Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hall pass

When my wife was in high school, she was vice president of her senior class. One of the perks of the job was a hall pass that allowed her to go wherever she wanted, whenever she wanted, including trips off campus for lunch. She got out of class all of the time thanks to the power of the VP hall pass. I, on the other hand, had to go to all of my classes and had to eat all of my meals in the school cafeteria. Mmm, loved chicken fried steak day. Whatever. This is why I tell her that even though we went to school at the same building at the same address, we went to way different high schools.

The NFL also has a hall pass. As a league, they get away with everything.

While baseball gets raked over the coals for steroids, HGH, the cream and the clear or whatever BALCO is selling today, the NFL thrives on steroids. Canseco claims 85 percent of baseball players used steroids? Then everyone in the NFL is juiced except for maybe Martin Gramatica. Yeah, they test for it. But if Barry Bonds has taught us anything, it's that a test for the stuff is almost useless. And even if you do get caught like Shawne Merriman, you simply miss a few games and still go to the Pro Bowl and almost win Defensive Player of the Year thanks to your steroid-padded stats. You certainly don't face the wrath of the fans--you're a hero to them. You're a football player.

The NBA has taken a hit in the past couple of years for violence and thug behavior, but they've got nothing on the NFL. This season alone, Pacman Jones, Tank Johnson and the Cincinnati Bengals made ESPN's one-time controversial Playmakers seem quaint. And let's not forget Ray Lewis's homicide charge a few years back--he's now a league spokesman. The NFL literally gets away with murder.

Why has the general public issued a hall pass to the NFL on these issues? Steroids is a much bigger issue in the NFL than baseball, and if you don't believe that, you simply aren't paying attention. So why is baseball the one with the black eye? The NFL makes the NBA look like choirboys, so why does basketball take all the heat?

Is it about money? Or do we overlook football's warts because we like the game better? If you are waiting for me to wrap this up neatly with the answer, don't hold your breath--I've got no answers for this one. I'm glad to hear that the league is finally starting to look into thug behavior, but it isn't because of public pressure. The fans are more than happy to cheer for their users and criminals come Sunday.

Everything in the NFL is bigger and better. Bigger ratings, bigger TV contracts and bigger stars. But also bigger steroid addictions and violence issues.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Timeline of the Jeter/A-Rod feud

Ahh, springtime. The snow melts, hibernating animals shake off their slumber, flowers bloom and baseball teams report to spring training. And with the beginning of spring training comes another year of the Derek Jeter/Alex Rodriguez feud. Here is a timeline of events to get you up to speed on this gripping drama.

April 2001 In an Esquire article, A-Rod rips Jeter, saying 'he [Jeter] has never had to lead. He can just go and play and have fun. He hits second — that's totally different than third or fourth in the lineup. You go into New York, you wanna stop Bernie [Williams] and Paul [O'Neill]. You never say, "Don't let Derek beat us." He's never your concern.'

November 2003 After it is announced that Rodriguez has won his first MVP award, Jeter sends A-Rod a text message reading 'congrats on ur mvp loser :-b'

March 2004 During A-Rod's first spring training with New York, Jeter takes the whole team out for ice cream but fails to invite Rodriguez.

October 2004 In Game 6 of the ALCS, Bronson Arroyo overhears Jeter say 'nice slap, Dewey Numbnuts' under his breath on his way back to first after his run was disallowed on A-Rod's interference play in the eighth inning.

November 2004 A-Rod tells Bernie Williams that he is 'happy for Jeter' on his first Gold Glove, but that 'everyone knows it would still be mine if I played short.'

May 2005 Jeter changes the radio station when A-Rod's favorite song, 'Hollaback Girl' by Gwen Stefani, comes on before a game. Rodriguez makes a big show of putting his iPod earbuds on as he storms out of the room.

June 2005 After a home win, A-Rod jumps Jeter in the dessert line and takes the last chocolate chip cookie, knowingly breaking an unwritten Yankee clubhouse rule. Jeter stews at his locker as he settles for oatmeal raisin.

August 2005 At a downtown restaurant after a game, A-Rod asks Jason Giambi and not Jeter to accompany him to the restroom. Jeter sulks at their booth for the rest of dinner and skips dessert.

November 2005 Jeter attends the press conference announcing A-Rod's second MVP award. Several witnesses claim they hear him repeatedly saying 'steroids!' thinly veiled by coughs.

March 2006 Jeter coerces the clubhouse attendants to pull the silent treatment on A-Rod. Rodriguez goes all of spring training without a fresh towel.

May 2006 When Jeter slides head-first on a close play at second, his jersey rips open. ESPN cameras reveal his undershirt reads 'A-Rod wears lipstick'.

August 2006 Jeter glares at A-Rod after a botched pop fly when the two players nearly collide. Replays show Jeter's calls for the ball are apparently ignored by A-Rod.

September 2006 In the sixth inning of a game, A-Rod farts while in the dugout. When teammates 'take notice' and turn to look at him, Rodriguez wrinkles his nose and points at an unaware Jeter.

December 2006 Strawberry says that Jeter needs to 'embrace' A-Rod, admitting that 'OK, so what, he hasn't hit well in the playoffs yet.' His comments prove that he has yet to realize what is an acceptable performance for the Yankees, confirming he was high on coke the entire time he played in New York.

February 2007 A-Rod admits that his relationship with Jeter has cooled over the years, saying that 'people start assuming that things are a lot worse than what they are, which they're not. But they're obviously not as great as they used to be. We were like blood brothers.' A-Rod also admits that 'I stunk' in the 2006 playoffs and that 'it's pretty cool' being baseball's highest paid player.

What will be next in this saga? With any luck, it will be the media realizing that I DON'T CARE.

Friday, February 23, 2007

So, when exactly do they get in trouble?

The big sports news here in Nashville is Adam "Pac Man" Jones, a cornerback/ kick returner for the Titans. It is the only thing being talked about on the local sports talk radio show. It even leads the 10:00 news. It follows a pattern of about every couple of months or so since I moved here in March of last year. If you don't know about Pac Man here is the story. During the NBA All-Star weekend (which by the way sounds like it was a train wreck), Pac Man went to a strip club with $81,000 in bills and began to shower them on the strippers, called making it rain. Apparently, he did not consider this shower to be for those nearby, because when the strippers began to pick up this money, Pac Man slammed one of the girls head on the the stage. This began a ruckus that ended with shots being fired by a member of Pac Man's group and three people injured, one paralyzed. Of course, Pac Man has plausible deniablity in the shooting. He didn't pull the trigger and none of his guys are going to say that he ordered the shooting. He is their gravy train. But this has been a pattern of behavior that goes all the way back to his time at West Virginia.

Here are two brief lists of Pac Man Jones misbehavior, one from the Tennessean and one from Wikipedia.

