Monthly Archives: December 2011

No Need To Panic In Boston

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For all of those worried Celtics fans out there about the team’s lackluster 0-3 start… Calm down, you’ve seen this before. As a matter of fact you’ve seen it twice this year already.

For the entire sports scene in Boston slow starts have been the norm all year long.

It started in April with the Red Sox who after a headline stealing off season jumped off to a horrendous 2-10 start to the season. However, the Sox recovered to have the best record in baseball all summer before they imploded in September.

The Bruins had an obvious Stanley Cup hangover as they found themselves in last place in the Northeast division with only three wins after the month of October. Now the Bruins sit in first place of the entire Eastern Conference heading into the new year.

Now it’s the Celtics turn.

Let’s be honest, the C’s are old and in a shortened compacted season like this one age may play a huge factor integer success.

Kevin Garnett has been hot and cold, Ray Allen has been, well, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce has been M.I.A. due to an injured heel. The best performers so far have been an ultra motivated Rajon Rondo who has responded well to off season trade rumors, and Brandon Bass has been the inside presence that the Celtics have been lacking since trading Kendrick Perkins.

The Celtics are not a full team right now. Besides missing Pierce they are without Jeff Green for the season due to a heart ailment and newly acquired guard Mickael Pietrus is still injured and not scheduled to return until mid-January. Head coach Doc Rivers has had to rely on heavy doses of Keyon Dooling and Marquis Daniels to fill in for those roles and so far it’s led to mixed results.

However, people should realize that it’s only three games. With 63 games left and Pierce returning to action in the next game or two the Celtics have more than enough time to right the ship.

Even though a season like this favors a young team with fresh legs this Celtics team has won too many games to not make the proper adjustments to stay in contention.

A turnaround is eminent with this team and it starts with a fairly easy schedule for the next few games. Their next four have them playing the Detroit Pistons, New Jersey Nets and they play the Washington Wizards twice. By this time next week the Celtics could easily be 4-3 and getting back into the swing of things.

So for the worried fans of Boston who are ready to slam the panic button, relax. There’s plenty of time left in the season to turn things around and get back in track.

The Red Sox & Bruins had early season troubles and both recovered now it’s the Celtics turn to do so.

Since history repeats itself then the C’s should be sitting on top of the Atlantic division very shortly. However, if they do recover hopefully their season, and the Bruins for that matter doesn’t mirror the Red Sox season exactly. That would be too much for the fans of Beantown to handle.

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Welcome To The Club Todd Graham

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Todd Graham is… You can fill that ellipsis with whatever vulgar phrase that you would like and no one would have an issue with it.

You can add Graham’s name to the ever- growing list of d-bag coaches that skip town looking for a bigger pay day and a more glamorous job and leaving more than a handful of upset members of a university in his wake.

Graham is Bobby Petrino, John L. Smith, Nick Saban, Brian Kelly, Rich Rodriguez and any other self-serving coach rolled into one. He told his players how they should be accountable for themselves, practice teamwork and leadership and then in a flash he turned his back on those morals and left them all in the dust.

He never gave Pittsburgh a warning, he never showed empathy for his players, he just gave them a good-bye text message and rolled out on them.

So much for accountability.

This isn’t his first time either. After leading Rice to it’s first bowl game in 45 years he bolted for Tulsa. After two successful years and two months after signing a ten year extension he left for Pittsburgh. Now after one dismal 6-6 season he’s landed in Tempe to lead another 6-6 team.

Am I shocked? Of course not. This is what happens in the NCAA. Coaches can pick up and leave whenever they like and leave a mess in their wake, yet athletes can’t play for another school unless they sit for one year. How hypocritical. But that’s the NCAA for you. For all of this talk of caring for the student athlete you sure as hell don’t see it.

Every year there is a Graham, Randy Edsall or anyone else that jumps ship and leaves a university and it’s players in limbo and they do it in crass fashion. Does the NCAA care? Nope. There are no penalties for breach of contract, no fines for guys like Graham or Kelly who blind side their schools before big time games… Nothing.

