Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Suggestions

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

Homer Edition:

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Timing Of Braylon Edwards

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How Drew Brees Becomes A Seattle Seahawk

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday Weekend Observations

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 23, 2011

Is Floyd Mayweather Jr. Finished?

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2012 NBA Preview: Eastern Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2012 NBA Preview: Western Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Corruption In Football

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekend Observations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 16, 2011

Is Tony Montana Ruining Sports?

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Los Angeles Angels

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Bill Belichick Coaching Tree

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weekend Observations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Chris Paul Saga (David Stern Needs To Go)

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sports in 2012

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

You Still Love The NBA

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pac 12 Football Is Back

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cleavie In Cancun

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

Mexican Style:

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

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

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

US style:

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

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

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

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