Monday, January 26, 2009

The Time Has Come

We've been talking about it for a number of weeks, and we are finally ready to jump to our new site:

We'd like to thank the 60,000 people who have checked out this blog over the past 8 months and hope you can all bookmark the new site. And please, cotinue to add your comments, post in the forums, and make the Strap a good place to read sports opinions. Thanks for everything.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jazz Fan

Living in Salt Lake City for the majority of my life has put me in position to get to know an incredibly strange and intriguing member of our little sports world: Jazz Fan. Jazz Fan is a great and endless source of entertainment to me and I appreciate him for it.

If you ever read national basketball columnists, experts, and bloggers, they all seem to agree that Jazz Fan is one of the most rabid around the NBA. Energy Solutions Arena is consistently one of the loudest, most difficult places for other teams to play. The basketball writers all seem to agree on another thing: that Jazz Fan isn't very knowledgeable. How they come to that conclusion, I don't know. I only know that they go to games around the whole league in many different arenas and all seem to agree that Jazz Fan doesn't know his shit. In knowing and interacting with Jazz Fan on a day to day basis, I would have to agree. But you know what bugs me most about Jazz Fan? The Persecution Complex they all seem to have. Here are a few major themes of that Complex:

1. The Refs Hate Us: Most fans probably think this, but Jazz Fan takes it to a whole other level. I can't even go to the Energy Solutions Arena anymore because all it consists of is me listening to the fans bitch the ENTIRE GAME about the officiating. This seems more important to them than the score or really any other factor in the arena that night. This is especially true when facing Kobe Bryant. See, the NBA has a conspiracy to keep the Jazz out of the finals because it wants Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in the finals. Or something like that.

2. Nobody Respects Us: Come on already, anybody who knows anything about the NBA and it's history highly respects the Utah Jazz organization. David Stern recently named owner Larry H Miller one of the best 3 owners over his time as commissioner on a Bill Simmons podcast. Just because you aren't on National TV a lot doesn't mean no one respects you, it means that you don't have any huge stars and you aren't elite enough to be on TV over many teams. (Boston-elite team. LA-elite team, plus Kobe Bryant, Cleveland-LeBron James and so on.)

3. John Stockton is the best pure point guard ever/is better than Isiah Thomas: Stop it. Putting emphasis on the word pure will never make John Stockton better at point guard than Magic Johnson. Never. Ever. Ever. The only thing Stockton did better than Magic was outside shooting. He wasn't a better passer or better defender. And don't give me the assists record or the steals record. Both are longevity records, which are always overrated. The assists record is lame and I think assists are the most overrated stat in sports, but I digress. (PS-Magic averaged more assists per game than Stock.) As for the steals record, Stockton was an average on-ball defender who had to rely on trickiness after he got beaten to get so many steals. Jazz Fan forgets that game after game the opposing point guard lit the Jazz up. They should have nightmares of Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Isaih Thomas, and especially Kevin Johnson. People seem to be fairly divided on the Isiah/Stockton debate. Look at this list. 8 of 14 experts put Isiah over Stockton, but it is a good debate. Now, I would put Stockton above Isiah barely, but Jazz fan thinks it's a slam dunk and can't believe Isiah is even in the conversation. I mean, come on, Stockton is the all-time leader in assists.

4. Karl Malone is the best Power Forward of All-Time: Amazingly, I find in my conversations that most Jazz Fans think that Stockton was a better player than Malone, which I can't even fathom. Take Stockton off the team and the Jazz were still a solid playoff team because of Malone. Take Malone off the team and the Jazz were pure lottery. Who was Stockton going to get all those assists to, Blue Edwards? I put Karl Malone at #2 all-time, behind Tim Duncan. Jazz Fan tends to forget about Tim Duncan in this discussion. But mad props to Karl Malone, by far the best player to ever don the Jazz uniform. I wonder if Karl drops to number 3 if KG can lead Boston to another title or 2.

5. Deron Williams is better than Chris Paul: This is the worst one, and I have to hear about on local sports radio all the time. Now, head to head, Deron Williams plays very well against Chris Paul and has usually gotten the best of their match ups. His size seems to really disrupt Paul. But you can't judge a player based on one match up, and Chris Paul causes more problems league wide that Williams does. There just isn't a single thing that Willams does better than CP3. Paul is a better shooter, passer, rebounder, defender, is more efficient, and seems to me to be the better overall leader, taking a team of no-names (who ever heard of David West before Paul got there?) and previous misfits (Tyson Chandler) and leading them to 50 win seasons.

Those are the major things I've heard about over the last 30 years. But that list isn't everything. Let's not forget the following things heard over the years:
Bryon Russell is going to be an All-Star this year. (heard every year during the mid 90's. Number of All-Star bids: The same number I've had)
Michael Jordan pushed Russel out of the way in the NBA Finals. (he did, but they don't call that at the end of the game, and don't forget that Malone got away with a "bear hug" pick on Charles Barkley on that classic shot that sent Utah to the finals.)
Carlos Boozer is tanking it and should be traded(despite the surgery on his knee)
Karl Malone is a traitor for going to LA his last year (even though Utah made it clear they didn't want him back.)
Jerry Sloan marches a group of scrubs to the playoffs every year (only the years he's had All-Stars)
If Utah was in the East, they would take the #1 seed every year (heard the last 4-5 years.)
Jerry Sloan should be coach of the year (this one is true. Sloan has been cornholed a number of times on this one, but make no mistake, everyone in the world respects the shit out of Sloan.)

Anyway deep down inside I love Jazz Fan. He may say insane things and be delusional about the Jazz' chances year in-year out, but he is true blue, and for that I salute him.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

So Sorry

That we haven't been updating this week. We are making the jump to our new website and don't want to use our ideas up so that the new site can get started on the right foot. Anyway, please keep checking this site to get info about the new site.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Shaq Nicknames

Shaquille O'Neal is at it again. After showing some improvement in the area of freethrow shooting (he actually hit 11 in a row over the course of two games and is shooting like 69% over his last 100 chucks [which for him is a molten lava hot streak]) Shaquille gave himself yet another nickname, Shaqovic. His reasoning for his latest nickname is that all of the best shooters in the NBA have a last name that ends with "vich"(Stojakovic, Radmanovic, Vujacic, etc.).

I have to admit that the big fella is funny and often times very creative when it comes to giving himself nicknames. Over the years he has dubbed himself "Shaq," "The Diesel," "Shaq Fu," "The Big Aristotle," "The Big Daddy," "Superman," "The Big Agave," "The Big Cactus," "The Big Shaqtus," "The Big Galactus," "Wilt Chamberneezy," "The Big Baryshnikov," "The Real Deal," and "Dr. Shaq" (after earning his MBA). His back yard at his Miami mansion had a water slide and a tiki-bar and so he named it Shaqapulco.

SportsCenter ran a story on this last week and asked viewers to come up with their own nicknames for Shaq. All I can say is that the list was lame as lame can be and for this reason I started thinking of my own nicknames for the great Shaquille O'Neal.

1.  ShaqDonalds:  Take a look at some rookie footage of Shaq on YouTube and you will see that he has done nothing but eat since he made it into the NBA.  I thought he was fat when he played for LSU, but dude looks like he did that experiment from the movie Supersize Me where he had to eat at least one of everything from the McDonald's menu in thirty days only his experiment has spanned 16 seasons.  Is he still good?  Yes.  Is he one of the best?  Yes.  Is he twice the size he used to be?  Hell yes.  Step away from the Big Shaq, Fillet O'Neal, and the Sham-Shaq-shake and mix in a salad big guy.

2.  Radio Shaq:  I thought this one would have been a gimmie during Shaq's ill advised rap career.  Albums included Shaq Diesel, Shaq-Fu: Da Return, You Can't Stop the Reign, Respect, and the Best of Shaquille O'Neal.  That's right folks, he has a "best of" CD.  My favorite lyric you ask?  Simple:  "I flow like a stream, better yet a river.  You need to call me Mailman 'cause Karl can't deliver."  Brilliant Radio Shaq, brilliant.

3.  The Big Heart-A-Shaq:  It's not nice to say, but let's face it, dudes this huge do not live long lives.  If he is as big as he is playing basketball and working out almost every day of his life what is he going to look like when he retires?  A black Andre the Giant that's what.  Before he is 50 years old he is going to die of a massive heat-a-Shaq just like Andre and the saddest thing will be that Andre will have died the better actor.

I was going to put up a top five, but I see now that most of my nicknames for Shaq are weight related, so I will stop here.  Feel free to give me your ideas.  I only ask that you bring it harder than the ESPN audience that could come up with nothing better than "the Big Fella".  Please.  I know that this has been a little short, but I've really got to go take a Shaq.  Peace. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Who is the best NFL player you've ever seen?

