Friday, September 28, 2012

Huskies Win Big On National Stage

The Washington Huskies shook up the BCS and all but ruined Stanford's title hopes with an impressive 17-13 victory on Thursday night.  Kasen Williams showcased his big play capability and Bishop Sankey established the ground game with 144 yards rushing (I'll stop talking smack about him now).  In front of a national audience the Huskies atoned for their embarrassing loss to LSU 41-3 a few weeks ago.  What does this mean for the program going forward?

First off, a round of applause for defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.  It's amazing what you can accomplish as a team when your defense doesn't give up 451 yards a game.  I expect a written apology from Nick Holt (In calligraphy to make it real official) within the next few days.  He should also donate some of his previous salary to charity because clearly he didn't earn it.  Wilcox can stay as long as he likes and is worth every penny.

Although it was a signature win the Huskies schedule is still challenging.  They face Oregon, USC, and a surprising Arizona squad in the next few weeks.  There are no cream puffs in the Pac 12 anymore so if the Huskies get too full of themselves after this victory someone will be there to bring them back down to earth rather quickly.  I hope they can stay focused and maintain intensity.

The bigger question is how does the rest of the country perceive this victory?  Everyone knows America is infatuated with the SEC and their best team crushed the Huskies like a potato bug.  Does this mean the Pac 12 gets less credit or more credit for having depth within the conference?  Anyways it goes I'm proud of the Huskies.  They stepped up and punched the Stanford Cardinal in the mouth in front of everybody.  Let's see what they have left in the tank with such a brutal schedule.  Step 1, beat Stanford.  Check.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Can The Nats Win The World Series?

The Washington Nationals have been the feel good story of the 2012 MLB season.  At the beginning of the year the Nats team had a lot of question marks.  How would Stephen Strasburg look after missing an entire season following Tommy John surgery?  How would Bryce Harper handle major league pitching?  Would interim manager Davey Johnson relate to younger players?  Would Ryan Zimmerman have a bounce back year?  At the end of the season all those questions have been answered.  The Washington Nationals have the best record in baseball and are headed to the post season.  Can they win it all?

If experience counts for anything they don't have a shot.  The Nats are one of the younger teams in the league and only two players have any post season experience.  If momentum and confidence counts for anything they could run the table.  Bryce Harper is a phenom that seems to excel when the lights get bright.  If the situation doesn't overwhelm him we could see some big things in the playoffs.  In addition, Gio Gonzalez is putting up Cy Young numbers (20-8, 2.84 ERA, 201 strikeouts).  If his arm doesn't get tired and he continues to dominate hitters the Nats will be hard to beat.

The biggest story involving the Nats improbable season is Stephen Strasburg.  The organization decided to shut him down for the season to avoid any long term issues with his arm.  The decision was controversial and may cost the Nationals a chance to win a world series, but it was for his own good.  The last thing he needs is to end up like Kerry Wood or Mark Prior.  If Strasburg was pitching I'd give the Nats a 50/50 chance to play for a title, but without him I'd say it's more like 20%.  Anything can happen though.  Remember the Cards last year?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Did The Golden Tate Catch Change Football?

When I first saw Golden Tate catch the game winning touchdown against the Green Bay Packers last night I must admit I had my homer glasses on.  I thought there was a legitimate case for a simultaneous catch and the refs made the right call.  My mind couldn't be swayed from my opinion until I was sure the call wouldn't be reversed.  After the game became final I took a look at the play more objectively. 

The call was sketchy at best.  It was a very "liberal" interpretation of the rule, but it wasn't even close to the worst call of the game.  Sidney Rice was clearly guilty of pass interference a few plays earlier on the drive and Golden Tate shoved James Shields out of the way with two hands before ever going for the ball.  The fact the refs missed those two blatant penalties says a lot more about the competency of their performance than the catch at the end of the game.

