Sunday, January 20, 2013

Brad Stevens

Coaching in sport is often measured on "What have you done for me recently?" Putting emphasis on wins and money often leads to destruction. While wins should be the primary focus on the professional level, in collegiate sports wins should be secondary. College is a time for boys to become men and girls to become women. Coaching in college sports should focus on learning and growing rather than just winning.

Recently, the Butler Bulldogs defeated Gonzaga with a buzzer beater win in what was a highly competitive game between two ranked opponents. Here are the highlights of the game. The single most impressive aspect of this game for me is watching Brad Stevens, the Butler head coach. At the 1:53 mark in the video, the game is decided. After Butler steals the ball keep an eye on Brad Stevens. He is calmly standing by the scorer's table with his hands folded in front of him. As the final shot is released, the points are awarded, and the Butler fans are going nuts, Brad Stevens calmly walks over to shake the hand of his opposing coach. Stevens seems numb to the pandemonium ensuing around him. I was a little confused by his calm demeanor when I was watching this game live but after I heard his interview afterwards it all made sense. When asked to comment about the flow and energy of the game Stevens replies,"My deal is that I don't care about the end result. As long as we have no regrets; the pain of discipline is [far less than the pain of regret]." Are you kidding me?!? This guy... Basically he told his players that as long as they don't have any regrets then the results won't matter. He has instilled so much discipline into his players that they know they will win if they play with no regrets. I know a lot of coaches want to say what Stevens says about "ohh the results don't matter blah blah blah" but to see Stevens actually practices what he preaches is pretty awesome. He wants  the win but in the end he knows it comes down to his players. He is walking away to address the other coach as time expires. Clearly the end result doesn't matter to Stevens. He lets his players play out the final seconds (Butler still had a timeout)  and lets the hours of practice his team has put in decide the game. Most coaches would have called a timeout to set up a play but Stevens knows he has coached his players right and he trusts them 100%. 

It is easy for Stevens to say results don't matter (two championship appearances in the last three years isn't bad) but at least on this occasion he was able to accept defeat. Stevens isn't worried about losing his job anytime soon if  he loses a few games. I have a feeling that Brad Stevens is a guy who uses his platform as a coach to direct his young players' lives. He instills values in them that are far more valuable than basketball skills. In a time where coaches can be on the hot seat if they lose one game, Stevens wants a team to play disciplined and lets the results fall into place.  

Brad Stevens is a breath of fresh air in college sports. Even at a small school like Butler where a few wins can save a program from destruction, Stevens isn't worried about the results. It is people like Brad Stevens who prove that sport is just an instrument for life. There are far more important things in life than basketball or any other sports. It is nice to see a guy who keep things in perspective and stand out in a time where wins and money seem to drive everything in sports.

This guy also knows the power of sport.



Monday, October 29, 2012

Relegation

The worst feeling when watching a sporting event is knowing that the team you support has quit.  You can tell by their body language and actions that they do not care.  In most cases this happens because the players have lost all motivation to perform well.  In most American team sports the team with the worst record is rewarded with the #1 draft pick.  There is no punishment for a team performing poorly.  The only draw-backs I can see for a team being the worst team in the league is 1) You don't get the satisfaction of winning a championship, 2) players won't get recognized (all-star games/ pro bowls). and 3) fans will make fun of you.  The reward for being the worst team is you get a chance to draft the best player available at the start of the next season.  An argument can be made that the rewards of being the worst team can outweigh the rewards for being the best team.

In the NBA, 1 player can literally turn the worst team into the best team team with the worst record into the team with the best record in 3 seasons.  In the NFL, taking a quarterback #1 overall can set up your team for success for the next 15 years.  Choosing first overall in a draft can have a tremendous impact on a franchise for many, many years.  The way you get the first overall selection in a draft is to be the worst team the year before.  Now while this sounds fair on the surface, there are many flaws in this system.  Think about this in a broad sense: You are rewarding a team for being bad. When a franchise is struggling and they realize about half-way through the season that they are not going to make the playoffs, their best choice is to lose more games.  They will be rewarded with a better draft choice at the beginning of the next year. Perfect!!  The problem with this is it really pisses off passionate fans.  No one wants to go out and watch their team perform poorly.  No one wants to go to a game knowing their team doesn't want to win.  No one should want their team to finish in last place so they can get the best pick in the draft.

