Archive for August, 2012

WATERCOOLER CHAT: COLLEGE FOOTBALL BACK, RODDICK TO CALL IT QUITS, STRASBERG SHUT DOWN

FOOTBALL

Finally, after a torrid off-season in college ball (which included the entire Penn State saga),  college football is back!  The game of the night was #9 South Carolina vs. an up-and-coming Vanderbilt team.  South Carolina was also back with their Heisman candidate Marcus Lattimore, who went down mid-season last year with an injury.  There are a lot of expectations on South Carolina this year, as LSU and Alabama lost a step this off-season, and the Gamecocks actually have a chance to nab the conference.  But, against, Vanderbilt, they didn’t look that amazing.  In fact, Vanderbilt had the lead in the 4th quarter, but thanks to Marcus Lattimore’s 2 touchdowns, the Gamecocks were able to get just enough to win the game.  One win under their belt en route to a National Championship.  South Carolina 17, Vanderbilt 13.

TENNIS

The upcoming U.S. Open will mark the end of a very exciting tennis career.  After more than 10 years of fantastic tennis, in which he essentially carried the flag for America, Andy Roddick has said that he has decided to call it quits whenever his run ends at the U.S. Open.  In the past, Roddick has done very well at the U.S. Open, and it’s fitting that he’s choosing this tournament as his last.  Roddick has earned more than $20 million in his career (not bad), as well as marry the swimsuit cover girl Brooklyn Decker.  Now that he’s walking away from the sport at a young 30 years old, the two will have time to enjoy their marriage.  Congratulations to Roddick for an amazing career.  And who knows… maybe he’ll win and go out on a high-note.

BASEBALL

And in some odd news out of baseball, with the Washington Nationals in first place and heading toward a successful post-season run, the head coach Davey Johnson has said he will shut down their star pitcher Stephen Strasburg.  Strasburg is one of the best pitchers in baseball, and there is a lot of controversy over why you would take out the best player at the most important time of the season.  Obviously orders are coming from above Davey Johnson, from owners looking to protect their investment, but fans are complaining that this ‘business’ decision could cost the Nationals a shot at a championship.  But, with a guy like Strasburg, who’s only 24 years old, he could be a very lucrative commodity for Washington over the next 12 years.  Then again, Strasburg is only a year removed from Tommy John elbow surgery, which means his arm is still quite sensitive.  It’s not official yet, but the Nationals will likely be without Strasburg in the post-season.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: JONES-DREW STILL A HOLDOUT, NOTRE DAME NO CHOIR BOYS, REPLACEMENT REFS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the NFL, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew entered the 35th day of his hold out. Basically, Jones-Drew wants a hefty contract extension that puts him on the same pay scale as other star running-backs like Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, and Marshawn Lynch.  A lot of experts thought that the Jaguars would trade Jones-Drew and get as much as they can for him (similar to what the Magic tried to do with Dwight Howard).  But Wednesday, Jaguars owner Gene Smith said that Jacksonville had no intention of trading Jones-Drew.  They just want him back in action and ready to go.  As of right now, the starter would be Rashad Jennings, but holdouts almost always end with the star player coming back.  Hopefully Jones-Drew does and helps all the fantasy owners that drafted him.

And in college football, Notre Dame has been pretty much down as a football power house the last decade.  Sometimes they’re good, but they can’t compete the with the likes of Florida or Alabama.  Recently, the Irish had to hand out some suspensions to a few bad eggs on the team.  This is atypical for Notre Dame, as they rarely have problems off-the-field like other programs.  But, Irish radio analyst Allen Pinkett said it could be good for Notre Dame to have some ‘bad citizens’ on the team.  He said that having troublemakers gives the team an edge and, essentially, an added chemistry of toughness.  He said that you can’t have a football team full of choir boys.

