Wednesday, June 30, 2010

You're Welcome

1. Spain: The Nation with a best/worst chance to win the World Cup (very talented, but they have never won before and the number one team in the world before the World Cup have never won) came out in the Iberian showdown, presented by Ro-Tel International, and beat Portugal, led by the newest Nike Write the Future curse victim Christiano Ronaldo.  Portugal is an incredible team and plays incredible defense but the Spanish made one more great play by Xavi and David Villa.  They get an easier quarterfinal vs Paraguay then onto the Final Four if they win.  Very quietly, Spain is getting past their first game loss to the Swiss and playing like we expect them too.

2. ESPN: The NBA Finals were one of the best and most watched of the last 20 years, and ESPN was behind a lot of it.  Then, ESPN got exclusive rights for the World Cup and those ratings have been very solid, combined with views on  The US national team's success only helped the ratings for the sports super power, with most games being played when people are at work or sleeping.  Now, add on top of all that the NBA Super Free Agency Ultra Mega Scramble and ESPN is having a very good summer.

3. Chicago White Sox:  This sucks.  The White Sox, who have incredible pitching, finally put it together and are winning games in bunches.  Sure, some are against my Cubs, but it is impressive nonetheless.  The White Sox need some serious hitting (their DH, the fall off the face of the Earth Andruw Jones, is hitting .199) but if they can find some, they could be a serious threat in the AL Central.  The Royals and Indians are awful, but the Tigers and White Sox will have a battle royal between two .500 ball clubs to try and make the playoffs.  The White Sox went from sellers to buyers and are only 1.5 games back of first, and are my pick to finish behind the Twins in the Central.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cubs: Time To Blow This Up

With the recent blow up by Carlos Zambrano most Cubs fans have to be fed up with this version of the team. The window to win for this team shut last season. The pitching is still very good, but the hiring of Rudy Jaramillo has not panned out for the Cubs and their bats. Here is what the Cubs need to do.

Trade Kusuke Fukudome: He has some value and can hit far better than his rookie campaign. He is a nice bat for a contender and could bring some decent prospects to Chicago. He has a rough time in Chicago, and it really hasn’t been his fault.
Trade Derek Lee: He has been linked to trade rumors this season, including to LA Angels of Anaheim presented by Pepsi. He is nearing the end of his contract and his career but still has some good baseball left. He is probably the best piece the team has.

Trade Lilly and Silva: Silva has good value after virtually getting him as a piece in the Milton Bradley deal. He can bring back some solid players and at this point, all the wins and players he brings is gravy for getting rid of Bradley. His contract is big though. Lilly is pitching really well but his record won’t show it. He is healthy and could bring some nice value on the market. Dempster has too much left on his contract to move, and now Zambrano is virtually untradeable. He hasn’t pitched well for 3 years and has had whine parties too often. I am really getting sick of his antics. If he pitched better I would be ok but he is really awful.

Everybody else is on the market: I would even consider trading Soriano is we got a nice enough deal. Otherwise, I would keep him around for the leadership. He is actually putting together a nice season. Ramirez may be too washed up to trade. We don’t need to trade guys for the sake of it. The minors are finally starting to produce some talent (Castro, Colvin) and loading it with more talent can only help. We don’t have to build from within; we are the Cubs, top payroll in the NL. But an influx of young talent can go a long way. The Red Sox need home grown guys, and the Yankees can’t buy a team like they used to. This is going to take time fix, and the Cubs will probably go light in free agency for a few years. Even in this economy the Cubs make enough money to spend all they want, they will always be profitable. They have done all this spending without an owner for a while and the team could be in transition.

Don’t fire the GM or Pineilla: Hendry has done a nice job stockpiling talent. His free agent signings have been too much money and he has whiffed on some mightily (Bradley). But, he has put together a great pitching staff and his youngsters will only continue to contribute. I don’t like that he’ll have to get another manager, but he is better than any other GM on the market. With Piniella I would keep him until the end of the season. It does us no good to fire him. Maybe the youth could put together a march to respectability by the end of the year. He can be let go afterwards, unless he really impresses. He just looks lethargic and uninterested. Alan Trammell should get the first look at the new manager. It has been ages since the AAA Tigers lost 119 games under his watch. The team then barely improved their personnel and he won more games and got fired. He is a good manager and has been with the Cubs as a bench coach for some time. I think his rah rah positive coaching style could be good for the younger Cubs. Rothschild definitely stays, Jaramillo should as well. He needs more than one year.

