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The Cardinals and NFL Parity are Alive and Well

With Arizona’s big win over the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night, one thing was clear as day to me.  Parity is alive and well in the NFL–and that’s both a good and bad thing.

Cardinals Equal NFL Parity

Cardinals Equal NFL Parity

First, let’s start with the good.  The Cardinals are a team that hadn’t hosted a home playoff game since, quite literally, Harry Truman was President–in 1947.  Arizona was mired in the muck of a suffocating losing culture.  The Cards–who were everyone’s “surprise/breakout team” for the past five years–continously found ways to disappoint and live far below expectations.

The idea that the Cardinals can turn that negativity into inspiration and take the entire league by storm is an immense accomplishment.  When the Cardinals didn’t take Terrell Suggs, people laughed.  When Matt Leinart seemingly struggled in Arizona, people moaned.  And when Edgerrin James appeared to be starting his retirement early, fans were filled with apathy.  But now, the Cardinals–who have never sniffed a Superbowl title–are now just one game away from playing in one.  That is the power of the NFL, and that’s why we love this game.  An underdog can become top dog with hard work and preparation.

But there’s a downside.  A big one.  While it’s great to see a team like Arizona go from rags to riches–what does that say about the rest of the league?  Afterall, the Cardinals only won nine games this season.  Contrast that to the Titans–who won thirteen–and were bounced out of the playoffs after just one game.

Let’s also not forget how the Cardinals finished the year.  They lost four of their last six games–their two wins coming against the Rams and the Seahawks; their losses all coming against playoff teams (except the Patriots, who should’ve went to the playoffs with an 11-5 record).

So how does a nine win team go into Carolina–a team that was undefeated at home–and make the Panthers look like an expansion team?  Well, certainly film study helped a lot.  It was clear that the defensive backs of Arizona were reading Jake Delhomme and properly jumping the routes of the receivers.  Arizona, over the past few games, has also developed a running attack which has served them well in the absence of Anquan Boldin.

And while the famous words of “any given Sunday” are always relevant–this wasn’t supposed to happen.  While no team “deserves” anything, based upon the way the Cardinals played in the regular season, do they “deserve” to be in the NFC Championship game?  This is the same team that benefited tremendously from a weak NFC West division.

Unlike the 2001 New England Patriots who were a genuine Cinderella story–starting quarterback Drew Bledose goes down, Tom Brady steps in, and the team doesn’t miss a beat–the Cardinals weren’t a strong team throughout the season.  In 2001, the New England Patriots took a team with zero star quality and simply out played and outcoached their competition each week.  And while they were disrespected every week and never given a chance all the way to the Superbowl, you never got the sense that the Patriots didn’t earn their right to be there.  One has to wonder this with the Cardinals.  Aside from two wonderful playoff games, have they earned their way into the NFC Championship game?

And therein lies the issue with parity.  It’s wonderful because it allows competition in every division and at every position.  It’s not so wonderful, though, because the difference between the great teams and the okay teams is quite negligible, and, unlike in decades past, a team of perrenial losers can beat a team destined for the Superbowl.

January 12, 2009 Posted by | NFL | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Extreme “Hall of Fame” Makeover

Ahh, the New Year is upon us and with it comes the annual black tie banquets awarding the best of 2008, and the gathering of “revered” sportswriters and baseball eficionados on who will be recognized for their illustrious contributions to the sport.

I will spare any readers the proverbial Slumdog Millionaire and/or The Wrester references and get right to the point.  The Baseball Hall of Fame, well, lets just say that they really need to take a good look at themselves and determine exactly what they are rewarding players for.  Sure, in there defense, their has been well-documented controversy surrounbding the pre-2001 Veteran’s Committee, comprised of former MLB’ers, passing on former foes and giving special consideration to former teammates, but still, the general philosophy of who is a Hall of Famer and who isnt, is in my opinion, still highly flawed.

First off, I would like to congratulate Jim Rice for making it in, in his final year of eligibility…how convenient, huh.  Second, I would like to congratulate arguably the most impressive overall player of my youth, Mr. Ricky Henderson…BUT!  My understanding is that there are 539 ballots comprised of the BBWWA (Baseball Writers) and the Veteran’s Committee.  Ricky Henderson received 511 votes making him only the  44th player of the 200+ candidates to be elected on the first ballot.  My first question is this, who the hell are these 28 so-called experts that didnt vote for Ricky Henderson. Lets hold that thought.

