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NFL Power Rankings: Part II

In NFL on October 31, 2012 at 12:47 pm

By Jonathan Danielson

After a four week wait, we’ve seen enough, heard enough, and read enough to reassess each team, and where they stand in the NFL pecking order.

Here’s round two.

(Oh, and in case you didn’t read round one, you can check it out here)

32) Kansas City Chiefs (1-6), Previously Ranked (P): #24 

Who ever thought Matt Cassell and Brady Quinn would make Chiefs fans pine away for Kyle Orton? Or for that matter, former coach (and current Pittsburgh Steeler offensive coordinator) Todd Haley?

“Told you it wasn’t all my fault.”

This team is simply awful, and Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe are killing my fantasy team. Sigh.

31) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6), P: #29 

Speaking of awful, Blaine Gabbert is the quarterback for the Jags. Okay, he threw for over 300 yards against Green Bay, but the Seahawks offense also looked good against the Pack, and that was before the replacement ref handed them the game. My point is, don’t read too much into it. We are, of course, still waiting for Tim Tebow to be playing in Jacksonville by tomorrow.

30) Cleveland Browns (2-6), P: #32

Last time we looked at the Browns, they hadn’t won a game. Since then, they’ve won two. While this is an improvement, Cleveland shouldn’t hold their breath for a parade just yet. Or for a .500 season.

29) Tennessee Titans (3-5), P: #26

Well, Matt Hasselbeck is still under center in Tennessee. Remember how I said not to expect too much from the Titans? Keep doing that.

28) Buffalo Bills (3-4), P: #17

What was the best thing that happened to the Bills last week? If you answered, “they had a bye, so they couldn’t lose,” you are correct. The Bills have had some gutsy wins, but they’ve also played two of the worst games in the history of the NFL (A 52-28 loss to the Pats, and a 45-3 loss against the 49ers).

Don’t quote me on that history line. I did just make it up. Regardless, those losses were bad, and so are the Bills.

27) New Orleans Saints (2-5), P: #25

Just counting down the days until Sean Peyton comes back from suspension.

“And stupid-head Roger Goodell dies.”

26) Carolina Panthers (1-6), P: #22

Yes, I have ranked the Panthers higher than the Saints. No, that isn’t a typo. Yes, I know the Panthers have only won one game. No, I understand Jonathan Vilma returned to the Saints.

25) New York Jets (3-5), P: #31

Last rankings, the Jets were picked as the second worst team in the league. Because they’ve won three games, they get to move up in the world, but only slightly. Their best players are still injured, and they still have a backup quarterback who’s getting all the attention while not making any plays. Oh, and they have Tebow too.

See what I did just there?

Because I told you Tim, I don’t want to talk to you.”

24) San Diego Chargers (3-4), P: #15

A few things we know for certain: Phillip Rivers doesn’t have any talent around him, and at the end of the year, Norv Turner will be fired. While on paper they are only a game behind Denver for a shot at the division, no one, not even probably the San Diego Chargers themselves, actually believe they have a legitimate chance at winning anything, besides maybe this week’s game against Kansas City.

The Chargers mostly likely will end up with a high draft pick. While I would recommend trading their best assets for more picks, their only asset right now is Rivers. Still, it’s time this team goes for broke, sells the farm, and tries to pickup as many first round slots as possible. If trading Rivers is the only way to do that, so be it.

23) Oakland Raiders (3-4), P: #30

The Raiders have had some surprising success lately, but with games against the Bucs, Ravens and Broncos coming up, that success most likely won’t last. Then again, they also still have to play the Bengals, Browns, Chiefs, Panthers and Chargers, so who really knows? If they can win the majority of those games, they might be giving Denver a run at the division.

22) Cincinnati Bengals (3-4), P: #7

The Bengals showed flashes of brilliance in the early part of the season. As the season progressed though, the team’s inexperience started to shine. I still think the Bengals will be great with Andy Dalton throwing to AJ Green, it just won’t be now.

21) St. Louis Rams (3-5), P: #20

The Rams are doing what everyone else in the NFC West is doing right now: building a surprisingly bone crushing defense (led by Howie Long’s kid, Chris Long) that keeps them in the majority of their games.

