Archive for September, 2011

WATERCOOLER CHAT: PRINCE FIELDER NEWS, TEXANS FOR REAL, WILD RIDE THURS NIGHT

BASEBALL

Some very odd news… with odd timing.  After a loss to the Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers slugger Prince Fielder was interviewed by the TBS Crew.  He said, on air mind you, that this would probably be his last year with the Brewers organization.  That there wouldn’t be a one-two punch anymore of he and Ryan Braun.  Sure, players say this type of thing all the time, but not typically when they’re at the end of the season darting towards the playoffs.  That’s not exactly good for morale when your best player says he most likely won’t be joining you next season.  Colorado 6, Milwaukee 2.

FOOTBALL

And in the NFL, the Houston Texans may be for real this season.  They clobbered the Colts last week, and now it looks like they will have their star running-back, Arian Foster, back in the line-up.  With Foster, they become extremely versatile offensively because it opens up their passing game.  With #2 receiver Jacoby Jones finally starting to catch on, this is a very good thing.  Foster has been one of the best stories in the NFL.  He went undrafted, then got signed by the Texans, cut by the Texans, resigned by the Texans, earned the starting gig, then turned into one of the top rushers in the NFL.  Having him back could mean that the Texans might actually win the AFC South this year.

Finally, in college football, expect a wild ride Thursday night.  It’ll be #2 LSU v. #25 Mississippi State at Miss St.  This season, LSU is a legitimate National Title contender, but this is also their first match-up in the ultra-competitive SEC West.  Mississippi State also had high hopes this season, with a solid running game and a fearsome defense.  But just last week, they got beat at the very last second by a never-say-die Auburn team.  That clearly makes tonight’s match-up slightly less interesting, but to be certain, the upset potential is definitely still there.  Tune in to ESPN for a guaranteed great game!

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: LABOR MEETINGS IN NBA, BOISE STATE IN HOT WATER

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, things aren’t exactly going well for the labor meetings.  Now is the time that they need to make something happen if the NBA wants to get training camp started on time.  It’s really their only chance of actually starting this season.  Remember, one of the main issues is that the players want a ‘soft salary cap’ (which pretty much means that teams can pay more for players if they can afford it, and thus allow things like the Big 3 in Miami to happen) and owners want a ‘Hard Cap’ (meaning that there is a strict policy on how much a team can spend.  Doing this would create more balance in the league, and allow small market teams like Sacramento and Milwaukee to actually compete. Those teams are losing a ton of money.  As of now, the two parties are nowhere close to an agreement, and there is almost no way that the season will start on time.  Folks, there may not be any basketball at all this year.

FOOTBALL

Finally in college football, the Boise State Broncos have been the darling underdog team of the past few years.  They’re always competitive, and sometimes even dominant.  They’re the team that showed a small team could go to a major BCS bowl and beat a mighty powerhouse like Oklahoma. It turns out they got themselves in a little trouble over all the top tier talent they were getting.  Yes, they too were giving benefits to incoming players, and now, as a penalty, the NCAA has taken away 9 scholarships over the next few seasons.  Doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s 9 star players that they won’t be able to recruit.  This penalty is even more reason that the Broncos are trying to make it to the National Championship this season.  With their star QB Kellen Moore bolting for the NFL next year, this could be their last chance for a while.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: MNF WRAPUP, JANIKOWSKI TIES RECORD, DJOKOVIC WINS OPEN

