Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Death of the Adverb, and Other Sports Casual-ties


There's something missing in sports these days. It isn't an overwhelming sense of entitlement in the NBA. It isn't a series of hilariously exorbitant contracts in baseball. And it certainly isn't a string of Cincinnati Bengals arrests.

No, what's absent from the current sporting world isn't on the field, court or ice; it isn't in the front office; it isn't in the character or demeanor of the athletes playing the game.

What's currently lost in the sports scene isor perhaps more accurately, isn'ton the television in your own home.

Eloquence. Insight. Meaningful observation of any kind.

It's a crisis of color commentary, both in the booth during games and in the studio all day long.

The cause is simple. Precipitated by ESPNas all sports media trends are these daysthe problem stems from an utterly befuddling new system of hiring. It isn't about who the network is choosing to put on air; although let's be seriousit's not as if the cast of NFL Countdown will someday be able to string together a handful of coherent thoughts. Instead, the issue is the immediacy with which the network chooses to move ex-players and ex-coaches in front of the camera.

I mean, what ever happened to spending a year or two at an afterthought of an RSN to hone one's skills before making the move to the national sports scene?

Take, for example, former Red Sox manager and current ESPN Sunday Night Baseball color commentator Terry Francona. I've got nothing against the guy. He isn't the best there is on the air, but I have seen worse. (Read as: but I have seen worse on every FOX Sports broadcast ever). 

The problemfrom a sports perspective, at leastwith the influx of raw commentators like Francona and many others is that there's no confort level. Instead of offering deeper insight into the game, which presumably a Trent Dilfer or a Bruce Bowen would have after player professionally for so many years, they "play it safe" and revert to the same trite sports cliches that your creepy high school coach used to try to motivate you when you played a Tuesday afternoon game against East Whocaresville High School in front of a crowd of 12 parents.

"It's going to come down to whoever wants it more." Or, "It's all about fundamentals." Or, "All it takes is one guy coming up in the clutch."

Stop me when you've heard this [on ESPN] before.

It would be bad enough if the deteriorating state of color commentary was only hurting the sports world, but to make matters worse, it's bleeding out and threatening the English language. The first casualty: the adverb.

Next time you watch anything on ESPN, you'll notice. How could you not? There are so many actions to be described in sports and each, it seems, is chronicled rather poorly. But the real shock is that the death of the adverb is no longer solely a sports phenomenon. It has since extended into nearly all types of news and broadcasting. Go ahead and sit through a half hour news presentation, and you'll see what I mean. What's happened to the adverb is just the first casualty in America's apparent war on eloquence. 

Maybe it doesn't bother you; it is, after all, a matter of taste. Perhaps I'm the pretentious asshole in this scenario, and if that's the case, so be it. But shouldn't it be a problem that the media industrya sector of the business world whose primary responsibility is the telling of storiescould have such blatant disregard for the words with which they communicate those events?

If I had the choice to watch a game with commentators or with field noise, there's a short list of broadcasters whose voices would populate the speakers in my living room. And given the enormous potential for analysts to shape the enjoyment of a broadcast, that truly is a shame.

When words get in the way, why have them at all?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Where would we be without Tim Duncan?



Did you know that Tim Duncan is the best player since Michael Jordan? Better than Kobe. Better than LeBron. Better than KG, Steve Nash, Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki, James Harden's beard, Darko Milicic, and J.R. Smith on one of his good days.

Did you know that Tim Duncan won a championship in 2003 with Tony Parker in his 2nd year, Ginobili as a rookie, Stephen Jackson as the 2nd best player, David Robinson in his final year, Bruce Bowen, Steve Kerr, and...well...that's pretty much it. Danny Ferry played big minutes for this team. How did this happen?

Did you know that Tim Duncan averaged 21 and 12 and 2.5 blocks and made first team All-NBA in his rookie year? He went on to make the first team All-NBA his first 8 years in the league, 13 1st or 2nd team All-Defensive team, every all star game, and won 2 NBA MVPs.

Oh, and he won 4 championships.

Should've been 5.

So why does nobody know and, more importantly, nobody care?

Because Tim Duncan is the most boring athlete alive. Possibly ever. And he's held the NBA back for too long.

What would have happened if Tim Duncan never picked up a basketball?
  1. Keith Van Horn would have been picked number 1 by the Spurs, and we would never have had to watch a team win a championship while averaging 80 points a game.
  2. Poppovich would be coaching in a big market, like New York. Combine the best coach with the best market, and you get the best talent. Everyone loves a dream team.
  3. Chauney Billups would have been drafted 2nd by the 76ers, who would have been the perfect backcourt mate to Allen Iverson. And we all know that the NBA can never have enough Allen Iverson.
  4. Allen Iverson never lets Chauncey shoot, so Chauncey never becomes "Mr. Big Shot" and we never have to listen to that stupid nickname aver again.
  5. The Detroit Pistons never happen, meaning teams don't try to copy them by only focusing on defense.
  6. Kobe would have 6 championships, making the Kobe-MJ debate really legit.
  7. Jason Kidd gets a championship with the Nets, encouraging teams to play at a faster pace.
  8. Faster pace means more points, more 3-pointers, and more dunks.
  9. More dunks means more fans.
  10. More fans means the NBA would have already expanded into Europe.
  11. More fans in Europe means more European players choose to play basketball instead of soccer.
  12. Basketball becomes the greatest sport in the world.
We'll never know how great the NBA could have been without the "Big Fundamental." But we do know that there's a reason people youtube "crazy dunks" instead of "basketball fundamentals."

Why Baltimore Orioles Fans Hate The Law Of Large Numbers



After April...


...After September.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

David Stern: Letters To Himself


May 1, 2012

Dear David,

Our quest to destroy the National Basketball Association has entered a new phase. It has been a long, arduous journey, but the end is in sight. You must stay the course.

