Thursday, October 29, 2009

Get Off the Bandwagon

There are a lot of things about sports that frustrate me. Here's one of the worst: year after year, season after season, people haphazardly jump on the bandwagon of hot teams. What do I mean...?

Every year, analysts and fans predict a handful of teams to finish at the bottom of the league, regardless of the sport; the majority of them fulfill this prophecy. Yet every year, there is one team that surprises everyone and emerges as one of the top teams in the league. Without fail, these teams go through the same three stages (I do not count baseball because the long season forces a team to prove its worth).

1) The team gets off to a fast start, but no one is quite ready to admit that they are legitimately good. Has their schedule been easy? Did they just get lucky? These questions remain unanswered, and the bandwagon remains relatively empty.

2) The team’s success continues. It’s somewhere between the ½ and 2/3 point of the season, and people jump on the bandwagon. They have supposedly proven their worth by maintaining their winning ways.

3. It’s playoff time. Most analysts pick the surprise team (that now sits near the top of the league) to go deep into the playoffs. But when it comes to game time, they choke. All I want to say is... I told you so.

Lets take a look at the 2008 Tennessee Titans. 13-3 record, top defense, top running game, Kerry Collins at QB. After Vince Young went down with an injury, most wrote off the Titans. How could they win with such a bad QB? They managed to do so because of that defense and Chris Johnson. But you cannot ignore QB play forever. An 80.2 QB rating, 12 TDs and 7 picks is not good. Not surprisingly, they lost to the Ravens. Why? The teams were identical in every way except one: Baltimore had a better passing game. (Although it’s like comparing Twitter to Myspace: Twitter is better, but they’re both awful. Also, on a side note, Mark Teixeira just hit a home run in game 2 of the World Series. And only two innings ago Joe Buck said Pedro was the type of pitcher that Teixeira could break out against. That’s why I love the man).
Next example: '07-'08 New Orleans Hornets. Chris Paul is awesome. David West is pretty solid. The rest of the team is terrible but feeding off of Paul's play. Everyone picked the Hornets to be somewhere between mediocre and good. They ended up with the second best record in the western conference. What happened? They lost in 7 games to the injury-depleted San Antonio Spurs.
The list keeps going: ('06-'07 Dallas Mavericks, '08 Miami Dolphins, '07-'08 Minnesota Wild, '07-'08 Montreal Canadians.) Now let's look at the champs of the last five years in the NFL, NBA and NHL.

2009: Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Lakers, Pittsburgh Penguins
2008: New York Giants, Boston Celtics, Detroit Red Wings
2007: Indianapolis Colts, San Antonio Spurs, Anaheim Ducks
2006: Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Heat, Carolina Hurricanes
2005: New England Patriots, San Antonio Spurs, No winner (Cancelled Season)

Of all of these teams, only the New York Giants was a truly unexpected winner. But they were predicted to be playoff contenders anyway. So why air this frustration right now? The beginning of the NBA season (and the Denver Broncos. Mark my words. They’ll be 12-4 and lose their first playoff game). It’s true the Portland Trail Blazers have potential to greatly improve, especially with Greg Oden finally making himself worthy of the #1 overall pick. It’s also possible that the Dallas Mavericks will reappear at the top of the western conference thanks to a legitimate bench. In the end, however, the only teams that have a true shot at winning the title are the Lakers, Celtics, Magic, Cavs and Spurs. I have no idea what order they will finish in at the end of the regular season. Maybe the Blazers and Mavs sneak ahead of them. But when all is said and done, the champ will be one of these five teams. Don’t make a pick just to look flashy. Most importantly, when a few teams emerge, I am begging you not to jump on the bandwagon. Stick with your preseason instincts.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

NFL Picks Week 7

Last Week - Spread: 7-7
Last Week - Winner: 9-5
Overall - Spread: 16-12
Overall - Winner: 19-9

San Diego Chargers (-5.5) over Kansas City Chiefs
Game Winner: San Diego Chargers

San Diego is too good to keep losing. Although I'm tempted to pick Kansas City because they keep covering as the underdog.

Indianapolis Colts (-14) over Saint Louis Rams
Game Winner: Indianapolis Colts

Last week I said Jacksonville was good enough to cover 10 points against the Rams. They weren't. But Peyton Manning and the best team in the league coming off a bye against St. Louis? I won't be wrong this time.

