Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ron Artest-Crazy As Hell

So, Ron Artests' crazy ass is now headed for Houston, apparantly. Houston fans should rejoice. They went from having one of the most boring teams in the league to being instantly watchable and entertaining. The best part is that it has absolutely nothing to do with what Artest will do to improve the Rockets on the floor.

Sure, the Rockets will feature two potential ALL-NBA defenders in Shane "Shar pei Head" Battier and Artest. Sure, they will have 4 legitimate scorers in Artest, Yao, Lazy Eye McGrady and to a lesser extent Rafer Alston. Sure, Luis Scola will be an instant contender for sixth man of the year, and the addition of Brent Barry adds depth to the bench that simply wasn't there last season. And getting rid of Bobby Jackson is always addition by subraction, as people forget that old Bobby is not actually good at basketball any more.

None of this, however, matters. The Rockets will be one of the most entertaining teams in the league for the same reason that I actually watched like 6 quarters of Kings' games last year: Crazy Ass Ron Artest. You think I watched to see what rookie Spencer Hawes could do? Or to see marijuana lover Brad Miller execute some gay bounce pass? No. I watched to see if Artest was going to hit someone, spit on someone, play the maddest man to man D alive, hit himself with his own fist in the head, etc. You just never know what your gonna get from Ron.

A quick list of some of Ron's greatest hits:

1. As a Rookie, he applied to get a job at Circuit City just to get the employee discount. That's shrewd buisness savy, in my book.
2. He once attended practice in a bath robe.
3. He tried to get a month off because he was "tired" from promoting some chick R&B band on his "record label."
4. Destroyed a television camera at Madison Square Garden.
5. Got in a fight with Pat Riley. (honestly, who hasn't wanted to do that?)
6. Was on the cover of Penthouse Magazine. (Seriously, you couldn't even score Hustler Ron?)
7. Tried to kill his dogs by not feeding them.
8. Beat his wife.
9. Put out an album called "My World." It sold barely more than my debut album, which I haven't recorded or put out yet.

Am I forgetting something? Oh, yeah.

10. Was part of the biggest brawl in NBA history, going into the stands to attack fans. (Also, who decided putting Stephen Jackson and Ron Artest on the same team was a good idea? Larry Bird or Donnie Walsh? I mean come on, the odds of one of them not beating up a fan were much lower than teaming them up and avoiding disaster.)

I may be crazy, but I didn't think that brawl was all that bad for basketball. Attendance in Detroit hasn't suffered one bit, and really, fighting is good for any sport. Ask NASCAR. My friend Derek claims that he follows it in the papers to see, a la the WWE, who is brawling that week. Watching those bitches in the WNBA brawl it out last week was officially the first time since, well, since the inception of the WNBA that something interesting actually happened. You show that Lesa Leslie, Rick Mahorn!

I look forward to watching Ron this year, as always, and hope that his insanity doesn't abate. My prediction: A mid-season Kung Fu showdown with Yao Ming results in season ending surgery for Yao. Let the games begin.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Best Dunkers in the NBA

I love basketball. I have never been particularly athletic—I’ve always had to bust my butt to be any good at all. Because of this, I have always appreciated the beauty of a great dunk. Growing up I played dunk-ball a lot to try and pacify my feelings of physical inadequacy, but even then my ferocious dunks weren’t necessarily impressive (even though I thought I was pretty freaking awesome at the time). On the flipside, I have been dunked on several times, including once by Steve Young (yes, that Steve Young). I’ve got to admit it was pretty awesome. I was once dunked on so hard that I fell backward right into a wall about ten feet behind the tin. It was pretty embarrassing. I did actually dunk a ten foot hoop once–it was a follow-up dunk, but still, I put it down. I immediately called timeout so I could attempt to dunk again and failed miserably multiple times. Chalk the successful tip dunk up to adrenaline.
For some reason I felt it necessary to give that introduction. So, without further ado, here are the top five in-game dunkers in the NBA today with a bunch of awesome links (there are a bunch and some of the clips are long, but they're worth watching - some of the music is annoying, so you may want to hit mute). Keep in mind this is a list of current players only and does not include dunk contest dunks, but in-game situations only.

1. Vince Carter - Vince is the best dunker in NBA history. Period. His combination of acrobatics, power, and hangtime is stupid.Vince was amazing at UNC and took the NBA by storm - his highlights were on sportscenter every night. When playing for team USA the guy jumped over a 7-foot-2 guy for heaven’s sake! The thing that is so amazing about Vince is that he makes it look so easy—it just appears that he is messing around (and sometimes he is—he did quit on his team, after all). Even though many people don’t like him, he has to be the top dunker in the NBA. He’d be number one on my all-time list too.

2. Kobe Bryant - It’s pretty clear that I don’t always like Kobe, but the guy can throw it down like a champ.Kobe gets the nod at #2 because he dunks on everybody and has put down some of the most acrobatic dunks in NBA history. Sometimes it looks like Bryant decides what to do after he’s at the peak of his jump. One of the best dunks I have ever seen was when the Lakers were playing an exhibition game in Vegas a couple years ago and he absolutely bagged Ben Wallace. It was ridiculous. I jumped out of my seat like I had just won the lottery. Kobe has thrown down on some of the biggest guys in the league—his dunks on Yao (#2 on the clip) and Dwight Howard are among the best I've ever seen.

3. LeBron James - This guy is a freak. Has an NBA player ever been this athletically superior to everyone else?For a comparison as to how ridiculous he is, Karl Malone was 6' 9 and about 260 in his prime. Malone was generally considered to be in the best shape (or at least had the best physique) of anyone in the league. LeBron has similar measurables (6' 8, 245) at age 23. Adding LeBron’s athleticism to a frame like that is just unfair. Watch how he takes contact and still flushes with two hands. Ridiculous. I once heard Danny Ainge say that LeBron could show up to an NFL camp and make the team based solely on his athletic abilities. That's some high praise. LeBron's dunk on KG in the playoffs this year was amazing. LeBron dunks with power, but he takes the 3 spot here because I don't think he is as creative/flashy as Kobe.

4. Jason Richardson - If this list were for the best dunkers in a non-game situation Richardson might give Vince a run for the top spot.His off the glass under the leg dunk in the dunk contest was amazing. It actually gave me a rager (I need to credit PlayBoyd on the use of that term). Richardson makes it look pretty on breakaways but he's not as powerful as the guys ahead of him on this list.

5. Josh Smith - I don’t know that anyone in the NBA is more fun to watch than Smith.He can jump out of the gym, so every game you come away with a highlight dunk or a crazy rejection. He has made the Hawks fun to watch for the first time since Dominique left.

Just missed the cut (in no particular order): Dwight Howard, Andre Iguodala, Ricky Davis, Tyrus Thomas, Amare Stoudemire, Travis Outlaw

NFL vs. College Football

Which is better? This is a funny decision for me. See, in the debate of NBA vs. NCAA Basketball, this isn't even close. Call me crazy, but I'd rather watch good people play (NBA) than a bunch of srubs tossing up 500 threes and shooting 38% and winning the national championship (NCAA). That is, however, a debate for another time. Now I want to focus on NFL vs. College Football.

Style of Play:
NFL-Maybe I'm a moron, but it seems to me like 25 teams play basically the same offense: run it up the middle, run it up the middle, screen pass, punt. The Bears run a minor variation known as The Run it up the Middle, Run it up the Middle, Then Throw an Interception. There isn't much variety from year to year, as the teams tend to copy whatever the succesful teams did the year before. The other 7 teams might do something slightly different, but by and large, all 32 teams run a lot of the same stuff. The defensive variation consits of 3-4 teams and 4-3. A little boring. The joy in the NFL comes from the fact that the athletes are elite, the defense amazing, the hits harder, the big plays bigger.
NCAA-This is my biggest joy in watching college football. Some teams run a spread offense, some teams run pro-style offense, some run option(a personal favorite), some run spread option, and some run whatever you call that offense West Virginia ran the last 5 years. There is so much variety that sometimes teams with inferior talent win because of superior scheme. You never see that in the NFL.
EDGE: NCAA by a landslide

NFL: Redskins-Cowboys, Bears-Packers, Jets-Dolphins, Broncos-Raiders. The NFL has solid rivalries that have lasted for years. It doesn't get much better than watching the Skins' and Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. Sure, you only see about half the game as you slip in and out of a turkey coma, but that game always delivers.
NCAA: USC-Notre Dame, Ohio State-Michigan, Texas-Oklahoma, Army-Navy. College Rivalries are so big that they actually name the games. The World's Largest Cocktail Party, Red River Rivalry, and my favorite name, The Civil War (Oregon-Oregon St.) They play for trophies, they play for local pride. And every team has at least one rivalry. Sorry, Jets-Dolphins just can't hold the proverbial jockstrap of Ohio State-Michigan.
EDGE: NCAA by a mile
Video Game:
NFL: Madden Football. Nothing else needs to be said. Madden is the undisputed king of the football gaming world. The gamplay is the tightest, the innovations are usually additons, and overall, this is the best football game on the planet.
NCAA: NCAA Football yearly franchise. This is a great game, and I buy it every year without fail, but it seems as though they make fewer improvements from year to year than Madden does. The AI on this is just too Corky from Life Goes On to be enjoyed over Madden.
EDGE: NFL by a touchdown and a missed extra point.

NFL: I agree with Ric Flair when he once told Ricky Morton as he handed him a training bra-"you like the little girls and I like the big girls." Are the NFL cheerleaders sluttier? Absolutely. Over the years, the NFL has gotten to the point where the XFL, that renegade league of old, looks tame, and they had straight strippers as there cheerleaders. I guess I'm just a dirty old man.
NCAA: These girls are cute. blah.
EDGE: NFL by 2 cup sizes.

In the end, I have to give my overall nod to NCAA Football. The differences in playing styles, the rivalries, and the importance on each game put it over the top of the NFL.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fantasy GM update

If anyone is still interested, here are the results of our fantasy GM challenge. I'm not going to go into any of the details here for a few reasons:

1. My team won the series 4-1. There was one close game where Chris Paul had a game winner attempt in overtime that would have made it 2-2, but he missed and my guys pretty much dominated the rest of the way.
2. I lost the papers that had the box scores. Such is life.

I just want to say that it was acutally kind of fun watching the video games, which pretty much makes me a queer. Oh, well.


Quick Update -

Sorry about the little hiatus - Boyd became a daddy and I had some family medical issues to tend to over the past week and we didn't get a chance to get anything posted here, but we're back to the grind.
Someone commented that they are wondering where game two of the fantasy GM series is. I would like to know that also. I know that Boyd has run 4 of the games but he has yet to post the results. Boyd - anytime now, anytime.
As far as who will be getting the "we hate you" jockstrap, it appears that we have a tie - Bill Belichek and Barry Bonds tied for the most hated sports figure, each getting 20% of the vote. We will have to figure out a tie-breaker method or something to get a clear winner.
Speaking of hating people, I pretty much agree with what PlayBoyd wrote the other day about Brett Favre. I don't know that I have been so sick of hearing about one athlete in my entire life. Except for maybe Barry Bonds.
Well, that's the update for now. We will be getting some things up (that's what she said) here shortly, so keep coming back.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Impact Freshmen in College Football 2008

I was talking to a buddy of mine the other day and he was asking me who I thought would be this years Knowshon Moreno, i.e., who would be a breakout first-year player this season. He said that he thinks Moreno was the biggest breakout star last year. I disagreed, saying that I would go with Michael Crabtree but that Sam Bradford should be in the discussion too. He told me he’d be interested in the discussion, so here goes: my ideas as to who are the most likely first-year breakout stars of the 2008 college football season. I also decided to drop some ideas about the players I think will make huge strides in production from last year to this year.

Six freshmen who will make an impact (I looked almost exclusively at BCS schools):

Arthur Brown, LB, Miami – Brown was a big recruiting coup for the Canes. He had offers from every school in the country and most thought he would end up at LSU or USC. Brown will be a starter sooner rather than later. He arrived early for spring ball and has apparently been quite impressive (he led the team in tackles in the spring game, along with a pick and a forced fumble). He is super fast, can cover, and is a sure tackler. He fills gaps very quickly. In his highlight reels he is constantly in the backfield. He’ll be a force immediately. His brother (Bryce) is a top RB recruit who will join him at Miami next year.

Caleb King, RB, Georgia – King has been so good in practice that coaches have implemented new offensive sets in order to get King on the field with Knowshon Moreno. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has said that he wants at least 35 carries per game between Moreno and King. Word is that they want to use the duo the way Auburn used Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown. King is more of a power back than Moreno, but he is shifty as well.

Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson – I read once that Bowers was the best defensive line recruit in the past five years. That’s pretty impressive stuff. He arrived early and began practicing with the Tigers in the spring. He and Ricky Sapp could develop into one of the best DE combinations in the country. Reports say that Bowers has gotten to this point (he was rated the top HS player in the country by some recruiting services) off of sheer athletic ability, so imagine what he can do as he gets proper instruction. Either way, Bowers is high energy and too good to keep off the field.

Darrell Scott, RB, Colorado – Scott rushed for over 3,000 yards and 45 touchdowns his junior season. Those numbers are crazy, especially in California where the competition is pretty stout. He’s a powerful runner with top-end speed (he ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the scout combine last year). Most people thought Texas looked good to sign Scott, but Colorado nabbed him. Of course it didn’t hurt that Josh Smith, a Colorado WR, is Scott’s uncle. Scott has good hands and it will be interesting to see how Colorado gets him involved in the passing game.

Julio Jones, WR, Alabama – at 6-4 210, Jones has prototypical size for a wideout. If you’ve seen his highlight film, you know that he catches everything that comes his way and is great after the catch. Scouts Inc. compares Jones to a high school version of Michael Irvin, but “more explosive and faster.” His three-year high school stats are: 3,287 receiving yards and 52 total touchdowns. That’s great production on that level and he should pay immediate dividends for Nick Saban.

Patrick Johnson, CB, LSU – The only “weak” link on the LSU defense, if you can call it weak, is cornerback play. Because of this, Johnson will have the chance to come in and play immediately. At 6-1 he’ll be able to match up with some of the SEC’s bigger receivers. Johnson is very fast and plays physical. He also played running back in high school and Les Miles has flirted with the idea of using Johnson as a return man also. Johnson originally committed to Miami, but LSU swooped in and landed the nation’s top-rated corner.

Six more to keep an eye on: Marcus Forston, DT, Miami; Omar Hunter, DT, Florida; A.J. Green, WR, Georgia; Nigel Bradham, LB, Florida State; Kavario Middleton, TE, Washington; Simi Kuli, DE, Oregon State.

Six players who will make the jump from solid to standout:

Everson Griffen, DE, USC – Griffen is crazy good. I really think that by the end of the season he might be the best player on USC’s defense other than Maualuga. Griffen has that kind of potential. He played end and running back in high school, so he has great speed for a defensive lineman. As loaded as USC was on the d-line last year, they couldn’t keep Griffen off the field. He had 5.5 sacks last season as he was named freshman All-America as a reserve. He’s going to explode this year.

Allen Bailey, DE, Miami – Bailey is as athletic a defensive end as you will find in college football. He was moved to end from linebacker and will bring tremendous speed to the Miami defense. Bailey plays with aggression and is a punishing tackler. As he continues to adjust to playing with his hand on the ground, expect him to develop into one of the best ends in the country.

Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida – While I don’t think he is as good as Griffen, Dunlap should have a breakout season. The Gators need someone to replace the production of Derrick Harvey on the edge and Carlos appears to be capable. A part of Urban’s insane defensive line recruiting effort two years ago, Dunlap appears to be the only one of the bunch truly ready to contribute. This is evidenced by the fact that he had 4 sacks in the spring game.

Joe McKnight, RB, USC – McKnight was rated as the #1 running back in his high school class and started to show flashes of brilliance toward the end of last season. Steve Sarkesian has said that he wants to use McKnight similarly to the way Norm Chow utilized Reggie Bush—get him the ball often and however you can. McKnight will begin the season as the second string running back but will get plenty of touches. He is also likely to return punts.