Just come and go as you please and damn anyone who cares. It’s pretty sickening if you ask me, what’s even more sickening are the choices of schools that these guys are going to.

Edsall leaves his UCONN team by flight after the Fiesta Bowl last year to coach Maryland?… Maryland? What makes Maryland football so much of a better job than UCONN?

Same for Graham. What makes 6-6 ASU better than 6-6 Pitt? These changes are making less and less sense as we move forward. At least Kelly left UC for Notre Dame. At least Lane Kiffin left Tennessee for USC. If you’re going to be a d-bag at least make the job worth it. If it’s not then you’ll find yourself on the employment line in three years after getting beaten up by the best in your conference (hi John L. Smith).

However, even after watching coaches fail miserably after jumping ship the process will continue. Guys like Graham will keep jumping for the next big pay day and will continue to leave a mess behind. That’s just how it is.

Anyway good luck to Pitt who will now try and find their fifth coach in two years (yep… That many) and also to good luck to Graham in the PAC-12.

I hope you have fun finishing 3rd in your division every year and getting killed by USC and Oregon on the regular.

Trust me, you deserve it.


Selig Should Strip Braun

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If Ryan Braun did in fact use performing enhancing drugs this season en route to his NL MVP then Major League Baseball should strip him of it.

No questions asked, no need for explanations, it’s all in black and white.

ESPN’s Outside The Lines reported this weekend that Braun tested positive for use of PHD’s after a routine test before the beginning of the playoffs. He was made aware of his positive test before the announcement was made of his win of the NL MVP a few weeks ago. Braun is appealing his suspension in hopes of having it overturned.

If it isn’t, then Bud Selig should strip Braun of his MVP award immediately and reward it to second place finisher Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Stripping Braun of the MVP would send a message to the entire league that this is how serious cheating is taken in MLB.

If Braun cheated en route to his MVP how could he possibly keep it? Braun hit over .330 with 33 home runs 112 RBI and 30 steals, but he did so with the aid of PHD’s. His numbers are therefore tainted and he is not worthy of being named MVP.

This would be a huge blow to baseball, Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers who are going through a resurrection.

The Brewers have not been a competitive franchise since they moved to the National League. After the acquisition of C.C. Sabathia in 2008 an their first playoff appearance since 1982 the Brewers became a fixture in the NL Central race culminating with this year’s run to the NLCS and Braun’s MVP award.

Even with the impending departure of first baseman Prince Fielder, Braun was still the face of the franchise and the team’s most popular player. Braun is a baby-faced, all around talent that was poised for superstardom and lifting the Brewers to new heights and give baseball reason to move past it’s steroid-filled past.

Braun was one of the new generation of young guns who had all of the tools of a power-hitting outfielder without the aid of PHD’s. He was the model of what the MLB wanted it’s new generation to be like… now after this positive test what do they do?

The best thing to do is take his MVP award away from him. Selig has to remove Braun’s name from the award because in this era steroids and PHD’s are no longer the thing to do amongst players. Braun has to be made poster-child for this new era. It would be the ultimate form of embarrassment and send the strongest message to your players and to fans that this is not tolerated anymore.

The NFL should’ve done this year ago when Shawne Merriman had a positive steroid test and was still voted defensive player of the year. The MLB can and should be different. There should not be awards given to cheaters who are caught , they have to be punished and it has to start with Ryan Braun.

I like Braun as a player, I think he will rebound from this incident and put up similar numbers when he is clean. However, right now he isn’t. He cheated to win the MVP award in the National League and he shouldn’t be allowed to keep it.

Just when you though the steroid era was over in baseball here it comes again. This time Bud Selig should act accordingly and strip Ryan Braun.


An Awkward Moment For David Stern

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That awkward moment when Chris Paul walks into training camp today in New Orleans when he was supposed to be a Laker yesterday.

That awkward moment when Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol walk past Mitch Kupxhak who just tried to trade them yesterday.