No, my Dad doesn’t mention how ugly my tattoos look every time he sees me. Next question.”

This young and talented Jeff Fischer coached team is quickly laying the foundation for the NFC West to become one of the best divisions in football.

20) Detroit Lions (3-4), P: #27

Fortunately, fans in Detroit will be so depressed about their Tigers getting swept in the World Series that it’ll be a while before they realize the Lions are not living up to any of the potential and praise they were given the last few years. In a division with the Packers, Bears, and the sudden reemergence of the Vikings, the Lions are going nowhere fast.

19) Philadelphia Eagles (3-4), P: #6

What a disaster. Their star studded defense actually got worse by firing a defensive coordinator who hadn’t held the position since he used to call schemes for a high school team, and now Nick Foles is on pace to replace Michael Vick sometime very, very soon.

This will, and should be, the year Andy Reid finally gets fired.

18) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4), P: #21

This team is young and extremely talented, and their only losses have come from RGII, a shootout with the Saints, and a one touchdown loss to the defending Super Bowl champs. While it’s taken a while for them to come around, you’re looking at the future of the NFC South right here.

17) Dallas Cowboys (3-4), P: #18

Like the last six years, the Cowboys haven’t been able to get it done with Tony Romo as their quarterback. Fortunately, their stadium has a really big TV in it. If Jerry Jones would just put something else on during games, fans might actually have something to watch.

Okay, you’re right, their defense is also good. But when your offense isn’t getting the job done, a defense can only go so far.

16) Arizona Cardinals (4-4), P: #3

Speaking of a team with a good defense and no offense, the Arizona Cardinals are on a four game losing streak, after starting the season with a four game winning streak. That’s why I’ve placed them right in the middle of the rankings. Their season is sort of like kissing your sister, whatever that means.

“Someone please take my brother’s phone away from him.”

What can you really expect though, when your quarterback is out with an injury? And two starting offensive linemen are out? And so is your starting tight end? And your starting running back? And your second running back? And…

15) Washington Redskins (3-5), P: #14

While Andrew Luck has been quietly consistent for the Colts, Robert Griffin III has seemingly been the main attraction in the NFL. In his first eight games, he’s already become a cultural icon, and you have to wonder, even though the Colts are playing better, how many people in Indianapolis are wondering, “what if,” as in, what if RGIII was wearing a horseshoe instead of a racist depiction of a Native American?

14) Seattle Seahawks (4-4), P: #16

Sure, they have one more notch on their belt than they deserve, and their defense totally fell apart against Detroit, but the facts still remain in Seattle: overall they have a very good defense, and overall Russell Wilson is blossoming as a very good third round pick.

13) Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3), P: #19

Earlier in the season, the Steelers suffered from a stagnant offensive, an injured defense, and suspect play calling.

“I’m telling you, it’s not all my fault!”

Since then, the defense has shown signs of its former life, and Jonathan Dwyer has rushed for two consecutive 100-yard games. If Pittsburgh can keep up this type of playing, they will be the Steeler team everyone thought the would be.

12) Miami Dolphins (4-3), P: #23

The Dolphins are most certainly not who we thought they were. Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill hasn’t sucked like everyone expected, and if they hadn’t lost that overtime thriller in Arizona, they would be 5-2 right now.

11) Indianapolis Colts (4-3), P: #28

Andrew Luck is like Andrew Luck which is why the Colts drafted him, and the team is making an improbable run at a playoff spot. How long did it take Peyton to get to the playoffs for the first time?

10) New England Patriots (5-3), P: #9

Tom Brady is doing what he does best, and his team is lighting it up on the offensive side of the field. Problem is, they’ve also lost twice, at home, to NFC West teams (who have very good defenses). This isn’t to discredit either the Seahawks or Cardinals, it’s just a statement that a good defense (so far) is better than the Pats offense, and because of that, the Pats are very beatable.

9) Minnesota Vikings (5-3), P: #13

“If we would have sucked like everyone thought we would, then we would have looked ridiculous.”

I don’t even know where to begin.

8) Green Bay Packers (5-3), P: #8

Technically, as we all know, this team should be 6-2, not 5-3. But here’s the thing, the Packers haven’t looked remarkably great in their victories, and during their losses they’ve looked remarkably mediocre. Are they a team that’s just simmering throughout the season, only to boil over once it really matters, or are they just a good, but not great, NFC North team?