Remember why you do this, David: ever since you realized that you were too short to actually play basketball, you knew the league that you helped to build must be destroyed. It wouldn't be easy, but it would be worth it. Someday, all NBA broadcasts will be replaced by three-hour slide shows of your face, and your hard work will pay off.

First, we tried over-expansion. It was a good idea, David. Who would have thought that Charlotte, Minnesota, Toronto, and Orlando all would have been able to support a team enough to keep the league out of bankruptcy? Too bad no one bought into that whole Europe idea. That would have worked in a hurry.

Then we tried lockouts. You were so close at the beginning of the year. Who knew it could be so simple, getting a bunch of rich people to fight over a giant pile of money none of them need? You did David, that's who. And you would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids. Only one season without the NBA, and America would have realized how much more fun it is to watch college basketball.

Now, Operation Destruction Of The Star System is successfully under way. Good job tricking Derrick Rose into actually working hard. No one who wants to stay healthy does that. And putting that fire extinguisher case in Amar'e's line of sight? Too easy.

There are only a few more pieces left in your plan. Make sure the Heat win the title this year. LeBron's big head is one ego trip away from a career-ending brain hemorrhage. You can let Father Time take care of Kevin Garnett, and it seems like simply a matter of weeks until Metta World Peace completely snaps and eats Kobe Bryant.

Once you've finished exacting your revenge, don't forget to call Dick Cheney before he dies, so the two of you can go ahead with your schoolboy dreams of taking over the world. And remember, David: you are a beautiful man, no matter what those jerks on the interweb say.


Love always,

David
XOXO

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bobby Petrino: Different Story, Same Ending


At first glance, Bobby "motherf***ing" Petrino (or BMFP) became what every man dreams of becoming. Dominant head football coach, drives a motorcycle, and hooks up with hot chicks.

$20,000 and 9 days later, maybe we wouldn't want to be him after all. Here's three things we've learned through this process.

Bobby Petrino isn't exactly a nice guy
First, he tried to steal the head coaching job at Auburn from Tommy Tuberville, the same guy who hired him as his Offensive Coordinator just a few years before. Then, he quits on the Atlanta Falcons halfway through the season, leaves them a note telling them he's leaving, and heads to the University of Arkansas. Now, he's fired for lying to his boss, manipulating the system, and spending a little bit too much time with a girl 30 years younger than him. Some wonder whether he would have gone on to win a championship had he stayed at Arkansas, but it always seems that a lack of character ends up catching up with most in sports.

Winning is most important, but not the only thing
This might be a strange thing to say, since Bobby got fired, but anyone who followed the situation closely knows that the decision was essentially a coin-flip throughout the entire process. I still think it could have gone either way. The case against Bobby? He lied to his boss, embarrassed the university, and hired his mistress. The case for Bobby? He won 21 games the past two years. That's it. Looking back, this should have been an easy decision, especially from a legal perspective. Two people who are having an inappropriate relationship are working together. One of them definitely had to go. Legally, Bobby should have been the first to go.

Winning 21 games almost saved Bobby, so the question becomes: how much would have been enough? Would Saban have been fired? What about Les Miles? What if Arkansas had beaten LSU on the last game of the season? No one will ever know how many more wins would have tipped the scale in Bobby's favor.

Being a coach keeps getting more difficult
I won't ever condone Bobby's actions or anyone else who was fired for their behavior, but the outcome may have been different 15 years ago. The media was a huge factor in this decision, and Bobby may have been saved if it weren't for the fact that Arkansas would have looked terrible to the rest of the nation. Millions of Americans have skeletons in their closet, and the majority of them can get away with it. Not coaches. Their room for error keeps getting smaller and smaller. Because of that, I doubt we will see many coaches stay with one team for more than 10 or 15 years anymore. There is too much pressure. Too much information. Too many land mines. There is no excuse for a coach abusing his power, but the coaches who follow every rule to the T and still win are few and far between.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Olympic Countdown: 109 Days


Are you as excited for the 2012 Summer Olympics as I am? You aren't if you're Iranian and easily offended. But for the rest of us, it's time to start counting the days down. Only 109 to go, according to this fancy countdown clock. You can also keep an eye on the the 2018 Pyeongchang games if you just can't get enough of countdowns, clocks, and all things Pyeongchang.

In honor of my second favorite quadrennial sporting spectacle, here's a 2008 video of people's life-long hopes and dreams being shattered in Beijing. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Indianapolis Colts: On the Clock


"With the first pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select........Anthony Davis!"

I've seen enough. Anthony Davis' stock has soared too high for him to be the #1 pick of the NBA draft. The NFL's draft comes first, and here's 10 reasons why the Colts won't let him pass.

10) He was 6'1" as a sophomore in high school. He's now 6'10". At this pace, the Colts will have the greatest field goal blocking unit in history

9) The unibrow is coming back in style

8) At 6'10" with a 7'4" wingspan, even Curtis Painter won't be able to throw it out of his reach

7) Need him to block? He can do that too

6) You don't need a quarterback to win anymore

5) Kentucky and Indiana are pretty much the same place. You won't have to worry about him leaving for a better city anytime soon

4) He would be unstoppable in Madden

3) Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, and Jimmy Graham all sucked at basketball. Just think if the NFL got a power forward who was actually good

2) Which would score more points: The 2011 Indianapolis Colts offense or an offense that throws a hail mary to Anthony Davis on every single play?

1) The Colts want to jinx Kentucky as much as I do

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Less than one month after the U.S. Men's National Team beat Italy for the first time ever, the U-23 squad embarrassed American soccer with an epic Olympic qualifying collapse.

If the children are indeed our future, then last night the kids of the US under-23 team gave us a depressing Paycheck-esque glimpse into the next generation of American soccer. The national team followed up a shocking 2-0 loss to Canada with a 3-3 tie in a "win or go home" game against El Salvador. As a result, USA has failed to qualify for the Summer Olympics for only the second time since 1980.

