Sports Opinion & Analysis

Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

The World Loves The Olympics. It’s The Only Time Everyone Can Openly Express Their Hatred For Other Countries

In Olympics on July 30, 2012 at 10:47 am

Today’s article is going to be a quick because I’m totally obsessed with the Olympics, and I’m having a hard time pulling myself away from Men’s Rowing to do anything else in my life. I can already tell it’s going to be a long two weeks until the August 12th closing ceremony.

Regardless, a funny thing happened the other day. I found myself watching USA Women’s Team Volleyball and yelling “BEAT THE KOREANS!” while I did. Did I also mention I was in a restaurant, surrounded by other people yelling the same thing, and it was the middle of the morning?

This was weird to me, because A) I don’t have a problem with Korea, and B) I normally don’t get all excited about Women’s Team Volleyball. Or Men’s Rowing for that matter.

“USA! USA! USA!”

But this is the Olympics, so it’s totally okay to freak out about Table Tennis while expressing how (as demonstrated by their opening ceremony when compared to others) the Brits can’t do anything that isn’t depressing and totally unwatchable, the Chinese are beating us in everything, and then there’s the Australians. Oh man, don’t even get me started about the Australians.

It’s okay though, I’m not xenophobic, it’s just the Olympics.

I also know I’m not the only one feeling this way. Because of our world culture which says it’s okay to openly jeer other people who root for different teams than our own, the Olympics offer an opportunity to say things about other countries that otherwise might be considered, at best, a fist fight, or at worst, an act of war in any other setting.

For the next few weeks, enjoy this moment, and remember to embrace our nation, good sportsmanship and hyperbole as we try to knock the living crap out of everyone else in the world at the things we do best. Our dollar might not be so strong, but trying beating us in basketball!

USA! USA! USA!

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Dear Dwight Howard, The Entire World Is Totally Sick Of You

In NBA on July 27, 2012 at 11:30 am

Dear Mr. Howard,

It’s come to our attention that, in the wake of all the bad press Lebron James received for his “Decision,” you’ve decided to completely absolve yourself from any decision-making whatsoever.

“I have no idea what I’m supposed to do…”

You’re inability to make any sort of judgement has led us, the viewing public, believe you are worse than a third-date when asked, “What do you want to do for dinner?”

If you were a first date, things would run smooth and easy because you wouldn’t have any say where we were taking you. The person who does the asking decides where the first date takes place, and because of your complete inaction when given any sort of choice, we know you would never have the nerve to ever make the first move.

On a second date, it might be implied that your opinion matters, but in the short of it, the person who did the initial asking would most likely still be responsible for planning and executing the night’s activity.

By the third date though, some responsibility begins to fall on you. Granted, it’s still early, and you’re most likely still trying to impress us by not eating everything on your plate then commenting how full you are, but come on. We’re beyond that. Yeah, we don’t really know each other, but we’ve fooled once or twice in the back of my parent’s Camry. We aren’t complete strangers. You should be able to express some sort of opinion. You can tell us you don’t want to eat at Five Guys one more time.

In fact, please tell us that. Please tell us that so we don’t drive around aimlessly until we find a place you think looks good, because let’s be honest, if we do that, if you don’t tell us what you want, we know you will never ever find a place that looks good enough.

“I just don’t know…”

To be fair, you recently expressed you would never sign another contract with the Magic ever again, but that was only after passing on your opt-out clause and saying you wanted to stay. This is after saying you only wanted to be traded to Brooklyn, that you would never sign an extension if traded to the Lakers or Rockets, but okay, maybe I would sign with the Lakers, wait, no I won’t and I never said otherwise!

This is worse than a soap opera, and quite frankly, we’re sick of it. Yeah, you were funny when you were doing sit ups while Barkley lounged on a recliner, or when you used your T-Mobile phone to decide whether you could eat that doughnut or not, and yeah, we didn’t want to tell you Shaq was already Superman when you got your little (unearned and unwarranted) obsession, but you were so gosh darn cute we didn’t want to break your itty bitty heart.

Now, we don’t care. Now, we’re sick of you. Now, your inaction has made us ‘hate’ you more than the “Decision” ever could.

“I’ve brought you all here to say that I have no idea what I want to say…”

I don’t mean ‘hate’ in the large, evil sense of the world. If we met you on the street, we would probably be very nice. We might even ask for a picture.

But when you get on the court, we’re going to relentlessly boo you, regardless of whatever jersey you will wear. When your commercials come on, we’re changing the channel and not buying the product. We will all collectively cheer for you never to win a championship (because we can’t do that for Lebron anymore…). By trying to be the nice guy, you have become another villain of the NBA.

We don you Spoiled-Bratman; indecision is your weapon.

“Surprise! I still have no idea…”

Even if you get traded to wherever you want to play this week, we don’t know if your reputation can be fixed. At least in the short-term.  You are the quintessential little boy who cried wolf, and that is a hard thing to forget.

For the time being, we are asking you to keep your head down, play the season and stop making any more comments, accusations, requests, denials or anything. Just go with the flow and see where the cards fall. If you do that, maybe you won’t be so hard to forgive after all. I mean, you did seem nice enough to ask on a date in the first place, know-what-I-mean?