Omar Bolden, CB, Arizona State – Bolden is fast and has great instincts. He started last year as a true freshman and could be one of the ten or fifteen best corners in the nation by the time the season is over. Dennis Erickson says that Bolden is the most intense player on the team, a good quality to have in a cover corner. Bolden will develop into a shutdown corner this season.

Brian Price, DT, UCLA – Price missed the beginning of last season due to NCAA clearinghouse issues, but was solid when he saw the field. He had 7 tackles for loss in 5 starts. Defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker says that Price has been dominant in the spring and he is expected to develop into an All-American. Price has surprising quickness for a defensive tackle – it almost seems like you’re watching an outside linebacker.

Six more to keep an eye on: Martez Wilson, LB, Illinois; Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina; Kodi Burns, Auburn; Deunta Williams, S, North Carolina; Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame, Donovan Warren, CB, Michigan.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Whom in Sports Do You Hate the Most?

I'm in a bit of a foul mood today - I've been stressed out lately, I've spent all day in a conference where the AC was broken, at said conference I sat behind a hefty lady in a thong, and Brett Favre is all they seem to want to talk about on the radio. It gets old. Seriously, do we have to go through the "will he retire" or "will he play" thing with Brett every year? Please Brett, just pull on your skin-tight Wranglers and hop on your John Deere to mow your giant lawn without having to alert the press. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired of it. I have always liked and respected Favre, but I'm just done with his need to be the focus of attention.

Speaking of attention, the athletes I like the least are generally the ones who do whatever they can to get attention. A-Rod opting out of his contract during the World Series. Favre - just go away. Terrell Owens doing sit-ups in his driveway and calling Jeff Garcia gay. Great. Then you have the guys who are just wangers. Randy Moss and the meter maid. Barry Bonds and his giant head. The least you could do when you break Hank Aaron's record is hug your son, Barry. Did you see his son go up to him for a hug at home plate during one of the biggest moments in baseball history only to get snubbed? An A-hole first and a dad second. Those are just some obvious ones. Some guys are pricks on a smaller scale. You know who is a total schmuck? Philip Rivers (see also Boyd's previous mention of those who go by Philip instead of Phil; case in point). So, this led to a conversation between Boyd and me. Whom in sports do we hate the most? We came up with some selections and decided to take a poll: Whom do you hate the most? We decided to keep this within the three major sports: baseball, football, and hoops. We don't do hockey on this page. I'm listing some of the obvious ones from each sport, but feel free to chime in with comments under this post if you think we've left someone off. We want write-in candidates because, frankly, there are so many to choose from.

In the interest of making this poll as entertaining as possible, Boyd and I will attempt to contact the agent of the winner to let them know that their client is the champion of our poll in a colorful and entertaining way (maybe along the lines of a 1980s Ric Flair promo. Whooooo!). That or we'll send them a jockstrap with our thoughts on it. Whether we receive a reply or some automated no-reply message (I'm guessing we won't get a response, considering this is a poll for the biggest schmuck in sports) we will publish it here. Just for entertainment purposes. So vote!

NBA Moves

Just wanted to quickly comment on last night's NBA move:

Marcus Camby traded to LA Clippers for 2nd Rnd Pick:
If I were a Nuggets fan today, and thank sweet Baby Jesus I'm not, I wouldn't be very happy. The Nuggs basically traded away their only defensive player for nothing. Why? Nene Hilario and Kenyon Martin. Nene will make almost $9 million next year, and Kenyon Martin still has $46 million and 3 years left on his contract. Nene is coming off ball cancer and K-Mart is the only player in the league that has had 2 microfacture surgeries. You think they overspent on those guys? It always leaves a sour taste in the mouth when a move is purely financial, as this clearly is. Nuggets fan, enjoy giving up 125 points per game next year. (also, you should ditch your new, gay uniforms, and go back to your old, sweet uniforms. And get Fat Lever back. Bye.)

The other side of this is, of course, the Clippers. They had a ton of free agency money to offer to Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, or Emeka Okafor, all of whom are better, younger players than Camby. I know those guys are restricted Free Agents and that their teams would probably match, but what was the risk in trying to sign one of those guys to an offer sheet? Was the Camby deal coming off the table? I highly doubt it. Josh Smith wouldn't have looked good throwing down tomohawk jams in a Clipper uniform, would he? This is just another example of the Clippers being the Clippers.

The only good thing about this is that Camby will fit into the Clippers offense because he doesn't need the ball much. Thank goodness for that. With Baron Davis at the point he probably wasn't going to get it anyway. Oh, and Clipper Fan, don't get too excited. You still have Cuttino Mobley at 2 gaurd. Enjoy that.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Die, Brett Favre!

I wish Brett Favre would just go away already.
Who's with me?

Ok, so the title of this posting was a little dramatic. I don't actually want Brett Favre to die. I'm not even wishing any great or long lasting ill upon Favre, maybe just a 2 year coma. Wouldn't that be great? If I could just put him in a 2 year coma, then he would wake up 40 years old and maybe think he was getting too old to play. On second thought, better make it a 5 year coma (hell, if Vinny Testaverde can keep playing at the age of 74 Favre would probably give it a shot).

I'm so tired of the same old story every off-season. Is Favre going to retire? Is he going to play? Blah, blah, blah. Then I have to hear every Packer fan call up the sports talk radio and argue about it. This story is like that rash that keeps coming back. You know, the one in your groin? You think you have it under control, but then you go and play hoops and your massive thighs rub together and boom! The rash is back more festering and rotted than ever.

Now, I'm not going to cite statistics, I'm not going to argue about whether Favre (Dammit, I'm spelling it Farve the rest of the way because that's how it should be spelled!) would still be the best QB on the Packers. You know why? Because I don't care. This time of the year should be spent focusing on Baseball, NBA summer leagues, College Football, etc.

For those of you who do care about Farve and his return, I hope you die. Okay, not really. I don't wish any serious ill on you. Instead, I'd just like to say the following: Enjoy your coma. See you in 5 years.

Monday, July 14, 2008

College Football’s Best Games - 2008

In all my excitement for the upcoming season (and the fact that NCAA Football 09 comes out today) and my being so sick and freaking tired of the Brett Favre saga (thank you Boyd for adding to that), I’ve been looking at schedules to see what the best games of the college football season should be. These are the games I am most looking forward to this year and that will likely play some kind of role in determining who will be in the BCS games at the end of the year. If you think I’ve left some out (yes, I left Ohio State-Michigan and Texas-Oklahoma out on purpose), let me know why.

Ohio State at USC (September 13)
This is the most intriguing matchup of the season. The winner of this game has a great chance to get to the title game because the Pac 10 and Big 10 are both a bit weak this year. The Ohio State and USC may have the two best defenses in the country. How will OSU’s line hold up against USC’s defensive pressure? Will either team be able to throw the ball? Is the best linebacker in the game Laurinaitis, Maualuga, or Cushing? Can Wells put up big yards against Pete Carroll’s vaunted defense? If OSU can pull this off, get used to the idea of seeing the Buckeyes getting a third opportunity to make a mockery of the BCS title game. Just because OSU was beaten soundly in the past two title games doesn’t mean they don’t have the talent to win in the Coliseum—they do and they will.

Georgia at Arizona State (Septemer 20)
UGA hasn’t traveled west of the Mississippi for a road game in about 20 years and Arizona State didn’t play anyone out of conference last year, so this one is a bit unexpected. Everyone is on Georgia’s, um, jockstrap this year. They are #1 in most of the polls I’ve seen, but they have what has to be the toughest schedule in the nation. Winning on the road at Arizona State could jumpstart them to an amazing run. Georgia’s defensive line should really disrupt the ASU offense because their O-line sucks. Georgia will probably win this game and it should be a fun one to watch.

Auburn at West Virginia (October 23)
This is a tough home game for West Virginia. The Mountaineers struggle against teams with great speed on defense (i.e., South Florida and Pittsburgh), so Auburn will be tough. This game will be dangerous for WV because Auburn will have had half the season to fine-tune their new spread offense. If Auburn has figured out how to run the offense effectively by this point West Virginia might go down. I can't stress this enough: watch West Virginia this year. Noel Devine is amazing.

Illinois vs. Missouri (August 30)
Last year’s game was super exciting (40-34 Mizzou) and no one expected these teams to end up with a combined 20-5 regular season record. This year everyone will be expecting big things from both teams. Missouri will be out to prove that they should have been in a BCS bowl last year by beating the team who got trounced in the Rose Bowl. Illinois has great speed on defense and may prove to be a difficult test for Chase Daniel and company. Two of the best sophomore receivers in the country will be on display in this game. A win here could propel both teams to big seasons.

Kansas at South Florida (September 12)
Two teams that practically came out of nowhere last year to impact the national scene play in this interesting non-conference game. But is it really interesting? Do people generally give a crap about either of these teams? Who would have thought this game would mean anything before last season? Kansas has always sucked and USF has never done much, but both teams were ranked #2 at one point last year. If nothing else, you’ve got to love Mangino. He seriously looks like a walrus minus the tusks, and you can find him cussing people out on youtube. College football at its best.

BYU at Utah (November 22)
These are the two best non-BCS teams in the country bar none, and I don’t want to hear that crap about Fresno State. Utah vs. BYU has been as exciting as any rivalry in recent years. The past three games have been classics, with Utah winning in OT, BYU winning on an amazing last play, and BYU converting a 4th and 18 with about a minute left to win last year. BYU plays Washington and UCLA out of conference and Utah plays Michigan (Utah will pull off that upset!) and Oregon State. It is conceivable that one (or even both) of these teams could be undefeated going into this game, and there is nothing that these rivals would like more than to keep the other out of a BCS game.

These teams could knock each other out of contention for the national championship. Of course, if you’re in the SEC you can apparently lose 2 games and still get into the BCS title game. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Florida lost to LSU and Georgia last year, while UGA-LSU didn’t happen. It’s a shame because they may have been the two best teams in the country (Ohio State certainly wasn’t one of them).

Georgia at LSU (October 25)
This game should have happened last year. When Georgia fully got it together toward the end of the season they seemed almost unbeatable. These teams finished 1-2 in the polls last year. Georgia appears to be the more complete team, but if LSU gets good quarterback play the talent level is crazy.

Georgia vs. Florida (November 1)
The world’s largest outdoor Cocktail Party. What a great name for the game. If I could go to any game I want to this season, this is the one. Urban Meyer will probably have his guys pissing on Georgia logos for weeks before the game after what happened after Georgia’s first score last year. Urban can motivate as well as any coach in college football, so the Dawgs better be ready.

LSU at Florida (October 11)
Another revenge game for the Gators. LSU didn’t lead in last year’s game until just over a minute left to play. Florida should have won and they know it. How will Urban fire his guys up this time? LSU toilet paper? Miles and Meyer are two of the most outspoken coaches in college football. Miles saying that USC has it tough because they have to play such juggernauts as Stanford is classic.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

NBA's Prettiest

As we learned last week, the NBA has some mutt-faced looking dudes in it. The picture of Sam Cassell juxtaposed with that of Gollum was a work of pure genius. Even Sam's mother thinks he's ugly. That being said, my brother Jim pointed out that it would only be fair to mention the more beautiful side of the League, and so he submitted this piece to me.

Now, I would like to preface this list with a thought: Any man can look at an NBA player and say to himself, “Wow, that is an ugly guy right there.” That thought can even be discussed with other men without fear of scorn or ridicule. Comments like, “Yeah, you’re right they should have used Chris Kaman for those Geico Caveman ads,” or, “Scot Pollard does look like that Claymation figurine of the Cyclops from Clash of the Titans,” are perfectly acceptable around the water cooler or between games of pick-up basketball. But tell somebody that Wally Szczerbiak has a great set of eyebrows, and watch that same somebody look at you with a confused gaze and walk away uncomfortably. It takes a man’s man to come up with a list like this and we here at the Jock Strap are certainly secure enough in ourselves to tackle this subject. We;re not afraid to make you, or ourselves uncomfortable. In fact, at times we strive to do so. Without further ado, The NBA's Prettiest:

Active Pretty-Boys:

Derek Fisher PG LA Lakers
Derek looks like a little fella running around on the court, but that’s just because he’s surrounded by giants. He’s 6-1 210 pounds and would give Hulk Hogan a run for his money for the title of Biggest Pythons. Look at the guns on this guy!
If it weren’t for the fact that he used his kid’s cancer to get out of his contract with the Jazz, I would have said that he was not only good looking, but seemed to be an all around good guy, too. Underhanded treachery aside though, he is pretty. So pretty.

Cory Maggette SF Golden State Warriors
Maggette is so pretty he knows he’s pretty. You could tell from the moment this guy put on a Duke uniform that he thought he was God’s gift to the Earth. I guess at 6-6 225 lbs of stone- chiseled manliness and ups like nobody’s business, he can afford to have a high opinion of himself. My wife said he has good lips, but I’m not sure I want to delve that far into this. Suffice it to say, Maggette is pretty, and in my opinion would only have raised his level of sexiness to unreachable heights had he been a man instead of a money monger and donned the green and white of Celtic tradition. Oh well, have fun getting your pretty ass kicked in California, Corey.

Wally Szczerbiak SF Cleveland Cavaliers
It turns out the afore mentioned Szczerbiak is more than just a pair of well-groomed eyebrows and dreamy, penetrating eyes. Look at this picture for crying out loud! It’s incredible! Who knew, right? Apparently Wally has been hitting the BowFlex. In my opinion this guy should contact the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Addition body-painting department and have those dudes airbrush his Cavaliers uniform right onto his abs. In fact, he should have those guys paint all of his clothes on. He should show up for the team’s charter with a suit and tie sprayed right onto his skin.
All I know is that if I looked like this guy I’d go swimming a lot. His last name is a spell-checking nightmare, but if Wally Szczerbiak is spelled wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

Shane Battier SF Houston Rockets
If Shane Battier doesn’t show up on a list of pretty-boys then there is something wrong with that list. Look at the gleaming white teeth poking out of that schoolboy smile. And you've seen him with his head shaved. His head looks like a Shar Pei, all wrinkly and soft. Add to that the dimples, the suit, the charisma, and his love of defense and you have the total package . Shane has a degree from Duke University, an outgoing personality, and is a career 39% three point shooter. Is he perfect? Of course not. His ears might be a bit on the large side, but that’s something I’m willing to over look if he’s willing to take the charge after my guy blows by me on the perimeter. Shane Battier, you’re all right in my book.

Al Horford C Atlanta Hawks
He came bounding into the league so cocksure, so brash. But why not? At 6-10 245 pounds, who is brave enough to tell him otherwise? Horford rubbed me the wrong way with his chest pounding antics during the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs this year, but his jump hook and tenacious rebounding rubbed me right. Ridiculous rookie antics aside, there is no denying his pretty-boy looks. The fact that he was born in the Dominican Republic only adds to his sex appeal. I don’t understand Spanish but I know that it sounds sexier than English and this guy can flow in both languages. Watch out ladies ‘cause this Gator will chomp out your heart.

The Semi-Active List:
Dwyane Wade SG Miami Heat
Dwyane is so pretty that his mug can sell Gatorade and cell phones to the masses. Unfortunately for Miami Heat fans his pretty face and his beautiful game have not been on the court for a complete season since he came into the league. He played just 51 games in each of the last two seasons and that ain’t pretty.
His commercial spots with Charles Barkley are adorable due in large part to his charisma and photogenic features. Here’s hoping he can fall down five times and get back up six (which technically is impossible and undeniably a lame commercial) and enjoy an injury-free season next year. Dwayne, you can be in my Fave 5 anytime.
Alonzo Mourning C (Free Agent)
For hell’s sake the man is an Adonis. If I were one of those aliens from Invasion of the Body Snatchers the first place I would visit would be Alonzo’s house in South Beach. I’d take him no matter how many kidneys he has.
I think his knee gave out on him last year because his legs were jealous of his arms getting all the attention.
In the immortal words of former Houston Rocket’s Color Commentator Calvin Murphy, “Just look at his body. I mean he’s got a hell of a body. Just look at it. Now, that’s a great, great body.”
I don’t remember if Calvin was talking about Alonzo at the time he made this statement, but if he wasn’t, he should have been. Because my goodness, just look at that body!

Grant Hill SF Phoenix Suns
Unfortunately for Grant Hill he does have a set of ears on him that almost made me leave him off my list, but look at how sharp he looks in that crème colored suit. Also unfortunately, this is the way you will see him most of the time if he is on your squad; that is, dressed in a killer suit on the IR two rows behind the bench.
To say the dude is a little fragile is to say that Kevin Garnett is a little intense. He makes my list because he has had plenty of opportunity (almost 350 games lost due to injury) to collect what I am sure is the league’s nicest wardrobe.
To this day, if I am at a local gymnasium and someone goes up for a dunk and hits the rim, I yell "Grant Hill drinks Sprite." Thank you for that, Grant Hill.

Retired Heartthrob

Karl “The Mailman” Malone PF Utah Jazz/LA Lakers (sadly)
Has there ever been a sexier NBA player than Karl Malone? I think not. He had the muscles, the game, the poster of himself wearing a buckskin vest with a faux wool liner, and a pair of skintight blue jeans tucked into his cowboy boots all while leaning shirtless against a monster truck. His choice of shoe was not Nike, Adidas, or Reebok, but L.A. Gear and he wore them unabashedly. Sure his dunks were lame and he had bad grammar. We all know that he practically invented athletes speaking of themselves in the third person, and for that he should be thanked. He rocked the short shorts way longer than anyone but his teammate John Stockton, and wore two oversized quarterback’s wristbands for his entire career. His draft day suit is second to none. Look it up. That skinny knit tie is the best. But here’s the real reason I love Karl Malone, “because when Karl want to, he can be as pretty as he want to out ‘dere.” The End.

Honorable mention: Tyson Chandler C New Orleans Hornets
Dishonorable mention: J.J. Redick SG Orlando Magic (because he’s a douche)

So that’s it. These are the pretty-boys of the NBA. My list may be incomplete, but there are few who can dispute my selections. If you have a problem with any of them just think about the last time you saw these players in action. The sweat glistening off their muscular bodies, the tension in their long lean sinews as they leapt toward the basket…
On second thought, I am ashamed of myself and need to go take a shower.
I feel dirty.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Why I Love/Hate Kobe Bryant

I grew up a Lakers fan. My dad was a Lakers fan, and it was passed on to me. I watched the great Lakers teams of the 80s. Growing up I had posters of Magic, Worthy, Scott, Cooper, etc., in my bedroom. When I played ball I even used to wear socks to my knee because of my love for Cooper and a wrist band at my elbow in honor of Scott (though I didn’t go so far as to sport the goggles of Worthy and Jabbar). I even remember Jeff Lamp. Nothing made me happier than watching L.A. beat the Celtics, Pistons, or Jazz. I stayed true through the mostly down years of the 90s. I suffered through the years of Jones, Threatt, Campbell, Ceballos and Peeler, while watching teams like Seattle and Portland get to The Finals. It sucked. Then things changed—the Lakers got Shaq and Kobe. They won titles and were again the glamour franchise in the NBA. Things were back to normal, things were good—until one man made me question my fandom. Kobe Bryant.

I hate Kobe Bryant. Not in the sense that I hate him, but in the sense that I hate certain TV or book characters; they aren’t real, so I can hate them. Bryant isn’t real to me. Kobe has single-handedly changed my love for the Los Angeles Lakers, and it has nothing to do with the whole Colorado rape case thing (it is amazing that he bought his wife a 4-million-dollar ring to help ease the pain). I used to be die-hard about being a Lakers fan, and now I can’t even cheer for them. I don’t like Gasol, Vujabic, Radmonovic, Walton, or anyone else on the team. But it all goes back to Kobe.

I try to like KB8/KB24, but I just can’t do it. I respect his ridiculous skills—I think he’s clearly the best player in the NBA (even though PlayBoyd would argue with me), but he has always carried himself like he was the best player in the league even before he accomplished anything in the NBA. He has this annoying sense of entitlement. He always looks so smug. In the 1998 All-Star game (Michael Jordan’s last before his Wizards comeback) Kobe busted his butt to outplay MJ in what seemed like an effort to symbolize a “passing of the torch.” Come on. Not that playing hard against MJ or in an All-Star game is inherently wrong, but it irritated me. Kobe didn’t even deserve to be in the All-Star game that year; he only started one game that season. But he had something to prove. There he was, a bench player, trying to one-up MJ, because it’s all about Kobe.

At times I like Kobe. In the 1997 playoffs the Lakers lost to the Jazz. In a deciding game 5, Kobe hoisted four air-balls in the closing minutes of the game. He was taunted mercilessly by Jazz fans. He doubled his scoring average the next year, citing the humiliation in Utah as part of his motivation. He has since become the best clutch performer in the league. The 2002 All-Star game was in Philadelphia, Kobe’s “hometown.” Philly fans don’t like that Kobe claims it as his hometown and they booed him incessantly throughout the game. Kobe responded by going for 31-5-5 in 30 minutes and won the MVP award. It made me want to love him again, the way that he responded to criticism and the hostile crowd.

My dislike reemerged in the 2004 NBA Finals when the Lakers lost to the Pistons. In the series Kobe took 29 more shots than Shaq, while Shaq shot 63% from the field to Kobe’s 38%. Shaq averaged 4 points more per game than Kobe on 6 less shots per game. Nice work Kobe. Way to take the best player on the court out of the game. That crap was hard to watch as a Lakers fan. That offseason he used the Clippers (what up Clipper fan) offering him a contract as leverage to run Phil and Shaq out of town. It was exactly what Kobe wanted. The Lakers became Kobe’s team and he was out to prove his greatness. At times he did—getting Dwight Howard up close and personal, averaging over 35 ppg one year, 43 ppg in one month, and scoring 81 points in a game. Those numbers are amazing. He became the first player in NBA history to outscore an opposing team through 3 quarters—Kobe 62, Dallas 61. Wilt Chamberlain thinks that’s stupid. But with Kobe scoring at a ridiculous clip the Lakers didn’t win.

Speaking of playoffs, in typical Kobe fashion, proving his point (or greatness) has always been more important than winning. In a 2004 playoff series against the Kings he decided not to shoot after being criticized for shooting too much. L.A. lost that game. In the 2006 playoffs against the Suns, Kobe decided he would only shoot the ball 3 times in the second half, even with the Suns up by 15 at halftime. Why? To prove that his teammates are not reliable and that they need Kobe to drop 35 to have a chance of winning? Way to put the team first Kobe. Point taken—you are more important than winning. You truly are MJ’s heir apparent. . .

Have you ever watched Kobe give credit to others? It looks so unnatural to him. When asked about another player he seems to get this look on his face (probably wondering how Jordan would answer the question) like, “why aren’t we talking about me?” Kobe seems to overemphasize injuries. Whenever he remotely twists his ankle, watch him hobble up and down the court—especially after a miss—as if he were running on a wooden leg. But when he has the ball he’s surprisingly fluid, breaking people’s ankles and throwing down monster dunks. He seems to over-dramatize every gesture. It’s like he scans his brain to decide what Jordan would do (likely trying to remember what he read in The Jordan Rules), and then he tries to perform the action as naturally as possible. Oh, but he also plays the tough guy. When an opponent gets physical with him he hits a shot and then gives that menacing Kobe Bryant stare to the other team. Okay, tough guy. We get it. Your will to win is unmatched. Or, that is, your will to be the best. Individually, at least.

People keep saying: “Kobe has grown up this year. He’s learning to trust his teammates, and he gets them more involved.” Awesome. Let’s give him an effin’ cookie. It’s about time Kobe. You’ve been in the league for 12 years; we’re all really impressed that you finally put it together. We’re all patting you on the back that it took you forever to understand the common fundamentals of basketball 101—it’s a team game.

This year during the Finals the media kept mentioning that Kobe suffered through the last few years of futility and is now seeing it pay off. How about Paul Pierce? He really suffered through futile years with his franchise. Did he piss and moan about his supporting cast being terrible? Did he decide to stop passing to teammates to prove that they can’t do it without him? Did he demand a trade because the rest of his team sucked? No. That’s what made it that much sweeter for this Lakers fan to see Pierce hoist that Finals MVP trophy in the air. After all, he was the one who deserved it. I never thought I’d see the day where I’d cheer for the Celtics to beat the Lakers. It makes me a little bit sick because I’ve always been a Lakers fan, but I just don’t have the energy anymore.

Names For The New Oklahoma City NBA Team

Ok, so the Sonics are dead. The name and history of that franchise will remain in Seattle, and the basketball players, GM, ownership, etc, will head to Oklahoma City. I can't for the life of me fathom how this move makes sense, but I guess in the end, it really came down to the fact that the lease on the arena in Seattle was so bad, they had to move the team to Oklahoma City.

I have never been to Oklahoma City. I don't know much about it. But I gotta think straights were dire when a franchise decides to move from Seattle, a totally awesome city, to Oklahoma City. Just by allowing the team to move, the NBA has made it so that everyone who wishes to speak of that team has to double the amount of syllables the say. Seattle. 3 syllables. Oklahoma City. 6 syllables. Judas Priest. (Hey, if a team can thrive in Salt Lake City it can thrive anywhere, right?)

Well, I guess there's no use complaining about it, so instead, let's help the new team come up with a name that will fit them, shall we? When naming a team, there are many routes you can go. First off are the animal names. The NFL and MLB got most of the good animal names (Bears, Tigers, Lions,etc) and left the NBA with Hawks, Bobcats, Grizzlies, Bucks, Timberwolves, Hornets and Raptors. Frankly, I wouldn't know the difference between a Timberwolf and a regular wolf if one came up and bit my hand off. I guess all that's left are some lower-rung animals.

Oklahoma City Sea Turtles: This would really help give the fans in OKC a feeling of longevity and steadiness. The sea turtle lives to be about 80. That's almost twice as long as the Sonics lasted in Seattle. Booya! I mean, look at the picture of this guy. He looks ornery as hell. Would you want to mess with him?

Oklahoma City Sloths: No, not one of the seven deadly sins, if I were going that rout I would have chosen Lust or Greed for the team name, but as in the Three-Toed Sloth. They could use this as reverse psychology. Teams would think, "oh, we're playing the Sloths," and then they would subconsciously take it easy on their opponents. But the Sloths wouldn't be slow and lethargic like their namesake-they would be fast and athletic like NBA basketball stars. (this name would also have a tie in with their best player. See, Sloths have half the muscle tissue of other mammals of a similar weight, just like Kevin Durant. See the connection?)
Ok. So an animal name might not work out. How about going the corporate route? Teams sell the naming rights for stadiums all the time. Why not be the first to actually name your team after a corporation?

The Oklahoma City Six Dollar Burgers, Brought to You By Carl's Junior: Why not? The Six Dollar Burgers are delicious, and this not so subtle reminder would have fans heading over to Carl's right after the game. I mean, you watch the Six Dollar Burgers beat the Spurs, and during the whole game the ads on the Jumbotron, brought to you by Carl's Junior, show you ad after ad of juicy beef. Are you heading to Wendy's after? Hell no, you aren't. You're going to Carl's Junior.
No corporation name for you? Ok. How about a geographical name like the Minnesota Lakers? Or for something famous from the city like the New Orleans Jazz? Or a name that has something to do with a fact about the city, like the Washington Bullets because DC is one of the murder capitols of the world?

Oklahoma City Nothing Interesting Geographically About Us
Oklahoma City Nothing Famous Comes From Us
Oklahoma City Second Largest City in Compliance With The Clean Air Act

Hey, I like the Clean Air Act. It keeps my food tasting like food in a restaurant, and keeps me from getting high at a Doobie Brothers concert.

None of those do anything for you? Well, I guess we'll get stuck with something boring and mainstream, like Outlaws or Cowboys or something. If they do go with Outlaws, which is all the speculation, at least they should just put a gun on their jerseys. That would be sweet. I sent these suggestions to Clay Bennett, the owner of the former Sonics, and he said that these weren't good names. Whatever, Clay Bennett. Have fun being the Outlaws.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

NFL's Top 5 QB's

Wow, that was a lenghty post, T-Bone. I'm not going to be able to go into that kind of depth, but I have a take on this subject. Here goes:

#1. Tom Brady-New England Patriots
I don't care about the stats. I don't care about the rings. I don't care that by the time he retires he's going to be the greatest quarterback of all time. I care about one thing that makes him greater than the rest, and her picture is to the right. I don't know if he's got Romo beaten in the chick department, but add that to the other stuff, and he's easily number one. (Ok, I care a little about the single season TD record, the 92.9 career rating, the 3 Super Bowl rings, the 3 more he's probably going to win and all of that, but that stuff is secondary, right?) Tom Brady is the #1 QB in the NFL and there is no 1A.

#2 Peyton Manning-Indianapolis Colts
Did Taylor misspell Peyton's name? Of course. Should I have warned him of it? Certainly. But after he clowned me for calling LeBron James "Labron" I just couldn't let it go. How do you like them apples? (and don't you dare go back in and change it, T-Bone.)
Manning has done it all. He's won the Super Bowl and will probably retire with the greatest statistics in the histroy of the game. He's never missed a game in 11 seasons. That's impressive. He has an amazing football mind. So amazing, in fact, that he has to be the most annoying damned quarterback to watch with all those audibles he calls. I hate when I'm playing Madden 08 and they make it so lifelike that Manning has to call 14 audibles before the snap. Messes up my stats. Manning has had three 30 TD seasons, and topped 4,000 yards 8 times. 'Nuff said. (I wish the real Bears had played defense like those in the photo.)

3. Tony Romo-Dallas Cowboys
Romo is a hotchickslayer as well. Yeah, I inveted that word. Romo made leaps and bounds last season, quieting some of his critics after the botched field goal hold in the playoffs the year before. All gunslinger, Romo is only going to continue to improve as he now enters his prime. He reminds me of Brett Favre in a lot of ways. (By the way-retire Brett!) He may not have the resume of other QB's, and will need to take the Cowboys over the hump to be considered truly great, but as of today, if I were starting a franchise, he'd be the 3rd QB on my list.

#4. Drew Brees-New Orleans Saints
I'm actually a little surprised that Taylor included Brees too. Brees may look like the guy who comes to hook up your high speed internet, but on the field he is a great leader and gets 100% out of his talent. Brees is extremely cerebral and has overcome a major shoulder injury to prove his critics (those in San Diego who let him go for the ever underwhelming Philip Rivers-note: Never trust a guy who calls himself Philip. If he doesn't go by Phil, be wary. Be very, very, wary. No rhyme intended.) wrong. Brees was up over 4000 yards for the second straight year, and he did it this year with the poo-poo platter of recievers and backs that N.O. shuttled out game after game. (McCallister was hurt most of the season, Bush missed the last 4 games and is vastly overrated, and all he has is Colston to pass to.) Brees still has to win the big one, as well. (And for my third, and final paranthetical insertion on Drew Brees, I have some advice for Drew: Never have your photo taken with Carlton from the Fresh Prince. You look dorky enough as it is.)

#5. Ben Roethlisberger-Pittsburgh Steelers
I hope I spelled his last name correctly. Big Ben stepped up last season as the passing game became a bigger part of the Steeler's offense last year. He had a down year in '06, after retardedly driving his motorized bicycle without a helmet and getting in a wreck, thus smashing in his face, but bounced back strongly. Ben has quarterbacked a Super Bowl winner, thrown 30 TD's in a season, and had the 2nd highest QB rating last year. The scary thing is he's only going into his 5th year. Ben is a stallion, and, apparantly, he likes to "Drink Like A Champion." Just don't ride a motorbike after, Ben.

Most overrated:
Carson Palmer-I don't feel he's put it together yet or that he controls that team, which is a big part of quarterbacking.
(I don't think Vince Young is overrated. Most people think he's just an average QB at this point.)

Most underrated:
Kurt Warner-I don't know how Matt Leinart wins the starting job back if this guy is healthy. I don't think most people think of this guy as good anymore, but he was a top 10 quarterback last year. It's a fact: when Kurt Warner has been healthy, he's a hell of a quarterback. (It's also a fact that his wife has rocked a flat top she-mullet in the past.)

The NFL's best Quarterbacks circa Right Now

When I sat down to do this, I thought it would be pretty easy. It wasn't. I think the top 2 quarterbacks in the NFL are well above everyone else, but after that it gets a bit dicey. There really are only 2 great quarterbacks in the league. I don't even know that anyone else would qualify as "really good." Deciding on 3 through 5 was tough because no one seems to definitively separate themselves from anyone else. The quarterbacks from the draft class of 2004 - Rivers, Roethlisberger, and Eli Manning - is not as great as most people seem to think, but they all might be in the top 10 in the league. That's how weak quarterback play in the NFL is right now. So, without further delay, here is the stone cold top 5:

1.a. Payton Manning
1.b. Tom Brady
Now this is the real debate. Both of these guys are sure-fire Hall of Famers and top 10 of all-time. This is as close as it gets, but I give a slight edge to Manning. Most people would probably pick Brady here, but most people would be wrong. Brady has Payton beat in several categories: the ladies, Super Bowl rings, arm strength, pocket presence, and overall sex appeal (the picture shows just how gorgeous he is - look at his chest). I'd still take Manning if I were a coach/GM. Brady is often amazing in the clutch, but his legend as a clutch performer is slowly eroding. And as for last seasons statistics, let us not underestimate the Randy Moss factor. Brady put up huge numbers last year, but how many times was he bailed out by throwing some 50 yard alley-oop to Moss? Not that there's anything wrong with that - it's smart football. If I had Moss on my team that's what I would tell my QB to do. The argument then goes to the supporting cast. Whose is better? Manning has usually had better recievers and running backs, while Brady has generally had superior o-lines, defenses, and coaches. I would say Brady has generally had the better supporting cast, as evidenced by his 3 rings. And for the record, football is a team sport and championships should not necessarily be the tie-breaker (they can be, but shouldn't be the be-all end-all). Put Brady or Manning on the Raiders and neither would go to the big game, let alone the playoffs. Still, quarterback is the most important position in football, and maybe in all of sports.

Let's look at the stats: Manning has a higher career quarterback rating. As amazing as Brady's QB rating was last year (117.2), it wasn't as good as Payton's best season (121.1). Brady has had a quarterback rating over 93 one time in his career - last season. Manning has been over 93 six times. It's about consistency, folks, and Manning has it. Manning has won more league MVPs 2-1. Manning has a higher career completion percentage. Watch defenses scramble as Manning sets up the offense - he's more cerebral (I just wanted to find a way to get that word in here somewhere) than any other QB in football. His preparation is crazy. Belichek-like, even. Anyway, Manning is the pick here for me. He is also durable - he has started 160 consecutive games.

With all that said, the off the field argument is fun also. Brady is as boring as anyone (except when that lady asked him to marry her at the Super Bowl last year. That was awesome). Manning is a bit vanilla also, but can be surprisingly funny. His commercials are good (not the Oreo ones) and his guest-host appearance on Saturday Night Live was awesome. But he can't touch Brady when it comes to the ladies. Payton's wife is very pretty, but Brady is currently dating Gisele Bundchen. He has also been linked to Bridget Moynahan. Manning just can't compete with that.

3. Drew Brees - I went with Brees over Palmer at 3 for a few reasons. For one, Brees looks like a champ when he's working out. In addition, Brees has outplayed Palmer now for three straight years. Brees has less offensive talent around him and he does more with that talent. Last season he threw for more yards, more touchdowns, less interceptions, and had a higher passer rating than Palmer. Brees doesn't exactly have Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmanzendejas to throw to either. Brees doesn't have the physical tools or the supporting cast that Palmer has but Brees still puts up superior numbers. Brees also seems to be a better leader.

4. Carson Palmer - Palmer has all the physical tools to be in the upper echelon with Brady and Manning. He has some of the best and most insane receivers (see right) in the league to throw to. If only he got more help from the line. Carson has an amazingly strong arm but can put some nice touch on his throws too. It's kind of weird to think about, but seeing Palmer as my 4th rated QB in the NFL is a disappointment. He should be 3 and maybe in the discussion at number 1, but he hasn't put it all together. Palmer is developing impressive facial hair though, and that is becoming more and more important as I evaluate and discuss sports. (as a side note, Boyd has a pretty amazing beard)

5. Tony Romo - Now, I'm not a Romosexual mind you, but I am impressed with this guy. He seems to have the it factor. I reiterate - not a Romosexual. It's not something I can necessarily put my finger on, but he passes the eye-ball test. He has all the tools to be great in the NFL. He reads defenses well, is accurate, has a cannon, and has impressive pocket presence. He still throws too many interceptions, but I think he'll remedy that as he gets more experience. Maybe all the picks is why people compare him to Favre... If Romo had produced on the field for a longer period of time I might have him a little higher. Also, he has yet to win playoff game with a stacked team. If this list were about the women you date, he'd be number 2 behind Brady. My goodness, Jessica Simpson and Carrie Underwood? Um, nice work Tony. The fact that he'd be number 2 on the women dated list shows how amazing Tom Brady's bachelorhood is.

Underrated: Jason Campbell, Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Schaub.

Overrated: Vince Young, Vince Young, Vince Young. This guy is so overhyped it's crazy. I actually read an article in SI before last season that said he was the most feared offensive player in football. That is the most blasphemous thing I have ever heard. It still makes me sick.

Could break out: Alex Smith, Jay Cutler.

Will never live up to the hype: Michael Freaking Vick.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

You're The Clippers

I can't stop laughing this morning.

Over the past few weeks, there has been a lot of hype and a lot of discussion about how improved the Clippers of Los Angeles will be next year, after Baron Davis agreed to a new 5 year deal with the club. Fans were imagining the potent combo of Davis-Brand, leading the team back to the playoffs and contending in the West.

Clipper Fan, you forgot something: You're the Clippers.

So this morning, turns out Elton Brand was pulling the old Carlos Boozer, telling his team he was opting out of his contract so they would have more money to sign free agents, and then surreptitiously sneaking off in the middle of the night to sign with the 76ers of Philadelphia.

Why, Elton? Why?

Money? No. The money is about the same the Clips could have given him.
Fame? No. If anything this move will make him less popular with NBA fans.
To further his movie career? (Brand is president of Gibralter Films, whose first film, Rescue Dawn, has grossed more than $27 million in box office and rental reciepts) No. He was in LA, for hell's sake.

During Brand's stay in LA:
1. The Clips won 42% of their games.
2. They made the playoffs once.
3. They had one decent season during Brand's tenure (47-35, which would not have even made the playoffs last year.)

And let's not forget, that after the 02-03' season, Brand already tried to leave the Clippers once, signing an $84 million contract with the Bienvenido a Miami Heat, only to have the Clippers match the contract(Brand was a restricted free agent at the time).

Brand saw a chance to jump the Clippers' ship (pun intended) to go to an up and coming Eastern Conference team, and he took it. Does it make him a traitor? Yes. Was it a low move? Yes. Was it completely predicatble? Of course.

Why? You're the Clippers.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Top 10 College Football Teams of 2008-2009

I have a few obsessions: my wife, reading, lists, and college football. I can't get enough of the college game. I think it makes my wife a bit crazy, but I can't help it. It must be genetic. At this time of year I can't get enough preseason polls and analysis. I read every website and magazine I can find. There are probably better ways of spending my time, but I haven't found any yet. So, in honor of those preseason polls, here is my Top 10 for the upcoming college football season. I ranked them based on where I expect them to be in the final top 10 of the year, not the 10 best teams. If you agree/disagree, let me hear it.

