Friday, September 30, 2011

The Seattle Seahawks Need To Get Lucky

The Seattle Seahawks showed a lot of heart last Sunday by scratching out a win against the division rival Arizona Cardinals. The Seahawks are only one game out of first place in the dreadful NFC West and with maximum effort the could find themselves in the hunt for a playoff spot. Is that a good thing?

True Seahawks fans understand that the team is a work in progress. There are no quick fixes in the NFL and the process of rebuilding takes time. Pete Carroll has started putting the pieces in place for a winning organization, but there's one key component missing.

The Seahawks need a franchise quarterback and the best prospect out there is Andrew Luck. Most experts agree Luck would have been the first player selected in the 2011 NFL draft and will certainly be the first quarterback selected in the 2012 NFL draft. That means in order for the Seahawks to have a chance to pick him they need to lose more games.

I know these guys are professionals and take pride in what they do, but why not tank some games for the greater good? Why not put yourself in a position to improve your team dramatically with a few extra losses? Nothing is guaranteed and Andrew Luck may not be the player everyone thinks he is, but isn't he worth the risk? Best case scenario he's the savior of the franchise. Worst case scenario he's better than Tavaris Jackson.

The good news is even if the Seahawks don't finish poorly enough to select Andrew Luck there are plenty of quarterback options this year. Robert Griffin III, Landry Jones, and Matt Barkley all seem like worthy candidates to lead the team if Luck is unavailable. At least there's an insurance policy in place. For the Seahawks sake I hope they realize it's better to be lucky than good before it's too late.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Closers And Kickers Will Ruin Your Life

It almost seems poetic. Last night two of the top closers in baseball blew saves that cost their teams a chance to play in the post season. Jonathan Papelbon and Craig Kimbrel both entered the ninth inning with a chance to end the game and guarantee at least a one game playoff for the wild card spot. Instead they let the magnitude of the moment get the best of them and the rest is history.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is nothing more irritating in sports than kickers and closers. They've personally cost me thousands of dollars and brought pain and anguish to millions of sports fans world wide. Some might say I'm being too hard on these guys, but those people are closers, kickers, or relatives of closers and kickers. Everyone else knows they are the scum of the earth. To further illustrate my point here is a list of the top 5 blown saves and missed kicks of the last 25 years.

Blown Saves:

5. Mariano Rivera 2001. In the 7th game of the World Series Mariano Rivera gave up more hits to left handed batters than he had allowed the entire season. The blown save cost the Yankees their 4th straight World Series and a shot at immortality.

4. Donnie Moore 1986. Donnie Moore inexplicably gave up a 2 run home run in the ALCS propelling the Boston Red Sox into the World Series. The scrutiny and animosity was so intense following that blown save it drove Donnie Moore to suicide (True story).

3. Dennis Eckersley 1988. The AL Cy Young award winner gave up a home run in the World Series to a batter that was so injured his home run trot reminded me of an 83 year old grandmother giving Brock Lesner a piggyback ride.

2. Jose Mesa 1997. Jose Mesa could've single handedly put an end to the misery Cleveland sports fans had endured, but instead he added another log to the fire with a blown save in the 7th game of the World Series (He also ruined my birthday that year).

1. Mitch Williams 1993. As if he had a contract with Disney studios for a story book ending Mitch Williams gave up a walk off home run to end the World Series. It was never done before or since.

The Kickers:

5. Alexis Serna Oregon St. 2004. After missing two extra point attempts in regulation this guy missed an extra point in overtime to tie the game against the #1 team in the country (LSU). Brutal.

4. Florida St. (1990 -1993). Over the course of three seasons two different kickers missed game winning field goals (wide left and wide right) that cost the Seminoles a shot at a national championship.

3. Mike Vanderjagt Indianapolis Colts 2005. After calling out 4 time NFL MVP Peyton Manning for not doing enough to help the team win Vanderjagt went out and missed a game tying field goal against the Steelers in the playoffs.

2. Gary Anderson Minnesota Vikings 1999. After making every single kick for an entire season (and 46 in a row) Gary Anderson missed a 38 yard field goal that would have sent his team to the Super Bowl. Instead the Atlanta Falcons gained momentum and beat Minnesota in overtime. The Vikings were 15-1 that season with the second highest scoring offense in NFL history.

1. Scott Norwood Buffalo Bills 1991. On the biggest stage in the biggest game Scott Norwood crapped his pants and went wide right. New York Giants 20 Buffalo Bills 19, the closest Super Bowl ever.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

MLB's Last Day: Who's Gonna Choke?

