Lance Armstrong Facing Punishment

April 10, 2009

It was reported today that American cyclist Lance Armstrong is facing possible punishment from the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD). The controversy revolves around the events leading to the French speaking out against the former champion. The French are claiming Lance delayed a testing official for 20 minutes before submitting to a test. Under French law, an appointed Anti-Doping official can show up announced, anytime, and the rider must submit to a test immediately. Not only must the athlete give the blood, hair, and urine sample, he must stay in the sight of official until the samples are taken. This is to prevent the rider from trying to beat the test.

Armstrong, the seven-time former Tour de France champion (99-05), reports that upon arriving home after a training a session, a testing official arrived. Armstrong says that he asked the official if he could take a shower while his representatives verified the tester’s credentials. The official obliged, allowing Armstrong to clean himself up. He flat out denies the claims that he delayed the testing, saying “I did not try to evade or delay the testing process that day.”

Now, the AFLD is considering punishing Armstrong for breaking the rules of testing. The rules are in place after previous athletes have tried numerous methods to mask or skew tests. These methods include injecting clean urine into one’s bladder, using a masking agent to skew the results (such as laundry detergent), or equipping oneself with a fake bladder. While this is understandable, one must consider that a urine test is not the only test being taken at the time. The AFLD official also procures a hair and blood sample from the athlete. These are nearly impossible to mask.

While most news organizations are reporting that Armstrong faces punishment for the miscommunication between himself and the testing official, most are barely stating the fact that the French admit that Lance Armstrong did in fact pass the tests. There was no evidence of foul play or foreign substances in any of the samples tested. He was clean, yet he still faces a possible Tour ban due to the apparent inability of the testing official to enforce the rules.

This smells fishy. After over a decade in the sport, Armstrong must know the rules, but so should the tester. Why Lance was allowed to shower and then to report him to the AFLD is unknown. If Lance faces punishment from the Anti-Doping organization, so should the testing official. Also, this is not the first time the French have tried to smear Armstrong’s name in doping scandals. In 1999, Tour de France officials accused Armstrong of using cortisone as a masking agent. They later recanted after they learned that it was used to treat a skin ailment (cortisone is a very common product used for skin issues). In 2005, it was reported by a French newspaper that samples he had given in 1999 contained EPO, a doping agent. No sanctions were ever filed. Are the French on a witch hunt, attacking the most visible rider in the Tour? It appears so.

For a sport mired in scandals, they need to be strict about cheating. But they also need to be thorough, avoiding character accusations before results are known. This sport has not been the same since Lance Armstrong retired in 2005, and for them to launch a personal attack on the legend during his comeback is risky. He is single-handedly making the sport relevant, along with the Tour de France in particular. This is not to say that they should turn a blind eye to the most popular figure in the sport. But they should be more careful when making accusations, as they need Armstrong more than Armstrong needs them. If Lance decides he is not willing to participate in the French tour, he does not lose anything besides a possible title. The Tour de France, on the other hand, has everything in the world to lose, including sponsorships and ratings. While we may never know the true story here, we should know that he did not test positive for banned substances or masking agents and he should not be ostracized by speculation from the French.


Carebear’s Masters Preview

April 9, 2009

I realize that half the field has already teed off, but I woke up late so, without knowing who is doing well to this point, here are some predictions.

My Four Horsemen:

Tiger Woods:

Not a stretch here.  I really do not think Tiger has the precision in his game back enough to win this tournament.  Sure he won at Bay hill, but he won ugly.  Plus he made Sean O’Hair shit his pants on sunday and took Arnie’s tournament right out of his hands.  Tiger hasn’t been doing much right off the tee, which is not far from the norm, but he also hasn’t been sticking it as close as usual after those errant tee shots since his return.  Augusta is a course that requires great approach shots. I include Tiger, though because he finds a way to win.  He is the best putter on tour, the best clutch player, and the scariest player to compete against.  His putting may make up for weak approaches at Bobby Jones’ course.

Ryuji Imada:

I really just have a feeling about this guy this week.  So he probably won’t make the cut.  Imada has been playing well this year.  He has the complete game to compete at Augusta.  It is Ryuji’s first Masters, but he hits fairways, greens, and putts well.  Look for him to stick around in this tourney.

