Saturday, April 24, 2010

NFL is more fun when teams are trading

Nowdays it seems more NFL teams are doing some wheeling and dealing.I like it.It makes the offseason more fun and interesting when there is news about who might get traded and where.Also there is the fact of which teams can help themselves through trades.In days 2 and 3 of the NFL draft there were a lot more teams trading than there were in the past.The New York Jets,Detroit Lions,and Philadelphia Eagles have been doing more than anyone this offseason.The Jets are trying to win a championship,the Eagles are trying to rebuild on the fly,and the Lions are just trying to improve.The Jets have helped themselves the most up to this point,the Lions haven't done that bad this offseason,further distancing themselves from the Matt Millen "error" er,era,and the Eagles are remaking their team and the jury is still out.There is a lot of NFL offseason left and plenty more moves to be made before next September.

If Blazers stay healthy they could be elite

I'm not saying the Portland Trailblazers are on the cusp of an NBA championship in the next few years.They are on the right track on getting back to where the franchise was a threat during their heyday in the 90s.They are stocked with talent from the starters to the bench.The big problem they have is staying healthy.If they could stay healthy I feel this team could be truly special and become a dominant force in th Western Conference for years to come.Brandon Roy is the unquestioned leader of this team.Lamarcus Aldridge is very solid number two option behind Roy.They still have to shore up the point guard spot,but they are well stocked at small forward and shooting guard.I'm not ready to give up on Greg Oden just yet,but it seems anytime he hits the floor he gets hurt.Listen Blazer fans,Oden wasn't going to be the savior of the franchise and never will be.I also don't think he will be a stiff,which so many "true" NBA centers turn out to be.If he can stay fully healthy, along with some of his teammates,he could be a dominant defensive force,a strong rebounder and if he can convert about 4 or 5 putbacks he could be a very solid player.If this team isn't ravaged by injury,ego,and free agency they could be the next dominant team out West.

Look for Stoudemire to have a monster playoff

Yes,the NBA playoffs have started and its basketball til you fall.The story I'm interested in for this year's is if Phoenix Suns forward Amare Stoudemire has a big postseason.I suspect he will.First,he played exceptionally well after the trade deadline after he found out he wouldn't be traded and could finally concentrate on playing ball.Secondly,he knows if he has a big playoff,it could result in a big payoff. I suspect that he plays with a chip on his shoulder and nearly gets Phoenix to the Western confernce finals,while putting up big numbers.I could be wrong here,but I say he puts this team on his back.If he does he could be laughing all the way to the bank this summer.

My most disappointing moments as a sports fan:The 80s

I know everyone has heard a sports analyst or columnist's worse moments as a fan in sports.I just wanted to give mine in short detail.

1980-Magic's moment against the Sixers.When I first started watching basketball in the late 70s,I couldn't bring myself to be a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers.The first big star I knew was Julius Erving and wanted him and the Sixers to beat the Lakers.When Kareem Abdul Jabbar went down in Game 5,I knew it was a lock that Philly would win the next two games and the championship.42 points,15 rebounds,and 7 assists later,I had my first moment of anguish as a sports fan.

1981- The Sixers gag once again.Holding a 3-1 advantage in the Eastern Conference Finals against the hated Boston Celtics,the Sixers once again let a series slip away.They lost their grip in game 5 and lost the next two in a 4-3 series loss.That's when the everyone started extolling the virtues of one Larry Bird.

The Sugar Ray Leonard/Thomas Hearns fight was another bad moment.Being from nearby Detroit,everyone knew Hearns would take this fight.It wasn't going to be a cakewalk,but me and the fellas felt Hearns knockout power would be too much for Leonard.Hearns use his power to control the early part of the fight,but sometime in the middle rounds the Hearns camp thought that it would be good for him to exhibit his boxing skills.Leonard became the puncher and eventually caught hearns in the 13th,sending him through the ropes.Leonard finished him in the 14th in one of the most epic fights of all time.I always say if the fight went 12 rounds like they do today, Hearns wins by unaminous decision.This is still one of my top 5 disappointing moments,since Hearns would win some big fights,but lost the bigger ones(Hagler,Leonard).

1982-I never was much of a North Carolina.I absolutely hated it when the legend of Michael Jordan kicked in a sank Georgetown in the NCAA championship game.I also hate seeing the highlight of Fred Brown inadvertently passing the ball to James Worthy in the game's closing seconds.