Sincerely,

The Viewing Public

P.S.

Dear Orlando Magic,

You better buck up and make a decision soon. You’re beginning to look just as bad as the guy you’re trying to get rid of. Maybe you two deserve each other after all.

The A’s Should Stay Quiet At The Trade Deadline

In MLB on July 25, 2012 at 12:23 am

With the MLB trade deadline fast approaching, there have been a swirl of rumors concerning that other team in the Bay Area. You know, the one with more than one World Series championship in the last 58 years.

Whether it’s the A’s supposedly chasing San Diego’s Chase Headley, or Arizona’s Stephen Drew and/or Justin Upton, or even Miami’s Hanley Ramirez (who got traded to the Dodgers the second I went to publish this article) it seems the Athletics are rumored to be dumping their entire roster at the deadline, in order to build a new, better team for the second half. In order to help with a run at a potential playoff spot.

“So this is what it’s like to win, huh?”

With the Diamondback’s General Manager Kevin Towers recently commenting how Upton was no longer on the trading-block (at least during this season), and with Drew not being much of an upgrade, the A’s should only make a move on Headley or Ramirez, if they don’t have to sell the farm to do so.

And let’s be honest, how likely is that?

Instead, I’m in a tiny minority who think the A’s should stay quiet this trade deadline, to see what the team they constructed can offer. Right now the team is more-or-less tied with the Angels, and are only five games behind the Rangers in the AL West. The team just swept the Yankees (pre-Ichiro), which is some sort of proof that the team can compete with the best around.

Quite frankly, the A’s haven’t been this intriguing since Brad Pitt was running them last year.

“Don’t look at me, I didn’t think they could do it either.”

That’s because the A’s are doing something they practically haven’t done for a decade, which is win.

Right now there is chemistry in the clubhouse, and the team is right there with the rest of the AL West. Right now is not the time to scramble things up and bring in different faces while shipping out some who made this run possible. Manager Bob Melvin and the rest of the guys have earned a chance to see what they can prove. They’ve earned a chance to play without the fear of being replaced. They’ve earned the right to play.

Let’s hope Brad Pitt lets them.

The NBA, Brought To You By___________.

In NBA on July 23, 2012 at 11:04 am

No one’s ever accused the NBA of being fair. Of not favoring certain players or certain teams in certain large markets. Of not putting the integrity of the game or its fans above the almighty dollar.

Yet with Friday’s decision to begin selling advertising space on team jerseys, potentially begining in the 2013-14 season, the NBA has finally lost its soul.

Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics

By selling advertising on uniforms, the league could potentially earn $100 million dollars (only $10 million more than the approximate payroll of the Los Angeles Lakers, give or take a few hundred thousand dollars). This is a necessary evil, Commissioner David Stern claims, because, as was argued during the CBA negotiations and subsequent NBA lockout, the league allegedly isn’t making any money. Its so dire, Stern says, that  the league had to actually borrow $175 million dollars last year, just to support 15 of the league’s 30 teams. If the NBA does not sell 2.5-inch-by -2.5-inch ad space on their jerseys, Stern argues, the league simply will not survive.

Stern and the rest of the NBA executives allege that soccer clubs, worldwide, have profited from massive logos over their entire uniform, and no one has ever seemed to complain. That the WNBA sold advertising space as their primary logo a few years ago, and look at them for how this decision has been beneficial.

But what Stern fails to realize is that the NBA isn’t soccer. And it isn’t the WNBA.

Quick, name three-out-of-five WBNA players. Okay, name two-out-of-five. Okay, name one.

The WNBA wouldn’t even exist without alternate means of revenue, because no one seems to go to WNBA games. Even during the league’s Finals, thousands of tickets are given away, and arenas during WNBA games are almost entirely empty. In fact, if it weren’t for the WNBA’s surmounting losses being subsidized by the NBA, the WNBA would vanish from the Earth, no matter how much money was collected by advertising.

Soccer, on the other hand, has a thirty-year history of advertisements on their uniforms. It’s now the culture of the sport, and has consequently become so accepted, it would be as weird not having ads on soccer uniforms as it would be offensive for the NBA to have them. The cultures of the two sports have gone, throughout their respective lifetimes, in such completely different directions regarding uniform aesthetics that the fans who cheers for the NBA will not accept advertisements like soccer fans have. They are two drastically different fan cultures, and to compare the two is like comparing apples-to-oranges. It doesn’t translate.

Instead, the NBA should look into other methods of securing revenue needed for the league to profit besides advertising. One of the main options they should start researching is parity.

Introducing the Sony-Red Bull-Maxi Pad-Dark Knight Rises-Knicks of New York.

Since the league’ inception, only 18 teams have ever won the NBA Finals, and one of those teams, the Baltimore Bullets, do not even exist anymore. Of all those teams, only ten teams have won a championship more than once, and two teams, the Lakers and the Celtics, have won exactly half (33 titles combined) of all NBA championships. Quite frankly, at the start of any given NBA season, a fan can pretty much count on one hand the teams likely to win it all at the end of that year.

