Archive for April, 2014

WATERCOOLER CHAT: PHELPS MAY RETURN, RAMS GUESSING CONTEST, ARKANSAS STATE AUCTIONS COACHING

SWIMMING

There is pretty much only one person in the world that could draw major media attention for swimming:  Michael Phelps.  After dominating the 2012 Summer Olympics, Phelps went into retirement.  On Monday, however, Phelps announced that he was ending his retirement to swim at a meet in April.  But, what’s on more people’s minds is if he intends to swim at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.  He hasn’t confirmed it yet.  If he does decide to swim, he could potentially be putting his legacy on the line as everyone already thinks he’s the best in the world and possibly the greatest swimmer of all time.

FOOTBALL

And in the NFL, some interesting news out of St. Louis.  The Rams haven’t exactly been very good the past few seasons, and this has significantly hurt their attendance.  It’s a real shame for a team that used to dominate just over 10 years ago with the “Greatest Show On Turf”.  Now, the Rams are trying to drum support by holding a  $100,000 contest for the fans to try and guess their exact 2014 schedule.  Now keep in mind that this goes way beyond just picking what team the Rams will play in any given week.  You have to guess the team, the location, and the time every week.  That’s pretty much impossible, but if you do it, you get $100,000.

The Arkansas State football team is also working hard to drum support.  They held an auction for their fans to coach a game.  Their annual spring game is coming up, and one fan paid $11,700 for the honor of strolling the sidelines and calling the plays.  Sounds like fun, and certainly a thrill for anyone (especially if you’re doing it everyday, like my son), on Madden 25.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: BUBBA WINS 2ND MASTERS, BREWERS LOOK HOT, 49ERS ALDON SMITH SAYS HE HAS BOMB

GOLF

We were treated to an incredible weekend of The Masters.  This is arguably the biggest and most prestigious golf tournament of the year, and winning the green jacket is the dream of every golfer when they first pick up a club.  This year, we saw a potential new phenom emerge in 20-year-old Jordan Spieth.  He has been called the next Tiger Woods, and this was his first Masters.

Heading into the final day, Spieth was leading the entire field of the world’s best golfers by two strokes.  His primary competitor, however, was Bubba Watson, a fan favorite, and winner of The Masters two years ago.  These two would go neck and neck most of the day, but, in the end, the Masters is the toughest course in the world, and experience won out.  Bubba Watson pulled out to a commanding 3 stroke lead down the last few holes, and Spieth couldn’t catch him.  Watson putted in his final shot, and won his second Green Jacket.  He joins an exclusive club of multiple Masters winners, and is now on a quest to become one of the greatest golfers ever.

BASEBALL

It’s too early to get excited about anything really, but you have to cheer on the Milwaukee Brewers right now.  After a few mediocre seasons, this team looks red hot.  They have gone back to their old-school 80s jerseys, which have helped them win 8 straight games.   Yesterday, they picked up #9 in a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.  They are now a league best 10-2, and hoping to truly make some waves this season.  Milwaukee 4, Pittsburgh 1.

FOOTBALL

And in some weird news, more trouble for the San Francisco 49ers.  Their star defensive end Aldon Smith was at LAX airport this weekend.  For some reason, unknown to any, he told a security guard that he had a bomb in his possession.  They clearly take this kind of stuff very seriously at airports, and security detained Smith.  Nobody knows why he did it, but Smith is now considered a security risk.  It will be interesting to hear Smith’s rationale.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: KAEPERNICK INVESTIGATED, MANZIEL HIGHEST SCORE ON WONDERLIC, ORTIZ SLOWEST HR TROT

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, there is good press and there is bad press.  Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is an example of good press:  He’s always in the papers for visiting people in hospitals, helping charities, etc… Then there is bad press, and that seems to attract rival 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.  There are not a lot of details yet, but Kaepernick, along with another 49ers teammate, Quinton Patton, is being investigated for a possible sexual assault charge.  The details are still coming to light’
In college football, with the teams at the top of the draft still debating whom they should take at quarterback (Manziel, Bortles, Bridgewater, Carr), it always helps if they do something impressive right before the draft.  On Thursday it was reported that Johnny Manziel scored the highest on the Wonderlic score of any of the QBs.  The wonderlic is a basic aptitude exam testing athletes overall intelligence.  They could have all the physical skills in the world, but football is a very mental game.  You have to memorize hundreds of plays, and know what to do in hundreds of different situations.  Teams want to know if players have it up top, and clearly Johnny Manziel does (at least according to Wonderlic).

