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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Moved

Hey everyone so obviously I haven't updated this blog in a while and I do have a reason I have started writing for a different site and should have posted a link earlier. Everyone should check out The Independent Sports News it's a nice new site dedicated to amateur writers. Here's the link http://www.theisn.net hope you all enjoy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

NFL: Favre & Revis Edition

        In exactly 4 weeks the NFL official starts with a Thursday night kickoff featuring the Minnesota Vikings and reigning Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. In the weeks before than there are still a lot of questions to be answered. Two of the biggest question marks deal with team personnel for two teams that many consider Super Bowl contenders, the aforementioned Vikings and the New York Jets. We all know the deal with the Vikings they are trying to get Brett Favre back, after weeks of silence a report came out that he had texted a few of his teammates letting them know that he wouldn’t be returning for his 20th season. These report was refuted just the next day when Favre denied every sending any texts and stated that he would play this season if he was healthy enough to do so.
        The Vikings Super Bowl hopes rest in a surgically repaired ankle of a 40 year old quarterback, some have made note that they will do just fine without Favre stated their 10-6 record the year before and them boasting a fantastic defense led by former mullet ambassador Jared Allen, and having Adrian Peterson in your backfield is a luxury many teams wished they had. Not taking anything away from Tavaris Jackson, the starter if Favre doesn’t return, but he has thrown only 21 touchdowns compared to 18 interceptions in his career. He’s never played an entire NFL season the most was when he started 12 games in the 2007 season which the Vikings ended with an 8-8 record. In the 31 games that he has appeared, counting playoffs, he has lost more games than won (11 to 10). With Jackson the Vikings will have to change the way they call plays on offense going more towards a running attack, the only downside to that is the fact that Peterson has can be a bit fumble prone. Increasing the number of lost fumbles every year he has been in the league. Now it’s always a possibility that Favre waits until the season is already a few weeks in to make his return but I just don’t see that happening if he isn’t taking the field at the Louisiana Superdome on September 9th it highly possible that we can kiss the Vikings Super Bowl dreams goodbye.
        Now the New York Jets don’t have anything close to the offense the Vikings have they’re bringing back an unbelievable defense team led by one of the great defensive minds in the game head coach Rex Ryan. Looking at how they played at times last year it’s lost to me how they are Super Bowl contenders, yes you can point to the fact that they made the AFC Championship game but if it wasn’t for the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals resting their starters in weeks 16 and 17. The Jets would have been on the outside of the playoffs looking in. Of course it always takes a little bit of luck to ultimately get to the top those last 2 games worked out perfectly for the Jets. Now with training camp already into its second week the Jets are missing arguably their best player in Darrelle Revis. Now most might think that missing your top corner might not be that much of a big deal but in the Jets case it could make or break their season. Overall they still have a great defense but it’s such a luxury when you have someone of Revis’ ability to shut down half the field. That makes it possible for Ryan to call all his blitzes and get pressure on the opposing quarterback hopefully getting him to make a mistake.
        You can’t really be too upset with Revis, when the coach and general manager call you the best player at your position why shouldn’t you be paid like it. Unlike the NBA or MLB, NFL player contracts aren’t guaranteed so if you have a bad year or gets injured the team can cut you without any consequences. Holding out of camp is the only leverage that a player has in renegotiating their contract. Revis has 3 years left on his rookie deal but it is obvious to all who have seen him play that he has outplayed it. The Jets are in a tough situation a lot of time you wouldn’t renegotiate with so many year left of the deal but the Houston Texans renegotiated with their star player Andre Johnson just last week when he had 5 years left of his contract to make him the highest paid receiver in the league. If you’re Revis and you see this why would you settle for anything less than getting a new deal done that will pay you how you feel you should be compensated. The Jets playoff hopes don’t all lay on what happens with Revis but his absence with be a major part of it, if the Jets start the season off badly you can almost be sure that they will reach out to Revis and try to get something done.
        It’ll be fascinating to see what transpires in these 4 weeks before the season starts, some questions will be answered, and more questions will be asked. The anticipation of the season to come is almost as exciting as the season itself. 
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Friday, July 30, 2010

