Davidson Deserves A Hug

March 30, 2008

Before this NCAA tournament, like most people, I didn’t know much about the Davidson Wildcat basketball team; other than they hadn’t lost a game since Friday, December 21 of last year.  That left them coming into today’s Elite 8 matchup with an impressive 25 straight wins.  And like I just said I hadn’t really heard much about Davidson before Selection Sunday and wasn’t a fan of them.  Yet at the end of the these last few games that I have watched them play in the tournament I have found myself rooting for them, even if that meant them messing up my bracket (which they did, by the way).

Davidson, the hero #10 seed, took down some of the best teams in the nation during their tournament run in #7 seed Gonzaga, #2 seed Georgetown, and #3 seed Wisconsin, not to mention playing Kansas, a definitive top four team in the nation, down to the wire.  It would have been real interesting if Davidson had the chance to play UNC next weekend for a trip to the championship, as the Wildcats lost a close 68-72 game to the Tar Heels in November.
As for Stephen Curry, and his 25.3 points per game this season (32 per game during the tournament), I think this definitely won’t be the last we see of him.  First, Davidson only has two graduating seniors on their team, and have to be excited for next season.  Second, and probably more important to Curry as an individual, he very realistically could end up in the National Basketball Association.  But don’t tell Curry that; if you ask him about his team’s success in the tournament, he’ll tell you what any good teammate says.  The Davidson Wildcats played as a team and won as a team.

Statistics have always been a big part of sports, and in football there are tons of them.  At the end of every year NFL players can marvel at themselves and keep track of how many yards, touchdowns, tackles, sacks, interceptions, or field goals that they stacked up in the previous season.  But it just feels like there is something missing.

With all the recent rule changing in the NFL, I propose that they add a new stat to the list: times arrested.  It’s becoming so common recently that it would almost be a crime not to have it as a stat.  The NFL could have league leaders and even hand out a pretty trophy to the biggest outlaw every year; it would be great.

Speaking of the biggest outlaw, Adam “Pacman” Jones might actually make his way onto the football field in the 2008 season, after being suspended for the entire 2007 season.
It’s not really clear exactly how many times Pacman Jones has been arrested, but it falls somewhere between two and six.  A few days ago Jones had a lengthy interview with the Michael Irvin Show and finally took responsibility for his actions, said he is a changed man, and that he promises to do gooder.  You really got to hand it to the guy because he hasn’t been in legal trouble for over two months; good for you Pacman, keep that streak alive for a few more days.
In the last few weeks the Dallas Cowboys, America’s Team (of Criminals), have expressed interest in Jones and it’s really looking like he’ll get to hang out with his law-breaking buddy, Tank Johnson, in Dallas.  I say that Cowboy’s owner, Jerry Jones, just goes to a jail and pick up some guys for his team because it will probably leave him in a better situation.
The Cowboy’s new slogan?  Where gangsters go to get clean.

Here is your third installment of a new column called ‘Top 10 Things In Sports’, a new weekly thing that I will do.  Here is your list of the Top 10 things in sports that we think are way underrated and want more people to pay attention to.

#10 Arena Football
I am definitely not arguing that Arena Football should become as mainstream as the No Fun League and college football, but it’s still a good substitute in the spring and a fun sport to watch.  There is tons of scoring and it’s very easy to understand, other than a few strange rules.

#9 Minor League Baseball
If you are a Red Sox or Yankee fan than you have permission to skip this one, but not all you fans of the twenty MLB teams that alway suck.  Sometimes it is good to get away from your lousy Kansas City Royals and go watch some good baseball.  Minor League baseball games are cheap and usually pretty entertaining; maybe you’ll even see a future MLB superstar, or you know, Roger Clemens.