Who is the best NFL player you've ever seen? I ask this question because every national radio show I listen to this week is debating whether or not Larry Fitzgerald is now the best receiver in the NFL. I say yes, but it got me thinking about who would be the best NFL player I have ever seen. I'm relatively young, so my history doesn't go back to guys like Jim Brown, Gale Sayers, Roger Staubach, etc., but I have seen Joe Montana, John Elway, Walter Payton, Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, Lawrence Taylor, and Ronnie Lott. But none of those guys would get my vote because Barry Sanders is the best football player I have ever seen. As icing on the cake, he was also the best player I ever used on Tecmo Super Bowl too (with apologies to Bo Jackson and QB-Eagles, who both contend for that crown). If anyone reading this has seen Jim Brown, please post who you think is better and why, because I can't imagine a better back than Barry.

I used to look forward to Thanksgiving day just so I could watch Barry Sanders play football. The Lions weren't on television too often (especially since the market I live in plays mostly the Broncos and 49ers) and I always expected something amazing. Barry had a way of making people look stupid that I've never seen anyone else come close to, other than maybe Reggie Bush in college. Barry never rushed for under 1,100 yards in a season and averaged over 1,500 yards per season. His lowest season total (1,115) came when he missed the last 5 games with an injury.

He had 14 straight games of 100+ yards in 1997, an NFL record. He fumbled only 41 times in his career - only once per 83 touches (for a reference point, Jim Brown fumbled once every 43 touches). Barry played on a crappy team and he was the only weapon; he didn't have an Aikman or Irvin to distract the defense. And he still did stuff like this:

The quality isn't great, but you get the point. If you want more check this one out (notice the crazy juke on 51 in the second one). He could stop on a dime, break ankles, and spin at full speed. He had defenders looking foolish and leaving their straps on the field on a regular basis. I'm not saying Barry Sanders is the best football player of all time, but he is the best I've ever seen. What's your take?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Levels Of Geekdom

Sometimes life gives you a glimpse into the secret chambers of another man's heart, and that glimpse is usually one which makes you glad to be yourself. I have recently had one such experience.

There is a new guy who started working at my office a few weeks ago. He is a jolly soul, and while not pushing 3 bills like myself, is quite stout and girthy with a big laugh and a quirky sense of humor. He has come by my office several times to discuss "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" (which I strongly recommend) and other comedies of that ilk. Needless to say, I've taken a wee bit of a shine to him and dare say that he has done the same with me.

Anyway, the other day I went over to his office to see what he was doing and I noticed that he had a number of oddities hanging on his wall and sitting on his shelves, namely: Action figures of Optimus Prime, He-Man and Battle Cat in full armour, several GI Joe figurines as well as a tank or some sort of vehicle, and a poster with Sergeant Slaughter. Initially I thought this was pretty cool and asked him why he had these relics of childhood. He replied that he likes to collect 80's toys and memorabilia.

This lead to a 3 hour discussion where I came to learn that my friend has every Star Wars toy from the original series, something like 80% of the GI Joe toys, and several other toys from that time period. Indeed, he has taken his toys up to the mountains and taken action photography with them and posted them on a website, this website, in fact. Now, we looked around and found that my friend was just the tip of the iceberg for GI Joe photography, with some even photo shopping fake missiles and fire and such coming from the toy planes.

At this point, I asked my friend if he owned any swords and if so did he know that the next logical step would be for him to go to the park, dress up in chain mail armor, get some 20 sided dice and act some shit out. He couldn't even believe that I would suggest that as a course of action, letting me know that what he did and what the people who dress up in chain mail do aren't even remotely comparable. He claims it is like comparing apples and oranges. They are "totally different levels of Geekdom." Are they, friend? Are they? He offered some explanation about how collecting Military Toys is nothing like getting dressed up in Knights armor and chanting in Latin, but to me, they are quite similar. Not in theme, but in obsession and mania.

After some good natured ribbing, a trip to my Mom's house to get my old toys, and a back rub with scented oils, minus the back rub with scented oils, my friend went home and left me thinking. I have a few beliefs in life, (one of them being that every man craps his pants at least once a year. Now, it might not be a full-on crapping, but he at least sharts once per year and if he denies it, he's lying.) And now, after my discussion with my cohort, I've decided that I have a new belief: Everyone has at least a little geek in them. But not everyone is prepared to learn Elf languages or Klingon and not all Geeks are dangerous, so to help you sort out who is who, here is a brief run-down of my 3 Levels Of Geekdom:

Level 1: General Geek
Most people fall into this level. Level One includes any of your basically acceptable nerdiness: lower level collections, obsessions with video games/sports/fashion/television, basically anything that you don't want other people to find out about unless you trust them. This may include the eating of boogers, making an NBA Live Team out of all Old Testament Characters (i.e. Habakkuk and Moses) having pictures of cars or half-naked women on your garage walls, really just the usual things that are geeky, but overall socially acceptable. It is important to know that there are sub-levels included in the major levels, but I'll let some geek with more time than I have fill you in on what those are. Derek. Level 1 Geeks can generally be trusted, and are not dangerous.

Level 2: Fantasy Geek
Level Two is really just the taking of a healthy enjoyment of a hobby and raising it to a whole other, scarier level. Collecting baseball cards is one thing, and is certainly geeky, but then pulling the cards out, getting 6 dice and trying to come up with a formula that will, in tandem with said cards, calculate how many strikeouts Ed Johnson had in his eighth season, and then having debates with yourself over if he would make the Hall of Fame after his career ends (Yes, he would), is an entirely different thing. Level 2's collect things and never remove them from the original packaging, buy special computers to run their video games they play for hours on end, and have thought about going to a Star Trek Convention, but have never done so. Level 2's are usually safe, but when they are on the verge of becoming Level 3 or are displaying Level 3 type behaviors, they should be avoided as they may have just bought a Ninja Star and are certainly on the edge of using it.

Level 3: Get Out and Do It Geek
This is by far the most disturbing and subsequently most humorous level of Geekdom. This is when you decide that just knowing all the facts about the French and Indian War aren't enough, no, you need to collect some black powder muskets, the pelts of animals, and go to a re-enactment of said war. And when you are out roughing it, you certainly can't use toilet paper, pussy. You need to use leaves and shrubs to get your arse clean. Of course there is a lot of variation in this level, with your Low-Level 3's being Trekkies and people who dress up as Albus Dumbledore for the premier of the new Harry Potter movies, and your Upper-Level 3's who are usually just multiple offenders or Double Dippers in Geekdom(trekkies mixed with civil-war re-enactment, World of Warcraft players who also actually like the last 2 hours of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy etc.) Be very cautious when speaking to and especially mocking Upper-Level 3's as you must remember they probably have a Katana and iron breastplate at home and they are definitely closer to using them in real life than you would imagine.

Well, now that you are armed with this knowledge, I hope you can diagnose yourself honestly, and keep yourself and your loved ones safe from harm.
Live Long and Prosper.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The BCS is Awesome.

I mean it. I know Boyd says poo on the BCS, but come on, it's awesome. What other sport has you pissing and moaning about who deserves to be called the best days (and probably weeks) after the final game was played? I don't remember anyone talking about how the Patriots should have actually been the NFL champs, or the Lakers as the NBA champs. This is what makes the BCS so great: it is consistently debated and no one ever stops talking about it.

Utah and Texas fans are up in arms right now because they got "screwed by the BCS." If college football had a plus-1 (as everyone seems to be pimping right now) the Utes wouldn't have even gotten in. So, a full playoff would be great. But how many teams? 8? 12? 16? There is always going to be some complaint in college football, so why not let the complaining be about the BCS and who gets hosed every year? It makes for great debate. I can sit around with my friends and debate the BCS for hours. With a playoff, it would be something like this: Well, I figured Florida would win and they did. Captivating. I'd rather debate what would happen if Utah played Florida or USC than discuss who just won a playoff. For my money, the BCS gives us something extra to talk about, something to get irate about.

Everyone wants some kind of a playoff, but how often does the best team win a single-elimination playoff? Was Kansas truly the best team in college basketball last year? Were the Giants really the best team in the NFL? Does anyone really think the Cardinals, Eagles, Ravens or Steelers is the best team in the league this season? Mostly just their own fans. The NBA and MLB both do it right - a series. You can't really make the argument that the Celtics weren't the best team in the NBA last year because they had to go through 4 series' in order to win the trophy. But, the Giants as the best team in the NFL last year after the season the Patriots had? No - the sun shines on every dog's a$ at least once. The G men played their best game of the season when it mattered. It doesn't mean they were the best team in the NFL, but they were crowned champions. In a 7-game series, the Pats win in 6 max. But without it, the 10-6 Giants get the crown. But at least they had to go through a playoff, right?

