Archive for November, 2012

WATERCOOLER CHAT: JETS FANS CROSS LINE WITH TEBOW, CY YOUNG WINNERS, TORII HUNTER GETS GREAT DEAL

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, somewhat of a schoolyard situation is developing.  Everybody knows the New York Jets are having a lackluster year at 3-6.  But, now, when teammates were asked if possibly Tim Tebow should start at quarterback, the Jets were less than kind with their answer.  Anonymous players said Tebow shouldn’t start because he’s “terrible”.  Now, it’s one thing to say you’re sticking with one particular player as your starter or say that the back-up isn’t ready or something to that degree, but to say that a teammate is terrible might be crossing the line.  Tebow said that he was frustrated and even saddened by these reports, but said he uses these type of moments to get stronger and better as a player.  Then again, even though he might not be the best quarterback, it’s hard to deny that he did lead the Broncos to the playoffs last year.  And the Jets don’t exactly have a good thing going for them right now.

BASEBALL

Elsewhere, in baseball, it was time for the coveted Cy Young Winners.  This goes to the best pitcher in each league (and considers a variety of factors including wins, strikeouts, ERA, and a whole slew of different stats the baseball experts have concocted).  Last year, the league showed some maturity giving the award to a great pitcher on a bad team (Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners).  And this year, the honored recipients were R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets for the National League, the first knuckleball pitcher to win the award, and David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays, a guy who almost got the Rays to the playoffs.  Having this award on their resume is what every pitcher dreams of coming into the league.  These two can genuinely call themselves the best pitchers in the baseball… at least for now.

And elsewhere in baseball, it’s the end of a beloved era in Los Angeles, as Torii Hunter won’t be back with the Angels next season.  Hunter came to the Angels early last decade and was a fan favorite.  Now, coming off an amazing year as a 37-year old, he has signed a two-year deal with the Detroit Tigers worth an impressive $26million.  The Tigers fell just one series short of winning it all last season, and clearly they’re looking to boost their bats, as they couldn’t hit anything against the Giants in the World Series.  They need a team leader like Torii to get on base and get those much needed runs to provide support for their phenomenal pitching.  At the same time, the Angels won’t miss him much as they have a slew of talent to cheer for next year, including the emerging superstar Mike Trout.  In any event, congratulations to Hunter.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: BIG BEN INJURED, LAKERS CALL TO JACKSON, HOPE SOLO ASSAULTED BEFORE WEDDING

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, after Monday night’s narrow victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, one which left Steelers fans puzzled how they could possibly need overtime to beat a lowly Chiefs team, the Steelers look to be in rough shape.  During the game, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was hit by Kansas City defensive end Justin Houston.   Roethlisberger suffered injuries to his ribs and throwing shoulder, and apparently woke up extremely sore.  The team is reporting that Big Ben could be out for a while.  If this is the case, the Steelers will turn to back-up Byron Leftwich, who has been battling injuries of his own.  The Steelers are a bit of a strange team this year.  They’re enigmatic, and you never know which team will show up.  Either way, they will need solid play out of Leftwich if they want to make a playoff run.

BASKETBALL

An update to how the Lakers coaching situation panned out.  The Lakers first interviewed Phil Jackson for the job, and Phil told general manager Mitch Kupchak that he needed the weekend to think about it.  Kupchak told Jackson that he had a job to do and would continue interviewing other candidates.  Then, the Lakers decided to hire D’Antoni, not because of Phil’s “demands” or anything the media has been speculating about, but just on account of basketball decisions.  They feel that D’Antoni’s fast-paced offensive scheme is superior to Jackson’s triangle offense.  So, when they opted for D’Antoni, the Lakers decided it would be best to call Jackson and let him know they went in another direction, as opposed to having Jackson call on Monday, say he accepted the job, and then have to tell him he didn’t have it.  They woke Jackson up in the middle of the night, and Jackson was complimentary of D’Antoni.  In the end, this seems to be the right move for the Lakers, and they should be a dangerous team moving forward.

