Monthly Archives: August 2011

Forever The Villain

20110829-101121.jpg

Michael Vick is back on top.

Say what you want about Michael Vick… bring up his past, villify him, hate him, wish bad things on him all you want.

Just remember that he is human and that we all make mistakes. Cliche? Yes. However, for all of the stones that we toss at Vick we tend to forget that we have a skeleton or three in our closet.

When Vick signs his brand new 6 year/ $100 million deal you will hear cries from the public that he doesn’t deserve the money, that he’s still a criminal and that the Eagles should be ashamed of themselves for giving a dog killer that much money.

Vick will never be able to live down the humiliation that he caused himself and his family. His involvement in a illegal dog fighting ring will haunt him wherever he goes for the rest of his life…

It doesn’t mean however that it should prevent him from living his life.

One thing that has angered me to no end about the Vick issue is this constant banter from dog owners and animal rights activists that Vick should continue to be punished and shouldn’t live his life. Murderers are allowed back into society, pedophiles have kids, domestic violence criminals have girlfriends, yet because Vick committed a crime that has nothing to do with human life (though killing living things is still a heinous act) he all of a sudden can’t make a living.

Vick paid his debt to society. He lost everything. He paid a hefty price for his actions and seemingly has learned his lesson. He is a more focused individual with a better understanding of life and is trying his hardest not to make more bad decisions. Isn’t that what we want out of people who do bad things?

America is a nation that loves a hero, more than a hero it loves a villain, and more than a villain there is no better story than a reformed villain. Vick’s tale is a cautious one and one of great redeeming value. He rose above his bad actions and back to being one of the game’s most electrifying players.

Vick is tapping into the talent that made him a number one pick in the 2000 NFL draft. He was an MVP candidate last year and is the leading candidate this year as part of the NFL’s dream team.

He is becoming a role model and an example that you can change for the better in a atmosphere that is filled with so many cynics and bad influences.

We should be celebrating Vick’s return to the top, instead he is and will always be the bad guy.

Is race an issue? I hate to play the race card but would we feel the same about Vick if he were white? Would he be forgiven easier and welcomed back to society with ease? Who knows.

One thing is for sure, I am happy for Michael Vick. I’m happy that he has put his crimes behind and learned from them. I’m happy that he has taken his second chance in life and done something with it. I’m happy that he will be paid well for his services and can make a living for himself and be happy.

Vick has paid and atoned for his sins. Who am I or anyone for that matter to still think he has a price to pay?


The Debate: Curtis Granderson, AL MVP

AL MVP? You're looking at him.

So Adrian Gonzalez is going to win MVP in the American League. I’ve conceded this fact I know it will happen and there’s nothing that I can do about it.

Gonzalez has been everything that the Red Sox hoped for when they acquired him from San Diego. He has stabilized their lineup, hit for average and driven in a ton of runs. Basically without him in the lineup the Red Sox are not the same team they don’t have the same pop in the order and no one can really match what he does as far as production goes.

His MVP candidacy can only be trumped by two other Red Sox who are having great years in Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury and maybe a dark horse candidate in Jose Bautista can steal some votes. Besides that Gonzalez should run away with this thing as the Red Sox guide their way into the playoffs and to a possible AL East title…

Ok that was my take on the AL MVP race up until today when I did my normal weekly numbers look up and checked out league leaders and to see who else was ballin out of control currently. There was Gonzalez in all of his glory with a monstrous .348 batting average and a .408 on base percentage to go with 102 RBI. Those numbers, along with his great defense at first base can more than lock up the MVP race for him.

Mark Teixiera can thank Grandy for his power numbers.

But here’s the revelation that I have come to after further review and after getting my head together… Adrian Gonzalez is not the AL MVP if the season ended today… Curtis Granderson is.

Yep, I hear the calls from all of you that this is a homer pick seeing as how I am a super crazy Yankees fan and that I’m just finding a way to diminish Gonzalez’s value to the Red Sox. Honestly I’m not; I think Gonzalez is without question the best Red Sox player right now. He is putting up great numbers and has been a great addition to the Red Sox lineup.

With that said Granderson has been much more valuable.

With Alex Rodriguez fighting through injuries, Derek Jeter’s early season struggles, Mark Teixeira’s horrendous batting average and a ton of uncertainty in the rotation with Phil Hughes arm problems and injuries to Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano it was Granderson that made all of that irrelevant.

Granderson took Teixeira’s number 3 spot in the lineup after A-Rod’s injury and took off. He’s producing power numbers at a career rate and is doing it with ease. Granderson has set career highs in home runs (36), RBI (103) and slugging (.591) and is doing it against left handed and right handed pitching.

For anyone that has followed Granderson throughout his career you know about his deficiencies against lefties. Last year he barely hit .200 against them and found himself on the bench in games against lefties and replaced in games by the likes of Austin Kearns. Yeah it wasn’t cool. This year he’s hitting .279 against them thanks to help from hitting Coach Teddy Long and looks as comfortable as ever.

Take a look at his stats for a minute and compare them to the three Red Sox Gonzalez, Pedroia and Ellsbury as well as Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista. Of all 5 contenders Granderson does have a ton more strikeouts with 135, trails Bautista, Gonzalez and Pedroia in on-base percentage and has the lowest batting average at .278. However, let’s be real about strikeouts these days, they don’t matter. This is a free swinging era and seeing high strikeout totals is nothing new. In 2006 when Ryan Howard won MVP he struck out 186 times, he also hit .300 with 50 home runs and 140 RBI. Also his OBP is almost .380 so who cares that he’s 11th in that category when you get on base that much.