As you can see, this a pattern of behavior that goes back years and is not liable to get any better. There is no question that he is a premier talent. He is perhaps as good or better than Devin Hester returning punts. He is premier cover corner in the NFL and easily the best defensive player for the Titans last year. There are a number of questions that come up. What do the Titans do with him? Why does he continue to persist in this destructive behavior? How has this guy not done any prison time?

It seems to me that this is a bad guy. One of the big problems with sports these days is that money is so huge and the payoff for a talent like Jones is so rich that no one has the audacity to tell this kid do. And he is a kid, he's only 23 years old. It's sad to see this guy seem to be trying desperately to waste his talent.

I'm not trying to tell the Titans how to live their life, but you know Jeff Fisher is wondering when am I gonna get a phone call saying that Pac Man is either dead or has killed someone. I don't know the salary cap implications. I do know that if they let him go, they will need, not one, but two cornerbacks next year. There will also be another team who needs a cornerback who will give him another chance. I also know that if he comes back and plays for the Titans next year, all these folks that are calling into the talk shows and saying "We gotta get rid him. He's cancer!" are going to be cheering for him when he returns a kick or an interception for a touchdown. Because, really what's more important in our society? If you can score, you can do whatever you want.

UPDATE: It looks like the NFL is going to investigate the incident. Evidently, they are "extemely concerned" about the behavior of players over the past year. Between Tank Johnson and the 2/3 of the Bengals whole team, the NFL has suffered a number of black eyes over the past year. I bet if they find anything wrong, they come down hard on Pac Man.

Let me give one caveat. The owner of the strip club has been everywhere. He was on both Nashville sports talk radio stations two days after the incident and then on Dan Patrick and on any number of other outlets. Now, I didn't listen to any of these interviews, but it seems like an opportunity for this guy to get as much pub as he possibly can for himself and his club. I heard that it has been having money problems (although I would think that a strip club in Vegas is about as gauranteed a business venture as one could come up with) and this is great chance to get his name out there. I'm just saying.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Onion on Bonds, hockey

If you aren't familiar with The Onion, it is the premiere satire publication, targeting everything from politics to current events to the entertainment business. A while back they added a sports section, taking the sports world to task.

They recently published a couple articles I found interesting/funny. The first is about good ol' Barry and it pretty much sums up what everyone thinks about him these days.

MLB To Place Asterisk, Pound Sign, Exclamation Point, Letter F Next To Bonds Name In Record Books

The Onion

MLB To Place Asterisk, Pound Sign, Exclamation Point, Letter 'F' Next To Bonds' Name In Record Books

SAN FRANCISCO— Commissioner Bud Selig announced Wednesday that, once the Giants slugger retires, his name in the official MLB record books will be forever accompanied by an asterisk, followed by a pound sign and exclamation point, all preceeded by the letter 'F'...

The second is about hockey. Check out their list and be sure to catch the most recent change--it's the best. Smart move by the NHL.

The Onion

Hockey Equipment Changes

The NHL recently unveiled new redesigned uniforms, and has considered enlarging the size of the nets. Onion Sports looks at other notable equipment changes that have shaped the sport over the years:

re: re: The All Star Game Whip

And yet another apparently innocuous topic that has taken on a life of its own.

PJ said he is an All Star game fan. As for myself, I am a fan of the idea of all star games, but not necessarily the games themselves. I enjoy the MLB ASG, but I can only take the NBA or NHL for a bit. And I can't watch the Pro Bowl at all.

As for the side events, how could I forget the three point shootout? That is by far the best event of the NBA All Star weekend. HORSE would be great--it would be fun to watch pros play a kid's game that every basketball fan played when they were nine. Plus there is so much more potential for creativity than a dunk contest. Unlimited chances is only part of the reason the dunk contest stinks. The main reason is that there is just nothing new to do. We've seen the 360°s, the free throw line take-offs and the leaps over various people/objects. Also, it is purely subjective. I don't want judges, I want an actual score. A million dollar prize might bring in a few bigger names, but it won't solve these other issues.

The NFL has no good side festivities because the game is too specialized. They best they have come up with is speed (40 yard dash) and strength (bench press). Boring--side events need to focus on some aspect of the game. How about a flag football game where everyone plays out of their normal position? Could you imagine Peyton playing CB? That would be a lot better than watching guys push up 225 pounds.

The question still remains: Is the reason for the game the fans, the players or the league? Certainly all three are factors to an extent. But if it is for purely for the fans, why do good players back out and why do tickets cost so much? It can’t primarily be for the players because many of them clearly do not care about it.

That leaves the league, and their corporate sponsors--the real beneficiaries of all star games. Once again, it is all about the money and exposure.

And Rus, I was going to mention the MLB All Star Game’s influence on the World Series, but decided to save it for a later post. That’s a train wreck that deserves it’s own post when the game rolls around in a few months.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

All-Star Game Comments

So, I started to write comments about Chris's (OK, is it Chris' or Chris's? I never understood that rule) article about All-Star Games, and I just started coming up with too much. I'm an all-star game fan. I will even watch all-star games of leagues I don't normally watch (NBA, MLB). My favorite is obviously the NHL, but for some reason, I can never seem to watch the Pro Bowl (I'll get there in a minute).

First, there is the point of all-star games. I think it's a combination of a lot of things that Chris mentioned. It is a celebration of the games' best players along with those who are having exceptional seasons. So I have no problem with superstars (such as Shaq) playing even though they have not played much this season. I'd rather see the NBA All-Star Game with Shaq, Kobe, and Nash (It would have been much better with Nash this year) than some guys who I've never heard of who are having good years. Since there will be some there anyway, it still has the benefit of showing new talent. Another really cool aspect of the game is seeing players who don't normally get to play together playing together. (Which is a pet peeve of mine when Coaches in the NHL game play players from the same team together the whole game). I'll never forget that Teemu Selanne became a Duck the first time because the GM saw how well he and Paul Kariya played together in the All-Star Game.

Second, voting. I think Fans should control the voting for the most part. This game is for them after all. But there should always be commisioner's picks to allow for glaring omissions. Or to celebrate certain players. Mike Modano couldn't play this year because he was injured, but he is absolutely the biggest star in Dallas where the game was played this year. Bettman did the smart thing (I never thought I'd write that sentence) and gave him an official position that allowed him to be involved in the festivities (I was gonna write weekend until I remembered that Bettman really is an idiot and scheduled it during the week).

Third, the other events. Here is my list
In: Home Run Derby (MLB), Skills Competition (NHL), Old-Timer Game (NHL), Young Stars Game (NHL) - barely, Slam Dunk Contest (NBA) - More on this in a moment, Rookie-Sophmore Game (NBA)

Out: The game where they have WNBA players (NBA), umm.. I don't really have any other suggestions.

New: Something for the other players in the MLB. It would be cool to see an accuracy contest for pitchers or something like that. Something for NFL players. Kinda like the Quarterback's challenge they used to do (do they still do that?), Horse (NBA) - Bill Simmons has been advocating this for years. I think it's Genius.

