Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oscar De La Hoya: The Golden Boy Shows Some Tarnish

Oscar De La Hoya recently revealed that at his lowest point he contemplated suicide. He also revealed that he was unfaithful to his wife and abused cocaine and alcohol. These actions clearly don't reflect the "Golden Boy" image Oscar has projected over the years and raise serious questions about his character and authenticity. Should the public forgive Oscar De La Hoya for his past indiscretions?

If you are going to use the present standard for judging athletes then absolutely not. Oscar is no different than Tiger Woods, Alex Rodriguez, Michael Jordan, or Bret Favre. His persona has been a complete lie and he's let down millions of fans worldwide (especially kids) who looked up to him as a hero and a role model.

If you take the athlete/role model part out of the equation he certainly deserves a pass. Oscar De La Hoya is a man with charm and charisma, matinee idol looks, and hundreds of millions of dollars at his disposal. It is completely unrealistic for people to expect boy scout behavior from him all the time.

In addition he suffers from the same affliction many former athletes face, what to do when the crowd stops cheering. Oscar De La Hoya has been boxing since before he was a teenager and nothing in his life will ever fully replace that. When you're a 5 time world champion it's hard to go back to being a regular guy. Anxiety and depression set in and like a lot of people Oscar turned to women and drugs. He was man enough to admit he had a problem and is working on becoming a better person.

Star athletes are cursed by the outdated definition of what an athlete/role model should be. Until the public and media realize these guys are human and succumb to pressures and opportunities most of us can't imagine things will not change. In the case of Oscar De La Hoya it's just another example of an athlete that's had his dirty laundry aired out in the open for public scrutiny.

If you criticize Oscar you hold him to a higher standard than he's capable of. If you forgive Oscar you accept the fact that you won't agree with everything an athlete does or doesn't do. Which side are you on?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Are All Losses Created Equal?

Losing is a part of sports. In every athletic competition someone has to be defeated. Over the years we've seen dramatic comebacks and colossal meltdowns. There have been epic battles that make history and one sided affairs that make us wonder why the other team even bothered to show up.

In the middle of all these events are the sports finishes that make you say really? Did that person or team lose because of that bone headed play? If you're going to lose at least lose having given it your all I always say. At any rate here's my list of the 5 most ridiculous losses of the last 25 years.

5. Serena Williams 2009 US Open. I've been frustrated on a tennis court many times so I know how Serena Williams felt during the match. That's still no reason to tell a linesman you're going to shove a tennis ball down their fcuking throat leading to a disqualification at a grand slam. Serena, you're better than that.

4. Scott Norwood Super Bowl XXV. I can't imagine how painful it must be to go through life as the person who single handedly lost the Super Bowl. I hate kickers though so my sympathy only goes so far.

3. Chris Webber 1993 Final Four. After watching the ESPN documentary on the Fab 5 I have a little more compassion for Chris Webber calling a timeout he didn't have, but not much. He was young, but still old enough to have his head in the game.

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Coca-Cola 600 2011. We've all run out of gas before, just not in front of millions of people during a 3 year winless streak. How embarrassing must it be to miscalculate your fuel by 300 feet?

1. Usain Bolt 2011 World Championships. Does the world's fastest man really need that much of a head start? It's ludicrous to think that the world record holder couldn't hold his stance until he heard the sound of the starter pistol. When he looks back at his career this disqualification will haunt him forever.

Monday, August 29, 2011

My Fantasy Draft #2

I had the 2nd of my 3 fantasy drafts on Saturday and I am not impressed with the way things turned out. This particular draft is an auction format and last year I absolutely nailed it. I ended up with Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, DeSean Jackson, and Lesean McCoy. I got to the semis and lost a close match to the eventual runner-up of the league.

This year my strategy backfired on me. When Adrian Peterson came off the board for an obscene amount of money and Jamaal Charles got purchased for twice his value I started to panic. I went all in for Aaron Rodgers thinking that the elite quarterbacks would get snatched up early. To my surprise two MVP quarterbacks were nabbed (Tom Brady and Peyton Manning) for 50% less than I paid for Rodgers. Once that happened I lost focus and the bad strategy began to snowball on me.

My running backs are average at best. Ahmad Bradshaw, Mark Ingram, and Reggie Bush don't exactly strike fear in my opponents. Couple that with mediocre receivers (Wes Welker and Plaxico Burress) and suddenly I'm behind the 8 ball before the season even starts. I'm going to have to rely on my free agency wizardry if I want to have any chance of being a factor in this league.

