More Than A Fan Opinions So Good They Should Be Called Facts Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:15:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 2014 Is Just Another Missed Opportunity for Dale Earnhardt Jr Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:15:37 +0000 It isn’t how you start, it’s how you finish. Unfortunately for Dale Earnhardt Jr, that’s a lesson that is being learned the hard way this season.

Earnhardt Jr started the 2014 season on the highest of highs, winning his second career Daytona 500 in February. To show that wasn’t a fluke, he followed that up with back-to-back runner-up finishes at Phoenix and Las Vegas. After finishing third at Martinsville in the sixth race of the season, Earnhardt Jr found himself on the top of the NACAR Sprint Cup Series standings.

It seemed as if he was finally poised to take that next step and win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, something his father did seven times. The constant hype was taking a backseat to actual results and Junior Nation was waving its flag with vigor, touting 2014 as the year their favorite son finally snagged the top prize.

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Irving’s Return to Floor Brings Everything Full Circle Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:43:18 +0000 Three long years Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving endured coaching changes, lottery picks, and opposing offenses scoring at will on his team. All of which led to disappointing results on the Cleveland basketball scene.
Now that Irving is back and seemingly 100% healthy, the Cavs enter the regular season not just a well oiled machine, but perhaps a diesel fueled engine.
Irving scored 69 points in only three pre-season games during the past week. After having no one significant to play with his first three years, his eagerness to play is showing.
He looked like his old self. But this time, the stage was bigger.

Though the Cavs lost two of the three games they had Irving’s services, the 22-year-old guard proved he can still be dominant with another dominant presence on the floor. No one questioned if Irving could be a facilitator with Superstars LeBron James and Kevin Love, but he maintained his dominant scoring while catching the eye of both his big three buddies.×60.jpg

In addition to his offensive rampage, Irving connected on 41% of his three-pointers, thumped 85% of his free throws, had 15 assists, with four steals and four blocks; including three swats in the Dallas game.
While no one bought into the notion LeBron made earlier that this is “Kyrie’s team” it will be his offense to synchronize; at least until the fourth quarter. With the national media in attendance on a nightly basis, Irving will be feeling the pressure somehow someway. But it hasn’t gotten to him yet.
And with point guard play diminishing in the East (enter center stage Derrick Rose, if possible?) Irving’s game will be under the microscope even more.
Being a former number one overall pick, Irving has dealt with expectations his entire basketball career. This season’s escalation will prove what type of player Irving really is. So far, he is looking like one of the best.

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New School MLB Rivalries Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:00:02 +0000 In recent conversations with baseball super fans1 group Funzzle.] Andy Gould and Jeffrey Guyott about the developing dearth of traditional MLB rivalries, especially with regard to the Boston Red Sox.

From about 1999 to 2007, it was impossible to go to any large gathering in the greater New England area 2 without someone beginning the chant of “Yankees Suck”.  During that time, I made several trips to Montreal, Quebec with Pat Hack and others, and more than once, the chant could be heard along St. Catherine’s St. and John F. Kennedy Boulevard.

As a Red Sox fan, it was a unifying call, a way of establishing who was good and who might be evil in a public setting.  Sadly, those days have passed us by.  I’d like to blame it on the pink hat fans, but mostly that’s because I like to tag them with anything that I perceive wrong in MLB’s realm.

Gould and Guyott explained that they believed it may be a generational ideal, that fans who fall in the twenty-something fans and younger demographic may not be able to drag up the same type of hatred and disdain for the Yankees as other generations of Sox fans can, because the Curse ended for them so young in their lives.  They didn’t have to spend their entire lives wondering if they might ever see a Red Sox World Series title.  Long before they could partake of their first legal brew, many had seen the Red Sox win at least one title, if not two.  Winning, it appears, may be a salve like no other.  I can’t recall the last legitimate “Yankees Suck” chant I heard, and I think that is a bad thing for baseball3.

It took the unlikely pairing of the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals, along with some clever PR people at participating SF radio stations to give me hope that the idea of MLB rivalries might not be dead.

First off, banning Lourde’s song “Royals” was pure genius, as it was a nearly no-lose station for the radio stations.  Plus, it helped inject another storyline for the World Series to help draw in non-MLB fans, which is key, given the alleged sagging ratings of our nation’s pastime.

Following a disappointing game 1, it seemed like MLB’s budding new rivalry might be short-lived, after all, if the Giants beat the Royals down in 4 straight, then there can’t be a rivalry.

However, game 2 appears to have brought some life back to the scene, and in particular, the 6th inning ‘incident’ between the Giants’ Hunter Strickland and the Royals’ Salvador Perez, which occurred as Perez was rounding the bases following Omar Infante’s two-run bomb in to the bullpen.  Strickland clearly was unhappy with giving up another jack, and took his frustrations out on Perez.  The benches cleared, and even the bullpens got in on the action.  No punches were thrown, but the message was clear:  this Series was going to be a fight to the end, regardless of who comes out on top4.  This is good for baseball, both on the field, and with television ratings.  It’s a small incident, but something that can be built on.

Strickland admitted after the game that he let his emotions get the best of him, and took responsibility for his actions.  It was the right thing for him to do, but still, if any upper-level player on either side gets buzzed in game 3, expect the announcers to immediately look back to the 6th inning of game 2 and ask the question if the two ‘incidents’ are connected.  Let Buster Posey or Lorenzo Cain get drilled with a pitch, and Wednesday night’s display will look like a walk in the park.

Greed may be good in the business world, but when it comes to sport, it’s all about the rivalries.  Rivalries and the ‘hate’ that is spawned from it are what draw the crowds, and give the games a feeling of being more important than they really are.  In a world where so many things are wrong, this is good, this opportunity to watch 50 grown men compete and battle to prove who is best.

  1. They also comprise one-half of the super .
  2. With the possible exception of southern Connecticut, and really, they’re basically New Yorkers who can’t afford afford to live in the upper East Side of the city, so their opinion is rendered meaningless.
  3. Guyott tabbed the Tampa Bay Rays as the Red Sox best ‘rivalry’ in the moment, and I was hard-pressed to dispute that.  Dating back to Pedro throwing Don Zimmerman to the ground, things have got a little testy between the two clubs.  This is good for baseball, even if both teams were horrible in 2014.
  4. Royals in 6 was my pre-World Series pick.  However, given my track record of with MLB picks this year, it seems far more likely that there will be a new Beatles’ album unearthed before that happens.  I’m pulling for the Royals to win all 3 in SF and end the madness.
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Sam’s Take: MTAF Wheels IndyCar Q&A – October 24th, 2014 Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:15:09 +0000 Nearing the two month mark into the Verizon IndyCar Series offseason. How is everyone holding up? Hope you are enjoying the offseason columns from Shay, and Damien made his MTAF Wheels return this week with a column on his idea for the next IndyCar race in Cleveland and it may surprise you with his location suggestion.

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You Can’t Replace Alex Mack with Tim Tebow Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:00:10 +0000 Injuries are a fact of life in the NFL. Some players can be replaced easier than others, and it goes farther than just one’s physical abilities. The Cleveland Browns have recently been put in this type of predicament. Alex Mack is out for the year with a broken tibia, and he will clearly be missed. You simply cannot replace an All-Pro center like Mack with just anyone.

In some cases, an understudy can produce stunning results when called upon, but that doesn’t appear to be the fortune for Cleveland’s football team. When Mack initially went down in the second quarter of the Browns 31-10 win over Pittsburgh on October 12th, it appeared all was well. John Greco moved over from guard to replace the void left at center and former Sea Chicken Paul McQuistan took Greco’s spot at right guard. If there was a drop-off, it was negligible and it didn’t slow down the Browns running game that day.

The Browns survived the Steelers without Mack for half the game, but things got hairy in Jacksonville (Photo:

Pittsburgh did not have the luxury of game-planning for an offense without Cleveland’s 2009 first round pick snapping the football. Since starting on Day 1 as a rookie, he hadn’t missed a snap over the course of his 85-game career. Seriously, the dude even had an appendectomy in 2011 and he was back on the field against the Oakland Raiders 13 days later. Of course, that’s a testament to his toughness, but there’s more to what the Browns are missing right now than thick skin.

It’s easy to mistakenly label a good football player as one with football intelligence. That just isn’t how it works. There are players that remember things, and they get by. The players that learn the game and so many of its variables possess a tangible thing called “football intelligence”. No one on the planet exists on the same plane as Peyton Manning in this realm.

This Manning kid always has his nose in a book. This was Read A Book on a Bench Day in Knoxville.

Sure, he’s probably a giant dork that sees everything pre-snap in 1s and 0s, and then converts to hexidecimal when the ball is in his hand. My theory is that he sees things faster than they’re actually happening, that real time for the rest of us is presented to him as slow motion. It’s a subtle difference, like the difference between a split-second and a well enunciated One Mississippi. It might be the difference between a yellow jacket in Canton and a short career.

However, we might be missing out on some that top the list of the game’s most football intelligent characters because they didn’t play the quarterback position. Edge rushers know how to get to the quarterback. Linebackers see and hear what’s about to come at them, as if they were in the offensive huddle. Ball-hawking safeties just know how to put themselves in the right place at the right time. That’s all football intelligence, but you need to have the talent to do it.

It can actually work the other way around. It’s up to the coaches to find ways to make talent compensate for the absence of football intelligence. You’ll hear a couple of things from the consensus on this subject.

First, there are no bad football players in the National Football League. The evaluation process is too complicated for things to be overlooked. This is a league that is so much more about the Xs and Os than the Brian and Joes. Players will always be somewhat hit and miss, it’s a tough game, but it all comes down to coaching. Part of that is finding the right personnel.

Mangini like drafting a center high. It’s an important position on the football field.

The offensive line needs their brainiac too. Former Browns head coach Eric Mangini earned his “Mangenius” nickname under Bill Belichick’s charge. His brilliance never translated to wins, but there were honestly mitigating factors that went into that. At each of his head coaching stops, he left a necessary building block behind. It was Nick Mangold in New York and Alex Mack in Cleveland, both franchise centers were taken late in the first round of the draft.