7) Baltimore Ravens (5-2), P: #5

The year started out rough when Terrell Suggs went down with an injury before the season even started. Just as things were looking up, Ray Lewis suffered a season (and maybe career) ending injury. But then Terrell Suggs came back. Don’t count them out yet.

6) Denver Broncos (4-3), P: #12

Where they’re great, they are phenomenal, and that’s due to Peyton Manning. When they’re bad, they are horrible, and that’s also sometimes due to Peyton Manning. Looking at the schedule, this team could hypothetically win every game left in the season. They also just as easily could lose every game (except the two games against the Chiefs).

5) Chicago Bears (6-1), P: #10

Perhaps they should be ranked higher, but they are da Bears, and have disappointed time and time again. If they can carry on their success and dominance over the next few weeks, da Bears will potentially be looking at a Top-Three placing. And a deep playoff run.

4) New York Giants (6-2), P: #11

Technically, da Bears should be in this spot (and maybe even the #3 spot) but this is part of the perks of winning a Super Bowl. That, and watching Eli use his Super Bowl rings to flash the sun into Peyton’s face as Archie drives the family to a Disney World vacation.

“Cut it out Eli!”

3) San Francisco 49ers (6-2), P: #4

Granted, like the NFC Championship game last season, the Giants humiliated the Niners in week six (okay, maybe Kyle Williams humiliated the Niners is the Championship game, but you get my point). So why then is San Francisco ranked higher than the defending Super Bowl champs?

“On the blood of my fathers, I will avenge thee, oh NFC Championship game.”

Because of that old cliché, “Defense wins Super Bowls.” And nobody has a better defense than San Francisco. Even if they did lose 26-to-3 against the Giants. Like I said last rankings, good teams have bad weeks. Expect to see the 49ers play late into the season.

2) Houston Texans (6-1), P: #1

With only one loss to their name, the Texans are still the most complete team in the AFC. Considering the lopsided disparity of talented teams between the NFC and AFC, that might not really being saying much, but the Texans are good regardless.

Oh, and their offense still has Andre Johnson and Arian Foster.

“Man, if it weren’t for you guys, everyone would know how much I suck.”

So far, they are the overwhelming pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

1) Atlanta Falcons (7-0), P: #2

Overachieving? Sure. Surprise to everyone? Absolutely. But do they have the talent to back it all up? To finally receive the credit they deserve?

“You know, this is the first time you’ve interviewed me and haven’t mistaken me for Chipper Jones!”

You betcha.


Brought To You In 5000 Frames-Per-Second

In MLB on October 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm

By Jonathan Danielson

Did anyone else think the 2012 Post Season was a little more epic then, say, ever before?

There were bizarre Wild Card games, series comebacks, sweeps, more comebacks, and finally the final sweep. In the World Series, it was the overwhelming favorites versus the scrappy underdogs everyone thought had no right to be there. It was the expected battling the destined. The Talent against The Momentum.

And to top it off, it was all shown in dramatically epic 5000 frames-per-second.

Hunter Pence became the first player ever to hit a ball three times during the same swing. At least, because of 5000 fps, that we know of.

Fox Sports have been accused of a lot things when it comes to their sports broadcasts. They’ve been accused of the Joe Buck bias. Of artificially creating theater during games that lack any. And with the introduction of the super slow-motion cameras, that could have been the case this Post Season as well.

Instead, the new technology heightened the drama on the field and on our televisions, instead of manufactured it. It enhanced rather than overwhelmed.

And when it came down to the final out, when the backup closer for the Giants, who has had to live in the shadow of the beard he replaced earlier in the season, eyed down the Tigers final batter, who happens to be the first Triple Crown winner since 1967, it was as theatrically dramatic as it was in real life, bending arms, and vibrating bats, and bulging neck veins and all.

No matter who you rooted for this post season, regardless of if your team won it all or lost, it sure was a hell of a show.

