July 31, 2013

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In Case You Missed It

By: Joe Williams

We all know about the Aaron Hernandez situation, Dwight Howard taking his talents to Houston and Ryan Braun getting suspended, but that’s not all the crazy stuff that happened in July. In case you actually have a life, here are a few stories that you may have missed.

Longtime New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur actually got to draft his son Anthony Brodeur for the Devils during the NHL draft.

During last week’s RBC Canadian Open, Hunter Mahan withdrew from the tournament to attend the birth of his first child. Mahan was leading the tournament and didn’t pull out until just before he was supposed to begin his third round, leaving his playing partner John Merrick playing in the final group by himself.

Not only did the Cincinnati Reds play a game in San Francisco as the home team, but during one of the  four-game series between the teams, the Giants grounds crew had a bit of trouble lining up the batter’s box. You shouldn’t have much trouble finding a photo of the screw up online.

When former Florida State offensive lineman Menelik Watson received his championship ring for the team’s win over Georgia Tech in the ACC title game, he was the only Seminoles player that got a ring that reads “2012 SEC Champions.” The rest of the team got rings with the correct conference inscribed on them.

The NCAA claimed that Twitter CEO Dick Costolo committed an NCAA violation when he tweeted “Welcome to the family” to a Class of 2015 wide receiver who recently committed to the University of Michigan.

“Call Me Maybe” singer Carly Rae Jepsen fired one of the worst first pitches I have ever seen. Video of that won’t be hard to find either.

A linebacker at the University of Florida was arrested for sticking his head in a police car and barking at a police dog.

One Cleveland Indians fan pulled off an incredible feat, catching four foul balls in the same game…the odds of which are about one in one trillion.

Another fan in Cleveland wasn’t so lucky. When Scott Entsminger passed away earlier this month, this ended up in his obituary…”A lifelong Cleveland Browns fan and season ticket holder, he also wrote a song each year and sent it to the Cleveland Browns as well as offering other advice on how to run the team. He respectfully requests six Cleveland Browns pall bearers so the Browns can let him down one last time.”

A battle royal erupted between two former Thai Olympic teammates during a doubles badminton match. They started trash-talking before the match even started and things continued to escalate until they fought from one end of the arena to the other. Both players received a black card.

And in the wildest story of the month former NBA player Baron Davis (the guy with the huge beard before James Harden) said that he was abducted by aliens while on a drive from Las Vegas to Los Angeles during a podcast interview. I’m not even going to go there on this one.

I can’t wait to see what happens in August as the NFL season approaches, and the baseball playoff races heat up.

October 29, 2012

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Today we’ll be debuting a new feature – ‘The Week in Sports.’ That’s hopefully a temporary name until we can come up with something a little more catchy (patience is required since that might be a while). Here’s a brief look at what happened in the world of sports in the past week.

Giants sweep Tigers in World Series – A little thing called the ‘World Series’ kicked off … and ended. The Giants soundly defeated the Tigers in a four-game sweep over the weekend and the Series seemed like it was over before it even began. It was San Francisco’s second championship in only three years and all of a sudden, Bruce Bochy has become one of the hottest managers in all of baseball.

The Giants are the 2012 World Series champions.

James Harden traded to Rockets – The Oklahoma City Thunder traded a big piece of their team, the NBA’s best sixth man, James Harden. He was sent to the Houston Rockets along with a few minor players in exchange for scoring guard Kevin Martin, rookie Jeremy Lamb, and three draft picks (including two first-rounders). My initial reaction when the Thunder moved Harden was that it was foolish. But when I saw how much they got in return, it was hard to argue with the move. Martin is an all-star caliber guard, Lamb was the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft, and two potentially high picks is a lot to get back. That said, the Rockets are getting maybe the best beard in the NBA in return … so there’s that.

Is London ready for the NFL?New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said this week that London is ready to have an NFL team after hosting a few games. They may have the fan-base for it, but logistically it could be a bit of a headache to get eight teams to make that trip out there every year. In addition, will the team’s players really want to play in an entirely different country and live so far from family and friends? I’m not sure a franchise in London is all that feasible.

