Friday, August 31, 2012

The NFL Replacement Refs Are Hilariously Bad

Presented without comment:

OK, one comment:  Roger Goodell can't actually be serious about starting the season with these clowns, can he?  I mean seriously.  Get outta town.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Top 15 NFL Running Backs Heading In to 2012

As the NFL season draws nearer and nearer, now a week away, I've decided to help kick off this new blog of mine by doing top player lists for different positions in the NFL. We continue at running back with a top 15.

15. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle - Lynch scored 12 touchdowns in 2011 because he plays like a house and will always be famous for his ridiculous run against the Saints in the 2011 playoffs.  But the fact remains that he is a decidedly average runner in terms of yardage.  He has never had a yards per carry average higher than 4.4 and was only a 4.2 last year.  Lynch gets his numbers because of volume, but he's also shown a penchant for getting hurt and getting suspended.  He just barely makes the list over DeMarco Murray.
14. Fred Jackson, Buffalo - Jackson tore up the League last season to the tune of almost 1,000 yards in 11 weeks before he broke his leg.  His 5.5 yards per carry was excellent and he caught 39 balls for almost 450 yards in those 11 games. Jackson is a complete player who is a threat in both the run and the pass and will be a key to the Bills potentially making the playoffs.  He is only this far down because he is 31 and broken legs are very difficult to fully recover from.
13. Michael Turner, Atlanta - Turner is 30 but may be a young 30 because he spent four seasons as LaDanian Tomlinson's caddie with the Chargers.  But save for his final game of 2011, Turner was pitiful down the stretch last season and in the playoffs, averaging just over three yards per carry save that Tampa game in his last six contests.  He still rushed for 1,340 yards but didn't do a lot per carry (4.2).  Turner can punch scores in from in close very well, as well, but his limits as a pass catcher and his age keep him this high.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ryan Braun Proves Everyone Wrong With Magnificent Season

"Steroids made me good." - Someone not smart
This past winter, Milwaukee Brewers superstar Ryan Braun failed a random MLB drug test and was given the automatic 50-game ban that accompanies such offenses.  The failed test came after a spectacular season which saw Braun win the National League MVP award, which immediately made people believe that Braun was a) a cheat (probably true) and b) needed steroids to get good (which makes no sense).
But Braun, who maintained his innocence, won his appeal on a technicality because of a sample handling violation.  As a result, Braun was allowed to play the full season.  In spring training, people talked about how he would fall off the face of the earth without his steroids and the Brewers, who had just invested in Braun with a massive contract, were screwed.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Vin Scully Agrees to 64th Season in Broadcast Booth; Further Cements His Status as Baseball Royalty

"On the mound for the Dowdgas, Cllayton Kershowww..."
On Sunday, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that legendary broadcaster Vin Scully, who has been with the team since their days in Brooklyn - 1950, to be exact - would return for a 64th season calling Dodger games next year.  Popular belief and opinion was that Scully, now 84, would call it a career after this season after coming back on one-year deals for several consecutive campaigns.  In addition, the broadcaster's declining health and age has meant that for the last several campaigns he has not travelled with the team outside of the Western time zone, only calling away games in San Diego, San Francisco, and Arizona.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Manchester City 2:2 Liverpool; Suarez Steals the Show

Manchester City and Liverpool drew 2:2 this morning/afternoon at Anfield.  The Reds took the lead twice but were unable to hold off the powerful attack of the Champions from Manchester, who were without Sergio Aguero for the beginning of what figures to be an extended period.  This result helps Manchester United, who picked up two points on their archrivals with their win on Saturday and this outcome.  City figure to be United's prime competition for the title once more.

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, however, was the story with an incredible free kick goal to put his side up 2-1.  You can check out a GIF of that goal here.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Have We Seen the Last of Rafa Nadal?

Over the last seven years, Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal has carved out a legacy as one of the greatest of his generation, second only to Swiss machine Roger Federer.  Nadal has won 11 grand slam singles titles, tied for fourth all time, and an Olympic gold medal.  His seven French Open titles are an all-time record.  He is only 26.
Now, his career may be over as we know it.  According to an article by the Australian, Nadal's recent string of injuries - which led to a second round loss at Wimbledon earlier this year as well as his withdrawal from the Olympic games and the upcoming U.S. Open in New York - are most definitely career threatening. Nadal has a deformity in his foot which takes away a lot of shock absorbing ability and almost ended his career at 19 in 2005.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lance Armstrong Stops Fighting

