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My 2 favorite baseball meltdowns and their viedo breakdowns:

-Izzy Alcantara’s mound charge…

What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a classic example of an extreme reaction.  The batter is former Red Sox great Izzy Alcantara.  He was a key contributor to the Montreal Expos’s minor league system in which he blasted at least 27 home runs for four years.  He never played in the majors for the Expos, but found his way to Boston.  In 2002 he played most of his games for the Red Sox’s Triple-A affiliate the Pawtucket Red Sox.  During this season is when Izzy went Chuck Norris on innocent Jeremy Salazar.  Izzy had already seen one ball come a little too close for comfort and wasn’t about to take any shit from some Triple-A pitcher.  Unaware of the steam brewing in Izzy’s belly, Blas Cedeño pitched a second screamer near Izzy’s torso…ah, now there’s trouble in River City.  Having premeditated his entire course of action from pitch 1 to pitch 2.  Immediately following the inside pitch, Izzy turns and gives Salazar some Sweet Chin Music.

Was that a Shawn Michaels reference?

Seeing how Izzy just guillotined his catcher, Blas realizes that this is not the time to call bullshit on Izzy’s actions and decides to go with a projectile attack as Izzy charges at him.  We all can agree that Blas must have been using a lead glove or else he wouldn’t have bothered throwing it since baseball gloves couldn’t even injure the guy with glass bones and paper skin.

This guy is culturally literate…now a Spongebob reference!

Left unarmed, Blas is easily about to become Izzy’s personal rag doll…except Izzy whiffs with his Falcon Punch at Blas’s face.  Following the failed flail, Izzy realizes he’s ran into a bad situation as four more players from the opposing team are all within 70 feet of the pitcher’s mound.  He does a quick 180 to survey the entire infield and has the revelation, “I’m totally fucked”.  Blas, on the other hand, goes into to tough guy latino fighter crouch and shuffle before slowly meandering away from the action as both benches clear.  From there on the players dog pile on top of Izzy because apparently that’s how groups of people fight.  They just lay on top of one another.

-Mississippi Braves manager Phil Wellman literally loses his mind...

There comes a time when baseball managers need to blow off a little steam at the umpires.  Through calls like Jim Joyce denying Armando Galarraga a perfect game and Tim Welke’s questionable call this year we have learned umpires are more than human and sometimes stupid.

Yep, yep…He’s safe

It tickles the brain to consider what set Double-A manager Phil Wellman so far off the deep end as the video portrays, but the God of the interweb Wikipedia told me it was because his pitcher was ejected for using a “banned substance”.  Due to this decision, Wellman decides it’s time to blow off some steam.  He charges like an angry rhino from the dugout and commences the insanity with a gorgeously placed hat throw right at the ump’s feet.  He then yells for a while and tells the umpire about the $5 footlong deal at Subway.  Wellman thinks he has unshackled the umpire and allowed him to peek out of the cave for the first time.

Was that a Plato reference?

Unfortunately the ump is a Quiznos guy and this appears to send Wellman into an absolutely unparalleled rage.  He covers the plate with dirt.  Usually this symbolizes the manager’s frustration with the umpire’s strike zone, but Wikipedia doesn’t lie.  That makes this action by Wellman one of the craziest as it was completely uncalled for and honestly was a mockery to the frustration faced by many a manager.  Obviously, this meltdown has but begun as marches over to his next victim at third base.  He yells a bit longer and we see Chattanooga’s third base coach make an appearance.   He is pacing, holding his hands behind his back, and staring at Wellman in the international sign for “please hurry up, whackjob”.   Wellman then appears ready to steal third base because that’s what people do when they’re angry; however, he decides after 24 paces the base has become far too cumbersome a load and he tosses it gently to the edge of the infield.  He proceeds to do exactly what no other member of the human race would have consider at this point.  He marches toward the mound, but halfway he begins to increase his sneak rating instead of charging headlong into battle.

Stop: Yadam

He stealthily approaches the lifeless rosin bag.  He gives it a quick sniff just to make sure it isn’t a real grenade, pops the pin with his mouth, and then hurls it with uncanny accuracy at the home plate umpire.  Far too impressed by how accurate the throw was, the ump is left speechless.  He shouts some profanity and other, less offensive things.  Deciding his little tantrum is not humorous enough, Wellman goes back to the classics and “ejects” the umpires from the game with an emphatic arm raise.  He begins his long march off the field, but seeing second base reminds him of his previous objective of kidnapping third.  He decides to really get crazy with this one and begins to walk off with both bases.  He walks by one of his players standing the field who is just smiling and laughing at his poor lunatic manager.  We’ll never know what the poor bases did to deserve the bulk of Wellman’s physical abuse.  He strolls far too slowly off the field.  Before exiting, in the ultimate sign of Wellman’s showmanship, he blows kisses to his adoring fans in the stadium.  Little did Wellman know, he would soon become a worldwide phenom and nutcase…the ultimate symbol of sports breakdowns.

Wake Me Up In August: a reletively uninterested baseball post

This season’s early baseball season has featured a plethora of over-achievement from a multitude of teams.  The Baltimore Orioles returned to the frightening logo of just the weird bird face on their caps, but have mustered a 19-9 record, are far and away the biggest surprise, and leading the division here on May 7th.  But the formerly over-rated a season ago Los Angeles Dodgers cannot be far behind.  Not only are bad teams playing well, but the good teams are sliding faster than Bernie Brewer down his yellow twisty slide.