Of course none of this will happen until after the All-Star break. It may be a little emptier in Wrigley this year, but that’s a good sign. Cubs’ fans have been warming up to winning for the last decade and now to expect greatness (without receiving any) from their lovable losers. It could be a busy deadline for the Cubs and a busy offseason as well. Luckily, we have the resources and talent to move to make this rebuilding far more tolerable.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Thoughts From My Desk: World Cup

Soccer: They have got to get some changes to the sport. I know they haven't changed since the 1870's but I think some new additions are needed. The refs have to start calling simulation (diving) more. It is really turning off a lot of fans over here (and abroad I'm sure) and the game could benefit. Sure, basketball is pretty bad too, but its no where as bad as some of the soccer acting. Getting rid of that, and simulated injuries (to kill time) needs to happen before Brazil 2014. Some refs crack down on it more, but still its getting really bad.

Also, like every other sport in the world, soccer needs to get a form of video review. Even baseball did, and that sport is just as old as soccer. The system should be at least to review goals, if they crossed the line, offsides, etc. FIFA likes to create controversy and I respect that, but I'd rather get calls right than be upset about a bonehead call. FIFA says they don't want to slow down a game with a review, but its OK to lay on the ground like you just got shot and get carried off on a stretcher only to pop back up and walk back on defense.

England: English fans are just like Notre Dame fans, only meaner and drunker. They expect greatness and nothing else every year, but they always disappoint. They point to their high paid, short tenured coaches and great recruiting talent for reasons to win, but the players have no desire. Then, when they get beaten by a lesser talented team, they want to blow it all up and start again without looking at the real reasons they are overrated. England just wasted a great generation and will have a real tough time doing well in Brazil.

France, Italy: Both nations thought experience would win, but both were embarrassed. The younger squads (Germany, Argentina) are doing far better. Italy played their game and was beaten, and France was the biggest mess in sports. Meanwhile, South America is killing teams. Has the rest of the world caught up to Europe? Possibly, but Europe did itself no favors putting out squads that had a razor thin margin of error.

US:  Not to beat a dead horse, but the US really wasted an opportunity  Saturday.  With a win, the US had a direct path to the Final Four and could have sparked more interest in the sport here.  And, in a match up versus Brazil or the Netherlands (most likely) the US could have pulled off a miracle, or at worst play in the Third place game.  That would be best case, but still.  They played awful and Bradley did himself no favors with his lineup problems.  Still they took the game to extra time.  The team will probably be younger and better for 2014, but the building has to start now.  If the players don't have confidence in Bradley, hes out.  Can they get farther, or have they peaked under this coach? 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Post Game Thoughts: US vs. Ghana