BASEBALL

Finally, in baseball, some slightly embarrassing news for the Boston Red Sox David Ortiz.  Thursday, Ortiz smashed a home run, then trotted the bases.  What he didn’t know is he set the record for the SLOWEST trot around the bases at 32.91 seconds.  That’s not exactly a record to be proud of.  Or, you could argue that one should savor their run around the bases.  Prior to Ortiz, another big guy, Bobby Abreu held the slow man’s record.  Wonder if others will start running extra slow just to take the crown away from Ortiz.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: PACERS BENCH BEATS BUCKS, GORDON COMES OUT, MCCARON AND WEBB REALITY SHOW

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, the Indiana Pacers have been on a serious losing skid lately.  They simply have poor team chemistry, and are looking for a miracle before they enter the playoffs.  Wednesday, they couldn’t take any chances with injury, so they rested all of their starters against the league worst Milwaukee Bucks.  It’s hard to tell if this was the answer, but even the Pacers bench was able to eek out a win against the Bucks.  With the win, the Pacers take the top spot in the East.  But this doesn’t solve the problem of their starting line-up not quite jelling right now.  Indiana 104, Milwaukee 102.

And in college basketball, we have another milestone, as UMass’ Derrick Gordon has come out as a gay player.  This would make him the first openly gay athlete in college basketball.  Gordon took to the Internet to thank his supporters along the journey, including his teammates and openly gay NBA player Jason Collins.  Gordon says that he finally feels free, and doesn’t have to hide it any more.  Seems as if we’ll be seeing many more athletes across a lot of sports feeling free to come out.

FOOTBALL

Finally, in college football, Alabama loves their now former quarterback A.J. McCarron.  He led them to multiple National Championships and was a hometown hero.  Now, McCarron is headed to the draft where he is expected to be a 3rd or 4th round pick.  For everyone else, not in Alabama, they started getting to know McCarron when we saw his girlfriend Katherine Webb in the stands.  She is beautiful and the cameras love her, so she catapulted to instant fame — even Dancing With The Stars.  A.J. and his now fiancee Katherine Webb are getting their own reality TV show.  This is to be expected, perhaps, but this may hurt AJ’s draft stock.  Teams want their players focused on the game, not on a reality show.  All AJ can hope is that this news doesn’t hurt him, but it sure doesn’t seem like it will help him.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: UCONN WINS CHAMPIONSHIP

BASKETBALL

In college basketball, it was the end of March Madness:  The National Championship game.  This year, we got a game between two teams that weren’t even ranked headed into the tournament:  UCONN vs. Kentucky.  While these are both powerhouse programs, nobody could have imagined they would have advanced this far, especially because of all the high-quality teams in the tournament this year.  But the thing is… both of these teams were playing with a chip on their shoulder the whole way.  Kentucky wanted to become the youngest team ever to win a National Championship (all freshman), and UCONN wanted to show the world that even though they were banned from the tournament last year, they kept their composure, and would unite and shock everyone.

The game started out quite close, but then UCONN pulled away.  Star point guard Shabazz Napier worked his magic, and along with his co-pilot shooting guard, Michael Boatright, they pulled out to a 15-point lead on Kentucky.  But when you’re playing a resilient team like the Wildcats, you know they don’t go away.  Kentucky clawed their way back in, and went into the half only down by 4.

