Wednesday, July 28, 2010

You're Welcome! Battling the Summer Dead Zone

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, this summer has been really busy for me.  As football season rolls in, MLB playoffs and hockey revs up, I'll have less to manufacture.  I have compelled to watch the CFL.  Enough said.  Until then we can all speculate about fantasy sports, training camps, etc.

1. Terrell Owens: He finally signed with a team, and not for much either.  After a season in Buffalo where he played well (55 catches 829 yards, 5 TDs on a terrible offense with a just as terrible QB situation) and was quiet (nothing to do in Buffalo) he joins the Bengals.  Bengals and Jets are taking the Raiders approach by signing and drafting anyone despite their personal problems (between them: Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes, Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, Cedric Benson, Carlos Dunlap).  TO will be the third wide out on a team with a stable of young tight ends and a commitment to the run.  This should be good for his show at least.

2. Dez Bryant's Stupidity:  Lots of media attention surrounded Dez when he was asked a question by Miami's staff, but it turned out he was the one who was answering with the wrong answers.  Now Bryant won't do a tradition at camp because "he didn't know about it."  Lets see how quickly the Cowboys get upset with him.  Carrying a vet's pads has been around since the 1920's when pro football began.  He better wise up and work on his image more (if its his fault or not) or he could get a bad label in the league.  Not that it matters, look above.

3. Chris Paul: CP3 is either trying to improve the Hornets, or get out of town quickly.  Injured all last year and seeing his Team USA friends sign to mega teams, Paul wants in on the action.  Darren Collison is breathing down his neck and Paul genuinely seems like he wants to win.  I would like to see him stay but this could be another NBA story we here about all year.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You're Welcome!

1. Cleveland Indians: Its tough to live in Cleveland, root for a team that trades 2 excellent pitchers and never see a winner. But the Indians have started red hot out of the All-Star break, destroying the Tigers and looking a lot better. Building with youth is hard, and in baseball money translates to wins. But for now, take this band-aid Cleveland.

2. NCAA: After handing down punishments to USC, it looks like Alabama and Florida are in the cross hairs as well. It looks like the era of college football and basketball players making money and everybody knowing about it over. In this world of Twitter and Facebook, its hard to cover things up like in the good old days where a man could a living playing college football. Rhett Bomar set off this heightened effort into looking into college players, and hopefully it continues.

3. Lou Piniella: Sweet Lou is calling it quits after this season, and baseball will surely miss him. He won the 1990 World Series with Cinncy, led the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to a then record of not being in last place and showed us yelling and throwing things makes you loved in America. He led the Cubs to back to back division titles in 07 and 08 (that just doesn't happen) and although the last two years haven't been that great, he will be in the Hall Of Fame soon enough, and hopefully in the broadcast booth even sooner.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

NCAA Football 2011 Review

Every year I buy the new NCAA Football video game for my Xbox 360. This year’s edition has added more features to make the game more realistic for the player. It also is trying to separate itself from the Madden franchise buy making more changes and trying to bring the college experience to the console.

NCAA Football used to be Madden but with college teams. This isn’t the case anymore, as mascots, fight songs, shaking stadiums make it feel more like Saturday, or Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday, on ESPN. They did borrow the Pro Tak tackling system from Madden and improved game play. New online dynasties and story lines make the game more realistic, and of course ESPN put its presentation and ideas all over the game.

The graphics are the best they have ever done. The helmets shine and have the logos well displayed. The detail is shown on all the uniforms are incredible. I was really surprised how well they improved. The stadiums are more crisp and clear, and the grass is like grass, and not green glass. The lighting was done very well. If you looking for a great game graphically, this is the best in the business.

The game play has been upgraded. No more players fusing or freezing and the blocking is better as well. Every team has its own style of offense, and the playbooks reflect such. Pro, Spread, Air Raid, Option, Multiple are all represented and the teams do have more of an identity. The online dynasty is backed and is beefed up. It’s more a part of the game then a feature. Regular dynasty is back and the recruiting has been streamlined so your time is eaten up by talking to a virtual recruit about how cool your weight room is. Road to glory is still a great option, with Erin Andrews (and her new contract) are back to lead you from High School glory to college immortality. You’ll have something to play for hours. With all these options it’s hard to get more play out of any game.