I guess this is why they invented the wild card spot. On the final day of the 2011 MLB season four teams are playing for their playoff lives. After 161 long and grueling games we find ourselves in a winner take all scenario. It should never have come to this.

The Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves had it on cruise control in the beginning of September, but slacked off considerably opening the door for the Rays and Cardinals to sneak into the conversation. What will be the outcome?

The schedule seems to favor Tampa Bay and St. Louis. Both teams have their aces on the mound tonight (David Price and Chris Carpenter) while their opponents (New York and Philadelphia) have already clinched home filed advantage throughout the playoffs. The Phillies have no vested interest in who gets in while the Yankees would like nothing more than to spoil Boston's title hopes. Look for the Bronx Bombers to rest some of their key players tonight.

This is the time for introspective self reflection. What if this pitcher or that player were healthy? What if my closer didn't give up a cheap home run back in May? What if I didn't pull my starter in the 7th inning of a one run game? Hindsight is 20/20, but the regret that comes with it can be difficult to deal with. I know all four managers involved in this situation wishes they would have done something different during the season to avoid this predicament.

My guess is one of these wild card races will come down to a one game playoff. Boston seems the most vulnerable and Tampa Bay knows they have the Red Sox number. Let's hope some some no name player doesn't become infamous for some random error or a overzealous fan for interference. Good luck everyone.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Keith Price Will Never Be Jake Locker

To the objective observer the comparison isn't even close. Keith Price is a better quarterback than Jake Locker. Matt Millen gushed all over the guy like a Justin Bieber groupie two weeks ago and during the Cal game a commentator even went so far as to say, "Jake who?" The announcers probably don't realize it, but in Seattle you're not really supposed to say that out loud. It's a sensitive subject that stirs up controversy in the 206.

Jake Locker is one of the most beloved sports figures the city has ever known and on his best day Keith Price will never be able to gain that status. It has nothing to do with his ability however. It's because of the sentimental attachment the city has for Jake Locker. Montlake Jake is a local kid that resurrected the Husky football program and held it together through tough times. He made personal sacrifices by returning for his senior year (passing up at least 25 million dollars in the process) and bridging the gap between an 0-12 season and a respectable 6-6 campaign.

As we speak Keith Price leads the nation in touchdown passes and has a 67% completion percentage. He's unbelievably accurate, poised in the pocket, and does everything you can ask of a quarterback. His decision making skills are excellent and you have a good idea of where the ball is going when it leaves his hand. Keith Price is a better quarterback than Jake Locker.

I say this as a Husky alumni that watched every single game of Jake Locker's collegiate career. Whenever Jake threw a deep pass there was always an uneasy feeling. He struggled with his accuracy and sometimes didn't know his own strength. When Keith Price throws a deep pass I wonder who is going to catch a touchdown. There's an anticipation something big is going to happen.

Jake Locker was a far better athlete than Keith Price and his leadership abilities are unparalleled, but if you're being honest the Husky offense runs much smoother with Keith at the helm. The skeptics will argue it's only been 4 games and playing quarterback is about more than just throwing the ball, but that same argument proves the point. It's only been 4 games. Imagine what this kid will look like by season's end?

Keith Price could lead the Huskies to the national championship game and there would be more fans in the stadium wearing #10 jerseys than #17. It is the curse of following in the footsteps of a legend. Football is not a popularity contest however and I have no doubt Keith Price will write his own chapter in the history of Husky football. It just won't capture the hearts and minds of Husky fans the way Jake Locker did. See what you started Matt Millen!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekend Observations

This fantasy football thing is starting to get on my nerves. My records clearly don't reflect the infinite sports knowledge I possess. I've been completely silenced in my trash talking league after Michael Vick failed to score from the one yard line or throw a touchdown pass to Desean Jackson. As Evelyn Lozada so eloquently put it I'll be a non fu*king factor from here on out. In my JV league I'm losing by 10 points to a team that started Michael Vick (8 points), Kenny Britt (knee injury), and Beanie Wells (inactive). That's like Justin Verlander having a losing record in AA ball. At least I redeemed myself in my hurt your feelings league by dismantling the reigning champ and commish. I am now officially a member of the Wes Welker and Aaron Rodgers fan clubs. Here are some weekend observations.

This will be Donovan McNabb's last year as an NFL starter. Although you can't completely blame McNabb for the Vikings 0-3 start he's clearly not the player he once was and Minnesota will go in a different direction at season's end.

