Friday, August 29, 2008

Weekend football predictions

I've never tried my hand at betting on sports because I always think I'm right and I would probably end up losing my money. I remember my first big sports bet: I bet $15 that Kentucky would beat Michigan in the Final Four in 1993. I was wrong and remember how $15 seemed like so much money at the time. I felt like I had lost my life savings. I recall that Michigan won the game by 3 points and I was devastated. Michigan has since been put on probation and vacated the win. I should find Juan Albor and ask for my 15 bones back. With college football starting up, Boyd, me, and some of our friends (Hank Dawg, Rob, and Dyer) will be making our picks on what we think are the top 5 games each week. We will tally the records and someone will get bragging rights. If you think you can do it better, just bring it. You can't hang. The winner gets $15. Or a Coke Zero or something.





Hank: Alabama - because Clemson are choke artists and Bowden is the coach
Rob: Clemson - they come out big early only to falter later in the season
Dyer: Clemson
Taylor: Clemson - Bama has a good defense that may keep things close for a while, but Clemson wins it. This game might showcase two of the best true freshmen in the country in Bowers and Jones.
Boyd: Alabama





H: Illinois - Zook used to be a Gator
R: Missouri - easily
D: Missouri
T: Missouri - I'm with Rob - I don't think it's close.
B: Missouri





H: Cal - Best will put on a show
R: Cal - Cal always does well in non-conference home games under Tedford; Cal thrives on turnovers and MSU give up tons. MSU gives up too many big plays.
D: Michigan State
T: Michigan State - my gut tells me MSU for some reason. This was a tough one to pick. Javon Ringer will have a big game.
B: Michigan State





H: Utah - The Utes will then lose to Vegas or SDSU
R: Michigan - Utah is being overhyped
D: Michigan
T: Michigan - this one will be close, but Michigan will be out to prove that they didn't lose all their talent. Utah is a bit suspect up the middle on D. Wouldn't be shocked at all if the Utes won.
B: Michigan - Michigan has better overall talent.





H: UCLA - No self-respecting Gator fan can pick UT
R: UCLA - The Bruins because of the running game and Norm Chow's debut
D: UCLA
T: Tennesse - The Vols just have more talent and UCLA has been hit by big injuries.
B: Tennessee

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Useless Trivia

I love to talk. Those who know me know this is an understatement. I can chat it up with the best of them. In fact, I am the best of them, so I can chat it up with myself, and often do. In my car. Loudly. To myself. I then turn with crazy eyes to the soccer mom in the car next to me and mouth "You're Next!" while pointing at her. Ok. That got wierd. I don't actually do that very often.

Now, in my many conversations, I have noticed that something seems to happen quite frequently. A topic comes up, and I am able to adroitly give a factiod or snippet of information about said topic. Sometimes this is done to humerous effect, and sometimes it is done solely for information's sake. Either way, the reaction often goes something like this: "Ha ha. Man, you know a lot of useless trivia."

Excusez-moi? Did you just call what I said useless? Cuz I just used it, biatch. I used it to make our conversation more fulfilling and interesting. I just made myself appear smarter, which I am, because I know more than you. I proved it by making that excellent point I just barely made 2 seconds ago.
You know what's useless to me? All that calculus and chemistry that's up in your brain. You work in sales, bro. You waste brain space on the atomic mass of plutonium (244.0 amu), or the freezing point of alcohol (-117 degrees farenheit.) Now I know those 2 facts as well, because I Googled them. Booyah.

So don't tell me it's useless trivia to know who the last player to legally throw the spitball in baseball was, because not only have I had several opportunities to share that tidbit, one time my boy Cheeth was at a Mariners game when that exact question came up on the scoreboard, and you can only imagine how impressed the 50 people around him were when he stood and shouted "Burleigh Grimes" and the scoreboard revealed that same answer. And he wouldn't even have known that if I hadn't told him.

So think twice before you call my trivia useless again, because I just used it.
(and FYI that is a picture of Cliff Clavin, who used trivia to make the show Cheers waaay more awesome than it would have been without him. I suggest you take the time to watch this.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Kevin Duckworth Passed, Finally.

Former 2 time NBA All-Star Kevin Duckworth died Monday. He was only 44. I was by no means a big fan of the Trailblazers during his career, but for some reason, maybe his ridiculous name, I always kind of liked Duckworth. There was something about him, that endeared him to me and other fans. I mean, look at him shooting that jump hook over Kareem. Sweetness.

Duckworth was a solid cog on that Blazers team which made it to the finals a couple of times in the late eighties and early nineties. During his prime years, he could really fill it up, averaging over 15 ppg for 3 straight years.

I would not normally blog about something like this, but when I read the news flash, a story I was once told about Duckworth by my buddy Kevin "Ten Inch" Jackson came to mind. Why he is named "Ten Inch" I leave to your imagination. Let's just say the dude packs some serious heat. If he ever falls on hard (no pun intended) times, he could have a six figure job with Stan Van Gundy, er Ron Jeremy.

Kevin and his brother David were living in Sacramento and had the (mis)fortune of going to a Kings game. I say misfortune because these were the Wayman Tisdale years. The brothers had good seats right by the floor. Well, during pre-game warm-ups, Kevin, 10 or so at the time, and his brother start yelling at Duckworth, "Hey, Duckworth! Come give us your autograph. You're our favorite player!" They yell this for several minutes. Finally, Duckworth comes over, grabs the pen from Kevin and says, "Man, quit juicing me, you know I ain't your favorite player." He then signs the paper and goes back to shooting.
Ever since I heard this story, "quit juicing me" has been added to my lexicon. I think it shows Duckworth knew his place in the NBA, but was still gracious enough to sign a paper for some smart-ass kids. I think it illustrates a good character.