For U.S. fans, the game itself couldn't have been more heartbreaking. The Americans took an early 1-0 lead, but El Salvador countered with 2 goals in 2 minutes and brought a 1-goal edge into the locker room. After an uninspired 15+ minutes in the second half, the U.S. scored a quick 2 goals of their own. They held the lead until the 95th minute, when a "Hail Mary" shot snuck by keeper Sean Johnson to level the game at 3-3.

So who is to blame for the disappointing draw? Coach Caleb Porter? Absolutely. After a bold victory guarantee, the manager on the USA side might as well have been watching the game through a blindfold. Porter left a visibly injured Bill Hamid in net for not 1 but 2 goals before finally making the switch to the backup. In the second half, Porter made 2 time-wasting substitutions which included the end of captain Freddy Adu's night. A maturing Adu was one of the few bright spots last night, and his presence was missed when it mattered most.

And what about the officials? Do they deserve a share of the blame? Sure. As is the case in most big upsets (and we can certainly call a tie an upset), the center referee's calls were erratic and often incorrect. And of course, there is the issue of the game-tying goal in the 5th minute of 4 minutes of stoppage time...The biggest mistake, however, was a sucker punch (1:55 for the punch) missed by both center and assistant referee that surely should have resulted in an El Salvadorian send off.


But at the of the day, the lion's share of the blame must go to the players themselves. With the exception of the first five minutes, the American squad was outplayed, outworked, and outclassed.  Midfielders couldn't possess the ball, defenders with size advantages couldn't cover opponents on set pieces, and goalies missed 3 balls that were, at the very least, savable.

The most frightening aspect of the CONCACAF disappointment is what it could mean for the future of U.S. soccer. Since its rebirth in the 1990s when America hosted the World Cup and saw the creation of the MLS, national team soccer has been on a gradual upswing. The expectation is that when great players like Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey hang up the cleats for good, the now well-established U.S. Soccer program will have new stars to fill those boots. After last night, however, that assumption must be questioned. Is it possible that United States soccer has hit its zenith, to forever be at best a World Cup round of 16 team and at worst a disappointment?

Exposure in worldwide competitions is extremely important for an American soccer program that continues to fight for both international and domestic viability. Unfortunately, come July, the United States U-23 team will be watching Olympic soccer just like everyone else. That is, everyone who cares enough to tune in.


Friday, March 23, 2012

How to Prevent Another Fab Melo Suspension

Contrary to the opinion of some people (no one specifically), ECON-001 is worth showing up to.

Fab Melo, the Big East defensive player of the year and Syracuse big man, was suspended for the NCAA tournament. Economists have long studied similar market failures: externailities. The externality here is that the efficient quantity of basketball games that Fab Melo plays is undersupplied because the public demand is outside the market decision. There are a number of solutions to solving the problem; unfortunately, none of them were employed this year for due to poor creativity.

Of all the possible methods to combat externalities, institutional provision offers the most attractive solution to the problem. It doesn't make sense to privately supply national defense, so the government does it. Here, Syracuse University could help supply Fab Melo with sufficient grades to allow him to play basketball. The administration, other students, and professors can all play a role here.

Although the administration can't give Fab Melo good grades, they could certainly do more to help him out. The NCAA can set academic requirements for its members, such as a GPA, but it can't tell the school how to determine GPA. Further, it might be time to expand the course listing: brazilian culture, portugese, and staying out of foul trouble. The university should also change from a semester system to a monomester system. You can't get suspended for a poor first semester if there is no first semester.

The other students need to be more aware of how their actions affect the basketball team. If a class is curved and Fab Melo is in it, the better you do, the worse he does. Every student should sign up for a class that Fab Melo is in, fail every assignment and test, and then withdraw after the final before grades are submitted.

More attention to detail from professors could solve the problem on its own. Do you think someone is going to know a subject better if he was in class for it or if he was playing basketball in Connecticut while it was taught? If somone answers a question in class, he probably will still know that answer in two weeks. The professors cold-call specific students, note what they know and what they don't know, and then tailor the test to their strengths.

Although it will take until next school year to implement the monomester, this should give a good first set of measures to prevent another suspension. Syracuse had a very good chance to win the national championship with Fab Melo in their lineup, but that chance decreased significantly after his suspension. The school has a lot to gain by winning a national championship, and a simple cost benefit analysis should lead them to implement all of the suggested changes for next year. 2013 National Champions.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

GM Mickey Loomis: Suspended


If you haven't heard, pretty much everyone on the saints is suspended. Coaches, front office, ball boys, and everyone else.

Included was the suspension of General Manager Mickey Loomis for 8 regular season games. Since this doesn't seem to ever happen, here are 10 possible things that "suspending a GM could mean"

10) With no general manager, the Saints are unable to submit their draft picks during this years NFL Draft. Eventually the clock runs out on every single one of their picks. After the 8th game of the season, the Saints finally make their picks, with the only real question being, who will be Mr. Irrelevent

9) Mickey Loomis isn't allowed to answer his phone till after the 8th game is over. God forbid, someone try to offer a trade from an "unknown" number.

8) The Saints can't trade for Tim Tebow.

7) A record number of undrafted free agents join the saints. None of them are cut.

6) If this means that an "assistant general manager" is put in charge, expect Drew Brees to get traded in September.

5) If this means that "Roger Goodell" is put in charge, expect Drew Brees to get traded in Septemeber, get untraded a few hours later, and then get traded a second time.

4) Aaron Brooks could be signed and starting by week 6.

3) Mickey Loomis is not even allowed to watch a single NFL or college game. That would be considered "scouting."

2) Mickey Loomis will go on vacation for 9 months, and come back just in time for the playoffs, making him wonder if this "bounty" thing was really that bad of an idea after all.