OTHER

Finally, in some pre-marital gossip, former Seahawks tight end Jeramy Stevens and U.S. Women’s Soccer Star Hope Solo were planning to get married after being in a relationship for two months.  A little fast for most, but they applied for a marriage certificate anyway.  But, just a night before their wedding, Stevens was taken into custody for “assaulting” Solo.  The judge says there isn’t enough evidence to prove that Stevens did anything, so he won’t be held.  Apparently, the couple was fighting over whether they would live in Seattle or Miami after the wedding.  This story is still developing.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: LAKERS HIRE D’ANTONI, FOLES FUTURE FOR EAGLES? ROOKIES OF THE YEAR

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, after all the media hoop-la (no pun intended) about Phil Jackson re-taking the reigns as the Lakers coach, the Lakers decided ultimately not to go with him.  A strange decision considering that just about every sports media pundit in the country thought it was a done deal.  Nope, the Lakers went in a different direction, hiring Mike D’Antoni as the head coach.  This is an interesting decision because D’Antoni is typically known for a run-and-gun offense, meaning it’s about running fast and getting the shot off quickly.  While D’Antoni used this formula with Steve Nash throughout the last decade, it was also with a much younger Suns team.  The Lakers have a 38-year old point guard (Nash), a 34-year old shooting guard (Kobe) and a 31-year old power forward (Gasol).  They’re not exactly built for his style of play.  However, D’Antoni is an all around good coach, and the Lakers are already showing signs of improvement with their recent 2-game winning streak.  The good news is that all the Lakers stars seem to be excited about D’Antoni joining the squad.  This could be for the best.

FOOTBALL

And in the NFL, it looks like Philly QB Michael Vick’s concussion injury from Sunday’s game against the Cowboys was quite serious.  Back-up rookie quarterback Nick Foles came in, and while throwing some picks, threw some touchdowns as well.  It’s quite possible that Foles is the future in Philly and what better time to give him a chance than when they really have nothing to lose.  Each week, they slip a little out of the playoff race, as their defense ranks among the league’s worst.  If Vick has to miss considerable time, they should just toss the rookie in there and let him get his feet wet.  It looks like that’s the plan, as the Eagles have officially announced that they will start Foles against the Redskins next week.  The fans got excited about Foles entrance into the game, as they were looking for anything, anything at all, that might give this Eagles team a spark.  There’s also a chance that Vick might have to sit out the remainder of the season.

BASEBALL

And finally, in baseball, the awards are starting to roll in.  Yesterday, it was the announcement of the American and National League rookies of the year.  Unlike in year’s past, where the league had to scour the rookie ranks to find the best rookie performer, this year they were able to hand it to what appear to be some future superstars.  And by ‘future’, this could mean as early as next year.  The two winners are so good that they can probably both expect max contracts soon.  In the National League, it was the Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper, the phenom out of High School that helped lead the Nationals to the #1 spot in the National League and establish them as a powerhouse for at least the next few seasons.  And in the American League, a guy that came out of nowhere: Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels.   Around the All-Star break, everyone was touting this guy as among the league’s best.  They couldn’t believe just how good he was.  He’ll be in an Angels jersey next year, but teams will be eager to sign these two when they become free agents.  They are both worthy of being the face of a franchise.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: ALABAMA STUMBLES, FALCONS FALL, LAKERS WANT PHIL JACKSON

FOOTBALL

In college football, after beating LSU, #1 Alabama thought the rest of their schedule would be a cake walk.  And that’s exactly how you stumble.  They took on Texas A&M IN ALABAMA, and quickly had their hands full.  Texas A&M was big and physical and gave the Crimson Tide fits.  Plus, their quarterback, the undersized Johnny Manziel (dubbed Johnny Football by Aggies fans) was terrific.  He threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns and led the Aggies to an upset win over Alabama.  With the loss, the Tides title hopes aren’t over, but they surely took a hit.  They will no longer be in the Top 2 (that will belong to Oregon and Kansas State), and it begs an interesting question about the SEC Championship Game, as there’s a chance that the winner WON’T play for the National Championship.  We’ll see what happens, but we might get some fresh teams in the BCS Championship game this season.  Texas A&M 29, Albama 24.
And in the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons were looking to go 9-0, but they would have to travel to a raucous New Orleans Superdome to do it.  And everybody knows that the Saints are not easy to beat at home.  The Falcons fell behind early with Drew Brees having a stellar day with 298 yards and 3 touchdowns, but the Falcons came driving back.  They had one last chance to win the game in the red zone, but the Saints defense SHOWED UP (not always the case) and kept Matt Ryan from firing a touchdown to Roddy White.  With that, the game was over, and there are no longer any undefeated teams in the NFL.  Plus, the Saints have introduced game film on how to beat the Falcons.  The NFC is up for grabs.  New Orleans 31, Atlanta 27.

BASKETBALL

Finally, in the NBA, some very interesting news.  On Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers made a very bold decision.  They decided to fire their new head coach Mike Brown after just 5 games.  The Lakers started out 1-4, and Brown said he wasn’t concerned. If you’re the owner of the Lakers, and you just shelled out millions and millions of dollars to build that powerhouse, to hear “I’m not concerned” from your head coach is not exactly the words you wanna hear.  So Brown is out, and he will be paid out the money from his contract.  But now, obviously it’s about who is going to coach the Lakers the rest of the way.  And, given their star-studded roster, they could only think of one man:  the man, the Zen-Master Phil Jackson.  They have already started talks to get Phil to come back, and they are willing to pay out the nose, because they know the players will listen to him.  But Phil is naming his price, which may include not having to attend road games (because traveling is painful  toJackson on account of his bad back). It’s still up in the air, with Mike D’Antoni and Mike Dunleavy scheduled for interviews, but Jackson is definitely the guy they want.  We should know soon.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: LUCK IN PRIME FORM FOR PRIME TIME, THUNDER PULLING TOGETHER, KOBE DEATH STARE

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, it was Thursday Night Football between the Indianapolis Colts and the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Recently, many members of the Colts shaved their head in support of their cancer-stricken head coach Chuck Pagano.  Among the newly shaved, star rookie QB Andrew Luck.  And Luck would be in prime form last night truly showing what he can do in front of a national audience.  Luck had two of his own rushing touchdowns as well as 227 passing yards.  This offense seriously works under this guy.  Meanwhile, the Jaguars look just as confused as ever.  They miss Maurice Jones-Drew at running back, but there is hope that they might get him back next week.  This season is pretty much done for them, but they can still use it as practice.  They’re headed for the top of the draft.  Indianapolis 27, Jacksonville 10.

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder were looking to get back on track against the Chicago Bulls.  Both these teams have gotten out to a slow start this year, especially since both teams are without their premium players — the Thunder traded James Harden away, and the Bulls are without Derrick Rose for at least another few months.  The Bulls gave it their all against the Thunder, getting most of their output from Luol Deng.  He had 27 points on the night, but the Thunder were able to pull away at the end of the 4th quarter thanks to a monster 21 point, 9 rebound night from Serge Ibaka.  The Thunder clearly miss Harden, but they are starting to pull it together, and are getting some nice output from Harden’s replacement Kevin Martin.  Oklahoma 97, Chicago 91.

Finally, with the Lakers off to a 1-4 start, many think that Kobe Bis deeply upset with head coach Mike Brown.  The team is clearly not jelling as a unit right now, and that’s squarely the fault of the coach.  There is a viral video on the internet now called “Kobe Bryant Death Stare”, in which Kobe, well, essentially shoots Mike Brown the look of death during a time out.  Go ahead and watch.  It’s funny.  But, when interviewed about it, Kobe laughed off those rumors that he was furious with Mike Brown.  He said of course he’s upset, of course the team is upset when they lose, but Kobe doesn’t hate Mike Brown.  In fact, Kobe has been one of Brown’s biggest supporters since he came to LA.  Kobe isn’t overreacting about the Lakers bad start, but the Lakers are definitely a target for every team in the league right now.  Teams take it to another level when playing them.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: JAZZ ROLL TO VICTORY, CLIPPERS STOMP SPURS, HEAT CRUSH NETS

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, everyone expected the Los Angeles Lakers to be a juggernaut right out of the gate.  But they have been anything but.  They’ve already lost Steve Nash for about a week, and are 1-3 to start the season.  They were hoping to change that on a trip to Utah.  But the Jazz are really starting to jell this year (for the first time since they sent Deron Williams to New Jersey now Brooklyn).  Plus, the Jazz have an up-and-coming  big man in Enes Kanter to battle people underneath with Al Jefferson.  Jefferson had 18 points and 10 rebounds on the night.  Kobe did what he could for the Lakers, putting up 29 points in the game, but he just isn’t getting help and the Jazz easily rolled to a victory.  Utah 95, LA Lakers 86.

Elsewhere in LA, with the Lakers on the down swing this season, the Clippers are trying to become Team #1 in Los Angeles (Note:  This will likely never happen given the overwhelming fandemoneum for the Lakers, but they can at least try).  They would take on a very strong Spurs team.  The Spurs spread the ball around evenly (as they typically do) with Danny Green leading the way with 12 points, but when the Clippers come to play, they are tough.  (Note:  The Clippers don’t always “come to play”, which is why they likely won’t win the championship — their ‘effort’ can be called into question).  But, last night, the Clippers stomped out the Spurs with DeAndre Jordan having a monster night with 20 points and 11 rebounds.  If the Clippers can play this hard against sub-par teams, they could manage those easier wins and possibly earn a top seed in the playoffs.  LA Clippers 106, San Antonio 84.

And in a Miami Heat update, they were taking on the Brooklyn Nets, who, now with Joe Johnson, are trying to contend with the Heat for the East lead.  But, a note to Nets fans, the Heat will not be stopped this season.  They are winning with ease, save for one game against the Knicks (who actually might be their competitor for the top spot in the East).  LeBron had a 20 point, 12 rebound night for the Heat, as he and Dwayne Wade simply make it look easy out there.  It’s like they can do whatever they want with the ball.  They are so on the same page, that their fast break alley-oops are just a thing of beauty that should be studied by the rest of the league.  The Heat crushed the Nets, en route to a 4-1 record.  Miami 103, Brooklyn 73.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: NEW ORLEANS GETS LIFT IN MNF, KNICKS A PLEASANT SURPRISE, ALL STAR VOTING CHANGE

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, it was Monday Night Football between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New Orleans Saints.  Both of these teams desperately needed a win to salvage their season.  Problem is they both have bad defenses, and they both have banged up, injured teams. The team with the superior offensive line would likely dominate– and that definitely wasn’t the Eagles, as the Saints were able to get to Michael Vick over and over again.  Sometimes they didn’t even have to run through anybody.  That type of pressure resulted in Vick rushing a pass that was picked off for a long touchdown in the first quarter, as well as a fumble that would push them back on a key drive.  And of course, Drew Brees was still Drew Brees, throwing for 239 yards and 2 touchdowns.  New Orleans gets the much needed spirit-lifter.  New Orleans 28, Philly 13.

BASKETBALL

And in the NBA, it’s been a very odd start to the season.  Miami has already lost, the loaded Lakers have a losing record, and the Thunder are seriously hurting without James Harden in their line-up.  But,  given all the horrible events of the hurricane, the most pleasant surprise has been the play of the New York Knicks.  They were 2-0 going into a tough game against the Sixers, but thanks to an all-around solid night from J.R. Smith, the Knicks won again.  And make it clear, they’re not just winning, they’re crushing people.  They even crushed the Heat this past weekend.  Without Jeremy Lin there, it is clearly Carmelo’s team, and he’s making the most of it.  The Knicks will be very exciting to watch this year.  NY Knicks 110, Philadelphia 88.

Finally, the NBA has changed its All-Star voting this year, and while fans may like it, Dwight Howard hates it.  Here’s the deal:  Instead of having to elect an official “center” position to the game, fans can vote for 3 low-post players.  The reason for this is many teams in the NBA have decided to play ‘small ball’ because it’s faster and there are so many more gifted big men now.  Therefore, not every team boasts an authentic ‘big-men’ center.  You can count on your hand the number of stand out centers in the league (after Howard and Bynum and Lopez, the list drops off pretty significantly).  Howard says the games have evolved, but centers like him work just as hard as anybody else, even if their position has adapted to the modern day game.  He says you still need a center on the court.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: BCS STANDINGS CONSTANT OVER WEEKEND, COMING OUT FOR DOUG MARTIN, ANDREW LUCK SETS RECORD

FOOTBALL

In college football, it was a weekend that could have possibly given us a clearer picture of the BCS Championship, or completely send it into disarray as the top teams all had battles against quality opponents.  #1 Alabama had to take on their rival team LSU, #2 Kansas State had some tough competition in Oklahoma State, #3 Pittsburgh had a surprisingly challenging test against Pitt, and #4 Oregon had a slugfest with USC.  If they all won, the polls would remain roughly the same, but if they all lost, it would make the championship picture quite interesting.  So how did it play out?  Alabama barely got by LSU at the last second, Kansas State took care of OK State, but lost their starting quarterback Collin Klein in the process, Notre Dame got outplayed by an unranked Pitt, but still pulled it out in triple overtime, and Oregon had to score over 60 points in order to defeat USC.  With that, things will remain constant, but it’s quite possible that Oregon will jump Notre Dame in the rankings.  Alabama 21, LSU 17.  Kansas St. 44, OK State 30, Notre Dame 26, Pitt 23, and Oregon 62, USC 51.

And in the NFL, it was the coming out party for a rookie running back.  Many people predicted that Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin would have a ‘good year’. And thus far, they’ve been correct, he’s been pretty steady in his performance, but hasn’t shown us what he truly can do.  He was a relatively high pick in most fantasy drafts because of his potential, but had yet to put up a monster game.  Many compared him to Ray Rice, but that yielded criticism as Martin’s performances haven’t been nearly as marvelous as any of Ray Rice’s games.  All that changed yesterday, as Martin exploded for 251 yards and 4 touchdowns!  Those are the type of numbers we USED to see from running-backs earlier in the decade.  With that performance, he has silenced any of his naysayers and made a point to the NFL that he is her as a forced to be reckoned with.  An elite back in the making.  Tampa 42, Oakland 32.

And speaking of rookie performances, everyone knew it was just a matter of time before Andrew Luck had that ‘Peyton Manning’ esque performance everybody knew he was capable of.  Playing a Dolphins team that, if the playoffs started now, would actually get in (as would the Colts), Andrew Luck would need to bring his ‘A’ Game.  And he did just that.  Luck threw for a whopping 433 yards and two touchdowns, and set the record for most yards thrown by a quarterback in his rookie season.  This mark broke the previous record set by last year’s #1 pick Cam Newton.  Fortunately for Luck, his team also helped him secure the win, and the Colts keep playing hard for their cancer-stricken coach Chuck Pagano.  Keep in the mind, the AFC is up for grabs right now.  The Texans may have the best record, but they are by no means dominant.  It’s not unfathomable that the Colts make a run deep into the playoffs, especially with Luck improving every week.  Indianapolis 23, Miami 20.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: STEELERS NO HOTEL, ALABAMA CAN BEAT NFL PROS, JORDAN WITH BOBCATS

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, a very rare and interesting situation will occur on Sunday between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants.  Typically, every NFL team has their standard hotel they stay at when visiting each respective city.  However, on account of the massive damage from Hurricane Sandy, the standard hotel the Steelers typically inhabit is without power.  And because of travel schedules scrambled around the east coast, and hotels in a tizzy, the Steelers simply can’t find another place to stay.  Because of this, they will have to fly into New York just hours before the game.  We’ve all traveled before — it’s exhausting, so to get up early, board a plane, and then be on the field just a few hours afterwards taking on a physical team like the Giants might be a bit difficult.  Teams need a full night’s rest and proper meals before they play, and this seems like it puts the Steelers at a distinct disadvantage.

And in college football, the Alabama Crimson Tide are preparing for that annual hard-fought battle against LSU this weekend.  With that said, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said that the way that Alabama is playing this season, they could probably knock off some of the lowly teams playing in the NFL.  He’s likely referring to the skill of the Jacksonville Jaguars or Kansas City Chiefs (currently the worst teams in the league).  But, experts have now jumped into the debate saying that there is absolutely no way that a college team could beat a pro team.  After all, Alabama probably has a few potential pros on its roster, whereas the Jaguars have 53 of them.  The sheer size and speed difference in the NFL would punish a college team.  Vegas even got in on the action putting the Jaguars as a 24 point favorite against Alabama.  And it’s likely the score would be more of a 40 point romp.  They were probably just being liberal.  Either way, before they can beat the Jaguars, the Tide needs to focus on beating the LSU Tigers.

BASKETBALL

Finally, in the NBA, Michael Jordan has come out and publicly said that he is with the Charlotte Bobcats for the long haul.  Jordan used to sit close to the Bobcats bench, but he got so upset with their awful play last season, that he needed to move to the luxury box to hide his anger towards the team.  Jordan said he despised their measly 7-win season last year, but feels the future is bright.  Jordan said the problem is that they don’t have a player that can carry the team, but that just means that the team has to work together more, focusing on their individual strengths.  And Jordan thinks that their new coach, Mike Dunlap, is just the coach to rally them together and show them the basic fundamentals and philosophies they need to succeed in the league.  Last week, some of the Bobcat players were upset with the new coach’s techniques, but Jordan took them aside and said if they don’t do what Dunlap says, then they won’t be on the team very long.  It should be a very interesting year for the Cats.

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