I may have made light of this previously, but I know it is a tragady when a man dies at 44 and leaves 2 small children and a girlfriend behind. Duckworth was reportedly a good guy and was heavily involved in Charity work. He was a fun player to watch, who had a feathery soft touch in the paint.

And if you are wondering why I put such a jacked-up title to this post, well, Duckworth never passed. He was a black hole. He averaged less than 1 assist per game. All joking aside, much love to KD.

Goodbye, Duckworth. I hope you go to Heaven.



(as a sidenote, I am going to start adding a ballhype.com widget to the bottom of my stories, so if you like them, please take the time to hype the story up. You can easily sign up for ballhype with just an email and an username. Thanks.)

(final sidenote, I apologized for this posting, retracted it, and decided to put it back up, with a few changes. If you are offended by this, sorry. I guess I'm just a classless jerk. And I had sex with your mom.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Predictions and Thoughts for the 2008 College Football Season

College football starts this week and I can't tell you how geared up I am. I've been soaking up all the sports talk radio I can (most of which is pretty pathetic) and DVRing College Football Live each day (Jesse Palmer still sucks at his job). Here are some thoughts and predictions for this season.


Tim Tebow will not win the Heisman, even though he will be a better player this season. Florida will depend on other players to carry more of the rushing load and Tebow will be spelled some by Cam Newton if Urban thinks he can handle it. Tebow will be better, but will not repeat as the Heisman winner.

The Ohio State University will win at the Colesium on September 13. These teams have the two best defenses in the country, but the Buckeyes are a better team than the Trojans top to bottom. Ohio State is solid at every position and the Trojans lack playmakers in the passing game. Ohio State wins in L.A.

Notre Dame will not be as good as the guys on ESPN seem to think. They all seem to predict about 7-10 wins for ND. It won't happen. The schedule is a bit easier this season, but they will still lose to USC, Pittsburgh, Michigan, and Michigan State, and I'd wager they will lose two of the three games against Boston College, North Carolina, and Purdue. That will leave them 6-6, which probably puts them in position for a BCS bowl game because, hey, they're Notre Dame...

Florida and Auburn will meet in the SEC championship game.

Teams that will be better than people expect: Oklahoma State, Arizona, North Carolina, Oregon State, Northwestern, Ole Miss, Michigan.

Teams that are overrated going into the season (by most experts): Virginia Tech, Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Fresno State, Pittsburgh.

Best player you might never have heard of: Dan Lefevour, Central Michigan. Last year he threw for over 3500 yards with 27 TDs and rushed for over 1100 yards with 19 TDs. Those numbers are insane.

BYU will be undefeated this year. Until November 22.

Clemson will lose to a team they should destroy. I'm not talking about losing to a team like Alabama or Wake Forest - the Tigers will lose to a team that they should crush.

Please get off the Fresno State bandwagon. They won't even sniff the BCS.

Michael Crabtree will solidify himself as the best player in college football.

A team that will make impressive strides this year and might be awesome in 2009: North Carolina. Watch out for them. They lost six games last year by a touchdown or less. They have 15 returning starters (which is an overrated statistic, so forgive me for using it) and have a bunch of young talent from Butch Davis's recruiting efforts. I wouldn't be surprised to see UNC in the ACC championship game against Clemson.

Kansas will again be good, but they will come back to earth a bit. The schedule is much tougher this year: they play South Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech. They didn't play any of these teams last year. Add to that the fact that they play Missouri, and KU could go from an 11-1 regular season to 7-5 this year.

Oklahoma will go undefeated. So will The Ohio State.

USC's passing offense will be down this year. Sanchez is a good quarterback, but USC has nowhere near the playmakers at receiver that they've had in the past. No Jarrett, Williams, or Smith means that the Trojans will have to rely on the running game, which will be pretty freaking good.

Chase Daniel will absolutely destroy Texas on October 18. Daniel is from Texas and the Longhorns didn't recruit him - and he remembers that. Missouri will beat Texas handily and Daniel will have a huge day.

Illinois will drop off this year. Juice Williams is one of the most overrated quarterbacks in college football, they lost Rashard Mendenhall, and the defense gave up too many yards last year in a conference not exactly known for offense. Plus, teams coached by Ron Zook can't seem to sustain good play from year to year. It's a shame too because the guy can really recruit.

A team outside of the top 15 that could play into the national title picture is Tennessee. They break in a new qb (who is super talented), but their offensive line is awesome and Foster is one of the best tailbacks in the country. The defense is young but talented. If the defense puts things together quickly, watch out for the Vols.

I don't know what to make of Penn State. Anyone else have a prediction?

If the old ball coach can get the South Carolina offense moving, watch out for the Cocks because the D is sick.

Beanie Wells will win the Heisman.

BCS matchups:
Sugar (SEC champ vs. at-large): Florida vs. Wisconsin
Fiesta (Big 12 champ vs. at-large): Missouri vs. Arizona State
Orange (ACC champ vs. at-large): Clemson vs. West Virginia
Rose (Big 11 champ vs. Pac 10 champ): Georgia vs. USC (they'll pass on the weaker Big 11 runner up to, for once, give us the USC-SEC matchup)
BCS Championship (BCS #1 vs. BCS #2): Oklahoma vs. The Ohio State

It is done.