First round status doesn’t guarantee anyone anything. I use Tim Tebow as an example, because I specifically remember thinking how wrong people were. They’d say his work ethic would put him on another level and his football intelligence would carry him. Now, I am all for giving Saint Timmy a sincere golf clap for his effort, if only that was all it took. Now that he’s out of the game at the age of 27, I can tell Tebow is a smart man, but that doesn’t mean he’s ever been heavy on football intelligence.

Tebow had a special set of physical skills that allowed Urban Meyer to build an offense that took advantage of what he could do without over-working his noggin. He took what was given to him, and it was enough to make him one of the best College Football players ever.

The NFL just had a standard he wasn’t capable of reaching. In 2011, John Fox and Mike McCoy modified or dumbed down their offense enough for him to take over for Kyle Orton, who was 1-4 as the starter. That’s a move you can make because the gimmick of Tebow justified the downgrade in skill. The Broncos coaching staff pulled it off, and they even won a playoff game. Keep in mind, they were replacing Kyle Orton, not Peyton Manning.


To the tune of the Nationwide jingle: “I can’t wait to take your job”

There’s nothing Mike Pettine would like more than to get by with a serviceable backup, but Jacksonville attacked the vulnerability. There was no way to stop it. In reality the Browns took a hit at two places on the offensive line, so we’re not overlooking the plunge taken at Greco’s now back-filled spot at guard. They weren’t physically outclassed on the whole, but they were just lost on who goes where and when.

If you recall the late season magic Denver had with Tebow, it’s likely you give a lot of credit to defense and special teams for that. They definitely had to conceal their quarterback, and they really did get away with it when they weren’t playing the Patriots.

Though the Browns weren’t playing anything reminiscent of Patriots without Mack, they’re unable to conceal their center position. The one who snaps the ball is more important to their offense and offensive line than the guy who was lined up a couple of spots over for every snap, all 5,189 of them. That guy at left tackle is Joe Thomas, and smart people think he’s bound for the Hall of Fame.

There’s nothing overpowering about either of the Browns best linemen. Football smarts and flawless technique make Mack and Thomas special.

We’ll wait a couple of years before we start talking about Mack’s candidacy for Canton, but it’s understood that his value is very near that of Joe Thomas. Thomas and the Browns have a couple more bad teams ahead on the schedule, convenient for them in figuring out how to plug an obvious leak. Otherwise, a promising 3-2 start could all be for not. It look as though damage controls with putting Greco back on the right side and seeing if Nick McDonald. His one NFL start at the center position is one more than Greco had before the game in North Florida last week, but he probably isn’t the second coming.

Cleveland might need a miracle to thrive without their clever center, and we’re doubting even Tebow can shit a miracle of this magnitude.

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Bridging the Gap: The Midweek Report, Week 7…-report-week-7/…-report-week-7/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 20:04:36 +0000…-report-week-7/feed/ 0 Time and Change #24: Flu Shots, Happy Buckeyes in Happy Valley, Bring on Sparty Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:28:50 +0000 0 More Than a Fan Fantasy Football League Week 7 Recap Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:31:04 +0000 @AsquiresFF vs @32BHawkins

Demarco Murray’s historic campaign continued in week 7, thrusting @AsquiresFF into 5th place. Murray racked up 19.7 fantasy points and has yet to score less than 19.1 points in a game this season. Seattle’s defense has looked somewhat human this year for @32BHawkins, and in week 7 scored in the negatives for the second time this season. Philip Rivers had his worst outing since week 1 as he scored only 14.2 points and on the same side of the coin Keenan Allen‘s disappointing year continues as scored 8.8 points and has scored double digit fantasy points in only one game this season. @32BHawkins got solid games from both Dwayne Bowe and Joique Bell, but left Odell Beckham Jr. on the bench as the rookie caught two touchdowns and scored 18.7 points. Luckily the margin of victory was 36 points, making the benching of Beckham a moot point, but @32BHawkins – now 1-6 – will more than likely be looking to shake things up for this make or break week 8 if he wants a chance at making a push for the playoffs this year.

@Drock731 vs  @believeland16

This was a low-scoring affair between these two 3-4 teams, and a very close one as @Drock731 eeked it out by 11 points thanks in large part to Ronnie Hillman who rolled up 103 total yards and 2 touchdowns on SNF on his way to a 24.3 point day. @believeland16 got very little help from his team as Jay Cutler not only scored less than 16 fantasy points for the first time this season, he scored only 7.9 points as Chicago got embarrassed at home. Cutler wasn’t the only one of @believeland16′s squad who forgot to show up, as Arian Foster – who scored 17.5 points on MNF – was the only one to scored double digit fantasy points this week. It wasn’t easy for @Drock731 though, he had Zac Stacy, Heath Miller, Reggie Wayne and Alshon Jeffery combine to score only 6.2 points, with Stacy dropping a goose egg. Luckily that is no longer a concern for @Drock731 as Ronnie Hillman seemingly has a choke hold on the Bronco’s starting running back job and LeSean McCoy is returning this week fresh off of the Eagle’s week 7 bye, making the underwhelming Stacy expendable.

@RailbirdJ vs @ClvlndK8

This was a match up between two of the heavy weights in the MTAF FFL as @RailbirdJ came into this match up at 5-1 against the 4-2 @ClvlndK8, and it didn’t disappoint. Decided by a mere 5 points, this match up offered very little in the way of running back production as @RailbirdJ’s Jacquizz Rodgers and Jeremy Hill combined to score 3.2 points. @ClvlndK8 did very little to capitalize on that lack of production as she did her best and matched said output of 3.2 points with Gio Bernard and Khiry Robinson. The story of this one can be told by the quarterback position as @RailbirdJ enjoyed Peyton Manning‘s historic night to the fullest as he scored 28.62 points, and @ClvlndK8… well, lets just say she made a tiny mistake. @ClvlndK8 took the red hot Russell Wilson, benched him, and put the fate of her fantasy team in the hands of Alex Smith… yes, Alex Smith. Alex Smith was good for his usual 15-ish points – as we all know Alex Smith offers very little fantasy upside – and all Russell Wilson did is become the first player in NFL history to throw for over 300 yards and run for 100 on his way to a 37.12 point day… on @ClvlndK8′s bench. Ugh.

@CommonManDZ vs  @dwhiteness10

This one was never close but it was certainly and interesting mix of players that had monster game – both in lineups and on the bench – and players forgot to show up on Sunday. Let us quickly mention the kicking battle in this one and how underwhelming it was a @CommonManDZ’s Matt Bryant was able to muster up one whole point and @dwhiteness10′s Robbie Gould doubled that output with a two spot. @CommonManDZ rolled out Hakeem Nicks as a FLEX play and he dropped a goose egg but made up for it as his newly acquired Andre Ellington went for 19 points and Aaron Rodgers Dez Bryant and Roddy White combined for 64.4 points. @dwhiteness10 did little to put up a fight as he also saw a zero in his lineup with Markus Wheaton becoming a ghost on MNF and his running backs, Pierre Thomas and Andre Williams, combined to score only 10.1 points as Chris Ivory doubled that output by himself by scoring 20.5 point on TNF, albeit on the bench. Both of these teams are now 3-4 and are still very much in the thick of things.

@lexus1scott vs The Torn Achilles

This one was… well… it was a good old fashioned ass kicking from start to finish. Both teams got about 22 points from their respected quarterbacks and they also both got -3.0 points from their D/STs, it was what happened in between those two positions that told the story. Lets start with the bad, @lexus1scott’s team was embarrassing this week as seven of his 10 players scored less than 6 points, with the only double digit point scorers being quarterback Tony Romo and kicker Adam Vinatieri. Whereas The Torn Achilles received stellar performances from Tom Brady, Le’Veon Bell, Sammy Watkins and the resurgent Ahmad Bradshaw as those four players combined to score 95.94 of the teams 116.34 points scored. That is a staggering amount of points to be concentrated in just four players and it just goes to show the The Torn Achilles has the fire power to beat anyone, anytime, even if the majority of his players don’t show up.

@BigInCLE vs @JCSwishMan33

With Nick Foles on a bye, @BigInCLE was forced to plug and play rookie quarterback Derek Carr who had trouble all day with the Arizona defense on his way to a 7.12 fantasy day. Luckily, @JCSwishMan33′s Cam Newton didn’t to much better as he scored only 14.3 points, a far cry from the 34.06 points he scored in week 6. Although to spite Cam’s off day, @JCSwishMan33 was still able to pile up 130.3 points on the shoulders of his WR corps as Demaryius Thomas, Pierre Garcon and Mike Wallace combined to score 63.8 points – 33.1 of them from Thomas. @BigInCLE’s WR corps was no slouch either though as Randall Cobb, Golden Tate and Greg Jennings combined to score a comparable 58.4 points, but it was far from enough. I am also awarding the FLEX play of the week to @JCSwishMan33 as he rolled tight end Charles Clay out there for 13.8 points. Now I know that there were other FLEX plays this week that resulted in more points but I find it impressive that @JCSwishMan33 had the stones… and dare I say, the gull… to roll with Charles Clay and for that he has been rewarded with not only the unparalleled prestige of the FLEX play of the week award but also with a 5-2 record.

@LovinTheTribe vs @BurnRiverSports

Although @LovinTheTribe once again got a monster day from Matt Forte, unfortunately her impressive and improbable streak has come to an end at the hands of @BurnRiverSports, who is now working with a killer running back trio. @BurnRiverSports’ two running back slots and FLEX slot are filled with Eddie Lacy, Shane Vereen and Justin Forsett, who on this week combined to score 50.2 points, you couple those three guys playing at the top of their game to go along with Antonio Brown and Andy Luck, that is a recipe for success. @LovinTheTribe is certainly still in the playoff conversation still, as she sits a 3-4, and has a cavalcade of young talent on her team that is just itching to bust out in the form of Lamar Miller and Andre Holmes. These are two guys that simply have to remain in her lineup week in and week out as they are both “home run hitters” and are threats to score from anywhere on the field whenever they get the ball in their hands. You throw those two youngsters in the mix with Matt Stafford, Matt Forte and DeSean Jackson, you’re looking at another very impressive team that I cant imagine anyone would be too pleased about seeing in the playoffs.