In the second half, it looked like Kentucky was going to take control.  And even though they neutralized UCONN’s offense with a seemingly impenetrable zone defense, they still couldn’t score very effectively.  UCONN took advantage of this, and even though they were clearly running out of gas, they held a 4-point lead with 5 minutes left, and it felt like all they needed to do was survive.  Some key 3-point shooting at the end for UCONN, and some poor clock management by Kentucky, helped UCONN grab the win!  They won their 4th National Championship in 15 years, and new head coach Kevin Ollie is being looked at as a sheer genius.  To remind everyone, they WERE A #7 SEED HEADED INTO THE TOURNAMENT, and they almost lost their opening round game against St. Josephs.  Sometimes teams make a run in the tourney, but you usually don’t see a team as low as a #7 win the whole thing.  Truly incredible!  UCONN 60, Kentucky 54.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: UCONN VS KENTUCKY IN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, UCONN VS NOTRE DAME IN WOMEN’S GAME

This weekend, we finally got to see the Final Four in college basketball.  A final four that almost nobody had.  #1 Florida vs. #7 UConn and then #2 Wisconsin vs. #8 Kentucky.

First up the Gators and the Huskies took the floor.  Florida started the game wiping the floor with UCONN and it appeared that UCONN had finally met their match.  However, you can’t count out the team with the best player, as UCONN has an incredible point guard named Shabazz Napier.  He helped the Huskies claw their way back into the game.  Then, in the second half, UCONN gelled perfectly.  They pulled out to a big lead, and the Gators didn’t know what to do.  Florida is a tough team, but they didn’t know whom to turn to down 10 with just 5 minutes to go.  UCONN pulled out the win, and their miracle run has just one more stop.

Then, it was Wisconsin vs. Kentucky.  Nobody seems able to stop the Wildcats right now.  They are 5 blue chip freshman, whose athleticism is finally showing.  If it wasn’t for their late blooming, they would have no business being a #8 seed.  Then again, it’s not like they had an easy road to this game either.  This game was neck and neck the whole way, and once again, a Kentucky game came down to the last shot.  So, of course, the only guy to take that shot was Aaron Harrison, who hit a game winner the last two games.  Down two with just 10 seconds to go, Harrison had the ball, and with 5 seconds up, put up a deep three-pointer.  SWISH, and the Huskies were up by 1.  Wisconsin got one last shot, but it bricked, and the Kentucky Wildcats advanced.  So, in our National Championship, we have two teams that weren’t even ranked in the Top 25 coming into the tournament.  That is a testament to the fact that anything can happen in March Madness. Watch Monday night, 9:10 pm EST, CBS.

And in the women’s Final Four, #4 Maryland had to take on an undefeated Notre Dame team.  Maryland made a nice run, but the Fighting Irish were just too tough and they absolutely stomped the Terapins.  Then, in Game 2, it was undefeated #1 UCONN vs. #2 Stanford.  Same story in this one, as UCONN simply had too much muscle and firepower for the Cardinal.  So it will two undefeated teams on Tuesday:   UCONN vs. Notre Dame.  That is must watch basketball.   UConn is clearly well represented in college basketball this year.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: CONTROVERSY OVER GOLF DIGEST COVER, CLOWNEY WILL MAKE HOUSTON MISERABLE, RICH PATINO’S NIT CHAMPIONSHIP

GOLF

The most recent issue of Golf Digest, the leading golf magazine didn’t feature a golfer, but rather Paulina Gretzky, daughter of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, and fiancee of tour pro Dustin Johnson.  This has created outrage among women golfers in the LPGA.  They work so hard to perfect their game in such a difficult sport, and when a woman finally does make the cover of Golf Digest, it’s just a pretty girl who happens to be engaged to a male golfer.  They feel it is quite insulting.  Hopefully, the golf world will take note, and do more features on some of the fantastic female talent in the sport.

FOOTBALL

In college football, South Carolina defensive end JaDeveon Clowney recently had his pro day.  He looked phenomenal, and reminded people that amidst all of this Johnny Football talk, there is still a monster of a defensive player that could be a game changer for any team.  ESPN asked Clowney if he was ok being drafted second, and he emphatically said “NO!”.  To follow it up, he said that if the Texans don’t take him with the #1 pick, he is going to make them “miserable”.  Those are some strong words.  Beware Houston.

BASKETBALL

In college basketball, everyone is excited about the Final Four on Saturday, but on Thursday the NIT tournament came to a close.  This isn’t a very well spectated tournament, as it’s basically for the runner-ups of the season.  But it’s good to take note of what’s going on with the University of Minnesota’s basketball program.  It had been average for quite some time, but now Rick Pitino’s son, Rich Patino, has taken the reigns and turned them around.  They won the NIT Championship against SMU, and look to be a contender next year.  Their recruiting will definitely improve under Patino Jr.  Minnesota 65, SMU 63.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: RUSSELL WILSON WANTS TO BE THE BEST, SPURS IMPRESSIVE, MANNING SUPERSTAR FOR WAKE FOREST?

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, Russell Wilson is quickly becoming one of the most famous quarterbacks in the league.  He’s handsome, an all around nice guy who always participates in charity events, and he’s coming off a Super Bowl Championship.   Wilson said that he wants to be the best quarterback of all time.  Sure, that’s a lofty thing to say, especially since he’s only in his second year.  But, he’s already got one ring, and the Seahawks are only going to get better.  Wilson is more of a game manager, ensuring that the team wins, while someone like a Peyton Manning is throwing for 4 or 5 touchdowns a game.  So Wilson will probably have to pad his stats if he wants to wear that crown.  Wilson said he knows he’s not the best now, but one day he hopes to be.

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, while all eyes are focused on LeBron James and the Heat, or even Kevin Durant and the Thunder, nobody is really talking about how well the San Antonio Spurs are playing right now.   This is an older team, but they have enough young, smart players to still make them highly competitive.  Last night, they toppled Golden State to get their 19th straight win.  That is extremely impressive.  The Western Conference playoffs is going to be extremely entertaining to watch, as even the current #8 seed, Phoenix Suns, can beat anybody on any given night.  Get ready for some upsets.  San Antonio 111, Golden State 90.

And in college basketball, the game is loving it’s newest former superstar player head coach, Danny Manning.  Manning was a phenom for the Kansas Jayhawks in the late 80s, even helping them win a championship.  He had a pretty good NBA career with the Los Angeles Clippers, but it looks like coaching might be his sweet spot.  Manning took the reigns of Tulsa University last year, and in only his second year as head coach led Tulsa back to the Big Dance.  Now, he’s being courted by higher profile programs, and it looks like Manning will join the ACC ranks next season.  He is very close to accepting a job with Wake Forest.  Wake Forest used to be competitive on a yearly basis, especially when they had superstars like Tim Duncan or Chris Paul.  They have been dormant for a while, but the Demon Deacons are hoping that Manning can significantly help their recruiting and make them a star program again.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: DESEAN TO REDSKINS, TIGER OUT OF MASTERS, DODGERS’ CLAYTON OUT FOR INJURY

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles recently released their speedy star wide receiver DeSean Jackson.  It came as a shock to Eagles fans, but apparently there was a rift between Jackson and new head coach Chip Kelly.  Plus, there was a lot of buzz that the Eagles were nervous about Jackson’s possible ties to gangs.   Somebody could certainly use his services, and he was snatched up quickly.  The Washington Redskins signed Jackson to a 3-year deal.  That now gives Robert Griffin III two fast wide receivers down field in Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson.  The Redskins could be fun to watch next season.

GOLF

It was reported yesterday that Tiger Woods will not participate in this year’s masters on account of a recent back surgery.  Woods said that he will need a few months to recover, but still feels like he has many quality years left in him.  This is a major blow to the event and the audience who love to anticipate how well Tiger will do.  Last year, Tiger finished in the Top 7.  It’s likely that Woods will miss a few more tournaments after The Masters as well.  Fortunately, The Masters is still a fun event to watch, especially the last day when the stakes are extremely high on every shot.

BASEBALL

Finally, in some injury news, the Dodgers star pitcher Clayton Kershaw will be out 2-3 weeks.  This would just seem like routine, unimportant injury news, but not for the Dodgers.  The Dodgers just literally sunk hundreds of millions into Kershaw to make him the face of the franchise.  They believe that his presence enables them to win titles.  Every game that he can’t play cost them a fortune.   This could be a huge waste of money.

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