Monday, August 25, 2008

NBA Summer Grades, Part II

I got a lot of response to my NBA grades, and a number of requests to grade all of the teams off-seasons. So here I go, with maybe an update or two at the end, now that a few situations have cleared up since my last post:

Boston Celtics: B-
The Champs lost James Posey to free agency, which was a big blow to their team, but they chose wisely not to pay a player of his age for that extra 4th year. The history of similar players to Posey (31, mainly a defender with a good oustide shot) has not been favorable as they tend to decline rapidly. The C's signed Darius Miles last week, and hey, if he's healthy he could help. They also re-signed Tony Allen and Eddie House for very reasonable money.

Cleveland Cavaliers: B+
The Cavs quietly improved their team this offseason by trading Damon Jones and Joe Smith to pick up Mo Williams. Williams is a bit of a chucker, but will be can create and score on his own, which should help open the floor up for LeBron James. The team also resigned Boobie Gibson to a reasonable contract.

Detroit Pistons: C+
The Pistons signed Kwame Brown to a 2 years, $8 million contract. Other than that, just bits and pieces. This will be the same team next year as it was the last 5: Good but not great, close but no cigar. I think they wisely are going to trade Rasheed Wallace at the deadline this year, he's dead weight and that would be addition by subraction. For now, the offseason has been average for the Pistons.

Los Angeles Lakers: B
Re-signed the hated Sasha Vujacic, let the bad Ronny Turiaf go. Both were solid moves as you need a villain (Vujacic) and don't need a Turiaf. I think they are going to try and rid themselves of Odom and his fat contract this season.

Miami Heat: B
The main positive here was the drafting of Beasley, who will probably be very good, even as a rookie. They overpaid slightly for James Jones, but he is a good shooter and could help stretch the floor for Dwayne Wade. They lost Jason Williams and Ricky Davis to the Clippers, yawn. Neither of those guys are great and both would be overpayed to help this team go 40-42 next year. We'll see what they can do with Shawn Marion and his expiring contract this season.

New York Knickerbockers: B+
The Knicks off-season moves were a yawn from a personell standpoint (drafted a young Italian who probably won't help for a year or two, picked up Chris Duhon, traded Renaldo Balkman), but they made a huge step forward in signing Mike D'Antoni as a coach. (and please, it's said dantoni, not dee-antoni, professional announcers who are getting paid enough that you should learn how to pronounce the name of a prominent coach.) D'Antoni is great because players love to play for him. Once some of the awful contracts Zeke signed come off the books, these guys could be major players.

Oklahoma City Sea Turtles: B
The Sea Turtles (that's what I'm calling them until they get an official name)traded away 2 guys they didn't want in Luke Ridnour and Adrian Griffin and picked up 2 quality bigs in Desmond Mason and Joe Smith. They had a solid draft. None of this makes a big splash, but Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green, and Kevin Durant form a talented, young tandem that could take the team back into playoff contention in the next few years.

Orlando Magic: B
The Magic signed a player I like a lot in Mikael Peitrus, who should fit right into their system, for reasonable dollars. They let a player I don't like at all, Carlos Arroyo, go to Israel. I don't know that this is enough to push the Magic over any other team in the east, but at least they made smart moves.

Phoenix Suns: B-
The Suns had a nice draft, picking up one of the female Lopez twins. (their parents should be ashamed, naming their two male sons Brooke and Robin.) They also drafted Goran Dragic, who I know nothing of, but they are tabbing as their backup point gaurd. They signed Matt Barnes, who should fit nicely into their system, and let the bad Gordan Giricek walk to Europe. The Suns' big move was made at the end of last season, picking up the Shaqster. We'll see how this all plays out, but I have a feeling it won't be well.

Portland Trailblazers: B
The Trailblazers had a good draft, picking up Jerryd Bayless, who is a potential stud (t-bone reference). They lost James Jones, who they were running out of minutes for, and traded Jarret Jack and Josh McRoberts for Ike Diogu. I don't get that trade too much, but Jack was eating minutes they will need for Bayless and Brandon Roy. The best part of the offseason, obvioulsy, is the continued rehabilitation of Greg Oden, who will be dominant. Mark it here.

San Antonio Spurs: B


The Spurs realized something: they were one Manu Ginobili ankle injury away from possibly being the NBA champs last year. There is no need to panic. They resigned Kurt Thomas and Michael Finley, picked up Roger Mason, who should fit nicely into their system, and other than that stood pat. Losing Brent Barry could hurt, but the Spurs will be right there again. You know how old the Spurs supposedly are? Think about this: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker are 32, 31, and 26, respectively. The Celtics Garnett, Allen, and Pierce are 32, 33, and 30. Just think about it.

Utah Jazz: C+
Waaaaay overpaid for CJ Miles, who is never going to be that good, but did have a good trade for Brevin Knight, giving up the awful Jason Hart. They need to trade away Kirilenko or Boozer or Okur, to free up the offense.

UPDATES:

Atlanta Hawks: B+ (previously C)
The Hawks immediately matched the Grizzlies 5 yr, $58 million contract. This is a good price for the versatile, still improving Smith. Yes, losing Childress hurts, but with the continued improvement of Smith, Marvin Williams, and Al Horford, the Hawks should improve next season.

Golden State Warriors: B (previously B+)
The Lakers did not match the qualifying offer on Tender Ronny Turiaf, so the Warriors will have to pay him $17 million over the next four seasons to play 15 minutes a game, and wave a towel all while having bad corn rows for the rest of the game.