Granderson has monster numbers in most offensive categories. He’s 1st in runs, triples and RBI, 2nd in Home runs and slugging, 3rd in OPS, 6th in walks and 8th in steals. Look at those runs for a minute; yes he is 11th in OBP but when he gets on base he scores almost every single time. Jacoby Ellsbury has scored 93 times, 2nd in the league, and is a league leader in steals… AND IS STILL ALMOST 30 RUNS BEHIND GRANDERSON! To get on base like that and score runs at that pace is silly. He has an outside shot at scoring 150 runs this season and breaking Jeff Bagwell’s modern day mark of 152 (the record is 198 in 1894 and that’s never getting broken).

He’s put Yankee batters in great position to knock in runs all year with his ability to get on base and his speed. As poor as Tex has been hitting this year his power numbers are still gaudy because he hits behind Granderson and has been able to get good pitches to hit, same for Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher.

(Side note: A dark horse candidate for MVP is Cano as well. Top 10 in four offensive categories, could have 200 hits, a gold glove at second base and is scorching hot in the second half. Yeah I know I’m giving my Yankees a little too much slurpage but they deserve it.

Granderson's not bad defensively either.

I honestly thought that the Yankees were going to be mediocre this year with the Red Sox getting Gonzalez and Carl Crawford as well as the Yankees pitching problems. However, you name the person and they’ve stepped up.

David Robertson has become one of the game’s best setup men, Granderson’s career year to ease the A-Rod ills, Ivan Nova emerging as the Yankees number 2 starter and Swisher finding his swing in the summer months have all lifted the Yankees to a possible playoff spot. This was an iffy year and guys have been stepping up and killing it.)

More than anything Granderson has become the most reliable man in the Yankee lineup. It’s almost as if you expect him to get on base and score runs every game. It doesn’t matter if he gets a hit or not he somehow finds a way to score a run. A few games ago Granderson went 0-3 and scored 2 runs… how does that happen? In yesterday’s 22-9 massacre of Oakland he had 2 hits and scored 4 runs… really?

He’s having a gaudy year and is as worthy of MVP as anyone in the league. If Bautista is truly MVP worthy why is his team playing so poorly even with him in the lineup? Also how can you distinguish one of the Red Sox players as MVP?

Who is truly more valuable Ellsbury, Pedroia or Gonzalez? If you take any of them out of the lineup will the Red Sox still be effective offensively? Who makes the other two guys better? Hell David Ortiz missed time in the lineup two weeks ago and the Sox went 4-4 and fell behind the Yankees in the AL East momentarily so maybe he should get MVP votes.

The point I’m making is it’s hard to choose an MVP from a team where there are three candidates because really who is more valuable. With Granderson you see his value and his effect on the Yankees lineup from top to bottom. He sets the tone, drives in runs, and has made other players in the lineup better.

Without Granderson the Yankees wouldn’t be in the position that they are in. His big numbers and big plays have the Yankees sitting pretty in the AL Wildcard and possibly winning the AL East.

He deserves props and respect for the season that he is having, but more than anything he deserves to be the AL MVP.


The Panthers Are About To Make A Big Mistake

20110826-013613.jpg

Cam Newton should NOT be the Panthers starting QB.

I’m not the smartest man in the world, however I do have common sense and an understanding that seeing is believing.

So in going off of pure sight I think that the Carolina Panthers are making a huge mistake in presumably making Cam Newton their opening day starter.

Newton has looked anything but impressive in his first three outings and in his last one, tonight versus the Cincinnati Bengals, he looked awful.

He was 6-19 for 76 yards and ran for another 49, and that’s against the Bengals first string defensive starters who aren’t that good.

In Newton’s defense he has barely any help except newly acquired tight end Greg Olsen and running back D’Angelo Williams. With that said that’s even more reason as to why he shouldn’t be a starter in his first year.

Putting him out there when he’s still a raw product and has little to no help is just stupid. If Newton doesn’t succeed early he will doubt himself and his game will slip. It happened to Akili Smith, Tim Couch and Ryan Leaf and it’s on the verge of happening with Newton.

The Panthers have to start Jimmy Clausen for at least the first handful of games this season. While Clausen hasn’t exactly been lighting it up he does look more comfortable in a pro offense and has some game experience that should help him and the Panthers early on. He’s capable of playing in a live NFL game tomorrow, Newton isn’t.

If the Panthers want to make the right call then they’ll sit Newton and let him learn from the sideline and in practice reps.

Newton has immense talent and could possibly become a good NFL QB with some more fine tuning and a little seasoning. Throwing him into the fire too early would hurt his development and growth and could possibly turn him into a bust.

Newton is on his way, but is no where near ready. My eyes and anyone else’s can see that.


The Birthday Confessions Of A Sports Writer

Nothing will ever beat this game.

So I turned —- today (you’ll never get my age ever in life), and I’m currently nursing a hangover thanks to the normal heavy dosage of liquor consumption made possible by my friends (raspberry rum and soda and raspberry vodka and soda are two totally different entities, ugh).