The sad part is if I don't get my act together I hay have to be quiet this season. As you might expect I've been talking more trash than the law allows leading up to this season and without explosive weapons around me I may be forced to eat humble pie. Humble pie is an acquired taste I simply don't have. Anything can happen on any given Sunday and I'm not throwing in the towel, but I may be forced to bite my tongue until I can turn this thing around. How boring is that?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

NFC West Champions: St. Louis Rams

Most experts refer to the NFC West as the weakest division in football. Last year the division winner (Seattle Seahawks) made the playoffs with a losing record and prompted discussions about whether or not the rules should be changed.

That talk went away when the Seahawks beat the defending Super Bowl champs at home. It cost them 17 spots in the draft, but it also let people know anything is possible once you get to the 2nd season. Even if the division is crappy someone has to win it. Here's how the NFC West will shake out.

Division winner: St. Louis Rams. Sam Bradford is by far the best quarterback in this division and if Stephen Jackson can stay healthy the Rams will have a balanced offense. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is looking for redemption after an embarrassing stint in Denver and should have this team scoring a lot of points. The Rams will do just enough to sneak into the playoffs.

2nd place: Seattle Seahawks. The Pete Carroll experiment is still a work in progress. The quarterbacks are suspect, the running game is a huge question mark, and the franchise left tackle (Russell Okung) seems to be a little fra-gee-lay. The team is getting younger and more talented however. They'll play hard and stay competitive, but this is not their season.

3rd place: San Francisco 49ers. It will take rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh about 5 games to realize Alex Smith is not the answer at quarterback and then we'll see what adjustments they make. The defense will keep them in most games and kicker David Akers (a fantasy football tidbit) will probably leads the team in scoring. The 49ers will win 6 games.

Last place: Arizona Cardinal. The good news is the Cardinals recently re-signed all world receiver Larry Fitzgerald to a long term contract. The bad news is he can't throw the ball to himself. Kevin Kolb is incredibly overrated and with no running game to speak of defenses will have a field day against their anemic offense. 4-5 wins is all they're good for.

Friday, August 26, 2011

NFC East Champions: Philadelphia Eagles

Without question the NFC East is the most glamorous division in football. The division where America's team resides, Peyton's brother Eli leads the New York Giants, and Michael Vick has re-invented himself in Philadelphia gets lots of attention. All four teams carry a deep rooted history and a winning tradition. This year the NFC East will be a two team race however and one of those teams might even win the Super Bowl. Here is how the NFC East will shake out.

Division winner: Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles are stacked with talent and built to win THIS SEASON. Anything less than a Lombardi trophy would be considered a disappointment and the league will suffer accordingly. Winning the division is a foregone conclusion.

2nd place: Dallas Cowboys. Tony Romo is back and that's a huge plus. With the departure of Marion Barber III Felix Jones will become the featured back. Dez Bryant and Miles Austin make a great receiving tandem and perennial all pro Jason Witten is in great shape. Look for the Cowboys to rebound and make the playoffs this season.

3rd place: New York Giants. The season hasn't even begun and already the New York Giants are decimated with injuries in the secondary. The NFL is a pass happy league and their weakness will be exploited to the fullest. I don't see the Giants making the playoffs.

Last place: Washington Redskins. The Washington Redskins will start the season with Rex Grossman or John Beck as their starting quarterback and that's not a good thing. To make matters worse head coach Mike Shanahan still hasn't figured out that players don't like him and the game has passed him by. The Redskins are a 5 win team.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fantasy Draft #1

I had the first of my 3 fantasy drafts a few days ago and there's already some controversy. One of the guys in the league is complaining that we had the draft on the same day as his anniversary which put him at a distinct disadvantage. Obviously he had plenty of time to re-arrange those plans so I don't know what the big deal is. An anniversary celebration lasts a couple of minutes, fantasy football goes for 16 weeks. It's simple mathematics.

Anyways enough about him, let's talk about the future league champion Cleavie Wonder. The season is right around the corner and dare I say my team is explosive. As fate would have it I ended up with Michael Vick with the 4th selection and came back with Maurice Jones-Drew with the 19th pick. In the 3rd round I picked up Vick's favorite target DeSean Jackson followed by Dallas Clark and Ryan Grant. Johnny Knox rounds out my starters so as you can see my first string has no weaknesses.