I look at European soccer leagues for transformation.  In these leagues the teams with the worst record get relegated.  What this means is that if you have the worst record in the league, next year you won't be playing in that league.  That's right.  The Charlotte Bobcats will be playing in the D-League next year.  The beautiful thing about this system is that the top performers in the lower leagues will be promoted to the higher division.  In the English Premier League, the bottom 3 teams get relegated to the championship division while the top 3 teams in the championship division get promoted to the Premier league.  There is a huge gap in monetary funds allocated between the leagues as well.  If a team is relegated they can potentially lose up to $50 million dollars.  This usually means that teams will sell their star players since they can't afford their contracts.  So in this system a team will fight every day to avoid being the worst team because they want to avoid losing out on $50 million and potentially losing their best players.  The players also play their hardest because being relegated is one of the worst feeling due to the fact that you are no longer playing the best competition.

Many fans will think this idea is stupid because they feel they are entitled to something.  If you think about it though, this system creates a greater appreciation for the fans.  The supporters are extremely happy when they don't get relegated. They are extremely happy when they get promoted.  Instead of being happy that you are the worst team (and getting a high draft pick), you are happy that you aren't the worst team. Also, teams will have top be proactive instead of reactive. If your QB is playing poorly and you aren't seeing the results you need, see ya! Aint' nobody got time for you to get out of your slump- We are trying to win now!!

Maybe coming from a background where my favorite sports teams haven't been dominant has influenced my thoughts. Being excited over the 1st overall pick just doesn't seem right though. I want to be excited about the team and knowing that they players actually care. Giving up mid-season should never be an option though. The fans deserve more than that.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Just another Purple Monday...

Coors Field, Home of the Colorado Rockies
As fellow blogger Crum Cake, I am fan of a couple teams that I do not live near. Born and raised in North Carolina I have some odd sports teams that I follow. Specifically I am talking about baseball. I have always been a Colorado Rockies fan, which makes no sense to the majority of you. However, my father was born in Colorado and thus illuminates my loyalty to the team. The 2007 MLB Playoffs truly solidified my support for the squad. They ended the season by winning 13 of their previous 14 games and tied for 2nd in the NL West and wildcard lead with the divisional rival San Diego Padres. Following the wildcard tie-breaker win the Rockies proceeded to sweep Philadelphia and Arizona in route to a World Series berth. By now the Rockies had won 21 of their last 22 games and ventured to Boston for a World Series showdown with the Red Sox. The Rockies would be, for me, heartbreakingly defeated in four games. Despite the loss I was hooked even more as a fan. All of this is merely back story to get to this topic, the 2012 Rockies.

Currently the Rockies rank 5th in Runs, 5th in Batting Average, 6th in On Base Percentage, and 3rd in Slugging Percentage. The only two teams they trail in Slugging Percentage are the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers who currently hold the best and second best records in baseball, respectively. So, one would thing that the Rockies are having a pretty good season, or at least somewhat in contention. Unfortunately it is quite the opposite. The Rockies currently are tied for the 2nd worst record in baseball at 33-52. They are 13 games behind the NL West leading LA Dodgers and 13 games out of the Wild Card race. If you are wondering why a team with such great offense is one of the lousiest teams in the majors right now then your attention must turn to the bump. When it comes to pitching statistics the Rockies rank 30th, dead last, in Earned Run Average, Quality Starts, WHIP (walks + hits per inning pitched), and Batting Average Against. As a team the Rockies ERA is 5.26! Are you kidding me?! The 29th ranked, second worst, ERA in the majors is that of the Minnesota Twins at 4.86. If that was not bad enough the Rockies have played 85 games this year. Of those 85 the Rockies only have 22 quality starts. The second worst team, again the Twins, are at 30. But it is preposterous that out of 85 opportunities, only 22 times has your pitcher pitched 6 innings without giving up 3 earned runs. That means for you Rockies fans looking to hit up a Purple Monday at Coors Field there is 26% chance that the starting pitcher for the Rockies will have a quality start.

