Monday, December 31, 2012

Keeping the Kids Attached: TV or Cards?

In the English language, it's quite easy to refer to children as "kids." I know it's a cardinal sin because I know "kid" should only be in reference to a young goat. However, I'm an informal blog, so I will use "kids" and "children" interchangeably. Deal.

Writing a post like this hit me in the weirdest way. I just realized that I don't really follow these two things enough anymore: card collecting and Nickelodeo--I mean, "Nicktoons." When I was younger (note, I'm 22, so let's say ten years ago) I thought card collecting was pretty cool. I did the big ones like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh and if I look hard enough I'll find some old Topps cards of washed up MLB and NFL folk somewhere in my closet. I was also pretty hip on the cartoon scene, watching stuff on Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon before the 5,000 digital channels of cartoons existed.

While doing some research last night, I recognized two things: most practices of sports card collecting is rather dead in various areas of the country except in small circles and towns, and there are more kid-centered television shows (live-action and animated) that center around sports. The Saturday morning shows and 5,000 cartoon channels are taking advantage of the dearth of an older fad, giving children the ability to find out more about their favorite team or have a favorite player. Don't get me wrong, the Internet really helped a lot of people out in that department, but in an age where Parental Controls still take hold in a family's household, the television is the only surefire way a child could get valid information about things they may be interested in.

I saw a preview for this show last night, and I had never head of it until now. It's a series called NFL Rush Zone. Apparently this show is already in its second season and it's relatively popular, even featuring voices of real athletes and officials.

I'll admit...the concept is pretty cool. If I were still ten or eleven, I would most likely watch this show. "Not the big screen!" Ha ha. You silly Texans.

There are also various segments you'll find on broadcast networks' cartoon blocks that will feature big-name stars depending on what sports season is going on at the time. I have seen a few of them over the past few weeks featuring Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III, and that's a pretty good segue to get kids into the sport and the players that grace the television sets week in and week out. When the NFL season is said and done, you'll most likely see more NBA faces and the resurgence of MLB players as well. It gives the athletes more of a "superhero aura" to them as they're inspiring little kids and giving them advice on how to stay strong and healthy and help them in their journeys to be like them on the field.

That's cool and all, but other inspirations came before this.

Before the powers and abilities of television and various technology came into play, kids found other ways to worship their favorite players/teams and rub their favorite team or player into the opposition's faces. I'm talking about sports cards. Saturdays would consist of kids going to their respective mom-and-pop stores to pick up the newest pack of cards and show it off to their friends. Heaven forbid there was a decent rookie card in the pack, right? Then the kid would have to hide the thing to prevent getting beat up and having the precious card stolen. Today, there's a chance that some of those said cards are worth a lot of money; however, there's another chance that it might not even be the case anymore.

The main issue that I noticed while doing research was that the trading card business hit such a peak in the late-80's into the mid-90's that more card companies came into the fold and began flooding the business over the capacity. Think of it this way: the trading card business worked like a cactus back in the day--it only needed a little bit of water to flourish, and it was kind of cool to have around. Then, Hurricane Greed flew by during the peak and flooded the cactus, practically killing it. Because there were so many brands of trading cards at that point, there was no excitement in having something rare and valuable because there were five or six other brands like it and gave the rare item barely any value. Sure, there are brands of cards that are deemed "the real deal" in the eyes of collectors, but if I were a young age and saw that someone else had a LaDanian Tomlinson card (regardless of brand), I'd be pretty mad. Today, people see this as a dying hobby that few people would find useful or worth any sort of cash.

This is what today's kids are turning to. It almost makes me want know, cry a little.

It's as if the intimacy of the hobby is what died. Kids today might think that card collecting is filled with uber cheese and that 1960's poindexters are the only people who really collect trading cards these days. Just like in Fantasy Football, it's like you own a part of the player when you have their card. Plus, it's also fun to look at certain baseball cards and see how old or bulky the player got throughout the years. It was just something cool to have and something cool to show off. Today, children get their fix of their favorite players on television and don't really have much to show for that.

See what I'm getting to here? Sure, you might have an advanced form of YouTube 30-40 years from now, but a card is something you're always going to have and be able to hold. I don't know if kids still appreciate that sort of thing anymore. Believe me, if I were that age again I would be able to tell you. But from what I know, unless if I do some field research myself, it's pretty ambiguous as to what the children of today would much rather own: trading cards in their hand or trading cards on their digital tablet [I seriously almost gagged after typing that]. Technology is going to break, but something simple as a card can be taken care of, and it can keep kids attached longer and more efficiently. It's not like there's going to be another advanced model of cards that will come out six months after the current model is released. Thinking about it now, after studying the ideas of the media and technology, I come off as a person that really hates it--and there are often times that I sincerely do.

I embrace the idea of spreading the ideas of sports to cartoon form and such, but those things are just temporary fixes and attachments in my eyes. Owning and trading cards is always something more intimate and memorable. When you trade or collect, you make more relationships with friends and other people you don't know; believe me, it's a lot more than what you can do sitting in front of a television screen and watching the show on your own or maybe with a parent or another friend.

Sports should bring people together and give them arguments. It shouldn't alienate them.

What do you think keeps children attached in the long run? Do you think the dying hobby of card collecting and trading is more effective than sports cartoons in the grand scheme of things?

Happy New Year, y'all.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

The 2012 Army/Navy Game - A Whole New Adventure

Last Saturday, December 9, 2012, was one of the coolest days of my life. Call me weird, but before that day, I had never attended a football game. Not even a high school football game. You may say that I was a deprived child, but the only games we would ever go to in my family would be baseball games because there were six of us and it was cheaper that way. Don't get me wrong, I've been in a football stadium before, but I had never watched a game, but this game I went to was special. It had a lot of sentimental meaning, and I am so glad that this was a first.

My Dad was in the United States Navy, and he (most of the time my Mom) and several of his buddies from the Navy would go to the Army/Navy Game every year or so. For those who swear by college football, you know how crazy things can get with fans. My Dad would go nuts with facepaint (and if you knew him personally, you wouldn't be shocked about this) and based on things that I had seen the day I had attended, there were tailgaters having shot contests (I do not make this up). Because my Dad passed away in October of 2011, we had wondered if we were ever going to experience these games again.

Lucky for us, my family and I do not live too far from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, which is the halfway point between the Naval Academy and West Point. Before Lincoln Financial Field was constructed, a lot of the games were played at Veterans Stadium, which was literally a dump. A lot of us can remember when the stadium literally started falling apart during the game. Every couple of years, the game would be played in various places, like East Rutherford, NJ, Baltimore, MD, the DC area, and they were even played out in California many decades ago. This year, we all decided that we would attend this game as a family, and we all pitched in money to buy tickets, and a couple of weeks later, we got our tickets to the Army/Navy Game in the mail.

The day came, and it was rather exciting. Of course, parking was a nightmare. The cool part was that while we were waiting, the team buses were riding by. We honked of course. We made the super long walk over to the stadium, and out of boredom, my brother and I did our own harmonized rendition of the National Anthem. What else were we going to do? It's America's Game, for cripes' sake. I like to think we can carry a tune efficiently together, even when I'm laughing mid-song. Anyway...

I took photos of the event, but to be honest, my iPhone was having a massive off-day, so you can tell we were virtually in the nosebleeds (next to last row).
It's the thought that counts, though. 
What fascinated me the most was how people treat this sport like a religion. Each squad had their own sets of "spirit videos" and they were absolutely hilarious.

Here's one from Army:

Here's one from Navy:

They were all pretty good--these are just two that I found that were shown that day. They kind of remind me of my video-making days from my recent time in college.

One thing they did before kickoff was a "card stunt." This was one of the things that I wanted to blow off before we even did it. I'm like: "Well that seems lame," and other people were probably thinking the same thing. Then this happened, and I won't lie, it was pretty awesome.