Cowboys Training Camp

                As practice was coming to an end first round pick Dez Bryant suffered a high ankle sprain. This is devastating news as the first 3 of the Cowboys draft picks are currently injured. What makes this even worst is the fact that it happened on the second to last play of the day and that he will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks. This takes him out of the rest of training camp and basically all of the preseason games (there is a slight chance that he could be back for the September 2nd game against Miami).  Personally I would like to see the team keep him all till the start of the regular season which starts on September 12th. I realize he hasn’t played an actually game since last September but I would rather be sure that he’s 100% healthy before lining him up. The silver lining in this is that the ‘boys are now more likely to keep Patrick Crayton on the 53 man roster. He is one of their more consistent players and he can also help out with special teams particularly being a punt returner which would have been a job that Bryant would have occupied.  While reading ESPN Dallas reports of training camp I was so excited to watch Bryant in preseason games it seems like at every turn he is making some play that has left everyone in awe.
                Other things I’ve noticed so far this off-season is that the movement of Alan Ball and Doug Free into the starting lineup has looked good. Free has been beat on a few plays but he has stonewalled DeMarcus Ware a handful of times which shows me that he has the capability to be a solid starting LT. Ball has displayed excellent coverage skills at FS something the ‘boys sorely missed last year and were prone to getting beat deep if the WR got a step on the corners.  Also with the addition of Ball the rest of the secondary has been stepping up their game getting about 10 picks so far this training camp when they’ve only had 19 the past 2 seasons combined.  Hopefully with Ware, Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer consistently getting pressure on the QB the turnover story will increase and help them become the first team to win a Superbowl in their home stadium.
                We'll get to more updates once they start playing preseason games and once they trim down from the 80 man roster to the regular season 53 man roster. 
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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thoughts on the NBA

Personally I'm a tad bit tired of all the LeBron hoopla, yes he's a good player but when did he became bigger than the league itself. If you like me and are tired of hearing about him (at least until he announces where he plans to go) I wanted to give a few thoughts about the NBA that I've been having lately.
Earlier today I read a column by Bill Simmons on ESPN.com about who the superstars of the NBA are, he listed 5 players; Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Durant and Howard. His explanation for them being considered superstars was they all have the ability to make any team a 45+ game winner. I agree that these are 5 of the top players in the league but I feel that if you’re going to include Durant in the list that you also must include Carmelo Anthony. Everyone always wants to talk about the 5 above but Carmelo is every bit as good of a player as anyone. In his 7 years in the league he has led the Nuggets to the playoffs every year. Which is something that you can't say about Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Durant or Howard each one of their teams has missed the playoffs at least once since the 2003-2004 season. Looking at each of those players I feel that Carmelo is the best pure scorer among them as he can get his points in a various amount of ways, he also is a very underrated rebounder, averaging at least 6 in all but 2 seasons. In his article Simmons did place him in the next tier of players, but I just find it hard to believe that he's always an afterthought when it comes to the leagues best players seeing that the highest he has ever finished in MVP balloting is 6th last season (also his first year to make 2nd team all-NBA). 
            Also yesterday we got a glimpse of how different LeBron and Durant are, after Wade and Bosh made their announcement to play together in Miami on the morning SportsCenter. LeBron comes out with the idea that he needs a 1-hour press conference to let us know where he going. While all of this was happening Durant posted a short comment on his twitter account stating that he and Oklahoma City have agreed on a 5 year contract extension. He didn't need all the lights on him, there was no fan fare just him letting his fans know what was going on with him. Another thing that Durant has been doing is attending Oklahoma's summer league games and cheering on the players some who will be his future teammates and some who will most likely end up in the D-League once the season starts. I can't think of another prime time player will send his summer vacation watching summer league games. It’s a refreshing sight and one that makes me think that as long as Oklahoma keeps their team intact they're going to be major contenders in the very near future.
Anyway those are just a few things I've been thinking about lately, I'll be glad once ESPN airs "The Decision" and gets it all out of the way so we can start hearing about the upcoming season. Whether LeBron resigns with the Cavs or moves to the Heat, Bulls or Knicks no player is above the game or a team. Hopefully he's graceful in this press conference otherwise 5 different fan bases are going to be crushed and angry at how he played this out. As much as I'm tired of all this I already know where I'm going to be at 9EST watching ESPN at least for the first 10 mins tuning in with the rest of you to see perhaps the biggest free agent move in NBA history. If you’re a fan of one of the teams in contention I wish you luck, the NBA could look very different come tonight. I'm excited to see how things turn out.
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Friday, July 2, 2010

