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...