If teams aren’t making money, like Stern claims they aren’t, that’s because practically every team in the league never wins, and their fans have simply (and rightfully) given up knowing nothing changes in the NBA; the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. It’s like, where’s the Occupy Movement when you really need them?

Milwaukee Bucks, meet Los Angeles Lakers.

If the league was really interested in making money, they would abandon the idea of uniform ad sale, and instead create a hard-cap for league payrolls. No longer would big markets get to outspend everyone else, and no longer would Super Teams and Big Threes exist. Instead, every team would have their own star (maybe two), every team would have a chance, and every arena would be sold out, because nothing fuels fans to spend their money more so than hope. Hope that this year might be it. That this year might finally be their team’s year. Hope that someone besides the Lakers and Celtics will finally win it all.

If the NBA is interested in their fans and fan experience, if they really want to create a sustainable product, then they would foster an environment where every fan, not just those in Los Angeles or Boston, Miami or New York, have reason to be invested in their team. Where the small market guys aren’t just fodder for the big guys. Where it doesn’t matter what’s on the jersey, because people are buying it.

Will Another ‘Football’ One Day Replace The NFL?

In College, MLB, MLS, NFL on July 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Nothing is forever, and the only constant in life is change. In your father’s day, baseball ruled the country’s hearts and minds as the premier American sport. While it still gets to keep its honorary title as the American Pastime, football on the other hand, particularly the NFL, has become the new favorite form of sports entertainment amongst the masses.

Yet, with advancements in medical technology, and the ability to better understand the consequences of concussions, football is potentially entering the waning days of its dominance and perhaps even relevancy.

“You are soooooo getting a bounty for this…”

Like all sports, football thrives on its ‘farm system.’ The Pop Warners that rule the parks and playgrounds, teach children the fundamentals of the game. It also begins to separate players who are more suited for skilled positions (quarterbacks and wide receivers) than kids who are more inclined for speed, size or strength positions (or perhaps not even playing at all).

“What do you mean I’m never going to win a Super Bowl?”

The Pop Warner system feeds into the high school programs, where roles become more formal, more defined, and mostly permanent. After four years of honing skills and athletic ability, the best-of-the-best might get the opportunity to play at the collegiate level, where after another four-or-five years, the best-of-the-best might get the opportunity to play in the NFL.

The issues facing football, at least for the time being, aren’t necessarily found at the collegiate or professional levels. Instead, they are found during the Pop Warner years. The issue is simply a declining level of participation during the developmental years of the sport, and a culture of parenting that will steer their children into different avenues of athletic recreation.

Despite the best efforts by Pop Warner to raise awareness and limit the possibilities of concussions for its participants, Pop Warner has seen “slight decreases” in their enrollment over the last two years. As forecasted, weary parents, it seems, are being scared off by the sudden rush of new information regarding head traumas. They’re simply beginning to not let their children play. While only a slight number of parents have withdrawn their youngsters, with every year that passes, more information becomes available, and more parents might continue finding different activities for their children to participate in.

As children who normally would have worked their way through the farm system potentially become less and less, so will decrease the pool of potential talent for the NFL. Let’s make something perfectly clear here; if the NFL does, one day in the future, cease to exist, or its popularity is only a fraction of what it currently is, its downfall will not be because everyone suddenly became enlightened to the pitfalls of concussions and decided to no longer put themselves in circumstances that may cause bodily harm. If that were the case, people would have stopped smoking long ago.

Oh, college.

Instead, the NFL might one day falter because the player’s playing the game simply won’t be as good as they used to be. If parents become scared off by the medical consequences of football, and don’t allow their children the possibility of playing at a young, developmental level, then in 20-to-30 years, the future Larry Fitzgerald’s, Jerry Rice’s, Peyton Manning’s, Dan Marino’s, and Walter Payton’s of the game, will never exist. They will have never stepped foot on the field. Their talents and athletic ability will be directed into different ventures like baseball, basketball, or other sports

If all this happens, the talent offered by a future NFL might one day rival the bad high school football that was given to us by the now defunct XFL.

At least someone liked the XFL.

So what will take the NFL’s place if, in a few decades, the NFL becomes an unwatchable mess? Will baseball rise once more, and engulf the hearts of the nation like yesteryear? Will Lebron James continue where Michael Jordan left off, and turn the NBA into the world-wide cultural event David Stern can only dream of? Will hockey…I honestly can’t finish that sentence.

So if the NFL takes a back seat to another sport, what will that sport be?

In America, this is called soccer. Everywhere else calls it football. It is the most popular sport in the world. It is played with your feet.

Thirty-years ago, soccer was supposed to be the next big thing to hit the United States, and we’re still waiting for it. Just because soccer’s rise of popularity is taking a little longer than expected, doesn’t mean that statement still isn’t true.