A Dream Vanished

        Asamoah Gyan calmly places the ball at the 12 yard mark and walk back into position, the hope of Ghana’s, and the whole continent of Africa’s, World Cup dreams rests on his shoulders. Gyan had been at this spot twice already during the World Cup and each time has come away with a goal. So nothing made us think that anything else would happen. Most saw Ghana already advancing to the semifinals making them the first African nation to do so. As we all know Gyan ran up and struck the ball with great pace and when the Uruguay goalie Fernando Muslera, dove it looked good but the ball struck the crossbar and bounded out of bounds. The entire Ghanaian team was awestruck with what could have been while the Uruguayan team celebrated as if they had already won. Fast forward to the penalty shootout and Gyan was the first to take one for his side, he calmly placed the ball in the upper right corner as I watched I couldn’t help but wonder what could have been if he had done that a few minutes earlier.
        At the conclusion of the match Uruguay prevailed by winning the shootout 4-2 sending Africa’s last remaining team home. It was a sad sight for me to see; one team celebrating on one half of the pitch while seeing the Ghana team collapse in tears. Gyan was so distraught that it took a few of his teammates to get him off the ground and off the field. This wasn’t the greatest match of the World Cup so far but it definitely is going to be one of the most remembered, not for the plays that won it but for the one that slipped painstakingly away and also for the handball that saved the game for Uruguay. 
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Monday, June 28, 2010

The End of An Era: Farewell Rasheed Wallace

        Just a short few days ago the Los Angeles Lakers went on to win the franchises 16th NBA Championship in game 7 against their rival Boston Celtics. In the aftermath of their celebration Celtics F/C Rasheed Wallace waited patiently outside the refs locker room. Normally hearing this one might think that Wallace was there wanting to argue with the refs about fouling out in the finals minutes of the game but it seemed that Wallace had another reason. He just wished to speak with the veteran refs as a farewell to his playing career. He might not have always gotten along with the officials but you cannot deny the respect he has for their profession and the game of basketball itself. After a few minutes arena security came by and had ‘Sheed leave still dressed in his jersey with a towel wrapped around his neck he made his way back to his team to leave the Staples Center for the final time.
        In the postgame interview Doc Rivers praised ‘Sheeds play, "He was a warrior. You know, I don't know if Rasheed will ever play again. You know, he's one of them. I think he took that out on the floor with him. I think he's thinking about retiring, and I thought you could see that in his play." After hearing this, the reports started coming out that Rasheed was set to retire nothing was final but we all knew he was done. Knowing that he has 2 years left on the contract he signed last summer Wallace hasn’t and probably won’t sign and turn in his retirement papers so that the Celtics can use him as a trading chip to clear up cap space or bring in a player who can help them. It’s these little things that show us who Wallace really is. He has always been portrayed as a person who can’t keep his anger or immaturity in check, as he’s the NBA leader in career technical fouls; he’s just a player who wears his emotions on his sleeve. He’s going to let you know how he feels about something but all his teammates and coaches say he one of the best teammates around.
        For me personally this is a sad day in sports, Rasheed might not have always done the right thing while playing basketball but when called upon he was always up to the challenge. A lot has been said about him coasting through the regular season this year and playing his way into shape instead of coming in that way. That can’t be denied he stated himself that he wasn’t brought in for the regular season but for the playoffs, and that’s exactly how he played. Rethinking about game 7 makes me recall a younger ‘Sheed when he played for my hometown Portland Trailblazers. He didn’t have the greatest stats but he played his usually great low post defense, voiced his opinion and concerns during play and timeouts and was an emotional leader.
        Wallace may not make it into the Hall of Fame but nobody can say he didn’t have Hall of Fame talent; he was a player who just enjoyed playing the game. Back in 2007 Charles Barkley stated that if Wallace had the mindset of Kobe Bryant he would have been the best player in the league. He didn’t want to be a superstar even though he has all the tools, great low post threat that can get his shot off against anyone and someone who can go out and spread the floor. Maybe he played away from the basket to often but when your 6’11 and can shoot the 3 as well as him it’s easy to stand out there and fire them up. For the last 15 seasons we have all been fascinated with Rasheed whether it was with his on court outburst, his postgame interviews or his suburb talent the NBA won’t be the same without him.
        On a closing note I wanted to list a few of my favorite ‘Sheed stories, the first happened the summer after he graduated high school. He was selected to the McDonald All-American game as one of the best senior players in the country. In the game he played his normal game he went 4-7 with 9 points but the thing that really stands out is that he became the first and only player to ever be ejected from it. Another story was during practice while at the University of North Carolina “during a scrimmage Wallace’s freshman year. Montross and Salvadori had been pushing Wallace up and down the court, double teaming him down low and talking shit the whole time. Evidently Wallace went up for a turnaround jumper in the lane only to have Montross and Salvadori club him and block his shot. Each telling him to never bring that shit inside again. Next time down the court Wallace caught a ball coming off of the rim at which time he did one of his backboard shaking monster dunks (a 9.5 on Pat Sullivan's grading scale) on Montross and Salvadori. Upon landing on his feet Ra pushed Montross into Salvadori and yelled, "You better recognize. Motherf***er! Your job is mine!" This outburst infuriated Montross as he chased Wallace down the court as the entire team tried to break it up. Rasheed ran laps for the rest of the practice.” (story courtesy of http://www.detroitbadboys.com/2006/4/3/1214256/100-reasons-and-more-to-love). Anyway we’ll obviously see another player who doesn’t play up to their talent level but we will never get another player with the personality of Rasheed. Here’s a quote from former Blazers coach Mike Dunleavy on ‘Sheed that sums him up nicely, “When I was coaching in Portland, I had Rasheed Wallace. He was a great player and somebody everyone on the team liked. The thing was, he just didn't want to be the go-to guy at the end of a game. He didn't want you to call a play for him, yet if you gave him the ball at the end he would deliver. To counter that, I would run a play for somebody else, even though the ball would ultimately wind up in Rasheed's hands. I'd tell him, "OK, Rasheed, we're going to run a play for Scottie Pippen. Pipp, you come off that screen and knock down that 17-foot jumper." And then as they were walking away from the huddle, I'd grab Pipp and tell him, "Don't even think about shooting that jump shot. Drop the ball into Rasheed." And he'd do that, and Rasheed would turn around and hit the game-winner off the glass.” Well there you have it I wish Rasheed the best in his post career endeavors and I will miss watching him play this game that he so loved.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Then & Now: The Evolution of a Sports Fan