The first reaction from fans is always to make a big trade and sure who doesn't love their team pulling off a blockbuster deal. However, I don't think that is the wisest move for the Rockies here. They still have young prospects working their way up that they acquired in the Ubaldo Jimenez deal, they got 3 pitchers and a utility player. And by no means should they look to unload a big name like a Carlos Gonzalez or a Troy Tulowitzki. Those guys are the cornerstones of your franchise and without them it will be tough to sell tickets in Denver. I like the idea of trading away back up catcher Ramon Hernandez, I've heard the Mets are interested and if they offer a pitcher or really young infielder I say you pull the trigger. Hernandez is set to back up Wilin Rosario who is making his way back from the DL. Rosario is hitting .247 with 14 HR and 36 RBI  in 58 games this season. And at 23 years old the Dominican is the future behind the plate in Denver for many years to come. Contrary to the pleading of the impatient sports fan I feel like a big move is a bad idea at this point for the organization. Making a small move here or there may be just the ticket to have the Rockies back on track next year.

As a tried and true fan I can only hope that the second half of the season brings better-than-first-half baseball and the following seasons yield relevance in the NL West. But until then I will continue to wear purple and black proudly while cheering on the underdogs from around the league. Yeah, I'm looking at you Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Washington. As a Rockies fan you never lose hope because you always remember the '07 run. And as always, "Play ball, Go Rockies!"

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER

Age. It is one thing athletes fear. They peak at a young age...usually. It is when they are their fastest, healthiest, and strongest. Or, is it? Some of the best athletes to ever pick up a ball, swing a bat, or compete were (I hate to say it)... old. You have Brett Favre, born in 1969. Need I say more? Went into retirement, came out of retirement, started games, won games, retired. He holds the record of most consecutive starts by any NFL player with 297 and one of six quarterbacks to start over 100 consecutive games. Next you have Dara Torres, born in 1967. She competed in five Summer Olympics, earning 12 medals and at least one at each game. She plans on competing this summer in London for her 6th appearance in the Olympics. The last legend I am going to talk about is one who I got to experience first hand, Hideki Matsui. He took Durham, North Carolina or better yet, the Durham Bulls Ballpark Corner Store by typhoon. Matsui is a Japanese God. I am trying to think of an American analogy and can't. Matsui is to Japan as teenage girls are to Justin Bieber? Not even close.

Hideki Matsui was born in 1974. Almost twice the age of some Major Leaguers today. But age doesn't phase him, and doesn't phase his fans. His time spent in Durham was short, but chaotic. Over 200 members of the Japanese media were at the tiny stadium in Durham just to see Matsui play, and witness his "comeback." They were stalking his every move. Almost like paparazzi.  I am pretty sure my coworkers and I were on Japanese television. So many cameras. 

Things around the ballpark got hectic when Dice-K was scheduled to make a rehab start in Durham. Matsui was in the line-up. The two best baseball players to come out of Japan were meeting on a stage in downtown Durham. Nights like that don't come around too often. And boy, its nights like that you love the game of baseball.

I had the pleasure of meeting Japanese families who came to the ballpark just to see Matsui. One man I met was the principal of a Japanese school in Raleigh. I had no idea we had Japanese schools in America. He was telling me how excited the school was to all come together to a game this Saturday. I said, "This Saturday?" and he responded, "Yes. In Japan, we have school on Saturdays so we are taking the whole school, 250 students, to the game." I was amazed. Even though Matsui is a respected veteran in the game of baseball, young adults are avid fans. I personalized two Matsui jerseys for the principal, and those were only two of countless t-shirts and jersey's during Matsui Mania. 

