March 3, 2014
Masahiro Tanaka debuts with Yankees: The New York Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka had a strong debut for the team in Spring Training. Pitching two scoreless innings against the Philadelphia Phillies, Tanaka struck out three batters allowing only two singles. The $155 million man also did not allow a walk and while it’s only Spring Training, he at least looked the part of a potential ace in his brief debut. Investing so much money in him, the Yankees need Tanaka to pay off handsomely and help the team to the postseason.
Allen Iverson’s jersey retired: Allen Iverson’s NBA career ended after the 2009-10 season and the Philadelphia 76ers point guard had his jersey retired by the franchise last week. Iverson was one of the best players in his generation and the honor was well deserved. He was an 11-time All-Star, Most Valuable Player Award winner, two-time All-Star Game MVP, and he led the 76ers to an NBA Finals appearance. The guard topped 30 points per game in four different seasons in Philadelphia and was one of the franchise’s best scorers.
Richard Petty challenges Danica Patrick to race: Iconic race car driver Richard Petty made headlines recently when he said that the only way Danica Patrick could win a NASCAR race was if other drivers stayed home. Petty, though, took things a step further saying he could beat Danica in a race – today. He hasn’t raced in more than 20 years but said he would take the challenge of racing her. Regardless of who would actually win, Petty just comes off looking a bit foolish in all of this. Nearly 80 years old now, he’s essentially challenged Patrick to a head-to-head race to prove he’s a better driver. If it ever happened, I’d stand in line to tune in. Petty, though, just comes off as looking like a bully picking a fight simply for the sake of doing so – and he’d lose.
NBA Draft change could be on the horizon: New NBA commissioner Adam Silver is throwing around some ideas for potential changes in the league. One such alteration could be the way players are drafted. Silver is reportedly considering a move that would give the top pick to all 30 teams in a rotation format. Under the current format, the worst teams are thrown into a lottery and given the top selections. The idea, while intriguing, is simply too flawed. Not only could players adjust their entry points into the league by staying in college shorter or longer in order to be picked by the team they would prefer to play for, but it also would allow the best teams to widen the gap and become even more dominant. The Lottery isn’t a perfect system since franchises often can tank to secure a better chance at a higher pick, but it’s a better solution than giving the best teams top spots. Just imagine a stacked Miami Heat team getting the No. 1 overall selection this year, for example.
Wichita State finishes regular season undefeated: The Wichita State Shockers’ college basketball team finished their regular season undefeated. The team had some close calls along the way, including a three-point overtime win against Missouri State, but have mostly won their games comfortably. The 31-0 Shockers are a good team, but it’s hard to be completely sold on them as an elite one. The Shockers don’t have a single Top 25 win to their credit and even the major-conference foes they’ve faced, Alabama and Tennessee, aren’t having great years. Finishing undefeated with any schedule is a supreme achievement but Wichita State remains largely untested at this point.
Blues land Ryan Miller: The St. Louis Blues swung a deal with the Buffalo Sabres for star goaltender Ryan Miller last week. Miller and Steve Ott head to the Blues in exchange for a package, including Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, William Carrier and two draft picks, including a first-rounder in 2015. That seems like a lot to give up and on the surface, but Miller could turn the Blues’ title hopes into reality. Only time will tell if the deal was a good one, though. His 2.70 goals against average ranks only 28th in the NHL and while his .923 save percentage is good for tenth, he also hasn’t recorded even a shutout all year. Still, as Buffalo’s franchise leader in wins and a former Vezina Trophy winner, Miller still has a reputation of a top goalie.
Basketball court storming fiasco: A college basketball game ended with a court storm … and then a brawl.
Ryan Braun homers in first Spring Training at bat: Following his suspension for his violation of drug use by Major League Baseball, it’s safe to say that Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun wants to prove some doubters wrong. He got off to a good start with a home run in his first at bat in his first game back in a Spring Training game. Braun has a difficult road ahead and will never win back all of his fans, but he can put a lot of the negative talk behind him by having a big season. Winning cures a lot of ills and if Braun helps the Brewers do that, the majority of the team’s fans will welcome him back.
February 27, 2013
Danica Patrick’s performance at the Daytona 500 was way more than just a few personal milestones. Yes, she became the first woman to win a NASCAR pole, while also becoming the first woman to lead a lap in the Daytona 500, but even more impressive is the way Patrick overcame the critics and labels placed upon her. Danica legitimized herself as a racer, and in turn broke the mold for auto racing.
Now, aside from consistent performance every race, fans just want to see Danica do well. With that I give you four things Danica’s performance does for NASCAR:
1. A Good Role Model
Along with being a woman in a man’s game, she overcame many obstacles and bad critics to become what she is today. She didn’t let the sport define her whole career.
2.A Wider Fan Base
NASCAR is now for every kind of fan. The casual supporter, the hardcore enthusiast, and now even those who know almost nothing about NASCAR.
3. A New Reason To Watch
Much like Tiger Woods with golf, Danica is key to viewership of the sport not just at the track, but also on television.
4. A Legitimate Contender
Danica is no longer just a beautiful girl who can drive really fast. She doesn’t have to win every race, but being a mainstay in the top 10 is huge for the sport of NASCAR.
I was glad to see Danica get the monkey off her back. After a few tough seasons of racing she finally broke through. A lot of the critics against her seemed a bit premature. Everybody has bumps along the road; it’s the way you react to them that shows who you really are. It’s not about the car; it’s about the driver. Danica has proved herself in Indy and NASCAR. The fact is that the personal milestones Danica achieved this week speak for themselves. She changed the history of NASCAR forever.
February 25, 2013
Jimmie Johnson wins the Daytona 500: Danica Patrick made a bit of history as the first woman to start at the pole position in a Daytona 500 race. She was passed up quickly, but also later regained the lead to become the first female to lead a lap in the event. But the day belonged to Jimmie Johnson who won the race and his second Daytona 500. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. made a late push, but for the third time in four years, he finished in second place. Winning second place on the biggest stage in NASCAR is quite an achievement and to do it three times in four years is flat out amazing. But it also has to sting to finish as the bridesmaid that many times.
Curtis Granderson breaks arm … on first Spring Training at bat: After sitting out for months, major leaguers probably can’t wait until their first Spring Training at bat. Yankees’ outfielder Curtis Granderson may be having second thoughts about that, though. Granderson was promptly hit by a pitch in his first at bat by the Blue Jays’ J.A. Happ, suffering a broken arm. The star will be out for two to three months and will likely miss the first five weeks of the regular season. Granderson was the team’s biggest offensive star last season, leading the Yankees in home runs (43) and RBI (106), so it will be a significant blow. The loss hurts even more when you consider that New York lost several offensive stars in the offseason including Nick Swisher, Raul Ibanez, and Russell Martin, who combined for 64 home runs last year.
Marquise Goodwin dominates NFL Combine: The NFL Combine started over the weekend and a few wide receivers made their marks. Most notably, Texas’ Marquise Goodwin had a great weekend. He was timed unofficially at 4.25 and officially, he received a 4.27 – narrowly missing the 4.24 Combine record set by running back Chris Johnson. Breaking 4.4 is considered at the elite level and a sub 4.3 is insane. There’s no doubt that Goodwin improved his draft status in a big way and could make himself a top pick.
49ers looking to unload Alex Smith: News broke over the weekend that the San Francisco 49ers were not only hoping to trade backup quarterback Alex Smith, but that they might already be close to a deal with an unspecified team. Trading Smith is really a no-brainer for the team since they’re all in with Colin Kaepernick. And since Kaepernick nearly helped lead the team to a sixth Super Bowl title this past year, it’s hard to argue with that logic. Smith was finally turning into a serviceable quarterback and San Francisco should be able to land a nice deal for him. He’s not an elite player by any means, but he would be an upgrade under center for many franchises. Ideally, the 49ers would be thrilled to have a backup of Smith’s stature. But he’s obviously unhappy after losing his job to Kaepernick last season and keeping him makes little sense when they can bring in another player who can help them.
Jerry Buss dies: Iconic Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss passed away this week at the age of 80. With his ten NBA championships, Buss wasn’t only one of the top owners in the NBA, but all of sports. Think of all he’s seen … Magic Johnson winning a title as a rookie. The 1980s Showtime Lakers with Magic, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, and company. A three-peat with Kobe and Shaq. Buss had really seen it all in the NBA over the past 30+ years and had the experience of a lifetime.
Evgeni Malkin has concussion symptoms: The NHL’s Most Valuable Player for 2011-12, Evgeni Malkin, has showed signs of a concussion after a recent game. The Penguins’ star suffered the injury on Friday against the Florida Panthers. If Malkin misses any length of time, it won’t be anything new for Pittsburgh. The Pens have dealt with missing Sidney Crosby for long stretches after a concussion and the team can’t seem to catch a break. The timing couldn’t have been worse for the Penguins, who lead the Atlantic Division.
Syracuse retires Carmelo Anthony’s jersey: Knicks star Carmelo Anthony had his jersey retired by Syracuse in a game last week. Anthony played only one season for Syracuse, but it was one to remember. He was the best freshman in college basketball that year and led his team to an NCAA championship. Typically, I’d be against retiring the jersey of a player who stayed in college for only a single season. I think that honor should be reserved for the best players of all time in the sport and you simply can’t be in that conversation if you only stick around for one year. But in winning a title, I’m okay with it. Anthony had such a special year that he probably deserves the recognition. Syracuse also waited a decade to do this, so it clearly was something with which they had reservations. But if they’re okay with it, I’m okay with it.
February 18, 2013
NBA All-Star weekend takes center stage: The NBA held its annual All-Star weekend to mixed reviews and the events left me mostly ‘meh.’ The whole East-West format for the skills competitions, dunk contests, and three-point shootout was rather confusing. The scoring format was unbelievably difficult to track unless you were prepared for it going into the evening. The dunk contest was also largely a dud with two of the top participants, Gerald Green and James White, taking a full 1:30 without even completing a slam. One thing that was impressive, though, was Kyrie Irving’s performance in the three-point shootout. Irving is a bonafide star and here’s the thing: the NBA can’t be anything but pleased to have a name brand player win one of the events. Many times, these things are won by guys in the middle of NBA benches. Plus, while the all-star game didn’t feature much actual defense (big surprise, I know), it was still exciting to watch.
NFL defensive stars to be released: With the offseason of the NFL upon us, it’s that time of year when we’re starting to hear of teams’ plans to part ways with some of their stars. When this happens, contracts generally play a role and that appears to be the case with a few big announcements. The Indianapolis Colts are ready to let go of defensive monster Dwight Freeney. Freeney’s production has slipped a bit over the past few years, but he could still have been in line for a big free agent deal. The Colts chose not to re-sign him and he’ll be moving on, leaving as the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks. Another big time star on defense that helped his team win a championship is the Packers’ Charles Woodson. Woodson has still been productive, but was due to count for $10 million against the team’s cap for next year. That’s a big number and with several young stars to pay soon, including B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews, Green Bay figured it was too much.
Michael Jordan says Kobe > Lebron: With Lebron James tearing through the NBA this season, the talk of his place among some of the all-time greats is ramping up. The current king by many accounts, Michael Jordan, even weighed in this past week. But it wasn’t to anoint James just yet – rather, MJ still says that the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant gets his nod as the better player. Jordan pointed to Kobe’s five rings over Lebron’s one as the deciding factor. He took a good deal of criticism for that stance (James, himself, even said it shouldn’t be based solely on rings), but I don’t think his main point was that Bryant was the better player strictly because of that. Instead, I think his intent was that because both are great players, Kobe gets the nod because of the rings. And if that’s the reasoning, it’s hard to disagree.
Danica Patrick wins Daytona 500 pole: Ever since breaking into racing, Danica Patrick has garnered a lot of attention. But her biggest achievement to date was likely winning the pole position for the Daytona 500, which she did this weekend, beating out Jeff Gordon and others. The pole position hardly guarantees a victory for her – only nine racers with the pole in the event’s 54-year history went on to win. Dale Jarrett was the last to do so … and that was in 2000. That said, it’s still better to start up front than in the back of the field so, advantage Danica.
This just in – Roger Goodell is rich: The fact that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is a rich man shouldn’t come as any great surprise. But just how rich he is was revealed in a recent report and likely raised a few eyebrows. Goodell reportedly made $30 million in 2011 – a significant increase from the approximately $10 million he made in 2010. That’s a large chunk of change, but consider this: MLB commissioner But Selig and NBA counterpart David Stern earn about $20 million, according to ESPN. Considering the wild success of professional football, Goodell’s pay seems to be in line with what other top execs in the world of sports are making.
Derek Jeter hopes to return for opener: With pitchers and catchers reporting, baseball season will be front and center before you know it. The Yankees’ Derek Jeter hopes that he’ll be ready to go when the season begins. Jeter suffered an ankle injury last year in the playoffs and it was no guarantee that he’d be ready for the opener. But Jeter says that the recovery is going well and he expects to be back in time, according to this article by MLB.com. That would be incredible news for the Yankees who could use him for another run at the playoffs. It’s not as if New York is without other weapons, but Jeter was one of the team’s leaders last year, racking up a league-leading 216 hits and 740 plate appearances. Batting .316 on the season, he showed that at 38, there’s probably still some left in the tank.
July 28, 2008
BY JD BUTTERS
Well, the Oscars of the sporting world, the Espys, came off last Friday night in LA. In the galaxy of the Espys, the worlds of entertainment and sports collide in a manner that isn’t duplicated at any other event. For us residents of LA, it brings in athletes from all corners of the sports world. In fact, I ran into Greg Oden at the mall on Saturday! Of course, for once in my life, I didn’t have my camera on me. But I digress. Like many of the Oscar pundits and analysts who watch with pen and pad in hand, I thought I would do the same, and give my analysis of this year’s broadcast. Check it out – be sure to write in and let me know what YOUR favorite moments of this year’s excellent show were!
9:05 – Already, I can tell Justin Timberlake is going to do an excellent job. JT is the entertainment equivalent of a five-tool player, and he handled his opening remarks with aplomb, showing excellent comedic timing. And for all you chumps who’ll say some junk like “you lose your man privileges for fawning over JT like that,” I will simply say, game recognizes game.
9:10 – OK, what in tarnation is Danica Patrick WEARING?? I don’t even know what to describe it as! Is it a onesy? Is it a pantsuit with shorts? Beach wear?
9:33 – I don’t know if it’s purposeful, but Greg Oden is really getting a lot of mileage, and some good imaging, out of what appears to be a good sense of humor and a fun-loving, self-deprecating attitude. Look for him to help fill that gap when Shaq retires. Without the rapping, hopefully.
9:49 – Wow, Posh can actually crease that dour mug of hers into a smile. FASCINATING! How did a cat that seems as cool as Becks end up with THIS Cruella DeVille?
9:52 – I don’t care if she deserves to win for Best Breakthrough Athlete, but I hope she does just so I can see more Ana Ivanovic!
9:53 – DAMN that Adrian Peterson!!!
9:54 – OK, this Host Auditions Part I with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly is one of the funniest things I’ve seen this year. Their list of demands is both ridiculous and sublime!
10:02 – Steve Nash is super dapper in his grey 3-pc. suit. He’d BETTER be dapper, with that hair.
10:12 – John Carlos and Tommie Smith winning the Arthur Ashe Courage Award was one of those great moments that demonstrates how sports can transcend sport.
10:31 – I don’t know if he’s gonna win for Best Play, but Rick Nash looked like Harry Houdini on this goal. That was the hockey equivalent of breaking someone’s ankles!!
10:32 – From the look on his face, Nash was expecting to win.
10:33 – Wow, Eli Manning was actually glib during the acceptance speech. In other news, the forecast in hell is calling for heavy snow.
10:38 – OK, Host Auditions Part II are, again, HIGH-larious. I mean, who would have ever thought we would hear Joba Chamberlain sing Luther. And Greg Oden’s stone-faced “people tell me I’m hilarious. I’m like ‘yeah. . . .cool” is the comedic highlight of the entire broadcast.
11:18 – How weird. Just like the last Sopranos episode, my TV cut out right before they announced the winner of the Best Team award. Probably wasn’t anybody good anyway.