Milwaukee Bucks: C+ (previously B+)
The Bucks went from having a great offseason, to giving away Mo Williams and Desmond Mason for Luke Ridnour and Damon Jones. It isn't often that you lose the 2 best players in a single trade, but the Bucks found a way to do it.

Philadelphia 76ers: A+ (previously A+)
The offseason got better for these guys as they did resign Andre Iguodala to a reasonable 6 year, $80 million contract. Things are certainly looking up in the City of Brotherly Love.




Friday, August 22, 2008

Prettiest College Uniforms



T-Bone always gets at the ugliest lists before I have a chance. Such is life. Now, I want you to know that I just spent an hour going through photos of all 119 Division 1 uniforms and let me say this: 70 percent of them are extremeley similar and boring. I was, however, able to find 7 that I feel are the snazziest uniforms in real college football (D-1). If this doesn't get you pumped for college football, nothing will. (and yes, I am mocking you T-Bone, cuz that's a gay line.)


7. Virginia Cavaliers: This one goes against what T-Bone wrote about Orange making a jersey ugly. In this case, it fits perfectly. That dark blue mixed with the crossing orange swords is sweet, baby. Virginia is usually a pretty good team, but hasn't been elite for a long, long time, but it doesn't matter, becuase they look good while going 7-5 every year. Virginia was founded by Thomas Jefferson, so if you don't like their uniforms, I think that pretty much brands you as an un-patriotic terrorist.
6. West Virginia: Almost Heaven, West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River. Life is old there, older than the trees, younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze. Thanks for that load o' crap, John Denver. These uniforms are quite nice, unlike that song. I especially like the symbol on the helmet and arms. Yellow and Navy are not colors I would wear around, but they do fit nicely on a Football uniform. Also, the colors on the WV unifrom had to be bright, so the drunk redneck WV fans could follow the game after their tenth Old Milwaukee Beer in the second quarter. Also, they like to have sex with their cousins. (just thought I'd throw a few stereotpyes in there at the end for fun.)
5. BYU Cougars: Does it hurt me to admit this on my own blog? Of course. But I am a teller of the truth above all, and the truth is BYU's uniforms are one of the best in the nation. A great color scheme, fantastic logo, and simplicity in design make this a top notch uni. Under Gary Crowton the Cougs took a nosedive in the uniform department, switching to some of the ugliest uniforms in the nation, but under Coach Horse Mendenhall, they went back to an old school look with great results on and off the field. Too bad most of the fan base is a buch of douche bags.
4. Alabama Crimson Tide: The SEC has a bevy of fairly ugly uniforms, when looked at objectively: LSU and Florida could easily make a 10 ugliest list, but Alabama's gear is top notch. The number on the helmet is a personal favorite, and that color of red is unique to the tide. I really like the simple classic uniforms in sports, those that stand the test of time, and this is definitely one of the classics. Alabama has been a mixed bag on the field the last ten years, but with traitor Nick Saban as their coach, they should be heading for better times.
3. USC Trojans: The Trojans have a one of a kind uniform, without a doubt. I like the home and the road jerseys equally, as both reek of style and class. Add to that the fact the Trojans are one of the most intimidating forces in College Football, and the uniform must be respected. Even though the Trojans lost to the Greeks, and most of the Trojan women and children were enslaved, USC has fought back and really made a name for itself. Homer would be so proud.
2. Penn State Nittany Lions: I won't lie, I have no damned clue what a Nittany Lion is, and I refuse to use a Google search to figure it out, because I prefer not knowing in this case. The classic uniforms are somehow even older than Joe Paterno. That may be hard to believe, as Joe Pa looks about 100, but when you get something this good, you stick with it. I love the fact that there is no logo, nor insignia upon the helmet, nor name upon the front of the jersey. The uniform sends a simple message: We're just here to destroy you, nothing more, nothing less. And for most of Paterno's time at Penn State, that has been the case.
1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish: I certainly do know what a Fighting Irish is, having grown up in a half Irish family. I don't love, or even like Notre Dame football. I am certainly no Catholic. But I have to call a spade a spade and dammit, these are the best uniforms in College Football. Simple classic design, and wonderful color scheme are the base for greatness. Add the Notre Dame legacy on top and you have a uniform worth respecting and revering. How these uniforms could make a top 10 ugliest list just shows how much people hate Notre Damn, because these ain't ugly. They is pretty.
Well, that's how I see it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Ugliest Uniforms in College Football

This morning while I was running on the treadmill at the gym they had the television set on the Olympics on MSNBC, which was showing a women's semifinal basketball game. Australia was in the game and they were wearing some hideous uniforms that looked like some kind of leatard. It was strange to see on the basketball court. Maybe some of the NBA teams should look into the ultra-tight uni for next season. Who doesn't want to see Shaq doing his pimp run down the court in a leatard? I know I do... Anyhow, seeing the pitiful Australian uniforms led me to this: the ugliest uniforms in college football (this is college football that somewhat matters, not FCS or anyone from the Sun Belt). I remembered that Sports Illlustrated did a list of the ten ugliest uniforms in college football, so after I did this list I looked their list up for comparison. I've included it at the bottom. Simply put, my list is better. The general theme seems to be that orange is not good. If this doesn't get you geared up for the season, I don't know what will.


5. Wyoming - Brown and yellow are just beautiful together, as evidenced by the Pokes unis. The yellow stripes down the shoulders are pretty sick too. The combination just evokes thoughts of potty training.




4. Any team wearing all yellow - This doesn't apply to basketball obviously, because the yellow Lakers uniforms are the greatest NBA uniform of all time. They're beautiful. In football, however, yellow makes players look ridiculous. When I see teams in all yellow it makes me think back to the Mo' Money Mo' Problems music video with Puff Daddy and Ma$e sporting their shiny one-color bodysuits and shades while floating in that tunnel. On football teams it looks equally stupid.



3. Clemson - This is tough, because I like Clemson's helmets, and the purple jerseys with the white pants are pretty cool, but the purple jersey with orange helmet and pants is just too much. I used to work with a girl who went to Clemson. Hey Rich - tell her that the Tigers make my ugliest gear list and that I said hello. And that they will probably lose to a team they should slaughter at some point this year. Probably at home. Anyway, purple and orange are a bad combo.





2. Syracuse - If all yellow is bad, all orange is horrible. This is what crossing guards should wear. How awesome would that have been in elementary if your crossing guard showed up sporting all orange gear with some sick blue shoulder stripes intead of the weak little strap they used to wear? I would have loved it. I also included a picture of their blue unis because they are pretty freaking bad too. I would be embarrassed to be a 'Cuse fan right now as much for the gear as for the product on the field. Goodness.

1. Any school from the state of Oregon - Oregon's experiment with the tennis ball helmet has been a miserable failure and they should never do it again - ever. The green helmets are pretty sweet actually, so why break out the puke yellow/green? Plus they have tire treads on their legs and shoulders - tire treads! What is that symbolic of? Getting run over? Running over someone else? Whoever thought that was a good idea... Oregon State on the other hand has uniforms that look like they're sporting a high-riding bra. Nice work. It looks like they have all tried to stretch a sports bra over their shoulder pads and it keeps riding up to reveal their uniform numbers. Plus, it's orange. The Oregon - Oregon State game is the ugliest of the season in college football. And here's a prediction - OSU will win it again this year.


Well, there is the list. I must admit, my wife critiqued this and told me that Wyoming should be at 5, not 4, so she deserves a citation here. Here is the SI list:
10. Utah
9. Notre Dame (the green jersey)
8. Iowa State
7. Clemson (orange jerseys)
6. Air Force
5. Delaware (FCS - who cares?)
4. Syracuse
3. Rhode Island
2. Wyoming
1. Oregon

How is Oregon State not on this list? That alone proves my list superior.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I'm Going To Europe

That's what NBA executives have been hearing a lot of this off-season. It seems like every time you turn around, you read about someone shunning the chance to be a role player on an NBA team for money and a chance to be the main guy overseas. They trade BBQ in Georgia for Borscht in Russia, and that my friends, is a bad trade. Beets just aren't that good. Here's a list of guys I know have already decided to jump ship to Europe (enjoy the hairy chicks, guys):

Josh Childress-Greece
Earl Boykins-Italy
Juan Carlos Navarro-Spain
Bostjan Nachbar-Russia
Nenad Krstic-Russia
Jannero Pargo-Russia
Carlos Arroyo-Israel
Carlos Delfino-Russia
Primoz Brezec-Italy
Now, none of those guys are All-Stars of even future All-Stars, but Childress and Pargo were valuable sixth men last year. Why would they leave the NBA, which is clearly the best league in the world, to go play in Europe? The answer is simple: Money. Euorpean teams are throwing boatloads of cash at these guys. While the contracts may be smaller in total dollars, the teams in Europe usually pay a player's taxes, buy him a house, and a car. All he has to do is pay for food. And Borscht is cheap. When it all adds up, the players are thinking that the perks, plus a chance to be the main man, are worth the move. In Childress' case, he can leave Greece after any season to return to the NBA. (You would think he is waiting for 09-10 when many, many teams have salary cap space to throw around.)

This raises the big question: When is a true, big name star going to make the jump for some obscene amount of money? Will it be LeBron going for 50 million per season, as he hinted at last week? How could he pass up that kind of money? I don't care how rich you are, 50 million per is a lot of cheese. If you made 50 million per year, I think you could literally whipe your butt with money and not even worry about it, if you were so inclined.

I'm surprised that it has taken this long for Europe to start raiding the US talent pool. The Euro has been gaining value against the dollar for awhile now, and the offer of stardom has to entice the lesser known NBA players. I hope that this trend doesn't continue, but with the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) being how it is, the teams have handcuffed themselves by capping how much they can offer a star. If the Lakers are restricted to offering Kobe Bryant a 6 year 140 million dollar contract, and an Italian team can offer him 10 years, 450 million, how could he not jump ship? See, that's the problem with the CBA. The big name players agreed to take less money to help all the other players (veterans, rookies and mid level players). How long will they continue to accept less with huge dollars on the board across the pond. My guess is not long. Magnanimity runs short among athletes it seems.

It remains to be seen if the top Euro teams can come up with that kind of money, and if a big-time player would give up his NBA legacy to go play in Europe, but wouldn't it suck if it happened? Please, Heavenly Father, don't let it happen.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bobby Brown

I just wanted to tell you about me when I was 10 years old. The year was 1989 and I attended Hillsdale Elementary. I wasn't very cool or popular. I didn't get to wear sweats to school and roll them up to my knees, like the Shawn Castles, or the Randy Devies, or the Sam Johnsons. Nope. I had to wear my jeans with the Tuffskins patches because I was so hard on the knees. I was the teachers pet and damn proud of it.