According to USA Today, seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong will not challenge the United States Anti-Doping Agency's latest allegations that he used PEDs while winning his record number of races.  This has resulted, as of 11 PM on Thursday night, in Armstrong receiving a lifetime ban and being stripped of all seven of his titles.  More on the story can be read here.
Armstrong has released a statement on the matter, saying that this is not an admittance of guilt but rather a plea for people to let his hundreds of passed drug tests speak for themselves.  The man has never failed any type of drug test in competition or out of it and says he has grown tired of defending himself against people he feels will not listen.
Maybe I am just stupid and naive, but I have always believed that Armstrong is innocent - because of his story, his message, and his demeanor.  As I mentioned before, he has never failed a drug test and that seems to be damn near impossible to do unless you are innocent - considering the number of cyclists that have been stripped of their titles recently.
I guess we'll see.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Human Element Strikes in the EPL

The calls for goal technology in soccer have been coming harder and faster than ever before in the last two and a half years.  Notable incidents in Spain, England, and the World Cup have increased the pressure on FIFA to introduce some sort of way to tell if players are a) offside on a goal or b) the ball even crosses the line. Here is our latest example, courtesy of Timothy Burke's website 30FPS.

Damn, son.
Chelsea would win the game 4-2 following this goal to make it 3-2.  They scored three goals in the final 25 minutes of the match to erase a one-goal deficit at half time and avoid an embarrassing loss to recently promoted Reading.  The Blues are now top of the table.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Top 15 NFL Wide Receivers Heading In to 2012

As the NFL season draws nearer and nearer, I've decided to help kick off this new blog of mine by doing top player lists for different positions in the NFL. We continue at wide receiver with a top 15.

15. Dez Bryant, Dallas - Ever since the Cowboys traded up to get him in 2010, Bryant has failed to live up to the lofty expectations that followed him came from his electric career at Oklahoma State.  Last season was a marked improvement on '10; Bryant caught 63 passes for just over 900 yards and nine touchdowns, which shows his ability, physical tools, and massive potential.  But talented as Bryant is, he continues to have off the field issues and was plagued by hamstring woes last season.  He could have 1,200 yards this year, but he could also have 700.
14. Marques Colston, New Orleans - A model of consistency over his seven-year career, Colston has amassed at least 1,000 yards receiving in all but one pro season, only failing to do so when he played 11 games in 2008.  He's not particularly fast, but is smart enough to get open and uses his long reach well. Colston struggled a bit with injuries last season to his knees, and those are always a concern, but he's earned a top-15 spot with his constant excellence.
13. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City - Bowe eclipsed 1,100 receiving yards for the second consecutive campaign last season, but only caught five touchdowns compared to his 15 in 2010-11.  That's why he may not have made headlines last season, but Bowe draws double coverage almost every play as KC's lone true ball-catching threat and still puts up big numbers.  He could be higher on this list if Matt Cassel wasn't throwing him balls.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Greatest Moments in Sports

Another one of those videos I saw on Facebook.  Simply awesome as a sports fan.

Manchester United Open With a Loss at Everton

After a crushing end to the 2011-12 campaign, you would think that Manchester United would come out firing on all cylinders in their opening fixture of 2012-13.
You would be wrong.
United were decidedly poor in the beginning of their quest to reclaim the title Monday evening at Goodison Park, falling to a determined Everton side by a 0:1 scoreline. The Red Devils lacked tempo and urgency from the outset, allowing the Toffees to dictate play and possession throughout the opening 45 minutes.  United relied on goalkeeper David de Gea on three separate occasions prior to half time, needing the Spaniard to make spectacular denials coming across the face of goal in the air.  Everton would also hit the post twice in the first half, and only Wayne Rooney would have a great chance in the frame for the visitors.  However, his off-foot strike from the middle of the penalty area was right into the hands of Tim Howard.

Augusta National Admits Two Woman Members

As first reported by the Associated Press this morning, Augusta National Golf Club has admitted two women members, the first in their history.  They are former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina investor Darla Moore. Finally.
These admittances breaks the final discriminatory barrier at Augusta, which refused to admit black members until 1990 and has maintained a status of strict exclusivity for its entire history since being founded in 1933.  The club in Georgia is famous for hosting the Masters Tournament every April, the first of the four annual Major Championships in pro golf.  They had come under heavy fire in recent years for not admitting women while being in a position of such national prominence.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Strasburg Roulette

If you follow Major League Baseball, you are aware of the "dilemma" that the Washington Nationals currently find themselves in.  Their ace, Stephen Strasburg, is coming off a season in which he threw less than 50 innings because of Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery.  Because of this, Nationals management has decided to shut him down for the season at around 180 innings. Seems simple enough.
But the problem, you see, is that the Nationals are really damn good.  As of this writing, they have the best record in baseball, a four-game lead in the NL East, and a 99% chance (according to ESPN) of making the playoffs for the first time in a long, long time.  They are, indubitably, a team that could win the World Series this year.
(I called that this would happen in March; I was laughed at.  But I digress).

