Thursday, August 23, 2012

R U Ready 4 Some Football?

The football season is upon us and fans everywhere are dreaming of their favorite team playing in the Super Bowl this year.

The preseason is not what everyone wants to see but is forced to in order to get their fix of gridiron action.  The 2012-13 season will have its fill of interesting story lines and teams that come from no where to challenge for a playoff spot.  I have taken into consideration the additions and subtractions from each team and have made my predictions for the upcoming season.  They go as follows:

NFC East Division

1.  New York Giants - (10-6)
The reining Super Bowl champions have lost running back Brandon Jacobs so the back field will be lacking some punch.  They still have Eli Manning calling the shots and Victor Cruz has emerged as a quality target.  The defense is stalwart QB killing defensive ends JPP and Justin Tuck.  Will struggle a bit in regular season but we all know what Eli is capable of in the playoffs.

2.  Dallas Cowboys - (9-7)
It really comes down to two words, Tony Romo.  The former Eastern Illinois product has all the talent in the world but there is just something about him that doesn't get it done in crunch time.  He has shown a tendency to turn the ball over when the game is hanging in the balance.  He is a multimillion dollar quarterback with a 5 cent finish.

Can Romo lead "America's Team" to the Playoffs?

3.  Philadelphia Eagles - (8-8)
The Eagles are intriguing as they have made many moves in the past couple of years to improve their team.  The additions of Asomugha and Rodgers-Cormartie  have strengthened their secondary in a league that is so pass happy now it isn't even funny.  The problem I have is having Michael Vick as their starting QB.  He is super talented and super elusive but sooner or later he gets hit.  He gets hit ALOT!  He has already gotten drilled in a preseason game and had bruised ribs.  In order to be good he has to be on the field and I just don't see him making it through the year.  He is a 32 year old running quarterback.  Not ideal!

4.  Washington Redskins - (5-11)
Rookie QB RGIII.  New blood.  New life.  Same ol' Same ol'.  I do think the Redskins will be competitive but it will take time.  They have nice targets for RGIII in WR's Santana Moss and Pierre Garcon.  They should move the ball and score some points and having the "New Michael Vick" with 22 year old RGIII should help with him scrambling for his life and gaining gut wrenching first downs.  Couple years from now it will be interesting.

NFC West Division

1.  San Francisco 49ers - (12-4)
Jim Harbaugh's second year should be just as successful as his first.  He has as stacked an offensive crew as anyone in the NFL.  They have a quarterback with renewed confidence which is a direct effect of Harbaugh's coaching ability.  They have skill position players that strike fear in opposing teams hearts such as RB Frank Gore, WR Michael Crabtree, and TE Vernon Davis.  They also add one of the all-time great fly pattern runners in NFL history in Randy Moss.  Moss is still searching for that lost Super Bowl Ring (see Patriots v. Giants first go around) and maybe he will find it in San Francisco Bay.  The defense will once again be anchored by do everything LB Patrick Willis.

Can Randy Moss finally get what he has been searching for?

2.  Arizona Cardinals - (6-10)
The team put all their eggs in the Kevin Kolb basket and they ended up broke.  Kolb went from one quarterbacking controversy in Philly to another in Arizona with John Skelton.  Looks like Skelton is winning the job at this point.  They still have Larry Fitzgerald which will make either QB look better as he is a freak with gloves on.  The ground should be covered quite well with Beanie Wells.  Will be another long year for the Cardinals.

3.  Seattle Seahawks - (5-11)
I am noticing a trend with teams signing or trading for back-up quarterbacks who show flashes with their former team in order to gain interest from other clubs and then they flame out big time.  See Matt Flynn.  The former Green Bay Packers put up great numbers in meaningless games last year for the Pack Attack.  He has now been over taken by rookie QB Russell Wilson.  He has the "it" factor from his days at N.C. State, Wisconsin, and now Seattle.  He isn't the tallest but he is a winner.  I think they are making the right choice but it will be tough going this year for the neon green.  Sidney Rice and Golden Tate are good quality receivers and Marshawn Lynch is a stud.  If the defense can force some turnovers then could win a few more games but winning with a rookie quarterback is always difficult even though lately it has seemed rather easy.