The locomotion feature is the new feature in the game, and it’s long overdue. Not everyone is Barry Sanders and can hit full speed on a dime. Now you have to hit full speed and cut to take it to the house. Plus the hit stick has been put in its place, as now you can’t always land a killer hit whenever you are kind of near a player.

Overall, besides horribly rating Michigan and Notre Dame (which got a little better but is still inflated to get the legions of fans to play the game and not complain how terrible their schools are) the game is the strongest ever. Sure Tim Tebow is on the cover, but if you can control your vomiting it’s the best college football experience ever made.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Big Ten Championship Location

With a Big Ten Championship game looming, cities start sending in the bids to host the colossal game. Let’s look at the best candidates for the gig.

Detroit: Detroit could use the boost, and the state is home to two big programs. Ford Field can provide a controlled atmosphere and can support the crowd. The turf would be different and not really Big Tenish, but it’s about selling tickets and more fans like sitting indoors in December than outdoors. The MAC Championship is already in Detroit, and they could do both, but most likely the MAC would be looking elsewhere.

Chicago: Soldier field would be a nice venue, its outdoors and it’s pretty centrally located in Big Ten country. Northwestern is pretty close by as well. I think it’s important to have the state with the championship to have a Big Ten school. Chicago would be a cool location to head to and could support the media coverage and Ro-Tel cook offs.

Indianapolis: Another closed stadium, which could open its roof if it was decent out. Indiana is home to Purdue and Indiana University (and someday Notre Dame?) and the city is large enough to hold the city, although it would be probably the most boring big city they could pick. Plus Indy already has the basketball conference tournament, so no city will probably get a monopoly.

Green Bay/Milwaukee: The weather would be brutal, but the tradition would be great at Lambeau. The city can’t hold the game, so the media and fans would be scattered. The Badgers call the state home and the Golden Gophers are close by. Milwaukee (Miller Park) is retractable but they would most likely close it. This isn’t really an option for me, since it’s a baseball park and not really designed for football.

Cleveland: Another consolation prize for losing the fallen King, Cleveland would have crappy weather but awesome atmosphere. Ohio State fans could travel easily and its not a bad location. The Browns won’t be playing a meaningful game after October and it would be fun for the game to be played in the mud and muck. The dark horse if they are looking for an outdoor venue.

Campus sites: If rotated, not a bad option. Some schools could get left out, like Indiana and Northwestern because of the smaller venues. And if there is home field advantage there will be some serious complaining. They are all open stadiums and can obviously support the game.

If I were in charge, I would rotate the NFL stadiums. You could sell your product all over the Midwest and really create some buzz by moving it around. If I had to pick one NFL city it would be Detroit. They would be the best option with Indy losing out to having the basketball tournament. I hope the rotating campus option will be explored, because if the Big Ten is about tradition like they say they are, this is the best option.

Friday, July 16, 2010

You're Welcome!

1. FIFA World Cup: 3rd most attended World Cup of time saw a great final with the Spanish bringing home a long awaited World Title. The Dutch played physical and dirty and lost the game, 3rd time in the finals all time. Sure, I'm sick of U2, diving, Queen's English like "fancy" and "fit" and vuvuzelas but overall it was a great tournament.

2. The National League: After not winning an All-Star game since 1996, The Senior Circuit came out and won a game on the bat of Brian McCann. The AL has been the superior league, not just in the All-Star game but in the World Series and interleague play. And they're the league with Kansas City! But the NL got some respect back on Tuesday. Now build your own streak.