#8 The Winter Olympics
From what I have looked at, the difference in television ratings between the winter and summer olympics is kind of staggering.  The 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece reached over 3.9 billion people while the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy reached a measly 200,000.  Even if that first number is a little high and the second, a little low, that is still quite a big hole in between them.  During the 2010 Winter Games at least check out curling in the middle of the day; it’s kind of like icy shuffleboard without the old people smell.
#7 ESPN’s Feel Good Stories
I know it may seem cheesy, but sometimes it’s good to read something outside of the world of competitive sports.  E-Ticket, an ESPN weekly feature, features stories about different people around the sports world and most of the stories are very creative and fresh.  One of my favorite’s features the journey of a North Alaskan high school football team.
#6 Outside of America – Every Sport Other Than Soccer
I only know a few people outside of the United States, but from what I have talked to them about soccer, it really is the phenomenon that everyone thinks it is.  If you are a big sports fan in the U.S. than just take a second to think about how much time you spend either playing sports or watching sports in a week; chances are that time is divided between more than one sport.  The rest of the world loves sports too, but the difference is that they spend all of that same time on one sport, soccer.  It’s encouraging to see the NFL, MLB, and NBA go international and hopefully that will continue.
#5 Falling Asleep To Golf
Don’t get me wrong, golf is great game, but if you are ever looking for a Sunday nap just turn some golf on TV.  Golf is a great bonding thing for father and sons to do, but you also have to admit that it’s not the most exciting thing to watch either.  If you are feeling a little pekid next Sunday take a nap with some golf.  It’ll do the body good.

#4 Fantasy Sports
To outsiders fantasy sports seem nerdy and pointless, but I really think that case can be made for just about anything in life.  If you are a big sports buff, and never been in a fantasy sports league, the least you can do is try it out.  Pick your favorite sport and if you really put some work into your team it will open up an entirely different side of sports to you.

#3 Crowd Brawls
When I think of crowd brawls the first thing that comes to mind is the infamous ‘Malice in the Palace’ involving Ron Artest, the Indiana Pacers, and the Detroit Pistons.  Personally, I think as long as no one dies or gets seriously injured, they are pretty funny.  The fact that athletes like Artest, who are getting paid millions of dollars, can’t keep their cool when fans are talking shit about their momma is a pretty curious thing.  And the face of the fan who is about to get pummeled by a completely-built athlete, that’s pretty funny too.

#2 X Games
I would hardly consider myself a skater or a punk, but many people associate the X Games with those two terms.  Let me just tell you, if you fall into that category than you are definitely missing out.  Some of the stuff those guys like Shaun White throw down is just amazing and seems to defy gravity.  When I go through my mid-life crisis I am going to make sure to try out for the X Games; or at least ride a dirt-bike or something.

#1 Rushing The Court/Field
People don’t realize it, but when they are watching a college basketball game like Kansas State play #1 Kansas at Kansas State, they just want to see the crowd rush the court at the end of the game.  A college team can completely suck, but if they pull off an amazing upset at home and the crowd gets to rush the basketball court or football field than the season is suddenly a success.  Or at least should be cause of the awesomeness of it.  Which is why I think rushing the court and rushing the field should be introduced in pro sports.  How awesome would that be?  I’ll tell you,  it’d be like being in college for life.

At the end of the month the NFL, formerly the National Football League, teams will be voting to as to whether or not they should officially change names to the “No Fun League.”  

The past few off-seasons the league has passed some really dumb rules to try to suck as much fun as they possibly can out of the game of football.  Today that fun-squeezing seemed to continue when I heard that the league’s teams will be voting on a ban of player’s hair flowing out of their helmets because “the hair could cover their name” and is a uniform violation.  Everyone knows that’s not the real reason for their stupid new proposed rule, and I can’t help but feel that the rule is directed towards a certain race, which is just wrong. 

Roger Goodell – if you ever find this article than I want you to leave my site with this simple and very non-vulgar statement engraved in your mind: Quit your job, you fun-sucker-out-of-er.
What would players like Troy Polamalu, Marion Barber, and Al Harris be like without long hair?  I’ll tell you what, just boring old football players.
The picture above is of the famous Lambeau Leap, a precise art that is executed at home Green Bay Packer’s football games by the receiver who catches a touchdown.  Now look at that picture and tell me how that is hurting anyone: beer flying everywhere, a massive celebration, and that beautiful cheesy grin on Donald Driver’s face.