Green Bay Packers (-9) over Cleveland Browns
Game Winner: Green Bay Packers

The Browns are quietly the worst team in the NFL. We keep thinking they're okay, but if you remember, they now have no offensive weapons since they traded Edwards, Winslow and Jamal Lewis' career is basically over. Plus Green Bay is finally showing their true colors. Also, Rodgers is finally going to be the fantasy QB that everyone has been waiting for.

Minnesota Vikings (+6) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Game Winner: Minnesota Vikings

I know the game is in Pittsburgh, but Vegas is asking everyone to take the Vikings. They're 6-0. A healthy dose of Adrian Peterson should do the trick for the Vikings.

New England Patriots (-15.5) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Game Winner: New England Patriots

I think they're Madden-like 59-0 win versus Tennessee showed that even though they may not be elite this year, they can still rub it in against the Latoya Jackson's of the league. Also, if this were truly Madden, this was a clear I'm-letting-Brady-get-all-these-stats-so-he-can-improve-his-overall-rating-in-franchise-mode game.

Houston Texans (-3.5) over San Francisco 49ers
Game Winner: Houston Texans

I keep picking against San Francisco and winning. Why? Because they're overrated. And Houston isn't that bad either apparently. Also, this will be the week where every fantasy owner who wasted a roster spot on Michael Crabtree will finally be completely and utterly disappointed.

New York Jets (-6) over Oakland Raiders
Game Winner: New York Jets

I like to think that Mark Sanchez has gotten the normal terrible-games-by-a-rookie-quarterback out of his system. Also, don't be fooled by Oakland last week. They're still terrible.

Carolina Panthers (-7) over Buffalo Bills
Game Winner: Carolina Panthers

This is the game of which coach will get fired first? Answer? Dick Jauron.

Chicago Bears (-1) over Cincinnati Bengals
Game Winner: Chicago Bears

This little early season spurt by the Bengals has completely saved Marvin Lewis' job. They Bengals haven't been to the playoffs since Carson Palmer tore his ACL, yet why is Lewis' head not on the chopping block? The Bengals will soon get back to mediocrity.

New Orleans Saints (-6.5) over Miami Dolphins
Game Winner: New Orleans Saints

This is a popular upset pick for the week. But Since New Orleans doesn't ever seem to have a drive that stalls before scoring a touchdown, they're going to win by 7 or more.

Atlanta Falcons (+5) over Dallas Cowboys
Game Winner: Atlanta Falcons

I don't understand how Vegas can favor the Cowboys by so much even though they have continued to prove how overrated they are. And why doesn't Atlanta get some respect? And turns out I was wrong; Michael Turner isn't suffering from Larry Johnson Syndrome (I was way overused last year and thus my career was ruined).

New York Giants (-7) over Arizona Cardinals
Game Winner: New York Giants

Even though I'm a Giants fan and I'm going to pick them every week, it actually has made sense every week thus far. It will be way harder for Kurt Warner to run his 2007 Patriots offense in the cold and wind of Giants Stadium. Maybe there will also be an Anquan Boldin sighting this week.

Philadelphia Eagles (-7) over Washington Redskins
Game Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia's terrible loss last week shot the confidence of Vegas, only giving them 7 points against the horrendous Redskins. Don't be fooled. That was just the annual: terrible coaching by Andy Reid + terrible performance by Donovan McNabb = Questions about whether they're the right coach and quarterback followed by a late season surge where they become the most dangerous team heading into the playoffs. You watch. I said it here and now.

Friday, October 16, 2009

NFL Picks Week 6

Last Week - Spread: 9-5
Last Week - Game Winners: 10-4

Kansas City Cheifs (+6.5) over Washington Redskins
Game Winner: Kansas City Cheifs

Both teams are terrible, but at least Kansas City tries hard. And Matt Cassel is quietly putting up decent fantasy numbers with one more TD pass (7) than Tom Brady. Everyone in New England misses the one yard play action pass from the goal line to Mike Vrabel.

Cincinnati Bengals (-5) over Houston Texans.
Game Winner: Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati keeps finding ways to win (aside from the epic Gus Johnson, "STOKELY!!! WOW!!!! STOKLEY!!! 3 second pause. TOUCHDOWN!!!") ... and Houston keeps finding ways to lose.

Cleveland Browns (+14) over Pittsburgh Steelers
Game Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers

Why am I picking a team with a QB that went 2-17 last week? Because the Steelers' largest margin of victory thus far is 10 points. They only beat the Lions by 8. Although Mike Wallace has become everyone's favorite "rookie fantasy receiver who's putting up good stats but I don't know if I should pick him up or not since it's so early, but if I wait someone will grab him."