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Cleveland Browns Week Seven: The Good, Bad and Ugly Wed, 22 Oct 2014 20:05:40 +0000 0 Saving the Florida Panthers Wed, 22 Oct 2014 18:13:09 +0000 I went to Green Mountain College where a majority of the population didn’t care much for athletics. They were good people for sure, but there was no doubt that sports weren’t very high on their priority list. This is where the average attendance for sporting events was somewhere around twenty to thirty students (if I’m being fairly generous). Sad thing is, this is a direct parallel to Sunrise, Florida. These places are just not fit, not geared to be sports-towns. It’s like trying to get a “Habs Suck” chant going in Nashville. Nobody knows why it’s happening and chances are you’ll just be ignored.

How are the Florida Panthers a thing? Everything about the city of Sunrise screams “I am the antithesis of hockey!” Lets take a look at other professional teams within Florida and see how their fandom and attendance bode. The Marlins and the Rays, alright, they are a couple teams on the rise (theoretically, probably just going to regress but whatever). Attendance this year? They come in at a whopping 27th and 30th (out of 30) for this season averaging half of what the top five teams average.

That’s pretty sad, but football, everyone loves football! Yeah, Miami coming in hot at #21 followed up by Jacksonville and Tampa at 28th and 29th respectively. NBA? Orlando limped to 23rd in attendance while the Heat actually finished 4th. Chances are the Heat only sold tickets because they had the best player in the world and were all but guaranteed to make the finals with him. Now that he’s gone, I think we can expect Miami to slide back down to pre-LeBron times where they hovered somewhere around the mid-teens. I mean come on, we all remember the images of Miami fans bolting for the exit with nearly a quarter left to play in the playoffs. Florida doesn’t breed loyalty. Which leads us back to the NHL. The Lightning have been a near anomaly for Florida by snagging 10th in attendance last year. (They actually have stayed fairly consistent over the past five years but when you have Stamkos how can you really not go watch him light the lamp every night.) Circling back to the Panthers now, last year they finished with a less than impressive 14,000 fans per home game, good for second to last in the league (Chicago led with nearly 23k to put it in perspective). They are now floundering to start this quest for the cup, boasting just 9,000 per game. These are historically awful numbers. They marked a franchise low already this season, you know at the beginning when every team is supposed to have at least a glimmer of hope.

That begs the question of relocation. Rumors are that the NHL wants to add up to four more teams, Quebec City, Toronto, Vegas, and Seattle to bring the total to 34. Well that makes about as much sense as not growing a playoff beard. Hear me out, what if we move two teams that have no reason existing where they do and then creating two more. Just spit-balling but how about we move the Coyotes and the Panthers because they have atrocious attendance records, they don’t win too often, and neither place gets snow! What the hell is with having hockey teams anywhere below the Carolina, St. Louis, Colorado line that I just made in my head? I’ll leave the Cali teams because at least they have satirical fan bases. (Lets be real, LA is not a hockey town despite their recent successes.)

But really, look at these pictures from the first couple Panther games.

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It’s a beyond depressing sight for the players and I don’t buy Luongo’s load, “I don’t pay attention to that stuff when I’m playing…I try to focus on my job. If we want to get some people in the stands, we’re going to have to start winning some hockey games.” You DO care Luongo. You know how I know? Because the crowd pumped you up to play out of your mind in the 2010 season and then our Boston crowd bought real-estate in your brain and ate you alive during the SC finals. Professional sports and players are dependent on fan bases, fact. That’s why all Boston teams win. That’s why all Florida teams suck (unless you have a megastar i.e. Stamkos, LeBron).

You don’t even need fans to be avidly cheering for you, just get some warm bodies in seats so you can pretend people care. I care though. That is why I have created a master plan to put asses in seats at your Floridian Ice Palace. Right now going to a Panthers game is like going ice-fishing for a first-date. Sure you don’t have to spend much money, but it’s cold, lonely, and you’ll probably end up drunk and sad at the end. So please Florida Panthers organization, take my advice.

Lower the beer price! You charge $8 a beer. The NHL average is $7.3. Tampa kills you in attendance, wins, and beer prices ($6) so lets at least win the easiest category there is to change. All I’m saying is drop the beer/food prices and advertise the game as rather a dinner and a show. Win, lose, who cares? Sell a good meal and cheap beer and all the old folks and college students will flock to the games like seagulls spotting a beach picnic.

Intermission fan games! Randomly pick six contestants from the crowd each game and have them compete in a shootout where the winning team gets game-used sticks. Genius!

More Ice Girls! Everyone loves when the ice girls come around giving away t-shirts and calendars so lets up their “ice time.” Have them walk around the aisles and sign autographs, take pictures, or dance. Anything to take your attention away from the inevitable loss. Sunshine Selfies with the Gals!0566

Live game prop bets? Everyone who’s anyone loves gambling. When everyone enters the stadium give them a betting card with the winner, over/under, first goal scorer, and cumulative penalty minutes. If anyone gets them all right they win season tickets.

Should I be in marketing because I think I just turned the Panthers into one of the largest market teams with four pieces of advice? Ho hum, just another week, another saved franchise.

Follow me on twitter at @forrestkehd for quirky thoughts, gambling tips and grievances, and beer reviews. 

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The Crossroads: Les Miles is still an Evil Genius Wed, 22 Oct 2014 17:37:20 +0000 0 CFB Roundtable #32: Don’t Say the Forbidden Name Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:10:51 +0000 0 London Games Slight NFL Fans in America Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:00:12 +0000 We don’t need the NFL in London. The NFL wants London and the rest of the globe, for the sake of the almighty dollar, or should I say Euro? It seemed innocent enough in the beginning, an occasional exhibition every couple of years, but now we’re playing games that count, and if we take it any farther, it will only get worse.

For the fans, players, and coaches, it’s just a giant pain in the ass. I don’t care who you are, seven hours is a long damn time to be on an airplane, even if the thought of crashing into unknown parts of the Atlantic doesn’t absolutely petrify you. Then, you have to think about the price tag. I don’t know about the average fan, but I don’t think I love football enough to spend $1100 just to spend a week or weekend in the constant drizzle of the land our forefathers once abandoned.


It’s a beautiful day for football (and very little else) in London

You don’t bring sand to the beach, just like you don’t open a second restaurant in a new part of town to feed your existing clientele, so grievances to the NFL from its American fans about travel restrictions will likely fall on deaf ears. Roger Goodell and company will just as soon tell you to keep your money, save it for premium NFL exhibition action in your hometown next August. They’ve already got their hands firmly on our wallets. Next up for the NFL is the European Man Purses and all the riches that come along with them.

It’s such an untapped market. Think about it, we can take a group that drools and goes mad over soccer, and sell them on something similar, but a lot more interesting and fun to watch. I’ve never actually been to that part of the world, but based on the cultural lessons I’ve learned from watching the movie Snatch, you’d have to think that adding violence and a finite clock to the game they already love could only be plusses.

The locals across the pond love it. The first “real” game was played there in 2007, and it sold out in a matter of hours, a full nine months before it was played. It didn’t matter who played, 81,176 gathered for the inaugural game that featured Cleo Lemon and the Miami Dolphins against that season’s eventual Super Bowl Champs, the Giants. Champs or not, it didn’t much matter that this one lacked quality, the Giants held off Miami’s late rally to win a 13-10 slopfest in less than ideal conditions. The league scheduled one game a year there thru 2012; a second game was added last season, and we’ll get three this season.

It’s difficult to argue that it’s only a novelty, given the International Series steady attendance in its 8-year run. Wembley Stadium’s capacity for American Football, and you know it pains me to have to make that distinction, is approximately 86,000, and they’ve come close to reaching that in eight of the nine games played there so far. There was a noticeable drop-off in 2011 for Bears v. Bucs, but it bounced back for the Patriots and Rams in the 2012 edition of the series.

The Patriots are a big draw there, and who’d have thunk it? Old England likes New England. The Patriots, or maybe expatriates in this case, have played in the only two games that drew over 84,000 to the pitch, I mean gridiron, with lopsided victories over Tampa Bay in 2009 and St. Louis in 2012. The Rams, on the other hand, were supposed to volunteer to play a home game over there in three consecutive seasons, but had a change of heart before their game with Brady and the gang two years ago.

The league is trying to create some consistency, sending the same teams repeatedly for brand recognition, and they’re targeting anyone dumb enough to give up a home game. With the Rams wise to the scam, Jacksonville was the league’s next target, so the Brits get to see someone smear the Jaguars every fall for three years, unless they can convince the league to put the Browns on the other sideline in 2015.

Maybe Jacksonville fans don’t care about giving up a true home game every year, but I sure would if I was a season ticket holder. Arizona season ticket holders expressed dismay when they lost a home game to Mexico City in 2005. Maybe Jacksonville is different, because do you really need to watch more than seven games a year from your poolside cabana?

Jaguars 2014 Cabana

Nothing says North Florida like T-Shirts and Jorts in the pool at a football stadium

Well, the end game here is obvious and the tale of the tape says it all. We’ve gone from one, to two, to three games in as many years, which means the NFL likes it. For them to like it, it has to be profitable, so let’s deduce that it is. What’s the future here? We’ve heard London Super Bowl and we’ve heard about re-locating a franchise there, and those options sound more logistically sound than the current process of interrupting a season for off-shore neutral-site games.

