March 17, 2014

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The Week in Sports

By: Matt Bowen

NCAA Tournament Teams Announced: It’s that time of year again. With March Madness here, entire companies will again be dealing with productivity issues in the earlier part of the week with employees scrambling to complete a bracket. That will continue on into Thursday and Friday with games all day long. There isn’t a truly dominant team out there this season, but the closest one would be Florida, who has been on an absolute tear. Two teams that haven’t gotten as much consideration as teams like Florida, Arizona, and Villanova are Louisville and Virginia. But both of those teams have lost only one game since the beginning of February and won their conference tournaments. Each looks capable of making a deep run.

Louisville Cardinals

After winning it all in 2013, how far will Louisville go in this year's NCAA Tournament?

Phil Jackson reportedly hired by Knicks: According to ESPN, the New York Knicks have officially named Phil Jackson as their team president. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as the Knicks have routinely underperformed, even with talented players. The big question is if the move will be enough to keep Carmelo Anthony, a free agent after this season, around. He is the Knicks’ best player and Jackson’s era will be off to a rocky one if Melo leaves for another team this summer. In addition, there’s no guarantee that Jackson will even be able to make the Knicks a success, anyway. His expertise is in coaching, not in being a team president. Unless the move includes Phil returning to the sidelines, I’m not sure the hire is a slam dunk to work since he can only do so much in the front office.

Darrelle Revis heads to New England: All-World cornerback Darrelle Revis is headed to the New England Patriots after only a year in Tampa Bay. Revis, one of the premier players in the NFL at his position, signed a one-year $12 million deal with the Patriots. New England was far worse in rushing defense (30th) than they were in pass defense (18th) last season, so some might thing the defensive line/linebackers might be more of a priority. But Revis’ presence was something that was too good to pass up. The secondary will be improved bringing him on board and even though it’s only a single move, it’s one that could make New England the favorite in the AFC.

Hats off: A hockey announcer whiffed on a trade prediction involving the New York Rangers’ Ryan Callahan, so he ate a hat. With syrup. Sort of.

Yankees no-hit in Spring Training: The New York Yankees are hoping to be improved with some key additions and a healthy Derek Jeter in 2014. Heading into Sunday, though, the team was a modest 8-9 in Spring Training and on Saturday, the team was no hit in a game by the Miami Marlins. To make matters worse, the Yankees were in a game in Panama to honor the recently retired Mariano Rivera. Spring Training records are hardly a great barometer in determining World Series teams since rosters often consist of players that won’t be in the majors and even the entrenched starters are working on new things. Still, it’s never good to be completely no hit – particularly considering New York was fielding many of their regulars.

Philadelphia 76ers make history: The Philadelphia 76ers made a bit of history over the weekend, but it wasn’t the type they’ll care to remember. On Saturday, the 76ers lost their 20th straight game this season, falling 103-77 to the Memphis Grizzlies and tying a franchise record. That record seems likely to fall Monday night when Philly heads to Indiana to face the Pacers – one of the best teams in the league. The 76ers have some attractive players, including rookie Michael Carter-Williams. But there’s not nearly enough to make for a competitive team just yet. Philadelphia is in line to experience a lot more losses until things get better.

John Daly goes John Daly: Pro golfer John Daly shot a 90 last week at the Valspar Championship. An average guy hacking around on his local public course may be pleased with that number. A professional? Not so much. Daly understandably caught some criticism on Twitter and responded the way you might think he would.

April 22, 2013

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The Week In Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Boston Marathon bombings – Obviously, the story of the week in sports (and in all other news, for that matter) were the bombings in the Boston Marathon. Not much to say here other than it was a horrific event. But the thing that should be recognized is the hard work of the police and FBI to not only identify the suspects so quickly, but catch them. Great work by all involved.

Already the NBA's scoring champion, can Carmelo Anthony add another championship this season?

NBA Playoffs begin – The NBA’s postseason has begun and several teams are out to 1-0 head starts. We’ve got a long way to go, but my postseason prediction at the beginning of the year was the Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder. I’ll stick with that pick. Each have the talent, offense, and young legs needed at this time of year.

Revis Island will get new address in Tampa Bay – Star cornerback Darrelle Revis was traded this weekend from the New York Jets to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the No. 13 overall pick in this week’s NFL Draft and either a third or fourth-round selection. Rarely are stars traded for first-round picks (particularly in the upper half of that round), but it’s also rare to get a player who may be the best at his position in the middle of his prime. And since Tampa Bay was dead last in pass defense in 2012, giving up just under 300 yards per game, this move will clearly bolster their secondary. Revis missed much of last season after suffering a torn ACL and the injury has to be a concern for the Bucs. But while he got the big money he sought with an extension, signing for six years and $96 million, if he returns to his former self, the trade will have been a good one for Tampa.