Minnesota Vikings (-3) over Baltimore Ravens
Game Winner: Minnesota Vikings

Baltimore became everyone's league's best team because Joe Flacco put up ridiculous stats in the first three weeks. Too bad it was against Kansas City, San Diego, and Cleveland. When they played real teams (Cincinnati and New England), they lost. Plus this one's at Minnesota. I can't wait till Jared Allen freaks out after a sack.

Jacksonville Jaguars (-9.5) over St. Louis Rams
Game Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville sucks. St. Louis sucks 80 times more.

New York Giants (+3) over New Orleans Saints
Game Winner: New York Giants

Just like against everyone else, the Giants will pressure Drew Brees the whole game. Plus Eli is better on the road (24-14) than at home (22-15). But here's a fun game to play while watching this matchup. Which will be higher: The over/under on this game (47.5) or JaMarcus Russel's passer rating this week?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) over Carolina Panthers
Game Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Fantasy owners continually bet on Lee Evans to put up good numbers (myself included) and each year he disappoints. Similarly, everyone has been waiting for the Panthers to break out of their funk. They won't.

Green Bay Packers (-14) over Detroit Lions
Game Winner: Green Bay Packers

The only true weapon on Detroit (Calvin Johnson) is not playing. Green Bay needs a statement game. Although I did enjoy how Greg Jennings went T.O. on the media by demanding the ball more, but then immediately tried to retract his statement by saying that he understands that Aaron Rodgers has no time to get it too him. Way to throw your O-line under the bus.

Philadelphia Eagles (-14) over Oakland Raiders
Game Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

Correction: Philadelphia Eagles (-147) over Oakland Raiders

Arizona Cardinals (+3) over Seattle Seahawks
Game Winner: Arizona Cardinals

This will be the game that Kurt Warner finally reverts to his 400 yard, 3 TD, 3 pick performances that became customary last season. Too bad Seattle isn't good enough to take advantage of the turnovers.

New York Jets (-9.5) over Buffalo Bills
Game Winner: New York Jets

The Bills couldn't defeat the Browns when Derek Anderson went 2-17. Mark Sanchez won't be that bad. Also, a big thanks to the Jets ownership for reviving the 2009 fantasy season for all owners of Braylon Edwards.

New England Patriots (-9.5) over Tennessee Titans
Game Winner: New England Patriots

What's the point of standing by a useless 37 year-old Kerry Collins when you have a younger, faster QB in Vince Young who led your team to the playoffs without Chris Johnson and a ferocious defense? Kerry Collins does not hand the ball off to Chris Johnson any better than Vince Young would.

Atlanta Falcons (-3.5) over Chicago Bears
Game Winner: Atlanta Falcons

Two overrated defenses. Two young QBs on their way to stardom. The only difference is that Atlanta is at home.

Denver Broncos (+3.5) over San Diego Chargers
Game Winner: Denver Broncos

Denver should be terrible. No one wants to bet on them. Even Vegas doesn't trust them with this line. Shouldn't the 5-0 team be favored over the 2-2 team? Also, thank you Vincent Jackson for breaking out of the Lee Evans curse.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gus Johnson: An Appreciation

For those of you who don't know, Gus Johnson is a sports commentator that does the play-by-play for multiple sports on CBS. But Gus is no ordinary commentator. His child-like enthusiasm inspires viewers to appreciate the excitement of great sports moments. Here are, in my opinion, the top 5 Gus Johnson calls. This one's for you, Gus.

5 - Scenario: March Madness, 1999 Sweet Sixteen, Gonzaga vs. Florida. Gonzaga trails by 1.

If Gonzaga had not put the ball in the basket after Hall's missed runner, Gus' head probably would have exploded. Even though he's only waiting to let out his classic scream for joy for a mere 4 seconds, it is obvious that he's in pain. That bucket was good for everyone's peace of mind.

4 - Scenario: Non-Conference play, College basketball, Oklahoma State vs. Gonzaga. Adam Morrison, the nation's leading scorer, has the ball as Gonzaga trails 62-61 in the final seconds.

This call may seem like any other Gus Johnson call. A player hits a crazy shot, Gus goes absolutely out of his mind. But what separates this video is the other commentator who tries to react even crazier than Gus. But Gus doesn't have any of it. Every time the other guy chimes in, Gus comes back even louder. Way to mark your territory, Gus.