Ranking the NFL’s Best Mediocre Teams

In NFL on October 27, 2012 at 10:12 pm

By Chris Carosi

We’re nearly halfway through the 2012 NFL Regular Season, and the parity of this league that keeps the NFL so exciting week-to-week has power ranking modules all over the Internet tossing teams hither and yon.

But the only things we really know so far is this:

The Texans and Falcons are very good.

There’s like seven teams that are probably good but who knows for sure.

The Jaguars, Browns, Panthers, and Chiefs are very bad.

The Raiders and Lions are probably bad.

For the swath of teams straddling that muddy middle of the NFL, the weeks are up and down. A teams “identity” is based at the end of the day by wins and losses (not felony charges or their fan base), so this week we will rank them in neat little blog-friendly capsules of text. This isn’t your daddy’s power rankings. You are going to disagree. It’s a good thing you can’t actually meet me.

1. Denver

Wins: PIT, OAK, @SD

Losses: @ATL, HOU, @NE

Denver is the best mediocre team because they’ve only lost to quality teams (jury’s out on New England, but they get more than enough credit on paper) and it’s obvious that this team has all the pieces they need to succeed (solid on both sides of the ball). So why are they the king of the mediocre teams right now? Well they’ve only BEATEN teams at their level or somewhat below. They’re going to win at least five out of their next seven, but they still haven’t beaten a team better than themselves. They’ll have to do that to win the division. Jury’s still out on Manning until he can deliver an upset. The Broncos need that security to do anything in the playoffs.

2. Washington

Wins: NO, @TB, MIN

Losses: @STL, CIN, ATL, @NYG

Washington is rated higher because of the level of their competition and their obvious potential. Yes, they lost to Cincinnati and blah blah but they play everybody close (and they really should have beaten the Giants last week). The thing about the NFC East is that all the division games are wars—it battle-tests a plucky team like this. If they can stay above .500 going into an insane stretch after their bye week (PHI, @DAL, NYG, BAL), they can really run the table with two or three wins. The good thing they have going for them is that every big win seems like an upset. That’s like a shot of energy for a young, exciting team like this.

3. Pittsburgh

Wins: NYJ, PHI, @CIN

Losses: @DEN, @OAK, @TEN

The Steelers are going to be consistently overrated every week this year because they are completely unbalanced and they have a good quarterback. It’s pretty clear at this point that Todd Haley’s offense can play well with second and third string talent in key areas and Big Ben can carry the whole load (insert your goddamn rape joke, sissy). What’s also clear is that their defense just lets people down (people like me and my dad). What’s really weird is that it’s still a top ten defense, statistically. That’s the most frustrating thing I can think of right now; it’s also essential mediocrity.

5. St. Louis


Losses: @DET, @CHI, @MIA, GB

The Rams get a bump because they’ve proven they can win in their competitive division (at least on their home field). What they can’t do, like, at all, is win on the road. But it’s gonna happen at least once. That’s likely not enough to make the playoffs (even if they end up 9-7), but they can play defense and the only team that really gave them a spanking was Chicago at Soldier Field. If they can upset two or three teams by the end of the year, it will have been a good season for them. If the offense ever catches up to the defense, they can be dangerous next year.

6. Miami

Wins: OAK, @CIN, STL

Losses: @HOU, NYJ, @ARI

This team reminds me of Cincinnati from last year: easy schedule, rookie QB with chip on shoulder, an uncaring fanbase). And like the young Redskins, they reside in a competitive division which creates a certain attitude that could extend into the playoffs if they get lucky towards the end. They really can’t afford to lose to the Jets this week, or any division game for that matter. If they split the series with New England, they sneak in as the wild-card. The weakness of the AFC improves their chances. The only team they are competing with for the wild card will be Pittsburgh.

7. Philadelphia

Wins: @CLE, BAL, NYG

Losses: @ARI, @PIT, DET

Philadelphia straight pisses me off. Their season makes absolutely no sense so far. If I was an Eagles fan, I’d be clutching my Reggie White jersey for repentance with the Lord. Firing their defensive coordinator during the bye week right before they play a measuring stick game against Atlanta is so stupid it hurts my face. The whole tough love thing for a team might work. Might. I don’t buy it, not for Philadelphia. Too much hate in that city directed at sports franchises. It’s like poison in the air. Recovery for the Eagles depends on pushing people around in their own division, which they haven’t had an opportunity to do. Their fate won’t be clear until about week 13 or 14, when they’ve played some more division games. For now, they’re in purgatory.