3. The Super Heat: You just signed the new Big Three, the Bigger Three, the Dream team. Add Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller and the team starts getting too good. Pat Riley really really wants Erik Spoelstra to spend time with his family.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Arizona All Star Game Controversy

As we prepare for the All Star game in Los Angeles, Bud Selig and Major League Baseball have had to answer the question if Arizona should get its All Star game taken away after a new immigration bill has sparked controversy.  Despite what anybody thinks of the law (if you think I’ll discuss my views I’m sorry, this is a sports blog.  Google search “political blogs” if you want more commentary on US Law) the game should not be pulled, and the 2011 All Star game should remain where it was selected.
First some reasons are obvious.  If MLB pulled the game to punish the state for a law they see as un-American, innocent people would be punished as well.   Plenty of people would agree with MLB’s stance and want to see the game anyway.  And I doubt the Arizona government would be hurt enough to repeal the law because an All Star game was taken away.  Sure it helps the economy, but the impact wouldn’t prove any point besides MLB showing how it feels.  If I was Bud Selig, I would have a press conference stating the view of the law, talk about all the foreign players, Jackie Robinson, everything like that.  That way no innocent bystanders get hurt and the festivities go on as planned. 
Where does MLB get off telling us what is just and unjust?  The league would say that this is wrong, yet allowed steroids and drugs to run rampant to increase attendance.  Steroids that ruined records, killed players and set a terrible example to children growing up wanting to play this game.  Acting pious at a time like this doesn’t cover up the less than stellar record of baseball in the past.  Sure, they may hate this law, but they allowed black players not to be included for years, see owners treat players like cattle and watch gambling run amuck.  Now would not be the time for MLB to legislate morality.  They aren’t the best people to do such.  The All Star game and its festivities were to celebrate baseball in Arizona, the team, the fans and the players that make the sport even better.  Would it be fair to tell all those who work hard that because of a law, they don’t get the privilege anymore?
Leaving the state for Spring Training would be just as unfair.  People vacations all over Arizona to watch their teams warm up for the season, watch young players try to make their dreams come true and enjoy the weather.  Taking the cactus league away would hurt Arizona even more. 
Sports are a pastime, a pleasure, a way to escape from the sometimes harsh realities of everyday life.  Sometimes sports can bring out the best in people, uniting people of all backgrounds to a common cause.  Sometimes sports transcend it, being an example of hard work, perseverance, teamwork effort and heart.  Sometimes sports cross the line, good or bad.  Sometimes sports should know its place, and play ball.

Monday, July 12, 2010

All Star Game Evolution, Will The Home Run Derby Fade?

The Home Run Derby has had a tough few years, providing us with some great thrills but great disappointment in the second half of the season for many of the young stars. Now players are turning down the Derby for rest. Will it eventually be passed for something else?

The Derby is just like the All-Star game. It’s going to be more watered down as the years go on. Now the All-Star rosters are so big that many players casual fans don’t recognize make the squad. The expanded pitching staffs (that are necessary) mean close to 50 players can be selected as the best in their league. Then some get into the Home Run Derby, and before you know it you don’t have to accomplish much to become one of the elite.

MLB should be rewarded for the All Star game despite what has happened to the level of talent. The infamous 7-7 tie and the protection of the players have made the game almost unwatchable. Then, the World Series home field spin and increased fan voting made the game a pretty solid experience. It doesn’t compare to the NBA or NHL All Star games, with their incredible skill competitions, three point shooting, fastest shot, and above all else, and incredibly exciting high scoring contests. And the Pro-Bowl is pretty irrelevant.
The Home Run Derby is pretty confusing to me. You are a pro athlete, paid millions of dollars to hit a ball. Plenty of players have played in the Home Run Derby and they have had great seasons. Players used to love to have the honor of participating in this event. This is just another step in the direction of athletes not doing things because they don’t want to. Like they don’t owe this to the fans or are trying to have some fun. We just got done with the World Cup, where players train and spend a lot of time away from their families to represent their country in their sport. It just seems like a little less thinking about them and more for the fans would be welcomed. Injuries are one thing, but not wanting to do it “just because” is stupid.

The Home Run Derby and the All Star game won’t go anywhere, and it has gotten better. But this trend of people dropping out is only going to get worse and worse.