3 - Scenario: Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Week 1, NFL. The Broncos are down 7-6 with 26 seconds left. The ball is on their own 13 yard line.

Not only does Gus continue screaming for a full 25 seconds, but he manages to maintain his unparalleled enthusiasm (besides the few breaks to breathe) for the entire play. Although Stokley's decision to waste time by not immediately going into the end zone kills all of Gus' momentum.

2 - Scenario: March Madness, 2006 Sweet Sixteen, Gonzaga (3) vs. UCLA (2). Gonzaga must go the length of the court for the tie.

The actual play is not that exciting. What makes this video great is Gus' inability to emphasize the right moment. But it only makes for a better sound bite that he nearly has a heart attack saying "BATISTA WITH THE CATCH!!!!!!"

And the #1 moment:

1 - Scenario: March Madness, 2007 Round 2, Ohio State (1) trails by 3 points to Xavier (9) with 9.3 seconds left.

Not only is Gus' call exciting, but he manages to both throw in some personality with an impromptu "HAHA!" and an advertisement for CBS when he says "College Basketball. CBS Sports. This is March Madness." Just lovely.

Special thanks to Kushal Patel and Daniel Perlman

MLB Playoff Changes

The Major League Baseball season is long, slow and long. But let's be honest: by mid-August, only a handful of teams actually have a chance to make the playoffs. Players on non-contending teams go down with mysterious season-ending injuries, attendance suffers, and fans hope their teams lose so they get a better draft pick. Although this is an problem in most sports, it is especially prevalent in baseball. To combat this issue, the playoffs should include more teams, and the regular season less games. Baseball idealists believe cutting back to a 154 game season would destroy the integrity of baseball's most hallowed records. However, steroids have already tainted almost every major record that has been set in the past 48 years since baseball changed to a 162 game season. In fact, many records set before the switch were set during the 154 game season anyway. The biggest advantage to the following proposal is that it makes baseball more exciting, especially in September. This year, there was only one exciting playoff race (Tigers and Twins). It also gives seeding a greater importance, and allows fans to watch what they really want - highly competitive playoff baseball. Anyway, to the playoff proposal:

12 teams - 3 division winners, 3 wild card teams.

What makes the NBA, NHL and NFL playoffs exciting? More teams. Just because one team performs well against an overwhelmingly large number of poor teams does not mean that it deserves a free pass to the World Series. Consider this: what if the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels played in a division with more than one semi-competitive team? If they played in the AL East, they might not even make the playoffs. This system would force them to play against more quality opponents.

All series are 7 games.

In a 5 game series, teams that do not deserve to win can steal the series by using their top 2 pitchers in games 1,2,4 and 5. If teams want to pull the 2001 Diamondbacks' World Series tactic of overusing their top two pitchers (Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson,) let them. (I must say, that was one of the most emotionally painful baseball series of my life...) With this change, teams like that won't be able to survive multiple 7 game series.

Top 2 teams in each league get home field advantage choice.

As in the NFL, these teams would get a bye. However, their home-field advantage would not be mandated by the MLB; they would get to choose which 4 games they want to play at home. Since home field isn't as big an advantage in baseball as in other sports, there should be a greater reward for higher seeded teams. This could become extremely useful if teams have pitchers who throw better on the road or at home. Teams could schedule home and away games as they please so that their pitchers would have the biggest advantage.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

NFL Picks Week 5

I know it's a little late to start picking now, but here goes anyway. Starting this week, I will pick games against the spread according to vegasinsider.com and pick game winners.

Minnesota Vikings (-10) over Saint Louis Rams
Game Winner: Minnesota Vikings

Adrian Peterson, Brett Favre, the emerging Percy Harvin against a Rams team that has been shut out twice and held to 7 and 19 points in the other two games. This game should be a blowout.

Kansas City Chiefs (+8) over Dallas Cowboys
Game Winner: Dallas Cowboys

Although they're 0-4, the Chiefs offense is finally looking respectable and the defense has big play capability, especially when they will be feeding off the crowd at Arrowhead. All the pressure is on Tony Romo and the Cowboys to right the ship.

Carolina Panthers (-4) over Washington Redskins
Game Winner: Carolina Panthers

The Redskins scored 9 points against one of the worst defenses in the Rams. Although Carolina is winless, their record does not convey their tough opponents nor talent level that gave them a 12-4 record a season ago.

Philadelphia Eagles (-15) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Game Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

15 points may be a lot to cover, but a healthy McNabb + a healthy Westbrook + a Tampa Bay defense that gives up big plays like its their job = blowout for the Eagles.