Ricky did most of his damage in the first half of his career, fair enough, many players prior to the steroid era did, so then why is it that players that have short but amazing careers can not get serious attention, for example, Donny Baseball.  Don Mattingly.  Mattingly received a mere 64 votes, that is less than Alan Trammell, Dave Parker, and Tommy John.  Once again, I grew up watching 80’s baseball, and for the same reasons that Gale Sayers is in the NFL Hall of Fame, Don Mattingly should be as well.  He dominated pitchers!  He was as good a player as I have ever seen for 3 years, the best!  No disrespect Boggs, Ichiro, Gwynn, Griffey, A-Rod, etc, but he was the best!

OK, so back to Ricky not getting those 28 votes…Look at this list of players that have received votes over these past few years:

Todd Stottlemyre

Travis Fryman

Hal Morris

Gregg Jefferies

Walt Weiss

Tony Phillips

Jim Eisenreich

So, these guys were “serviceable” MLB players.  But I would appreciate it if congress went back and documented exactly who cast those votes and impeach them from the voting committee!  That is bull!  I can assure you that the people that used their votes on these guys passed on Jim Rice, Dale Murphy, Don Mattingly, Tim Raines, Jack Morris…and Pete Rose!  LOL

Over these next 5 years, there will be a handful of new Hall of Fame players…so i would like to play “true, un-biased, baseball fan” and suggest who of the available candidates should be in the Hall of Fame.  Lets all cross-reference this list in exactly 5 years from today and see where we are, cool?

IN:

Roberto Alomar

Greg Maddux

Barry Bonds

Roger Clemens

Sammy Sosa

(For the latter three, my theory is this, if the MLB didnt catch it before they had the successes they did, you still let them in…same with Pete Rose.  For cryin out loud, Ty Cobb  is in the HOF.)

Notable people that should NOT get voted in:

Mike Mussina, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, Craig Biggio, Bernie Williams, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Jeff Bagwell, Barry Larkin, and oh how I hate to say this, my favorite player in the world, Edgar Martinez!!!

January 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Slumpdog Millionaire

When the NFL playoffs come around each winter, I always feel obligated to take some action on the weekends games. I justify it by using the “this only happens once a year, it’s the NFL Playoffs.” So I study spreads, take advice from six different friends and research what kind of food Deangelo Williams has been consuming this week that may rile up his bowels. I look at ridiculous prop bets like who will win the coin toss and first QB to throw an interception. Sounds fascinating and fun until you’ve realized what you’ve done. My other persona comes out to play, WagerinRondo. I’ve gone to Vegas twice and came back with only a pack of pretzels I snagged from the person sitting next to me on the airplane. It’s an ugly sight, but for your entertainment I lost some money and lived to tell about it.

retrogambling-1Now here’s my usual rules that I like to stick by:
1.Don’t do teasers. I usually can’t get one bet right so why deal with having two things happen.
2.Don’t bet on Eli Manning…for anything. I don’t care if he won a Super Bowl, he still poses a Manning Face all game.
3.Don’t make a bet that counters the previous bet on the same game. (I’ll explain soon enough)
4.If it’s snowing outside, don’t always bet the under. Snow must include some wind, freezing temps and rain.
5.If you’re smart, don’t bet on NFL Football this season…it’s unpredictable.