Marcus Lattimore injurySouth Carolina star running back Marcus Lattimore suffered a gruesome injury over the weekend in their game against Tennessee. If you saw it, it was ugly. If you didn’t and want a glimpse (despite my highest recommendations against it), here you go. The good news is that head coach Steve Spurrier said it’s an injury from which he can come back and the hopes are that he’ll be playing again. Lattimore’s been a big part of the team’s success this year.

Atlanta Falcons still undefeated – I’m not sure if the 1972 Miami Dolphins are getting antsy yet, but the Falcons stayed unbeaten with a win over the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend. Now, Atlanta’s played well, but they don’t have that superhuman look that other recent teams have had. They’re 7-0, but four of their games have been decided by a touchdown or less. The verdict? Don’t expect them to finish the season without a blemish.

Frankenstorm is coming – No, it’s not sports-related, but working ‘Frankenstorm’ into this column was a must.

Astros’ new logo leaked – With the Houston Astros’ move to the American League next season, the franchise planned to release a new logo this week. Unfortunately, the MLB offices didn’t get the memo and advertised the logo on products online. #Oops

Updated BCS standings – After No. 2 Florida was upset by Georgia on Saturday, Notre Dame and Kansas State moved up in the latest BCS rankings. The Irish leapfrogged Oregon, who remained at No. 4. With top-ranked Alabama in the mix, the top four teams all play in different conferences (including Notre Dame, who’s independent, of course). That means all four could theoretically go undefeated causing a major logjam near the top. College football’s proposed playoff can’t come soon enough.

August 24, 2011

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Best of Goodman vs. Drew League

By: Rick Jarrell

This previous Saturday, arguably the greatest street ball game ever occurred in Washington, D.C. As I discussed two weeks ago, the game between Washington, DC’s Goodman League and Los Angeles’s Drew League was going to be the final touch on Kevin Durant’s month long dominance of various pick games across the nation – and it did not disappoint.

To be honest, the event itself was not very well organized. The gates opened at 3:30, with an AAU game at 4:30 and the main event at 6:30. My crew decided to get there around 4:30, which we did, expecting somewhat of a line. But as we walked on to the Trinity College campus, we saw an estimated 1000 people waiting to get in. After two hours, we were finally able to get in, but others behind us weren’t as lucky. The line was still four football fields long when they decided to stop letting people in – even if they had tickets. Disorganization is probably an understatement.

For those who got in, even those sitting in the aisle of the bleachers (me), it was a thrill ride from the start. Fast paced dunks, alley-oops, deep threes, no defense – exactly what you’d expect. Check out some of the top play videos online, it’s worth a few minutes of your time. But they don’t depict the amazing essence the vent offered.

My top reasons why the Goodman vs. Drew game was better than an NBA game.

Durant vs. Harden

The biggest star and kingpin of the NBA players was undoubtedly Kevin Durant. The young forward had a breakout season last year, and was instrumental in setting up the East vs. West match up. Representing LA was Durant’s teammate and close friend, James Harden.

The majority of the game, Durant covered Harden and vice versa, as consistent high jinks ensued. Every time Durant ran up the court, Harden would jump directly on him so his face was an inch from Durant’s. KD’s response? To jokingly shove Harden 5 feet away. This didn’t happen just once – but nearly every single time KD ran up the floor. At one point, Durant drove to the basket, drawing a foul from Harden (yes, there were fouls). Harden countered by pegging a chess pass directly at Durant. All in good fun, all hilarious.

Lack of Defense, Traveling, Harder Fouls

The NBA of today is often criticized by dissenters because of the lack of defense allowed, traveling doesn’t get called as often, and the petty fouls called on players. I agree there’s an argument to be made that the league isn’t as tough as it used to be, but it’s not necessarily bad.

The extreme lack of defense, excluding the last minute of the game, made for constant highlights. The first quarter alone had at least three alley oops, including one on the first play of the game, deep threes, and quick drives to the basket. Players were simply aloud to do things they wouldn’t be in a normally officiated game.