8. San Diego

Wins: @OAK, TEN, KC

Losses: ATL, @NO, DEN

The Chargers have been secretly terrible for about a decade now, but no one ever seems to remember. Maybe it’s the fancy uniforms or the strange fantasy the media seems to have with a team from a beautiful city winning important games. Well, it hasn’t happened. Not even once. And the thing is. It won’t happen. Not ever. Not once. I’ve been consistently selling San Diego short since the Tomlinson days and they’ve never done anything about it. Not that they know me, but I’m just saying. That much bad karma directed at one franchise should yield at least ONE big win or at least some display of basic testicular fortitude. Nope. Their unraveling against Denver surprised no one.

9. Cincinnati

Wins: CLE, @WAS, @JAC

Losses: @BAL, MIA, @CLE, PIT

The Bengals are who we thought they were. I’m not saying they’re underrated or overrated or anything. They are the Bengals. They’ve always been this way. The Bengals are the ultimate mediocre team (they would be #1 in the all-time mediocrity rankings). They have potential every year, that’s what we always hear. And every year they win a few big games and upset the Ravens or Steelers here and there, but I don’t think they ever truly believe they belong. I don’t know what happened in the 90’s, but all the memories of Boomer Esiason and Anthony Munoz and the winning tradition they had (two AFC championships in the 80’s) was just washed away. They’re looking down the barrel at a 6-10 season right now. Schedule is way too hard.

10. Dallas

Wins: @NYG, TB, @CAR

Losses: @SEA, CHI, @BAL

Dallas too seems to always be the same story. They can’t keep momentum from big wins and they can’t rally around any kind of leadership after bad losses. The media in Dallas must be so incredibly soul-sucking that no one has even realized that Tony Romo is not the answer at quarterback. The one redeeming quality for the Cowboys is their ability to seem important at all times, no matter how good or bad they really are. It’s a weird kind of superpower that Jerry Jones has. It also makes them destined to forever be held under some kind of curse like they have nothing to prove but they haven’t actually proved anything since the 90’s. Similar thing went on with Oakland and Al Davis. The curse of mediocrity.

11. Indianapolis

Wins: MIN, GB, CLE

Losses: @CHI, JAC, @NYJ

Beating Green Bay was a great win for this team, and yes even though the Colts aren’t that good, people are very happy in Indiana with what they’ve seen from Andrew Luck. It’s clear they have some fight. It will be fun to watch what they can do all year, not unlike Washington, because nothing crazy is expected out of them. But the Colts don’t have that killer attitude that Washington has right now, so there’s no way they can challenge Houston. The sheer fact they might finish second is kind of amazing, even if you consider how horrible the AFC South is. Their schedule is really easy, so that gives them the opportunity to test their limits before next year when things will be more serious. Despite all this, I’m calling it right now: they’re beating the Texans in week 17 at Indianapolis.

The Phoenix Suns Should Run, Not Walk, Toward a Trade For James Harden

In NBA on October 26, 2012 at 6:35 am

By Jonathan Danielson

The Oklahoma City Thunder have less than a week to give a contract extension to their bearded shooting guard, James Harden. If not, the Thunder will face the very real possibility of losing Harden to another team, once he becomes a restricted free agent this summer.

Granted, Harden will be a restricted free agent, so the Thunder will have the opportunity to match any offer he might receive, but if the Thunder can’t (or won’t) pony up the cash now, do you really think they will match the maximum offers their (arguably) third (or second or fourth, depending) best player will inevitably sign?

If a contract can’t be made before the October 31st deadline, the Thunder will have no choice but to trade their wildly popular and reigning Sixth Man of the Year before the February trade deadline. If they don’t, they will otherwise potentially lose him with nothing for compensation once the offseason comes around.

Knowing full well about keeping a player on their roster longer than they should (especially if they knew they weren’t going to pay to keep him anyway), the Phoenix Suns should hand the Thunder’s owner, Clay Bennett, a blank check for the recent Olympian.

“It fits so much better than my last one!”