Geoff Ogilvy:

Its hard to feel pressure when you're high as a kite all the time

Its hard to feel pressure when you're high as a kite all the time

Another no brainer.  Ogilvy leads the tour statistically in putting this year when he hits the green.  He is fifth in putts per round.  He is also way about tour average in driving accuracy, distance, and GIR.  These are not surprising numbers, but the keys at Augusta are keeping the ball in the fairway, and hitting putts on some of the most slippery greens in the world.  Ogilvy has the ability to do this.  Also, he has the psychological stability of a man playing golf on loads of painkillers.  He is unflappable.  It would be cool to see if he folded against Tiger, but I really think his Aussie “no worries” attitude is above nervousness.  He also wears argyle puma sweaters.  solid.

Zach Johnson:

You always have to favor past champs at this event.  Zach is another tough competitor who is hard to rattle.  He held off Tiger in a Masters win a couple of years back.  So he hits the ball like Michelle Wie at 12 years old, lays up on every par 5, and looks like the guy that makes your sandwich at Subway.  This guy can straight up play golf.  He is 7th in scoring average this year coming in under 70, hitting 70% of fairways (13th) and 70% of greens (10th).  The dude is extremely consistent.

5th Horse (Honorable Mention):

Trevor Immelman:

Trying to defend crown.  He will compete in this tourney.  Not playing great this year, but will put up a fight.

Don’t be surprised if:

Bernhard Langer and Greg Norman put on a clinic. These guys are old as dirt, but both are in good shape.  Langer looks like he’s thirty.  He also looks like one of the guys trying to take over Nakatomi Plaza in Die Hard, but he’s so consistent.  Norman has been playing well of late, and is fresh off his wedding to Chrissy Evert.  Maybe she taught him how not to choke in the last round at Augusta.

Sergio doesn’t make the cut:

Its never your fault Sergio

Its never your fault Sergio

We all know Sergio is a little bitch, but he also is a bad putter.  He strikes the ball great, but has no confidence on the greens.  That is not a good thing at Augusta.  177th on tour in putts per round doesn’t translate well here.  He is also a mental midget (pc? mental little person), and has tendencies to carry bad shots through rounds.

Phil doesn’t make cut: I don’t root against Phil like I do Sergio, but he is just so damn inconsistent.  He wins a tourney then doesn’t make the cut the next week.  Ever since the US open last year and his driverless bag debacle Phil has been a mess.  His short game has never looked better, but don’t count on his putter in big situations.  Phil is 179th in driving accuracy this year barely hitting half the fairways.  If Butch and him had a breakthrough he may stick around, but he may be a trainwreck from the start.

Webb Simpson does something: Webb has 2 top 10 finishes this year, and is poised to make a splash here.  He is a good putter and basically at the tour average for most of his stats.  This kid is going to make a name for himself at some point.  Maybe this week is the week.

Best potential storyline:

Even better than Tiger winning or Paddy continuing his slam run would be Greg Norman staring down the demons and Tiger to finally grab a green jacket.  Norman seems to be playing carefree golf now, and claims he is, but that is easy to say when you’re not really competing.  He got close at the British Open, but this would be a great story.  Him and Tiger tied at the start Sunday and the shark matching Tiger shot for shot.  Lets hope his yips and block don’t come back to haunt him.  Luckily he won’t be playing against Faldo, unfortunately, we have to listen to Faldo.

The Masters is one of the more fun tournaments of the year to watch, and hopefully this one will provide some memorable shots and a good sunday finish.

My final prediction: Ogilvy beats Zach Johnson in a playoff.  Tiger finishes third after a strong sunday.  Watch now.  All three won’t make the cut.


Terrell Owens, you have a friend in me

April 8, 2009

A true star

A true star

 

Last month the infamous T.O. was unceremoniously released from the Dallas Cowboys after 3 seasons. He wasn’t released due to lack of production. T.O. produced 38 touchdowns. He had 235 receptions. He also played in 47 out of a possible 48 regular season games. In his final year in Dallas he had 69 receptions for 1052 yards. He didn’t suffer any career threatening injury, and yet he was released. Did the Cowboys mistakingly send the notice to Terrell when it was meant for Patrick Crayton? Unfortunately, no.

T.O. is still a big time receiver with years left to play at a high level. He has been cut by 2 teams in the last 5 years. He has not been arrested during his time in the league. There are no off the field legal issues. In fact, T.O. is a big mommas boy, and very family oriented. Yet he is called a cancer in the locker room.