           In the past few weeks I have discovered that I get a variety of sports channels that I didn’t before. Since I’m not that much of a baseball fan the summer is really dull for me. Imagine my excitement when I stumbled across NBA TV, NFL Network and NHL TV I got to relive my youth while watching old school games. Looking back to when I first started watching sports back in 1991 at the tender age of 6 to the 24 year old person I am today I miss the kid I was. Growing up in St. Louis, MO we only had the Cardinals and Blues in town and at that point in my life I wasn’t a fan of baseball or hockey. I only watched football and baseball so naturally I had to adopt another’s cities teams as my own and the best way to do so was whom ever I saw the most. Since Chicago is only a short trip away and Michael Jordan was on the quest to leading the Bulls to their first NBA title they were on all the time and I got hooked to the grace that Jordan played with. Also on the football end the Dallas Cowboys were starting to become the team of the 90s. After relocating to Portland in the summer of ’92 which was the same year the Clyde Drexler led Blazers met the Bulls in the NBA finals. It wasn’t right for me to claim my new hometown team as my own even to this day I don’t get the pride when I watch the Blazers play.

By the way I became a fan of my teams it was already obvious that they were good so I got to celebrate a lot of championships in those days. Nothing could have been better then ’92 and ’93 when both the Bulls and Cowboys won their respective championships. I couldn’t have been a happier kid when it came to sports but then in ’94 things were a little disappointing Jordan retired the ‘Boys got knocked off by the San Francisco 49ers and I thought things were going downhill fast. The next two years I expanded my horizons and started watching a little bit of baseball and a bit of hockey, I came to be a fan of the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Red Wings. In ’95 Jordan came back to almost lead the Bulls back to the NBA finals only to lose in the Conference Semi-Finals to the Orlando Magic, the Cowboys signed Deion Sanders and bounced back with their last Super Bowl victory and my new favorite team the Red Wings would extend their Stanley Cup drought to 41 seasons after getting swept by the New Jersey Devils. The Cleveland Indians also made the World Series for the first time since 1954 but ended up losing to the Atlanta Braves in 6 games. In the remainder of the 90s the Bulls obtained their 2nd three-peat, the Red Wings won back to back titles in ’97 and ’98, the Indians lost a devastating game 7 of the ’97 World Series and the Cowboys won their last playoff game in ’96.
At the turn of the millennium I got a chance to experience what most sports fans do disappointment in your team. I now know what a true fan is once your team goes through losing and disappointing season how long are you going to stay with them. Looking back only the Red Wings have had any type of success since 1998 winning two Stanley Cups (2002, 2008) and losing last season. Luckily since of my love of basketball and of Jordan I naturally became a North Carolina Tar Heels fan I missed there title in 1993 but have watched and cheered them on for their two titles in 2005 and 2009.
Overall I am a more complete fan then I was in my adolescents as much as I appreciate all the wins and championships I got to watch as a kid I enjoy the way I feel when I can turn back and watch a Jordan or a Emmitt Smith in their primes do what they do best. Hopefully in the years ahead I will be able to experience the joy of watching titles won and one day I’ll be able to look back to now and know that as a sports fan I am very lucky to love the teams that I do through all their ups and downs.