4.  St. Louis Rams - (4-12)
Jeff Fisher will have his hands full with trying to resurrect the once powerful "Greatest Show on Turf" and making them respectable again.  He has a proven track record in his days with Tennessee but this will take some growing pains.  He has a good quarterback in Sam Bradford and if he can stay healthy which has been a problem for him since his Oklahoma days.  Stephen Jackson continues to pile up crazy numbers and will soon be "old" by running backs standards.  It just is a shame he seems to be lost on a team that over the past few years has averaged 3 wins a season.  Will be tough going for the Rams but if anyone can right that ship it is Jeff Fisher.

NFC North Division

1.  Green Bay Packers - (13-3)
This season will be a redemption of sorts after last years 15-1 campaign that ended in Lambeau with the Giants celebrating and moving on in the playoffs.  This year I have a feeling cheeseheads everywhere will be witnessing a rebirth from Aaron Rodgers and a little help from his friends Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley, James Starks, and Cedric Benson, the newly acquired ex-Bear/Bengal.  The defense will need to play much better as a whole then last year regardless of their record they did give up an awful amount of points at times.  You can't just go out and expect to outscore everyone because it is bound to come back and bite you in the butt.  Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji will assert their will and you should expect a solid effort from the Green Bay defense.

There will be plenty of leaps in his future!

2.  Chicago Bears - (11-5)
After last years collapse, when Jay Cutler was out for the season, the Bears knew they needed more help on the offensive side of the ball.  They went out and got it.  The addition of Brandon Marshall does two things.  One it gives the Bears the number one receiver they have coveted for soooo long and two it reunites Jay Cutler with his favorite receiver from his Denver Broncos days.  The contract dispute with Joseph Forte is behind him and should again be a HUGE piece of what the Bears do offensively as he is a dual threat as a runner and pass catcher.  The defense will need to stay hungry for turnovers, a Lovie Smith specialty, and definitely stay healthy.  They aren't getting any younger and the window of opportunity to win is closing.  Brian Urlacher is dealing with injuries so Lance Briggs along with their secondary, Tillman/Conte/Wright,  will have to step up big in any chance of success will happen in 2012-13.

3.  Detroit Lions - (9-7)
The video game statistics will again be accumulated for Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.  This is probably the best 1-2 punch for hooking up in the NFL today.  Johnson is so tall, fast, and has tremendous hands that all Stafford has to do is lob it up there for him to go and get it.  They will be Lob City North that is for certain.  The defense will again be started up front with demolition man Ndamukong Suh  and Kyle Vanden Bosch.  If Suh can keep his emotions in check enough to not penalize his team they should have another highly successful season.  Will be a tough division as anyone of these teams could make the playoffs and it wouldn't surprise me.

4.  Minnesota Vikings - (5-11)
They have Adrian Peterson which is a plus.  They have Christian Ponder which is a minus.  If any team can keep Jared Allen off your back then it should be a field day for opposing offenses.  Will be a long cold winter in Minnesota.

NFC South Division

1.  Carolina Panthers - (10-6)
There is always a team that comes out of nowhere to claim their division title.  I am going out on a limb and picking the Cam Newton led Panthers to be that team.  They are coming off a 6-10 season but Cam Newton put together one of the greatest rookie seasons to date.  He is a special talent and player who single handily wins games with his pure raw ability.  He did this in college at Auburn and will do so in Carolina.  He is just scratching the surface of what he could be and I see a freight train coming and when they get going they are hard to stop.  The rushing attack of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart has been solid as well and Steve Smith is still a viable target for Newton to hook up with for long gainers.  The defense will continue to be led by LB James Anderson which is a tackling machine.

When the smoke clears Cam's arrow is pointing skyward.