That label of being a “cancer” has been unfairly thrust upon him. This man has brought teams to levels they would not have reached without him, and he is named the problem? Something isn’t right. While everyone else will have you believe that T.O. is the devil reincarnate I’m going to bring you the truth.

In order to find that truth, you don’t need to look very far. The problem has not been T.O. He wants the ball, that much is known, but why is that a problem? He gives his team the best chance to win with the ball in his hands because he is not afraid of making the big play. He is not afraid to carry the weight of a team on his shoulders. The problem has been the quarterbacks he plays with, who are afraid of carrying that weight. Both Donovan Mcnabb and Tony Romo have fragile egos which have been documented in one way or another.

For Mcnabb, look no further than the Superbowl vs. the New England Patriots. The same Superbowl that Terrell Owens fought back from a broken leg, against doctors recommendations, to play in and help his team. But I digress, the part of that game that I am talking about is when Mcnabb was in the huddle calling plays, and vomited on the field. A professional football player puking on the field is generally sad in it’s own right. However, a professional football player, who happens to be the qb of a team enthralled in the biggest game of their careers, that is downright pathetic. He couldn’t handle the pressure, and he folded.

Always a brides maid and never the bride
Always a brides maid and never the bride

Mcnabb enjoyed the best season of his career with a wide receiver that is a “cancer” in the locker room. During the 2004 season, which was Terrell’s only full season with the Eagles, Mcnabb completed 5.1 percent more of his passes than his career average. Relative to his pass attempts he held a 2.1% better td to pass ratio than his career average. He also threw 6 more touchdowns that season than his next best season. Oh, did I mention they reached the Superbowl? Quite the cancerous effect T.O. had on his stats.

Let’s move on to Romo. Tony Romo has to be somewhere at the top of my “most over-rated QB’s” list. Above even the ridiculously average Eli Manning. Tony Romo has had the distinct pleasure of playing alongside Mr. Owens for the duration of his career as a starter. I do look forward to seeing him struggle mightily without T.O. to bail him out on his poor throws, or having T.O. wide open due to his crisp route running and ability to get off the line.

With the Cowboys down 21-20 to the Seahawks with 1:19 left in the ’07 playoffs, the Cowboys had driven themselves into easy field goal range. The snap came and the rest is history. Romo took a perfect snap and couldn’t hold onto it. Sealing the Cowboys fate that year. To be fair, Romo admitted responsibilty for the loss but he still blew it. He couldn’t handle the pressure and he folded.

Who would have guessed Tony Romo isn't good with balls?  Not me.
Who would have guessed Tony Romo isn’t good with balls? Not me.

Romo has since continued to wilt under big game pressure. I can’t imagine there is a single Cowboys fan that doesn’t cringe everytime their team needs a big play to save a game, and they wait for a snap to Romo. Rarely do those opportunities result in anything other than a strip fumble, an interception, or a fumbled snap.

Mcnabb has done nothing since the days of Terrell Owens to dispel his critics who question his toughness and ability. His stats have suffered since the days of T.O. He has even been benched this past season due to his struggles, and there was speculation he was going to be traded at the end of the year.

These quarterbacks needed T.O. They needed him to be a scapegoat for their own lack of mental toughness. They needed someone to blame when things didn’t go right. There was no one better to blame for their own problems, then the loudmouthed yet ultra talented Terrell Owens. Now both have been and will be exposed as creampuffs who ultimately struggle with their duties of leading their teams to playoff success.

Here’s hoping Trent Edwards lets T.O. be T.O. and lead his quarterbacking career to unbelievable levels. Or he’ll just become another QB who played the blame game, and pushed away perhaps the best wide receiver to ever play the game, and sank his own career

 


Carebear’s Top Five Sports Movies

April 8, 2009

#5 The Big Lebowski


Walter Sobchak: I told those fucks down at the league office a thousand times that I don’t roll on Shabbos!
Donny: What’s Shabbos?
Walter Sobchak: Saturday, Donny, is Shabbos, the Jewish day of rest. That means that I don’t work, I don’t get in a car, I don’t fucking ride in a car, I don’t pick up the phone, I don’t turn on the oven, and I sure as shit
[shouts]
Walter Sobchak: don’t fucking roll! Shomer shabbos!