Pussy doesn’t even go head first.

The Angels were many people’s World Series favorites, but have mustered only 12 wins in 29 games.  Albert Pujols didn’t hit a homer in April and honestly the starting rotation looks like the Knothole squads practicing at the local grade schools.  The Yankees are in fourth, the Red Sox in fifth, and we cannot even be sure the Philadelphia Phillies remember how to hit a baseball.  When it’s all said and done, however, this baseball season will likely resume course.  Despite the surprises of the early season, we can soon expect teams to fall into their usual roles of bottom-feeders and contenders when autumn roles around.  So without further ado, here are some current lists for basetball:

Power Rankings (Top 10)

#1. The Texas Rangers: Without a doubt, these guys are the favorite to win the World Series.  Back-to-back trips to the fall classic help the cause, but with an offense that scores like a grade school football team, you can pretty much put Texas back in the playoffs again .

#2 The Washington Nationals: The Nats are not a surprise.  No one paid much attention, but Washington has been getting really good for a long time.  Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg may not only be the best 1-2 punch in the National League, but the two best pitchers overall.

#3 The Cincinnati Reds:The Reds are only a game above .500, but they have the talent to be one of the best teams in the league.  They have the MLB’s best bullpen and that’s a luxury which every team would trade for.

#4 Tampa Bay Rays: Still holding strong, the Rays are undeniably more talented than the Baltimore Orioles.  Before long, the O’s will settle into the cellar and Tampa should pick up where they leave off atop the division.

#5 Philadelphia Phillies: The team is struggling, right?  A game below .500 and they don’t seem to be going anywhere quickly.  Just relax, Philadelphia, your team is extremely talented and that rotation is going to find it’s stuff.  Patience.

#6 Detroit Tigers: If you did not pick the Angels to win the World Series, odds are the Tigers were your choice.  If Smyly and Verlander find a couple other arms to join them then Detroit can compete with Texas.

#7 Los Angeles Dodgers: Every year I look at this team and think they should win the weak NL West.  This year I looked and thought, “it’s the same team, they’ll lose as always”.  This year, L.A. looks set on winning.  Matt Kemp is the best player in baseball.

#8 Atlanta Braves: I hate throwing another NL East team on here, but that division is loaded.  Atlanta has the second best bullpen in the majors and Michael Bourne is unparalleled as a lead-off hitter.

#9 St. Louis Cardinals: Albert Pujols?  Who is Albert Pujols?  Is that the guy who has hit one home run in Anaheim…I mean Los Angeles?  Wow, he must not be very good.

#10 Baltimore Orioles: the O’s will falter, I guarantee it, but they are 199-9 and deserve a little love from the Power Rankings.

5 Biggest Surprises (positive)

#1 Baltimore Orioles: Clearly, I mean some thought the Orioles would lose 100 games this year.

#2 Edwin Encarnacion, 3B Jays: Traded by Cincy for Scott Rolen, Eddy has 9 long balls and 25 knocked in.

#3 Ryan Dempster, SP Cubs:Empty the dumpster?  No longer, Dempster’s e.r.a is a crisp .95 even though he’s 0-1.

#4 Derek Jeter, SS Yankees: Too old?  Guy’s a legend and is batting .397.

#5Cleveland Indians:The tribe is 16-11 and in first place.  Who’d have guessed?

5 Biggest Disappointments:

#1 Albert Pujols, 1B Angels:this is what you get for signing that contract and raising all these expectations.

#2 The Los Angeles Angels: Read the above statement

#3 Ivan Nova, SP Yankees: His banner year might be the worst thing for New York.  Too much expectation/faith.

#4 Boston Red Sox: How can a team have this much talent and suck so bad?

#5 Yonder Alonso/Edison Volquez: people who mocked the Reds are laughing last as the two sent for Mat Latos struggle mightily.

Player to Watch Going Forward:

Aroldis Chapman, RP Reds: He may be the best relief pitcher in baseball and perhaps the most unnoticed superstar this year.  His 0.00 era is pretty good and he’s on pace for 150 strikeouts in just 84 innings.

Player to Forget Going Forward:

Justin Morneau, DH Twins: as if you already hadn’t.  The guy just cannot do it anymore.

One Flew Over the Jayhawks’ Nest

John Calipari is trying to change the world of college basketball (see article “The Man Who Won Woo Much” from March 30th) and now only one team stands in his way.  The team most counter-opposite Kentucky has sees no player younger than a junior see significant floor time.  If John Calipari could have pointed a finger at one team he didn’t want to see come April 2nd, it probably would have been talented loaded North Carolina.  Calipari  probably wished back on March 11th that the Tar Heels would not make it to the Championship Game to play his Wildcats.  Well, the oldest cliché in history goes “be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it”.