FOOTBALL

When football returns, so does MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL.  And on opening weekend, we’ve been treated the past few weekends to two featured games.First up, the Miami Dolphins hosting the New England Patriots.  There were a lot of questions circling the Dolphins in the pre-season, such as “Is Chad Henne really a starting quarterback?” and “Could the Dolphins even legitimately compete this season?” — so the Dolphins had all the motivation they needed to take on the Patriots.  They got out to a hot start, with Chad Henne running for a touchdown and zipping a TD to Brian Hartline.  The Dolphins hung in with the Pats for a while.  Even in the second half, when the Pats were starting to pull away, Henne remained productive marching down the field for another TD (from new addition Reggie Bush). But the star of the game — guess, who? Tom Brady.  Brady threw a remarkable 517 yards and 4 touchdowns!  He was simply on fire out there, and connected twice with his favorite target Wes Welker.  The Patriots offense will be very hard to stop this season.  New England 38, Miami 24.Next up, the Denver Broncos hosting the Oakland Raiders.  The Broncos decided in the pre-season that Kyle Orton was their man.  However, during the game, the Broncos were playing quite poorly, and the home crowd started “Tim Tebow” chants.  Clearly they forgot his putrid pre-season performance.  The Broncos stuck with Orton and he eventually started playing well.  However, the Raiders defensive line was all powerful, putting an intense amount of pressure on Orton, even causing a few careless fumbles.  The Raiders, despite myriad meaningless penalties, actually looked pretty good.  Darren McFadden posted 150 yards on the ground, and their kicker, Sebastian Janikowski, got a shot at a 63-yard field goal and NAILED IT!  He’s now tied in the record books for the longest field goal.  And in the end, the Raiders held on for a win, and are finally poised for a playoff run this year.  Oakland 23, Denver 20.

TENNIS

And finally, in the finals of the U.S. Open, arguably the biggest of the major tennis tournaments, it was a much anticipated match-up between #1 Novak Djokovic and #2 Rafael Nadal.  Coming into the match, Nadal was 0-5 vs. Djokovich this year.  And looking at this match, it was clear that Djokovich is seriously in command of this rivalry.  Nadal kept it close for starters, even forcing a tie breaker in the 3rd set, but later on, Djokovich simply crushed him.  With the win, Djokovic has put together an incredible year with 3 GRAND SLAMS.  He is completely in control of tennis right now.  So how long can he go?

 

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: BILLS LOOK GOOD, MANNING LESS COLTS, STEELERS LOOK AWFUL, CAM NEWTON IMPRESSED

FOOTBALL

The NFL is back!  The Sundays we’ve all been waiting for finally arrived.

First up, since the Buffalo Bills have been so bad for over a decade now, everybody writes them off at the beginning of every season.  It just seems like a constant in the NFL.  They have a reputation for being a mismanaged organization.  But on Sunday, they marched into Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City and put a beat down on the Chiefs.  Their quarterback Ryan Fitzgpatrick was fantastic, throwing for 208  yards and 4 TOUCHDOWNS!!  Fitzpatrick has had a full year working with new head coach Chan Gailey, and all that chemistry is now paying dividends.  This year, it was the Bills who looked great on opening day, and the Chiefs, well, their fans were exiting the stadium in the 3rd quarter.  They’ve definitely got some work ahead of them, but watch out for the Bills.  Buffalo 41, Kansas City 7.

And in Houston, we got our first look at a Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts franchise.  Could they thrive?  The answer:  Not even close.  They looked horrible out there, and replacement quarterback Kerry Collins looked just like an over the hill quarterback trying to learn a complete offense in just one week.  The Houston Texans stomped all over them, and got a big day on the ground from Arian Foster’s replacement Ben Tate.  He had 116 yards and a touchdown on the day.  You can bet that the Colts will spend a lot of time in practice trying to get Collins acclimated to the system.  And if he doesn’t work out, maybe they should consider calling David Garrard.  Then again, if the Colts tank the season, that would make them the winner of the Andrew Luck #1 draft pick sweepstakes, which could keep them a solid franchise for the next decade.  Houston 34, Indianapolis 7.

