to pass up.

The Top 10 Stories of 2010

As we bid a fond farewell to 2010 it's a good time to reflect on the top sports stories of the year. Depending on where you are and what your favorite sport is this list will vary. It's hard to consolidate all the news of the year, but someone's gotta do it. With no further adieu here are the top 10 stories of 2010.

10. The passing of John Wooden. The Wizard of Westwood is best known for winning 10 national championships at UCLA and leading his team to 88 consecutive victories. His impact is much more profound off the court because his life and coaching philosophies have influenced so many people.

9. Jim Joyce and the blown perfect game. After changing the course of history and robbing Armando Galarraga of immortality Jim Joyce received death threats and even had to have security escort him to and from games. Think it's time for instant replay in baseball?

8. Reggie Bush and the Heisman debacle. No one has ever returned their Heisman Trophy because of scandal and receiving improper benefits. Reggie Bush is now officially banished from USC and his time there has been erased as if it never happened. Why didn't he just pay the agent back?

7. The passing of George Steinbrenner. The "Boss" brought a win at all costs attitude that we will never see in sports again. His motto was, "If you can pay for what you want why would you ever play fair?"

6. Jimmy Johnson's 5th consecutive NASCAR championship. I don't care if you're shooting dice, playing shuffleboard, or nerf hoop in your living room, 5 championships in a row is impressive. This guy needs a cool nickname and fast.

5. The return of Michael Vick. When Donovan McNabb took Vick under his wing last year I doubt he thought he was grooming his eventual successor and the comeback player of the year in 2010. Life is funny.

4. Cam and Cecil Newton. I doubt we ever really got the whole story on this incident, but what you don't know won't hurt you. There will always be corruption in college athletics and the Cam story is just the latest installment. Congrats on winning the Heisman and every other major college football award known to man.

3. The New Orleans Saints win the Super Bowl. No city was more deserving to become Super Bowl champs. After all they've had to endure with the rebuilding process after Hurricane Katrina I couldn't be happier for them.

2. Lebron James taking his talents down to South Beach. Never has a free agent changing teams made such an impact on the league. From "The Decision" to "The Fallout" Lebron was front page news for 2 months straight. Few people on planet Earth can captivate the public's attention for that long.

1. Kobe wins his 5th NBA championship. One more than Shaq and one away from Michael Jordan. The significance of this accomplishment can't be overlooked. After Kobe wins his 6th title this year he will be considered Michael Jordan's equal and the whole world will have to kiss his ring Michael Corleone style. Stay tuned.

Have a Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What A Recruit Wants From A School

Recruiting top athletes has always been a dirty business. It's an inexact science with a high level of competition. Every school is trying to gain an advantage to end up with the chosen one. The schools hire charismatic coaches and talented assistants to entice the athletes and steer them towards their program. The most important thing these schools have to recognize is what motivates these players in their decision making process. Here's my list of what an athlete looks for in a school.

1. Opportunity. The athlete wants to know if there is playing time available. Most players would rather not sit 2 or 3 years to see the court or the field.

2. Coaching. Athletes want to know the man in charge can help them get to the next level and that his coaching philosophy is tried and true.

3. Exposure. Players want to know their talents will be showcased on TV regularly and thousands of people will come out to watch them perform.

4. Tradition. Whether it's attending the state school they followed as a kid and their parents are alumni, or a program with decades of success to reference, players like to know they're following a tradition.

5. Benefits. From "hostesses" showing them a good time on their visits to mysterious envelopes in their mailbox to $36 a month car payments on a 2010 Yukon Denali players look for perks that will make their stay at a university a little more comfortable.

6. Geography and climate. Players typically like to stay close to their families and if they decide to leave their familiar surroundings they prefer to go to a place that doesn't have extreme weather issues.

7. Culture. Players like to go places where they will be accepted for who they are. Of course winning games and excelling in your sport makes you popular and comfortable anywhere.

8. Education. You would think this would be the most important thing because the chances of going pro are so slim. The truth is most players can't see past their own ambition and as long as the school has lots of books and classes to attend their indifferent about the quality of education they receive.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bad Boys 20 years Later

As I watch the way the NBA has become a league of sissies I can't help but think about the Detroit Pistons, the original bad boys that wreaked havoc and took no prisoners. The guys that used to throw Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen into the backstop routinely and laugh about it. The guys that were as talented as they were mean. There is no question the Pistons style of basketball couldn't exist in the modern era. After the palace brawl (ironically on the same court the bad boys made famous) players can't even so much as raise their voice or use foul language without getting technicals, suspensions, and fines. The Pistons were the last of a dying breed and time moves on, but where are they now?

Rick Mahorn. The toughest of the bad boys and a real enforcer in the middle. He went on to win some WNBA championships with the Detroit Shock as an assistant coach and then took over the head coaching reigns in 2009. He actually got suspended 2 games for breaking up a fight in the playoffs.

Bill Laimbeer. The most hated of all the Piston bad boys. Bill was the head coach for the Detroit Shock before fellow bad boy Mahorn took over. He is currently an assistant with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

John Salley. The class clown if you will went on to television fame as a host of The Best Damn Sports Show on Fox sports. He also wrote a tell all book that was very entertaining.

Isiah Thomas. My favorite of all the bad boys. It's unfortunate his off the court failures have overshadowed his hall of fame career. He is currently the head coach of FIU in the college ranks after previously coaching the Indiana Pacers and the New York Knicks before running the Knicks into the ground as their president.