1. Oklahoma - Three important keys to winning championships are good offensive and defensive line play, and good quarterback play. The lines win games in college football, and Oklahoma has two of the best in the country. The O-line returns four starters and plenty of NFL talent. Add to this Sam Bradford (the nations top-rated passer last year), DeMarco Murray (6 ypc), Juaquin Iglesias, and Jermaine Gresham, and you have an explosive offense (over 42ppg last year). The D-line is awesome. Auston English is one of the best ends in the country, and in McCoy and Granger the Sooners have two run-stuffing tackles. The secondary will be strong; the main question with this team is the linebackers. OU always has athletes, so I expect them to be fine. The schedule isn't too tough, with Texas and Kansas the toughest games. If OU can again beat Missouri in the Big 12 title game, expect them in the BCS title game.

2. Ohio State - I'm pretty sick of the Buckeyes, but once again Ohio State is loaded. Pardon me, The Ohio State University. Arrogant pricks. The game of the year happens on Sep. 13 when OSU goes to USC. If the Buckeyes can get through that one, the coast is relatively clear to a third straight BCS title game. No one in the Big 10 is close. The only hiccups might be at Wisconsin and Illinois, but Ohio State should win both. The only potential soft spot on the roster is the o-line, which was dominated by LSU last year. In spite of that line and some nagging injuries, Chris Wells ran for over 1,600 yards last year. He will be a monster this year and is my pick to win the Heisman. It will be interesting to see if USC pressures Boeckman the way LSU did in the title game last year and how the Buckeyes respond. Right now, I'm going with Ohio State to win that game and get to a third straight BCS title game. Of course, with their performance the past two year in the title game, the voters might not want to see them there again. I know I don't.

3. Florida - Florida could have the best offense in the country. They are flat-out loaded with Tebow, Harvin, and a very good line. Even though Harvin gets a decent amount of pub, he still might be underrated. He is dynamic with the ball and Meyer uses him in a variety of ways. The big question is defense, where they gave up over 25 ppg last year. They return 7 starters on D, but is that a good thing? The potential on defense is insane due to Urban Meyer's great recruiting, but that potential didn't show through last year, so why this year? The linebackers are solid, led by Brandon Spikes. The secondary needs work after the defense ranked 98th in passing yards per game. The defense is a work in progress. As good as the offense is, they still need to find a reliable tailback. Chris Rainey, who was tremendous in the spring game, or Emmanuel Moody (a USC transfer) could be the answer. Even with questions at tailback, the offense will outscore teams in most games, but because of shaky defense they're bound to slip up somewhere.

4. Georgia - I've seen UGA picked as the #1 team in the country in most polls. Why? Outside of Knowshon Moreno, is there an All-American on this team? Geno Atkins? Maybe. Rennie Curran? In the future, probably. Matthew Stafford? I'm going to go ahead and say no. I just don't see Georgia winning the title. Maybe if they wear their black uniforms in every game. Those uni's are awesome. I don't know that Matthew Stafford is capable of leading a team to the title. He might be. Just because he was highly recruited doesn't make him great. Mark Richt is a tremendous coach - one of the 5 best in the nation - and the team does have talent all over the field, but the schedule is too tough. They go to S. Carolina, Arizona State, Auburn, and LSU, play Florida on a "neutral" field in the state of Florida, and have Tennessee, Georgia Tech, and Alabama at home. If Georgia can win all those games, the SEC title game, and the BCS title game, they should be in the discussion for the team of the decade. I don't see it happening. I actually like them better than Florida and the Ohio State, but due to the schedule I have Georgia finishing below them.

5. USC - As always, USC will be in the national title hunt. I can't pick them in the top 2 or 3 after losing to Stanford last year. Someone can just creep up on them again. The Trojans will break in a new starting quarterback (Sanchez started a few games last year when Booty was injured) and have an underachieving set of receivers who haven't lived up to their recruiting hype. USC has a solid O-line and a good group of running backs. Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson could have huge seasons. The defense will be awesome this year. USC and Ohio State should have the best defenses in the country. Their LBs are easily the best in the country, the secondary is stout, and the D-line has studs everywhere. If you haven't heard of Everson Griffen, you will. He will have a breakout season as he takes over a starting role at end. The defense is chalked full of NFL players. I like USC to get into the BCS Championship game against Oklahoma if the Trojans can knock off the Buckeyes early on. Oh, by the way, FB Stanley Havili is severely overlooked. His versatility is ridiculous. I'm also excited to see Pete Carroll vs. Rick Neuheisel this year. I think Neuheisel's money is on SC.

6. Missouri - I never thought I'd see Missouri in the top ten, let alone ranked #1 in the country like they were at one point last year. The offense gets a lot of hype here, but the defense deserves some credit. The Tigers have a good group of linebackers and one of the best safeties in the country in William Moore. Missouri had a great turnover margin last year (+14) and it should continue this season. The offense is stacked with Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, and Chase Coffman being among the best in the country at their respective positions. Missouri has some tough games against Illinois, Texas, and Kansas, as well as a likely matchup against Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game. I was tempted to put Missouri higher than this, but the talent above them is just too much.

7. LSU - It's tough for me to put the Tigers at 7 because they have such good lines on both sides of the ball. I'm a firm believer that the lines win games in football, so why is LSU so low with such talent on both lines? First, the QB situation. Ryan Perrilloux was dismissed from the team a few months ago. They'd be higher on this list with him under center. Second, the corners are unproven. If LSU is to beat Auburn and Florida the corners better get up to speed in a hurry. Third, they play in the SEC. LSU plays at Auburn, South Carolina, and Florida and has Georgia at home. If the quarterback play is good and the corners learn quickly, LSU could end up much higher than #7. With Les Miles as coach and their recent recruiting hauls, they certainly have the talent to do so.

8. Clemson - Clemson could screw up my entire rankings. This team could go either way - completely underachieve (as usual) or break out and make the BCS title game. If they can shore up the offensive line, Clemson could be the best team in the country. They are ridiculously talented at the skill positions, with QB Cullen Harper, RBs C.J. Spiller and James Davis, and WR Aaron Kelly. Now if only the line can protect Harper and open holes for the backs. The Tigers gave up 35 sacks last year and Davis averaged a career-low 5 ypc (believe me, it was the fault of the line, not Davis). The line also gave up 8 sacks in the spring game - 8! Part of that is that Clemson has a very good defensive front, but 8 sacks in a spring game is cause for worry. Clemson's defense should be good in the front and back, with the linebackers the questionmark. The secondary is one of the best in the country and the D-line has two young ends who could be dominant in Sapp and Bowers. Clemson is a bit of an enigma to me - I could rank them anywhere from 3-15. I settled on somewhere in the middle. Tommy Bowden just has a knack for the big letdown.

9. West Virginia - The Mountaineers have built a mini-dynasty in Morgantown - they have finished in the top 10 each of the past 3 seasons. The offense will again be special. Pat White is a great runner and an improving passer and Noel Devine is the most exciting player in America. His lateral movement is amazing. He averaged 8.6 yards a carry and is tough for his size. The offensive line returns in-tact and should again pave the way for White and Devine to put up huge numbers. The WV defense was overlooked last year. I'm not sure how, considering they finished #7 in the country. They only return 4 starters on defense, but the scheme is solid. WV has tougher non-conference games this year at Colorado and at home against Auburn. If you get the chance to watch the Mountaineers play this year, do it. Devine and White are as fun to watch as anyone in college football.

10. Auburn - Auburn will have one of the best defenses in the country this year. They finished 6th in total D last year and return most of the starters. The defense should have more overall speed, which will be necessary against LSU, West Virginia, and Georgia. Fortunately, the Tigers don't have to play Florida this year unless they meet in the SEC title game. Auburn should be improved after having time to implement the spread offense this offseason. They installed the spread in 9 practices before the Chik-fil-A Mastercard Goodyear Circuit City Mineke Bowl last year, where they racked up a season-high 423 yards against Clemson. If Kodi Burns improves his accuracy he could be a great dual-threat quarterback in this offense. The receivers are underrated and the offensive line is always good.

5 Teams Under the Radar (not in the National Title hunt, but will surprise this year): Oklahoma State, North Carolina, Oregon State, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh.

5 Teams that are Overhyped (teams that are ranked higher than they should be in most preseason polls): Virginia Tech, Texas, Wisconsin, Alabama, Arizona State.

Most likely BCS-busters: 1. BYU 2. Utah 3. Fresno State 4. Boise State 5. TCU