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This is the archive for October 2007

To all my fellow Yankees fans (and Len):


There's The Spurs And Then...(NBA Preview)

It's my favorite time of the year as a basketball junkie. We're about 10 hours away from NBA tipoff and in a month from now, college basketball tips off with its "preseason tourneys" and non-conference mashups. Not matchups, MASH-ups. Anyway, putting thought into this over the past few days I had to take a few things into consideration...

- Which teams are legitimately contending for a title and which teams are legitimately pretending that they are contending?

Well, your legitimate contenders are as follows...

- San Antonio, well, they're the champions.
- Phoenix, probably the only team out West that's legitimately not afraid of the Spurs. We'll be arguing the validity of the Suns/Spurs series for forever and a day, but if it can't be done for this team this year, I dunno.
I will say that Kerr put himself and the team in a major hole by dealing the only big on their team that can kinda guard The Big F'N Dynasty known as Tim Duncan.
- Houston. Anyone who knows Adelman knows a few things...he's real infamous for choking in the playoffs with really good teams and oh yeah, he's good at running offenses that have versatile to fairly decent big men and two guards who can shoot. The last time Adelman had a team that was anywhere near this deep or talented, I'd venture to say he was in Portland.

- Dallas. What?! Not the Mavs! Yes. I'm not joining the endless masses who will drink the Cuban Cool-Aid, thinking these guys will finally figure out a way to put it all together in the playoffs. If two years ago never happened, sure. But these guys followed up an epic Finals collapse with the worst first round meltdown in NBA history. Nothing's topping last year's owning by Golden State. If you remove the two games where Cuban Court advantage factored into the equation, the Mavs would've been swept. Beyond bringing in Eddie Jones, this team did absolutely nothing to show me they're ready to atone. Speaking of teams that did nothing...
- Cleveland. Let me make this short and sweet. They had no business being in the Finals a year ago and the moves they made this offseason will ensure they don't return. But L, they made no moves in the offseason. Exactly.
- Detroit. Last year's meltdown against the Cavs was the Buster Douglas moment for this franchise. As in basically, it's the knockout that all but seals the deal for this group. Make no mistake, you're not going to find a lineup this potent anywhere outside of Phoenix and Dallas. Really ya won't. But as it is with all teams following Larry's departure, they're never the same and this team has not been the lockdown personified team they were in the middle half of this decade.

Conversely, unlike these other clowns I've got a few of my 'Nightmare' teams in that sleeping on these teams can be incredibly hazardous to your health.

- Denver. One part of this is Melo biased, the other half is that they're a legitimate sleeper. Yeah, I get that K-Mart's about as fragile as cheap China on a speedboat. I get that Karl's something of an enigma as a head coach and the Melo Answer duo didn't exactly do what was expected
in its first half season. Here's the scary thing though that folks are really overlooking...

A) Both Iverson and Anthony want that ring and quiet be kept, you're not going to find a more lethal one-two punch in the league. Anthony's the deadliest scoring threat in the Association and Iverson's still a nightmare to guard one on one, don't think that ankle shattering crossover of his is getting any worse with age.
B) Denver's lone playoff debacles have come to the Wolves (In the lone year KG actually had legitimate help and considering who it was, take it for what you will), Clippers (It's considered an "upset" only because the Nugs were the higher seed) and the Spurs twice (even Jordan couldn't get around the Celtics and Pistons in their prime before he became "Jordan").

