Thursday, 19 September 2013

NFC 2 Week Recap

Well as promised for all you weird people who like the NFC more than the AFC here is my recap and preview for that division. If you skipped the AFC preview and are only reading this one, shame on you! GO back and read the AFC preview. If you read the AFC preview and are not reading this one then...well I can't really do anything about that. Okay, here we go.

NFC East:
Dallas Cowboys (1-1): The Boys are doing what the Boys do best. They ruin the hopes of their divisional foes by beating them, but then lose in ugly fashion to follow it up. After beating the the Giants in prime time in week one the Cowboys followed it up with an ugly defeat in Kansas City. DeMarco Murray had a decent 20 carries for 86 yards in week one, but answered with a blunder against KC rushing for 25 yards on 12 carries. This weeks match-up versus St. Louis should be a good measure as to what the season may entail.

Philadelphia Eagles (1-1): This team came out of the gates on fire in week one. They ran 52 first half offensive plays and at one point in the game lead the rival Washington Redskins 33-7. Then we got a good look at just how bad their defense really is when Washington came back and made things interesting. The poor defense carried over into week two against the San Diego Chargers as well. Phillips Rivers and Eddie Royal looked like they were running practice routes with nobody covering Royal or rushing Rivers. There was one touchdown where Royal could have caught the ball, taken the time to make sure all pieces of his uniform were in check, and then skipped to the end zone. Instead he just jogged in. This team can score, but they are going to need some stops if they want to win.

Washington Redskins (0-2): It hasn't even really gotten going in full force yet, but I am already sick of all the talk about RG 3 and out's knee. His brace is too tight, he's not as explosive, Dr. James Andrews (who for some reason is as common a household name as George Clooney) says he shouldn't play this style, yada yada yada. My expectation is that he is going to come out this week against the Detroit and ball out. They may not win, but it will be a different RG III and a different RG III is exactly what the Skins need.

New York Giants (0-2): Hahahahahaha Peyton Manning is so much better than Eli Manning. This just reiterates the fact that younger brothers will never be able to be better at anything than their older brothers. Well that and the fact that the Giants suck. Can't wait to hear every talk about firing Tom Coughlin again after two crappy years in a row for this team.

NFC North:
Daaaaa Bears (2-0): This is a team that gets over looked year after year and with a new head coach and the heart of the D, Brian Urlacher, retiring everybody over looked them again. Well now they have two impressive wins against the Bengals and divisional rival Vikings. Both games were at home, but still no less impressive. Jay Cutler has a big somber-face man crush on newly acquired tight-end Martellus Bennett. The man has three touchdown catches the year which already surpasses the total by all the Bears tight ends combined over the whole season last year. Expect those numbers to continue to rise as the year progresses. Oh and their new head coach, Mark Trestman, was taken straight out of the CFL. OHHHH CANADAAAAA.

Detroit Lions (1-1): This is a brand Suh team this year. Ha, see what I did there? My man Jim Schwartz is on the chopping block and this team needs to perform in order for him to keep his job. Reggie Bush put in a great performance in week one helping them to a big win over Minnesota, but then the team stumbled a bit against an underrated Arizona Cardinals team. For some reason I think this team is going to stick around for a little while. Ironically enough the only part of this team that isn't really "Suh" is Suh. Guy just gets dumber every year.

Sure did look like that lineman had a really good shot at catching him...

Green Bay Packers (1-1): San Francisco got the best of them in week one, but then they got more than the best of Washington in week two. Aaron Rodgers decided he was going to have an Aaron Rodgers type of day and only throw for a mere 480 yards. Bottom line is as long as Rodgers is healthy this team will be in the hunt.

Minnesota Vikings (0-2): Being in one of, if not the toughest, division in football is never a cakewalk. Starting the year out 0-2 overall and 0-2 in the division only makes this year more like a walk across hot coals for the Vikes. Good thing all anyone cares about with this team is whether or not APAD will break the rushing record.

NFC South:
New Orleans Saints (2-0): Welcome back Sean Payton. While the Vikes have an uphill battle to face the Saints have a downhill one. Not really. But what's better than being 2-0 after two weeks with both of those wins coming against divisional opponents? The Saints handled everything Matty Ice and the Falcons threw at them in week one and then they instigated frustration towards Greg Schiano in week two when they beat the the Buccaneers. This team has it's swag back, bring on the Cardinals.

Atlanta Falcons (1-1): Had a tough week one loss at the hands of the Saints, but bounced back nicely with a 31-24 win over the Rams. A bittersweet victory though as their prize off-season possession, Steven Jackson, went down and will miss 2-4 weeks. As if that wasn't enough, star linebacker Sean Weatherspoon found himself on the IR with the eligibility to return in week 11. This is still a good Falcons team though and you can bet that they aren't going anywhere soon, nor will forget that week one loss.

Tampa Bay (0-2): I think there are only two questions that need to be asked with this team. Will Josh Freeman still be the quarterback at the end of the season? Will this team implode in a Red Sox fashion due to dissent towards Greg Schiano? I don't mean Red Sox fashion as in they were good and collapsed, I kind of just mean collapse.

Carolina Panthers (0-2): This team just oozes with so much potential. Arguably the best line backing core in the NFL led by Luke Kuechly, an animal all by himself. A good defensive line led by a monster in Charles Johnson. They have a great young quarterback with Cam Newton and have surrounded him with young wide-receiver talent. A then they have their star in Steve Smith. They played well against Seattle, but then came up with a dud against Buffalo letting rookie E.J. Manuel pick their secondary apart leading up to a last second touchdown. How will they fair against the 0-2 Giants? My guess Eli torches them.

NFC West:
Seattle Seahawks (2-0): Seattle has a question for everybody in the NFL and it's; "What about us?" San Fran this, San Fran that, the Seahawks quieted everyone down when they literally brought the thunder down on the 49ers last weekend. That game alone says enough for this team.

St. Louis Rams (1-1): Had a good week one win against a divisional opponent in the Arizona Cardinals, but then fell behind too much too early against the Atlanta Falcons. It is Sam Bradford time St. Louis and Jeff Fisher has the ability to coach this team to a winning season.

San Francisco 49ers (1-1): These guys got flat-out out-played this past week against Seattle. They still have the most complete team in the NFL though and don't expect them to forget that Seattle loss anytime soon. The Niners will bounce back, but have a very intriguing match-up against Indianapolis. A classic quarterback vs former college coach match up.

Arizona Cardinals (1-1) The wild-card team of the NFC. Not in the sense that they are a wild card team, but more in the sense of who knows how good this team will be. I personally think that they are much better than people are giving them credit for and that it is only a matter of time before we start to see the pass happy quarterback and pass happy coach get things rolling. It also helps that the pass happy offense has Larry Fitzgeralds hands to throw all of those passes at. Last time I checked he had a pretty good set of them. A few years ago in a weaker NFC I could see this team doing big things, but it's too strong a conference now.

Division Winners:
East: Eagles. Everything in my guys says to go with Cowboys, but then everything else says that they will choke at some point. They do have Tony Romo after all.

North: Chicago Bears. Trestman has this team figured out already and understands how they are going to play week in and week out. When your coach can game plan like that, things tend to work out.

South: Saints. I think the Falcons are going to have a set back year and with Payton back at the helm I think the Saints will march again. Ha. Gotta love cliché lines.

West: Seahawks. Had you asked me this before the season I would have said the 49ers, but after seeing the way the Seahawks D has just dominated the first two weeks I am convinced they are the real deal.

49ers: Can't see very many arguments here. Probably the second best team in the conference.
Lions: Reggie Bush is going to make them click this year and as long as he stays healthy I think they will go places.

In an exciting bonus there is in fact an NFL game being played tonight by the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs. Andy Reid's homecoming, if you will. As far as my prediction for tonight, I predict there to be cheers for Reid with a smattering amount of boos. As for the game I saw somebody in High Point, NC driving around with Eagles flags on their car today and that's a good enough reason for me to pick them.

Eagles 26
Chiefs 18

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

AFC 2 Week review period

It seemed a little aggressive to go through team by team after week one and either praise or chastise them based off that first weeks performance. So let's do it after week two! Everybody knows that the whole NFL season is decided in the first two weeks so I'm going to go ahead and decide how the rest of the season is going to play out based on how teams played in the first two weeks. Feel free to judge a lot. The NFC review will come on Thursday.

AFC East:
New England Patriots (2-0): The Pats season started off pretty rough when rookie QB E.J. Manuel and the Bills gave them a solid run for their money with the Pats winning it with a field goal as time expired. The Pats backed up that awful performance with an even worse performance against the dismal New York Jets and another rookie QB in Geno Smith. In both games the offense looked stagnant and Tom Brady looked more frustrated than a toddler who can put the shapes in the right holes.

 On a positive note though the Pats only lost Shane Vareen for the whole year and the oft injured Danny Amendola is well, injured.

Miami Dolphins (2-0): The Dolphins are tied for first in the division! When was the last time those words were ever written? And it is week 2 which means you can expect them to stick around for a while. Believe it or not the Dolphins have actually looked moderately impressive this year, but mainly on the defensive side of the ball. There is still a serious lack of run game, but hopes are that Lamar Miller will be able to pick it up. Dolphins fans have to be feeling good about that front 7 though as they are racking up the sacks and they have to be happy with the play of 2nd year QB Ryan Tannehill.

Buffalo Bills (1-1): Manuel looks like he can ball. The rookie QB played pretty well in week one against division rival Patriots posting a 105.5 QBR. He followed up that performance with his first win of his NFL career against the Carolina Panthers and boy was it impressive. The rookie got the ball down 6 at his own 20 with only 1:38 left on the clock a no time-outs left. He marched his Bills down field and scored on a 2-yard pass to Stevie Johnson with just two seconds left. It helps the Bills defensive end Super Mario Williams racked up a team record 4.5 sacks.

New York Jets (1-1): They are going to be bad. Should be 0-2. Who knows how good Geno will be, but I'm pretty sure it will be better than anything Mark Sanchez ever did.

AFC South:
Houston Texans (2-0): Should be 0-2. The pre-season favorite to take the division and go deep into the playoffs. They looked atrocious in the first half in week one against the Chargers, but it's a good thing it was against the Chargers. The Texans battled back from a 28-7 deficit to win the game with a field goal as time expired. That was week one though. No way they would come back in week two and under perform again against a team that is significantly worse than them. Oh wait, they did. In week two it took overtime for the Texans to get past the divisional foe Titans, in Houston. It will be interesting to see if the Texans remember any time soon that they have Arian Foster as their running back.

Indianapolis Colts  (1-1): Week one was classic Andrew Luck and the Colts. Losing in the fourth quarter and looking for their young star quarterback to march down field and lead them to victory in front of the home crowd, which of course he did. Week two was classic Andrew Luck and the Colts. Losing in the fourth quarter and looking for their young star quarterback to march down field and lead them to victory in front of the home crowd, which of course he.....didn't?

Tennessee Titans (1-1): I view this team as a wild card team. They could be good, they could be bad, they could be on a bye week, you are just never going to know. In week one they churned out a solid win against the Steelers in a dog fight. Then in week two they played extremely well against the Texans. Then today Kenny Britt tweets that he is done as a Titan after this year because of "irking the coaches with penalties." Quite frankly I dunno whats going to happen here. I just hope Chris Johnson can somehow find his old form and be awesome again.

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2): TEBOW, TEBOW, TEBOW, TEBOW! That is all.

AFC West:
Denver Broncos (2-0): Peyton Manning+running game+lots of wide receivers+a former basketball playing tight end that nobody had ever heard of until after week one and was sitting on 99% of peoples fantasy team benches+a monstrous defense that will only get better when, if, Von Miller gets back+John Fox=Trip to the Superbowl.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-0): This team is going to win games and nobody is going to know exactly how it happened.

Oakland Raiders (1-1): This Raiders team has looked impressive. Terrell Pryor looks like he may work as a legitimate starting quarterback and if Run DMC can run the way he did against Jacksonville (which is no promise because it was against Jacksonville) this team could maybe win 6 games.

San Diego Chargers (1-1): I don't think Philip Rivers is necessarily good, but I do know the Eagles defense sure did make it that way in week two. Speaking of defense they don't have one. I don't think this is a team that can win a whole lot of games, but I do think this is the type of team that will surprise a few teams and hurt some teams playoff chances. i.e. the Eagles.

AFC North:
Cincinnati Bengals (1-1): Will this finally be the year Andy Dalton steps his game up to the next level? He has a solid 2 RB system behind him and with Jermaine Gresham and A.J. Green a year older all the pieces are in place. The division is even the worst it has ever been so if there has ever been a time to capitalize on things, now is that time. Expect to see Marvin Lewis in the can if things don't look like they progressed anywhere.

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2) Baltimore Ravens (1-1) Cleveland Browns (0-2):  These 3 teams are all lumped together because they are all in the same division and all have looked awful after two weeks. But Chris the Ravens have a win and are the defending Super Bowl Champs they aren't that bad. Yes they are. They have looked awful in both games, their defense does not exist and Joe Flacco did not deserve all that money. He is a good leader, but a bad quarterback. As far as the Steelers and Browns are concerned I don't think anybody will have any gripes about lumping them together. That being said Troy Polamalu is pretty good.

Division Winners:
East: Patriots. As poor as they have played you just can't deny a team with both Tom Brady and Bill Belichick at the helm. They will find a way.

South: Texans. They always seems to find a way to win games and it's only a matter of time before Foster starts to light it up

West: Broncos. Do I even need an explanation?

North: Bengals. It's there time to shine and I expect them to do so.

Wild Cards:
Chiefs and Colts. Chiefs are going to surprise lots of teams this year and are going to churn out wins like butter. The Colts are going to take a step back this year, presumabley to 9-7 or 10-6, but in a weak AFC I think it will still be enough to make it as the 6 seed.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Want to watch the MLB All-Star Game? Yeah, me neither.

Well folks it is that time of the year again. The time of the year where all of us truly devout sports fans are in a world without sports. Sportcenter will probably feature highlights of the most boring all-star games in all of sports and will fill the other 55 minutes with stuff about Aaron Hernandez, LeBron James and whether he will go to LA or Cleveland next year (spoiler, he isn't going anywhere) and of course Tim Tebow. Then on First Take Stephan A. Smith will just yell out a bunch of random breakfast cereals while Skip Bayless tries to argue that a bowl of animal feces is a very underrated way to start your morning.

Wimbledon has ended, golfs British Open is starting at the weeks end and even the State of Origin has come to a streaking halt. Chances are unless you are from Australia reading this or for some odd reason an fan of the NRL then that joke will just go over your head. If you are craving some sports though, do look up the NRL and the State of Origin, it's some pretty exciting stuff, but I digress. If you are like most Americans then you are at a loss for sports and so am I.

Year in and year out the one thing I will never be able to understand is how the MLB All-Star break still exists. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if the futures game got more views than the pros all-star game. To be honest though, I use to enjoy catching bits and pieces of the all-star game during commercials of something else just because some fun things COULD happen. Now, it's not even worth the effort of picking up the remote. All that went out the window though when Bud Selig thought it would be a good idea to make the game actually mean something. How does that thought process even work? "Hey, let's take the one time of the year that means absolutely nothing in every other sport and instead make it mean something in our sport. We can take all the fun and love out of the game and instead make the players try." Yeah, I'm sure Joe Mauer, whose Twins can't even sniff the playoffs, is really going to pour his heart and soul into catching the all-star game.

People say that 2002 was the year that ruined the all-star game as it ended in the 11th inning in a 7-7 tie, but I disagree. This was the same all-star game that started off in awesome fashion with Torii Hunter robbing Barry Bonds of a sure-fire home run. It was the makings of a classic, if you can even say that about an all-star games, but Bud Selig dropped the ball instead.

The first mistake was when Selig decided to call the game as a tie in the 11th because neither team had any players left. Let me write that one more time, because neither team had any players left. There were approximately 36 players on each roster that year, pitchers and batters combined. This is the all-star game and nobody is going to care and probably won't even notice if one of those players re-enter the game. It would have meant more meaningless baseball and maybe a few more cool plays. Instead the game is called and Selig goes home and decides to make the game mean something. He makes it so the winner, whether it be AL or NL gets home field advantage in the World Series. Boooooooo.

If it were me at the commissioner controls I would have done things a little differently at that point. First off I would have let anybody and everybody re-enter the game so the game did not end in a tie. Then I would have gone home and mapped out a new plan for a whole new, revamped all-star game, and here's how it would look.

First, each team would be designated two team captains, one pitcher and one position player. These two players would work together to draft a team of their own from the list of players who made the all-star cut. Similar to what is done in the NHL right now. The players would be allowed to draft from whichever league they choose and the whole AL vs NL would no longer exist because it's no fun. Then to throw the best twist in, the position players would be the pitchers for the game while the pitchers would become the position players. I imagine that if Joe Buck and Tim McCarver were calling the game it would go a little something like this:

"And here is the 2-1 pitch from Carlos Beltran. Felix Hernandez hit a slow roller to the third base side where  a bare handed attempt is made by Justin Masterson, he bobbles it- But that's okay Joe because King Felix's all out sprint is slower than an infant learning to walk-you're right Tim and sure enough Masterson gets a handle on things and it looks like he is going to bowl the ball over to first base to avoid an over throw-That's a veteran move Joe, smart thinking there- Clayton Kershaw readies himself for the scoop and ohhhh it goes right through his legs as King Felix kind of half slides-half falls into first base. No need to rush after that ball though Joe. It seems as though Felix is just going to stop at first and call for a pinch runner, he looks exhausted."

Now you try and tell me that sequence of events would not be more enjoyable than 3-0 AL win in which they held the opponent to 3 hits. That's hardly even exciting in a regular game let alone a game nobody caress about. In fact I'll tell you three things to take away from this years all-star festivities; First is that the all-star game needs to change and it needs to change quick. Secondly, I don't care who you are a fan of, you were happy for Mariano Rivera last night. Lastly, the home run derby has got to go.

In fact, the home run derby needs the opposite thing the NBA Slam Dunk contest needs. The NBA needs the best of the best dunkers while the derby needs some worse hitters. If one were to make an analogy of the two, I would say the Home Run Derby would be like if the NBA Dunk Contest turned into who can make the most layups in 25 seconds. Before the beginning of the year we were all taunted with the idea of Justin Verlander in the derby and I loved the idea! Throw pitchers in there, throw former greats in there, just don't put somebody who could sneeze and hit a home run up there. Its just not exciting.

So that about sums up my rant. I'll leave you with this video of Tony Gwynn Jr. that I cam across looking up the Barry Bond and Torii Hunter play, enjoy!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Wild, Wild Wimbledon

Britain's savior!
Wimbledon was invaded. It was invaded by a bunch of newcomers and randos that left viewers asking one simple question, “Who?” The answer of course was Steve Darcis, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Lukasz Kubot, KirstenFlipkens, Michelle Larcher De Brito and Sabine Lisicki….again, who? These are the culprits who barged through the door and turned Wimbledon into a wild and crazy amusement park ride. Well, that and the serious lack of time between the French Open and Wimbledon. Oh and let us not forget proper grounds keeping as well.

It all started Rafael Nadal to Darcis in round one, then it was Roger Federer to Segiy and Maria Sharapova to Brito or De Brito or Larcher De Brito, whatever her last name is, in round two and then came what is being referred to as “Black Wednesday.” Black Wednesday will forever be remembered as the day in which there were upsets galore and withdrawals from matches due to injuries. The withdrawals all came so suddenly it caused Wimbledon to issue a statement claiming their wet grounds that a football player with metal spikes could slip on, was not in fact the cause for the withdrawals. Marin Cilic, JohnIsner, Steve Darcis (fresh off his Nadal win), Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and VictoriaAzarenka were among the list of players who withdrew with injuries.

Once the dust settled after Black Wednesday, which is ironic because the grounds were too wet for there to be any dust, there was only one thing that was important from there on out. Andy Murray was to win Wimbledon for Britain.

It had been 77 years since a British person (Scottsman in this case) had won Wimbledon for the host Country. In fact the British got so desperate before Murray came around that they tried using a player born in Canada because his parents were British. But times have changed now. They not only have a horse in this 4-player tennis race, but they also have a player that downright looks like a horse.

Murray was the 2 seed coming into the tournament and things could not have worked out more in his favor once the tournament started. However, before the tournament started, if you looked at Murray’s draw you would have seen that he had Rafa, Federer and Tsonga all in his portion of the bracket. It was enough to have anyone saying that is going to be quite troubling for the Scott. Then, as if by magic, everybody in his path disappeared. It was so crazy, absurd and wild that if this were the NBA, people would be calling for a conspiracy. All three of those players went down faster than the Bruins and Spurs combined…..too soon.
After his quarter final match against Fernando Verdasco I don’t think there was any doubt that this title was Murray’s for the taking. Murray dropped the first two sets to the Spainard and things looked pretty bleak. In the 3rd set though, Murray came out roaring and took it 6-1 and used that fuel to close out the match 6-4 and 7-5.

In the semi-final Murray faced off against a new comer on the scene Jerzy Janowicz. The 21 year-old bust onto the courts this year with a ferocious serve. He led the field in aces after his first six matches with 103 and at one point hit 146 on the speedometer with one of his serves. The big serve caught Murray off guard as he fell behind again, this time he lost the first set in a 7-2 tiebreak, but then followed that up by winning the next three sets to cruise into the final.

Then came the final versus the No. 1 ranked player NovakDjokovic. If you had asked me what I thought the chances of Murray winning the final against Djokovic in straight sets were, I would have laughed in your face. Then after watching the final, I’d have a very nice piece of humble pie because that’s exactly what happened. Murray won the first set 6-4 and people got a little excited. Then Djokovic turned it up a notch and opened up a 4-1 lead on Murray in the second set. That didn’t slow the chosen one though. With the raucous crowd behind him on every point Murray fought back and won 4 straight games to retake the lead and he would go on to take the set 7-5. In the third set Murray found himself behind again, this time 4-2, and again he battled back and won 4 straight games and ultimately, Wimbledon.

Of the four major Grand Slams the next longest drought for a host country winner is in the Australian Open at 37 years. Oddly enough, the last French person to win the French Open is none other than Yannick Noah the father of everybody’s least favorite NBA player. With exception to Tyler Hansborough and Adam Morrison, is he still even in the league? Anyways at least if you didn’t enjoy the tennis post you left it with a piece of interesting trivia.

Another interesting piece of trivia is Yannick Noah also is a musician. What went wrong with Joakim?

Oh and Aaron Hernandez still killed a guy.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Was this last week for real?

Let me start off by saying that I would be perfectly alright with never having to witness another Game 6 in any playoff variety for the rest of my life. Last Tuesday I had to watch my San Antonio Spurs choke in an unfathomable fashion in a Game 6 that would have won them the NBA Championship. I’m not going to go into details to save myself from having to mentally relive it, but we all know what happened and he goes by the name of Ray Allen.

Fast-forward 6 days and we arrive at Monday night, Game 6 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Besides the Providence College Friars the Boston Bruins are the only other hometown team I root for and last night with about a minute and a half left in the game I was in pretty good spirits with the Bruins up 2-1. So much so that when my friend turned to me and said “Looks like we are heading for Game 7” I could only nod my head in agreement. Then the unspeakable happened mere seconds later. In true San Antonio Spurs fashion the Bruins chocked on their biscuits and it was bad. With 1:16 left in the period and Corey Crawford barely even off the ice in an attempt to give the Blackhawks a man advantage the tying goal was scored. I thought to myself; well damn that sucks, but hey overtime will be exciting. Ha, sick joke. 17 seconds later the Blackhawks decided to put the ultimate cherry on top of their historic season with another goal, this one to clinch Lord Stanley.