And in Baltimore, we were anxious to see how the Super Bowl runner-up Pittsburgh Steelers fared in the off-season.  Would they come out dominant?  Unfortunately, this Steelers team looked like a dead horse.  Baltimore came out with a healthy, ferocious offense that saw Ray Rice catch fire.  He had 107 yards and a touchdown on the ground.  And the Baltimore defense completely stifled the Pittsburgh offense, forcing 7 turnovers.  And remember, this is against a well-polished Steelers team.  A team that typically doesn’t make many mistakes.  This game was over before the Steelers even knew what hit them, and Baltimore might be taking the throne this season as AFC North champs.  Big Ben and the Steelers need to go back to the drawing board and ensure they don’t look this horrible in front of their home crowd.  Baltimore 35, Pittsburgh 7.

And finally, the moment everyone was curious about:  The debut of #1 overall pick and Heisman Trophy Winner Cam Newton.  Nobody knew what to expect.  After all, the preseason saw Newton squaring off against reserves.  This game was the real deal, plus… he was on the road in Arizona’s University of Phoenix stadium — a spot that’s becoming increasingly hard to play in.  Newton came with the confidence of a seasoned veteran and dismantled the Arizona defense — a D with a good rep by the way.   Newton threw for a remarkable 422 yards and 2 touchdowns — including some long bombs to Steve Smith.  The Panthers were clicking.  Unfortunately, their defense didn’t impress, and they fell behind late.  But they’ve gotta be happy with Newton’s performance.  They can nurture it, and possibly even sneak into the playoffs this year.  Arizona 28, Carolina 21.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: SAINTS AND PACKERS DEBUT STRONG, MANNING NECK INJURY

FOOTBALL

The NFL was hoping for a dynamite match-up on opening night, and that’s exactly what they got.  It was practically an old fashioned shootout with two of the top quarterbacks at the helm:  Drew Brees for the Saints and Aaron Rodgers for the Packers.  The Packers jumped out to a quick early lead behind some laser-precise passing from Rodgers.  He simply picked up where he left off in the Super Bowl last year.  Clearly he’s on a mission again.  He hit Greg Jennings for a TD strike, then Jordy Nelson to jump out to a 14-0 lead.  And from that point on, it was just a scoring fest for both teams.  Drew Brees came back strong hitting Robert Meacham for a long TD.  He finished the night with an astounding 419 yards and 3 touchdowns.

And when it looked like the Packers were going to run away with the game in the second half, the Saints came surging back again when Drew Brees hit tight end Jimmy Graham for a 5 yard touchdown pass to make it a one score game.  The Packers tried to score again, but couldn’t, which put the ball in Brees’ hand with just under two minutes left.  One last shot to win the game.  He drove all the way down to the red zone where he would have to take a shot with just 3 seconds left.  He aimed and fired to running-back Darren Sproles, and… PASS INTERFERENCE.  Suddenly, the Saints found themselves at the 1 yard line.  They opted to hand it off to their #1 draft pick, former Heisman Trophy Winner Mark Ingram.  But, he was stuffed.   And with that, the Packers hold on for the win.  Both of the teams looked rock solid. Great way to start the season.  Green Bay 42, New Orleans 34.

And also some sad news.   Just a few days ago, Peyton Manning (QB of the Colts) learned that he wouldn’t be playing Week 1.  And, now, it looks like the news is far worse.  Manning is dealing with a serious neck injury, and consulted 6 different doctors before deciding what to do.  Yesterday he underwent a surgery that would fuse some bones in his neck.  That’s a serious surgery, and doctors said it would take at least 2-3 months to recover.  And when you have a surgery like that, even after 3 months, one of the last things your doctor would tell you to do is strap on a football helmet.  It’s just too dangerous.  It’s likely that Manning will not play this season, but there’s also a chance that his career is over.  If that’s the case, it ended way too soon for one of the best and classiest players in this game.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: TWITTER INCIDENT, PEYTON MANNING INJURED, NFL STARTS TONIGHT

Betsy on the Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda talking Football