This is hardly the condition I should be in to write a blog especially when there isn’t much to discuss right now.

However, in this silly mind of mine I decided to give you some of my sports confessions.

We as sports writers get our favoritism, views and beliefs in sports at a young age and two things happen; either you stick to your guns or you switch up sides.

I’m the latter of this. Truth is my New York sports bias is a recent thing. I used to…

Wait, let’s do this in a proper numerical style. I mean why give you a drawn out explanation then get into the confessions? I think we’ll do 24 facts, not my age but the number I wanted to wear if I ever got to play with Michael Jordan as a kid because 23 was sort of taken.

1. I hated New York sports teams growing up

Giants, hated them. Yankees, they sucked. Mets, them too. Knicks, yuck. Rangers… That’ll be number two.

My mom forged my sports life as a kid. I loved who she loved because she was a sports nut. She loved Joe Montana, Michael Jordan, and the Mets. All I knew was the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bulls, baseball cards and that NY sucked.

I actually cried when the 49ers lost to the Giants in 1991 when they were trying to three-peat. That seems so weird now especially now that I scream at Eli Manning every two seconds and own 8 giants jerseys.

This is how I got into hockey.

(my favorite sports moment is still Super Bowl 23. Me and my mom watched that game on the couch together with me curled up underneath her. As Montana led the 49ers up the field on that last late fourth quarter drive my mom and I slowly pulled away from each other and moved closer to the TV until Montana hit John Taylor for the winning score. You should’ve seen us scream and parade around our house like we had won the Super Bowl. That will never be beat.)

2. I used to hate hockey.

I mean I’m black and from the projects in Brooklyn, NY. My mom hated hockey and so did I. She always thought it was a dumb sport and there were no black players so there was no point for it. Since I followed her lead with everything (except the mets, I wasn’t that dumb) I followed that philosophy.

Then the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup and I watched it all. That hooked me.

I was in Washington D.C. when it happened but I felt the energy of New York. I learned about the 54 year curse, how much of a hockey city New York actually is and how truly bad ass Mark Messier truly was.

After that run you couldn’t pull me away from a hockey game. Even when the New Jersey Devils killed hockey in the late 90’s I was still into it heavy.

(I guess you could say the Rangers made me a New York fan. After that run in 94 I felt that I had to like all New York teams because how could I like teams from other cities when I was a true New Yorker?)

3. I was a Michigan fan growing up. (Florida State too.)

In New York there was no college team team in the area that drew attention. Every Saturday the TV selections were Notre Dame, Florida State on ESPN and the Big Ten on ABC with Michigan on every single week.

Truth is I always wanted to go to Michigan. I loved the colors, the fight song, Brian Griese, Elvis Grbac, Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson… And the fab five… And Glen Rice’s performance against Seton Hall in 1989….

I still have more great Michigan memories than Ohio State memories… AND I WENT TO OHIO STATE!!!

I could point out moments in great games like the Rose Bowl in 1997 versus Washington State, I cried when Kordell Stewart’s hail Mary beat Michigan in the Big House, I was so happy when we got revenge in Boulder some years later…

I should probably stop there before all of my Ohio State buddies kill me.

4. I never truly liked Tiger Woods

HELLLLOOOO HEISMAN!

There was always something off about him to me. He was too pristine, too clean. Me being from the projects I felt as though with black men there had to be some nasty streak in you somewhere. Jordan had one, Michael Irvin too, Jerry Rice was a prick at times but Tiger was too perfect.

I didn’t like how he always won and how everyone jumped on his bandwagon. I didn’t like how black people crowned him as our king of the moment when he didn’t seem interested in being black (whatever that means) I just never liked him.

When this scandal tore him down I laughed at him, but it didn’t bother me too much. It was just another athlete taking a nose dive. I don’t feel bad for him, I don’t care that he’s not playing well and honestly I dont care if he ever does again.

5. Maryland made me love Duke

I used to be the biggest Duke hater alive… They beat UNLV when I loved Larry Johnson, they prevented the Fab Five from winning a title, The Laettner shot that beat Kentucky made me want to stab myself… and I couldn’t believe that this many white guys were good at basketball and that they kept beating brothers.

(side note 2: for Grant Hill and coach K to criticize Jalen Rose for saying that Hill was an Uncle Tom because he played at Duke was silly. Everyone in the projects felt like that. We liked Kenny Anderson, baggy shorts and baldies. Hill and any other Dukie was a sellout to us. How could they play with all of these white boys and not there own people? Do I think like that now? Of course not. I understand what coaching can do and that you can ball no matter the color. But still you can’t criticize a guy for saying something that the majority of people like him felt was true.)

Then I moved to Maryland where they hate anything New York; Yankees, Jets, Metrostars it didn’t matter. I didn’t understand the hatred because one, New York wasn’t their rival in anything and two, because it didn’t make sense. It got to the point where I kept hearing Yankees this, Giants that, blah blah blah that I got angry and said that I would hate the Terrapins just out if spite.

And who do Terps fans hate more than anything?… Duke.

So there I was cheering for Duke, the team I always hated but because I wanted to piss Marylanders off I was forcing myself to like.

That’s when I fell in love with Jay Williams, Shane Battier and Carlos Boozer and they had me hooked.

It was Williams especially because he was a Jersey kid and I always liked guys from my neck of the woods. I loved his game, fearlessness and how he ate the Terps for lunch. His ten points in 58 seconds still makes me laugh.