2.  Atlanta Falcons - (10-6)
The Falcons have been a sexy pick for the Super Bowl the past few seasons as Matt Ryan and company have been extremely solid and have a home field advantage that has been one of the more difficult to over come.  This isn't the case in the playoffs as Green Bay destroyed them two years ago and they were beaten soundly by the Giants last year.  The Falcons will again have weapons on offense like Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez for Ryan to aim for.  They also have a rock solid RB in Michael Turner.  I see another semi-successful season for Atlanta and then a first round fizzle in the playoffs.  The Dirty Birds will fly south for the winter early again.

3.  New Orleans Saints - (9-7)
The whole off season has been a mess for the Saints it is ridiculous.  The bounty issue coupled with the organizations lack of obvious support for quarterback Drew Brees will undoubtedly leave them punch drunk like Soda Popinski.  They don't have their Head Coach Sean Payton and they will have other players missing time, as well as, coaches.  It is a mess.  On pure talent and leadership qualities from Drew Brees I think he wills them to nine wins but I wouldn't be surprised with less.  You can't have an off season like that and think it won't effect the team going forward.

Only Soda Popinski was more wobbly than the Saints this off season.

4.  Tampa Bay Bucs - (3-13)
The Bucs went out and added some excellent skill players in Vincent Jackson and Dallas Clark.  They have a solid quarterback in Josh Freeman.  They have a good RB in Lagarrette Blount.  I just get this feeling that this combination is not going to work.  Call it a hunch, but I just don't like it.  They have a new coach in Greg Schiano and did so after firing Raheem Morris who I thought got good results from his players when they had been 10-6 in 2010.  I just see yet another losing season for the Bucs.

AFC East Division

1.  New England Patriots - (13-3)
The Tom Brady led Patriots continue to amaze with the sheer mastery he has of the offense.  The addition of former Illini Brandon Lloyd should prove deadly for the opposition.  They still have Gronk and Welker as threats also.  Running back has always been an issue for the Pats but the short passing game is a glorified rushing attack for them and serves a similar purpose.  The division really is theirs to lose and I don't see it happening any time soon.  The defense under Belichek has never been dominate but serviceable knowing the offense is going to put up plenty of points.  The year Brady had last year with his 5,000 yards I only see that going up this year.  Drew Brees' record may only stand one season if Brady can stay healthy.

2.  Buffalo Bills - (9-7)
I am expecting one of the teams in this division to increase their win total from last year.  The Bills started last season with a strong start and also beat the Pats before a serious nose dive.  They added Mario Williams to the defense which will certainly make their front group stronger.  Ryan Fitzpatrick is a very good quarterback and has the intelligence (Harvard) to use last year to his advantage.  He threw for 3800 yards last season and doesn't have to go way beyond that, but does need to decrease his interceptions from the 23 he threw last year.  He has a very good running back in Fred Jackson and if he can be strong and durable the 1,000 yard season is definitely a mark he should meet and then some.  If the passing game can find a number two receiver to compliment Steve Johnson then good things may happen and a playoff push may be in their future.

3.  New York Jets - (6-10)
M. E. S. S. Mess, Mess, Mess.  Is what the Jets fans will be crying this season.  The quarterback situation is ridiculous with the organization giving Mark Sanchez a three year extension and then fast forward a bit and they trade for Tim Tebow.  It doesn't matter what either of these fine young men say it is NOT going to work out.  The beginning of the season for the Jets is brutal and if Sanchez starts slow it will be "Tebow Time" in New York.  And what weapons do they have that strikes fear in any opposing defense?  The answer is none really.  They have Santonio Holmes and Shonn Green but we aren't in the Big Ten anymore it is the AFC East.  The way Rex Ryan runs that team and everyone seems to have an opinion it is bound to blow up.  Revis Island will have more drama than Survivor.  And no one has immunity on this team, nobody.

All smiles in practice but games are a different issue.