Keith Price is really good. More on that tomorrow.

The PGA Tour champion and Fed Ex Cup winner was decided yesterday. Can anyone tell me his name?

Rampage Jackson might want to resurrect his acting career after two straight UFC losses. The younger, faster, stronger Jon Jones made him look way past his prime.

The Seattle Seahawks may have too much pride for their own good. With every win they jeopardize their chances of getting Lucky. The 2012 NFL draft will be stocked full of quarterbacks, but Andrew Luck is at the head of the class. There's nothing wrong with tanking games so long as you end up with a franchise quarterback for your troubles.

Friday, September 23, 2011

HTB Statements

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

1. For the first time in his MLB career Ichiro Suzuki will not amass 200 hits in a season.

2. The Pittsburgh Pirates will have another losing season for the 20th consecutive year.

3. MLB can ban Manny Ramirez from playing in the Dominican league.

4. Greg Norman said Tiger Woods doesn't have enough "street smarts" to regain his previous form.

5. The University of Maryland made their football team wear hideous uniforms as a marketing ploy.

6. Matt Hasselbeck has only been sacked two times this season.

7. Cam Newton is one of 7 quarterbacks to throw for over 400 yards in two consecutive games and it only took him two games to do it.

8. Ryan Grant has single handedly destroyed two of my fantasy football teams.

9. Hockey fans in Canada are a racist as soccer fans in Europe.

10. Hollywood made a movie (Moneyball) about a metric system in baseball that doesn't actually work.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The NBA's Greatest Game

Uncertain of if and when the NBA lockout will end I've resorted to watching old games on NBA TV. There have been some classic match ups. I watched Isaiah go nuts on the Lakers in 88', Allen Iverson put on a clinic against the Knicks in 97' and Jordan take out Charles Barkley in 93' All of those were fantastic games that brought back a lot of memories, but last night I watched the most important game in the history of the league.

Game 7 of the 2000 Western conference finals was epic. The Portland Trailblazers had put together a team of crafty veterans anchored by the great Scottie Pippen while the Los Angeles Lakers countered with two young superstars by the name of Shaq and Kobe. Two formidable opponents with one common goal, basketball supremacy.

I remember the game like it was yesterday. Naturally I was pulling for the Lakers and chose to watch the game in a room full of Laker Haters. I wanted to rub it in after the Lakers broke their hearts. Through 3 quarters it appeared I would be sadly disappointed.

Down by 12 in the 4th quarter a funny thing happened. Portland couldn't hit a shot and the Lakers couldn't miss. The lead was cut to 10, then 7, then 5, then 1. It was sheer beauty to see the young superstars pull it all together and stake their claim as the NBA's elite players. The comeback was punctuated with an emphatic alley oop dunk from Kobe to Shaq and Laker Nation was born.

Had the Portland Trailblazers not completely choked down the stretch Scottie Pippen would have one more championship than Michael Jordan and Shaq and Kobe may have never reached their full potential. Instead the dynamic duo went on to win multiple championships (4 and 5 respectively) and establish themselves as the NBA's most dominant players.

Rarely does a game change the course of history so significantly and foreshadow greatness like game 7 of the 2000 Western conference finals. Without it the world would be a different place.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Do The Boston Red Sox Have Any Heart?

With 8 games remaining the Boston Red Sox are on the verge of the biggest collapse in baseball history. As we speak the Red Sox are only two games in front of the Tampa Bay Rays for a wild card spot. After strolling through most of the summer with a comfortable lead the Red Sox find themselves in a must win situation. This is where the psychology of sports kicks in.

Players will respond to this scenario in one of two ways. They will either rise to the occasion and become heroes or wilt under the pressure of expectation. In the heat of the moment your mind can start to play tricks on you. Every at bat, every pitch, and every defensive play in the field can seem like life or death while the burden of those larger than life contracts can weigh on a player like an anvil.

The owners and fans don't want to hear excuses. They pay huge amounts of money in salaries and give their undying loyalty and support to the organization. The least these players can do to hold up their end of the bargain is get to the post season right? It would be difficult if not impossible to focus entirely on the task at hand without those factors becoming a distraction. This time of year separates the mentally strong from the emotionally weak.