If a college football playoff could be done that included at least 8 teams, it would be awesome. I can only assume the ratings would be through the roof. But how do you decide who gets in? Each of the BCS conferences get one team in and the other two are at-large? If that's the case this year, then eligible for the two at-large spots would be Utah (12-0), Alabama (12-1), Texas (11-1), The Ohio State (10-2), Boise State (12-0), and Texas Tech (11-1). Who do you leave out? Or do you just put in the top 8 teams regardless (not irregardless) of conference affiliation? Personally, I think that would be awesome, but current BCS conferences would throw a hissy fit and Notre Dame would find some way to buy themselves a guaranteed spot using NBC's money. But would a playoff like this (or any kind) put a damper on the regular season? That's what all these college football experts keep saying - the BCS makes the regular season mean something. Would a playoff change that? Would it become like college basketball, where only the die-hard fans pay attention before the tourney starts, or would it increase in popularity and build on the already growing fan base?

The point is, nothing in college football is ever going to work. Maybe they should go half an NCAA basketball tournament - a 32 (.5) team playoff. At least that way the only team whining would be #33, and no one gives a deuce about them. The BCS allows the controversy that is college football to be put on display all season long, most especially for one week in early January for everyone to watch. It's not perfect, but it sure makes for some good debate. The BCS is awesome.

The BSC Sucks!

Just kidding. You thought I was going to write another posting about the BCS and what a horrible thing it is. The best part is that a few of you probably even got a little bit excited about it. I am laughing at you, not with you.

See, this whole BCS thing is so played out that I don't want to hear another damn word about it until next season. And so this is the last sentence I will write about the BCS until next college football season: Poo on the BCS.

Now, on to an observation. I was watching 1st and 10 on ESPN last week when they had Lil' Wayne as their guest for the debate part of the program with the semi-retarded Skip Bayless. Now, I can't say that I like or dislike Mr. Lil' Wayne's music as I frankly haven't heard much of it, but I was a little surprised to see him on the show. He was dressed in a very casual, conservative manner. Of course, one could never overlook the diamond encrusted teeth or the multiple facial tattoos, but otherwise, Lil' Wayne looked like a normal dude.

I have to say I was surprised because this normally audacious, flamboyant rap star was a gentle, quiet, reserved fellow, with a ton of sports knowledge. In fact, he picked all four of this weekend's NFL playoff games correctly. Of course, I was scratching my head when he picked Arizona, but dude got it right. The best was that at one point he said something to the effect that Lendell White is not good and has done nothing impressive and that the Ravens would beat the Titans.

So props to Lil' Wayne. That's it for today. Bye.

Friday, January 9, 2009

To BCS or not to BCS? That is the Question.

So the NCAA College Football season is over, the Bowls have been played out, and the Poll votes have been cast.  Now that it's all over, I have to tell you, I'm a little disappointed with the results.  Florida beat Oklahoma 24-14 in a sloppy, boring BCS Championship game last night, and only 16 voters had the sack to vote Utah #1 in the AP poll this morning after they dominated Alabama, who held the nation's top ranking for most of the season, 31-17 in the Sugar Bowl last week.  I find this whole BCS mess very sad and I'll tell you why.

It seems that most of the national media and most of the coaches, especially those who's conference champions are excluded from an automatic BCS bowl bid (i.e. the Mountain West), do not like the BCS.  Every time I turn on SportsCenter I hear this guy or that guy talking about a playoff and how that is the only way to escape from the ambiguity, confusion, and conjecture that the BCS system always seems to generate.  But the problem is, when these same guys who complain about the system have a chance to stir things up and actually make a statement by going against the BCS and voting in a national champion that does not fall in line with the BCS's chosen champ, they don't have the guts to do it.  And if ever there was a year for them to do this it was this year.

The University of Utah beat five teams that were ranked in the top 25 when they played them (Michigan, Oregon State, TCU, BYU, and Alabama).  Of those five teams only one (Michigan) turned out to be a stinker.  The other four are still ranked in the top 25 in the AP poll.  The Mountain West, long considered a mediocre conference, has three teams in the top 25 and Air Force also proved to be a quality program capable of scoring points in bunches.  Utah beat Oregon State who beat USC.  Utah killed Alabama who Florida struggled to beat.  And of all the reasons for AP voter to vote Utah number one:  the fact that Utah was the only team in America that beat every single one of their opponents.  13-0 is a big statement and the Utes are the only team that can make it.

Sportscasters, writers, and coaches do not like to take chances that might make them look foolish in the eyes of their peers.  They don't want to predict upsets.  When they fill out their March Madness brackets they all go with the chalk.  It's an understandable behavior.  For example, in last years NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament nobody filled out their bracket with the 10th seeded Davidson Wildcats beating 7th seeded Gonzaga, 2nd seeded Georgetown, 3rd seeded Wisconsin, and narrowly losing (57-59) to number 1 seeded, and eventual national champion, Kansas.  Did anybody take any flack for not advancing Davidson to the elite eight in their bracket?  Hell no.  Gonzaga should have taken care of them in the first round because they were ranked higher and thus the better team.  Right?

That's why the NCAA Basketball tournament is such a beautiful thing.  They play the games because, as history has shown, you never know what's going to happen until you play the games.  Did anybody outside of the State of Utah think that the Utes were going to win the Sugar Bowl?  There was no way a crappy team for the weak Mountain West Conference was going to beat a powerhouse from the SEC.  Almost unanimously the nation's media has dubbed the SEC the most physical conference in the country and Alabama this year was that conference's most physical team.  The SEC has more money, better facilities, better recruits, better coaches, better starters, and better back ups than the Mountain West.  The SEC is bigger, faster, stronger, and more athletic than the MWC.  There wasn't one player on the Utah team upon which Alabama would have spent one recruiting dollar.  Everybody knows that.  But when they actually played the game Utah beat seven shades of shit out of the Crimson Tide and that's why the BCS sucks.

In a playoff all of the biases, speculation, and discrimination can be washed away.  Teams can actually line up and decide who is better by their play on the field.  The final score decides who the National Champion is not a computer program.  But it is what it is.  Florida finished #1 and Utah was voted #2 in the AP poll because too many people were worried about what everyone else would think.  The Utes ended up #4 in the Coaches Poll and Florida received all but one first place votes.  Coaches are required by rule to vote for the BCS champion, but one coach bucked against the system and voted Utah #1 (God bless you Kyle Whittingham).

And here is the most confusing thing of all.  Florida is the National Champion in both the AP Poll and the Coaches' Poll, but if you look at the final BCS Rankings, after all the bowl games have been played, 2 loss Oklahoma is still ranked #1 with Florida (who beat OKU) at #2!  Does any of this make sense to anyone?

Oh well, what else can I say that hasn't already been said.  Congratulations Florida on your retarded "National Championship", I guess.

P.S. Phil, the "Roll Tide" cake that you brought to our Sugar Bowl party was delicious.  Thanks.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Predictions for 2009

By the end of the week we should have this site revamped because we are expanding a bit. Of course we want to thank everyone who has kept up with us so far and we hope you keep coming to see what we have to spew at you next.

Everyone seems to make New Year’s resolutions when the calendar flips to January. I made a couple this year, but my prediction is that I won’t accomplish any of them for more than a month. So instead of making a New Year’s resolution post, here are some predictions for 2009. Most of them are predictions, but some of them are things that I just want to happen. As always, feel free to add what you expect to see.

Brett Farve will retire. Please.

Now that I have my required anti-Farve comment out of the way, 2009 will also bring the following:

The BCS will screw someone next year, just like it did to Texas and Utah this year.

Joe Paterno will make it through the entire year. Not just his job, but his life too.

The Utah Utes will finish third in the Mountain West in football, as they are typically accustomed to under Kyle Whittingham.

If Tim Tebow decides to stay in school, the Gators will go undefeated next season and Tebow will win his second Heisman trophy.

An important college football trend will continue: players will continue to hold up four fingers to let people know when the fourth quarter is beginning. We lay people appreciate that.

The Detroit Lions will show marked improvement by going 3-13 next season. Just for the record, I was on the bandwagon for the Lions unblemished season pretty early on this season. I knew they could do it.

Reggie Bush will again not reach 1,000 yards rushing.

The Seattle Seahawks will return to their rightful place as perennial NFC West champs.

The Cowboys will implode and TO will light the fuse.

The New York Yankees will make the playoffs only to lose in the first round.

The New York Mets will make the playoffs only to lose in the first round.

North Carolina will not win the NCAA basketball championship this year. I’m not sure who will win it, but it won’t be UNC. Or Duke.

Stephen Curry will hang 50 on someone.

The Boston Celtics will beat the Lakers in the NBA Finals. Again. It’ll go 7 this time, but Boston will pull it out. Again. (unlike on Christmas, when the Lakers defeated the Celtics. Jim has mentioned this in past posts, so I'll leave it at that...)

I will finally admit that LeBron James is better than Kobe Bryant. I still can’t do it yet.

Jim and Boyd will continue to be firmly planted on Paul Pierce’s jockstrap.

Utah Utes-2009 NCAA Champions?

Thursday night my Alma Mater Utah rose up and laid a major league smackdown on Alabama in the All-State Sugar Bowl. Immediately, fans of Utah began claiming the NCAA Championship and Number One ranking. This is understandable. Utah finished the season ranked 13-0. The question is, are they really deserving of the Championship? I believe they are, but perhaps only as Co-National Champs. My arguments:

Number of Undefeated Teams: One
Utah is the only undefeated team left. This is very important to note. The way that College Football's post-season is set up lends itself to ambiguity and second guessing, but there is one indisputable fact: Utah didn't lose to anybody. Period.

Strength of Schedule:
Does Utah play in the MWC? Yes. Is the MWC fairly weak? Of course. Utah did, however, defeat quality teams in TCU, BYU and Oregon State, not to mention Alabama. TCU and Oregon State were nail-biters, but still victories. BYU and Alabama were both good, solid beatings of worthy opponents. Utah also beat a decent Air Force team. In fact, the Jeff Sagarin Ratings that the BCS uses to rank strength of schedule had Utah's as the 8th most difficult before the bowl game against Alabama.

Head to Head vs. One Loss Teams:
Now, let's look at the other teams who have a claim at the championship.
First off, we have
USC: USC's record is an impressive 12-1, their only loss coming at Oregon State. Hmmm. I think Utah played Oregon State, didn't they? Oh yeah, and they beat them. So, you have two teams with similar records (13-0 vs 12-1) with similar strengths of schedule (8th vs 5th) who have a common opponent in Oregon State, to whom USC lost and Utah beat. I don't care about arguments of who would win if they played head to head, because that is a part of the equation that the BCS system, of which USC is a willing member and participant, decided to leave out when they failed to create a playoff system. And are you certain, after seeing Utah vs. Alabama, that USC would win that game? I would have my doubts.
Florida: Let's assume, for arguments sake, that Florida beats Oklahoma in the BCS Championship. We'll do the same when arguing for Oklahoma. Ok, that would make Florida 13-1. They would have won the SEC championship and beaten the Big 12 Champs as well. In the end, they do have that blemish on their records from when they lost to an underrated Ol' Miss. So record wise, Utah would still have the edge (13-0 vs 13-1). Florida would have admittedly the better SOS (8th vs 3rd) and the teams would have one common opponent who they both beat in Alabama. In that regard, I saw both games and have to say that Utah was much more impressive vs. the Crimson Tide than Florida was, and have a better margin of victory (14 vs 11) vs Alabama.
Oklahoma: The Sooners have had a wonderful season, losing only to Texas. Assuming they beat Florida, they have had a great run this year. They do however, have that one pesky loss. Utah has them in W/L record (13-0 vs 13-1). Oklahoma does have superior SOS (8th vs 1st), and the teams have one common opponent worth mentioning in TCU, who Oklahoma beat soundly and against whom Utah struggled, but did beat.
Boise State: Say what you will, but Boise State is still a one-loss team that deserves a ton of respect. They however, are obviously the worst team in the discussion, having lost to TCU (who lost also to Oklahoma and Utah).
Texas: Let's assume Texas goes out and beats Ohio State, as I suspect they will. That would leave Texas at 13-1, with their only loss coming on a last second play vs. Texas Tech. Texas got screwed out of the Big 12 Championship, and they too will have a claim at the BCS title if they win. Against Utah, they have an inferior record (13-0 vs 12-1), a higher SOS (8th vs 2nd), and no common opponents. Makes it hard to say who would beat whom, doesn't it?

In conclusion, this is how I see things, not any sort of prediction: Utah should have a piece of the BCS title, regardless of who wins that game. They are undefeated, have a strong SOS, and beat up on Alabama in their bowl game. If Florida wins the title game, then Utah and Florida share the title. If Oklahoma wins, Utah and Oklahoma share it, and I kinda lean towards saying that Texas deserves a piece of the title as well, but if Oklahoma can beat a worthy foe in Florida, I'll give them the nod.

This is all a pipe dream, I'm sure, as the BCS will crown it's champion on Thursday, but that doesn't change the fact that Utah deserves a piece of the crown.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Every year at this time people all over the world decide to put their collective foot down and make some changes in their sad lives.  The New Year's Resolution is something to which each of us have fallen victim over the years.  I myself have purchased the Torso Tiger, the Ab Roller, the Torso Tornado, and that one ab thingy that you attach to your abs and turn on the electricity and it makes your abs contract while you watch TV and eat nachos, which by the way did NOT work (that Bruce Lee was full of shit, man).  How many of us have made the resolution to lose 20 or 30 pounds only to reach the end of the next year with an extra 10 pounds to add to our goal?  A wise man once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results, so why do we put ourselves through this nonsense year after year?  I suppose we all need a little hope in our lives, even if most of the time it is a fool's hope.

What follows is a list of New Year's Resolutions, some of my own and some that certain sport's franchises/figures need, to not only make but accomplish if we are to make 2009 a better year the 2008.

1.  I resolve to not get so damned angry with my teams -- Over the last few years I have gone in to many sports season's with high hopes.  The Mets fresh off of signing Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado looked poised to win the NL East and maybe even the World Series.  Then came the catastrophic collapse of two years ago.  All is well, they'll just sign the best free agent pitcher of the off season in Johan Santana and World Series here we come.  Not so fast Mets' fan as another late season collapse left them inches from the playoffs (damn you Aaron Heilman).  My anger at these unfortunate events was so intense that I almost had a couple of strokes.  My wife tells me it's just a game and that makes me even more irate, but in the end she is correct.  I need to take it down a notch when the Celtics lose three out of four on a west coast road trip, and realize that three games do not a season make or else I'm going to pop a blood vessel in my brain.

2.  Jazz Fan needs to resolve to calm down and get in touch with reality -- Yes Carlos Boozer is a candy ass and yes he is going to get hurt a lot and stay out longer than most players will with the same injuries.  You have to realize that Booz is all about the Benjamins (ask Cleveland Fan) so he is not going to play unless he is 100%, period.  You also have to realize that when he is healthy he is one of the best power forwards in the NBA.  You can count on him for 20 and 10 night in and night out and as good as Paul Millsap has been he is still a couple of years away from Boozer's production level.  You had better hope that Larry H. Miller decides to loosen his wallet strings and resigns both Booz and Millsap (and Okur, but probably not) instead of letting Boozer take his game and his injuries to the Heat in the off season.

3.  Brett Favre needs to resolve to retire, for real this time -- Brett, come on man look at your interceptions, look at your quaterback rating, look at your gray hair and beard set, look at your helmet for hell's sake you play for the Jets, the Jets!  Can't you hear the people of Greenbay crying?  Can't you hear the people of the Earth yearning to hear other stories on SportsCenter than your tragic tale?  Please Brett just let it go.  Let it go like you do when you see your outside receiver open in a small window downfield even if the Defense is in a cover two and the Strong Safety is clearly cheating to that side, just begging you to do it.  Let it go, Brett.  Please!

4.  Yankees please resolve to die.  That's it, just roll over and die.  (Lakers, too) Please.

5.  I resolve to stop watching late night info-mercials and buying things -- No more ab machines, no more pull-up bars, no more perfect push-ups, nada.  I'm done thinking that I can make boatloads of money placing tiny classified ads in the newspaper.  I don't need a knife that can cut through a hammer and then slice a tomato with surgical precision (even though I bought a set of these knives and gave them to Boyd for his wedding and  he has been nothing but happy with their performance).  I resolve to ignore Ron Popeil and Billy Mays no matter how convincing their arguments.  I just hope that Danny Ainge isn't up late at night when a "Sign Stephon Marbury, he's not a locker room cancer" info-mercial comes on.  Turn off the TV and back away from the phone, Danny.  Trust me, no matter how good these late night wares seem, you're just setting yourself up for a world of disappointment and shame.

Feel free to add your own New Year's Resolutions or don't, whatever. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Birthday, Grant

December 31st is an important day for everyone. After all, it marks the yearly anniversary of the birth of my eldest brother, Grant. Today Grant turns 35 and I'm sure this year's festivities will be no less spectacular than those of past years. I can't put my finger on it, but for some reason the G-Man is extremely popular. Do you know how I know? Because people get together all over the world to celebrate the last 10 seconds of his Birthday. Everyone celebrates in a different way: Some kiss, some watch magic balls go down the tops of buildings, some watch buildings blow up on the Vegas strip, but one thing is certain: everyone has a good time.

It's not just regular people that seem to enjoy this day, either. Really, really famous people get together and toast Grant and kiss. They even wheel out Dick Clark's half-dead corpse for the celebration held on TV every year. And you can be sure all the Johnny-come-lately Pop Stars of the moment will serenade Grant on his special day.

So here's to you big brother. I hope this Birthday is as good as the rest have been.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Predicting the BCS Bowls

Before I get to the BCS Bowls, I have two important things to get to. First, this website will be going through some changes in the next little while and we’ll keep you posted on what’s happening. More to come later. Second, and I think I can speak for The Strap as a group here, I sincerely hope that we’ve seen the last of Brett Farve in an NFL uniform. Just put on your Wranglers and go Brett. Please don’t put us through the constant updates on SportsCenter and NFL Live. Just get it over with.

Because the BCS Bowls are coming up in the next week and a half, it’s preview time. Before the season started I wrote a college football preview and picked Oklahoma to beat The Ohio State in the BCS title game. I’ll get to the title game later, but at least I got one of the teams correct. There are at least two or three non-BCS bowl games that are better matchups than the Orange Bowl, so I’m not even going to recognize that as a BCS game–therefore, it will be left out of this preview.

Sugar Bowl - Utah vs. Alabama
Before the season I said that Bama was overrated and didn’t deserve to be in the top 25. Clearly I am retarded. Alabama is absolutely the real deal. Utah didn’t play the toughest schedule, but they rose to the challenge and are the only remaining unbeaten team in college football. The Utes know how to win close games and they are a complete team–solid in all three phases.

Andre Smith deciding to go all Reggie Bush and being ruled ineligible for the game helps Utah tremendously. Smith is a definite top-5 pick, so his loss will be big. Alabama is a good running team and will try to pound the ball against the U. John Parker Wilson has only 6 touchdown passes all season, so don’t expect him to test the Utah secondary all that much, especially if the Tide is able to move the ball on the ground. How Alabama is 12-1 with only 6 TD passes from their starting quarterback is beyond me. If the Utes can make Bama one dimensional they have a legitimate chance to pull off the upset.

The Utah offense struggled against the best defense they’ve played this year in TCU. Can they do any better against Alabama? My gut tells me the answer is yes, but it won’t be enough to win the game.
Alabama wins by 10.

Rose Bowl - USC vs. Penn State
USC and Penn State have a combined 22-2 record, making this one of the more intriguing bowl games this year. USC’s defense is as good as it gets: they’re giving up 7.8 points per game. There are NFL players at every position on the Trojan defense, including Moala, Griffen, Cushing, Mays, Ellison, Maualuga... I could keep going, but the point is this: SC’s defense is flat out loaded.

Can Penn State score enough to win this game? Maybe, because the USC offense is nowhere near as dynamic without Norm Chow as the OC. With the talent they have on offense, USC should be putting up way more points than they have so far this season. The fact that USC doesn’t run it up like they have in past years bodes well for PSU. Penn State has a good offense with a mobile quarterback, the best offensive line in college football, and athletic wide receivers. The Nittany Lions probably won’t be able to march the ball up and down the field, so they’ll need some big plays from the wideouts for them to get the victory.

Nobody prepares for big games better than Pete, so I expect the Trojans to look awesome in beating Penn State. Plus, Penn State is from the Big Ten, which doesn’t prepare them well for a team like USC because the Big Ten sucks, is boring and overrated.
USC by at least 14.

Fiesta Bowl - Texas vs. The Ohio State
Is Terrelle Pryor the next Vince Young? I don’t mean that in the “is he going to take off in his car and have his coach call the police because he’s nervous his QB is on his way to commit suicide” kind of way, but is he the next big dual-threat college football quarterback? He certainly has the running skills. His passing is improving, but until he can show improved accuracy, don’t expect him to do what Vince did. Having Beanie Wells in the backfield sure doesn’t hurt (I’d like to see him in the Seahawks’ backfield next year). Wells has been injured at times this year, but when healthy he’s the best running back in college football. The Ohio State offense would be much more dangerous if Pryor were a better passer. Expect Texas to load up on the run because of this. The Buckeyes still have a very good defense that should keep them in the game.

Texas has a more diverse offense than The Ohio State and Colt McCoy has been awesome this year. McCoy might even run for more yards than Pryor in this game. Texas can score through the air, on the ground, defensively, and on special teams. It will be interesting to see how the Texas offense does against a good defense–something they didn’t see in the Big 12 this year.

A lot of people were pissed that The Ohio State University got into a BCS game, but I think they’ll show up for this one. I’ll pick the upset and go with the Buckeyes to pull this one out by a touchdown.
Ohio State by 7.

Monday, December 29, 2008

NBA Player Rankings

Well, I was going to post my top half of the league commentary last Wednesday, but then T-Bone went and posted his "Power Rankings", thus covering many of the teams I was going to speak about. Thanks a pantload, T-Bone. So today, I'm going to look at the top 5 by position this season with a little commentary. Remember, this is a top 5 for the first third of this year only.

Point Gaurd
5. Rajon Rondo-Celtics 11.1 ppg, 7.6 apg 5.0 rpg 2.3 spg 52.4% FG
Rondo has been a steadying force for the Celtics and barely nudges Jameer Nelson for the 5th spot. Rondo's defense has been stellar, and his offense is ever improving, leading the C's to a 28-4 record.
4. Tony Parker-Spurs 22.1 ppg 6.6 apg 50.3 FG%
Tony is having a great season thus far for the Spurs. He has taken over as the team's top scorer. Parker has been very efficient, despite battling injury.
3. Chauncey Billups-Nuggets 17.9 ppg 6.9 apg 5.0 rpg 40.3% 3pt FG
Chauncy has saved the Nuggets season. They are 19-8 with him in the lineup, leading the Division. Chauncey's leadership and defense have been great, and his offense has been solid as per usual.
2. Devin Harris-Nets 23.7 ppg 6.4 apg 1.6 spg
Harris has taken a jump into elite status as a scoring point gaurd. Who knew he would make the Jason Kidd trade look completetly lopsided for the Nets? I did. Harris has, along with a rejuvinated Vince Carter, lead the Nets to a surprising .500 record.
1. Chris Paul-Hornets 20.1 ppg 11.4 apg 5.2 rpg 3.0 spg 49.7% FG
Paul is, once again, not only in the discussion for best point gaurd in the league, but in the discussion for best player in the league. And Jazz fan, don't come at me with Deron Williams smack, he can't even hold Paul's jockstrap when healthy, let alone on a gimpy ankle.

Shooting Gaurd
5. Joe Johnson-Hawks 23.2 ppg 4.7 rpg 5.7 apg
Did you know the Hawks are 19-10? Did you know that Joe Johnson has gone for over 30 points 6 times this year already? Did you know that the Celtics drafted Joe Johnson, then traded him for Rodney Rogers and Tony Delk after less than one season? Did you know that I am crying a little bit right now?
4. Vince Carter-Nets 23.0 ppg 4.9 rpg 4.6 apg
Vince Carter is apparantly not dead. Ok, Vince's last few seasons haven't been that bad, but the big difference this year is that it looks like Vince is actually trying on both ends. How he and Harris have lead this band of misfits to a .500 record thus far is beyond me, but I'll give props where they are due.
3. Brandon Roy-Blazers 23.0 ppg 4.5 rpg 5.3 apg
Stop it, Blazer fan. Don't put this guy anywhere near the MVP this season. Roy keeps getting better and better though, and I love his game. I like his makeup. He seems to be pretty cool and collected, which serves this young team well. The scary thing for teams in the West is that this guy and this team have tons of room for improvement. Watch out.
2. Kobe Bryant-Lakers 26.3 ppg 5.4 rpg 4.2 apg
Bryant is having another spectacular year, and it seems as though the improvement of his team will allow him to get some added rest the last month of the season. Bryant is still spectacular in the 4th quarter and I suspect we will see him in the finals again this season.
1. Dwayne Wade-Heat 28.9 ppg 5.1 rpg 6.9 apg 2.2 spg 1.6 bpg
Wade is simply amazing. He is carrying a team of misfits to a respectable season almost single-handedly. Dude is averaging 1.6 blocks per game. He has 13 games over 30. If it weren't for LeBron and the fact that his team will probably finish middle of the pack, Wade could be having an MVP season.

Small Forward
5. Paul Pierce-Celtics 18.2 ppg 5.7 rpg 3.8 apg
Pierce is having one of his worst statistical seasons, but has been a big part in a 28-4 start, usually taking the brunt of the big 4th quarter shots. Pierce gives up a lot of shots to his teammates, but has been a very efficient scorer this year, averaging 1.4 points per shot. Just edges out Josh Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Andrei Kirilenko and Gerald Wallace
4. Kevin Durant-Thunder 23.7 ppg 5.5 rpg 44.8% 3pt Fg
This guy could be higher if his team were any good. Having lousy teammates actually hurts KD's numbers, as there is literally no one that defenses need to worry about other than Durant on the Thunder. Has improved his game in every facet and should continue to blossom as he is, after all, only 20 years old.
3. Caron Butler-Wizards 21.0 ppg 6.5 rpg 4.5 apg 1.6 spg
I love Caron Butler. He has improved so much over the past few years. He plays extremely hard and is a tenacious defender. I can't believe he is the third highest paid player on the Wizards, as I would take one of him over two Gilbert Arenas' and 6 Antawn Jamisons.
2. Danny Granger- Pacers 24.9 ppg 5.1 rpg 3.2 apg
The Small Forward position is not loaded admittedly, but look at Granger's scoring average! Some guys sign big contracts and rest on their laurels, but Granger looks like he's trying to prove that he deserves another raise before he is even getting paid for the extension he just signed. I saw dude get his two front teeth knocked out against Boston and he kept playing, helping to hand the C's one of their 4 losses. I have a lot of respect for this guy.
1. LeBron James-Cavs 27.5 ppg 6.7 rpg 6.4 apg 2.0 spg 1.1 bpg 50.9%FG
I don't know how you can watch basketball and say this guy is not clearly the best player on the planet. He's finally started to hit his free throws, and has figured out that no one alive can stop him if he heads to the basket. LeBron has at least one "Oh My Lord" highlight every single game. Oh, and he is playing excellent defense. Please, some one, take this team out before they get to Boston. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease.

Power Forward
5. Amare Stoudamire-Suns 22.5 ppg 9.0 rpg 55.6% FG
I have to admit, Amare is having a little bit of a down season for him. His scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage have all suffered this year. Maybe he needs to shut his damn yapper about where he is going to play in the future and focus on the present and get back to utterly dominating fools. That being said, he's still 400 times better than Pau Gasol.
4. Dirk Nowitzki-Mavs 25.8 ppg 8.9 rpg
Can you believe this guy one an MVP one season? The league has gotten much better since, I would have to say. All that aside, Dirk is having a classic Dirk season, shooting very well, rebounding at a respectable rate, and not shooting enough damn threes. Say what you will, but the Mavs were better when Dirk was launching threes. He is after all a career 38 percent gunner.
3. Kevin Garnett-Celtics 16.6 ppg 8.8 rpg 1.4 bpg 53.9% FG
KG is having a bit of a down year, particularly on the boards, but his defense is still the stuff of legends, and he continues to take the opportunities given him on an extremely balanced team to shoot a very high field goal percentage. Oh, and we don't need to add all the intangibles in. I mean, dude either inspires or has the bench so scared of his wrath, that they play hard when, like last night, they were up by 40 damn points.
2. Chris Bosh-Raptors 23.4 ppg 9.7 rpg 49.3% FG
I feel a little sad for Bosh. For so long everyone called him so underrated that now I think he is actually a little bit overrated. I mean, he is a great player, but in watching him I don't think he goes at it hard enough. He just seems a little soft to me as all. Still, he is terrific and needs to get the hell out of Toronto as soon as he can.
1. Tim Duncan-Spurs 20.7 ppg 10.4 rpg 3.2 apg 1.7 bpg 51.6% Fg
What is going on with Duncan this year? Yawn. 20 and 10 with stellar defense, leading an injury plagued team to a very respectable 20-10 recrod in the West. Yawn. Best Power Forward ever. Yawn.

5. Al Jefferson-Wolves 22.1 ppg 10.2 rpg 1.9 bpg 49.4% Fg
Jefferson makes this list by default. Center and Small Forward are the 2 weakest positions, and Jefferson has been only so-so this season. He doesn't look to be working that hard in the games I've seen. Perhaps all the losing has him down. I know he has good numbers, but something is off and I feel he could do more. 20 and 10 ain't bad, though.
4. Zydrunas Ilgauskas-Cavs 14.0 ppg 7.1 rpg 1.2 bpg 51.5% FG
Old Z has turned back the clock and is playing terrificly for the Cavs thus far, helping to stretch the floor for LeBron, and otherwise being extremely solid on both ends of the floor despite playing fewer minutes for playoff conservation.
3. Shaquille O'Neal-Suns 16.4 ppg 8.6 rpg 1.4 bpg 58.5% FG
I gotta give Shaq his credit. I don't know how his ass tastes, but I know that he is palying with a lot of effort and intensity for the Suns this year. They are doing a good job of keeping him rested by not having him go in most back-to-backs, and he is repaying them with improved conditioning, better free throw shooting, and a solid inside presence on defense.
2. Yao Ming-Rockets 20.3 ppg 9.7 rpg 1.8 bpg 53.3% FG
Everyone knows what Yao is capable of when healthy. I think that the decreased offensive burden (shooting 2 less shots a game, playing 3 less minutes) will all help to keep Yao fresh as the season drags on, as he has a lenghty injury history. The Rockets have been good so far, and we'll see if the second half can bring on a further gelling of their talents for a run at the title.
1. Dwight Howard-Magic 19.6 ppg 13.7 rpg 3.7 bpg 55.1% FG
I've given Howard crap for not having enough post moves the last few years, but in the games I've seen, he has really improved in that respect this year. I know that his numbers are a little bit down from last year, but the team is better overall, and the opposition is now really focusing on Howard more than ever. I've been impressed by his improved (believe it or not) offensive rebounding as now one can box this guy out it seems, and by his defense, which has gone from great to otherworldly.

(sorry for any misspells. Spell checker down. Peace.)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even Eddie House;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes the Commissioner soon would be there;
The Jazz were all nestled a snug in their beds,
They dreamed of Milwaukee and that damned Michael Redd:
And Pacman in his 'kerchief, and Ray Lewis in his cap,
Had just settled down for some VIP dances, lap.
When out on the filed there arose such a clatter,
‘Cause the Yankees bought all the best pitchers and batters.
Away to the window Usain Bolt flew like a flash,
He needed more light to inject roids in his ass.
Warren Moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Make you question his morals, but you never know,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But Kim Kardashian with Reggie Bush slapping her rear,
Devin Hester was there, so lively and quick,
Returning kicks he was awesome, catching balls he sucks (well you know).
More rapid than eagles every kick was the same,
He whistled to blockers, and called them by name;
"Now, Vasher! Now, Forte! Now, Briggs and Rex Grossman!
On, Orton! On Urlacher! On, Kreutz and Greg Olsen!
From Historic Soldier Field, to the snow in old Lambeau,
But enough about football, let’s talk about Rondo.”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
Rajon is unstoppable when he mounts to the sky,
He dribbles and rebounds, to the backboard he slashes,
He scores or to KG, to Pierce, or Ray Allen he passes.
And then, in a twinkling, he steals the ball from your point,
Then he throws down a dunk and blows the roof off the joint.
On Christmas the Celtics will play in LA,
A-listers will go ‘cause they’re down with Yahweh.
Rondo will run circles ‘round Fisher like a dancer,
He won’t use his kid to leverage a trade with his cancer.
And if Andrew Bynum puts the ball on the floor,
Rondo will strip him ‘cause his dribbling is poor.
He’ll spring to the backcourt, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they’ll all fly like the down of a thistle.
The Celtics will run up the floor to their spots,
Sugar Ray to the corner ‘cause his shooting’s been hot.
He’ll look to the left and then pass to the right,
And KG will jump toward the rim, out of sight.
He’ll catch the sweet oop, throw it down with some thunder,
The Lakers will cry, their dreams torn all asunder.
And Rondo will yell, ere he drives out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

NBA Power Rankings

To go along with Boyd’s post about the L, I decided to hop on the NBA bandwagon this week. How could I not, with the Lakers-Celtics on Christmas day? I don’t watch the league as much as PlayBoyd does, but here are my power rankings for the NBA for Christmas week (I’m only going with the top half of the league). Am I the only one who thinks that the East might be better than the West top to bottom? The West has been so dominant for the last several years that it’s strange to see so many crappy teams in the West.

1. Boston Celtics
The Celtics certainly appear hungry to repeat. As long as they stay healthy, it seems that there are only be two realistic threats to a repeat. Well, maybe three if they have to face Atlanta in the playoffs (second round matchup perhaps?). Rondo is playing out of his mind and the defense continues to be impressive.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James has been ridiculous this year. I’ve been a proponent of Kobe Bryant as the best player in the league for the last few years, but LBJ has me rethinking this. He’s playing at a different level this year and it shows in Cleveland’s record. Cleveland is really putting opponents away in the second half this season, outscoring opponents by a wide margin. They look legit.

3. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers haven’t looked as impressive in the past few weeks (just suffered their first back-to-back defeats of the season) but are still the class of the West. Bynum and Gasol are meshing well together so far, but Kobe has not been as dominant as he was last season. The offense doesn’t seem to be as precise as it was last year from what I’ve seen, and the injury to Farmar could be big. With all those questions, the Lakers are still the best team in the West and have the potential to win the NBA Championship.

4. Orlando Magic
I picked Atlanta to get the upset and win the Southeast division over Orlando. While it could still happen, Orlando has looked really freaking good so far this season. They just had a three game winning streak, beating Portland, San Antonio, and the Lakers. Impressive. Dwight Howard is an absolute beast, as evidenced by the way he destroyed Greg Oden last week. That was awesome—welcome to the league, rookie.

5. New Orleans Hornets
The Hornets have won 11 of their last 13 and Chris Paul is being Chris Paul. New Orleans doesn’t look that great on paper but the pieces they have just fit so well together. I’m interested to see what happens in the NO-LAL game tonight.

6. Houston Rockets
The Rockets look good for not having been all that healthy so far. If Houston is healthy come playoff time they will be dangerous for the Lakers. Artest plays Kobe as well as anyone in the league.

7. San Antonio Spurs
Tony Parker is playing at a high level this year (see his 55 and 10 game earlier this season) and Tim Duncan is taking care of business as usual. Ginobili has been pretty solid since coming back from injury and we can expect him to only get better. I still hate him, but when he is on offensively he is as close to unstoppable as anyone in the league.

8. Denver Nuggets
Chauncey Billups has transformed this team. Denver is playing defense better than they have in forever. Well, they were until they gave up over 105 in their last three games. If the MVP goes to the most valuable player and not the best player, Billups deserves some consideration if the Nuggets continue like this.

9. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks could contend with Portland as the team of the future. Horford, Johnson, Williams, and Smith are all 27 years old or younger and Bibby can bring it when he needs to. This team can be dangerous in the future, and maybe sooner.

10. Portland Trail Blazers
The other trendy pick as team of the future is better than I thought they would be this year. Brandon Roy is going to the next level and becoming a star. He dropped 52 the other night and he does a little bit of everything. Aldridge is underrated, Outlaw is awesome off the bench, and Oden and Fernandez are getting better. Blake is playing well at the point, and Martell Webster is coming back from injury. The future looks very promising for the Blazers.

11. Phoenix Suns
Amare’s pimp hand is way strong and Nash continues to put up good numbers. Shaq hasn’t been great this year but he hasn’t sucked either. The addition of Jason Richardson could be big for this team (he’s averaged 18 a game since the trade).

12. Utah Jazz
The Jazz have been decimated by injuries but still have a decent record. If the Jazz can ever get and stay healthy they’ll move way up this list.

13. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavs trading Devin Harris was a stupid move, as Devin’s 41 points against Dallas last week proved. Jason Terry is going for 21 per game off the bench and Dirk is playing well so far. Dallas is currently sitting in 9th place and would miss the playoffs if things stay put. I, for one, would love to see the Mavericks stay home.

14. Miami Heat
Dwyane Wade has been a monster and he outplayed Kobe last week in their head-to-head matchup. Beasley has been good so far, but I expected more after what he did in college last year. The Heat have 14 wins right now, only one less than their total from last season.

15. New Jersey Nets
Devin Harris is becoming a star. I found an impressive stat yesterday: Harris has gone for 30+ in 8 of 23 games this year. In the first four years of his career he had zero 30-point games. Also, Brook Lopez went for 22, 13 and 5 blocks against the Heat last week, the first Nets player to go for 20-10-5 since Derrick Coleman. Vince is playing like the champ I know he is and the Nets look good.

Monday, December 22, 2008

NBA Review, Part I

The NBA season is now a little over a third of the way finished, and I have seen every team play a number of times except the Miami Heat. For some reason I still have not caught them. But I will. No matter. I decided today to go back and look at my pre-season thoughts on the NBA, found here and here, to see if I where I was right, where I was wrong, and any other thoughts I have on all things NBA.

Oklahoma City Thunder: I have seen 2 games from these guys, and they are even worse than I thought they would be. I was right when I predicted PJ would be a goner by New Years, and the drafting of Jeff Green and Russel Westbrook has not worked out thus far. Durant has not looked very good either, by the way.

Memphis Grizzlies: I caught them the other night and they played a really competitive game. I really like OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay. They both take and make some crazy shots. I was wrong however, about Mike Conley. Doesn't look like he will be anything special, as he has had plenty of opportunity and hasn't done much with it. I also like Marc Gasol. He's a real banger and could be a good role player for years to come. Memphis is definitely on the upswing.

Minnesota Timberwolves: I predicted the axe at some point for Whitman if this team did not improve, and he got that axe sooner than even I thought. This team has been extremely disappointing. The main problem is that their guards are just awful. Foye can't shoot, nor can Telfair. McCants couldn't throw it in the ocean from the shore. Gomes hasn't shot well. The only two guys shooting well, Jefferson and Miller, have to watch game after game as McCants and Foye jack up horrible shot after horrible shot. I take bake my prediction that this team is on the upswing. Kevin Love appears over matched and is not a good fit for this team at all.

New York Knicks: Thank goodness for Mike D'Antoni. I've seen 3 Knicks games this year, and although they lost all three, at least they were watchable. Make no mistake, the Knicks are not a good team, but they are much better than the last few years. They have a similar problem to most bad teams: Bad shooters. Other than David Lee, none of them can shoot with any accuracy.

Milwaukee Bucks: I was wrong about this team. They have been much, much better than I expected, and actually decent to watch. They still let Redd, Villanueva, and Jefferson huck up too many bad shots, but the defense has improved, bless Scott Skiles' little red ass, and overall, despite a brutal starting schedule, the Bucks might have a shot to gel and fight for the 8th spot in the East, much to my surprise.

Charlotte Bobcats: This team is a microcosm for all bad teams. Case in point: Raymond Felton, shooting 39% from the field, shoots 12.6 shots per game. Emeka Okafor, shooting 59% from the field, shoots 9.0 times. It isn't that hard, coaches: Make the players pass the ball to the guys who can shoot and let them shoot. If they won't, get players that will. I still hold that Larry Brown is out of touch with today's players and in the long run this is going to end badly for Charlotte.

New Jersey Nets: The Nets have to be one of the biggest surprises in the NBA. Devin Harris is playing out of his mind, and Vince Carter is actually trying, which I didn't think he would. He still may be traded, but this team is headed in the right direction because of solid coaching and great play from the role players. Don't get me wrong, the Nets are not a good team, but they are much better than anyone expected.

Sacramento Kings: This team is just awful. It can't defend anybody, which negates the teams relatively decent shooting touch. That being said, there is some good stuff for the future. Hawes and that rookie Thompson everyone thought they reached for look pretty promising, and Brad Miller should probably be traded for more talent. John Salmons is surprising everyone with his play. Kevin Martin has, for the most part been injured and disappointing when he did play. He may be this years player who was called so underrated that he actually became overrated.

LA Clippers: You may ask yourself how I ranked the Clippers 22nd in my preseason list, but if you check it right now, they have the 24th best record, so I wasn't that far off. This team is, however, even worse than I thought. They just can't guard anybody to save their lives. Baron Davis is shooting so horribly. 17 times a game at only 37%. How is that possible? Oh, partly because he shoots 6 threes a game at only 29%. Have fun the next 5 years as he only gets worse, Clipper fan.

Indiana Pacers: The Pacers have been about what I thought, but I think they might have a better future than I stated. Danny Granger is playing awesome. Once they get Dunleavy back, they could contend for the final playoff spot in the wide-open bottom of the East.

Miami Heat: It has to be said, Dwayne Wade is challenging LeBron for best player in the league. He simply wills this band of miscreants to victory waaaaay more often than any mortal should. The big question remains: will he stay healthy? I predicted no, but hope to God that I am wrong, because he is fantastic. The rest of the roster is only so-so, but if they can pick up Boozer in the off-season, they would vault back up towards the top of the East in my estimation.

Atlanta Hawks: Wow, the Hawks are showing what just getting to the playoffs can do for a team, and proving me dead wrong. Even though they lost to the Celtics in an epic 7 game series, they seemed to learn so much and gain confidence that is carrying over to this season. They have a very balanced starting five, and you can tell that Joe Johnson figured out that no one can guard him. The bench is still to thin to compete for a title, and lord having Josh Childress would help that situation, but I'll tell you this: The Celtics are glad they probably won't be an 8 seed this year. (By the way, the big difference between last year and this: defense. The Hawks claimed they learned that from the C's and it shows.)

Chicago Bulls: I'm not even going to talk about the Bulls. Just Derrick Rose. I apologize, Derrick Rose, baby, for what I wrote about you. You are the real deal and once you get a little bit of an outside shot, you will be completely unstoppable. Please forgive me, Derrick Rose.

Golden State Warriors: I was dead wrong on these guys, as well. They are just horrid. Don Nelson has done a terrible, terrible job with this roster. Better hope that Monte Ellis can play point, because no one on that team EVER PASSES. These guys are atrocious to watch. I might throw up.

Washington Wizards: Wrong about these guys, too. Brutal. Just brutal. Think Gilbert is going to turn this mess around? Me neither. They just signed him to a six year deal. Wizards fans, put the pistols down, you aren't the Bullets anymore.

Denver Nuggets: I guess we found out that Allen Iverson is a cancer, and like the cancer that Doctor's removed from Nene's nut last season, the removal of said cancer can be rejuvenating. I mean, this team is night and day from last year and early this season. Billups is a stud. If healthy, he's a top 5 point in my book. Nene is much better than I thought, and Kenyon Martin looks rejuvenated. This team is a better defensive team than I thought they would be, relying on a team concept rather than letting traded Marcus Camby try to do all the defending like they did last year. Still not a top notch championship team, they will be a tough out in the playoffs for whoever gets them.

Part II Wed.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Five Things

I've put a lot of thought into this week's post and struggled greatly with its content.  I am a fairly opinionated person.  I also like to talk (my father says I talk because I like to hear the sound of my own voice, and he's probably right).  Because of my talkative nature and my never ending opinions I tend to push people to opposite ends of the "What I Think About Jim Scale".  Some people like me and some people hate me, there aren't very many people in between.  For the record, either way is fine with me.  So with this in mind I forge ahead with a list of five things that I know, along with five things that I think I know.  Some may delight, some may offend, but such is the plight of this well intended author.  Dear reader, enjoy.

1.  I know I love sports and I think I know why.  Because of my choice of sports franchises I have suffered much over the years.  Listen to this, Peter Tom Willis, Will Furrer, Steve Stenstrom, Moses Moreno, and Henry Burris.  Ever heard of any of these guys?  Well neither have I, but apparently they are all quarterbacks who have started games for my beloved Chicago Bears within the last 15 years.  Go figure.  (By the way, the list of guys I have heard of isn't that much more impressive than these five douches).  I've suffered through Eric Montross, Mark Blount, and Milt Palacios. 
Somebody please save me from the likes of a washed up Bobby Bonilla, an overrated Victor Zambrano, and a trade that got the Mets Jim Fergosi and sent away Nolan freakin' Ryan.  I should totally hate sports, but instead I know that I love them so much.  Why?  I think I know.  Sports are unpredictable and for that reason we love them.  For every heavily favored Yankee team that didn't make it to the World Series there is a 2008 Tampa Bay Rays team that overachieves and thrills us.  On any given night virtually unknown NC State can beat the unbeatable Phi Slamma Jamma.  I can still see Dikembe Mutombo clutching the ball to his chest as his #8 seeded Denver Nuggets beat the #1 seed Seattle Supersonics, the first time such a thing had ever happened, ever.  I love sports because at the start of every season a true fan has new hope, a fool's hope most of the time, but hope nonetheless.  I love sports because Ryan Gomes, Al Jefferson, Gerald Green , Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, two first round draft picks, and cash considerations can turn into Kevin Garnett and Celtic Pride can rise reborn like a Phoenix from the ashes.

2.  I know the Germans love David Hasselhoff and I think I know why.  Check this out.


I mean come on, wiener dogs, baby angels holding hands, and the Hoff flying over a speeding motorcycle.  That shit's solid gold.  Danke shoen, Deutschland!  Danke Shoen.

3.  I know if you argue with an old timer about who the greatest athlete is in any given sport he is not going to say LeBron James, Peyton Manning, or Alex Rodriguez.  In his mind there is no way in hell Mike Tyson could have ever beaten Muhammad Ali, or Cassius Clay for that matter.  Put away your Joe Montana posters and lock up any thoughts you might have of anointing Dan Marino the greatest quarterback ever because everyone can just line up behind Johnny Unitas and Broadway Joe Namath and it don't matter what order you put 'em in after that, period.  Ted Williams would hit .500 in today's MLB and every game Bob Gibson pitched would be a no-hitter with the good-for-nothin' pansies teams run up to the plate now a days.  They don't want to hear about Shaquille O'Neal.  Shaq couldn't hold Bill Russell's jockstrap (oh wait, I agree with that one so if that makes me an old timer then pull my lower lip up to the bottom of my nose and hoist my pants up to my armpits because Russell is the beginning and end.  Shuffleboard anyone?).  I think I can explain this one too.  These athletes got these people through some rough times.  Sports were an escape from Wars, the Depression, and Presidential assassinations.  The heroes of these games provided unadulterated happiness and celebration during times when such things were rare.  Did they put these athletes up on a pedestal and ignore their shortcomings?  Hell yes they did, and why not?  Could most of the athletes of yesteryear compete with the monsters that roam the courts and fields today?  Probably not.  Are athletes getting bigger, faster, and stronger?  Yes.  But some of them would still be able to play in today's sports world.  A great athlete then would be a great athlete now.  Greatness, I think, transcends space and time.

4.  I know 80s music mostly sucks, but I love it anyway.  I think people can't help but love the things they grew up with (unless you grew up with a mean drunk father who lifted you by the short hairs on the back of your neck and kicked you in the ass all the way down the street for all your friends to see.  I can't speak from experience on this one as my father is a wonderful man and hero to me, but I'm sure if something like that happened to you when you were a kid it would have sucked pretty bad and definitely would have left you leaning toward NOT loving the things you grew up with, but I digress).  I know the lyrics suck and the guitar solos are lame and the hair and make-up for the women and men could not have been worse, but if I hear me some Def Leppard I get so pumped I just want to skateboard, play one-armed air drums, or lift weights, or something.  I know they only liked boys, but when I hear Erasure sing I can't help but think that together we will break these chains of love.  I know it was bad, but it was my bad and I loved it.  I love it still.

5.  I know I hate the Los Angeles Lakers with an undying hatred, and I think I know that I couldn't loath them anymore than I already do.

So that's it.  Five things that I know and five that I think I know.  Feel free to let me know what you think of the things that I know and what you think of the things that I think that I know.  Whoa!  Also, let me know about the things you know and the things you think you know.  Who knows, maybe some of the things that you know will be the same things that I know and maybe some of the things that you think you know will be the same things that I think I know.  Possibly so. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Who will win the NBA championship?

I was reading a recent poll taken by Sports Illustrated that asked 189 NBA players who would win the NBA championship this season. The results:

Lakers - 67%
Celtics - 20%
Cavaliers - 4%
Spurs - 2%

So what does this mean? It seems like the players would know better than analysts who the best team in the league is. The Lakers, Celtics, and Cavs have a combined winning percentage of 87.5. These teams are all playing at a pretty ridiculous clip. The only meeting between these teams to this point in the season was a game one win by Boston over Cleveland. So, who will win the NBA title? Both Boyd and I picked the Celtics before the season started, and I think it's pretty clear that Jim wouldn't pick against the Celtics even if he were being tortured.

I'm not only surprised that the Lakers won the poll, but the margin is pretty impressive. What do the players know that we don't? Defense led Boston to a championship last year and they've been equally impressive so far this season. Ray Allen is healthy and playing like a champ. The Lakers have been impressive thus far, but what has changed that leads people to conclude they will beat Boston this year? Are they better defensively? Does Bynum make up the difference from last year? Is Kobe playing even better this season than last? Do people think age will catch up to the Celtics (they aren't that old)? With Rondo playing the way he is so far this season, I can't see why anyone would pick against the Celtics. Can someone give me some ideas? I'm not ruling it out completely, because Cleveland and Los Angeles are both very good teams, but why the Lakers at 67% of the vote? Seriously, what am I missing? Boyd? Jim? Rob? Anyone?

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Dark Knight

I watched this movie for the first time on Saturday night, and found it to be quite enjoyable. There was really only one thing about the movie that bothered me. For the first hour and a half of the movie, I listened to Heath Ledger as the Joker and there was something so familiar in his voice that it was nagging at me every time he spoke. I couldn't place it, and it was starting to detract from the movie. Then, it hit me. Now listen closely to the Joker on this clip:

Who does he sound like? Well, unfortunately, I can't embed the video due to copyrights, so you'll have to click on This.

Yes, he sounds like Stuart Smalley. Maybe with slightly less of the lisp, but there is no denying the vocal resemblence. Now I don't want to trample on a man's grave, but there is no way Heath Ledger should win an Oscar for doing an even creepier Stuart Smalley.

Just one man's opinion.