1) The Saints will fire Mickey Loomis.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Manning Madness




Amidst the annual week of unadulterated, unashamed use of bracket terminology, Peyton Manning has allegedly arrived at a "Final Four." His decision, which has been narrowed down to the Denver Broncos, the Tennessee Titans, the Miami Dolphins, and the Arizona Cardinals, is expected to be announced very shortly, perhaps in the next 24 hours.

While the four remaining teams make a lot of sense, the decision process hasn't been easy. Manning's "Elite Eight" had some thrilling, highly contested matchups. Let's take a look at how the Dolphins, Titans, Broncos, and Cardinals emerged from the quarterfinals with victories.

East: Miami Dolphins vs. Washington Redskins
In tennis this matchup would be a walkover; in team sports it would be a forfeit; in Super Smash Brothers it would be a "NO CONTEST." The Washington Redskins took themselves out of the Elite Eight by trading away their 2012 first and second- round picks, their 2013 first-round pick, and their 2014 first-round pick all for the ability to draft RG3. While he's certainly a good player, Washington has too many holes to be a contender and D.C. might be in for another John Wall-esque train wreck, where one great player leads one terrible team to many, many awful seasons. Miami, which has several of the same issues (especially now that Brandon Marshall is gone), advances to the next round by default. The fact that Peyton may accidentally bump into LeBron James on the street and will almost certainly be invited to Chris Bosh's birthday party could be a liabilities in the Final Four.

South Region: Tennessee Titans vs. SEC Commentator Job
Many football fans were adamant that Peyton would be making a return to his SEC roots in one way or another. One compelling option for Manning would be a color commentary gig for SEC games. While CBS would certainly be glad to add such a famous name to its broadcasting team, the nation would hate to see another awkward love triangle of commentators. For the love of God, what would become of Gary Danielson?? Heading down to the Tennessee Titans lets Peyton get close to his SEC glory days without forcing him to play the role of television homewrecker.

Midwest Region: Denver Broncos vs. Cialis Commercials
Peyton's game last year was, well, impotent. So the opportunity to hang up the jersey for good and return to the throne as King Peyton of the Commercials seemed like an obvious choice. And what better product to work for than Cialis? Even if Manning is broken, he can still perform. Now that's a powerful message. But the allure the Broncos was too great. An opportunity to play for a team that is largely a title contender, save for one enormous flaw, is hard to resist. Denver's defense is solid, but they'll need a quarterback whose game isn't so flaccid if they want to win a Super Bowl.

West Region: Arizona Cardinals vs. Politician
Everyone loves a good athlete-turned-politician. I can't think of a soul in America who wouldn't vote for Peyton, besides all AFC South fans who cheer for teams that aren't the Colts. Besides, I hear running for governor is always in vogue. Manning would be a dynamite politician, but the situation in Arizona is too hard to walk away from. How do you resist going to a team that just, less than one year ago, was acquired via trade for a pro-bowl cornerback and a second-round pick AND signed a $64 million contract with $21 million guaranteed? Who doesn't love ending another guy's career

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Why Allen Iverson Should Join the Rochester Lancers

You would think that the Rochester Lancers tattoo
means that
he already made his decision.


The Rochester Lancers have made a very public offer to Allen Iverson to play indoor soccer. Part of the reason why this has received so much attention is the easy opportunity to make AI puns. I don't have the answer to why every person with a blog or twitter feels this is necessary. Maybe they just need more practice writing.

This offer is extremely embarrassing for Allen. It draws more attention to his debt. He would be a publicity stunt, playing something he has never played before against professionals. If there's one thing that Iverson does, it's do what he wants. Appearance fees are standard, but appearance fees masked as a contract are not.

On the other hand, the team is willing to be extremely accomodating and has offered a significant amount of money. Despite having missed Monster Jam Thunder Nationals in Rochester by over a month, Allen Iverson should accept the contract for the following reasons:

1. The fans are going to love him. Rochester has been starved of a major 4 pro sports team since the Rochester Royals moved to Cincinnati in 1957. The fans recognize when something is worth going to: Strasburg starting at AAA was standing room only.

2. Indoor soccer is all the good parts of soccer without the bad parts. Goodbye, low scoring and limited substitutions. Hello, 2 pointers.

3. He would get to play with Rochester legend Doug Miller. Miller led the Rochester Rhinos to the 1999 US Open Cup title while winning the Open Cup MVP. The Rhinos are the only non-MLS team to win the Open Cup since the MLS began in 1996, defeating 4 MLS teams along the way. Doug Miller is also remembered for his signature move of taking off his shirt after scoring. Later on, he had to wear a pinny underneath to avoid being carded. Stevie Johnson attempted to honor Doug Miller this season by lifting up his jersey to reveal, "Happy New Year." Stevie recieved a 15 yard penalty for it.

4. He gets to live in Rochester. Unlike Buffalo, Rochester has nice hotels that the team will put him up in. Unlike Turkey, Rochester is in America. Garbage plates. Genny Light. American history. Birthplace of amateur photography. You're welcome.

5. The Lancers are a storied franchise. They won the NASL championship in 1970 before the New York Cosmos began a spending spree, signing Pele and Franz Beckenbauer among others, that led to the league's demise. Through a series of league mergers and realignment, the Rochester Lancers have seemlessly transitioned to indoor soccer.

6. The playoffs are starting next week. He's not even going to play.

7. Chad Ochocinco would pay for this type of publicity. No experience? No problem. Danger? Bring it on.

8. This would be a laugh with him, not laugh at him situation. Everyone knows that he needs the money and it's unfortunate that he has to resort to consider playing made-up sports that he's never played before. However, everyone wants to see him succeed. It's like when Billy Crystal pinch hit for the Yankees in Spring Training. A 60 year old Billy Crystal cannot compete against the best baseball players in the world, but everyone wanted to see him get a hit.