All that said, if Melo can figure a way around the Spurs who have been the lone legitimate obstacle he can't get around, they're going to wreak havoc in the playoffs. Remember, just seven years ago, George Karl took a Bucks team that had Ray Shuttlesworth and a bunch of nobodies to the Eastern Conference Finals. So it's proven that Karl can coach a team to the promised land, it's just up to him to get them back there.
- Washington. The Wizards? Yeah. Remember, Boston's not the only team in the Least with a high octane trio. The Wiz have their own and if it weren't for Arenas going down for the year last season, we're not talking about the Leastern Conference Champion Cavaliers because Agent Zero wouldn't have let the Cavs sink him twice in the postseason. I think they've got more than enough firepower in a conference where not
a ton's needed. Speaking of...
- Golden State. I'll let you all in on a little secret...this isn't a one shot deal with these guys. I believe they're that good and simply put, Nellie's building these boys up in a way he didn't do with Dallas. Picture the Mavs
if they had a Baron and Stephen Jackson type on their team to get in your face and play smothering D. They're deep and give or take a break or two in their favor (seeing Dallas again in the playoffs certainly wouldn't hurt), they can make a serious run towards the Finals.
- New Jersey. Homer, right? Yeah and there's something people have so totally forgotten. The Nets have won two Eastern Conference crowns in this decade. They haven't forgotten how to win, even if everyone finds it conveinent to think they have. I was righteously disappointed with how things fell apart last year, downright infuriated when they folded up like church chairs to the LeBrons in the East Semis. Bottom line, before they hit Crooklyn, I'd like to see them make ONE last Finals run and cap it off with an actual title.

USF = U Suck Florida.

What? Didn't think I'd forget to mention this, did ya? Okay, I got caught up in some fun Yankee bashing but hey, it's fun and helped me take my mind off of the utter disappointment that was the Mets' collapse. I mean, in their defense, at least their organization isn't anywhere near as wonky as the Yanks. But enough on that. Let's talk college football.

For about 48 to 72 hours almost incessantly I heard any and every possible piece of propaganda one could hear about USF's improbable rise to #2 in the rankings. #2 team in the land, they say. The New Rutgers, they said. Quietly, I said very little because I knew what was coming last Thursday. I knew that in the Scarlet Terrordome, where all Top 10 teams come to be put down and hit with the Scarlet Letter known as R...order would be restored and USF would make like that one hit wonder that's never heard from again.

Last year, we had Louisville strutting in thinking they were the best thing since sliced bread. They got buttered and eaten alive. Nine days ago, we gave people in Chestnut Hill reason to smile as we've all but removed USF from any title consideration that's not Big East related and if Rutgers finishes in a tie with USF, you can squash that thought too.

Another one bites the dust

After a good deal of umming and aaring, and the dreaded vote of confidence, Martin Jol has been sacked by Spurs. As much as I admire Jol, it's no great surprise, since Tottenham have been abysmal recently, and currently lie in 18th place in the league. It's a shame, since he was definitely a competent manager, but was stuck with a team that was on the slide, and he just couldn't quiet manage to turn things around. The club's board should also be held to account over this though, because their treatment of Jol was disgraceful. While they publicly denied his job was in danger, it seemed the entire world knew otherwise.

Expecting Jol and his team to deliver under these circumstances was nothing short of ludicrous. It was like putting a one-legged man on a tightrope, over a pool of ravenous sharks, and expecting him to pull off some funky break dancing moves. It's theoretically possible, but entirely unreasonable.

But regardless of the rights and wrongs of the dismissal, I do think the Spurs board missed a trick. This was surely the ideal opportunity for the club's ex-chairman Alan Sugar to make a cameo appearance. Just imagine it: Martin Jol gets ordered up to a stage in the centre of the pitch, where Sir Alan is sitting behind a desk, rubbing his beard and pensively glaring at him. He slowly raises his finger in Jol's direction and utters those immortal words: "Martin, you're fired."

Ocho Problemo?

Okay, I watched the Sunday Conversation in full involving the Johnsons and I'm sorry...I couldn't resist speaking up on this. Seriously, I just couldn't. I've been an Ocho Cinco fan for a while now, his antics humor me greatly. Simply put, he's a throwback to the days of the Playmaker, only Chad's antics are greater and funnier. They make a sport that's not supposed to be fun outside of seeing grown men slam into each other, fun to watch. From proposing to cheerleaders (which gave Ian Johnson the inspiration to do a year ago :P) to writing heartfelt letters to the No Fun League begging not to be fined, Chad's given us a ton to laugh at. So that's why I take a great deal of offense when I hear he's the reason the Bungals are fucking up this season.

Excuse me? HE is the reason? Is he missing open receivers on offense? No, that's Carson Palmer. Is he missing open tackles, not covering the receivers and making plays that they were making two seasons ago when they lead the league in turnovers forced? No, that's the total lack of defense. Is he failing in preparation from week to week, is he not doing the job he's supposed to be doing as coach? No, that's Marvin Lewis. Supposed great defensive coach who's not so great at coaching up defenses from scratch it would appear.

Bottom line here is this; all Ocho Cinco can do is him. That's it. He can't do Carson's job, he can't do the job of 11 men who are paid to stop the other team from scoring, he can't draw up X's & O's expecting 22 people on both sides of the ball to execute. All he can do is go out there, catch the ball and hope all else falls into place as it should.

Because some people can't stop running their mouths

As the resident Yankees fan, I had more or less planned to wait and see exactly how things were going to unfold with the team over the course of the offseason before I wrote about it. After all, there IS still a playoff going on, and the World Series yet to play. Major League Baseball does not begin and end with the New York Yankees, after all.

However, you wouldn't know it from the way the media have been foaming at the mouth over what may or not happen now that the Yankees have failed to get past the first round of the postseason again. Even a couple of our SB staff members haven't been able to resist putting in their two cents on the topic. The decision of Joe Torre to decline the Yankees' contract renewal offer has added fuel to the fire of those who seem to spend far too much time trying to dig the Yankees' grave.

There's been far too much speculation and stupidity expressed on the topic, therefore I am forced to sit down and edumacate a few people.

Click the link--you know you want to...

An Open Letter To The "Rebuilding" Evil Empire...

*Disclaimer, this will assuredly piss off a ton of Yankee fans, but as I'm going to disclose's your team's fault. I'm just pointing out the rather obvious.*

Dear Rebuilding Empire,

Congratulations for pushing the most successful manager of the Steinbrenner Era out the door with your "last ditch" effort. Now sure, I'm
certain a few Yankee lemmings will defend the decision and offer, while trying to tell themselves *as one or two have here* that you're not done. That you're merely in a state of "rebuilding" and that "seven years of postseason failure" doesn't constitute a decline. Well, here's the thing...
we get that you're the most storied franchise in all of sports. On par with the Canadiens in hockey, Lakers in basketball and the Cowboys and Steelers in football. But here's the one thing all of you have in common...

With the exception of the Steel Crew, all of you are hanging your hats on past success and the rest of the world does not care. Montreal's gone through umpteen different coaches and haven't seen a Stanley Cup since I was in the 8th grade. The Lakers haven't been the same since Shaq was sent packing, maybe before that and this doesn't stop people from saying they're a done deal...especially with Kobe possibly on his way out.
The Cowboys are praying that Playmaker 81 can help Romo do a fairly decent Aikman impersonation so they can get that record breaking 6th Lombardi trophy. As for your organization, you decide to reward the man who made your franchise relevant in the latter half of the 90s and beyond by giving him a 'here's a one year deal, but if you get us far in the playoffs...we'll give you more money' deal that's specifically reserved for untested and unproven managers. Uhm, HELLLOOOOOOO this isn't Joe Schmoe you're dealing with. This is Joe F'N Torre. The man who's never missed the postseason in every year he's managed the club. Know how many years your team spent watching the postseason at home before it finally got back to one in 1995? 12! And the absolute best you can do for this man who not only got you over the hump, but spent four of his first six seasons leading you spoiled bunch of brats to championships can do, is offer him a $5M deal with a million increase for every round he gets you out of? I swear on everything I all, know and love, I'm going to enjoy seeing you rat bastards flounder like fish out of water for the years to come. And as a Mets fan, I hope Willie goes in the tank next season and Torre's number is put on speed dial. I hope Torre leads the Mets to success you pinstriped punks will never see again unless you're watching Classic Sports replay your World Series games.

An Open Letter to Bud Selig

Buddy, you've got some serious 'splainin' to do.

Why is there a NON-TRAVEL DAY OFF in the middle of my ALCS?

Were you in the midst of a three-or-four martini lunch when you came up with that--or were you smoking something stronger?

Seriously, what were you thinking?

"Gee, wouldn't it be nice if we could get the World Series to spill into November like we did back in 2001?"

"Hey, let's see if we can get games snowed out at the end of the season, too!"

"You know, we haven't driven enough people away from watching the playoffs lately. How can we get even fewer people watching? I know! Let's throw a few extra days between games in there!"

Did it at all occur to you that there was a good possibility that the LCS for either league could be decided in less than seven games? Right now, it's going to be NINE DAYS before Colorado plays another game--and should Cleveland win on Thursday night, they get a SIX-DAY vacation before they get to go for it all. Even if Boston manages to make a 2004-style comeback, it still means two days of no baseball before the Series starts.

Smooth move, Bud. In a feeble attempt to generate higher TV ratings and ad revenue, you've practically guaranteed that even fewer people will watch the World Series this year. Don't even think of trying to blame the piss-poor numbers on the matchup, either. Even my beloved Yankees couldn't put butts in the recliners if people have to wait nearly a week between the LCS and the Series.

You've done a disservice to both the fans and the teams involved. You especially owe an apology to the Colorado Rockies. With their hot streak, their energy and enthusiasm and their underdog status, they practically handed you a Series to hype the hell out of--and what do you do? YOU make them cool their heels for NINE DAYS!

By the way, did you know that Colorado sometimes gets SNOW in late October?

There was nothing wrong with the LCS schedule as it was. Two games, travel, three games, travel, two games. Easy to remember, easy to follow. Another travel day and bam! World Series. No time for fans to get distracted by other things, and everything ends IN OCTOBER as it should. But no, you had to tinker.

If you don't put things back to the way they should be next year, that next swing of the bat is going to be right upside your head--and it's going to have barbed-wire on it.

You've been warned.

There's The Pats...And Everybody Else.

That's the conclusion I've come to after Week 6. I mean, people, it's real
simple for the remainder of this year.

The Pats are going to win the Super Bowl. Can all that "well, the Colts are still the champs and until they get knocked off..." crap, because I'm going to keep it all the way basic with all of you. The Colts got back into
last year's AFC Championship game because of two things. A) The Pats were slow on D and couldn't keep up with Indy and B) The Pats had a pack of receivers that couldn't catch a cold in the middle of flu season. Both problems have been resolved and on top of all that, there's the little
X factor that only I and Bill Simmons *read his Page 2 column to get the skinny on this* know about. The Pats are righteously PISSED and they're taking it out on EVERYONE they face. Notice a running trend developing with the way they've been winning this year? They aren't just winning, what they're doing is the equivalent of what The Million Dollar Man used to do to his foes after beating them. Put em' to sleep and stuff a bill down their throat to make em' choke on it. The absolute worst thing the NFL could've done, hell, the media too...was take an already proud, real good borderline great team and piss em' off. "Say, it's not enough to say they're cheats...let's say that they cheated to get their three Super Bowls too!" Ruh-roh. With all six of their wins this year, they've done something I haven't seen them do in ANY of their previous three Super Bowls. They've gone for the "Fuck You Bitch" scores in the 4th quarter of
games that are long since decided. They've done it every week and if it happens in Indy in about two weeks time, ya may as well have the Commish there to give Bill his 4th trophy and call it quits. They won't lose the rest of this year.

But L, what if they wrap up things early? Guess what, they've got the division locked up because everyone else is in the ground. Buffalo's lone win came against NY, NY's lone win...well, who cares? It's a done deal. They'll have their division wrapped up before we all sit down to enjoy turkey and cranberry sauce. In my lifetime, there have only been two distinct times where I've seen dominance on this level. There were the Super Bowl Shufflin' Bears and of course, the 1989 Niners. These boys aren't going to lose this season unless they choose to do it. Seriously. Moss knows he's closing in on his first ring and that's why he's playing the game like it's fun again. Because it is for him. He knows he's rolling
with the greatest QB playing the game right now and it's not going to get any better than this.

NCLS Rocktober

I have been wanting to blog about my beloved Colorado Rockies for weeks now. I've been dying to share my feelings, thoughts on my boys -- but I haven't. Why? Because like many who follow sports -- I was being overly superstitious. Fearing that my blogging about them would jinx my beloved Rockies. After all, I had much reason for concern. The Rockies who were established as a team in 1993 (when I was 8) had not been to a playoff game since 1995. They had never won a play-off series. And for 15 long years of my life had always, broken my heart. They had given away high run leads in the 9th inning. They had done nothing to prove having faith in them -- those I always cheered for them and followed them. I had good reasons for my superstitious ways.

But here's what I can tell you -- while the naysayers would have you believe that winning 21 of your last 22 games is pure luck. That the Rockies can't keep this streak up. Let me remind you that the naysayers also said that the Rockies couldn't keep up their winning streak during game 1 of the divisionals against the Phillies. They said that the Rockies didn't have a chance against the diamondbacks and there was no way they'd keep up that winning streak again. Let me tell you that it is not pure luck that the Colorado Rockies have kept winning. Yes, they have had some luck go their way in calls -- but they have also been playing really amazing baseball. Don't believe me? Well, then you didn't have your eyes open during the NLCS.

There have been so many amazing players during this last series that it's hard to single them out for you here.

One thing is for sure -- if you hadn't heard of the Colorado Rockies until now, time to study up. Because they're on one of the most impressive winning streaks sports has seen this year and baseball has seen in a long time. Ignore football, and check out the world series this year. Football will still be there when Rocktober ends.

WTF Is Up In College Football?!

Parity is the word of the day officially in this college football season. If you want to be all the way technical about it, I feel like we're watching a never ending game of "Who Wants To Be A Top 10 Team?" because damn near nobody seems to want it. 48 hours ago, something went down that hadn't happened in about 11 years. #1 and #2 went down in horrible fashion (pardon the pun) and of the two, I can only give leeway, both deserved it. #2 Cal was a boneheaded move, because you have to be able to tell your redshirt Freshman QB...

"Look son, we don't have anymore timeouts and time's against us. Call whatever you want, but DO NOT USE THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD. If we get stopped in the middle of the field, the game's over. Clear?"

Jeff Tedford must've slept through that part of Coaching 101. On the flip side of this coin, me thinks Les Miles was caught channeling a little too much of the Ole Ball Coach and the Wildcats burned him for it. Hold up, I need to see this again. Kentucky beat the #1 team in the land. I got in from work on Saturday night, saw this and wondered where the hell was Dickie V screaming at the top of his lungs about this being awesome with a capital 'A'. I know Football 101 states you're not supposed to give up on the running game, but when you're getting stuffed up the middle again and again as the Bayou Bengals were...not to be Monday Morning QB or nothing, but can run other ways beyond straight up the gut. Maybe a counter or a sweep to the left or right...hell, try some play action to really throw something spicy at em'. But damnit, it's a shame dumb coaching can't be penalized...because I'd have had you drop a lot farther for your boneheaded playcalling that cost these Tigers its #1 ranking. Fret not though, you're not out of the running... yet.

Dear College Football Rankings

You've flip flopped so much that you are the Mariotti of the Year!

Yeah, this makes up for me not writing it the last couple months.

Done Deal? No, It Has Been Done.

Allow me to set the record straight on something once and for all. Last night didn't mark the end of the "Empire" as we knew it. 2004 ring a bell
people? The Evil Empire losing four straight to the Sawks enabling said Sawks to sweep past the Cards and win the World Series. Back in the day, that didn't happen. And figure the odds that just about every Yanks fan imaginable, wrote it off as a "eh, they had to win one sooner or later, right?" moment. But little did they know, that was the nail in the coffin for the vaunted "Evil Empire". Last night in all honesty, was nothing more than the final clump of dirt thrown on a grave that already had Torre's tombstone on it. The Boss finally got sick of sitting silent and decided to speak up, about three seasons too late. And let me be clear on something here, since I've probably followed more of this on a closer level than most can imagine...Steinbrenner's not the same guy who fired and rehired Billy Martin four times. He knows this too. And to be perfectly honest and this kills me to admit, but firing Torre isn't the answer. Hell, I'd much rather the Mets have fired Willie and thrown every bank imaginable to get Torre across the way because with the cast that's assembled in Queens right now, I had the utmost belief that Joe could win the pennant with these guys and even a World Series.

But, it's finally over for the Yanks.

The End Has Come Again

As much as I love my Yankee fan friends. (That's Jade and Ande, both females, it seems) Girls, the empire has officially died. It doesn't matter how many postseason games you make it to. If you can't make it past the first round, arguements are null and void. You can't say, "We made it to the postseason for X number of years." It doesn't matter. Teams with less money like the Twins, A's, and the teams still in the playoffs (excepting the Red Sox).

But for George's asshole statement of blamine Joe, fuck George. Come to think of it, fuck Cashman for not having the balls to tell George that he's full of shit for wanting overpaid and overaged players. In fact, the fact that George wants to jettison Torre, just because. That's fucking wrong. Joe Torre is still one of the best managers around. (Yes, Len. He is, and so is Willie Randolph, so fuck firing him, too.) And George won't look at who's fault it really is.

The Indians had three things. Younger players. Younger and stronger pitchers. Heart. George has none of that, including that last part. It's time to rebuild. Boss, you're too much of a fucking brat. Cashman is the only person with sense on that management staff. Your sons don't know shit. You don't know shit. So, it's time to listen to what your staff is saying. Get rid of A-Rod. Get rid of Matsui. Get rid of Jeter. Get rid of Giambi. Get in a new coaching staff to help Torre.

Yes, Jade. I said get rid of Jeter. Jeter hasn't had heart for years. He's going through the motions. The Bronx needs a reality check. If you keep arguing that he earned his status, I'll counter back, he lost it last night with that don't give a shit attitude while losing. The Yankees fans want winners. Then all of you bitches need to butch up and start cutting a lot of dead weight.

Because, I for one, want the Evil Empire back to curse at. Not this shell of an Empire that George wants to fuck around with...

Acting the Dida way

Have I missed something, or has someone launched a sportsman's category for the Oscars? That would go some way to explaining the behaviour of AC Milan's Brazilian goalkeeper, Dida in last week's Champions league match against Celtic. Having been lightly tapped on the cheek by a pitch-invading Celtic fan, Dida proceeded to give chase.

If at this point he'd caught him and roughed him up a bit, I think most people would have understood. However, when it became clear he wasn't going to catch him, Dida fell to the ground like a wounded soldier. I'm guessing he thought the Oscar judges were watching, because he really went the extra mile, being stretchered off with an ice pack on his face.

From an acting perspective, it's great to see this kind of commitment (although the indecision at the beginning may lose him points). From a footballing point of view, it's not quite so good. With diving already a fairly regular occurrence, what can we expect to see next? Fake blood, perhaps? Or maybe the next time Dida gets a tap on the face, his head will fall off and explode, thanks to the newly-installed special effects team?

An Open Letter To Willie Randolph

Dear Willie,

I'm going to start this out with three words that I think some Met fans are probably hesitant to say, but I'm not.

You gotta go.

With yesterday's inexcusable performance, on top of last year's NLCS that
was hands down one of the luckiest postseason wins I've ever seen by an overmatched, undermanned team (proved positive when the Cards could not get around the Brew Crew who were powered by the Son of Cecil and the Cubs who had Sweet Lou pushing the charge *why couldn't Lou be OUR manager*) that ended up winning it all last season...I'm convinced you aren't it. Yes, there were a ton of problems that plagued this bound for Heimlichville team from a bullpen that couldn't protect a lead if it were a corpse and they were a pack of maggots charged with staying on top to an offense that seemingly forgot how to hit the ball or run bases properly. I won't really get into the statistical breakdown here, because at this stage I'm beyond looking at petty numbers because there's only one that matters.

88-74, no playoffs. You played most of your career as a Yankee, you know how this goes in New York. Fuck, I'm a natural born Jerseyan and even I know that failure isn't something people tolerate. Bobby Valentine
got canned after getting the Mets to a place they should've been a year ago and didn't because you let yourself get outmanaged by Tony LaRussa.
This year, you got outmanaged by of all people, Charlie Manuel, whoever they've got running the Nationals (can't they contract this fucking team) and the Marlins in the final 17 games of the season almost all at once.