If it’s just going to continue on its current path of sending teams there for a neutral site game, with someone forfeiting a home game, how long before we expand on three? I suppose it could become a weekly event, but the built-in post-London bye week would make that a bit of a challenge. Even if the whole thing evolved from three games to eight, that would be similar to having a home team without the burden of full-priced August games that don’t count.

Worse than giving up a home game, some proud city of fans could lose its team to this gimmick. I’ve been down that road and time doesn’t heal those wounds, not in the short period of 18 years in my case. And, if they want to put one team there, they could very well make a case for two. With a push for the NFL to return to Los Angeles, perhaps also to the power of two, fans of teams without new stadiums or deep roots in the community may find themselves without a team to root for on Sundays in 2015.

From not having a team at all, to having the best team, the Super Bowl seems to be the most realistic evolution of the London process. This would have the smallest impact on Joe Sixpack and the typical American football fan. Regular people can’t afford to attend the Super Bowl or the accompanying hoopla, so who really cares if they’re not going to Miami or they’re not going to London. The bottom line, they’re not going. The VIPs might have to drop an extra $500-$1000 on airfare, but they’re good for it. As for the rest of us, the highest bidder will be airing a London Super Bowl at 6:37 PM on that first Sunday in February, so we’re good too.

The Dolphins 38-14 win over Oakland at Wembley Stadium last month was the first of three to be played there in 2014, including this Sunday’s tilt between Atlanta and Detroit, which kicks off at 9:30 AM in the east.

With the Super Bowl being the least of our concerns, NFL fans back in the homeland should be concerned with the league’s growing interest in Europe. One year, it’s a home game. The next, it’s the entire home team. Given that we’ve shown no strength as fans in turning our back on Goodell or his faction, I’m sure there’s no concern about abandoning anyone as he looks to grow his customer base.

He knows that his bread and butter on this side of pond will always be exactly how he wants them to be, without shame and ready to throw money at his product.

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Indians’ Minor League Excitement Tue, 21 Oct 2014 21:03:03 +0000 0 Who’s the Real ‘Little Brother’? Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:05:33 +0000 0 IndyCar Should Return to Cleveland, but Not the Airport Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:05:39 +0000 Many, years ago, I lived and breathed auto racing, then something happened to me. I’m not exactly sure what happened, or when it happened, but I went from a racing fanatic, to a regular ol’ casual fan. One thing that never changed was my love for open wheel racing on the North Coast, aka Cleveland, Ohio.

IndyCar, or IRL, or CART, or whatever they’re calling themselves this week, hasn’t happened at Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport (that’s a mouthful) since 2007. While I’m very much in favor of the series returning to Cleveland, I’m of the opinion that it shouldn’t happen at the airport, or anywhere else downtown.

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Four Cavs Predictions Heading Into the Regular Season Tue, 21 Oct 2014 16:03:16 +0000 0 The College Quickie: Darkhorse, Let’s Make A Deal, Luck O’ The Irish? Tue, 21 Oct 2014 15:04:43 +0000 0 Fantasy Football: Waiver Wire Pickups Week Eight Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:35:43 +0000 Alex Squires and Jason Barron are teaming up for MTAF Fantasy Football coverage! Follow them on twitter, send them emails, and ask them all the fantasy football questions you can muster. 

After a much needed bye-week, the sort-of-in-the-same-area-code-as-dynamic duo is back, well rested, and ready to continue giving you all the edge in your fantasy football leagues.  Short of doing that, however, there are Baldwin Brothers and Bizarro mentions.  So there is that. 

Running Backs 

  1. Ronnie Hillman – Through two contests operating as the lead back in Denver, Hillman has impressed with a 38-174-2 line while out-touching his caddie Juwan Thompson 45-15. Montee Ball is far from a lock to automatically regain his starting role when healthy and even if he does Hillman has proved he deserves to be in the mix going forward.  If you have watched the Broncos at all this year, the naked eye confirms what the stats tell you: Hillman is better than Ball.  He is available in more than 40% of Yahoo! Leagues, and he needs to be owned in all of them.
  2. Jerick McKinnon – Apparently HC Mike Zimmer’s comments regarding getting Matt Asiata more touches was just noise as McKinnon became the first back to rush for 100 yards against a stout Bill’s rush defense this season while out-touching Asiata 21-7. He is the man in Minnesota, and is a must own.  He has some tough matchups in the coming weeks, but he just ripped the top rated run D in the league.  If you have been holding that FAB, our advice is to spend big on this guy.
  3. Bryce Brown – With C.J. Spiller lost for the year and the 33 year-old Fred Jackson looking at a 4 week timetable for a groin, Buffalo will look to Brown and Anthony Dixon to carry the load. The Bills look to pound the rock week in and week out and Brown is a far more talented runner than Dixon, making him the more intriguing pick up.
  4. Denard Robinson – Now the Brown’s run defense has been very poor thus far but it is still hard to ignore how good Robinson looked Sunday as he started and ran for 127 yards on 22 carries against Cleveland. The quarterback converted to “offensive weapon” converted to running back out-touched Storm Johnson and Jordan Todman 22-7 and should continue to “spear head” Jacksonville’s ground game up until and possibly even after Toby Gerhart‘s return.  While we don’t trust anything in that Jacksonville offense, it appears that Robinson has emerged as the starter, and that has to be worth something.  We think.
  5. Anthony Dixon – Dixon ran for 51 yards on 13 carries Sunday after both Jackson and Spiller exited the game. It’s that paltry 3.9 YPC – not to mention his career 3.0 YPC – that makes us think it will be Bryce Brown‘s backfield going forward, although Dixon should remain in the mix as a COP and short-yardage option for Doug Marrone.
  6. Tre Mason – With Zac Stacy‘s ineffectiveness landing him in the dog house, Benny Cunningham started Sunday for the Ram’s but it quickly became the Tre Mason show as he ran for 85 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, all the while leading the St. Louis backfield in snaps played and touches. While we are concerned that Cunningham will vulture reps, make no mistake: Mason is the emerging talent in this backfield, and is a must own in all formats.
  7. James Starks – It has been three weeks since the Pack has gone to a “50-50” timeshare between Starks and Eddie Lacy. Although its been more of a 65-35 timeshare favoring Lacy, Starks has ran well racking up 133 yards and a touchdown on 32 touches. Assuming the ankle is okay, Starks should handle a similar weekly work load going forward.
  8. Travaris CadetPierre Thomas left Sunday’s game with a shoulder, and even before his exit Cadet was involved in the Saints’ offense. He ended up pulling in 6 catches for 51 yards on nine targets. Although Mark Ingram is now healthy, neither he nor Khiry Robinson offer much in the passing game so if Thomas is to miss any significant time Cadet would be called on in all passing and hurry-up situations in an offense that loves to feature running backs in their passing attack.
  9. Jonathan Stewart – Coming off of… you guessed it… another knee injury, Stewart ran for 55 yards on 14 carries as the Carolina Panthers got trounced by the Packers. Considering the score of the game, one could argue that Stewart did well for himself as he out-touched Chris Ogbannaya and Darin Reaves 15-4. Proceed with extreme caution, as we are setting the over/under for the number of consecutive games J-Stew starts going forward at one.  If Stewart is a viable option for your fantasy squad, you are in our prayers.
  10. Joseph Randle – Being the china doll that he is, you would think that Demarco Murray’s handcuff would be owned in 100% of leagues.  I mean, you’d be crazy not to handcuff Murray right now.  Well, there apparently is a lot of crazy in this world, as Randle is available in over 90% of leagues.  If you own Demarco Murray, you MUST own Joseph Randle.  It is that simple.

Wide Recievers

  1. Odell Beckham Jr. – With Victor Cruz lost for the year, Beckham played on every offensive snap for the G-Men on Sunday, playing all over the formation – the three-wide formation is the base set for Ben McAdoo’s offense – as he caught two touchdowns.  They also got him involved in the run game and return game.  He is a dynamic player and a must own in every format.
  2. Andre Holmes – Two weeks removed from a breakout game, Holmes was unimpressive Sunday as he hauled in 3 of 5 targets for 34 yards. He still remains an incredibly gifted number one receiver on a team that figures to play from behind a lot of the time, but he is a boom or bust WR3 at best. [WARNING: see below*]
  3. Cecil Shorts – Similarly to Andre Holmes, Shorts – when healthy – is the number one receiver on a team that will be behind in a lot of games. He has racked up 19 targets in his past two games and that should continue as long has he can stay on the field.  However, until Bortles develops a bit more consistency, we recommend you keep your Shorts in the drawer until it heats up a bit.   [WARNING: see below*]
  4. Allen Robinson – Robinson is making a push to take over the Jaguar’s number one receiver role and is likely on his way to that after posting lines of 8-68-0 and 4-60-1 in back to back contests. Look for his arrow to continue to go up.  We would love Robinson on a different team.  But alas, he is a Jaguar, and so we would only start him if you are desperate.  [WARNING: see below*]
  5. Doug Baldwin – After not catching more than 4 balls or going over 56 yards once this season, Baldwin blew up for 7-123-1 on eleven targets Sunday. Although this could have very well been his best game of the year, Baldwin will likely lead the WR corps of the post-Percy era in Seattle.  And as the season progresses, we  see more Russell Wilson more of the time.  That should result in a lot of targets for the MUCH lesser known Baldwin brother.**  If you are looking for a low floor guy, he will be your Doug.
  6. Brandon LaFell – In an offense historically impossible to predict, in the Pats past five games LaFell is averaging a line of 3.8-67.4-0.6, and looks just about as dependable as any New England wide out going forward.
  7. Jarvis Landry – Landry caught four passes for 46 yards Sunday and has superseded Brandon Gibson as the Fin’s slot receiver. Tannehill is excellent in the short and intermediate passing game and as Landry gets more seasoning his fantasy stock will climb.  If you have the room, Landry is worth rostering.
  8. Jermaine Kearse – Kearse is a name to keep an eye on during Seattle’s post-Percy era as he caught 3 passes for 50 yards Sunday on 7 targets. He wont provide you with week to week consistency but could pay dividends if you roll the dice at the right time.
  9. Davante Adams – Adams is still getting acclimated to the NFL but remains firmly ahead of Jarrett Boykin for the number 3 WR job in an offense that has the fire power to to support an army of wide receivers.  He made the most of his one target last week, converting it to a 21-yard touchdown reception. We still really like him.
  10. Robert Woods – Woods caught 4 passes for only 10 yards one week removed from posting a 7-78-1 line but with Sammy Watkins blowing up, defenses are going to be forced to pay more attention to him leaving more room for Woods to operate going forward.
  11. Percy Harvin – Wait, what? We feel compelled to include Harvin on this list for the sole reason of saying this: Harvin’s value will be better in New York than it was in Seattle, so if he is available, we recommend getting him. The Jets are taking a flier on the guy, and there is no denying his talent. They will figure anyway they can to get him involved, so we see his touches increasing dramatically.