Death of Pat Summerall – Legendary sports broadcaster Pat Summerall passed away last week of cardiac arrest at the age of 82. Though he covered a variety of events such as the Masters and US Open tennis events, Summerall is best remembered for his work as an announcer alongside John Madden for football games, including the Super Bowl. Many, though, forget that Summerall actually played for several years in the NFL, primarily as a kicker. Along with Madden, he became one of the staples in pro football.

Carmelo Anthony wins first scoring title – It’s not as important as what he’ll do in the NBA playoffs, but New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony secured his first scoring title averaging 28.7 points per game. That was just good enough to top the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant, who checked in at 28.1. Melo has always been a bit in the background of the other 2003 NBA Draft picks, Lebron James and Dwyane Wade, but that could change this season. If he’s somehow able to propel the Knicks past the Heat juggernaut, he could win his first title. That may still not be enough to push him past Wade (who has two rings) or James (largely considered the league’s best player), but it will put him in a special class of superstars with an NBA ring.

Midnight Madness could start sooner – The NCAA passed a new rule that will allow teams to practice up to six weeks before their first regular season game instead of the four that was previously allowed. That won’t make a huge difference but one interesting note is that it will likely push the date of the popular Midnight Madness up a bit earlier.

Shamed Rutgers coach Mike Rice gets $475,000 in settlement – Now infamous basketball coach, Mike Rice, received $475,000 in a settlement from Rutgers for being fired before his contract was up. Rice, if you’ll recall, was fired after video surfaced of him verbally and physically abusing players. Rutgers president, Robert Barchi, stated the coach could rightfully be fired for bringing shame to the school. Rice clearly did that and, to be honest, I’m surprised he got as much as he did. If you’re the head coach, it’s hard to complain about a parting gift like that after you verbally berated your players and were lobbing basketballs at them. Want to know the worst of it, though? Rice is reportedly coaching an AAU girls’ basketball team. I’m all for second chances, but if this is true, it’s hard not to question it being allowed so soon after the Rutgers videos surfaced – and with 12- and 13-year old girls no less.

April 8, 2013

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The Week In Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Louisville vs. Michigan in NCAA title game: Tonight Louisville will take on Michigan for the NCAA basketball championship. With March Madness coming to a close, it’s been an exciting tournament to say the least. Wichita State, a No. 9 seed reached the Final Four. Louisville guard Kevin Ware suffered a terrible and potentially career-ending injury. And tiny Florida Gulf Coast shocked the world, reaching the Sweet 16 as a No. 15 seed. With one game left, I’ll stick with my bracket pick and go with Louisville to win it all. Michigan has been on an impressive run in the tournament, beating a slew of very good teams but the Cardinals haven’t lost a game since early February. My guess is that Rick Pitino wins his first title at Louisville on Monday.

Former 49ers QB Alex Smith will meet his former team in Week 2 of the Preseason.

NFL preseason schedule set: The NFL released its preseason schedule this past week. While there are plenty of intriguing matchups, my favorite might be the San Francisco 49ers vs. the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2. That, of course, will pit former Niners quarterback Alex Smith against his former team. The bad news is that since it’s only Week 2, Smith’s action could be limited in the game against San Francisco since coaches typically shorten the play of their starters. But one reason Smith may play a bit more than normal is because he’ll still be learning the offense and needs all the practice he can get. Regardless of how long he plays, though, the game is sure draw a lot of attention.

Dwyane Wade could sit out until playoffs: Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade has been sidelined with a knee injury and word broke this past week that the guard could miss the team’s remaining regular season games. At 60-16, Miami has only six games left. The problem for the Heat, though, is that Wade has been out since the end of March, missing the team’s last four games. If he can’t play in the next six, that would be a significant break from game action for him. Miami should be able to win its first round playoff series even with a subpar Wade, but it’s not an ideal situation as the champs prepare to defend their title.

Yu Darvish just misses perfection: At this stage in the season, pitchers are generally ahead of hitters. Still, what Yu Darvish nearly accomplished was pretty impressive. The Texas Rangers pitcher took a perfect game into the ninth inning and after recording the first two outs, he was as close as you can get to perfection. But the next batter, Marwin Gonzalez, singled up the middle to break it up. Losing a no-hitter is one thing, but losing a perfect game is another. There have been nearly 300 no hitters, but only 23 perfect games in Major League Baseball history. Darvish was agonizingly close to joining an elite group.

Darrelle Revis and Jets still at odds: Cornerback Darrelle Revis could be traded any day now, but that doesn’t mean the New York Jets are willing to let him sit back and relax. According to ESPN, the team is reportedly insisting he participate in the team’s offseason conditioning program to begin in the middle of this month. The move sounds ludicrous as Revis isn’t likely to be playing for the Jets this fall, and could thus be a huge distraction. But if you’re not expecting him to show up, think again. Revis is due to collect a $3 million bonus for showing up. His contract states that he would forfeit money if he fails to participate in offseason events – even non-mandatory ones. The chances are slim that Revis isn’t participating if he’s still a member of the team.

