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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

“Hopeless in Seattle”…not this year!

OK.  2008 didnt see the Football Huskies tally another National Championship, nor did it showcase the Mariners coming back from 2 games to none to send the Yankees home from the playoffs, or did the Seahawks go undefeated at home en route to another Super Bowl shot….but, what it did provide was a miserable, cellar-dweller, across the board, display of mediocrity from the entire line of Seattle based sports teams.  But!  I have also spent the last 8 years watching a certain President drive our economy into the ground, pick fights with every country but Canada, and pile-drive the morale of American citizens.  And what happened next?  HOPE.  Yes, hope…as in Barack Obama…as in no more Bush….as in better and more opportunity.

The pieces are in place for the city of Seattle to rise up and bring respectability back to a city of higher standards.  Like the Huskies football team, the Seattle Supersonics (remember them), and the Seattle Storm* of the WNBA, we will look at how and why each franchise/college team has a shot at bringing home the gold.

(* means “nobody cares”)

Seattle Mariners:

Let’s not forget that the Mariners were fighting for the AL West title just 2 years ago.  The only true losses from that team are Raul Ibanez and Jose Guillen, but the youth and the addition of Erik Bedard make this team as talented if not more than ’07.  Seattle has the best leadoff man in baseball, has the $$$ to sign Griffey as the DH, an onslaught of talented young catchers and pitchers, highly touted infielders Yuniesky Betancourt and Jose Lopez, a charismatic young GM and a new Manager that brings winning experience by way of Oakland and Anaheim (I refuse to play the “Los Angeles of “game).  Prediction: 84-78 record, Jeff Clement, Brandon Morrow and Felix Hernandez become All-Stars and the AL West was in reach until Bedard got hurt.

Seattle Seahawks:

In 3 seasons with Atlanta, Jim Mora Jr. was 26-22 building around the anti-christ to animal rights activists, Vick, and establishing a top running game.  Why is this relevant?  Mora not only has Hasselback at QB, but has the speedy and creative Seneca Wallace to work with.  Seattle also has an army of “C” class RB’s to work, similar to what Mora had in Atlanta, but made successful.  The defense boasts Pro Bowlers Patrick Kerney, Marcus Trufant, Lofa Tatupu, and Julian Peterson and have all intentions to add a high-profile free agent, probably a safety (Jermaine Phillips, Kerry Rhodes) or DT (Albert haynesworth, Tommie Harris)…, OR, how about bolstering the offense (Fred Jackson, Derrick Ward or maybe T.J Houshmandzadeh)???

The Seahawks boast arguably the best OT in the history of football (Walter Jones) and have a decent rest of O-line, when healthy.  The receiving corps clearly needs an upgrade, even without the injuries, fortunately, Seattle has the 5th overall pick…Michael Crabtree!  If we cant sign Jackson or Ward as free-agent RB’s, I have no problem with taking Chris Brown of Oklahoma with the 5th pick in the 2nd round.  The talent is there, Paul Allen has the money, and the Seattle fans believe…it is all up to Mora to put it all together.  Projection: 12-4, loss in the NFC Championship.  Seriously.

Washington Huskies – football:

Jake Locker has the running ability, energy and potential leadership ability of Tim Tebow…unfortunately has the passing ability mostly likened to Garo Yepremian.  But wait, in comes Steve Sarkisian, the former offensive coordinator and QB coach at USC, having developed Carson Palmer, Matt Leinert, Matt Cassel, John David Booty and Mark Sanchez.  Couple this dynamic with WR D’Andre Goodwin, OLB Donald Butler, DT Alameda Ta’amu and a solid Offensive Line, and the Huskies could turn in and 5 to 6 win season.

Washington Huskies – basketball:

As of this moment, the Huskies are 12-3, 2-0 in the Pac-10 and undefeated in 2009.  Jon Brockman is a beast down low, and the trio of Isiah Thomas, Justin Dentmon, and Quincy Poindexter get shots up.  There is no reason that the Huskies cant make a serious run at the Tournament this year.  Projection: 22-9 in regular season (12-6 vs Pac-10), should win 2 games in the Pac-10 tournament (24-10), that is worthy of a 8-11 seed in the NCAA 64.  I’ll take it!