Tight Ends

  1. Dwayne Allen – Allen has yet to catch more than 4 balls or go over 64 yards receiving in a game this season but has caught touchdowns in 5 of 7 games and remains one of Andy Luck’s favorite red-zone targets.
  2. Owen Daniels – At 31 years-old Daniels is filling in for Dennis Pitta rather nicely. For the season he has a line of 27-275-3 and will look to build on that going forward as he continues to get his starters legs underneath him.
  3. Clay Harbor – The past two weeks have yeilded a 9-125-1 line for the journeyman tight end, and as the story has gone for every Jaguar we have talked about, they’re going to be airing it out a lot.  But also as the story goes, he is a Jaguar.
  4. Jace Amaro – Amaro struggled on TNF coming off of a game in which he posted a line of 10-68-1. It’s going to be hard to project what the Jets offense will look like with Percy Harvin, but with defenses potentially paying more attention to Percy underneath, that could open things up for Amaro.

Plug and Play D/STs

  1. Miami @ Jacksonville
  2. Cleveland vs Oakland
  3. Kansas City vs St. Louis
  4. Dallas vs Washington
  5. Indianapolis @ Pittsburgh

* WARNING REGARDING RAIDERS AND JAGUARS RECEIVERS. Please be aware that no matchups were taken into account when performing this analysis.  Like a Bizarro Denver Offense, it really does not matter.  And let’s be honest, if you are forced into playing one of these three guys, you either are in a 16 team league that plays 3 wideouts, or your season is done.

** Doug Baldwin is not related to Alec, Daniel, Billy or Stephen Baldwin, to our knowledge.  But you have to believe the Baldwin family would happily do a Stephen for Doug trade, straight up.

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The Cleveland Browns: A Tragicomedy Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:05:28 +0000 0 Getting ready for a “Wild” World Series Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:26:21 +0000 Every sport has that time of year where its fans get excited about the action on the court, on the field or on the ice. For the NBA fan it is June. For the NFL fan it is late January/early February. For the hockey fan it is every April/May/June. For College Basketball fans it is the month of March and for College Football fans late December/early January. For track and field fans it only comes once every four years, but when it does, it is worth waiting for.

It is the same for baseball fans. Whether you live in a major league city, a minor league city/town or you are just a baseball fan; the World Series is that time of year. If you happen to be a fan of one of the two teams that have reached the Fall Classic, then that’s a bonus. But regardless of your team loyalty, the World Series is the Big Stage.

For only the second time in history we are going to see two Wild Card teams vying for the World Series Trophy (Angels-Giants in 2002 was the only previous occurrence). The road to the Series has been exciting, surprising, entertaining and much, much more. In the four Divisional Series and the two Championship Series, we have seen three sweeps and three series which went one game over the minimum. That is a sharp contrast to the last few years where we have seen a few five game Divisional Series and several six-seven Championship Series. Even though no series went the limit, there was no shortage of excitement. There were few blow outs. There were clutch homers, often late in games, often game tying or game winning homers. We saw great base running to win games (especially Kansas City). We saw great pitching both in winning (Yusmeiro Petit) and losing (Adam Wainwright). We saw aces fall apart (Clayton Kershaw, twice) and we saw staff leaders continue to dominate games (Madison Bumgarner). And still, we have the World Series to come.

Both of these teams are on a roll, both on the field and emotionally. Both had to win a “play-in” game, just to get into the Divisional Series. Both were underdogs in at least one of the series in which they have participated. The Giants are on a five year run where they are going to the World Series for the third time. Nine players on their roster (if you include injured pitcher Matt Cain) have been on all three of those World Series teams. They know how to win and they are used to winning. The Royals have been in the wilderness for almost 30 years. They haven’t made the post season since 1985, when they came back from 3-1 deficits in both the ALCS (Toronto) and the World Series (St. Louis).

The Royals tore it down and rebuilt it; more than once. This time they appear to have got it right. For a small/mid-market team, you can’t rebuild simply by writing cheques with lots of zeros behind a number. You have to be patient, drafting well, developing well and learning how to use those assets. Some of them develop over time and help you win (14 of the 25 Royals are “home-grown”). Some of them become chips in the trading game. Zack Greinke and Wil Myers, both top class major leaguers were dealt to obtain four other key members of the Royals post-season roster in Lorenzo Cain, Alicedes Escobar, Wade Davis and James Shields. Dayton Moore has done a great job and ownership supported him in his plan to restore the franchise to its winning ways of the 1970’s and 1980’s. The high draft picks are the easy ones, but those mid-late round draft picks (Greg Holland was a 10th round pick in 2007, Jarrod Dyson was a 50th round pick in 2006 and Terrence Gore was a 20th round pick in 2011) are a huge bonus. Add to that some astute Latin American signings in Yordano Ventura as a 17 year old, Salvador Perez as a 16 year old and Kelvin Herrera as a 16 year old and you have a roster built carefully through several avenues. Many ownership groups would have jettisoned their GM long before he had a chance to see his plan through.

The Giants have built their team slightly differently, also drafting and developing well, but adding some key pieces in trades over the years. In Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Pablo Sandoval, they have three players who have been the core of this team over their five year run. Hunter Pence (2012) and Jake Peavy (2014) have been key acquisitions late in a season that have added veteran leadership and filled key roles. Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik have worked their way into the team and played key roles. Converted first baseman Travis Ishikawa has become the regular left fielder and contributed with the key home run against the Cardinals in the deciding fifth game.

Both teams have their strengths. The Giants starting rotation is clearly better than the Royals’, but the Royals bullpen has been more consistent and is deeper than the Giants. The Giants have the edge in power, but the Royals have a better running game. Both teams are good defensively, each playing in big parks where defense is a must. The Royals bench likely gets the edge only because it is more versatile.

There will be some keys to the series that we need to watch out for. If the Royals can get into the Giants bullpen they have a better chance to win the series. How the Royals use DH Billy Butler for the games in San Francisco will be interesting. Butler’s only defensive position is first base, a position capably manned by Eric Hosmer. We might see Butler pinch hit for Hosmer if the Giants bring in Javier Lopez to pitch to Hosmer when the Royals are behind late in the game and/or have a chance to blow it open. We might see Butler pinch hit for one of the middle infielders or right fielder Nori Aoki, but that would mean only one at-bat for Butler as Christian Colon would come in to play a middle infield position or one of the speedsters (Dyson or Gore) would come in to play right field. Royals’ manager Ned Yost may only have one chance to use Butler’s bat in each game in San Francisco, so he needs to think through his options carefully before he inserts Butler into the game.

Winning this series is important to both teams, but for different reasons. For the Royals it is a chance to make it back all the way. For the Giants, it is a chance to win the World Series for the third time in five years and create a mini-dynasty. The Royals don’t have to win the Series to be considered a success this season, they have already achieved that. What they have to be careful of is that they are not embarrassed; lose by big scores and lose in four or five games.

Everyone loves an underdog, which leads us to think that the Royals would be the sentimental pick. However on the weekend before the series starts, the Royals are slight favourites, most likely because they have the extra home game if the series goes seven games.

Whoever wins, baseball fans will be happy. We will see a great series and one that doesn’t include some of the sport’s heavyweights and big spenders. That alone should help us enjoy the series.

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NASCAR’S Contender Round Produces Some Surprising Eliminations Mon, 20 Oct 2014 23:45:51 +0000 Sometimes, things shake out exactly how you expect them to – even if they don’t shake out exactly how you expect them to. That was the case this past Sunday in the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Confused? Let me explain…

When the new format for the Chase for the Sprint Cup Series was announced, there was one date everyone circled on their calendars – October 19. Every driver knew that if they were still in the Chase at that point and had not picked up a win at Kansas or Charlotte in the two weeks prior to Talladega, they would be leaving their championship hopes to chance.

And even though that is exactly what happened, it may not have happened to the drivers people were anticipating. While the elimination part isn’t a surprise, the drivers who no longer find themselves in the Chase for the Sprint Cup are somewhat shocking. When the checkered flag dropped on the conclusion of the Geico 500 on Sunday afternoon, it signaled the end of the line for Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr and six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.

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Absolutely Pathetic Mon, 20 Oct 2014 20:00:07 +0000 0 11-on-11: A Royal NFL Reboot Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:50:23 +0000 Don’t let my excitement over what’s happening in baseball be interpreted as a slight on the NFL or my obligation to follow it. However, it’s the Royals run for a ring, their first expedition of the sort in 29 years, that has me feeling nostalgic. That autumn of 1985 brings back so many memories, seeing George Brett lead his club to a 1-0 victory at Cleveland Stadium in the first game I remember I attending, watching a baseball game from too late the night before on our brand new VCR, and of course the Royals beating the St. Louis baseball Cardinals in seven games, thanks in large part to Bret Saberhagen.

The Royals may have gotten a nudge from the umpires, but in 1985, they were the Champions of the World. They try to do it again in 2014, hosting National League Champ San Francisco in the World Series, which begins Tuesday.

