Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Suggestions

As we close out the year I just wanted to thank all my family, friends, and followers for supporting the Cleavie Wonder blog. A lot of strange things happened over the course of 2011 and I'm glad I was able to share my thoughts and opinions with you guys. I look forward to more provocative and thought provoking conversations in 2012. Here are some suggestions for the new year 206 style.

Homer Edition:

Nick Holt should do the honorable thing and resign. The Huskies have an unstoppable offense, but the program can't progress with that swiss cheese defense. I think the alumni is starting to circulate a petition for his firing as we speak.

The Seahawks still need a quarterback, but not as desperately as I originally thought. If RGIII isn't available we should definitely look to free agency (remember my Drew Brees theory) or develop Josh Portis. Tavaris Jackson can hold it down for half a season, but not much more.

The Seattle Mariners need to quit playing around and sign Prince Fielder. Power hitters are hard to come by and from the looks of him we won't have to worry about any suspensions for using performance enhancing drugs.

The UW basketball team is at a crossroads. The most talented player on the team has difficulty getting his teammates involved and without Tony Wroten Jr. the Huskies won't make the post season. I hope coach Romar can resolve this before the Pac 12 tournament starts.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Timing Of Braylon Edwards

Earlier this week the San Francisco 49ers cut wide receiver Braylon Edwards. Edwards has been slow to recover from a knee injury earlier this year and there were questions as to how much he would be able to contribute on the field. It's unfortunate Edwards will not get to be a part of a team that legitimately has Super Bowl aspirations. The 49ers parting ways with the wideout before the playoffs and during the holiday season is a reminder the NFL is a business first.

From a financial standpoint the release couldn't have come at a worse time. Edwards is making good on a promise to help young minority kids in Cleveland go to college. As a rookie for the Browns in 2005 he vowed to donate $10,000 to any student that qualified for his scholarship program. Because of his generosity and commitment to helping those less fortunate 79 young men and women have the chance to get a college education. For Edwards it is a personal expense of $790,000.

It would be a shame if his philanthropic endeavors led to personal financial hardship. His release is a definite sign his NFL career is at a crossroads and I'm not sure how lucrative the market will be for his services next year. Braylon has had a history of dropping passes and his stints in New York and San Francisco were less than impressive.

Regardless of his NFL future Braylon Edwards contributions off the field will have a significant impact on the lives of many. He has given opportunity and inspiration to those that desperately deserved it and hopefully has set an example that others will follow. No matter what happens I'm sure Braylon doesn't regret his decision.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How Drew Brees Becomes A Seattle Seahawk

The theory is a little far fetched, but bare with me. Drew Brees by any ones standards is a top 5 quarterback in the NFL. A few nights ago he set the single season record for passing yards with one game left to play. He's won Super bowls, been to several pro bowls, and is the undisputed leader of the New Orleans Saints. Despite all his major accomplishments he is mired in a bitter contract dispute.

Drew Brees wants Manning/Brady type money and the Saints have been reluctant to give it to him thus far. Perhaps it's his size or his age, but the lack of respect for his contributions on and off the field is starting to rub him the wrong way.

There have been rumors that the Indianapolis Colts will pick Andrew Luck with the first pick in the draft and trade Peyton Manning. If that scenario plays itself out what better destination than New Orleans for Peyton where his father played quarterback? The Manning name in that city is equivalent to the Kennedy name in politics. The prodigal son returning home is a feel good story the whole world would embrace. The possibility of signing the 4 time MVP might leave Drew Brees as the odd man out.

If Drew Brees doesn't return to the Saints where would he go? His preference would be a team that would pay him what he thinks he's worth with a solid coach on the verge of greatness. Enter the Seattle Seahawks. Last I checked Paul Allen had billions of dollars and isn't afraid to spend them. Uncle Paulie would take care of him.

The Seahawks also have Pete Carroll, an offensive minded coach with a passion for the game that's creating a winning atmosphere. The offensive line is young and built to dominate for several years. All that's missing is a marquee quarterback under center.

If Drew Brees isn't wanted in New Orleans the Seahawks would gladly take him off their hands. The guy turned Marques Colston and Devrey Henderson into stars so imagine what he could do in Seattle with a better supporting cast? The Seahawks would go from a borderline playoff team to Super bowl contenders with one signing. Drew Brees a Seahawk? Stranger things have happened. One can always dream right?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday Weekend Observations

I hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend. I have to admit even I was overwhelmed by all the games on television. With bowl games, college basketball, the NBA, and the NFL all on at the same time I was suffering from sensory overload. Fortunately for me there's DVR and my family is made up of sports fans. Here are some observations over the weekend.

The Mark Sanchez era may be coming to an end. The Jets got pummeled by the in city rival Giants and head coach Rex Ryan doesn't like to get embarrassed. If the Jets miss the playoffs look for a change at QB.

Although Drew Brees broke Dan Marino's 27 record for yards in a season I tried not to be bitter about it. It didn't work. The Breesy is a good quarterback, but I'm not sure he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Golden Arms. More on Brees tomorrow.

The changing of the guard is taking place in LA. The Lakers look slow and old while the Clippers look young and fresh. I don't think we'll see Jack Nicholson or Denzel Washington at the Clippers game anytime soon, but the Clippers are going to be a force to be reckoned with. They are a SportsCenter highlight waiting to happen on every play. The Lakers have played for the championship 16 times since 1980 so they have their work cut out for them.

Tim Tebow got his ringing endorsement from John Elway two weeks too early. With beatdowns from New England and Buffalo the Broncos are on life support going into their game against Kansas City. I think the Chiefs are going to pull the plug.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Is Floyd Mayweather Jr. Finished?

For the first time I can truly say I'm concerned Floyd Mayweather Jr. may not be able to beat Manny Pacquiao. Earlier this week Mayweather was sentenced to 90 days in jail putting the champ behind bars until early April. Is this the end of an era?

I honestly can't say. There's no way to tell how the experience will affect him mentally. Physically he'll be fine and I'm sure he'll receive "special" privileges while incarcerated. He's more likely to do his time like Henry Hill in Goodfellas as opposed to being locked up in Oz if you know what I'm saying. Still his ego is fragile (the guy eats with his own set of gold utensils) and those 90 days may change him forever.

The last thing we need is a more humble, grounded, appreciative Floyd Mayweather Jr. We need the villain, the arrogant narcissist who speaks about himself in the 3rd person. The guy that talks about people's families and punches out security guards just for living. The Annikan Skywalker of the crew.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has all the time in the world to become a good person after his boxing career is over. A change in his personality, routine, and lifestyle would jeopardize his boxing legacy. You get the best fighter out of Floyd Mayweather when he's at his worst. Just 2 more fights and then we can turn him into Bill Cosby. For now let him continue to be a pompous ass. A lot can happen in 90 days. Let's hope nothing happens to Floyd's psyche.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2012 NBA Preview: Eastern Conference

After decades of having the NBA's best players playing in the Western conference the balance of power has shifted. The Eastern conference is the one with all the marquee names drawing all the attention. Lebron James, D-Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, and Derrick Rose almost sounds like the all NBA 1st team. The conference is top heavy though and after the first four teams the fall off in talent is pretty dramatic. Nonetheless the battle for the championship will be hard fought. Here is how the Eastern conference will shake out.

8. Philadelphia 76ers. Evan Turner has improved his shooting touch and Jrue Holiday is expected to make a greater contribution in points and assists, but the Sixers lack an impact player. Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala are both good complimentary players that need someone else to do the heavy lifting.

7. Indiana Pacers. Danny Granger is on the verge of becoming a perennial all star and Roy Hibbert gives them a solid presence in the middle. the free agency acquisition of David West should also pay dividends. If someone slips up this year the Pacers will be the team to take advantage.

6. Orlando Magic. The Dwight Howard saga has drained the franchise of all its energy, but their roster (for the time being) still includes him. For that reason the Magic will feast on weaker opponents and struggle against .500 teams or better.

5. Boston Celtics. The old legs are going to take a while to get in motion so they will struggle to start the season. The nucleus of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo have played together long enough to flip the switch when the time is right though. The Celtic are still a dangerous team.

4. Atlanta Hawks. Joe Johnson is a bonafide scorer, but he has never fully embraced the role of superstar. Fortunately Josh Smith and Al Horford are there to pick up the slack. The young legs should help them get out of the gate strong and hold on to a high seed.

3. Chicago Bulls. The acquisition of Rip Hamilton provides leadership and a championship attitude for a team desperately seeking an identity. It doesn't hurt that the have the league's youngest MVP on their squad as well. I like the direction they're going in, but they need one more scorer to get over the hump.

2. New York Knicks. Carmelo got his wish last season and now he has a few more weapons in his arsenal to accomplish his objective. Tyson Chandler is a nice pick up, but I really think Baron Davis will get in shape and stay motivated under the bright lights. Their defense got a little better and their offense should be much improved over last year.

1. Miami Heat. D-Wade, Lebron, and Chris Bosh are too much to handle over a 7 game series. The addition of Shane Battier was huge and the dormant Eddie Curry may even be ready to throw his body around for a few minutes per game. Too talented, too young, and too much to prove. The Heat cruise to the finals.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2012 NBA Preview: Western Conference

The NBA season is set to start in 4 days and with the exception of Dwight Howard all the big name potential free agents have found a home. The Western conference has been dominated by the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs for the last decade, but that's about to change. Player movement and old age are factors that have the west looking quite different than in years past. Here is how the west will shake out.

8. San Antonio Spurs. Tim Duncan has had an illustrious career, but the sun is about to set. The Spurs didn't get any younger and the compressed season will take its toll on them physically. They will not be a factor come playoff time.

7. Portland Trailblazers. Even with the sudden departure of Brandon Roy and another season without Greg Oden the Trailblazers have one of the best front courts in basketball in Gerald Wallace, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Marcus Camby. Look for Nate McMillan to to do another masterful coaching job and Jamal Crawford to provide veteran leadership.

6. Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets have a lot of great pieces, but the sum of their parts still lacks that killer instinct. George Karl will have fun tinkering with his new toy, but in typical George Karl fashion he'll find a way to put the square peg in the round hole.

5. Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe is starting to show his age (16 years in the league) and the Lakers didn't get him any help this season. The loss of Lamar Odom is significant because Andrew Bynum is incapable of playing an entire season. Right now the Lakers are a sinking ship.

4. Memphis Grizzlies. The return of Rudy Gay and the maturation process of Zach Randolph has the Grizzlies looking good on paper. Lets see if they can follow up the success of last year's playoff run.

3. Los Angeles Clippers. The addition of Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups makes the Clippers a dangerous team. With DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler, and Blake "The Barbarian" Griffin on the front line the Clippers will cause match up problems for most teams. Living up to the new found expectations is easier said than done though.

2. Dallas Mavericks. The defending champs picked up Lamar Odom, but they lost Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, and Caron Butler. The season is too short for them to develop good chemistry, but Dirk Nowitzki is Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavericks will be in the conference finals once the dust settles.

1. Oklahoma City Thunder. As much as it pains me to say it the Oklahoma City Thunder are ready to take the next step. With no elite teams out west and a young team that can get through the lockout shortened season it's their time to put up or shut up. The unguardable Kevin Durant is the key.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Corruption In Football

Last night's game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers exposed the corruption that goes on in football games. It is clear that the referees have a vested interest in the outcome and will do everything in their power to protect their interest. There were two calls last night that changed the course of history and how millions of dollars are going to be dispersed.

To refresh your memory, I trailed my opponent in my hurt your feelings league by one point going into the game yesterday. He had Frank Gore and I had David Akers, but after 3 quarters I was winning by one point. Frank Gore hadn't done squat and David Akers as a perfect 2/2 in field goal attempts. Just after he made his 3rd field goal (which put me in the lead by 4 points) the refs began to show their true colors.

They called a Pittsburgh Steeler lineman for unsportsmanlike conduct for jumping up in the air and landing on a players back. The instant replay showed no such infraction. With an automatic first down my 3 points were taken off the board.

On the ensuing play tight end Vernon Davis caught a pass that appeared to be a touchdown, but once again the crooked ass refs said he stepped out on the one yard line. Again instant replay showed he was able to stay in bounds. The very next play Frank Gore scores from the one yard line and my fantasy football season came to an abrupt ending. Those two bad calls led to a 9 point swing in the opposite direction.

I don't take too kindly to being cheated. I don't mind losing fair and square, but when someone bends the rules for their own benefit I have to fight back. I've already contacted the head of ESPN fantasy football to file a formal protest as well as the head of NAFFO (National association of fantasy football owners) to get their take on the situation. The FBI is following up with forensic accountants to see if there were any peculiar deposits, with drawls, phone calls, or text messages from these unscrupulous referees. Someone has to get to the bottom of this. If anyone knows of a lawyer that specializes in fantasy football infractions please don't hesitate to contact me.

If you think I'm the only one affected by this gross misuse of power think again. I've heard from thousands of fantasy owners that had their quest for the championship derailed by these bogus calls. Giving Frank Gore 6 points he didn't deserve is a travesty. Until this matter gets resolved the right way my fantasy football days are over. Zebras suck!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekend Observations

What an ending to my fantasy football seasons. In my trash talking league I was finally put out of my misery with a lopsided defeat. If Reggie Bush and CJ Spiller would have started the season the way they are ending it the results would have been different. In my JV league I reached the consolation finals thanks to Megatron and a ridiculous Oakland defense. In my hurt your feelings league I'm trailing my playoff opponent by one point. He's starting Frank Gore tonight while I start David Akers. You guys remember how much I like kickers right? Now I have to pray for 50 yard field goals all over the place! Stranger things have happened, but I'm mot sure I have the stomach to watch the game. I'll probably wait to hear the outcome on SportsCenter. Here are some observations over the weekend.

Romeo Crennel reads my blog. Just days after I ridiculed him and the Belichick coaching tree Romeo dials up a game plan to beat the undefeated reigning Super Bowl champs. Glad I could be of assistance.

Just as I predicted two weeks ago the Indianapolis Colts had enough heart to win a game this season. Let's see if they have enough brains not to win anymore. The Luck sweepstakes is no joke.

Baron Davis signing with the New York Knicks makes them the 2nd best team in the Eastern conference. A healthy, motivated Davis is one of the top 5 point guards in the league.

Tony Wroten Jr. is an exciting player and a future 1st round NBA pick, but he dominates the ball too much. If he doesn't get his teammates involved the Huskies won't make the tournament and the alumni will be furious (starting with yours truly).

The Seattle Seahawks are much improved, but not a playoff team. Nice wins against a 2-12 St Louis team and a decimated and confused Chicago Bears team are not overly impressive. If they finish 9-7 we'll talk again.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Is Tony Montana Ruining Sports?

Sometimes behavior just can't be explained. Chicago Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd was arrested earlier this week for his role in an elaborate drug ring. Police confiscated kilos of cocaine and hundreds of pounds of marijuana. We're not talking about a little powder to get the party started or a couple of blunts to calm the nerves. We're talking about Avon Barksdale size quantities. Where did it all go wrong?

It's hard to imagine the NFL life not being glamorous enough for Sam Hurd. Very few people get the privilege of playing in the NFL much less for the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears. NFL players are treated like royalty and make large sums of money. In addition, they get to rub elbows with some of the most influential people in America. It's inexcusable to turn to a life of crime with that kind of access and opportunity.

Personally, I blame television. The infatuation our society has with gangsters and drug dealers is alarming. The fictitious and flashy lifestyle portrayed in movies and music videos has people aspiring to become some notorious kingpin. A news flash for Sam Hurd: Tony Montana is not real. Nino Carter never ran the Carter. Rick Ross borrows the cars, the jewels, and the boats for visual effect. What a shame you were so easily deceived.

The real victims in this ridiculous sequence of events are the Chicago Bears. They've lost their starting quarterback, starting running back, a gut wrenching game to Tim Tebow, and now one of their receivers. The negative publicity surrounding this case is a distraction when the Bears could least afford it. The Sam Hurd stunt may very well cost them the playoffs and it had nothing to do with their execution on the field. I sure hope coach Lovie Smith doesn't lose his job over this. That would be a travesty.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Los Angeles Angels

The Los Angeles Dodgers have suffered another significant setback. While the McCourts were squabbling over a bitter divorce settlement and MLB disallowed a lucrative TV contract the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim quickly (and shrewdly) took advantage of the situation. In less than a week the Angels have taken over as the dominant team in America's 2nd largest market.

It all started with the signing of Albert Pujols. After wrapping up the best player in baseball for the next 10 years season ticket sales skyrocketed. Coupled with the signing of free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson from the Rangers the Angels proved they are committed to winning at a high level. In addition, the Angels landed the lucrative TV deal the Dodgers were so desperately seeking. Anchored with a 3 billion dollar TV contract the Angels can go after big name free agents with the same aggressiveness as the Yankees, Red Sox, or Cubs.

Even though the Dodgers have a long standing tradition and loyal fans these dramatic moves will greatly impact the baseball landscape in Los Angeles. MVP runner up Matt Kemp and Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw make up a strong nucleus for the future, but the Angels have stolen their thunder. All the uncertainty about the ownership left the Dodgers in a vulnerable position and now they have to play second fiddle in their own town.

I always thought the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim sounded kind of corny and now we can officially drop the Anaheim part. Armed with the best player in baseball the Angels are on their way to becoming the New York Yankees of the west coast. They have a passion for winning, a willingness to spend, and a big market that will embrace them. Can anyone stop them?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Bill Belichick Coaching Tree

The coaching carousel has gotten is off to an early start this NFL season. Already Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville, Tony Sparano in Miami, and Todd Haley in Kansas City have lost their jobs and it is unlikely Leslie Frazier in Minnesota or Jeff Spagnuolo in St. Louis will keep theirs. It is not unusual for underachieving coaches to be dismissed, but there is an alarming trend taking place with regards to New England assistants.

The Bill Belichick coaching tree has some weak branches. Over the last 5 years Charlie Weiss, Romeo Crennel, Josh McDaniels, Eric Mangini, and now Todd Haley have all been fired from head coaching positions. Belichick is considered to be the greatest coach of his era and the architect of the New England Patriot dynasty. Much like Bill Walsh and Mike Holmgren (A Walsh protege) it was assumed the Belichick assistants could run a football franchise with the same mindset and results of their mentor. Clearly it has not worked out that way.

Perhaps these disciples of Belichick were thrown into the fire before they were ready. Although they all had impressive resumes and success as either offensive or defensive coordinators implementing the Belichick philosophy has been a struggle. Success as an understudy doesn't always mean you'll have success as the head guy. Sometimes the person delivering the message is more important than the message itself.

In the end what we realize is Bill Belichick has certain intangibles as a coach that are not easily duplicated. It almost gives his coaching legacy more credibility because none of his top assistants have been able to replicate the blueprint for success. Just because you train under a master doesn't make you a master. It has become painfully obvious that Bill Belichick's coaching style is unique and only works for him. No more Belichick assistants please.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weekend Observations

The fantasy football gods have a cruel and perverse sense of humor. After struggling for credibility for 14 weeks I finally swept all 3 leagues (so long as Brandon Lloyd doesn't score 21 points tonight). Now it looks like I know what the hell I'm doing. In my JV league I won my consolation playoff game thanks to Ahmad Bradshaw breaking curfew to kick it with the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. In my trash talking league I beat up some bum by 50 points after being heckled by one of my league mates on Friday night. Too little too late. In my hurt your feelings league I may miss the playoffs because the Packers benched A-Rod midway through the 3rd quarter against the Raiders. Way to go Carson Palmer. Maybe you should have stayed in retirement. Here are some observations from the weekend.

It looks like Jon Jones doesn't have any equals in the UFC. After pummeling Lyoto Machida on Saturday I don't see anyone that's on his level.

Ryan Braun has proven once again that putting up video game like numbers in baseball usually means you're on drugs.

Lamar Odom is 90% crybaby and 10% professional. After being packaged in a deal that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers (the deal was nixed) Odom demanded a trade to Dallas because his feelings were hurt. He'll regret it.

Tim Tebow must sprinkle pixy dust on his opponents. In the last minutes of the Chicago contest I couldn't tell if I was watching a football game or a Buffalo Wings commercial. Some things are beyond explanation.

The Rivers/Curry back court at Duke has a good pedigree, but they look a little soft to me. Conversely, those guys at Xavier look like they might steal your lunch money and spit in your face. Toughen up Blue Devils!

Kudos to Matt Prater. You know I don't like kickers, but hitting a 59 yard field goal to send the game into overtime followed by a 51 yarder to win it is no joke. Go ahead and bring out the Elway girls for him. Free drinks all around.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Chris Paul Saga (David Stern Needs To Go)

I thought the melodrama surrounding the NBA was over when the collective bargaining agreement was signed. Just when I thought I was out they pull me right back in. The NBA has nixed a trade that would have sent New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers. The rationale behind the veto was the Hornets are "more valuable" with Chris Paul on the roster. This is not the NBA's finest hour.

Lord David Stern has always been heavy handed with his complete autonomy of power. Whether it was implementing a dress code, suspensions, or team relocation (yes I'm still bitter he let Oklahoma slime bucket Clay Bennett steal the Seattle Supersonics) Stern has always established his presence of authority. This time he's gone too far.

I'm not sure it's even legal what he's doing. How can someone arbitrarily veto a trade 3 other teams agreed to? Why is his opinion so much more valid than everyone else? He's acting as if there's a buyer in place for the New Orleans Hornets (which is currently owned by the league) that will only purchase the franchise if Chris Paul is still in uniform. Everyone knows Chris Paul is leaving at the end of the season so why not let the Hornets get as much as they can in return before they lose him for nothing?

Maybe Lamar Odom's wife Khloe Kardashian couldn't bear the thought of losing market share on their reality show with a move to New Orleans and promised Stern a date with her newly single sister Kim. Maybe Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert called him in the middle of the night crying like a little girl because small market teams just aren't that glamorous. Maybe the thought of another NBA superstar talent deciding where he will or won't play was just too much for the commissioner to bear. Whatever the case is the decision was legally and morally wrong. David Stern has outlived his usefulness to the NBA. It's time for new leadership.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sports in 2012

In response to my blog yesterday about the NBA one of my friends brought up a very interesting point. He said his disinterest in the NBA wasn't so much about talent as it was about the inability of teams to stay together. Teams are built to win today, not tomorrow or the next day. Free agency and blockbuster trades make it difficult for fans to connect with a franchise when they know it won't look the same in 2 or 3 years. I would have to agree.

Gone are the days of the great rivalries and dynasties. Teams don't stay intact long enough to develop bad blood and player movement makes it impossible to sustain greatness. Rivalries and dynasties are what makes sports so compelling. Without that element the fans aren't emotionally invested and the game takes a different meaning. It becomes trendy as opposed to passionate.