That awkward moment when Luis Scola and Kevin Martin walk into Houston’s locker room and try to act like everything’s normal when it’s not.

That awkward moment when Danny Ainge gets back on the phone trying to trade for Paul with Rajon Rondo walking into his office looking for apology that Ainge would trade him in the first place.

That awkward moment when Amar’e Stoudamire tries to act like he’s not getting traded when there was mention of his name in a possible trade for Paul.

That awkward moment when any free agent or trade prospect gets nervous when they hear the Cleveland Cavaliers as a destination knowing that they have to work for Dan Gilbert. You know the guy that dissed LeBron in comic sans script. He was one of the men behind the killing of Paul trade. More on that later.

That awkward moment when the Magic start getting nervous that they won’t get anything in return for Dwight Howard since they are about to lose him.

That awkward moment when reports of Dwight Howard going to the Nets surface and both the Magic and Nets wait for rejection letters from the commish…

Way to make things uncomfortable like an Egyptian heat wave David Stern.

His veto of the Chris Paul trade to the Los Angeles Lakers has turned a solution of three teams problems to a problem for thirty teams.

Here’s the scoop: the Hornets can’t keep Paul and they know it, they work out a with the Lakers to send him there and work in the Rockets as a third party. The Lakers get a point guard that they desperately need, the Rockets get an actual center in Pau Gasol, and The Hornets get Martin, Odom and Scola to make them a deep competitive team. It works out for all party’s especially the Hornets who look like the big winners…

Except it didn’t work out that way.

Reportedly several owners despised the trade and sent E-mails to Stern expressing their dissatisfaction. The ring leader was apparently Dan Gilbert who made the point that he thought the point of the lockout was so that players could bully GM’s into getting their way and so that superteams wouldn’t be formed, which would keep the competitive balance.

Truthfully Gilbert had a point. As a fan, a Knicks fan at that, I would like a more competitive balance around the league. If there are only 6 teams worth watching then what’s the point of watching.

However, if this were Gilbert years ago and he knew LeBron James was leaving (he did though his naivety got the best of him) Gilbert would’ve done the same thing. He would’ve traded James and got as much for him as he could. So why is it a problem to him that the Hornets are trying to get the best value possible for a fleeing star?

This is going to be an issue going forward for a handful of teams that need to move players that will leave in the future. The Magic come to mind first with the Dwight Howard issue.

Reportedly they are having heated talks to send him to the Nets. Will Stern veto that trade too? What about when the T-Wolves want to move Kevin Love, or when the Clippers or Warriors are trying to get Paul again? Will he veto those deals as well?

Stern just opened up Pandora’s box by not allowing the Paul deal to go through because he has to kill those other deals. If not then the Hornets, Lakers & Rockets will be hotter than the sun and they’ll have a right to be.

There should be a more fair and balanced league, but when a trade happens and it’s fair to the teams involved it should go through. Stern should’ve realized that, now he has a mess on his hands that could and will be bigger than the three teams involved.

If you think life is awkward for the players involved in this deal just wait and watch the next few weeks. The NBA had a wild offseason but the drama of the regular season might be even bigger.

And it all started with a no from David Stern. If he doesn’t fix this problem his next few headaches will be much worse.


Pujols Proves It’s All About The Money

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Sports is all about money. Period. It’s about getting paid, but then again in our daily lives it’s the same for us. We all want our fair share of pay and we want to be paid what we feel that we deserve. We always want the best deal possible and once we get it we are gone.

There is no sense of loyalty in our day to day jobs especially if it’s a job that we do that we hate. If the money is better elsewhere we will leave at the drop of a hat.

For sports fans we view things on the field differently. We look at athletes not as workers but as idols. We worship the ground they walk on, buy those expensive jerseys and scream, cheer and holler at the mere sight if them.

All we ask in return is some loyalty. Loyalty to us for being loyal to you. All we ask is that the man the adore so much will stay and play for the fans that made him so loved.