Football fans were hoping the dispute between the owners and the NFLRA would be resolved before something like this happened.  No one ever expected playoff opportunities and player safety to be compromised to this level.  If the Packers miss the playoffs and the Seahawks get a wild card berth everyone will turn to this controversial play as the reason.  Never mind the fact there are 13 games left in the season and the Seahawks held Green Bay (the 2nd highest scoring offense in NFL history) to a touchdown, that play is all people will remember. 

The Golden Tate touchdown may be the catalyst that gets negotiations moving in a positive direction.  No one wants to see the integrity of the game questioned to this extent.  Players work too hard and the fans deserve better than having their hearts ripped out by some zebra out of position.  Of course Sam Rothstein would say Monday's game was the watershed moment in this whole situation.  Approximately $200,000,000 in wagers were affected on that one play.  If Vegas can't trust your product enough to bet on there's a good chance the problem will get fixed.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekend Observations

It's only the 3rd week of the football season, but I'm starting to see a trend. My weekly fantasy football opponents always seem to have a player that goes ape sh*t against me for no apparent reason. Last week Victor Cruz, Brent Celek, and Dwayne Bowe had the game of their lives and this week Jamaal Charles, A.J. Green, and Torrey Smith looked like hall of famers. In the case of Smith I'm ok with it given the tragic loss of his brother Saturday night (what an inspirational performance by him and A.J. Green is quickly becoming a top 5 receiver, but Charles? I'm pretty sure he won't rush for 233 yards next week. Why flex so hard when I'm playing you?

 In my trash talking league I'm down by 12, but I have Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch going tonight so things could change for me real quickly. In my hurt your feelings league I got my feelings hurt for the 2nd week in a row. I need a slump buster to come through on the schedule pretty quickly. In my family league I'm down by 31, but again I have Beast Mode going and Earl Thomas on D. The best case scenario for tonight? The Seahawks win and Marshawn rushed for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns. That should make everybody happy! Here are some observations over the weekend.

 Jon "Bones" Jones has no equals in the octagon. After his victory over Vitor Belfort on Saturday I can't see anyone beating him. Not even Chael Sonnen. The Arizona Cardinals have been in their "Total Recall" dream for 3 weeks now and sit atop the NFC West. They will have to wake up sooner or later and when they do let's hope the Seahawks are there to remind them of who they really are. I can't believe I'm really saying this, but Oregon St. is no joke. After watching them beat UCLA I'm somewhat concerned about how dominant their defense looked. The Beavers could be playing in a bowl game this year. SHANKAPOTIMUS is real! There was another sighting in Miami as the Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter missed two crucial field goals in the overtime loss to the New York Jets. No Boricua or Cubano mujers for you my friend. Kickers will ruin your life!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why The Lakers Won't Win 73 Games

"We definitely want to beat the Bulls record and go 73-9, that's definitely something that I want to do. Whoever is out there at the beginning of the season then we gotta get it. It's as simple as that. We just have to get it. [Host: So that Bulls record is something you're thinking about?] No question. You try to snatch records before you leave this earth. You gotta try to do a lot of great things so it's definitely a goal. With Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, myself, Pau Gasol, and then Antawn Jamison and a lot of great additions, it's something that's possible."

Interview with Metta World Peace.

During a recent interview with Max Kellerman and Marcellus Wiley on ESPN 710 Metta World Peace expressed his desire to break the Chicago Bulls record of 72 wins in a season. Typically I give the athletes the benefit of the doubt in their quest for greatness, but this time I have to use the logical side of my brain and suppress the anticipation before it starts. The 2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers will not win 73 games.

First off, they won't stay healthy enough. Steve Nash and Dwight Howard both have bad backs and Kobe Bryant has more miles on his knees than a 1979 Subaru wagon. inevitably he will break down at some point and the offense will get stagnant.

Secondly, they don't have the focus and intensity to win 73 games. The 96' Bulls wanted to win EVERY GAME! Kobe Bryant is Michael Jordan's equal in this respect, but the team doesn't share his passion and will to win. The Lakers will experience mental lapses from time to time that lead to bad losses.