Watching Maryland fans whine and cry more than made up for the Yankees not winning a World Series for ten years.

6. I didn’t care that Brett Hull’s skate was in the crease.

The skate had nothing to do with the goal. Get over it Buffalo.

Dumbest… Rule… Ever!!! So many goals were disallowed because of that dumb rule that never should have been made because half of the time the skates never interfered with the goalie.

Did Hull affect Hasek’s angle? No. Did Hull interfere with Hasek? No. Did he skate in late and come up on the side if Hasek an nothing to do with the goal? Yes.

Ok then. Sorry Buffalo deal with it.

7. My least favorite sports moment as a kid was watching my Oakland A’s get swept by the Cincinnati Reds.

How did Eck, Dave Stewart, Rickey Henderson and my favorite player Mark McGwire not only lose but look awful against the Reds? Was Jose Rijo that good? How about Chris Sabo and Eric Davis? That was the first time in my life where I went to school the next day after a game and couldn’t stop thinking how in the hell that just happened.

The A’s were so much better, they had the pitching, the hitting and the power and they lost to The Nasty Boys?

I need a juice box.

8. Syracuse-Georgetown is the best basketball rivalry in college basketball

John Thompson, Jim Boeheim, Billy Owens, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Sherman Douglas, technical fouls, physical basketball, a loud Carrier Dome and an even louder Capital Center… God I love the Big East.

9. I will always hate Texas A&M football

Why? Because they screwed Michael Bishop out of everything.

A title, a Heisman, and a pro career.

I only watched Kansas State because of Bishop and his speed, arm and instinct. I couldn’t name another Wildcat from that team but I just loved Bishop.

I didn’t care that he was six feet tall or needed some fine tuning. I just knew that once K-State got to the National Championship all the world would see his skill…

And Sirr Parker killed that.

I’m glad the SEC said no to you.

10. I really don’t care who did steroids in baseball

It was legal and it brought the game back.

Where would baseball be if Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa didn’t have their home run chase?

Steroids or not that was a magical summer where everyone sat in front if the television and their lives hinged on every at bat. It was awesome; McGwire found the fountain of youth, Sosa emerged as a superstar and the game was popular again.

As much as everyone hides it we love baseball. We all played it, watched it live and have fun at the yard whenever go. The game was suffering well after the strike of 1994 it needed a boost and this was it.

Yeah he did steroids... he also saved baseball.

Did the use get out of control? Yes, but to me it was worth it and I’ll always remember the summer of 1998 as the summer that baseball truly came back.

11. Steffi Graf is my least favorite athlete ever.

She beat Monica Seles who was my favorite women’s player at the time, she beat Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, she won seemingly every tournament she played and won with ease.

She wasn’t snooty, had no mean strike, no off the court issues… nothing.

She was just a machine, a well-oiled wrecking ball that made Saturday’s at Roland Garros and Wimbledon no fun to watch because you knew she was going to win.

She was the Bulls before the Jordan, golf before Tiger and Yankees before their rise…

And she was a total class act. That’s why I hated her I guess.

12. The only reason why I hate The Pittsburgh Steelers is Super Bowl 40

The Seahawks played against 17 men at a time, the Steelers and the refs. Quite honestly the worst called game ever and the Steelers acted like nothing happened. I still want Mike Holmgren to body slam Bill Cowher.

13. If Ohio State plays Syracuse in anything… I’m cheering for Syracuse

Buckeye Nation is really going to kill me.

Now I was a Michigan fan and I loved the Seminoles but I always wanted to be an Orangeman (and I would’ve if tuition wasn’t $42,000 a year).

Of course in basketball I loved the Orange and always will, however I like Syracuse football as much as I love OSU football.

Those were the Donovan McNabb days when he was slinging it to Marvin Harrison. I had a man crush on McNabb because he was just a beast. He could run it, throw it and make a three pointer every once in awhile. He was the first in the era of the scrambling QB and he made it work.

Harrison I thought was going to be the next Jerry Rice, and he almost was. He made everything look easy and could catch any ball thrown at him. With those two guys I thought it was the beginning if a dynasty at The Cuse on the field…

But we know how that went.

Fast forward to this year and The Cuse is on its way back. Coming off of an 8-5 year Syracuse has an outside shot at the Big East and could win 9 games. I’m honestly more excited for Orange football than Buckeye football.

Maybe it was the scandal, the tats, the selling of rings but I’m over it. I want to cheer for something I can believe in and right now my childhood favorites are trending up. I’m not totally abandoning Ohio State, but if they square off against the Orange I might be in a Syracuse Marathon Men shirt.

I’m looking so bad to the alumni right now.

My man Donovan.

14. I laughed at The Knicks when Reggie Miller scored 8 points in 17 seconds

I mean it was funny.

15. I still think the Ravens fixed Super Bowl 34

THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL THAT BALTIMORE CAN SCORE 34 POINTS!!!! ESPECIALLY AGAINST A TOP FIVE DEFENSE!!! AND I’M STICKING WITH THAT!!!!

16. My first pair of basketball kicks weren’t Jordan’s… They were Ewing’s

That orange and blue with the basketball hanging off the side… C’mon son! They were way fresher than the Jordans.