Here’s the deal with Phoenix. In case you didn’t hear, they once had this guy on their team named Steve Nash. Nash won two MVP’s while playing in purple and orange, but failed to lead his team to the franchise’s first ever promised land. Granted, a lot of this (all of this) can be blamed on the mismanagement of Suns’ owner, Robert Sarver, but for Suns’ fans, they still have this bitter taste lingering in their mouthes of the championship they never got to chew on. And that’s even with them not making the playoffs the last two years.

(To be fair, they are the fourth most winningest NBA team in history, and are statistically the best professional sports team never to win a championship, so they’ve been chewing on that taste for a while)

To Suns fans, they were supposed to win a championship with Steve Nash. They weren’t supposed to be on the butt end of disgraced ref Tim Donaghy throwing a game. They weren’t supposed to see their once beloved long-haired, adopted son, leave them for the hated Lakers.

But they did.

And because of that, there is now a disgusted and heartbroken fan base soul-searching for an identity. A fan base that needs a new hero to help them forget about the last guy and the promises unfulfilled. They have a few bright spots in returning point guard Goran Dragic, and if Michael Beasley and Wes Johnson can begin to prove why they were drafted second and fourth overall in the NBA draft, respectively, they have a nice young nucleus to build around.

But “What-If’s” and “Has-Been’s” and “Never-Were’s” can only go so far. What the Suns need to restore faith in their fans is a wildly popular and eccentric shooting guard who once played college ball a few miles away from the U.S. Airways Center.

Adding Harden would solidify a young roster filled with a high ceiling of potential.

The Suns must add James Harden. Yes, he might have the tendency to disappear in the NBA Finals, or for that matter, the NCAA Basketball Tournament, but to Suns fans, that doesn’t matter. In their mind, they’ve already decided that next year it’s either acquiring Harden or bust.

Sarver already screwed up keeping Nash for so long if he wasn’t going to sign him until his retirement, that he can’t screw this up either. There is now a price to pay, if he wishes to keep his team’s fans coming to the games and not giving up on the team completely.

And it’s now time to pay that price, and to let Clay Bennett tell him how much it’s going to cost.

Breaking: David Stern To Retire In 2014

In NBA on October 25, 2012 at 11:00 am

“I would like to effectively announcement my retirement…”

News just hit the interwebs that NBA Commissioner David Stern will retire from his post effective February 1, 2014. It will be the end of a twenty-year reign that oversaw the growth of the NBA from a podunk operation to an international obsession.

And while Stern can be credited with fostering an unprecedented age of prosperity for the league, his tenure will not be looked back upon without scandal or controversy. From allegations that Stern threw the 1985 NBA Draft, to allegations that he covered up referee misconduct (see Tim Donaghy), to allegations of big market favoritism, David Stern will not be missed by any fan of the NBA.

And while I wish Stern’s retirement will bring upon an era of parity in the league, it will be Stern’s protégée, Adam Silver, who will take over Stern’s Manhattan office.

“It is an honor and privilege to take over for my master, err, mentor, err, to be the new Commissioner.”

Just because Stern’s finally going to be gone, don’t get too excited NBA fans. The more things change in this league, they more they stay the same.

World Series Prediction

In MLB on October 24, 2012 at 11:06 am

If the Blue Jays aren’t in the World Series, why is there a maple leaf at the bottom of the logo?

Who really saw this one coming?

Sure, with their superb pitching staff, led by Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, along with an offense led by Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, and big offseason acquisition Prince Fielder, we all pretty much expected the Tigers to be playing in this year’s fall classic.

But in the National League, after playing six consecutive elimination games, the San Francisco Giants are in their second World Series in the last three years. And who knew it would be led by a) the quietest, yet probably biggest mid-season acquisition in all of baseball, Marco Scutaro, and b) Barry Zito, the overpaid pitcher everybody gave up on.

It’s an unexpected series, and while most ESPN analysts have the Tigers as the heavy favorite, picking a winner beforehand is as uncertain as trying to determine who the Giant’s best pitcher is at the moment. I mean, the guy who won all their Cy Young’s is now a middle reliever. What gives?

In the playoffs, I picked the Tigers over the A’s and Yankees. They seemed like pretty safe (and super accurate) choices. On the flip side, I picked the Reds over the Giants (and for the Reds to make it all the way to the Series), and the Cardinals over the Giants. So who am I picking now?

Congratulations San Franciscans, you are now the new Boston Red Sox fans of Major League Baseball. And by that, I mean the most obnoxious fans in the sport.

Fool me once, fool me twice, you know the rest.

Giants in six. 

Coming Out Swinging

In Boxing on October 22, 2012 at 9:50 pm

On Saturday, boxer Orlando Cruz won his match against Jorge Pazos.

Earlier in the month, he announced he was gay, and in doing so, became the sport’s first openly gay boxer.

If it doesn’t get better, train like Orlando Cruz.

Cruz (19-2-1, nine KOs) is the fourth highest ranked featherweight in the World Boxing Organization (WBO). With his announcement, he also became one of the higher profile athletes currently active in their sport to reveal their sexual orientation. He revealed he was gay, and did so while participating in a sport that is infamous for its machismo and violence. It’s brutality and intolerance.

When you think of athletes of the past who broke down barriers, Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson and Roberto Celemente instantly come to mind. Cruz isn’t in that kind of company yet, but that’s only because his career in no way matches those of Louis’s, Robinson’s or Clemente’s. Those men not only broke down barriers, but were champions of their sport.

But with Cruz’s victory comes an opportunity to perhaps participate in higher profile matches. And with higher profile matches, comes the chance to fight for a featherweight title. Think about this: Cruz has only lost twice in his professional career which began on December 15, 2000. In twelve years, he has only two loses and one tie, while racking up 19 victories to his name.

One day Cruz will fight for a title. He is a rising star in boxing, and is quickly becoming a hero in his native Puerto Rico, and while he’s already an inspiration for expressing who he is, when the day comes that he does fight for a belt, he will not just be an inspiration, but will become a legend.

And when that happens, you can tell your grandkids, “I remember when…”

A-(Lightning)-Rod In New York

In MLB on October 19, 2012 at 6:27 pm

No player in modern history has ever worked so hard to become an accepted part of their team’s culture than Alex Rodriguez.

And no player has ever failed at that task more than A-Rod.

“Why doesn’t anybody like me?”

Let’s face it, Rodriguez will go down as one of the better players ever to play the game, yet you’ll be hard pressed to ever find a Yankee fan who would mention his name in the same breath as Joe DaMaggio, Mickey Mantel, Lou Gehring, Reggie Jackson, Roger Maris, or the great Derek Jeter and Babe Ruth.

(Okay, so that was a long breath)

A-Rod has never been considered a true Yankee, regardless of the nine years he has spent with the organization.

Maybe it’s because he’s aloof. Because he’s arrogant and cocky.

Maybe it’s because he cheated on his wife, and girlfriends, and one night flings. Maybe it’s because he took steroids, and was hated by his teammates so much, they openly referred to him a “Bitch Tits” because of the impressive boobs he grew due to such PED abuse.

“A little lower, Madonna…”

Maybe it’s because, no matter his supposed greatness, he has only helped bring one World Series to a franchise that’s used to regularly winning banners. Maybe it’s because of his slumps and poor play and his $275 million dollar salary, or that fact that while his team was on the verge of getting swept by the Detroit Tigers, he was flirting with Australian bikini models in the bleachers while he’s in a slump, playing poorly, and earning $275 million dollars.

“Dude, I’m totally going to get a hit or two tonight. Huh? Oh, yeah, I’m going to try and get on base too. Wait, what are we talking about?”

No matter how great Alex Rodriguez supposedly is, or how much money he has made during his time as a Yankee, A-Rod will not go down as a Yankee Great. And because of that, despite his numbers, he does not deserve to have his number retired with the likes of Ruth, Mantel and (in the future) Jeter. He doesn’t even deserve to wear the pinstripes come 2013.

Rodriguez has brought unwanted attention and ridicule to a franchise that expects greatness like it is a common occurrence. At this point, it would be better for the Yankees to eat a significant portion of Rodriguez’s salary, find a way to convince him to drop his No-Trade Clause, and ship him off to the likes of Miami (who supposedly has already expressed interest in making a trade), Arizona (since Kirk Gibson is openly lobbing for such a move), Atlanta (since they’ve lost Chipper Jones), Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Cleveland or even the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have proven they will throw so much money at a lost cause, it would make even the late George Steinbrenner blush.