All in all, this is a good year.  Each team has a reasonable shot to bring home a crown, although my personal projections dont allow any of them to deliver this year…but in 2010, it will happen!

January 9, 2009 Posted by | College Basketball, College Football, General, Major League Baseball, NBA, NFL | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Where have all the true sports fans gone?

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.

December 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

What the Lions “could have” been

Oh, for better or for worse, it is official, we have now had the first ever 16-0 Pro Football team followed up by the less than miraculous 0-16 team, the Detroit Lions.  The images of Brady tossing it up for Moss are contrasted by Dan Orlovsky personally taking it upon himself to extend the End Zone to 15 yards.  Who can carry the blame for creating the worst football team in NFL history?  Well, we know Matt Millen was widely regarded as a bust in the GM role, and yesterday Rod Marinelli took the fall from a coaching perspective, but eventually, when not only the Executive offices and the coaches fail, we must look up top toward the Ford family.

The NFL is a very fair league with salary caps, franchise tags, and a draft system awarding the worst teams.  So, “could” the Lions have actually avoided this miserable fate?  Could this have been a team that would be preparing for next week’s playoff game or even the next weeks by way of a bye week?

Lets take a look at what the Lion’s current roster is:

Offense: QB Dan Orlovsky, RB Kevin Smith, FB Jerome Felton, WR Calvin Johnson, WR Shaun McDonald, TE Michael Gaines, LT Jeff Backus, LG Edwin Mulitalo, C Domini Raiola, RG Stephen Peterman, RT George Foster, Backup QB Drew Stanton, Backup RB Rudi Johnson, Backup WR Mike Furrey

Defense: LE Dwayne White, DT Cory Redding, DT Chartric Darby, RE Jared Devries, LOLB Alex Lewis, MLB Paris Lenon, ROLB Ernie Sims, LCB Leigh Bodden, FS Daniel Bullocks, SS Dwight Smith, RCB Travis Fisher, Backup DL Shaun Cody, Backup LB Ryan Nece, Backup DB Brian Kelly

Take a quick look at how THIS cast performed:

http://sportsfly.com/VideoDetail.aspx?videoid=1230&mediagalleryid=36

Now, with a few minor changes, some better draft insight, and better decision makers in place, this is what “could have” happened:

2002: Oh boy, 2-14, what a year..things can only go up from here, right?  Lets start with the draft.  Joey Harrington, the 3rd overall pick, high hopes but little fulfillment.  Instead, lets just say they go to the other side of the ball and take DT Albert Haynesworth from Tennessee.  In round 2, instead of Kalimba Edwards, lets take Andre Gurode and let him play G, his natural position as seen in college.  Round 3, CB Andre Goodman doesn’t work for me, lets instead take FS Chris Hope from Florida St.  With no 4th round pick, we pass on TE John Owens in the 5th (I know, it was hard to do, but we have to) to take DE Aaron Kampman.  In the 6th round, we feel we have found the steal of the draft and select RB Adrian Peterson, only to find out it is not High School Phenom AP, but Division I-AA player AP.

2003: Finishing 3-13 in 2002, the Lions had glaring needs, none more glaring than WR, defensive pass rush, and defensive play makers.  They were on the right track by taking a WR, but chose the wrong one at #2.  Instead of Charles Rogers, lets say the Lions take Andre Johnson out of Miami.  In the 2nd round they selected LB Boss Bailey, where they “should have” taken the next pick CB Charles Tillman from Louisiana-Lafayette.  And finally in the 3rd round, instead of selecting Cory Redding, DT, they should have addressed the need at TE over the incumbent Michael Ricks and selected TE Jason Witten of Tenessee who went 3 picks later.  In the 4th round, instead of RB Artose Pinner, the Lions select CB Asante Samuel from Central Florida.  5th Round, no to S Terrence “He’s No Torry” Holt, but yes to Boston College C Dan Koppen.  Just as well, in the 6th round, no to WR David Kircus, but yes to OLB Cato June from Michigan.  Finally, in the 7th, pass on T Ben Johnson (Isn’t he banned) for WR Taco Wallace, simply for morale purposes.  Finally we sign two undrafted players, youngster Tony Romo from Eastern Illinois and TE Antonio Gates from Kent St.