1983-In college this was the year of the upset.I used to be a Nebraska football fan.Not now,for different reasons,but that may come later.The Cornhuskers,were supposed to roll through the underdog Miami Hurricanes.How wrong was I and everyone else that picked the Huskers to win.The upstart Hurricanes ambushed Nebraska early and held on for a 31-30 victory.Nebraska coach Tom Osborne could've won the national championship by kicking the extra point but went for two for the win.In hindsight,I would've went for the win myself,even though I was disappointed about the outcome.

Later that year the Houston Cougars dunked their way to the NCAA finals.After dispatching Louisville in the semifinals 94-81,in one of the greatest Final Four games played,they also were heavy favorites,going against the unheralded North Carolina State Wolfpack.Before the Louisville game,the familiar phrase of the winner of this game probably wins the national championship.The Pack neutralized the Cougars and slowed the game down.Houston took an eight point lead midway through the second half and legendary coach Guy Lewis decided to take his foot off the gas.Well,that failed and N.C. State's Lorenzo Charles dunked home a Dereck Whittenburg airball for a 54-52 win.

1984-I realized I hated the Celtics more than the Lakers.They met in the NBA finals that year with the Celtics taking the series 4-3.Bird finally gets over on Magic.Not too much to say about it other than I hate the Celtics and still do.

1985-Georgetown loses to Villanova.This was called the biggest upset in NCAA history.I disagree with that assessment.Villanova was a legit NCAA team,but they were aided by the fact that there was no shot clock back then.I can recall plenty of times in the tournament when they passed the ball around,took a shot,missed,got the rebound,and passed it back up top to Gary McLain,who then held the ball and barked out Peyton Manning like play calls.Pretty flukey,just as much as N.C.State's championship.

My favorite baseball team,next to the Detroit Tigers,the St. Louis Cardinals,were robbed of the 1985 World Series.True,they blew a 3-1 series lead to the Kansas City Royals,but they seemingly won game 6.At least that's what the Cardinals thought.Jorge Orta hit a slow roller to first baseman Jack Clark who tossed it to the ball to closer Todd Worrell.Orta, who was clearly out by a step,ok,half a step,was called safe by umpire Don Denkinger.The Cardinals unraveled by making mistakes that cost them that game and were blown out in game 7 11-0.

Another bad moment.Michigan lost a close, hard fought game to Iowa 12-10.I've always hated seeing Iowa's Rob Houghtlin and his giant shoulder pads nailing that last second field goal, which probably cost Michigan a share of the national championship.

1986-The moment when time stood still.Michigan State was a number 5 seed in the NCAA tournament's Midwest region.That also meant if they had any chance of making a deep run it was going to have to make it through Kansas City and the Kansas Jayhawks,who were the "home" team.The Spartans,led by Scott Skiles,had the Jayhawks on the ropes,until the clock operator started with his hijinks.Somewhere late in the second half,with Kansas behind,didn't start the clock for a good 6-10 seconds.Alas,the game went into overtime as the Spartans fell 96-86.

Elway's drive.Never much of a Denver Broncos fan,I didn't find it enjoyable to see John Elway march his team 98 yards to a game tying touchdown against the Cleveland Browns.The Broncos won in overtime,where they were blown out by the New York Giants.

1987-Indiana's entire run in the 1987 NCAA tournament.Indiana is one of my least college basketball teams,next to Duke.So inmagine what anguish I had to go through seeing Indiana make their championship run.There were a few times where it seemed that they were on their way to being eliminated,only to have the game turn on a Bob Knight tantrum.Like the second round game against Auburn,and the Midwest reigonal final against LSU.I thought they had finally met their match when they played Jerry Tarkanian's UNLV squad.Somehow,they were beat at their own game,run and gun,as bit players such as Joel Hillman came through with some clutch plays to sink the Runnin Rebels.I don't need to say more about the championship game,except Keith "bleepin" Smart.

"The fumble game".Once again the Cleveland Browns were snakebit against the Denver Broncos in the AFC championsip game.This time was particularly disturbing.The Browns,playing from behind all game,seemed to be going in for a game tying score.Earnest Byner,was going in for a touchdown that would've tied the game.Byner was stripped by Denver's Jeremiah Castille.The play was known as "the fumble" and Byner was made as the goat.Never mind the fact that without him they wouldn't have been in the position to even be in the game.