Changes to the Dunk Contest (NBA). The dunk Contest used to be amazing. Now, it loses fun because you see someone (I won't name any names Nate Robinson) fail the same dunk over and over and over until they make it and it's not exciting anymore. From now on, Anyone there can participate and they don't have to announce. Here's the thing, you have Two shots each round. The first round can take however long they need - since we won't know who's next until they check in and say their next. In order to get participation, put up a million to the winner. Make it a real contest.

Finally, quality. I think this is where the NFL suffers the most. No one wants to risk an injury and so players are playing at half-speed it seems. This is what makes this game unwatchable to me and unfortunately, I can't imagine what they could do to improve it. I can live with lack of defense (NHL, NBA, and even to a point MLB) because the games still appear to be exhibition games. The speed of the game (or lack there of in Baseball's case) is still there and the skill is still there. That's what I like about All-Star Games.

The All Star Game Whip

We have recently suffered the whip of the NFL Pro Bowl and the NBA and NHL All Star Games. Much controversy surrounds these games. Since we are in a lull in the sports calendar until March Madness begins, let's examine these sports festivities, both the good and the bad.

What is the purpose of an all star game? Your immediate response is likely to honor the players. But is it really? For the most part, and especially in the NFL and MLB, they don't really care, to the point of players ducking out of the game. Maybe the purpose is to give the fans a chance to watch player they might otherwise not see. This may have been true in the past, but in this day and age of the internet, TiVo and instant information, exposure is not an issue.

One of the main problems with all star games is deciding who gets in. Theoretically, fans deserve to have a voice, but their voting outcomes are often seriously flawed. (This also explains a lot about politics.) Yao Ming gets in because all of China votes for him. Shaq gets in despite playing only five games. Players are routinely voted in based on reputation rather than actual merit.

But then again, is that so bad? Is an all star the player who is the best at his position or is he the popular guy that fans want to see? How much, if any, of the vote should go to the fans, the players, the coaches and the media?


Another problem with all star games is the hoopla that fills out the all star weekend, or in the case of the NHL, Tuesday. Some events are fun while others have outlived their usefulness.

The good: rookie challenges and the home run derby. I went to the NBA rookie challenge in 2003 and had a great time. And home runs are always fun to watch.

The bad: the dunk competition. The league keeps trying to trick this up. This year's trick was guest judges. Please, it's all been done before. Just let it go.


Of course, the biggest issue is the quality of the actual all star game. MLB probably has the best game because other than quick pitching substitutions, it is basically played true to form. The NBA and NHL both suffer from a lack of defense and ridiculously high scores (2007: NBA 153-132, NHL 12-9). In addition, the NHL all star game also suffered an identity crisis a few years ago when they experimented with the North America vs the World format. But the NFL, the most popular game going, has by far the worst all star game, for a variety of reasons: it's post-season, players back out, and no one wants to get hurt, to name a few. Not a very good showcase for the league.


So much controversy. But that answers the question concerning the purpose of the all star games. Discussion, controversy, water cooler talk, attention, exposure. It doesn't matter if you are talking about fan voting, who was snubbed, who didn't show up, no defense, weak side events, or how ugly the uniforms are. At least you are talking about (fill in league here).

Friday, February 16, 2007

Rus's related note

Rus mentioned at the end of his Amaechi/Hardaway post athletes and honesty. This is something I have been thinking about for a week now since Tyrus Thomas was fined $10,000 by the Bulls for being honest, saying he was only participating in the dunk contest for the money. So here we have two examples of NBA (or former NBA) players being honest and being punished. As fans/media/team owners/league commissioners, what do we want: honesty or cliches?

Most people would say they hate it when players give the cliche answers. This blog's name is a mock tribute to these cliches. I love it when a player tells the truth, or a media member asks the tough question that can't be answered with 'we're gonna take it one game at a time' or any of the other meaningless responses.

Unfortunately, this doesn't happen very often because players get waxed when they do it. It's a classic no-win situation. Or is it?

Maybe it isn't so much a question of being honest or being evasive, but rather a question of timing. Most of the time, go with honesty, but be smart enough to filter yourself when necessary.

Of course, this requires the rest of us to have a similar sense of timing. Hardaway is being ripped by the general public and banned by the NBA, as he should be. But I don't understand the fine levied against Thomas. It's very simple: if I wasn't getting paid, I wouldn't go to work, either. Why is this worthy of a fine?

Having said that, I am admittedly having trouble distinguishing that situation from what happened to Nikolai Davydenko in Sydney a few weeks ago (he's the men's tennis world number three, in case you didn't know--I didn't either) when he said no one cared about the Medibank International tournament and was also fined ten grand--a fine I agreed with. Do I feel this way because the dunk contest is an exhibition and the Medibank is a real tourney? Or does Davydenko's comment show a little more disrespect to the fan?

Forget it. It's a no-win situation after all.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

John Amaechi and Tim Hardaway

Last week, former NBA player, John Amaechi came out of the closet, confessing that he is gay. He is not the first former pro athlete to admit to their homosexuality. As of yet, no male athlete has come out of the closet (or been outed) during their playing time. For some reason, there is much less stigma on female athletes who are lesbian. Martina Navratilova is perhaps the most notable tennis star to come out, while there are a number of golfers and WNBA player Cheryl Swoopes who have as well.

With Amaechi's statement came the inevitable questions of can a current player come out as gay? If the percentages that people throw out there of the number of gay people in the world, it would be logical to assume that a number of athlete's lean in that direction. However, as of yet, no current male athlete has come out of the closet. Tim Hardaway's statement that he hates gay people, while most athlete's would probably say that they are wrong and hateful, probably reflect what many athletes are really thinking. There is no way a homosexual man would survive in a locker room today. If one person says it, a thousand are thinking it. Whether the statements are right or not isn't the issue. He is voicing the thoughts of 95% of the players in the NBA and 95% of the players in the NFL, and 95% of the players in MLB, and 95% of the players in the NHL. As liberal and tolerant as the world is today, especially compared to a few years ago, we are a long way from the wider athletic world accepting a homosexual. I think sports is a microcosm of the rest of America, maybe even the whole world. While personally, I don't condone the homosexual lifestyle, I feel that Hardaway's comments are bigoted and hateful. Attitudes like this are why many homosexuals feel hated a rejected by society. Unfortunately, I think this hatred is pervasive in our society at large.

I didn't want to comment on Amaechi's statement because I think part of it was an attempt to sell books and get his name out there. I personally don't care whether he's gay or not. I mean honestly, what has he ever done to merit this much attention? Nothing. He was a spare baller and his book would probably never have even been written were it now for this "news." However, Hardaway's comments put it all in a different light in my opinion and I'm interested in knowing your thoughts.