The NFL acts like everything that has to do with the league is a matter of national security, but the reality is that football is supposed to be a form of entertainment for fans.  Banning things like touchdown celebrations just take away an element of that entertainment value.
With that I just want to leave you with a simple statement and that is this –

I would demand he buy me another popcorn.

9,223,372,036,854,780,000, the number of possible combinations in the 63 game NCAA college basketball tournament.  The experts say it’s more likely for one person to be struck by lightning twice on the same sunny day than winning some state lotteries, so I can’t really imagine what kind of hyperbole people could come up with for filling out a perfect bracket with more than nine hexillion possible combos.

Maybe – filling out a perfect bracket; less likely than Duke not choking in the first two rounds and advancing to the second week of play.  It’s alright Coach K, you’ll get that 70th career tournament win someday.
Filling out a perfect bracket; less likely than Memphis hitting their free throws at the end of a close game.
Or my personal favorite – filling out a perfect bracket; less likely than underdogs going 4-0 at a tournament site in the first round, including 2 #12 seeds and 2 #13 seeds.
This year, in an effort to get more people to fill out brackets on their site, Yahoo! offered five million dollars for a perfect bracket, and of course could still feel comfortable that their money would stay safe in the bank.  Face it, I could offer my first-born and the right to have a personal flying carpet, and a perfect 63 game bracket would still never come to be.
But this weekend, all of you lazy workers looking for a big break may have caught one.  Yahoo! is offering one million dollars for a perfect second-chance bracket.  Starting with the sweet sixteen and only fifteen remaining games in the tourney, there is now a much more manageable 32,768 possible combinations in this bracket.  You know what that means?  For the next two days you need to fill out brackets every waking moment you are available; fill them out during breakfast, during work, during lunch, during class, when your wife is trying to have a conversation with you, and before you go to sleep.  Pick the obvious games and pick the upsets; make sure to mix and match crazy combinations.  And because I opened your eyes to these great new odds, please feel obligated to give me a fraction of your newly found fortune when you pick that coveted perfect second chance bracket.

On February 18, three days before this year’s NBA trade deadline, Jason Kidd finally made his return to Dallas. This, all after almost two weeks of different reports that J-Kidd was coming to be a Dallas Maverick. Since his acqusition, the Dallas Mavericks are a mediocre 9-8, four and a half games back of the Western Conference lead in seventh place, and most importantly 0-8 against serious NBA Championship contenders. These eight loses have included the New Orleans Hornets, San Antonio Spurs (twice), LA Lakers (twice), Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets, and Boston Celtics. Seeing the Mavericks lose nailbiter after nailbiter has to be completely disheartening for the Dallas fanbase, but at least there is a little good news. Dallas has competed in six of their seven losses, but they have failed to execute and make the neccesary big plays at the end of games. 
Not that it matters, but in their nine wins with Jason Kidd, the Mavericks have averaged nearly a twenty-point margin. The reason I say it doesn’t matter is that unfortuanetely all nine of these teams are below .500 and all of them may not even make the playoffs.  
Earlier this season, Dirk Nowitzki was being reported as having an ‘off-season’, especially by many local reporters, mainly just because Josh Howard had emerged as having his best season in his career, thus far. In fifteen games with Jason Kidd, I don’t think anyone should be complaining with Dirk’s recent play which includes 27.2 points per game on 52% from the field and a few very big shots where he single-handidly kept the Mavericks in games (I.E. hitting a three-pointer at the end of regulation on March 2 in Los Angeles against the Lakers to force overtime). Mavericks’ forward Brandon Bass has also really had a chance to shine with his recent play including his season-high point total earlier this month totalling in 19 against the New Jersey Nets on March 8. 
If the Mavs want to get out of their rut against good teams he will need to  become more of a consistent scorer.  Recently, the Mavericks picked up two solid role players in point guard Tyronn Lue and Jamaal Magloire.
Outlook & Predictions: Dirk Nowitzki was hurt in today’s game against the San Antonio Spurs and if it is a serious injury than the Dallas Mavericks may be in serious danger of not even making the playoffs.  Assuming that Dirk is okay I say that the Mavericks finish the season 52-29 as the Western Conference’s #6 seed and lose in the first or second round of the playoffs.  Unfortunately for the Mavs, Jason Kidd coming to Dallas in February may not have left enough time for him to get use to the Dallas Maverick’s system; at least this season.