AI probably passes up the offer and no one talks about this offer again. However, if he sucks up his pride and accepts it, Rochester will support him like a 4 time NBA scoring champion doing something new, not a past-his-prime athlete trying to chip away at his debt.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Linsane


I love Jeremy Lin as much as the next guy (although it still upsets me that if Chris Paul was a Laker, Jeremy Lin would still be playing for my Houston Rockets) and I don't think this is a fluke. Jeremy Lin is really really good. But we should keep our expectations reasonable, and remember that, no matter how good he may seem against NBA teams that haven't practiced in 3 months, I'd still take 15 other PGs over him. Don't believe me? Here's the list:

Derron Williams: because he's stuck in Jersey, people forget that he might be the most talented PG in the game. Size, strength, speed, inside game, 3 pt shot, court vision, and defense. He has it all.

Derrick Rose: quickest player from the 3 point line to the rim in the league. Not to mention he's one of the best finishers in the league. His fight-for-everything underdog mentality is at the heart of everything the Bulls do.

Chris Paul: no one better at orchestrating an offense. The definition of a pure PG

Russell Westbrook: Westbrook makes 2 or 3 plays a game that no other PG in the world could make. Rising star

Tony Parker: People forget he was an NBA finals MVP

Steve Nash: I don't care how old he is. Arguably the best shooter in the league, and if he's on your team, you're guaranteed to have a top 5 offense in the NBA.

Kyle Lowry: 16 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals is an average night for K-Low. Best defensive PG in the league.

Rajon Rondo - If only he could shoot the ball. Everything else is an A+.

Steph Curry - 17-7-4. I've always been shocked that everyone just forgot about Stephon once he got to the NBA. Maybe it's because he plays for the Warriors.

Kyrie Irving - Your rookie of the year. 19 ppg on 49% (that's higher than Tebow's completion percentage!) shooting and 44% from 3.

Rubio - You know about the passing, but he's also second in the league in steals. Lots of potential.

John Wall - stuck in a black hole, but he's still the fastest player from one basket to the other in the NBA. If only he had someone to pass the ball to.

Brandon Jennings - Only 22 years old, and averages 19 ppg. Doesn't always make the best decisions, but can fill it up with the best of them.

Jrue Holliday - The best player on the 20-13 Sixers. Could be a an even better socrer, but it spends the 3 quarters getting his teammates involved before taking over in the 4th.

Tyreke Evans - Maybe he doesn't like to pass the ball, but someone who averages 20-5-5 his rookie year has a long career in front of him

Kemba Walker, Brendan Knight, and Ty Lawson all could also have made the list.

So before we start demanding that Jeremy Lin wins championships or get disappointed when he doesn't average 25-11 for the rest of his career, let's try to keep things in perspective.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Promotion And Relegation

Well, our team got relegated, but at least you have a sick pair of sunglasses.
With just over one-third of the season remaining, the quest for the title of the Barclay's Premiere League has essentially become a three-horse race. Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur sit atop the tables with just 2 points between 1st and 2nd and 5 points between 2nd and 3rd.

More compelling, perhaps, is the race at the bottom. Wigan, Bolton, and Wolverhampton all sit in the relegation zone with 21, 20, and 19 points respectively. Two teams sit just above relegation, also with 21 points. Even Swansea City, as far up as 11th, might not be safe, with 30 points on the season. 

We'll never see promotion and relegation in the United States because the owners will never approve it. The risks are far too high. Being relegated means losing alarming amounts of money and often follows with partial or total dismantling of rosters. The rewards for teams in the top American leagues are essentially nil; there is nowhere to be promoted to.

Even so, there's a certain allure to the excitement of promotion and relegation. Imagine if the "Suck For Luck" campaign last season was instead morphed into "Don't Suck Because If You Do You'll Get Moved Into A Clearly Inferior League And Lose Millions Of Dollars." We sure would have seen less of Curtis Painter. Here's a look at what might have happened if, at the end of the last full season, American sports leagues turned to the European model.


NFL
Relegated: Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams, Minnesota Vikings

Promoted: British Columbia Lions (Canadian Football League), Geelong Football Club (Australian Football League), Los Angeles Temptation (Lingerie Football League)

Fallout: Devastated, Indianapolis trades away every single player on the roster, sending Payton Manning to the Seahawks in exchange for the Space Needle and Curtis Painter to the Miami Dolphins for a hug. Jared Allen vows to eat Roger Goodell, while the citizens of St. Louis take solace in the fact that they at least still have Albert Pujols before realizing that they don't, in fact, still have Albert Pujols. Meanwhile, the NFL manages to expand its international reach, as the league so desperately desires. Football finally gets its sex appeal, and the issue of an NFL team in L.A. is at last put to rest.

NHL
Relegated:Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers

Promoted: Salavat Yulaev Ufa (Kontinental Hockey League), Rubin Tyumen (Vysshaya Hokkeinaya Liga), Sheffield Steelers (Elite Ice Hockey League)

Fallout: The NHL now has only 1 more team than is appropriate in Florida. Canadians riot, which Americans once again find hilarious because there is no such thing as pain in the magical land of Canada. 100,000 Avs fans show up at Tim Tebow's door and ask him to pray their team back into the league. With the influx of European teams, the number of Russians in the NHL stays exactly the same.

NBA
Relegated: Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors

Promoted: Panathinaikos (Euroleague), Guangdong Southern Tigers (Chinese Basketball Association), UniCEUB/BRB/Brasilia (Liga Sudamericana)

Fallout: Minnesota loses its 2nd professional team in a span of just a few weeks. All "industry" in Cleveland collapses; the NBA finally manages to get rid if its lone, nonsensical Canadian team. Canadians riot, which Americans once again find hilarious because there is no such thing as pain in the magical land of Canada. The quality of play in the NBA actually improves.