In an related note, in this day and age of the Internet and ESPN, I am shocked every time an athlete really says what he's thinking. We clamor for an athlete to say something more than "We just gotta take it one game at a time and the good Lord willing everything will work out in the end" and "I'm just going out there to play my best and help the team win." But whenever an athlete actually says anything other than that, they get ripped to no end and it all ends up on the bulletin board. What shocks me more than what was said, is that he said anything about it all. I don't condone Hardaway's statements, but at least he didn't take the easy way out. However, misguided he may have been, he definitely spoke his mind and this is what we want from out athlete's.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Ahhhh, Spring Training: A Rangers Preview

Pitchers and Catchers report in 4 days and spring has officially arrived. So as a preview I am going to look at the key Ranger questions as they approach spring training in Suprise, Arizona. By the way, if you can make a Spring Training trip, I would strongly encourage it. You will never be closer to the action than at Spring Training, autographs are everywhere and you can get lots of baseballs. Or maybe that last part is just me.

1. The biggest question that has faced the Rangers since, say 1990, when Charlie Hough, Nolan Ryan, Bobby Witt, and Kevin Brown anchored the rotation and Jeff Russell and Kenny Rogers manned the bullpen, is who in world is gonna pitch for the team? But for the first time in years, the 3-5 spots in the rotation aren't completely up for grabs, hoping for someone to step up from among the spares like R.A. Dickey, Richardo Rodriguez, John Wasdin, Nick Beirbrodt, Mickey Callaway, or Tony Mounce, and fill out the rotation and not completely kill the team. Slots one through three should be held solidly by Kevin Millwood, Vincente Padilla, and newly aquired Brandon McCarthy. In the four slot, hopefully, Robinson Tejeda will be the second half pitcher (4-2, 2.32, 25K, 15BB, 54.1IP, 9G) instead of the first half pitcher (1-3, 9.78, 15K, 17BB, 19.1BB, 5G). If that's not the case, then this whole thing is probably shot to hell, because the weak spot is the fifth slot where Josh Rupe, John Koronka, Jon Rheinecker, Kameron Loe, or someone I've never heard of will arm wrestle for it. Of course, throw injuries in there, and you just never can tell. At least, Jon Daniels won't have to scamble to fill out the rotation like last year.

2. Who is playing the outfield? Gone from last years outfield are Gary Matthews, Jr., Carlos Lee, Mark DeRosa taking with them 42HR, 188RBI. Replacing GMJ will be replaced by Kenny Lofton (who makes me cry when I think that the Astros traded him for Eddie freakin' Taubensee!!!!) Lofton will be an improvement defensively over GMJ, who made great plays, but wasn't as great as his highlights, but offensive it'll be a downgrade. In fact, each positon will probably be a downgrade offensively. Right and left field will be covered by free agent signee Frank Cattalanatto, the hopefully healthy Brad Wilkerson, and my favorite, former Nashville Sound, Nelson Cruz. I don't really want to talk about Sammy Sosa. Hopefully, he just sucks throughout all of spring training and gets cut. I'm a little worried about how the whole media craziness around Sosa will affect the whole camp. Offensively, the infield (Teixeira, Young, Blalock, Laird, and Kinsler) will have to pick up the slack.

3. The third question is how are things going to be different under Ron Washington than Buck Showalter? I can only expect that things will be %10000000 better in clubhouse. I've read a number of things stating that the players hated playing for Showalter who seemed more interested in playing politics and screwing with players' heads than actually managing the game. So the players will be happier, but who cares if they don't win? I do think it's important to put players in a position where they can succeed is important. Hopefully, Washington can do that.

We are still over a month and half away from opening day and alot can change.

Hi. I love the NHL - Well, most of it

So, rather than keep this in the comments section, I thought I'd write an actual post (that seems to happen a lot with this when we get on our individual soapboxes). When the NHL started up last season, there were many who referred to the call to stop the clutching and grabbing as a "rule change" where in actuality, it was just an enforcement of rules already in existence. The way hockey should be called is to allow free flowing of the game and physical play. That should include legal open ice hits, hits against the boards (but not boarding), and battling for position. Without this things, then hockey becomes the boring, lifeless game that the NHL had become (the same NHL that made fans like Chris not care when it left).

As I stated before, the mandate to call the game tightly has helped significantly as you could see by the rise in scoring and familiar names at the top of the standings. Players like Crosby, Ovechkin, Jagr, Kovalchuk, and others have been allowed freedom to work their magic and have brought me back to the days of the early nineties. But, there are many differences between the games today and those of the 80's that many seem to think were the heyday of the NHL.

Defenses and goaltenders are far more advanced than they were before. Players are bigger and faster and stronger. They come to training camp ready to play rather than playing into shape. So there still need to be some changes if the league really wants to open up scoring. Some of these radical ideas include increasing goal size, making all play 4 on 4 skaters, Olympic-style wider rinks, and removing restrictions on stick curves.

To be honest, I'm in favor of all but removing a player for all time. With wider rinks, a slightly bigger goal and bigger curves on sticks, there would be more chances for scoring. Remember, in the 80's, the average goaltender was a 5'6" guy who couldn't skate very well so he was made a goalie at an early age. Today, he is 6'0" and is better conditioned than most of the players on the team. Wider rinks won't happen because arenas would lose seats. And today, when revenue is at such a premium from seats, owners won't take that risk. In my opinion, this is something that should have happened during the lockout. Then, when the game came back, the rinks would have all been changed, and the attendance fall off would have been absorbed by expecting the drop off when it came back. Curves were limited to protect goalies. The goalies are better protected today than SWAT team members. Get rid of the rule.

My biggest pet peeve with the NHL today is scheduling. I'd like to see two major changes. First, I'd like to see the number of games reduced. The NHL season shouldn't be more than 70 games long. Ideally, I'd like to see it about 65-70. But, because of revenue, this will certainly never happen. Owners wouldn't want to lose 6-9 games of ticket revenue. Second, and this should happen soon, is to fix the schedule. I know they idea with more in-division games was to create rivalries, but rivalries happen because teams have a general dislike for each other. Boston-Montreal, Detroit-Colorado. These are true rivalries that cross over seasons. The contrite method of scheduling we have now, only serves to keep some players from getting to play for all teams. I won't get to see Sidney Crosby in person for a couple years probably. The biggest joke in this is Detroit-Toronto. This used to be a huge rivalry of original six franchises. Now, they only meet once a year (despite being less than three hours away from each other - I know, I've driven it). This is one thing the owners - who elected not to change this next year - have missed the boat on.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Getting the star treatment

Well, this little tangent kind of took on a life of its own under Comments for 'David Stern: Defender of Justice'. To review (and I'm paraphrasing here), Rus commented that the NBA needed to police the game equally for all players and I replied that would never happen because the NBA, more than any other league, is star driven. Rus then said that was why he couldn't watch the NBA and almost dropped it to NHL status. Pessimist Sam then asked if there was a league that was NOT star driven with the possible exception of hockey, and suggested that might be the cause of the NHL's current problems. Finally, PJ mentioned that the NBA has always been star driven, citing Jordan. He also said taking care of stars is acceptable to a point, but the 2006 NBA Finals were a joke.