Finally, when the NFL season starts next Wednesday between the NY Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, it will be with the ‘replacement’ referees.  The referee union is locked out right now, as they are making demands for higher wages.  And unlike the players last summer, the refs actually held out into the season.  The replacement refs have been calling the pre-season games, but have been heavily criticized by coaches across the league.  After all, they’re second tier refs, and football is a very complex sport to learn and judge correctly.  It’s no telling when the regular refs will return, but there’s a chance for anarchy if these refs blow some key calls in a game.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: USC BILLBOARD GETS DESTROYED, BADGER’S BALL ASSAULTED, BLAKE GRIFFIN FEELS HEALTHY

FOOTBALL

In college football, with the season about to get underway this weekend, it seems like the perfect time to point out some rivalry controversy.  In Los Angeles, there is a billboard of USC quarterback Matt Barkley looking towards the sky, taken on the day he decided to stay.  The slogan reads:  “USC Football:  We play to finish”.  Not a bad slogan, but also probably not a good idea to put that billboard next to the UCLA campus (USC”s biggest rival).  Just yesterday, without warning, the billboard was painted over.  USC and UCLA say they had nothing to do with it.  It was likely some of the student body of UCLA, but  with this kind of rivalry, it wasn’t the smartest thing to infringe on the other’s turf.

Elsewhere in college football, Wisconsin is once again predicted to have a solid year.  They have Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien at quarterback, and boast a Heisman finalist running-back in Montee Ball.  Late Tuesday night, walking home to his house, Ball was assaulted by three guys.  He sustained a concussion in the attack, and the police think that the fight occurred because of an incident at a party the night before.  The Police currently have the three guys who did this in custody, but thank goodness that Ball is alright.  He’s not just an amazing football player at Wisconsin, he’s starting to achieve royalty status there.  And nobody messes with their precious Badgers.

BASKETBALL

Finally in the NBA, not that the 2012 Dream Team struggled without Blake Griffin (they easily picked up the gold), but Griffin unfortunately wasn’t able to play because of a knee injury.  Griffin had his knee surgery and now says that he feels 100% healthy.  He’s doing all his normal movements again and it’s likely that we will see him dunking all over the place come November.  Plus, the Clippers will need Griffin.  They have a very strong team this coming season, picking up key free agents like Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill — but the team is still built around Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. If everybody is healthy and injury-free, this team has a chance to make the Western Conference Finals.
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WATERCOOLER CHAT: DEZ BRYANT NEEDS BABYSITTING, PATRIOTS EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES, ABDUL-JABBAR GETS STATUE

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys are expecting a lot from their star wide-receiver Dez Bryant this year.  They drafted him in the first round 3 years ago and need a solid performance from him.  Thing is, Bryant has had trouble off-the-field.  He got arrested in July for allegedly hitting his mom, and is a liability for the Cowboys organization.  So what’s the solution?  They are putting him on some strict rules which include ‘No Strip Clubs’ ‘A midnight curfew’, and a 3 bodyguards around him at all time.  This is a no-nonsense policy, and if Bryant doesn’t successfully follow these rules, he’s likely gone from the organization.  Some think these rules are controversial, as it’s an infringement upon Bryant’s privacy and freedom.  Maybe it is an infringement but if he can’t figure out how to stay out of trouble while he’s trying to get the shot of his life playing for an NFL team, then he’s not ready to be in the big leagues and if he actually did hit his mom, then he’s not ready to be part of civilized society.

Elsewhere in the NFL, the New England Patriots are poised for a great season.  They brought in a bevy of players on both offense and defense, and have a young emerging superstar in Rob Gronkowski.  Earlier this year they signed Gronkowski, and now the Patriots have signed their other tight end Aaron Hernandez to a long-term extension.  The Pats want to make sure that Tom Brady has the appropriate weapons going forward.  With those two tight-ends, the Patriots seriously have an embarassment of riches out there.  Plus, they brought in Brandon Lloyd from the Rams to give Brady a solid option, and they signed Jeffrey Demps from Florida straight off winning a medal in sprinting in the 2012 Olympics.  The Patriots could be fantastic this year.

BASKETBALL

And in the NBA, the Lakers have always been about honoring their former stars.  But when you think about the Lakers, the first name that comes to mind is Magic Johnson.  They honor Johnson all the time, and it has always bugged Kareem Abdul-Jabar, who was absolutely amazing when he played for the Lakers.  After all, Abdul-Jabar is a six-time NBA MVP AND the all time NBA scoring champion.  So nobody has more points than this guy.  Now, after long last, the Lakers will finally erect a statue of Abdul-Jabar outside of Staples Center.  This is much deserved and long overdue.  Now the question is… can Dwight Howard become the greatest Lakers center ever?

