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Archive for March, 2012

FINALly, a FOUR that excited us!

For the sports fan, there are a few nights of the year that we mark on our calendars.  We make sure we will have access to a television, have the wife or girlfriend make some sort of plans, and get together with the boys for some beers and wings.  Tonight is one of those nights!  The table is set for what will be a tremendous Final Four!

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This March Madness tournament has been perfect.  We were able to witness a number of early upset, as we had the 15’s beat the 2’s and other small scale upsets.  However, when the smoke cleared at the end of the first weekend, most of the top seeds were able to advance.  Now I appreciate the underdog, Cinderella story to a degree, however, I may be alone in this opinion, but I much prefer when the top teams, with the big names, are those that make up to Elite Eight and Final Four.  It makes for better basketball, more athletic play, and more compelling matchups.

Last year’s final was UConn vs. Butler, the year before was Duke vs. Butler.  Don’t get my wrong, I’m sure Butler Bulldog fans were really excited, I however was not.  Butler’s best player was Matt Howard last year.  Enough said.  This year, the Final Four is stacked with NBA talent.  Jared Sullinger, Thomas Robinson, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd Gilchrist, Jeff Withey, Peyton Siva, Tyshawn Taylor, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague and Doron Lamb  are all capable of not only playing NBA ball, but being impact players.  On top of that, we have some of the best coaches guiding their teams through to this round, with Matta, Self, Pitino and Calipari.  These coaches have all been here before, know how to get the best out of stars, and know eachother well.  Both matchups are re-matches from early this season, and Louisville and Kansas both have revenge on their minds.

As far as predictions, I have been very consistent from the onset of the tournament.  I started the tournament with a Kentucky over Kansas finals, which was reflected last week in my (perfect) Elite Eight picks.  Therefore, I believe Kentucky will play a close game with in-state rival Louisville, but in the end, Kentucky’s depth and talent will be too much for even Pitino to overcome.  The second game is one in which I am hesitant to chose.  This game will feature two of the best big men in the sport with Sullinger and Robinson, and I see a extremely close game.  The Jayhawks love to run, Ohio State plays great on the ball defense.  My heart is telling me to pick Kansas, my head is leaning towards the Buckeyes…. Well, I’m going to go with my heart (and my brackets) and picking the Jayhawks, as Tyshawn Thomas looked great against UNC and will carry it over tonight.

Enjoy the beer, wings, and basketball!

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Haney Broke the Man Code, Exposed Tiger!

Hank Haney, Tiger Woods old swing coach has released a tell-all book about the life of what some might call the greatest golfer ever.  He has marketed the book as a book about Tiger’s golf, an insight into what makes Tiger Woods great.  However, the content also included personal stories about Tiger’s wife, kids, feelings about other players and desire to look at pornography.

Many people have taken great offense to Haney’s addition of this information of this information.  Craig Carton, of the WFAN “Boomer and Carton Morning Show”, is among these people.  In an interview yesterday morning, Craig laced into Haney on several topics, accusing Haney of breaking the “code” of Tiger’s trust and airing out his dirty laundry to the entire world.  In the interview, Carton calls Haney a coward, scum of the earth, and a horrible human being among other things.  It was by far one of the most intense, attacks I’ve ever heard in a volunteered Sports Interview.

With that said, I totally agree with everything Craig has to say to Haney in the interview.  Haney has exposed Tiger, gotten close to his family, and years after he worked with him, is making money off Tiger’s celebrity.  If I was Tiger Woods, and I saw Haney at a golfing event in the future, I would take a seven iron to Haney’s skull.  Listen to the video of the interview to listen to Craig’s take, and let us know if you agree with the accusations Craig lays on Haney.

 


Head Coach Patrick Ewing?

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From playing Knicks center to center of Knicks?

Patrick Aloysius Ewing has made it clear that he wants to be a head coach in the NBA.  He is currently the Assistant Coach of the Orlando Magic where he is learning under a very smart coach in Stan Van Gundy.  He has been coaching under the tutelage of Van Gundy since the 2007-2008 season and the Magic have been thriving in the Eastern Conference as perennial playoff contender ever since.  For some reason, even with his coaching successes, there has been an unfair stigma left on him saying he can only be a “Big Mans Coach.”  I feel that his credentials not only warrant him at least a chance at being a Head Coach, but I think he will make an extremely good one based on who he has learned from.  First let’s begin with his personal numbers as a Basketball player.