It sucks to be eliminated by the same team in two straight World Cups.  Really sucks.  But let us look at the fallout from this game.
Falling behind early is getting old.  Down 1-0 after five minutes is really hard on any team.  But to expect the US to win or draw 75% of the time is too unrealistic.  Whats the reasoning?  It’s coaching.  I am in no way calling for Bradley’s job.  Not one bit.  He should get an extension.  But if you can’t get your team to fix a terrible flaw, to get them up for a game, that’s on you.  The defense isn’t that bad.  This game it was starting Ricardo Clark out there.  He made a terrible bonehead play and gave up a huge juicy turnover.  Maurice Edu, who came in after 30 minutes (using a sub we could have used in extra time) replaced Clark and played much better.  The second half was far different, as the US outplayed Ghana but it just wasn’t enough.  The Yanks just can’t finish their chances.
 Findley was nonexistent all game as well.  Start Edson Buddle, who had a hot hand (foot?) and could have given a spark, something Findley didn’t do all tournaments.  Feilhaber played very well, bringing his energy and some good scoring chances.  I like not starting Onyewu, although he has incredible talent, he would have been burned.  Gomez played decent coming in.  The replacements were pretty good, but were also to cover Bradley’s mistakes in the beginning. 
Hopefully the US can build from this.  I am not happy or satisfied with this result.  This team was better than Ghana and could have advanced farther.  They have a lot of potential and are building talent.  But we can’t just look at this and say “well we did a good job and got this far”.  Losers say that, and we need to start being a winner soccer team.  Let’s see the fan reaction.  It’s easy to root for a winner, but we’ll see how many more fans we gained.  The MLS will get its stars back and the All-Star game vs. Manchester United will be a good launching point for the league to benefit from this.  Soccer needs to take notes from the NHL this year.  An incredible Olympics and a Cinderella US squad led to more viewers, more ticket sales, more merchandise sales, more website hits, more sandwiches named after players.  The NHL built off of the Olympic popularity by marketing their stars to new fans.  The MLS has a tougher time of accomplishing this, but it can happen and will help.  It won’t propel it past the Big 4 (football, baseball, hockey, basketball) but that’s not what it should aim for
Where to go to now?  It’s hard to tell.  The roster will look so much different in 4 years.  The US has some awesome exhibitions coming up (Brazil in August) and will schedule a lot more games against the world’s best. We’ll quickly see how big of an impact this run had for US soccer.  I bet many of the players will get upgrades to better leagues and bigger teams.  Just keep building and moving in the right direction.  The future is very bright for US soccer.  Right now it is just rough.

Friday, June 25, 2010

US Soccer: Bring on Ghana

Lets take a second to reflect.  We were three minutes from being eliminated and looking worse than when we did in 2006.  In the previous games we displayed more luck than talent.  Against Algeria, the Yanks displayed more talent and heart than ever seen before by an American team in the World Cup.  It all finally paid off in the goal heard round the world. 

Landon Donovan has shown in the past four years that he has all the leadership and talent needed to lead the Americans deep into the tournament.  Everything is going right for him right now, and he may even get back together with his estranged wife Bianca Kajlich (shes on Rules of Engagement, I avoid CBS at all costs) but I hope he worries about that till about, oh, July 12th.  He's right, hes had a rough 4 years (swine flu, David Beckham, rough qualifying, Mexico hates his guts) but its all starting to work out and it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

US Soccer has transformed so much over the last 20 years.  Taking a look back, the US team got third place in the first World Cup in 1930, in a tournament we wouldn't recognize nowadays.  Then a last place finish in 1934 led to a 16 year drought.  Then, like the revolutionary war, a bunch of farmers and cooks beat the professional redcoats English limeys 1-0.  Then, the Yanks disappeared until 1990.  The team was quite a mess, playing a few games here and there, being a franchise in NASL, and generally being a laughing stock of the world.  The team started to build back when they put together a young improving team and was rewarded the 1994 World Cup.  The MLS was started in 1993 (started play in 1996) and things were looking up.  Every MLS teams signs young American talent to develop and sell the European teams (Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley), with academies and decent minor league system in place.  The popularity has never been better, the league is expanding soon to 20 teams (three in Canada) and the league may even reach profitability soon.  Big matches like Wednesday vs Algeria only help to expand the fan base and recruit bigger sponsors for the team.  Look at the team in 1998 (all MLS vets) to right now.  Almost all the players on the current US squad play in Europe (or have at some point) and the English Premier League is starting soccer academies in the growing US market.  Things are only going to get better for the Stars and Stripes. 