Matsui got called up to the Rays yesterday and was scheduled to make his debut tonight versus the Chicago White Sox. In story book fashion, Matsui hit a two-run homer at his second at bat. Even though the Rays lost the game, 7-2, Matsui received a standing ovation. His time in Japan, with the Yankees and even in Durham is just the beginning. Much like Favre and Torres. Their books haven't closed.

Trends fade. Teams have rebuilding years. Athletes retire. Devoted fans are forever, and age is just a number.

Be sure to check out the Durham Bulls Ballpark Corner store for everything Durham Bulls! Follow us on Twitter @dbullsteamstore or check out the shop: http://durhambulls.milbstore.com/store.cfm?store_id=133 

*personalized Matsui jersey by yours truely


Friday, May 18, 2012

Cam Newton

I need to preface this before I begin.  First, I am a die-hard Panthers fan.  I have been a fan all of my life (except for the 3 years between my birth and the first game).  My family was a part of the charter PSL owners and their names will be forever engraved on the panther statues outside our stadium.  Second, I want nothing more than for the Panthers to succeed.   I hate sitting through 1-15, 2-14, and even 6-10 seasons.  I am ready for a playoff run which will result in bringing a Super Bowl championship to Charlotte.  Now that we have that settled, please do not question my fan-hood because I disagree with the team and have concerns about the direction of the organization.  I will be a Panthers fan until I die.

Now we get to the fun part.  My biggest concern right now is our starting quarterback, Cam Newton.  Newton  has only played in the NFL for one season but he has had a huge impact.  He has set numerous records including: most passing yards for a rookie, most total touchdowns for a rookie, most passing yards in one game for a rookie, most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season, along with many other records.  So was the rookie season a success for Mr. Newton? Yes.  Was the rookie season a success for the Panthers? Not quite.  The team went 6-10 and looked bad for most of the season.  The team won 4 of the last 6 games but none of the games were competitive.  The best win of the season was in week 15 when the Panthers beat the Texans (a team who had already clinched a playoff spot and rested most of their starters).  The other 3 wins came against the Colts (1-15) and the Buccaneers (4-12).  At the end of the season I was not satisfied with the results.  My team had a "strong" finish to a mediocre season.

It seems that the 4 wins at the end of last season has everyone excited for the 2012 season.  Somehow, having your team beat crap teams and watching your quarterback embarrass himself at the Pro Bowl breeds confidence.  The thing that bothers me with Cam Newton is that he is perceived as "Superman" where apparently he can do no wrong.  When he throws an interception he walks off the field and covers his head with a towel but when he scores he celebrates it like he's never scored before.  In the Pro Bowl I think Cam Newton embarrassed himself.  In a game where the corners can't press the receivers, blitzes can't be called, and there is no intentional grounding, Cam Newton managed to throw 3 interceptions and get sacked twice.  Now I know the Pro Bowl is meant to be fun but his performance was dreadful.  As a rookie, you need to pay your dues to the league.  You need to work hard to show your peers that you are serious about being a Pro Bowl player.  Andy Dalton, also a rookie, took his role seriously.  He went 7-9 with 2 touchdowns.  Eric Weddle, another first-time Pro Bowler,  played his heart out.  He didn't go out and treat the Pro Bowl as a joke; he went out to prove himself to his peers.  Newton, on the other hand, seemed content to play for fun and take this experience for granted.  Newton should have made the most out of this experience especially under the circumstances.  He was a replacement for Eli Manning who couldn't participate since his team was playing in the Superbowl.  Cam Newton was lucky to escape with only 3 interceptions.  Many of his passes were not accurate and the defense had their hands on the ball before the receivers did.  Newton was not prepared for the Pro Bowl.  He was hoping to use this as a platform to prove how great he was but instead he made a fool of himself.  If Newton makes it to the Pro Bowl again, I certainly hope he takes it seriously (and tucks in his shirt).    I have come to two conclusions based off his Pro Bowl play.  Either Cam Newton thinks he has already "made it" in the NFL and has nothing to prove or Cam Newton isn't good enough to play with the best players in the NFL. (I find this unacceptable.  Where is the intensity or your competitive side?)