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The University of Kentucky has been on cruise control for the NCAA tournament.   The #1 overall seed has been patiently waiting  for someone, anyone!, to step forward and challenge them in a little game of hoops.  Anthony Davis’s unibrow has been engulfing its adversaries like a selfish father after his kids went out Trick or Treating.  Davis has been far and away the best player in this tournament.  The only stumble was in the second half against Baylor while nursing a sore knee when Perry Jones III decided to play up to his potential lottery draft status and absolutely punished Davis in the paint (Jones drew 3 fouls on Davis in five possessions and scored 6 points).  Aside from that, Anthony Davis has been looked like his bottom row of teeth: scary.  I really should stop commenting on how ugly the guy is, but I mean c’mon!  Anyway, Davis has been unbelievably good is the point I’ve been driving at here, but he’s about to take on a horse of a different color.  Davis thrives when people challenge him inside and he swats  more shots than a low level McDonald’s employee does flies.  This mystery team which I am yet to mention by name up to this point has something Davis hasn’t seen since a 1-point win against North Carolina: two forces in the post.  Kansas will be the team playing Monday night in New Orleans to try and ruin everything Kentucky has dreamed of since hiring Billy Gillespie and has craved since firing Billy Gillespie.  As I stated earlier, Kentucky probably dreaded a rematch against a UNC team which featured as much (if not more) talent than the Wildcats.  However, Kansas may end up being the toughest match-up Kentucky could have had with Kendall Marshall fracturing his wrist like a nerd against Creighton, denying college basketball fans the first look at the mini-NBA  version of college basketball.  Instead, Kentucky will play a team that is so unlike them it is crazy.  Kentucky is built upon youngsters, hardly even shaving at this point, who are pissed they even have to play college basketball instead of hitting the pros straight out of high school.  Kansas is built upon grizzled veterans who have waited their turn to make the hallowed run to the championship game.  Something should be ringing a bell here.  I’ll just wait for it……okay I’ll give.  This game should be eerily reminiscent of a certain 2007-2008 National Championship Game featuring Kansas.  Well, that game they were playing Memphis, not Kentucky…but wait, wasn’t that team coached by John Calipari?  Aren’t connections in sports fun?!?!  In that game, a grizzled Kansas team with players who had danced some dances and done some dirty work were ready to step into the spotlight.  The other team, Memphis, had flashy players who had just seemed to absorb the spotlight.  It may not have been as severe as this year, but Kansas was certainly placed in the role of the underdog against Memphis that season.  People had fallen in love with the offense minded Tigers who just seemed to run up the scoreboard like opposing defenses had hit Bourbon Street a little too early (despite playing zero games in New Orleans that tournament).  Kentucky…also an offense juggernaut who seems to score at will.  Want another similarity?  I’ll introduce you to Jeff Withey and re-introduce you to Cole Aldrich.  The big hefties inside (both white) block shots almost as well as Kentucky’s Davis.  While Withey certainly cannot hope to harmonize with Davis’s shot blocking prowess, he does posses some fine ability.  Withey probably out-weighs Davis by thirty pounds and should still go right at the long-armed freak to try and get him into early foul trouble; thus immediately sentencing Kentucky to point-in-the-paint domination.  Then there is that other guy.  I wrote an article on him too.  His name is Thomas Robinson and it might be possible no one is as hungry for the National Title as the Kansas power forward.  the 6’10” Robinson should overwhelm Terrance Jones.  Jones is a great player, but Jones himself has proven all year what happens when you play someone bigger, faster, and better than you…Terrance gets the opposite side of the coin this time.  The only problem facing Kansas is who will stop Michael Kidd-Gilchrist?  The best hope is Marquis Teague, the Kentucky point guard.  If Kansas makes Teague and not Kidd-Gilly best them, then I think Kansas has more than a puncher’s chance against the Wildcats.  Don’t let me get you too razzled up…Kentucky should still win this game if they play to their fullest potential; however, Kansas has the right players to compete and the experience to prevail.  Offensive Kentucky versus defensive Kansas…freshman & sophomore Kentucky versus junior & senior Kansas.  Outspoken and 0-1 Calipari versus Quiet and 1-0 Bill Self.  Big Blue versus…well technically Kansas is blue too.  Aside from the color similarities, we’ll see two polar opposite teams step onto the floor Monday in New Orleans.  Who will win is anyone’s guess, but I wouldn’t be too prepared to place that crown on Calipari’s head at this juncture.

Getting a Little Defensive

Perhaps the most unheralded difference maker in college basketball this season has been Ohio State’s Aaron Craft: the pesky defender with the rosy cheeks.  Craft never receives the attention Peyton Siva, Anthony Davis, Thomas Robinson, and Jared Sullinger are accustomed.  As we saw with Kendall Marshall, the gritty point guard may not get the attention or recognition award wise as the slick-shooting Harrison Barnes, but those hard-charging, hard-nosed floor generals are the difference on their teams.  Aaron Craft changes the game in a way no other player left in the tournament does.  He plays smash mouth defense and keeps your floor general from functioning with any efficacy.