Friday, August 17, 2012

2012-13 Barclays Premier League Predictions

With the 2012-13 season of Barclays Premier League set to kick off on Saturday, it's time to go over where I think certain teams could finish in the upcoming campaign.  Take a look.

Order of Finish - Top 5:

5. Liverpool - Losing Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez hurts, but adding the youth of Joe Allen from Swansea and Fabio Borini from Roma should help to fill the void of those older departing players.  The reality with the Reds is that a lot of their best players are either not performing to potential or missing games.  Steven Gerrard, one of the best English midfielders ever, only played in 18 league games last year but was great when he played.  Andy Carroll, who was excellent for Newcastle, scored four in 35 appearances last season.  And Luis Suarez, their best goal scoring option, missed eight games last year for a suspension.  This is certainly a bold prediction, and it could go horribly wrong.  But I like Liverpool this season.
4. Arsenal - The Gunners spent another offseason selling their best players, this time shipping Robin van Persie to United for £23 million.  The loss of his 30 goals will really hurt a side that got off to a disastrous start in 2011-12 and needed their captain to help make them relevant at the end of the season, which he did admirably.  However, Arsene Wenger's team has young stars in Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, as well as high-powered signings Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla, and Lukas Podolski, which will help lessen the blow of losing RVP.  All-world goalkeeper Wojciech SzczÄ™sny is another year improved and arguably the top stopper in the Premier League.  Losing their captain hurts, but the Emirates could surprise people.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Top 10 NFL Tight Ends Heading In to 2012

As the NFL season draws nearer and nearer, I've decided to help kick off this new blog of mine by doing top player lists for different positions in the NFL. We continue at tight end, a rapidly evolving and important position in today's NFL, with a top 10.

10. Owen Daniels, Houston - Daniels doesn't get a ton of love because he doesn't put up huge receiving numbers, but he is competent enough with his hands to make plays, as evidenced by his career yards per catch average being well in to double digits.  But where Daniels makes his real money is blocking - helping to set the tone for a very good Texans running game in their zone block scheme.
9. Fred Davis, Washington - Breaking out in the final games of the 2010 season, Davis continued to play well in 2011 despite the fact that he had a truly dreadful quarterback throwing to him literally all season.  With Robert Griffin III's scrambling and throwing ability and Davis' raw talent, the tight end could be a great safety blanket for the Skins' rookie signal caller and improve on his 800 yard campaign from last year.
8. Aaron Hernandez, New England - One half of perhaps the best pair of tight ends the NFL has ever seen, Hernandez is the lightning to Rob Gronkowski's thunder.  Freakishly young, Hernandez caught 79 balls for 910 yards and seven touchdowns last year while lining up both on the line and split out.  He's shown that he can run the ball as well and is a very versatile player with quick feet and explosive speed.  If Gronk wasn't on the other side of the field, the guy would be a superstar.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Red Sox Players Only Ones to be Blamed for Losing

How has a model franchise come crashing down so fast?
Okay so for the last 11 months SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight and FOX Sports and just about everyone else who covers baseball has been constantly talking about the Red Sox, their historic tank job last September, and the debacle that has followed.  Just your basic, history-making, September collapse that made my 2007 Mets look good and got arguably the best GM and Manager the team had ever had fired in a span of a month.
After the Sox fired Terry Francona, they brought in Bobby Valentine, as you probably know.  And it's been an unmitigated disaster.  Tha Sawx are in fourth place in their Division and out of the wild card while playing sub .500 ball.  Josh Beckett can't take the mound without a) getting shelled and b) getting booed off the field.  Bobby V can't even pull Beckett without getting obliterated.  Carl Crawford is playing hurt.  Jon Lester, the ace who prior to this season was a top 5 picther in the AL, has a 5.20 ERA and two wins since Memorial Day.  John Lackey is double fisting beers in the clubhouse while recovering from Tommy John surgery (code for 'John, you had a 6.41 ERA last year, sit a couple plays out').

Manchester United Sign Robin van Persie

Image via Wikipedia
Manchester United have agreed in principle to sign Arsenal striker Robin van Persie for a reported £23 million, the club announced today via their official website.  The news of the transfer itself comes as little surprise, as the Netherlands international stated on July 4 that he would not sign a new contract with the Gunners when his current deal expires at the end of this coming season. However, RVP's transfer to a hated rival should come as a bit of a surprise, especially as it was rumored that United's crosstown rivals, Premier League champions City, were making a hefty push for the Dutchman's services with their oil-backed pocketbooks.
van Persie, who turned 29 on August 6, scored 30 goals last season in League play, leading both his team and Barclays Premier League.  The move gives Sir Alex Ferguson the top two goal scorers from the 2011-12 League campaign on his team, as Englishman Wayne Rooney scored 27 goals for United last season.  It also would appear to make United the betting favorites to bring home their 20th English crown this season and make a serious push for European trophies as well following a substandard 2011-12 in that regard.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Top 15 NFL Defensive Players Heading In to 2012

As the NFL season draws nearer and nearer, I've decided to help kick off this new blog of mine by doing top player lists for different positions in the NFL. We start off on defense, a key part of any championship caliber team, with a top 15.