17. As much as I loved Mark Messier my favorite Ranger is Adam Graves

You ever date a girl who isn’t prettier than other girls that you’ve dated, doesn’t have big boobs, doesn’t have a great body, but makes you happy and does all the little things? That’s Adam Graves. He wasn’t as well known as Messier or Brian Leetch, he wasn’t as rough as Jeff Beukeboom and he wasn’t Mike Gartner fast.

But he always scored goals when you needed them, always killed penalties well and always laid it out in the ice. I was more upset when we traded him to San Jose than when Wayne Gretzky retired… true story.

18. The first game that made me throw a violent tantrum and had me cursing up a storm was the Mariners-Yankees ALDS game 5 in 1995.

Literally cursed so loud that my mom barged into my room and caught me about to tear into my book bag.

I hate that the M’s got into the playlets in the first place with that late season run (I was cheering for then to make it at first because I loved Ken Griffey Jr… Learned that lesson) I hate that Randy Johnson was so unhittable and I hate Jack McDowell because he had no business being out there amongst other reasons for hating him.

When we fired Buck Showalter at the end of the year I was part pissed and part happy. I was happy he was gone but mad that he cost us so many games including that one.

19. Pete Sampras- Andre Agassi is still my favorite sports rivalry.

This was the first sports thing that me and my mom went at each others throats about. She loved Agassi, the image, the hair, the return game and that he seemed like a down to earth guy. I liked Sampras’s nerve, his serve, the way that he played the game. He was the first cerebral athlete that I admired because he always seemed in control.

She called Sampras snooty, I called Agassi a punk, yeah a tennis rivalry broke up our house, weird I know.

It was the tennis that was so great. They were constantly gunning for each other and only measured themselves against each other. Jim Courier, Boris Becker. Stefan Edberg, none of them mattered. Sure they were good competition but Sampras only cared about Agassi and vice versa

You know these Roger Federer- Rafael Nadal matches? Those were three to four times a year for Sampras and Agassi or so it seemed. They were epic and just had you sitting on your hands past the third set.

Man did they hate each other.

They wanted to kill each other I thought. It was the perfect match if wits; Sampras and his finesse versus Agassi and his power. The series never tilted too far in one way. Sampras won his titles as did Agassi but Each has their own bragging point; Sampras won 7 Wimbledon crowns the most ever while Agassi has the career slam.

(side note 3: you know how I know this rivalry was really nasty? Last year in a charity match Sampras teamed with Federer to take on Agassi and Nadal. Agassi and Sampras traded barbs that were more than just smack talk. The crowd and Federer and Nadal just stood there with the crackers looks on there faces. I guess time doesn’t heal all wounds.)

20. The biggest choke job I ever saw was at the 1994 World Cup when Roberto Baggio missed a wide open net in penalty kicks costing Italy a chance at beating Brazil

I didn’t understand soccer at the time and didn’t like it… But even I was saying to myself “how did he miss that?”

21. As much as I hate the SEC, Nebraska is still my least favorite college team

They are still the most overrated program ever. They never threw the ball and no one could stop them. I remember watching the 1996 National Title game against Florida (who I also hated thanks to my allegiance to Florida State) and watch them beat down a team that beat down everyone and I couldnt understand it.

That Tommie Frazier run was the perfect example. You know option right was their bread and butter, they were in position had him stopped, yet 65 yards later the Huskers were up 62-24.

I can’t believe in 1994 that Nebraska and Penn State both finished undefeated but Nebraska won the outright title. PENN STATE WOULD HAVE KILLED THEM!!! Kerry Collins, Ki-Jana Carter and Kyle Brady along with that defense would’ve stopped that option I guarantee it.

Same with the split tile in 1997 with Michigan. Michigan was definitely the better team and had a better defense. However, everyone loved Nebraska, the loved Tom Osbourne a his gimmick offense. It ticks me off and I hope Ohio State beats them by 80 this year.

(by the way, you know what could’ve solved the issues of 1994 and 1997? A playoff… Just saying)

22. I still get nervous when I see a Florida state kicker kick

Wide right… Wide right 2… Wide left… That’ll do it to you.

Ugh!

23. I used to love Cal Ripken Jr an thought he was the greatest shortstop ever…

Then I moved to Maryland and heard about Cal so much that I wanted to puke… oh and Derek Jeter happened.

Cal made me want to be a shortstop. He hit for power, drove in runs and was great defensively. He had the iron man streak and everything pulled me in.

I had a serious collection of Cal Ripken cards that I wouldn’t sell for anything…

Then I got older and studied the game more and realized that he was alright.

One, that streak is the most overrated streak ever in sports. Of those 2600+ games only 200 of them were meaningful. He trotted out for so many bad teams and bad years that really the streak took on it’s own life because that’s all there was in Baltimore.

When you look at Brett Favre’s streak in the NFL it is way more impressive because Favre played in title games, won 3 MVP’s, went to the playoff in all but 3 or 4 years and carried his team to victory. Ripken wasn’t even close.

Then there was the fact that he wasn’t a great hitter. He always hovered around .275 and once his power went so did he.

Then there’s this fact… for all of the mess about Derek Jeter’s defense did you know that Ripken has more career errors, more 20+ error seasons and a lower fielding percentage than Jeter.

Maybe we should steer some of this overrated talk in Cal’s direction.