2004: OK, the Lions gained a little ground and finished 5-11.  Joey Harrington showed a little life, but the running game faltered and the defense was miserable with a combined total of 28 sacks on the season, no one player with  more than 4.5.  The Lions came in with the 6th overall pick, but traded it to Cleveland, who selected TE Kellen Winslow Jr, and the Lions drafted WR Roy Williams, where they “should have” selected RB Steven Jackson out of Oregon St., the top RB in the draft.  In the 2nd round, they selected LB Teddy Lehman from Oklahoma.  Replace that pick with SS Bob Sanders out of Iowa, and follow that up with a 3rd round selection of T Max Starks from Florida, replacing their actual pick, CB Keith Smith of McNeese State.  Round 4, instead of moving the 4th round pick, lets just say they keep it and pick DE Jared Allen from Idaho St.  Lastly, in the 5th round, the Lions pick OT Shane Olivea of Ohio St. passing on RB Michael Turner…hey, nobody’s perfect.

2005: Alright, we are on the right track, another improvement, 6-10.  Joey Harrington has his best season yet, the running game shows some life, and the receiving corps actually begins finding the end zone…but the defense still sucks.  With the 10th overall pick, the Lions select USC WR Mike Williams, passing up on LB’s Demarcus Ware and Shawn Merriman, going with the next two picks.  Lets say the Lions take Ware.  In the 2nd round, the Lions trade up to take DT Shaun Cody…lets just say they stay put and pick MLB Lofa Tatupu from USC to replace Alex Lewis and his mere 55 tackles from the ILB spot.  In the 3rd round, pass on CB Stanley Wilson of Stanford, and select Justin Tuck, DE of Notre Dame who went two picks later.  Missing on a couple picks, we wait until round 7 where we DO NOT trade this pick, but select DT Jeremiah (Jay) Ratliff who went 1 pick later.

2006: OK, the Lions took a step back to 5-11 after Jeff Garcia flopped and the running game dwindled back down to nothing.  The defense still looked bad and needs some serious help.  So, with the 9th overall pick, the Lions select OLB Ernie Sims, not bad, atleast not a WR. In dire need of a true playmaker, lets instead take Florida St. teammate CB Antonio Cromartie.  In the 2nd round, lets skip S Daniel Bullocks and protect Romo with Pro-Bowl LT Marcus McNeill.  In the 3rd round, the Lions selected RB Brian Calhoun, since nobody is perfect, lets just let this one stay.  But, in the 6th round the “dream Lions” come back to their senses and select CB Courtland Finnegan out of Samford University, who stayed around until the 7th round.

2007: Ugh, that 3rd round mishap on Brian Calhoun really cost the Lions, and they finished 3-13 this year.  Jon Kitna came in and lit up the aerial attack, whereas the running game stunk and the defense was a joke…picking a mere 12 passes all year long!  So, with the 2nd overall pick, the Lions took Calvin Johnson…I will take it!  Although, in the 2nd round, lets not take QB Drew Stanton and look instead at ILB David Harris from Michigan.  OK.  After trading a myriad of picks around for little to nothing, the Lions finally select FB LeRon McClain out of Alabama in the 4th round.

2007: OK!  Now we are talking, 7-9 and things are looking up right?  Kitna passes for over 4000 yards again, but that’s about all…not much else happening.  So lets fix it!  In the 1st round, the Detroit Lions select: OT Gosder Cherilus of Boston College..wait, no, lets try that again, how about East Carolina RB Chris Johnson.  Better.  In the 2nd round, no thanks on LB Jordan Dizon, but yes to WR Desean Jackson out of Cal.   From here, I could explain how Detroit could go on to select Steve Slaton and Tim Hightower, and call their quartet Earth, Wind, Fire and Water, but THAT would be unrealistic.  So what do we got here:

Offense: QB Tony Romo, RB Steven Jackson, FB LeRon McClain, WR Andre Johnson, WR Calvin Johnson, TE Jason Witten, LT Max Starks, LG Edwin Mulitalo, C Dan Koppen, RG Andre Gurode, RT Marcus McNeill, Backup QB Drew Henson, Backup RB Chris Johnson, Backup WR Desean Jackson, Backup TE Antonio Gates, Backup OL Shane Olivea

Defense: LE Jared Allen, DT Albert Haynesworth , DT Jay Ratliff, RE Justin Tuck, LOLB Demarcus Ware, MLB Lofa Tatupu, ROLB David Harris, LCB Charles Tillman, FS Chris Hope, SS Bob Sanders, RCB Antonio Cromartie, Backup DL Aaron Kampman, Backup LB Cato June, Nickel Asante Samuel, Dime Courtland Finnegan

Hey, it “could have” happened.

December 29, 2008 Posted by | NFL, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Athletes of the Decade – 2000’s

The holidays are upon us, and with this comes the impending doom of lengthy credit card statements, bone chilling winters, and the inevitable dinner table family debacles.  My younger years were spent watching my father and grandfather quarrel about political issues, whereas nowadays, with no political depth,  I spend those dinners disputing the athletic prowess of my generation’s players versus those of yesteryear with the Ol’ Man.  For every Lebron, I hear the Big-O.  For Peyton Manning…Johnny U.  Say Albert Pujols, Mickey Mantle, and so on.

With this insistence on us needing to rank our athletes of today within a historical reference, these “Top 10” lists have become second nature to us.  I can remember 1999 bombarding us with enough Top 10 lists to spin my head around 3 times and soon after view everything in Top 10’s, Shawn Kemp’s Top 10 illegitimate kids, Oprah’s Top 10 weight classes, Tyra Banks’ Top 10 profound statements…you get the picture. 

So, with the first decade of the 2000’s coming to an end, lets get a jump on the matter and preview the Top 10 Athletes, across the board, of the 2000’s.

10. Ichiro – Come on…remember how he burst onto the scene in 2001 throwing Terrence Long out as he attempted to advance to 3rd, therefore causing every MLB player to think twice from there on.  In 8 seasons, he has 1805 base hits, never less than 200 and a career batting average of .331.  Oh yeah, in those 8 years, 8 All-Star appearances, and 8 Gold Gloves.  I repeat…come on!

9. Ladanian Tomlinson – Outside of Jim Brown, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders, has to be the best of all-time at his trade.  If there is a TD record out there LT either holds it or will.  Fastest to 100 TD’s all-time, 31 TD’s in one year and more than 15,000 yards from scrimmage in 8 seasons..clearly he belongs on this list.

8. Peyton Manning – With the decade not even over, Manning has thrown for 37,295 yards, 277 TD’s to 123 INT’s, and has led his team to a 100-43 record.  Manning is immersed in day-to-day disputes over not only being the best QB of this generation, but gets his share of votes for being the best of all time.

7. Zinedine Zidane – Sure, we could argue Ronaldhino, Luis Figo, Ronaldo and so on, but Zidane has been the most consistent and dominating player in the world this decade.  Zidane led France to victory in the Euro 2000, was dominant for Real Madrid from ’01-’06, retired, came out of retirement to lead France in the 2006 World Cup, and is the only man I have ever seen knock someone to the ground by head butting him…in the chest!

6. Lance Armstrong – Clearly the most dominating athlete in the history of cycling, Armstrong came into the decade with a Tour de France victory in 1999, then won his 2nd in 2000, and 2001, and 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005..yes, that is 7 and 7 straight!  Oh yeah, he did all of this after beating cancer!

5. Michael Schumacher – In a similar fashion to Mr. Armstrong, Michael Schumacher came into 2000 and started it off right, with a Formula One World Championship, his first with Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro. He followed this up in 2001 with another championship, then 2002, then 2003, and yes, 2004.  Dominant!  In 2005 and 2006, he didn’t win, but he finished 3rd and 2nd overall respectively.