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To be perfectly honest, when one watches big time college basketball and Ohio State is one of the teams playing, it is not a stretch to imagine someone saying, “Who is this little white kid running around the floor?”  Aaron Craft epitomizes nearly every stereotype people have about a white college basketball player, but he goes against one which has legitimized Craft’s spot as the pivotal player wearing scarlet & gray.  To start, Craft is the hard-working, scrappy, 1st team Academic All-American many people would suspect of a Caucasian in the world of basketball.  It is no secret that African-Americans have dominated the sport with unprecedented consistency for decades.  Aaron Craft, however, has something every other white player in the league is dying for: quickness.  Craft was a multidimensional quarterback at Liberty-Benton High School before retiring from football to focus on basketball his senior year.  A starter freshman to junior year, Craft racked up about 11,500 yards of total offense.  He passed for nearly 6,800  and ran for circa 4,700.  Both these numbers were school records for Liberty-Benton.  Craft’s career completion percentage was 73.3% and was getting looks to play Quarterback at the Division 1 level.  Craft’s natural athleticism separates him the hackneyed version of the white basketball player which has become the butt of many jokes.  Perhaps the great irony is Craft has used his athleticism and quickness to reinforce the archetypal Caucasian.  He uses these exceptional tools to play hard-nosed defense and make the little plays which never make it into the scorebook.  Craft not only kept up with speedsters like Cashmere Wright and Scoop Jardine defensively in the last two rounds of the tournament, but he out-quicked men who are accustomed to out-quicking anyone they play.  Craft made Cashmere Wright look silly for the entire game.  He had 6 steals in the game, but forced many more turnovers.  Wright looked lost every time down the floor and it completely stagnated Cincy’s offense.  The difference between two teams which matched-up well on paper was evident.  Ohio State was able to run through its offense on every possession; meanwhile, Cincinnati could not even get passes off without Craft bothering floor general Cashmere Wright.  The same situation arises for the Buckeyes against Kansas this Saturday.  Aaron Craft will be forced to play a point guard who is lightning quick and figures on beating anyone guarding him whenever he feels like it.  Analysts will talk about how fast Tyshawn Taylor is and how Aaron Craft’s defense will slip because of the difference in athleticism.  When the game starts, don’t be surprised to see the turnover-prone Taylor to struggle against the pit bull-esque defense of the pesky little gnat running around and slapping the rock loose.  The phenomenal gauntlet in the post between the duo of Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey versus Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas running rowdy will take the focus off the Point Guards squaring off, but the game will be decided far before those big guys even have the opportunity to touch the ball.  The Final Four duel which has not drawn the attention of SportsCenter or other media groups will be the better of the two games.  Two teams with the will to win and five players on the floor who know their roles will create a close game while Kentucky figures on beating Louisville by 50.  The entire game will be decided by how Tyshawn Taylor handles the ferocious “D” of the rosy warrior Aaron Craft.  Craft is the best defending guard in college basketball.  He changes games in a way no other player does and maybe like no other player can.  Teams cannot even sniff their offenses because their point guards are occupied with the little white fly buzzing around everywhere.  Cashmere Wright could not handle the pressure and Cincinnati doubled its season average for turnovers.  Syracuse looked pained to try and start up against Craft the Bucks “D”.  Craft could make the game an extremely long one for Tyshawn and the entire Kansas Jayhawks team.  No other player can make the immediate impact Craft does, except for Taylor if he handles Craft’s annoyance.  That damn rosy cheeked, die-hard, pit bull will be the player to watch on Saturday, but only when he doesn’t have the ball.

Put Me In, Coach?

Few people would be surprised to hear Big-12 Player of the Year Thomas Robinson was a 5-star recruit coming out of high school.  The much more surprising thing is that Robinson averaged 10.9 mnutes, 4.45 points, 4.45 rebounds, shot 45% from the foul line, and 0% from the 3-point line in his first two seasons.  The junior forward was a minimal contributor who looked bound for college basketball facelessness.  The redemptive junior has not only filled the void left by the Morris twins, but with Jeff Withey has become an even more dominate inside duo.

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Thomas Robinson had no reason to expect to be the best player in the Big-12 this season.  For his first two years, Robinson chilled on the benh, watching others make a difference for his team.  Finally, opportunity came for the Washington D.C. native who played his high school ball in New Hampshire.  He was ranked the 31st best recruited in 2009 by Rivals.com.  He was behind such heavyweights as Tyler Honeycutt, Latavious Williams, Abdul Gaddy, and Keith Gallon.  Even back in those days, Thomas Robinson was undervalued.  He was cited as the third best recruit Kansas signed that year.  Xavier Henry and Elijah Johnson were supposed to become better players than Robinson.  He watched as Henry was becoming a household name in 2010.  He was a spectator for the Morris twins last year. He found playing time when Markieff and Marcus needed a blow or ended up in foul trouble.  Despite beinga 60.9% shooter from the floor last year, Bill Self considered Robinson to be nothing more than a void-filler.  For a second time, someone felt Robinson was not up to snuff.  His own coach Bill Self who this year has said he always knew Robinson had it in him allowed T-Rob to warm the bench unless needed.  If Bill Self knew Robinson could always be this good of a player, why was he resting on the bench.  Other star recruits have always seen opportunity for Self.  Even Josh Selby who began the year academically ineligible found his way onto the hardwood during gametime.  T-Rob watched from the bench.  This year, the Jayhawks were supposed to struggle all year  The inside force was gone and would not be back.  The analysts apparently did not account for the massive width of Thomas Robinson’s shoulders.  Robinson was once again undervalued, this time by the supposed genius minds of the college basketball analysts.  The Morris twins only took Kansas to the Elite Eight and then lost to an #11 seed in Virginia Commonwealth.  T-Rob watched from the bench.  In the 2012 edition of the Elite Eight, Robinson saw #1 seed standing in the way of the Jayhawks.  That’s a team seeded 10 places lower than the Rams faced last year.  Robinson’s former spot on the bench was filled with a noticably less-girthy individual.  The scoreboard was filled with a much noticably favorable result for Kansas.  Robinson scored 18 points, grabbed 9 boards and Kansas beat a lottery-packed North Carolina team 80-67.  The 2012 tournament has seen Robison average 16 points and 12.5 rebounds.  Not shabby for someone who overlooked by recruiters, coaches, and analysts for the bulk of his entire career.  Robinson has grasped the last laugh, especially come June when he is drafted, and is sitting pretty in the Final Four.

