The team that’s been atop all others throughout the previous two months of this season is slowly fizzing away. The Boston Celtics ended their road trip with a loss at the Rose Garden and I couldn’t be any happier. Yup – I’m a Trail Blazers fan and love how Portland was able to win without Roy. It shows talent in the other starters and reserves. Greg Oden was even able to add 13 points and 11 rebounds despite his ankle injury in a recent practice. Perhaps he’ll slowly shake off the media tension that’s been burdening his shoulders.
Paul Pierce stepped up as usual with 28 points for the Celtics, but it wasn’t enough for Rip City’s finest. It hasn’t been enough for the last three of their four games. Coming into Los Angeles on Christmas, the Lakers gave the defending champs something to think about – How the f*ck will they beat them again if they were to match up in the finals? The Lakers seem much stronger this year and the Celtics are dwindling. They need another boost of energy like last year in the playoffs, but what will happen if their second boost runs out?
After losing to the Lakers they fell short to the Golden State Warriors on the following night. Even though they picked up a Win in Sacramento thereafter, the Portland game brought them back down. Overall, the west coast road blocked their franchise-record, 19 game winning streak.
Cleveland and Orlando are close behind, so if Boston wants to “make it reign” again, they need to work on their play making ability down the stretch. The way I see it is if teams like the Blazers can cover without their star player, then the Celtics are no match for Kobe, Lebron or Dwight (who’re much more polished) and their crews.
Skrybe – Keep it Fly
As 2008 draws to a close and 2009 brings us the beginning of the playoff season, we should look back on what makes us love football so much.
The great thing about the NFL season is that, no matter what you think you know, you really know nothing. When the NFL schedule was released in spring 2007, everyone thought the Cowboys would be Superbowl champs.
Everyone thought the Dolphins and Falcons would be battling for the number one pick.
Many thought that Tom Brady would help lead the Patriots deep into the playoffs and that the Eagles were getting ready to say goodbye to the Donnovan McNabb era.
Early in the season, many thought that the Redskins were a great team and that Jason Campbell was emerging as an elite quarterback. Many thought that the Buffalo Bills had finally become contenders in the AFC East.
Who would’ve thought that the hard-nosed Tampa Bay Buccaneers would lose all of their games in December, including a match-up against the lowly Raiders, thus ending their playoff hopes? Who would’ve thought that in the same game–in the fourth quarter no less–that running back Carnell Williams would tear up his knee yet again after a year long rehab?
Who would’ve thought that we would’ve seen a team like the Patriots come so close to immortality in February and just ten months later, see the Detroit Lions get inducted into the Hall of Shame?
Who could have forseen that this time a year ago, Michael Vick began his prison sentence. Just one year later, his Falcons have a franchise quarterback, a coach of the year candidate, and a playoff birth?
Who would’ve thought that Drew Brees could throw for over 5,000 yards (coming 16 yards shy of the passing record) and 34 touchdowns and not even be in serious contention for the MVP award?
Who would’ve thought than the Patriots could go 11-5 and miss the playoffs, while the 8-8 Chargers host the 12-4 Colts and the 9-7 Cardinals host the 11-5 Falcons this weekend?
This has been a season of surprises and jaw dropping moments. As Don Cheadle (below) once said, the “crazy” is why we love it.
Has anyone seen the new Chris Paul Right Guard commercial where only his lips move on his frozen picture? The commercial for Right Guard continues to get more disturbing as they claim themselves as “the official sponsor of Chris Paul’s pits”. Personally, we know what deodorant is for. There’s no need to sponsor someone’s pits or even highlight the pit region. I always thought that was an area of the body that we knew existed but never focused our direct advertising towards. I’ll compare it to Gold Bond coming out with an ad campaign that features Julio Lugo scratching his balls then using Gold Bond to soothe the pain. Gold Bond, official sponsor of Julio Lugo’s cantaloupe balls. Yeah, I went there. Let’s keep the pits and balls off our TV screens, for the kids sake of course.
And now some NBA news:
The Celtics end their West Coast trip 1-3, leaving a lot of questions about their bench depth.
Lebron and D-Wade went at it last night in a matchup of the top two MVP candidates. Lebron put up 38 pts but D-Wade had 21 pts and 12 assists in the upset over the Cavs. (Lebron’s record on his birthday 0-3)
Sir Charles Barkley was arrested then released on suspicion of DUI Wednesday morning. Story says he drove through a stop sign in Arizona and was pulled over immediately after. He refused the breathalyzer but was given a blood test. Maybe Chuck should have put a taxi’s number in his fave five.
The Houston Rockets have signed Dikembe Mutombo for the remainder of the season. No big surprise here with all the injuries plaguing the Rockets. He is now the oldest NBA player in the league and continues to hold the best catch phrase at the clubs; “Who wants to sex Mutombo!”. Nice to see him back.
Baron Davis does not want to leave the misery that is the Clippers. The rumor began when Stephen Jackson spoke earlier this week about sitting down with Davis. He claims Davis wants to rejoin the Warriors and misses playing with old friend Jackson. Baron can thank Stephen for blowing up his spot in LA and letting the media feast on this story. Now Davis denies all these claims and says he is not jumping ship on the LA ride called the Titanic. It’s a feeling out process, but it’s still a process.
Have a Happy New Year!
This morning I was listening to a local radio show host discuss the discrepancies among professional sports teams and the negative impact it is having on the leagues. Over the past 25 years of my life I have witnessed a transformation of the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL going from “American pastimes” to big business.
Why is it that an Arizona Diamondbacks game has as many Cubs fans as it does home team fans? Or why is it that Lebron James can wear a NY Yankees hat to a Cleveland Indians game and feel it is acceptable? I believe that it is attributed to a new breed of sports fans (for lack of a better term) and foresee some potentially huge fallbacks to this.
As a child I can remember trading baseball cards, playing football in the streets, sitting down and watching entire baseball games, going to Seattle Mariner games, and immersing myself into my local hometown teams. That was a different day.
Today, young men wear a jersey because they like the color, like individual players because they are dating Jessica Simpson or were seen on TMZ, enjoy teams because their marketing is strong and is forced down their throats. The differentiator that I am looking for here is “nostalgia”. I have that, because of childhood experiences, my father’s generation even more so, but the newer generations, not so much.
I am a huge advocate for an integrated America, taking people from all walks of life, different countries, different cultures, and different experiences, but when the Pittsburgh Pirates are 41-73, the residents of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will NOT continue to go see the games unless they were of my or previous generations. The nostalgia is not there. They want to see a winning team, period. Or, they are merely there for the experience.
Somewhere along the line, professional organizations began to emphasize the importance of having a custom new stadium, with breweries, cushy seats, personal service, Diamond Club seating, HD display screens, and multiple Starbucks. Why? Because the people they are attempting to draw are no longer their to see their team, they are there to simply be entertained.
Lets look at this from another angle; my girlfriend is a huge theater buff (or is it theatre, whatever), and would watch a performance from a metal bleacher in a back alley of a rural town if it was made up of her favorite performers, whereas she knows damn well she would not get me into a theater performance unless their was plenty of beer, food and a wireless signal.
The sad thing with this, particularly being an avid sports fan, is that I can predict a couple of bad things happening to professional sports here in America. First, I grew up in a time where all 3 of the major sports leagues, MLB, NFL, and NBA have grown in number of teams. This will change. Lets say by 2025, I would be willing to bet that atleast 4 teams from each league (the NFL may be the safest for now), will fall off and the leagues will not be able to replace them. For example, Kansas City Royals, Pitsburgh Pirates, Florida Marlins, Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Clippers, Charlotte Bobcats, all of which could fall victim to the eventual trimming of the leagues.
Second, ugh, I hate to even imagine this, but I foresee our beloved athletes boasting advertising, akin to NASCAR race cars, . Maybe as individuals or as teams, but it is coming…coming to the plate now, brought to you exclusively by Burger King, where you can have it your way, Ichiro “the Whopper Junior” Suzuki!
And finally, as television has commercials, internet services have interstitials and movies have previews, professional sports will become tainted with non-sports related promotions and performances during the 7th inning stretch, beginnings of the game or halftime (see Super Bowl).
Yes, sports have gradually become extremely commercial, looking to sell, sell, and sell, and are succeeding admirably. The purity and raw competitiveness of yesteryear has left us behind and we have to face the reality of what is to come. But I, and surely a small percentage of sports fanatics across the country will continue to root for their home team for reasons that todays generation can never understand, while they will boast about Tony Romo, Kobe Bryant, Barry Bonds, and all the players I love to hate.
As the year ends, sports viewership continues to rise. With classic moments such as:
-Basketball Rivals Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers Go Head-to-Head
-New York Giants Stomp Unbeaten New England Patriots in the Superbowl
-Nadal Defeats Federer in Five Sets
-Michael Phelps Drowns Swimmers with 8 Medals
Who wouldn’t have wanted to watch male-testosterone, competition based events with sweat, anger and adrenaline? Your significant other you say…? Well, if you missed out on 2008’s greatest moments, you may want to make sure the love of your life is ready for 2009. You sacrificed enough if you missed ANY of the above mentions. Do not let yourself get trapped into the ballet, babysitting or watching chick flicks like Mean Girls.
Follow the steps below and you just might catch some action on the tube…Or live if you’re lucky. Hell, you may even get to go to a Superbowl party early next year if you take this matter seriously.
Barter with Her:
You’re always forced into doing things with her, why can’t she reciprocate? Tighten your belt and voice your thoughts. Spend an evening with her going shopping so she can spend a day with you watching a game. If that doesn’t work, beg to do housework.
Keep Her Comfortable:
If bartering was tough, chances are she’s going to need a lot of time to warm up to the concept of competition. This isn’t drama to see which girl can outdo the other in b*tch@$ness, this is the result of gladiators hard at work. For her first few viewings, make sure you’re in a quiet setting so her ears aren’t pounding from raging drunken men at bars. Allow her to chill and learn the game – Yes, this means you have to explain it to her. Not ideal, but at least she’s open to it now.
Remind Her It’s Quality Time:
Whether you’re watching the game or getting pedicures, in the end it’s quality time that matters. Assure her that you’re not just into the game (even if you are) and that you would like the best of both worlds…As would she.
Watch Eye Candy Sports:
Let’s face it, women love fantasizing about men just as much as we love wet dreams of XXX models – The only difference is their fantasies are more likely to happen. Ask your significant other who she’s fond of and watch that athlete’s games. David Beckham? Tom Brady? Kobe Bryant? Let her watch him as you watch the rest of them. She may be watching for a completely different reason, but hey, at least she’s shut up and allowing you to do your thing.
Develop Emotional Ties:
Did she go to a college with a good athletics program? Is she passionate about her hometown or residential city? Let her get attached to the teams so she wants to watch them play.
Play with Her:
Toss the ball around and teach her the skills needed to play the game. She just may understand what its all about and join in the fun. She might even become your cheerleader for when you play pick up games.
Buy Her Gear:
Be sure to buy her team attire. It’s a whole different ball game for a fan when they’re representing a team. Buy her a cute jersey, sweatshirt or better yet a thong with her favorite team’s logo. Who knows what the excitement could lead to…
Good luck and Happy New Year in advance!
Skrybe – Keep it Fly
With the New Year right around the corner, let’s look back at a few of the best and worst decisions of the 2008 NFL season.
1) Starting rookie quarterbacks–Choosing to start young guns Matt Ryan and Joe Flacoo truly paid off for the Falcons and Ravens, respectively. Both players managed the game well, looked poised in the pocket, and limited their mistakes. Ryan and Flacoo never hit a rookie wall and just may have changed the thought around the league that rookie quarterbacks should never hit the football field early.
2) Michael Turner to the Falcons–While everyone knew that Turner had great ability, no one knew quite what to expect from Tomlinson’s career backup. Turner’s decision to go to Atlanta was met with skepticism, as the big man signed with one of the worst teams of 2007. Seventeen touchdowns later, Turner was the best free agent signing of the 2008.
3) Keeping Matt Cassell–A career backup everywhere he went, the Patriots made a great decision in both developing Cassell and not cutting him. For years, Cassell looked awful in pre-season games, and he was close to being cut several times over the years. The Patriots were smart in keeping Cassell around, as Tom Brady’s injury proved how necessary it is to have a quality back-up.
1) Not Trading Derek Anderson–This is not hindsight. The Browns should’ve traded Anderson the minute after the pro-bowl ended. His numbers last season looked good, but Anderson faltered down the stretch in 2007. His ineptitude against the Bengals in December of 2007 cost the Browns a playoff birth. And Anderson couldn’t hit his receivers in the pro bowl–a game that doesn’t allow opposing defenses to blitz. GM Phil Savage refused to trade Anderson and closed the door on the possibility of a training camp competiton involving Brady Quinn. Anderson eventually signed a long term contract with Cleveland, and Phil Savage simultaneously signed his own death warrant.