4.  Miami Dolphins - (4-12)
Repeating myself bit but starting a rookie quarterback, that was questioned during the NFL draft, can be very tricky.  The good thing going for Ryan Tannehill is that he has ran the offense since being in college.  His offensive coordinator, and ex college coach, should be a good marriage.  Lets hope he doesn't get discouraged as he gets knocked on his backside regularly this season.  Reggie Bush showed he could carry the load as a prime running back but his size is still a concern.  Should be another rebuilding year for the Dolphins who are still looking for the next Dan Marino. 

AFC West Division

1.  Denver Broncos - (11-5)
I think the Broncos added a player this year but I can't think who it could be?  Just kidding, it is Peyton Manning.  The addition of Manning gives Denver the drop back passing quarterback they have wanted all along.  If they can win a playoff game with Tim Tebow last year they most definitely should improve on that success this year.  Peyton isn't what he once was, after four neck surgeries, but at 80-90% he is still better than most quarterbacks in the league.  I will take my chances with Peyton Manning, which reminds me of when Joe Montana left San Fran and led Kansas City to the playoffs.  Having a healthy Willis McGahee won't hurt either.

Following a legend won't be a problem for Petyon.

2.  San Diego Chargers - (8-8)
Man what can I say about the almost always mediocre Chargers.  I think it comes down to Norv Turner is not and hasn't been the right coach for this team all the way back to when he started.  I have nothing against him or his brother Ron, but they are much better coordinators than Head Coaches.  To have had Philip Rivers in his prime and really come away with nothing is sad.  Antonio Gates was been a devastating target and touchdown maker and should continue that way this season also, but I just don't see it getting past a .500 team.  Rivers will throw for a ton of yards and a ton of touchdowns, but ultimately a ton of interceptions.  Bad combination.  They have some nice pieces on defense with Takeo Spikes, Quentin Jammer, and ex-Illini Corey Liuget.

3.  Kansas City Chiefs - (7-9)
The development of Matt Cassel as a starting quarterback in this league is possibly running out.  He has one of the best receivers in the game to throw too in Dwayne Bowe and the fact he only had 5 TD catches all last year is abysmal.  Cassel cashed in on the one season Tom Brady got hurt in N.E. and has found out the grass isn't greener on the other side, only the money is.  Chiefs fans should hope and pray Cassel stays healthy because multi-team cast off Brady Quinn is lurking on the sidelines.  The only thing he has shown he can do is hold a clip board.  They are hoping the other Peyton (Hillis) to switch teams will revert to his form from his days in Cleveland and improve a running game that is sorely in need of new life.  If the ball bounces their way they could swap with S.D. and push for a potential playoff spot.  Don't bet your house on it though.

4.  Oakland Raiders - (5-11)
Tha Raidazzzz!  They have some of the best fans in the world and they are almost as entertaining as their players.  Unfortunately that is not far from the truth.  The Carson Palmer experiment Year 2 probably won't be any better than last year.  The franchise almost gives draft picks away for big splash fan fare in Palmer, Terrelle Pryor, Sebastian Janikowski.  I mean drafting a kicker in the first round of the NFL draft.  That sounds like something my kids would do in a fantasy draft, let alone a real one.  The point being moves like this set back franchises for years.  I don't see this year being any different.

AFC North Division

1.  Baltimore Ravens - (12-4)
The ending to last year literally went right through their finger tips.  The motivation for this team to get back to the AFC Championship game and ultimately the Super Bowl starts there.  Joe Flacco has shown in the preseason he means business.  He is in his fifth season and I feel is out to prove everyone he is an elite quarterback.  Ray Rice can flat out run the ball and keep the chains moving.  Anquan Boldin will need to have much better year than last and I see that for him.  The defense will again be set around future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.  These guys are the motor of that always stellar defense in Baltimore.  I see great things for the Ravens this season.

Ray and company should be flexing their muscles plenty this year!