You may not call this a sports movie, but this film revolves around bowling.  The Big L is a cult classic.  The people that own it have seen it literally, thousands of times.  It is one of those films that always seemed to be on in my college dorm room.  John Torturro plays one of the greatest bit roles in any movie as the Jesus, the pedophile, flamboyant dancing bowler, who’s partner Liam and him will fuck you in the ass on wednesday instead.  John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Jeff Bridges are all perfectly cast.  I don’t even know if Tara Reid (pre boob job) knows she was acting in this film.  Anyways, great film.  The grown up Sandlot of bowling.

#4 Rocky 4


[Addressing the Soviet Union]
Rocky: I guess what I’m trying to say is, if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change.

Some will argue that this movie is awful and not even the best Rocky film.  I agree completely, but its entertaining as hell, and so stupidly inspiring that I had to include it.   The workout montage in the foot deep snow of Siberia is maybe the most motivating scene in movie history.  The fact that a boxing match pretty much ends the Cold War made it an irresistible choice.  You disagree, but change the channel next time it comes on FX at 3 am.  You can’t do it.

#3 A League of their Own


[Jimmy has just signed a baseball for a little boy]
Little Boy: [reading] Avoid the clap, Jimmy Dugan.
Jimmy Dugan: Hey, that’s good advice!

People argue with me about this one all the time.  Tom Hanks, as Jimmy Duggan (Foxx) makes this film.  He plays a drunken retired ballplayer who is forced to manage a women’s team.  Despite the fact that its a comedy, this movie got baseball right, and without looking like they were trying too hard.  The ending still pisses me off a little, but its one of few sports movies with kind of an unhappy ending.  Geena Davis drops the ball, on purpose? we don’t know, and then quits baseball.  Its like the Empire Strikes Back of comedy sports films except without Darth Vader cutting Davis’ hand off.  This film also marks the last time Rosie O’Donnel and Madonna were tolerable, and the last time Geena Davis was remotely attractive.

#2 Happy Gilmore


Chubbs: They wouldn’t let me play on the Pro Tour anymore.
Happy Gilmore: Ah, I’m sorry. Because you’re black?
Chubbs: Hell no! Damned alligator BIT my hand off!

Happy Gilmore did not try to get golf right.  There are no cut lines, the tourneys are one day long, and Happy’s gotta approach Subway for sponsorship money.  Despite the fact that its a horribly reviewed, far from factual film, I know every line from beginning to end.  I could watch it four times today and still giggle when Virginia Vennet yells, “Happy. look ooout!,” and he gets hit by a Volkswagen on the fairway.  Shooter McGavin is the ultimate sports movie villain.  He buys Happy’s grandma’s house to get back at him.  Its all so stupid, but so great.   Also, Bob Barker (vampire) beats the shit out of happy in a pro-am.  Spectacular film.

#1 The Sandlot


Ham Porter: Is that your sister out there in left field, naked? She’s naked?
Phillips: [swings and misses again] SHUT UP PORTER!
Ham Porter: Hey, hey, hey, I’m just trying to start a friendly conversation, come on.
Ham Porter: [two seconds later] Think she’ll go out with me?

The Sandlot is more about growing up than baseball.  There is no championship.  They actually only play one real game, but everybody can relate to this kids playing with their friends pretending they’re Babe Ruth. Its really a coming of age story.  Every scene is classic: the tobacco at the carnival, the hunt for the lost ball, and the public swimming pool.   This is another film that gets baseball right.  For most people, baseball is about growing up and this movie captures that better than any other.  Agree or disagree, Sandlot is #1.

Honorable Mention: Caddyshack, The Greatest Game Ever Played, Miracle, Mystery Alaska, Field of Dreams, Major League, Kingpin, Little Giants, Shaolin Soccer (added), The Natural (added).


Uconn Women: Best Ever?

April 7, 2009

The lady Huskies take on division rivals Louisville tonight in the national championship game.  Uconn is 38-0 and has beaten Louisville twice this year by a combined 67 points.  Is this Uconn team the best team women’s basketball has ever seen?  Better yet, are they the best collegiate basketball team ever assembled?  I ask this knowing that if they lose it would be a Miracle on Ice level upset.  It would be a bigger upset than the Giants beating the Pats or Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson, but you won’t hear much about it because its women’s basketball.

The Uconn women’s team is beating teams by 30 points every time out.  In the second round of the tournament, the Huskies went down eight points in the first half to California.  This was the largest deficit they faced all year, at any point of any game.  They proceeded to go on a 40-12 run and win the game by 24 points.  Their closest two games were 10 point wins over Rutgers and Notre Dame.