“You spent how much for what?!?”

Alex Rodriguez is done in New York. Come next season, he should no longer be a Yankee.

Not like he ever was really one anyway.

Let This Caged Bird Sing

In MLB on October 18, 2012 at 5:16 pm

After eight seasons, Bob Brenly quit his job yesterday as the color commentator of the Chicago Cubs. Some people might ask, “Why would he quit when that sounds like a dream job?” I mean, how bad could covering baseball everyday be?

But then you would remember that these are the Cubs we’re talking about, and the Cubs are simply horrible.

“You try watching them 162 days a year.”

Today, it was announced that Brenly would join former ESPN studio host Steve Berthiaume as the new announcers for the Arizona Diamondbacks (replacing Daron Sutton, who was released because he wore suits during his broadcast, and not the team embroidered polo shirts, and Mark Grace, who was released after committing his second DUI in less then two years).

Grace failed to recognize that being drunk was only funny when he was a) playing first base, b) hitting without batting gloves, or c) retired and trying to announce games.

While D-back fans are undoubtedly sad fan-favorite Grace is out of the booth, having the Skipper who led the team to the franchise’s only World Series is a nice replacement. In fact, it’s going to be just like old times for Arizona fans, as Brenly was the original voice of the Diamondbacks before he replaced Buck Showalter as the team’s manager before the improbable 2001 season.

It’s like going home all over again, or whatever cliché you manage to come up with. It’s also a sad landing spot for a man who is unfulfilling a promising managerial career by wasting his best years in a broadcasting booth.

You don’t hoist up a Commissioner’s Trophy by talking into a microphone.

Bob Brenly hasn’t managed a major league team in eight years, and even then, he only did so for three (2001-2004). While he had a minor coaching gig with the San Francisco Giants in the early-to-mid 1990’s, Brenly’s first managerial stint came the year he won the World Series. While his team repeated as NL West champions the following year, the team then went on a two year slump with their aging and disgruntled stars, and Brenly was consequently fired because of it.

Brenly doesn’t have a large body of work to prove his leadership prowess, but what people fail to realize is that when he took over the D-Backs in 2001, he took over a roster filled with highly paid, sometimes egotistical All-Star veterans (Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Matt Williams, Luis Gonzalez) who were coming off a disappointing year of underachievement and underperformance.

What Brenly did was throw out a large rule book left by his micromanaging predecessor, and get the talent on the team to play the way they were expected. And when you think about all those veterans and all those egos, you quickly realize that what he did was no easy task.

With teams like the Boston Red Sox and Miami Marlins facing similar circumstances, you wonder why Brenly is stuck calling games instead of filling out lineup cards. Bobby Valentine is already gone, and Ozzie Guillen is just waiting until November for his pink slip.

“I wonder if Cuba’s national team needs a manager?”

In Los Angeles, if the Dodgers play the same way next year as they did this year, Don Mattingly won’t be wearing Dodger Blue much longer.

In Detroit, regardless if the Tigers win it this season or not, Jim Leyland is more than likely on his way out, and the guy everyone in the Motor City wishes would take the job (current D-backs manager and Tigers legend, Kirk Gibson) has already said he has no desire leaving his current post.

Brenly only managed three years, yet he won a ring during that time. With all these open positions readily made for Brenly to perhaps remake the magic of 2001, it’s sad that it seems he’s taking the easy route with a microphone instead of batting signals. Brenly needs to take another chance at leading another team. We already know he’s a good announcer. It’s not like the booth is going anywhere.

Gone Fishing

In Keep Updated on October 17, 2012 at 6:47 am


“Gone Fishing” isn’t a clever pun on some current sports topic. I literally went fishing today. Up before sunrise and all that. By the time I get back (late) I will be so tired everything I write will be blah blah blah, the LiveStrong Foundation won’t be as strong without Lance Armstrong as the head of the organization, blah blah blah, the Cardinals and Giants and Tigers oh my, blah blah blah.

As if it wasn’t already like that, you know?

I will try to make up the article this week.

Until then.

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