Since the 2010 World Cup, ratings for soccer continues to increase. The recent UEFA Euro Cup saw a 46% rise of viewers since the 2008 campaign. The MLS has recently penned a deal with NBC to air games on the network, as well as NBC’s sports affiliate. The USL is beginning to expand their markets to try to rival the MLS (it sort of reminds me of baseball’s National League and American League before the 2000 merger, or the NBA and the ABA). Simply put, soccer is expanding. While it’s nowhere near as popular as football (or hockey for that matter), football wasn’t nearly as popular as baseball during baseball’s years of dominance, either. Things change, and large contributing factors besides economical, are also cultural. The culture is beginning to embrace soccer.

“The tickets were free!”

Along with television ratings, soccer’s popularity at the youngster, junior high, and high school levels are also experiencing significant rises in popularity. The farm system for the sport is now being founded, and as a result, the pool of talent  is widening. While immediate results won’t yield the type of world-class players seen in Europe, Latin America, Asia or Africa for at least a few generations, with every year that passes, the talent in these farm levels will continue to get better, and as a consequence, the game become much more enjoyable to the watch.

Also, while immigration into the United States has curbed recently, due in part to the economical downturn, millions of people still immigrate to the country every year, and from all over the world. Millions of people who come from countries where soccer is king.

In the past, children of these immigrants might have turned away from soccer and embraced more ‘American’ sports like baseball or football, because avenues to embrace their parents’ first love weren’t available in their communities. As professional soccer becomes more visible on network television though, and as youth programs become more readily available as well, parents now have more options than ever before to put their child in a soccer club at a young, medium and older age, and to provide them with televised methods of getting their children interested.

The seeds have been planted, and while the NFL tries to get over bounty programs, suicides, and health concerns, the most popular sport in the world is beginning to find its footing in the United States. I love football (the American version), and I’m not advocating for its demise. Trends are trends though, and if you keep following them, they tend to lead you in a certain direction. No matter what, football, like baseball, will one day be replaced with another sport that becomes our national passion. It’s not a question of if, it’s just a matter of which sport will one day replace it.

I’m guessing the one with the same name.

The NBA Should Retire Jordan’s 23

In NBA on July 16, 2012 at 11:02 am

In 2009, Lebron James announced he would change his number from 23 to 6, and suggested others in the NBA wearing 23 do the same, in order for the league to retire the number for Michael Jordan.

Lebron did change his number the following season (along with teams), and then the issue was never spoken of since. Why not? Why hasn’t the league retired 23? Major League Baseball retired Jackies Robinson’s 42, and the NHL retired the Great One’s 99.

Why are players in the NBA still allowed to sport 23, a number that is forever tied to one player and one player only?

This ceremony was not in Miami.

The long list of character flaws for Michael Jordan are well documented. He is a known womanizer and a chronic gambler. He can’t run the Charlotte Bobcats worth a damn. He’s not perfect, by any means, but then again neither is Wayne Gretzky. Well, at least neither is Wayne Gretzky’s wife. Everyone has faults removed from their respective playing field, is what I’m getting at.

Regardless, while Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in professional sports, and Wayne Gretzky brought hockey into the mainstream, Michael Jordan took the NBA, which at the time was a podunk operation, into a national, then international phenomenon. He became a cultural icon. A brand all in himself.

He became a state of mind (“Be like Mike”).

He became a reference point for greatness and perfection (“The Michael Jordan of _____”).

Jordan became larger than the sport of basketball, and as a consequence, elevated the sport as well. It became a community organizing event. An activity for everyone, tall or short, fast or slow, urban or rural, American, Argentinian, Spanish, Kenyan, anyone. Everyone. Basketball became a global passion. You could hate your neighbor, but you could still come together over your love for the sport. Your obsession with His Airness.

Due to the marketing genius of David Stern, Nike, and Jordan himself, basketball became a game for everyone. Every international player in the NBA is part of the legacy that is Jordan and his headlining role on the Dream Team. Jordan didn’t invent the game of basketball, he didn’t even reinvent it, but he did make it accessible for everyone. Everyone wanted to play. Everyone wanted to be like him.

Gravity defying.

There have arguably been better players throughout the NBA’s history . It could be said that maybe Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson and/or Larry Bird were all better than Jordan during their primes. That might be true, it might not, but what is a fact is that none of them were as beloved as Jordan. None of them did more for the game and its appeal, than Jordan. None of them were Jordan.

Because of that, the league should take notice. The NBA should ensure every generation knows of Jordan’s significance to the game and league, by hanging his number from every team’s rafters. Shoot, Miami already did it in 2002, and like the rest of the league besides Chicago and Washington, he never played a day for them either. Miami got it right.

Sell It For Scrap

In College on July 13, 2012 at 9:30 am

There’s been a lot of talk about Joe Paterno’s legacy lately. How will history view him? What should Penn State do about a man whose image has been synonymous with the university? What is his legacy?

What should be done with his statue? 

Paterno’s statue, located at Penn State University.

This shouldn’t even been a discussion anymore. After the Jerry Sandusky verdict and the Freeh Report, it is clear history will view Paterno more for the events of last year (and since 1998) than anything he ever did on the football field. His legacy is now of a man who willfully and knowingly enabled evil and horrendous acts on children.

Penn State should wipe clean any image of his 61-year tenure as assistant and head coach.