1987 ALCS.The Detroit Tigers rallied from six games down to win the division over the Toronto Blue Jays.Next up was the ALCS against the Minnesota Twins.A series that was definitely winnable.On paper.The Twins won a weak AL West division with 87 wins.The Twins took it to the Tigers,winning the first two games at the friendly Metrodome.The Tigers came back home to take game 3,which led to a back and forth game 4.That was until Darrell Evans was picked off third base to snuff out a Tigers rally and pretty much end their season.

The green ghosts in Boston haunt the Pistons.Everyone that knows sports knows what I'm talking about here.The 1987 Eastern Conference Finals.The Celtics and Pistons waged a seven game battle that turned on two plays.People in the Detroit area know which two I'm referring to.Game 5 was an instant classic win or lose.There was Robert Parish layin the smackdown on Bill Laimbeer in plain view of everyone except the referee's.and there was "the steal".The Pistons had the game won,with about 5 seconds left.,with Isiah Thomas set to inbound the ball to Bill Laimbeer.Thomas passed the ball,which was stolen by Larry Bird,who quickly whipped a pass to Dennis Johnson for the winning layup.The question about that was,why was Thomas inbounding the ball.Detroit rallied to win game 6,to set up a winner take all game 7.This was another nip and tuck affair and the game turned when Vinnie Johnson and Adrian Dantley butted heads diving for a loose ball,knocking out Dantley for the remainder of the game.Even in the end there was controversy when Dennis Rodman said that the only reason Larry Bird was considered a great playerwas because he was white.Isiah Thomas echoed that sentiment by saying that if Bird was black he would be just 'another good guy'.This series was truly epic.

The Marvelous one gets robbed in Vegas.To me Marvin Hagler deserved a draw, at the least,against Sugar Ray Leonard.I understand that Leonard showed more ring generalship than Hagler and that he threw more punches.But you shouldn't score punches when they're hitting arms and gloves.Hagler was exposed for nothing more than a brawler,but you can't say a person won a fight because he had some timed flurries.Hagler, who was clearly disappointed,retired and never fought again,moved to Italy and became a star in action movies.

1988-Michigan's first two games to start the football season.Even though they won the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl,this could've been put in the what if category.You see,Michigan lost a heartbreaker in the opener to Notre Dame,straight from the toe of Reggie Ho.No disrespect,but there's not too many Asians i know named Reggie.They returned home to play the mighty Miami Hurricanes.I remember this game,because I was washing dishes at a Big Boy restaurant and when I got home Michigan was up 30-14.Then came the fourth quarter.No pun intended,but the Hurricanes came storming back to take a 31-30 decision.A moment I remember was late in the game when a pass that was thought to be completed to receiver Chris Calloway.That was until Miami coach Jimmy Johnson ran over there motioning to say that Calloway was juggling the ball as he went out of bounds,with his hands moving up and down.This was another blown opportunity for another possible national championship.

Hershiser tames the A's-I remember my grandfather(R.I.P.) telling me good pitching will beat good hitting,long before I heard any commentator say that.This proved to be true as the Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staff shut down the Oakland A's big bats.This was after I told my grandfather that Oakland would take this series in a rout.In my opinion what turned this series,was the Kirk Gibson homer off Dennis Eckersley to win game 1.Then Orel Hershiser shut down the A's with his record scoreless streak.I remember after game 5,my grandfather called me that night laughing in my ear.He kinda sounded like Barney Rubble.I still remember the call.

Choke-lahoma.Oklahoma rolled into the Final Four as the favorites to win it all.Back then I was a big time Oklahoma fan and swore by the Sooners.Everyone in my school knew it,since I came to classes decked in Oklahoma gear.This also was the first time I participated in a NCAA tournament pool.I seemed to have first place locked up,when I saw Oklahoma was playing Kansas in the finals.What made me particular bitter in this instance was while watching the game my brother made the switch from Sooner fan to Jayhawk fan by halftime.And when the immortal Scooter Barry made the game clinching free throws to give Danny and the Miracles the title,I was absolutely sick.I didn't want to go to school the next day because I knew I would hear it for the rest of the school year.