Let's now begin with Pessimist Sam's suggestion that all leagues are star driven. This is true in the sense that the league markets its stars and sells the big names, but it doesn't always dictate how the game is called. In terms of officiating, I think the NFL is very clean. You might get a receiver or a defensive back that gets away with a push off or a grab, but that's about it. Peyton Manning is the best player in the game--what officiating advantage does he have? If he throws an interception, the officials can't ignore it and give him a first down.

Baseball is a little more star driven than the NFL, but not much. A big time pitcher is often given an extended strike zone, or a star batter might have a smaller strike zone, but that's about all. Again, if A-Rod's fly ball is caught at the warning track, the umpire can't say it was really a home run.

I think Pessimist Sam was correct about the NHL being the exception. They used to be more star driven, but the defensive techniques of past ten years have negated that for the most part. That has actually dictated how the league markets the game--the stars could no longer perform like stars, so the league moved away from player promotion to team promotion, and this has of course proved a monumental failure.

But in the NBA, stars still rule. The combination of speed, confined space, strength and athleticism make it difficult to call in the first place, so calls, particularly in the paint, tend to go the star's way. Stars don't get calls from the three point line; they get them slashing to the basket when they get in the crowd.

And everyone in the NBA gets by with traveling and palming, but stars especially so, because they are the one's most often taking the ball to the rim. Can you imagine if the league actually started calling traveling and palming again? There would be a whistle with every possession. You say the players would adapt, and I say they would adapt by not going to the basket anymore, and that would be a boring game no one would watch.

PJ is correct in saying the NBA has always been star driven, although you need to go further back than Jordan to prove this (yes, it was Byron Russell in '98, by the way). You don't score 100 points like Wilt without star treatment, I don't care how dominant you are. But I certainly never meant to imply that this was a new thing, just that it was.

In fact, fans like star treatment. A lot of Dallas fans, myself included, are angry that Nowitzki is for some reason denied this treatment, despite being one of the top five players in the league. Fans watch the games to see the stars do their thing, and if you call the game honestly, you lose some of that. Next thing you know, you are the NHL.

So PJ is right accepting a little star treatment, but yes, the 2006 NBA Finals went too far. This was especially obvious in the contrast of treatment for Wade and Nowitzki. Both were stars by name, but certainly not by officiating, particularly frustrating because Dirk had eight years to Dwyane's three. You say Wade had a better series than Nowitzki--true, but wouldn't it have been a little closer if a whistle blew every time Dirk got the ball?

In that series, I kept thinking, 'this is what those USC fans must have felt like in the Rose Bowl with Vince.'--I watched that game with a lot of them who didn't care about Young at the beginning of the game but sure took notice by the end. The difference, of course, is that Vince did his magic without any help from the officials, while Wade needed some help to dominate.

Friday, February 9, 2007

David Stern: Defender of Justice

David Stern has been busy righting wrongs in the NBA lately. First it was dumping the new synthetic ball for the classic leather, which admittedly was a wrong of his own creation. But, hey, there are other commissioners (Bettman comes to mind here) who don't bother cleaning up their own mess, so I give credit where credit is due.

Now Stern is correcting another misstep--All Star voting. And this time there are two guilty parties.

Mixing our sports metaphors, the fans were first up to the plate. Other than Shaq being named starter after only playing ten games at this point, not to mention only 14 ppg and 6 rpg, while Dwight Howard sits, they did fine in the East.

But the West? How can the fans leave off Carmelo Anthony, league leading scorer, and Josh 'Pippen of the Oughts' Howard?

Strike One.

Then the coaches, who should know better, had the opportunity to quickly correct this ridiculous oversight. Instead, they select, among others, Boozer and Marion, who are both fine players. Just fine players who happen to be inferior to Anthony and Howard.

Strike Two.

Here's where Stern steps in. Because of injuries to Ming and Boozer, two replacements must be named. Hmm. . . two replacements. . . two jilted players. . . I think this could work.

So today, Stern. . . well, not so much hits it out of the park as hits a line drive RBI game winner--Anthony and Howard are All Stars. Finally, there is joy in Mudville, or at least Denver and Dallas.

In fact, this might actually work in favor of both Denver and Dallas--their guy gets in the All Star game, plus gets to play the disrespect card the rest of the season. This might be enough to push the Mavs over the top.

Now the only question is who D'Antoni names to start in Ming's place? Does he go with Nowitzki, the player closest to the center position (Stoudamire hasn't earned the start) and perhaps best on the bench? Or does he go with Nash, his guy and perhaps best on the bench? I think it will end up being Nowitzki, and I think Nash will have a say in that happening.

JJ's head on the chopping block

Today in the DMN Jean Jacques Taylor says that this hire will define Jerry Jones ownership of the Cowboys.

I don't completely agree because there is no way that Jerry Jones will sell this team. He will die president and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys. Therefore, he will probably have other chances to make or break the team. However, this hire right here will set the course for the future of the team.

I think this team is close to a Super Bowl. They have talent on both sides of the ball, but there are weaknesses. I'll get to that in a minute. This hire means a couple of things. First and most obvious, Dallas is committed to the 3-4, but not like we've seen it over the last two years. I've been reading today that many players were very dissatisfied with Bill Parcells' version of the 3-4, as it was very vanilla without a lot of blitzes (probably to cover Roy Williams' coverage weaknesses). Wade Phillips' defense should anything but vanilla. Last year, after Greg Ellis went down, we only had one guy who could get to QB, DeMarcus Ware and there were too many times last year when he spent more time covering tight ends than rushing the passer. All Shawne Merriman does is get the passer. I think Ware has the talent to be a better all round linebacker than Merriman, and I think he'll thrive in this version of the 3-4. Hopefully, Phillips will be able to get more out of Marcus Spears and Chris Canty than Parcells was able. His ability to make under-achieving players better will be the true indication of whether or not this is a good hire on the defensive side.

The big question I have is about the offense. What is Jason Garrett's role? Is he ready to run an offense? What about Tony Sparano? Perhaps the Phillips hire signifies that Jerry is confident in the Garrett/ Sparano combination (although I think it has more to do with concerns about the defense). There are some question marks in this offense as well. I like Tony Romo, but after a few games, his game went downhill toward the end of the game. Was he just slumping or were teams figuring him out? Can he make the adjustments to be a Super Bowl QB, because that is what we expect around here. We expect super bowls. He may all the bad things Brett Farve is and much less of the good. And as much as we worry about TO, if you get rid of him, you have Terry Glenn, Patrick Crayton, and bunch of undrafted free agents. All of a sudden wide receiver becomes a big need in free agency and the draft. Even if you keep him, he's not a kid anymore. Our #1 and #2 receivers are both in their mid 30s, hardly prime time for WRs. There are still huge holes at offensive line- we may need a tackle, a guard, and a center. In other words, the offense has alot of work to do this off season.

