Archive for October, 2008

WATERCOOLER CHAT: ROCKETS AND HORNETS ON FIRE

The Houston Rockets season has jumped off to a beautiful start.   In the off-season, they decided that they would be a title contender.  You must remember that they went on an electrifying 22 game winning streak last season.  So what could they do if they were fully healthy and added some star power.  Well, the Rockets wanted to find out, so they signed all-star Ron Artest to play the pivotal supporting role they were missing, and boy is it working out.  They beat the Memphis Grizzlies in their opener, but could they beat a tougher opponent in the Dallas Mavericks? The answer:  Yes.  And more importantly, their big man, Yao Ming, looks amazing.  He’s playing with real grit, and had 30 points and 13 rebounds against the Mavs.  Dirk Nowitski put in the 36 points for the Mavericks, but many experts predict that this will be the year that Mavericks slip, and are unable to compete for a title.  Either way, Houston looks like they plan to be a big force come playoff time.  Houston 112, Dallas 102.

Another team on fire in the West:  The New Orleans Hornets.  They took on the Suns, and it was a symbolic game considering that many feel that the Suns’ Steve Nash is no longer the best point-guard in the league.  That title belongs to Hornets point-guard, Chris Paul.  The Hornets are a beautiful cohesive unit to watch, and they added veteran (and former Celtic champion from last season) James Posey to the mix.  And he looks great. He stepped in for Peja Stojakovic, and hit 3 three-pointers in the 4th quarter.  They’re going to need his help come playoff time.  New Orleans 108, Phoenix 95.

And finally, the Lakers have agreed to a 4 year deal with their big man, Andrew Bynum.  The Lakers drafted Bynum 3 years ago to fill the void left by Shaq in the middle.  They drafted him right out of High School, and a lot of Laker fans weren’t comfortable drafting a “work-in-progress” when Kobe was in his prime and trying to win a championship.  Kobe even said, in that famous Internet video, that they should ‘ship Andrew Bynum outta here for Jason Kidd’.  Well, Kidd isn’t playing so well over in Dallas, and Bynum looks fantastic.  With Bynum and Pau Gasol down low, the Lakers are extremely intimidating.  And remember that the Lakers were without Bynum for the playoffs last year.  This season… things will be different.  Looks like Kobe was 100% wrong about Bynum.  But hey, nobody’s perfect.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: PHILLIES WIN WORLD SERIES!!!!

BASEBALL

The World Series is over!  And so is the Philly drought. The Philadelphia Phillies brought the first championship back to the city since the 76ers won the NBA Championship in 1983.  The game began in odd fashion, considering it was a continuation of a game from Monday night with two days of rain pushing it to Wednesday.  The Phillies led 3-2, until Rocco Baldelli tied it up in the 7th inning.  But then, in that same inning, Pedro Feliz hit a clutch single to bring in a run, the Phillies led 4-3, and were FEELING it.  The Rays made some bizarre managerial decisions, putting in some sub-prime pitchers instead of David Price, but hindsight is 20/20.  Phillies all-star closer Brad Lidge ended the game with a beautiful strike out, and then the Philly fans went CRAZY!!  Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels was awarded MVP of the World Series, as he was absolutely amazing in the post-season.  Congratulations to the Phillies, but a congratulatory hats off to the Tampa Bay Rays, who provided us with a memorable Cinderella story this season.  Philadelphia 4, Tampa Bay 3.

NBA

More tip-off nights for most of the league.  In New York, it was the new-look with former Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni.  And you’re not going to believe this, but… the Knicks looked good.  Michael Beasley, the No. 2 NBA pick looked average, scoring only 9 points in his debut.  But hey, it’s his first game in the pros.  New York’s defense was shaky at times, but they outscored the Heat, and held on to the win the game.  For at least one night, Knicks fans have something to cheer about.  New York 120, Miami 115.

It was also the opening night for the newest franchise in the NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder (formerly the Seattle Supersonics).  They looked sub-par, and their uniforms are hideous, but Oklahoma City is thrilled to have them.  Charlie Villanueva, Michael Redd, and Richard Jefferson led the way for the Bucks with 20 points, while it was former Univ. of Maryland star, Chris Wilcox, putting up 15 pts for the Thunder.  An exciting day in OKC.  Milwaukee 98, Oklahoma City 87.

And finally, Lance Armstrong has shocked the world returning to cycling at 37.  Quite a senior age for a cyclist.  But he has stated that he’s not coming back to “prove the critics wrong”, but rather to continue raising awareness for cancer worldwide.  Talk about a role model.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: NBA TIP-OFF

NBA

It was tip-off night in the NBA, and there were two featured matchups.  The first was the defending champion, Boston Celtics, taking on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.  The night began with the presenting of the championship trophy and rings to the Celts.  Paul Pierce shed tears, but King James said to his team before the game, ‘We’re not gonna watch that’.  And he does have a point.  Why should they start their season watching another team celebrate their success?  It was a tight game, with Paul Pierce leading the way with 27 points, and LeBron going for 22.  But, in the end, the Celtics prevailed at home 90-85.

In the night’s second featured match-up, it was the Los Angeles Lakers v. the new-look Portland Trailblazers.  New-look meaning the Blazers were finally with the 2007 No. 1 pick, BIG MAN GREG ODEN.  He needed a surgery before the ’07 season, but now he is back and ready.  Oden looked good in the first 13 minutes, but then, bad news for Portland fans.  Going up for a lay-up, Greg Oden rolled his ankle, and is thought to have a sprained ankle.  That’s just bad luck.  He will have an MRI today, but will still miss a period of time.  Now Blazers fans are really starting to wonder… did they draft a lemon?

The rest of the game was all Kobe Bryant.  He had 23 points and 11 rebounds and looked just like the MVP Kobe we remember.  The Blazers, on the other hand, need to get organized… and fast.  LA Lakers 96, Portland 76.

And finally, it was the opening game for THIS year’s No. 1 draft pick, Derrick Rose.  And boy did he look good.  He put up 11 points, and also entered NBA record books.   He’s now tied for second for the most assists by a debut No. 1 pick since 1966.  He had nine.   Chicago 108, Milwaukee 95.

Now we’ll wait to see how the much debated No. 2 pick, Michael Beasley, does in his debut with the Miami Heat tonight.  They face the Knicks in New York, and Knicks fans are hungry for their first successful season in QUITE a long time.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: WORLD SERIES RAIN DELAY, TITANS UNDEFEATED

BASEBALL

It was a muddy Game 5 of the World Series… literally.  The Phillies were all over Tampa Bay’s pitcher, Scott Kazmir early.  In the 1st inning, Shane Victorino blasted a single to left and brought in two RBIs.  2-0 Phillies, and a great start for a game in which the Phillies were trying to clinch.  But later, Evan Longoria would drive in a run with a shot to center field, and then in 6th Carlos Pena hit a single to left, and B.J. Upton rounded the extremely muddy field, but… was able to score.  And we’re tied at 2.  Then, the rain just started pouring.  FOX waited a solid hour before finally deciding to suspend the game, and the contest will continue Tuesday night at 8PM EST.  Quite irregular for a World Series to just start and stop like that, but hey, when it’s raining, it’s raining, and you just can’t play ball.

NFL

In the NFL, it was a much anticipated Monday Night match-up as the unbeaten Tennessee Titans hosted the Indianapolis Colts.  The Titans defense is ranked #1 in the league, but Peyton Manning publicly pronounced that the Titans haven’t faced a passing attack like the Colts this season yet.  Titans got on the board first with a Rob Bironas field goal, but the Colts had the first TD with Peyton Manning’s 10-yard strike to tight end Dallas Clark.  Then the Titans dual-headed running game took over.  Chris Johnson ran for 77 yards and a TD, but LenDale White was Mr. Goal Line, where he drove his way for two TDs.  Manning tried a rushed late-game passing attack, but was fittingly intercepted to end the game.  The Titans are now 7-0, and if the Colts passing attack can’t beat them, who can?  It’s too early for the whole ‘Will they go undefeated’ talk, but it’s certainly in the back of people’s mind.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

In college football, Ty Willingham, head coach of The University of Washington, a once prestigious college football program, has decided to step down after the Huskies started the season 0-7.  Willingham came from Notre Dame, where he also failed to bring victories, and now he’ll have to find yet another home.  The coaching position of a major Pac-10 school is now open, and apparently, Lane Kiffin (former head Oakland Raiders coach and USC Offensive Coordinator) has expressed interest.  It sure would be interesting if Kiffin (who likely belongs in college ball) could lead the Huskies back to greatness and eventually usurp the #1 spot in the Pac-10 from USC’s Pete Carroll, his former mentor.

NBA

Finally, in the NBA, the New York Knicks made their final roster cuts yesterday, and a notable name was on the list.  Patrick Ewing Jr., son of Knicks 80s and 90s legend, Patrick Ewing, failed to make the squad despite an amazing final preseason game.  The legacy was not meant to be.  But that’s only for the Knicks legacy.  Perhaps another team will give Ewing Jr. a chance to succeed.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: PHILLIES ONE WIN AWAY, NFL SUNDAY WRAP UP

BASEBALL

The Philadelphia Phillies boosted their lead to 3 games to 1 in the World Series, and the past two games have been all Phillies in Philly.  Ryan Howard was back to being the slugger from the regular season.  He blasted two home runs for a total of five runs.  Meanwhile, Joe Blanton, the Phillies starting pitcher, also hit a home run.  That’s the first home run by a pitcher in a World Series in 34 years.  Just amazing.  Now, the Phillies are just one game away from winning the first championship for the Philadelphia area since the NBA’s 76ers won it in 1983.   Phillies ace Cole Hamels will try to close out the series tonight.  The city is electrified.  Philadelphia 10, Tampa Bay 2.

FOOTBALL

Football comes to the UK.  New Orleans and San Diego squared off in Wembley Stadium to a thirsty (American) football crowd.  And boy was it a shootout.  Not only was LaDainian Tomlinson back to his usual form, totaling 170 total yards and a TD.  Philip Rivers was on fire, throwing for 341 yards and three TDs, but… the show belonged to the Saints.  Regardless of losing Reggie Bush for four, the Saints still remain in top offensive form, and Drew Brees is still Drew Brees.  He threw for 339 yards, and three touchdowns, and appears to have found a new No. 1 Receiver in Lance Moore.  He had six receptions for 90 yards and a TD.  The Saints are 4-4, but don’t count them out as Super Bowl contenders.  New Orleans 37, San Diego 32.

The New York Giants traveled to Pittsburgh in a battle of two 5-1 teams.  Ben Roethlisberger was absolutely atrocious throwing for a mere 189 yards, but more notably, four INTERCEPTIONS!!!  But the Giants had to rally in the 4th quarter, and with 3:11 left on the clock, Eli Manning connected on a two yard touchdown pass to skulking Kevin Boss in the back of the end zone.  The Giants move to 6-1, and sit atop the NFC East.  Meanwhile, the Steelers need to seriously evaluate their wounded offense.  NY Giants 21, Pittsburgh 14.

Finally, the Houston Texans look like one of the most exciting teams in the NFL right now.  Their season got off to a sluggish start, as they were hampered by injuries and were molding their new offensive unit.  But now… they’ve clicked.  Matt Shaub is playing out of his mind.  He threw for 280 yards, three TDs, and no interceptions, but he just executes the plays so well, and moves the offense down the field. Their all-pro wide receiver, Andre Johnson, continues to have big games hauling in 145 receiving yards.  No TDs for him on the day, however, as those belonged to their up-and-coming star, Kevin Walter.  He had 70 yards, and grabbed two TD passes.  Combine this with their explosive rookie running-back, Steve Slaton, and this is not a team you want to face in the first round of the playoffs.  They started the season 0-4.  Now they’re 3-4.  How long will their win streak continue?!  Watch out for HOUSTON!!!!!  Houston 35, Cincinnati 6.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: PHILLIES 2-1, COLLEGE FOOTBALL RECAP

BASEBALL

After a 10:06 pm rain delayed start, the Philadelphia Phillies rallied against the Tampa Bay Rays to win the game and take a 2-1 lead in the World Series.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

The Texas Longhorns continue to roll, as they barely beat Oklahoma State on Saturday 28-24.  It was a battle of unbeatens, and it looked like Oklahoma State might actually topple the mighty Longhorns, especially as a result of a key fumble toward the end by Texas.  Oklahoma needed a touchdown with just a minute left in the game, and just couldn’t get the necessary first down to move the ball forward.  Texas QB, and Heisman leader, Colt McCoy made a few rare mistakes, but in the end he still threw for an incredible 391 yards and two TD’s.  This Texas team looks determined.

Now it seems Texas has a huge, dangerous match-up everyweek.  In the last three weeks, they’ve faced #1 Oklahoma, an explosive Missouri team, and an undefeated Oklahoma State.  And next week, they’ll take on another undefeated team… Texas Tech.  Texas Tech absolutely destroyed the Kansas Jayhawks yesterday 63-21.  And the number eight Red Raiders (who will move up come Monday) would like nothing more than to topple their Longhorned Rival.  So it’ll be the near perfect Colt McCoy against the rising Texas Tech quarterback, Graham Harrell, who threw for 386 yards and FIVE TOUCHDOWNS!!!  You can’t miss that game next week.

Elsewhere in the college football world, the Florida Gators are rebounding well after being upset a couple weeks ago.  They trounced the Kentucky Wildcats 63-5.  And in their final touchdown, David Nelson caught the ball at the ten yard line and literally dragged the Kentucky defender into the end zone.  Very funny.  Check out the highlights.

NFL

Finally, today’s featured match-up in the NFL won’t take place in any of the 50 states.  Nope, the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers will battle it out… in London.  This is the NFL’s attempt to bring American football to an international audience.  However, last year, when the Dolphins took on the Giants, it was a pretty quiet stadium, and the London fans hated it when the Giants executed ‘ball control’ at the end of the game.  Essentially, they had a big lead, and just ran the ball, then ran out the clock for the easy win.  But UK fans are used to action-packed soccer match-ups to the very last second when the whistle blows.  They had no patience for a quiet, strategic finish.  Nope, they wanted their money’s worth.  We’ll see how the overseas contest plays out this year.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: NFL DOPING, COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEW

NFL

Some disappointing news.  It appears that 10 players have failed doping tests.  This includes two high-profile guys — the Saints running back, Deuce McAllister, and star Defensive End Will Smith.  Apparently, McAllister was taking water pills in order to lose weight.  Can’t do that.  The Saints are in London right now preparing for a game against the San Diego Chargers, and we’ll have to see how this story develops.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

The marquee match-up this Saturday in College Football:  Penn St. v. Ohio State.  Penn State has been on fire lately, primarily because of their stellar defense.  But after losing to USC early in the season, the Ohio State Buckeyes have made a comeback.  These guys ARE for real, and remember they were without star Running Back Beanie Wells when they traveled to Southern California.  Now, they are healthy, and are captained by the No. 1 Quarterback prospect in the nation, Terrelle Pryor.  And unfortunately for Penn State, they don’t have a good history when playing Ohio State in Columbus.  You can probably expect the Nittany Lion bubble to burst this weekend, and also anticipate everyone talking about a possible National Title for the Buckeyes.

And speaking of USC, they will be taking on the Arizona Wildcats this weekend.  Normally, the Wildcats are just another easy pit stop on USC’s road to perfection, but not this year.  Nope, this season Arizona is actually tied with them at the top of the standings (along with three other teams).  And finally, for the first time in nine years, the Wildcats are to be taken seriously again.  So potentially… Arizona could completely end USC’s National Championship hopes on Saturday.

Finally, Texas’ magic continues.  They are currently No. 1 in the nation now, but in better news, their leader and star quarterback, Colt McCoy, has publicly announced that he plans to stay for his senior season.  Normally, when a team like surging Texas gets all the media attention, their star/marquee players head to the NFL, thinking that their name has the most value for NFL scouts.  However, Colt McCoy is following in Matt Leinart’s footsteps and staying for his senior season even though he could easily get drafted in the first or second round of the NFL draft.  This is excellent for team camaraderie, and Texas may very well be in a position to win the whole thing.

This will be a huge, shake-up weekend in college football, and if you decide to stay inside and glue yourself to your seats, you will be fruitfully rewarded with incredible football action.  (Um, lets not forget about Georgia v. LSU everybody.)

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: RAYS EVEN THE SERIES, BRADY’S KNEE BAD, BOUNTY CONSPIRACY

BASEBALL

And in the World Series, Game 2 was all Rays with a 4-2 win over the Phillies.  It all happened with some clutch RBIs from Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton and Jason Bartlett. Without the stellar pitching from Cole Hamels, the Phillies weren’t as terrifying. (Tampa Bay Rays 4, Philadelphia Phillies 2)

FOOTBALL

Some serious news in the NFL.  It appears that Tom Brady, has had not one, but three knee surgeries.  It turns out that there is an infection in his knee, and now it’s possible (more likely probable) that they will have to reconstruct his knee AGAIN.  This is a very delicate and painful surgery, one athletes fear.  For now, however, the focus is on the infection, because if problems worsen for Brady, he’d be out for more than just a year.  It might end his career.  Scary news, and right now the Patriots already have a lot of question marks on their minds for next season.  Is the Matt Cassel era just a phase, or will it become permanent.  We’ll see.
Also, it appears QB Daunte Culpepper is considering coming out of retirement. Culpepper thrived on the Vikings, but was abysmal on both Miami and Oakland.  Now, however, he’s eyeing a comeback as there are numerous teams out there in dire need of a quarterback.  Namely — the Kansas City Chiefs, who have already contacted Culpepper.  Daunte said he’s not sure if the Chiefs are the right fit, but he’d like to consider other options and help a team win some games.  Keep in mind that this guy retired early, mainly because he couldn’t find a system that had enough weapons for him to truly compete.  Now, perhaps, a team like Kansas City, San Francisco, or Detroit could really use Culpepper to turn their season around.  He’s too good a player to just be sitting on the couch.  Just ask Brett Favre.
Some more heat in the NFL, as there is a possible ‘bounty’ conspiracy.  The Baltimore Ravens Terrell Suggs said in an interview that there was a ‘bounty’ against the Steelers WR Hines Ward and RB Rashard Mendenhall in their last game.  Mendenhall was sidelined for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, and Ward took a few intense hits.  A bounty?  That means that they would be getting paid extra to injure these players.  That’s, um, illegal not just in football but on a much larger scale.  However, Suggs clarified his comments just saying that they were ‘going to keep an eye on those players’.  Hines Ward even said he was honored to have a bounty on him.  Suggs got himself in even more hot water by openly declaring that Troy Smith, the former Heisman winning QB, should be the starter on the Ravens instead of Joe Flacco, the current rookie starter.  He said, “Flacco is alright, but Troy is the better man for the job”.  Way to support your current starting quarterback, Terrell.
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WATERCOOLER CHAT: PHILLIES WIN GAME ONE, ROMO OUT, KOBE OK

Well, the World Series got under way last night between Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, and despite the fact that just about all of America hasn’t heard of any of these players, it was still a great game.  Cole Hamels showcased another terrific performance, and has yet to do ANYTHING wrong in this post-season.  However, Scott Kazmir, the starting pitcher for the Rays, was dealt an early shock as Chase Utley blasted a 2-run homer in the top of the 1st inning to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead.  In the 4th inning, Tampa’s Carl Crawford DID take hold of the seemingly untouchable Hamels, by crushing a home run to bring the score to 3-1.  And in the 5th, Tampa’s Akinori Iwamura hit a clutch double to bring in an RBI, and the score was 3-2.  From then, however, the Phillies put a choke hold on Tampa’s offense.  And the Phillies dominant closer, Brad Lidge, closed out the match-up of Game 1 on the road.  Game 2 is tonight, and you can go ahead and hit reset.  It’s going to be a brand new ball game.  Cole Hamels WON’T be on the mound, and Phillies’ bats are going to have to make some noise. (Phillies 3, Rays 2)

FOOTBALL

Brett Favre came under fire for possibly calling the management of the Detroit Lions to give them tips for how to beat the Green Bay Packers (his former team) in Week 2.  However, Brett Favre denied all these accusations as merely rumor, and said, “I don’t have a playbook from Green Bay. I didn’t send the playbook. I didn’t call him and say, ‘Look, if you do this, you’re going to win the game.’ I didn’t do that.”  While it does seem like a possible and not ‘too’ far-fetched of a situation, it still seems more like a media story to just… have a story to tell.

Now, Tony Romo tells the media he is hoping to be 100% by November 16th.  What started as being ready to play last week will now stretch almost a month.  Terrible news for Dallas.  Cowboys fans will just have to hope that QB Brad Johnson doesn’t mess up too badly in Romo’s absence.

BASKETBALL

And finally, in the NBA, a BIG scare for Lakers fans.  Two nights ago, the Lakers took on the Charlotte Bobcats in a meaningless preseason game.  But Kobe hyper-extended his knee and had to come out of the game.  Kobe admitted he was terrified, and thought the injury would turn out serious, possibly even sidelining him for a couple months or even the whole season.  But, lucky for him, his treatment didn’t require any surgery, but rather just an ice bag and a day off.  Is this a sign for the Lakers?  Will they get back to the promised land and actually WIN this time around.  If so, that ice bag might just deserve all the credit

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: ROMO’S PINKIE, WORLD SERIES

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, the Tony Romo ‘pinkie’ drama continues.  Last week, Romo dressed for the game against the Rams and was seemingly ready to step in as a back-up quarterback.  Now… Romo, himself said that he doesn’t think he can play this coming Sunday against Tampa Bay, or even, possibly, against the crucial November 2nd match-up against the New York Giants.  Having Romo sidelined is a huge blow for an already struggling Cowboys team.

Also, the Patriots all-star safety, Rodney Harrison, is reportedly not only out for the rest of the season with a torn right thigh muscle, but also out with a potential career ending injury.  The Pats will sorely miss Harrison’s presence on defense.

And Reggie Bush, the Saints stud running back, injured his meniscus. Apparently, this is a very tricky surgery, one athletes truly dread for fear of ‘bad career news’.  But, for Bush, the surgery was a success and doctors are saying he will only miss 3-4 weeks.  However, for the Saints, that is costly time, and it severely weakens their running game.  As you know, having a dangerous, multi-headed running attack is the key to their explosive passing game.  Drew Brees leads the NFL in passing yards, but those numbers could quickly slip without Bush in the line-up.

BASEBALL

Finally, The World Series starts Wednesday night, and, unfortunately, will probably bow to very bad ratings.  However, it should be a classic match-up.  Cole Hamels will take the mound for Philly, while lefty Scott Kazmir will start for Tampa.  The storyline of the game:  Will Philly overcome their 25 year drought, or will Tampa Bay win it’s first World Series and become one of the greatest underdog stories ever (considering they had 11 losing seasons prior to this year).

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