Newton has received an unprecedented amount of hype through his rookie season.  In my opinion,  it is not warranted.  Let's do a blind test.  Quarterback #1 threw for 3,398 yards, completed 58% of their passes, threw 20 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, was sacked 24 times, led their team to a 9-7 record and made the playoffs.  Quarterback #2 threw for 4,051 yards, completed 60% of their passes, threw 21 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, was sacked 35 times, led their team to a 6-10 record and did not make the playoffs.  Which quarterback would you rather have on your team?  Quarterback #1 is rookie Andy Dalton and quarterback #2 is Cam Newton.  Based on last years results, if I needed to choose 1 rookie quarterback to lead my team to a victory then I would probably choose Dalton because, as the numbers show, he proved himself to be a winner.  While Dalton has more wins than Newton, Newton puts on a better show.  He is more exciting to watch but the excitement probably won't result in a victory.  Dalton is not flashy but he gets the job done while Newton is flashy and looks good but doesn't always get the job done.  Granted, Newton did have 14 rushing touchdowns but the numbers show that the Panthers run offense didn't improve greatly with him at quarterback.  In 2009 when the Panthers had a healthy Deangelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart our run offense actually produced more yards than it did in the 2011 season.  Maybe Newton's talents are better suited for a different position.  I think this guy is most effective when he has the ball in his hands and is in open space.  Based on his performance last year I do not think his decision making is good enough for him to be an all-pro quarterback.  The Panthers offense was adapted to fit Newton's skill set.  Short throws to the tight-end were used to work the ball down the field.  The majority of Newton's "big" games came early in the season when teams did not have time to game-plan for our new offense.  While Newton threw for a lot of yards during the season, not all of the yardage was picked up in tight games.  The majority of Newton's yards were picked up while the Panther's were losing (source).  I don't think it is fair to pad your stats when your team is down 15 points with 3 minutes to go in the 4th quarter (GB game).  While his stats were impressive, the manner that he picked up the stats were not as impressive. (This is impressive).

Cam Newton has greatly benefited from the media hyping him up.  All his great plays are shown all over ESPN while he is forgiven for his poor plays.  There are articles written about how great he has played and I'm afraid that this will only feed his ego.  Newton is a good looking guy who looks like he is having fun when playing which people like to see.  I hope he doesn't let stardom get to his head.  Television announcers only talk about how great Newton is.  It is way too early for anyone to be predicting Newton as "the next big thing".  Newton needs to take a lesson from fellow NFC South quarterback Josh Freeman.  Freeman had comparable rookie season and at the end of the season there was talk about him being a star.  In his sophomore season he did not produce.  His numbers dropped off greatly and he was a part of a team that lost its last 10 games.  Newton needs to be aware that teams in the NFL will notice his weaknesses and look to exploit them.  He did not respond well to "boos" at the Pro Bowl and the fans in Carolina can turn on their quarterback when they don't play up to standards (ask Jake Delhomme).

Right now, I am not sold that Cam Newton is a great quarterback.  His passing yardage and rushing numbers were good during his rookie season so maybe he should be used as a running back who can throw or even a tight-end.  I am concerned that the fans in Carolina are willing to sit through 6-10 seasons as long as they have an exciting quarterback to watch.  I am concerned that Newton will not respond well if things do not go his way.  I am concerned about the future of my team.  I know this is not the popular opinion right now but there is an argument to be made.  You can't only look at the good in a player and refuse to see their faults.  Good stats aren't the only thing that matter (Look at Lebron James. ZING!).  I think there is a spot for Cam Newton on this team but I do not think it is at quarterback.

I hope you prove me wrong, Mr. Newton...