2) Jets Release Chad Pennington–Pennington was always a pretty good quarterback. Not great, but he did a lot of things well and was football smart. While one cannot argue that his weak arm is better suited in warm Miami than cold New York, Pennington was always good for minimizing his mistakes. Favre, while certainly a gun slinger, is a turnover machine. The choice to trade for Brett Favre and subsequently release Pennington came back to bite them in week 17. It also cost Eric Mangini his head coaching job.
3) PacMan Jones Gets a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Chance–This is all on Roger Goodell. At some point, a man such as PacMan Jones needs to learn that his beahvoir is not acceptable, and that priveleges he has enjoyed in the past will be stripped away due to his reckless behaivor. Regarding Jones and the NFL, his priveleges were always taken away–but only temporarily. Whether it’s his dozens of arrests, his fight at a night club which resulted in someone getting shot and paralyzed, or his “incident” with his own bodyguard, it’s clear that PacMan Jones just doesn’t “get it.” And for someone who acts so stupid off the field, he should’ve forver lost the privelege to suit up and play.
With the new year approaching and a SLOW work week, I present the best five NBA commercials of my time. I threw in a lot of old school commercials with some new flavor as well. Jordan was the king but we gave Lebron some love. Rank these commercials yourself. Let me know what you think.
Michael Jordan — Gatorade
The song alone deserves a Grammy. It always get’s me amped up…sometimes I dream!
Jordan vs. Bird — McDonald’s
Classic commercial, had to throw in the legend Larry Bird. I’m suddenly hungry.
Lebron — Nike
Even though I’m not his biggest fan, commercial was solid.
Michael Jordan — Nike
Slow Motion MJ, that’s the only time you could catch his moves.
Lil Penny and Gheorghe Muresan — ESPN
The NFL Playoffs start this weekend and I’m more excited to watch the postseason unfold than I was for my high school prom. Mainly because I love football, but also because my prom date looked like Marshawn Lynch.
Now, the StatDragon isn’t one for tooting his own horn, but he’s not one to let his genius be overlooked either. Last year I predicted correctly on 8 of the 11 postseason games, including a NY Giant Super Bowl birth (I was embarrassed to have wrongly predicted the Pats as Super Bowl Champs).
Lets take a look at the wild card match ups this weekend:
I used to be scared of LaDainian Tomlinson. Now I’m scared of anyone coming out of that backfield. Darren Sproles has added a lot to the offense in attempts to relieve LT and keep fresh legs out on the field and the Colts run defense is (capitol W) WEAK. However, the Colts are riding a hot streak with 2 months of consecutive wins in their back pocket. I can’t think of any other quarterback that I’d least like to face in the post season than Peyton Manning (yes, over Tom Brady). And keep this in mind; although there are questions regarding the Colts defense, they rank 8 better than they did the season they won the Super Bowl. StatDragon takes the Colts in this matchup, and likes the potential of longevity for them in the postseason.
Don’t let the rankings fool you here. These teams share the same regular season record and are relatively, closely matched. While Miami has the home field advantage and a tricky ‘wildcat formation’ to boot, they only rank 12th in the league in offense this year, and 15th in defense. The Ravens will come into Miami with a hard-nosed 2nd ranked defense and (mediocre) 18th ranked O. Because I found myself so baffled regarding the Dolphins improvement this year I did some research. In the NFL a win is a win. However, I noticed that 7 of the Dolphin’s 11 wins were over teams that posted a .500 record or less. They also lost 2 out of 3 games to teams currently in the post season. Meanwhile 3 of the 5 losses that the Ravens suffered were by a margin of 4 points or less to Goliath teams (Pittsburgh and Tennessee). StatDragon takes the Ravens in this matchup…just look at the facts.
I would have bet my life savings before the season started that Atlanta would not play in the post season. I’m glad I didn’t. StatDragon takes the Falcons in this match up for the same reasons that he likes the Ravens. The Falcons consistently played and beat better teams this season than the Cardinals have. Atlanta proves that their place in the playoffs is well deserved with wins over Carolina, Minnesota and San Diego. Although Arizona has an impressive ariel attack with threatening wide receivers, they were one loss away (to the 49ers) from not playing in this game.