My back ups aren't half bad either. Ryan Torain will get the bulk of the carries in Washington now that Clinton Portis is gone, Matt Stafford should have a bounce back year after shoulder surgery, Jimmy Graham will replace Jeremy Shockey in New Orleans, and Nate Burleson will take advantage of the double teams Calvin Johnson draws.

Injuries will ultimately dictate how successful my team will be, but if they stay healthy my team will roll. It will be difficult to curb my enthusiasm if the squad lives up to its potential. One draft down, two to go and I'm feeling real good about my chances to wind up with the chip. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Are The Olympics More Important Than The NBA?

The 2011-2012 NBA season is in jeopardy, but never fear we will see basketball next year. Lebron James recently announced that irregardless of the labor situation he will be in London this summer to represent the USA in the summer Olympics. Will others follow suit?

If you look at the roster it's a no brainer. Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, and Dwyane Wade are all endorsed by Nike while Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony represent the Jordan logo. Nike will not miss the chance to showcase their top earners.

Kevin Durant will undoubtedly take Tayshaun Prince's spot and Derrick Rose will replace the aging Jason Kidd. The two most promising young stars won't miss the opportunity to perform on the world's biggest stage.

Although the NBA controls USA basketball it's in their best interest to send our best players from a marketing standpoint. The league fancies itself a global phenomenon and with the whole world watching they can't afford to come up short.

In addition, the corporate entities that really control basketball won't allow it. At a time when everyone is claiming they are losing money the 2012 summer Olympics is a cash cow. With the USA almost guaranteed a spot in the gold medal game the exposure these companies can generate is huge. From the lighting of the torch to the closing ceremonies billions of people will be watching.

The Lebron James announcement is an indication of what's important to NBA players. Their priorities are with their employers. All of them. The NBA franchises that hold their rights are just one part of their revenue stream. They also have to answer to the makers of the products they endorse. That partnership is bigger than David Stern and his crybaby owners. See you in London this summer. Cheerio.

Monday, August 22, 2011

John McEnroe Is Still The Greatest

The more you watch sports the more you realize records are meant to be broken. Whenever players come close to equaling or surpassing some unattainable mark the more you appreciate the accomplishment.

Novak Djokovic was on his way to having the best season in the history of men's tennis when things took a turn for the worst. Djokovic had to pull out of the finals at the Western & Southern Open on Sunday with a shoulder injury. Even with the walk over Novak's record for the year is an astounding 57-2.

That's the same record John McEnroe had in 1984 on his way to a historic 82-3. If it wasn't for the 84' season McEnroe would never be considered on of the greatest of all time. A heartbreaking loss at the French Open (again, same as Djokovic) is the only real blemish on his resume that year and his performance at Wimbledon and the US Open more than made up for it. The red clay at Roland Garros has claimed numerous victims.

As dominant as Novak Djokovic has been there are factors in his pursuit of immortality that are out of his control. Injuries, mental fatigue, and experience all play a major role. It is not always about the skill level, but the intangibles that make record breaking so difficult.

Watching Novak Djokovic chase McEnroe fills me up with excitement and anticipation. You never want to see someone achieve greater heights than your idol, but as you get older you learn to respect those who are mentioned in the same breath. Hopefully Novak gets healthy so he can take one more swing at it. My money is on McEnroe of course. Old habits die hard.

Friday, August 19, 2011

AFC South Champions: Indianapolis Colts

All divisions are not created equal. Last year the New York Giants missed the playoffs with a 10-6 record mainly because they played in the brutal NFC East. If they played in the NFC West they surely would have had a chance to go further into the season. Some divisions are top heavy while others have teams that are constantly rebuilding and searching for an identity. Unfortunately just like life the NFL isn't always fair. That being said here's how the AFC South will shake out.

Division winner: Indianapolis Colts. Peyton Manning had neck surgery in the off season and if he doesn't come back 100% the Colts will find themselves in the unfamiliar role of cellar dwellers. I have the utmost confidence however that Manning will be ready to go for the regular season and the Colts will cruise to their 8th title in 10 years.

2nd place: Houston Texans. Personally, I question whether or not Arian Foster is a one hit wonder. He burst onto the scene last year out of nowhere, but has yet to see the field this season nursing a hamstring injury. The Texans have a knack for losing close games and when you're chasing the Colts that's a recipe for disaster.

3rd place: Jacksonville Jaguars. We know the Jags will play solid defense and control the time of possession with Maurice Jones-Drew, but the quarterback position is still a big question mark. Blaine Gabbert is the heir apparent to David Garrard and if the rookie takes the helm this season there will be growing pains a plenty.