However, loyalty is at a premium these days as athletes have emulated the working class by chasing more money instead of working with what the home team has and being an icon for far after they have retired.

You can add Albert Pujols to that list.

Pujols left the St. Louis Cardinals today to sign with the Anaheim Angels (I will not ever call them the Los Angeles Angels ever) for a ten year 250 million dollar deal that makes him baseball’s highest paid first baseman tied with Ryan Howard.

That’s what Pujols wanted all along. He wanted to be games highest paid player at his position and apparently was willing to throw away 11 years of goodwill to get it… and he did. Honestly though, who wouldn’t?

As a fan of the game it ticks me off. Pujols was a St. Louis Cardinal. He was the modern day Stan Musial, he could’ve been the greatest Cardinal of all time and placed on the same mantel as Musial, Bob Gibson and Ozzie Smith. That was his city. He began his career there and built up a legacy that looks as if it will be hard for anyone to touch.

Pujols has 445 homeruns, 2000 hits, and won two World Series rings with the Cards. He had the city in the palm of his hands and the love and admiration of everyone involved… and he let it all go for one extra year and 30 million dollars.

The Cardinals are a small market organization that doesn’t have the deepest pockets in the world. However, they did off Pujols a 9 year, 198 million dollar deal at the beginning of the season and upped it to 10/220 this week. This is an extremely lucrative deal that would make anyone happy… Not Pujols.

The deal would’ve made him the fourth highest paid first baseman in the game behind Howard, Mark teixiera and Adrian Gonzalez. Pujols always wanted to be the highest paid player at his position and if the Cardinals weren’t going to give it to him then was willing to look elsewhere.

The Angels came knocking and Pujols is now taking his talents to the west coast.

They made the deal that Pujols wanted and he took it. It didn’t matter that Pujols was a king in St. Louis, that he was playing for the second most decorated team in baseball behind the New York Yankees or that he could’ve been the greatest Cardinal that ever lived.

All that mattered most was the money. Once he got it, he rolled out.

I have resigned myself to the fact that there are no more lifers in sports. No one wants to play for the same team throughout their entire career and jump ship when the opportunity arises.

I just had hope that Pujols wouldn’t be that guy. I was hoping he would stay in St. Louis and finish what he started and be admired for it long after he was gone. Instead he took the money and ran.

St. Louis won’t be able to replace Pujols and all he meant. They won’t find another bat to replace his production in the middle of the lineup nor will they be able to find someone who meant as much to the city as he did. Eventually the pain of losing an all-time great will leave the senses of St. Louis, however it will be a long long time and they will be reminded of it every time they stare at first base and don’t see number 5 there.

It’ll be weird to see Pujols don a different shade of red come spring training. When he puts on that bright red cap with a giant A with a halo above it in the next few days Albert Pujols begins the last chapter if his career. He is now an Angel for better or worse. He’ll hit his 700th home run there, he’ll obtain his 3000th hit there and he’ll finish his hall of fame career there.

He should’ve done it all as a Cardinal, he should’ve been loyalty to the fan base that made him as big as he is.

However, loyalty in sports doesn’t exist anymore, it’s all bout the money. As much as I despise Pujols’s decision to leave St. Louis I can’t judge him.

If a job called us up and offered any of us big a pay increase we’d leave jump ship too. That’s just how it is.


Boycotting The BCS

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Five years ago I watched the number two team in the country, my Michigan Wolverines, lose one of the best 1 VS. 2 matchups of my lifetime to Ohio State. The 42-39 thriller had so much hype due to the fact that nor only was it #1 against #2, but also it was the fact that it was the biggest rivalry in college football.

The game was incredible. It was a seesaw battle where if one team made a mistake you knew they were screwed. That mistake belonged to Michigan as OSU held on for the victory and a shot in the title game.

OSU was the only undefeated team in the nation with USC, Florida and Michigan as the best one loss teams behind them. I thought Michigan should’ve been OSU’s opponent because the game was so closely played and because they were #1 & #2 all year long. OSU and Michigan were the best two teams in the nation and they proved it on the field. A rematch would’ve been fitting because Michigan would’ve gotten to avenge it’s only loss of the season, and because… Well… I’m a Michigan fan.

