Archive for December, 2008

WATERCOOLER CHAT: PATERNO KEEPS ON GOING, MANNINGS TO PRO BOWL, T.O. DRAMA,

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

The Rose Bowl bound Penn State has given their 82-year old head coach, Joe Paterno, a 3-year extension.  That’s truly remarkable!  After they won the Big 10 this year, Joe Paterno had hip replacement surgery.  Joe ‘Pa’ has been with the team for 43 years, and apparently wants to keep on coaching.  Of course he has help on the sideline, and there are stipulations in the contract that give Penn State a way out if anything ‘happens’, or if Joe just wants to retire and chill.  But for now, Paterno is still calling the shots in State College, PA.

NFL

Some interesting (and historic) Pro Bowl selections came out today.  Peyton Manning will be making his ninth trip to the Pro Bowl.  And his brother, NY Giants Quarterback Eli Manning, will be making his first.  For the first time in Pro Bowl history, two brothers will start at quarterback for opposing teams.  Granted, they will probably only play one half of football, but the spectacle alone will be fun to watch.  Plus, one of them might be coming off a Super Bowl win.

Last week, the Cowboys clubhouse was plagued by Terrell Owens supposed complaints.  He allegedly said that Tony Romo and Tight End Jason Witten were spending time drawing up plays, and that Romo threw to Witten even when he [Owens] was open.  Well… according to an ESPN interview with Terrell Owens, this was all false.  Owens claims he never made those complaints, and it was just a made up rumor by an “unnamed player”.  Sound dramatic.  Why can’t these guys just play football?

NBA

There was an all-star studded game between the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets.  These two teams have always been highlight reels, but their marquee players are usually injured at one time or another, and you never see the show all at once.  Well… last night everybody was out.  Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Ron Artest, Carmelo Anthony, and… Chauncy Billups, who has completely turned the Nuggets around since arriving.  The Nuggets seem to have gotten the better side of that Allen Iverson trade.  The Nuggets looked to keep their 4-game winning streak alive, but the Rockets were just too much.  Behind Tracy McGrady’s triple-double (20pts, 14 Rebs, 10 Assts), the Rockets rolled.  But… Denver fans truly have something to cheer about this season.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: EAGLES DOMINATE MNF, CELTICS/CLEVELAND STATE WIN, AFL NO MORE

NFL

On Monday Night Football, it was the Eagles and the Browns.  The Eagles have had some ugly games this year (their ugly overtime game against the Bengals being a great example), but they have quietly put together a good season.  They were 7-5-1 coming into the game, and full of playoff hopes.  The game wasn’t close to any degree, and Donovan McNabb gave a beautiful performance with 290 yards and two touchdown passes.  Now, what seems like a last-ditch-effort coaching move by Andy Reid (benching McNabb a few weeks ago), looks like it was just the motivator Donovan needed.  He’s looked great since being sidelined for the remainder of a game.  And each week he shoulders all the pressure from Philly fans wanting their team to get the playoffs.  The Eagles pummeled the Browns, and now need to win their next two games and get some help with an Atlanta or Tampa Bay loss.  However, those two remaining games for the Eagles:  The Redskins and Cowboys.  It’s not gonna be easy.  Philadelphia 30, Cleveland 10.

NBA

The Celtics improved their win streak to 15 games against the Utah Jazz.  And most of the effort came not from the Big 3 (Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett), but from their young point guard Rajon Rondo.  He almost had another triple-double with 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists.  Should this be a Big Four as opposed to just three?  Rondo’s pretty amazing.  Meanwhile, Paul Millsap had 32 points for the Jazz — a brilliant offensive performance that came out of NOWHERE.  Perhaps the Jazz have found another weapon as well.  Boston 100, Utah 91.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

A MAJOR UPSET.  Syracuse looks back to their old form this year after enduring a string of mediocre seasons since The Carmelo Anthony Era in 2003.  They were 9-0 and ranked #11 coming into the game.  It was supposed to be a throwaway, booster-happy game against the small conference Cleveland State, but this game was a thrill ride.  The game was tied until the last seconds, when Cleveland State’s Cedric Jackson nailed a 60 FOOT SHOT to win the game!  In-cred-i-ble!!!  What a great moment for Cleveland State fans (if there are any).  Cleveland State 72, Syracuse 69.

AFL

Finally, some more economic bad news for sports fans.  The Arena Football League has voted to cancel their ’09 season. The Arena Football League takes over after the NFL season concludes to satiate that NEED for football of some kind.  It has struggled financially in years past, and now with the economy in a recession they don’t feel they can be profitable in 2009.  They’ve said they’re going to close up shop for a season, and figure out how they can develop a new business model to succeed in 2010.  And in an era where even the mighty NFL is lowerling playoff ticket prices, a developing league like the AFL really doesn’t have a chance.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: NFL WEEKEND UPDATE

NFL

Quick question:  What the heck happened to Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tavaris Jackson. He was the starting QB when the season began, but after too awful performances he was relegated to the bench.  Now, with an injured Gus Frerotte, Jackson got the chance to start again.  And it seems that watching and learning worked out well for Jackson.  He had, count ’em, four Touchdown passes against Arizona on Sunday, and looked like a totally different player.  Their running back, Adrian Peterson, also had a phenomenal day with 165 rushing yards.  If Minny makes the playoffs, their solid defense, and now emerging offense make them a serious Super Bowl threat.  Minnesota 35, Arizona 14.

In Houston, the Texans looked to continue their win streak against the dominant Tennessee Titans.  And they got a huge day from their star Wide Receiver, Andre Johnson.  He had a total of 207 yards and TD, making him the first player in franchise history to have a 200 yard game.  Another franchise record was broken, as their rookie running back, Steve Slaton, rushed for yet another 100-yard game, giving him a total of 1,124 rushing yards.  With that number, he passes Dominick Williams in 2003 for most rushing yards by a rookie.  Houston 13, Tennessee 12.

In Indianapolis, the winless Lions were hoping to finally break that ugly streak.  They played well, and their star Wide Receiver Calvin Johnson had 110 yards and a TD, but their defense simply couldn’t put the brakes on the Peyton Manning show; namely the chemistry between Manning and his Tight End, Dallas Clark.  Clark had 142 yards and a TD on the day, and the Lions continue to have a donut in the win column.  They only have two more chances to nab a win.  If they don’t, nobody really wants to hear excuses for NOT WINNING A SINGLE GAME!  Indianapolis 31, Detroit 21.

Finally, in Jacksonville, the Packers came to town hoping to keep their slim shot at the playoffs alive.  When the season began, QB Aaron Rodgers and Packers looked terrific.  The Brett Favre era in Green Bay seemed to be definitively over, and a new guy would lead them to the promised land.  But as the season progressed, the Packers did not.  They were a mistake ridden team, and are now fighting to get into the playoffs.  Well, on the last drive of the game, with all their playoff hopes on the line, Rodgers threw an interception to effectively end their season.  There will be grumblings in Wisconsin during the off-season, to be sure.  Meanwhile, Old Man Brett Favre is close to clinching a playoff spot with the New York Jets.  Go figure.   Jacksonville 20, Green Bay 16.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: HEISMAN TROPHY TO SAM BRADFORD

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

It’s official:  This year’s Heisman Trophy recipient is Oklahoma Sooners’ Quarterback Sam Bradford. He had an incredible year in the Big 12, and will be playing in the BCS National Championship game against Florida on January 8th.  Bradford is also predicted to be a top pick in the 09 NFL Draft.  He thanked God, his parents, his coach, and his entire team by individual position.

NBA

The Cavs looked to improve their win streak to 12 games against the Atlanta Hawks.  Cleveland’s win streak actually began with the Atlanta Hawks 11 games ago. Lebron had 33 points on the night, but this was Atlanta’s night.  It was a neck and neck game all the way up to the end, but Atlanta’s Joe Johnson had a huge fourth quarter with 11 points, and Mike Bibby had some clutch assists to barely edge the Cavs.  Atlanta 97, Cleveland 92.

Elsewhere in the NBA, Philadelphia has given up on head coach Maurice Cheeks.  The 76ers were supposed to compete in the East this year due to the key addition of superstar free agent, Elton Brand.  However, that experiment didn’t work out, and the Sixers are 9-14, after losing 8 of their last 10 games.  Not good news for a head coach.  Cheeks was fired yesterday, and hopefully his replacement can help turn things around in Philly.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Another record came to end.  The #23 Kansas Jayhawks currently have a 30-game home winning streak, and were expected to easily topple a 2-6 UMASS team.  But, this pesky UMASS team just wouldn’t quit.  They even pulled up by 11 points in the first half.  Kansas came back in the second, but UMASS simply kept the heat up.  Keep in mind too, that UMASS’s coach is Derek Kellogg, the assistant coach at Memphis last season.  And for those of you who forgot, Memphis lost to Kansas in last year’s championship game by one point off a last second shot by Mario Chalmers that unnecessarily sent that game into overtime.  This time, however, Coach Kellogg saw that play coming, as Tony Gaffney got piece of Kansas’ Sherron Collins last second shot, and the UMASS Minutemen held on to win the game.   Ricky Harris led the way for UMASS with 18 points.  UMASS 61, Kansas 60.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: CAVS ON ROLL, ROMO NOT FAIR, HEISMAN’S BIG NIGHT

NBA

Well, LeBron and the Cavs just keep on rolling, winning their 11th straight against Philadelphia.  Of course, LeBron James led the way for the Cavs with 28 points, while shooting guard Willie Green put up 19 for the Sixers.  The Cavs are now 13-0 at home.  And keep this in mind — Cleveland started out the season at 1-2 (a sign that an average season is coming).  But their year has been anything but average for the Cavs, as with this win they tied the franchise win streak record.   Cleveland 88, Philadelphia 72.

While the Cavs might be scorching right now, they still can’t get out from the Celtics’ shadow.  They played host to the New Orleans Hornets last night and looked to improve to brilliant 22-2.  Boston started the game off sloppy, but then regained their mojo in the 2nd half behind a dominant Paul Pierce.  He had 28 points on the night, while David West led the way for the Hornets.  We’ll have to wait until January 9th to watch the Boston/Cleveland face off, but every NBA fan will be glued to that game.  Boston 94, New Orleans 82.

NFL

It appears that Terrell Owens’ grievance against Tony Romo is a much larger concern than we first thought.  Owens called Romo out for conspiring to throw to Witten more often.  Many thought this was just Owens running his mouth, but, apparently, other players on the team feel the same way about Romo.   Some members of the defense thought he favored Witten as well, even if Witten was covered, and T.O. could make the play.  And when your defense says you’re playing favorites… not a good sign for Mr. Jessica Simpson.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Tonight is the Heisman Trophy ceremony.  The candidates are Florida’s quarterback, Tim Tebow, Texas’ Colt McCoy, and Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford.  Tebow won the trophy last year, and will go for two.  But it wouldn’t be a surprise to see one of the other two take home the statue.  And if you’re betting money, go with Bradford.  He threw A LOT of touchdown passes this year.  A… LOT!!  At least Bradford and Tebow will face off in the BCS Championship on January 7th.  That should settle something, right?

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: FREE AGENT SIGNINGS, BEARS WIN IN OT, CELTICS WIN, TO GOSSIP

BASEBALL

The winter meetings just concluded in Las Vegas.  That’s where managers talk about the upcoming season, but primarily — it’s all about free agent signings.  Two days ago, C.C. Sabathia signed with the New York Yankees for $161 million dollars.  That’s not bad, but there are still two other big name players looking to cash in.  Those names… the Rangers’ Mark Teixeria, and LA Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez.  It’s no guarantee that either player will leave their current team, but they both had monster years last season, and will be looking to bank that success.

NBA

The Boston Celtics just keep rolling along. They are now 21-2, and on an incredible win streak.  Last night, their prey… the Washington Wizards.  And they absolutely massacred Washington (not too much of an accomplishment, but still).  Paul Pierce and Ray Allen led the way, with each putting up 22 points.  It seems to be almost a lock (baring injury) that the Celtics and Cavs will have a show down in the Eastern Conference Finals.  Boston 122, Washington 88.

NFL

Some Thursday night action between the Bears and the Saints. Chicago jumped out to a big lead in the first half, but rallied back behind their rookie running back, Pierre Thomas, who broke away for a 42 yard touchdown in the 3rd quarter.  Then, in the 4th, Saints QB Drew Brees hit his old favorite receiver Marques Colston for an 11-yard strike, putting them up 24-21.  But, the Bears would force an over time with 2 seconds left on the clock, as kicker Robbie Gould hit a clutch 28-yard field goal.  And then in OT, it was Gould again, booting a 35-yard field goal to win the game.  Chicago 27, New Orleans 24.

Finally, a bit of a humorous gossip story from the NFL.  Apparently, Terrell Owens has made his thoughts clear about Cowboys QB Tony Romo.  His grievance:  He’s jealous of Romo’s friendship (and thus passing chemistry) with tight end Jason Witten. Owens thinks that Romo and Witten hold private meetings to plan plays, and then throw to Witten no matter what, even if Owens is open.  Remember — these are just Terrell Owens… assumptions.  But you have to admit, they’re pretty imaginative.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: CC TO YANKEES, HEISMAN FINALISTS, NBA UPDATE

BASEBALL

C.C. Sabathia is the hottest free agent in baseball.  Many big market teams have been courting him, and it looks like the C.C. Sweepstakes are over.  Reportedly, Sabathia has signed the largest contract for a pitcher IN HISTORY.  The winner… you guessed it, the New York Yankees.  They shelled out $161 million to get him for the next seven years.  Wow!  Sabathia is known for being a ‘clubhouse’ guy, meaning he’s great for morale on top of his talent.  But man, $161 million for a good personality — that’s tremendous!  Now the question is… can he stand up to the pressure of Yankees fans.  New York has brought in several huge contract players in the last 10 years, and they are expected to be great every single second that they’re on the field.  That kind of stress can seriously affect a player’s performance.  Right now, Yanks fans are cheering, but will they be celebrating come October?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

The Heisman Trophy finalists were announced today.  Yep, big surprise, it’s three good-looking quarterbacks.  They include Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, Texas’ Colt McCoy, and last year’s winner, Florida’s Tim Tebow.  Tebow is the favorite, but Bradford could easily take the prize.  The weird thing is that the committee usually selects three to five players (based on votes) and Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell, who had a phenomenal underdog season, was not invited.  That’s quite a kick in the face to their thrilling ride to the #2 spot towards the end of the season.  Either way, the top two candidates will be squaring off in this year’s BCS Championship Game.

NBA

A baby Blockbuster trade between the Charlotte Bobcats and Phoenix Suns.  The Suns acquire Bobcats star shooting guard Jason Richardson for two of their mainstays, Boris Diaw and Raja Bell.  The move is essentially an attempt by the Suns to go for the Championship one last time with their aging Hall of Fame point guard, Steve Nash, still at the helm.  Richardson will take some of the pressure off Nash, and with Amare Stoudamire really becoming a dominant force this season — now seems like the right time to just go for it.  That is, before it’s too late.

Finally, the red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers tried to win their 10th straight.  And by the way, they won those games easily, with LeBron barely having to break a sweat in the 4th quarter.  Last night, they took on the Philadelphia 76ers, and this one was a little closer, but not that  close.  LeBron put up 29 points, and he and the Cavs look untouchable now.  They don’t play the other Eastern Goliath, Boston, until January 9th, but that game is on every NBA die-hards radar, to be SURE.  Cleveland 101, Philadelphia 93.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: NFL CUTTING BACK, PORTIS UPSET, LAKERS UPSET, C.C. COVETED

NFL

It seems this National recession has affected the National Football League as well.  Yesterday, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that 150 people would be laid off across all sectors:  Headquarters in New York, NFL Films in New Jersey, and television and production facilities in Los Angeles.  They even announced earlier this year that playoff ticket prices would be lowered by 10%.  The NFL is by far the most profitable of all major American sports, but even they are not recession proof.

Elsewhere in the NFL, Washington Redskins star running back Clinton Portis has publicly called out their rookie head coach, Jim Zorn.  Zorn pulled Portis out of the game against the Baltimore Ravens in the first half, citing that Portis’ lack of practice time that week had finally caught up to him.  Well… Portis… didn’t… like… that.  He said, “Either you feel like you need to sever ties with me — split ties with me — but don’t sit here and throw me out like I don’t pay attention, like I don’t know what’s going on, like I’m making mistakes, like I’m the problem,” Portis said. “It is what it is, bro.”  In short, Portis feels disrespected by his coach.  And when you’ve got this kind of dynamic going on — that can pretty much put the cap on playoff hopes.

NBA

A stunning upset.  The Lakers were 16-2 on the year, crushing almost all teams in the path.  However, last night they headed up north to Sacramento to face the Kings; a Kings team looking to snap an 8-game home losing streak.  The game was close, and Kobe put up 28 points, but it was simply the Kings night.  John Salmons led the way for Sacramento with 21 points, and the Kings closed the lid on both their home losing stretch AND… the Lakers.  Sacramento 113, LA Lakers 101.

BASEBALL

The coveted free agent this off season is definitely C.C. Sabathia. Yesterday, there was rumor that he would head to the Dodgers, but today it was reported that the Yankees paid him a visit.  THAT… is never good for any team hoping to land a star free agent, as the Yanks have the money to spend.  But this doesn’t scare teams off, and it was also reported that the San Francisco Giants met with C.C. as well, and they plan to meet again.  Perhaps they are just as much in the running to land him.  This would be great news for SF Giants fans, as their team has been rather awful the last few years.  We’ll keep you posted on the Sabathia drama as it unfolds.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: CAROLINA OVER TAMPA BAY, MINNESOTA COACHING CHANGE, MCCOY TO STAY, C.C. WANTS TO BE A DODGER

NFL

Monday Night Football gave us a thrill-ride of a game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers.  The offensive performances alone were electrifying.  Carolina’s running back tandem of DeAngelo Williams and rookie Jonathan Stewart ran for a combined 301 yards and four TDs.   That’s incredible!  They played so well, the Panthers practically abandoned their passing game for the night.  Williams even set the Carolina record for most touchdowns in a season.  Meanwhile, Buccaneers receiver Antonio Bryant had 200 RECEIVING YARDS and two touchdowns.  Williams and Bryant aren’t big names in the NFL, but they sure are making themselves WELL known.  Carolina took the game easily, and with the win they have established themselves as one of the best teams in the NFL as they improved to 10-3.  Carolina 38, Tampa Bay 23.

NBA

In the NBA, the Minnesota Timberwolves have gotten off to a horrible start.  They’re 4-15 and don’t seem to be getting any better.  That’s why they fired their head coach Randy Wittman today.  However, some good news for T-Wolves fans, he will be replaced by NBA Legend (and Minny’s general manager) Kevin McHale.  McHale might be a good coaching change, but he has caught some serious flack lately because of how this year’s NBA Draft panned out.  On Draft Night, McHale traded a potential franchise player, O.J. Mayo, to Memphis for Kevin Love and Mike Miller.  What looked like a brainy move on draft night, now looks pretty dumb as Mayo is turning into a superstar in Memphis, and Love and Miller are, well… the Wolves are 4-15.  (Note:  The Grizzlies are 6-15, but they are starting to jell).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

In college football, some GREAT news for Texas Longhorns fans, as their All-American, pretty boy quarterback has decided to return for his senior season.  McCoy was projected to be a first round pick in the NFL draft, but has said, “I’m not going anywhere”.  He likes the Texas coaching staff and feels they can win a National Championship with all the pieces in place.  Still, you have to wonder when someone passes up all that money with a serious risk of injury, but it must be nice to be the Big Man On Campus at UT.  So… you really can’t blame him for staying.  First things first, however, as Colt McCoy and the Longhorns have to battle Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

BASEBALL

Apparently, Milwaukee Brewers star free-agent pitcher, C.C. Sabathia has stated that he wants to be a Dodger.  That’s the Los Angeles Dodgers.  If he does in fact sign with the Dodgers, he could be the final piece they need get to the Series.  Last year, the Dodgers added slugger Manny Ramirez toward the end of the season, and boy was that a smart move.  In an instant, the Dodgers found themselves in the NLCS.  Now, if they keep Manny AND get Sabathia, all the pieces could be in place to play in the big one.  Maybe even win it.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: NFL UPDATES, FLORIDA VS OKLAHOMA IN BCS

NFL

The Dallas Cowboys headed to blistery temperatures in Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers.  And the ‘Boys’ were without their star running back, Marion Barber.  This was a tough game for Tony Romo, who just couldn’t get into a groove.  He threw three interceptions in the game, and only one TD.  Pittsburgh’s defense was practically impenetrable, and they could be a serious underdog Super Bowl candidate.  That is… if they ever get their offense going.  Pittsburgh 20, Dallas 13.

Over in New Orleans, it was an NFC South showdown between the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints.  The NFC South is interesting, because everyone in the division has a winning record.  This game was a back and forth battle, and with 7:51 left in the 4th Quarter, Falcons rookie phenom QB, Matt Ryan, ran in a 12-yard touchdown to put the Falcons up 25-22.  But, on the ensuing kickoff, Saints running back Pierre Thomas ran back a kick-off 88 yards to put the Saints in prime scoring range.  Then, Thomas ran in a 5-yard touchdown to put the Saints on top… where they would stay.  With the win, the Saints playoff hopes are still alive.  New Orleans 29, Atlanta 25.

And the Detroit Lions were looking for their first win of the season against the first place Minnesota Vikings.  Heading into the 4th quarter, they led 13-10, and thought they might actually take this one.  But their defense simply collapsed under the pressure, and Vikings QB Gus Ferrotte hit Tight End Visanthe Shiancoe for an 11-yard touchdown, putting them up 17-13.  The Lions just couldn’t match the TD, and fell to a pathetic 0-13.  Will Detroit get a win before season’s end?  It’s anybody’s guess.  Minnesota 20, Detroit 13.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Finally, the BCS Bowls were announced yesterday, and playing in the BIG GAME — it’s Florida v. Oklahoma.  This should be an incredible game, as both teams are very well rounded.  Plus, they both have explosive high-powered offenses.  In the other games, USC will take on Penn State in the Rose Bowl.  Undefeated Utah will battle the former #1 Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl.  ACC Champion Virginia Tech will square off against Big East Champ Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl.  And in the Fiesta Bowl, it’ll be Texas and Ohio State.  All of these are evenly matched, and will make for some great New Years fun.

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