The question is will this hire propel the Cowboys forward or not. In his previous coaching stops, Wade has taken a team higher than the previous season, but never far enough. He has no playoff wins in three chances. Apparently, he signed a four year deal. I have my doubts as to whether he will finish out that contract.

The draft is coming up and I love the draft. I will be following it closely. It will be interesting to see how the Cowboys approach the draft and free agency. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Hi. This is me ticked off.

Chris, I thought about replying to you comment, but I had too much to say.

Maybe I've been beat into submission by ten years of mediocre football and ZERO playoff wins. This is the Dallas FREAKIN' Cowboys!!!! How in the world do we have to settle for a retread defensive coordinator to follow in the footsteps of Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson?

Jerry Jones is killing this team! To me, WP means that Jerruh is the GM again. More years of Shante Carver, David Lafluer, Kavika Pittman, Sherman Williams, and gaggle of spares that might make the Desperadoes traveling squad.

I take it back, after ten years, maybe Jerruh has already killed this team. He killed it the day that he decided that he deserved more credit than Jimmy Johnson for the two super bowls. And yes, Jerry, I did enjoy those super bowls. I enjoyed them very much, but I was still in COLLEGE the last time they won a super bowl!

Hi. This is me with rose colored glasses.

I'm writing this at work. I hope I don't get in trouble.

Well, in my last post, I said that I don't want a retread and the only one I'd even consider was Norv Turner. Now we get a different retread. Wade Phillips is the new man for the Cowboys. Like Chris, I am totally underwhelmed. However, as the Cowboy homer that I am, I am going to try to look on the bright side of life.

First, Wade is big time 3-4 defensive coach who can make stars out of his defensive players. The Chargers played a much more attacking style of defense than the Cowboys did. Shawne Merriman and Jamal Williams both made the Pro Bowl as defensive lineman this past year. The Chargers defense over the last couple of years had been very stingy, especially against the run, giving up 81 and 84 yards a rush. Chris can complain all he wants about the 3-4, but over the past couple of years, the Cowboys have drafted for the 3-4 and to switch over to the 4-3 doesn't make a whole lot of sense right now. We know that DeMarcus Ware can be a dominant outside linebacker, but we don't know if he can be a dominant defensive lineman, a la Charles Haley.

Also, Wade wasn't that bad in Buffalo. I took a literal miracle for the Titans to beat them in the playoffs in 1999. His record is not near as atrocious as Norv's (45-38 with Denver and Buffalo versus 58-81-1).

I think this hire comes down to two things. One, Jerry believes that the Cowboys are a 3-4 team. The best 3-4 guy out there is Wade Phillips. The Chargers played a much more attacking style of defense than the Cowboys did. We should be able to expect more sacks and pressure on the Quarterback next year. I bet Ware is very happy. The biggest problem on this team last year was not the offense anyway. The defense is really what let them down at the end of the season (that and poor holding). I also think that this means that Jerry wants to leave the door wide open, not for Bill Cowher, but Jason Garrett or Todd Bowles. I think that Norv's presence would hinder Garrett's development. There were whispers that Norv had a problem with Garret's presence here. If that's the case, I think that sunk Norv's candidacy.

Overall, I'm disappointed in the new Cowboy's coach. I was hoping for Rivera or Singletary, but I'm going to hope for the best. It's been over 10 years since a playoff win. Can Wade turn it around? I hope so.

Hi. This is me underwhelmed.

'Sources' say Wade Phillips will be named the new coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Wade Phillips? Really?

I kind of thought that since Jerry interviewed six coaches since Phillips we could forget about this one. Out of the ten coaches who interviewed for the job, Phillips probably ranks about eight or nine for me. He's a poor version of the shell that Parcells became. And what it T.O. going to do now? You think Wade Phillips can control him? Or has the clout to tell Jerry to get rid of him?

The other retread and alleged leading candidate Norv Turner would have been preferable. Work with Romo, mentor Jason Garrett and give the defense to Ron Rivera. That's a pretty solid staff if Turner focuses on the offense and lets Rivera have full control of the defense. Great potential for the future, too.

Don't like that? You want fire and passion? Go with Singletary. Young, upcoming potential? Take a flyer on Garrett. But what does Phillips have to offer?

Is this about the 3-4 defense? Because I'm really starting to hate the 3-4. The system itself is OK, but I hate how it is dictating what is done at Valley Ranch. They weren't even that good at the 3-4! Now we're choosing a head coach based on it?

And don't count on a 'wow' hire at the coordinators to compensate. Garrett is the OC, which intrigues me but doesn't 'wow' me, and Bowles will likely be the DC. Forget about Rivera--Phillips is a defense guy. No big names coming on that side of the ball.

There is only one positive I can see out of this: Jerry is setting the team up for mediocrity so he can fire Phillips next year and go after Bill Cowher. I can only hope Jerry has that much foresight.

Because the alternative is he is setting the team up for mediocrity so he can name himself the next coach, at which point I go from underwhelmed to truly frightened.

Either way, 2007 will be mediocre. What happens in 2008 and beyond remains to be seen.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Why I don't miss the NHL

This is really more of a comment on PJ's post, but a little too long for that, so it goes here.

Living in Australia, I miss football, college and pros. Baseball and basketball, too. I don't miss hockey. Even going back to my years in South Carolina, where it could be hard to find on TV, even with the Hurricanes up the road, I didn't really miss it.

I used to be a big hockey fan: I went to the games and even played. I taped every game of the 1999 Finals, rushing home from a friend's house to change tapes when Game 6 went on and on and on.

I even played fantasy hockey--how lame is that?

But I don't care about it anymore. I still closely follow the other sports, even following an ESPN Gamecast on the computer sometimes for big games. I get highlights and read all the articles. But I can't remember the last time I read something about a hockey game. I'm actually more interested in articles detailing the NHL's demise: conspiracy theories about Bettman sabotage, neutral zone trap and left wing lock defenses, lockouts, bad TV deals, overexpansion. The list is endless, and I find it all very entertaining. The game itself, not so much.

Or more specifically, the NHL. I still like the game of hockey--I have lost interest in the League's version of it.

For me personally, it wasn't the defensive play. I like good defense. I also understand the general public likes goals, but for me, that wasn't the killer. A little more room to let the skilled players work would be nice, but it's not the deal breaker for me.

No, what did it for me was a series of other events and realizations starting in 2000. I started to slip when ticket prices went through the roof. After the Stanley Cup, the Stars priced me out of attending games anymore. After going to several games a year in previous seasons, I have only been to one since, and that was as a guest in a luxury suite. Even then, I was turned off by an employee who demanded I put my camera away and a poor response from the club when I contacted them the next day about the incident. Customer service, NHL.