The real strength of this team is their depth.  Maya Moore would score 40 points a game if she played for most programs.  She averages less than 20 for Uconn, but never loses.  Renee Montgomery averages about 17 and has an assist/turnover ratio over two.  Geno’s favorite target, Tina Charles is an absolute beast, and is as good a big as you can find in the nation.  There are no egos, no stars.  They are a team united in their fear and hatred (which grows into respect) for Geno Auriemma.

Can Renee Montgomery and Maya Moore complete what would be the greatest season in NCAA women's history?

Can Renee Montgomery and Maya Moore complete what would be the greatest season in NCAA women's history?

Then the depth starts.  Uconn freshman Caroline Doty went down after 17 games, and fans were worried.  Geno went to his bench and found Tiffany Hayes and Lorin Dixon.  Their next game came just a day after they told Doty she was out for the season against the second ranked North Carolina Tarheels.  Uconn beat UNC in a tough game… by thirty.

Uconn is shooting over 50% from the field for the season while opponents have shot right around 33% against them.  This team has the best offense in the nation (84.2ppg) and the second best scoring defense in the nation (53.4ppg).  This is not your average great team, though.  They outhustle, they outrun, they outwork other teams.  The leaders give an example that the young players follow and they defend at 100 miles an hour all game long.  Geno won’t let them go any slower.

This is a videogame team.   They provide a stress-free watching experience for fans.  A win tonight would cap a truly remarkable season, and a loss would be one of the biggest upsets in sport’s history.  It is a shame that not many people will watch this game.  Women’s basketball, though some consider it an inferior product, is really the last true semi-popular amateur sport.  These girls are playing for their schools and to win.  There is no giant contract waiting, no shoe deal around the next corner.  Could a women’s team really be the best ever?  Probably not, but its hard for me to think of a team that has been as fun to watch as this year’s Lady Huskies.


Calhoun is Connecticut

April 6, 2009
Jim Calhoun: The only reason Uconn is any good.

Jim Calhoun: The reason Uconn is a legitimate NCAA program.

I was just going to comment on my distinguished colleague’s article.  Then, I read it.  So, due to the fact that it was complete bullshit.  I decided to write my own.

Jim Calhoun is Uconn.  As much as Geno Auriemma is the women’s program, Calhoun is the men’s program.  Calhoun takes players who aren’t necessarily top recruits, and rarely are good citizens, and turns them into great teams and great individuals.  Kemba Walker is the first McDonald’s All Amercian Uconn has had since Rudy Gay left in 2006.  The other big name coaches (Roy Williams, Mike… umm Coach K, Bill Self) get High School All Americans every year.  With the fascists at the NCAA forcing High Schoolers to spend a year in college now, these recruits are critical to programs.

In a comment you said,
“You really think recruits solely come to UCONN for Jimbo?,” well, yes actually they do.  They know what he has produced since 1986.  He turns great athletes that have been somewhat overlooked into NBA stars. Of the guys he coached currently in the NBA you could create a pretty solid team.  Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Caron Butler, Emeka Okafor, Charlie Villanueva, and Rudy Gay have all turned out pretty good.

To say that Calhoun is washed up, is just a lack of research.  Calhoun is 556 and 204 in his career at Uconn.  Connecticut had one bad season in recent years in 2006-07, the season after the departure of Marcus Williams, Josh Boone, Rudy Gay, and Hilton Armstrong.  Since then they are 55 and 14.  And also, they did just lose in the National semifinal, so I guess all but two coaches in the country are washed up.

This is a program that means very little to people outside the state of Connecticut, but means everything there. Uconn is not like a University of Texas, UNC, or Kansas where they can recruit in state and get guys who grew up dreaming of playing there.  Uconn has local kids growing up wanting to play there, but Connecticut produces rich, five foot five white kids, not basketball players.

To say that this game was lost because of a lack of heart is also not true.  Uconn did not give up.  On the contrary, by the end they were playing too forcefully, AJ Price was trying too hard to run the show, and everyone went cold.  You also failed to mention that MSU was playing in front of a home crowd.