Dennis Rodman. What can you say about the Worm? Words can't express the train wreck this guy has become. After his playing career Dennis made a few movies, married Carmen Electra, starred in reality shows The Apprentice and Clean and Sober House with Dr. Drew, and now throws parties in Vegas. Stay tuned, this story could change any second.

Joe Dumars. Currently the president of basketball operations for the Detroit Pistons. I say currently because I don't think new ownership will retain his services much longer. The Pistons are awful right now. Although the Pistons won the 2004 NBA championship under his watch Dumars will be remembered for passing on Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh in the 2003 NBA draft before selecting Darko Milicic.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Weekend Observations

I'm not one to toot my own horn (yes I am), but just as I predicted (in typical Cleavie The Greek fashion) the NFC West division will come down to the final game between the Seattle Seahawks and the St. Louis Rams. The good news for Seahawk fans is the game is at home and the team has some veterans with playoff experience. The bad news is those players are banged up and Seattle has looked awful the last 3 games. In addition, the Rams were able to grind out a win against the 49ers and momentum is on their side. Originally I said the Seahawks would win this game. I'll stick with that prediction (although I'm not as confident as before) because I'm somewhat of a homer and I'm a man of my word. Here are some observations from the weekend.

The NFL:

The NFL stands for not for long if your team doesn't make the playoffs and Mike Singletary won't be the last coach to get fired. Look for John fox (Carolina), Eric Mangini (Cleveland), Gary Kubiak (Houston), Jeff Fisher (Tennessee), Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati), and Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville) to find themselves without work at the end of the season.

The Bays (Tampa and Green) will not make the playoffs. New York and Seattle will take their place despite Green Bay thrashing New York 45-17 and Tampa Bay smashing Seattle 38-15 on Sunday.

The eventual Superbowl winner will come out of the AFC. The AFC has 3 elite teams (New England, Baltimore, Pittsburgh) while the NFC has 6 very good teams.

The NBA:

The Lakers are vulnerable. No time to panic just yet for the 2 time defending NBA champs, but no time to pump their chests out either. The embarrassing loss to the Heat on Christmas day let us know the road back to the finals will not be easy.

Derrick Rose is the best point guard in the Eastern conference. He's moved past Rajon Rondo and only Deron Williams and Chris Paul are considered his equal.

Rip Hamilton will be traded by the all star break. The heart and soul of the Pistons needs a fresh start and a change of scenery to rejuvenate his career and Detroit needs to start all over again from scratch.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Young Sam Rothstein's Corner

After going 4 for 4 last Thursday I had a few minor setbacks on Sunday. Dallas couldn't hold their water against Rex "Gross" Grossman and the Redskins. They were up 30-14 late in the 3rd quarter and gave up 16 unanswered points. I went against my own rule which is taking a team with no playoff aspirations giving up more than 6 points. I won't beat myself up too much about that one. The other slip was taking New Orleans on the road. The Ravens defense didn't really stop them, but the Saints defense gave up 30 points. That's a statistical anomaly for Baltimore so again I won't beat myself up too much about that one either. When you're betting on human performance it's an inexact science and strange things happen. So long as I stay above 75% (which I have) we'll all continue to make money. Here's your winning games over the weekend.

St. Louis -2 1/2 over San Francisco. Coming off 2 straight losses the Rams need this game to stay in the playoff hunt. I look for the Rams defense and Sam Bradford to have a big game.

Indy -3 over Oakland. Joseph Addai is back and Jacksonville is breathing down their necks. Peyton will have that balance he's been missing for months and will shred the Raiders to pieces.

Jacksonville -7 over Washington. Unlike last week the Redskins are on the road against a team fighting for a playoff spot. I don't see Rex Grossman throwing for 4 touchdowns again. Look for the Jacksonville defense to have a field day..

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Is Coaching Really That Important?

In the last week we've seen some impressive milestones reached by a pair of hall of fame coaches. Geno Auriemma led the UConn women's basketball team to its 89th consecutive victory and Mike Kryzyzewski passed Dean Smith to become the 2nd all time winningest coach in men's college basketball. Amidst all the hoopla and fanfare you have to ask yourself one simple question, are they really better coaches than everyone else?

It could be argued that with the talented players that come to Duke and Uconn respectively any number of coaches could duplicate the same accomplishments. How hard is it to win when you have Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Grant Hill, Carlos Boozer, and Christian Laettner? It could also be argued that these coaches wouldn't be half as successful if they didn't always have the best players.

I'm right on the fence with this debate. Great coaching is not so much about X's and O's as it is about putting players in a position to succeed and setting a tone. The top players gravitate towards Geno and coach K because they can get the most out of them and help them reach their full potential. They provide a mindset and a structure that facilitates winning and they do it better than everyone else. Of course I'm also a believer that talent ultimately prevails and the great players that have attended Duke and UConn would have been great wherever they went. Coaches don't have THAT much influence over a players abilities.

In the end Geno and coach K can't turn water into wine, but if you give them some of those Napa Valley grapes they can create an award winning vintage Merlot. It's all about their ability to orchestrate the maturation process. You go to UConn and Duke to be great, but don't go there if you're an average player to begin with. They're not miracle workers!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What I Learned From Playing Fantasy Football

My fantasy football experience this year taught me many things. The most valuable lesson I learned is that I would be a terrible owner of a professional sports team. My decision making process has fatal flaws that would ultimately hamper the success of the franchise. Here are the reasons I would fail.

1. I'm too loyal. If you've produced for me in the past I would find it difficult to trade or replace you. Even when the writing is on the wall that it's time to move on or a player's production has fallen off dramatically I would still hold them to the standard of their past glory rather than the reality of their present play.

2. It takes me too long to recognize my mistakes. In all 3 of my fantasy football leagues my teams were deficient at the wide receiver position. By the time I realized I needed to make a change it was too late to do something about it. All the good receivers were taken and I ended up with scrubs.

3. I'm too superstar oriented. I ride or die with superstars and my teams revolve around 1 or 2 players. If I have Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson (arguably the best at their positions) I neglect the other players on my team and assume the stars will turn in heroic performances every game and carry my team to victory. It doesn't work that way.

4. I hold grudges. Ryan Mathews and Brandon Tate are dead to me at this point. I don't care if they go on to have hall of fame careers I'll never have a kind word to say about either one of them. They let me down in crucial situations too many times. If I put my faith and trust in you and you disappoint me I can't forgive you. I think that's a Scorpio trait.

5. I point fingers. If I lose a match up someone's going to take the blame for it. I know one play doesn't determine the outcome of a game and one player isn't solely responsible for the teams fate, but if you make a mistake or fail to capitalize on a golden opportunity I'm throwing you under the bus.

6. I play favorites. Reggie Bush cost me a gazillion points this year. I played him because he was one of my favorite players in college and when he's on his game he's sensational to watch. I often play players that I like and enjoy to watch rather than players who are producing.

The best fantasy football owners are the ones that make lots of transactions, follow trends, and don't let their personal feelings about players and teams affect their judgement and decision making. This is a difficult lesson to learn since I'm a die hard passionate sports fan. In the end I'll learn from my mistakes and re-group for next season better than ever. As long as I get one of the first 3 picks in the draft of course.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cleveland Sucks Without Lebron

Most people believe no one player is bigger than the team. Clearly that is not the case with Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The city of Cleveland has been through so much heartache from a sports perspective that it almost feels like pouring salt on the wounds to say this, but the Cavaliers will never recover from Lebron taking his talents down to South Beach.

It all started with the King's return to Cleveland for the first time with his new team. The whole city was fired up to see Lebron fail and let him know first hand how much they didn't appreciate how he spurned them for greener pastures. Instead Lebron torched the Cavs for 38 points in 3 quarters and in the process made the team look like a bunch of guys with an inferiority complex. The look in their eyes told the whole story. "We're not any good without you" was the impression everybody got and since the thrashing Cleveland has lost 12 of their last 13 games.

The good news is Cleveland is on their way to the NBA lottery and has a chance to get the #1 pick in the draft. The bad news is there is no Lebron James waiting for them at the end of the rainbow. The team has completely lost it's confidence with no sign of getting it back. The Quicken Loans arena will slowly but surely turn into a ghost town as everyone realizes the party's over and there is no reason to be optimistic about the future. Never has a free agency move single handedly crippled an organization the way Lebron's move crippled the Cavs. I wish there was some words of encouragement or signs of life for Cleveland fans, but there simply isn't any. This story will get worse before it gets better and the city will never be the epicenter of basketball again. Cleveland deserves better. What could have been.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Weekend Observations

It looks like we've come to the end of the road in the world of fantasy football. This last weekend left a bitter taste in my mouth. Once again my receivers (Brandon Tate and Derrick Mason) failed to show up on Sunday and combined for 4 total points. I also finally realize that Reggie Bush is garbage without the Kardashian chick at his side and I doubt he will ever be a marquee player in the NFL again (unless he goes to the Seahawks). The good news is I still have Adrian Peterson going tonight. The bad news is he's playing on a surface the the Vikings punter said was "suicide" to play on and I'm 59 points down. It's time to let the dream go. I had fun this season and I learned a lot. I'll share my thoughts with you on my fantasy experience Wednesday. Here are some observations from the weekend.

The NFL:

The Pittsburgh Steelers are mere mortals without Troy Polamalu. They can win games without Big Ben, but when Mr. Head and Shoulders doesn't play they are very vulnerable. It would be wise to rest him for the playoffs.

DeSean Jackson is going to be a problem. It's safe to say that after the dramatic punt return for a touchdown to win the game against the Giants DeSean Jackson is one of the top 5 most explosive players in football. That also means he's grossly underpaid. Prepare for a contract dispute next season.

Donovan McNabb will not be a Redskin and Matt Hasselbeck will not be a Seahawk next season. I'm stating the obvious aren't I?

The NBA:

The Orlando Magic's acquisition of Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, and Hedo Turkoglu will make the Magic better, just not good enough to win the Eastern conference.

The Miami Heat can party like rock stars in New York all night and still have enough left in the tank to beat a under maned Washignton Wizards squad. There is no substitute for youth.

Coach Paul Westphal will not make it to the new year.

College Basketball:

The lack of attention the UConn women's basketball team received for winning its 88th consecutive game shows how much gender bias still exists in the media.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Pitiful Washington Redskins

My apologies to Redskins fans across the globe, your team has officially become more dysfunctional than the Oakland Raiders. A year ago I wouldn't have thought that was possible, but with all the drama surrounding the Albert Haynesworth saga and now the benching of Donovan McNabb it is clear the Redskins don't know what the hell they're doing. I've said this many times and I'll say it again, Mike Shanahan is a control freak that ruins organizations. He inherited John Elway in Denver and after he retired Mike Shanahan never won another playoff game. His no nonsense attitude rubs people the wrong way. His arrogance knows no bounds and as far as he's concerned he has never called a bad play. If something goes wrong it's always the players fault for not executing properly. Things will not get better in DC as long as Shanahan is at the helm and for the time being it appears he and owner Dan Snyder are joined at the hip. Too bad.