The Red Sox have to put up or shut up. With all eyes on the it's imperative that they perform at a high level. Chances are the Rays wont continue to play lights out baseball and the Red Sox will slide by, but if they stumble and become headcases Tampa Bay will take advantage. It should be an interesting week in MLB.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why Floyd Mayweather Jr. Will Clobber Manny Pacquiao

Floyd Mayweather Jr. was putting on a masterful performance Saturday night when things got a little out of hand. His opponent Victor Ortiz inexcusably jumped up and head butted Mayweather out of frustration. The referee deducted a point for bad sportsmanship and as the two resumed the fight Floyd hit him with a left right combination that knocked Ortiz out. The fight ended in controversy and everyone accused Mayweather of sucker punching Ortiz. Do they have a point?

Two wrongs don't make a right, but I feel Mayweather was justified in his actions. Last I checked the rules for the squared ring are different than the octagon. If Victor Ortiz wants to use his head instead of his hands have him fight Matt Hughes or Josh Koscheck. Once the head but occurred Floyd felt like anything goes and when the opportunity to exact revenge presented itself he took it. A boxer must protect themselves at all times or suffer the consequences.

Although the media and boxing fans worldwide have cried foul there is no earthly reason to blame Floyd Mayweather Jr. for his behavior. He's a supremely talented boxer, but no one has ever accused him of being a nice man. He has a mean streak that fuels him and given his background and past indiscretions this sequence of events shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Mayweather relishes his role as the villain and plays it to perfection.

That's the reason Floyd Mayweather Jr. will beat Manny Pacquiao. He's meaner than Manny and has an evil dark side Pacquiao has no answer for. On paper Floyd has more boxing skills to begin with so the Darth Vader personality only serves as the final nail in the coffin should these two warriors ever meet in the ring.

You have to let people be who they are and Floyd is the boxer you love to hate. Manny certainly has more fans and overall respect as a human being, but those things can't help him in the 10th round when his face is swelled up and his ribs are hurting. Manny Pacquiao will win a popularity contest against Floyd Mayweather, but not a fight. Can't wait to see it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekend Observations

Well boys and girls I got my ass handed to me in fantasy football this week. The Breesy outperformed Aaron Rodgers once again and Michael Vick showed why he is a feast or famine type of player. My hurt your feelings league and my trash talking league will both take this opportunity to put me in my place. I don't like it, but if you're going to talk the talk you have to walk the walk. Clearly I was on crutches week 2. At least I'm still winning in my JV league so I'll take some solace in that. Here are some weekend observations.

Big 10 officials have no clue about the rules of the kicking game. On 3 separate occasions they made erroneous calls in the Washington/Nebraska game. It almost seemed like they had a vested interest in the outcome. Someone should check into that.

The Andrew Luck sweepstakes is in full effect in the Seattle area. With an offense that poor I can't see how the Seahawks will win more than 4 games this season. To make matters worse Matt Hasselbeck threw for 358 yards for Tennessee and makes Kenny Britt look like an all pro receiver. The Pete Carroll bandwagon is starting to feel a little light.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is not as bad as people make him out to be (more on this tomorrow).

The Detroit Lions are for real, The Buffalo Bills have an explosive offense, The Baltimore Ravens still have some work to do, Reggie Bush is done, and the rookie QB's (Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, and Blaine Gabbert) are much better than expected.

Much to my chagrin super conferences are the wave of the future. The ACC and the Pac 12 are on the verge of making moves that will completely shift the balance of power in their favor in football and basketball. Sometimes greed is good.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Return Of Young Sam Rothstein

It's been a long time and I shouldn't have left you, but Young Sam had some business to take care of. I squared up with the Armenians and got the Colombians off my back so all my debts are settled. It was touch and go there for a while, but thanks to Notre Dame and Boise St. I'm back with a renewed confidence and enthusiasm.

As I start to get my hands around this 2011 football season I'm starting to see some trends I will take full advantage of. It will be a very profitable year. I understand it will take some time to regain your trust, but stick with me and I'll change your life for the better. As a warm up here's 4 can't miss games over the weekend.

Baltimore -6 over Tennessee. Ray Rice is on a mission this year and Joe Flacco is tired of people talking about him. Matt Hasselbeck will have trouble staying upright against the Ravens defense and Chris Johnson will have to wait another week to have his breakout game. Baltimore by a touchdown.

Dallas -3 over San Francisco. Dallas went to New York and gave the Jets all they could handle while the 49ers needed special teams heroics from Ted Ginn Jr. to beat the Seahawks. Tony Romo rights the ship this week and Dallas wins by 10.