4. Kobe Bryant – Let me remind you that this list is the Top 10 Athletes not Top 10 Classiest, Chivalrous, Team-Oriented, contributors to a better society.  With that said, in the decade of the 2000’s Kobe has 3 NBA championships, 6 NBA 1st Teams, 6 NBA Defensive Teams, 2 Scoring Titles and 1 MVP.  He is a highlight reel on any given night and is the only player I have ever heard to be argued against Michael Jordan as the NBA’s greatest of all-time.

3. Tom Brady – The decade started off by being drafted in the 6th Round only to hold a clip board and rank fourth on a depth chart behind Pro-Bowler Drew Bledsoe as well as Michael Bishop and John Friesz.  Then came September 23, 2001, soon to be a recognized Holiday in the New England region.  Brady took over and led his team to the first of 3 Super Bowls.  In 2007 he threw for 50 TD’s and finished with a QB rating of 117.2 Rating, while ALMOST leading his team to a perfect 19-0 season.

2. Michael Phelps – I can tell you that Phelps has won 14 Gold Medals over the past 2 Olympics and we could leave it that.  But, that might lead one to think that is all he has done, so in fairness lets add 7 American Swimmer of the Year Awards, 5 World Swimmer of the Year Awards, 40 overall Gold Medals, including the Pan Pacific and World Championships, and 1 2008 Sports Illustrated “Sportsman of the Year” award.

1. Tiger Woods – We can spin this list to be Athlete of the decade, the last 15 years, last 20 years, or maybe even of all-time, and your going to get a strong case for Tiger Woods.  Let me say this, I LOVE Jack Nicklaus…but Come ON!  It cant even be a debate anymore.  Tiger has been the PGA Player of the Year 9 times, and he is only 32 Years old…Nicklaus won it 5 over his career.  Tiger has won 14 Major Championships, 12 of them coming during this decade.  Quite simply, Tiger is the best athlete of this generation…sorry MJ.

Honorable Mention: Ronaldo, Annika Sorenstam, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, David Beckham, Luis Figo, Ronaldhino, Sidney Crosby, Lebron James, Albert Pujols , Brett Favre, Shaquille O’Neal, Barry Bonds, Jimmie Johnson, and Roger Federer.

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

1996 Draft Revisited

In succession, looking back at the past drafts of recent memories, how they contributed or adversely affected the teams, and the outlook by the “so-called” experts going in, a look at the 1996 NFL draft.

It was widely regarded as one of the better years for wide receiver and surely did not disappoint.  St. Louis traded Jerome Bettis and their 3rd round pick to Pittsburgh for this years 2nd round pick and next years 4th round pick…this turned out to be Jerome Bettis and LB Steve Conley for TE Ernie Conwell and OL Ryan Tucker.

In the end we saw 2 sure fire Hall of Fame linebackers in Ray Lewis and Zach Thomas, and 7 other HOF probables; Jonathan Ogden, Terrell Owens, Brian Dawkins, Marvin Harrison, Lawyer Milloy, Mike Alstott, and Tedy Bruschi.  For the 2nd straight year, a team built the nucleus of a Super Bowl team with 2 first round picks, Baltimore picking Ray Lewis and Ogden.

The top 5; #1, Keyshawn Johnson to Jets, #2 Kevin Hardy to Jacksonville, #3 Simeon Rice to Arizona, # 4 Jonathan Ogden to Baltimore, and #5 Cedric Jones to the NY Giants, and our only official flop in the Top 5.

10 Running Backs were drafted on Day 1, and only Eddie George (14) had a

 decent NFL career.  The others, Lawrence Phillips (6), Tim Biakabutuka (8), Leeland McElroy (32), Detron Smith (65), Winslow Oliver (73), Moe Williams (75), Karim Abdul-Jabar (80), Jerald Moore (83) and Reggie Brown (93).

1st Round Honorable Mention: Baltimore T Jonathan Ogden (4), Cincinnati T Willie Anderson (10), Indianapolis WR Marvin Harrison (19), Buffalo WR Eric Moulds (24), Baltimore LB Ray Lewis (26)

Rest of Day 1 winners: Tampa Bay (35) FB Mike Alstott, New England (36) DB Lawyer Milloy, Carolina (43) WR Muhsin Muhammad, Philadelphia (61) DB Brian Dawkins, Tampa Bay (71) DB Donnie Abraham, New England (86) LB Tedy Bruschi, San Francisco (89) WR Terrell Owens.