The statue should be torn down and sold for scrap.

If any of you think this is harsh, let me remind you that there are things larger than football, and Joe Paterno is not a victim. Paterno and Penn State officials Graham B. Spanier, Gary Schultz, and Timothy Curley are not victims. While Jerry Sandusky abused children, Paterno and the rest showed, as mentioned in the Freeh Report, a “striking lack of empathy for Sandusky’s victims by failing to inquire as to their safety.”  When Assistant Coach Mike McQuery brought Sandusky’s crimes to Paterno’s attention, Paterno now famously told McQuery, “You did what you had to do. It’s my job now to figure out what we want to do.”

There is no defending Paterno. There is no justifying. While Sandusky abused young boys, Paterno and the rest closed the door, turned around, and walked away. For all the fame Paterno brought to the university, he destroyed it by his actions, or more appropriately, his inactions. For every young athlete’s life he changed as a coach, there are ten innocent lives he destroyed by not doing anything. Ten lives which outweigh the rest.

There is no defending this. There is no justifying, and every attempt by ESPN analyst Matt Millen, who continues his inexcusable attempts to salvage Paterno’s reputation, needs to stop. There is no excuse.

This article may be short, but like what Penn State should do with Paterno’s legacy, there is nothing more to say.

Eric Gordon Would Be Nice For The Phoenix Suns, But So Might Not Having Him

In NBA on July 11, 2012 at 12:01 am

Next season, the Phoenix Suns will be an entirely different team than the one you’ve grown used to seeing. After a slow attrition of talent caused by the poor personnel decisions of Robert Sarver, the team’s managing partner, the final tie to the past was cut last Wednesday when Steve Nash requested a trade to the loathed Los Angeles Lakers.

Out are the high character-quality players the Suns have long been famous for (Grant Hill and Nash), and in is Michael Beasley, one of the biggest disappointments in the NBA.

Despite what you might think, I am not a member of LMFAO.

Between getting caught smelling like pot with two women in his hotel room during the rookie symposium, to being forced to enter rehab by the Miami Heat, to getting arrested for marijuana possession in Minnesota, Beasley is a far cry from the prototypical player who has normally donned purple and orange.

Granted, there have been players like Charles Barkley who also weren’t perfect angels either. Some tend to forget that when Barkley was traded to the Suns, he had spit on a little girl and was facing charges for allegedly throwing someone through a window during a bar fight. With that rap sheet, maybe Beasley will work out after all. Maybe he’s is like the second coming of Barkley, minus the talent and charisma, but plus a lot of bad hair.

“I am not a role model, but I am more of a role model than Michael Beasley.”

Then, keeping up with a fine tradition of trading point guards who suddenly blossom in their new surroundings and come back to bite the team in the butt, the Suns re-signed fan favorite Goran Dragic. Fans never wanted Dragic to get traded in the first place, but management did so because they believed it was Aaron Brooks and not Dragic who was going to be the team’s point guard of the future. Brooks played in China all last year, and now Dragic’s back in Phoenix while Brooks might very well head back to Houston. It’s a total redo, except the Suns aren’t going to get back the draft pick they also traded for Brooks.

Not like they would have kept the pick or the player they drafted anyways.

In the team’s biggest move, the Sun made a max offer to Eric Gordon, a feisty, under-sized and injury prone shooting guard who just happens to be a restricted free agent with the New Orleans Hornets, and whom the Hornets said they would match any offer for.

“Maybe if New Orleans would’ve put out a giant yellow carpet, my heart would have been there instead.”

While this will all be decided sometime today, you can put me in the minority of folks who wouldn’t be too devastated if the Hornets matched the offer the Suns gave to Gordon.

Don’t get me wrong, Gordon would be a great addition to Phoenix. He would turn a team that wasn’t going to win a championship or be better than a 9-through-7 seed in the west with Nash, into a team that is not going to win a championship or be better than a 9-though-7 seed in the west with him.

He will also earn a max salary, and will undoubtedly cost the team either a young player (Kendal Marshall or Marfieff Morris), an established player (Channing Frye, Jared Dudley or Maric Gortat, which the Suns will never agree to), and/or some combination of draft picks (and probably more than the picks the Suns acquired from the Lakers), in order to complete a sign-&-trade with New Orleans.

This all seems a lot for a player who only played nine games last season because of a knee injury, and who has never played a full season in his entire NBA career. I know fans want to point to the Suns medical staff and how they worked wonders for Grant Hill and Shaquille O’Neal (during his short stay), but there’s a difference between occasional good fortune and expecting it every time. I mean, if the Suns medical staff really has the lazarus powers everyone thinks they do, why not go sign Greg Oden as well. With the combination of Oden and Beasley in the mix, the Suns should then sign OJ Mayo and become the All-NBA Draft Bust team. It would be just like that movie “The Replacements.”

“Holy crap this team doesn’t have a chance!”