Ripken was good but he isn’t Jeter. Jeter has played in way more important games, come through in the clutch too many times and has made more ridiculous plays than Ripken ever did.

It’s not even close as to who’s better. Jeter is hitting almost .300 and playing decent defense at shortstop at age 37, Ripken was already tanking.

I’m sorry Maryland and baseball critics, Ripken was highly overrated. It just took me a few years to figure it out.

24. My middle school teacher Ms Rodriguez first put it in my head that I should be a sports writer.

We had a project where we had to write something and put it into summary form for class. I used the NHL all-star game for my project. I watched the entire thing took notes, wrote a three page report and talked about in threw minutes or less highlighting Owen Nolan’s hat trick (I still don’t know how he didn’t win MVP that year, the game was in San Jose… He was a Shark… silly voters),

Needless to say I got an A and she, as well as my classmates were really impressed. She told me to stick with it and that I would be a really good writer one day.

Overrated.

I hope she’s right. Writing a blog hungover while spilling your sports guts isn’t fun. However it may be worth it in the end and I might have many more happy birthdays in my future.

Thanks for reading and supporting the blog so far and letting me spew my ridiculousness for all the world to see. Now if you’ll excuse me my hangover is gone and I’m going to try to get a new one.

I might need a few drinks once I hear it from Buckeye fans about what I said.

Sometimes confessions should stay secret.


The Summer Of Durant

Kevin Durant has welcomed and dispatched all challengers this summer.

So, what have you done this summer? Gone on vacation? Went to a few shows? Drank a few beers and partied? Yeah sounds like a normal summer where everyone is happy that the winter coats are away and the only thing that matters are warm vacations on beaches and being lazy as hell.

Kevin Durant could’ve spent his summer doing the exact same thing as all of his, instead he’s been too busy becoming the new face of the NBA and quite possibly the most popular, and best basketball player on the planet.

Durant’s summer has been a constant highlight reel that has showed him dropping threes by the bucket, dunking from every possible angle and drawing more ooh’s and aah’s than the circus.

Durant has been the man of the summer in any sport. His acrobatics and mind-numbing performances have overshadowed the bleak outlook of the NBA lockout, the MLB playoff races and any other headline that has graced ESPN.

It’s been silly to be honest with you. First there was the 66 that he dropped at Rucker Park earlier in the month where a pull up three for a heat check turned into a YouTube phenomenon. Durant made the crowd erupt with every pull up bomb to the point where fans rushed the court after he hit a fourth consecutive three. Even the on court announcer lost his marbles as Durant stood and posed with the mob of fans with nothing but a screw face signifying “yeah, I’m nice.”

they'll be talking about the Rucker game for a long time

He’s put on shows at Dyckman park, toured China and the Philippines, balled out in gymnasiums all around the country and this past weekend in a matchup of D.C. and L.A. ballers it was Durant’s star that shined the brightest with 44 points in a win for his D.C. area Goodman League team over the L.A. based Drew League squad (led by OKC Thunder teammate James Harden coincidentally). It was a game that had a ton of hype coming into it thanks to Durant’s presence and that of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and other ballers who came out. While everyone came to play it was Durant that controlled the action most and made the crowd of over 1500 stand in awe.

Not bad for a 22 year-old who’s coming off of his first conference finals appearance this year.

What I like most about this entire turn of events is how eager Durant is to go out there and show just how dominant of a player he is. There were times in the Dallas series where teammate Russell Westbrook stood in his way and wanted to take all of the big shots while Durant stood back helpless.

In these situations it’s just Durant and his opponent. He has the respect of his teammates at the Rucker, Goodman or any other spot so when he gets the ball they just clear out and let him do him. It’s done wonders for his game and his brand.

Whenever the NBA starts up its next season how can the league not make Durant its most focal piece? He’s always been known as a genuine guy with a quiet demeanor and a big heart, but now it looks like his game is reaching new heights.

With LeBron James’ hara kiri of his personal appearance to others in the league Durant is the perfect fit to replace him as the face of the league. Kids, adults, college ballers and the streets adore Durant from coast to coast. He cares about his image to the point that he puts his tattoos on one unseen area of his body so that he won’t mess up any marketing for himself, however he’s nowhere near as vein as James.

Durant is always active on Twitter and is eager to communicate with fans at all times. He always showcases other people on his page and is not afraid to let his guard down for a little bit of fun.

What really separates him from LeBron is that he wants to improve… and wants to fight for his respect. That’s the main reason why Durant is in Harlem, D.C., and L.A. balling on the courts against great pro and street ballers, he wants respect from all forms of the game and not just the league.

Going back to the Rucker Park game just look at his facial expressions. Look at how with every shot he takes and makes he slaps fives with fans, chest bumps rappers and plays with a killer mentality. He’s honing himself for the next time he takes the court and he’s staring Carmelo, LeBron or Kobe in the face and the game is in his hands. While LeBron finally tries to find a low post game in year 9 and is still searching for his killer instinct, Durant is getting his as we speak.

Live from New York its Kevin Durant.

(Side note: if you think Kobe doesn’t recognize Durant balling extra hard then you’re a fool. Why else would Kobe be at a Drew league game balling in a gym with 5 rings? Because Kobe competes, he sees Durant doing his thing, he saw the 66 in Harlem and thought to himself “I have to get out here and see what’s up.” He knows Durant is trying to position himself for the crown and Kobe still wants to match Jordan and isn’t satisfied himself just yet. Kobe didn’t ball in D.C. for the Drew-Goodman game, he didn’t have to. He proved his point already that he’s still around and he can still bring.