2.  Pittsburgh Steelers - (10-6)
The Steelers are a model franchise.  The always seem to do things the right way.  Which is a cliche but in this case is very much true.  Players go down with injury they just don't worry about it and plug someone else in there.  The rushing attack, without former Illini Rashard Mendenhall and his back up Issac Redman nursing an injury, will be rough going early.  They are going to rely heavily, like always, on Ben Rothlisburger to make plays.  He is at his best when the play is busted or out of the pocket and his natural instincts take over.  The defense will again be solid, minus that blip in the playoffs against Tebow, and should keep them in ball games.  I can't imagine a Steelers team coached by Mike Tomlin to not making the playoffs and figuring out a plan for success. 

3.  Cincinnati Bengals - (8-8)
Coming off last years playoff surprise led by then rookie quarterback Andy Dalton I feel they will take a slight step backwards.  Call it a sophomore slump if you will but I think Dalton will have a little tougher time this season without Cedric Benson and now having BenJarvis Green-Ellis as his primary ball carrier.  Things are still looking up in Cincinnati and that is a positive after so many years of watching thugs and criminals take the field than proud athletes. 

4.  Cleveland Browns - (3-13)
Ouch.  The Dawg Pound will be throwing more than dog biscuits in the endzone this year.  They may be flinging excrement at the field to cover up the smell this group will be producing.  Yet another rookie quarterback given the reigns of a team that hasn't been able to find an identity since Vinny T was calling plays.  They have a wonderfully talented rookie RB in Trent Richardson but he is being brought along carefully as his knee was scoped just earlier in the month.  They have limited supporting cast to help with the load Richardson will be asked to carry.  Opposing defenses will crowd the box and beg Brandon Weeden to throw the ball. 

AFC South Division

1.  Houston Texans - (11-5)
Another team from a year ago who missed dearly their starting quarterback when the playoffs began.  They were using their third string QB and still had chances of winning a playoff game.  With a healthy Matt Schaub and his ability to make the smart throw and not force the issue will help them stay in ball games and not put extra pressure on their defense.  Arian Foster has emerged as a franchise carrying running back and they also have Andre Johnson running routes and catching everything that moves.  This should be another playoff run for the Texans and potentially farther.

A healthy Matt Schaub should mean good things in Houston.

2.  Tennessee Titans - (8-8)
You never know sometimes when it is right to make the change to the future of your franchise but it appears that is where the Titans are with making Jake Locker the starting quarterback.  He has been promoted over Matt Hasselback and has shown well in his last preseason start.  He has a strong arm and having Chris Johnson still leading the way in the backfield doesn't hurt either.  Should be an up and down year with flashes of brilliance and also some flashes of pain.

3.  Jacksonville Jaguars - (5-11)
Blaine!  That isn't the name of a quarterback, that is a major appliance!  He will need a washing machine to clean all the dirt and muck from his jersey as he will get beat down like a rented mule.  They have no real skill position players that look promising or scary.  I know they have Justin Blackmon but it has been shown that receivers get better by year three not year one.  Besides you can't completed passes consistently when you are throwing them with linebacker all in your mug.  The best thing this team has is no state income tax.

4.  Indianapolis Colts - (4-12)
The injury last year of their franchises ultimate quarterback, P. Manning, led to the overall number one pick and Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.  In his preseason starts so far he has looked the part.  He has shown poise in the pocket and a leadership quality the great ones have.  You can look at a quarterback and see if he is nervous or anxious during action and he seems calm.  It will be a long  year but even Troy Aikman only got one win his first year.  We all know how that worked out.  Rebuilding is the name of the game at this point and the arrow looks to be pointing up.  Indianapolis fans sure are lucky to get another franchise quarterback after having had one for the past 14 years.


First Round:

New York Giants versus Carolina Panthers
Chicago Bears versus Atlanta Falcons

Second Round:

Green Bay Packers versus New York Giants
San Francisco 49ers versus Chicago Bears

NFC Championship:

Green Bay Packers versus San Francisco 49ers


First Round:

Houston Texans versus Buffalo Bills
Denver Broncos versus Pittsburgh Steelers

Second Round:
New England Patriots versus Houston Texans
Baltimore Ravens versus Denver Broncos

AFC Championship:
Houston Texans versus Baltimore Ravens

San Franscisco 49ers versus Baltimore Ravens


Baltimore Ravens

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Titanic 2

Strasburg, Right Ahead. 