The business aspect of sports has made sports more entertaining, but less intense. There is no loyalty from the players or the owners. They are opportunists looking to cash in on their success as quickly as possible. It's a selfish approach, but very lucrative.

This is why players of today are not as beloved as players of the past. Larry Bird was a great Boston Celtic. Isaiah Thomas was a great Detroit Piston. Michael Jordan was a great Chicago Bull. Lebron James is a great player. Chris Paul is a great point guard. Carmelo Anthony is a great scorer. Dwight Howard is a great shot blocker. There's no association with any one particular franchise, only basketball ability.

I understand my friend's point but it's a new day. The alpha dogs and franchise players have been replaced with hired guns and PR campaigns. It's hard to embrace the product on the floor when you're used to something much better, but just like hip-hop you have to work with what you have. This is what sports in 2012 looks like.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

You Still Love The NBA

Just a few weeks back it was a foregone conclusion there would be no NBA basketball for the 2011-2012 season. Friends and fans chimed in to tell me how much they hated the NBA and how greedy they thought the players were. Some of them even vowed to never watch the NBA again. Then a miracle happened. The owners and players came to an agreement and the season will start on Christmas day. Is it too late to win back the legion of fans that have been turned off by this bitter labor dispute?

Of course not, but first let's get the frustrating parts out of the way. The negotiating tactics of Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher were suspect. They implemented their strategies at the wrong time. David Stern completely underestimated the mindset of the NBA players. It's a weird mix of slightly oversensitive and slightly overconfident that lends itself to conflict. In the end his inability to effectively communicate with a younger generation was is undoing. The past is the past though so let's get back to basketball!

Some of you are stubborn with long memories (Scorpios probably) and think you're done with NBA basketball. You're not. As soon as you see an alley oop dunk from Blake "The Barbarian" Griffin on SportsCenter or catch a glimpse of Carmelo in the garden while channel surfing you'll be hooked again. The bitterness will subside and you'll get back to the way things were before the lockout.

The lockout was bad for the fans and negatively impacted the economy, but it's over now. The NBA is here. It's like having a date with Halle Berry and she shows up 2 months late. Sure she's a little tardy, but she still showed up in her favorite Victoria's Secret ensemble ready to hang out. What are you going to do? Say no, it's loo late? Let your bitterness get in the way of the greater good?

The NBA is still fantastic. Kobe Bryant vs. The MoHeatos is still must see TV. Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant are still filthy and Dirk Nowitzki still has a title to defend. The bad feelings don't go away overnight, but they go away. These are still the greatest athletes on the planet and people still want to be entertained. At least that's what the owners and players are betting on.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pac 12 Football Is Back

In the past few weeks Pac 12 football has added some high profile coaches to the conference. Mike leach takes over at Washington St., Rich Rodriguez is at the helm at Arizona, and Jim Mora Jr. has been speculated to take the job at UCLA or Arizona St. All three new coaches were unceremoniously fired from their previous job and they all have Stonehenge size chips on their shoulders. Pac 12 football is about to get real interesting.

Oregon and USC have already established themselves as perennial top 10 teams and Stanford has only lost 2 games in the last 2 seasons. Washington is on the rise and California is just a few pieces away from becoming a factor week in and week out. With Leach, Rodriguez, and a possible Mora Jr. on the recruiting trail the competition for top flight players will become more intense.

In the next 5 years two things are certain. The Pac 12 will establish itself as the 2nd best football conference behind the SEC and several of the Pac 12 schools will spend some time on probation. There is no way to avoid sanctions in a conference with 6 potential top 25 teams. Leach and Rodriguez will do everything in their power to turn their programs around quickly putting added pressure on the other schools to keep pace. College football is already a dirty game, but it's about to get real grimy on the west coast.

Even with all the conferences realigning themselves like a big game of musical chairs the Pac 12 will rise to national prominence. Success does come with a price however so all the publicity won't be positive. There will be more stories about fights, DUI's, drugs, and improper benefits, but there will also be more BCS games in the future as well. At any rate the Pac 12 has added excitement and enthusiasm with the new hires. Can't wait to see it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cleavie In Cancun

Cleavie Wonder has been on hiatus for the last week in Cancun, but now I'm back. I promised the family I wouldn't blog while on vacation and I thought it would be an easy proposition. To my surprise I found it extremely difficult. I don't think I'll be taking 7 days off ever again. The blog is too therapeutic for me and I miss the interaction with my family, friends, and followers. That being said it was cool to hang out in 90 degree weather sipping Pina Coladas by the pool. My contact with the sports world over the last week has been spotty at best, but I still managed to come up with a few weekend observations.

Mexican Style:

Antonio Margarito is still relevant in his home country. Although Miguel Cotto put a beating on him there were legions of fans in Mexico that gathered to watch the outcome.

The NBA is definitely has a worldwide influence. I got more compliments wearing my Tim Hardaway jersey than I ever thought possible. I even had some people coming up to me doing their killer crossover impersonation. And no, they didn't think I was Tim.

ESPN Deportes is a pretty cool channel. It has all the same shows (Pardon the Interruption, Sportscenter, Around The Horn) as ESPN, just in Spanish. The only problem is all they really talk about is soccer.

US style:

The coaching changes in the Pac 12 will change the power structure in college football over the next 5 years. More on that tomorrow.

It took four games, a lot of luck, extreme circumstances, and some clutch performances, but he finally beat it out of me. I have to relent. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow.

The Seattle Seahawks have played themselves out of a top 10 pick. Although I'm happy to see them competing at a high level and improving with every game their new found success will do more damage than good in the long run.

The Indianaoplis Colts have enough scrap to win a game this year. I thought they were going to mail in the rest of the season, but the way they fought back against New England was encouraging. They can get one.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Apple Cup Madness

Rivalry weekend brings out the best (and worst) in people. Some parts of the country have their Ohio St. vs Michigan, Alabama vs. Auburn, or USC vs. UCLA, but where I'm from it's all about the Apple Cup.

It's the grudge match that takes place between the omnipotent Washington Huskies and the lowly Washington St. Cougars. The history of dominance goes back for decades and it looks like there's no end in sight. Washington is the glamour school synonymous with honor, prestige, and excellence while Washington St. is considered a nice alternative for those who don't get consideration to be a Husky.

It's not easy trying to coexist in the shadow of greatness so I can sympathize with the Washington St. frustration. All the big pretty buildings, the football stadium by the lake, the national recognition, and superior athletes the University of Washington possesses must take its toll on the psyche of the Cougars after a while. As hard as they try the reality is that they typically come up miserably short. There are miracle plays here and there or unexpected snow storms that alter the outcome once in a while, but those moments are few and far between. The Apple Cup is usually a slaughter on the Husky side of the ledger.

Don't get me wrong, I associate with Cougars. Some of my best friends are Cougars. I've even had some Cougars in my house before. They're hard working proud people. It's not their fault they don't have access to a billionaire alumni association and top caliber recruits. The Cougars do the best they can with what they have.

The bottom line is someone has to be the big school and someone has to be the little school. WSU is the little school. There's a reason Chris Polk, Kasen Williams, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, and Keith Price wear purple and gold instead of crimson and grey. It's because they had a choice. Maybe after another beating WSU will get the point and succumb to the inevitable truth. The UW is superior school and that's all there is. No hard feelings Cougs. After this weekend we can go back to being friends.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dr. J

Julius Irving became a legend on the playgrounds of New York at Rucker Park. Fans gave him the nickname Dr. J because he operated so well on the court. Dr. J would go on to win ABA championships, NBA championships, and revolutionize the way basketball is played. His aerial assaults on the rim influenced such players as Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Michael Jordan. Recently Dr. J memorabilia fetched a whopping $3,500,000 in the biggest online sports auction ever. For true Doc fans this is hardly a surprise.

I remember growing up as a kid everybody tried to emulate the Dr. J underhand scoop shot. It was the move that gave you credibility if you could pull it off. I remember Dr. J barreling down the sidelines unleashing a thunderous jam all over Michael Cooper's forehead. I remember the Doc taking off from the free throw line in two separate dunk contests. I remember watching The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh for no good reason other than Dr. J was in it.

Dr. J was the idol of a generation. His poetic, graceful moves resonated through the television and into pop culture. Grover Washington Jr. wrote a song for him, Run DMC paid tribute to him in their lyrics, and Converse still runs commercials with him depicted as some mythical god like figure. The DR. J persona has withstood the test of time like classic Mowtown hits, muscle cars, and Rolex watches.

It's unfortunate Julius Irving had to part with some of his most prized possessions. His career ended just before NBA salaries started to skyrocket. His popularity carried the NBA for decades yet his financial situation is nothing like the stars of today. I can't see Lebron, Kobe, or his airness selling their championship rings or MVP trophies. I wonder if the players of today realize how different things would be if it weren't for the Doc.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Is A Football Game Really That Important?

Yale University senior quarterback Patrick Witt had a tough decision to make last Saturday. His choices were interview for the prestigious Rhodes scholarship or play in "the game" between Yale and hated rival Harvard. After much deliberation Witt decided to suit up and help his team to victory. Although Yale lost Witt said he has no regrets. Did he make the right decision?

Absolutely not. The chances of Patrick Witt playing NFL football are slim and even if he was a top prospect missing one game wouldn't have affected his overall assessment that dramatically. The Rhodes scholarship is the ultimate insurance policy synonymous with excellence and the key to unlocking just about any corporate door. As if being a Yale graduate wasn't prestigious enough adding Rhodes scholar to your resume guarantees a huge amount of interest from fortune 500 companies. There are no guarantees in the NFL.

Football purists will argue he made the right decision. You don't abandon your team for selfish reasons and no one person is bigger than the program. He's the leader of the team and their most important player. To run out on them to fulfill a personal commitment would be considered betrayal.

Personally I think it's important to look at the big picture. The Rhodes scholarship is an opportunity that will continue to pay dividends for a lifetime. The average career of an NFL player is less than 5 years. If you look at it that way it's a no brainer. Missing "the game" wouldn't jeopardize his chances of getting to the NFL, but missing the Rhodes scholarship interview ruined his chances of obtaining the scholarship. Team unity and comradery are important, but I don't think it's as important as securing your future. Your thoughts?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekend Observations

In fantasy football a lot of guys find it hard to function without the Breesy by their side. I was fortunate enough to play 2 teams this week while Drew Brees was on a bye week, but unfortunately I could only take advantage of one of the match ups. In my JV league I managed to out think myself by starting Denarius Moore instead of Torrey Smith and that decision cost me 30 points. My opponent has Welker, Gronkowski, and Branch going tonight and I'm only up by 40 points. I'm not overly optimistic. In my hurt your feelings league I'm trailing by 4 points, but I have Welker going so I'm not sweating it. As Van Wilder would say go ahead and write that one down. In my smack talking league I finally posted a win thanks to Matt Stafford and Vincent Jackson. No bagel for me this year. Here are some weekend observations.

The Seattle Seahawks are getting too good. After pummeling the lowly St. Louis Rams the chances of drafting a top flight quarterback are diminishing. I hope Pete Carroll has a trick up his sleeve.

Justin Verlander followed up his Cy Young award with an AL MVP trophy. Is this a testament to his greatness or an indication no one else had a particularly good season?

The Buffalo Bills are starting to look like Usain Bolt running a marathon. After their surprise start the league has started to make adjustments and I doubt this team will make the playoffs.

The shankapotimus award is starting to take on a life of its own. This weekend we had 3 kickers cut the hearts out of fans and teammates. Oregon, Oklahoma St., and the Washington Redskins all fell victim to the wide right syndrome. Kickers will ruin your life.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Return Of Young Sam Rothstein

Ladies and gentlemen, family, friends, and followers your boy Young Sam Rothstein is back. I had to take a brief hiatus while I handled some business with the feds. Apparently someone tipped them off to some undeclared winnings I had from 2004. A local bookie got pinched and rumor has it his wife found his accounting ledger and turned it over to keep him out of jail. I got good lawyers and the evidence is circumstantial so I won't worry about it too much. It's the holiday season and I need to earn. I'm sure you guys could use some extra mattress money as well. Here are my locks for the weekend. Don't spend your winnings all in one place.

Green Bay -14 over Tampa Bay. I'll keep this brief. A-Rod is in a zone on his way to league MVP honors and Tampa Bay has no chance of stopping him. End of story.

New England -15 over Kansas City. The Kansas City Chiefs without Matt Cassel is like Harold Melvin without the Blue Notes. There's simply no way to keep pace with Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and the two headed monster at tight end. The Patriots will seize the opportunity to pull away from the Jets and Bills permanently.

Washington +7 1/2 over Dallas. DeMarco Murray has helped Dallas find their mojo, but this is a divisional game. No matter how bad the Redskins have played they won't let this game get too far out of hand. These are the kind of games Tony Romo typically loses by trying to do too much.

Arizona +9 1/2 over San Francisco. The 49ers are looking good and every body's jumping on their bandwagon (I'm not a believer just yet), but they by no means have blowout capability. Point spreads this high should be for teams that can score at least 25 points on a consistent basis. Frisco doesn't have that kind of fire power. Go the other way and take the Cards.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Was David Beckham Worth The Dough?

In the last year of his whopping 5 year $250,000,000 contract David Beckham will get a chance to play in the MLS Cup final for the 2nd time in 3 years. In the clash between the LA Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo Beckham is the sentimental favorite to win his first championship in the United States. After 5 years the question still remains was the David Beckham experiment a success?

In 2007 the goal for the MLS was to sign soccer's most popular player and market the hell out of him. They wanted to increase the games popularity in the United States and give the league credibility across the world.

To be fair the play of David Beckham has been mediocre at best. He's had several injuries (most notably a torn Achilles tendon) that slowed down his production and at times has seemed indifferent about the Galaxy's performance on the field. In short David Beckham has been more persona than substance.

That's not to say the experiment hasn't paid dividends. Name recognition alone has increased the interest in the MLS and casual fans who never watched a soccer game in their life tuned in to see the superstar they had heard so much about. In addition, the MLS persuaded World Cup star Thierry Henry to come over and display his skills in the big apple. Without Beckham's presence that probably would never have happened.

In the end the league got what it wanted. More people watch soccer (if only to watch Beckham) and more international stars will entertain the idea of playing in the MLS. The irony is David Beckham's arrival hasn't increased the quality of play, but US soccer fans can't really tell the difference. So long as more people tune in and think they're watching high quality soccer the mission has been accomplished. Is it worth a quarter billion dollars to grow your sport and strengthen your league? Who am I to say it's not.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

David Stern Doesn't Understand Diplomacy

If David Stern would take some time out to watch the movie A Few Good Men the NBA lockout would be over. There's a scene where Daniel Kaffee (played by Tom Cruise) goes to Cuba to get some information from Colonel Jessup (played by Jack Nicholson) about a code red. After some bantering back and forth Kaffee asks Jessup for the information and Jessup responds firmly, "I'll help you anyway I can, but you have to ask me nicely." In other words show me some respect.

The fundamental flaw in David Stern's negotiating tactics is that he doesn't understand how his condescending tone and Napoleonic complex is rubbing players the wrong way. Ultimatums, deadlines, and threats of worse things to come have created a hostile environment and driven a wedge between the two negotiating sides. There is so much animosity right now an NBA season isn't even remotely a possibility.

To the average fan this dispute is all about money. Greedy billionaires vs. spoiled millionaires with a misguided sense of entitlement. Although this may be true it is not the underlying issue. The two main forces at work during this dispute are perception and control.

The players view themselves as partners, not employees of the NBA. Their performance on the basketball court leads to endorsements, corporate sponsorship, jersey sales, lucrative TV contracts, and an international fan base. In their minds it is because of their efforts that there's an NBA to begin with.

The owners view the players as pawns in a billionaires chess game. They want to maintain the ability to move their pieces around at their discretion under their set of rules. It screws up the game if the pieces start moving around the board on their own without permission or consent.

The owners are clearly trying to put the players back in their place. After Lebron James walked out on Cleveland to go play with his friends in Miami Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert felt jilted and betrayed. After Carmelo Anthony made it clear he would be going to New York at the end of his contract Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke felt bullied and helpless. In their minds the inmates will no longer run the asylum.

The egos involved in this battle are so enormous the fans have become a complete and total afterthought. The irony is without the fans the two sides have nothing to argue about.

A message to David Stern: Change your tone when you're talking to grown men.

A message to the players: There's a forest behind those trees.

A message to the fans: Don't hold your breath this will get resolved anytime soon.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekend Observations

The fantasy football jinx is in! In my JV league my uncle called me at 5:15 to congratulate me on my win. 3 hours later Andre Carter ended up with 18 points as the Patriots manhandled the Jets. If Jordy Nelson scores 4 points tonight I'll still walk away with the victory, but if he doesn't I'll be sure to return the favor. Jinxing is not cool. In my hurt your feelings league I trail my opponent by 36 points and I have A-Rod going against the Vikings. It's unrealistic to expect Aaron Rodgers to throw for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns every game, but I'll keep my fingers crossed. See how that reverse psychology stuff works! Here are some observations over the weekend.

College Football:

So long as they don't play an SEC opponent Oregon is the best team in the country. After beating Stanford on Saturday they have a legitimate claim to play for a national championship. My guess is all of the top 5 teams will have at least one loss and the BCS will have its hands full trying to figure out who should play in the title game. Stay tuned.

Boise St. is the modern day Florida St. For the 2nd year in a row the Broncos fall out of national championship contention after missing a game winning field goal. I can't imagine how difficult this must be for the players.

The NFL:

Tim Tebow went 2 for 8 throwing for 68 yards and a touchdown in a 17-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Umm...... good win Broncos???

Maybe David Akers wasn't so dumb after all for switching teams. The San Francisco 49ers are 8-1 while the Philadelphia Eagles are 3-6. I'm pretty sure none of you called that one.


Manny Pacquiao looked more than a little vulnerable in his controversial decision over Juan Manuel Marquez. Floyd Mayweather Jr. won every round convincingly in his fight against Marquez and cruised to an easy victory. By using the common opponent method Floyd beats Manny in a rout.

The UFC's big fight on FOX turned out to be a dud and now the organization has lost a little momentum. The solution? Anderson Silva vs. Georges St. Pierre of course.

Friday, November 11, 2011

NFL First Half Analysis

We've reached the half way point of the NFL season and it's turning out exactly the way I said it would. Just kidding. As with every season injuries and surprise performances have a significant impact on the results. Already my Super Bowl prediction (New England vs. Philadelphia) is looking a little suspect and the St. Louis Rams definitely won't win the NFC West. Sometimes the crystal ball needs a little Windex. The the league may have thrown me a few curves, but there are 5 stories no one saw coming.

5. The underwhelming Philadelphia Eagles. At the start of the season the Eagles were picked by many ( including yours truly) to reach the Super Bowl, but now they are a long shot to make the playoffs. They have enough talent to do it, but I don't think they will get in.

4. The San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers are 7-1 and Alex Smith is still the starting quarterback. In a dismal NFC West the 49ers have essentially clinched a playoff spot with their fast start and only the Packer have a better record. Tell me you saw that one coming.

3. Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning is to the Indianapolis Colts what Michael Jackson was to the Jackson 5. The Colts have yet to win a game without their fearless leader and with the prognosis of his return uncertain the team has some very tough decisions to make. Don't they have to take a quarterback to protect their franchise?

2. Cam Newton is a "G". It seems impossible for the #1 player selected in the draft to exceed expectations, but Cam Newton has done just that. Not even Dan Marino stepped in his first season lighting up like this kid. I'm sure Steve Smith will be sending Cam a generous Christmas gift for resurrecting his career.

1. The Tim Tebow Experiment. For football purist this guy is hard to watch. He does everything wrong yet he seems to find a way to win. There are even rumors the Broncos are going to install option plays in their offense. Whatever the case may be Tim Tebow is a headline grabbing story every week. All eyes on Timmy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tiger Woods Is Color Blind

Tiger Woods former caddie Steve Williams made discouraging and racial comments about his former employer at the caddie awards last week. When asked about his victory caddying for Adam Scott at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational Williams said he wanted to shove it up his black a$$hole. Williams later apologized to Woods face to face for his insensitive and poor choice of words. In the aftermath Tiger admitted he was hurt by the comments, but didn't think Steve Williams was a racist and life goes forward.

Personally I would have preferred to hear a different response. It isn't that Tiger handled the situation poorly, he handled the situation with professionalism. The problem is Tiger Woods seems unwilling to ever address the subject of race. He skirts around the topic and acts as if the color of his skin has no influence on the way people perceive him.

In Tiger's mind he's just a golfer who happens to be a minority. His Caublanasian roots are of no real significance and his athletic accomplishments speak for themselves. It's a very optimistic view of the world, but also extremely naive.

What Tiger Woods fails to realize is the perception everyone else has. Steve Williams didn't say he wanted to shove it up his Asian a$$hole or his white a$$hole he said he wanted to shove it up his black a$$hole. Tiger Woods is perceived as a black man whether he likes it or not and unfortunately there are race related issues that come with that distinction.

Tiger Woods is a polarizing figure for many reason and race is one of them. He excels in a predominantly white sport which in itself makes him an anomaly. I'm not saying Tiger should show up to golf tournaments in an dashiki bumping Public Enemy and telling the world George Bush hates black people, I'm just saying he needs to be more cognizant of his surroundings. At least acknowledge the color of your skin is a factor sometime. Tiger Woods may be color blind, but the world is not.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy Valley Sadness

Joe Paterno is on his way out as the head coach of Penn St. The winningest coach in college football history will no longer be at the helm in Happy Valley. This may come as a surprise to many, but given the set of circumstances it is completely necessary.

Jerry Sandusky, coach Paterno's right hand man for over 30 years has been accused of sexually abusing countless children connected to his charity organization Second Mile. Penn St. athletic director Tim Curley and vice president of finance Gary Schultz were arrested for lying to the grand jury and failing to alert police of their investigation into the allegations.

The evidence of sexual misconduct is overwhelming. There were reports of inappropriate behavior as early as 1998 and a graduate assistant witnessed Sandusky touching a young boy in the shower in 2002. Sandusky himself admitted to one of the victim's parents how ashamed he felt for his actions. This guy is so repulsive he was banned from a high school campus in 2008. How could upstanding moral men allow these crimes to go unreported and unpunished?

The answer is frighteningly simple. Penn St. is a football factory. It's a machine that generates millions of dollars, replenishes the NFL with able bodied physical specimens, and supports an entire city and university. No one at Penn St. had the guts to divulge information that would inherently turn the machine off. Football in Happy Valley is more important than protecting innocent children.

There were multiple opportunities for someone to step up, but they never did. Their silence was bound by an oblong shaped, revenue generating piece of leather. Nothing is sacred when it comes to big time college football. There is nothing worse than the sexual molestation of a child yet these so called men of honor stood idly by as these heinous acts from Sandusky continued.

Right now the Penn St. faithful are shocked. They feel betrayed beyond belief. The man they thought was the moral compass of an entire community turned out to be nothing more than a football coach that would protect his own interests by any means necessary.

I am curious to see how this scandal affects the legacy of Joe Paterno. In my mind his legacy is forever tarnished. As for Jerry Sandusky? I don't think he has the courage to face the music. Suicide watch should be in order. As for the victims? Irreparably damaged for the sake of a football program. Sick.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Weekend Observations

It was a comical week in the world of fantasy football. Phillip Rivers finally gave me a decent game in my JV league, but believe it or not I was already down 133 to 6 before he ever took the field. Julio Jones Brandon Marshall, and Reggie Bush did a number on me. In my trash talking league Vincent Jackson decided to come out of his 4 week slump the same week my starting quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and defense were on a bye. Timing is everything in this business. Then there's my hurt your feelings league. Some chump started calling me Cleavage Blunder AKA wardrobe malfunction before our match up. As you might expect I didn't take too kindly to someone besmirchifying my good name like that so I had to let him have it. I broke out the wave motion gun on his ass and blew his team to kingdom come. He's got Vick and Desean Jackson going tonight, but I'm ahead by 115 points (seriously). I think he learned his lesson. Cleavie Wonder ain't nothing to play with. Here are some observations over the weekend.

Miami will not get Lucky this year. The Dolphins let their pride and professionalism get in the way of winning the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. They get a A for effort, but an F for future planning.

The AFC West has been renamed the AFC bipolar. 3 teams lost at home over the weekend and no one looks like a playoff team. My guess is this division will come down to the final game of the season. Stay tuned.

The NBA is the most fan unfriendly league in America and there's a good chance we won't see Lebron, Kobe, Dirk, or Carmelo for a long time. If the owners don't care about them what makes you think they give 2 cents about you?

Arizona St. and Alabama will most likely miss their conference championship game because of missed field goals. The Sun Devil kicker missed a last second attempt while the Crimson Tide kickers missed 4 out of 6 field goals including an overtime shank. As I've said many times kickers will ruin your life.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Tim Tebow Experiment

Sometimes you want to see someone succeed so badly you can't see reality. I have been a victim of this many times. I wanted to see Kobe Bryant win his 6th championship so badly I thought he could erase a 22 point deficit in the 4th quarter. I wanted Dan Marino to win a Super Bowl so badly I thought he could beat one of the greatest football teams ever assembled (The 1984 San Francisco 49ers). I'm still waiting for Reggie bush to show the brilliance he displayed at USC.

Denver Bronco fans suffer from the same affliction. They want to see Tim Tebow succeed so badly that they completely overlook the obvious. Tim Tebow is not a franchise quarterback. He doesn't read defenses, his mechanics are horrible, and he shouldn't be starting in the NFL. He's an upstanding Christian man who's likable and a role model for your kids, but that doesn't mean he's capable of leading the Broncos to the promised land.

The NFL is all about adjustments and after watching film on Tim Tebow the league has figured out how to exploit his weaknesses. So long as Tim Tebow is the starting quarterback in Denver they will not win another game.

It's a shame the things you do in college don't always translate at the next level. Once you create a certain standard for yourself people expect you to duplicate that level of success. Tim Tebow is haunted by his accomplishments at Florida and the unrealistic expectation of the Denver Bronco fans. In the end he will fall miserably short.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Some Advice For Little Kimmie

Millions of people tuned in to watch the union of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. Millions of dollars were spent on the ceremony. Low and behold the marriage only lasted 72 days.

Clearly Kim and Kris don't read the Cleavie Wonder blog. If they did they would have realized the marriage was a mistake from the start. A reality show star and a professional athlete is a recipe for disaster. Both parties live in the moment and are consumed with themselves. It's impossible to engage in a real relationship when there's no room for compromise and the public is watching your every move.

A word of advice for to Kim Kardashian: It will be difficult (if not impossible) to find someone who is willing to have their identity reduced to being Little Kimmie's husband. Professional athletes have too much ego for that role. Men don't take you seriously and are only interested in you for your looks and your money.

This is a painful reality, but a reality nonetheless. After a few months of dealing with Scott, Kourtney, Khloe, and Bruce it will become apparent that they are in way over their heads.

Don't be too hard on yourself Little Kimmie. These kind of relationships aren't meant to last because the foundation is weak and the motives are ulterior. Enjoy the relationships for what they are and don't put too much pressure on yourself looking for something unattainable. Take solace in the fact you're a self made woman (unlike the stars of Basketball Wives) and someone will always want to be with you. Just not for the long haul.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The San Diego Chargers Will Not Make The Playoffs

"We're in hell right now gentlemen. Believe me. And we can stay here, get the sh*t kicked out of us, or we can fight our way back, into the light. We can climb out of hell, one inch at a time. Now I can't do it for you, I'm too old."

Coach Tony D'Amato, On Any Given Sunday

This is probably the speech Norv Turner gave to his team after the debacle in Arrowhead Stadium last night. The San Diego Chargers inexplicably botched the center/quarterback exchange as they were driving for the winning field goal against the Kansas City Chiefs. When the team lost in overtime everyone looked to coach Turner for an explanation.

To be fair, there's nothing coach Turner can say to appease his detractors. He doesn't tackle, block, throw, or catch. That's the players responsibility. Coaches put players in a position to win and after that it's up to the players to execute.

In addition, there are other factors going on with the San Diego Chargers that are out of the coaches control. His starting running back Ryan Mathews (the heir apparent to LaDainian Tomlinson) has proven to be a bust, his left tackle Kris Dielman suffered a concussion which led to a seizure, and his pro bowl quarterback Phillip Rivers is a shell of his former self. After throwing for 4700 yards and 30 touchdowns last season Rivers has only thrown 7 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2011.

Given Norv Turner's track record for underachieving he has become an easy target for criticism, but this time it's not his fault. All the coaching in the world won't help you if you can't execute the most basic and fundamental play in football.

The Chargers could have been sitting atop the AFC West with a win, but instead they find themselves in a 3 way tie with Oakland and Kansas City. It's not the coaches fault, but he will suffer the consequences when this team doesn't make the playoffs. Sorry Norv. Maybe there's a career for you in broadcasting.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Weekend Observations

It's ironic that on Halloween my fantasy dreams have turned into a nightmare. Michael Vick single handedly ruined me in three different leagues. Not only did he forget to throw the ball to the most explosive receiver in football (Desean Jackson) he decided to fall in love with his tight end Brent Celek last night who ended up scoring a whopping 23 points. I think the two of them are dating now. It was also my first week playing without MVP Aaron Rodgers. I felt like Linus without his security blanket. 0-3 is not a flattering look for the self proclaimed expert on all things sports related, but anything can happen once I make the playoffs. Here are some observations over the weekend.

A Stanford vs. Boise St. national championship game is a real possibility. The three teams in front of them (Alabama, LSU, and Oklahoma St.) will certainly lose at least one game this season while the Cardinal and the Cowboys will likely run the table. Stay tuned.

Wisconsin fans have my sympathy. After another heart breaking last second loss I find it hard to believe the can pick themselves up off the canvas and get back to their dominant ways. What could have been.

