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.