Archive for June, 2009

WATERCOOLER CHAT: NFL SIGNING NEWS, FAVRE STILL UNDECIDED, MONTANA TO HUSKIES

With the NBA Finals awaiting Game 4, and the NHL Finals awaiting a much anticipated Game 7 on Friday night, it was a relatively quiet day in the sports world.

NFL

Mark SanchezIn the NFL, the New York Jets have finally signed their new USC rookie phenom, Mark Sanchez, to a contract.  The good news for Sanchez, the Jets wanted Sanchez bad, as they traded up a few picks to get him at the #5 spot.   We don’t know exactly how much the deal is worth, but it’s estimated to be around a 5-year deal worth between $50 – $60million dollars.  Wow, now that’s a nice pay day.  Due to this high salary, it’s very likely that Sanchez will be the starter rather quickly.  While Kellen Clements in the QB battle with Sanchez, most football experts believe Sanchez will be the starter in Week 1.

Brett Favre.jpgElsewhere in the NFL, the Brett Favre drama is quickly diminishing.  First off, Minnesota Vikings coach publicly said that he never gave Favre a deadline to choose or not.  The fact is that there was a team workout on Friday, and Coach Childress simply wanted to know if he was coming or not.  So this whole, “Favre has till the end of the week to decide if he will play in Minnesota next season” was totally bogus.  It fell out of the sky.  As of now, the Vikings will simply just ‘wait and see’, and assume that the 09 season will take place without Favre.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

And some very cool news out of the college football world.  The Washington Huskies were among college football elite in the 80s and early half of the 90s.  You could say they were in the top 10 nationally almost every year, and were right up there with the likes of Florida/Michigan/Texas.  However, in the past decade and a half, they have severly cooled, and last year played one of their worst seasons ever — finishing the year without a win.  Well now, they just signed one of the most coveted recruits in the nation to be their new quarterback.  And this isn’t just any recruit, this is Nick Montana, son of the legendary Joe Montana.  Having a big name like that on campus could definitely turn around the current image of Washington Huskie football.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: MAGIC WINS GAME 3, MLB DRAFT

NBA

In the NBA, it was a crucial Game 3 in the Finals between the Lakers and the Magic.  Except this time, it was on Orlando’s home court.

Phil JacksonBefore the game, however, Lakers coach Phil Jackson publicly stated he thought Pau Gasol goal tended at the end of Game 2.  On Sunday, the Magic’s Courtney Lee had one last chance to win the game with 0.5 seconds left, but he missed an ally-oop layup (not an exactly an easy task nonetheless).  Pau Gasol jumped up, and many thought he hit the rim.  Coach Jackson agreed, and while he didn’t quite call in ‘goal tending’ (‘basket interference’ was the term he used), he did say Gasol got in the way.  Nevertheless, his opinion really has no bearing on the series.

So in Game 2, the Magic would need to shoot the ball much better if they wanted to beat the Lakers.  And they came out red-hot, hitting shots from everywhere.  It would have been a first half blowout if it wasn’t for Kobe Bryant’s electric 21 points.  He has been a madman in this tournament, and was practically the only thing keeping the Lakers in the game.  Then, in the second half the Magic kept their lead, even finished the night shooting an NBA Finals best 62.5% (that’s a record), but, somehow, the Lakers tied the game at 99 with just 2 minutes to play.  Wow, what a comeback!!

Then, with the Magic up to with 30 seconds to play, the ball was once again in the hands of Kobe Bryant.  As a side note, Bryant wants to be Michael Jordan — he wants that historic highlight we watch for years to come, but, unfortunately, that desire has been his detriment.  When Kobe tried to drive, Rashard Lewis tipped the ball, and it was stolen by Mickael Pietrus.  He hit two clutch free throws, and put the Magic up by four.  The Lakers got a last second basket, but it simply wasn’t enough, and Magic get their first win of the series.  Orlando 108, LA Lakers 104.

MLB

Scott BorasElsewhere in sports it was the annual, yep, MLB Draft.  The major league baseball draft is certainly a big deal, but gets a much lower profile than either the NBA or NFL.  One reason, it takes place during the season.  The other reason, while they might get drafted, some of the top picks may still spend a year or two in the minor leagues before we see them.  Well, the first pick was a huge deal this year, as the most coveted pitching prospect of all time was up for grabs.  His name:  Stephen Strasburg, and he was drafted by the Washington Nationals.  He is repped by the notorious Scott Boras, and it’s reported he will probably make between 10 and 12 million his first year in the league.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: FAVRE HAS DEADLINE, TEXAS LONGHORNS TO WORLD SERIES, 92 MILL IN SOCCER

The sports world was on hold yesterday, with both the NBA and NHL on off-days in their championship series.  However, there were still some items of note.

NFL

Brett FavreSomehow Brett Favre snuck into the public conscious again during an off-season.  Favre retired last year from the NY Jets after a comeback year, but now appears to want to play again.  The team in question this year:  The Minnesota Vikings.  In the past few weeks, Favre expressed interest, then the Vikings expressed interest, then Favre said he was still retired and ‘didn’t’ want to play, then blah blah blah — it never ends.  But now, the Minnesota Vikings have put a ticking clock on it, telling Favre that he has until the end of the week to decide if he’s playing next year in Minnesota or not.

Well, you can certainly understand this from Minnesota’s point of view, but at the same time, Brett Favre just had surgery on his bicep tendons.  This was a relatively serious surgery, and he’s not fully recovered at this time.  Therefore, it’s hard for him to fully commit to playing an NFL season if he doesn’t know he’s fully healthy.  So he may have to refuse the offer simply because he’s just not ready.  Then again, Favre wants to play in the limelight again, and the Vikings are certainly a Super Bowl contender.  Taking the gig could give him the keys to kingdom.  It’s a tough call, and we will note further developments.

COLLEGE BASEBALL

Elsewhere in sports, the Texas Longhorns have finally ended their College World Series drought.  Earlier this decade, they were a dominant team in college baseball, but have fallen off the radar the last 3 seasons.  Yesterday, they beat TCU to send them to Omaha, Nebraska for the college world series.  Only 8 teams are invited to this special event, and now Texas will try to re-create legendary baseball prominence they had from the first half of the decade.

SOCCER

Kaka.jpgFor those of you not interested in international soccer teams, it’s understandable.  However, player signings are interesting from a pure financial standpoint.  The best players in the world get an insane amount of money to sign with a team, and these players essentially rotate between the top 6 teams in the world.  Now, AC Milan’s (Italy) best player — the Brazilian Kaka, has reportedly signed a 92 MILLION DOLLAR DEAL to play for Real Madrid in Spain for the next 6 years.  That sets the record for most expensive signing in soccer history.  Wow — let’s just hope he doesn’t get hurt or… stink.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: LAKERS UP BY 2, 18 INNINGS FOR PADRES AND DBACKS

NBA

Kobe BryantIt was Game 2 of the NBA Finals last night, and the Magic were looking not only for a win, but to prove that they belong in this series.  They were absolutely destroyed by the Lakers in Game 1, and needed a big comeback if they expected to compete with the Lakers in Game 2.  Well, the game stayed neck and neck for a while, but the Magic still struggled to hit their shots.  Essentially, the big reason Orlando even made it to the Finals was their exceptional shooting percentage. They hit their shots at will up to this point, but they have struggled mightily in this series.

With the exception of Rashard Lewis (34 points in Game 2) the Magic had yet another off-night shooting.  They were 41% from the field, compared to the Lakers 46%, except that the Lakers have more weapons than just shooting (defense, big low-post, Kobe Bryant).  With all that said, the game still came down to the wire.  With the score tied in the remaining seconds of the 4th quarter, Kobe Bryant tried to juke and drive to the lane, but when he went up for a shot, he was blocked by Hedo Turkoglu.  It was a BRILLIANT defenseive play, and that sent a frustrated Kobe Bryant to the bench.  However, the Magic did have one last play with about a half-second remaining.  They threw a beautiful inbound lob to Courtney Lee on a lay-up ally-oop, but…. he just missed it.  And we’re talking in-and-out of the rim.  We were headed to overtime.

In overtime, however, it was all Lakers.  Kobe finished the game with 29 points, but the overtime show belonged to Pau Gasol and key reserve Lamar Odom.  They hit some fantastic shots under pressure, and also sunk some key free throws.  The Lakers hung on to win the game, and now have a commanding 2-0 leading heading back to Orlando.  Remember, however, that the next 3 GAMES are in Orlando.  So it is conceivable that the Magic could win 3 straight, and return to the Staples center with a 3-2 lead.  Then again, that’s probably not likely, and many are picking the Lakers to close this out in 5 games total.  But never say never.  LA Lakers 101, Orlando 96.

MLB

Mark ReynoldsElsewhere in the sports, a marathon game between the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks.  The Arizona D-Backs were leading the whole game, but in the 9th inning, they completely blew a huge lead.  Exciting for fans, but it took not 1, not 2, but an additional 9 innings to finish the game.  That’s like watching two full baseball games in a row.  A total run-time of 5 hours and 45 minutes.  Then, in the 18th inning, Arizona’s Mark Reynolds sent a shot to right field, and HOME RUN.  3 runs scored!!  And, unfortunately (or fortunately… if you’re a tired Padre fan) San Diego couldn’t tie the game in the bottom of the 18th.  Arizona 9, San Diego 6.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: LAKERS WIN GAME ONE

NBA

Last night, the much anticipated NBA Finals kicked off between the underdog Orlando Magic, and the Los Angeles Lakers juggernaut.  Many thought this series could go either way, and that the Magic were not just “happy to be there”.  However, you just can’t underestimate Kobe’s understanding that he is in the prime of his career, and Championship opportunities will become increasingly difficult after this season.  This IS his chance to win his 4th championship, and by many standards, launch himself into the Top 7 players of all time.

And with all that said, Thursday night was Kobe’s night.  He totally dominated, putting up 40 points, 8 assists, and 8 rebounds.  He was a monster out there.  The game was close in the first quarter, but towards the end of the 1st Half, the Lakers pulled away, and led by 10 at the break.  Then, in the 3rd quarter, it was the Kobe Bryant show.  He just couldn’t be stopped.  Meanwhile, the Magic, a team largely reliant on their shooting, were ice cold.  Every one of their starting 5 had an off night, and even their former all-star point guard, Jameer Nelson, came into the game and was pretty average.  The 4th quarter was practically an exhibition game for the Lakeshow, and the Magic will have to truly re-focus if they want to even compete with the Lakers in Game 2.  LA Lakers 100, Orlando 75.

MLB

Randy Johnson.jpgElsewhere in sports, some historic news from the baseball world.  Randy Johnson, THE UNIT, finally got his 300th win against a putrid Washington Nationals team.  He only had 2 strikeouts, but also only allowed 2 hits.  It was a nice 6-inning performance, and with this win, he becomes only the 24th player in baseball history to reach 300 wins.  At the same time, his San Francisco Giants are having a pretty decent year, sitting in 2nd place in the NL West.  They could definitely make some noise this post-season.  San Francisco 5, Washington 1.

NHL

Sidney CrosbyFinally, in the hockey world, the Pittsburgh Penguins were looking to knot the Stanley Cup Finals at 2 games a piece.  Well, they did it.  And the hero of the night was Pittsburgh’s superstar Sidney Crosby. He had a key goal and a fantastic assist in the 2nd period to put the Penguins up 4-2, enough to demoralize and thus paralyze the Red Wings in the 3rd period.  At the beginning of this series, it appeared that the Red Wings would dominate.  But, now, with the series tied, Pittsburgh suddenly thinks they can win, and the Red Wings, oddly, think that they can lose.  Game 5 is in Detroit, and they sorely need a win on their home ice.  Pittsburgh 4, Detroit 2.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: SHAQ ROOTING FOR KOBE

A bit of a quiet day in the sports world with the NBA Finals set to begin Thursday night.

NBA

Shaquille O'NealBut hey, there is a little bit of Finals news.  It appears that the Lakers can count on having at least one more fan in the stands.  Yes, Shaquille O’Neal has publicly stated that he will be rooting for Kobe and the Lakers to win it all.  This is huge for Kobe who’s always been a rival to Shaq.  But now Shaq said he really wants Kobe to win his 4th championship.  People currently think that Kobe can’t win a championship without Shaq, but Kobe has stated that people were crazy for thinking Shaq could have won those 3 championships without HIM.  So for Shaq to pull for Kobe is a very mature step in their feud.  Perhaps it’s all behind both of them.

SOCCER

Landon DonovanIt’s World Cup Qualifying time in soccer.  Many don’t realize that the 32 teams on display every four years for the World Cup had a very long road to get there.  It’s a grueling qualifying process, and many strong teams don’t even make it to the big tournament.  Well, the U.S. has always struggled in Costa Rica, and this year was no different.  They were pummeled 3-1 in an important qualifying match, and didn’t look like they were poised to compete on the World Stage just yet.  Their only goal was scored by Landon Donovan on a penalty kick, and that’s not exactly something to get excited about.  Let’s hope they improve in the next few matches.

MLB

And in baseball, Ichiro Suzuki was looking to extend his hit streak, hoping to break Joe DiMaggio’s last remaining important baseball record.  They played host to the Orioles, and yep, Ichiro got another hit.  This puts his streak at 27 games.  He’s not exactly close, given that DiMaggio’s record is 57 straight games with a hit, but 27 ain’t too shabby.  Let’s hope he can keep it up and give both Seattle fans and us something exciting to root for.  Seattle 3, Baltimore 2.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: LEBRON IN TROUBLE WITH STERN

NBA

In some great news for Orlando Magic fans, it appears they may have another all-star in the line-up.  This year, their point-guard, Jameer Nelson (former star of the college 1-seed underdog St. Joe’s team), was selected to the all-star game.  However, just a week before, he got injured and was ruled out for the season.  Cavaliers point-guard Mo Williams went in his place.  Well, now he has been ruled to play.  He said he didn’t want to affect the team’s chemistry or say he should play over someone else (notably current Magic point-guard Rafer Alston) — but he followed this up, in a lobby for playing time, saying, “I have been known to do some amazing things sometime”.

LeBron JamesMeanwhile, the former superstar of the NBA playoffs, LeBron James, is getting both bad news and some painful news.  The bad news:  David Stern, the commissioner of the NBA wants to have a chat with LeBron about how he snubbed the media after Game 6.  The NBA likes its players to be personable and likable, and refusing to talk to the media after key games is a big No-No.  Some have claimed it’s very hypocritical that LeBron wasn’t fined, saying the NBA rules committee plays ‘favorites’.  They’re probably right.  The NBA knows how important LeBron is to the organization.

And in LeBron’s painful news:  He had a benign growth removed from his mouth.  He was playing with it through the playoffs, and his doctors felt he should have it removed as soon as possible.  Even though it’s benign, the growth was located in a difficult part of the mouth to operate on, and LeBron and the Cavs thought he should wait until after the playoffs to have the 5-hour procedure done.

Finally, in an update on the Memphis/Derrick Rose scandal, Memphis has conducted a ‘full-scale’ investigation into their records, and shows no proof that Rose cheated on his SAT.  There were just allegations up to this point, with the only evidence being a ‘handwriting expert’, who said the handwriting on the test didn’t match Derrick’s.   Memphis feels strongly that it’s not true and they should not be fined, penalized, or lose their wins from the record books of the 07-08 season.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT:

With the NBA gearing up for a championship on Thursday, and the NHL between Stanley Cut games, the lead stories were, essentially, gossip.

NFL

Vince Young.JPGFirst off, Tennessee Titans quarterback, Vince Young, made some pretty brash statements yesterday.  Young was drafted in 2005 to be the face of the Titans franchise — a college phenom who was poised to be a superstar in the league.  However, injuries and, well, poor play forced the Titans to explore other options.  Last year, they started aging veteran Kerry Collins and had their best season in years — even starting the season 10-0.  They were upset in the playoffs, but intend to go with Collins in ’09.

Well, Vince Young came out and said, “I definitely want to get back out there playing ball and picking up where I left off, winning games and having a good time with my teammates and with the fans. At the same time, if them guys don’t want me to be in there, it’s time for me to make a career change for myself. Because the fact is I’m ready to play ball. If they’re not ready for me to play ball, then somebody is.” With these remarks, Young is basically saying, ‘Play Me or Trade Me’.  This will be a tough decision for Tennessee as Young is great insurance at QB, and his attitude definitely endured an adjustment, but they could also get some nice draft picks for Young and just go with Collins this year.  We’ll see how this progresses.

NBA

Elsewhere in sports, the Memphis Tigers may really be in some serious trouble.  Allegedly, Derrick Rose played the ’07-’08 without being officially eligible to play.  There are claims that he had a teammate in High School take his SAT test so he could play, but this is a clear violation of NCAA rules (and well, just rules in general).  Sure, with Rose in the NBA right now, he really doesn’t have anything to worry about.  However, Memphis definitely does.  If it turns out their historic season (in which they went to the Final Championship Game) was done so with an ineligible superstar… uh-oh.  Memphis would have that season statistically erased and could potentially be banned from the NCAA Tournament for a few years.  This story is really starting to heat up.

MLB

Ichiro SuzukiFinally, the Seattle Mariners, one of the league’s worst teams last year, is actually playing pretty decent this season.  More notably, however, is their star player, Ichiro Suzuki, is on a 25-game hit streak.  A streak like this is always fun for the fans because you root so hard for it to just keep going.  The hit-streak record is probably the last major record in baseball not to be broken.  Joe DiMaggio still holds this trophy with a 56-game hit streak.  And in baseball, the media usually gets excited when a player passes the 40-game mark.  Good luck to Ichiro.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: LAKERS VS MAGIC IN NBA FINALS

NBA

It was a wild weekend, as the NBA Championship match-up was finally cemented….

The Western Conference finals had a crucial Game 6 on Friday night.  It was Denver’s turn to host their do-or-die game, and Lakers were hoping to close out the series, and move on to the NBA Finals.  Well, one team came to play.  And that team was… the Lakers.  They were on cruise control, and the Nuggets practically rolled over and played dead.  Kobe Bryant dominated with 35 points and 10 assists.  The Nuggets, on the other hand, just couldn’t get it together.  However, hats off to a great season, and with just a few off-season tweaks, they should be right back in the Western Conference Finals next season.  As for the Lakers, they’re back in the Finals for the 2nd year in a row.  LA Lakers 119, Denver Nuggets 92.

Dwight HowardThen, on Saturday, it was time for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.  LeBron and the Cavs found themselves in an elimantion game, and needed to beat Orlando on the Magic’s arena.  A very tough thing to do.  However, with LeBron, an unstoppable player, you just never know.  Unfortunately, it just wasn’t the Cavs night.  LeBron had an average game with just 25 points, but the Magic weren’t taking any chances.  They wanted to win when they could at home, and that’s exactly what they did.  Dwight Howard stole the show with 40 points and 14 rebounds, and in a surprise, the Orlando Magic have won their ticket to the NBA Finals.  Everybody counted them out at the beginning of the playoffs, even thinking they might get upset by Philadelphia.  And now, they will take on Kobe and The Lakers for the Championship Trophy.  Orlando 103, Cleveland 90.

NHL

Elsewhere in sports, the Stanley Cup Finals are in full action.  And for those not following hockey, the matchup is the exact same as last year:  The Detroit Red Wings v. The Pittsburgh Penguins.  And, just like last year, the Red Wings are dominating.  Sunday was Game 2, and with some key goals from the Red Wings Jonathan Ericsson, Valtteri Filppula, Justin Abdelkader, the Red Wings took a 2-game lead.  Detroit 3, Pittsburgh 1.

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