It was about this time I fell in love with Sports. My brother Jim made me like the Celtics, Bears and Mets because he liked them, and I had to do what my cool older brother told me to do. Looking back on photos, my cool older brother wore his baseball cap tilted up just so his feathery hair-sprayed bangs could stick out of the front, but no matter.

I started to collect baseball cards in epoch proportions and instantly fell in love with the statistics on the backs of the cards. I would go into my room and memorize the numbers. I got pretty good at this and could tell you that Darryl Strawberry's career high in Homer Runs was 39 and that Dwight Gooden once went 24-4 with 268 strikeouts(his career high was 276 I believe) and a 1.53 ERA. George Brett's career high was 20 triples. (I didn't look any of those up, but they are probably right.)

Being a huge nerd and a butt picker (my brothers tell the story that I was always picking my butt and chewing on my shirt, much to their embarrasment), I would spend hours at a time in my room alone, devising insane games with the statistics, creating fantasy players and whole careers out of the numbers. At some point, this deviated into a game with dice and pencils (don't ask) and Lord knows what else.

You may wonder where this is coming from, and all I can say is from the song Tender Roni by Bobby Brown. See, I was driving in to work today and that song came on my Ipod. Yes, I have that song on my Ipod. "My heart belongs to Tender Roni she's my only love." I'm going to be frank, and it may get wierd. When I was ten, I effin worshipped Bobby Brown. I thought he was the baddest man alive because he rapped in his songs. This dude was hard core to me. He had that flat top and in his song My Prerogative, he said damn like twice. You can't imagine the thrill it gave this Mormon boy, sitting in his room alone with his baseball cards, dice and pencils, to sing "they say I'm nasty, but I don't give a damn." It was like I was a voyeur into an evil and forbidden world.

Of course, my obsession with Bobby lasted about as long as his success did, and I soon moved on to other things, but every so often, just as a reminder of my youth and the simple days when you could roll 6 dice to figure out the ERA of Ed Johnson, one of Bobby's songs will shuffle on my MP3 and put a smile of my face, just like it did this morning.


Monday, August 18, 2008

The Ultimate Matchup - Dream Team vs. Redeem Team

"Get me on the court and I’m trouble
Last week messed around and got a triple double"

Those immortal words from Ice Cube, aka O’Shea Jackson, inspired this column.

To preface, my wife is obsessed with the Olympics. Because she is currently recovering from surgery and isn’t supposed to get up and around much, the Olympics have been on about 24/7 at our house. It is tough for me to sit down and write this with the fascinating match for the gold medal in team table tennis currently taking place, but I think I can muster up enough strength to talk about an argument that has been gaining steam recently: Is the Redeem Team as good as the Dream Team?
With the first glance at this fantasy matchup the answer seems obvious - no. The Dream Team was so star-studded that it seems a bit ridiculous to even suggest that the Redeem Team would have a chance. Ten of the twelve players on the Dream Team roster were named among the 50 greatest players of all time by the NBA. Three members of this year’s version are sure-fire hall of famers in Kobe, Kidd, and LeBron, and several others could well be on their way to the same. Even so, the Dream Team clearly has more star power. But how would these teams actually match up? This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive analysis because, frankly, I don’t have the time, but here is what I would expect out of these two teams.

Here are the rosters and the starting lineups used in most games:
Dream Team
Guards - Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan
Forwards - Charles Barkley and Karl Malone
Center - Patrick Ewing
Bench - John Stockton, Clyde Drexeler, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird, Christian Laettner, David Robinson

Redeem Team
Guards - Jason Kidd and Kobe Bryant
Forwards - Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James
Center - Dwight Howard
Bench - Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Michael Redd, Dwyane Wade, Tayshaun Prince, Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh


Some of these matchups would be awesome to see. Imagine seeing Kobe and Jordan (while in their primes) going at it all game long. Would Scottie Pippen be able to defend LeBron or Dwyane Wade? Would Dwight Howard’s athleticism stand up against Ewing and Robinson? This is how I break it down -

Point Guards: I’ve got to give a slight edge to the Redeem Team here. Seriously. Magic was on his way down (and hadn't played in the league for over a year) and Kidd is currently on the downside of his career, so they are sort of in similar circumstances, so I’d take Magic there. That leaves the combination of Chris Paul and Deron Williams vs. John Stockton. Based on what I saw out of Paul and Deron last season, I’d take them over Stockton. I like the 2 for 1. Now, if this were the Magic Johnson of the 80s I would take him over any and all of the other guys, Stockton included.

Wings: This one is close enough that I’ll call it even. It’s hard not to give the advantage to the originals just because of Jordan, but the combination of Wade, Anthony, LeBron, and Kobe is pretty ridiculous. Both teams have good defenders in MJ, Pippen, Kobe, and Prince (LeBron doesn’t get enough credit for his improving D), and both have scorers in Jordan, Clyde, Wade, Kobe, and James. Even though Jordan is the best of the bunch and was in his prime, I have to call it even because of the overall talent and depth on the Redeem Team.

Post: This is where it gets ugly. The Dream Team absolutely slaughters the 2008 team. Ewing, Malone, Barkley, Robinson, Bird. Wow. Oh, and Laettner. Can't forget Laettner (I would also like to point out that they chose him over Shaquille O'Neal - not that it mattered). All five of the guys mentioned before the Dukie are better than any post player on version 2008. Dwight Howard is a physical freak, but he doesn’t have the skills that the guys on the Dream Team did. Also, can you imagine Carlos Boozer trying to guard Malone or Barkley in the post? What a joke.