Let’s just put it out there. There’s no way the StatDragon is going to predict ALL upsets this week, right? Well, let me tell you something. I don’t believe in ‘upsets’ in the Wild Card round of NFL playoffs. So yes, I’m predicting Philly to take this game. Although McNabb has had as rough of a time this year as Lindsay Lohan, the Eagles come into the postseason with experience and the fire off a recent winning streak. Although the Vikings support a highly touted rush defense, Philly is right behind them ranked at 4th in the league and have managed a better pass defense than the Minnesota Vikings this season. Undeniably, Adrian Peterson is a monster in the backfield, but I really love Brian Westbrook when it comes to the clutch. I have a feeling that this game is the closest to a blowout (if there is one) favoring the Eagles.
Stop by the SportsFly Blog next week, as StatDragon corrects his mistakes from this week and looks into the Divisional Playoff Matchups.
In my ever-growing passion for voyeurism, snooping, stalking, and overall invasion of others rights, I was able to uncover a letter that Donovan McNabb passed to Terrell Owens after the Eagles spanked the Cowboys with all the brotherly love they had. I bring you this letter, although displaying it here may cause me significant bodily injury.
Hey man, how’ve you been? I saw you out on the field today and I wanted to say what’s up, but you seemed kind of busy and distracted. Now I know we beat you today, but keep your head up and know that we’ll really make the most of playoff spot. C’mon man, be honest. Were you guys gonna really make a show with your QB always looking for Jason Witten? I’ mean, Jason Witten! You should’ve called a meeting or done some pushups in the driveway to show them how you’re the real deal. They needed to be looking to number 81 all day, don’t you think? I guess you’re a bigger man than me because I’d be yelling at everyone on the sidelines if that sh*t was happening to me. It’s good to see you’ve grown.
Speaking of the past, man I’m sorry I didn’t understand how to communicate with you when you were up here. I thought that when you berated me on the sidelines, divided the locker room, and threw me under the bus (multiple times) it was because you were a primadonna, bitch-ass, immature punk, but in reality you were nothing but class. We should have been throwing to you all the time and we actually needed you to be head coach, GM, special teams coordinator, and owner. My bad, my man. My bad because I see how it worked out for the Cowboys when they catered to your every need. Y’all went pretty far this year and exceeded a lot of expectations. I’m just sorry we had to keep you out. Andy Reid, you remember him right? Well, Coach Reid sat me down this year and I thought a lot about how you would handle it. I thought, “what would the humble TO do?” So I sat back and did exactly the opposite, so I really thank you for being a role model. In a sign of my appreciation and gratitude maybe me and you can get together in the off-season to run routes and devise new schemes for you to get the ball so that Witten and Marion Barber don’t steal all your thunder. I won’t be available until after we win the Super Bowl, but wouldn’t that be loads of fun? Me and you playing catch like the good old days. Let me know if that’s cool with you.
Hey man, I have to go prepare for my victory press conference and all the stuff that goes with being a winner (you remember that feeling, right?). Anyhow, have a good New Year and good luck in the offseason. Oh…by the way, Jeff Garcia says what’s up.
FlyMaster Signing Off…For Now!
English Premier League footballer and Liverpool captain; Steven Gerrard was arrested early Tuesday morning. Gerrard was out drinking and celebrating the 5-1 stomping of Newcastle on Sunday when a fight occurred outside a bar. The fight left a DJ hospitalized with a broken tooth and other facial injuries. Gerrard and two others were charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and affray. The charges carry a maximum five-year sentence.
Gerrard is probably the most important player on the pitch for Liverpool, not to mention the face of their franchise for the better half of the past decade. With these charges, he may have hindered the hopes of supporters since Liverpool took over the top spot in the Premier league this past weekend. Maybe the DJ was playing an Arsenal fight song or just ran his mouth, which deserved a whacking. Nevertheless, if the captain tells you he wants to hear the new Britney song, you better play that track. Broken glass and drops of blood were found on the floor of the bar. Maybe Mr. DJ shouldn’t be commenting on Gerrard’s cranberry juice choice of drinking.
The Liverpool club has offered their full support to Gerrard. “Steven has been an outstanding servant to Liverpool for the last ten years and the club will give him all the support he needs at this time,” He will appear in court next month for these charges.