The “distractions” you speak of took place when the NCAA tournament had already started and did not seem to affect Uconn all that much until they lost in the final four to a number two seed in an away game.  Obviously this occurred as a result of the distractions.  Unless you are speaking of the reporter telling Jim Calhoun, basically the CEO of one of the only currently profitable corporations in Connecticut, that he ought to take a pay cut.  The reporter, who was first off, not a real reporter, and second of all, a douchebag, deserved to get yelled at, and did.  Look at John Calipari’s new contract and go tell him to take a paycut.

It would be a shame for Calhoun to leave because it would turn Connecticut into purely a women’s basketball state.  The state needs Calhoun or else the program will end up in ruins.

“It’s time for you to go Jimbo.  Not because of your health, but

because the program shouldn’t be about you.”

The program is about him, just like any good college program should be about the coach.  They have four years max to make guys mesh and win.  Calhoun has done this as well as anyone else for the last 23 years.  He may be underrated in fact.  Uconn was ranked #2 in the preseason, and lost their smartest and best defensive player (Sorry Thabeet, you’re a pussy) to injury.  They finished #3.  I guess you would have only been happy with a national championship.  Washed up, yeah, so’s Tom Brady.


NBA Announces New Hall of Fame Entrants

April 6, 2009

Today the NBA announced 5 new members to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.  Michael Jordan, David Robinson, John Stockton, Jerry Sloan, and C. Vivian Springer will enter the Hall in September ’09, in Springfield, MA.   It doesn’t seem like it’s been 5 years since they last played a game, as everyone has a memory of each player.  Let’s look at the newest class of entrants to the Hall of Fame:

Michael Jordan – Arguably the greatest player ever to take the court.  MJ is synonymous with greatness, a failed baseball career not withstanding.  The 1-time NCAA chamption and 6-time NBA Champion is one of the greatest winners the world has ever seen.  If there was a game on the line, you wanted the ball in his hands.  More often than not, he won you that game.

His lore began at UNC, where he was named ACC-Freshman of the Year in 1981.  The following year, he buried the game winning shot in the title game, to capture his first National Title.  He left a year later to revolutionize the NBA as the third overall pick.

A summary of his accomplishments in the NBA: 6-time champion (6-time finals MVP), 5-time league MVP, 14-time All-Star, 9-time All-Defensive First team, and 2-time dunk champion.  His image is known worldwide by his dominance.  He parlayed that all into remarkable marketing and business success.

He also was a 2-time Olympic Champion and member of the legendary 1992 “Dream Team”.  Needless to say, there are no arguements that he belongs in the Hall.  The only question is whether they rename it after him.

David Robinson –“The Admiral” was one of the classiest players of his era, and one of the greatest centers of all time.  As a senior at Navy, he was named the National Player of the Year in 1987 and was then drafted first overall in the NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs.  As a Navy Officer, he needed to serve the country for 2 years before entering the league.

He finally entered the league and led a then-league record turnaround, improving the Spurs by 35 wins.  He was Rookie of the Year,, 10-time NBA All-Star, an MVP, 3-time Olympian, 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist, and 2-time NBA Champion.  He is one of four players to post a quadruple double in a game (34 pts, 10 reb, 10 blocks, 10 assist).  He combined with Tim Duncan to become the “Twin Towers” and win the ’98-’99 and ’02-’03 NBA titles.  He was also recognized for his sportsmanship in 2001.  He was also one of the most physically dominant players of all time.

John Stockton – The all-time assist and steal leader, who along with Karl Malone, was a cornerstone of the Utah Jazz for 19 years.  The Oregon native put Gonzaga University on the college basketball map after a 4-year collegiate career.

He was drafted by the Utah Jazz in 1984 and spent his entrire 19-year career playing for the franchise.  He combined with Karl Malone to form the best pick-and-roll duo the NBA has ever seen.  For his career, he averaged 13.1 points and 10.5 assists a game.  A league ironman, he only missed 22 games in his entire career, many seasons which ended with lengthy playoff runs.  He helped lead the Jazz to 2 NBA Finals, falling short in each to Jordan’s Bulls.

He was a member of the 1992 Olympic Dream Team and also the 1996 US Olympic Team, winning the Gold Medal each time.  He kept the short-shorts alive well into the 90’s and he ended his career as the leader in assists and steals, two records that are not soon to fall.  Stockton was named, along with Jordan and Robinson, as one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players of All-Time in 1996.

Jerry Sloan – Sloan is one of five coaches with 1,000 career victories and is one of the most successful coaches to stand on the sidelines.  He has been coaching the Utah Jazz since 1988 and is the longest tenured coach for one team in any professional sport in the United States.