Buffalo -3 over Oakland. Travelling across the country is never easy for west coast teams and Buffalo is starting to find their identity. The Bills defense is coming together and the offense looks light weight explosive. No high altitude for Sebastian Janikowski so back to reality for fantasy football owners. Bills by 7.

Pittsburgh -14 over Seattle. The Seahawks offensive line is a work in progress and that's bad news when you're facing a Steeler defense that just gave up 35 points to the hated Ravens. The Steelers will bounce back like a kangaroo after last week's embarrassing loss and the Seahawks will have no answers. Steelers by 20.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Real Victims Of The NBA Lockout

As the NBA lockout continues on its course towards a season ending labor dispute countless people are left in limbo. Hundreds of players (rookies and veterans) are left to wonder what the future holds as commissioner David Stern and NBAPA executive director Billy Hunter hash out the division of billions of dollars. Coaches and front office staff sit patiently by with no idea if and when they will go back to work. Although the lockout affects them significantly they are not the ones who feel the biggest impact.

The real victims of this NBA lockout are the little guys, the people who have jobs that are tied to NBA games. It's the guy that takes your ticket as a part time gig so he can make ends meet. It's the janitorial service with a stadium contract that comprises 60% of their income. It's the food vendor with a massive lease payment and no one to serve their products to. It's the guy with the sports bar downtown that will see his business cut in half with no NBA games to watch.

The NBA lockout isn't just about owners and players. Millionaires and billionaires will get by, but what about the other people who depend on the NBA for their livelihood? Are their businesses in jeopardy? Will they lose their cars and homes? Will their kids go to college? Can you really maintain a staff and a payroll given the current state of affairs?

In the end I realize it's a business and certain financial issues have to be resolved before the NBA can return to action, but I can't help but feel sorry for the innocent bystanders who will suffer tremendous economic loss because of it. Hopefully something will get done to keep the little guy afloat.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

David Akers: A Hero Or An Idiot?

Right now David Akers is a hero to fans in San Francisco and fantasy football owners all over the world. On Sunday Akers made 4 consecutive field goals propelling the San Francisco 49ers to a 33-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. The all pro kicker (he's also a member of the all decade team) has played most of his career in Philadelphia, but signed with the 49ers this summer after contract talks with the Eagles broke down. Did he make the right decision?

Absolutely not. The 49ers have an outside chance of making the playoffs (they play in the worst division in football), but the Eagles are favorites to make the Super Bowl. Most professional athletes will tell you their number one goal is to win a championship. If that's true there's no plausible explanation as to why David Akers would jump ship at a time when the Eagles are poised to make that dream a reality.

Pride and ego have a way of clouding peoples judgement and I think both factors were at work in this situation. After years of loyal and dedicated service Akers thought he was entitled to some form of long term security and a modest pay raise. Although the Eagles acknowledged he is one of the best at his craft they simply weren't willing to give in to his demands. He's only a kicker after all.

In the end the change of scenery may be a good thing for him. I'm sure San Francisco is a much better place for his family and Philadelphia fans are notorious for being hard on their sports teams, but Super Bowl rings are hard to come by. If the Eagles win the Super Bowl without him how embarrassing would that be for him? Like the great Marcellus Wallace said, "pride only hurts, it never helps.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Week One Fantasy Football Results

My quest for fantasy football supremacy got off to a decent start. In my trash talking league the Breesy kind of took advantage of me and Kenny Britt had the game of his life. I countered with Vick and Desean Jackson, but Johnny Knox and Ryan Grant gave me nothing. That squad needs a little tweaking.

In my hurt your feelings league I put a beautiful hurting on those chumps. Aaron Rodgers? Wes Welker? Ravens defense? David Akers? Need I say more? In all fairness I did beat the snot piss out of someone who didn't play fantasy football last year and he's still getting his feet wet. Nonetheless I put on a masterful performance and everyone in that league should fear me from here to eternity.

In my family league (my dad and I battle against my uncle and his co-workers) it was a nail biter. Sebastian Janikowski was kicking field goals like some prehistoric dinosaur and if he had made one more I would have lost the match up. Fortunately Megatron and Ed Reed saved the day for me. Phillip Rivers had a decent day, but he could do more. As for Mark Ingram? I'm not returning his text messages this week. He apologized profusely for his bad performance, but I'm not having it right now. It will take a lot to change my mindset right now.