Thank You.

This is something we have seen coming since Spring Training and when the beginning of the season started.  The innings limit for ace Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg after having had Tommy John surgery and wanting to prolong the career of their phenom pitcher.  The date is looming and the decision of his organization to limit his total innings to between 160-180 is coming close.

I applaud the Nationals for their ability to stay steadfast and stick with a decision regardless of what their fans or the media feels.  It makes it especially hard for fans to understand since the Nationals are sitting atop their division in first place and have the MLB's best overall record.

Mr. Strasburg currently sits at 139.1 innings pitched and has a record of 14-5 with a 2.91 E.R.A.  He has gone 6 innings per start the last three outings and at this pace he will hit 160 innings after his next three and a half starts.   

He is the most dominate pitcher in their rotation and can single handily win a playoff series by shutting down the opposing teams hitters.  The one though getting shut down is Stephen. 

The organizations leaders have the best interest of their team in mind and the best interest of their player in mind also.  They are making sure the investment made in Strasburg will be a long term payoff rather than a short term flame out.  The philosophy of their decision is understandable.

They want to have a competitive team for the foreseeable future.  They want to be relevant in the next 10 years and want Stephen Strasburg to be a key piece of this puzzle.  They are looking at the tip of the iceberg and wondering what is possibly left they don't see.  This is where the debate begins with everyone involved.

Trying to "see" what is not visible makes this decision the most difficult. 

They want to be careful and not over stress his arm and cause him to breakdown and ruin him for the future.  They realize the team will definitely miss him and will put the team in a position where the playoffs would be much more difficult to succeed in.

The stress on Strasburg's arm is the biggest concern for the Nats. 

The issue is whether you want to win now or win later.  This game has no guarantees.  One day you feel like you are "King of the World" and then next you can't hit a curve ball or find the plate. 

I feel as a baseball fan you want to see the best players in the playoffs and if I was a fan of the Nationals I want to win the World Series no matter what the cost. 

The Nationals can still make the playoffs and still have a chance to win the World Series even if Stephen Strasburg is there or not.  They obviously have a quality team with their position players and the remainder of their rotation.  You don't have the best record in baseball without having a great balanced team. 

They will need big contributions from their other starting pitchers like Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Edwin Jackson, and Ross Detwiler.  With the absence of Strasburg it will be imperative they get quality starts from this group of guys as the manager will have to decide who they put in Strasburg's spot in the rotation to finish out the season. 

The Nationals, with planning to shut Strasburg down, can take all the precautions necessary to try and ensure he have a long career and he could still get injured.  This would be devastating to the organization and their fan base as then you didn't get anything positive out of him.  You didn't go for it when you had the chance and then still ended up with him hurt.   

The point is you just don't know what the future holds. 

I am a firm believer in playing and winning for today, if you have the chance, and deal with the future when it comes. 

I am a huge Cubs fan and they haven't really won anything in over 100 years.  The Cubs thought they had the next great pitcher in Mark Prior and they went for it in 2003 and it didn't work out.  At least there was a chance and it was close.  Now no one has seen him in the majors in years after an injury.  It happened after the run in '03 but no one knew that is what the future held for him.

Mark Prior saw something out there but it wasn't his future. 

Strasburg has already been injured in his career and had surgery.  He has come back with a vengeance.  I feel they should step back and rethink their position and go for the gold.  I respect their position, and obviously I am not paying his salary either, but I am a fan of a team too and wouldn't want to jeopardize a World Series chance for the "what if" of the future.

People can see the tip of the iceberg but it is what's not seen that causes all the damage. 

It just depends where the damage is potentially done.

It could be Stephen Strasburg damaging opposing hitters in this years playoffs.


