Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bay wants to be a part of it, New York, New York

It turns out that all of the rumors about Jason Bay possibly returning to the Boston Red Sox were just that…rumors.

Earlier today it was announced that Bay had agreed to terms on a 4 year $66 million dollar contract with the circus act called the New York Mets. Bay joins a team that has plenty of superstars (Francisco Rodriguez, David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran) but has notoriously underachieved over the years. The Mets are full of big name players, but they are an embarrassment of a team that will never win with their current cast of characters.

Apparently, the idea of playing for a franchise like that intrigues Bay. In the past year, he has turned down a contract offer of 4 years and $60 million from the Red Sox, where he would have been playing in a pennant race each year. Instead, he will now be playing for the junior varsity team in New York, albeit for a few million more.

Enjoy your time in New York, Jason. I hope that the extra $6 million that the Mets are paying you will come in handy in October when you’re sitting at home watching the Red Sox in the playoffs.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Caldwell made the right choice; an unpopular one, but the right one

The Indianapolis Colts lost yesterday for the first time this season, falling to the New York Jets. The Colts, who had already clinched the division and home field advantage in the playoffs, pulled their starters during the game to avoid injury and to rest them for the playoff run coming up.

The Colts loss means that the ’72 Miami Dolphins can celebrate for at least one more year as being the only team to go undefeated and win the Super Bowl.

In my opinion, the Colts did the right thing. They have the bigger picture in mind, which is going to the Super Bowl. However, a lot of sports writers and commentators disagree with me. Quadry Ismail of ESPN says that the Colts “missed out” by pulling their starters. Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star wrote that the Colts “tossed away perfection like a Christmas leftover. They treated it with a casual shrug of the shoulders, disdain even, as if they were beyond such a trivial pursuit”. The Chicago Tribune even went so far as to say that the Colts coach “dropped the ball by tanking the game.”

I’d like to know exactly what the Colts “missed out” on by pulling their starters. Did they miss out on getting Peyton Manning seriously injured in a meaningless game? How about any of their other first string players? How many of these “experts” would have changed their opinion about pulling their starters if one the Colts main players had gotten hurt? I guarantee that people would have been demanding that Colts coach Jim Caldwell’s be fired for risking his players to go after such a trivial record. Caldwell did the right thing by pulling his first starters out of the game. No offense to the New York Jets, but it was a meaningless game.

I hope that the Colts win the Super Bowl now. Once it happens, I’d like to see how these same writers who are criticizing Jim Caldwell now praise him for making the right moves.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Heavenly Angel is now a Wicked Awesome Chowda Head

The Boston Red Sox made the biggest splash of the off season thus far by signing John Lackey to a 5 year deal today. This signing gives the Red Sox a starting rotation that is head and shoulders above the rest. By signing Lackey, the Red Sox have 6 impressive starting pitchers in their rotation (Beckett, Lackey, Lester, Matsuzaka, Bucholz, and Wakefield).

This move shores up one of the Red Sox needs this off season. They also need to find a third baseman (assuming that Mike Lowell is traded), and a left fielder (because Jason Bay more than likely isn’t coming back).

To do this, they don’t go out and spend Yankee money to get the biggest and most expensive stars. The Red Sox like to get the most bang for their buck. That is why as I write this the Red Sox are in contract negotiations to sign Mike Cameron to a 2 year deal to play the outfield. Cameron can play all three positions and will be able to provide some power at the plate. He also comes at a significantly cheaper price than Jason Bay or Matt Holliday. By saving this money on Cameron, the Sox will be able to go out and find the 3rd baseman that they so desperately need.

Speaking of 3rd baseman, don’t be surprised to find the Red Sox making a deal for one as soon as the Mike Lowell situation is resolved. I’ve heard rumors of Adrian Beltre, Kevin Youklis (after the Sox trade for Adrian Gonzalez), or even Garret Atkins.

But those are just rumors. I’ve learned to never trust them when it comes to the Red Sox and their GM, Theo Epstein. I pay pretty close attention to rumors about player movements, but I never heard a peep about the Lackey signing until today. And more than likely, we won’t hear about their new 3rd baseman until they announce the signing.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What to do, what to do

The deal has been agreed upon, and as soon as the financial details get worked out Mike Lowell will leave the Boston Red Sox in a trade with the Texas Rangers.

This deal has left a sour taste in the mouths of many Red Sox fans, who have voiced their opinion on many message boards and blogs. Honestly, I don’t blame them for being upset with the deal. Lowell has been an important part of the Red Sox ever since he arrived in Boston, and now he is getting traded for a minor league catcher.

Believe it or not, I am completely fine with this deal. Lowell will be 36 by Opening Day of next year and has been injury prone for the past few years. It is time for the Red Sox to get younger and more athletic, and those are two words that do not describe Mike Lowell. As much as I liked him being a part of the Red Sox, business is business. They got a few good years out of him, and Lowell will forever be a part of Red Sox history.

So what now? The Red Sox have an opening at 3rd base that they need to fill. There are a few options that they can explore. Kevin Youklis has played many games at 3rd and has done well, but that will open a spot at 1st base. David Ortiz has played 1st in the past but since he’s been off of steroids, he seems to be breaking down physically. If Youklis moves to 3rd then the Red Sox will have to obtain a 1st baseman this off season. They have been in contact with the San Diego Padres about Adrian Gonzalez. He is a young, power hitting left handed hitter who would do well at Fenway.

Another option for the Sox would be to keep Youklis at 1st base, and then sign Adrian Beltre to play 3rd. Beltre is a younger, more athletic player than Lowell was. He is a great defensive player who at one time was an MVP candidate with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The only down side to Beltre is that he has been injury prone the past few years, just like Lowell.

Or, the financial details of the trade do not get worked out and Lowell stays the 3rd baseman for the Boston Red Sox and they go on to win the World Series!

I like that last one best.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Curtis Granderson is a Yankee. Son of a nutcracker!

The Yankees, defending World Series Champions, have added an all star center fielder entering the prime of his career to their already imposing lineup.

On Monday, I heard a rumor about this deal. Then on Tuesday afternoon, the deal was agreed upon. Once all players involved pass their physicals, the deal will be official and Granderson will be the newest part of the evil empire that is the New York Yankees.

As a Red Sox fan, part of me wants the team to go out and spend money to sign as many big free agents as they can. That same part also wants the Red Sox to trade for as many big name players as possible, just to beat the Yankees.

That’s just one part of me. The other side, which is my more rational side, doesn’t want the team to just spend money for the sake of spending money. I don’t want the team to give up some of its best prospects for a top of the line player that is only going to be around for a year or two.

People may be talking now about how good the Yankees are going to be with Granderson, but championships are won on the field, not off of them.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Predictions Sure to go Wrong

Everybody likes to think that they can predict the future. It’s exciting. In a weird sort of way, it makes you think that you have supernatural powers. Some people attempt to predict the future for money, like gamblers and people that play the stock market.

I like to predict the future in sports. Lately, I have not been very accurate in my predictions. I was sure that the Boston Red Sox would make it to the World Series. However, I have come up with a list of things that I believe will happen in the next year in the world of sports. So, without further adieu, here they are in no particular order

- Lou Pinella will not return to manage the Chicago Cubs next season…Ryne Sandberg will
- This season will be Chris Osgood’s last as a Red Wing.
- Michigan will defeat Michigan State in basketball for the first time in years.
- The Washington Capitals will win the Stanley Cup.
- The Boston Red Sox will trade at least one of their most popular players this off season.
- As much as I hate to admit it, the New York Yankees will win the World Series.
- The Detroit Pistons will lose in the first round of the playoffs, fire their coach again, and Joe Dumars will name himself as head coach.
- Jim Leyland will resign midway through the 2010 season from the Detroit Tigers.
- Michigan football will go to a mediocre bowl game this season, but challenge for the Big Ten Title in 2010.
- Dick Jauron will be fired as coach of the Buffalo Bills before the end of the calendar year.
- Next year at this time, the following teams will have new head coaches in the NFL; Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccanears, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, St. Louis Rams, and Tennessee Titans.

So there they are. My predictions for the future are not something that you should go and bet your bottom dollar on. I didn’t look into my crystal ball or consult any tarot cards. They are just gut feelings that I have.

On October 15 of 2010, I will re-post this article on my blog to see how well my “sports visions” are.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hawkeye Fans Come Down with a Case of Premature Celebration

As the game clock showed 0:00, thousands of Iowa Hawkeye fans stormed the field to celebrate their 30-28 victory over the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday night.

Iowa, undefeated and ranked #12 in the country, narrowly beat a young, unranked Michigan team that turned the ball over 5 times.

I’m all for fans getting behind their teams and celebrating a victory, but last night seemed a little over the top. If the circumstances were different, then I could understand Iowa fans wanting to celebrate on the field with their team.

But they weren’t different. Iowa had everything going for them. They were playing at home. Their players are bigger, faster, and stronger. Iowa is just a much better team than Michigan is right now. Before last nights game, Iowa’s defense hadn’t allowed a rushing touchdown since last November. Going into last nights game, Michigan hadn’t allowed a rushing touchdown since last Saturday at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

If this was a game that decided the National or Big Ten Championship, then I could understand Iowa fans wanting to rush the field after the game. However, this was a narrow victory over an inferior opponent in the middle of the season.

I appreciate the enthusiasm of the Iowa fans last night, but the dash onto the field last night seemed a bit premature. Wait until you actually win a game that means something Hawkeye fans…like the Big Ten Championship.


I can’t believe it. I really can’t believe what I just saw.

If you were to tell me earlier on today that the Red Sox would lead the Angels 6-4 in the 9th inning and have Jonathan Papelbon on the mound to close it out, I would have bet my house that Boston would win the game. Instead, the Angels scored 3 runs in the top of the 9th inning off of the Red Sox closer and won the game 7-6, winning the American League Division Series.

I’ve got to hand it to the Angels though. They showed the never say die attitude that I kept expecting the Red Sox to come through with in this series. The Angels Torii Hunter said it best when in a post game interview he stated, “That’s why we play 9 innings”.

Now the Angels will move on to the American League Championship Series where they will play the winner of the New York Yankees vs. the Minnesota Twins.

So what are myself and the millions of other Red Sox fans supposed to do now? The way that I see it, I’ve got two options. The first, I can move on to other sports. Football is in the middle of its season right now, hockey has just started their season, and basketball is about ready to tip off their season.

The other option that I have is to continue to watch the baseball post season and root for my second favorite team, whoever is playing the Yankees.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's Okay to Believe in Superstitions

The 2009 playoffs begin tonight for the Boston Red Sox as they visit the Los Angeles Angels in the American League Division Series. Everywhere around the country, Red Sox fans will be tuning in to root for their team. Many of these same fans will also be engaging in whatever superstition that they believe will help the Red Sox win.

Now I know that in the real world, superstitions are just that…superstitions. They are silly things that people do because they believe that it will bring them or their team luck.

However, in the sports world, superstitions are everything. Some players will wear the same hat the entire year because they think that it will bring them luck. When the late Mark Fidrych was pitching, he would get a new baseball anytime that he gave up a hit. Wade Boggs would have barbecue chicken before every game that he played. I know of football players that won’t change their socks for an entire season. There are basketball players that will go through the exact routine every time the shoot a free throw. Hockey players will grow playoff beards for luck. The list is endless.

These superstitious beliefs don’t just end with the athletes themselves. Fans all over the world have superstitions that they believe will help their team.

I am one of them. Back in 2004, the Boston Red Sox were down 3 games to 0 and were on the brink of elimination at the hands of the New York Yankees. During that game 4, I had 4 chicken strips with some “three cheese light done right” ranch dressing as a snack. The Red Sox came back late in the game to defeat the Yankees. So, the next night I had the same snack at the same time and got the same result. I couldn’t stop there, so I continued on to the next game. The Red Sox ended up winning the next 8 games to claim their first World Series Championship in 86 years!!

Some of my other superstitions are not as noticeable. For example, if I am watching a game and my team is playing well, I will not change the position that I am sitting in until their luck changes.

Needless to say, each year that the Red Sox are in the baseball playoffs, I come up with something to try and help the team win. This year I am trying burritos as my food of choice. I will also be wearing different Red Sox apparel in an effort to help the team. If the team does well, I will continue on with the same routine. If they don’t, then I will try something different.

That’s what I love about sports, anything can happen, both ON and OFF the field!


A three game lead with only four games to go wasn’t enough. A 3-1 lead in the sixth inning of their one game playoff with the Minnesota Twins wasn’t enough.

The Detroit Tigers finished off their 2009 season by losing a 12 inning, one game playoff Tuesday night to their Central Division rival Minnesota Twins. After being up 3-1, manager Jim Leyland decided that taking out young pitcher Rick Porcello in favor of Zach Miner was the right move.

Leyland, who has a history of mishandling pitching staffs, lived up to his reputation. Miner gave up a two run home run to the Twins Orlando Cabrera to make the game 4-3 in favor of Minnesota in the 7th inning.

Aside from a Brandon Inge RBI double that later tied the game, the Tigers never showed any “killer” instinct. I was waiting for them to put the game away, especially when they had the bases loaded with only one out in the 10th inning.

So what’s next for the Tigers? Besides a winter at home watching the playoffs, they definitely have some issues that they need to address if they want to improve on this past season.

First and foremost, is Jim Leyland still the guy that you want to manage this team? I know that he just signed a two year extension this past season, but he does not seem to be able to get through to this team. Since 2006, it seems like this team does not perform well in big games. Also, his decisions involving the pitching staff have been questionable to say the least.

I’d also like to see a veteran brought in to mentor Miguel Cabrera. He is one of the most talented players in the league, but his decision to go out last Friday with some of the Chicago White Sox players showed that he still has some maturing to do. On a weekend where the Tigers were trying to clinch their division, going out drinking till the early hours of the morning was a horrible decision. And drinking as much as he did (he blew a .26!!) is just plain dangerous!

I know that some people would argue that the Tigers were a good first place team for most of the year, and that is true. However, they were a first place team in the weakest division in baseball. They were probably the most talented team in the division, but did not perform up to their potential.

Now that I think about it, that is how people describe the Chicago Cubs. For Tigers fans sake, let’s hope that they don’t have to wait as long between championships.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tigers Hope History Has a Way of Repeating Itself

This feels like 2006 all over again, but worse.

The Tigers of ’06 were 40 games above .500 on August 7th and seemed to be cruising to their first division title since 1987. For the last 50 games of the season, they went 19-31 and lost the division and ended up as the wild card entrant. Fortunately, the Tigers struck gold in October and won the American League Pennant before falling to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

The 2009 Detroit Tigers have been in first place in the Central Division since early May, and now their late season choke job has forced them into a one game playoff in Minnesota against the Twins. The Tigers will be hanging their playoff hopes on the young arm of 20 year old Rick Porcello, who wasn’t even alive the last time the Tigers won a division title.

Having only won 4 of their final 10 games in the regular season, the Tigers will need everybody on their roster to step up on Tuesday. They need to forget their slumping last few weeks of the regular season. The post season is a totally different type of baseball. Everything is magnified. One run or one pitch can make or break your team.

On Tuesday, the Tigers and Twins will be playing like there is no tomorrow. On Wednesday, one team will be traveling to New York, and the other will be heading home for the winter.

If I were the Twins, I’d be making reservations for the Big Apple.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nike signs Vick to an endorsement deal (I'm not joking...they really did it)

What do you get when you take a backup quarterback with a 39.6 pass rating, zero pass completions, and seven rushing yards? Most people think that it would equal a mediocre player who probably shouldn’t even be in the NFL.

Nike looks at those stats and sees their newest client…Michael Vick.

No, this is not an ill fated attempt at humor. There is no need to look at your calendar’s either because today is not April Fool’s Day. Michael Vick is actually the newest client that Nike has signed to an endorsement deal. The terms of the deal were not revealed but it is said to include shoes and apparel.

Vick is not new to the Nike family though. The company signed him in 2001 as a highly touted rookie quarterback and then fired him in August 2007 after he admitted his involvement in a dog fighting ring.

Dog fighting or no dog fighting, will people really want to purchase Vick merchandise? Is he even going to be marketable? I realize that before he went to prison he was one of the most fashionable players in the NFL, but now he is merely a backup quarterback. So far this season has shown that he is nowhere near the player that he was.

But hey, if there’s hope for a has been like Vick, then maybe Matt Leinart and Vince Young can still be considered marketable.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Great Season, Poor Celebration

The Los Angeles Angels clinched the Western Division Title yesterday, which all but guarantees them another shot at the Boston Red Sox in the playoffs.

Once the game was over, the Angels celebrated like most teams do when they accomplish something. First there is the pile on in the infield, then they acknowledge the crowd (if they’re playing at home) as they make their way into the clubhouse to give each other a bath in champagne and beer.

It was a great accomplishment for a team that has been through a lot this season. In early April, rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed in a tragic hit and run accident. The driver was a 22 year old male with a history of arrests for driving under the influence. He was booked for driving under the influence, vehicular manslaughter, and murder charges. During this entire season, the Angels kept Adenhart’s jersey with them and even hung it up in the dugout during their games as a tribute to him.

During the Angels celebration last night, they raised Adenhart’s jersey up and poured beer and champagne all over it.

Is it just me, or does anybody else think that dousing a player’s jersey with alcohol that died after being hit by a drunk driver a tad inappropriate? I understand that the Angels players wanted to “include” him in the celebration, but pouring cans of beer over Adenhart’s jersey was in poor taste. I’m kind of surprised that no other media outlet picked up on this.

After the alcohol shower that they gave to Adenhart’s jersey, the Angels then went back out onto the field and got their picture taken in front of the center field wall where Adenhart’s picture has been all season. That was a nice touch.

Congratulations to the Angels for clinching their division and making the playoffs again. Shame on the players though for thinking that pouring alcohol over a player’s jersey that was killed by a drunk driver was a good idea.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Despite Big Wins by Michigan and Notre Dame, Questions Are Still Aplenty

Week 1 of the college football season is now in the books and despite each school’s blowout victories, both Notre Dame and Michigan still have some unanswered questions going into next week’s matchup in Ann Arbor.

Michigan totaled 31 points against Western Michigan in the first half alone. True freshman quarterback Tate Forcier looked like a mature upperclassmen in his first college game. If there was any question as to which of the three quarterbacks (Forcier, freshman Denard Robinson, and junior Nick Sheridan) should be the starter this season, it was answered right away by Forcier.

Although I believe that Forcier is the man to lead the Michigan offense, Denard Robinson will be a huge factor this season. Although he fumbled his first snap under center, he was able to turn the botched play into a 43 yard touchdown run. Having two weapons at quarterback will make UM much more difficult to defend against.

The offense and defense both looked considerably faster than last year’s team. Compared to this year, last season’s UM team seemed like they were running in slow motion. Historically, Michigan has always had big 300 lb. lineman on the field. This year, there is only one starter that tips the scales over the 300 lb. mark, and he is only 304.

One thing that did disappoint me was the second half. It seemed like Michigan went into cruise control after halftime. Granted, they did have a 31 point lead on the Broncos and the game was essentially over by halftime. However, this is still a young team that is learning a still fairly new offense. They played well in the first half, but it by no means gives them an excuse for taking the second half off.

Notre Dame arrives in Ann Arbor fresh off a 35-0 drubbing of Nevada. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen threw 4 touchdowns to give the Irish and Coach Charlie Weis a much needed win to start the season. Weis has been on the “hot seat” ever since last season which saw the Irish finish 6-6 after starting the season 4-1.

When Weis took over the coaching reins in 2005, he seemed to have the “luck of the Irish” by leading Notre Dame to records of 9-2 and 10-2. However, the last two years have seen them amass a mediocre 9 wins against 15 losses.

One question that Notre Dame fans still is if quarterback Jimmy Clausen is the man to lead them back to a BCS bowl game. Yes, Clausen threw for an impressive 315 yards against Nevada on Saturday. One thing to keep in mind is that Nevada was last in the country in pass defense last year. Clausen needs to prove that he can put up those types of numbers against a top flight defense.

Which team has more to lose? Who needs a win more, Rich Rodriguez or Charlie Weis? Is Tate Forcier the real deal for the Wolverines? Will Jimmy Clausen finally step up and lead the Irish back to national prominence?

These questions will all be answered this Saturday when the two most successful football programs in the country take to the field in Ann Arbor.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It's Time to Play

Timing is everything. Some timing is good, and some timing is bad.

When I proposed to my wife, I wanted everything to be perfect. The music, the flowers, even the time that she arrived home had to be timed correctly. That was good timing.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers opened training camp this past summer, news broke out about a sexual assault charge against quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. That was bad timing.

With one week remaining until the start of the 2009 college football season, the University of Michigan is experiencing a case of bad timing.

The Detroit Free Press is reporting that numerous players from the 2008 – 2009 team have said that the football program is in violation of the NCAA rules which put limits on the amount of time that student athletes can spend on their sport. These allegations come one week before UM is to start year 2 of the Rich Rodriguez era, an era that started out with Michigan having their first losing season in 40 years and missing a bowl game. Needless to say, it was a very difficult year for UM fans.

Now these players, some former and current, are speaking to the Detroit Free Press on the condition of anonymity about the “ridiculous” requirements for UM’s off season and in season regimen.

Some of the alleged violations include exceeding the 20 hour practice time per week, having coaches watch off season 7 on 7 scrimmages, and making the off season voluntary weight workouts mandatory. If these allegations turn out to be true, then Michigan will be subject to penalties by the NCAA.

If they turn out to be false, as I suspect that they are, then it will be just another attempt by the Rodriguez haters to run him out of Ann Arbor.

From the day that Rodriguez has set foot in Ann Arbor, he has been scrutinized. Some of it rightfully so, others not so much.

I can see how many people don’t like how he even came to Michigan. Rodriguez had signed a multi year extension to stay at West Virginia University a year before he left to become the head coach at Michigan.

I’m not condoning the breaking of contracts, but let’s be honest; this happens all of the time in college sports. Recruits will even say that they are going to a certain school and then change their mind and switch to another.

I’ll be honest; I love the Michigan football tradition, as do many fans. When Rodriguez first came to Michigan, he didn’t seem to grasp how UM fans felt about the history and tradition of the program. That rubbed people the wrong way. For example, he decided to not reserve the #1 jersey to a veteran receiver. He later admitted that he didn’t understand the history and tradition behind it and stated that he would hold it for a veteran receiver in the future.

As I was reading through the article in the Detroit Free Press, I started to have some questions regarding its validity. First and foremost, I questioned the writers themselves. They are both good friends with former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr. Carr campaigned hard for one of his assistants to get the head coaching job after he retired. When Rodriguez was hired, Carr was reportedly upset. So naturally, Carr’s friends are not going to like Rodriguez.

Another mystery about this article is why there are no names attached to the players. I realize that the current players would want to be anonymous, but what about the former players? What do they have to lose? If the NCAA violation claims are true, then shouldn’t these players come forward for the good of the team? Especially when these extensive workouts are affecting the current players academically?

That leads me to another outlandish claim. One player, echoing the words of others, said the workouts in the past two off-seasons at Michigan “affected people’s grades. People were falling asleep in class.”

How can this be when this past semester the Michigan football team posted the highest team GPA in history?

The bottom line is this, when Rich Rodriguez came to Ann Arbor he brought his own offense. This offense was completely different from what Lloyd Carr had run. There were many players that were recruited to run Lloyd Carr’s offense on the team. Rodriguez had to let these players know that they may want to look for a transfer because they didn’t fit the style of football that he wanted to play. This led to the transfer of many upset players and fans.

If these allegations are true, then I believe that the punishment should fit the football crime. If they turn out to be false, then people will just have to accept that things are not going to be the same as they were in Ann Arbor.

Change is hard to take for a lot of people, especially when everything has been the status quo since 1969. After Michigan’s dismal year last season, people will want to see some improvement. They want reassurance that these changes will indeed work.

Rich Rodriguez knows that timing is everything. The time has come for him to prove that he will lead Michigan back to being a national powerhouse.

The clock starts this Saturday at 3:30 versus Western Michigan University.

Friday, August 28, 2009

What Would Tim Tebow Do?

The Fort Myers Miracle, a Class A minor league baseball team, are known for their creative promotions. Some of their promotional highlights include “Shiny Head Movement Night”, “Job Sway Day”, and “Paper Airplane Giveaway Night”.

Since minor league baseball teams don’t have the big name players to draw fans in, they need to rely on creative promotions to draw the crowds. The Miracle are consistently one of the most innovative organizations around each year.

Recently, they had planned to have a “What Would Tim Tebow Do” promotion. Some of the activities planned for the evening was a ceremonial jump pass to start the game (which Tebow is known for when he plays), and promise rings were to be passed out to each fan in attendance. The Miracle even found a man named Tim Tebo that they wanted to come and participate in the activities, but were unable to convince him to be a part of the event.

For those that don’t know, besides being a great college football player, Tebow is known for his charitable work. He regularly takes mission trips overseas to spread the word of the gospel. Tebow also makes regular appearances in prisons to speak with inmates who are on death row.

I do respect Tebow immensely for the work he does. He is able to use his status as one of the best college football players in the country to spread the word of God.

What I don’t respect, and what the Fort Myers Miracle are poking fun at, is the way that the media portrays Tebow as a saint. Florida football fans commonly refer to Tebow as “the chosen one”. Then there are the newspapers, magazines, and sportscasters alike that seem to think that there is no other human being on the planet as worthy as Tim Tebow.

For example, in last years National Championship game between Florida and Oklahoma, Thom Brennaman gushed over how great Tim Tebow was so many times that he might as well have just professed his undying love him.

During the game, Brennaman stated such moronic statements like “If you’re fortunate enough to spend 5 minutes, or 20 minutes with Tim Tebow, your life is better for it”. When Tebow got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called on him, Brennaman said that it might be the only thing that Tebow has ever done wrong. (R.I.P. Thom Brennaman’s respect as a journalist)

So when the University of Florida found out that the For Myers Miracle were planning on staging a “What Would Tim Tebow Do” promotion, they quickly sent out a cease and desist email to the Miracle. In this email, written by senior associate athletic director Jamie McCloskey, it was stated that under NCAA rules, it is not permissible to use the name or picture of a student-athlete in the promotion of a commercial product or service and failure to abide by this would result in the student-athlete being ineligible.

I can respect the fact that rules are rules. But honestly, how often do we hear of some college facing a penalty because they didn’t follow the rules to the letter?

Out of curiosity, I looked at the University of Florida’s athletic web site. They have a link where you can shop for Gator merchandise. As I was skimming through the pages, I found magazines, DVD’s, books, and autographed memorabilia that all had either Tebow’s name or his picture. They also have many of Tebow’s #15 jersey for sale, but those do not have his name on the back. But everyone knows that it is Tebow’s jersey.

Am I crazy, or would the Gators merchandise be considered a commercial product? I think so.

So why would the Florida athletic department be so concerned with the Miracle staging a “What Would Tim Tebow Do”?

I believe that it is because he is so loved and thought so highly of that they do not want him to be part of anything that could be construed as making fun of him.

But, just like the Florida Gators and the rest of the NCAA find ways around the rules, the Miracle found a way to still stage their promotion. Instead of the name “Tim Tebow”, they used “TT”.

Tim Tebow is one of the best college football players that I’ve ever seen play. It’s possible that he could go down in history as the best player in college football history. I just think that it’s ridiculous at how people have put him up on this pedestal of greatness. He’s not the only college student that goes out and does charity work. He’s probably the most famous because he is a quarterback at the University of Florida.

People need to realize that he’s still just a college football player. A famous one, but still just a football player.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Is Pitino trying to look like an idiot? Or is this just how he is?

When the story first broke out about University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino and his sex scandal, I admittedly was a bit of a skeptic. I figured that she was just a crazed fan who, in her unstable mind, decided to try and exhort Pitino out of a lot of money by conjuring up this ludicrous story of an illicit affair between her and the legendary coach. This economy is tough on everyone and will make desperate people do desperate things.

But then a couple of weeks ago Pitino gave a five minute apology for what he called an “indiscretion” with the woman (Karen Sypher) at a Louisville restaurant six years ago.

Yes, Rick Pitino, the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Louisville, had sex with a woman at a restaurant…IN LOUISVILLE!!! He is probably the most recognized man in the city of Louisville, and he decided to have sex with a woman that was not his wife.

Classy, huh?

After a few days of news coverage, followed by the Louisville Athletic Director stating that the University is “a million percent” behind their coach, this story lost its momentum.

Honestly, I was a little disappointed because I hadn’t gotten the chance to write about it yet.

But, thanks to Coach Pitino and his press conference today, this story is back to life! Thanks Coach!

He said that this scandal has been pure hell for him and his family. He lashed out at the media for reporting on her accusations which he claims are a total fabrication.

Well Coach, you were the one that put your family in this “hell”. Also, these “accusations” that you claim are false are the same accusations that you admitted to a few weeks ago.

"Everything that's been printed, everything that's been reported, everything that's been breaking in the news on the day Ted Kennedy died is 100 percent a lie, a lie," Pitino said. "All of this has been a lie, a total fabrication of the truth."

No Rick, everything that has been reported is not a lie, you even admitted to doing what Karen Sypher said that you did. And what the heck does Ted Kennedy dying have to do with you having sex in a restaurant Don Juan?

Later on in the press conference, Pitino tried to put all of this behind him. "Enough's enough, everybody is tired of it, and we need to get on with the important things in life like the economy and really some crucial things in life like basketball."

This seemed like a lame attempt by Pitino to turn his press conference into a pep rally for his basketball team. I’m surprised that he didn’t have the school mascot in attendance.

I don’t know how many of these scandals that we have to see happen before celebrities realize that they are in control of what happens to them. If they want, their life can be as crazy as a Girls Gone Wild video. Or, they can keep a low profile and avoid any people or places that can get them into trouble.

So what’s next for Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals? Well, if it were up to Pitino, up next would be to forget about all of this and get ready for the 2009-2010 college basketball season.

But if more details come out about this story, he may not be around to see it through.

Is Pinella's time in Chicago running out?

The Chicago Cubs are soon to be sold to the Ameritrade founding Ricketts family for close to $900 million dollars.

The Ricketts will be the proud owners of Major League Baseball’s lovable losers. Their new acquisition packs Wrigley Field every game with some of the most die hard fans on the planet. These fans start every year filled with hope and promise and end it with pain and anguish.

The Cubs haven’t won a world championship in over 100 years, and it doesn’t look like they will be doing it this year either. They have turned underachieving into an art form

Whenever a personnel change is made in any sort of business, people will question what changes will this person make. So, when I heard the sale of the Cubs was soon to be final, I had to wonder what changes the Cubs will see.

One thing to wonder about is the security of manager Lou Pinella’s job.

Pinella was hired to replace Dusty Baker after the 2006 season after the Cubs had finished a dismal 17.5 games out of first place. He was hired to bring his fiery attitude to the south side of Chicago and bring a World Championship to the Cubs.

He has done well in the regular season, finishing in first place in each of his first two years in Chicago. However, he is 0-6 in the post season. Couple that with the Cubs disappointing season thus far in 2009 and that could spell trouble for Pinella.

A new owner may want to breathe new life into a franchise. Many times I’ve seen a new owner or general manager come into a franchise and hire somebody new to run the team. The Rickett family may want to bring in “their” guy to manage the Cubs.

If they do decide to bring in a new manger to lead the Cubs, I have the perfect candidate…Hall of Famer and former Cub Ryne Sandberg. For almost 3 seasons now he has been managing in the Cubs minor league system. He was 131-146 as manager of the Peoria Chiefs for 2 seasons and 31-27 thus far for the Tennessee Smokies in the 2009 season.

He would be a great guy to ring in the Rickett’s era of ownership with. He’s already got the managerial experience and has been coaching the next generation of Cubs players in the minors for the past 3 years. Being an iconic figure in Cubs history, Sandberg would generate the most excitement Cubs fans have ever had before. After Ernie Banks, I would say that Sandberg would be the next in line to be called “Mr. Cub”.

With 38 games left to go in the regular season, the Cubs are 9 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the Central division and 8.5 games behind the Colorado Rockies for the wild card. Barring a miraculous comeback, the Cubs will be watching the playoffs from home.

But let’s be honest…miraculous comeback and Chicago Cubs are words that are never said together.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My version of the Football Fan's Ten Commandments

On my way in to work yesterday, I happened to be listening to an interview with Michael Tunison, co founder of Kissing Suzy Kolber, a football humor site dedicated solely to the NFL. Tunison was promoting his book, “The Football Fan’s Manifesto” on Steve Czaban’s radio show.

In this book, Tunison talks about the football fan’s Ten Commandments.
1. You Must Choose Your Team by the Age of Eight.
2. Value That Team Above All Else, Even Yourself.
3. Under No Circumstances Can You Switch Teams (And Expect to Live).
4. There is a Limit to the Amount of Merchandise You Can Own (But It's Very Generous).
5. Sportsmanship is for the Athletes. Fans Can Gloat Endlessly.
6. A Self-Induced Coma to Skip the Off-season is a Practical Solution to an Annoying Problem.
7. An Inoffensive Fantasy Football Name is a Lame Fantasy Football Name.
8. Wealth Doesn't Matter So Long As You Don't Have to Work Weekends.
9. Respect Superstitions. If Your Team Lost, It's Because You Jinxed Them.
10. In Life, the Order of Importance: Football First, Football Second, Football Third, Family . . . uh, I Don't Know, twelfth?

Being that he runs a football humor site, I found his interview very funny. However, I did take issue with a couple of his “commandments”. I thought that I’d tweak a few of them to be more to my liking.

1. You must choose your team by the age of eight.
- I would change this to say that a person must “follow” a team by the age of eight. This is the age that a lot of us start to play organized sports (little league, rocket football, youth basketball, etc.). For me, this was the age that I was able to sit and watch an entire football or baseball game and actually know what was going on. I watched the Detroit Lions because my dad did, so naturally, I thought that I was a fan. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that I just followed them. I then decided to choose a favorite NFL team of my own (Kansas City Chiefs).

3. Under no circumstances can you switch teams (and expect to live).
- This is a tricky one. Normally, I would agree with this. However, after what the Detroit Lions had put it’s fans through for decades (especially the Millen era); I believe that each fan is allowed 1 switch. In my mind, each fan deserves a right to a competitive team. There should be rules to switching though. For instance, if a fan desires to become a “free agent fan”, they need to come up with a list of qualities that they are looking for in an NFL team. Then, they should contact each NFL organization (letter, email, phone call, etc.), explain their situation, and ask them what they could offer if you became a fan of their team. I tried this a couple of years ago when I was tired of watching the Lions. Some teams sent emails telling me why I should become a fan of them, others sent magazines and schedules, and some even sent merchandise. I ended up choosing the KC Chiefs because their organization spent the most time on explaining why they love the Chiefs. It really showed me that they cared about their fans.

If a fan is willing to do the leg work in finding a new NFL team, as opposed to choosing a team just for the sake of switching, then I believe each fan should be allowed 1 switch.

The more I think about it, maybe these “tweaks” that I’ve added should be the start of something new…The Football Fan’s Bill of Rights.

I like the sound of it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lions fans do NOT want to revisit the past

I’ve been listening to sports talk radio show hosts and fans alike going on and on about how great Matthew Stafford is and why he should be the starter going into this season. People have been saying that he has the “it” factor and is going to be the guy to change the Lions from a laughingstock to a respectable franchise.

Blah, blah, blah. I was a Lions fan for over 30 years and heard this same story each and every year. Each new top draft pick was going to be “the guy”. Every time a new coach was hired he was going to be tough and not settle for mediocrity. Blah, blah, blah.

Just like in years past, I’ve been hearing that this season will be different. Stafford is a leader; he’s going to be something special. And after the first preseason game against Atlanta, the call for Stafford became even stronger.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to check out the first preseason game to watch Stafford and form my own opinion. So, I made sure to sit down last night and watch him start the game against the Cleveland Browns. This would be a good indicator as to how he would fare because he would be facing Cleveland’s starters.

5-13 for 34 yards and an interception in a 27-10 defeat. Sounds like #1 stuff, huh? I know that he didn’t have Calvin Johnson or Brandon Pettigrew out there, but he looked like he was never able to get comfortable out on the field.

I understand that Stafford is only a rookie, but he is clearly NOT ready to be a starting NFL quarterback, even for the lowly Lions. Hopefully, all of the people in the media and the message boards that have been screaming for Stafford to start saw last nights game.

Let Daunte Culpepper or even Drew Stanton play before Stafford. The Lions aren’t going to become winners overnight, so why should they rush Stafford out onto the field?

Let’s just say that Stafford is named the starting quarterback going into the season opener against the New Orleans Saints. He has a poor game and isn’t able to get things going at all. After a week 4 loss to the Chicago Bears makes the Lions 0-4 to start the season, fans are calling Stafford another Joey Harrington. By the end of week 6 the Lions name Daunte Culpepper the starting quarterback. People start calling Jim Schwartz incompetent and should be fired for starting Stafford too soon.

I’m no psychic, but after watching the Lions for most of my life, it’s pretty easy to predict the future.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lions need to learn from their past mistakes

Recently, I was driving home from work and listening to “The Huge Show”, a sports talk radio show. The host, Bill Simonson, was discussing the Detroit Lions with a columnist from the Grand Rapids Press, Brian VanOchten.

Both really liked the way that quarterback Matthew Stafford, the Lions top pick in the draft this past year, played in his first pre season game. During the time that I was listening, the consensus was that Stafford should be the starter going into the season.

I totally disagree with this thinking.

I really don’t understand why people are in such a rush to have Stafford in the starting lineup. The Lions drafted him to be their franchise quarterback and lead them into the future. Why would you want to push him out onto the field before he’s ready?

I didn’t have the opportunity to see the Lions first pre season game, but I did read the box score. Stafford put up some decent stats, going 7-14 for 144 yards and a touchdown with one interception. Not bad for his first outing.

One thing that people don’t seem to be taking into consideration is the fact that this was a pre season game. Anyone that has ever watched a pre season NFL game knows that the starters don’t play very long, especially in the first pre season game.

Stafford, who didn’t even start, was playing against backup players. In my book, completing half of your passes against second string players is average. It shows to me that Stafford isn’t ready to be a starting NFL quarterback yet.

The Lions were winless last season. They are trying to rebuild their franchise and restore faith in their fans. Putting Stafford out onto the field before he’s ready would be the worst thing that they could do. Remember Joey Harrington?

If the Lions are indeed going to turn the page on their pitiful past, then they should not rush Matthew Stafford. Just because he was the top pick in the draft this past year and makes a lot of money is no reason to throw him to the wolves.

Lion’s fans have suffered through a lot in the past; bad draft picks, incompetent coaches, and the worst General Manager in NFL history in Matt Millen. One thing that people have to realize is that it is going to take time to fix all of the mistakes that have happened over the years.

Turning the Lions into a winning franchise isn’t going to happen overnight. It won’t even happen this year. It is going to take some time. The Lions fans that are clamoring for Stafford to play right away need to realize that success isn’t going to come just by playing him.

If the Lions had brought Joey Harrington along slowly, instead of playing him right away, would this even be a topic of discussion?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Favre's return is good for the NFL

Well, it’s official. Brett Favre is back in the NFL…again.

Favre officially came out of retirement today and signed a one year contract with the Minnesota Vikings that will pay him reportedly 10-12 million dollars this season.

This is a yearly ritual that Favre puts the entire sporting world through each year. Once the football season ends, he will state that he needs time to think things over and that he isn’t sure if he’s going to come back for another year. The next year, Favre will be seen practicing with the high school football team in his hometown of Hattiesburg. This will put ESPN on high alert because they think that this means he’s coming back. They will station a reporter down there for weeks at a time. ESPN will run with this for weeks, which will fuel more rumors. Eventually, Favre will come back to play another season because he “still has the desire to play”. After the next season, the process starts all over again.

A lot of people are very upset that Favre is back. They are tired of his inability to make a decision and stick with it.

Many more people are upset that he is back and with the Minnesota Vikings, especially Green Bay Packer fans. NFL fans (including me) believe that he is with the Vikings because he wants revenge on the Packers for trading him a few years ago.

All of the sports websites, television stations, and talk radio shows have been speaking today about Brett Favre and whether it is good for him to be back in the NFL. The majority of people are saying no because they are tired of him and his diva-esque act.

I can’t believe that I’m about to say this, but Brett Favre coming back to the NFL is good for the game.

I know, I know. I’ve ripped Favre in the past for his actions, and I stand by those statements. But having Favre back in the league, at this time, is the best thing for the game.

For the past few months, the biggest stories to come out of the NFL have been about Michael Vick, who has spent the past two years in prison for his involvement in dogfighting, and Donte Stallworth, who drove drunk and killed an innocent man.

From a public relations standpoint, these stories have been horrible for the league to deal with. Now, Favre is the talk of the NFL. Vick and Stallworth are no longer considered news worthy.

Favre’s actions these past few years have made people resent him so much that he’s become the villain of the league, and people love to hate the villain.

Think about it. When somebody mentions Star Wars, who do they think of? Darth Vader. How about the most recent Batman movie? Everyone will remember Heath Ledger as the Joker. What about the 80’s television show Dallas? J.R. Ewing was the man that everybody loved to hate.

Brett Favre is the J.R. Ewing of the NFL right now. Even the people that are sick and tired of his act these last few years will be tuning in to see Favre and the Vikings. The two games that the Vikings and Packers will play this season are going to get so much media attention that it will seem like the Super Bowl.

Once Favre steps onto the field for the first time as a Viking, people will be paying attention. Some will want him to succeed; others will want him to fail. One thing is for certain; people will be watching. That is good for the NFL.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"It's not the end of the world"

This past weekend, pictures came out of Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton drunk at a bar in Arizona this past January. For people that don’t know of Josh Hamilton and his past, this doesn’t seem like much of a story. For people that do know the story behind Josh Hamilton, this is a shocker.

I could go on for many hours about Hamilton and his story. For the people that don’t know about him, I’ll give a quick background on his journey.

Hamilton was the #1 draft pick in the country coming out of high school in 1999 by the Tampa Bay Rays. Unfortunately, he fell victim to drugs and alcohol which caused him to be out of baseball for four years. Fortunately, he got his life together and worked his way back into professional baseball. In 2007 he made his major league baseball debut. His story is a very inspirational one.

Needless to say, I was shocked when I saw the pictures of what had happened in that bar back in January. I would even go so far as to use the word “disappointed”. But then I saw him addressing the situation after a game on television and I felt a little better.

"Obviously I'm embarrassed about it personally," Hamilton said before Saturday's game with the Angels. "For the Rangers, I'm embarrassed about it and for my wife [Katie] and my kids. Obviously it was one those things that reinforce that I can't have alcohol."
“I feel like I've been humbled," Hamilton said. "It is what it is. I got away from the one thing that kept me on the straight and narrow and that was my relationship with the Lord. That should always come first. Hopefully some good will come out of this. "Maybe this will show people that if they are recovering and make a mistake, it's not the end of the world. You can get back on the right track. Hopefully I can use God's glory to show that I do have struggles. This just lets me know that I need Christ more than ever."

I had to wonder why this story was newsworthy. Is it because he is the first baseball player to get drunk in a bar? No, not by a long shot. I’ve been out to bars with professional baseball players (current and ex players) that have done it many times. Is it because he had other women hanging all over him that weren’t his wife? Don’t be ridiculous. I’ve seen that happen many times as well. Is it because he embarrassed the Texas Rangers by his actions? No, this happened in January and he called his wife, the Rangers, and Major League Baseball the next morning and explained what he had done.

In my mind, the reason why this story is news-worthy is because Hamilton is a devout Christian and, because of what he does for a living, he is in the national spotlight. Many people have wanted to slam him and his religion because he messed up. Hamilton has already stated in the past that if he ever slipped up, the entire country would know about it and people would label him a hypocrite.

I wouldn’t label him a hypocrite. I’d label him as normal. He’s just like the rest of us. We all have to deal with addictions of some sort. If we are trying to lose weight, we will try to stop eating foods and drinks that are not good for us. Those “bad” foods can be addicting, especially if we’ve had a bad day. They relieve stress. There are many other types of addictions that we could be dealing with. Cigarettes, caffeine, porn, spending money frivolously, and many more things; they could all be labeled as addictions.

Even though Josh Hamilton made a mistake, I still admire him for what he has done. Hamilton could have easily said that those pictures were fakes and that somebody photo shopped his likeness into it. But he didn’t. He immediately called the people in his support system and confessed. Once the news got out in the public, then he addressed it with the media very honestly.

It is very refreshing to see a baseball player address a controversial subject in a mature matter. Many ball players could take a lesson from Hamilton on handling situations when they’ve done something wrong (STEROIDS). I’m not going to name names, but they know who they are.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

You can't live in the past

Ben Wallace is coming back to Detroit. In a deal that should be finalized this upcoming week, the Detroit Pistons will be bringing a fan favorite back in hopes of rekindling the championship vibe that they seemed to have lost these last few years.

The news of this signing leaked out late last week and immediately, the message boards went berserk. I read statements saying everything from “I hope that he doesn’t quit on us again” to “Now I can bring my Wallace jersey back out of my closet”.

The general consensus on the message boards that I read were very positive about this move. It seems that no one really wanted him to leave in the first place. I can understand that. When Wallace left after the ’05-’06 season to sign a big money deal with the Chicago Bulls, I was disappointed. I couldn’t understand why the Pistons would allow somebody that was such an important cog in the wheel of their success leave for a rival team.

Not long after that thought, I got my answer. As I was driving home from school one night, I was listening to a sports talk show on the radio and they were discussing Wallace leaving for Chicago. One of the hosts made an interesting point. He wondered if the Pistons had gotten all they could from Wallace.

That question got me thinking. Maybe they had gotten the best out of Wallace. I knew that he was a virtual unknown when the Pistons got him from the Orlando Magic in 2000 as part of the Grant Hill trade. During Wallace’s pre-Detroit days, he was just a typical player, averaging 5.75 rebounds per game. However, as a Piston, Wallace became a defensive force, averaging almost 13 rebounds a game during his 6 years in Detroit.

Did the Pistons get all they could out of Ben Wallace? Were his years in Detroit the best that he had to offer?

As it turns out, yes.

Wallace only lasted a year and a half in Chicago before they traded him to Cleveland. During his time there, he was injury prone and only played in 78 games. This past off season, Cleveland sent Wallace packing to Phoenix as part of the Shaquille O’Neal trade.

Wallace was rumored to have already been considering retirement at the time of the trade, so Phoenix bought out his contract, making him a free agent (unemployed basketball player).

So why was Ben Wallace brought back to Detroit? Sentimental reasons? To make fans think that by bringing back one of their stars of the past it would miraculously turn back time and the Pistons would be championship contenders again?

To me, it was just a pathetic excuse to cling to the past. The Pistons are supposed to be in a rebuilding mode. Their window of opportunity that they had with their past teams has now closed. The signing of Wallace actually weakens their team. The roster spot that he now occupies could have been filled by somebody that can help their team out in the future.

When Joe Dumars first joined the front office of the Detroit Pistons, every personnel move that he made was the right one. Lately though, it seems like he’s hitting every button in sight, just hoping that it’s the one that will right the Pistons ship.

Unfortunately, each year the ship seems to be taking on more water. The signing of Ben Wallace may have capsized it.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Change CAN be a good thing

The Kalamazoo Wings have gone through a lot of changes recently. First, they left the International Hockey League after many years to join the ECHL. Now, they have announced that they have reached an agreement to become an affiliate of both the Philadelphia Flyers and San Jose Sharks.

Per this affiliation, both the Flyers and Sharks will be assigning players to Kalamazoo. This will allow Wings fans to be able to see a higher caliber of hockey than they’ve seen in many years.

I really like the move to the ECHL by the Wings. In this economy, where each and every day we hear stories about companies cutting jobs and downsizing, the Wings are actually expanding their business.

When I first heard about the move to the ECHL, I was hoping that the Wings could become an affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings. In doing that, the Grand Rapids Griffins would become their AHL affiliate. The marketing opportunities would be endless if that would happen! It has worked out very well for the West Michigan Whitecaps and their affiliation with the Detroit Tigers, so why wouldn’t it work out with the Kalamazoo Wings?

I do realize though that NHL teams sign agreements with their affiliates that last two or three years typically, so for the Wings to become affiliated with the Detroit Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins, the timing would have to be perfect.

Unfortunately, the Red Wings are already an affiliate of the Toledo Walleye. So now, the Kalamazoo Wings are going to be an affiliate of both the Philadelphia Flyers and the San Jose Sharks.

I initially thought that this meant goodbye to endless marketing opportunities and goodbye fans being able to relate to their NHL affiliate. Even K-Wings President Paul Pickard stating “We are excited and honored to be associated with two of the finest franchises in the NHL, both organizations share our core values and have our commitment for producing championship caliber teams” didn’t make me feel any better.

He has to make statements like that. It would be a horrible first impression if he said “We’re glad to have an NHL affiliation, but are a little disappointed that it’s not with the Detroit Red Wings or some other team from the Midwest Region. The Flyers and Sharks will do for now, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed for something better in the future.”

So what can the K-Wings do to show their fans a connection with their affiliates? With one team on the east coast and the other near the west coast, one might think that there is no connection.

I’ve decided to come up with some ideas to make K-Wings fans feel more of a bond with their NHL affiliates.

Ways to bond with the Philadelphia Flyers

1. Set up a concession stand that will sell Philly Cheese Steaks- The food at Wings Stadium is pretty basic. There is plenty of candy, pop, beer, hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken fingers and pizza. If they set up a Philly Cheese Steak stand, plenty of people would welcome the change and embrace the connection with the Flyers.
2. Stage a “Rocky” Theme night-This could be anything. Rocky trivia, Rocky costume contest, Rocky music, or even a “Yo Adrian” contest, where anyone that is named Adrian will get in for half price. There were 6 Rocky movies so there are many ideas to choose from.
3. Bring in former Philadelphia Flyer stars of the past-This could be a lot of different people. They could bring in the “Broad Street Bullies”, Ron Hextall, or even Jeremy Roenick (he just retired, so he’s probably got some free time on his hands.

Ways to bond with the San Jose Sharks

1. Have a Jeremy Roenick night- This might actually work because the last team that Roenick played for was the San Jose Sharks. He could come in and give the K-Wings fans a connection to both teams.
2. Stage a “Shark Night”- Shark Week on the Discovery Channel is always a big draw on television, so why not bring a version of it to Kalamazoo? The Sharks mascot, S.J. Sharkie, could come in for a game. The Wings could also offer season ticket packages that are reduced because a shark has taken a bite out of them.
3. Giveaway tickets to NHL cities- Anytime either the Philadelphia Flyers or San Jose Sharks are playing in Detroit or Chicago (the two NHL cities that are closest to Detroit), the Wings could partner with a sponsor and offer some sort of overnight package to those cities that would include tickets to the game.

These are just a few of the ideas that the Kalamazoo Wings could use that would offer fans a way to bond with their NHL affiliate. Like I said before, an affiliation with the Red Wings would have been very easy to market. However, with a little imagination, a town like Kalamazoo can become connected to major cities that are thousands of miles away.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hammerin' Hank missed the nail on this one

"I wish for once and forever that we could come out and say we have 100 and some names, name them all and get it over and let baseball go on,"
- Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron is one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Although I’ve only seen him play via old highlights, I respect him greatly for what he did during his time in Major League Baseball.

Recently, Hammerin’ Hank gave an interview where he stated how he wanted to have the list of players that tested positive for performance enhancing drugs to be revealed. He felt that if the list was made public, then baseball could go on and leave the steroid era behind it.

I really hate to do this, but Hank…you’re wrong on this one.

Simply releasing all of the names on that list is not going to let baseball move on from the era of steroids. Do you remember the Mitchell report that came out a couple of years ago? That entire report was supposed to put an end to the rampant use of performance enhancing drugs.

How’d that work out?

I don’t believe that baseball will ever get out of the shadow of steroids and performance enhancing drugs. I’d be willing to be that if some young kid 50 years from now is hitting .330 with 50+ home runs, somebody will raise the question and ask if he is on some sort of steroid.

Also, the names on the list should not be revealed because it is technically illegal. The players took the tests back in 2003 with the understanding that they would remain anonymous. Back then, performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) were not illegal. The tests were done to find out if there was a need to impose random drug testing. I’m guessing that if the tests were not anonymous, then the players union would never have agreed to it.

I do agree with Mr. Aaron on one thing. Releasing one or two names every month is ridiculous. I don’t know how the names are getting out, but releasing the names little by little does hurt baseball. It hurts like plucking out nose hairs hurts. Stinging at first, and then slowly the pain goes away.

Honestly, when Alex Rodriguez’s name came out, it was the talk of the sporting world. But who is talking about it now? That’s right, nobody. The pain went away. In a month or two, Boston fans will not be talking about David Ortiz showing up on that list.

Baseball will go on Hank. Unfortunately, the steroid era will forever be a significant chapter in its history. But the history of baseball is like a book that never ends, there is always another chapter to be written.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Don't Believe the Hype, the Lions will not Roar in 2009

As baseball season sets to go into their stretch run towards the playoffs, other sports are getting ready to begin their training camps and pre season games.

NFL training camps started this past weekend. Fans are anxiously waiting with bated breath to see how that new draft pick, free agent signee, or coach affects their team. Some teams are looking to build upon their success last year, and others are trying desperately to forget the 2008 season.

The Detroit Lions recently started their training camp under a new coaching regime. This new staff, led by a 1st year head coach, is changing the attitude in Detroit. The practices are more intense, the players are showing marked improvement over last year already, and the rookie quarterback that they drafted in the 1st round is looking great! This year is going to be different for Lions fans.

Sorry…my mistake. That’s actually what is reported each time the Lions start training camp under a new coach.

Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself…
In a fight to change the attitude of the Detroit Lions organization, first-year head coach Marty Mornhinweg delivered the first blow at the start of an afternoon training camp session Monday.
Mornhinweg threw his sunglasses on the ground 35 minutes into the practice at Saginaw Valley State and kicked all of his players off the field.
All of the commotion was unexpected following the Lions toughest workout in the morning session, which Mornhinweg called "the best two-minute drill on offense that I've seen this early in a season since I began coaching."
- CnnSi.com 7/30/01

Tywan Mitchell, a tight end signed for depth over the weekend, failed to hustle downfield on a possession pass play. Mariucci got in his face and sternly said, " You got to get up and go." Within minutes, he prodded running backs to finish carries in team drills that start at the opponent’s 30-yard line and always end up in the end zone. Any lack of attention to detail brings out the fire in Mariucci.
"Coach Mariucci is a very, very precise, very detail-oriented person," Harrington said. "He speaks in a meeting and acts it on the field, and that's what people respect. That's why people here are rallying around him. He tells you exactly what he wants on the field. He hammers it home and doesn't expect anything less than perfect."
- ESPN.com 7/30/03

I’ve always coached real strong players,” said Marinelli. “And when we get on that field it should be competitive every day in practice. I like that. Both sides trying to compete. How important it is to win every drill, every group period, how important that is to winning.”
I guess they know how much I like football,” said Marinelli. “They know how hard I’ll push them. They’ll all identify with that. I’m going to make them all accountable. They’re different personalities, but they’re all strong. I like that. You just tell them what you need, tell them what you want. And then you stay after it and stay after it and stay after it. It’s a daily effort. And they see how hard I go after them every day. You just love it. It’s fun.”
- DetroitLions.com 2/6/06
See? Each new coach that is hired is going to bring in this “new” attitude and change the franchise. Since 2001, this “new” attitude has gotten them an astounding record of 31-97 AND the dubious honor of being the only team to go 0-16 in NFL history.
But now the Lions have hired Jim Schwartz to come in to coach, Matthew Stafford to be the future franchise quarterback, and instilled a new attitude that will make Lions fans forget 2008.
I used to be a Lions fan. After so many years of getting hyped up and excited about this new attitude that the Lions are going to have, only to be disappointed in their performance on the field, I decided to resign as a fan of the Detroit Lions.
It took me 32 years before I finally realized that the Lions are never going to be a good football team. They will make a lot of changes each off season that will make fans excited about the team. They then take all of that excitement, attach a huge anchor to it, and toss it into the lake. It stays at the bottom of that lake until the following training camp, where it will miraculously resurface and be full of hope and promise…only to be tossed back into the lake again.
Can you see a pattern here?
But hey, this is 2009. Jim Schwartz has issued in a new era. Matthew Stafford was the right guy to pick #1. Right??
Only time will tell. I honestly hope that the Lions do well. I really do. But I’m not going to hold my breath anymore. I got tired of being thrown into the lake.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Who made the right move?

This past Thursday afternoon was the trade deadline for major league baseball. It is a time when teams will try to beef up their roster and inject some momentum towards a postseason run.
The media appointed crown jewel of this year’s trading deadline, Roy Halladay, is going to be staying put in Toronto. He was supposed to be this year’s CC Sabathia and help a team make the post season. Now, he’ll be watching the playoffs from his home instead of playing in them.
Unfortunately, there really weren’t any “blockbuster” deals that were made this time. The deals that were made, however, were more quality deals. Teams did not go out just to grab a name player. They went and got somebody that will help them in the long run.

I know that I’m going to be called a homer for saying this, but I like the trade acquisition of Victor Martinez by the Red Sox as the best deadline deal this summer. Martinez can play first base and catcher which will provide insurance for aging catcher Jason Varitek. Martinez can also play first base which will allow Kevin Youklis to move across the diamond and spell Mike Lowell.

Grade = A+

Matt Holliday going from the Oakland A’s to the St. Louis Cardinals actually happened on July 24, so technically it wasn’t a trade deadline deal. The Cardinals did however pick up Holliday so that he can help them into the playoffs. Albert Pujols desperately needed a big bat behind him in the lineup. With Holliday now following Pujols in the Cards lineup, teams can no longer pitch around Pujols.

Grade = A+

When this deal went down, I heard a lot of people that were praising the Phillies for getting Cliff Lee from the Indians. Yes, he is the reigning Cy Young award winner. Yes, he is still considered to have “ace” stuff. He even started out his Phillies career by throwing a complete game shutout. I’m just not totally sold on him being the “savior” that people seem to think that he’ll be. It’s just my opinion, but I think that Lee is not the pitcher that people think he is.

Grade = C+

The Twins middle infield has been horrendous at the plate this season, so obtaining Orlando Cabrera will help out greatly. They are also hoping that lightening will strike twice with Cabrera, as it did in 2004 when he ignited the Red Sox and helped them win their first World Championship in 86 years. I’m a big fan of Cabrera and really like this trade for Minnesota.

Grade = A

Living in Michigan, I hear a lot of people on the radio giving their opinion on what the Tigers should/need to do to win a championship. I’ve heard everything from firing the manager to trading Joel Zumaya and Rick Porcello for Roy Halladay. I’ll admit when I saw that the Tigers got Jarrod Washburn from the Mariners, I was a bit surprised. I figured that they would go for a hitter, ala 2006 when they picked up Sean Casey for the stretch run. I like this move for Detroit though. This solidifies an already solid starting rotation while adding a veteran arm to a still young group of pitchers.

Grade = A

Last year, Jake Peavy was this years Roy Halladay. It seemed like each week there was a different story about another team that was about to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal to obtain the Padre ace. Peavy had been relatively quiet this season, partly because he’s been injured for almost 2 months now. If Peavy was healthy and ready to pitch, then this trade would have made the Chi Sox the team to beat in the AL Central. Unfortunately for the Sox, we’re not quite sure when Peavy will be making his debut. Grade = C-

As I said before, this is only a short selection on the trades that happened. I just picked a few of the most interesting. Some of these trades will pay off greatly, and others will fall flat on their faces. Come this October, we’ll all find out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is it worth it?

Michael Vick was released from prison last week after serving 23 months for his involvement in an illegal dog fighting ring. He will now spend the next two months in home confinement until July 20th, when he will be officially released.

The great debate regarding Vick has been whether or not he should be allowed to play in the NFL. There are some who believe that his crime was so heinous that he should never be allowed back. Others will say that he’s paid for his crime and should be allowed back in the NFL.

I love my dogs, and when I first heard about what Michael Vick did I was physically sick to my stomach. I wanted to throw up. However, I agree that once he’s officially released, he should be allowed to seek employment in the NFL; but it’s not my decision.

The final decision will rest on the shoulders of Commissioner Roger Goodell; who has already said that he will consider reinstating Vick if he feels like he is remorseful for what he has done.

I believe that Vick will be reinstated by Goodell, most likely under some sort of zero tolerance stipulation coupled with a short suspension.

Once Vick is officially eligible to join a team, a lot of people are going to wonder who is going to pursue him. My question is who’s going to want him? His original team, the Atlanta Falcons, have already stated that Vick will not be coming back to Atlanta.

Vick was a phenomenal athlete, one of the best that I’ve ever seen. Honestly though, he wasn’t that great of a quarterback. I looked back at the Falcons record during his tenure as the starter in Atlanta. From 2003-2006, the Falcons were a mediocre 40-39. Sure, he could cause problems for opposing defenses because of his ability to run the ball, but he was very one dimensional.

Now, after being out of football for the past two years, he’s going to attempt a comeback (with the Commissioner’s approval). I’ve got to believe that playing football against the other prison inmates in the yard hasn’t kept him as sharp as teams would like him to be.

He’s going to be rusty…very rusty.

Ask yourself one question. If you are coaching a team in the Super Bowl, it’s the 4th quarter of a tie game with 2 minutes left on the clock. You have your choice of Michael Vick or Tom Brady to lead your team…who would you choose?

Needless to say, somebody will bring him into camp this summer. Heck, Lawrence Phillips even got a second chance. Leonard Little drove drunk and killed somebody, and he’s still playing!

Whichever team does decide to give him that chance will have to weigh the positives versus a lot of negatives that go along with bringing Vick into camp. The day that his signing is announced, a wave of protestors are going to show up at the team’s headquarters waving their signs and chanting their disapproval of Vick joining an NFL team.

So, to answer the question on whether or not Michael Vick should be allowed to play in the NFL; I say yes. He should be allowed. The real question is will he play. I say no. His actions have made him too much of a risk.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

ESPN encourages attention craving ex QB to think about unretiring again

As I was listening to a sports talk radio show the other day, they asked the question; who’s more pathetic; Brett Favre or the Minnesota Vikings? My answer to that is C. None of the above.

In my opinion, that dubious honor goes to ESPN. ESPN seems to have daily Favre updates on whatever he is doing, no matter how meaningless.

Just a few weeks ago they reported that a corporate jet had taken off from Minneapolis and was headed to Hattiesburg Mississippi…the home of Brett Favre!


No, later on in the day it was reported that the plane from Minneapolis to Hattiesburg unfortunately was filled with executives from the Target Corporation.

Now I keep hearing reports from them that Favre has hired a new trainer and he is working out with the high school football team again!


Maybe not…ESPN reported that Favre had to stop practicing after 10 throws because his arm hurt.

They have even stationed a reporter, Rachel Nichols, down in Hattiesburg. When the anchor on SportsCenter went to the live feed of her in Hattiesburg, he asked her if there were any sightings of Favre that day. She replied that she saw many #4 jerseys that day, but none of them were Favre.

What a waste of time, talent, and money! Each year this always happens on their network. Will he come back or won’t he? Do the Packers regret letting him go? What team would be the best fit for Favre?

I’d like to take the time to help ESPN out with these burning questions.

No, Favre won’t be coming back. He’s 40 years old! The only people in the NFL at 40 years of age are either coaches or kickers.

No, the Packers do not regret letting Favre go. The chaos and distraction that he has caused them these past few years because he can’t make up his mind have been enough to drive a team crazy.

The team that would be the best fit for Favre would be the Hattiesburg Tigers. That team would benefit the most from having Brett Favre around.

I didn't even realize it, but this Favre/ESPN fixation was illustrated to me by my 3 year old nephew. He was doing something silly during dinner, so we all started to laugh. Once we laughed, my nephew decided to do it again. Then we all laughed again.

That’s when it hit me, my nephew is like a Brett Favre comeback attempt and we were all like ESPN. We kept giving my nephew attention. As soon as we stopped, he realized that what he was doing wasn’t funny to us anymore and he stopped.

Word to the wise ESPN, if you stop giving something attention, it will soon go away. So please, rescue Rachel Nichols from Hattiesburg. There are more valid sports stories out there to cover.
It’s time for Favre to go away.