On a side note, I have to admit I made a slight error in my division winner predictions. Kansas City is garbage and now that they've lost their starting safety and tight end for the entire season they have no chance of winning the AFC West. Dex and Trav, I hope you're happy. It's not too often I admit I was wrong (that's because I'm not wrong too often). Good luck next week fantasy football warriors. If you have any tid bits or breaking trends please don't hesitate to share your knowledge.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Novak Djokovic Is A Tennis God

Ordinarily I would start my Monday blog with weekend observations, fantasy football updates, or rubbing Notre Dame's face in manure, but this time I have to talk about the US Open. Even with the men's final still up for grabs today the drama over the weekend was sensational.

Let's start with Novak Djokovic shall we? As a former tennis player I've never seen anything quite like the Federer/Djokovic match on Saturday. The first set was so evenly matched Federer won the tie breaker 9-7 while the 2nd set featured only one break. When Federer took a commanding 2 set to love lead I thought the match was over.

To my surprise Djokovic fought back to win the next two sets and pull even in the match. With a spot in the US Open final on the line Federer went up 5-3, 40-15 serving for the match. The crowd was behind him and it looked like a foregone conclusion he would be playing for his 17th grand slam title until the unthinkable happened.

Novak Djokovic calmly walked to the deuce court shaking his head as if it were no big deal he was down two match points against arguably the greatest tennis player of all time. He took a deep breath, smashed a cross court winner, and turned to the crowd as if to say "give me some love too!" The crowd responded with a raucous ovation and suddenly the momentum shifted.

Roger Federer lost his serve, lost his composure, lost his nerve, and lost the match. His shots were tentative and his body language reflected a competitor that knew he couldn't win. Federer showed us his vulnerable side and succumbed to the pressure of must win points.

The 2011 US Open men's semi finals is what sports is all about. Watching Novak Djokovic do the impossible is something all sports fans can appreciate. Never give up, always believe in yourself, and leave it all on the court. That is the message everyone should be taking away from Novak's improbable victory. Novak Djokovic has ascended to the tennis equivalent of Mt. Olympus with one match. Simply awesome.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Is Twitter Bad For Sports?

Twitter gives us the opportunity to voice our opinions and thoughts anytime we feel like it to a world wide audience. The freedom, the power, and the accessibility is more than some people can handle.

While freedom of speech is a right all Americans have it's a privilege that has its consequences. Those that live in the moment and those ruled by their emotions can get themselves into trouble with the words and the feelings they share. Expressing yourself doesn't always yield the desired result.

As a sports enthusiast I watch athletes put their foot in their mouth all the time. The backlash and the criticism can be severe and it almost makes you wonder why did they say anything at all? Don't they know the whole world is listening? Would you stop them from using twitter for their own good if you had the chance?

I'm against censorship, but I'm also against athletes who make asinine comments that grow into full blown controversies. The impulsive actions of one person can affect an entire game, team, city , or university.

You can't tell people what to say, how to think, or how to feel. Individual expression is what makes us who we are. That being said the golden age of technology has pitfalls and obstacles that athletes must adjust to. Twitter isn't bad for sports, but it's not good either. So long as people act before they think it will always have the potential to be a problem.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Did The NFL lockout Ruin Peyton Manning's Career?

Peyton Manning underwent successful neck fusion surgery yesterday (sounds scary) and will miss at least 2-3 months of the season. Considered by many as the most indispensable player in the league Manning's absence will have a profound impact on the Colts organization. The streak of nine consecutive division titles will come to a screeching halt and once the Colts are eliminated from playoff contention they will most likely rest Manning for the entire season. Is Peyton Manning a casualty of the NFL lockout?

Absolutely. For months we've heard Peyton say that without access to team facilities and doctors his recovery from surgery in May was slower than expected. Without sound advice and monitoring of his condition Manning was left on his own to determine the best course of action for himself and his career.

In addition Peyton signed a $90,000,000 contract this off season and more than half of that money is guaranteed. If the 4 time MVP can't return to his former greatness and the Colts are forced to go in a different direction the financial ramifications would be disastrous.

It's ironic that the greed of the NFL owners may have cost them the goose that lays the golden eggs. Peyton Manning carries the league on his back and without the clean cut image, charming personality, and marketing power he possesses the NFL will suffer significantly. There is no one else with that unique combination.

It's hard to imagine a football season without Peyton Manning. For 13 years the guy has taken every snap for the Colts and been involved in some of the greatest playoff games in NFL history. If he could have picked up a phone or had a brief meeting with the Colts medical staff this whole tragic ordeal probably could have been avoided. Get well Peyton, the NFL needs you.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Will Sidney Crosby Ever Play Hockey Again?