History lesson over.  It is Summer, and because Summer credits cost so much more at WMU, I just can't hand out free knowledge.  Tomorrow is an interesting game.  Going into the tournament, I wanted out of the group play plus one win.  Now, here comes Ghana with a chance at redemption.  Ghana is far younger, faster and have more support in South Africa, but the underdog US team needs this to fuel their spirit.  Its a very winnable game, and once again the US will be called upon to beat a team it should.  Like my beloved Michigan State Spartans, winning games we should is pretty tough.  But this time, Donovan and company will bail the team out a la Bret Swenson.  US 2 Ghana 1.  GO YANKS!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

You're Welcome! USA Soccer Edition

1.  Landon Donovan: The face of US soccer Landon "Legend" Donovan put in the game winner versus Algeria in stoppage time.  The goal will go down in US soccer history as the one that changed the US fortunes in this tournament, maybe more.  He started the comeback against Slovenia, and got the winner here after the US squandered tons of chances all game.  He was quiet most of the game, but he made the biggest play on the biggest stage. 

2. Bob Bradley:  After the US passed on Klinsman for team coach, people saw the Arena assistant and thought "lets see what this guy can do."  Well, he took us to the Confederation Cup finals, beating Spain and almost beating Brazil.  Then, we won CONCACAF over a charging Mexico, leading us into the World Cup.  Then he must have written some great halftime speeches,  because the US evened up against Slovenia in the second half and won against Algeria in stoppage time.  His tactics have been solid and has earned himself an extension. 

3. Jozy Altidore: The beast on the US team, he was probably the Man of the Match against Algeria, because all he didn't do was score the winner.   He physical play and yellow card magnet style helped the Yanks win the match.  He hasn't been scoring much yet, but he has played very well with all the pressure on the 20 year old.  He just needs to cash in on his chances, and he will be a force for the US for years.

Honorable Mention: England, despite their team unity problems, Wayne Rooney not showing up and other team headaches, advanced with a win over Slovenia, who probably played the best out of Group C.  England has all the talent in the world, but like Germany, Italy and Spain and France, haven't put it together.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

US Soccer vs Algeria

Tomorrow the United States plays another "most important game ever"  in a match vs Algeria to decide whether the Yanks move out of group play and move on to the elimination round.  The US could have won or lost both games they have played in, and needed some breaks to get to this point.  Still, they are in the position any team would want to be in right now.  Win and advance.

The Worst:  The US gives up another early goal but the defense of Algeria (1 goal in 2 games) keeps the offense shut down as the Algerians closed up space and play for the win.  Then in the other game England bails themselves out of a France like situation and beats Slovenia.  The US blows an incredible opportunity to advance in an easier group and goes home with a sense of failure.  Its 2006 all over again, as the US had a chance to win and move on after tying a world power and doesn't cash in.

The Best:  The US wins, and England wins too.  The US wins by more goal differential, winning the group with England coming in second.  Then the US goes onto the elimination stage with the confidence of a win, against Ghana, the Group D second team.  The US beats the young Ghana squad for revenge in 06.  Onto the Elite 8, the US now digs in and holds on for dear life. 

What will happen:  The US and Slovenia win, with Slovenia winning the group.  With the second place finish, I would bet the US faces Germany in the elimination stage, another team the US wants to beat to pay them back for 2002.  The US can beat them, but will they is another question.  Algeria takes pride out of tying England.  England goes back disgraced with a lot of questions. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lets Not Go After This Haynesworth Guy

A lot of Lions fans love names.  Signing names sometimes works, as our free agent acquisitions (Bill Schroeder, James Stewart) are usually lackluster.  But signing Haynesworth wouldn't help the team at this point.

He would be a headache and a distraction and for any price I wouldn't trade for him.  Sure, his old coach is here but that doesn't guarantee he would play well or hard at all.  Last year he got his paycheck and played awful in a 4-3 last year.  Now he doesn't want to play in a 3-4.  Where does it end?  He'll not want to play in Cunningham's system, he won't want to play in a dome, he won't want to wear blue uniforms.  Now that he got his money hes a different player and person. 

Before you pull up that article I wrote for why the Lions should sign TO, there is a difference.  Owens shows up to camp, plays and trains hard and doesn't change when he gets money.  Hes an older player who would be a piece, as he was in Buffalo last year, where he was very quiet.  He would sign with the Lions, for a good deal, practice and play hard during the season.   Haynesworth would be a disaster.