Last place: Tennessee Titans. The Titans have a first year head coach, a brittle quarterback learning a new system, and a superstar running back that's holding out. History has shown us running backs that hold out of training camp end up on the injured reserve list by the 4th week of the season. If the Titans lose Chris Johnson for an extended amount of time they might not win 4 games.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

MLB Playoff Predictions

With 40 games remaining in the regular season there are only 3 divisional races that will provide any suspense down the stretch. The Texas Rangers have buried the Anaheim Angels, Philadelphia (the best team in baseball) is running away from Atlanta like Secretariat, and the Milwaukee Brewers have put St. Louis in their rear view mirror. There are wild card berths of course so the aforementioned teams still have something to play for. Here is my prediction for the other 3 compelling divisional races.

AL East: Boston Red Sox. I'm not a big Red Sox fan, but they are a hitting machine right now. Adrian Gonzalez is the free agent signing of the year right now. The Yankees are still stacked, but until Mariano Rivera works out his issues New York is very vulnerable.

AL Central: Chicago White Sox. Manager Ozzie Guillen is a headcase yet the White Sox continue to fight for him. Chicago has 9 games remaining against 2nd place Cleveland and 6 games left against division leading Detroit. In between those contests are 7 games with the Kansas City Royals and 3 games against the Mariners. The schedule is definitely in their favor.

NL West: San Francisco Giants. The defending World Series champs find themselves looking up at the Arizona Diamondbacks late in the season. Kudos to Kirk Gibson for turning that organization around and creating a winning atmosphere. The Diamondbacks are playing over their heads however and the Giants experience will be the difference in late September. Look for Carlos Beltran to get hot and carry these guys for a few weeks.

American League Wild Card: New York Yankees.

National League Wild Card: Atlanta Braves.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Miami Hurricanes Got A Raw Deal

Over the past three decades the University of Miami has become very familiar with off the field scandals involving improper benefits. The latest installment focuses on a Hurricane fanatic named Nevin Shapiro. Shapiro is doing 20 years behind bars for an illegal ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of roughly a billion dollars.

Feeling betrayed and left alone by the athletes he so generously gave gifts to Shapiro has decided to roll over on the entire program. In his sworn testimony he confessed to providing players with cars, jewelry, strippers, yacht trips, and even money for an abortion. If the allegations are correct (which they are) the Miami football program will never recover.

It's ironic that the bulk of theses indiscretions took place during a time when the university was supposedly "cleaning up" it's act. The fact of the matter is when you have a university that's predicated on football dominance that concept doesn't exist.

Nevin Shapiro is not the first booster to supply players with improper benefits. In the late 80's and early 90's rap mogul Luther Campbell was considered the Godfather of Miami football. The ESPN documentary entitled The U depicted Campbell as if he were Santa Claus to many players and recruits. The only difference between Campbell and Sahpiro is Campbell kept his mouth shut and refused to name names.

The real victims in this whole thing are the players. Although most people will contend they knowingly broke the rules and got what they deserved it's hard for a young man to turn down free gifts if they are offered to him with no strings attached. it's even harder for young men that come from a disadvantaged background. Now everyone with a scholarship for the next four years will have to pay the price.

It sicken s me that Nevin Shapiro would expose players to all these improprieties then ruin their lives on the back end just because they didn't visit him in prison or sign up with one of his companies.

If you are going to do dirt on that level at least have the decency to remain confidential about it. There's nothing worse than a snitch who rats everyone out over hurt feelings. Because of Nevin Shapiro the Miami Hurricane mystique is gone forever. Florida St. might as well start building a new trophy case. I hate the Seminoles, but the power of Florida recruiting has taken a major shift in their favor. R.I.P. Hurricane football. The memories will last forever.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

NFC South Champions: Atlanta Falcons

Now that each team has played their first preseason game it's pretty clear the lockout had a big impact on the offensive side of the ball. New coaches are at a complete disadvantage because the learning curve is taking longer than expected. The surprise move of the week was the San Francisco 49ers bringing in Daunte Culpepper for a workout. Apparently the Alex Smith experiment is not going as well as Jim Harbaugh had hoped. At any rate, here is how the NFC South will shake out.

Division winner: Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta has surpassed New Orleans as the dominant team in this division and if Philly and Green Bay can't stay healthy the Falcons will find themselves in the Super Bowl. Adding Julio Jones in the draft and keeping their core players intact will pay big dividends.