The Man Who Won Too Much

John Calipari has had as much if not more success than any other coach in the college basketball realm in the last 5 years.  He has been to 3 Final Fours, 4 Elite Eights, and 5 Sweet Sixteens.  This year, Calipari has brought the best team he has ever coached to New Orleans and the Final Four.  Aside from the plethora of talent, personality, and pressure the Kentucky juggernaut is hauling to the Big Easy; the death certificate of college basketball as the world knows it is in the inventory.

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John Calipari is exactly what every single other coach in college basketball did not want.  John Calipari decided to challenge the way college basketball has worked since it’s conception.  Calipari probably did not mean to completely obliterate everything good in the college game when he took $31.65 million from Big Blue back in 2009.  Calipari probably had a single thought in mind when he grabbed that pen and John Hancocked that contract: money.  Calipari, however, has completely unhinged the door to college basketball’s Olympus and with his Titans on the 2011-2012 Kentucky roster has invaded the halls of Alcindor, Robertson, and Thompson.  All the legends of the game, his fellow coaches, and the NCAA can do is watch and panic.  What exactly has Calipari done to obliterate the sacred land of college basketball?  He has won.  John Calipari has won more than anyone without “Wildcats” printed across his or her chest would have ever found acceptable.  This winning has turned the way college basketball is supposed to be into an amorphous blob of freshman.  The NBA never considered the way college basketball would crumble after stating players had to play a year in college.  Now players like Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Brandon Knight have no place left to go except a college program.  Calipari snatches up these pro-ready players better than the kids can play the game.  This story should have been written in 2009-2010 when Kentucky had more talent than this year, but that year the Wildcats played like freshman.  It is scary to watch this year’s Kentucky team trot through the tournament like there is not another team on the floor.  Every win is a win closer to the end of the glory days.  Because if Calipari wins, suddenly his way becomes the way.  Suddenly, his style becomes the style.  Suddenly it is not about Draymond Green trying to salvage a career by playing his heart out.  Suddenly it is not about Henson, Zeller, Barnes, and Marshall staying longer than they should to try and win a championship.  Suddenly it is not about Virginia Commonwealth making a Cinderella run to the Final Four…wait, it already isn’t about, that isn’t it?  Already Calipari has the best style.  The first words of this article say it best: “John Calipari has had as much if not more success than any other coach in the college basketball realm in the last 5 years.”  Until now, there’s been an excuse.  People have been able to say that Calipari has not won it all.  Not yet, there is still hope that Calipari’s agenda is fragile and cannot last.  Well, now the end to the last hope of college basketball purists marches to the thrones of Wooden, Knight, and Krzyzewski; armed with an armada which draws envy from Spain 1588.  The only thing standing in his way is a lackluster Louisville team coached by the last man to have indefinite success at Kentucky (he is also clearly in the mafia) and two teams which have beaten deflated and disarmed #1’s and sketchy teams to advance to New Orleans.  It looks inevitable that this year Calipari has brought enough firepower to finely breach the walls of college basketball’s Olympus and start a brand new reign a top college basketball.  Not where teams by developing young players into senior leaders.  Not where talented freshman compliment upperclassmen.  Not where coaching saves the day.  Not where “March happens”.  Teams will win by finding the most talented freshman and sucking the pools dry until only refuse is left for the other teams in the country.  Teams will gather into the coliseum in order to be slaughtered by the select few teams which reload year-after-year.  It will be an honor to have Kentucky whip you into pieces in the Sweet Sixteen.  Players will be asking for autographs from the five freshman North Carolina will be starting during pregame warm-ups.  Even if eight teams are able to do what Calipari has and will do, the elite eight will not be worth watching.  One will see players play a sloppy pro-style.  Scores will end in the nineties if not hundreds…ask Indiana.  College Basketball will fade into what the NBA has become.  It will be nothing more than a show to watch a select few teams compete every year for the National Title.  Forget it, Ohio.   No way, VCU.  We laugh in your face, Lehigh.  Next time, with their four starting freshman, Duke will beat you by 50.  John Calipari is rounding third and heading for home on his trek around the obstacles to the National Championship.  Soon, we’ll have the Calipari-era of college basketball.  Are you ready?

Minor Value

The world of college basketball was supposed to be getting kinder to Mid-majors.  Every year a team makes a run in the NCAA tournament, often beating what are assumed to be the nation’s toughest teams.  Yet in 2012, Big Conference schools continue to have their tournament résumés bolstered by so called “quality wins” in their conferences.  All teams like Shaka Smart’s VCU Rams can do now is hope great play in lackluster conferences can beat mediocre play in the country’s renowned leagues.  Nonetheless, mid-majors continue to attempt the impossible: make sports fans forget about tradition.