As a player, he was recognized for his passion for defense, which is fitting because that is what his teams are known for now.  He has a 60% winning percentage as an NBA coach.  He guided John Stockton and Karl Malone to 2 NBA Finals appearances and it is fitting that the coach will be entering the hall at the same time as his star point-guard.

C. Vivian Stringer – A consistant winner in her coaching career, leading three different women’s college programs to the NCAA Final Four.  She lead Cheyney State College in 1982, University of Iowa in 1993 and Rutgers in 2000 and 2007 to the Final Four.

She is the third most winning coach in women’s college basketball history and 3-time Coach of the Year.

Accomplishments aside, she is best known nationally for her objection to a comment made by Don Imus in 2007, where he called her and her team “a bunch of nappy-headed hoes.”  She gained nation recognition for her stand against the comments.

My take – There is no objection from me on the first four individual’s on this list.  Jordan is the single greatest player I’ve ever seen play, Robinson one of the classiest, and Stockton and Sloan the faces of a franchise for nearly 2 decades.

Which brings me to Ms.  Stringer.  One can only wonder if the comments by Imus were never made or never reacted to, would anyone really know who she is?  It does answer a long-time question of mine: if someone makes a racist comment about a sport nobody cares about, does it make a noise?

Nobody watches women’s basketball, and to be cited as one of the most winning coaches in the sport is like calling your son the smartest kid in special-ed.   It doesn’t carry much weight in a “sport” where only 2 teams are competitive nationally each year.  Not to mention not having won a single national title in such a non-competitive league.  Pretty weak credentials if you ask me.


It’s time for Jim Calhoun to retire

April 6, 2009

He has done a great job coaching this UCONN program, and putting it all together.

This years collapse however, just shows how overmatched he has now become.  Sure, they lost Jerome Dyson so that’s why a lot of people are going to overlook this horrific loss and say, well they did better than expected!   No I’m sorry, that’s not acceptable for a “legendary” coach.

UCONN entered the game against Michigan State knowing what to expect.  Michigan State is known to be a very physical team, with a strong team emphasis on rebounding.  Hm, sound like any other teams (PITTSBURGH)?  Jim Calhoun did not prepare his team for this game.  No one in the nation can dispute the fact that UCONN is a much more talented team, yet they are out of the tourney and get to sit and watch the game they should have been in.  So how did this happen?

A:  The loss of Jerome Dyson was too much to overcome.

Wrong.  They have been showing all season this team has too much talent to let that stop them.  Yet,  come time to put up, they fall short. 

B:  Jim Calhoun is no longer a great coach.

DING DING.  Absolutely right.  The distractions that the UCONN team faced this year, all stemmed from their “legendary” coach.  Be it how much money this fraud makes a year, his health and well being, his recruiting scandal.  It doesn’t matter.  HE was the distraction.  Not only did he serve as a distraction, or an excuse, for his immature team, however he did not get them ready for the big games.   Losing to Pittsburgh twice in the same season, when you are the team to beat, is not the makings of a great coach.  A great coach reads and reacts to what is happening.  Yet, both of those games they were overmatched physically and beat to the ball far too often. 

Not enough for you?  What happened vs. Michigan State?  The team had NO HEART. They got beat physically and mentally.  They didn’t play like they wanted to win that game.  They played like they were okay with whatever happened. You let your team dance around for 20 minutes in front of the camera like they just won the world series, when all they really did was clear the quarterfinals, and this is what happens to your immature program.  ALL THEY DID WAS MAKE THE FINAL FOUR.  BIG DEAL.  The team is already filled with extremely immature players, who know their lives have been gift wrapped for them.  You don’t let them take pride in the fact that they made the semifinals of a tournament.  You drive them for more.

You win that tournament and then you celebrate.   

Michigan State brought heart and determination.  They weren’t content with making the semifinals because they knew they weren’t supposed to be there.  They knew this was not their tournament to win, but they were going to win it.  Tom Izzo got them to believe they needed to win this for their state.  To bring joy to a state in economic ruin. 

That’s what Calhoun is missing now.  He doesn’t have the heart to convince his players that they are playing for more than popularity.  Calhoun is content to ride in the spotlight and let whatever happens happen.  He’s content to let the spotlight be on him, while his team falters in the big games.  He’s selfish and washed up.