The NHL held its collective breath yesterday when Sidney Crosby gave his first press conference in months outlining the time line for his return to hockey. The prognosis was not good. Although Crosby was optimistic he would play next year he admitted his road to recovery was far from complete. One of the doctors that joined Crosby even went so far as to say he had "no earthly idea" when the Penguins all star would return to the ice. Is the NHL at a crossroads?

Yes and no. Anytime a sport loses its most popular and marketable player its cause for concern. Sidney Crosby is in the prime of his career and his extended absence isn't something that could have been anticipated. There is no contingency plan for losing the face of the NHL, but that doesn't mean all is lost. This year's Stanley Cup final had the highest TV ratings in almost 20 years and the impending NBA lockout will be advantageous for the league. The NHL will get more coverage than usual as network affiliates scramble to fill air time.

The real question is will the league make plans to move forward as if Sid the Kid has played his last game? I'm no neurologist, but if someone is still experiencing symptoms from a hit they took 10 months ago something is seriously wrong. Concussions are no laughing matter and with the increased awareness of their long term effects you should always treat these cases with extreme caution.

My guess is Sidney Crosby won't be back and if so he has nothing to be ashamed of. The 24 year old has a lifetime of accomplishments including gold medals, Stanley Cups, and Hart trophies. If he never scores another goal he's a part of NHL history forever.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Does American Tennis Have A Pulse?

Before the rain came down on Flushing Meadows yesterday the US open draw had a very unfamiliar look to it. There were Americans all over the place and some of them had even put themselves in a position to win the tournament.

Four American men made the round of 16 (unfortunately Mardy Fish lost a heartbreaking 5 set match) one American woman made the quarterfinals (Sensational Serena Williams) and a mixed doubles pair (Joe Sock and Melanie Oudin) made the semi finals.

John Isner is playing some of his best tennis of the year while Andy Roddick is looking more confident and relaxed than he has in 2 years. Donald Young has finally had a break out tournament that may lead to future success and the Sock/Oudin tandem (18 and 19 respectively) are too young to realize the magnitude of what they could accomplish.

Meanwhile Serena Williams is running through the women's draw punking fools like Deebo for their gold chain and bicycle. It doesn't seem fair that the 28 seed imposes that much fear in her opponents.

Is the 2011 US Open an apparition or a glimpse into the future? If I had to look at it objectively I'd have to say the Americans overachieved thus far and it would be a mistake to get too excited about it. The New York crowd usually gives the players a little extra energy and this year the Americans have taken advantage of it.

Whether or not the Americans continue with their winning ways it's been a compelling 1st week at the US Open. American stuff aside Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer have unfinished business and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga may want to crash the party as well. At the end of the day my money is on Nadal, but with the weather delays it's any body's guess.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Notre Dame Football Gets On My Nerves

Friends, fans, family, and followers it's time for my annual blog on the ridiculousness that is Notre Dame football. The fighting Irish entered Saturday's game vs. USF as the #16 team in the country and aspirations of playing in a BCS bowl game. Some experts even predicted a 10 win season. Those experts were wrong.

Notre Dame is over hyped every single year and in typical Notre Dame fashion the party's over before it even got started. USF upset the Irish at home with a stunning 23-20 victory. 3 turnovers inside the 5 yard line were costly and now they have to go to the Big House and play in the first night game ever at Ann Arbor. Can you say 0-2?

To make matters worse the Irish have started a quarterback controversy by benching Dane Crist in favor of back up Tommy Rees. After winning the job in the offseason it only took Crist one half to lose it? Change this early in the year is a sign of uncertainty. It's the type of decision that can divide a locker room and once college kids start second guessing the head coach there's almost no chance they will play as a cohesive unit.

I don't know why I love to hate Notre Dame so much. Perhaps it's because they live on past greatness like no other program. Perhaps it's because they have an exclusive TV contract for no apparent reason. Maybe it's because all of their so called "star players" of the past 20 years have all turned out to be garbage ( I hope Golden Tate can reverse that trend). Whatever the reason Notre Dame is a source of irritation with me and I like to see them do poorly.

It would be cool if the Fighting Irish used this blog as motivation to get themselves pumped up for next week's game, but I suspect they're too emotionally shell shocked to find themselves right now. It's only going to get worse from here so Notre Dame fans feel free to set up support groups all over the country. You'll need it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

AFC East Champions: New England Patriots

This is the final installment of division champion. As I've taken you on a tour across the NFL landscape I hope you have a better sense of what the season has in store for you. All of my predictions are based on round the clock study and analysis so listen to every word I say. There is no doubt in my mind I picked all of the division winners correctly. To conclude this exercise here is how the AFC East will shake out.