Day 2 Winners: Kansas City (98) LB Donnie Edwards, Washington (102) RB Stephen Davis, Houston (109) T John Runyan, Pittsburgh (126) LB Earl Holmes, Kansas City (135) WR Joe Horn, St. Louis (141) T Fred Miller, Chicago (152) G Chris Villarial, Miami (154) LB Zach Thomas, Oakland (166) DT La’Roi Glover, Green Bay (208) G Marco Rivera, Buffalo (244) TE Jay Riemersma.

In contrast to the 1995 draft, its fair to say that this was a great draft!

Top 3 Winners:

#1. Baltimore – LB Ray Lewis and T Jonathan Ogden, thats enough for me, although WR Jermaine Lewis had some success as a receiver but more as a return man.

#2. Kansas City – their first 2 picks formed a strong safety tandem in Jerome Woods (28) and Reggie Tongue (58).  DT John Browning was helpful, and LB Donnie Edwards (98) and WR Joe Horn (135) highlighted their draft.

#3 (Tie). New England – They came in with 13 picks, but only needed their first 3; Terry Glenn, Lawyer Milloy and Tedy Bruschi.

#3 (Tie) Green Bay – You cant not put a team that builds 2 centerpieces to their OL in one draft, Marco Rivera and Mike Flanagan.  Despite, using their first pick on a T bust, John Michels.

Bottom 3 Losers:

#1. Arizona – The Cardinals had 9 picks, and even though their 1st, DE Simeon Rice enjoyed some fine seasons, none of them were with Arizona.

#2. Oakland – Oakland selected TE Ricky Dudley #9 overall, and despite a good pick in DT La’Roi Glover, he played a mere 2 games with them.

#3. New Orleans – I give the Saints an ‘A’ for cool names; Mercury Hayes, Ricky Whittle, Terry Guess, Keno Hills, but an ‘F’ for success, including first rounder Alex Molden.

December 18, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1995 Draft Revisited:

With two weeks left to go in the NFL regular season, there are playoff contenders, middle of the pack “spoilers”, and those lobbying for draft picks.  Although, I believe this year has a run-away favorite for the #1 pick.

But if history is a guide to what it means to throw away your season only to get that coveted number 1 overall pick, the reward may not be worth the effort.  More importantly, making the best value of ALL draft picks is how dynasty’s are made…see Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970’s, 4 picks in the 1974 draft went on to the Hall of Fame.

Each year we go in and listen to Mel Kiper and his fellow analysts TELL us who is going to be good, great and a bust…but how accurate are the so-called experts.  Well, only time can tell and here we will take a look at how everything turned out.

IN order, starting with 1995, anything before then is pretty much dominated by players that have retired, so, who really cares today, right.

Coming into the 1995 draft, the big names from Kiper were “cant miss WR” JJ Stokes, “Sure-handed” Kyle Brady and “mammoth” Tony Boselli.  Speed was on display with Frank Sanders, Tamarick Vanover and Kez McCorvey.  And, of course, controversy was abreast with the “Reefer smokin” DT from Miami, Mr. Sapp.

The number 1 pick, Ki-Jana Carter was part of a long line of bad picks by Cincinnati, number 2, Boselli, great pick for Jacksonville, and #3 Steve McNair, borderline Hall of Famer.  The rest of the 1st round produced 3 sure-fire Hall of Famers, amazingly, 2 went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Having the 12th and 28th pick overall, Tampa bay selected Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks, which undoubtedly was the single biggest moments leading to the Bucs lone Super Bowl championship.  With the 23rd overall pick, New England selected Ty Law, who also contributed to his share of Super Bowls.

So for all the hype regarding the skill position players, who fared well?  Michael Westbrook? Tyrone Wheatley? Napolean Kaufman? Rashaun Salaam?  In truth, only 10 of the 1st 32 picks (4 of the 1st 5) went on a QB, RB, or WR, and only McNair (3), Kerry Collins (5), and Joey Galloway (8) lived up to the hype.