The logic was there. However, Michigan didn’t win the Big Ten. The end result? Florida played OSU and we haven’t seen a non SEC BCS Champ since. I was pretty salty because I always thought that Michigan should’ve played in that game despite the result. I thought that not winning it’s own conference shouldn’t have played a factor into the game.

5 years later the BCS suddenly has had a change of heart and it’s ticked me off to no end.

After watching last nights announcement of the BCS national title, which is a rematch of a sloppy 9-6 affair between LSU and Alabama I’ve had enough of the BCS.

I understand that the SEC is the see all end all of college football in most people’s eyes, but to give Alabama a rematch against LSU when Oklahoma State was more deserving is an insult to college football.

Bama and Oklahoma State were the viable options to face LSU in the title game as each team had one loss on it’s resume (so did Stanford but they didn’t win their conference… Wait a minute…) Bana lost a game they should’ve won to LSU, as did Oklahoma State to Iowa State only one day after the tragic death of it’s women’s basketball coach.

Oklahoma State beat 7 teams with .500 records or better and 4 in the top 25 including a comeback victory against Texas A&M, an overtime thriller over Kansas State (more on this later) and a royal beat down of preseason #1 Oklahoma.

Alabama beat an overrated Penn State, an offensively challenged Auburn, and Arkansas without it’s best defensive lineman. They played a weak schedule in a down year for the SEC and got the benefit of the doubt because of it’s conference affiliation.

Some say Oklahoma State should’ve won all of their games and this wouldn’t be an issue… well shouldn’t you say the same for Alabama?

Why does Alabama get a rematch when they lost their shot earlier in the season? Alabama had LSU on it’s home turf and lost in a turnover filled game where defensive brilliance over shadowed both teams offensive ineptitude. If you’re saying that Oklahoma State blew their chance in Iowa City well didn’t Alabama blow theirs at home?

Also remember this quote… “if you don’t win your conference championship then you have no business playing for the national championship.” That was Nick Saban in 2003 after Oklahoma was announced as the opponent for his LSU Tigers after losing their conference title game. So why not hold Saban to his word?

Here’s a few reasons why the BCS won’t: 1, the system to award the title game and BCS games is a joke. 2, the matchups are predetermined. 3, the notion that every game counts is BS.

Let’s move past the title game for a minute; the only sensical match-ups this year are Oregon-Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl & Stanford-Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. For the second straight year the Big East gets a team in the BCS with more than 3 losses. West Virginia got crushed by LSU and Syracuse (yup 5-7) and they get the Orange Bowl? Michigan isn’t ranked in the top 10 but they get the Sugar Bowl? Virginia Tech got killed by Clemson by a combined 61-13 in two games and they get a BCS bowl game?

Meanwhile #7 Boise State gets the Las Vegas bowl? Didn’t they kill Georgia in SEC country this year?

If the BCS is truly about setting up the best matchups in the country then it truly is an epic failure.

#6 Arkansas, #7 Boise, #8 Kansas State & #9 South Carolina are all BCS no shows. If four top ten BCS teams don’t even make BCS bowl games then what is the point of the system?

I understand conference winners gets dibs on these games and that a conference can’t get more than two teams in but four BCS qualifiers are outside of the top ten and two conference winners are below the top 15. Hell WVU is behind, TCU, Houston and Southern Mississippi. How does any of this make sense?

How do you tell K-State after Virginia Techs thrashing that they deserve a BCS game ahead of you when you almost beat the #3 team in the NCAA and had the 10th hardest schedule nationally? How do you tell Boise after losing by one point to last year’s Rose Bowl Champs that Michigan or VA Tech are better than you? What’s the point of playing tough games out of conference when it doesn’t seem to matter?

Even worse if you’re Oklahoma State what’s the point of winning your conference when all you get is the second best team in the PAC-12 instead of playing for the national title?