 

This man has no heart

This man has no heart

It’s time for you to go Jimbo.  Not because of your health, but because the program shouldn’t be about you.


This Year’s Rays: The Royals

April 6, 2009
Can Jose Guillen,center, be this year's Carlos Pena?

Can Jose Guillen,center, be this year's Carlos Pena?

The Tampa Bay Rays were the biggest surprise in years last season.  Being picked by many as the worst team in the best division in baseball and winning the league, then the pennant, and looking like seasoned veterans through all of it.  It is hard to imagine another team doing that so soon, but if there is one out there it is the Kansas City Royals.

You need kind of a perfect storm situation for this type of thing to happen.  Last year, the East was strong, but weakened at times by various injuries.  The Yankees and the Red Sox were never really at full strength.  The Rays actually also had injuries, but had the type of team that thrived off that kind of adversity.  My formula for pulling a Tampa Bay: good leadership, solid pitching, good bullpen, tough offense, and a somewhat weakened division.

Trey Hillman is the closest thing in the league to Joe Maddon.  Hillman is experienced dealing with young players, and even a language barrier couldn’t keep him from winning (won the Japanese title with Nippon Ham Fighters a few years back.).  The pitching staff is better than most think.  If Zack Greinke isn’t depressed he is a top flight starter, if Gil Meche is healthy he is an overpaid top flight starter, and they added Sidney Ponson who, when sober can give you innings.

The Bullpen is led by Joakim Soria.  Soria had 44 saves and a 1.60 era last season becoming one of the elite closers in the league.  He has Kyle Farnsworth and his extremely hittable high-90’s fastball setting him up.  The rest of the bullpen is made up of guys who have proven effectiveness in the past.  Ron Mahay, Juan Cruz, and Robinson Tejeda round out the pen.

The offense is extremely talented and ready to break out.  With the additions of Mike Jacobs and Coco Crisp, the Royals add power and speed to a lineup that was not deep in either last year.  The power game should expand this year with Alex Gordon showing life in the spring and Billy Butler ready to realize his potential.  Jose Guillen has long been a threat to both baseballs and anyone near him after a strikeout, but he may be the Carlos Pena- like leader of this young squad.  Mark Teahen, Miguel Olivo, and David Dejesus  could make this a dangerous lineup if they get hot.  This lineup also makes for a decent defensive team.  The outfield is quick, and Miguel Olivo is a proven backstop.    There are a few qustions in the infield, but they should take away more outs than they give away.

Finally, the AL central is there for the taking this year.  There is not a complete team in the division.  There is no team with a great starting rotation, and many of the new acquisitions to the league (Carl Pavano, Kerry Wood, Joe Crede) are big risk guys.  The league was close last year with the Tigers taking last place being down by only 14 1/2 games.  The Central was the closest division top to bottom in baseball.  The truth is, any team has a shot in this league.  It is just a matter of a team staying healthy and getting in a groove.  The Royals have as good a shot as any to do this.

If the pitchers provide enough innings to keep the pen fresh, we may be seeing Kansas City fighting down the stretch.  So throw a hundred bucks on the Royals to win the pennant, and thank me in October.


Is A-Rod off the juice?

April 6, 2009

It’s been widely reported that A-Fraud has been rehabbing in Colorado after undergoing hip surgery right before the off-season.  We all know that Colorado is a safe haven for all womanizing athletes with rediculously low standards (see Kobe Bryant -> rapist).  And with A-Rod being dumped by the hideous Madonna and being outed by an aging madame, he did what he had to do, go to Colorado to “rehab”.

I find it hilarious that he is off in CO rehabbing while his team is training in Florida.  Most athletes rehab at their team’s facilities, but the Yankess want as little to do with the self-centered one.  The king of all things A-Rod, he had to get the spotlight back on him.  Most athletes would use this time to disappear to rehab their image as well as their injury.   Not A-Fraud, he had to pose for Details magazine, kissing his reflection and totally gaying-out.  The worst part is that nobody in the nation was surprised that he was flaunting his man-love for himself.

And that brings us to the picture above.  It would look like A-Fraud has been laying off the juice and drinking only water.  Boy he got slim didn’t he?  I dare any of you to say that isn’t him on first glance.  But it’s not, its SI Supermodel Noemie Lenoir who cut her hair recently.  I’m sorry, but I think she is twins with the Yankees third baseman, but she’s the less glamorous Rodriguez of the family.