The kickoff happened, and right off the bat, Army just ran the ball constantly until about halfway through the third quarter. Navy mixed things up a little bit throughout the game.  The one thing I'll admit that sucked because it was my first game were the constant "media timeouts" that were heavily scattered throughout the game. At home, I would at least see a cute commercial, or use the toilet in the comfort of my own home, or not spend $5 on hot chocolate that was a wee bit strong. But no, it was kind of cold out there. The projected temperature was 58 degrees, and it was far from that. Because we were so high up, it was more like...40. Luckily I brought my Navy throw blanket (which was bought at the Army/Navy soccer game over two months ago) and some of us stayed warm.

Army was up 13-10 for most of the second half, and it actually looked like they were going to get their first win since 2001. Because Navy had a hard time with Army's running game, it looked like my first football game was going to be a bust.  However, a 40+ yard passing play and a run into the end zone got Navy back into the game at 17-13. With less than two minutes to go, Army had to make a mad rush to score a touchdown. Because there was a missed Army field goal in the third quarter, seven points were needed to win instead of three. They kept faithful to their run and the occasional surprise pass and managed to make it to the 16-yard line. Fourth-year Trent Steelman, Army's quarterback, had the game (literally) in the palm of his hand. However, the trade-off was fumbled and Navy recovered, ending the game.

I don't think I ever screamed and jumped that much even when the Phillies won the World Series. That was the craziest finish to a football game I've ever seen.

My whole family hugged each other and jumped and screamed while all of the Army fans started leaving. Because we know how bad traffic can be, we decided to leave before each squad sang their Alma Mater. Don't worry, we still heard it, and we walked away feeling kind of bad for Army because they were so close to singing second.

The way back was surprisingly calm, as we were going the opposite way of everyone else. That never happens either. I guess everything went in our favor that day. After a big family dinner, we called it a night. And then we went home and passed out for the next two days because of how exhilarating the experience was.

I am so incredibly glad that this was the first football game I ever went to. The excitement to the people that barely had an idea of what the Army and Navy did ("I wonder how many ships Army has compared to the Navy." I could not make this up.) to all of the cadets and midshipmen jumping around during various parts of the game, I couldn't have asked for a better time and a better adventure with my family.


You will be able to find my photos from the Army/Navy Game in the PHOTOS section of the blog before Christmas. As a Christmas Bonus, you'll be able to find pictures I took in September from the Army/Navy soccer match as well. As you can tell, I'm armed forces out this year.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Red Whines: The Race Card, Fifty Years Later

Let's get this out of the way: I am a Caucasian female. I have many friends who are African American.

I don't know about you, but I know that there are people out there that own the philosophy that you are allowed to pick on your own color or race and if anyone else does so, well...that's "racist." Needless to say, the absolute reverse of this happened on Thursday.

I have my own opinions of this guy I'm about ready to talk about, but right now my opinion doesn't matter.
If you watch ESPN you know exactly who I'm talking about.

ESPN analyst Rob Parker was a part of ESPN First Take on ESPN 2 Thursday morning, and as they were talking about Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (a.k.a. RG3), Parker starts questioning RG3's..."blackness," or whether he was [something along the lines of] a "cornball brother." The idiot got suspended indefinitely by ESPN for saying this, by the way.

What? Is it legally acceptable to critique someone's race now?
Yes, it's ironic that this is a black man, but this isn't the reason why I put this here.
Whoa there, buddy. Are we bringing unnecessary things into question here?
Oh, it gets better.

This is quoted from what he said:
"He's not real. OK, he's black, he kind of does the thing, but he's not really down with the cause. He's not one of us. He's kind of black but he's not really, like, the guy you want to hang out with because he's off to something else." (Thank you, YouTube...)
I have three logical questions for this statement:

  1. What, to you, is real?
  2. What is this "cause" you speak of?

That last question almost makes me put Rob Parker's lifestyle into question, but that's beside the point. He also mentioned subjects such as RG3 being engaged to a white woman and that he's a Republican. Something tells me that Parker must really not like this guy. It's like he tried so hard to give reasons to hate the guy and be different.

It's like I'm going to give a few reasons why I hate Alex Morgan. Firstly, she's a Morgan, so that must mean she descended from a bunch of dirty Brits--or Irish, and they can be some dirty drinkers. Secondly, soccer isn't a real sport to some people, so she's not even an athlete. Finally, didn't she pose in body paint a while back? Doesn't that make her a pig somehow? I'm not trying to be inappropriate here, I'm trying to get my point across. Yeah. I love this woman. It was hard for me to just do that, but did what I just say sound absolutely ridiculous to you? That's pretty much what Rob Parker did on Thursday.

This brings my main question around: Is race still arguably the biggest issue still looming in sports today?

In my opinion: Abso-freakin'-lutely. 

Don't get me wrong, this isn't applicable in all sports, but I hate to say this, it's seen more often than it should be in sports like American football. Pop Quiz--how many black quarterbacks have won a Super Bowl? ONE. Black quarterbacks are sometimes thrown behind the 8-ball because they just haven't been seen to be as successful as the white guy in the pocket. [Interestingly enough, Doug Williams was a QB for the Redskins.] You might also see little hints of racial issues when it comes to mishaps off the field (i.e. arrests and incidents at clubs) and arguments of the "oh, it's because he's black" start popping up. Did anyone say "oh, because he's white" when Ben Roethlisberger started getting jiggy with the ladies at nightclubs and afterward? No. Not from what I've heard in circles. Race is just a stupid first excuse for people nowadays. I'm pretty sure guys like RG3 will wear a Super Bowl ring someday, and I know that there are numerous white guys that are super excellent at playing basketball.

It's not just the athletes that get these race cards thrown at them. Coaches get it too. Earlier in the NCAAF season, Jon Embree, head coach for Colorado, was fired for not being able to get the team fit for winning games. People around football brought the argument that he wasn't given enough time to turn the team around and he was chopped so quickly "because he was black." Oh, not this again. While I do think he wasn't given enough time at all, I don't think race should be brought to the forefront. Again, it's another lame excuse. The team has had problems for years and years and years, and one guy is not going to fix a team overnight. It doesn't matter that he's black. It matters that he wasn't give a decent amount of time to rebuild the team.

It just upsets me that even fifty years after the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, race is still a major issue, and minorities still think that majorities are revoking them of their rights. At the same time, minorities are criticizing each other because it's not "how they do." We all may be a different race, but that doesn't mean we're bound by it! Who cares if RG3 is conservative? He has his own opinion--good for him! I don't think that means he's completely against Obama (who is a black man). I'm not going to hate him and call him "not black" for that! Stereotypes are going a little too extreme now. It's disgusting.

The last time I checked, we're all free, and we all have the same rights in this country. Race shouldn't be an issue in that, and it definitely shouldn't be an issue in sports. Sports are supposed to bring people together. Even FIFA recognizes this:

Not only should athletes abide by this, but analysts and fans alike should take heed of this. Stop making dumb excuses and think of an even better reason to disapprove of somebody.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Tainted Fame

There was a lot of baseball buzz around on Wednesday because of recent announcements of who was eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot. I not only was amazed by how much time has passed since these men retired from the game, but by how much of an uprising there was because some of these names were still on the ballot.

I need Rod Roddy for this one.

It's implied that after all names are stated they have a "come on down" after them.

Craig Biggio! - 19-year career, all with the Houston Astros. Touting 3,060 hits and leading all-time in being hit by a pitch, he's noted to be one of the greatest players to ever be a part of the Astros franchise.

Mike Piazza! - 15-year career spanning over five teams--most notably with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets--with 12 of the 15 seasons as an All-Star. He has a lifetime average of .308 and has the most home runs all-time for major league catchers with 427.

Curt Schilling! - 19-year career with five teams--most notably the Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Boston Red Sox--and is a three-time World Series champion. He has a career 3,116 strikeouts and a 3.46 ERA. Bloody sock.

Sammy Sosa!

Roger Clemens!

Barry Bonds!

Whoa whoa whoa. Wait. First off, it's been five years since some of these guys played? What? My college years went that quickly??

Anyway, yes, the big hubbub was that the last three guys I mentioned are eligible for Hall of Fame voting. For those who live under a rock, these three are the biggest guys under the PED radar. Sammy Sosa was known as being one of the biggest hitters of his day and was also known for his slug-out with Mark McGwire (who I will mention later on) back in 1998 for the quest to break Roger Maris' single-season home run record--which in my mind still stands because the numbers afterward weren't naturally achieved. He was targeted for allegedly using steroids (originally it was believe he had used cork in his bats) during his tenure with the Chicago Cubs, and has since denied allegations that he had ever used illegal substances. Roger Clemens had a 20+ year career in the majors, winning seven Cy Young awards and becoming one of the biggest-known threats ever in the pitching game. However, toward the end of his career he was accused of steroid use, leading to one of the longest (and most irritating) court cases pertaining to baseball drug use. After mistrials and not guilty pleas for perjury, he was found not guilty. Barry Bonds, also a player that put in over 20 years of work, also came under fire during his hunt to beat Hank Aaron's all-time home run record of using steroids. In fact, I wrote about his cases a long time ago. To be quite honest, he's been knee-deep in legal issues and I don't feel like typing it all out. Trust me, it's complicated. Save the research for a rainy day.

Apparently since there's three of them that are on the ballot at the same time it's a sign of the times that there are going to be questionable individuals eligible for a prestigious Hall of Fame from here on out. Their gameplay may have been tainted during their tenures on their respective teams, but if they're still being acknowledged for their previous feats, there shouldn't be any love lost, right? I'm not entirely sure if those BBWAA is going to take their drug allegations into consideration, but if they do, it's going to be an ugly voting process that's sure to bring controversy.

What I don't really get is that they didn't make this big of a deal over it when Mark McGwire finally became eligible for HoF voting in 2006. Now he's the hitting coach for the Cardinals Los Angeles Dodgers. He was more obvious than a forehead zit when it came to the steroid scandal, and they didn't blow up over it. Then again, he was kind of overshadowed by all of the other players that had much more illustrious careers than he did. It's understandable that there's a big pink elephant in the room because the guys that were blacklisted at one point on this list had incredible careers before their "choices." It's as if they're in the semi-Shoeless-Joe situation where they're almost guilty by association and may never get the chance at immortality because the court may never know the extent of what they did or how involved they were in the matter. Who knows? These three guys may actually have never been involved in anything and may have just really bulked up and changed their diets as they got older. No, really--don't you notice that they go under scrutiny once they started getting older (after 35)? Maybe they got bulky because of age and injury and their dietary regimen needed to be adjusted. Again, I can't speak for them, but their credibility is incredibly blurry because of the drug scares plaguing the sport today.

If I were the top three men on the eligibility list that I mentioned, I would be a little worried about my place in the voting. Considering that they had careers that were practically clean during the steroid-scare era, I would hope that they don't have any bitterness or feel gypped if they get outvoted by someone that was under scrutiny for a very long time. However, there is a time period of eligibility, and seriously, based on the stats you see next to their names, I'm more than certain that if they don't get in this year, they'll definitely be in the next year or the following year. I see these guys' names and I even think to myself, "Whoa, they're in for sure," but only two (in rare cases even three based on supplemental voting) get in each year. I guess we'll have to see who wins out, tainted career or not.

This voting season is going to be a very interesting one. Hopefully all aspects will be looked at and we're going to see a fair look of who will make it to the Hall of Fame and be forever immortalized in Cooperstown.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What We Can Learn from Sports Stupidity

No, I haven't neglected the blog. I've been researching the field. Yeah. That.

Several issues that have plagued the sports world over the past month have included the numerous team issues that have been eating the Los Angeles Lakers alive, and the fact that there still isn't any hockey yet. I, along with many other people in the U.S. (and Canada), hate the latter. Despite this, do not fret, my dear people! I would think that all of this should be taken as a learning experience, right? Think about it; every time we screw up, we try to make it into a learning experience so we do better next time. Why don't we take stuff that we're familiar with--these two debacles--and make them into learning experiences for ourselves? Sure, we might not have nearly as much money as these people, but we can at least put them into layman's terms.

Let's open up our texts to the book of AnimaniacZero, chapter 11, numbers 1-5...

It could always be worse.
Let's just get this out of the way right now. We're all thinking that it is that kind of worse for NHL fans, but as it stands, let's just be thankful they're still negotiating. Of course, a big chunk of the season is lost along with the boatloads of revenue that would stem from the games now lost is a big hit. However, we need to practice some positive psychology in the fact that there is still a league and they still want a season. It may not happen this year, but we can at least hope for a stronger CBA (and maybe a wiser person unlike Gary Bettman). Believe me, it sucks, but um...there's YouTube, and Dailymotion, and all that other stuff! Relive the dream years! Yeah! That's the spirit! It's not new, but it's positive! Go forth and be happy people!
In the case of the Lakers... you could be the Philadelphia Eagles right now. Yes, hometown, I'm going there. You could have named yourselves a "dream team," (wait, you might have done that in some way), lost a boatload a games (which you have), fired a lot of people (I see a trend here), but is your whole season in doubt?? NO. I don't think you guys are on pace to be this year's Charlotte Bobcats. There is enough time in the season for chemistry working and soul searching among teammates. Why are you so worried? It could always be worse.

Do not bite the hand that feeds you.

I believe Bill Cosby as Cliff Huxtable said it best: "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out!" C'mon people, we know how the media works. They can spin you around so much to the point where they can make you Superman or they can make you Satan. Mr. Kobe Bryant, sir, you do not tell the media to shut up; you have to keep the people engaged in what is going on with you, otherwise, we will shut up and not care about you anymore. Am I right about that one? Thou shalt not have a cruddy attitude toward people that shape you. Why? Thou shalt dig a deep hole for oneself, that's why!
In the CBA war, from what it sounds like, it's as if the owners refuse to budge and give enough wiggle room for the players to really accept anything. Owners, these men are your true moneymakers. People pay to see these people, and these athletes (the lower-tier ones at least) deserve a little more of a salary after taxes. We all can't be Oprah Winfrey, guys. We--the fans--are feeding hands too. Don't bite us because you're not getting exactly what you want; we just might hate you a lot and not be willing to dish out as much support. Remember '04 and all of the fans you lost? That could happen again, fellas.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
C'mon guys, like....yeah. You're making me work too hard these days to find a good topic to write about. Quit quarreling and give me something to write about other than senseless complaining and finger-pointing. It's old stuff, and we all know how we hate hearing things repeated to us millions of times. I understand that this isn't my official job, but I enjoy doing it. Give me something that will make me put down my knitting needles (dead serious) and Devil May Cry HD Collection and make me a happy noodle. I feel like a woman asking a guy to commit here, and believe me, I think we're all at the point where we're bursting at the cranial seams trying to make light of the lousy NHL situation. We're getting through it in our own ways though...yes?

There is no number four.
You know how there was always that one typo in the book and everyone in [insert subject] class laughs about it and makes a pointless joke and moves on from it? We can do that about these things someday and tell our kids about it so that when they experience it (hopefully never) they can try to find a way to make an attempt to pity laugh at it and move on somehow.

Additional hobbies not including drinking and drugs are always available.
As we sit here and twiddle our thumbs to wait until the smoke clears, we have to find other things outside of the sports realm so we don't try to throw anybody into walls. Like I mentioned earlier, I took up knitting instead of waiting for hockey to come on at nighttime. From what I've learned about sad times, it's best not to dwell on the fact that your team is doing terribly or your favorite sports league is locked out because you're going to get overly depressed and it will snowball into something like this: "Oh man, the LA Lakers are doing so terribly and look at this stupid spare tire on my gut! I'm never eating again--UGH why did I eat that pizza? MY BROTHER IS SO STUPID HE STOLE MY CD--" You see where I'm going with this. Let's not get angry over something that will soon be resolved. We all need periods of rebuilding after stupidity. Let's sit back and take a few breathers before we start throwing things.

I won't lie, I learned a lot from these things. I might think too much about silly things, but if you look at number three, you can honestly see that I've had a dried up well of ideas and this was flopping around the bottom. Then again, sometimes when you talk about these things with people, you almost sound smarter than some of these players and owners. C'mon, you have been at that point. Don't lie. Smile. Armchair analysis might not always work, but it could kill a couple hours with friends, family, and social networking. (ha)

Let's get through this with our learning experiences and get some CHRISTMAS ACTION IN DECEMBER! WHOOO!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

The NFL Midseason Slant for 2012-2013 - Mid-Life Crises

Thrills and chills, twists and turns, replacement referees, really lousy throwback uniforms and many more hits and misses have been the call for this season so far. However, it feels like we've only just begun this season. From here on out, this season will be incredibly fast and Christmas will be here before we know it.

I am proud to announce that there are no winless teams in this first half! Wooo! When was the last time that happened? Numerous teams have been fighting for the top spot, and there are some that just won't let it go. It sounds like one big rat race that everyone puts on face paint for.

Oh, the mid-life crises that some people go through.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is the NFL Midseason Slant for the 2012-2013 season.

This is for all teams prior to November 8. If you're reading this and the Colts/Jaguars game is on, that is your problem.


East Division

New England Patriots (5-3) - Who's shocked? Not me. This team is known for the powerhouse offense under the reigns of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. The pass defense is a little shaky at times, but the offense (nine times out of ten) makes up for the unfortunate events. All in all, the team as a whole guarantees good showings regardless of winning and losing. I really can't write anything else about this team that you don't already know...I mean, you readers know football, so you should know about the Pats. The end.
Miami Dolphins (4-4) - Although they're what you call a "middle of the pack" team, there's a lot of room for improvement in this team, and even if their peak doesn't happen by the end of this season, it will definitely happen next year. Ryan Tannehill has so much potential, and that defense is an awfully big surprise considering the defensive woes the team once had. They could be a dark horse for the Wild Card this year.
New York Jets (3-5) - This team shouldn't be hard to talk about; their QB woes headline much of ESPN's broadcasts, right? Their team issues are rather obvious, and it shows a lot in their play. Aside from that crapolla, Guys like Shonne Greene are lighting up the run, but it sometimes shows for nothing when the defense has less-than-stellar outings. I have an idea: let's get some group therapy with Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan. Maybe something good will come out of the offense this second half.
Buffalo Bills (3-5) - Alright, don't get me wrong, their offense is not that bad. Ryan Fitzpatrick already has fifteen touchdown completions in eight games, and running back C.J. Spiller is having a fun ride in his position. There problem. Their defense is bad at times. Like, really really bad. There are way too many big plays coming out of the opposition, and teams who thrive on the run laugh at these Buffalo boys. Their schedule is a wee bit easier from here on out, so we should expect some breathing room for these guys.

North Division

Baltimore Ravens (6-2) - Ray Lewis is hurt and it is very saddening that he is hurt. Now that I got that off my chest, let's talk about the rest of the team. The offense looks a little more crisp than in previous seasons. Joe Flacco doesn't look like much of a wuss in the pocket against stronger defenses anymore, and I like that. There's still strength in the run, and the defense still looks ripe (yet in an older way) despite the loss of Lewis. The schedule looks a little tougher for these guys so this could be a rough road, as they had some really scary-looking victories in the past few weeks.
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3) - I don't know how this happened, but guys have been getting hurt and they're still not doing that badly. Their defense is leading the NFL against the pass, and that's without the flying mane of hair going downfield. On the offensive end, a lot of the guys are younger, lesser-known folk, so that area needs a little room for improvement and growth. I'd really like to see this team with everyone healthy. Their second half would be super fun to watch if that happened.
Cincinnati Bengals (3-5) - They try. They really try. I just wish they didn't just play certain drives or quarters, because they could be worth a lot more than what you see at face value. Andy Dalton is having a 'meh' season, and newer guys are trying to wiggle into new and/or broken-into roles. Too bad their running game isn't effective (sorry, BenJarvus) because the next couple of D lines in the future could turn into some wins in the running game.
Cleveland Browns (2-7) - I like to think that I know some stuff about football nowadays, but...who are these guys? We have a lot of rookies and no-names on this team, and their lack of experience and a big-named figure may be hurting the team a little bit. Although I've just said that, I do give a bit of props to Brandon Weeden. At the age of 29 and in his rookie season as a starting QB, he's a real trooper and he tries makes the most of what he's given. Too bad that's not a whole bunch.

South Division

Houston Texans (7-1) - Defense certainly wins games in Houston, that's for sure. Arian Foster is being an absolute beast as usual and Matt Schaub is doing a fine job as quarterback. Any team that plays both sides of the ball efficiently is a good contender for the Super Bowl, and hopefully that sticks. What else is there to say but the fact that they are a bonafide favorite?
Indianapolis Colts (5-3) - Aww yay for these guys. After having an abysmal year last year, their first pick in Andrew Luck was a breath of fresh air. These guys have been consistent on both ends, but injuries among other woes have been little killers for this team. I'd like to see these guys go far, especially after that nightmare from last year.
Tennessee Titans (3-6) - I swear...Matt Hasselbeck has to be cursed or something. Wherever he goes, it's like the team dies on him or something. Jake Locker doesn't do so badly when he comes in for the save. It's just a shame that the defense can be a total nightmare. Some of their wins have been high scoring killers, and that alone ins a poor sign in itself. Let's just finish out the year, boys. Get some good draft picks and start fresh next year.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7) - Eww. Like...seriously eww. With statistically the worst offense in the NFL, it can't get any worse for these guys. I remember years back when they were a pretty rotten threat, and now it's possible that a peewee team could beat these guys. I do sincerely feel bad for Maurice Jones-Drew, possibly the only shiny thing on this team. I personally think some of the higher-ups need to go, This is a dead season for these guys.

West Division

Denver Broncos (5-3) - Well, I'm assuming John Fox and John Elway are quite pleased. Peyton Manning's offensive squad has one of the more formidable lines in the NFL, and the defense is doing their part to keep the opposition at bay. One thing you'll notice, however, is that their losses come from the titan teams: the undefeated Falcons, the Texans, and the Patriots. That should automatically tell you that they need to start proving that they can become a titan team themselves. They have the artillery, they just need to pay $200 to pass GO.
San Diego Chargers (4-4) - Injuries and lack of communication may be the main reason why the Bolts aren't playing entirely at their A-game week in and week out. Philip Rivers isn't having the worst of seasons, and lucky for him, the defensive line is picking up the slack for them. After having a rough first couple of games, things seem to be getting better for them. Hopefully they'll get out of their .500 rut and run for something sweeter.
Oakland Raiders (3-5) - Injuries and a shaky offense led by Carson Palmer could be the bane of the Raiders' existence right now. Their defense is middle of the pack, so there aren't very many woes on that side. It's just bad that there are often big mistakes made during the game and ultimately hurts chances of pulling out a victory. Big adjustments will need to be made on the defensive line so that further issues will not ensue.
Kansas City Chiefs (1-7) - I'll get it out of the way right now: the only shiny thing I see on this team is Jamaal Charles, and that was when he ran through the train-wreck defense of the Saints. More on that later. Aside from that, there's no holding the opposition from scoring, and we all know why Matt Cassel was Brady's backup for the longest time. Sure, the receivers might not be top-notch big names, but sometimes the QB--as the leader of the team, so to speak--could be the cause of the troubles on the offense.


East Division

New York Giants (6-3) - After winning four of the last five, it looks like Eli and company are hitting their stride and fighting to prove why they deserved to win the Super Bowl back in February. Although they have been fighting through injuries, they're looking to not live on the past, but make a new future. Their defense might not look as scary as it did last year, but with their bye week approaching next week, they should have a good enough rest to fine-tune everything.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) - For those who have been paying attention, Michael Vick has not been playing up to expectations. While the team has boatloads of promise, their lack of points on the board on top of the turnovers week in and week out are really hurting them. On the bright side, their defense is not doing so badly.From this point forward, five out of the next eight games are divisional, and if they can't survive that, bad things will happen. Worse than the Santa incident.
Dallas Cowboys (3-5) - Dallas is one of those underrated teams that haven't been clicking on all cylinders as of late. Romo has been doing an excellent job but hasn't been getting much attention...then again, this could just be me being ignorant outside of my fantasy leagues. One thing you notice is that even though they have a good staff, there are still a lot of chinks in the armor that could really screw them up during the game. They could make a run for the Wild Card, but that would mean they have to work as a unit.
Washington Redskins (3-6) - RG3's rookie season has been an average one, and he's showing how versatile he can be as a quarterback. Problem is, the defense isn't making life much easier for him, as well as the rest of the squad. The thing is, you can tell they are fighting as their losses are rather close and that the defense isn't always as bad as they sometimes can be. There's hope for these guys. This week's bye week could be just what the doctor ordered here.

North Division

Chicago Bears (7-1) - DA BEARS look awesome this year. The defense has been consistent so far this season, and they have definitely been helping out the offensive cause. Jay Cutler is having a rather good year year, and Matt Forte has been pushing through as well. Despite their blip against the Packers, they've been a strong force and a good favorite for the Super Bowl. Here's hoping they don't catch the injury bug. It's still early for that.
Green Bay Packers (6-3) - Fact: Aaron Rodgers has thrown 25 touchdowns in their nine games so far. Holy moley. They almost don't have a running game, but whatever they're doing on offense is totally working out for them. However, there are little hits and misses on special teams and defense. They've had good marriages in staffs so far, but the Division (or the Wild Card, in this case) will be harder to achieve if they can't stay healthy and quit their penalty love.
Minnesota Vikings (5-4) - The Vikings may be a tad bit streaky right now, but they have been doing a lot better compared to previous years. The running game can be very strong if Adrian Peterson stays healthy. Then again, everything would be hunky-dory if everyone was healthy. Christian Ponder will need a bit of a boost in his position if he wants to make a better name for himself outside of that frozen tundra that is Minni.
Detroit Lions (4-4) - Fact: Matt Stafford is an awesome quarterback. Fact: this team has beyond poor chemistry. After starting out 1-3, it seems that they're getting their lives back on track. The Lions have been well-known for their intimidating (and outspoken) defense, and even then there were a lot of problems in management and on the offensive line. Sure, last place isn't a spot for a .500 team, but consistency is going to be key for this team in the future, especially with their upcoming schedule.

South Division

Atlanta Falcons (8-0) - AWW YEAH. I like seeing this. This has been a monster team in the making. Ever since Matt Ryan took center stage at QB, good things have been happening. It's good to see massive backs and receivers in tow as well. The defense is also tank-like; their average points against are one of the lowest in the NFL. Although they have a somewhat easier schedule on the way, it shouldn't be taken lightly. These guys have NFC Championship game written all over them.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4) - The Bucs are a good mix of talent on offense, but sometimes the defense doesn't like to show up to said occasions. The defensive pass game is pretty poor, but they're a bunch of stellar walls up front. If Freeman doesn't get the job done during their drive, Connor Barth picks him up on special teams. I like their stuff, but it stinks that their record doesn't reflect that.
New Orleans Saints (3-5) - Oh my GLOB, this defense is ridiculously painful to watch. C'mon, you have Drew flippin' Brees as your quarterback and nobody can tell how much of a powerhouse he's been in as usual because you've been so godawful. Good offenses are ahead. Who Dat nation, take cover. This second half could get ugly.
Carolina Panthers (2-6) - Alright, let me get this out of the way...Cam Newton is like Michael Vick from almost 10 years ago, but he isn't afraid to run the ball out. Injuries are sort of hurting their team as well. For the rest of the team, they're a really screwed up looking situation that I can't even type out in a coherent statement. Management really needs to get tossed around a bit, because whatever they are doing right now isn't working at all.

West Division

San Francisco 49ers (6-2) - Aw man, this defense won't let up in the least bit. They've picked up where they left off last year, and they're looking to go back to the playoffs. I'm aware that Alex Smith isn't the most elite of QB's, but that's where runners like Frank Gore come in. These tools have been incredibly effective, and hopefully the rush keeps working. The losses they had were tough, so let's hope they've had enough learning experiences to take them to the end of the road.
Seattle Seahawks (5-4) - Yaaaaay special teams. With that said, they're at least getting points on the board. Their defense is highly underrated too. Marshawn Lynch is yet again proving his worth out on the field. Problem is, there are a lot of injuries on the squad, so that's sort of a crutch they have to use for the next few weeks. Things should get better for them, however.
Arizona Cardinals (4-5) - This is a case of good defense, but practically toilet-worthy offense. I almost feel bad for them because they have Kevin Kolb (a former second stringer) and John Skelton (well...). They've been rather lucky as of late, but their schedule is looking nasty, so things could get ugly for these guys.
St. Louis Rams (3-5) - I don't know man...they can't catch a break. It's bad enough to get spanked in London, y'know? Sam Bradford is a good quarterback, but just surrounded by an ultimate lack of help. They don't have the best of schedules coming up, but hopefully they can finish out on a good note.


And that about does it for me in this first half of the NFL season. Hopefully there will be more exciting action (and more posts on my end) in the future. Things are heating up and races look incredibly tight. Hopefully these mid-life crises will end and we'll have some cool grandparents after the next couple of weeks.

Until next time...


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sports, the Better Debate

(I haven't written in over three weeks because my schedule is a little thrown off right now. Plus, I'm talking about politics. This could get ugly.)

Monday night (in the United States, at least), three big programs were on last night: Monday Night Football between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears, Game 7 of the National League Championship Series between the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals, and the third and final Presidential debate between U.S. President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. Regardless of where you were at any time between 8:00 PM and about 12:00 PM EST, your TV may have been on with one of these three programs.

As a lot of you might know, tens of millions of people have been watching these debates. This time wasn't any different, but it wasn't any better either.

"Report: Nielsen says an average of 59.2 million viewers watched the 3rd debate, down from 67.2 mil for 1st and 65.6 mil for 2nd."

The third presidential debate was going against one of the highest-watched NLCS playoff games and Monday Night Football, which had ratings of 2.4 and 4.5, respectively. Combined, that alone amounts to about 15+ million viewers that had not cared about the debate at the time. Then again, people think that if you've heard something once, you'll hear it about 15 more times.

What I'm trying to get to here is that during this election year in the United States, big things that bring America together didn't falter. I think we can all remember that after 9/11 came and passed, baseball and football got a lot of love and patriotism, especially the Yankees since they were in the World Series that year. From what I've seen, when the U.S. is in peril, people will come together and find piece of mind through sports and leisure. C'mon, what is the best way to relieve stress? Music and physical activity!

Here's another point. Now, don't read this out of context. Like I said above, when a man (or in some cases, a woman) is elected to a government position, you don't exactly know what they'll do or how they will execute something until they actually get that seat. When you watch a sporting event, you'll see something more decisive and proven as the teams will duke it out until the end of the game. That's just my philosophy on that anyway. Plus, when something comes down to leadership of the country in a democracy, it's left to the We the people, and there are times when not everybody knows the facts and will just vote for someone to make a personal statement or just to say that they voted. When it comes to something like sports, in this case football, you will have We the people rooting for something they are more familiar with and don't watch it just for the sake of watching it. Believe me, I think more people know how the game of football works than most current events involving the economy and foreign policy. Most people will find this statement sad, but I'm not shocked that it's true among some demographics. Sometimes we have to wonder what our purpose is in life, and sometimes when things get overly complicated, we tend to turn our minds off to big matters like politics and more leisurely matters like sports.

For one thing, they do say that the two worst things you can talk about to people is religion and politics. Why? You can alienate people. At least when you talk about sports and you have a Yankees fan poking at a Phillies fan, you can at least agree or something like the fact that you guys most likely hate the Mets too.

On a night like tonight, we don't have to worry about politics. For me, I've got Hurricane Sandy knocking at my front door. However, I'm guaranteed some football and Game 4 of the World Series. When I'm on Twitter, I'm more than happy to debate about sports because sports is so vast and we're all entitled to some sort of opinion. In politics, on the other hand, you see other people or other people see you as being right, wrong, or misinformed.

This is why, if I ever get into journalism, I would rather do sports than politics. I'd rather be appreciated for sports analysis instead of political opinion.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

The MLB Postseason Slant for 2012 - Halloween Havoc

I'm reppin' the WCW just because I'm unoriginal.

I guess WWE owns this logo now. Thanks, you guys.

Sweet baby Jesus. Did ANY of you guys bother watching baseball despite the fact that there is so much more going on with the NFL and NHL? I salute you! You have obviously watched a ridiculously close AL West race, a crazy-amazing NL Wild Card chase, and a hullabaloo of players striving for the top titles in MLB. Yesterday we saw Miguel Cabrera become the first man in 35 years to with the Triple Crown (AVG, HR, RBI) in the American League and watched the Oakland Athletics beat the odds and win the AL West despite having a pretty darned low payroll. Oh, we've had fireworks indeed. After numerous changing of the guards in the leagues (as well as some dismissals of managers), we're back in postseason in good 'ole October fashion. The question is, are we ready?

2012 MLB Postseason

You can actually tell this season that the first half might have been slow for a lot of these teams this year. The second half had a lot of twists and turns, and for the first time in a while, we have two teams in a division that has lost more than 100 games. Have fun in the AL West, Astros! Ha. Anyway, let's take a look at the now ten teams that are fighting for a spot for glory. I didn't forget about the individual winners, you sillies. I'll make my predictions there too.

National League Contenders

Washington Nationals (98-64) - Being a person with a team in the NL East, writing this team's name was incredibly weird to write. Why? In the past six seasons before, they never really had a legitimate chance due to every team that isn't the [Miami] Marlins. Now, with a strong starting rotation (where's Stephen?) and some flashy bats from ROY candidate Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond, Roger Bernadina, and many more, this now healthy squad is looking to make leaps and bounds in their first postseason since their rebirth as the Nationals. And, like I've been saying for quite a while, old Expos fans are still crying.

Cincinnati Reds (97-65) - I have legitimately never doubted Dusty Baker's squad since 2010. I'm serious. These guys look good all around the field. Their pitching staff is as dangerous as ever, and we've got great utility and situation hitting coming from all ends of the park (Joey Votto, yes. Brandon Phillips, yes.) What's amazing is is the fact that their staff has stayed healthy for the most part this season. Hopefully that's no reason for them to burn out in the first round.

San Francisco Giants (94-68) - These guys made me extremely nervous in the first half. They just didn't look like they were going to get anywhere with the injuries and other issues plaguing the team. Buster Posey picked up where he left off before last year's disaster and is putting up MVP-like numbers, and the fielding has been crisp and precise enough to keep opposing hitters at bay. Oh, and that Matt Cain guy? He's a threat. I'd like to see him pitch a lot in October.

[Wild Card] Atlanta Braves (94-68) - Quite poetic, if you ask me. They make the Wild Card in Bobby Cox's last season as manager and they're back in a Wild Card spot in Chipper Jones' last season in the hot corner. The question is, will it be different? The offense and the pitching work in great harmony game in and game out, so even though they don't look like they're the strongest team on paper, don't let that fool you. They could give plenty of beatings this month if they advance out of the Wild Card round.

[Wild Card 2] St. Louis Cardinals (88-74) - Oooohhhh it's the comeback kids! After their underdog World Series title win, they're back here with pretty much the same squad in looks (no Pujols to be seen here) and in feel. Only difference is, the management is slightly different, and the fact that they're back again even under new management is impressive enough. Guys like Matt Holliday and Kyle Lohse are having impressive seasons and look to lead these guys to a repeat. Let's just hope the guys above them don't prevent that from happening.

American League Contenders

New York Yankees (95-67) - Again. Anti-Yankees fans, they're never going away. There's Jeter, there's Cano, there's Swisher, there's Sabathia. C'mon, it's getting kind of hard to write about these guys because what they're doing is effective and that's why they can keep coming back. Even with Mariano-saurus out of the equation this year, they haven't collapsed. This is just more for anti-Yankee fans to hate this team even more.

Detroit Tigers (88-74) - Man, I don't know about these guys. They'll probably surprise me, but their squads need to play more in sync with each other. Prince Fielder has had a major resurgence and Miggy Cabrera has solidified himself as the monster of this team, and Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer have been workhorses for the team. I'm serious. They need to surprise me and make it to the next round unscathed for me to take their Central win seriously.

Oakland Athletics (94-68) - Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill did not get these guys here. Money didn't get them here, either. I know, that's cliche of me to say, but that's what makes this so impressive. Most of the men on this team aren't big-named players and even some of them were dumped by bigger teams because they weren't given the proper chance. Frankly, I'd love to see these guys shut some people up. They could do it too. Their pitching is great (Keep getting better, Brandon!) and their hitting is literally hitting the peak of their stride. I like their chances.

[Wild Card] Baltimore Orioles (93-69) - You can rub your eyes all you want. These guys are in postseason for the first time in what seems like literally forever. Forever as in about 15 years when Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. still played for the team and a bunch of losing seasons dwelling in the basement with the Tampa Bay [Devil] Rays. Their bullpen is effective and their clutch hitting is pretty stellar. I'd wanna see this team do incredibly well even though there may be some jitters that will come with the territory.

[Wild Card 2] Texas Rangers (93-69) - Well, even if the Second Wild Card didn't exist, there'd still be a one-game playoff for these guys. After their "collapse," for the lack of a better term, these guys shouldn't be counted out even though the A's had caught up to them. Their overall staff if still relatively strong and has a lot of playoff experience compared to a lot of the other teams in the playoffs this year (no, really, they do). Lack of sync between squad may be an issue, and if it's gonna come down to a one-game playoff, they need to work as a team. What's gonna work? Teeeeamwork.


Individual Winners

NL MVP - Buster Posey (San Francisco Giants) - If you're looking for a good comeback story, look no further. After suffering a massive broken ankle last year, he's been the most effective player in the National League all year. A constant threat in front of the plate and behind the plate, he's a shoo-in for this year's honor.
Next best possible candidate: Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates)

NL Cy Young - R.A. Dickey (New York Mets) - This guy has been absolutely impressive this year. As the lone knuckleballer in the major leagues, he's been doing what men of his craft do best: screwing up every swing possible. He made a lot of the Mets games fun to watch this year, and even though there were a lot of ups and downs in the team this year, he's a good candidate for the award this year.
Next best possible candidate: Gio Gonzalez (Washington Nationals)

NL Rookie of the Year - Bryce Harper (Washington Nationals) - This was a tough prediction. Although he has the temper of a teenager and--wait, he still kind of is a teenager, isn't he? Never mind. He's got a spark and a knack for playing good ball, and he's proved all of that in his rookie season. Grant it, I love Wade Miley too, but they rarely ever give a non-pitching award to a pitcher unless if they're Justin Verlander or something.
Next best possible candidate: Todd Frazier (Cincinnati Reds)

AL MVP - Robinson Cano (New York Yankees) - Yes, children, I'm picking a dark horse to win this. He's having arguably the best season of his career and not giving him any sort of mention would be kind of awkward on other people's parts. Sure, you've got Miguel Cabrera winning the triple crown, but you've got Cano who has also been a stellar infielder making great plays along with his excellent hitting feats. Postseason could actually help his cause too. Who knows?
Next best possible candidate: Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) [Yeah I went there.]

AL Cy Young - Fernando Rodney (Tampa Bay Rays) - I know I'm not going to get away with just saying he has a 0.60 ERA and is one of the most effective closers in the game today. But really, he hasn't been the strongest-looking of pitchers, which makes this prediction a strange one for most people. He has the power of Aroldis Chapman (an NL CY candidate) but the age and record of a pitcher on the downturn of his career. Weird, right? Not really. This could be the sign of good things to come for him, this being the first step.
Next best possible candidate: Justin Verlander (Detroit Tigers) [Sue me.]

AL Rookie of the Year - Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) - One word: DUHHHHHH. I really don't think I need to explain the inhuman season this boy (YES, a boy, he's younger than me, for Pete's sake) has had for this team. He's garnished more talk about the accomplishments he's made more than most of the other players in the running for any other award presented this year. Could he be MVP? I don't necessarily know if he should be put in the same conversation yet, but he's definitely the man with the plan this year.
Next best possible candidate: In paraphrasing Bryce Harper, this is a clown statement, bro.


That about does it for me. It felt weird not trying to avoid bias since the Phillies aren't in the playoffs this year. In any case, this should be an interesting October, and I'm looking forward to watching everything unfold beginning tomorrow.

See you at the end, baseball fans.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Red Whines: Too Many Lockouts

Made in MS Paint. Based on "Too Many Babas."
At midnight Sunday morning, the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement expired, and the third NHL lockout in 20 years began. Many of the fans, as well as the players, had fears that this was going to happen. There was so much fear in this, they worked on starting negotiations earlier than originally planned. In fact, they started talks since around the time of the Stanley Cup Finals. They had more than two whole months to figure out what to do, and with all of the issues of some of the owners not showing up for talks and some of the players being split on what is being requested and asked for, we've pretty much seen the beginning of North American hockey's version of World War 3.

Right now, Gary Bettman is hockey's most hated man. After being named commissioner in 1993, he's been a part of all three of these lockouts, and fans are blaming him for these labor stoppages. He's mainly being blamed for not being able to control both parties; in turn, he doesn't care about what the fans think, because he allegedly states that "everyone is entitled to their own opinion." Cool by me, I guess.

Even former hockey players are baffled by the fact that the players and owners knew how complicated the negotiations were going to be and didn't think of starting CBA and labor talks even earlier than July. Former player and current commentator Jeremy Roenick (@Jeremy_Roenick) even said this on Twitter:
"Its a sad day for hockey fans. I just wonder why they didn't start negotiating a year ago. What a way to destroy a leagues momentum!"
He is absolutely right. The NHL just started getting their whole fanbase back, and what happens? The same thing that lost them in the first place. At this rate, the most faithful of NHL players are going to say to heck with it, play in Europe and Russia, and never think of coming back. It just really looks ugly for North American hockey.

With those statements aside, I have to get this off my chest.
This could have been avoided.

Another lockout like this just goes to show how badly things have to change between the front office, the owners, and the players. There's obviously a poor relationship throughout the league and there's barely any supervision or strictly enforced rules around the league. Heck, don't we all remember what the NHL was like before the canceled 2004-2005 season? There were salaries and taxes that matched and looked like the disgusting-looking contracts some overpaid baseball players make today. The inmates were running the asylum, so to speak. The bleeding was stopped with the CBA that was ratified in the summer of 2005, but not everything was settled in that CBA. Issues that still persisted was free agency, contract amounts and extension policies, and the shares between the players and the owners. With all of the bickering going on, it's like democrats against republicans times two because there are far lefts and far rights in both groups. The players and the owners themselves need to get something agreed on before they can actually negotiate a new Agreement. This league is arguably the least disorganized and united league in the world. Let's not joke around--it's true.

You almost wonder what the heck they were doing in the months prior to negotiations. What, were they just picking their noses and/or sitting on their hands the whole time watching Teen Mom? There were some groups that agreed on some beliefs that should be incorporated into the renewed CBA, but did they really talk to their respective teams about it to warm them up to what could happen? There's no such thing as talking to your employees (the athletes on your owned team) to the owners, and there's obviously no such thing as the players and coaches meeting with the front office to check the "stocks and bonds" as it were. There's so much separation in the league that it looks like the parents versus the kids. At this rate, it's going to take several weeks before a real deal is made.

For the time being, people, just buy NHL '13. I really don't think there is going to be a season this year because the players and owners have been stuck at square one since July. If they haven't budged in two months, this is going to be a long lockout.

They stink.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reffin' Ain't Easy

I can't tell you how many tweets I'm still seeing on how "terrible" the officiating was last weekend during Week 1 of the NFL season. With the Packers playing the Bears tonight, it could only be invigorated. For those who are completely out of the loop, the NFL referees are actually victims of a lockout right now, and the NFL currently has what I like to call "rent-a-refs" in their place until at least Week 5 of the season.

What worries me is that stuff like this is going to go on through Week 5. Why? People feel like these "replacements" are not qualified for this job. Even the players may agree with this statement. Just watching some of the games last week gave me a scratched up scalp wondering why there were so many lousy and missed calls. Guys like Aaron Rodgers are even saying that the games were frustrating to play because even some of the obvious calls were missed. This call below was one of the ones that have been heavily disputed on by analysts and citizen journalists alike. This was originally a holding call but was overturned, resulting in a Green Bay punt return touchdown.
Credit to NFL and FOX Sports

Another issue is that people are just going to get angrier and angrier. If these "rent-a-refs" don't clean up their act this upcoming weekend, the credibility of the league could be slightly lower than usual after the following games. Sure, Roger Goodell is praising the referees, but at the same time, he's not shelling out $16 million for these replacements. This is the major issue that I wanted to get to in this post. This whole lockout could ultimately lead to a changing of the guard. Yes, it's rather plausible. I could pull out two real-world examples and what I said could actually make sense. These examples were "strikes," per se, but these arguments are for the same reason: money and working conditions.

A lot of you may already be familiar with the ongoing strike with the teachers in Chicago. A lot of the teachers have salaries spiking over $70k a year. They want more and they are being refused more. Because of their refusal, they are on strike, keeping 700,000 children out of school for the time being. If these teachers don't come back, these kids will be in school for a rather long time. If the NFL is not on track with these replacement refs and a deal isn't made in time, the season could definitely in a bind, and the players could be suffering a lockout of their own.

However, this could get a little more extreme. Here's my other example:

Back in 1981, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) went on strike requesting better pay, better working conditions, and alterations in working hours. In their absence, replacements were hired to continue the air traffic control in the United States (because truthfully, these guys are extremely important and must be around for pilots and planes). Then because of this crazy strike, Ronald Reagan wouldn't have this anymore and whipped out a...
...and wound up firing all of the workers on strike and just hired the replacements and other qualified workers. Also, these fired patrons were banned from coming back (this was later lifted and some workers came back five years later). Sick, right?

This could be a large application as to what could happen in the NFL. If a truce isn't made or a deal isn't reached, these veteran referees could ultimately be given the pink slip and told to try again later. These replacements could actually be given the job, and after a few years, the other refs could have a chance to come back and redeem themselves, despite the possibility of competing for a smaller salary than they once had. This could be pretty extreme, but it's possible, and dumber things are currently happening in the world of sports. (More on that in the end.)


There's the saying that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," but in a case like this, the recession is tough, and sometimes the referees may actually make a little bit too much money even though the game is placed in their hands to some extent. Don't let the other stuff that they do outside of football fool you, there's that one muscly ref (the name escapes me at the moment) who actually does law in the offseason and works out afterward. They may take up additional hobbies that keep them occupied during the offseason and might not necessarily do it for money. However, there are other guys out there that would kill to do their jobs in the time being and be paid for significantly less than what the actual guys are being offered.

Technically, the referees only work six full months out of the year and make a pretty hefty sum in about 25 weeks time. This is why it's a massive problem for the big guys in the NFL front office aren't the biggest fans in pumping up their salary. They're not in constant strenuous activity as the football players themselves, and there really isn't a time limit on how long they can stay in the business. From the way things are looking, the front office either wants some change or they want to make a statement in keeping the referees in place. It's looking rather ugly from this end, seeing that there is no mention of a deal being made anywhere.

In my opinion, there has to be some middle ground made, as well as some sort of policy for these guys when it comes to compensation.  Don't get me wrong, I'd kill for a $200,000 salary for working only six months, but any more than that to me would be highway robbery. I don't exactly know what these guys want out of life, but salary shouldn't be fought over. That's just me.

Football fans, start praying for some right calls and no more lockouts.


Speaking of lockouts...there's another disgusting-looking one that could possibly happen this Sunday.
Check back around then for the latest installment: TOO MANY LOCKOUTS! WHEEEEE!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

No Mercy

You had to see the photo coming after the title. Yes, Sensei?

Alright, I know this is late, but I had to figure out a way to explain my cause and such. This particular kind of topic is something along the lines of taboo or absolutely unnecessary nonsense. Honestly, the beliefs on this vary from sport to sport, but you have to admit--there had to have been at least one time where you had thought about it.

Okay. Look at this score.
I bet you're probably looking at this and saying: "Wow. That's a shame. It must have been painful to watch."

Then, you see this score.
And the first thing that goes through your head is...

Right? In my opinion, that just looks worse than any of the U.S. Men's Olympic Basketball scores from a couple of weeks ago. It also reminds me of a joke my Dad used to say that went along the lines of: "You won the game? What, the other team didn't show up?" The coach from Savannah State was quoted as saying that the game could have been much worse. Sir, I don't think that could have gotten any worse than it did. It was like watching the [insert legendary NFL team here] decimate the neighborhood peewee football team.

In particular levels of the sport, they have what is known to be the "Mercy Rule" in order to prevent absolute blowouts and embarrassment of the losing team. If you had watched the Little League World Series between Japan and Tennessee, you saw it go into effect after ten runs against Tennessee. I remember playing softball and being on either end of the Mercy Rule at times, and I think it enforced sportsmanship among the players and coaches. In retrospect, I wish they did that for my basketball team from ten years ago; a girl on the other team who was the best player heckled me and she deserved a roundhouse kick to her snaggle-tooth. See? It's not fun getting your brains bashed in by another team, especially when there's an obvious mismatch.

I know the NCAA has enough on their hands, especially when it comes to requests for college agency, scholarships, boosters, and Penn State, but I would think that this is something to look into. A lot of coaches may make something like a blowout an acceptable learning experience for the team, but there are just some times where you just want the bleeding to stop and prevent any further frustration and possible injury from trying too hard. In a sport like football, it can be incredibly detrimental for athletes to overexert themselves especially when the future efforts are futile to the overall momentum and score of the game. Of course, people are going to disagree with me strictly on the fact that it's just football and they signed up to keep pushing on and the mercy rule is for babies. Um, think of the babies. If your friend or child or sibling were out there getting pummeled and is not doing any positive push against it, then you'd kind of grow some pity for them.

From the college football games I have watched in the past, I've noticed that it is not uncommon to see a team beat their opponent by at least 30-40 points. In all seriousness, if it's a team I'm not really invested in, I just turn it off after a while because it's just not exciting to me anymore. When the lead is over a certain amount, I honestly think the game should stop or that the opposing team getting beaten badly is able to start at a certain yard line as a perk or an added bonus to keep the game closer.

Let's try straightening this out. Let's suggest this for NCAA Football and make a sort of "Mercy Rule:"

The NCAAF Mercy Rule goes into effect if:
1. If, at any point, a team is facing a deficit of 30 points or more, a touchback places them at the 40-yard line.
2. If a team is facing a deficit of over 56 points by halftime or over 40 points by the end of the third quarter, the game ends. This is assuming that the losing team has scored under 20 points in their offensive drives.

I think it would add a bit more of fluidity to the aspect of college football, and it would prevent these massive blowouts from occurring way too frequently through the years.

In conclusion, the whole idea of "no mercy" makes sense when you're playing a strong rival; however, it isn't fair to some unranked teams that just want to make a good showing and are prevented from doing so. Enforcing some sort of rule to stop merciless beating in sports may be a good idea. When it comes to something such as baseball or hockey, it's difficult to do that because of their easier shifts in momentum. While baseball isn't timed in a sense, hockey is much more fast-paced and can definitely change on a dime within seconds. There is much more time to regain strength in sports such as those. Since there is designated possession periods in football, sometimes it can be too much and the other team may never seem to have a chance.

I'm a peace-loving fellow that happens to love sports. Let's make peace among teams that can easily be brutalized. Does that sound good to you?


Friday, August 24, 2012

Red Whines: It's Not About the Bike Anymore

Funny enough, I think he wrote a book with almost the same exact title several years ago...

Over the course of several years, biking legend Lance Armstrong has fought through many hardships in life. Famously, he had overcome cancer and began his Livestrong movement to raise money for cancer research following his bout with the illness.  Following his cancer battle, he had competed in numerous events and won many international biking titles, including seven consecutive Tour de France titles. Some people could say he is the most influential athlete in the world...until the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency comes along.

You may be familiar with this Agency. These are the guys that administer a drug test whenever there's an international event just to make sure that you don't decide to take a banned substance during that time period. Numerous athletes and cyclists during the 2000's had allegedly (keep this word in mind) stated that Armstrong had doped on several occasions. Many of the blood and urine samples that Armstrong had apparently given to officials were stored and later tested for additional performance-enhancing drugs. Finally, Armstrong was charged with drug trafficking (what?) and doping during 2009 and 2010. Because there has been so much of a fight between the USADA and Lance Armstrong, suspensions were handed down, banning Armstrong from competition in cycling and triathlons.

Following the numerous throwing out of lawsuits filed by Armstrong over the past year, he had decided to end his fight against the USADA while maintaining innocence on Thursday.
Their response:
Lance Armstrong will been banned from cycling for life. Also, his seven Tour de France titles will be stripped from him.

Although the USADA would have to state their case to the International Cycling Union (UCI) on Friday, this sentence is the most unprecedented sentencing in cycling history. 

Commence worldwide uproar.

It's understandable that there are allegations behind Lance Armstrong and how he was in such great physical form when he was. For example, it's incredible how he managed to win a Tour de France title in 1999 when he was declared in remission just a year prior to that. Sure, he was one of the best cyclists in the country before his cancer diagnosis after the 1996 Atlanta Games, but I guess there are just some Negative Nancy's out there that believe that his comeback was practically superhuman.

The USADA's response to Armstrong's ending of his court battle was treacherous. In Lance's case, he didn't stop fighting because he knew he was guilty and didn't want to fight a losing battle; he stopped fighting because it was incredibly one-sided (from what I've read) and nobody is willing to accept his claims or the lawsuits that he had filed in the past year.

"USADA reacted quickly and treated Armstrong's decision as an admission of guilt, hanging the label of drug cheat on an athlete who was a hero to thousands for overcoming life-threatening testicular cancer and for his foundation's support for cancer research." 

My thoughts exactly. It's truly as if they had eliminated the whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing and just added a "guilty until proven innocent, and you're not allowed to defend your case" because of the turmoil that he, his family, and everyone else around him was going through.

From the same article:
"Foundation chairman Jeffery C. Garvey issued a statement, saying, 'Faced with a biased process whose outcome seems predetermined, Lance chose to put his family and his foundation first. The leadership of the Lance Armstrong Foundation remain incredibly proud of our founder's achievements, both on and off the bike.'"

Of course, there are other people that state otherwise...

Kathy LeMond (wife of Greg LeMond, Tour winner 1986, 1989, 1990): "Finally."

Oh, and that's not cold of you to say. You were obviously there when he did something.

Apparently, the USADA had other evidence against Armstrong that would certainly bury him, but because of his decline to fight any longer, this evidence may not see the light of day until, of course, when the man dies or something like that. When you think about it, it's like the USADA was like, "OOH! OOH! Look at what we found," and they didn't want any outside rebuttal in fear that their evidence might be tarnished. However, if they do want to state their case with the UCI, some of this will have to be released.

There are probably people out there that would say that an innocent man would fight this case against the USADA to the grave. However, what Lance did might have been the right thing. In one case, arguing about false allegations would be interesting psychology in making an accused person seem more guilty. Bickering about something in such detail could actually cause more allegations to be made toward one's performance-enhancing measures. If he talks any more, things he would say could be greatly taken out of context and could still be used against him.
Secondly, this whole case could go over the course of several months to possibly a few years because not only would he be in the spotlight, but there could also be a chance that other cyclists and athletes could be thrown into the mix to either testify or be accused themselves. Because our court system likes to take forever with even the biggest of federal and international cases, he wouldn't want to put his family and friends through more painstaking turmoil.
Thirdly, he could possibly be accused for medical practices that were strictly used for cancer treatment over 15 years ago. Think about it: they're considering him guilty due to illegal doping by way of blood transfusion. The first thing that comes to mind is that even though he's in remission, some of the treatment he received is wrecking his body in the fitness aspect and he actually needs some of the treatment to remain healthy. I may not be a doctor, but why haven't the USADA talked to Armstrong's specialists?

From what I have seen, it seems like self-defense and any other form of fighting against a juggernaut of an agency takes away freedom. Lance fought the law, but I don't think the law will win the way they want to. This truly isn't about the bike anymore. It's about his family and his dignity.


(Referenced articles from: 1, 2)