Defense: I’ll give this to the Dream Team in spite of Bird, Magic, Mullin, and Laettner, none of whom were defensive stoppers. The rest of the team makes up for them with the Admiral, MJ, Pippen, and Malone, each among the best defenders ever at their positions. The rest of the guys on the team were at least adequate.

Athleticism: The Redeem Team takes this one easily. Magic, Bird, Laettner, Mullin, and Stockton all solidify this one. Kobe, LeBron, Wade, and Howard are all ridiculously athletic.

Intangibles: This one goes to the Dream Team easily. Kobe (3), Prince (1), and Wade (1) are the only players on this year’s team with NBA championship rings. Magic has 5. Bird has 3. Scottie and MJ each have 6. For those of you wondering, Scottie and Mike each have 6 more than Stockton, Malone, Ewing, and Sir Charles combined. I just needed to make that point for all my friends who are Jazz fans. The Dream Team takes this category easily.

The analysis seems to point to the Dream Team winning this matchup. It really wouldn’t be fair just to look at the statistics to make the call. Due to the evolution of international basketball the Redeem Team has to play harder and be more focused to win games whereas the Dream Team could just show up and go through the motions and destroy teams (messed around and got a triple double...). The Dream Team won games by an average of 43.8 points per game! The closest margin of victory was 32. Larry Bird had retired before the Dream Team played and Magic Johnson hadn’t played an NBA game in over a year, but Jordan and Barkley were both coming into their primes. Version 2008 is younger, more athletic, and hungry. The team was assembled in a systematic fashion to be able to win games while playing an “international style.” These guys want to win and they seem to enjoy the recent comparisons to the originals. So, who would win in a 7 game series? I would be shocked if the Redeem Team could win more than one game in a seven game series. In a single elimination game? I would bet on the 1992 team, but I wouldn’t completely put it past the new guys.

Michael Phelps-The Greatest Athlete of All Time?

Michael Phelps' goofy ass has done it. He won 8 gold medals in swimming at this years Olympics, the most golds ever won in a single Olympics, and broke the record for the most gold medals of all time. And he did it for the US of effing A. (face clenched and hand in a rock on pose.)
I'll give Mike Phelps his props. That is some impressive shi. I can't even hardly swim. I've almost drowned on numerous occasions and was the only boy at Scout Camp on Bear Lake that had to finish the Swimming Merit Badge at a local pool because he couldn't do it in the lake. (see photo of Swimming Merit Badge below)

With his impressive array of swimming techniques,(my favorite, and the one I'm clearly the best at being the breast stroke) the Phelps hype machine is going full tilt. I have been listening to sports talk radio the last few days and have really been astounded by some of the things that I have heard. Respected national media have been saying some things that really make me scratch my head. Callers and announcers are lauding this guy like he's the second coming of JC himself. I even heard a few people call Phelps the greatest athlete of all time.
Whoa. Stop right there.

The greatest swimmer of all time? Certainly. The greatest athlete of all time? I think not.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think the best athletes in the world play Football (American and Soccer) and Basketball. These athletes have an amazing combination of size, speed, strength, hand to eye coordination, smarts, endurance, etc. Swimming is much simpler. I won't be convinced that LaDainian Tomlinson couldn't be a world class sprinter, swimmer, long jumper, shooter, gymnast, trampolinist, you name it if that is what he had given his whole focus to as a youth.
The other huge factor is that the best athletes in most countries gravitate to the bigger sports. In most countries around the world it is Soccer. In some it is baseball, and in some it is basketball and football. As big as cycling may be in France, most kids don't grow up wanting to be a cyclist, they grow up wanting to play Soccer for their country or favorite club team.

In America, where I live, most of the kids on the swim team were the nerds who couldn't play Football or Basketball. Even Tennis got better athletes than the swim team.

It's a matter of competition. If there are 75 million kids in a country, and 74 and a half million of them want to play NFL Football, the competition to become an NFL Football player is very high. If only 1 thousand kids want to be Olympic swimmers, there is a lot less competition to make it to the top.

I don't want to take away too much from Phelps' accomplishments. What he did was truly extraordinary. But let's put it in the proper context when we start talking greatest athlete of all time, shall we? After all, it's just swimming.

Friday, August 15, 2008

My response

My only real excuses are that my wife just had eye surgery (and when I say eye surgery, I mean she had it removed and an implant put in, so this isn't your run-of-the-mill procedure, not to mention that our insurance wouldn't cover it...) and has been laid up for a while, which means that I have been the primary mom and dad; I have also been working two jobs and completing finals week. That said, your challenge has been accepted and I am prepared to bring the business. And the site doesn't normally suck. It's normally awesome.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sorry

This website has sucked even worse than normal for the past two months. I had a baby and have been in the process of buying a new home. Soon, I will return to work and will have more time to make this a better site.

As for T-Bone, I don't know what his excuse is, but let it be known that he needs to pick up his game and this is a formal challenge to start doing so with me next week.

Peace.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Brett Favre

He's back. Gr-8.


Now we get to hear about his ass all season long. We get to have another Brett Favre lovefest. Just retire, holmes. Now we're going to get a buttload of Jets games on network TV. Thanks, Brett. Thanks.

There are only 2 ways I can express my true feelings for this whole situation. One is to post a picture of a baby flipping the bird. I dedicate that to Favre, his wife, and family. The other is to say what I said to Dawn Bingham every time she would wear Packers gear to school in 11th and 12th grade: Brett Favre masturbates.