Two completely different sports and events, but yet two very similar “Did that really just happen?” moments. The two teams sporting the best records from the year in their respected sports with their back up against the wall and both of them somehow, miraculously, flip the scales. And for the city of Boston, things only got worse from there, but we will get to that a little later.

Shifting gears over to baseball there was no hotter team throughout the NBA and NHL Finals than my Toronto Blue Jays. That’s right I’m a Blue Jays fan too. Welcome to the blog of a man with obscure taste when it comes to favorite teams, don't hate. Before dropping the last two games to the Tampa Bay Rays the Jays had won 11 straight games, tying a franchise record. The team is clicking on all cylinders and is finally playing good team baseball.

Before the season started many had predicted the revamped Jays to cruise to their first AL East pennant since they won the World Series in the 92-93 season. People thought that the AL East was going to have a “down year” because of the epic Red Sox collapse of 2012 and all the injuries on the Yankees roster. Well people were wrong. First, the Jays started the year off horrendously winning only 10 of their first 31 games and lost Jose Reyes to a sprained ankle only a few weeks into the year. Not to mention he was the only person who even knew how to make contact with the baseball at this point. Then the Jays were dealt another blow when promising young third basemen BrettLawrie also went down with an injury and found his way to the DL. R.A. Dickey,Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson might as well have been pitching in a slow pitch softball league. Then to add injury to more injury, J.A. Happ took a line drive off the head and Josh Johnson also elected to take his yearly DL stint at the same time. It was essentially rock bottom for the Jays.

Things have started to work in favor of the Jays now though. They went out and found Chien-Ming Wang working at a starbucks or something and brought him back into the league. In three starts he has a 2.18 ERA. Adam Lind decided that he no longer wanted to be terrible and as of now is playing like his 2009 self where he posted a .305 batting average with 114 RBI’s and 35 home-runs. Yeah, he had THAT good of a year at one point. One of the other major reasons for the surge has been the Jays pitching. Buehrle looks like he has finally figured out pitching in the division and Josh Johnson has shown promise of also returning to his former 2010 self. The most unlikely source for the surge though was from a man who was called up from triple-a as a temporary replacement for Reyes. Munenori Kawasaki, no affiliation to the jet skis and dirt bikes, didn’t necessarily perform like a star, but he game his best effort day in and day out. With his effort and hard work he won over the affection of his teammates and more importantly the fans. He rallied the fans around the team and really helped bring some excitement to the club house. Which is why it is a bitter sweet moment today as Reyes was activated from the DL and will be in tonight’s starting lineup. This means Kawasaki’s motorcycle ride in the bigs has temporarily come to an end. Manager John Gibbons, who for the record I do not like, even called a team meeting to announce that he was going to be sent back down to the minors. In most cases, the team just arrives to the facilities and sees the locker empty and knows the jig, but this was a special case.

The hard thing now is going to be not slowing down. As I said before many thought the AL East was going to have a down year and boy has it been anything but that. The East in the only division in baseball that doesn’t have a team with a losing record and as of right now there are 13 total teams that fit that bill. As of today the Jays are on the cusp of being under .500 at 38-38, but let’s see how that stacks up in the rest of the divisions. If the Jays were in the NL East or West they would be in second place. In the AL Central and West it would be good enough for 3rd place. In the NL Central they would be in 4th place.  The East is the only division to have just one team with a negative run differential. That team is the Jays and their run differential is negative one. Hopefully they can keep it up and lessen the gap between them and the first place Sox and turn this division into the most fun division baseball has seen in years.

Now back to the bad and it seems all the bad these days has found a nice home in Boston. Earlier this week the Celtics traded their beloved coach Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers for a 2015 first round draft pick. The man who brought the Celtics to the promise land had very little interest in a rebuilding project and was instead sent to the Clippers as they hope to secure Chris Paul and sign him to a max contract.
Then if that wasn’t bad enough for a city, star tight end for the New England Patriots Aaron Hernandez killed a man. Then he thought that life was like CSI and that if he destroyed the evidence nobody would notice or care.

Here’s the recap for you in short; Ray Allen the ultimate Boston trader since Jonny Damon win an NBA Championship and it would not have happened without him. The Bruins handed the Blackhawks the Stanley Cup. Doc Rivers took his talents, and presumably CP3’s as well, to LA. Worst week for Boston sports fans ever. Wait, I think I’m forgetting something……..ohhhh yeah that’s right, Aaron Hernandez killed a guy and then basically told everyone he was guilty by destroying evidence because he was scared of Horatio Caine. 

Oh right, if all that wasn't crazy enough, Rafael Nadal fresh off his French Open championship lost in the first round of a major event for the first time in his career. Some person who I don't even care about getting his name right because he is so irrelevant beat him in STRAIGHT SETS. What is going on in the sporting world?

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Game 7: Nuff Said

It was all a blink of an eye. Coach Pop takes Duncan out of the game so a more versatile Boris Diaw can be in for defensive purposes. Ginobili steps up to the line and misses the first of his two free throws. Mike Miller gets an offensive rebound and gives it to LeBron who cashes the three. The 21 year-old Y now steps to the line and he too misses a free throw. Wait a second, why is Timmy coming out of the game again? We need him for rebounding as made clear when Mike Miller got an offensive rebound. The same Mike Miller that played in 17 games all year because he is as old as dust and when he jumps you would be hard pressed to slide a piece of paper under his feet. Then it happens. Y makes his second free throw and the Spurs are up three. LeBron comes down and misses his first three, but then another offensive rebound. This time it was a tiny dinosaur (Chris Bosh) who finds Ray Allen and in most clutch cases the only thing Ray Allen finds is the bottom of the net, which he did.

It always seems to come down to the intangibles. Who can hit their free throws and who can get that game clinching rebound? Well on Tuesday night the Spurs decided that rather than succeed at those intangibles in the final seconds of play, they would rather send this series to an anything can happen Game 7. The yellow rope was out, the crowd was exiting and I was prematurely celebrating as the Spurs were up 4 with 30 seconds left and they had the ball. It was a dream scenario; In Miami with the crowd already exiting and the utmost confidence in my team because it is the Spurs. The same Spurs team that is viewed league-wide as the team that doesn’t crack, the well oiled machine with Coach Gregg Popovich at the helm, the greatest coach in the NBA. Surely he won’t make a mistake in the clutch right? Surely he won’t make the same mistake the next time down the court…….right? Surely Manu Ginobili, one of the veteran leaders who has already been through and won three NBA Finals won’t miss a free throw to put us up six with 30 seconds left as opposed to five. And SURELY Mike Miller will not get an offensive rebound with 20 seconds left.

It was true Spurs fashion. They have always been a crew that wins as a team and in this instance they lost as a team. So now what? How does a team bounce back from on the cusp of winning an NBA Championship to play a Game 7 on the road?  A feat that has not been done since the Washington Wizards were more, Gilbert Arenas appropriately named, as the Washington Bullets.  Well they are going to have to do it in true Spurs fashion, as a team.

Tony Parker will not be able to shoot 6-23 if they want any shot at winning this game. We are going to need our man Manu to show up as he did in Game 5. Ginobili has recently been linked to retirement rumors and what better way to do out than David Robinson style by leaving it all on the floor and leaving a champion. He could start that by not leaving the ball on the floor too. Guy had eight turnovers in the last game including a crucial on in the last 2 minutes that he might as well have handed to LeBron with a muffin basket. It’s hard to ask Tim Duncan to show up again after last games performance, but it’s not hard to ask him not to disappear in the second half. He had anything and everything he wanted in the first half. Heck he probably could have made Norris Cole shave his awesome haircut off if he wanted to. Then it the second half he was non-existent. Y and Boris Diaw are going have to lock LeBron James up like he is OJ with a nicely fitting glove. Tiago Splitter is going to have to do something. I don’t know if that is necessarily basketball and on court related, but making sure everyone is properly hydrated is a good start for him. Lastly I am going to need myself a very healthy dose of Danny Green. It’s time for him to light that fire one last time and prove his case for series MVP.

“Hey, uhhh Chris, you realized you pretty much just asked everyone to play awesome right?” Damn straight that’s what I’m saying. If the Spurs want to win this game they are going to have to put on one hell of a show because there is no way Miami is coming on slow or sloppy on their home court. The Spurs are going to have to come out of the gate flying with a tempo that has yet to be seen in these Finals.

I know this isn’t really a proper Game 7 preview and a lot of it is more of a rant by me, but in all honestly I am WAY to anxious for this game tonight and can’t properly concentrate. I’ll leave with this as I guess most people reading this will be rooting for the Spurs since nobody likes Miami. Nothing would be more satisfying then to see Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan show this wannabe “Big 3” how the first and real Big 3 does it. Show them how proper growth and true team work can lead to not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE NBA Championships.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

One-Two Punch

Five games of the NBA Finals have now been played and completed and what have we learned? For starters Danny Green is well… know he’s…..what I’m trying to say is….How do you even describe in a witty analogy what this man is doing? You can’t. All you can do is let the facts explain it and the facts are he is shooting 66% from the money-ball territory and has hit at least four threes in every game, but one. In fact, you might have been able to write this series all but over had Danny Green not appeared on the scene


Now, what else have we learned? How about the fact that neither one of these two teams lose well. In five games of play there has been one close game in game one, while the rest have been absolute blowouts. Each team answers back with their own hay-maker and even though game five may have ended in a ten point Spurs win you’d be lying to yourself if you actually thought the Heat were going to close out their run in the fourth. The fact of the matter is these two teams just don’t lose back-to-back games and if they do, they know how to bounce back. The Heat last lost back-to-back games in January against the Pacers and Trailblazers respectively. Not to mention both games were away. The Spurs lost three in a row to close out the season, granted they were resting for the playoffs, but it’s still three straight losses. They turned things around to sweep the Lakers, take four of six from the Warriors and then get another sweep, this time of the Grizzlies. This is what happens when two teams who don’t lose well face off. They lose, go back to the drawing board and figure out exactly why they lost and then exploit that in the next game. It is truly masterful.
In Game 5 the big story was of course Danny Green breaking Ray Allen’s record of three pointers made in a final series which was set at 23. Danny Green now has 25 with at least one game left to improve on that mark. There was something else that happened in Game 5 though and it was something much, much more important. Manu Ginobili emerged from whatever cavernous place he crawled up inside to and looked the Manu of old. He was dribble-driving by defenders left and right and finishing with his left or right. The man of Manu was unstoppable. What happened exactly? After a sit down one-on-one meeting with Coach Pop Manu felt as though he needed to come out and perform in this one, "I was angry, I was disappointed," Ginobili said. "We are playing in the NBA Finals, we were 2-2 and I felt I still wasn't really helping the team that much. And that was the frustrating part." So with Ginobili feeling this way and after Pop’s meeting with him Pop decided it was time for his go to Manu maneuver. What is that you ask? Well it’s to put him in the starting line up in a crucial playoff game of course. Three other times in his career in the playoffs Ginobili has been in a funk and Pop has put him into the starting lineup to try and get him out of his rut and 3 out of 3 times (now 4 of 4) it has worked beautifully. The previous three times Ginobili dropped at least 30 and then proceeded to remain in the starting lineup until the next series.

Another crucial thing happened in Game 5 is what I have been wanting to happen since before Game 3. If you remember reading from my post after Game 2 you may remember that I said I wanted to see BorisDiaw get a little more involved after his rough Game 2 outing. If you don’t remember that, it is probably because you didn’t read the earlier post and are a terrible person. It’s too late now though, it’s your own fault and you missed out on more awesome writing. Anyways, for Game 3 Pop went in the other direction and didn’t play Diaw for a minute. Not even when they had it in the bag and could breathe easy. That’s all changed now. Diaw is stepping up to the bell and he too is answering it. Being the bigger body he is and being a little quicker on his feet than most power forwards Diaw has been covering LeBron James while my man Y has been catching his breath. Not many people know or remember this, but when this Frenchman was drafted into the league by the Phoenix Suns he was drafted as a point guard. Since then he has put on a little weight and bulked up a bit and is now an extremely versatile power forward. Similar to what James does except not nearly as good. In fact that wasn’t really even a valid comparison because of how much better James is. That doesn’t stop Diaw though. The times where James shot the ball with Diaw guarding him in Game 5, James only shot 1-8 from the floor. Since Diaw is so big and actually has some lateral movement, it allows him to cut off the lane quicker and with a bigger body which leads James to settle for jumpers.

That is the genius of the Spurs. They truly embody what a team should be about. Each game there is a new person stepping up in the limelight giving them exactly what they need. In Game 3 it was Gary Nealcashing in from down town all game while Y plays the most suffocating D imaginable on James. In Game 5 it was so much like the Ginobili of old I was surprised he didn’t have that mop of hair on his head and as I just said we had Diaw denying James.

Who is going to step up now? With two chances to send the Heat packing, who is the man that steps up and helps us out in Game 6. I have 3 players in particular I want to keep an eye on. The first is TiagoSplitter. This man has been horrendous. Every time he has gone up for a shot or pass I have been surprised when it hasn’t been blocked or stolen away from him. I’m not necessarily expecting him to have a good game, but more or less asking him to stand up and prove he is actually capable of being on a basketball court. The next man I’d like to see step up is the young Cory Joseph. It’s a lot to ask of the kid, but with Tony Parker’s ailing hamstring it would be nice to see him get a solid 6-10 in the small amount of minutes he plays. The last man I will have my eye on is an interesting one. I feel as though he is Pop’s secret weapon of sorts and he is just waiting to fire away. That man is the real life Red Barron/Red Rocket, Matt Bonner. You always hear about in big finals clinching games with those random players who step up and have the game of their lives to help solidify the championship and I think if the Spurs want to do that tonight in Miami then Bonner is going to need to make it rain. He has been quiet all series and I believe Pop may have some sort of offensive scheme set up for him to have some open looks when he gets in.


P.S. I probably will at some point do something regarding the Bruins, but my Hockey knowledge is vastly inferior to that of my basketball so we shall see how that goes. In the meantime everybody should listen to Mike “Doc” Emrick. The man is a master at play-by-play commentary and there isn’t anyone who could even compare to being as good as him. I mean seriously who would ever thought you could feather, flutter, flip, fling, fly, float, finesse, force, fire, flank and fit a puck to a player or space? The man uses over 50 different words a game to describe a pass and most don’t make sense, but at the same time, they make too much sense. 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

LeBron Rejects Splitter and the Spurs Look to Bounce Back

It was the block heard round the world and by this point it has surely been played on most living room television sets and YouTube channels. I have been a long endorser for the fact that Tiago Splitter just does not look like a basketball player. He looks like that tall gangly kid who belongs in the band playing the baritone saxophone because he is the only one as tall enough to do so. Well, after Sunday night I can't imagine anyone disagreeing with that. After receiving a very nice bounce pass off a screen and roll from Tony Parker, Splitter turned to the hoop and got very wide-eyed. Why did he get wide-eyed you ask? Well it's simple. He saw a lane. A lane like an airstrip leading right to the basket. The only problem with this lane, is that LeBron James was at the end of it....waiting. So as soon as Splitter made his move to the basket, LeBron made his move to deny him and boy was it a much bigger and louder move. He got up there and blocked Splitter worse than Dikembe Mutumbo blocked that child's cereal in the Geico commercial.

Seeing as I am a Spurs fan and want to save myself from seeing the play again I am not going to post it here. That being said though, feel free to look it up yourself. Just go to YouTube and search LeBron James and then YouTube will automatically suggest the next word to be block. That's how bad it is. LeBron has a whole Sportscenter special highlight focusing on his chase down blocks for which he is infamous for. Yet, if you search LeBron James block on YouTube you have to scroll through 16 different videos of him blocking Splitter just to find one video on said chase down blocks. 

Please tell me you saw LeBron wearing a LeBron shirt in that interview? 

The funniest part about it was the fact that the game was well out of reach at that point anyways and it still generated this much buzz. Imagine if it had actually been at a crucial point in the game, like when Roy Hibbert blocked that terribly selfish player on the Knicks that will never win a ring in his NBA career.

The LeBron block basically summed up the game in a nutshell. The Spurs trying to take a commanding 2-0 lead with three games in San Antonio and all of that rejected by the Heat. For each blow the Spurs dealt out the Heat came right back. Danny Green was so on fire that he may as well have been the Human Torch. The only difference is, he would have gotten a bank loan. That was an Anchorman reference. If you didn't understand it, shame on you. The kid was 5-5 from the triple zone and 6-6 total on the game. Even with that performance though they still couldn't handle the Heat. Insert cliché getting out of the kitchen quote here.

If the Spurs want any shot at winning tonight's game three there are a few things that are going to have to happen. First and foremost the Spurs have got to stop turning the ball over. After having just a measly four turnovers in game one the Spurs amassed four times amount in game two with 16 of them. Another change that must happen comes with Gary Neal. I have always believed Gary Neal to be a poor mans George Hill, but since the playoffs have started he might as well be the change in the couch cushions. During the regular season Neal averaged a healthy 20 minutes a game while shooting a solid 41% from the floor including 36% from the three and all the while averaging just about 10 points a game. It has been a different story since the playoffs have started though. Neal is down in every statistical category. He is only getting about 15 minutes a game while averaging 5 points and shooting a dismal 35% from the floor and a Josh Smith Esq, 27% from three point. Now don't get your panties in a bunch saying stuff like; “You can't compare Gary Neal to Josh Smith! Josh Smith is good.” Shut-up. I know he is good, but he shoots three's like he is J.J. Redick and only makes about 28% of them. Hence, the Josh Smith comparison.

The next thing that needs to take place is probably a little more crucial than Neal and that is the 3 point play from Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili. The two are a combined for 4-16 from three point territory in the series and have been missing shots more open than Manu's bald spot. The only reason I take some of the pressure off Y in this situation is because he has been doled the task of guarding LeBron and has been doing incredible thus far.

How do you change these things? Well to be honest I can't really see Pop changing much as far as Gary Neal is concerned. If anything I see him maybe actually dialing it back a bit and maybe taking less shots than he normally would which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I think that Manu may have an increased role in this game especially seeing as the Heat may put a little extra focus on Danny Green. As far as the turnovers go that is just going to have to be a mental correction and nobody does mental corrections like coach Pop does. I will also be looking for Tiago Splitter (I know I thought we were done with him too) to be MORE aggressive. That's right, more aggressive. I may not enjoy seeing him get rejected at the rim, but I sure as hell love his aggression and I see him coming out extra aggressive to show that the block hasn't rattled him. Then again there is a very good chance it did rattle him. Oddly enough I also see Borris Diaw having an increased role in this game. Diaw is only averaging 10 minutes thus far in the series after getting 17.5 in the previous two so look for him to have a bit of an increased role in this one.

As far as my prediction goes I do not have one. I am not a crystal ball and therefore I have no idea who will win. I also do not want to jinx the Spurs. If I pick them to win and they lose then I jinxed them, but if I pick them to lose and they lose well then I was right and I still jinxed them. It's basically a lose-lose unless they win. HA, get it?


Also on a side note, Rafael Nadal won his 8th French Open this weekend bringing his Grad Slam total to 12 wins trailing only the great Pete Sampras (14) and some ass-clown that everybody says is the best tennis player ever in Roger Federer (17). Yeah, people are probably right about that best tennis player ever thing, but who cares! Nadal is 27 and after a 7 month lay-off looks poised for greatness. Let's just hope his knees hold up for another 3-4 years.

On another side note; Djokovich sucks.  

Thursday, 6 June 2013

NBA Finals Game 1 Preparation

Tonight will kick off the first game of what I hope to be a fantastic series in the NBA Finals and rather than make a Game 1 Preview I decided to make a Game 1 Preperation. As most people who will read this know I am a devout Spurs fan so there is an obvious reason for me to be excited. So, as a long time Spurs fan, I would also like to take this time out to welcome everybody living outside of Dade County to the bandwagon and lay out some of the ground rules. You see, rooting for the Spurs is not as easy as just hoping they win the NBA Championship because you, like everybody else in the world, hate Bron Bron. Nope. This bandwagon will be about pulling together for the comraderie of a team looking to solidify itself as one of the best, if not the best, teams of the last decade. For this reason and for the fact I fear not all of you are fully committed to rooting on this fantastic team that isn't at all boring to watch, I have comprised a list. This is a list of rules, regulations and random facts that I deemed were necessary in preparation for tonight's game 1. These are to be memorized and committed to heart before tip off tonight.

  1. The Spurs are not boring to watch
  2. Every foul called on the Spurs is a flop on the Heat
  3. Manu Ginobili does not flop
  4. Ray Allen sucks (I like Boston and I'm still bitter)
  5. Shane Battier is a no good Dukie (Both in the university sense and the, what I flush down the toilet, sense)
  6. The Spurs are not boring to watch
  7. There is a love hate relationship with Thiago Splitter
    1. We hate him because he just looks like he doesn't belong on the court and also looks downright weird
    2. We love him because for some odd reason he is...good?
  8. It is still the Alamo Dome as far as we Spurs fans are concerned
  9. Norris Cole has an awesome haircut (That's not really relevant to the Spurs, but I though everybody should know this)

  10. The Heat like really unnecessarily oversized things
    1. Udonis Haslems mouth piece
    2. Lebrons headband
  11. Dwyane Wade gets dressed with his eyes closed and he must be ridiculed for that

  12. The Spurs are not boring to watch
  13. You must watch all courstide interviews with Greg Popovich because they are that good

  14. Do not refer to Gregg Popovich as Gregg Popovich. His name is Pop or Coach Pop and since he is the best coach in the NBA nobody is worthy enough to call him by his first name
  15. On a related coaching note, Erik Spolstra is not a good coach
  16. In fact let's just go ahead an say Erike Spolstra isn't even a coach and isn't even good enough to hold Tracy McGrady's towel and gatorade.
  17. Tracy McGrady probably doesn't need a towel or gatorade, but let's be honest we all want him to get that ring
  18. The Spurs are not boring to watch
  19. Tony Parker is the best rapper alive

  20. It is perfectly acceptable to call Tim Duncan “Timmayyyyy”
  21. Manu Ginobili STILL does not flop
  22. Kawhi Leonard does not show any excitement, therefore you must show it for him
  23. You must also refer to him in the way to which he prefers which is by the very neutral, non-emotional letter “y”
  24. The guy literally never shows any emotion at all. Seriously watch the game and see if he cracks or smile or gets excited once.
  25. Although Borris Diaw is a little chunk we will respect him for the versatility he brings to the floor.
  26. Gary Neal has two first names.
  27. But seriously, Y will just run down the court throw it down all up in somebodies grill and then just turn and run back down court

  28. Patty Mills is Australian so that's pretty cool
  29. You saw the video right? Guy stole it, went the length of the court, threw it down lefty and then just has an”Eh, whatever, that was kind of tiring” look on his face.

So there you have it. A list of 30 things everyone must learn in order to root for the Spurs before tonight's game. For the record, I will disregard the fact that most of you hated the Spurs for the last 10 years and calling them boring to watch. Now, I welcome you aboard the “Go Spurs Go” Bandwagon, cheer your hearts out and check back before game 2 for a recap of game 1 and preview for game 2.  

P.S. This blog was quickly and hastily put together. I will jazz it up as soon as I get the chance