All I’m saying is that if the Suns don’t get Gordon, they get to keep their players and picks for next year. Without Gordon, the team will be remarkably bad (instead of just mediocre), and could potentially land a top-five pick in the 2013 draft. Using that pick, along with the pick the Lakers sent over, the Suns could hypothetically turn two picks into a top-3 pick. Then, once the draft’s over, the team could target other restricted free agents who will demand a max salary their respective teams either won’t, or due to financial constraints, can’t meet.

The first of those players would be Tyreke Evans (if he’s not already traded to the Chicago Bulls).

“You don’t know who I am because I play in Sacramento.”

During Evan’s rookie season, he became the fourth player in NBA history to average 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. The other three players? Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and Lebron James.

After that, the Kings drafted DeMarcus Cousins, and didn’t figure out how to maximize one player’s talents without shutting down the other. Because of this, Evans was designated to the end of the King’s bench, where he counted down the days until he could be relocated to Seattle.

The thing is, the former Evans is still in there, he just happens to plays in a system that won’t put him in a position to act like the player he is. Pretty much any offer other than the minimum (knowing how the owners of the Kings do business) would pretty much save Evans from another lackluster year on a lackluster team. That statement is hyperbole, but you catch my drift. He’s attainable.

Evans is not as good as Gordon, but Evans+2013 Top-5 draft pick>Gordon. And probably a little bit cheaper.

The next player potentially available to fill the Suns need at the 2 guard might be one of the most favorite Arizona State University alumni’s ever (that is, if he’s not pretending to be traded to the Hornets).

“Everyone knows who I am.”

Oklahoma City would have to be flat-out stupid to not find a way to work things out with the NBA equivalent of San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson (it’s the beard, not the insanity). The issue is, with so much money already tied up in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and with big-man Serge Ibaka also facing a possible departure, nobody knows if the Thunder will be able to afford the guy. Both sides are saying they are trying to work out a deal, but if the day comes that Harden hits the restricted market, the Suns should lay out an orange carpet and a purple carpet, and make the Gorilla dress up in a tuxedo and carry Harden across the threshold of the arena.

Since Harden is a restricted free agent, the  Suns would probably have to give up a few things in order to keep him, but that is after they have already used the 2013 draft picks. Harden is currently better than any player on the Phoenix roster, and Harden+2013 Top Five pick>Gordon. In fact, Harden>Gordon, flat out. And taller. And less injury prone.

That’s just science.

I know these scenarios are a bit oversimplified, and I know a lot of things can happen between now and next year. With that said, I would remind you that with Nash, the team knew what they had, and with Dragic, Beasley and potentially Gordon, the team doesn’t know what it has, but fans and the front office still seemed to be excited about the potential even though it may only yield the same results as the last attempt. Under that justification, we don’t know what will happen with Evans or Harden or even the Suns when next year comes around, but the potential that is available is still something to get excited over.

All I’m saying is, if the Eric Gordon situation doesn’t work out the way Suns brass and fans were hoping, there are still plenty of similar, and probably cheaper, options available to them.

The Phillies Should Blow The Whole Darn Thing Up

In MLB on July 9, 2012 at 10:26 am

The Phillies won a World Series in 2008 (vs. the Rays) and lost one in 2009 (vs. the Yankees). Every year since, it’s seemed they’ve tried to make big moves to not only get back to the top of the mountain, but become perennial title winners as well. Over the years, they’ve brought aboard Pedro Martinez, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Hunter Pence and Jonathan Papelbon. They’re paying $104 million dollars just in Lee, Halladay, Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and Chase Utley alone. The team has been dropping bills to try to win rings.

So far, it hasn’t worked out so well for them.

Objective correlative for 2012 season.

This season, the Phillies have been bad. Really bad. I mean, almost as ugly as those old “Saturday Night Special’s” they wore in 1979.

They can’t pitch, they can’t hit, they can’t run bases, and they can’t play defense. Their relief pitching has been atrocious, and the best play Papelbon’s made so far was stopping a fan from running on the field (although, given how hilarious that was last time, it probably would have been more entertaining than anything the team’s shown this season).

Profile picture for life.

With so much invested in the Phillies roster, you’d think by the All-Star Game they’d have better than a 0.8% chance of making the playoffs, wouldn’t you?

Maybe those Saturday Night Specials aren’t so bad after all.

Going into the break, the Phillies are thirteen games under .500, with a record of 37-and-50. Their payroll is the second highest in the league, at $173,458,939, which is roughly $22 million (give-or-take) less than the New York Yankees. If you divide the Phillies payroll in half (since we’re only half-way through the season) then divide by the number of wins the team has produced, the Phillies are paying $2,344,039.72 for each win. In comparison, the Minnesota Twins have an almost identical record (36-49) and are only paying $1,306,736.11 per-victory.

No matter how you spin it, that is a bad investment. That is JP Morgan bad investment.

There are a lot of theories in the City of Brotherly Love on how to make the team pay a little less for each win. The team’s already been making minimal strides by shipping Jim Thome back out-of-town as fast as he arrived, and if Shane Victorino’s late scratch from Sunday’s game against the Braves means anything, he’ll soon be rested up and playing for a new team by the week’s end.

This picture is not relevant to the article.