With Suh, Hill and Williams, the Lions have a good rotation at defensive tackle and Haynesworth would be holding up the progression of Suh and Hill.  Also, what would it cost?  I'm guessing a second or third round pick, which still can bring a piece for out system.  Any way you slice it, its not worth it. 

Lions fans have to stay the course and not reach for a gamble at this point.  We have signed, drafted or traded for some serious talent upgrades.  Right now Haynesworth would throw a wrench in our plans.  Maybe if we were a better, more established team at this point but right now it would be a terrible addition to the Honolulu Blue and Silver.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

You're Welcome! Tim Howard is Number 1

1. Tim "Homeland Security" Howard: He came up big and bailed out the US multiple times (insert your own political jokes here) holding a 1-1 draw versus the Tea drinkers across the pond.  He made many of those saves with "screwed up ribs" (its a medical term) and got a painkiller shot during halftime.  He'll do that as well against those arrogant Slovenia Little Dragons (real nickname) who if you confused them with Slovakia, its basically the same country so don't feel bad.  Here is the Wikipedia for Slovenia if your bored.  But Mr. Howard, who was offered a chance to play with the Harlem Globetrotters, is essential to any US run in the World Cup.  Plus, hes the best in the World.

2. The Big 12:  They avoided a nuclear apocalypse to their conference (Book Of Eli came out this week) by selling their soul to Texas.  The Longhorns will get their own TV network and get more of the cut from Big 12 revenue "sharing."  Even on ESPN it was shown on Sportscenter as "Texas and other 9 teams stay in Big 12."  They need to get two more teams to get back their Title game, which brings in 12-15 million dollars a year (or 11-14 million dollars for Texas).  Its a sad deal and will only last until the next pretty girl walks into the dance.

3. The German National Soccer Team:  Die Mannschaft absolutely destroyed the Socceroos, a talented team that just had a bad game.  With Captain and star player Michael Ballack out after messing up his ankle, the Germans said Auf Wiedersehen to Australia and showed they can still win it all.  Now they have to carry it to their next game against Serbia and game 3 versus Ghana.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

NFL Needs To Step It Up Even More

Vince Young, who if you read ESPN the Magazine (I'm a subscriber) seemed to really turn it around.  The article was all about how is going to be a leader in the locker room with the loss of many veteran players.  He is having a kid, and all of last season we saw that he was turning it around.

Then the nightclub incident.  Another athlete was in a club and got in trouble.  You see a trend?  Young was caught on tape in a scuffle, because he felt disrespected.  Really?  Disrespected?  What are you four?  You walk away and leave the person looking dumb.  You know whats really disrespectful?  Missing the entire season of your underwhelming career because some guy made fun of your University.  I know VY has had a rough go, losing his mentor and being benched, only to see Kerry Collins lead the team to glory.  But he should have learned from this, which he did not.

We all know about Roethlisberger too.  I'm not going to say whether he did it or not.  My point is that he didn't learn from his past mistakes.  He should have seen he avoided a big bullet with his first accusation, and been a hermit for a while.  But he went to party with college kids and bad things happened. 

Donte Stallworth killed a guy and is playing after a year off.  Michael Vick was in dogfighting and got two and a half years in jail. 

Now, I think players should get second chances, and I don't really mind if teams still want to sign them and they keep playing after a third or fourth chance.  But the punishments have to get tougher or the league will quickly get worse, with players getting in more trouble.  I really don't want my favorite league to be run by felons.

First offense can be lighter than the second punishment.  Everybody makes mistakes, and you are a pro athlete with a target on your back.  After that, its on you.  Big Ben could miss 4 games this season, the same as if he smoked marijuana and failed a test.  That doesn't make sense to me at all.  We should see more year suspensions and after two or three of these guys mess up, people will get the point.  For every Drew Brees, we get a Ben Roethlisberger.  For every Michael Strahan, we get a Vince Young.  The NFL needs to get on this now, and continue there efforts to make this league the best in the world.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

US Soccer

Today the United States played to a draw with England.  Sure, the Yanks needed (a very 2006 World Cup vs Italy) style goal when the English goaltender Robert Green misplayed a ball and let in a Clint Dempsey shot late in the first half.  But, the US outplayed the number 3 team in the world and had a shot to win near the end with a Jozy Altidore shot.  Altidore, using his linebacker size and wide receiver speed to get an advantage before launching a shot that hit off the bar, saving Green from more backlash.  Jay Demerit and Oguchi Onyewu played incredible defense, and Tim Howard cleaned up the rest of the mess.  Howard, the quarterback of the defense, he yelled out signals to US to watch for the extreme skill of the Three Lions. 