It could be the organization damaging their chances of winning this years World Series.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Dwight Move


"Did you ever have the feeling that you wanted to go when you still had the feeling that you wanted to stay.  You knew it was right, wasn't wrong.  Still you knew you wouldn't be very long.  It's tough to have the feeling that you wanted to go. Still had the feeling that you wanted to stay.  Started to go.  Changed your mind.  Started to go again but changed your mind again.  It's tough to have the feeling that you wanted to go still have the feeling that you wanted to stay. 
Do Re Mi Fa So La Si Do.  I go!"  - Jimmy Durante 

This weekend was a busy week in basketball circles as Team USA defeated Spain in the Gold Medal game and once again claimed their spot atop the basketball world.  In the midst of this Olympic basketball hysteria one other basketball team made a move to try and once again claim their spot atop the NBA world.

The Los Angeles Lakers.

It also took one of the most talented interior basketball players to finally just make a decision.  Dwight Howard who is the NBA's best center and one of the best interior defenders in the game today will finally put to rest all this trade talks, rumors, and just plain idiocy that has gone on over the past few months. 

He has handled this entire situation poorly to put it lightly.  He has been so wishy washy and unable to truly decide what he wants in his professional basketball life. 

He originally said the only place he would be traded to would be with Jay Z and the new Brooklyn Nets.  Teaming up with Deron Williams and their newly acquired Joe Johnson to form a quality group to rival the Heat in the Eastern Conference.  He was so adamant that he only go to Brooklyn that he was going to play out his year and go into free agency.

Jay Z's dream became a nightmare without Dwight!

This would have left Orlando with virtually nothing and they had to get something for him.  Then he did a backtracking and signed the exemption with Orlando causing himself the inability to sign where ever he wanted and then leaving Orlando thinking he was staying.  Then he wanted traded again. 

Enter the Lakers and Houston who wanted Dwight badly.  Dwight didn't want to go to Houston and really didn't want to "follow in the footsteps" of Shaq by leaving Orlando for L.A.  What a mess this was and it didn't have to get to this point. 

If he really wanted to win games and win NBA titles then the only real destination for him was to be alright with traveling cross country to L.A. and restore the tradition of Showtime Laker basketball.  He wants to be a star and what better place to be a star than Las Angeles.  I can already see Jack Nicholson, sunglasses and all, sitting courtside for another long playoff run by his Lakers.

Or will it???

This was the right choice for Dwight Howard and the Lakers but is it enough for "Superman" to take off and win the championship.  I am not so sure.  The early odds have the Lakers 8-5 and the Heat 8-5 with the Thunder at 7-2 to win the title.  Odds are obviously purely speculation and if championships were won on paper than why play the games.

Is "Superman" ready to take flight for a title? 

The Lakers have added some highly talented pieces this summer with Dwight and also adding Steve Nash to run the point.  Having them with Pau and Kobe makes for a very formidable team.  Howard is the leagues best center with Nash once being at the top of his position.  However, Dwight has history of back problems and Nash is at the end of his career with serious defensive liabilities.

You can't just depend on Howard to control the paint and help on Nash's inability to keep guys like Russel Westbrook in front of him.  Foul trouble will be a major cause for concern.  To be effective you have to be on the court.

The Thunder have everyone back from their trip to the NBA Finals and are younger and hungry to get back to the promise land.  Kevin Durant is a fierce competitor and killer scorer and won't back down to this new challenge.  They are on the rise and should not be forgotten just because the Lakers have made a splash in the summer.

Miami & OKC are still the top dogs in the NBA. 

It hasn't even been mentioned that the Miami Heat just won the NBA title and LeBron is the best player on the planet.  He has been picked apart from every angle over the past several seasons but this year he answered the bell.  It will be hard to see anyone dethroning the Heat going forward.  They still have Wade and Bosh with an addition of Ray Allen.  Ray will only be asked  to do what he does best and that is shoot threes.  I think the Heat will be scary good and probably better than this year.

It will be interesting to see how the season plays out and it will definitely make the playoffs must see TV.  Will it be the NBA Finals for the Lakers? 

Time will tell but we do know this: 

Dwight after all your second guessing and soul searching the answer was clear.  