15. Terrell Suggs, OLB, Baltimore - "Sizzle" is only this low on the list because of the achilles injury that has him poised to miss the first eight games of this coming season, if not more.  Capable of playing linebacker or lining up on the end, Suggs won the 2011 AFC Defensive Player of the Year award with an astounding 14 sacks, two interceptions, and seven forced fumbles.  He is a dominant force and helps set the tone for the always excellent Ravens D.
14. Ray Lewis, ILB, Baltimore - One of the greatest to ever play the game, the one constant on the Ravens' defense has been Lewis, who is now 37. Dynamic in all facets of defensive play, Lewis covers large areas of field very well for someone his age and hits like a house.  With Suggs' torn achilles, the argument can be made that no player is more important to his defense than Lewis is to Baltimore's.
13. Clay Matthews, ILB, Green Bay - Matthews was utterly dominant in 2010 during a season that saw him win the 2010 NFC Defensive Player of the Year award, but fell back to earth a little bit last season for the Pack. Regardless, he is one of the premier pass rushers in football at the linebacker position, and is also athletic enough to drop back in coverage and excel in ball hunting on plays out of the backfield.  Green Bay is moving him around, but he remains superb.

Monday, August 13, 2012

HockeyyInsiderr's Podcast is the Funniest Thing Ever

If you've been on Twitter at all today as a hockey fan, you're aware of the ongoing fight between fake rumor monger "@HockeyyInsiderr" and a 16-year-old OHL scout, Jonathan Kyriacou, who has busted the "Insiderr" as a 17 year-old-kid who lives in Montreal.  You can read that article here, and also Deadspin's post on the matter here.
As he has since the beginning of his account, "Hockeyy" as fiercely denied these allegations and has pointed to his track record of throwing massive amounts of manure at the wall until something sticks.  Finally, he was called out by another internet rumor man, Incarcerated Bob, who offered the "Insiderr" a chance to go on his podcast.  The ensuing 25 minutes is absolutely hilarious - check it out after the jump.

Did this Hawaiian Runner Miss the Bag?

I saw this video this morning on Facebook from last weekend's Little League World Series qualifying. Check out the video below.

I've never been much of a fan of the LLWS. Ever since I was a kid and Danny Almonte threw that perfect game as like a 17 year old, something about Williamsport has thrown me off. This right here is exactly why.
I mean seriously?  These Hawaiian kids have probably dreamed about this moment their entire lives.  For most of them, this is their one shot at making news in their state, the country, and maybe the world.  Last inning, two outs, runners on base with a chance to be a great story.  But no, instead one kid is a goat because Angel Hernandez over here wants to call a 12 year old out on the fact that he maybe missed third base by an inch.
I know what the rule is.  I played baseball my entire adolescent life (oh, and saw exactly zero appeal plays work, ever).  Was the kid out? Maybe.  Probably, even. But I still hate this.  The LLWS and youth sports are about how one team wins, not the other one loses.  There is no chance that umpire was 100% sure that he missed the bag.  None.  Let the kids play the game, blue.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Rory McIlroy Outclasses the Field Again

Two down, 16 to go!
It's not often that in sport, a player is so good that nobody can beat him when he is at his best.  I have been blessed to witness two such athletes in my lifetime in Tiger Woods and Roger Federer - and there may just be another on the horizon.

Rory McIlroy became the youngest player ever to win the PGA Championship on Sunday afternoon, obliterating the field to the tune of an eight shot victory for his second major championship in 14 months. Recovering admirably from a three-over 75 on Friday, the Northern Irishman would shoot five-under 67 in his third round and a bogey-free, six-under 66 in his final round.  Over his final 18 holes, McIlroy was in total control, never faltering and leaving everyone in the dust for the second time in the last seven majors.  Continuing to learn from his collapse at Augusta in April of 2011, he held his 54-hole lead to perfection.

On a course that had danger around every dog leg, McIlroy was stupendous, saving par on numerous occasions from the rough, the sand, and wood chips. Especially remarkable were his saves on both the 10th and 14th holes.  Way left off the tee, McIlroy muscled shots out of the rough and sank seven-footers for par on a day where he simply could not miss with his putter.  That has been the theme with McIlroy in his brief career; when he putts well, he is almost unbeatable.  The World Number One has now won his two majors by a combined 16 strokes, an incredible figure.