Does this show us anything about US soccer?  The US did have more fans at the match and the Star Spangled Banner was sung louder than any anthem at the World Cup yet, besides the hosts.  The US has improved to the point where the majority of the players make their living in Europe, including stars Howard, Donovan and Dempsey in the English Premier League, the best in the world.  The US has improved to the point where they can break a huge winning streak for Spain, almost beat Brazil and tie England.   Years ago, that would be virtually impossible.  I can go on about the growing MLS or tickets sales, but fans don't translate into wins on the World Stage.  The players are better than ever and are proving it against England.

Now the US needs to build off the last few years of success.  They have to advance past the group and I would say with a game in the group of 16.  Making the elite 8 would show the world this isn't a fluke.  I would be happy with advancing to the knock out stage, but we need to keep to momentum going.  Great teams win when they are on the biggest stage.

Is the US a player on the global stage of soccer?  No, not yet, but they just put everyone on notice.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

You're Welcome!

1. Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce:  I know I am giving both a You're Welcome, but Joyce and Galaragga showed incredible class after a tough perfect game mistake.  Joyce blew the call, then defended his call to the death, saw a replay and apologized.  He was sincere, worked the plate the next day instead of taking the day off (MLB suggested him to do that) and did a great job.  Galarraga was even more impressive.  He handled losing immortality with even more class, and didn't complain or yell once, not even on the field.  Sometimes, events transcend sports.  This is one of those moments.  Sure, Galarraga pitched a perfect game too, but this is almost as important.  Also, two honorable mentions.  One for Selig not changing the call and opening up a can of worms, and two to Chevrolet for giving Armando a beautiful 2010 Corvette convertible.

2. Stephen Strasburg:  This kid is special.  14 Ks in your first start, mowing down a (AAA) Major League lineup all at home in a packed house?  His poise was incredible for a guy who has been followed since he took off at San Diego State.  With his first win, the hype only grows.  He is the savior for the Nats and baseball in DC.  Now lets see what he does for an encore. 

3. Derek Fisher: Took over a critical Game 3 in the NBA Finals in the fourth quarter and scored 11 points, including an incredible camera busting lay-up and one.  Fisher is usually just a spectator to the Kobe show in the fourth quarter, but he took a one point lead and never looked back.  Sure, the 35 year old man can't cover Rondo, but he is showing the Lakers are far more than 2 players. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Conference Expansion: Who Does It Hurt Or Help The Most

The Pac-10 has taken over for the Big Ten in the making huge offers department. The Pac-10 has offered half of the Big 12 (or the entire Big 12) to join and increase revenue. The Pac-10 doesn't make a lot of television money compared to the Big 12, Big Ten or SEC. Outside of USC, who is going to get in a ton of trouble really soon, most Pac-10 teams are on the down in the last decade. They have trouble beating Mountain West teams in recent years. The Big Ten should expand, and the Big 12 will be ripped apart. Then the scraps will be picked apart by mid-major vultures. Here are programs who would be winners and those will be left behind.


Boise State: They need to get out of the WAC badly. If they ever want to compete for the National Title, they can't play San Jose State or Hawai'i for conference games. The logical choice is the MWC, although the Pac-10 would be a home run. Both would mean a year or two off from competing, but this is the only move they can make to succeed.

Pac-10: They need money to compete with the other conferences, and a larger fan base. They are basically stuck in California, Oregon and Arizona and those aren't great football states like the Midwest, Texas and the South. They have huge markets but need more power. Whoever they get, MWC teams, Big 12 teams, Boise State, it will be an improvement.