Though baseball may have been at the forefront in the beginning, seasons passed, and with it, a new passion was born. It was that year, the first of Bernie Kosar’s career, that the Cleveland Browns became a part of my life. Something those young people with memories that begin with Tim Couch and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad rebooted Browns have a hard time understanding is how spoiled I was with the Browns once upon a time. Sure, their mere 8-8 record gave them a weak AFC Central Division and they were handed a devastating first-round playoff exit, but it was only the beginning.

There would be AFC Championships and the requisite heartbreak that came with each of them, but there would also be a developing interest in the National Football League on the whole. We had the Bears incredible regular season that featured William “The Refrigerator” Perry, a playoff run that the Super Fans could have accurately predicted, and a Super Bowl that somehow didn’t feature Walter Payton, but we did witness a quarterback removed from the game for his own safety, like in terms of life and death for Tony Eason. The Patriots won three road games to earn the privilege of being beaten by the Bears like crippled salmon, something that no team had ever done before them. What followed has been almost 30 years of heartbreak, but I’d go back and do it over again in the first place. The game is so different now, but also very much the same. Today, we’ll do the Marty McFly thing and get all obsessive over 1985.

What I wouldn’t give to reboot my sports-loving life back to the late 80s, and just for the avenue to think about it, I’m grateful for these Royals as they take on San Francisco in the 2014 World Series. Royals in six, by the way; not that anyone asked me.

What I Anticipated Most

Looks like we’re back under the lights to satiate my anticipation of Sunday football. It’s not the way I planned it, but it’s the way it’s been, so kudos to NBC for picking the right games to air. Once upon a time, a few years after that magical 1985 season, John Elway led his “Orange Crush” Broncos to a Super Bowl against a 49ers team that his Denver team simply could not compete with. The tables may have turned a quarter-century later, with Elway in the Broncos’ front office, and he may have built a better team around Peyton Manning than the suits ever gave him a player.


It was a question of what 49ers team might show up, as they live life as the second-most popular team in their own city (no, not Santa Clara) in the moment. The fact is, some may be thinking the organization lost a little bit of its fire, on the heels of three straight Conference Championship appearance, starting with head coach Jim Harbaugh, who may already have his heart set on turning things around in Ann Arbor, but let’s wait and see on that. Andy Reid’s Eagles teams were also accused of complacency, having been so near the mountain top so many times. And, while the regular season can be taken lightly by a shoe-in like the Broncos, the Niners learned a year ago that the current landscape in the NFC and specifically in their juggernaut division means scratching and clawing until the clock hits 0 in Week 17.

Thank God this was a historic night in Denver, because there wasn’t much of a football after all of the anticipation. Blaine Gabbert and Brock Osweiler were the quarterbacks to finish the game, because it was over after 3 quarters with Denver up 42-10. We were all waiting to see if the Niners would surrender 3 passing touchdowns, and they did before the half. Manning’s 509th career touchdown pass went for three yards to Demaryius Thomas, who has been on the receiving end of 29 of Manning’s 510 scoring strikes.

I’ve been trying to put this in perspective, comparing it to baseball, because that’s what I’ve been talking about. Ten years ago, I might have said this is Henry Aaron’s career home run record, just to go tit-for-tat with the scoring aspect. Wouldn’t touchdowns be home runs while something like hits is more comparable with yards, since you’re talking about the means versus the end? I think I’d want to violate that logic, and put Manning passing Brett Favre up there with Pete Rose collecting more base knocks than Ty Cobb, only because I believe Manning will play long enough that no mortal will come close to catching him, even if they also pass Favre.

To give you an idea, Tom Brady has 372 and even if he’s not actually on the decline, anyone who says he has 138 touchdown passes left in him should be challenged. By the way, Broncos win this one by a count of 42-17

Thursday Is My Garbage Day

For a while there, it felt like the NFL was trying to make Patriots-Jets into a Red Sox-Yankees type of rivalry. I’m glad they don’t do that any more, because if a Boston-New York rivalry to exist, though nobody actually plays in the cities proper, it would be more appropriate to make the Giants the adversary of Brady and company. Sure, the league’s alignment makes that more Red Sox-Mets than Red Sox-Yankees, but it’s dumb to force that in the first place.

As for the game itself, despite the close final score and last minute drama, it was back to the typical garbage football that Thursday Night Football viewers have become accustomed to. In the end, it was the Patriots D-Lineman Chris Jones watching the universe balance itself out to give the home team a 2-point win on their home field. A year ago, Jones made a special teams gaffe in New Jersey that gave Nick Folk a reprieve in overtime after missing a 56-yard attempt on a little-known penalty. Folk nailed his mulligan and the Jets won 30-27. This time, Folk would be given no such opportunity with Jets victory on the line, Jones represented the jaws of defeat in blocking the 58 yard attempt.

As the final score might have indicated, the Patriots did just enough to hold off the Jets, but they spent plenty of time on Thursday night teasing them with hope. The Jets held leads of 9-7 and 19-17 during the game and had a chance to tie outside of the two-minute warning, after Geno Smith hit Jeff Cumberland for the final points of the night, but those points were not to be for the visiting Jets. However, the Patriots were only able to kill about a minute and a half after a failed onside kick attempt, and no one gave Smith much of a chance to get New York in field goal range with 66 seconds and no timeouts from his own 12. Of course it was not to be, and Rex Ryan’s team would fall to 1-6 on the year, but their young quarterback was 5-of-7 for 43 yards and gave his team a chance.

Maybe you like that if you’re trying to put a silver lining on this Jets season. By the way, these two franchises met in the AFC Wildcard Game in 1985 with the Patriots winning 26-14 at The Meadowlands, their first of three consecutive road playoff victories en route to being humiliated in the Super Bowl.

House of California Dreams

Sunday’s action in the NFL took place exactly 29 years after Game 1 of the 1985 “Show Me Series”, and Missouri’s chapters in the NFL stayed out of the way. Of course, the St. Louis team would only co-occupy Busch Stadium another three seasons before continuing their ineptitude in Phoenix, as the “Phoenix” Cardinals anyway, and those Cardinals fell to 3-4 in Pittsburgh while their baseball counterpart was in Kansas City scored four runs in the top of the ninth to hand the Royals a 4-2 defeat to take a 2 games to none lead in the 1985 World Series. Coincidentally, the Rams and Chiefs hooked up across the parking lot from Kauffman Stadium, but the Rams would still call Los Angeles home for another decade.

Funny how everything comes full circle, isn’t it? I know we’ve heard how owners benefit more from the NFL void in the City of Angels, given the leverage it gives them against their existing fan base, but the smart money says at least one team will bring the NFL back to La La Land very soon. If I’m a gambling man, I’m throwing money at it being the Rams, and if the town is big enough, possibly the Raiders too. Whether or not any of that happens, the Rams still have to deal with the beasts of the NFC West while calling the Gateway City home. That means a visit from the defending World Champs, but a dire need to improve on their 1-4 start.

It was going to take something special, some special teams play perhaps, for the Rams to knock off the visiting Sea Chickens, who figured to be fired up in the wake of a rare home loss a week ago. Sure, it’s special to see Austin Davis’s near-perfect stat line early in Sunday’s action, though it wasn’t for a lot of yards, and you can only laugh at how much a quarterback might pad his stats on jet sweep-like shovel passes, but he was getting it done for the last place Rams.

It wasn’t the Rams quarterback play that justified the price of admission in St. Louis on Sunday as much as it was the Steadman Bailey 90-yard punt return, made possible by his longtime-teammate Tavon Austin creating a diversion on the other side of the field, creating an open field for Bailey to put St. Louis up 21-3 in the first half. Austin may have signaled for a fair catch away from the ball, but Pete Carroll couldn’t make that case compelling enough to the game’s officials to achieve any kind of result. Seattle, being the winners that they are, found themselves back in the game and actually in a position to win it with a defensive stop late, holding St. Louis to 4th and 3 deep in their own territory, forcing a punt…allegedly.

The Rams punter, former high school quarterback Johnny Hekker, used his arm instead of his leg, connecting with Benny Cunningham for 18 yards to his own 36 yard-line to put this 28-26 win on ice.

Fins Drop Bears, Just Like ’85

The Rams of Los Angeles in 1985 would reach the doorstep, but they ran into a buzzsaw in Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan’s Bears in the NFC Championship. As clearly as I remember anything else from that year, I remember how dominating the Bears were that year, and how those Bears were the benchmark for what I expected the Monsters of the Midway to be, even after Walter Payton had given way to Neal Anderson in the backfield. In their two playoff games, they outscored the Giants and Rams by a combined score of 45-0, and then they beat the Patriots 46-10 in the Super Bowl. They were 15-1 in the regular season, starting 12-0 before a fateful Monday night in Miami.

Now, those Dolphins were the best team in the AFC, and they were the defending conference champs to boot, but their 38-24 beatdown of the Bears sent a message. Of course, after a monumental comeback over the Browns in the divisional round of the playoffs, the Dolphins lost to New England at home in the AFC Championship, so they never got a second crack at Chicago, which could have been a very interesting Super Bowl. Fast forward to 2014, and neither of these teams can possibly be thinking Super Bowl, but hovering around .500 this early still means you’re in the hunt.

While we don’t need to discuss Jim McMahon or Dan Marino, this one came down to the present-day quarterbacks. The Bears entered play 3-0 when Jay Cutler doesn’t throw any picks, and conversely 0-3 when he does. He also lost a fumble on a Cameron Wake strip-sack, but it probably didn’t matter with the way his Miami counterpart played on Sunday. Ryan Tannehill was true on his first 14 passes, with 176 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first half alone, he finished his team’s 27-14 victory 25-of-32 passing for 277 yards, a nice bounce-back from his 2 interception outing in Miami’s loss to Green Bay last weekend.