ESPN ranked Patrick the 16th greatest NCAA basketball player of all time.  Ewing decided to attend the John Thompson lead Georgetown Hoyas in 1981 and brought them to 3 National Championship games and earned 1 National Title.  The NBA then decided to initiate a new “draft lottery” that would prevent teams from throwing games at the end of seasons to gain a better draft pick.  It is said that Ewing was the reason this was implemented due to his ridiculously high value as a player.  My New York Knicks won the first NBA draft lottery and selected the future Hall of Fame Center with a lot of hope.  Even in an injury plagued rookie season, Patrick still went on to win the Rookie of the Year while averaging outstanding numbers of 20 ppg, 9 rpg, and 2 bpg.  He quickly became known as a premier Center in the NBA and was soon showered with all types of honors.  With crazy rebounding skills and an uncanny ability to block shots, Patrick Ewing made the NBA All-Star team a remarkable 11 times.  Ewing was also selected to represent America in the Olympics as a member of the original 1992 Dream Team where he brought home the Olympic Gold.  At the end of his storied career, Ewing was picked as one of the 50 greatest NBA players of all time and had his #33 jersey retired by the Knicks.  The one thing that always eluded Patrick Ewing was that so-close-but-so-far NBA Title.

After being coached by the likes of Pat Riley, Don Nelson, Jeff Van Gundy (Stan’s brother) and many more, Patrick Ewing has definitely paid his dues.  Ewing took it on himself to help train and develop the best Center in the NBA today, Dwight Howard.  Ewing’s tutelage was the key factor in the Magic’s run to the NBA Finals in 2009 against the LA Lakers.  His defensive coaching style helped Dwight break the record for blocks in a playoff game (9) that Patrick himself once set (8) in the 1994 Finals against the Houston Rockets.  There are so many coaches that have worked with Patrick that say he can be a Head Coach in this league, and a good one at that.  Yet, even with all of these positive accolades, Patrick still has not been able to get the opportunity he wants.  This past off-season, Patrick got his first Head Coaching interview with the Detroit Pistons but the job was given to the past New Jersey Nets coach Lawrence Frank.  With how Detroit is playing this season that might have been a blessing in disguise.  Before Wednesdays massacre of the Knicks over the Magic, Patrick went on to say this about the idea of being the Knicks head coach, “I played here. I know the ins and outs of New York, the media, the fans.”

As a huge Patrick Ewing fan, I would love to see him have this opportunity; assuming Mike Woodson’s current success comes back to reality and his contract doesn’t get renewed.  Whether his opportunity comes from the Knicks or one of the many currently dismal NBA teams, Patrick deserves a chance to be a head coach.  I want to see it.  Do you think he deserves a chance?  If so, where should he go?


Who is your preseason pick to win it all this season in Major League Baseball?


Buy me some Sushi and Cracker Jacks!

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J-Pop Crazy Funtime Baseball Now!

Play Ball?  Once again MLB executives prove that they might be the stupidest front office in all professional sports.  Major League Baseball kicked off its 2012 season at 6:10 a.m. Eastern time, featuring a match-up of the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners in a game that was played in Tokyo, Japan. Brilliant Idea Guys!  Lets start off the season by featuring a game that takes place between 3 in the morning and 6 in the morning for our American citizens.  Also, lets not tell anyone about it!  I didn’t read anything in the papers about it, didn’t really see it mentioned on television, nor did any of the many baseball fans I chat with have anything to say about it!  Remember when Baseball was the National Pastime?

The NFL kicks off its regular season in a prime time spot on NBC, featuring the defending champs and another contender.  They announced yesterday that the Giants and Cowboys would kick off the regular season this year.  Look at the contrast there!  Giants vs. Cowboys at 8:00 p.m, or Athletics and Mariners at 6:10 a.m.  In that marketing decision alone, it is abundantly clear to see how the NFL has risen to the top of the American sports world, while MLB has been steadily declining.

Anyone know the final score of the Yakult Swallows / Hiroshima Carp game?

I’ve tried to defend baseballs decision making over the years.  I think baseball is the best sport on Earth.  I love the idea of 162 games, a marathon style of a season.  The ups and downs that inevitably take place make the World Series truly something that is earned.  Baseball is everyday, so if my Yankees lose, I don’t have to wait very long until they get back out there.  I feel robbed this year though.  As a huge Yankee fan, and fantasy baseball player, I used to cherish my opening days.  Looked forward to seeing baseball highlights on TV and getting to watch the game I love, the game that symbolizes spring has arrived.  Now I will be excited for the Yanks to open up, and all 30 teams getting underway, but it is still hard to imagine that the 2012 baseball season has begun and I have not had the opportunity to view one pitch yet this year.

THE NFL plays a regular season game in the middle of the year in London.  The NBA had their first regular season games on international soil this past year, as the Nets and Raptors played in Milan, also in the middle of the season.  The NHL opened up in Europe this year, though since most of the NHL fans aren’t American, this is much more acceptable for the NHL. Even so, if MLB is taking their marketing advice from the NHL, they are in a whole lot of trouble regardless.  Send the A’s and Mariners over to Japan later in the year, or have the defending World Series team go abroad to play exhibition games.  There has to be a better solution that the commissioners office can come up with than shipping opening day overseas.  MLB is killing baseball one dumb ass move at a time! Anyone else agree or even care at this point?


Tiger – Out of the Woods?

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Tiger's got his wood back.