1st Round Honorable Mention: St. Louis (6) DE Kevin Carter, Buffalo (14) G Ruben Brown , NY Jets (16) DE Hugh Douglass , Detroit (20) DT Luther Ellis,  Minnesota (24) T Korey Stringer.

Rest of Day 1 winners: Philadelphia Eagles (50) DB Bobby Taylor, Pittsburgh (60) QB Kordell Stewart, Green Bay (66) FB William Henderson, New England (74) RB Curtis Martin

Day 2 Winners: Detroit (141) ILB Stephen Boyd, Houston (159) DE Gary Walker, Detroit (192) FB Cory Schlesinger, Denver (196) RB Terrell Davis, Green Bay (230) Adam Timmerman, Minnesota (243) Jason Fisk.

Top 3 Winners:

#1. New England – CB Ty Law, LB Ted Johnson, RB Curtis Martin, DB Jimmy Hitchcock, and an undrafted Kicker…Adam Vinatieri!

#2. Tampa Bay – Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks, period!

#3. Detroit – Detroit landed Luther Ellis who started right away, Schlesinger paved the way for Barry Sanders, Stephen Boyd (3 pro-Bowls, 1 alternate),

Bottom 3 Losers:

#1. Cincinnati – Sadly, it didnt end with Carter going #1, without a 2nd round pick, they went on to pick 5 nobodies.

#2. Washington – 2nd Round pick C Cory raymer is worth mentioning, Westbrook flopped, and their other 6 picks you wouldnt even recognize.

#3. Kansas City – With 8 picks in the first 6 rounds, KC flopped them all leading it off with Trezelle Jenkins from Michigan.

December 18, 2008 Posted by | Features & Opinions, NFL | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where are they Now?

Ah, as High School basketball draws to a close we should anxiously anticipate the unveiling of the next “sure thing” moving through a year or two of the NCAA’s into NBA fame.  Names like Chris Webber, Kobe Bryant, “King” James, and Dwight Howard, all of which have done all but dissapoint.  But what about the ones that did disappoint, the ones that carried that world of potential to, well, not to the NBA.  Where are THEY now?

 

Jewish Jordan

"Jewish Jordan"

Tamir Goodman: Tabbed the Jewish Jordan, Goodman was recognized by Sports Illustrated, 60 Minutes, and ESPN after averaging 35.4 points per game at the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore, and was dubbed the 25th best HS basketball player in the country.  Goodman received a full-ride scholarship to the University of Maryland in 1999, but was released from his verbal commitment since the school could not accommodate his religious need to have Fridays and Saturdays free.

Goodman transferred to Towson University, but had a separate falling out as he thought his coach was Anti-Semitic.  Goodman finally had the opportunity to showcase his “Jordan-esque” skills when he was signed by Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel.  In 2005, Goodman went on to serve in  the Israeli Defense Force, as a requirment of Israel.  After numerous knee injuries, Goodman returned to America, trying his hand with the Maryland Nighthawks of the PBL, yet today has has returned to Israel to play for the Maccabi Haifa team back in Israel.  Tamir is a motivational Speaker for youth in the Jewish Orthodox religion

Felipe Lopez

Felipe Lopez

 

Felipe Lopez: One of the most heralded players in US High School basketball history, Felipe landed countless accolades including Gatorade, Parade, and USA Today Player of the Year, McDonalds All-American MVP, and the cover of Sports Illustrated.  At 18, Lopez attended a conference with Jim Brown, Bill Clinton, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.  He went on to have a little success at St. Johns University, inlcuding a 17.8 PPG Freshman Year then managed to squeak into the NBA, where he averaged a career total of 5.8 PPG over 4 years.

Felipe has gone on to play ball in the Domincan Republic, where his family immigrated from, The NBA’s D-League, Germany, Spain, The CBA, Brazil, and today in Venezuela for Gaiteros del Zulia.

The Greatest of All Time

The Greatest of All Time

 

Earl “The GOAT” Manigault: Who could forget, when legendary Laker center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had his number 33 retired in the Los Angeles Forum, he was asked who the greatest player he ever faced was.  His response, yes Earl the GOAT Manigault.  