I’ll Be Back Baby!

March 20, 2008

Hey Guys, just wanted to let you know that I will be out-of-town in a small, small place with no internet or new technological stuff like that for a few days!  I am sure you will have plenty of basketball to keep you busy and our time apart will go by quickly; it’ll be nice to be on vacation for awhile!

Here is the second installment of a new column called ‘Top 10 Things In Sports’, a new weekly thing that I will do.  Here is your list of the Top 10 things in sports that we think are way overrated and people care way too much about.

#10 NHL Regular Season
There were a  lot of mixed emotions about me leaving off the NHL from ‘The Top 10 Things in Sports That Suck’, but don’t worry hockey haters.  The shallow and pedantic NHL regular season makes this list instead.  Go watch a regular season hockey game and then tell me it should be on ESPN.  In the NHL, if it ain’t the playoffs it ain’t interesting, unless it is sixty minutes of fighting.
#9 Bad NBA Teams
The lowest-tier teams of the National Basketball Association may achieve a new goal this season by featuring three teams with less than twenty wins.  If it happens it will be the first time since 2001 that the league has at least three such teams.  The competitors this year are the Minnesota Timberwolves (17-50), the Memphis Grizzlies (16-51), the Seattle SuperSonics (16-52), and the current leading Miami Heat (12-55).  Next year, to be fair, I think the Heat should move down to NCAA College Division II basketball.  People have always said that any NBA team can beat another team on any given night, but if you are gonna tell me that right now, well than that’s just crazy!
#8 Weird NFL Game-times
In case anyone was wondering, NFL games are supposed to be played on Thanksgiving Day, Sundays, and every Monday Night, but the league seems to think otherwise.  NFL, why don’t you stop screwing with us and scheduling games on random Thursday and Saturday nights; it’d be much appreciated.
#7 Watching Baseball on TV
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the sport of baseball, America’s supposed “pastime”, but watching baseball on television just isn’t the same as being at the game.  The ball is almost never in play, you lose your focus so easily while doing other stuff, and you’ll miss your entire episode of “Lost.”  Just go to the ballpark next time.  Your league worst Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates or Kansas City Royals will really appreciate your business.
#6 Referees
As a kid I was always taught to treat the ref with respect and I did my best except for the time I punched the mean old guy (just kidding), but recently a lot of refs have really gotten on my nerves.  If these guys want respect from the players than they need to stop making horrible calls, and that’s right betting on the games.
#5 Pro All-Star Games
I’m just going to go ahead and say it: If you watch the NFL Pro-Bowl you have way too much time on your hands.  You really need to go get a hobby or something if that’s the case.  More than that I don’t like All-Star games because who wants to see superstars play each other and look just ordinary when they can play mediocre players on other teams and look magnificent.
#4 Part of College Football’s Bowl Season
It really bums me out when I see a bowl game is on TV the last week in December and then it’s something like the New Orleans Bowl.  I think once, when I was younger, all of the bad bowl games actually made me sick, gave me chicken pox, and made me miss about a week of school.  But this year when they put the International Bowl on January 5 and the GMAC Bowl on January 6 it really made me want to upchuck.

#3 MMA
Before you attack me on this one, let me just say that I have watched mixed martial-arts before.  The problem is that any time I have ever seen it, the two guys “fighting” just end up on top of each other humping and fighting  like little girls.  At least the Rock had really moves in wresting, you know, like the people’s elbow.

#2 Specific Knowledge Sports “Experts”
Guys like Mel Kiper Jr. and Joe Lunardi really piss me off because it seems like they are getting paid and get to be on TV for absolutely no reason.  Both of these guys are so called “experts” in the NFL draft and bracketology, respectively.  The problem I see with that is that they never tell me anything that I don’t know or I can’t look up.
#1 College Basketball RPI
The RPI, or Ratings Percentage Index, is outdated and because of the NCAA’s flip-flop mentality they really need to just get rid of the thing.  It’s obvious that the NCAA college basketball selection committee didn’t use the RPI as much of a factor this year because while Dayton and Illinois State (ranked 32 and 33 in RPI) didn’t get in the tournament, Kentucky and Oregon (ranked 57 and 58 in RPI) did.  Personally, I think it’s a stupid and incomplete stat so NCAA should do us all a favor and get rid of it.  And you guys probably used the dumb thing to help fill out your brackets.  Suckers!

Glen Taylor Is A Nut Job

March 19, 2008

On June 28, 1995 the Minnesota Timberwolves chose Kevin Garnett with the fith overall pick in the NBA draft.  More than a decade of dominance and eleven all-star appearances later, Garnett is finally out of Minnesota and a member of the Boston Celtics.  Hopefully that’s not news to you because he has been there since last summer.  During all of KG’s time in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Glen Taylor (owner of the T-Wolves) was absolutely in love with him.  Now, more than seven months after Garnett has left Minnesota Glen Taylor is suggesting that his former star “tanked it” at the end of last season because he didn’t play in the last five games.  For how bad the Minnesota Timberwolves have been the last two seasons, a combined 48-100, there is no way that KG could have single handily tanked last year’s season; the team is much too horrible for that.  The only possible explanation for Taylor’s recent angry comments is that Kevin Garnett is on a team that will very likely win more than three times as many games than that of Glen Taylor’s this season.

But seriously put yourself in KG’s position last year.  You are a superstar in the NBA playing for the 27-50 Minnesota Timberwolves, there are five games left in the regular season, your team is near the bottom of the league, and you are no where near 100% because of a quadricep injury.  Is it really worth it to risk an injury and more importantly, potentially millions of dollars?
The Classless move of the week goes to Mr. Glen Taylor.

Whether you are a casual sports fan or an avid college basketball know-it-all, chances are that you are filling out your NCAA bracket this week.  Here are some helpful guidelines for filling out your bracket that are very simple to follow.

1) Be Smart
Ah, one of my main guidelines for… – most things in life.  If you are in a office pool for money or just trying to impress someone else with a great bracket do a little research, it won’t hurt anyone.  Keep in mind that seven of the last ten National Champions won their conference tournaments the same season, and many teams who make deep runs in the Big Dance have had success late in the season.  Don’t make idiotic picks like #16 seeds over #1 seeds because it has never and may never happen.  Even if it does, it doesn’t really matter because the risk isn’t anywhere near worth the reward.  If you are having some trouble, here is a great webpage on ESPN to look at the history of seed-by-seed matchups in the tournament.
2) Find Your Balance
I have seen different sites that say, on average, there are anywhere from 15 to 21 upsets per year, so that is a good guideline to follow.  For all intensive purposes, an upset is going to be defined as a lower seed beating a higher seed, for instance, a #9 beating a #8 is considered an upset even though #9 seeds do have more head-to-head wins, historically.  The 2006 and 2007 tournaments were almost completely opposite in that ’06 was full of surprises and ’07 was completely predictable.  The first round in ’06 consisted of 9 upsets, 8 of which were double-digit seeds, yet in ’07 only two #11 seeds and three #9 seeds pulled off first round upsets.  Just know, if you have to pick between being safe and sorry, go with the safe.  If you don’t really know too much about college basketball pick mostly high seeds and a few upsets.  Don’t get too ridiculous with the number of upsets in your bracket because there is a reason that teams are a top four seed.
3)Know That Luck Is Involved
When #11 seed George Mason made the Final Four in 2006, no one could have predicted that, yet there were still brackets on Yahoo and ESPN that had all four Final Four teams correct.  It kind of makes you wonder if people sit in front of their computer and fill out hundreds and hundreds of brackets the week leading up to the tournament – hopefully, no one is that sad, but I have a sad hunch that some people are.  Just realize that a lot of making your bracket is luck, so if I were you I wouldn’t put my life savings on things like March Madness.