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If you’re a power conference team and you travel to the Final Four, it doesn’t take a 25-6 record to be noticed and put on the bubble.  This is the problem for mid-major teams.  I’d like to introduce you to bubble team Virginia Commonwealth.  The Rams stroked their way to the Final Four last year via three-point shot.  This year, they have sauntered through a less than stellar schedule when you look at it on the surface.  VCU had three chances to make a splash outside of conference play against Seton Hall, Alabama, and South Florida.  The Rams were 1-2 in those games, which is unfortunate.  Last year, VCU made the tourney as an at-large with a 23-11 record.  Its best win was against UCLA at home.  Now, how does it add up that the same team can be better this year and still be considered out of the tournament?  Well, I guess it may be because of a stronger field?  But this year the rumor is the bubble is “soft” or relatively uncompetitive.  Teams are supposed to be having an easier time getting in this year compared to last year.  Then why does a VCU team with a better résumé than last year not make the tournament?  The reason is the Power Conference teams have been more jumbled in terms of record and credentials.  The usual suspects have not been pounding teams like Iowa State, South Florida, California, Alabama, Mississippi State and others into the ground. However, the biggest problem for mid-majors, is how good mid-major play has been this year.  Teams which had no real business making runs into the tournament now look like locks including New Mexico and Colorado State from the Mountain West; Murray State from the Ohio Valley (they won their tournament, thank the basketball Gods); St. Louis, Temple, and Xavier from the Atlantic 10; Drexel from the Colonial; Creighton and Wichita State from the Missouri Valley; and Long Beach State from the Big West.  All in all, the mid-majors have kinda blown apart their owns chances fro bids by taking so many.  Still, extremely talented mid-major teams remain bid-less at this point; however, conference hierarchy continues to steamroll across in-season performance.  VCU, George Mason, Iona, Central Florida, Southern Mississippi, and Denver all may not win their conference tournaments (some already haven’t).  Teams such as Texas, Northwestern, Seton Hall, Connecticut, Washington, and Mississippi State have somewhat of lackluster seasons.  Sure UConn has the number 1 strength of schedule and the RPI numbers are all pretty, but when it comes down to it, RPI is a flawed system and S.O.S. is based upon conjecture of what teams are the best.  With the runs of Butler, George Mason, Davidson, and VCU through the years, mid-majors are getting higher seeds and more bids than ever (it would seem). Still, it seems worthy mid-majors are being left in the cold.  I’ll never argue against the Big East and Big Ten being the best conferences and having the best teams in the country, but the point of March is to show that any team can make a splash if they get hot (ask our boy Shaka Smart).  With the RPI system currently being used as Gospel, mid-major teams will not garner the necessary opportunities to prove their worthiness.  It’s a sad story, but true.  No one likes seeing 19-12 (9-9) Texas in the field over a 27-6 (15-3) Virginia Commonwealth team…but Conference strength still rules and RPI is still the Bible for bracket picking.  So 18-12 (8-10) Northwestern can start thanking their lucky stars and 25-7 (15-3) Iona can start cursing theirs.

8 Things to Always Avoid in Sports:

Some things are just obvious, such as not selecting a person without arms to play for your MLB franchise, but sometimes people avoid obvious miscues in sports.  The sports’ world “no-no’s” are all around you, here you go, a list for you:

#8: Drafting a Running Back in the First Round:

Named: “KiJana-ing”

Running back is theoretically one of the most important positions on the football field since he’ll touch the ball second most only kneeling to the Quarterback; however, it is also one of the easier positions to play on the football field.  Running backs need only one thing to be successful: a big o-line.  It doesn’t matter how if one has the blazing speed of Chris Johnson or the power style of Brandon Jacobs, if your line doesn’t do its job, then neither do you.

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Also, a great running back doesn’t have to be found in the first round.  If I submit Adrian Peterson, not a single one of the best running backs this past season in the NFL was drafted in the first round.  LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Matt Forte, and Maurice Jones Drew were all taken in the second round.  Frank Gore was a third rounder.  Michael Bush was selected in the fourth round.  Michael Turner was selected in the fifth round.  Fred Jackson and my boy Arian Foster were undrafted.

Arian also writes poetry in his spare time

Finally, the career for a running back is so dependent on injury that the reward of a first round pick on a running back does not come close to the rewards offered by such a selection.  Adrian Peterson, Jahvid Best, and Darren McFadden are all prominent running backs who who drafted in the first round…all sustained serious injuries this season.

#7 Overpay for a Relief Pitcher:

Named: “Bowden-ing”

When one looks at the important positions on the baseball field, relief pitcher should actually be held in pretty high regard.  The only reason one should never ever overpay for a reliever is because there are so many available and all are capable of getting the job done.  Many feel a reliever who can absolutely fire a ball at over 100 mph is the best type of reliever, but Trevor Hoffman became baseball’s all-time saves leader with a 86 mph fastball.  People who think it is a good idea to go out and sign a reliever who had a great year for double-digit millions of dollars are fools.

#6 Set Expectations (especially high ones)

Named: “Broadway Joe-ing”

It may seem redundant, but sometimes setting low expectations can be as bad as setting high ones.  Whenever a player talks about how poorly his is doing (much less expecting his team to fail) he is setting himself up for ridicule from not only other teammates, but management, fans, and the media as well.  When Greg McElroy set the Jets locker room has been a troubled place, he was on SportsCenter and analysts criticized him as being seemingly the stupidest person in the NFL.

I didn't expect that I'd be in the NFL either.

Clearly people can see the Jets locker room is in turmoil, but a player should never say it.  But, as bad as setting low expectations can be, setting high ones can end careers.  The most infamous of players making guarantees about winning games or worse championships.  It’s okay to say the team’s goal is to “win the championship” but to say “we are going to win the championship” paints a target on your face not just for opposing teams, but the media as well because as soon as you slip up it’s roasting time.  Athletes and coaches alike should just learn from the past and shut their goddamn math before attempting their best Joe Namath impression.

There can only be one!!