Players won’t ever be as serious about this exhibition as back in the 60’s. But it would be nice if they at least acted like it mattered to them, or they were honored to be selected for any of the events.

Friday, July 9, 2010

You're Welcome! The Fallout

Last night was pretty crazy.  LeBron turned into the biggest arrogant d-bag in the world, who had to do this TV special to break Cleveland's souls even more.  But, You're Welcome isn't just for good guys.

1. LeBron James:  Last night, LeBron went from hometown lovable star to ultra mega extreme a-hole.  The hour long special was an absolute joke, ESPN approving it was almost just as bad.  ESPN used to be really cool, now its like any other news station, who shamelessly promote and shove down our throats what stories they like the most.  The ESPN Talk Machine was in full effect last night.  The only coverage that got this right was Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

But, besides all that, LeBron became the biggest story in sports for a summer, perhaps longer.  And the emotion runs so strong, Cleveland fans are burning jerseys and denouncing him as king.  LeBron did just put himself in a position to win more than 1 NBA titles in his run in Miami.  I doubt they will win this year, but with some more work they could be incredible.

2. Dan Gilbert: The Cavs owner, the Ultimate Fathead and MSU Alum, shot off a salvo of words back to LeBron.  Saying things like he quit, the Cavs will win a title before Miami and the King cowardly betrayed his hometown, Gilbert's response was necessary and welcomed.  Gilbert tried his best to keep James, signing Shaq, courting Izzo, absolutely pouring cash into the team.  I really hope he turns around the Cavs, but its going to be rough for a while.

3. Miami Heat:  Wade, Bosh, LeBron.  They are bigger than the big 3.  They have little supporting cast, (recently signed Mike Miller, solid PG Mario Chalmers) but in five years they can build a team that should be able to win multiple titles.  Riley will coach at some point.  Trust me.  But the team is the talk of the sports world, for now and until 2015.  The Heat didn't know if they would resign Wade, then won the grand prix of free agency.

Honorable Mention:  Chris Broussard: Much like Wendy Nix was launched into America's TVs after she was covering Brett Favre's every move, Broussard was ESPN's pick to cover all things LeBron and NBA.  Although hes not very good at his job, he is going to be the guy for the NBA on ESPN for a while.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

ESPN And The NBA: How Embarrassing

ESPN did it again.  They built something up only to have it fail.  The NBA free agency is looking more and more likely that everyone will stay with their teams.  Dirk, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and D-Wade have all resigned.  Bosh signed to the Heat, and as everyone expected he latched on to a superstar.  Amar'e Stoudemire signed with a team that paid him more than he was worth and doesn't care if he plays defense or rebounds or does anything but run and dunk.  Besides LeBron, only Ray Allen (who could go), Carlos Boozer (who will go) and David Lee (who will go) remain, unless you count Shaq.

Don't get me wrong, I love speculation.  The NFL Draft is one of my favorite sporting events, because of all the talk and arguments about the moves that can be made.  But this is overkill.  I have heard about this for about 2 years now, and I had a very good idea where everyone was going. 

Even with Wade and Bosh signing together, they most likely won't get LeBron.  They just won't have the players.  Beasley isn't what he should be, but I like Chalmers at the point. The depth isn't there, and with LeBron they couldn't sign anyone else.  So LeBron's options would be:

A) Sign with Knicks for no reason other than endorsement money.  They won't win, and they won't win for a long time.

B) Sign with the Clippers because he can still get his Nike Money, and the team has some actual talent.  Plus LeBron vs Kobe would be pretty fun.

C) Sign with Chicago because the team is talented, more talented than the Clippers, and the deal would be very lucrative.  Plus the Bulls could sign another player, maybe Ray Allen.

D) Resign with Cleveland for the most cash, probably make a good amount of endorsement deals.  The team has talent. 

There for zero dollars, zero Chris Broussard, and about 3 minutes of your time, I told you everything ESPN could.  The only difference is they spent millions, asked every analyst (Alexi Lalas and Scott Van Pelt don't know where LeBron is going) and made every Sportscenter in the last year tough to stomach. 