2nd place: New Orleans Saints. The 2011 New Orleans Saints barely resemble the team that won the Super Bowl two years ago. As with all Super Bowl champions free agency takes its toll on the roster and it's hard to retain talent. They still have Drew Brees however and that's a good start. The playoffs are a definite possibility.

3rd place: Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs shocked the world last year with an impressive 10-6 record just barely missing the playoffs. Although they improved this offseason adding size and depth to their defensive line they will suffer the same fate as last year. It's unfortunate they play in such a tough division.

Last place: Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton appears to be the real deal and head coach Ron Rivera is committed to rebuilding this team brick by brick. The Panthers will have some growing pains, but they will give maximum effort every game. Their record will not reflect this however and they will end up with a top 5 pick again. The strength of this division will make them look worse than they really are.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Did The Arizona Diamondbacks Cost Jason Marquis His Career?

There's a thin line between competitiveness and recklessness. Yesterday Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Jason Marquis took a grounder off his leg and was in excruciating pain. After a couple of warm up tosses he felt good enough to stay in the game. A few pitches later Marquis hit a batter and fell to the ground. The diagnosis is a broken right shinbone that will sideline the Diamondback's pitcher for four to six weeks. Who's to blame for this fiasco?

You have to blame the Diamondbacks organization for this tragedy. Arizona leads the National League West by two games over the defending world champion San Francisco Giants and every game is precious. With the division title on the line they chose to listen to Marquis rather than take the necessary precautions regarding his health. Marquis was pumped up on adrenaline and would have said anything to stay in the game. A competitor at that level is not a reliable source when it comes to making a decision about an injury.

People (including myself) are quick to point out how much money professional athletes make and how fortunate they are to play a child's game for a living, but aside from all that most athletes play for the love of the game. They realize that their window of opportunity is small and if they don't seize the moment they may never have that chance again. In the case of Jason Marquis he did what 99% of major leaguers would have done given the same set of circumstances. Let's hope it's not a decision he will regret for the rest of his life.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mariano Rivera: Exit Sandman?

For the last 15 years the New York Yankees formula for success has been simple, get to the 9th inning with a lead and turn the ball over to Mariano Rivera. The Yankees all time saves leader is the most dominant closer of his era and is virtually unhittable. Until now.

in is past 7 appearances Mariano Rivera has blown more saves than he did all of last year. Hitters are waiting on his signature cutter and blasting it out of the park. There are whispers within the Yankee clubhouse that the Sandman has become mortal and his aura of invincibility has disappeared. If this is true the Yankees are in big trouble.

There is no back up plan if Mariano Rivera fails. The Yankees are all in and aside from CC Sabathia the starters are average at best. It's rare that a closer can have such a significant impact on the fate of a baseball team, but Rivera holds the Yankees future in the palm of his hand.

The major question in New York these days is whether or not Mariano can return to his former self. To be honest it's unfair to compare this season with his past greatness. The body deteriorates, the hitters get smarter, and the law of averages catches up with you. It is a delicate situation because Mariano has been so valuable during the last 7 world series appearances you want to treat him with the utmost respect. His recent results is a cause for concern though.

Being a dominant closer is mostly about attitude. When your skills diminish the overwhelming confidence tends to go at the same time and without that you're bound to make mistakes. Mariano has been around a long time and I have no doubt he's capable of weathering the storm. Sometimes adversity makes a man stronger. Let's hope that's the case with the Sandman.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Boise St. Needs To Stay In Their Lane

Boise St. burst onto the college football scene a few years ago with their high powered offense and annoying blue turf. They've beaten the likes of Oklahoma and Oregon and almost went undefeated last season. Now their athletic director has stepped down amid allegations of NCAA infractions and possible sanctions going forward. What went wrong?

Boise St. got caught in no man's land. They wanted to be a big time college football program, but didn't want the problems that come with that distinction. If you want to win lots of football games and compete at a high level you're going to have to get your hands dirty. Success comes with a price.

You have to recruit good players who aren't necessarily good people. You might have to slip a few hundreds in their pocket. You might have to send cheerleaders to their room in the middle of the night. You may have to change a few grades to keep them eligible. All these things are against the rules of course so you have to make sure you don't get caught.

Teams in the Pac 12, Big 12, and especially the SEC understand this unwritten rule of recruiting. It would be nice if standout players were devout Christians that dated their high school sweetheart and went to bed by 11:00, but that's a fairytale. In the real world winning programs do whatever it takes to gain an edge and stay on top. Boise St. seems unwilling to make that sacrifice. Back to mediocrity for the Broncos.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

AFC North Champions: Pittsburgh Steelers

To my surprise Tuesday's blog received quite a bit of attention. It seems there's quite a few Charger fans out there that are blinded by loyalty and can't see the forest from the trees. I've been there before and I understand their pain. I know I wield the truth like a blunt object in a dark alley and sometimes feelings get hurt. It's a part of the business I don't like, but one I can't control. Handicapping ain't easy. Here is how the AFC North will shake out.

Division winner: Pittsburgh Steelers. James Harrison had a colorful off season, but other than that the Steelers look pretty much the same as they did in the Super Bowl last year. The entire division gets to feast on the NFC West this year and Ben Roethlisberger will not miss the first four games for disciplinary reasons. It's a two team race and the Steelers will come out victorious.

2nd place: Baltimore Ravens. If only they had a game changer on offense. The Baltimore Ravens are every bit as good as the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they don't make big plays when they really need it. Moral victories get old and unless Joe Flacco and Ray Rice turn the corner the Ravens will have to be content with 2nd place once again.

3rd place: Cleveland Browns. If Peyton Hillis is the focal point of your offense you have some work to do. Colt McCoy looked impressive towards the end of last season and we'll see if he can pick up where he left off. The Holmgren rebuilding process will take time and the Browns are a year away from respectability.

last place: Cincinnati Bengals. Give Mike Brown credit for sticking to his guns. That old man wouldn't trade Carson Palmer if his grand children's lives depended on it. Chad Ocho Cinco and Terrell Owens have also been shown the door and the new Bengal era begins. I do think Andy Dalton to A.J. Green will be a great combo in the near future, but not this season. With Baltimore and Pittsburgh on your schedule twice a year the goal is to just stay healthy and hold onto the ball.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

AFC West Champions: The Kansas City Chiefs

Free agency has cooled down in the NFL and now it's time to get down to brass taxes. Training camp will go a long way in determining which teams will succeed and which ones will fail. We've already seen the Detroit Lions and New York Giants lose first round picks to injury and the Chicago Bears and the Tennessee Titans are dealing with disgruntled running backs that are holding out. We're bound to see even more casualties as training camp continues, but it's never too early to handicap each division. Here is how the AFC west will shake out.

Division winner: Kansas City Chiefs. The Midwest version of the New England Patriots will continue with the maturation process. Jamaal Charles will have another productive year and the addition of Steve Breaston at wide receiver makes the offense more explosive than ever. Romeo Crennel gets a 2nd season as defensive coordinator and safety Eric Berry is a star in the making. San Diego might put up a bit of a fight, but otherwise the Chiefs will run away with the division.

2nd place: San Diego Chargers. The Charger lost their insurance policy Darren Sproles to free agency so running back Ryan Mathews will have to step up and fill the void. Phillip Rivers is a top 5 quarterback, but the team has grown old around him. It's time to blow the current team up and start fresh.

3rd place: Oakland Raiders. The Raiders were decimated in free agency with the loss of cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, tight end Zach Miller, and tackle Robert Gallery. Hue Jackson is in his first year as head coach so it will be important for him to establish his philosophy early. The Raiders have enough talent to keep the games close, but not much more.

Last place: Denver Broncos. The Broncos were able to keep Kyle Orton around to start at quarterback, but it won't be enough to keep them out of the cellar. First year coach John Fox brings a defensive mindset to the team and the return of Elvis Dumervil at defensive end will be significant. The running game is still a question however and the receiving corps doesn't scare anyone.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Is It Smart To Buy An NBA Team Right Now?

Commissioner David Stern has been saying for months that the current NBA model is broken and several NBA franchises are losing millions of dollars every year. Union president Billy Hunter says the two sides are so far apart there is very little chance we will see any basketball next season. If we are to take these two men at their word can you explain what the hell Alex Muruelo is doing?

California businessman Alex Muruelo recently purchased the Atlanta Hawks for an undisclosed amount of money. It seems silly for anyone to invest in a league with such uncertainty. You don't have to have a master's degree in business administration to understand the NBA is a financial mess right now and there are no easy solutions.

Perhaps Mr. Muruelo is a perpetual optimist that always see the glass as half full. The NBA's popularity soared this year to levels we haven't seen in decades. It seems logical (although not very likely) the two sides would do everything in their power to capitalize on the momentum and ride the wave of success.

Perhaps Mr. Muruelo is impulsive and just wants a big toy to play with. It is the ultimate dream of most sports fans to own a professional franchise. The opportunity presented itself and Alex couldn't resist.

Whatever the reason the timing of this purchase is strange. On a scale of 1 to 10 the level of risk associated with this investment is a 12. The two sides are billions of dollars apart and the negotiating sessions have been less than productive. Maybe Alex Muruelo knows something we don't, but this deal doesn't seem to pencil out. It's not too often you see someone volunteers to jump on a sinking ship. I hope Alex has his live vest on.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tito Ortiz Will Beat Rashad Evans

It's been only 35 days since Tito Ortiz made his triumphant return to the octagon with an impressive victory over Ryan Bader. Tito's career was on life support before that victory and now the sky's the limit. The next obstacle on his path to immortality is Rashad Evans.

The last time Rashad Evans fought he toppled an over hyped and out of shape Rampage Jackson. Jackson was coming off his acting debut as B.A. Baracus in the A-Team. It was pretty apparent the time off affected his preparation and stamina so the victory came as no surprise. Rampage talked a good game, but at the end of the day his mean looks and insults only served as motivation for Evans.

When you assess this fight on paper Tito Ortiz is clearly the underdog. Rashad Evans is more technically sound and Ortiz is getting up there in age. It's always a good idea to bet on the younger, faster fighter. Fortunately for Tito fights aren't fought on paper, but rather in the octagon. Tito still has the heart of a champion and Rashad Evans is susceptible to a big right hand. Anything can happen in a match up of this magnitude so don't be surprised if Tito is the one with his hand raised at the end of the fight.

Perhaps I'm just being sentimental because Tito Ortiz is one of my favorite athletes. As you all know I tend to gravitate towards the cocky, trash talking guys and the Huntington Beach Bad Boy definitely fits that criteria. Tito is the Muhammad Ali of the UFC and his personality and aura are electric. In fighting Rashad Evans I don't believe Ortiz has bitten off more than he can chew and there's still something left in the tank. Ortiz by unanimous decision. I hope I'm not letting my emotions get the best of me with this prediction. Your thoughts?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Seahawks Training Camp Observatioms

As the self proclaimed expert on all things sports related and a staunch supporter of all teams from the 206 I felt compelled to attend a Seattle Seahawks practice (special thanks to the Hampton and Artis family). My objective was to observe and report on the status of Seattle's football team.

I had no idea what to expect and no preconceived notions as to what practice would be like. There were people of all sizes, shapes, and colors with two common goals, support the Seahawks and see what the team had to offer. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and came away with 5 distinct observations.

1. The defense is waaay ahead of the offense. I saw no explosive plays and the defense clearly dominated the offense. I don't know whether to be optimistic or pessimistic about the fact the defensive line pushed around the offensive line without Red Bryant in the line up.

2. Tavaris Jackson is not the truth. I'm pulling for the guy, but I didn't see him complete a pass over 5 yards and saw nothing that gave me the impression he's a long term solution to the quarterback position. Don't be surprised if Charlie Whitehurst is named the starter at the end of training camp.

3. Earl Thomas is the only star on the Seahawks roster. Earl Thomas is a play maker. He's the only guy that looked special out there. His spot is secure, but everyone else is in a battle for playing time at their position.

4. The Seahawks have too many receivers. The Seahawks have about 12 receivers in camp and most teams start the season with 6 or 7. The receiver position will be the most highly contested on the team. I think Kris Durham is on borrowed time. Not enough big plays and several dropped balls is a death sentence.

5. Pete Carroll is overly popular. If the head coach is the guy that gets the most attention after practice and is the most eagerly anticipated autograph there's a problem. That means your team has no recognizable stars and your team is a ways away from being a contender. Good thing REAL Seahawks fans realize the team is in rebuilding mode and we can't really make an accurate assessment of what this team can do until next year.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A-Rod The Arrogant

Picture this, you and your friends decide to get together and have a series of poker games. You're all pretty well to do in your own right so the games are high stakes. One of your friends invites some guy that's been bilking investors in a ponzi scheme so the feds are watching him. The game gets busted (when you're not there) and some anonymous snitch tells the police you are one of the regulars. Everybody in the world finds out and your suddenly facing suspension from your employer. This is what happened to Alex Rodriguez.