 A phantom foul and Isiah's bum ankle.Everyone figured the Los Angeles Lakers would make quick work of the Detroit Pistons in the 1988 NBA Finals.No one sent the Pistons the memo.The Pistons came out hard and fast as Adrian Dantley paced them to a game 1 win with 34 points and taking the home court with a 105-93 win. L.A. evened the series going back to Detroit tied 1-1.That's when things got physical.Magic and Isiah nearly coming to blows and the Pistons with their physical brand of defense.The Lakers took game 3 with a 99-86 win and Detroit came back to win the next two,going back to L.A. with a 3-2 lead.Game 6 was a classic game showcasing a team hungry to win their first title and the veterans with their back to the wall,looking to hold off the challengers.In the third quarter the Lakers led 56-48 before Isiah Thomas went on one of the most classic one man runs in NBA history.He scored the games next 14 points and 25 in the third. But one play turned the game and the series.When Thomas stepped on Michael Cooper's foot and rolled his ankle.Late in the game, a phantom foul was called on Bill Laimbeer, despite replays showing there was no visible contact on the play.Kareem Abdul Jabbar sank two free throws,Joe Dumars misses a mid range shot and on to game 7 we go.The foul call was worse than Charles White's phantom touchdown in the 1979 Rose Bowl.Us Michiganders can't get a fair shake in California.Thomas tried to give it a go as he hobbled around in warmups.He did put up 10 points in the first half as the Pistons jumped to 52-47 halftime lead.He wasn't the same and the Lakers seized the oppurtunity by going on one of their patented runs that put them up by 15 in the fourth.Pistons coach Chuck Daly knew he had o do something and switched to a quicker lineup featuring Dumars,Vinnie Johnson,Dennis Rodman and John Salley.The Pistons took the momentum from the Lakers and went on a major run,eventually cutting the lead to two.They did have a chance to tie or take the lead,but Rodman forced an ill advised,long range jumper and the Lakers went up by 5.Detroit cut it to one,but A.C. Green scored on a layup that pushed it to 3 with about 4 seconds showing.Magic Johnson starts, celebrating as Thomas got the ball at halfcourt,Magic knocks him down,fans start rushing the court with 2 seconds on the clock and Thomas was unable to get off a shot.No foul called and the refs ignored the fact that fans were on the court before the game ended.This disappointment ranks right up there with the Leonard/Hearns fight in '81.

Notre Dame,which is the Duke of basketball to me wins the national championship in football.Enough said.

1989-Not too much went on this year,as '89 turned out to be a pretty good year.Except for Notre Dame dashing Colorado's hopes for a national championship in the Orange Bowl.I swear Colorado running back Eric Bieniemy was shaving points,as he had two early game fumbles when he was basically untouched.I couldn't stand watching that game.

Those are my personal worst moments in sports from the 1980s

Friday, April 16, 2010

30 for 30 specials I'd like to see

The Network,otherwise known as ESPN,has a good thing going with the 30 for 30 productions. The independently made short films gives the viewer a behind the scenes look at some of the events that,how do I say this,changed sports or had an effect on society in some way.The inside stories on subjects such as the USFL,the Holmes-Ali fight,Len Bias' overdose,Allen Iverson's role in the bowling alley brawl,and my personal favorite ,"The U",about the University of Miami Hurricanes rise to college football dominance.Even though there are more episodes in the works,here's some I would like to see.

Jerry Tarkanian and his reign at UNLV-This one would be right up there with "The U".Tarkanian and his teams were known for there outlaw image,but won a lot of games.It could also chronicle his never ending fight with the NCAA.I would want to know the truth behind the Duke loss,which many seem to think was thrown.

The fall of Michigan basketball-This could be a mini series alone.Michigan was prominent in basketball circles from the early 80s with Bill Frieder as coach,until the infamous 1996 rollover that got the NCAA involved with what was really going on in Ann Arbor.People with inside information knew Ed Martin had been inside the program since the 80s.This could cover the Frieder era,Steve Fisher and the Fab Five,the rollover and subsequent fall of the Michigan basketball program.

Don Denkinger's blown call-I would like to know what Denkinger thought he saw when he called Jorge Orta safe and pretty much cost the St. Louis Cardinals the 1985 World Series.