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: SEAHAWKS NEW QB, JETS QB’S NO CONFIDENCE, JAPAN WINS LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, the Seattle Seahawks entered the pre-season not knowing who their quarterback would be.  At first, it was set to be Tavaris Jackson, who had a decent year last year but battled injuries.  Then, the Seahawks paid $20 million for Packers back-up Matt Flynn.  Now, it looks like it’s going to be their 3rd round pick out of Wisconsin Russell Wilson.  Wilson is playing spectacular football in the pre-season, and he’s giving the Seahawks that mobile running presence they need.  At Wisconsin, Wilson was phenomenal, contributing to the beating of teams by 30 or more points.  Wilson has been named the starter, and the Seahawks sent Tavaris Jackson to the Bills, which could also mean the end of the Vince Young era in Buffalo.  The Seahawks could be a surprise team to beat this season.

And in New York, the Jets were hoping to get a successful performance from the pre-season.  They have been awful, and both their quarterbacks, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow have failed to throw a touchdown pass in 3 pre-season games.  The Jets have a fantastic rookie wide receiver in Stephen Hill, but he’s not being utilized because the quarterback situation is so awful.  Plus, because of the Tebow/Sanchez QB controversy, both quarterbacks are having serious confidence issues.  They’ve got all this media attention, and it’s throwing them both off.  Tebow, more so, is showing a lot of his weaknesses.  In another note from this last game, Panthers running-back Jonathan Stewart went down with an ankle injury.  The Panthers are hoping they get him back for the start of the season.

BASEBALL

And finally, this weekend gave us the always fun Little League World Series.  First, Tennessee played California to determine who was the best team from the U.S.  And remember, this Little League World Series starts at the county level, with each team climbing the ranks hoping to represent their state, and then the United States overall.  Tennessee beat California and would face Japan in the final game.  Tennessee has a guy named Lorenzo Butler, who hit 4 home runs in 2 days.  But the hero of the final game would be Noriatsu Osaka.  He hit three home runs in the final game as Japan ‘skunk-ruled’ Tennessee.  Note:  The skunk rule is when a team gets up by 10 runs, the game is called because it would start to get embarrassing.  It’s very uplifting that this tournament is taken so seriously, as it’s fantastic for the kids participating.  Congratulations to Japan.  Japan 12, Tennessee 2.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: ARMSTRONG’S 7 TITLES STRIPPED, TRADE RUMORS IN INDY, MATHIEU IN REHAP

CYCLING

The lead story of day came from the cycling world.  Lance Armstrong is arguably the best cyclist who ever lived.  He has 7 Tour De France titles, some of which were obtained post a bout with cancer.  He was a true American hero, and praised as one of the best athletes of all time.  However, over the last few years, Armstrong has been dealing with claims that he cheated in those contests by taking performance enhancing drugs.  Armstrong has denied these claims from both cycling administrators and his peers.  He even had to pursue legal action at times.  Finally, Armstrong has had enough of the negative media attention and public battling.  He said he will not fight the claims any more, which will result in the retrieval of his 7 Tour De France titles.  They have been striped away from him.  Armstrong said the toll it’s taken on him and his family is too great.  Lance maintains his innocence, but he’s ready to move on from the media circus.

FOOTBALL

And in the NFL, the Indianapolis Colts have looked pretty good in pre-season.  Andrew Luck, the #1 overall pick, is playing fantastic, and the rest of the team seems to have a reinvigorated sense of urgency about them after a horrible 2011 season.  And now, there is a rumor going around that the Colts are getting ready to make a major trade.  General Manager Jim Irsay conveyed to his staff that the ‘Trade Winds Are Blowing’.  If they did swing a deal, it’s unclear whom they would obtain, but it’s likely that they would try and get some more weapons for their golden boy, Andrew Luck.  Maybe sending some draft picks for the rights to a great receiver.  That would help Luck, and possibly even get this team winning some close games this year.

Finally, after his dismissal from LSU, it was unclear what the future held for the Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu.  Mathieu was the biggest celebrity in college football last season, and it looked like some small Division 2 school had a chance of landing this incredible cornerback.  But now, with just one week remaining until the season, Mathieu will apparently not be playing football this year.  He’s currently in a rehab facility in Houston, getting treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.  Helping him along the way is former NBA player John Lucas, who also battled drugs and alcohol in his playing days.  Mathieu will disappear from the lime light this season, but this is a major comeback story in the making.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: BELTRE 3 HR’S, BOLT WANTS FASTEST ATHLETE HONORS, RAIDERS DON’T WANT CHAD

BASEBALL

In baseball, the Texas Rangers are making a late season push to prove they’re the best team in baseball.  Adrian Beltre has been a key factor in this success.  He’s red hot right now, and doing his best to ensure the Rangers get back to the World Series yet again.  Last night against the Orioles (a team hoping to get into the playoffs with the new 2 wild cards), Beltre was in rare form.  He hit not 1, not 2, but 3 home runs!!!!!  That is truly incredible.  Texas has solid pitching for the post season, and if Beltre and company can give them run insurance, the Rangers will be very difficult to beat.  Texas 12, Baltimore 3.

OLYMPICS

Usain Bolt has already established himself as the greatest sprinter of all time.  This man is simply lightning fast.  But, given that he just won his two classic events — the 100m dash and 200m dash, it may be time for Bolt to challenge himself.  He said that he will be coming back for the 2016 games in Rio with his sights set on two new events to dominate:  The 400m, and… the long jump?  Now that’s ambitious.  Then again, that’s what U.S. Olympic hero Carl Lewis used to do back in the 80s, marking himself as a marvelous ‘all-around’ athlete.  Bolt wants that distinction as well — to be not only the world’s fastest man, but also the world’s best athlete.  Can he pull it off?

FOOTBALL

Finally, in the NFL, after the Dolphins recently let go of Chad Johnson for his off the field issues, he is now a man looking for (yet another) team.  Then again, it’s likely that no team will take a chance on a head case like Chad — especially with domestic abuse charges hanging around his neck.  But there is one team that people think might be a good fit:  The Oakland Raiders.  Why?  Because they’ve got the quarterback that gave Johnson all his success:  Carson Palmer.  Perhaps they can make magic again in Oakland.  But, in an interview, Palmer essentially said, “Not so fast”.  He said the Raiders don’t need Johsnon.  Now, Carson did make it clear that he had no issues with Johnson, just basically stated that the Raiders had a solid core of young receivers that are coming along: Darius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford — they’re all strong players primed to break out.  Looks like Chad Johnson will have to keep looking.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: COLON SUSPENDED, CLEMENS RETURNS TO BASEBALL, JONES-DREW OPEN TO A TRADE

BASEBALL

In MLB, Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon was suspended 50 games Wednesday, for testing positive for testosterone. Colon’s Oakland Athletics are just a half game out of the American League Wild Card race and Colon is a big reason for that.  Colon has had more wins this season than any since his Cy Young season.  The Athletics look to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.  The former Cy Young Award winner is the second key player to hurt his team’s chances at making a run for the playoffs. Last week, Melky Cabrera violated the league’s drug policy as the San Francisco Giants look to win the National League West Division.

And while one Cy Young Award winner has been banned from baseball, another has returned. Fifty year old, Roger Clemens has announced that he has agreed to join the Sugar Land Skeeters. The Skeeters are an Independent league baseball team and Clemens says he’s just “going to go out and have fun with this…” Some believe this is Clemens’ first step to coming back to play in the major leagues, where he last pitched at age 45 for the New York Yankees. And many believe Clemens is doing this for his Hall of Fame eligibility. Clemens now will have his timer set back, so his eligibility is even further down the road. In Clemens’ mind this would put his trial, where he was accused of taking steroids, a little further back in the voters’ minds.

Also in minor league baseball, Billy Hamilton broke the single season stolen base record with games to play. Hamilton has 147 steals in 121 games this season and broke Vince Coleman’s 30-year-old record of 145.  Hamilton is a Double-A prospect for the Cincinnati Reds and is regarded by many to be the Reds’ top prospect. Hamilton is more than just a base stealer; the shortstop is also batting .317 with a .417 on base percentage this year between multiple levels of the minors.

FOOTBALL

It has been reported that Maurice Jones-Drew is open to being traded away from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Currently, Jones-Drew is holding out, because he wants a better deal. Jones-Drew has rushed for at least 1,300 yards in three consecutive season and his salary isn’t close to the top 5 highest paid running backs in the NFL. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry last season, even with a subpar offensive line. Jones-Drew has a career total of 74 touchdowns and carried the ball a career-high 343 times last year alone.  The owner of the Jaguars, Shad Khan has said that Jones-Drew is a great player but his message to the star running back is “Train’s leaving the station. Run, get on it.”

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: AUGUSTA ADMITS FIRST WOMEN, RYAN TANNEHILL TO START FOR DOLPHINS, VICK RIBS OUT

GOLF

 

Historic news in the Golf world. Augusta National Golf club admitted it’s fist two female members: Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore. They are a private club so they can clearly do whatever they want but it certainly took a long time for them to admit women. And, with that said, why did it take so long to admit the first African American? The Club opened in 1932 and the first African American wasn’t admitted until 1990.

Former chairman, Hootie Johnson, stood firm and didn’t want to be “bullied” when the issue came to a head two years ago. He claimed that the club would likely ask a woman to join at some point, “but that timetable will be ours and not at the point of a bayonet.”

FOOTBALL

Dolphins are starting a rookie QB for the first time in their history. Ryan Tannehill, who played at Texas A&M,  will be on the field September 9th against Houston. It will be interesting to see how the Dolphins do this season. It could be a rough start to the season but seems to be a good decision. He knows the system and could be the future of the team.

Michael Vick, QB Philadelphia Eagles, goes down in the first quarter in the  pre-season opener vs the New England Patriots. Vick hurt rib (X-rays negative) but he’s missed 3 games each of the last two seasons due to a rib injury.  This could be a problem for the Eagles, but third round draft pick, Nick Foles, performed admirably. Patriots 27, Eagles 17

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: ICHIRO TWO HOMERS, LUCK LOOKIN GOOD, WISCONSIN’S FORMULA FOR SUCCESS

BASEBALL

It looks like the Ichiro investment in New York is working out just fine.  The Yankees acquired Ichiro a few weeks ago in hopes that he would give them the same clutch hits he picks up in Seattle.  They would need those hits when taking on their rival:  The Boston Red Sox.  Would he help them out?  That’s a big YES.  Ichiro belted not one, but TWO home-runs in the game to help the Yankees get an easy win over the Red Sox and maintain a comfortable lead atop the AL East.  Since coming to the Yankees, Ichiro has looked completely revitalized. It’s like he’s 23 years old again and ruling the majors.  This trade may pay out some dividends in the form of a World Series.  NY Yankees 4, Boston 1.

FOOTBALL

And in the NFL, Andrew Luck took the field for his second pre-season NFL game.  He has acclimated his game to the pro level quite well.  And while the Colts are still rebuilding, Luck still has some decent weapons to work with (e.g. Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, Donald Brown).  Luck did throw 2 picks, but they were more a credit to the solid defense of the Steelers as opposed to a bad pass from Luck.  And even though he threw two picks, he still drove the Colts down the field TWICE for scoring drives.  Luck even ran in a touchdown at the goal line (although there was some dispute as to whether it was actually a TD).  All signs point to the fact that Luck will be an outstanding player in this league.  Pittsburgh 26, Indianapolis 24.

Finally, in college football, Wisconsin has been a juggernaut the last few seasons, and they seem to have found a formula for success.  Basically, they import quarterbacks from other universities.  Last year, NC State’s Russell Wilson transferred to give himself a better chance to succeed with the Badgers.  Wilson put up gaudy numbers, got drafted by the Seahawks, and is now competing for the starting job.  Now the Badgers are recruiting another solid quarterback.  Danny O’Brien was supposed to be the salvation for Maryland football, but they were awful last season, and O’Brien was even benched at one point.  He was tired of them and wanted a chance to show what he could do.  Wisconsin gave him that chance and named him the starting quarterback this weekend.  O’Brien will get a second chance, and may help the Badgers get back to a BCS bowl game.

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