I'm not condoning illegal activity of any sort, but on a scale of 1-10 playing poker with your friends rates a 1. Sure the games weren't sanctioned and I'm sure they didn't report their winnings on their tax returns, but this so called crime endangers no one.

The commissioner of baseball doesn't share my sentiment. Alex Rodriguez had been warned previously to stay away from these type of activities to protect the integrity of the game. Baseball has a long history with gambling scandals and the league is hyper sensitive to the subject. Bud Selig is angry that Alex Rodriguez disobeyed a direct order so some type of punishment will be laid down after the investigation is over. The league has to make an example of A-Rod.

It's hard to imagine that someone making $32,000,000 this season would disregard a warning coming straight from the commissioner's mouth, but Alex Rodriguez has never been known for his humility or respect for arbitrary rules. Alex Rodriguez is an arrogant man that thinks the rules don't apply to him.

In his mind money and supreme talent are all that matters. Most of the time that's true, but when you cross over into the realm of drugs and gambling (Alex has done both) major league baseball pays special attention. It's just funny that the got caught in such a ridiculous manner. Nevertheless A-Rod will be suspended and that's all there is to it. Think he's learned his lesson?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Randy Moss Made A Mistake

Everyone likes to watch a good freak show now and again so when I heard Randy Moss retired from the NFL I was shocked and disappointed. Moss is arguably the best wide receiver of his generation and a sure fire first ballot hall of famer. What made him decide to leave the game?

Pride and ego. Randy Moss considers himself football royalty and believes his pedigree and accomplishments speak for themselves. From high school where he won the 100 and 200 meter state championship to college where he ran the 5th fastest indoor 200 meters in the world to the pros where he was a member of the 1st and 2nd highest scoring offenses in history Randy Moss has always displayed superior athletic ability.

Although Moss is a special player, his attitude can get him into trouble at times. He wore out his welcome in Minnesota (twice), publicly complained about money in New England (an absolute no no) and floundered in Oakland and Tennessee criticizing mediocre quarterbacks. A certain amount of baggage comes with the freak show and at 34 a lot of teams have decided the risk is not worth the reward.

Without a doubt Randy Moss is still one of the top 10 receivers in the NFL and there's probably not 7 cornerbacks in the league that can cover him man to man. It's hard to imagine some team couldn't use a deep threat of Randy's caliber. The problem is Randy Moss wants things on his own terms and feels disrespected by the offers he has received. That may be the case, but retirement is a decision that will haunt him later in life.

I always say play the game until you can't play it anymore. Don't walk away with something left in the tank because you'll regret it forever. There's nothing Randy Moss can do that will replace the feeling of being an NFL star. Everything else will pale in comparison. My hunch is Randy will keep himself in great shape and some NFL team will contact him at the first sign of trouble. Injuries are a part of the game and it's comforting to know there's a future hall of fame receiver a phone call away. The question is will his pride and ego allow him to answer.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Super Bowl Predictions

I'm not going way out on a limb or anything, but the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots will play in the Super Bowl this year. The moves these two teams made in free agency gives them a distinct advantage over the rest of the league.

The New England Patriots have turned into the new version of the Oakland Raiders. They have the ability to bring in disgruntled, misunderstood players and maximize their talents where other teams have failed. Chad Johnson and Albert Haynesworth certainly fit the bill. Now that both players are no longer in adverse situations and playing under a more structured system look for both of these guys to return to their Pro Bowl form.

The Philadelphia Eagles have decided the future is now by adding defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins, quarterback Vince Young, and shutdown corner Nnamdi Asomugha. Contrary to popular belief Michael Vick is highly regarded around the league and players respect the way he's been able to resurrect his career. Vick's presence, personality, and skill set have made the Eagles a team free agents want to play for. With their recent acquisitions Philadelphia has more talent than any team in the league.

The New York Jets have tried to keep pace by re-signing Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie while adding Plaxico Buress, but their defensive line is still a question. As much as I love Rex Ryan and Revis Island I still think the Jets will come up a bit short.

Let us not forget the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers may have a little something to say about this as well. Aaron Rodgers is coming into his own as an elite quarterback and the Pack will have several key starters back from injury, but only great teams win back to back Super Bowls. The Packers are just very good.

In the end it always comes down to injuries. All the predictions in the world don't mean a thing if Tom Brady and Michael Vick miss significant time. A team's future can change at the drop of a hat if they can't stay healthy. Let the quest begin.