#5 Count on Talented Freshman:

Named: Calipari-ing

Every year we hear the same thing in college basketball about these superstar freshman who are going to come in and absolutely steal the spotlight from anyone older than 18/19.  Every year come NCAA tournament time we hear a new tune from the so-called analysts.  Rather than hype up the “diaper dandies” we hear about how this team has “senior leadership” or “tournament experience”.  The regular season consists of “I don’t know how anyone can beat John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins” and in the tournament suddenly people are singing “DeSean Butler, Wellington Smith, and Casey Mitchell have the poise from experience and have the leadership of upperclassmen and that overcame the talent of Kentucky”.

They also had Bob Huggins...Kentucky never stood a chance.

Even last year, it was Butler and Uconn in the championship.  Both teams relied on upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) not freshman to get to the National Title game.  VCU made it to the final four and also rode the back of upperclassmen.  So when filling out your bracket come tournament time, look for teams that have upperclassmen (not freshman) leading the charge and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

#4 Select a Big 12 Quarterback:

Named: “Gabbert-ing”

When Sam Bradford is the first name someone uses to argue that Big 12 Quarterbacks can be successful in the NFL, I already know I have the quarrel won.  Bradford has been okay in St. Louis, but other Big 12 failures are ripe throughout the NFL.  Blaine Gabbert may have been the most unimpressive of all rookies this season.  He was far outdone by second rounder Andy Dalton and even players who hardly received opportunities like Jake Locker looked better than Gabbert.

Even the Red Rifle's copper locks are more bearable than Gabbert's dirty mullet

Colt McCoy is likely to be replaced come April 2012.  Vince Young was good his first year, but lost the starting job to Kerry Collins.  There is a reason why Quarterbacks like Graham Harrell and Chase Daniel never get the opportunity despite more than solid college careers.  Everyone knows the Big 12 frowns on teams who play any type of defense whatsoever.  Dana Holgorsen couldn’t wait to get his West Virginia Air Raid into the defensively challenged conference.  Soon, Gary Patterson and TCU will be run out of town like Nebraska was and find itself in the Big USA (also known as the Big East).  While RG3 was my boy this year, I don’t like his odds in the NFL due to his spread offense at Baylor and the obvious fact that he’s a Big-12 Quarterback…drafters beware!

#3 Negotiate with a Japanese Player:

Named: “Darvish-ing”

Quick! what was the cost for the Texas Rangers to just start negotiating with Yu Darvish?  If you answered $51.7 million then you win my respect.  The Rangers “won” the Darvish bid war and eventually signed the Japanese “prodigy” to a 6-year $60 million contract.

CC chuckles at the platry number of $10 million/year

The deal is idenetical to the headline grabbing one of Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Boston Red Sox back in 2006…how has Daiskue done in the MLB?  His career ERA is a mediocre 4.18.  He does have a nice winning percentage of .630, but I could go .500 with the Red Sox offense.  The Cubs also went over to Japan for a player.  The club nabbed Kosuke Fukudome as its prize.  The Cubs paid him $12 million/year and he’s been less impressive than Dice-K.  All you need to know is on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosuke_Fukudome.  Ichiro remains the constant in Japanese successes in the MLB, but Dice-K’s mediocrity and Fukudome’s awfulness leave me questioning the Ranger’s $111.7 million dollar decision on Yu Darvish.

Yu Darvish.....Darvin Ham?

#2 Argue with the Referees:

Named:”Krzyzewski-ing”

Arguing calls made by officials in any sport is as pointless as a brand new pencil (wow, see what I did there?)

Because it's dull...

Anyway, I mean not only would an official never go back on his word because a coach or player says something, but honestly he cannot.  To screw the opposing team over by saying, “Actually, I think you’re right and fuck what I just said” is pretty ridiculous.  Obviously there are make-up calls and what have you, but those things are so transient and often the momentum gained by the first missed call is so overpowering compared to the make-up call made four baskets later.  Arguing can culminate in two ways: 1) absolutely nothing happens and the game continues or 2) you obtain a technical foul or ejection often costing your team points, morale, and psyche.

#1 Win Too Much or Become Too Good:

Named: “Yankee-ing”

I considered many different names for this, but I figured instead of finding a single individual we must go to the archetypal example: the New York Yankees.  Once you start winning too much, every fan in a different area code from your team automatically is born with an inbred hatred of your team.  The best examples are the Yankees, the Miami Heat, Tim Tebow, Bill Belichick, and Kentucky/Duke basketball.  If there is one thing Americans enjoy more than sport itself, it is watching a favorite lose to an underdog.  Watching a titan fall is like cocaine for American sports fans and is what keeps us coming back.  There is no better night for me than when Duke, Kentucky, and North Carolina all lose in basketball.  One of my favorite games is Duke-UNC because one of them has to lose (do not be the cynic to my optimism and say one of them has to win, please:D).  Once you become a great team ro program, everyone begins to wish fro your downfall.  Everyone loved watching 18-0 New England squander a perfect season against the Giants a few years back and the highlight of Florida State beating Duke at the buzzer only a couple of nights ago is a clip loved by all noble sports connoisseurs.

Ah, the sweet taste of Duke failure.

That’s my list, enjoy.