Then came the lockout. I've come back after work stoppages in other sports, including the '94 lockout in hockey. But when they canceled the whole season in '04-'05, I was disgusted. I have no sympathy for owners who can't manage their own checkbook. Worse yet, as the year wore on I discovered I didn't really miss the NHL on the sports calendar. It overlaps almost exactly with basketball, plus football for the first half and baseball at the end. Who needs hockey? And when they started again, it just felt so amateur. The players were rusty, the TV coverage, when you could find it, was a joke, and there was all kinds of talk about gimmicky rule changes. Is this a pro league or what?

If I had moved away in the heyday of the mid nineties, I might be missing hockey. But after all this mess the past few years, I don't.

Rus says he's the sports fan hockey needs to get, and he's right. But I can do him one better: I'm the fan they had but lost.

The State of the NHL

So, football's over for the year (unless you really want to count the pro-bowl) and now the country can turn it's sports eye to it's truly beloved ... Basketball? ... um Spring Training? Yea, exactly, there's a complete void here and not too long ago, it would have been easily filled by the NHL. In the early 90's, the NHL was entering the pinnacle of it's existance. Gretzky was in the second biggest market (LA) and the Biggest market had just won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 54 years. The NHL had so much momentum that Sports Illustrated actually ran a cover story about the NHL becoming bigger than the NBA. As a fan of the NHL right before this time, I felt like people were finally getting it.

Then the unthinkable happened, the Owners locked out the players. All the momentum was lost. Many would-be fans never watched another game and even though there was a shortened season that year, that Stanley Cup felt a little tarnished. To further the downfall, the team that won used a sufficating style which, when played correctly, virtually guaranteed low scores and likely a win. The Devils didn't invent the trap, but they played it to perfection. Add to it a goaltender like Brodeur who would thrive in any situation (He may be the best to ever play - yes even better than Patrick Roy when all is said and done). But lousy teams would employ a similar tactic and rather than pounce on turnovers, teams seemed to be content to play not-to-lose. After a while people forgot about the lockout a little and viewers began to watch a little more (Notibly after the Red Wings won using a much more offensive style).

But many teams (as the league expanded to add four more teams) still employed playing-not-to-lose tactics. The game was suffering and payrolls were going crazy. Revenue didn't keep up and there were talks of teams going bankrupt. Mario Lemiuex became a part owner of a franchise, not because he wanted to own the team, but because it was the only way they could afford to pay him owed money. The league was in major trouble and the new CBA negotiations were no were in sight. Another lockout. This time it cancelled the entire season. I, personally, was floored. I never thought the entire season would be cancelled. When the two sides started talking again, they hammered out a deal, but all a sudden, the sponsors, and TV deals were gone. When ESPN pulled out of the running for NHL broadcasts, I was legitimately worried about the future of the league. The fact that OLN (now Versus) won the contract didn't do anything to assuage my fears. Last season went off surprisingly well, and the game was a lot stronger. But the viewers still stayed away.

I read a lot of Bill Simmons on ESPN and I like what he has to say, but was really dishearted by a quote he had the other day. "I'm excluding the NHL because it held its All-Star Game on a Wednesday on a network called Versus. If we included hockey, we'd have to include Arena Football, MLS, National Lacrosse League, "Pros vs. Joes" and "Real World/Road Rules Challenge." (Thanks Chris for reminding me that I wanted to write about this). At first, I was outraged, but then I realized, he was right. Whoever decided to make this game in the middle of the week on a network that has a very small footprint compared to a national network is an idiot. The ratings were horrible. Down over 70% from the previous All Star Game.

So where does that leave the league. Well, the game is better than it's been in years. There are no more ties and the shootout is exciting (though I'd personally like to see 10 minutes of 4-on-4 followed by 10 minutes of 3-on-3 before we went to a skills competition to decide the games). Games are going to start showing up on NBC now that Football season is over and it will be a good stretch until the playoffs. But this is an extremely uphill battle. There needs to be something done to legitimize this league - to put it back as one of the big four. Some have suggested that contraction is the key. I don't argue that it might help the overall level of play, but which teams to cut? Allienating fans will not endear the league to people. Keeping the players visible as they have been is key. Market the youngest stars (like Crosby and Ovechkin) and getting more exposure on ESPN (allow it to carry in-progress highlights) might all be ways to make this league what it once was. Otherwise, there is a chance it could just remain a tier-two sports league.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Thoughts on the Cowboys Search

Any minute now, this particular blog will be out of date and some of the thoughts have already been put aside, but I'm gonna offer my thoughts anyway.

First of all, I was one who advocated Bill to leave in the first place. His thing had run out here and he was tired and ready to be put out to pasture. There is no question that the Bill Parcells era was a failure. Two playoff appearances and zero victories has to be considered a failure. The talent on this roster is unquestionably improved, but not as much as I expected. Did he hit on a offensive lineman in the draft? Ok, enough of that, let's look at the search itself.

Let me tell you what I don't want. I don't want a college coach (evidently I don't have to worry too much about that). The learning curve is just too great. Besides Jimmy Johnson, how many strictly college coaches have come in and done a great job? The list of those who struggled are much longer: Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, and Butch Davis are just a few of the examples of successful college coaches who couldn't get it done in the pros. I might be interested in Charlie Weiss, because of his success with New England, but his success at Notre Dame has been middling so far. There's no gaurantee in my mind that he will get it done in the pros. Bob Stoops, Mack Brown, Tommy Tuberville, etc. doesn't interest me in the least. I'd even be leary of Pete Carrol. He was terrible in the pros before being pulled off the scrap heap at USC. Now he can pay, err, recruit the best players. (Maybe it would be a smooth transition for Carrol after all). Even so, I don't understand why they would want to leave. They have too much control, get paid too much money, and have more margin of error.

Another kind of coach I don't want is a retread. Here's where I'm getting nervous. Spares like Wade Phillips, Steve Marriuci, Denny Green, Dave Wannstedt, and yes, Norv Turner fall way down on my list. Phillips and Turner, who have gotten interviews so far, are great coordinators, but haven't pulled it off as head coaches yet. I honestly expect Turner to be named head coach by the end of the week. His relationship with Jerry Jones, Troy Aikman, the obvious connection the glory years make him the obvious candidate. He wasn't great in Washington (49-59, 1-1 in 6+ years), but you can't really hold the travesty at Oakland against him (9-23 in two years). He is only retread that I'd consider. I'm not real happy about it, but it could be worse. I think he has as good a chance as any of bringing out the best in Tony Romo, which should be the priority.

The coach I really want to a young coordinator who can bring a new positive energy to the Cowboys. The ideal candidate to me is Ron Rivera or Jim Caldwell. As underwelmed as I was with the Bears defense in the Super Bowl, they did have a dominate defense the last couple of years. Jim Caldwell is the Colts quarterbacks coach. I had never heard of Caldwell before Rick Gosselin mentioned him in the paper the other day, but that's the kind of head coach I want for the Cowboys. The scary part of this is that you might end up with Chan Gailey, but you might also get Bill Cowher. With Norv Turner, you kinda know what you're gonna get.