Anything on how Ralph Sampson's career fell like a house of cards-Sampson looked like he was gonna be a Hall of Famer early on,then the bottom fell out on his NBA career.

The Kentucky basketball scandal-The infamous Fed Ex envolope sent to Chris Mills' dad and how Kentucky was caught with their hand in the cookie jar.Hell,they took it and ran out the back door.Eddie Sutton was a good coach and had a great career,but everyone acts as if the guy was completely honest.

The ressurection of Kentucky basketball-As quickly as the Wildcats fell on hard times,Rick Pitino revived it.

Behind the scenes of the best years of Minnesota basketball-It seems the Golden Gophers aren't good unless they're cheating.Look how the Jim Dutcher and Clem Haskins era's ended.On probation.

Michael Jordan's 63 point tea party-I would like to know the level of trash talk that went on during that game.

The brutal fight between Nigel Benn and Gerald McClellan-To me, a story that must be told.A highly entertaining fight,that was very brutal.Benn suvived this war,but McClellan was lucky to just survive.McClellan went into a coma for 11 days and the end result from this fight was permanent brain damage. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cap room doesn't guarantee free agents will come

Going into the NBA offseason there will be plenty of big name free agents to go after.This will be known as the summer of Lebron,but there is more than him to go after.Chris Bosh,Dwayne Wade,Joe Johnson,Amare Stoudemire will also be available.There are teams that have cleared out cap space in hopes of landing one or maybe two big names on the market.However,that doesn't guarantee that the free agents will come just because the money's there.Ask the Chicago Bulls,who thought after the big three of Jordan,Pippen,and Rodman left that they would be able to rebuild quickly.They didn't and are now just starting to become relevant again.My thought is that Bosh and Wade both want to win and will end up playing with each other.Or that Bosh will wind up wherever Lebron or Wade are playing at.Knicks,Bulls,Clippers,Kings,and Wizards fans shouldn't get there hopes up this free agency period.Strangely,Clippers owner Donald Sterling says he wants to win now.That remains to be seen.With the playoffs looming,free agency and the NBA draft,it's shaping up to be an interesting summer. 

NCAA is hypocritical with possible expansion

With the possible expansion to 96 teams in the NCAA tournament,it seems hypocritical that the NCAA would do this,but won't consider a college football playoff system.Just like the current system in college football,an expansion would allow the rich to get richer in college basketball.Just like how the NCAA allows the BCS conferences(Big Ten,Big 12,ACC,Big East,Pac-10,SEC) to get the lion's share of the money when it comes to the postseason,allowing 96 teams in the NCAA tournament would do the same.It wouldn't allow a mid major such as this year's Butler team to advance to the Final Four.Come on.Do you really think a team from a conference such as the Horizon or Summit league would get a high seed and a bye in the tournament,no matter how their regular season resume looks.You would get more mediocre teams from the BCS conferences getting in.True,there may be some deserving teams that get snubbed,but do we really need to see teams from power conferences with 17 or 18 wins getting into the tournament.Its nothing more than giving a larger slice of the pie to the bigger conferences.You may see a team that goes 24-6 and misses the tournament for a team that goes 17-14.Coaches would also be rewarded for mediocrity,just like a coach going 6-6 in football."Hey,you made the tournament so we won't fire you!"
  The way the tournament is set up is fine as it is.If you expand it,mybe a few teams here and there.MAYBE.There's no day like Selection Sunday and the first weekend of the tournament.Don't dilute it by putting unworthy teams in the big dance.