MLB
Relegated: Minnesota Twins, Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners

Promoted: Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks (Nippon Professional Baseball), Tigres de Quintana Roo (Liga Mexicana de Beisbol), Leones del Escogido (Dominical Republic Professional Baseball League)

Fallout: Minnesota is simply crushed. The brand new Target Stadium barely draws 1,000 people per game with the Twins out of the MLB. With only one team to root for, the Wild move all games into the Mall of America so the entire city can come watch. Houston's move to the American League is postponed on account of them being terrible. Seattle dismantles its team, trading Ichiro in a three-team deal involving the Indianapolis Colts in order to get the space needle back. Facing the possibility of a player strike on account of too much travel, Bud Selig does what any good MLB commissioner would do and locks the players out. The MLB finally returns in 2020, at which point a game that much more closely resembles Super Baseball has been created. Major League Baseball fails to restore its fanbase and folds in 2022.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Trading Spaces



When I was in 6th grade, I was the tallest kid in my class, and was dominant on the basketball courts. I spent every practice working on post moves, pushing around smaller kids, and trying to dunk the basketball.

Then everyone else started growing up. I never grew any taller. My post moves stopped being effective. Reality set in. My athletic career was essentially obsolete.

Now, I can only dream of scoring touchdowns, hitting home runs, and making game winning 3 pointers. But if I'm just gonna make up fictional scenarios, why not just pretend I'm somebody else? Why not just switch lives with someone who's already done that?

Which leads us to the "Who would I most want to switch lives with" question.

The criteria for having a great life:
1) being one of the greatest of all time in your industry (both from an individual and team perspective)
2) being famous (the majority of society should know who you are)
3) dating/marrying someone that I would absolutely want to marry/date
4) money

There are two obvious answers: Jay-Z and Tom Brady. I don't even have to explain, so they are clearly in the top tier.

Let's see if there are any competitors. There are no correct answers. But there are stupid opinions.

(In no particular order)

1) David Beckham - Signed a $250 million contract. One of the greatest and most well-known players in the world's most popular sport. Two-time runner up for the FIFA World Player of the Year Award and took home the ESPY for best male soccer player in 2004. Also, he's married to Posh Spice.

2) Justin Timberlake - With his recent engagement, he might possibly be the top contender. From his time in 'N Sync, to his record label, to starring in The Social Network, Justin has had incredible success in a few different industries. He's also a golfer.

3) Cristiano Ronaldo - Does extremely well on the field and off the field. Money's definitely not an issue. Like Beckham, plays in the world's most popular sports, and is one of the few guys who is consistently scoring goals in that sport. The only issue? Every time I look in the mirror I'd be reminded how much of a douchebag I am.

4) Tiger Woods - Two years ago, he is clearly in the top tier. No question about it. Now, it's hard to get past the fact that he will forever have a tarnished legacy (despite the fact that what he did had nothing to do with golf). With that said, Tiger Woods is golf. He will become increasingly more popular once he starts winning again, and I'm sure he will find a new girl(s) soon enough.

5) Derek Jeter - Money, championships, women, clutch plays. All those are nice. But why Derek Jeter? Because he owns the greatest city in the world. It's one thing to be a famous. It's another thing to be a legend.

Honorable mention:
Brad Pitt - I just want to be Tyler Durden
Justin Bieber - lots of potential, but a lot of room for error
Michael Jordan - still on the cover of an NBA video game 15 years after retiring. Arguably the coolest athlete ever. But there's the whole "he's the biggest asshole of all time" and recent divorce thing, too.
Wayne Gretzky - possibly the most respected and most liked athlete of his time. Greatest hockey player ever.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI Award Show

 
The NFL recently handed out its annual awards, with Aaron Rodgers claiming the MVP trophy in a landslide and the rookie of the year honors going surprisingly (he said, with the utmost sarcasm) to the highest drafted offensive and defensive players.

Most Utterly Useless Statistic - The Patriots have never won a Super Bowl when when an "Idol" winner sings the anthem beforehand. Thanks for that gem, Fox Sports. If Americans wanted more tidbits like that, we'd have petitioned for Joe Buck to do the play-by-play.

Most Ridiculous Assumption - America's 60-40 split predicting a 4th straight year of "heads." Really would have expected a closer vote...

"Biggest" Referee Disappointment - John Parry will be tonight's official, robbing the world of a chance to marvel at Ed Hochuli's alarmingly enormous biceps and hilariously thorough explanations.

Most Likely Nip-Slip - "Big Daddy" Vince Wilfork

Most Outrageous Prop Bet - "Will Madonna wear a hat at any point during the Super Bowl Halftime Show?" Man, people will bet on anything.

Most Exciting News For People Who Want To Watch The Super Bowl Alone - You can stream it now!

 Of course, a pre-Super Bowl post wouldn't be complete without the Sports Casual endorsed pick. So here it goes:

In the second quarter, a distraught and deranged Richard Seymour emerges from the stands and bloodies up Eli Manning, knocking him out of the game and bringing David "Broken Down" Carr to his first game action since joking about how parachute pants are no longer "in" was, in fact, "in." But Giants fans get a break when Tom Terrific sees his reflection in the locker room jacuzzi during halftime and nearly drowns trying to kiss himself. The 2nd half becomes a battle of backups, and after Hoyer and Carr produce the most boring quarter and a half of football we've ever seen, Julian Edelman intercepts Carr and then fills in for Hoyer. During an emotional Bill Belichick speech, Chad Ochocinco has to correct him when he starts to talk about "perfection," but the Patirots do indeed "go to work," running a Fake 23 Blast with a Backside George Reverse for an 80-yard TD as time expires.

Final Score: Patriots 27, Giants 24. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Super Bowl Additions


It's the last football game of the year, and I want to see a quality matchup. I want to see star performances. I want to see tremendous plays. I want to see the best game of the year.