These Chiefs Could Be Royal

When you’re in a division that forces you to look up at Peyton Manning and Denver in the standings, you need to win every game you can, but specifically those in your own division. The Chiefs had already suffered a division loss to the aforementioned Broncos, so a good showing against the surprisingly 5-1 Chargers at Qualcomm was imperative, and also necessary. While no one, probably no one, expects Andy Reid to take these Chiefs to the Super Bowl, the expectation has to be a playoff win. The next one will be the franchise’s first since 1993, which is nothing compared to the Royals 29-year drought, but you know you’re going to start hearing the noise if Reid’s team regresses, and missing the post-season this year will equal regression in the eyes of many.

The Chargers, winners of five straight since dropping their Monday Night opener to the Cardinals, may have been looking ahead to their Thursday Night tilt with Denver, but we find it hard to believe any AFC West opponent could be taken lightly. The game was tightly contested all afternoon, but for the second time in as many years, the fate of Kansas City’s trip to San Diego rested on the foot of a Kansas City kicker. Ten months ago, in a Week 17 game that meant everything to the Chargers and absolutely nothing to the Chiefs, Ryan Succop missed the potential game-winner and the Chargers went to the playoffs. This time, it was Cairo Santos, the rookie from Tulane, and he was true from 48 yards, giving the Chiefs a 23-20 win, boosting them to 3-3 on the season.

Separating the Cowboys from the G-Men

If you’ve watched the NFC East at any point in your life, you’ll find one thing to be true. No one knows anything when it comes to the NFC East. The Giants have been an up and down team all year, hitting their low point in a 27-0 nationally televised loss to Philadelphia last Sunday. The Cowboys peaked, and some concern has been raised on the airwaves that they peaked too soon, last week with a big 30-23 win in the Pacific Northwest. History tells us not to consider any of that.

While everyone anticipated a record-breaking night in Denver, DeMarco Murray’s run at history for the Cowboys was a little less celebrated, but still involves the name Jim Brown, so pay attention. With his seventh consecutive game with a rushing touchdown and at least 100 yards on the ground, the 4th-year back from Oklahoma surpassed the Hall-of-Famer’s 56-year mark of doing it in six straight games. While Tony Romo and Eli Manning matched each other on the stat sheet with 3 scoring strike apiece, it was Murray on the 1-yard score with 9 minutes left in the game that put Dallas up 28-14.


It was a short scoring drive for the Cowboys, who only needed four plays to punch it in from the Giants’ 27 after a Justin Durant fumble recovery. Two of Romo’s touchdowns were to Gavin Escobar, the 2nd-year tight end from San Diego State. Escobar now has 3 touchdowns in his last two games, with just 7 total catches for 85 yards on the season.

Who Wants the Dynamic Duck?

We entered play in Week 7 with two winless teams and a handful of 1-win teams. Jacksonville joined the ranks of 1-15 being the worst case scenario, while Oakland had some chances against the Cardinals, despite falling to 0-6 with a 23-14 home loss. Tampa Bay was off, so they would stay at 1-5 and we know the Jets failed to pick up win #2 on Thursday night. The Rams picked up their second win against Seattle, and the Redskins made their worst case scenario 2-14 with a 1-point home win over 2-win Tennessee. I know it would be easy to send Marcus Mariota to Mark Davis in Oakland, but I still believe the Raiders will play their way out of the top spot in 2015′s draft, maybe even out of the Top 5 if Derek Carr continues to show promise.

Staying with our “like-1985″ theme, I’ll point out that the Bucs had the first pick in 1986, and took Bo Jackson, who never played a down for them. Bo knew. He chose another year of baseball at Auburn before signing with the Raiders in 1987. It’s interesting if it isn’t Mariota at the top of everyone’s draft boards, because there’s a two-sport athlete at Florida State that could take a similar route. Anyways, I still believe it’s Lovie Smith that gets the quarterback from Eugene with the #1 team.

They’ll see the Vikings, Browns, and Redskins over the next four weeks and might get a quite apathetic Saints team at home in Week 17. I don’t know how they won in Pittsburgh, but I think those four opponents might yield a single victory, but that’s where hope lies for Tampa Bay to avoid picking first in May.

Actual Worst Game

We gave Cincinnati a long look for a second straight week for this distinction, but even a 27-0 loss on the road ot the Colts in their first game after a dismal 37-37 tie doesn’t trump the egg their upstate neighbors would lie in North Florida on Sunday. You want to say all of the right things here, that Jacksonville had a good defensive gameplan to stop the Browns rushing attack, that rookie quarterback Blake Bortles earned his first NFL win, and good for the Jaguars avoiding the history that a zero in the win column at the end of the year might bring. While I believe Bortles will be good some day, and that the Jaguars front seven played sound fundamental football against the Browns taxi-squad offensive line, Cleveland showed their fans how capable they are of playing Shurmur-ball.

Browns Jaguars Football

Former Michigan quarterback, now the Jaguars starting running back, Denard Robinson had 127 yards and a touchdown on the ground to lead the way in a 24-6 win over the Browns, who fell into a last place tie with Pittsburgh in the NFC North. Bortles threw two interceptions to Browns safety Tashaun Gipson, which Cleveland only turned into 3 points, failing to get the ball into the endzone for the first time all season. The story of the game can be told by the Browns side of the box score, the league’s #3 running team was held to 69 yards on 30 carries, while the sudden hometown hero Brian Hoyer was just 16-of-41 passing for 215 yards. A week ago, the Browns lost their Pro-Bowl center Alex Mack, and it showed on the stat sheet this week.

Dirty Laundry Award

The Saints were penalized 12 times for 134 yards in their 24-23 loss to Detroit. They were very sloppy in this game, continuing to negate the theory that they’re very good in any dome, when the truth is that they’re very ordinary, indoors or out, away from the Superdome. They were able to rebound from most of Sunday’s dirty laundry, but twice, on pass interference calls against Brian Dixon (31 yards) and Rafael Bush (3 yards), the Lions had their drives extended due to the flags.

For the Degenerates

If you ask their fans who don’t think beyond six Super Bowl rings, a 31-10 loss to Cleveland in Week 6 is rock bottom for the Steelers. Fire everyone, right? At 3-3, even with the losses to Tampa and the Browns, that’s a bit premature. Houston has been adequate, but nothing special on offense so far. Caesar’s has Pittsburgh as a 3-point favorite at home, and that feels so perfect that I’d go with Houston if they were getting an extra half-point and I’d like the home team if they were giving a half-point less. If you can’t bet the push, I’d reluctantly take Pittsburgh. The total point number is 44.5 and I believe there will be enough defense to stay under that mark.

Random, Perhaps Even Unimportant

Baltimore, a city without a football team in 1985, had no problem with Atlanta, a city that doesn’t care any of their present-day local teams, let alone the Falcons, on Sunday. The once-dominant Atlanta offense was held to four first downs in the first half and allowed a second-half safety when Terrell Suggs sacked Matt Ryan in the endzone in the Ravens 29-7 victory. With the Browns and Bengals going down on Sunday, they now sit comfortably atop the AFC North at 5-2.

The Bill signed Kyle Orton off the couch this year, and while they’re all-in play for Sammy Watkins on draft day still might raise an eyebrow or two, Buffalo is 4-3, just a game behind the Patriots in the AFC East. Orton, who (seemingly) played his college ball at Purdue in the early-80s was happy that Watkins was in the fold, or at least his touchdown pass to the rookie from Clemson with 1 second left would suggest they aren’t interested in giving Cleveland a marquee-pick in the first round of next year’s draft. It took a 15-play, 80 yard drive that included a 4th and 20 conversion to give them a 17-16 win over the struggling Vikings.

Since telling the good people of Green Bay to relax, all Aaron Rodgers has done is lead the Packers to 4 straight wins, including Sunday’s 38-17 trouncing of the Carolina Panthers, throwing 13 touchdowns against no picks along the way.

In a game between two awful teams that somehow lost out on being the Actual Worst Game of the week, a Chas Whitehurst v. Kirk Cousins slopfest was spoiled when Jay Gruden called Colt McCoy out of the bullpen for the Redskins in their 19-17 win over the sub-par Titans. McCoy was 11-of-12 for 128 yards in the second half for Washington, but the stat-padding assist of the week goes to Pierre Garcon for his 70 yard catch-and-run to inflate the dink and dunk numbers.

If Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor can provide a 1-2 punch in the running game that fans in the desert haven’t seen since the Cardinals moved to Arizona, it’s going to take a lot of the burden off of Carson Palmer and open up the offense for Bruce Arians. Against the Raiders, Ellington had 160 yards from scrimmage and Taylor, the second-year back from Stanford added 59 in the Birds 24-13 win in the Black Hole.

Next week, our Garbage Day game features the Chargers and Broncos, which may or may not give Denver some separation from the pack in the AFC West, a “rematch” of Super Bowl XX when the Bears visit New England, Ravens-Bengals Part II, and a desert showdown between this year’s last two unbeaten teams. Arizona and Philadelphia each only have that one blemish on their record, but the ’72 Dolphins got to uncork the champagne in early October this year.

42 years later, Merc has but one memory in his entire life.

Also, if he’s that obsessed with being the only perfect team, former Dolphin Mercury Morris needs to get a life.

Lastly, am I the only one that watches this Peyton Manning Nationwide spot, and think of other things Manning would say to the tune of the catchy jingle, like “I’m so much better than Eli” or “You should eat at Papa Johns”?  Just me?  That’s cool, I embrace being strange.

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Pitch Clocks in MLB Are a Baaad Idea Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:00:01 +0000 If I were to list out the things that I hate about MLB, it would look something like this:

  1. PEDs
  2. XXXX
  3. The N.Y. Yankees
  4. The Detroit Tigers
  5. The San Francisco Giants
  6. The Oakland Athletics
  7. The N.Y. Mets

The mysterious “XXXX” from above can be filled in this way:  Whining ninnies who are incessantly looking to find fault with the greatest game that has ever been created.  I simply cannot stand these people at all, and if not for all of the PED cheats who continue to thrive in the big leagues, the ninnies would be a run-away train for the top spot.  As it is, there is a Grand Canyon-sized cavern between the ninnies and the N.Y. Yankees, which is saying something considering the amount of hate I have for the Yankees.

The Whiners most recent attack on the game I love is an oldie, but a goodie:  games are simply too long.  In response to the groundswell of uneducated persons who have made these complaints, MLB continues to test the idea of a pitch clock in this year’s Arizona Fall League.

Theoretically, the pitch clock will quicken the pace of the game, which is necessary in our fast-paced world where the population in general seems to have the attention span of small-brained goldfish.  Of course, the same people who are promoting the pitch-clock-will-shorten-games theory are the very same ones who propagated the thought that instant replay would help make sure every call on the field is right (and wouldn’t increase the amount of time a game lasts, either.), and we’ve all seen how that has turned out.  They’ll also insist that there absolutely is no PEDs problem in MLB, and that changing the rule about blocking home plate was the best idea since instant replay came along.  Buyer beware is my only warning, I guess.

When I wrote about the this issue last year, I had this to say:

The fans and media who clamor for shorter games miss the beauty and the strategy of the game.  It is their loss.  I think that true baseball fans enjoy the game, understand the different parts of the game that are strategy and gamesmanship, and also get the role that each plays in determining which team ultimately wins.  Fans who don’t get that, I have no idea why they bother feigning interest.  Watch your ESPN-approved highlights, look at the box score, and call it a day.

Another way of looking at the length of the game, at least from an on-field perspective is the one put forth by Jeremy Goodwin (Joshua Malina) in the second episode of Sports Night:

In other portions of the episode, he has discussions detailing how the pitcher and the hitter are having a battle, and that every part of it is important, which led to his 8:30 long highlight.

I feel the same way about the game, regardless of the thought processes of those who have more important things to do.

I do find it strange that it is only baseball that pundits and fans seem to have a problem with the length of game.  Football games are scripted to last no less than 3 hours, despite the fact there are only 60 clock minutes of game, for a grand total of 12 minutes of game action.  Lorenzo Cain spends that much time in a typical game making highlight reel catches.  A 48 minute NBA game often stretches well past 2 hours, and most games center around a guy dribbling at the top of the key waiting to clear out so he can throw a brick up with two seconds left on the shot clock1.

Of course, if the announcer has it right in this clip, then the proposed rule will not have much of an effect on the pace of the game.  As explained, if the pitcher comes to a set, then he has met the requirement of the rule, and only need either to throw the ball to the plate or to a base.  Given that I would suspect that most times that a pitcher is ‘delaying’ the action on the field, it is because there is a baserunner, I fail to see how this picks up the pace of the game.  Expect a lot more throws to the bases in the coming season if this rule goes in to effect.

Of course, if everyone was genuinely serious about speeding up games, they’d do what I suggested last year:  eliminate replay and limit the amount of commercials.  Of course, this necessitates a downward spiral in revenues, which theoretically2 would mean less money for the broadcasters, owners, and players, but if it’s what the fans really want, then they should get it.

Otherwise, they should shut the heck up, pop open a cold one, and enjoy the game.






  1. I realize I’m overgeneralizing with regard to the NBA, but the game became so terrible, I have for the most part stopped watching.  If the game has actually improved to the point that teams outside of Texas and Oklahoma are worth watching, please let me know.
  2. What would actually happen is beers would cost $12, hot dogs $8, and scorecards $5.
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The BSK Says Podcast #43: Cleveland Browns, What Was That?! Mon, 20 Oct 2014 06:37:17 +0000

Kendall (@TheBSKSays) does a quick recap on the disaster that was the Browns vs. Jaguars in Jacksonville on Sunday, October 19th.

The BSK Says with Kendall Lewis: RSS (audio)iTunes (audio), Stitcher, TuneIn

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The Playoff – Welcome to the Season Where Everybody Gets a Trophy Mon, 20 Oct 2014 00:43:21 +0000 0 Jenson Button: Is This The End? Sun, 19 Oct 2014 16:15:11 +0000 The 2009 F1 world champion, Jenson Button or 2014 rookie Kevin Magnussen, may lose their seat at McLaren if Alonso replaces one of them as suspected. In terms of seasons completed, Jenson (at only 34) is the joint 7th most experienced F1 driver of all time yet still possesses the reactions and fitness to out-score his rookie teammate. Magnussen joined McLaren as a rookie and the media half expected him to be the “new Lewis Hamilton” and take the F1 world by storm – especially after an impressive 2nd place at his first grand prix in Australia. Since then, Jenson has been quietly collecting the points to get a 94 to 49 lead over Kevin. Some may argue that Magnussen has had poor stewards decisions against him and this is true, but Magnussen has only finished ahead of Jenson twice this season out of the 14 races where they have both finished.

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Is the Chris Pronger Situation Unethical? Sat, 18 Oct 2014 13:00:47 +0000 The NHL season is in full race mode as we have seen a full week and a half of hockey played and there have been several stories in full effect early on. One of the biggest stories that is being talked about in hockey is not about a current player but of a former player; Chris Pronger.

For those of you who remember, Chris Pronger started his NHL career for the Hartford Whalers in 1993. He then went on to have a great career playing for the Whalers, the St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks before finally ending his career with the Philadelphia Flyers. It was a career marked by greatness and controversy as he was a six all star, a two time Gold Medal winner with Canada in 2002 and 2010, a Stanley Cup Champion with the 2007 Ducks and also the first person to score a penalty shot in the postseason with his goal against Cam Ward in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals for Edmonton.

He created controversy by being suspended eight times in his career including infractions for hitting someone in the head, stomping on an opponent’s leg and kicking an opponent. The irony here is the new job that Pronger just received; he had been hired to work for the Department of Safety for the NHL. He will report to senior vice president of player safety Stephane Quintal. The only problem here is that he is still under contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Chris Pronger as seen in the press conference has joined the Department of Satefy. (Images by

Chris Pronger as seen in the press conference has joined the Department of Satefy. (Images by

Pronger has not played in the NHL since 2011 because of concussion like symptoms. He has not yet officially retired because he has been attempting a comeback. Each comeback has led to disappointment and it was only recent that he decided to stop trying to make a comeback. In the meantime Pronger has taken on a role as a scout for the Flyers helping them improve their team. However, with this new position comes some complicated questions and Pronger has been hearing it from everyone.

“You’re kind of beating a dead horse to be honest,” said Pronger when asked about the position and his relationship with the Flyers.

Including this season, Pronger is being paid $5.15 million for the next three years. The Flyers will not release him because they will not receive the $4.9 million cap relief that they are receiving and the cap room to replace him. Pronger disputes any questions of integrity.

“I am not disciplining anybody,” Pronger said. “That’s not my job. That’s Stephane’s job. I’m merely a sounding board for him to have another set of eyes who has played three years ago under the new rules, under the new system.”

According to Pronger, he will not be discussing any Flyers related incidents or infractions.
“I am excused from any and all-Flyer related issues,” he said.

So that brings the question, is it ethical for Pronger to take a job while still being on a team’s payroll. Contrary to what Pronger said, he will have a slight biased outlook when executing his new position and it would be incredibly difficult for him to not have biased outlooks and opinions. The other question on this matter is why do the Flyers have to owe him any money or take a hit if Pronger officially retires?

I am going to state for the record that I have no problem with Pronger working for the NHL. They have made it perfectly clear that he is not going to be deciding on any issues related to the Flyers. So it is something that can easily be comprehended if one pays attention to the rules and what the league is saying. What I do have a problem with is the fact that the Flyers are legally indebted to him financially when Pronger is not able to play.

When the new CBA was created, a big rule was enacted that gave players, especially those whose careers end due to injury, a big advantage. As part of compliance rules, clubs that choose to exercise compliance buy-outs must pay the buy-out amount over the remaining term of the contract. This is a big statement as it allows all contracts to be paid in full regardless of whether the player plays or not. The fact that the Flyers owe Pronger money is ludicrous considering his career is basically over. The National Hockey League gave their players all the chips in the bargaining war and allows them to raise their contracts as long as it fits within the salary cap.

Pronger hoists the Stanley Cup that he won with the 2007 Anaheim Ducks. (Jeff Cross of Getty Images)

Pronger hoists the Stanley Cup that he won with the 2007 Anaheim Ducks. (Jeff Cross of Getty Images)

Those of you reading think I hate Chris Pronger. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I am and always have been a big fan of Pronger as he helped the Anaheim Ducks win a Stanley Cup in 2007. I have written objectionably about him in the past and am not afraid to criticize him but in this case I feel it is not an issue that he has a new job with the NHL. However, the CBA needs to be altered to prevent retired players from collecting money that is owed to them due to contract obligations.

Contracts are a two way street and while teams have to honor a contract they sign when they receive a player’s services, the team that is paying out the money needs to be able to rescind or take back some of the money when the player they are paying does not perform the full length of his services. I would be in favor of a retirement package that allows a team to pay a portion of the contract owed to the player while saving some of the other part of the contract to use on other players without taking a cap hit.

I wanted to cover this issue because it was the first big issue the NHL has had this season. We are a mere 10 days into the season and most fans are talking about this along with how their favorite teams are doing. It’s going to be a long season and I am sure this will die down. The CBA was signed until 2022 so Pronger probably will not be the first player to have his career end and still be paid by the team. Regardless of his new position, expect more chatter and controversy as soon as the first suspensions are announced for the infractions that will follow.

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Media Focus on Tony Stewart Once Again Misguided Fri, 17 Oct 2014 19:15:42 +0000 You can’t fix stupid. This could not be any truer than in the case of some people in the national media trying to cover and report on stories that happen in NASCAR.

Last Saturday night in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, there were plenty of stories to be reported – both on the track and off. As drivers were in jeopardy of falling in the standings and facing possible elimination from the Chase for the Sprint Cup, tempers flared and emotions boiled over.  There was drama during the race, during the cool down lap, on pit road and even more between the haulers after the race.

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