Stay or Go?

do re mi fa so L.A. si do, you go!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Losing is a disease...

IOC Badminton Disqualifications 

"...What is losing?  Losing is a contagious as polio.  Losing is a contagious as syphilis.  Losing is a contagious as bubonic plague.  Attacking one but infecting all...but curable"  - The Natural (1984)

How true is this scene from one of the best sports movies of all-time.  Losing.  The worst thing an athlete wants to do.  Winning.  The only thing an athlete wants to do.  This is apparently not as commonplace as once thought.

The past few days the Olympic spirit has been compromised by the athletes from a few select countries who compete in badminton.  The athletes were found to have purposely lost matches in order to gain a better draw in the knockout portion of their tournaments.  The countries in question were China, South Korea, and Indonesia.  Their athletes were super talented with ability unquestioned.  They were; however, deliberately throwing matches in order to personally gain what they felt was a competitive edge.

DQ'd Chinese players Yang & Wang. 
Their philosophy was the exact opposite of what the Olympic games stand for.  The athletes competing in not only badminton but every other sport have worked extremely hard for years to have this one opportunity to excel at the highest level.  They leave their blood, sweat, and tears during years of training and the days of competition here in London.  They have shown an ability to win and beat high level competition when giving their best.

The thought athletes would purposely lose and do so in order to help them win is ridiculous.  They are Olympic athletes.  The best in the world.  So they feel losing on purpose to not face certain teams in the quarterfinals would be the best option?  They must not have that much confidence in their ability to win and take on the best and beat the best.  What a cowardly and idiotic way of thinking. 

When you are setting yourself up to lose and not giving all of yourself to strive for victory it is completely  obvious.  The teams were so ludicrous in their inability to "play" the crowd saw it crystal clear and was booing in utter disgust.  Those in attendance felt slighted and cheated in their experience.  They were their to see the best in the world and they got a bunch of chumps swinging wildly at shuttlecocks.

Throwing matches and games always comes back to haunt you.  The 1919 Black Sox scandal had some of their players throwing the World Series and it was obvious to all involved.  In their case it kept players from being elected in the Hall-of-Fame like "Shoeless" Joe Jackson.  It never leads to anything good.  You either get caught doing so and suffer the consequences or you play so horribly it causes the players time to regain their level of excellence and hurts further performances.

The world then was saying, "Say it ain't so Joe". 

You usually see this at the end of a baseball season or a football season when teams lock up playoff spots and "take off" the rest of the games by playing reserves.  It usually backfires and the team is not ready come playoff time and they lose.  Again, losing is a disease.

The part I hate the most is knowing kids around the world are watching the Olympics and seeing their countrymen make a mockery of this glorious event.  I am so glad it didn't involve the United States.  The Olympics only comes every four years and they are treating it like it is every four months.  Letting kids know, in their minds, it is OK to give half an effort.  This is not and never will be acceptable.  

Athletes all over the world fight, scratch, and claw at trying to become an Olympic athlete.  There are plenty of people who would trade places with these disgraced group in order to represent their country.  They just weren't good enough to have an advantage athletically.   

Players and teams have been trying to gain competitive advantage for years in various sports by using corked bats in baseball, steroids in track, and filming practice sessions in football.  You name it they have tried it.  We need to show kids and new prospective athletes the right thing to do is play within the rules, play fair, and give maximum effort.  It is also key to teach to face their fears.  Don't take the easy way out.

 Anyone remember Spy-Gate ???  The NFL does. 

When you stop doing things the right way and start cutting corners it makes it that much easier to do it again the next time.  Just like criminals they are usually bound to re-offend.   

What the Chinese, South Koreans, and Indonesians did was forgivable and they were rightfully disqualified from the tournament.  They have shamed their country and will be remembered for it.  It will serve as a lesson to all athletes, coaches, and parents of future athletes to always do what is right and give your all for the love of your country.  If you are lucky enough to be an Olympian and represent your country they are counting on you. 

Losing IS a disease and the cure is playing with pride.