I don't want to see players I've never heard of. I don't want to see wide receivers guarding Hakeem Nicks. I don't want to see missed tackles, dropped passes, blown coverages, or anything that might resemble the play we usually see on this field.

So how do we fix this? We throw a new rule into the mix.

What if both Super Bowl teams could add one player from their entire conference to their team just for the Super Bowl? One player, one game contract. Two weeks to learn the system (or at least a few plays). Who would they choose?

Let's go through some options.

Patriots
  1. Jonathan Joseph - I couldn't choose Revis here, because there is the slight chance the Jet could throw the game when they needed him most. Champ Bailey is a little old and a little overrated. Jonathan Joseph, on the other hand, made the pro bowl this year and was one of the key reasons why Houston turned a historically atrocious defense into one of the league's best. My only concerns with this selection is a) he can't guard all 3 receivers of the Giants, so why bother b) he would limit the schemes they could throw at them and c) well, he's a former Bengal. How's that worked out?
  2. Mike Wallace - Is this necessary? Not really. And with the Giants pass rush, the deep ball may be a non-factor. But I've wanted to see what a vertical dimension would do to this Patriots team all year. Welker underneath, the Tight Ends in the middle of the field, and Mike Wallace over the top. Not to mention, the QB's pretty good. I don't know if they could resist.
  3. Dwight Freeney - My selection. He knows this stadium. The home crowd would definitely side with him. He's arguably the best pass rusher in the game. Has played in a Super Bowl before. Great character guy, who would fit in with the Pats. The only issue is the 3-4 defense, but I don't think a "Super Bowl Addition" is expected to play much anyways. They only have 2 weeks to prepare. Eli makes a living on converting 3rd and longs. Dwight could help prevent that.
Honorable Mention: Terrell Suggs, Mo-Jo, Ray Lewis (moral support), Tim Tebow (God support), Antonio Gates (just so they can run 4 verticals from a goal line formation), Peyton Manning (to prevent his brother from getting another ring)

Giants
  1. Cam Newton - The Giants have less needs than the Patriots, so why not bring in a "goal-line back"? I like Brandon Jacobs, but having Cam on 3rd and shorts adds an extra blocker. And the deep ball threat. And a TD machine.
  2. Patrick Willis - My pick. If he's able to matchup with Gronkowski, this pick could end the game. Patrick is deceptively fast, and one of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL. Great addition to one of their weaker positions.
  3. Charles Woodson - Maybe he's a little slow. Maybe he's a little old. But the guys makes plays when it matters most. One of the smartest corners around, he's the type of player who could make Brady hesitate in the pocket, and allow that pass rush to have an extra second or two.
Honorable Mention: Vernon Davis, David Akers, Larry Fitzgerald, DeMarcus Ware, Justin Smith (as if there pass rush wasn't good enough already)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Where Are They Now?: George Foreman


George Foreman retired from boxing in 1977 after he held the title of World Heavyweight Boxing Champion and won an Olympic gold medal. Unlike other athletes, Foreman had a successful return from retirement. He became the oldest heavyweight champion ever in 1994, at age 45. His healthy lifestyle was then used to promote the "George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine." He attributed his success in boxing to his strict diet of indoor-cooked hamburgers and turkey burgers. However, that is only the side of George Foreman that everyone knows.

Much less known is his love of Pokémon. After retiring from boxing a second time in 1997, Foreman needed an outlet for his competitive nature. George asked his 8 year old nephew what he would do if he had 100 million dollars like his Uncle George, and his nephew responded, "Play Pokémon Blue." As his nephew had never steered him wrong, George set out to try this "Pokémon Blue." George was a natural. He beat the entire game in 4 hours and 16 minutes despite never using the bike. In a 2001 interview with Ring magazine, George stated that his favorite pokémon was Jigglypuff. George dabbled in the card game, but felt strange as a man among boys (It's not a picture of Jerry Sandusky. That would be too easy.). In 2011, to honor his love of the game, he released a limited edition "Pokéball George Foreman Grill."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Baron and Me: The Return of B-Diddy


As the weekend approaches, so does the beginning of a new epoch in New York Knicks basketball - the Baron Davis era.  Called everything from "The Modern Day Messiah" to a "fat, injury prone knucklehead", Baron has been a polarizing figure from his days at UCLA not because of what he's done so much as what he's considered capable of.  A superb athlete with a gift for getting into the lane and 5 Dollar Boxes from Taco Bell, Boom Dizzle has drawn both the awe and ire of fans everywhere he's been - and he's been to quite a few places.

It's popular to trade Baron Davis; his reputation for enthusiastic starts and disdain for conditioning has made him the consummate trade bait, a player capable of generating unparalleled excitement around a basketball team when it's good.  But he's also capable of drawing criticism when his team plays poorly, and just as he feeds off the energy of an enthusiastic crowd, he feeds off the unsold hot dogs and fries when attendance falls and interest wanes.

However, the truth is that Baron Davis simply doesn't love basketball, and that's meant in the most complimentary way possible.  The game has been a means to numerous ends for him, ranging from sponsoring the Nike of the East to charity to his own clothing line.  This is perfectly captured by his personal website, Baron Davis' Boomiverse, on which only a single link is related to his basketball career.  In today's media saturated environment, we often expect athletes to love what they do; they play a children's game and earn a man's wage, traveling to exotic locals such as Cleveland and inspiring generations of children with their heroics to do what they love.  But perhaps Baron Davis is a different kind of hero, a hero for not embracing the mainstream.  His charitable work is admirable, and he has used his platform as an athlete to both spread awareness about important issues and do what he does love: fashion, creation, interaction with fans.  So what if he isn't around for extra wind sprints?