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Relevance in Raleigh

Rod Brind'Amour hoists the cup.
In 2006 the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers met in the Stanley Cup Finals. Hardly a match up that the NHL drooled over but this series gave the City of Raleigh franchise its first Stanley Cup Championship. Since that fateful playoff series the Hurricanes have struggled to be relevant in the NHL and have only returned to the playoffs once. The common thread I have seen in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs has been goaltending. Looking at the teams left in the playoffs, you have the Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, New Jersey Devils, and the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers, whose series endures a Game 7 Saturday night. All of these teams have been led by outstanding goaltending throughout the playoffs so far. The LA Kings have been led by Veinza finalist Jonathan Quick who is 8-1 and boasts a 1.55 GAA through two playoffs series. The Coyotes have been led by Mike Smith. Smith has flown under the radar and showed his true worth in a showdown opposite the ice of the Predators Pekka Rinne. Smith's 8-3 playoff record and 1.77 GAA have shown that he too deserves mention beside the Rinne and Quick's of the world. In the Eastern Conference there are 3 goaltenders left. The Devils Martin Brodeur, Rangers Henrik Lundqvist, and Capitals Braden Holtby. Brodeur, who turned 40 on Sunday, has not displayed the prettiest stats but has accomplished what every veteran goaltender is expected to do, win. Brodeur has the Devils into the conference finals for the first time since 2003 and awaits the winner of New York and Washington. The Rangers have arguably the best goaltender in the league in Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist boasted a 1.97 GAA during the regular season and led them to a #1 seed in this years playoffs. However, Lundqvist will participate in his 2nd game seven this postseason and looks to stave off elimination for the second straight series. The major reason for King Henrik's headache this series, Braden Holtby. Holtby, the 22 year old goalie, appeared out of nowhere at the end of the Capitals regular season. He only appeared in 7 games, 6 starts, but quickly grabbed the confidence of the coaching staff, teammates, and fans. His 1.95 GAA is not as impressive as the previously mention keepers but like Brodeur, he is winning.

So, you might be wondering where I am going with this. Well it all boils down to this, the key to this year's playoffs, like many other years, is goaltending. The goalkeepers have kept their teams competitive and won them many games. So, if the hometown Hurricanes hope to be relevant goaltending is where a change in needed. I know everyone loves Cam Ward because he won us a cup. But that was 6 years ago and we've only appeared in the playoffs once since! Raleigh is a town full of Caniacs and sport adoring fans. But it is simple, the Canes need to make moves. The hurricanes have a great crop of young players and will be led by veteran talents such as Eric Staal and Tim Gleason. You might be asking, "Well where do you suggest we get a better goalie?" Hmm, how about Vancouver! Yeah, I said Vancouver. The Canucks currently have goalies Roberto Luongo and Corey Schneider. Luongo on their team with Schneider becoming a Restricted Free Agent following the completion of the playoffs. With a cap hit of around $5 million for Luongo, keeping both netminders seems a little farfetched there in the northwest. So you have to think that the Canucks will look to move one of the goalies. That is why I believe it is the perfect time for the Hurricanes to shake things up a bit and look to acquire a new man between the posts. Like I said earlier, Raleigh is a city that loves their sports and their teams. The Hurricanes are loved here and all fans only hope for relevance in the near future.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May 2nd, 2012

May 2nd, 2012 was just one of those incredible days in sports.  This would have to go down as one of the most memorable days for me in a while.  The odd thing was that May 2nd fell on a Wednesday.  This seemingly random Wednesday held host to amazing accomplishments, exciting finishes, and tragedy.

First we will start off with the tragedy.  Junior Seau took his own life on Wednesday morning.  Seau was an all-pro linebacker who played in the NFL for 17 years and was named to 12 pro-bowls.  The majority of those years were spent with the San Diego Chargers where he grew into arguably the best linebacker in the league.  Seau was always a factor on the field and he always portrayed himself well while playing.  I was shocked to hear the news of his death and I wish his family the best.  He seemed like a good guy.

Later that day Jared Weaver threw a no-hitter.  This was the 2nd no-hitter of the season and the first at Angels Stadium since 1975.  What made the no-hitter even more sweet was that it was in front of the home crowd that Weaver chose to return to prior to the season.  Weaver re-signed with the Angles in the off-season instead of "Taking his talents" elsewhere.  I'm sure Weaver does not regret his decision and I am sure Weaver will remember that moment for the rest of his life.