Jason Garrett is a wild card. I'm not sure what to do with him. He's a little inexperienced for head coach as he has no coordinator experience, but everyone seems to think he's close to being ready. If he's the head coach in waiting, perhaps a retread (Turner) is the best option. But I'll leave you with this question: If the Cowboys are successful, as we all hope they are, will they be able to move Turner out or will Garrett end up somewhere else?

XLI: The commercials

What can I say, the game went exactly according to my plan, at least after the opening kick off returned for a touchdown and Peyton's INT. It's like I'm psychic or something reading my last paragraph in my game prediction. Now let's get to the real hot topic: the commercials.

Except this isn't the hot topic it used to be, and hasn't been for a couple years. I think Super Bowl Commercials are the new Saturday Night Live--they hit their peak five or ten years ago, and have been in steady decline ever since. I'm not sure if this is another case of 'good ol' days' syndrome, or unrealistic hype and expectations or the downside of political correctness. Likely it's a bit of all three.

But it is what it is, so let's start at the bottom. CareerBuilder was the biggest loser with three ads that were all weak. Only one, 'Performance Evaluation', was even moderately funny, and none of them had a punchline. They just rambled on for thirty seconds. . .

Revlon Colorist with Sheryl Crow. I know they are trying to pull in the female viewer, but I don't care about how long Sheryl Crow's color lasts or how her paid road colorist feels about it.

Another big loser, and maybe this is just me, was the movie ads. Pride and Hannibal Rising both look like they could be good movies, but if you're spending $2.6 million for a thirty second spot, shouldn't the ad be something special, not just another film trailer?

Enough of the bad--let's move on and look at my top three.

Number Three Nationwide with Kevin Federline. I know this commercial took some heat from the fast food industry with their claim that it was insulting to their workers. Please. The commercial did not insult anyone, it merely played on the obvious fact that fast food workers make less than has-beens before they even-weres who used to be married to has-been pop princesses. Nothing wrong with the job, it just doesn't pay much. And I read Fast Food Nation. Don't get me started on the politics here. The commercial was funny. I'm certainly no fan of K-Fed, but I can appreciate it when someone can poke a little fun at themselves. I particularly liked K-Fed's return to reality:

K-Fed: What. . . rollin' VIP. . . what. . . rollin' VIP. . .

Manager: Federline!

K-Fed (still in perfect time): What?

Number Two As usual, Budweiser had the best commercials. At this spot we have Bud Light's 'Rock, Paper, Scissors'. The idea of two men resorting to a children's game to decide who gets the last beer is funny. So is the sudden, unexpected slapstick, but the kicker that you might have missed if you laughed too early is the comment afterwards:

'I threw paper.'

'I threw a rock.'

Number One Bud Light again, this time with the 'But he's got an axe' ad. Funny concept, good delivery by the axeman: 'It's a. . . bottle opener.' And yet again, the second punchline might have been missed, when the axeman now in the backseat takes over the girl's role and says, '...and a chainsaw!'

And that's the lesson for CareerBuilder: a simple but clever concept is a winner.

All commercials can be found at youtube.com/superbowl.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Super Bowl Review

Well, I didn't get the pick up before the Super Bowl. But I picked a Bears win. I figured Devin Harris would score a touchdown and Peyton Manning would throw a pick or two. What I didn't realize was that Rex Grossman would take sucking to a whole new level. Even his completions were terrible throws that more often than not were behind the receivers. The second intercerption was the ridiculous. Between the picks, the fumbles, and the sacks he almost single handedly lost the game.

I was also thoughly underwelmed with the Bears defense. They hit the Colts hard a few times, but they weren't able to get consistant pressure on Manning. I had been pulling for Ron Rivera to get an interview for the Cowboys HC or DC job, but I don't think this game should go on the resume. I'm not sure if it was Colt execution or Bear problems, but the Colts moved the ball at will. At least they didn't give up a bunch of touchdowns at keep the game relatively close until Grossman pucked up his dinner all over the wet Miami field.

I should say nice things about Peyton Manning, though I don't think he was the MVP. The MVPs were the Addai and Rhodes. They ran up the middle at will and I think every tackle Urlacher made was 7 yards downfield grabbing ankles. Maybe the MVPs should be the offensive line. But seriously, unless Peyton was 5-25 with 3 picks and 2 fumbles, if the Colts won he was gonna be MVP.

Howdy and Super Bowl Pick

So, thanks to Chris for letting me get in on his 110 Percent blog. I'm really looking forward to this. We all will do the best that we can and just give our best effort each column and we'll just see what happens...

My pick for today, the Colts by at least 4.


Super Bowl XLI: And the winner is...

What better way to launch a new sports blog than with the Super Bowl. There is without a doubt no bigger single sporting event, but there is much debate over who will win. That's where I come in: I've got the key stats for the big game. Let's break it down and let the numbers decide.

  1. Defense Indy has improved in the playoffs and has some playmakers. But defense is what Chicago is all about. Whether you look at yard or points, Chicago was a top 5 defense while Indy was in the bottom third, including dead last against the run. Advantage Bears

  2. Rushing It's a close one here. Both were middle of the pack in the NFL this year. Indy might have a better future at the position with Addai, but Chicago has a slight advantage this year with Jones carrying the load. Advantage Bears

  3. Turnovers Indy was good with a +7 this year. Chicago was better at +13. Advantage Bears

  4. Time of Possession Another stat with both teams hovering around the middle. And another stat with Chicago holding a slight advantage with their 30:30 to Indy's 29:30. Advantage Bears

  5. Penalties Chicago racked up 923 penalty yards this year, good for eighth most in the league. Indy had a more disciplined 718 yards, ranking them twenty-second. Advantage Colts

  6. Coaching Both coaches have done a great job this year. But Dungy's done it more. Advantage Colts

  7. Weather Not usually a factor in the Super Bowl, but the chance of rain for the game tilts the scales in Chicago's favor. Advantage Bears

  8. Intangible Media Curse Not the player it usually is in the Super Bowl this year. About the best we can get is the QBs for each team. According to the media (and history), Manning can't win the big one, but Grossman shouldn't even be his team's starter. Advantage Colts

So there you have it: Bears 5, Colts 3.

But I just can't do it. I can't make myself believe it. Sometimes you have to know when to throw out the numbers and go with your gut, and if Rex Grossman playing in the Super Bowl isn't that time, I don't know what is.

Besides, as good as Chicago's defense is, it's weakness is against the pass (11th). Peyton's going to score on them and force them to play from behind, putting the game on Rex's shoulders. Indy is surprisingly good against the pass (2nd) and will force Rex to make mistakes.

Final score: Indy wins 23-13.