Bye.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Greatest Franchise in Sports

Which franchise is the greatest in all of sports? Some teams come to mind off the top: Lakers, Celtics, Packers, 49ers, Cowboys, Patriots, Yankees, Cardinals, etc. If you include college sports, you have Kentucky, UCLA, Duke, and North Carolina basketball or Notre Dame, Alabama, USC or Michigan football. Don't forget about the Utah Jazz. Just playin'...
In thinking about the best franchises in sports, what is the criteria? Championships? Hall of famers? Winning percentage? Consistency? I figure that all of these should be considered when calling a team the best franchise of all time. In keeping only with professional sports, it seems to me that you can narrow it down to the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, and New York Yankees. I'll make a quick case for each franchise and let you decide. Also, if you think I'm missing someone, you're wrong, but tell me anyway.


Boston Celtics
The Celtics have won more NBA championships than any other team (17), including one in 2008. Boston has won 17 championships in 62 years, a rate of 27%! The Celtics won 8 straight titles between 1959-1966, also an NBA record (and an American professional sports record, if I'm not mistaken). Red Auerbach coached 9 NBA championship teams, a record he shares with Philip Jackson (who won 3 with the Lakers). The Celtics have won at least one NBA championship in every decade since their existence other than the 1990s. The Celtics have won 17 of the 20 NBA Finals they've been a part of, an insane .850 winning percentage. Ridiculous. There are 33 members of the Celtics organization in the hall of fame, 15 of them players, including Larry Bird, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, and Bill Russell. Ten times a member of the Celtics has been named league MVP.


Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have the most wins of any team in NBA history (2,905), the highest winning percentage of any NBA franchise(61.5%), the most NBA Finals appearances (29), and the second most NBA championships (14). The Lakers have won 14 championships in 64 years, a rate of 22%. The Lakers have the longest win-streak in NBA history with 33 straight wins in 1971-1972. Since their existence, the Lakers have missed the playoffs only five times. The Lakers have 14 players in the hall of fame, including Elgin Baylor, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA logo and Wilt Chamberlain. They also have 4 coaches in the hall of fame. When the NBA named the top 50 players of all time, 8 of them played most of their careers for the Lakers. Eight times the league MVP played for the Lakers. The Lakers have been coached by two of the supposed greatest coaches of all-time: Pat Riley and Phil Jackson.


New York Yankees
The Yankees have 26 World Series titles and 39 American League pennants. The Yankees have won at least one title in every decade but the 1980s since 1923. The Yankees have won 26 World Series' of the 101 played, a rate of 26%. Between 1927 and 1953 the Yankees won 18 world championships. The Yankees are the only team in baseball history to win 5 World Series titles in a row (1949-1953). In 1998 the Yankees went 125-50 (including playoffs), a major league record for wins and winning percentage in a season. The Yankees are the only team in Major League Baseball to have a player in the hall of fame at every position. The Yankees have 22 players in the hall of fame, including Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, and Whitey Ford. A Yankee has won the AL MVP 22 times along with 5 Cy Young award winners.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The 2008 Summer Olypmics-Brought To You By Who Gives A Damn

The Olympics are here! The Olypmics are here!


Oh, what a time of hope and joy. Maybe the Chinese will give the working children 9.75 seconds off, their tiny, useful hands tensed in anticipation as they watch the hundred meters dash.

Nationalistic pride is put at stake every 4 years, as the world meets for the Summer games. Some countries hope to take home just a single medal, be it made of bronze, silver or gold. Some, like the US, care only about the gold.

Non sports-lovers will get caught up in the excitement and "human drama" that unfolds at the Olympics. Bob Costas will make about a thousand horrible puns during the opening ceremony. Your Mom will get all excited and teary eyed about some guy whose Brother just died and is dedicating his victory in weightlifting to him. You could set your watch to it.

Me? I couldn't give less of a shit.

See, I like sports. And the Olympics aren't big on sports. Oh, they have athletic competions, but sports? Not many. The Olympics are especially short on sports people actually care about. (1-Basketball)

Don't tell me swimming is a sport. It's not. Cycling? No. Shooting? Wrestling? Archery? No. No. No.

Now, are these athletic events? Of course. Do they take a lot of skill? Absolutely. But they are not sports. See, these are just glorified pissing contests. Who can run faster, jump higher, swim more synchronized? Those aren't sports. There is no stratagy, no defense, no ball, nothing other than the basics that make up real sports. Sports require that you run, jump, etc, all while doing other things. (gaurding a man, passing, shooting, rebounding, pushing, setting up a strategic play.) That is why they are superior. That is why the best athletes play sports.
You can't tell me that if LeBron James just wanted to run, he couldn't become the best runner in the world. Or the best cyclist. He is 5 times the athlete Lance Armstrong is. But he didn't care about those activities because he wanted to play with other elite athletes, those who play NBA Basketball. (or NFL Football,or, gulp, Soccer.)

See, when only 30 people in the world even try fencing, it just isn't that impressive to be the best fencer in the world. (fencer? fencist? I don't honestly know.) Now, when 40 million kids grow up dreaming of being NBA players, or 5 Billion kids grow up trying to be pro Soccer players, making it to the elite levels is a feat worthy of recognition.

So enjoy the Olympics, non-sports fans, but just know this, my TV won't be tuned in and I won't be reading the news, and I don't care about the made up drama. The Summer Olympics aren't horrible, I guess, but they just aren't for me. Worse certainly exists:

The Winter Olympics.