Also in baseball that day, the Braves and the Phillies played an absolutely crazy game.  The game didn't lack offense or story lines.  Down by 4 runs in the 5th inning, Bryan McCann hit a grandslam off Roy Halladay to tie the game.  The scoring continued and the Braves again came back from a 4 run deficit in the 8th.  The Phillies scored a run in the 9th which tied the game and sent it into overtime (yay free baseball!!).  In the bottom of the 11th inning with a man on first base, the old Chipper Jones (bad knees and all) hit a walk-off 2 run homer to end the game.  The 40 year old Jones has played sparringly this season after more issues with his knees but saved the day for the Braves.  Making the day even more special for Jones, his homerun was the 500th of his Hall of Fame career.  You can get a better recap of the game here.

My buddy Roger Goodell also made his presence felt on this date.  A decision was made to suspend a few players from the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.  The most severe of the suspensions came when Jonathon Vilma was suspended for all 16 games of the season.  Fair or not, a penalty this harsh will be remembered for a long time.

The most incredible play of the day goes to Papiss Cisse.  In a game where Newcastle is fighting for the 4th and final Champions League spot from the BPL, Cisse produces this gem to help fight off a Chelsea squad who also covets the final spot.  Here is the Wonder Goal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sD7FqrVhvw&feature=related
     -Earlier in the game, Cisse scored an amazing goal. I recommend you watch the match highlights.
     - Honorable mention goes Freddy Montero for this Absolute Firecracker
     - Honorable Mention also for this Gola├žo

May 2nd, 2012 was just one of those days where there was always something going on in the sports world. I'm sure there were other events that happened this day but these are the event that I wanted to share.  Days like this do not come along very often but it is great when they do. (I apologize if any of the links do not work. Youtube likes to take down all the good videos... except this one) (But seriously, this one is good)


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Roger Goodell and the current state of the NFL

Roger Goodell is an idiot.  He is selfish, he only cares about money, and he is ruining the NFL.  The NFL has turned in to a joke where a bunch of grown men run around on a field and are penalized if they aren't nice to each other.  You just scored an amazing touchdown? Good for you but you aren't allowed to celebrate it. You hit a guy with your shoulder but he ducked his head so you made contact with his helmet, 15 yard penalty and a $25,000 fine. You sacked the quarterback? Nope, that was apparently a late hit and a 15 yard penalty.  There was news this week that there is consideration to remove the kickoff in the NFL because "it is one of the most dangerous plays in the game".  You know what else is dangerous? THE OTHER 59 MINUTES OF THE GAME!  Do we want to remove that too?  Two years ago the "wedge" was disallowed because opposing teams would run down at full speed and try to break it up by smashing into it which was "dangerous".  Last year the kickoff was pushed up 5 yards which led to a record number of touchbacks. So now in the NFL if you catch the kickoff (that's a big if), you pretty much aren't allowed to block for your returner.  Thanks, Roger Goodell, that sounds like a whole lot of fun.

In the interest of keeping this short, here are a few things (that really piss me off) which have changed in the NFL since Roger Goodell has become the Commissioner:

- The NFL draft is now a 3 day confusing process.  Why 3 days? Well they can sell tickets to Radio City Music hall for the extra 2 days along with advertisements for their TV coverage. So basically more $$$

- The releasing of the NFL schedule has now earned a 3 hour special on ESPN.  Honestly, I don't care who my team will be playing on October 6th.  I don't need to sit through a 3 hour special to see who my team is playing because it is April and that's six months away.  It would seem that if you release the schedule early, you can spark fans interest, and allow ESPN to talk up the games which will result in more $$$.

- Last year Drew Brees broke Dan Marino's single season passing yards mark of 5,084. Congrats.  In the 1984 season when Dan Marino set that record only two other quarterbacks threw for over 4,000 yards. In the 2012 season when Drew Brees broke Marino's record nine other quarterbacks threw for over 4,000 yards.  So have quarterbacks gotten better? Probably. Have defenses gotten better? Probably.  Have the rules changed?  Absolutely.  Illegal contact has prohibited tight coverage, personal fouls have prohibited big hits which scare the offense, and the new rules protecting the quarterbacks have prohibited hitting the quarterback.  All of this leads to the Quarterbacks sitting in their pocket and picking apart the "defense".  The reason for this: More touchdowns leads to more exciting games.  More exciting games leads to more viewers.  More viewers leads to more $$$.