You know I used to really hate Kobe, but the older he gets I love him more and more.)

The question now is what happens when the summer ends and NBA players are heading overseas to make money during the lockout? Where will Durant go and what will he do?

Is Turkey an option, Russia? He’s rumored to be staring in a movie about basketball that will start shooting when NBA training camp would start. Durant’s stock is higher than any other player in the league right now. Everyone wants to know his moves, his thoughts and everything that has anything to do with him right now.

And he has this summer to thank for it all. His games at Rucker Park, Trinity, Dyckman and everywhere else that he has played in the last month and a half have dropped our jaws and made us look at him in a different light.

He’s scored a lot of points, wowed a lot crowds and has made himself the number one player to watch in the league whenever it starts up again. Kevin Durant has moved up the NBA’s pecking order and it doesn’t look like he’ll be coming down for awhile.

I think his summer turned out just fine.


Hurricane Damage

U are in a lot of trouble.

Well damn Miami… way to one up every other NCAA program with your own violations.

North Carolina just had a couple of players take illegal benefits in one year; you had 72 in ten years.

Ohio State had players exchange tattoos for gifts, your guys got everything that sat in front of them; orgies, abortions, money… you sure there wasn’t a ki of coke just floating around there somewhere? I mean it is Miami.

Miami took the phrase go hard or go home a little too literally. The university is under investigation by the NCAA after Nevin Shapiro, who is serving a 20 year sentence for setting up a ponzi scheme that netted nearly $1 billion, pulled one of the biggest snitch jobs since Henry Hill brought down uncle Pauly in Goodfellas.

He told federal officials any and everything dirty about the school that he became a huge booster for in 2001.

Meet the man that brought down "The U"

Shapiro gave money, gifts, threw boat parties for players and set up elaborate sex parties for 72 different members of the school’s football since 2001. The list includes past players like Devin Hester, Jon Beason and Vince Wilfork and even an array of current players such as starting QB Jacory Harris.

It casts another dark cloud over an institution that had had more than its share of hard knocks and bad press over the course of its existence… the real question is are you really shocked?

“The U” has always toed the line of controversy and football since it was known as “Thug U” in the late 80’s and the early 90’s. The school was under heavy scrutiny years ago after a huge brawl against FIU that features a helmet swinging safety, a stomping of a kicker and more than a few punches thrown.

However, that misstep and its aftermath is a mere side dish to this heaping helping of trouble.

How in the wild blue yonder do you not know about a fifteenth of this? How does no one from Butch Davis to Randy Shannon to Frank Haith the basketball coach (oh yeah… The basketball team got some scratch too) not be the least bit suspicious in any of this? You always hear college coaches say that they can’t watch everyone every single second of the day, but you can at least be aware of some things.

The fact that the AD’s, staff and coaches were ignorant of all of the wrong doing that went on with Shapiro is downright laughable. They had to be aware of whom Shapiro was and all of the problems that come along with boosters as have been seen all around college sports.

Shapiro specifically had to have had a ton of red flags on him from the get go. I mean a few pictures of him partying with various ‘Canes like Hester and Kellen Winslow and pictures of players partying on his yacht had to float around the offices of Coral Gables at some point. They had to know this guy’s motives and why he always was around. The guy was called “Lil Luke” in homage to Miami rapper Luther Campbell because of how much of a huge fan he was of the Canes and because there were early rumblings that he was providing handouts to Canes players.

(Funny story; Campbell was part of an early investigation in the program in the early 90’s because he was being accused of the same things as Shapiro. Shapiro actually dimed Campbell during his confession saying that Campbell was still providing benefits to “The U” even though Campbell has denied having anything to do with the current scandal.

However, this is what I’m talking about with Miami. Why would you still deal with Campbell after the heat that he brought on your program already in previous years? Where’s the recognition by the AD and school chancellors that these people still have influence on these kids and why didn’t they keep a close eye on it?)

Miami AD Paul Dee and Donna Shalala should be ashamed of how this has happened.

As much as you can blame Shapiro, Campbell or anyone else that provided these extravagant extras it still falls on the school. The school knows about compliance, they know the rules and they know that that they have to keep an eye on anyone in or around the school that could bring trouble to the institution. They just didn’t care.

Once again we have to go back to this notion; these aren’t student athletes, they are not amateur athletes, they are money pots. Miami’s biggest money makers are the 80+ kids that rumble out onto the field every Saturday and put on a show for 60 minutes. The school needs them to make money, so in reality it doesn’t matter what they do off the field and honestly you know that the front offices don’t care. If they did, this wouldn’t happen.

So what should happen to “The U?” What should the NCAA do to the university after this embarrassment in a year full of dirty money, violations and constant reckless abandon for the rules?

Ever since Ohio State players sat at a table to answer questions about money for tattoos… no wait Auburn was questioned for pay for play… no North Carolina players were investigated for taking illegal gifts… no since USC… you see where I’m getting at?

Understand that no program is truly clean, heck, Boise State lost scholarships due to secondary violations this year, but this is ridiculous. College football is out of control and there has to be some sort of hammer laid down to prove a point. That’s why the NCAA has to throw the book at Miami and out every school on notice that this type of reckless behavior will not be tolerated.