If you’re the Phillies, that’s simply not going to cut it. I know the team doesn’t want to blow it all up before Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard return (which he did yesterday), but the Phillies have too much money invested for so few wins, especially when they’re paying Cliff Lee $10,750,000 for his one win of the season so far.

“Can you guys dump some Gatorade on me? This is the best day of my life!”

The first thing the Phillies need to do is trade 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels to a team who would be interested in a half-season, gun-for-hire rental. Teams like the Dodgers, White Sox, or Angels, who are in the fight but just need a little bit more pitching to get them over the hump.

After the Phillies trade Hamels, they need to back up a dump-truck filled with money to his house and try to re-sign him the day free agency starts. Hamels himself even said he’d be open to such a circumstance.

Think about it, right now the Phillies still owe Hamels $7.5 million for the rest of the season, and at that price, he simply isn’t worth it. He is still relatively young, and it’s a gamble he might not return to the team if traded, but considering how the Phillies are a bunch of overpaid old guys anyway, they are facing a serious rebuild mood very, very shortly. They could use Hamels as a valuable trade bait to acquire high-valued prospects. Apparently, the Phillies are asking for four-or-five prospects, but should lower that price to two-to-three, and hope really, really hard that they get him back.

The rest of the plan is relatively easy. The team is old and overpaid, and needs to get younger and cheaper. Victorino’s pretty much already gone, so while they’re at it, they should trade Lee to another team on the cusp and load up on even more prospects. Follow through with the rumors that pitcher Joe Blanton and third basemen Placido Polanco are also available. I know dumping salary is probably not exactly what you were expecting when I said something about making those wins cost a little less, but let’s be serious, this year’s a wash, look toward the future. The odds are so against the team making the playoffs that it would be better to dump salary, and add young, fresh faces that may or may not even play this year.

The beauty about this tactic is that even if the team gets loaded in the farm levels, you’re still the Phillies, meaning you’re still a team like the Yankees who can pretty much buy whomever you want, whenever you want. Dump the older guys who are not earning their keep, get a bunch of cheap, fresh new faces who will either one day become the old guys you overpay, or trade them for veterans to fill the roster.

Normally I’m not the one to toss a grenade in a clubhouse, just because things aren’t going the way management expected (unless you’re the Phillies, Red Sox, or Lakers, apparently) and usually I’m the one to say “the roster’s got too much talent to give up on,” when it looks like the nuclear option is about to take place. Normally (I think) I’m like that, but with 0.8% chance of the post season, and roughly 2.3 million dollars per win, every day they don’t meet expectations is just too damn expensive.

Requiem for a Team: The Steve Nash-era Phoenix Suns (A Fan’s Take)

In NBA on July 5, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Nash and Kobe on Nash’s career with Phoenix.

I have loved the Phoenix Suns since before I could remember. I remember the day Charles Barkley opened America West Arena. I remember being nine-years-old and crying when they lost the Finals to Jordan and the Bulls. I remember when KJ dunked over Hakeem, when Marbury hit the last second shot against the Spurs, and when Jason Kidd got arrested.

I remember the day they signed Steve Nash. I remember the afternoon after his press conference, when he came into the restaurant where I worked and ordered a Pad Thai. I was his waiter. I remember the first game he played after returning. I remember the team getting eliminated by the Spurs. And the Mavericks. And the Spurs. And the Lakers.

I remember being so angry at Robert Horry’s hockey check. At Artest’s last second put-back. I remember the last game of last season. “We want Steve! We want Steve!” everyone chanted.

Heck, I remember when they drafted the guy.

“Give me high fives now, because you’ll all be hating my guts very, very shortly.”

Steve Nash did a lot for the Suns during his ten collective years with them. After all the ineptitude following the late ’90’s and early 2000’s, he came back to the Valley and single-handily returned the team to contention. He made them something to talk about, and not just in Phoenix. Everywhere you went, people said, “I’m not a Suns fan, but I root for them because of Nash.” Seven Seconds or Less, for a moment, changed the entire way the game was played.

Nash was Mr. Sun. He was the king of Phoenix. There was the endless debate between fans over who was the most beloved Sun of all time, Steve Nash or Charles Barkley?

“That solved that!”

I thought when the day came that I would write about the end of the Steve Nash-era for the Suns, I would be sad and heartbroken. I would try to write in the times between depressing lapses where I would just stare off into space, trying to figure out what to do next.

But when the day finally came to write about the end of the Nash-era, it’s strange that I have no feelings of sadness whatsoever. As a fan, I feel nothing but anger and betrayal. I feel like the last eight years have been a giant lie. I feel like I have been cheated-on. These are strange feelings to have, especially since I am only a fan, but I never thought I would have them, because I never thought Steve Nash would sell the city of Phoenix and every Suns fan who rooted for him, down the (relative to Arizona) dry-riverbed.

But that’s just what he did.

In 2004, when Nash came (back) to the Suns (the fourth-most winningest franchise in NBA history, yet has never won a title), he did so to lead them on their quest for their holy grail. The entire city bought into it. He was to be the facilitator of the team’s illusive goal. The captor of their unicorn (a mystical beast that is unobtainable). The champion of the state.