Lastly, the league is too friendly. People work out together in the summer, have dinner together on game days, and wish each other good luck during the season and even in the playoffs. That kind of dynamic isn't conducive to domination and that's the mindset you need to go 73-9.

The 2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers are a great team, but not legendary. I can definitely see them winning 64 or 65 games and capturing the #1 seed in the Western conference, but that's as far as it goes. A historic run is not in the cards for them. An LA/Miami NBA finals would be nice though. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Why The New MLB Playoff Format Is Bad For Baseball

The new MLB playoff format has caused excitement for baseball fans. There are more teams with an opportunity to get into the post season and play for a World Series title. The Dodgers are relevant once again, the Oakland A's have proved moneyball can win, and the Baltimore Orioles are an example of hard work and patience paying off. But what happens when the playoffs really start?

In a one game playoff anything is possible. An ace pitcher might feel tightness in his shoulder. A clean up hitter might pull a hamstring or get hit by a pitch. Some no name shortstop batting .231 might have the game of his career. It could rain and postpone play for a day. There are so many variables that go into a one game winner take all format. The best team doesn't always win and flukish performances can carry you a long way.

By design baseball is set up to cater to big market teams. If the Yankees, Dodgers, or Giants lose in a one game playoff the economic ramifications will be disastrous. Viewership will decline for the rest of the post season by 30 or 40 percent and fans won't care who wins or loses. It's been proven many times over that only a select few teams in baseball draw millions of viewers. Unlike the Super Bowl it matters who is playing for the title and tradition doesn't help advertising revenue.

The decision to add one more playoff team was short sighted. Certainly more fans will come out to the ballpark during the pennant races and that's a good thing for baseball. On the other hand it's a calculated risk that could potentially backfire. Surprises aren't always a good thing and there's more at stake than the outcome of one game. All it takes is one missed call or a careless error for things to go completely awry. We'll see what happens in a few weeks. Who do you guys want to see in the World Series?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Weekend Observations

As you might recall last week's Monday blog was all about doom and despair in the 206. The Huskies and the Seahawks both looked shaky and the outlook on the season was not optimistic. What a difference a week makes! The Huskies took out their frustrations on Portland St. like Joker took out his frustrations on Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket. I feel better. The Seahawks played a flawless game and sent the Cowboys back to Irving licking their wounds. The Cardinals beat the 2011 AFC champions at their place so the last second loss in Arizona no longer seems that bad. A strong defense and a relentless running game can carry you a long way.

As for fantasy football? in my trash talking league I'm a perfect 2-0 with Reggie Wayne and the Breesy leading the way. in my hurt your feelings league I'm down by 40, but I have Eric Decker, Demariyus Thomas, and Julio Jones going tonight. A difficult task, but not impossible. In my family league the tight end match up killed me. Aaron Hernandez did nothing and Brent Celek had the game of his career. I still have Decker going tonight in that league, but I'm down by 27 points. I need a miracle to pull that victory out. Here are some observations over the weekend.

The Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, and the New Orleans Saints will not make the playoffs this year. An 0-2 start to the season is a virtual death sentence in the NFL. The other teams are in rebuilding mode, but in the case of the Saints too much drama in the off season has caught up with them. We now fully understand the importance of coaching and leadership.

The USC Trojans lost to Stanford and will not play for the national championship. You can't see me right now, but I'm doing cart wheels and back flips in celebration.

Shankapotimus was alive and well in New England. Stephen Gostkowski missed a game winning field goal from 42 yards out and now the Patriots are in a 4 way tie in their division. Kickers will ruin your life.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jim Calhoun: The End Of An Era

Back in the day I loved watching Big East basketball. My favorite team was the Syracuse Orangemen and their #1 rivals were St. Johns and Georgetown. The UConn Huskies were not on the radar at the time, but as it stands currently they have more national championships than those 3 schools combined. The architect of their success is hall of fame coach Jim Calhoun who retired from college basketball today. Calhoun has 873 wins and 3 titles in 26 years. He is undoubtedly the most successful coach in Big East history.

His legacy is somewhat tainted however. Jim Calhoun represents what is good and bad about big time college athletics. On the one hand Calhoun built a top 5 program giving young men an opportunity to better their lives and fulfill their dreams. Over the last 25 years UConn has turned out 26 NBA players including Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Rudy Gay, Emeka Okafor, and Caron Butler.

On the other hand Calhoun proved once again that absolute power corrupts absolutely. He completely turned his back to off the court violations when informed of them and treated NCAA investigations of his program as if he were insulted his authority and judgement could be questioned. In recent years it became obvious he thought he and his program were above the law.

I'm sure in the end Jim Calhoun will be remembered for the Naismith trophies he's collected rather than paying players and associating with known agents, but if you're going to be fair you have to take the good with the bad. Calhoun was no saint. He was a hell of a coach and a great recruiter though.

My favorite Jim Calhoun quote: "I stopped recruiting Ryan Gomes because I only had 2 scholarships open. I gave them to Caron Butler and Emeka Okafor. What do you want me to do? You want me to say I fu*ked up? Ok, I guess I fu*ked up."

Top 5 UConn players all time:

1. Ray Allen
2. Richard Hamilton
3. Caron Butler
4. Rudy Gay
5. Emeka Okafor

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bring Back Our Sonics!

If you build it they will come. At least that's what I would like to think as I channel my inner Kevin Costner following the announcement that a SODO arena has been approved by the city and county officials. The move paves the way for the NBA and the NHL to return to the Emerald city. It's a miracle council members didn't find a way to screw this up after botching the last arena proposal which led to the irresponsible actions of Howard Schultz and the conniving insincere methods of Clay Bennett. Now that Chris Hansen has the council's blessing to build his arena what's in store for Seattle sports fans?

In a perfect world the Maloof brothers decide South ALaska is a perfect market for their basketball team and the Sacramento Kings become the Seattle Supersonics. The only other NBA franchise on the radar is the Milwaukee Bucks so there aren't a lot of options out there. At least we know for sure the Kings have to find another home. The Bucks just have poor attendance, an apathetic attitude, and city officials that are not enthusiastic about spending taxpayer's money to build a new arena(sound familiar).

There is still the obstacle of dealing with Lord David and Gary Bettman. commissioner Stern was less than sympathetic when he put the wheels in motion to move the Sonics to OKC and I don't see him jumping through a bunch of hoops to bring the NBA back to Seattle. Bettman on the other hand is drafting an e-mail as we speak informing NHL franchises the Phoenix Coyotes are making a move to the Northwest. An NHL franchise is a lock.

All that being said the council's vote is too positive of a thing to get me down. It was the biggest obstacle to overcome and "Cool" Chris Hansen did just that. Unlike his coffee selling predecessor Chris has a sincere and vested interest in bringing basketball back to the 206. If anybody can get it done he's the guy to do it. The NBA will be back before you know it Sonic fans! Keep the faith!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Oakland Raiders: Is The Silver And Black Still Relevant?

The Oakland Raiders are one of the most popular sports franchises in America. Their tradition is unparalleled dating all the way back to the AFL-NFL merger. Founder AL Davis was an innovator, pioneer, and one of the 3 most influential people in professional football history. Their slogans "commitment to excellence" and "just win baby" characterized the culture surrounding the team for decades. Star players like Kenny Stabler, Jack Tatum, Lester Hayes, Cliff Branch, Marcus Allen, Howie Long, and Tim Brown embodied what the Raider mystique was all about.

In 2012 the Oakland Raiders are a shell of their former selves however and if we're being completely honest the Raiders have been living on past greatness for quite some time. They haven't made the playoffs or had a winning record in over a decade and the last time they won the Super Bowl only 4 players on the current roster were 2 years old. Since 2005 The Raiders have had 6 different head coaches and 6 different starting quarterbacks.

To make matters worse the decision making by the front office has been sketchy at best. The Al Davis brain trust drafted JaMarcus Russell #1 overall then later traded first round picks for Richard Seymour and Carson Palmer. Darius Heyward-Bey has yet to prove he's an impact player and Darren McFadden has yet to play a full season.

The silver and black doesn't strike fear in their opponents anymore. In fact you want them on your schedule if you're trying to make the playoffs. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to discredit anything the Raiders have accomplished, but you have to be old to remember the last time the Raiders were good. Raider Nation remains loyal, but are they realistic? Chances are Oakland will wind up a sub .500 team this year once again and add to the legacy that is going in the wrong direction. If you're talking serious football the Raiders are not in the conversation. What a shame.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Weekend Observations

It was not a good weekend for football fans in the 206. My beloved Huskies got trounced in Death Valley by LSU and the Seahawks let a must win game(If they want to make the playoffs) slip through their fingers. The Huskies O line looked like Swiss cheese and the Seahawks receivers looked like they had goose grease on their fingers. It's safe to say my optimism for these two squads has been taken down a few notches.

As for my fantasy teams? I went 2-1 in my leagues, but the wins were impressive. in my hurt your feelings league I dismantled the defending champion by 40 points WITHOUT STARTING CJ SPILLER! It was a statement game and I beat the snot piss out of that fool. Julio Jones, Demariyus Thomas, and the Breesy are a nice nucleus for the future.

In my trash talking league I'm beating a perennial playoff team by 16 points and Antonio Gates hasn't even played yet. The commish actually lobbied for more trash talking if you can believe that. You don't have to ask me twice. That's like giving chocolate to the fat. In my family league Wes Welker stunk up the joint and my defense was sub par. We'll have to tweak that team a little. No need to panic just yet. A few minor adjustments and we'll be back on track. Here are some observations over the weekend.

Last year I blogged that Serena Williams would never win another grand slam title. In the past 3 months she's won Wimbledon, a gold medal, and the US Open. Although my logic was sound (Too old, too many injuries) I underestimated the heart of a champion. Hopefully she doesn't send her friends from Compton to tune me up for my malicious words previously. She's top 5 all time.

We had another Shankapotimus sighting Penn St. kicker Sam Ficken went 1 for 5 on field goal attempts and 1 for 2 on extra points. The Nittany Lions lost by one point. Kickers will ruin your life.

Felix Hernandez will not win the Cy Young this year. After cruising through August Felix has struggled in his last two starts and it looks like fatigue is setting in. The engraver should start carving the name David Price on the 2012 award.

If you had Savannah St +70 1/2 and UL Monroe +30 on the moneyline for a parlay you're a rich man(or woman). I think it's time for Young Sam Rothstein to come out of hiding.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Oregon's Big Mistake

In an attempt to clean up the school's image the University of Oregon is implementing random drug testing for its student athletes. It has been widely speculated that a large percentage of the football team smokes weed. ESPN the magazine did a story in April suggesting as much as 40% of the players on the roster were casual smokers. Initially the university dismissed the claims as unsubstantiated gossip, but now they're trying to be proactive. How will this affect the program?

Without question random drug testing will hurt the University of Oregon's football team. It's not just speculation it's a reality that players in Eugene partake in smoking marijuana every once in a while. Unlike other recreational drugs THC stays in your system for a month. This will lead to massive suspensions of marginal and star players. Oregon will lose depth, ranking, and games they should have won trying to fix a problem that won't go away.

Smoking weed is part of the culture in Eugene. The negative connontaiton older generations associate with the drug simply doesn't exist. Today's kids would rather smoke weed than drink and can't understand what all the fuss is about. They don't subscribe to the Reefer Madness ideology or the just say no policies of the 80's. The fact of the matter is a large demographic of the population shares their perspective.

From a football standpoint the ramifications of random drug testing will be epic. Over the past few years several players have been suspended without the new policy so imagine how drastically that number will increase with the new system in place. You'll see a top 5 team fall to complete mediocrity in a short period of time. The biggest mistake a university can make about its student athletes is denying the reality of a situation. If your players smoke weed don't pretend it's not happening. Unfortunately for Oregon they are in for a rude awakening once those urine samples start turning up positive. Oh well, they almost made it to the top.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The US Open And The Burden Of Greatness

Yesterday saw a melodramatic end to 2 compelling story lines at the 2012 US Open. After announcing the US Open would be his last tournament as a professional Andy Roddick lost to Martin Del Potro 6-7,7-6,6-2,6-4. Roddick was the sentimental favorite to win the tournament and go out on top. The world's number one player and 2012 Wimbledon champion Roger Federer lost a heart breaking match to Tomas Berdych 7-6,6-4,3-6,6-3. Federer was looking to add another grand slam title to his collection and solidify his claim as the greatest tennis player that ever lived.

One of the hardest things in sports is to live up to expectation. Whether it's self induced or fabricated by fans and media expectation can lead to disappointment. We all pulled for Roddick to win his 2nd grand slam title before leaving the tennis world, but in reality Roddick is no longer a top tier player. To ask him to beat a player the caliber of Del Potro was unrealistic. Roger Federer is expected to win every time he walks on the court because of his past dominance. In reality Federer is still very good, but not unbeatable. his past greatness betrays him because it's a standard he can no longer live up to.

Sports is the ultimate in reality TV. The outcome can't be scripted, your favorite character doesn't always win in the end, you can't add make up or change camera angles to make someone younger, and past accomplishments don't guarantee present or future success. Andy Roddick and Roger Federer are much different players than they were 5 years ago, but it's difficult for fans and media to accept that fact. If we had our way they would meet in the finals and duel to the death, but unfortunately sports doesn't work that way. In 2012 Roddick and Federer are good players, but not great players. Their losses at the US Open were not unexpected.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Paying The Price For The Upcoming Football Season

I hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. I got a chance to watch one of my good friends get married (Congrats to Pablo and Angelica) and enjoy a 43rd consecutive day of no rain in the 206. South Alaska has been unbelievably dry so you have to take advantage while it lasts. In addition I put in a considerable amount of community service hours getting ready for the upcoming football season. I watched the Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta reunion (Lil Scrappy got engaged), T.I and Tiny: The Family Hustle (T.I. wants his kids to get more exercise), 4 episodes of Rizzoli and Isles (Rizzoli has relationship issues), and a few minutes of Flashdance. Although this may seem like a torturous way to spend a weekend it's a small price to pay. Considering I will spend the next 21 weeks dominating the television and stumbling home speaking gibberish after most Seahawks games it's the least I could do. That being said I did manage to stay current with the sports world so here are some observations over the weekend.

Maurice Jones-Drew ended his holdout with no resolution to his current situation. Fantasy owners are happy, but it's unlikely Jones-Drew will go through an entire season without getting hurt.

If any of you out there know Floyd Mayweather Jr. please have him call me before his next wager. Losing $3,000,000 betting on Denard Robinson and the Michigan Wolverines is not a smart move. Denard Robinson can't throw and the Wolverines were without their starting tailback. Young Sam would have never let him make that mistake.

We had our first sighting of SHANKAPOTIMUS this season. UTEP kickers missed 3 field goals and let #6 Oklahoma off the hook. That's why the big schools schedule weak minded cream puffs at the beginning.

Andy Roddick made it through the weekend, but today he faces Martin Del Potro. If I was a betting man (which I am) I'd say it will be his final match. No fairy tale endings.

Apparently water polo is DOMINATED by the state of California. The top 4 teams are all from the Pac 12 and the other 6 teams in the top 10 hail from the golden state. I picked up this tidbit of information watching the Washington Huskies struggle against San Diego St. I hope the LSU game doesn't get out of hand.