Mike Rice fired as Rutgers coach: Rutgers’ basketball program took a bit of a hit this week when it was announced that head coach Mike Rice was fired after video surfaced of him berating and being physically abusive towards players. The video also cost athletic director Tim Pernetti his job. The move will surely mean more scrutiny of college coaches and their behavior toward athletes. And in the end, that’s a good thing. Much was made of the fact that the players didn’t complain about the rough practices, but then again, it’s easy to understand why. No kid that’s worked his entire life to earn a scholarship and play basketball at the highest level would want to risk that by speaking up. It’s a shame that it took so long, but firing Rice was the right move in my opinion.

September 8, 2011

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Fantasy Football as a Topic of Conversation

By: Rick Jarrell

One of the greatest side effects of professional football’s rise in popularity has been the increased interest in fantasy leagues. Decades ago, fantasy football was relegated to small congregations of stat nerds in college dorms. Now, it seems like the majority of sports fan get in on the action – from offices, groups of friends, serious competitive leagues – largely thanks to the increased use of technology.

But as with many great things comes negative side effects. Like the hair on your back, this side effect is not an issue at first – just an observation. But before you know it, you’re whole body is covered in hair like Darrelle Revis on a wideout. The problem I’m speaking of is the NFL fantasy football conversation exchanged between people in separate leagues.

It’s natural for everyone to get excited – or disenchanted – with their team to the point where they have to talk about it. Maybe you picked up Arian Foster late in the draft and he’s carrying your team. Maybe you picked up Michael Vick off the waiver wire last year and won the league. Maybe you lost by a few points after a touchdown was called back. So much enthusiasm comes out… but it tends to boil over from “Wow, you lucky SOB” to “I don’t care about your 6th receiver.”

In basic terms, when speaking with others outside your league, the conversation turns into less dialogue and more talking at each other – allowing someone to speak, but only half listening, really anticipating them to finish so you can blurt out whatever is bothering you about your team, even though it has little to do with what the other person just said. With this in mind, I’ve concocted a two simple rules for what’s cool and what’s not cool when speaking with your cohorts about your adventures in fantasy football.

It’s Cool to Ask for Advice

In an attempt to actually have a conversation, trying asking for advice regarding your team. It takes it from a lecture series on your team’s weekly performance to a more interactive setting. That sentence may have sounded a lot like collegiate learning, but don’t let that scare you. It’ll be a better conversation if you can get the other person involved. It becomes more social, and you may actually get some good advice.

It’s Not Cool to Talk about Your Entire Team

When you begin listing your starting offense is when the conversation gets out of control. You’re counterpart may care about who’s on your team for the first few seconds, but will lose interest quickly. Think about it – you’re essentially naming a Pro Bowl roster, which would be impressive if it were a real NFL team, but the word “fantasy” is key here. Chances are the other guy (or girl) has just as good a team.

Simply following these guidelines will make your NFL fantasy football conversations much more tolerable. Of course, if someone is in your league, you can say whatever you want to them – even if they’re dead last and haven’t updated their lineup in three weeks.

On a side note: this also goes for Madden franchises, to a higher degree. It’s really hard to talk to someone who feels the need to tell you about some running back drafted in the tenth year of their franchise – a running back that was auto-generated by the video game. Just had to get that out there.

February 4, 2011

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Piecing Together Ochocinco’s Day, According to His Tweets

By: Lionel

A condensed version of Chad Ochocinco’s February 3, according to his tweets:

Chad, in a Dallas hotel for the Super Bowl, begins his day with a top-of-the-morning photo and some good-natured cussing for his fans.  He’s a laid-back guy, so he flashes the “hang loose” sign.

Via @ochocinco twitpic

He next asks Adrian Battles if he’s ready for the Super Bowl

…and then stops for a photo-op with Dan Patrick and Darrelle Revis.

Via @ochocinco twitpic

Next up: Pants shopping at North Park Mall.

To save time between try-ons, he shops the mall in his underpants.

Via @ochocinco twitpic

Then it’s back to the hotel for some meditation, followed by game planning for the night’s Madden Bowl.

While at the hotel, Chad watches Paranormal Activity 2.

After the movie is over, it’s time for Madden Bowl, which proves to be a tale of extremes.

EXTREME HAPPINESS:  Chad teams up with Patrick Willis to win Madden Bowl!

EXTREME DISAPPOINTMENT:  Reggie Bush lets Chad know that he may have won Madden Bowl, but he still hasn’t won a Super Bowl.

Composing himself for the moment, Chad collects a ridiculously large Madden Bowl trophy.  For today, at least, it’s a happy ending.

Via @ochocinco twitpic

Follow Chad for yourself on Twitter (@ochocinco).