- For the first time since 1940 there will be an NFL game on a Wednesday.  If all teams play on the same day then there will be games that people can't watch because their team is playing.  If we have games everyday of the week then the viewer has a greater chance of seeing more football which leads to more $$$

- NFL Network. You know where I'm going with this. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Roger Goodell is a genius.  He is a rich genius who is ruining the NFL and he is getting away with it.  He doesn't care about the fans, he doesn't care about the players, he only cares about his image and making money.  I can't believe this man is getting away with all of this.  He has changed the game of football into a huge business and he is bringing in all the nasty trick of the business world.  The NFL is dying right in front of us and Roger Goodell is to blame.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pretty in Pink

I have accepted I will never be good at golf. Hitting people in the face with golf clubs, losing balls in hazards and hitting casual pedestrians is a sure sign of failure. It was a hard reality to accept, but since then, I have developed my skills elsewhere. The golf cart. I can drive a mean golf cart. Pop that puppy into drive and hit a whopping 10mph, just my speed. The beauty of a vehicle driving that slow, is I get to see what all the golfers are wearing.

Rickie Fowler is a well known golfer on the PGA Tour that has impeccable style. What people notice most about him is his wacky array of colors. From pink to blue, and purple to orange, he looks good in just about everything. At age 14, Rickie traded in his motocross bike for a set of golf clubs and never looked back. In 2009, Rickie entered a sponsorship agreement with Puma. He said this partnership has enabled him to express his personality and style through his clothes whether he is playing golf or hanging out with friends. 
Gorgeous. Real men wear pink.

Tiger Woods also had a unique outfit. He always wore red shirt and black pants on Sunday. When asked why he wears the same outfit, he said it was the colors of his alma matar, Stanford, and that his mom was always a fan of the color red. Momma's boy.

Well as Iverson put it in one word: practice. Maybe I just need a spiffy outfit and a little practice. Helmets might be necessary at the driving range. 

To send you on your way:

Pittsburgh: City of Champions... and the Pirates

It is 445 miles from my doorstep, to waterfront of the Strip District in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Being a dislocated fan of all things Pittsburgh has its unfortunate encounters: you can not listen to this song without being judged, Primanti Brothers is not across the street, wearing this usually provokes a conversation about him being a pussy, and you can't escape jokes about Big Ben and the farm team of the MLB. But, the City of Champions has it's perks. For example, the skyline in PNC Park when you have seats on the 3rd base line.

And... six Lombardi trophies. Just putting that out there.

But I have coped with this awful epidemic that affects many sports fans by ordering the "Sports Fan Displacement Package" on DirecTV. It is well worth it to see Sidney Crosby and Chase d'Arnaud in high definition (if you're flippin', what I'm fryin'). I am a second generation fan, meaning I wasn't born in Pittsburgh and no... I am not from there. My ENTIRE family is from the Pittsburgh area except me and my sister who were born in South Carolina. Not sure why my parents thought moving down there was a good idea. Anyway, point blank- I bleed Black and Gold, dry off after a shower with a Terrible Towel, and when asked what kind of burger I want, I always answer, Roethlisberger.

Although my infatuation with the city of Pittsburgh and its teams is indescribable, my love of sports can best be summed up in one word: Family. My family has bonded over sporting events since I can remember. It has brought us closer together, sometimes too close with our endless cycle of football, hockey, baseball-wash, rinse, repeat. I saw what sports was doing for our family, and it made me want that feeling for other families. The love our family shares for the Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates connects us in a special way that every family should experience. 

This blog is going to be a chance to talk about Pittsburgh sports (obviously) but also about other controversies in sport, from a woman's viewpoint. 

A video to send you on your way...

Gotcha.