Young Sam Rothstein's Corner:

I can't tell you how happy I am for you guys that cashed in on 4 for 4 Thursday. You get a return on your investment if attention you pay. A shout out to Brian from Denver for hitting a 2,3, and 4 team parlay and collecting a cool $3,000. Another shout out goes to Karen from Albuquerque for hitting a 3 team parlay and 3 straight bets totaling $1,400. I'm sure the extra Christmas money will come in handy. There is no better time than the present to get on board with the sportsbook genius. Here are my picks for the weekend.

Indy -4 1/2 over Jacksonville. Peyton Manning is not going to let his consecutive playoffs streak come to an end at the hands of the Jaguars. Colts by a touchdown.

Oakland -6 1/2 over Denver. There are rumors that Tim Tebow might get some work on Sunday. That's not a good thing if you're a Broncos fan.

Dallas -7 over Washington. If you read the previous segment you know that the Redskin ship is sinking and Rex Grossman is at the helm right now. It's a lot of points, but trust me on this one.

New Orleans +1 over Baltimore. I love Baltimore's defense, but I question whether their offense can score enough points to keep up with the saints. New Orleans by a field goal.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Should Sports Have A Lemon Law?

Recently Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been criticized for publicly berating his point guard Baron Davis from the sidelines. Such comments as "You're overweight", "You're terrible", and "Why are you shooting 3 pointers" have become part of the culture in Clipperland. I understand Donald Sterling's frustration to a certain extent, Donald signed Baron Davis to a 5 year $65,000,000 contract 2 years ago and has received very little return on his investment. Should Donald Sterling have some recourse for services not rendered? Should sports have a lemon law?

If you buy a Porsche that doesn't go above 50 mph you'd want your money back right? If you bought a Toyota Camry and the transmission went out a month after you drove it off the lot you'd want your money back right? Sports doesn't work that way however. It is an inexact science that relies on human performance and you don't always get the results you anticipated. There is risk involved and money is not the remedy for injuries and bad attitudes. Owners should expect a certain level of professionalism for their investment but the money doesn't guarantee a specific level of performance. That comes from within the athlete. The money can only be used as a motivating force and a reward for possessing unique skills and abilities.

Before we go feeling sorry for Donald Sterling and countless other owners who feel they've been "burned" by underachieving athletes let us not forget that professional sports is a chess game played by billionaires. They get into ownership understanding the risk and are driven by their own egos more than you think. Donald Sterling is not a victim in all of this, he's just not getting the return on his investment he expected. It happens to businessmen everyday. If it gets too bad he can always sell his franchise for 20 times more than he bought it for 30 years ago and walk away. A simple enough solution right?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Young Sam Rothstein's Corner

To my family, friends, fans, and followers I'm glad I could redeem your trust on Tuesday. 75% accuracy is what I expect and that's exactly what I delivered. My apologies for not catching the significance of the Joe Johnson injury sooner before the Detroit game. Shout out to Sherry from Oaksdale for cashing in on a $2100 3 team parlay and a shout out to Lionel from Houston for scooping up $500 on a straight bet and another $300 on a 2 team parlay. here are the winning picks for tonight's games.

San Diego -10 over San Fransisco. The 49ers looked good on Sunday. That was against the Seahawks defense at home. Now they take their act on the road against a vicious San Diego team that has to keep pace with division leader Kansas City. I smell a blow out.

Denver +1 over San Antonio. I know the Spurs are 20-3 this season and no one can seem to stop them, but they played last night (a buzzer beater against Milwaukee) and Denver cruised 2 nights ago at home against Orlando. Denver wins by 2.

New Jersey -6 over Washington. Devin Harris called a players only meeting after the loss to Philly on Tuesday and good things usually come out of those meetings. The Wizards need John Wall back in a hurry.

Boston -4 over Atlanta. The Celtics had an emotionally draining victory last night in New York, but the Hawks are without Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford. What else do they have?

Suite Tickets Or General Admission?

One of my readers is getting some Seahawk tickets for her boyfriend for Christmas and asked me the question would I prefer suite tickets or general admission tickets to a game. Generally speaking I like to lounge in my own space with all the amenities at my disposal. TV's, couches, and beverages beats plastic seats and people stepping on your feet. The more I thought about it however the more I started to realize there are some instances where general admission is better.


If your seats are between the 35 yard lines and your 1-30 rows from the field (barring rain, snow, or blistering wind) general admission is better.


If your seats are behind the plate 1-10 rows from the field or on the 1st or 3rd base line 1-10 rows from the field general admission is better. Plus there's foul ball potential.


If your seats are 1-15 rows from the court general admission is better. Courtside seats (especially at mid court) are the best seats in all of sports. Ringside at a fight might be better, but I've never sat close enough to get snot or blood on me.


If your seats are 1-10 rows from the ice general admission is better. It's quite entertaining when the action along the glass comes towards you.

The bigger the game the better it is to be in general admission. It's ok to sacrifice a few rows because the electricity of the crowd and the magnitude of the moment is was sports is all about. At the end of the day it's about sharing the experience with fellow fans. You don't have to be a snob if it's a championship game. Food for thought.

On a side note, my trash talking fantasy football league is true to its name still talking trash. The commish got knocked out of the playoffs on a last second touchdown by Andre Johnson on Monday (sorry Mr. Majestic) and we're down to the final four. The favorite is my arch nemesis Rufus Porter. He actually made the call to pick up Arian Foster before anyone even knew who that was. Two teams don't stand a chance, Wes'Side and Lights out#56. I don't know how the hell either one of those teams even made the playoffs. The dark horse is TJ Mac. He's a wheeler and dealer and always seems to have the right personnel on the field at the right time. If I had my Young Sam Rothstein cap on I'd pick Rufus Porter, but if I had my Cleavie the Greek smoking jacket on I'd follow my hunch and pick TJ Mac. Maybe it's bitterness from a decade long rivalry with Rufus, but I think TJ has something in store for the favorite. I'll keep you posted about the results.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cliff Lee Made A Mistake

I blogged a few months ago that Cliff Lee was a "G" for the way he handled being traded from a World Series team to a team that lost over 100 games. Most players would have complained to the media and let the situation affect their performance, but Cliff Lee's professionalism and focus are unique. He did his job and ironically ended up in the World Series anyway. It was a foregone conclusion that the impending free agent would end up a Yankee at the end of the season and all signs were pointing in that direction.

On Tuesday Cliff Lee did an about face and signed with the team that traded him almost a year ago to the date the Philadelphia Phillies. In this day and age most athletes don't have the ability to forgive and forget and most teams can't admit they made a mistake. In this scenario the exception has become the rule. Cliff Lee gets to return to a city he never wanted to leave (how many people say that about Philadelphia) and join a pitching staff that has the potential to be legendary with the likes of Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels. This fairy tale ending only has one problem, Cliff Lee made a mistake.

Money and prestige should never be taken for granted and Cliff Lee turned down a lot of both when he spurned the Yankees. I for one have the mindset that no matter how rich you are there will come a time in your life when you could use an extra $30,000,000. In addition the lights don't get any brighter than New York City and the opportunity to win a World Series for the most storied franchise in professional sports makes you an immortal. Winning a World Series in Philadelphia makes you a fan favorite.

In the end Cliff Lee will tell you he made the decision because it was in the best interest of his family, how much he loves the city, and the money wasn't the deciding factor in his decision. What he won't tell you is he ran from the pressure and expectation for less money and notoriety. In the short term I couldn't be happier for the guy. For the long term it would have been better to wear the pinstripes.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Young Sam Rothstein's Corner

I'll get right to the chase. You come to me for 75% accuracy and although 3 out of 5 isn't bad you can't buy a Bentley with that kind of winning percentage if you know what I'm saying. My intel was faulty on Friday. Kobe Bryant had lunch with Michael Jordan before the game and it got his head all screwed up. Furthermore Ron Artest had himself 2 slices of Giordano's stuffed pie pizza and had an upset stomach. Had I known these things (like I should have) I never would have wagered on the Lakers. As for the Jets? Lets just say I won't jeopardize my credibility betting on Mark Sanchez again. I make no excuses for my 2 losses, but I feel you deserve an explanation. Here's what I got for you winners today.

The NBA:

Golden St. -2 1/2 over Minnesota. Even though Golden St. doesn't play any defense and they don't have Steph Curry right now Minnesota doesn't have enough scorers to keep up.

Denver +2 over Orlando. Orlando is at the end of a very long road trip and just left Los Angeles. My sources tell me Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis had a "gooood" time while they were there.

Atlanta -4 over Detroit. There's a crisis in Mowtown and until they breathe new life into those old lungs always take a playoff team against these guys.

Houston -9 over Sacramento. As long as Paul Westphal is still coaching and Tyreke Evans is their best player the Kings will struggle against good teams. Don't worry about the points.

What Happened To Kenny Anderson?

After 10 consecutive hours of watching football it's only right to let my wife grip the TV remote for a little while. I always cringe when this happens because I know I'll get stuck watching housewives of somewhere or travelling pants or Giada making some spinach dip with artichoke hearts. On Sunday after the Eagles/Cowboys game my wife didn't disappoint. She managed to find a Basketball Wives marathon! My favorite! As I watched groupie chick after groupie chick talk about how difficult their lives were spending their ex-husband's money my heart sank when I saw a New York legend reduced to a narcissistic dead beat dad.

Kenny Anderson was one of my favorite players growing up. The point guard from Archbishop Molloy high school is one of the greatest point guards New York has ever produced and the first player to be named All-City four times (not even Kareem did that). I followed hm closely because he was left handed like me and he had court vision like Magic and Isaiah. He excelled at Georgia Tech for 2 seasons leading the Yellow Jackets to the final four before becoming the 2nd player picked in the 1991 NBA draft by the New Jersey Nets. By 1993 Kenny was at the top of his game making the all-star team and leading the Nets to the playoffs when it all started to unravel.

His career started to spiral downward when he married reality TV star Tami Roman from the Real World Los Angeles. I remember asking myself, "What is this guy thinking?" Sure enough that marriage spelled disaster for one of my guys. Although he would go on to sign a $50,000,000 contract his game was never quite the same after the Tami fiasco. He bounced around from team to team, lost his confidence, and squandered his fortune. I though he would go down as one of the greatest, but instead he just became another statistic.

Just when I thought the wounds of disappointment were healed here comes Tami Roman on ANOTHER reality TV show once again making Kenny look like a fool in front of the whole world. I remember asking myself, "Does he really have to do this?" "Does he really have to humiliate himself like this?" Kenny Anderson is the perfect example of why sports fans should keep the context of sports in perspective. Even basketball gods make mistakes that will haunt them the rest of their lives. If you don't temper your level of expectation you could end up bitter and pissed off like me. I'm glad I didn't buy that Georgia Tech #12 jersey like I wanted to. It would be unwearable at this point.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Weekend Observations

It's official, I made the playoffs in my newly found trash talking league. 1 out of 3 leagues isn't bad, but it's not spectacular either. Ironically the league I'm excelling in is the one where players are auctioned off rather than drafted. You get what you pay for in other words. I've come too far to turn back now and the hardware is all I'm concerned about. I will bring home the trophy! Here are some observations from the weekend.

The NFL:

The New York Jets will not win the Super Bowl. They are a playoff team, but not an elite team. The loss of Justin Leonard is bigger than anticipated.

The Patriots and Eagles will play for the Super Bowl. Those 2 teams are on a collision course and barring an injury to Michael Vick or Tom Brady these 2 teams will meet in Dallas February 6th.

College Football:

Miami no longer has the desire to return to dominance. Their inability to hire a top name coach to rebuild the program reflects this.

After watching ESPN's 30 for 30 on the history of the SMU football team the SWC was every bit as competitive as the SEC is today. Money talks.

College Basketball:

College basketball isn't as exciting when you have to get to know the players who will more than likely only stay in school 1 year.

The NBA:

Amare Stoudemire is worth every penny. After going for 30+ in 8 straight games it is clear Amare flourishes in the Mike D'Antoni system. He will be a 1st team all NBA power forward.

After watching Basketball Wives last night (my wife made me) Kenny Anderson is more embarrassing than before. More on him tomorrow.

The UFC: GSP beat the snot piss out of Josh Koshceck which means he will most likely have to face Anderson Silva. His reward for beating the snot piss out of Koshceck is getting the snot piss beaten out of him by Silva. How ironic.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Seahawks Will Make The Playoffs

I may sound like a homer with the title of this blog, but the Seattle Seahawks will make the playoffs this year. Everyone knows the Seahawks are far from a finished product and they have plenty of weaknesses and deficiencies. They don't play well on the road and haven't shown consistency in any facet of the game. That being said there is light at the end of the tunnel.

With 4 games left they have a must win game at San Francisco. I anticipate the Seahawks losing to Atlanta and Tampa Bay which will set up a showdown versus the St. Louis Rams in the final game of the season. Both teams will be 7-8 playing for the final playoff spot and the division title. I've said many times I was wrong about Sam Bradford. He is the truth and a future star in the NFL, but winning a game on the road (battling the 12th man) with everything on the line is more than he can handle. The magnitude of the moment will overwhelm him and the Seahawks will prevail.

In the grand scheme of things this season was a work in progress. No one expected the Pete Carroll magic to work so quickly. God knows the Seahawks sucked from a fantasy football perspective, but the team as a whole is better than the individual pieces Pete Carroll has assembled. No one player is responsible for the success or failure of the squad. If the Seahawks stay relatively healthy and get Big Mike Williams back on the field victory is theirs. The difficult thing to determine is how this success will affect the growth and progress of the team. The Seahwaks have benefited from an easy schedule this year, but when they make the playoffs they will not be so fortunate next year. First things first, make the playoffs and see what they can do. It will come down to the final game against the Rams and I predict a win. Can't wait.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Young Sam's Super Picks

Ladies and gentlemen, friends, family, fans, and followers, Young Sam Rothstein is back by popular demand. I got permission from the bosses upstairs to share my sports book knowledge on a consistent basis. This wasn't an easy task because after all, who likes giving away free money? It looks like Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays are the days set aside for the sports gambler aficionados. If there's a game that doesn't fall on one of those days that you need info on don't hesitate to contact me. Young Sam always has the time for his devoted followers. Now let's make some money and better our lives!

The NFL:

New York -5 over Miami. The Jets were embarrassed last Monday in Foxboro and even went as far as to bury the game ball. They have something to prove and if they want to keep their swagger intact they will win by at least a touchdown.

New York -3 over Minnesota. Brett Favre's shoulder is shot and I don't trust Tavaris Jackson to carry the load. The Giants need to keep pace in the NFC playoff race and this isn't a game they can afford to lose. This is the game that puts Minnesota out of their misery for this season.

Detroit +6 1/2 over Green Bay. Their record may not reflect it, but Detroit is a pretty good team. Factor in Green Bay generally doesn't cover on the road and this spread is like taking candy from a baby.

The NBA:

Utah -1 1/2 over Orlando. Orlando is in the 2nd night of a back to back and Utah is chomping at the bit to get back to their winning ways after the beat down Miami put on them Wednesday.

LA -2 over Chicago. Everyone knows Derrick Rose AKA "Mr. Funky" is the man in CHI town. Everyone also knows that Kobe always measures himself against that bronze statue that sits in front of the United Center. In a statement game the Lakers win by at least 3.

These picks are like stock tips so use them wisely.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Seminole Nation Will Rise Again

College football in the state of Florida is experiencing unprecedented turmoil and instability right now. Florida has arguably the most football talent in the country and at this moment the top 2 schools (Miami and Florida) are without a head coach. This time of the year is critical for recruiting and without some kind of direction and leadership at the top the 2011 class will suffer at both schools. Their fierce competitors can't wait to take advantage of the vulnerable position the Gators and Hurricanes are in.

In my opinion this opens the door for Florida St. to set themselves up for greatness for years to come. Recruits want to know they are entering into a stable environment and right now the Seminoles are the only in state school that can provide that. The recruits that committed to Miami and Florida are scrambling and Florida St. can help settle the process. In all the chaos Florida St. could wind up with the next Emmitt Smith, Jevon Kearse, Ray Lewis, or Andre Johnson. The opportunity is too great for the Seminoles not to seize the time.

Miami and Florida are well aware of the impact this shift in the balance of power would have, but I'm not sure there's anything they can do about it. There are no big name coaches waiting in the wings and Florida St. is in prime position to exploit the unfair advantage. If all the recruits in the state of Florida went to the same school they would never lose a game. Florida St. won't get them all, but they'll get enough to hang around the top of the the polls for the next 3 years. Tallahassee will become the epicenter of college football. Get used to it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

HTB Statements

It's time for another installment of HTB statements. For those of you not familiar with what HTB means HTB refers to statements that are hard to believe. Here's a few for your reading pleasure.

1. O.J. Simpson once rushed for 2,000 yards in 14 games.

2. Jimmy Johnson didn't make the cover of Sports Illustrated after winning an unprecedented 5 straight NASCAR championships.

3. The Miami Heat have only one win against a team with a winning record.

4. Tiger Woods lost a tournament in which he led by 4 strokes going into the final round.

5. Pat Bowlen (Denver Broncos owner) will have to pay the contracts of 3 different head coaches at the same time after his next hire. He is still on the hook for Shanahan and McDaniels.

6. Basketball is not popular in New Orleans under any circumstances.

7. Tim Tebow's back up at Florida (Cam Newton) will get drafted higher than Tim and will start in the NFL before Tim does.

8. The US complained about Qatar getting the World Cup, but couldn't sell out the MLS championship game.

9. Tony Parker has actually played better since the scandal with Brent Barry's wife.

10. Seattle, St. Louis, and Tampa Bay all have a legitimate shot to make the playoffs this year (none of these teams won more than 4 games last year).

11. On the strength of 6 Rocky movies and The Contender television show Sylvester Stallone will be inducted into the boxing hall of fame.

12. After Lebron James went to Cleveland and stole their manhood the Cavaliers have lost 6 straight games by an average margin of 12 points.

13. Steven Stamkos has more goals this season than Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin.

14. There are still some people out there that don't believe Kobe Bryant will win his 6th NBA championship this season.

To my family, friends, fans, and followers if you have any statements you find hard to believe or any topics you would like Cleavie Wonder to discuss don't be a stranger. E-mail or facebook your topics right away. Your comments are always appreciated.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Allen Iverson: The Turkish Delight

Anybody catch those Allen Iverson highlights from Istanbul last night? Me either. It's hard to believe that a basketball legend and a national icon has been reduced to peddling his services in Turkey without so much as a second thought. I blogged in April how "The Answer" is in our hearts and how the memories of his spectacular play will always remain in our minds. 8 months later it appears I was wrong.

Allen Iverson has become an afterthought, a footnote in the history of the NBA. It could be argued that this travesty is a scenario of his own creation. He refused to come off the bench in Memphis and left the Philadelphia 76ers high and dry to deal with personal issues. Some might even argue that he is the product of his environment and just another example of a spoiled multi millionaire throwing a tantrum when he doesn't get his way.

I for one believe Allen Iverson deserves a better ending than a glorified Harlem Globetrotter half way across the world. Sure he's got a bad attitude, a selfish demeanor, and a sense of entitlement, but so what? This guy is a former NBA MVP, a 10 time all star, and was once the face of the league. It is unfortunate that the urban inner city demographic that once professed their undying loyalty to him has turned their back on Allen Iverson. Money is money however (those EUROS can be exchanged for American currency) and basketball is basketball. I guess there is some consolation in the fact that if he didn't have an opportunity to go out on his own terms at least he gets to go out playing the game he loves. Can someone tell me where to get that converter box so I can watch Besiktas Cola Turka games?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Weekend Observations

The Playoff picture in all 3 of my fantasy football leagues has become much clearer. In my trash talking league I'm out of the picture. There is a consolation round for the losers, but I don't know if my conscience will allow me to participate. It's all Ryan Mathews fault. In my second league I'm on the fence, but my win this weekend keeps me in playoff contention. I'll need some luck, but if I get in I'll be a handful. Sam Bradford, Peyton Hillis, Dwayne Bowe, and Jamaal Charles are a pretty good foundation. In my newly formed trash talking league I'm down by 5 points going into tonight's game, but I'm starting Brandon Tate and the New York Jets defense. If I win tonight I will wrap up a playoff spot. When I make it I'll have Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy to thank. They both get Christmas cards and a fruit basket. Here are some observations from the weekend:

Boise St. got shafted. Even though I've been a Cowboy hater all season they deserved better than the Vegas Bowl against Utah on the 22nd of December. The 2 missed kicks cost Boise St. about $2,000,000.

Champ Bailey is no slouch. With all the talk about Revis Island, Charles Woodson, and Nnamdi Asomugha the public forgot about Champ Bailey. Even on a bad team in a loss he proved he belongs on the list of shutdown corners by holding the hottest receiver in football to no catches. Dwayne Bowe was humbled.

Cam Newton and Jake Locker both cost themselves about $40,000,000 with their college decisions. Had Cam Newton stayed at Florida he would undoubtedly be the first pick in the NFL draft this year. Had Jake Locker left for the pros after last season he too would have been the first player selected in the 2010 draft.

Tiger's roar is no longer deafening. In years past a 4 shot lead going into the final round of a tournament was a death sentence for the rest of the field. The post crash Tiger doesn't have the same intimidation factor or confidence the old Tiger had. We will never see a Tiger Woods that dominant again and the golf world will suffer.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Apple Cup

I'll admit I am a little bit bias when it comes to the subject, but the top notch education I received, the blood, sweat, and tears I left on the UW campus, and the tens of thousands of dollars I paid in parking tickets gives me the right. My grandmother, my uncles, and my godparents all graduated from the UW so the tradition runs deep. Most in state rivalries are one sided and the Apple Cup is no different. I only know the dominant side of the rivalry so I can't speak for WSU fans, but the Apple Cup is a happy time.

It's a time when friends, family, and alumni can all come together with one goal in mind and that's retaining bragging rights. Because the Huskies win this battle so often it makes the alumni appear smug, arrogant, and cocky. To the contrary, the Apple Cup keeps the alumni humble because it's a constant example of how fortunate they are. It could be them on the other side of this ledger. Of course WSU has had its moments in this rivalry game. I was reminded by a WSU alum the other day that the Cougars ended the worst season in Husky history (0-12) with a resounding victory and the infamous snow game of 92' which was a complete embarrassment. These random victories serve as a sense of pride for Cougar fans and teaches the Huskies to show restraint. Leaving the Cougars with some hope that the Apple Cup is winnable is the humane thing to do and gives the rivalry game some suspense. Otherwise the outcome would be a foregone conclusion and WSU would accuse the UW of being oppressive Fascist's.

In years past the Apple Cup has served as a scrimmage for the Huskies before heading into a major bowl game. It was the precursor to the clashes with Alabama in the Sun Bowl, wars with Texas in the Holiday Bowl, battles with Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, and showdowns with Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Most recently the Husky football program has been less than impressive (to say the least). The team hasn't been to a bowl game in almost a decade but with the win over WSU on Saturday the Huskies are once again bowl eligible. It's ironic that the little school in Pullman will be the springboard that propels the Huskies back to dominance. In other words the Cougars will do what they usually tend to do (roll over). To all my WSU fans out there I thank you in advance for the opportunity to help the Huskies return to their glorious past. No hard feelings.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lebron Comes Home

Heightened security? Secret itinerary? Does the president warrant this much attention? As Lebron James makes his much anticipated return to Cleveland I can't help but think something very weird is going to happen tonight. Will we see a fan streaking onto the court? Will Lebron's mom get into a fight? Expect long delays during this game as debris all over the the floor is a given. Something in the back of my mind tells me that the Cleveland fans may get so unruly that this game gets cancelled.

As Lebron stated earlier this game (if they get a chance to play it) will be emotional. Lebron has mixed feelings because Cleveland is where he played his first 7 years and for the most part he has fond memories. He got to stay close to his family and had a great relationship with his teammates and the community. Lebron donated millions of dollars to local charities and selflessly volunteered his time to helping others. In the end basketball is a business however and the best thing for Lebron personally, professionally, and financially was to take his talents down to South Beach. Shouldn't his contributions to the city give him a free pass?

Maybe in a regular city, but we're talking about Cleveland, the capital of gut wrenching heartache. 98 yard drives, fumbles, blown saves, Craig Ehlo, you name it Cleveland's been through it. That's why it was so hard for fans when Lebron (one of their own) stuck a knife in their backs by leaving the Cavs on national television at a local boys and girls club. That's why the city was in mourning for months after "the decision." Cleveland fans felt that because Lebron was a native he should understand better than anyone the painful impact of his departure and that he wouldn't put them through that again. They were wrong. Basketball is a business first and Cleveland fans found that out the hard way. In a perfect world Lebron James gets a standing ovation for years of service and making the Cleveland Cavaliers a relevant franchise in the NBA. In the real world Lebron probably gets spit on and hit in the head with a rock. It's must see TV either way. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sports Agents: Heroes Or Slimeballs?

The job of a sports agent is far more difficult than one might think. The job description includes salesman, negotiator, babysitter, therapist, motivational speaker, parent, big brother, and confidant. Not only do they have to be proficient with regards to laws, rule, and regulations, they are the liaison between billionaire owners and ego maniacal athletes. Inevitably there will be disagreements and differences in opinion about how an athlete should be monetarily compensated. Ownership can be stingy and athletes can be greedy. It's up to the agent to find the common ground.

The job is further complicated by dealing with athletes at different stages of their career. An all star gold glove shortstop who's a 5 time world series champion wants a 5 year deal, but he's 36 years old and by all accounts his skills are diminishing. Ownership wants a 3 year deal at $6,000,000 less than the player is requesting. How would you handle this situation? An all world cornerback in the prime of his career is arguably the best player at his position yet he earns 16 times less than the 2nd best player at his position. He is under contract, but he is also an integral part of a team that is capable of winning the Super Bowl. Both sides dig in their heels and the entire summer is a stalemate. How would you handle this situation? A young man's stock falls in the NBA draft amid speculation he is a malcontent with a bad attitude. Someone finally takes a chance on him and less than a quarter of the way into the season he gets kicked out of practice for arguing with the coach. How do you handle this situation?

It's important to remember sports agents are the key to an athlete's dreams and aspirations. They negotiate contracts that give players financial freedom they never imagined. In the process they may have to lie, cheat, and steal to get the job done, but that's the nature of the business. When dealing with such volatile personalities on both ends there is no linear path to success. Hero or slimeball? A good sports agent has to be a little of both.