Duke won,but I still can't stand them

Yes,Duke is the king of college basketball once again.True,they won,but some of the favorites were knocked off on their way to the top.Thing is,I still can't stand them.I can't bring myself to root for them even if there was a gun to my head.Well,maybe I could in a few extreme cases.This is not a jump on the bandwagon kind of hate.It's been a lifelong deal for me.
  Way back,when I first started watching college basketball,I didn't know too much about them,but the only teams I knew in the ACC were North Carolina,Virginia,and Maryland.Didn't hear much of Duke,so I never cared much for them.Therefore,I didn't like them.As time went on my dislike for grew worse.Then came the 1986 NCAA tournament.A historical favorite to this day,Louisville made the finals.Duke was their opponent in that game.It was that tournament that made me realize I really didn't like Duke.I wanted every team tey played to beat them,no matter the odds.Duke lost,72-69, and I was so full of glee when it happened.I will admit that in next year's tournament,when they played Indiana,another team I'm not fond of,I pulled for them to win that game.Over time,they've been portrayed as the good guys of college basketball.I liken them more to the preppies that happen to be good,beat you and remind you of it for years on end.You know,players that inner city kids can't stand and want to choke the life out of.
  They always seem to be overrated.No matter who is on that team,they will get a top 10 ranking at the start of the year.Even in the Cherokee Parks days they were getting the rankings until the team tanked.When tourney time rolls around,it seems they never garner anything lower than a 3 seed.I know they've been seeded lower than that,but they're always the favorite going into their opening round game.The coach Mike Krzyzewski,is portrayed as the patron saint of college basketball,taking that mantle from Dean Smith,even though he is one of the most foul mouthed coaches around.He gets his four and five star preppie recruits from the suburban areas around the doubt these kids can ball,but I can't stand them since they're at Duke.I like Nolan Smith,but since he plays for Duke,I really can't bring myself to pull for the kid. This golden boy Duke image has really kicked in around 1991,when they took down big,bad,UNLV.UNLV at that point was like the Miami of college basketball.You know,too much swag for the game.Also,with the ultimate rebel as coach Jerry Tarkanian,everyone always thought there was something slimy about the Runnin Rebels.To this day ask anyone,they will tell you that UNLV threw that game.It was a gift.The Rebels crushed Duke the year before by 30,with basically the same teams coming back.Duke was thought of as the good guys in that game.The cowboys with the white hats.The year after,they repeated beating an upstart Kentucky team recovering from probation in one of the most epic games in NCAA tournament history,on a Christian Laettner buzzer beater.Thing is Laettner shouldn't have even been in the game.Raeson:for stomping on Kentucky's Aminu Timberlake's chest.Years down the road I saw that happen with Houston's Aubrey Coleman,and he was kicked out against Arizona.Then they beat my home team Michigan in the finals.Michigan had the Fab Five and to some represented everything that was wrong with college basketball,while Duke was everything that was right about it.On top of all this we have to hear Duke,er,Dick Vitale singing their praises every time he gets in front of a camera.I know there are some people who like them,and will disagree with me.There are some that have different reasons.But in the end,I will give them credit for winning another National Championship,but I simply cannot ever be a fan of Duke basketball.
Maybe this is why I realized I could never become a sports broadcaster.

Does Gerhart's stock go down because he's white?

With the NFL Draft approaching,there will be some players whose stock rises and some that slip.We've all seen it.One reason or another a player will be downgraded (lack of speed or low 40 times,character and drug issues,type of competition he faced in college,etc.).Randy Moss slipped because of character issues.Warren Sapp slipped because of alledged marijuana use.Jerry Rice was supposedly too slow despite the monster numbers he put up at Mississippi Valley State.There are too many too name.
  This year the player most likely to suffer:Stanford running back Toby Gerhart.Gerhart,who finished second in the Heisman voting behind Mark Ingram,will likely be taken in the second or third round.More likely the third.He had a good college career,but I think his stock suffers for a different reason.He's white.Yes it seems cold that I say this and I've heard it elsewhere.Some aren't sold on the prospect of a white running back.True,his 40 times aren't anything legends are made of(4.53) and the NFL is a much faster game than college.But the guy can play.Sometimes football speed is much different than track speed.If it weren't,Usain Bolt would be playing in the NFL.If you don't believe in Gerhart,look at the USC game tape and see what he did against that defense full of future NFLers.He didin't finish second in the Heisman voting for lifetime achievements.He got there because he can play the game.I know there aren't many white skill position players,but he should get a chance to prove he belongs,rather than going with the prevailing thought that he's too slow to play the position.I think someone will try to make him a tight end instead of giving him a fair shot to prove he can be an adequate running back.
  In the world of sports scouting,too much is made of how fast a guy can run,how high he can jump,or how many reps they can do on the bench press.No one measures a man's heart or whether he can flat out play the game.In this case it seems that the color of his skin may have something to do with how they look at his playing ability.Maybe Gerhart won't be as good as his Stanford days,maybe he'll be better.Just give him a chance to excel.He might prove some of these scouts wrong.