This past weekend, Tiger Woods did something that he hasn’t done since he admitted his infidelity…he won a PGA Tour event.  Eldrick Tont Woods, or as we all know him, Tiger, has been on a steady decline from the golden boy he once was in the world’s eyes.  Tiger was once the poster child for everything that was good in sports.  This was a man who graced the cover of Sports Illustrated on a regular basis as well as setting all kinds of records throughout his young career.  He went from the highest paid athlete in the world, (an estimated $91 million earned in 2010), to the largest ongoing joke through multiple media outlets.  It can be argued that Tigers fallout from golf was the biggest tragedy in sports for the past 3 years.  What Tiger has done for Golf since his emergence at the professional level in August 1996, can only be compared to the likes of what Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth and Johnny Unitas did for their respective sports.

Tiger Woods has won 14 professional major golf tournaments in his storied career, which is only second in history behind the great Jack Nicklaus (18).  Tiger’s 72 PGA victories ranks third all time only trailing Sam Snead and Nicklaus.  Woods got his 72nd victory this past weekend at Bay Hill golf course for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.  This was an extremely important win for Tiger because it not only ended the longest win-less streak of his career, (26 starts), but it came two weeks after he had to remove himself from a tournament at Doral due to an Achilles Tendon injury.  After the win Tiger said, “I’ve gotten better, and that’s the main thing, I’ve been close for a number of tournaments now. And it was just a matter of staying the course and staying patient, keep working on fine-tuning what we’re doing. And here we are.”  The other significance comes from the fact that The Masters is just two weeks away.  Winning his 72nd event was important, but Tiger has his eyes set on one record and that is Jacks big number 18.

This past weekends victory puts Tiger back into the top 10, (#6), for the first time since May 22, 2011, and gives him great momentum heading into the Masters.  With 4 wins and 12 top 10 finishes, The Masters is considered Tiger’s best of the 4 majors.  A lot of people argue that Tiger has lost that electrifying spark that he once possessed to help him win 14 majors because he hasn’t won one since the U.S. Open in 2008.  But there are many players that are still fearful of the old Tiger coming back.  “He’s going to be a force at Augusta,” said Ian Poulter, who finished third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.  With a 4th place finish in last years Masters, and all the trials and tribulations he has gone through over the past couple of years, one can only hope that Tiger will reign supreme once again.


Who Will Win the NCAA Title?


A Sorrowful Story

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Joba Chamberlain

Before there was Jeremy Lin, there was Joba Chamberlain.  Joba took New York City by storm unlike many athletes had ever prior.  He came up from the farm system, had a heater in the mid to upper 90’s, a devastating slider that opposing batters couldn’t touch and an amazing following.  It was Linsanity 5 years prior to Jeremy’s rise to fame.  Joba was supposed to take over for Mariano.  He was our closer of the future and it looked like he had nothing but a bright future in pinstripes.  Man, how quickly things change.Since that opening season, Joba has had one unfortunate situation occur to him after another.  it started with a playoff game in Cleveland, in which Joba was on the mound prepared to give the Yankees a 2-1 series lead over the Indians.  Then, all of a sudden, there is a gnat infestation and Joba is covered with insects.  These pests are in his eyes, he is unable to hit his target and get through a key inning, the Yanks lose the game and the series.  We all shrugged, said it was weird and unlucky but I think we were all still hopeful for Joba’s future.

Then the Yankees tried to convert him into a starter.  The Joba rules were in full effect.  They stretched him out, took him down to the minors, brought him back up and put him into the rotation on various pitch and inning counts.  The Yankees scientifically tried to preserve his health.  They thought he would be a valuable lead pitcher in the front of the rotation, and they took extra care of him.  They tampered with his arm and role in every way imaginable. He wasn’t nearly as dominant as a starter, but they kept trying new things to help him.  Eventually, when they had doubts about his durability, Joba headed back to the bullpen.  Only now, it was over a season later and the Yankees never clearly stated what his role would be in the future.

All this tweaking and altering lead to Joba having a plethora of injuries.  He has had back injuries, shoulder injuries, arm injuries and oblique issues.  People questioned his weight and his work ethic.  Last year, when it finally looked like he was putting together his best season since his rookie campaign, he went down in June with more shoulder issues, this time needing Tommy John surgery to repair the damage.  This spring, as he was trying to get back to the big leagues in his rehab, he was playing with his son on a trampoline and fell off.  He dislocated his ankle, had the bone go through the skin which caused a significant loss of blood.  The ankle injury has become infected, which needs to be cleared before they can reset the bone and let any healing of the ankle begin.  It is expected to be a season long injury, which could possibly end his career.

Going into this season, the Yankees were not depending on all that much from Joba, so in the team sense, this injury will not be devastating.  However, it is quite devastating for the player himself.  To have so much promise, to fight back from so many injuries, to enjoy the success he has seen – to now be laying in a hospital with his entire career in doubt must be extremely frightening.  I pray that he recovers quickly, regains his strength and is able to recapture the glory he once realized.  All the Yankee fans who rejoiced when Joba came running onto the scene need to maintain that support for a man who is in great need of it.