Independents: Notre Dame, Army and Navy are dinosaurs in football. They don't have a conference. Now, if the Big East sticks around (if the Big Ten doesn't rip it apart) ND and Navy could (and would) join the Big East in football, and still compete very well. Navy is a very good football program and ND will need a home. ND would fit better in the Big Ten, but with basketball ties, they could go that route. Army would fit best in the MAC. They should shoot for a mid major, they already play a lot of MAC teams and it would help the conference out. CUSA didn't work out, but they should be scared to try again.


Mid-Major Conferences: With this money grab, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Sure, television revenue could increase (with most games being on the conference's own network, ESPN will have to show somebody) but with these super conferences combining money, almost every school (above 90%) would increase their cash flow, get more attention and create more buzz on the ESPN talk machine. The Mid Majors will be represented less and won't get match ups with bigger teams because they can use intra-conference games (they'll have a ton of teams to pick from). College football could be turned into 4 conferences who matter and 4 who don't.

BCS: Hooray! Right? Well, with these ultra-conference the winners of each will truly be considered the best by the voters, and more elite match ups would mean the BCS will bury Cinderellas and. Could this mean the Championship winners all meet for a playoff? Maybe, in a few years. But the BCS will suffer, which will be celebrated by fans.

The Conference With The Scraps: Someone is going to lose on the Notre Dame, Texas, Oklahoma and MWC sweepstakes. You really want to be the ACC and get the Big East leftovers? Thats just expanding to keep up. It could get ugly. You have to take the good with the bad.

Expansion should be fun and create better football for all. It could take a year to start, maybe two, but within 3 years we will see all the fallout from this. In this economy, this will help the schools and bring some hype. When the dust settles, we will see where everybody stands. Until then, your guess is as good as mine.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

NBA Finals Preview With Nick Felver

Nick, who has written for STWWC before, was interviewed by myself concerning this year's classic Lakers vs Celtics NBA Finals.  Hes at least 87.3% better than Chris Webber at covering the NBA

1. Will both teams be well rested enough to see their best players play? Will one team be healthier than the other?

Even with both Conference Finals Series’ going 6 games, both teams have had roughly a week off to rest up and prepare for the championship round. Several players are banged up, notably center Andrew Bynum for the Lakers and Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo for the Celtics. Backup forward Glen Davis is coming off a concussion against the Orlando Magic and Rasheed Wallace has back issues. Laker superstar Kobe Bryant has been dealing with a variety of injuries throughout the season.

In spite of all this, it’s the FINALS. Everybody will be keyed up and ready to go. I don’t think either team has an advantage in terms of health as they are equally beat up, which is pretty common come playoff time. We could see a few more injuries in this series as these two teams have a very competitive history, having met in the 2008 finals (Boston won in 6).

2. Who has the deeper bench? Do the Celtics have the better starting lineup with the Big Three plus one?

The Celtics have a deeper bench by far. They can bring in a scorer in Nate Robinson who gives opposing guards a different look with his diminutive size and tremendous leaping ability. Tony Allen is a good defensive two-guard who will see a fair amount of time checking Kobe Bryant. Marquis Daniels and Michael Finley are capable scorers, and Finley brings more championship experience, having won a ring with San Antonio in 2007. Up front, the Celtics have the dynamic duo of Glen Davis and Rasheed Wallace. Both can shoot and defend. ‘Sheed knows how to get under the skin of opposing big men and I’m sure the Laker bigs aren’t looking forward to dealing with him. If we see Shelden Williams, either somebody got injured or somebody is losing by 30.

The Lakers have a bench full of role players. Lamar Odom is most versatile 6th man in the NBA. He logs the minutes of a starter and will continue to do so with Bynum facing knee troubles. Even when he’ not “lucky” as he was against the Phoenix Suns, Odom still finds a way to contribute as a scorer and rebounder. After Odom, the drop in talent is noticeable. Josh Powell and DJ Mbenga represent the Lakers reserve frontcourt. You haven’t heard of either of them for a reason. The guard tandem of Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar are decent and can keep the ship afloat when Kobe and point guard Derek Fisher need a breather. Luke Walton is a great role player but has been dealing with injuries all year. The wild card on the bench for the Lakers is guard Shannon Brown who has shown flashes of greatness this year but hasn’t been consistent. He could be a sparkplug in a Laker victory.