The only solution for any of this is an abolishment of the bowl system and the creation of a playoff. Put the best teams in the nation up against each other and let them duke it out. It’s the only logical way if deciding these arguments. How would we know if Alabama is better than Oklahoma State if they don’t get a chance to play each other? What about Stanford? They didn’t win the PAC-12 but they only have one loss, why can’t they play for the title?

The BCS has proven year after year that is not a good way of determining a national champion and this year its proven to be ineffective in providing college football fans with sensical match-ups for its other big time bowl games. It’s time to be rid this system once and for all.

I’ve had enough. I won’t watch the BCS title game or any other BCS game this year. I’m over this system that has shown itself to be unfair and plays favorites instead of awarding teams for their play.

All I can think about is five years and the possibility of a Michigan-OSU rematch. Those were the best teams in the nation and they should’ve played each other again but didn’t due to BCS hypocrisy. What’s changed that makes it ok for non conference champs who lost to the #1 team in the nation to now play for the national title?

Give me a break, matter of fact, give me a playoff because this system sucks.


Say Good-Bye To Philly DeSean

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The Philadelphia Eagles supposed dream season has spiraled into a nightmare that will find them sitting at home once the regular season ends on January 1st.

Once the final horn sounds the Eagles will need to go through a complete over haul of the team structure and get rid of anything thy ails them.

Their first casualty should be DeSean Jackson.

After last nights loss in Seattle it is clear that Jackson no longer belongs anywhere near an Eagles locker room or on the field with the team.

Jackson pulled a Randy Moss and didn’t attempt to run hard for most of the night. If the ball wasn’t thrown his way Jackson was merely jogging up and down the sidelines looking like he was warming up waiting for the actual game to start.

He was disinterested on the field and on the bench as he seemed to separate himself from the rest of his teammates as the final nail was placed into their coffin for the season.

This by the way came after a lackluster performance against the Patriots when Jackson dropped two surefire touchdowns, which eventually crushed the Eagles chances at a comeback.

You would think after letting his team and his QB down that Jackson would’ve came back with a vengeance last night… Think again.

Jackson’s behavior and disinterest stems from the fact that he wants a new deal in Philadelphia and hasn’t been getting it. As he suffers through his worst statistical season in the NFL and has become a nuisance instead of a playmaker why would the Eagles give him a new deal?

Jackson has long been viewed as a cocky show-off who does more harm than good for his team. This year he has done everything to prove his critics right.

He cost the Eagles a 50 yard gain against the Giants two weeks ago by taunting Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. He has complained to the media about his lack of a deal, he held out of training camp and upon his return wasn’t too happy to be there.

His numbers haven’t been the same on punt returns as he hasn’t returned a punt for a score this season. His yards per catch are down and his drops are up.

It’s obvious that his craving for a new deal has hindered his play and is making him more of a liability than a threat for the Eagles.

The organization has had it’s run ins with receivers longing for new deals before. The Terrell Owens saga from years past has been well documented. But this saga takes the cake because at least the Eagles sent Owens home for the rest of the season and his presence wasn’t an issue for the last eight games.

Jackson on the other hand is still around. Still fuming but not as loudly as T.O.

Jackson told reporters last night that he was just frustrated with how things have gone. No kidding, even Ray Charles could’ve seen your discontent.

The original though for the Eagles was to franchise Jackson and deal with him after the season. However, would they really want to pay him after all of his moodiness that has finally seemed to affect the team? If they didn’t pay Owens after his spat then why should they pay Jackson?

The Eagles have to either release or trade Jackson at season’s end . After the way that he has played and performed over this year there should be no reason for Philadelphia to keep him around any longer.

Jackson has made a living off of being a nightmare for the opposition. This year he has done it to his own team. Since Jackson doesn’t feel like playing the Eagles shouldn’t feel like paying him.

It’s going to be a long off-season for the Philadelphia Eagles with many decisions to be made regarding the team’s future.

One person that shouldn’t be a part of that future is DeSean Jackson.