Earl was a basketball legend renowned for his dunking ability, even at 6 ‘-1”.  Rumored to have been able to touch the top of the backboard and execute on the Double-Dunk (Dunk with one hand, then with the other, all while remaining in the air).  Aftering receiving scholarships from Duke, North Carolina, Indiana and more than 70  more Universities, Earl opted to attend Johnson C. Smith University, where he lasted only one semester because of bad grades, which led to less playing time by his coach.  Earl fell into drug usage, catapulting him into prison on 2 separate occasions, but rebounded by starting the “Walk Away from Drugs” tournament held in Harlem, NY, still around today.  Earl passed away in 1998, but will always be remembered as the Greatest Of All Time!

Honorable Mention: Damon Bailey, Jerod Ward, Donnell Harvey, Sebastian Telfair, Leon Smith.

December 5, 2008 Posted by | NBA | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Brothers in the NBA?

I once read that there are more than 375,000 Varsity level high school basketball players in any given year, of which, less than 600 are offered scholarships to play Division I basketball. One could only imagine the rarity of a proud parent, being able to watch their child beat the odds and land a lucrative NBA contract. How about more than one?

Since Dr. James Naismith started throwing a round ball into the peach basket, we could look back and literally count the number of brother tandems to have played in the NBA on our fingers & toes…at least those worth mentioning. I have compiled a list of the Top10 brother tandems in NBA History:

Mr. Basketball

Mr. Basketball

10. George & Ed Mikan: Before there was Wilt or Shaq, there was George, who brought the Laker franchise there very first NBA championship. Little brother Ed, pitched in a modest 6.7 PPG and 5.5 REB over 300 or so games.

9. Jim & John Paxson: We all remember John Paxson draining a 3 to beat Phoenix in the closing seconds of the ’93 championship, but did you know older brother Jim had more than double the career points amassing over 11,000 with Portland & Boston?

8. Brent & Mark Price: Too small, too slow & too deliberate, Mark ended his career as the greatest Free-Throw shooter in NBA history. Brent, not nearly the success, had one fine 10.0 PPG and 5.1 AST season with Washington.

7. Jon, Brent & Drew Barry: The only trio of brothers to make the list, none could match the success of Father Rick’s, but all managed to have enough success to make the list. Brent was the first, and still only, “white guy” to win the NBA slam-dunk championship

6. Albert & Bernard King: Bernard established himself early as one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history by shattering all NJ Nets records in his rookie year. With a quick release jumper, Bernard holds the torch in the King family, although Albert threw in 12.1 a game over 9 seasons.

5. Chuck & Wesley Person: The Person combo drained a combined 2370 3-Pointers over the tenure in the NBA, led by The Rifleman, Chuck.

4. Horace & Harvey Grant: By raw stats, this duo may be high on the list, but with Ho’ Grant’s 6 NBA Finals appearances, 4 Rings, and 4 All-NBA Defensive accolades, coupled with Harvey’s modest run of 3 18+ PPG seasons with Washington, they are well-deserving of the 4 spot.

3. Dick & Tom Van Arsdale: Never heard of them? Well, having dominated this list in scoring (except for #1 of course) , Dick & Tom knocked down a combined 29,311 points over there combined careers.

Human Highlight Film

Human Highlight Film

2. Gus & Ray Williams: Although my heart wants to put Gus, and his 1979-1980 championship ring from my ex-Seattle Supersonics at #1, Little brother Ray had an all too short run of success with the NY Knickerbockers.

1. Dominique & Gerald Wilkins: Who could argue, the “Human Highlight Film” and little brother Gerald. 38,404 combined points makes Mom & Dad Wilkins the NBA’s all-time leaders in points scored by their sons. (Sorry Mr. and Mrs. Alcindor, 38,387)

Honorable Mention: Calvin & Kenny Natt, George & Derrick Gervin, Purvis & Eugene Short, Rodney & Scooter McCray, Charles & Ed O’Bannon, and Brooke & Robin Lopez.

December 4, 2008 Posted by | NBA | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment