Archive for August, 2009

WATERCOOLER CHAT: ON VACATION UNTIL SEPT. 6TH…JUST IN TIME FOR START OF NFL REGULAR SEASON

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: RIVERS INKS 6 YEAR DEAL, HILL TO LEAD NINERS, VICK CAUGHT DRINKING

FOOTBALL

Philip RiversIn the NFL it was a good day for San Diego Chargers fans.  They inked their QB, Philip Rivers, to a 6-year deal worth around $92 million dollars.  Sure, those numbers are complicated, but it’s estimated that about $38-$39 million is guaranteed.  To commit this kind of money to Philip Rivers means that the Chargers believe that he is their future, at least for the next half-decade.  Rivers has thrown for over 10,000 yards in San Diego, and had a phenomenal season last year.  And having stability at the quarterback position is a smart move for any franchise looking to constantly make the playoffs.  You don’t have to teach a new system to the leader, and you can keep building around him.  Look at the Eagles with McNabb — they are always competitive.  And the Chargers hope to be that way over the next few years.  But you better believe they want a Super Bowl appearance sooner than later.

Shaun HillElsewhere in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers have named their starting quarterback.  Many thought that their former overall #1 pick, Alex Smith, might finally make a comeback this season, and that still could happen, but for now, the Niners are passing on Smith at the starting spot.  Instead, they’ve opted for 8-year journeyman Shaun Hill.  And in the irony of ironies, Hill wasn’t even drafted 8 years ago, and now he has won the starting job over the previous #1 pick in the draft.  If that’s not an underdog story, what is?

And in another NFL story, there is more controversy surrounding Michael Vick.  Apparently, Vick is coming along very well for the Eagles, and is adapting to Andy Reid’s offense quite quickly.  This is looking like a great pick-up for the Eagles.  However, a picture has surfaced showing Michael Vick drinking in a Philadelphia airport.  In Michael Vick’s reinstatement, there’s a stipulation that says no drugs or alcohol.  Vick’s mentor, former Super Bowl Champ coach, Tony Dungy, immediately called Vick and told him that wasn’t ok — that he needs to take this seriously.  As of now, no penalty will be inflicted.  And, currently, it’s assumed that Vick will start at quarterback against Jacksonville on Thursday.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: SOX YANKEES RIVALRY, SMOLTZ LOOKS GOOD, MICHIGAN QB’S

BASEBALL

Josh BeckettThere was a huge rivalry match-up this weekend between the Yankees and the Red Sox.  The Red Sox started this season’s rivalry out scorching hot, beating the Yankees in the first 8 games between them.  However, since the all-star break, it has been nothing… but… Yankees.  This time the series was in Boston, featuring a marquee pitching duel between the Yanks’ C.C. Sabathia and the Red Sox’ Josh Beckett. Beckett is Boston’s ace, and if he couldn’t shut them down, then this season might just go to the Yankees.

Well, Sunday came as a surprise to Boston, but not to New York, as the Yankees blasted home-run after home-run off of Beckett.  First it was Derek Jeter in the 1st, then Hideki Matsui in the 2nd, then Robinson Cano in the 4th.  Beckett just couldn’t catch a break.  He looked like a Little League pitcher out there.  Now it looks like the Yankees have a distinct advantage of winning the competitive AL East.  But look out for the Red Sox as Wild Card.  NY Yankees 8, Boston 4.

Elsewhere in baseball, John Smoltz had a brilliant debut with the Cardinals.  Smoltz is coming off a disasterous performance with the Boston Red Sox, which led to him signing with the Cardinals.  And at 42 years old, everyone wondered if he still had any gas left in the tank, or if he was done for.  Well, Smoltz said he wanted to forget everything that happened in Boston, and just focus on doing a great job on his second chance with the Cards.  Well… it worked.  He struck out a season-high 9 batters, 7 of them in row.  It was a marvelous performance.  Smoltz said he wanted to have fun out there, and he definitely did.  Now the Cards look even more dangerous.  St. Louis 5, San Diego 2.

FOOTBALL

Finally, some news out of college football.  The Michigan football program has a storied history, but they have been putrid in the past few seasons.  Well, they may have found a savior in freshman quarterback Denard Robinson.  He’s a nice, church-going kid who goes by the nickname, “Shoelace”.  He said it’s because he never tied his shoes in Pee-Wee football, his coach called him “Shoelace”, and the name just stuck.  If he works out, he will be beloved by the entire Michigan fan base.  However, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said he plans to rotate three different quarterbacks in the team’s opening game.  That’s quite a bit.  Let’s hope either Denard Robinson or the three-man shuffle works out for a fledgling Michigan football program.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: CALIPARI NOT IN QUESTION, OCHOCINCO KICKING

BASKETBALL

A major story out of college basketball.  In 2008, the Memphis Tigers had a school record 38 wins.  They also went to the National Championship, only to lose it in the last few seconds.  As it was reported recently, Derrick Rose may have cheated on his SAT in order to become eligible to play in the NCAA.  These reports were confirmed yesterday, and now that magical season is officially off the books.  It’s as if it never happened.

John CalipariThe controversy in question at this point, given that Derrick Rose is now in the NBA, surrounds then head coach John Calipari. He recently just signed as head coach of Kentucky, which has a very exciting freshman class, and could definitely win the National Championship.  Many believe that Calipari should be held responsible for this incident, given that he was overseeing the entire recruiting process.  But his name isn’t on any of the allegations, and technically, he’s free to go.  It’s almost like he got away from a bank robbery… with the money.  Do you think he should be suspended for a full season?  Or should the past just be the past, and let him move on?

FOOTBALL

Chad OchocincoIn pre-season football, it was the Cincinnati Bengals v. the New England Patriots.  And this game had two notable moments.  First off, Chad Ochocinco may have a new role for the Bengals.  He kicked the go ahead extra point to give Cincy the win.  You know it’s the pre-season when wide receivers are kicking field goals.  Then again, Johnson is a huge international soccer fan, so perhaps this was wish fulfillment in some way.

The other notable moment(s) of the night, were two pretty intense hits on Patriots Tom Brady.  Brady is a very fragile commodity right now, especially since the Patriots shipped Matt Cassell off to Kansas City.  And all it took to sideline him from all of last season was an accidental late hit by a linebacker.  If they lose Brady for any reason, the Patriots are done.  Not just their season, but, potentially, their dynasty.  Plus, for the record, they looked really bad in this game.  Cincy 7, New England 6.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT:FAVRE TO VIKINGS, SMOLTZ FAILED

FOOTBALL

Brett Favre.jpgLast week, we said that the whole Brett Favre drama was over.  That Brett declined the Vikings offer, and decided to hang up his cleats, and officially retire. Well, we couldn’t have been more wrong, as things changed in a big way yesterday.  Brett Favre signed a two-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings, which puts Favre back on our TV sets this coming season.  Yep, in the same week, two soap operas from the past two months came to an end, as the NFL got back two of its biggest names:  Michael Vick and Brett Favre.

Now that Favre is a Viking, he’s pretty much burned his bridge with Green Bay fans.  They were forgiving and understanding when Favre went to play for the Jets.  But that was a different conference altogether.  They cut him some slack knowing that he still wanted to play, but the Packers coaching staff had already moved on to Aaron Rodgers.  Now, however, he’s playing for the Packers neighbor-state rivals.  They are not going to be forgiving when he comes back into town.

On the flip side, the Vikings look very dangerous now.  They’ve got a fantastic running game and a solid defense.  The only thing they didn’t have was a trustworthy quarterback.  Favre is that guy.  Even though he’s in his twilight athletic years, he still gives the Vikings consistancy at the position.  The Vikes need a guy who can complete passes, who they can trust with a complicated playbook, and Favre definitely provides this.  Plus, they added super-speedster Percy Harvin to the mix in this year’s draft.  With Adrian Peterson drawing the defense, Favre could find Harvin deep for a touchdown every game.   They will absolutely be a riveting team to watch.

BASEBALL

Finally, in baseball, it looks like the John Smoltz experiment in Boston is coming to a close.  The Red Sox gave Smoltz the opportunity to be a starting pitcher again.  Unfortunatley, it failed miserably, as Smoltz went 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA. Now, sources say he could be heading to the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Cards are making a strong World Series run, and want Smoltz to pitch out of the bullpen.  Smoltz said he would prefer the National League, and said he hopes he can still be a starter.  Smoltz might be in for a rude awakening if he expects teams to take that chance again.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: STRASBURG SIGNS, MCNABB WORKING WITH VICK,

BASEBALL

Stephen strasburgIn baseball, the Washington Nationals got a bit of a scare as the #1 pick in the draft, Stephen Strasburg, was holding out until the last minute to sign.  The reason for holding out is to get as much money as possible, and to frighten a team into thinking you have other plans.  And, of course, the bottom-dwelling Nationals want to make this guy happy, and get him pitching as soon as possible.  Well, yesterday Strasburg signed a four-year deal worth $15 million. Wow!  Not bad for a rookie.  Unfortunately, it’s likely he will do his time in Washington, and then split for one of the big boys.  But hey, that’s baseball.

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles appear to be in great shape.  Their starting quarterback, Donovan McNabb said he’s looking forward to this NFL season, and, more importantly, said he’s happy to share snaps with Michael Vick.  This silences any rumors that McNabb was intimidated by Vick’s presence.  McNabb went on to say that if Vick takes the snap, that he could be anywhere on the field.  “I could be a receiver, a tight end”, McNabb stated.  To be sure, if Vick and McNabb are on the field at the same time, it’s going to drive defensive coordinators crazy.

Elsewhere in the NFL, a little controversy in Chicago.  Newly acquired quarterback, Jay Cutler, apparently had some choice words for wide receiver Devin Hester (who’s a bit of a local hero in Chicago).  Cutler criticized Hester for not breaking up an interception.  His exact quote was, “Devin is more of a go-get-it guy; he is not really a back shoulder or jump-up-and-get-it [guy].  You learn from it”.  This rubbed some people the wrong way, as it makes Cutler sound like the new guy who wants everything his way.  But Cutler said that’s not the case, and he was just implying that he’s learning the strengths of his receiving corps.  Chicago is a strong candidate to win the NFC North this coming season.

Finally, some interesting news out of the college football world.  Former Duke point-guard, Greg Paulus, played for Coach K for four years.  Well, the interesting thing about Paulus… he was highly recruited as one of the top football quarterbacks coming out of High School.  Obviously, he opted to play basketball, but he just transfered to Syracuse to give football a shot for a year.  And yesterday, the Syracuse Orange named him the starter.  Keep in mind, however, that Paulus hasn’t played football in 4 years.  Then again, Syracuse was 3-9 last year, so they really don’t have anything to lose.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: MAGICAL DAY FOR YANG, SANCHEZ LOOKS GOOD, VICK CRIES, BOLT BOLTS FAST

GOLF

One of the major stories this weekend was out of the golf world.  Tiger Woods has been absolutely dominating the pro golfing circuit, but yesterday, someone slew the giant.  Tiger Woods was 14-0 when sitting atop the leader board heading into the final round of a major tournament.  So, history suggests, he should have taken the PGA Championship.  But Korean-born Y.E. Yang put on a marvelous performance to take out Tiger.  It was simply a magical day for Yang, and a gigantic upset, considering that Tiger almost always trounces the underdog in the end.  He even said (via translator), “This may be my last win as a golfer, but it sure is a great one”.  Congrats to Yang for a tremdous achievement.

FOOTBALL

Mark Sanchez.jpgIn the NFL, some good news for Jets fans.  They took the highly-touted Mark Sanchez out of USC with the 5th pick, hoping that he would become their savior.  Well, according to the organization, Sanchez has been playing well in practice and is respected by the first string.  They even said, ‘he had to earn his spot, and he has thus far’.  So, with a nice showing in his first pre-season game, he will be starting at QB in the Jets next pre-season game.  And it’s against none other than the league’s best defense:  The Baltimore Ravens.  Sanchez said this would be a real test for him, but he’s excited about it.

Elsewhere in the NFL, the Eagles recent acquisition, Michael Vick, admitted on 60 minutes that he cried in prison.  Vick said he used to weep over how regretful he felt about his dogfighting days.  He said he initially lied about the dogfighting because he realized it would put his career in jeopardy.  So he acted as if he had nothing to do with it, but he knew he was guilty, and his lying attempt backfired on him 10-fold.  In retrospect, he said, he should have just told the truth from the outset.  In the end, Vick admitted that he has only himself to blame.

OLYMPICS

Usain BoltFinally, Olympic Gold Medalist, Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, set another amazing record yesterday.  At the Olympics, he set the record for the 100m sprint (the event that determines the fastest man alive), but even then, it looked like he was celebrating in the last second, thus slowing his time a bit. Well, yesterday, he went absolutely full force against American runner Tyson Gay.  No celebrating this time, and Bolt shattered his own mark finishing with a 9.58 time.  That’s 0.11 faster than his previous record.  This guy is truly something special.  He’s essentially not even racing anymore, he’s just trying to beat his records.  There’s simply nobody who can keep up with him.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: VICK JOINING EAGLES, BRADY’S COMEBACK

FOOTBALL

Donovan McNabbIt’s final.  He got the call.  Michael Vick will be joining the NFL this coming season.  Which team?   A team that wasn’t really on anybody’s radar in the rumor mill.  We heard New England, Buffalo, Cincy, Oakland.  But the lucky recipients… The Philadelphia Eagles.  Wow!  That came out of left field.  It’s a one-year deal worth 1.6 million with an option for a second year valued at $5.2 million.  But, get this, now Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb has yet another soap opera on his hand.

McNabb has always been plagued by the harsh Eagles fan base.  He’s been booed on his home field, criticized by the local media, dealt with tons of trade rumors, and watched the Eagles pick a quarterback in the second round 2 years ago.  However, he’s still standing strong, and led the Eagles to the NFC Championship Game last year.  You’ve gotta give him a lot of credit for surviving all that.  But, can he deal with Michael Vick looking over his shoulder for the starting gig?

With Vick, the Eagles become an extremely interesting team.  McNabb is already a mobile, running quarterback.  That versatility can fool defenses, as McNabb can take off for 15 yards when you least expect.  But now, with Vick in the mix, the Eagles become even more dangerous, and thoroughly more confusing.  For example, if Vick lined up at receiver, would he run a route, do a reverse for a handoff, or just fool the defense into thinking he’s even part of the play as McNabb takes off the other direction for 10 – 20 yards.  It’s pretty exciting.  Plus, the Eagles have an exciting downfield receiver in DeSean Jackson, and another versatile athlete in Jeremy Maclin, whom they drafted in the first round.  Maclin, too, was a double threat in college, as he used to play receiver and running back.  The Eagles will be a thrill to watch next season!  Of course, this could also be a complete train wreck.

Tom BradyHowever, with all this talk about Michael Vick, everyone forgets the immortal Tom Brady is making his comeback.  He hasn’t played since Game 1 of 2008, and last night, he played his first exhibition game.  Against, coincidentally, the Philadelphia Eagles.  Of course he was overshadowed by the arrival of Michael Vick, but Brady looked good, throwing for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Don’t be surprised if you see the Eagles and Patriots meeting again in the Super Bowl this season.  New England 27, Philadelphia 25.

And, finally, if you haven’t seen it already, watch Tom Brady’s tv debut on last week’s episode of Entourage on HBO. He’s no Peyton Manning on the screen, but he did look awfully cute.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: PITINO UPDATE, PHILLIE FANS NOT HAPPY, SILLY STORY IN CLEVELAND

BASKETBALL

In an update to the Rick Pitino saga, Pitino has publicly apologized to the University of Louisville about his issue.  He didn’t exactly outright say he had consensual sex with a woman, and then paid her $3000 for an abortion, but he did show regret for, as he put it, “his indiscretions”.  Pitino went on to say that he plans to stay at Louisville, and added the quote, “as long as they’ll have me”.  To conclude, he made a point about honesty, saying, “When you have a problem, if you tell the truth the problem becomes part of your past.  If you lie it becomes part of your future.”  There could be future developments in this story, but it seems like it will remain a private matter between Pitino, his family, and the U of L.

BASEBALL

A  little scary news for Phillies fans.  They acquired future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez from the Mets a couple weeks ago.  He looked good in a minor league start, but yesterday he took the mound for Philly, and, um, didn’t look all that great.  Martinez did earn the win, but looked uncomfortable and showing signs of wear, allowing 7 hits and 3 runs.  He might improve over the next coming weeks, but to put him out there in the playoffs when he is clearly going downhill… well, that’s a big risk.  Philadelphia 12, Chicago 5.

FOOTBALL

Brady QuinnIn the NFL, as many know, there is a big QB competition for the starting job in Cleveland between Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson.  Well, yesterday the media ran away with a pretty silly story.  They said that Brady Quinn is cheating, and trying to sabotage Anderson.  Why?  Because the radio transmitter went out in Anderson’s helmet, so he had to use hand signals to call the plays.  Anderson joked after the game that Quinn told the defense what all the signals meant.  He was just kidding, but that didn’t stop the media from making a story out of it.  HEADLINE:  “Quinn tips defense to offensive signals” (or something like that).  Upon hearing this, head coach Eric Mangini just shook his head.

SOCCER

And finally, the U.S. just can’t get it done against Mexico in soccer.  They have played 24 times in Mexico and lost 23.  Mexico is just that good at home.  With the loss, Mexico dramatically improves its chances to qualify for the World Cup.  The U.S., who is playing its best soccer in years, is on pace to qualify as long as they win their 2 remaining games.   The other likely qualifiers from North America are Costa Rica and Honduras.  Mexico 2, United States 1.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: PITINO GOSSIP, POWE TO CAVS, STEVE SMITH TO PLAY

BASKETBALL

Rick PitinoHere’s some interesting gossip.  Reportedly, Louisville head coach, the immortal Rick Pitino, stated that he had consensual sex with a woman named Karen Sypher, and thus committed adultery.  They supposedly met at a restaurant when Pitino was drinking, and then proceeded to consummate.  Later, however, Sypher said Pitino forced himself upon her, and tried to sue him for $10 million.  These charges were later dropped, and Sypher was accused of lying to the FBI.  It was an extortion attempt.

However, today’s news suggests there may be more details to this case.  Now, the matter has an interesting little nugget.  Reportedly, Pitino later paid Karen Sypher $3,000 to have an abortion after they met.  Many think that she’s only still coming forward with more stuff, because she’s the defendent, and is trying to keep herself out of jail for the extortion cause.  However, maybe there’s a lot more to this situation that we don’t know.  I’m sure more details will develop in the coming days.

In the NBA, a bold free-agent signing.  The Cleveland Cavaliers signed former Boston Celtic Leon Powe.  Now, here’s the crazy thing about Powe. He was playing pretty well in Boston as a back up power forward, and was poised to make a considerable leap.  Then… he got injured, and missed the playoffs.  Well, he’s still injured, but should be ready by around February, and could be a fantastic addition to a team looking to go deep in the playoffs.  The Celtics, however, don’t want him anymore.  So, because he felt slighted, he chose to sign with Cleveland for 2 reasons.  (1) He wanted to stay in the Eastern Conference and play for a contender so he could seek revenge on Boston, who he says, ‘Gave up on him’.  And (2) He used to play with LeBron James in High School.  Just more chemistry for an already super powerful Cleveland team who needs to win it all this year.

FOOTBALL

And finally, a quick update out of the NFL.  Yesterday we reported that Steve Smith was hurt in practice, and it wasn’t clear how many games he would miss.  Well Panthers fans, you can breathe a sign of relief, because Smith has said he hopes to be ready for opening day.   The preseason is definitely out, but the injury isn’t severe enough to sideline him for the regular season.  And Carolina will sorely need Smith if they plan to make another playoff run.

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