In the first half, Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins was able to completely dominate Javalle “Pierre” McGee. Cousins, 6’10” and 250+ pounds, pushed the lanky, taller McGee around like a grown man would do an 8 year old. My favorite play of the game was when Boogie got the ball on the baseline, quickly spun on Pierre, took at least 5 steps and slammed down a thunderous one-hand dunk.

Boogie also had 7-8 fouls, but played until the end of the game. Can’t get away with all that in the NBA.

The Venue

Part of the disorganization of the event was because the normal court the Goodman League plays on, “Inside the Gates,” was unable to handle the number of people who wanted to attend. The vibe gained from a street court would have been very cool, but I think this was just as good.

The game was played at Trinity College, a small DIII women’s only college in Northeast DC. Not the nicest part of the city, but certainly nicer than where the games usually occur, which was a plus. The gym the game was played in was smaller than my high school’s with 1400 students enrolled. It was a flashback for me – watching the varsity team from as little as a few feet away, except with world class athletes who can reach five feet above the rim.

Sure, it was crowded, but that’s a small price to pay for the show that was put on.

August 10, 2011

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The Great Side Effect from the NBA Lockout

By: Rick Jarrell

No fan, player, coach, or front office wishes for a lockout to place. It’s counterproductive for each party, mainly because no one gets paid. But most people involved realized the NBA is not a recreational league – it’s a business. And when you’re able to come to grips with the fact you’re dealing with a company and a union, with different interests in mind, a lockout is expected from time to time. It’s the nature of the animal.

Hopefully after all is said and done, whosever interests are satisfied, the fans are included. To say we’re suffering may be an overstatement, but from an entertainment point, it certainly feels that way. To go from increasingly exciting NBA games, rising exponentially from January through June, to nearly nothing resembling organized basketball, is the equivalent of watching the Godfather, then Godfather 2, then being subjected to Godfather 3. It’s awful, frustrating, and somewhat perplexing the powers that be would allow this to happen.

But hey, it’s not all bad. Just because the NBA is on hiatus, doesn’t mean the sport of basketball has been put on pause. The NBA players we’ve come to know and love, courtesy of the very NBA they can’t cooperate with at the moment, have begun showing up in seemingly random exhibition and pick up games.

Streetball courts across the nation in Chicago, New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and Baltimore have been injected with new life by understandably bored NBA players. When you grow up playing basketball, likely being touted as a hoop prodigy from early on, you get used to ballin constantly. It’s all you know. A league-wide lockout isn’t going to stop you. And for young players, you don’t want a work stoppage to get in the way of your development. So we’ve seen NBA players like Brandon Jennings, Javale McGee, James Harden and even Michael Beasley hit the public courts to put their skills on display.

The most notable NBA player to make on-court headlines this summer, though, has been Kevin Durant. In the past, the rising superstar gained notoriety due to his sweet jump shot and modest mentality. But some out there, including myself, questioned his toughness. In general, he seemed soft compared to other players. But the lockout has showed NBA fanboys, like myself, another side of KD that has only enhanced our blooming man crushes.

Once a week, Durant shows up on the sports blog of your choice in a new highlight, in a new city, on a new court. In the past week alone, he’s gone on a tour of New York City by unleashing a barrage of threes at Rucker Park to total 66 points, a 41 point outburst at the Nike Pro City game while silencing a heckler, abused Michael Beasley at the Dyckman League, and threw down this monstrous dunk at the Melo League. The dude just likes to play basketball.

Durant’s Pro-Am tour is a lead up to the epic showdown of Washington, DC’s Goodman league and Los Angeles’s Drew league on August 20th at Trinity College in DC. KD’s gone back to his childhood stomping grounds each summer to hoop it up, but this year is something different. He’s helped organize a East vs. West matchup riddled with young NBA talent, including John Wall, Ty Lawson, Tyreke Evans, Beasley, DeMarcus Cousins, Harden, Jennings, DeMar DeRozen, and McGee.

Being a DC native, I’m extremely excited for this game. I’ve never been to a street game and have always wanted to go – and this has the potential to be the best of all time. I want the NBA lockout to end, but if it were to conclude before the game, I’d be very disappointed. Goodman vs. Drew isn’t something that would happen during peace times in the NBA.

Streetball has its allure. All the flashy and visually exciting parts of basketball are magnified – fast breaks, dunking, absurd trick plays, etc. It has its place as an offseason sideshow, but it doesn’t have the same prolonged substance of organized basketball. As much as we argue for and against rules, referee calls, and player movement, it’s what turns basketball into more than a game, but a form of general entertainment. Please NBA lockout, cease to exist in the near future. But not before the ultimate showdown on August 20.

June 16, 2011

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NBA Offseason Stories

By: Rick Jarrell

Alas, one of the better NBA seasons in recent memory has come to an exciting end. The Dallas Mavericks took the crown as unlikely champions, overpowering the surprisingly ineffective big three of the Miami Heat. Much has been said about each team since the series ended Sunday, positive and negative – who came through, who didn’t, potential offseason roster move – all a strong precursor to another summer of rumors and mayhem for the NBA. Here’s what I’m watching.

What Will the Champs Do?

The Dallas Mavericks, who used their deep bench to push past the Heat in the NBA finals, have a lot of important players up for free agency. Most notably is America’s new sub six foot hero, J.J. Barea, who provided a scoring spark off the bench and eventually, as a starter. Tyson Chandler, the rugged, dirty work center is also free to go as he pleases. Outspoken owner Mark Cuban, for which money has never been an issue with his players, has stated he will resign the two. But will that be enough to seriously contend next year? Rumors are swirling about a play for 2012 free agents Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Derron Williams… but these are considered long shots… nothing more than entertainment until the next season begins.

Can Miami Add Another Piece?

Maybe the question should be, do they need another piece? The big three, although the NBA finals didn’t go as well as they hoped, began to mold together toward the end of the season. Another season together, with a healthy Udonis Haslem, may be all they need. But it won’t shock me to see Pat Riley try to pull off some moves, so look for them to upgrade their front court and perimeter shooters. They don’t have a lot of pieces to give back in a trade, but you never know – if you would have told me a year ago LeBron James and Chris Bosh would join Dwayne Wade in Miami, I would have laughed in your face, simultaneously making a fool out of myself.

What About the Rising Two

The Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder made strong strides to become arguably two of the top four teams in the league. Carried on the shoulders of their young stars in Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant respectively, fans are looking for each team to make the leap to the NBA finals next season. Will these two young teams wait for their talent to grow internally and hope that’s enough, or will they go after a free agent or seek an impact trade?

The Bulls need to upgrade the shooting guard position, so look for them to package some of their younger players for a capable scorer. They were also exposed by LeBron James, who shut down Rose in the conference finals, as a one trick pony on offense. The upgrade at the two would help, but more production out of the frontcourt – in some manner – would help, as well.

The Thunder have a stronger core of young talent than the Bulls. If Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka can continue to development at this pace, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with. But General Manager Sam Presti is one of the savviest front office men in the league, and I expect him to do something. Whether it is obviously impactful this year, or next, is another question.

The Draft

Although the 2011 draft class is less stellar than many in years past, the excitement surrounding the potential of these college kids and international players still exists. As a Cleveland fan, I’m especially interested in what the Cavs do with the first and fourth pick. Duke point guard Kyrie Irving will be the first pick, barring a severe change of mind, but the fourth is a question. They may trade up for Minnesota’s pick to take Derrick Williams with the second pick. They may trade down for the Piston’s eight pick. Who knows.

The Lockout

I’ve avoided this word for the latter part of the season. It’s sad. It’s depressing. I just want basketball to come back in November. So instead of monitoring the daily updates regarding the collective bargaining agreement, I’m going to wait until the contract is actually signed to figure out the implications. I’m already lost now that the season is over; I don’t want to think I’ll still be lost in November.