Division winner: New England Patriots. The Patriots have restocked their roster with former all pros Chad Ocho Cinco and Albert Haynesworth. Both players were malcontents with their former teams, but coach Belichick has a knack for getting the most out of disgruntled stars. Look for the Patriots to sleep walk through this division.

2nd place: New York Jets. I love the coaching style and swagger of Rex Ryan, I just wish he had a better quarterback. This is a make or break season for Mark Sanchez to prove he can take this team to the next level. It's time for him to evolve from game manager to playmaker. I give him a 50/50 chance for success.

3rd place: Buffalo Bills. Lights out Shawne Merriman looks like he's on the juice again playing like a man possessed and Marcell Dareus is a force to be reckoned within the middle. Ryan Fitzpatrick is better than people give him credit for (fantasy football tidbit) and CJ Spiller should have a breakout season (another fantasy football tidbit). Don't be surprised to see the Bills go 8-8.

Last place: Miami Dolphins. The Miami Dolphins won't have a winning record this season, but every game will be hard fought. Chad Henne is clearly not the answer at quarterback and Reggie Bush has durability issues. This will most likely be coach Sparano's last year.

Division winner recap:

NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles
NFC West: St. Louis Cardinals
NFC North: Green Bay Packers
NFC South: Atlanta Falcons

AFC East: New England Patriots
AFC South: Indianapolis Colts
AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs

Friday, September 2, 2011

Willl The Seahawks Cut Golden Tate?

Don't get me wrong, I love Golden Tate. He had a stellar career at Notre Dame and his combine workout was tremendous. At his full capability he's an asset to the Seahawks and a building block for the future. That being said he hasn't lived up to his potential thus far.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is a no nonsense guy. If you can play and contribute at a high level you can stick around. If it's apparent you can't get the job done you're out the door. Pete Carroll would fire his own mama if she used too much flour in the after practice cupcakes. He's hard core! So where does that leave Golden Tate?

If you go strictly by his performance he's outta here. Past glories and accomplishments mean nothing when you're trying to make an NFL roster. Golden has dropped balls, run poor routes, and has been less than spectacular on special teams. Is there any reason to keep him?

Here's where I get a little sentimental. You gotta love a guy named Golden. If you can live up to the pressure of that name you have to be something special. Maybe it's the 4.36 40 time at the combine or maybe it's the fact that I watched him run circles around the competition in college, but I think Golden Tate deserves one more season.

I'll be honest, Golden Tate was getting on my nerves last preseason game, but not enough that I think the Seahawks should cut him. That being said he has a very short rope and better show something sooner than later. I think the Seahawks should keep him one more season, but if the Seahawks cut Golden Tate I won't shed too many tears. Good luck Golden.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

NFC North Champions: Green Bay Packers

The team that wins the Super Bowl usually starts the following season off with a bulls eye on their back. Everyone knows it will take their best effort to defeat them so they give it their all. In addition teams want to know how they stack up against the world champs and use the game as a barometer of their own progress.

This season will be no different as the Green Bay Packers set out to defend their crown. Their division is more competitive than it's been in two decades. Here's how the NFC North will shake out.

Division winner: Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers is coming into his own establishing himself as a top 5 quarterback in the NFL. Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant (fantasy football busts last year) are coming back from injury so the defending champs are even better than they were last year. They win the division, but it won't be easy.

2nd place: Detroit Lions. Matthew Stafford has looked sensational in the preseason and if the Lions can get their running game on track a winning season is a foregone conclusion. Ndamukong Suh is the best defensive lineman in football and will anchor a defense that rivals the Ravens or the Steelers. Look for the Lions to make big strides this year.

3rd place: Minnesota Vikings. Donovan McNabb will provide stability at the quarterback position and Adrian Peterson is still the best running back in the league, but this team has gotten old in a hurry. They missed their window of opportunity two years ago when Bret Favre chose to throw across his body one too many times.

Last place: Chicago Bears. It's hard to believe a team that played in the NFC championship last year will end up in the basement of their own division, but that's exactly what's in store for the Chicago Bears. Everyone else in their division got better while they remained relatively the same. In addition special teams standout Devin Hester won't be a factor because of the rule change on kick offs. The Bears will be lucky to win 7 games.