Baron is slated to make his Knicks debut any day now and with the team slumping his impact, positive or negative, will only be amplified.  In the coming months many fans will rise with him to epic highs, and decry some epic lows.  In all of this, I only urge fans to remember who Baron the person is, and that the same obsessive quality he lacks in basketball has allowed him to do good for others, and lead a happier, more fulfilling life.  If that's not the boom dizzle, I don't know what is.

Joe Silvestro is a regular contributor to Sports Casual, check back every Funday Friday for his witticisms concerning the Wide World of Sports.  Email him at jsilvestro21@gmail.com

Happy Australia Day

Today marks the annual celebration of Australia Day, the national holiday for that country that somehow also gets to be a continent. It's the first I've heard about this holiday, but if what they tell me about Australians is true, it sounds like a pretty good time. Today, then, we honor the most famous Australians in sports. So grab a Fosters, put some shrimp on the barbie, and maybe make some Australian friends so you can learn more about the land down under than these two stereotypes.

Lleyton Hewitt

Know him?: Probably.
Sport: Tennis.
Accolades: 2001 U.S. Open Champion, 2002 Wimbledon Champion, World #1.
Pros: Being ranked #1 in the world for anything, for any length of time, is a pretty cool accomplishment.
Cons: It was tennis.


Ian Thorpe

Know him?: It's possible.
Sport: Competitive buoyancy.
Accolades: A plethora of Olympic medals, including 5 golds.
Pros: The "Thorpedo" is an awesome nickname.
Cons: Only five?


Tim Cahill

Know him?: Do you call soccer "soccer" or "football?"
Sport: Soccer
Accolades: 55 English Premier League goals, all-time leading World Cup scorer for Australia
Pros: A cracking strike!
Cons: What the fuck Evan, we're down 2 points!


Steve Irwin

Know him?: I should hope so.
Sport: Hunting crocodiles.
Accolades: Multitudes of crocodiles hunted.
Pros: Turned what should have been a pointless and mundane activity into sensational television.
Cons: May he rest in peace.


Ben Graham

Know him?: How deep does your fantasy draft go?
Sport: (American) Football.
Accolades: Tied NFL record for most punts inside 20.
Pros: 3+ seasons with the Arizona Cardinals means lots of punting opportunities.
Cons: Australian Rules Football makes no sense. None. (The AC-DC doesn't help.)


Hugh Jackman

Know him?: *Sigh.* Yes.
Sport: Some type of surrogate robot boxing.
Accolades: This film somehow made it to theaters.
Pros: I guess, the whole Wolverine thing...?
Cons: According to Wikipedia, at the end, the bad guy wins ON POINTS. That's not how robot boxing should work.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Turning a Paper Clip into a House

(In case you've never heard this story...)

Hasheem Thabeet is the worst player in the NBA. Let's see if we can turn Thabeet into a superstar and Houston into a winner. Ignore rules about not being able to trade a player you just traded for (if that rule even exists). Every trade works in the ESPN NBA Trade Machine.

1) Thabeet to Toronto for Linas Kleiza - Former all star Jamal Magloire (can you guess which year?) is Toronto's backup center. They have to take a chance on Thabeet.

2) Kleiza to Denver for Chris Anderson - Kleiza returns to Denver where he had great success, while Denver dumps one of their 4 centers.

3) Chris Anderson to the Pistons for Jason Maxiell - Detroit is last in the NBA in blocks. Enter Birdman.

4) Jason Maxiell's expiring contract to the Suns for Channing Frye - It's time for the Suns to rebuild. Channing has 4 years left on his contract. Sell high.

5) Channing Frye to Atlanta for Marvin Williams - Atlanta is 2nd in the East, but Horford is out for a while. They need a center now if they want to keep one of the top seeds. Crunchtime five of Josh Smith, Horford, Frye, Johnson, and Teague could be dangerous. Williams also makes 2 million more per year.

6) Marvin Williams to the Clippers for Mo Williams - Clippers have too many guards and not enough depth. Marvin gives them flexibility, depth at both forward positions, and a nice fit next to Chris Paul.

7) Mo Williams to the Dallas Mavericks for Jason Kidd - Jason Kidd is shooting 26% and averaging 4 points a game. He's finally too old. If the Mavericks want another shot at a title, they need to change something up and upgrading the backcourt may be the best move.

8) Jason Kidd's expiring contract ($10 million) to the Hornets for Emeka Okafor - The Hornets can now go into the off-season with almost $40 million coming off the books.

9) Emeka Okafor to Cleveland for Antwain Jamison -Cleveland has a nice young group of talent with Tristan Thomas and Kyrie Irving. Emeka would be a nice veteran presence on a team that doesn't really have a Center.

10) Antwain Jamison's expiring contract ($15 million) to the Spurs for Tony Parker - Eventually, the Spurs are going to have to decide to rebuild. With Manu Ginobili hurt, this should be it.

11) Tony Parker to the Suns for Steve Nash - Steve Nash is finally freed. Phoenix gets the 29 year old French point guard to take the offense over for the next four years of his contract.

12) Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers for Andrew Bynum - Kobe may not have many years left. It's now or never. I don't care about Andrew Bynum's potential. Right now, he is not as good as Steve Nash. In the last five minutes of a playoff game, I'd rather have Nash, Bryant, Gasol than Bryant, Gasol, and Bynum.

13) Andrew Bynum to Orlando for Dwight Howard - Orlando finally gives in and accepts that Howard is not going to resign. Orlando builds around Bynum over the next 10 years.

14) Dwight Howard to the Heat for Lebron James - I think Lebron is the best player in the world, but this trade makes Miami better. Chalmers, Wade, Battier, Bosh, and Dwight would be a nightmare offensively, defensively, and on the boards. The only reason they would never do this? This.

And there you have it. The Houston Rockets turn Hasheem Thabeet into Lebron James, and go on to win the NBA Championship.