As a fan, there were ups-and-downs of course, but the season always ended with downs. The team was always beaten just shy of their goal. There were a few weeks of depression that always followed, and then when the next season started, we all jumped on board and did it again. Collectively, we hated the Spurs, we hated the Mavericks, and we hated the Lakers. We all hated Robert Sarver. We were all in it together, for Steve. We didn’t call him Nash, or Steve Nash, it was just Steve. He was one of us. He was the ambassador of the city. He came into our homes via APS commercials and told us how to save energy. The team didn’t win it all, but we didn’t win it all together.

But, as with all things, nothing is forever. The Suns wanted to move in a younger direction, and they wanted to rebuild from the ground up. I didn’t like it, but I got it. There’s this fallacy that a team has to lose in order to win. Losing-to-win means getting a better pick in the draft, but drafting high doesn’t always guarantee wins. You could get a number one pick and take Greg Oden. You could take Kenyon Martin, who, while a good player, hasn’t brought any substantial success to any team he’s played for. Losing to win only guarantees losing. Look at the Sacramento Kings, and how well they’ve done with all their Top-Ten picks.

While I still didn’t like it, I understood. That was the direction the team wanted to go. Personally, I wanted the team to re-sign him and let him finish out his career. Regardless, it was going to be tough seeing Steve in a Knicks or Raptor or even a Heat jersey, but we’d get used to it for three years, and then he would return. We would all have a great time at his Ring of Honor induction, and remember fondly the last eight years.

Instead, he decided to destroy his Suns legacy. He decided to spit in the face of every Suns fan who ever rooted for him.

Until yesterday, this was the most maddening Suns memory of all time.

Steve Nash is no longer a Phoenix Sun, and never will be again. He is a Laker. For Suns fans (while others might feel differently), he is now the face of the immortal enemy. Phoenix hates Los Angeles, and Suns fans hate the Lakers. We hate living in the shadow of Jerry West, Magic Johnson, and Kobe Bryant. We hate their arrogance, the way they infest the state, and the way they have been handed everything without struggle. Without going so long without a championship.

Some suggest that this is a great move for the team, because they get draft picks they can use to either draft new players, or package as part of a trade. I’ll agree to that, but this is more than basketball. This is civic pride. This is standing up for your hometown and your roots against a city that is the antithesis to your own.

But now Steve Nash is Kobe Bryant and every other arrogant Laker fan out there. He is no longer one of us, and never will be again. He will forever be connected to Purple and Gold, not Orange. This is more than disappointing.

Look at Kevin Garnett and the Timberwolves. KG more-or-less put Minnesota on the map, yet he won it all with the Celtics, and will now always be considered one of the greatest C’s to play for the team. That’s what’s going to happen with Nash. He will be swallowed whole by the Los Angeles media, and if he finally wins his first title, he will be the man who brought another championship to a city that’s already won so many it’s almost become old hat. It’s become an expectation. It’s a given, when we are still waiting for just one.

Nash will go down as one of the greatest points guards ever to play for the Lakers. Los Angeles will be his legacy. Steve Nash, the Lakers’ finest.

Oh, and he also won some MVP’s with that other team. He’ll still be inducted into that other team’s Ring of Honor, but that’ll just be a nice gesture. Really, at his core, he will be a Laker. They will have won him his championship while another year will pass, another decade, and the Suns will not have one. Our Nash-era legacy, as a fan base, will be inconsequential. It will be second-class.

He will be a Laker 4 eva.

He can say he did it for his family, that he did it to be close, but I don’t buy it. He told a radio station in LA that his first priority is winning. He said it was Kobe Bryant who talked him into coming to the Lakers, so they could team up and win. Chasing a ring was the final push for someone who was supposed to be “old-school.”

And that’s why I will now root against him with as much passion as I already hated the Lakers before. On the day Nash returns to Phoenix with his new team, everyone should burn his jersey on the steps of the arena. We should all hate him as much as Cleveland hates Lebron. As much as Green Bay hated Favre. We should hope the Heat sign Ray Allen. The Thunder find a way to make it work with James Harden. We should even hope the Spurs can somehow get better. We should hope for anyone, besides the Lakers, to win. Anyone, besides him.

Because his legacy should have been our legacy. Because we were supposed to be in this together. If not, every emotion felt during the last eight years will have all been (even more so) for nothing.

If this comes off as bitter, that’s because it is. Some say sports is just a business, but that’s for people who sign the checks or cash them. For a fan, it’s emotion that makes us go to the games. That makes us root for and against people in different colored jerseys. It’s (like I said before) civic pride. Pride and respect. Respect and community.

And now ours has been betrayed.

“You’re right, the heaps of money does make it easier not to  care how the entire state of Arizona hates me. Want to be in my next crappy online movie?”

Kobe Bryant hates the Suns. Hates Phoenix. Said so himself in an interview after he torched the Suns last year for 48 points. Said it’s because the Suns used to let him know about it, all those years they used to beat him in the playoffs. That he would never let it go. That he wanted to make sure he got back at us.

Boy, did he ever.

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