Colts’ Overhaul

A 2-14 season is nothing to be proud of for an NFL franchise.  The Indianapolis Colts are a franchise who are not seasoned to being a bottom feeder the way St. Louis, Buffalo, and Cleveland are; however, the Colts found their Achilles’s heel this season when Quarterback Peyton Manning’s neck ended the career of seemingly then entire Colts’ staff…thereby almsot ensuring his own demise.  The Colts earned the first overall pick this coming April via an awful season in which the first 13 games looked like an Appalachian State-Michigan match-up and appear to be set on selecting Quarterback Andrew Luck.  Thanks in large part to Joe Falcco and Matt Ryan’s successes are rookies in 2008 allowed starting rookies at the QB position to become acceptable…only to be bolstered by Cam Newton and Andy Dalton’s phenomenal rookie campaigns this year.  Dalton, Ryan, and Flacco all came from pro-style systems and immediately showed how important the pro-style background can be too NFL success.  Newton is just blesssed, it would appear.  Thus, Andrew Luck (coming from a pro-style offense, has all the offensive tools, and willbe a rookie) apepars to be headed directly to the apex of a team’s depth chart come next September.  Thus, with the Colts holding the #1 overall pick, it would seem destiny for Luck to be starting for the Colts come September…so what happens to the great Peyton Manning?  The Colts have succumb to a #classic case of overreactivity (not a word).  Since the end of the NFL season, the Colts have seen the departure of the Polians, who were fired by Jim Irsy following the 2-14 campaign.  Bill had been Vice President for 13 years and had created the Colts we have seen for the past decade and Chris was part of the Colts for 12 years, including being General Manager for the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons.  Despite the success of the franchise under Polian’s leadership, it was a “what have you done for me lately without your star Quarterback” attitude for Irsy.  Just to continue his panic attack, Jim Irsy fired head coach Jim Caldwell.  With Peyton Manning, Caldwell was 24-8 in the regular season.  This year (minus Manning) Caldwell was 2-14.  Trend is being picked up on.  Finally, Irsy will likely draft Luck and trade Peyton Manning.  With all the changes Irsy is making, he clearly believes the problem this year was not Manning’s neck, but rather simply the Polians were too old and the Colts needed new blood in the front office and Jim Caldwell is not a good enough coach to win in the NFL.  If Irsy is correct, Andrew Luck will be able to lead the Colts to the playoffs and win double-digit games.  If Luck fails to accomplish anything short of a playoff birth, then Irsy was wrong and he should have kept Manning.  Since Peyton became the starter, the Colts are 129-67.  Without Manning since he was drafted, the Colts are 2-14.  Hopefully for Andrew Luck, Irsy is right and he goes 10-6, makes the playoffs, and succeeds…but odds are he won’t.

BCS Bowl Picks

Rose Bowl: #5 Oregon versus #10 Wisconsin

In a game of two contrasting styles, the fast-paced ducks meet up with the smash-mouth Badgers in Pasadena for one of the more exciting games.  This could easily be the most fun game of all BCS bowls to watch.  It’ll be interesting to see if either team can stop each other.  The difference should be that Wisconsin’s offensive linemen wear down the much smaller Ducks allowing them to outscore Oregon.

Wisconsin 38 def. Oregon 34

Fiesta Bowl: #3 Oklahoma State versus #4 Stanford

Oklahoma State was disappointed to be left out of the BCS Championship Game, but they really didn’t play to tough a schedule despite what the schedule reads.  The Cowboys toughest game was supposedly against Kansas State, but the Wildcats rose to #10 in the final poll, but the best non-conference team the Wildcats played was at a below average Miami Florida team which they beat 28-24…Stanford gives Oklahoma State’s dynamic offense its first real challenge.

Stanford 30 def. Oklahoma State 24

Sugar Bowl: #11 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University versus #13 Michigan

A game featuring two at-large berths which seem a little puzzling.  Michigan went 10-2, which included a loss to Michigan State who also finished 10-2, but a loss in the Big Ten Championship Game to Wisconsin was enough to derail Sparty’s BCS hopes…it makes little sense, but nonethless.  Virginia Tech on the other hand went 11-1, but lost in the ACC championship game to Clemson, but managed the at-large berth.  Both teams were aided by Alabama-LSU and SEC domination as the #6 and #9 teams were ineligible.  In the end, two teams with surprisingly similar styles ends with Virginia Tech finding a way to stop Denard’s late game heroics.

Virginia Tech 27 def. Michigan 24

Orange Bowl: #15 Clemson versus #23 West Virginia

Don’t get caught up in the high rankings for these two teams.  Both are very capable teams and both earned this bid by winning conference titles.  West Virginia’s air raid offense finished 7th in the country behind the strong arm of Geno Smith.  Clemson’s badass quarterback Tajh Boyd and speedster Sammy Watkins will attempt to counter the high octance Mountaineers.  When the clock reads 0:00, I forsee an incredibly close game that goes into overtime before West Virginia is held to a field goal and Clemson scores a touchdown.

Clemson 34 def West Virginia 31 OT

BCS National Championship Game: #1 LSU versus #2 Alabama

You don’t need stats to tell you this will be a close game.  All you need is to be aware of the meeting in Tuscaloosa that these two teams had earlier this year.  The Tigers come in rolling, having obliterated their last two opponents who were both highly regarded, Arkansas and Georgia.  The Tigers have the second best defense in the country…but the one team with a better defense is Alabama.  The team’s showed their defensive mights in the 9-6 bloodbath earlier this year.  Now it’ll be another game of clashing defensive titans, but the loss of home-field advantage and LSU’s phenomenal special teams play cannot be overcome by the Tide as this game will feature a touchdown.

LSU 19 def. Alabama 10

 

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