Sometimes a no name is better than a hall of famer. 5 years from now no one will remember who David Freese is, but for now he's the king of St. Louis. He out shined pitching ace Chris Carpenter and Phat Albert Pujols to earn the World Series MVP. Disney has already contacted him for the movie rights.

As if I didn't have enough disdain for place kickers Olindo Mare goes out and misses a game tying 28 yard field goal for the Carolina Panthers yesterday. Cam Newton and Steve Smith probably had to be restrained from beating the snot piss out of that guy. Kickers suck!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The NCAA Made A Mistake

The NCAA has decided to pay scholarship athletes. In a landmark decision the NCAA will allow conferences to give athletes an additional $2,000 for incidental expenses. The ruling is seen by many as long overdue and a step in the right direction. I wholeheartedly disagree.

Make no mistake about it, athletes are getting paid right now as we speak. Don't think for one second these kids aren't mysteriously receiving envelopes full of cash. If you make paying players legal I guarantee there will be some "creative " accounting going on at some of these universities.

The spirit of the rule is to cut down on petty, minor infractions and allow student athletes the opportunity to engage in simple recreational activities. The $2,000 is looked upon as spending money to go on a date or purchase an ipod or a goose down comforter for the cold winter months. Instead the "loophole" will serve as a portal for unscrupulous agents, slimy boosters, and greedy alumni associations to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to star players.

I realize the glamour sports (college football and basketball) generate billions of dollars in revenue without sharing a single penny with the athletes that do all the work. The system is fatally flawed and takes advantage of young impressionable men and women.

The answer is not to pay the players however. The answer is to set aside some of that money to create a slush fund that can be divided equally amongst the schools. With the new revisions small schools and schools that don't play in a "power" conference don't stand a chance. If anything the NCAA should invoke a don't ask don't tell policy. That way no one gets hurt and everybody wins.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Were's Michael jordan?

Has anyone noticed the conspicuous absence of Michael Jordan during the NBA lockout negotiations? The league was the most prosperous in the Jordan years and hasn't been able to duplicate that success since his departure. It would seem that someone who's been on both sides of the bargaining table would have a unique perspective and possibly a solution to these labor negotiations. So where's he at?

To be fair, Michael Jordan is a business mogul outside of basketball and probably has responsibilities and commitments all over the world. His time is limited and he can't be everywhere at once. Perhaps he just can't find a free moment.

A more likely scenario is the conflict of interest his presence might create. Several of the top flight NBA players endorse the Jordan brand and some players (Marcin Gortat) even have the Jordan logo tattooed on their body. In addition he's played with or against several guys that he now sits across from at the bargaining table. It's probably difficult to engage in conversation without sounding like a two faced sell out. We've all had co-workers that get promoted to management and suddenly they sound just like the people they used to talk about on a daily basis. That 180 degree change in opinion can rub people the wrong way.

The NBA has provided Michael Jordan a life of luxury, fame, and fortune. He spent over a decade as the most recognizable athlete on planet Earth. His influence on the game of basketball and pop culture is unparalleled and most players consider him a basketball god. For that reason Michael Jordan should be doing all he can to preserve the game that's given him so much. He's the only one that truly knows how both sides are feeling, yet he's reluctant to share his insight. I'm not saying that if Michael Jordan was more active in the negotiations there would be a resolution, but with games canceled and the season in jeopardy isn't it worth a shot? I think it's time for Big Mike to say a few words. Your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

HTB Statements (Birthday Edition)

Birthdays are generally a day of reflection so I'll take this moment to share with you some things I remember growing up watching sports. In comparison to the sports world today these statements are truly hard to believe.

1. When I started watching basketball there was no 3 point line.

2. I used to have to stay up late with my dad to watch the NBA finals because it was tape delayed on the West coast.

3. I'm going to watch Austin Rivers play at Duke this year. I used to watch his father (Doc Rivers) play at Marquette.

4. I remember when the Kansas City Royals were dominant.

5. I remember watching Sugar Ray Leonard win the welterweight title in the fifteenth round.

6. I remember when Doug Williams was the only black quarterback in the NFL.

7. I remember thinking wood tennis rackets were just as good as aluminum or graphite.

8. I remember when the Los Angeles Rams paid their coach (John Robinson) more money than they paid their star running back Eric Dickerson.

9. Wade Boggs used to take his mistress on road trips and no one ever said anything to the media.

10. I remember during NFL training camps you weren't allowed to drink water.

11. I remember watching Deion Sanders play in a football game and an MLB playoff game in the same day.

Clearly I'm starting to feel more "mature" these days. The sports world has a way of putting it all in perspective. The sports time line is a unique barometer for measuring your age.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

College Hoop Season Preview

With no end in sight to the current NBA lockout I've been forced to shift my focus to the college kids for my basketball fix. It's a shame rookies like Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, Kemba Walker, and Isaiah Thomas (all underclassmen when they declared for the draft) have nothing constructive to do with their time. I hope their agents have deep pockets to support them during this labor strife.

College hoops hasn't been real exciting in over a decade, but there's no alternative at present. I'll have to take what I can get. There are a few players however that I have a special interest in. These 5 guys will definitely be in the league next year (if there is one) and I'm curious to see what they can do. Here's my top 5 players to watch in college basketball this season.

5. Austin Rivers, Duke. The son of coach Doc Rivers has tremendous ball handling skills and a knack for getting to the hole. Without Kyrie Irving running the point coach K will have to rely on him heavily.

4. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina. They threw a party at Chapel Hill when Barnes announced he was coming back to school and now we get to see if he's worth all the attention. I expect nothing less than an ACC player of the year award.

3. Jared Sullinger, Ohio St. Sullinger was a man among boys last year so with a summer to work on his game we should see a giant amongst midgets this year. If he's not an All American I'll buy each and every one of you a happy meal at McDonalds.

2. Terrence Jones, Kentucky. Jones showed flashes of brilliance last year, but lacked the consistency to be considered one of college basketball's elite. Let's see if he can put it all together this year.

1. Tony Wroten Jr., Washington. This is a homer pick. The 6'6 point guard was shunned by Kentucky and feels he has something to prove. All the experts say the kid is special and is most likely a one and done player. His court vision is compared to Magic Johnson and Kenny Anderson. Pretty high praise. We'll see if he can live up to it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend Observations

It was a tough sports weekend in the 206 to say the least. The Huskies and the Seahawks lost. That's all I have to say about those two games because if I go into further detail I may vomit all over myself like Brian on Family Guy. My fantasy football fate is still up in the air depending on the outcome of tonight's game between Jacksonville and Baltimore. It doesn't look good in any of my leagues, but I'll fill you in on the gruesome details tomorrow. Enough about me, here's a few observations over the weekend.

I was right about the Kansas City Chiefs. I succumbed to peer pressure and the badgering of my friends when I jumped off the Chiefs bandwagon earlier this year. Kansas City is just one game out of first place after demolishing Oakland and Phillip Rivers is playing like a little girl for the Chargers so far this season. The division title is well within reach.

Close losses hurt more than blowouts. Wisconsin watched their national championship title hopes go down the drain on a last second flukish play. Judging from the expressions on the faces of Wisconsin fans it will take a while to get over the loss. Some of them may need therapy.

The Detroit Lions may not be who we thought they were. With two straight losses to marginal playoff teams panic is beginning to start in Mowtown. I have Megatron, Suh, Hanson, and Stafford in my leagues so I don't have time for all this. Detroit WILL turn this around and battle the Packers for home field advantage. That last part was a joke, but I do need them to play better.

Phat Albert should wear pinstripes. Albert Pujols blasted 3 homers in Saturday's rout over the Rangers. The only other players to accomplish that feat in World Series play are Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson. Are you sensing a common theme? Teixeira for Pujols? Maybe it's not as crazy as it sounds.