The NCAA has to give Miami the death penalty.

But not the SMU 2 year penalty… Miami should get a 5 year sentence.

Come on now, ten years of unsolicited, out of control behavior with a laundry list of violations that would make Tony Montana blush. You can’t just punish Miami at this point, you have to make them pay and pay hard.

Since there was no care for the rules on their part then why should the NCAA care that Miami needs football to pay its bills? If you did care about rules and going about things the proper way then you would’ve done it. However, since Miami has no sense when it comes to the rules then they shouldn’t be allowed to play. Simple as that.

Will they get the death penalty? I don’t think so. Ohio State pulled the NCAA by its tails and got away, hell USC got off kind of easy with the Reggie Bush scandal. Miami will probably just lose scholarships, won’t be allowed to play in bowl games and lose some TV money and that’s it.

Former Cane Vince WIlfork is one of the 72 implicated players in the scandal.

I have no faith in the NCAA that they will do what’s right because they don’t do what’s right 85% of the time. Terrelle Pryor shouldn’t have played in the Sugar Bowl, Cam Newton shouldn’t have finished out the season at Auburn, Lane Kiffin shouldn’t have gotten off scot free at Tennessee… after all of that how can I have faith that they’ll get this right.

I feel bad for college sports right now. My buddy Andrea put up a Facebook status saying she’s “losing faith in college football” and “what happened to love for the game?” Who knows which program will get popped next, who knows what other dirty laundry will be exposed from some school. The game and the institution is broken and being run by a lot of ignorant entities as seen in the past year.

The NCAA may have one upped baseball when it comes to scandal. At least with steroids there was a solution and it has quietly moved to the back of the room. NCAA scandals are the elephant in the room, it’s not moving and no one is trying to make an effort to move it.

As the season approaches there is more talk about the “Year of the Scandal” instead of the chase for the national championship. We’re still talking about the “Tat 5,” North Carolina doesn’t have a clue what to think about this year’s team and now this. How much more scandal can the NCAA take after a year like this?

After reading an article on Shapiro he seems bitter that no one from Miami has contacted him, sent him money, or even cared about him in prison. That was part of his motivation to get snitch on the program and bring all of these revelations to light.

He thought Miami actually cared about him and that they would be there for him. He should’ve known that in college football the institution doesn’t care about the rules, or rule breakers. Miami had no regard for anyone but itself and walked all over the NCAA and in Shapiro’s own head him as well.

In turn the NCAA needs to do to Miami what Shapiro has already done to the school… bury them.


Big Z’s Last Tantrum

20110813-051435.jpg

Zambrano's last tantrum might've been the last draw.

Carlos Zambrano needs to go away… now!!

I wrote about Bryce Harper’s attitude issues yesterday but he has an excuse, he’s 18. He has time to grow out of his issues and become a man, what’s Zambrano’s excuse?

Last night he allowed 5 home runs and was so infuriated that he threw at Chipper Jones twice and was ejected. After being tossed he went down to his locker, cleaned it out and went home. Apparently he’s considering retirement… if I were the Cubs I’d let him.

Here’s how ridiculous Zambrano has become; do you know who else gave up 5 home runs and had a bad night last night? C.C. Sabathia. Did he throw a tantrum? No. Did he lash out at people? No. Did he clean out his locker and embarrass the Yankees with his actions? No.

He took his beating like a man, sat down and will work through his issues. Zambrano threw a hissy fit (again) and made himself look like a fool (again).

Zambrano and his child like behavior has pretty much run its course with everyone involved within the organization. He has proven that he can’t behave like a professional baseball player and can’t handle the rigors of an entire baseball season as a marquee pitcher.

The Cubs have given him chance after chance and the only option left is to send him home for good.

Rick Sutcliffe of Baseball Tonight was asked if Zambrano’s teammates should accept him back onto the team and he said no.

I agree with him 100%. Zambrano is not a good fit for this or any other major league team right now. The Cubs, who are in the midst of another poor season, do not need Zambrano to infect the wonderful young talent that is blossoming right now in Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney. Castro and Barney are going to be good pieces to build around and do not need a baby like Zambrano to influence their decisions.

The biggest thing for Zambrano is that he needs to walk away for awhile to help himself. He needs anger management, self-reflection, something.

The sad thing is that Z is a hell of a pitcher who has thrown a no-hitter, won 20 games and has made All-Star teams. In 2008 I had an argument with my buddy Scully about how the Yankees should’ve sent Alex Rodriguez to the Cubs for Aremis Ramirez and Zambrano because at the time I felt the Cubs were putting so much into Kerry Wood and Mark Prior that they weren’t noticing that Zambrano was their best pitcher.

I knew it, the Cubs eventually did, but Zambrano has driven all of us to the point that we just don’t care anymore.

That’s why he’s got to walk away now and salvage his career. Zambrano ha a lot left in his tank and can be a good starter for some team down the road.

Just not the Cubs. That ship officially sailed last night when Zambrano tried to hurt Chipper Jones and hurt his image, the Cubs, Mike Quade and anyone associated within the organization.

I’m sorry Big Z but you gotta go. You’ve been hurting yourself, now you’re trying to hurt others.

No organization, not even one with the patience like the Cubs have been showing can put up with this any longer.