The cherry on top is LeBron's TV special tomorrow at 9 pm.  A press conference would be fine.  Thirty minutes to say, I am going to play for ________ next season, then take some questions from your hand picked reporters/friends (a la Tiger Woods).  Its not for the kids or charity or whatever.  Its for LeBron.  Think if CC Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, Drew Brees or Brett Favre did this.  A stupid hour long TV special negotiated by LeBron's cabinet of advisers.  What a joke.  Please do what I am doing and not watch this.  Watch the replay the next day.  It isn't worth your time to sit around and watch a guy talk about how important he is and where he is going to display his talent.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

People I Less Than Appreciate In Sports

You ever sit around and watch a game with friends or family and a face pops up on the TV you just can’t stand?   Well, I’m human too and have some people in sports I just can’t stand.  And it always isn’t the opposing coach or another’s team star player who is also a jerk (Mike Hart).   Now when you are watching a sporting event and think “Boy, I wish I knew what Weston Corbitt thinks about this guy?” you’ll know.  And of course, if I don’t cover that person in this list, just ask and I’ll sure respond to you. I’ll save you the time to read why I don’t like Matt Millen.  You should really know by now.  Here are some other people I don’t like in the world of sports.
Cris Carter- He is a terrible analyst, resorting to the obvious after he makes stupid comments.  Lied about Mike Williams and Charles Rogers, so I automatically lost respect for him.  He yells louder the stupider the comment he makes, and is on a terribly overrated NFL pregame show.
Chris Berman- Is anyone sick of his stupid references and his bragging of his house on an island paradise?  His little catchphrases stopped being cool around 1985.  He is like Jack Nicholson, because he only plays a parody of himself at this point in his career.  Sadly, he does about everything on ESPN so I have to withstand his barrage of stupidity.
Mitch Albom- His writing is too poetic and he tries too hard.  Sure, he loves the state and Detroit, so I’ll give him points for that.  I prefer so many other sportswriters to him, and his well documented love affair with the University of Michigan is comical. He writes a lot of dumb articles too, I think he tries to go against the grain too much.  Probably a good guy, but no thanks.
Brent Musberger- Another guy who loves the Corn and Blue far too much.  He did go to Northwestern, so his reasoning is obvious.  Another guy who gets way too much credit for what he does, since there are people who are better.  Hes has been around forever, so the living legend crap applies here, a la Keith Jackson before he retired.  Some people find him fascinating, but not my cup of tea.
Shannon Sharpe- Annoying personality, loud and obnoxious.  Sure, he was a great Tight End back in the day, but hes pretty hard to tolerate.   Maybe I am biased, but the Fox Pregame is my favorite because people annoy me the less.  Sharpe just rubs me the wrong way, and he doesn’t add anything to my football experience.
Troy Aikman- “Totally agree with you” is a statement I hear far too often when the Joe Buck and Troy Aikman ruin my telecast.  He is too nice, and doesn’t say anything constructive or interesting.  On top of that, he was an overrated quarterback.
Chris Collingsworth- Always talks about holes and penetration in his telecasts.  Besides that, he is just rambles too much and adds nothing to the broadcast.  And yet, everybody at NBC loves him.  I was hating on him when he did the Fox Pregame.  He has Lane Kiffin syndrome, a guy who keeps getting good jobs for no reason.
Shawn Merriman-The “Lights Outs” dance is stupid.  Please stop. 
Jeremy Roenick- Is comically bad at covering hockey.  Didn’t like him much as a player and his cry fest after the Blackhawks won the cup was lame.  Remember Don Cherry owning him?  I sure do.
Vs- Awful hockey coverage, although they have improved since they first started.  They break out a “who’s that” analyst lineup and the pregame show is run out of a basement.  Bettman turned down the ESPN offer for this?  Vs makes me angry I don’t get CBC or TSN in my apartment for hockey coverage.