BASEBALL

In baseball, an always  fun Twitter incident.  In an important game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals, the Brewers Nyjer Morgan threw a bit of a fit over a call he disagreed with.  He even threw part of his chewing tobacco at Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter.  The Cardinals didn’t take kindly to that gesture, and the Cards’ superstar Albert Pujols came running over from first place to get in Morgan’s face.  After the game, he said he did this to protect Carpenter.  Morgan later tweeted a derisive comment about Pujols, even calling him “Alberta”:  “Alberta couldn’t see Plush if she had her gloves on!!! Wat was she thinking running afta Plush!!! She never been n tha ring!!!”.  Here’s the thing — the Brewers are having a great season, and Morgan has been solid for them this season.  They need to issue an apology to Pujols and the Cardinals fan base, so that they don’t have an ugly incident like this clouding their mojo.

FOOTBALL

It’s the end of a marvelous streak.  After starting every single game for the Indianapolis Colts since 1998 — that’s 227 consecutive starts, Peyton Manning will not be under center on Week 1.  He’s dealing with a very serious neck injury of which he underwent surgery this off-season.  That’s not a knee or an ankle injury, it’s a vital concern.  If he were to get blindsided in the wrong position, he could have his neck snapped.  It’s simply not safe to be out there.  This is a first for the Colts who are accustomed to Manning calling all the plays and orchestrating the offense out there.  Now the responsibility will rest on seasoned veteran Kerry Collins.  And remember, Collins just got there — he hasn’t had much time to adapt to the playbook. Hopefully Manning can get healthy soon and get back out there.  The Colts need him.

And finally, after all the NFL lockout news, and draft coverage, and concerns that there wouldn’t be a season, and lightning fast free agent signings… pro football is finally back.  Tonight marks the first game of the season, and boy will it be a show.  We will have the past 2 Super Bowl champions squaring off.  The New Orleans Saints, now fully healthy and ready to resume to full form, will take on The Green Bay Packers, fully loaded and primed to repeat their victory.  Each team has an interesting new addition to unveil.  For the Saints — former Alabama Heisman running-back Mark Ingram.  He’s their new toy if you will.  For the Packers, their tight end JerMichael Finley.  Finley got injured in Week 5 last season after lighting up the score board.  This year, he’s primed for a magnificent season, and we’ll get a peak at that tonight on NBC.  It’s back, it’s back, IT’S BACK, and it’s going to be a phenomenal fall season.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: BETSY ON THE TODAY SHOW, GARRARD RELEASED, MOSS WANTS BACK, GORDON WINS 85TH

Watch the Female Fan, Betsy Berns, on the Today Show Wednesday September 7th at 10:30 am.

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, some major news out of Jacksonville.  With just a few more days until the start of the regular season, the Jacksonville Jaguars have decided to make a very risky move.  They opted to release their starting quarterback David Garrard and go with back-up QB Luke McCown.  Garrard said that this move even came as a shock to him, considering that just a few days ago he was asked to participate in a community event to try and sell tickets to the opening game (the Jags have had some struggling attendance numbers).  The Jaguars said the move was both a football and business decision, saying that they didn’t think Garrard was upping his game during training camp AND they would save $9 million this year without him on the payroll.  And remember, they did draft Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert with their first round pick.  Now, most likely Garrard will find another home.  The 49ers and Dolphins are in dire need of a capable starting quarterback, and the Ravens could use a veteran back-up, as they currently only have a rookie as a back-up.  We’ll see where he lands.

Elsewhere in the NFL, Tom Brady has made public his thoughts on recently retired all-star wide receiver Randy Moss.  Recently Moss said he would consider coming out of retirement to play for the Patriots.  He said he regretted leaving the organization, and would love to get another chance.  Tom Brady said that he would love to have Moss in New England and would welcome him back with open arms if it were possible.  Unfortunately, Brady said, he’s not in charge of the personnel decisions.  Even though Brady would love to have Randy back, and Randy would love a shot to wear a Patriots uniform again, it’s more likely that Moss has angered Patriots management enough that they wouldn’t extend an offer.  The Patriots would have to have some serious injuries at the wide receiver position to consider giving Moss another chance.

NASCAR

A milestone for Jeff Gordon. Jeff Gordon was the most talked about driver during the mid to late 1990s.  A good-looking, kind-spoken country boy just trying to win races.  He wasn’t as dominant during most of last decade, but he has recently made a major comeback.  And yesterday, in a rain soaked track, Gordon held off fellow all-pro racer Jimmie Johnson, to take home the first place trophy at the AdvoCare 500 in Atlanta.  This is Gordon’s 85th win, and moves him into the top 3 racers of all time!  Richard Petty sits at the top of that list with 200 wins, and David Pearson is second with 105 wins — a mark that Gordon could eclipse.  Congratulations to Jeff Gordon on his achievement.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: WILD WEEKEND IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL

FOOTBALL

What a wild weekend in the football world as the college football season was under way.

First up, everyone was curious how well Notre Dame would fare this season.  They’ve had a lot of preseason hype, and everyone knows that their coach, Brian Kelly, is a proven winner.  Coming into the season, they were ranked #16, and hosting a USF team coming off a poor season in 2010.  Notre Dame was expected to trample them.  That didn’t exactly happen.  USF got up to a 17 point lead, before a huge lightning storm invaded South Bend.  The game was postponed for hours, until Notre Dame retook the field and just couldn’t get it going against the USF Bulls.  The Bulls, on the other hand, looked pretty good and are expected to be quite competitive in the Big East this season.  Rough start for Notre Dame, but they’re hoping to rebound and show this was a fluke when they take on Michigan next weekend.  USF 23, Notre Dame 20.

And people had big expectations for TCU coming into this season.  After all, they finished #2 in the country last year, even beating an extremely difficult Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.  Even though they lost their star quarterback Andy Dalton to the NFL, they were still expected to be dominant.  They didn’t realize how good the unranked Baylor was.  Baylor is helmed by QB Robert Griffin III, and he was absolutely extraordinary, posting 359 yards and 5 touchdown passes.  The man was on fire!  However, TCU came storming back in the 4th quarter to cover a 24 point deficit.  Baylor simply fell apart.  But then — Robert Griffin III came alive again.  Except this time, he hiked the ball, lateraled to a receiver then went out to catch the pass that put the Baylor Bears in field goal range.  That’s all they needed to ice the victory and pull off the big upset of TCU. Watch out for Baylor this season.  Baylor 50, TCU 48.

And, finally, the marquee match-up of the season:  #3 Oregon vs. #4 LSU at Dallas Cowboys stadium.  Basically, the loser of this game could kiss their championship hopes goodbye.  Going into the game, there was a lot of worry on the LSU side because their starting star quarterback Jordan Jefferson was suspended for getting into a brawl at a bar.  However, these concerns were curbed when the stadium was loaded with LSU fans.  After all, it’s right next door, AND Oregon fans don’t exactly travel well.  The game started off mistake-ridden, but it still remained rather neck and neck. Then, in the second half, LSU, and replacement quarterback Jarrett Lee, started to pull away.  All he had to do was just keep the ball moving, and let the LSU defense do the rest.  Oregon stars Darron Thomas and LeMichael James did everything they could to try to keep Oregon in the game, but the LSU D (and it’s home crowd) were too overbearing.  Oregon will definitely drop in the rankings, and will have to run the table, win the Pac 12, and hope for the best if they are to revisit the BCS Championship Game.  LSU 40, Oregon 27.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: JOHNSON SIGNED, COLLEGE FOOTBALL KICKS OFF, CAM NEWTON TO START

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, it looks like the Chris Johnson drama may finally be over.  Thursday, the Tennessee Titans inked Johnson to a 4-year extension worth $53 million, with $30 million guaranteed.  That should be enough to keep Johnson happy, and keep him motivated on the field.  Of course, $23 million of that contract is made up of incentives that should make Johnson run as hard as possible.  Now that Johnson is signed, the Titans can hopefully get the offense in gear for the season.  Right now they’re headed into Week 1 with former Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck at the helm, and former Univ. of Washington quarterback Jake Locker right behind him.  In fact, Locker may see action sooner than later given Hasselbeck’s health problems.

And Thursday night, the college football season officially kicked off, albeit with only 2 ranked teams in action:  #11 Wisconsin and #20 Mississippi State.  And both these teams were in rare form.  Wisconsin put up 37 points in the first half, although their defense (regardless of only letting up 3 points) didn’t look pristine.  As for the Bulldogs of Mississippi State, they looked fantastic, running exciting offensive plays.  The SEC better be very wary of Mississippi State this season — they think they have a legitimate chance to win that conference.  The best part about college football is that every single game matters.  Lose once, and you’re pretty much done for the year.  It’s all exhibition from that point on.  So get ready for a big Saturday of intense action.  Wisconsin 51, UNLV 17.  Mississippi State 59, Memphis 14.

And finally, in the NFL, it’s official the Carolina Panthers will be starting the season with the #1 overall draft pick, Cam Newton, under center.  Newton has looked average in the pre-season, but also has shown flashes of athletic brilliance.  He’s a mobile quarterback with a cannon arm.  Sure, Newton is a project, to be sure, but having him as their captain should bring some excitement to the entire organization and their fan base.  The Panthers most likely won’t make the playoffs (in fact they will be lucky to win 4 games), but they could definitely play spoiler in some key games.  For example, the Saints, Falcons, and Bucs (the superb teams in the NFC South) shouldn’t take the Panthers for granted.

 

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: ARIAN FOSTER’S INJURY, JOHNSON TWITTERS, RED SOX ON FIRE

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, some controversial news.  Star Houston Texans running-back, Arian Foster, recently hobbled off the field with a hamstring injury.  This happened on the same weekend as many were having their fantasy football drafts.  So there was public outcry over Foster’s injury, as many picked him very high in their league.  Foster blasted out on Twitter that “Anybody worried about their fantasy team is SICK”.  Yesterday, Foster went a step further tweeting an actual MRI photo of his hamstring.  This is controversial because putting out an injury photo is intel that opposing teams can use to prepare for the game.  If they don’t think he’ll be on the field, they can prepare to defend his back-up running back, or maybe focus on a pass defense.  On ESPN’S Pardon The Interruption, Foster said he was more of a humanitarian and said that when people commented on the fantasy impact of his injury, it makes him feel like a piece of meat.  Either way, as of now, Foster said he’ll be ready for Week 1.

Elsewhere in the NFL, in a similar Twitter-related story, Titans superstar running-back Chris Johnson tweeted that “fake Titans fans” could shut up.   Johnson then quickly clarified what this meant.  He was talking directly to fans that were calling him greedy, saying that he doesn’t have a regular job and doesn’t care if they call him greedy.  If you look at this from Johnson’s point-of-view, relatively speaking, Johnson thinks he is being paid a very poor amount this year.  He wants to get PAID before he goes on the field, where he has a very strong chance of getting seriously injured.  And if he’s injured — he definitely won’t get paid.  Then, Johnson further explained that he’s not “hating” on Titans fans at all — just the ignorant ones that are sending him racist comments through Twitter.

BASEBALL

Finally, in baseball, the always exciting rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox continued.  And remember, these teams are vying to win the AL East.  The Yankees got out to a 1-0 lead, but after that the Red Sox, on their home field, came surging back.  They got homers from David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Jason Varitek to crush the Yankees.  The Red Sox are absolutely scorching.  They have more offensive firepower than anybody in Major League Baseball.  Right now, they are the clear favorites to win the World Series.  But, you can’t count out the Yankees or even the Rangers in the American League.  Both those teams could get hot at the right time and make a run to win it all.  Boston 9, NY Yankees 5.

 

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