3. Does Phil Jackson add enough as a coach to be a huge factor in this series?

Of course! The man has won 10 NBA titles as a coach. Say what you will about him coaching Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in their primes, but those players didn’t win until Phil showed up. He is a master motivator and the triangle offense that he implements is impossible to stop. Boston coach Doc Rivers knows what he’s doing but compared to Phil Jackson it is no contest.

4. What Hall Of Famer will take over the series?
There are at least four guaranteed HOFers in this series and Boston has three of them. However, the Lakers’ Pau Gasol is also a potential HOFer and more than evens the balance with Boston’s aging stars. In crunch time, the ball will be in the hands of Kobe Bryant for the Lakers and Paul Pierce for the Celtics. Both are unstoppable end-of-game scorers with the ability to isolate and then shoot or drive. I have to give the edge to Kobe in light of his incredible performance in the Conference Finals against Phoenix. The man is playing out of his mind right now. He wants the Jordan comparisons and is on a mission to get the rings to fuel the discussion.

5. Who will win, why, and in how many games?

There are two key factors in this series. The first is the point guard matchup of Rajon Rondo versus Derek Fisher. Derek Fisher is 35 years old and couldn’t stay in front of Rondo if he had the Iron Man suit. Whether or not the Lakers can contain Rondo, who has had a phenomenal postseason, will be a major factor in the series.

The other key factor is the Kobe Bryant/Paul Pierce matchup. While they won’t be guarding each other for the most part (Paul Pierce, meet Ron Artest), their contributions will be measured against each other and they will be the playmakers at the end of the game. The player who steps up the most in end-of-game moments will decide the series.

I think that the bigs for the two teams will nullify each other. There is too much talent on both sides for one to overwhelm the other.

I think the Lakers will win in seven games in a close, physical series. They will find a way to stop Rondo either by committee or by putting Kobe on him. There will be joy in Lakerland and intense pressure on Phil Jackson to return for another three-peat.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

You're Welcome!

1. MLB Pitchers: In the ultimate year of the pitchers, we have seen 2 perfect games (Dallas Braden, Roy Halladay aka the best pitcher in baseball)  and a no hitter by Ubaldo Jiminez.  Jiminez is 10-1 with an ERA under one in June.  There hasn't been 2 perfect games in the Majors since 1880.  Carlos Silva is even 7-0.  I would have never believed you if you told me the scraps the Cubs got for Milton Bradley would win 7 games total, nonetheless 7 in the first 2 months.  It all comes down to many young pitchers maturing at the same time, and honestly, a cleaner, less juiced game.

2. Zack Follett: This guy has gone from camp body to possibly a starter for the Lions at LB this season.  With the OLB depth being Follett, Julian Peterson, Caleb Campbell, Ashlee Palmer, Landon Johnson, etc. (a bunch of special teamers) Follett has improved himself to possibly being a 3 down LB and someone who can play the nickel and fill a big hole.  Its been forever since a low draft pick has come through and filled a hole for Detroit.  Oh yeah, and hes funny, makes great videos and is easy to root for.  Easily a fan favorite, he could be a huge part of the team next year. 

3. People Who Don't Athletes Celebrating Too Much After Doing Their Job:  Kendry Morales was have a very good season and just hit a game winning grand slam for the Angels.  The Angels, who aren't having a great season rushed out to congratulate their hero.  Only problem is, during the celebration, he absolutely destroyed his ankle.  I feel bad for him, leg injuries suck.  But if you are of the persuasion that athletes shouldn't dance or celebrate, here is your ammo.  OchoCinco is a lot of fun to watch but if he danced his way to a torn ACL people would point out he should just flip the ball to a ref.  We all remember the Gramaticas and how they danced after an extra point.  I like watching these guys come up with fun ideas, but not at this price.