My stupidity is so clear to me today that this is the only way I’ll ever learn to keep my money. So here’s what went down. In Saturday’s game I liked the Ravens. I somehow broke rule one with a teaser of the Ravens +9 and under 40. Minutes before game time I chose to get creative and put in a parlay of the over (33) in the Ravens/Titans and the under (50) in the Arizona/Carolina game. I was hoping for a score between 34-39. Now this was about as ridiculous as an episode of 24 explaining how Tony Almeida can still be alive. If you don’t watch, well then I missed you on that one. Anyways, I broke two rules here and broke even. I also took Deangelo Williams over 106 yards in the night game…well he finished with 67. Another stupid forced prop bet just to add some meaning to a pointless Saturday night blowout. Thanks Jake!
For Sunday, I managed to break some more of my own rules. I bet on the Giants giving 4 points and realized that was a huge mistake when I noticed that a Pop Warner QB could throw a tighter spiral than Eli on that day. Eli and the G-Men have looked terrible near the end of the season and with an extra week off, lost any rhythm their week 17 win presented. So of course, I bet on the reigning chumps thinking that with Tuck and Jacobs back “healthy” they would be able to physically dominate the Eagles. This was followed by me yelling and sulking in the corner of the couch. I wonder if we will ever see that Citizen’s watch commercial claiming Eli is unstoppable. Does this mean that the watch won’t work properly if it is windy out? I digress.
And if you haven’t figured it out, I took Pittsburgh and the under teaser. Well folks, it was barely snowing, some wind and boy did they kill that under. I wanted Tomlin beaten with the type of calls he was making in that game. Fake punt in the first half and choosing to throw deep when they could just run out the clock! AHH, I will never watch another movie with Omar Epps in it now because of what transpired on Sunday.

So the lesson today folks is don’t gamble. It’s an added stressor to an already exciting sport. If you have that gambling itch, go for a run and tackle a snow bank. You’ll get that gambler’s rush followed by a cold sensation that leaves you seeking a snuggie. Remember, I made these bets so you didn’t have to…now I hope you’ve learned your lesson!

RaginRondo

January 12, 2009 Posted by | NFL | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rickey Henderson – Hall of Fame Linguist

Part Cobb, Part Satre

Part Cobb, Part Satre

The 2009 MLB Hall of Fame class will be announced later today and one thing is for certain; Mr. Rickey Henderson’s name will be announced.  Thank the heavens.  The numbers don’t lie.  First in all-time runs.  First in all-time steals.  First in leadoff homers.  First in third person references.  Before Rickey, the word “I” was the most common word used by athletes.   Now the time has come to salute Rickey.

Without Rickey’s groundbreaking reconstruction of the English language by means of shunning the first person where would the sports world be?  Bo Jackson would have just been a stuttering bull from the Deep South had Rickey not paved the way.  Manny Being Manny?  Rickey Being Rickey is the only “being” that matters.  Put all of the on-the-field excellence Rickey exuded aside and ponder how it really feels when someone you’re speaking to refers to themself in the third person.  It’s quite odd, and furthermore, it’s a little intimidating.  When a person answers a question in the third person it completely removes the question asker from the conversation.  Thus, it is no longer a conversation, but instead a monologue of the most disassociated sense.  Example: “How’ve you been?”  “FlyMaster’s been working on his type speed and FlyMaster’s font choices are improving.”  See, that just sounds cool, yet removed.

Rickey’s gifts to our cultural lexicon do not end with his mastery of the third.  No, he also made the non sequitor, the double entendre, malapropisms, and syllogistic arguments forms of art.  From standing in his New York condo and saying he could see the “Entire State Building,” to telling the A’s “if you want to pay me like Mike Gallego, I’ll play like Mike Gallego,” Rickey channeled the best of Ty Cobb and Jean-Paul Satre.  A philospher capable of creating poignancy from simplicity.  Who can’t appreciate a man who would stand in front of the mirror, nude and repeating “Rickey’s the best” for several minutes with the asceticism of St. Augustine before games.  That, my friends is a higher calling.  Rickey’s philosophical genius bears itself in his reaction to becoming Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th strikeout victim.  After fanning Rickey said “Ryan just blew it by me, but it’s an honor….Rickey will have another paragraph in the baseball books….Rickey already is in there three or four times.”  Genius, plain and simple. 

Here’s to the greatest leadoff player in history, the first left fielder to be inducted since Yaz, the man who could not recognize John Olerud after playing with him on two teams, and the “symbol of great base stealing.”  All hail Rickey.  Rickey hail Rickey.  FlyMaster can’t wait for the Hall of Fame speech.

FlyMaster Signing Off…For Now!

January 12, 2009 Posted by | Features & Opinions, Major League Baseball, Talkin Trash | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment