Saturday, July 14, 2007



Saturday, March 17, 2007

Marching in the Madness

What more do you want? It’s March, we have College Basketball. Is it mad? Yes, is it crazy? Yes. But however, think about it: What good would March Madness be without the great Dick Vitale? Seriously, most of you probably think he’s just another annoying color commentator on there that needs a nice, good, warm, and hearty cup of S-T-F-U, but think about it: The guy is turning (I believe) 68 later this year, he’s still in the commentating booth down on the sidelines, kicking it strong with either his good buddy/ies Dan Schulman, or Mike Patrick. Give the guy some props for still going strong down there running the commentary, still yelling his lungs out on the mic, yelling “baby!” every time he gets that oozie-boozie feeling his gut. He’s Dickie V, Dick Vitale. You may think you hate the guy, but deep down, you love the guy, because he is one of the stimulating factors of what makes college basketball great, baby! He’s a real PTC’er; Prime Time Commentator, baby! (Maybe too many baby’s, but that’s besides the point!)

Since this blog is a real diper dandy (I've only had it for a little over a month), and is spelt “Awesome” with a capital “A”, I had to really include something about Dick Vitale in here. Since it is March, like I mentioned, and it’s (probably) the best time of the year besides Christmas (except in March, you don’t have relatives driving you nuts, so you’re free to watch college basketball, baby), I just wanted to make a full, all-out article on here, just about March and it’s madness with a little Dick Vitale in the cooler as the one-two punch. Maybe an appreciation article, huh? Well it’s time to kick into Q.T. (Dick Vitale dictionary definition: quality time) gear, and rock this article out. Maybe a little basketball predictions from yours truly.

Pittsburgh defeated everyone’s ever-so-loved VCU Rams earlier this evening. What does that mean? Well, they moved on to the Sweet 16. At the time, their future opponent was pending. Between who? Indiana and UCLA. Indiana made a run late in the game, being down for the most part; however, UCLA was just too much as they forced a turnover late in the game, knocked down some free throws, and sealed the game tightly like a zip-lock bag. We have UCLA and Pittsburgh. Collisson, Lee Gray, Graves.. all competing for their respective team’s season. However, UCLA has had the benefit of the doubt of being able to play in California for the tourney, and this upcoming game will be no different. This game will be in Sacramento, the heart (maybe not so much) and capital of California, which gives a big edge to UCLA in terms of being familiar with the surroundings, and definitely the fans. However, watch out for Pittsburgh, and their 3-game. If you can contain them from 3-land, and force Gray into big-time foul trouble in the paint, you have a good chance at winning. UCLA wins this one, and advances. Mark it down, baby.

Larry Legend vs. MJ

It can be tough to compare players from different positions. The Forward is the toughest position to dominate a game from. But Bird was a dominant forward, and was the greatest forward of all time. Bird is the only player in history about whom there's no argument as to being the best ever at his position. Bird was a better outside shooter, with much longer range. Bird was a far better passer. Jordan was a better individual defender, making all defense first team multiple times. But Bird was all defense 2nd team 3 times. Bird was excellent in the team defense concept, and played the passing lanes extremely well. Bird was a better leader and a better teammate. He instantly transformed the Celtic franchise, a team that won 29 games the year before he arrived. In his first 3 years, he led them to 61, 62 and 63 win seasons.

Jordan did not instantly transform the Bulls franchise, as he "led" them to three straight losing seasons upon joining the team. Jordan never played for a winning team without Scottie Pippen, and when he did make the playoffs during his first 3 years, he was knocked out in the first round each time, with a combined record of 1 win and 9 loses (thanks to the Detroit Pistons.) When Jordan left to pursue a pathetic baseball career, Scottie Pippen once won 55 games in a season without him. However, no titles, and that was the missing link to that system -- Michael Jordan.

Larry Bird truly made his teammates better from the first day he stepped on an NBA court. Michael Jordan didn't really make his teammates better in the way that Larry Bird did. Scottie Pippen had his best season in 1994, the year after Jordan's first retirement, and in that same year, BJ Armstrong and Horace Grant made the East All star team for the only time in their 11 (Armstrong) and 17 (Grant) year careers, even though Michael Jordan wasn't around to "make them better." I do think Jordan was a great teammate, and made many memorable setup passes (Steve Kerr in the '97 or '98 NBA Finals to put the Suns away. But he had to make the shot right? He hit that 3, nailing it. Bird's passes were always lead-and-go, here-you-go-buddy, here's-your-present-on-Christmas Day type of passes. What I mean was, Larry Bird found his teammates on the spot, and right there when he needed to hit them on the spot with the pass, right on the money, in great position, where it seemed as if there was no way that his teammates were going to miss that upcoming shot, and they nailed the trey nearly every time Bird made those great passes, and that's how Bird sets his passing apart from Jordan.

His leadership was in ahh in the 80's, and really was difficult for him to win games with so many teams playing at such a high level. The same could be said with Jordan, because I'm not going to down the Trail Blazers, Suns, Sonics, or Jazz, but the stars of the 80's made it tough. Basketball was a tougher sport then, because fouls were especially limited where you could be knocked around silly. MJ was knocked around in the 80's by the Pistons with their "MJ rule." He was slapped upside the face, and no fouls were called a lot of the times. It drastically changed in the 90's, where players startd to get barely touched, and it was nearly instantly a foul. Now in days, it IS like that, and it's sad on how basketball is becoming more and more of a sissy sport in terms of aggressiveness, and toughess. It's hard to play defense in today's game anymore, and offense is dominating the game. Sad enough, I still love basketball like I love chilli on my hotdog.

Larry Bird (along with Magic Johnson) also saved the NBA in the 80's, in my opinion. Michael Jordan didn't save the NBA from anything really, it was booming when he won his first title against Magic and the Lakers in '91, and Michael Jordan just was becoming a superstar from mid to late 80's when he had his run-ins with the bad boys from Detroit (too bad Pistons fans now in days never ever even mention MJ and the Bulls back then. Pfft.) After he finally got the monkey off his back from his Bulls losing to the Pistons in the playoffs, he won 6 titles in the 1990's, and really electrified the game of basketball, spicing it up. However, he didn't rejuvenate it. He just made people want to be just like him, and that was his biggest highlight with his shoes, titles, MVP's.

Jordan won 6 championships to Bird's 3, but Bird faced much tougher competition in the 80s than Jordan faced in the 90s.... the Celtics, Sixers and Lakers were all better than anyone the Bulls faced in their 90's finals matchups. Those teams would have never even lost a game to teams like Portland, Phoenix, Seattle and Utah. If it wasn't for Magic and the Lakers' titles in the 80's (especially those great Celtics/Lakers matchups), Bird would very well have 6 rings, too. Besides, if anyone wants to merely use the number of rings, then that means that Bill Russell was the greatest player of all time, period. Rings are moreso team success. The TEAM wins a title, not a PLAYER. Slap me in the face when a player scores every single point, in every single game of the regulars season, throughout the playoffs, while the player's teammates just stand around, deliberately, and do nothing to contribute to a team. That will never happen, so don't count on it. Another thing that Michael Jordan and Larry Bird had in common was that they were both fanatics about conditioning. They were never out of shape, and both would be just as strong in the 4th Quarter as they were in the 1st Quarter. However, if you'd ask any NBA player from that era who he'd rather have as a teammate, 99 percent of them would say Larry Bird. So of course, my Celtics-loving ass is going to take Larry Bird in this situation.

Conclusion: All in all, in their prime, put them 1 on 1, and I think Michael Jordan would win. Because, in my opinion, MJ was the better individual player, which is aside from the all-around, team player. Larry Bird wasn't so much a great athlete as he was SMART about the game of basketball. He had a knack, an uncanny one at that. Also, a great shot. He made his team better and fit in to it really nicely. However, as I mentioned, his conditioning made him an athlete, and he stuck to his instincts, and thrived at them. Therefore, I think Michael Jordan is superior in athletic ability.

As for that drive/killer instinct on the court, most would give it to MJ for his intensity, and the way he stuck his toungue out when he leaped up for a dunk (seriously, it scared defenses, and made kids run around their backyard, and dunk the bal with their toungue sticking out. It's a signature, baby.) However, Larry Bird was just as driven and bloodthirsty on the court (in the win-getting sense, that is), so you really can't say who you'd give that drive to. A lot comes down to team dynamic then. I could see Michael Jordan doing his thing on a different team. Larry Bird, not so much, but how would we know about Larry Legend when he spent his whole career being a loyal Boston Celtics' player? It comes down to this: If I'm wanting to build a team around the individual player, I'll take the #23, Michael Jordan. If it's about who I'm wanting to take as a team player, I'll take Larry Bird for the things he did on offense, and his pure leadership. However, that's like picking between the filet mignon and the lobster.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

MLB: Overrated..Underrated..what else?

There was a debate on RealGM between the most underrated and overrated players. My list went by David Eckstein being underrated, and Alex Rodriguez being overrated. I was quoted with these two replies:

"Just look at Alex Rodriguez stats he's definitly not overrated. Last years stats were supparb, but people thought he had an off year because of the expectations people had for him. I hear a lot of praises for David Ecksteing I have no clue why, that's why i consider him to be an ovverated player aswell."

"Whoever says Alex Rodriguez is overrated is probably just chafing at the amount of press he gets because of his oft-documented "slumps". I think he's a fine player, I'd love for him to replace Edgar Renteria right now."

Yet you guys don't even mention the fact that Eckstein came up for his respective team in the World Series, and fail to acknowledge much of that. I'm sure you guys are New York Yankees haters just like I am, but just because I mention a disliking towards a Yankees players that states constructive criticism and facts doesn't mean I'm biased when it comes to that matter, and doesn't mean you should reply that way. Why? Because you're going to get shown up in a few minutes just on that. Here is my explanation to you two on why Alex Rodriguez is one of the most overrated players in the MLB:

He didn't live up to expectations as he should have. He made so many errors, I don't even feel like looking up stats for. He had an off-year compared to others, and his defense was just so terrible that it was hard to look over. I don't think he belongs on the Yankees (should be elsewhere.) He was just so unable to culminate meeting those statistics that he should have reached. I think if he was playing for more of a small-city team, his stats would blister back up. It seems to me that he can't take much criticism, and New York has been the toughest place to play for him. He needs to consider some of those factors, and it looks like he will be traded succeeding the 2007 New York Yankees season if they can't reason a way to muster up a decent chemistry this season, he's long gone from New York unless he goes the few miles to play in Shea Stadium in a Mets uniform. He's a great player, and I just now acknowledged that, but I'm going to keep him in my overrated column of side until he can prove his worth as a Yankee this upcoming season by not looking mediocre out on the field defensively. He had a dropoff of 13 less homeruns than he did in his MVP campaign in 2005, from 48 to 35. Also, he had his lowest at bat amounts since his final season with the Seattle Mariners in 2000. Another stat for you: he had 24 errors -- that's the most he's had since his young days of 1997 matching the high title of 24, as last year he didn't have any (any as says on his player page.) Like I said (just going to be repetitive for you, for a second or some), he's a great player, but he's just overrated in my mind. It's too mind boggling on how he didn't even come close to meeting the expectations he was put out for in 2006. He should have done a lot better. The media put the pressure on him, and he shown that he couldn't handle it.

As for David Eckstein, what do you mean you do not understand the praise he's getting? He came up huge in the World Series by being a coherent attribute on why we won the World Series. There's some sort of kidney disease that runs in his family by heredity, and I don't believe he has it, but still yet, it's great to see him out there playing in the Majors, living his dream, even though there's a big chance he'll have that disease one of these days. It's just a great accomplishment for him to be out there, to win the Series again (after he did in 2002 with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.) I think that it's not only great for him, but his family also. He's one hell of a player to be at such a short height, yet playing with a large heart, quick speed, and great defense. He's truly underrated in my eyes from those aspects, and he's only been getting praise for the aspect that the Cardinals won the World Series. Other than that, he hasn't gotten much respect from any media outside of St. Louis or Los Angeles (that's a sure fact.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

March Madness, baby!

With March Madness tipping off Thursday (sorry play-in game participants).. everyone in your office or class becomes Andy Katz or Digger Phelps. But I guess that’s what makes this event great, right?

After looking at the brackets, there are certainly some interesting match-up possibilities. Of course, those matchups could be completely torched by upsets (i.e. last year) but here’s a couple as my bracket predicts:

Midwest Regional: Oregon/Wisconsin - Drinking the Pac-10 Kool-Aid is something I vowed never to do again but I’m awfully impressed by this Oregon team. The chance to see the Ducks, who handled any and all comers in the Pac-10 tournament, square off against the Badgers (see: POY-candidate Alando Tucker) is a game I’d pay to see. Oregon/Florida - Every one of the Worldwide Leader’s talking heads are picking the Gators to return to the Final Four but I’m not sold. The SEC fielded an unspeakably weak field this year and I’m not sure the Gators have what it takes to beat Arizona, Maryland and Oregon but this game could potentially be a classic. Taj Porter, Aaron Brooks and Bryce Taylor vs. Joh'kim, Brewer and Horford.

West Regional: Of the four regionals, this is probably the weakest and least exciting. The only potentially exciting matchup would be the elite 8 showdown between Kansas and UCLA. Though I have Kansas in the Final Four, I think they’re the most enigmatic. Bill Self’s resumé in Lawrence has been far from excellent and but I think the Jayhawks will have a relatively easy time disposing of everyone in their half of the bracket. The possible Pitt/UCLA storyline has people excited but I think Saturday night Pitt showed that if they don’t get good looks from the perimeter and Aaron Gray is defended well in the post, they’re easily beatable.

East regional: Hands-down the most exciting bracket in the tournament. Anyone of these match-ups will be worth watching: Texas/USC, Texas/UNC, BC/Georgetown, Washington St./Georgetown, Georgetown/UNC. If this weekend proved anything, it was that Georgetown is the real deal. The low-post combination of Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert might be the best in the country. I’m picking Georgetown to emerge from this impressive pack but I wouldn’t be at all surprised I were wrong.

South regional: O-H-I-O. That’s really all you need to say about this bracket. Memphis is the hottest team in the country, Texas A&M and Acie Law could be a tough out but the Buckeyes will be Georgia-bound when it’s all said and done. This is the bracket with the least amount of intriguing potential match-ups. Ohio State’s biggest challenge will be its own youth and inexperience and even though they’re awfully young — they’re awfully good.

My final four picks:
Ohio State

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Slot Receiver!

You may, or may not know, but yesterday the Rams cashed in on [former] Tennessee Titans' Wide Receiver Drew Bennett. That signing gives us hope that we will replace our current slot receiver, Kevin Curtis, since he is a free agent and will most likely not be returning to the Greatest Show on Turf in St. Louis. We offered the $30 million to D-Dub (Bennett) with our arms wide open, with the extra $10 million signing bonus, and he gladly accepted. We offered the same to Kevin Curtis, and all we truly got was a slap in the face by the number 83. Or shall I say, the old number 83. So right now, as a long-time Rams fan, I salute and welcome the St. Louis Rams' newest addition, and wide receiver, Mr. Drew Bennett!

It's not like the guy was being friendly and just coming to the Rams being a number 3 receiver, accepting the role that he will not be THE man in the offense nor THE star. I mean, he just joined one of the most prolific offenses in the league (still today) that features the best receiver in the game today (my opinion), Torry Holt, a guy that can still put up numbers like no other, having a 1,000 yard season last year, one of the most loyal players in the league that is going to become a reverend when he retires, Isaac Bruce, while being thrown to by the 2006-2007 most accurate Quarterback in the league, Marc Bulger. The signing of Drew will just make Marc more accurate because of his 6'5" height, being in the redzone with the 6'5" tight end, Joe Klopfenstein, will allow Bulger to lick his fingers like he has cheeto stains on them (you know, after eating about the eighth cheeto, it starts to stain that orange mix on your fingertips), drop a few steps, and fire that ball in there with force and fury. What more could a Rams' fan want?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Drafting a Wide Receiver?

I have been preaching Defense, Defense lately on different sports forums for obvious reasons for the upcoming draft and available free agents. While reading all of the draft/free agent threads and posts on RealGM, I've been surprised by the requests/predictions that a WR is a need. Thinking to myself why? We need DEFENSE! We need pass rushing, run stopping defensive players, PERIOD! Not even "period" Rafael Palmeiro style. Well I guess I'm a member of the slow class? The WR need finally sunk in and my curiosity took over. Still wondering why anyone would suggest or hint that we need a WR/WR's?? So I went into my research mode. After refreshing my memory by looking at the Rams' depth chart for the 2006 season a "BRIGHT LIGHT" went on in my head. We need a WR/WR's!

With all the talk about Kevin Curtis and Shaun MacDonald probably leaving the team to pursue larger roles and more money, the WR position needs to be looked at. I mean Isaac Bruce is going to be almost 35 years old when the 2007 season rolls around. Torry Holt and Dane Looker will be 31 years old. Now I'm not sure of the average age of an NFL receiver when the performance on the field starts to decline but I would say 35 is a number of concern if not 31. Also considering Kevin Curtis and Shaun MacDonald were 3rd and 4th on the 2006 depth chart respectively. We need a WR/WR's!

Obviously the durability of Holt and more importantly the aging Bruce are as much of a major concern as always. The concern is greater if in fact Curtis and MacDonald leave the team. Why? Next in line on the depth chart are Willie Ponder and Dane Looker that's why. They would become the 3rd and 4th receivers on the depth chart (in no particular order). During the 2006 season Ponder and Looker combined for "ZERO" receptions which equals "ZERO" receiving yards that means "ZERO" TD's. Willie Ponder? Yeah he's fast but what about his hands? Dane Looker has the hands but no speed, more of a possession type guy. Curtis and MacDonald combined for 53 receptions, 615 receiving yards and 5 TD's. Will Looker and Ponder be to fill those shoes? Maybe? Maybe not! The bigger and more important question is could Looker or Ponder fill in for a Bruce or a Holt? Even if it's for just 1 game? We have known in recent seasons that Curtis could handle a fill in role and even MacDonald could create a threat. Looker and/or Ponder? I know we can't go into the 2007 predicting that Bruce or Holt will be injured but we must be prepared for it. We need that security blanket.

Last season Bruce, Holt and Jackson combined for 257 of the 371 receptions or 69.3% of the passing game. The trio also combined for 3,092 receiving yards out of the 4,328 total receiving yards the team had which equals 71.4% of the passing game. Not to mention the 16 TD receptions. Obviously Head Coach Scott Linehan relied on the big 3 all season and was fortunate that they were able to stay healthy enough to play the whole season. Jackson is already saying he would welcome some help by giving up a few plays a game. With Stephen Davis saying he would like to stay and Tony Fisher hopefully coming back healthy combined with the Marshall Faulk dilemma I'm not as concerned about the RB position. After all if Steven Jackson was asked to do it all, he would and could.

Again the Bruce and Holt durability questions come to mind. Having a guy like Curtis is like having an ace up our sleeve. Even MacDonald could help in certain spots. So I ask, Ponder? Looker? A little scary if you ask me. Since the "Greatest Show on Turf" days, we have become accustomed to our Rams throwing the ball all over the field with a high percentage of success. So duh! I guess we better keep our eyes and ears open for some WR help.