New York Giants (-15) over Oakland Raiders
Game Winner: New York Giants

Oakland's defense may be respectable, but JaMarcus Russel's sub 50% completion percentage is not. Especially when it comes against a defense as tough as New York's.

Cleveland Browns (+6) over Buffalo Bills
Game Winner: Cleveland Browns

Braylon Edward's 10 receptions on the season won't be missed. The Cleveland offense should improve with the switch to Derek Anderson who seemed bring some life to a previously dysfunctional offense especially after how well they played against a strong Bengals team.

Cincinnati Bengals (+8.5) over Baltimore Ravens
Game Winner: Baltimore Ravens

Don't let the Bengals fool you. Just because they seemed inept on "Hard Knocks" does not mean that they are in reality. Because of a fluke play against the Broncos, their record is 3-1 instead of 4-0. They have played well thus far and should make this a closer game than it may appear to be on paper.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-10.5)
over Detroit Lions
Game Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh's offense manhandled San Diego last week, and should continue to do so against the porous Lions' defense. With Matt Stafford's injury and Pittsburgh's not wanting to fall to 2-3, Pittsburgh should make this a statement game.

Atlanta Falcons (+2.5) over San Francisco 49ers
Game Winner: Atlanta Falcons

Without a healthy Frank Gore, this game becomes significantly tougher for the 49ers. Although their defense has been excellent, their main offensive weapon was the only thing protecting a relatively week offensive unit. Also, Matt Ryan and Mike Smith have had two weeks to prepare following their defeat at the hands of the Patriots.

New England Patriots (-3) over Denver Broncos
Game Winner: New England Patriots

Although Josh McDaniels might have righted the sinking ship that was the Denver Broncos and he may have a few tricks up his sleeve from his experience as New England's offensive coordinator, Belichick's mind and Brady's arm are too much for the young coach to handle.

Houston Texans (+5.5) over Arizona Cardinals
Game Winner: Houston Texans

This game will undoubtedly be a shootout, but while Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson are regaining their rhythm from last season, the Cardinals are still in disarray, coming off a 21 point point defeat because of Peyton Manning's 379 pass yards and 4 TDs. On a fantasy note, don't be surprised if Andre Johnson sets a fantasy record this week for TDs, receiving yards and catches (in PPR leagues).

Seattle Seahawks (-1) over Jacksonville Jaguars
Game Winner: Seattle Seahawks

With Matt Hasselbeck healthy, Jim Mora Jr. can go back to doing what he does best: throw the football. Jacksonville is also tied for last in the NFL in pass defense, giving up 280 yards per game.

Indianapolis Colts (-4) over Tennessee Titans
Game Winner: Indianapolis Colts

Peyton Manning is the league MVP after 4 weeks, singlehandedly leading the Colts to a 4-0 record despite a shaky offensive line, no running game, and a mediocre defense. Chris Johnson cannot continue to run against 8 man boxes. Kerry Collins needs to step up in the passing game for them to have a chance.

New York Jets (-2) over Miami Dolphins
Game Winner: New York Jets

These teams are very similar. Both have young QBs, solid running games, and a strong defense. But New York's stronger, and Chad Henne does not have a big target to throw to in Braylon Edwards as Rex Ryan throws the kitchen sink at him each and every play.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Who is the Ideal Athlete?

Like most other sports fans, I would trade lives with a successful professional athlete in an instant. But obviously, some athletes have better lives than others. So what constitutes the ideal athlete? While money and success play large roles, popularity and personality are important aspects as well. Here are 3 players who didn't quite make the cut, but came close.

Kobe Bryant - After winning three straight NBA titles with Shaq and the rest of the LA crew, Kobe has undoubtedly experienced success that most envy. He does co-hold the title of best player in the league (I still think it's LeBron. Just imagine if LeBron and Kobe switched places. Kobe did nothing when he had no supporting cast. LeBron took one talentless team to the Finals and had the best record with another this past season). Despite all of the fame and glory, can you really say that you'd want to be Kobe? I agree that his wife is extremely attractive, his 7 year, $136.4 million contract sounds appealing to say the least, and he plays in one of the biggest cities in the country. Yet, I still have reservations. Just to start, I wouldn't want to have a rape charge lingering in everyone's mind (I know he was innocent, but still...) Plus, a perceived selfish attitude (asking to be traded,) and a career that will always be compared to, but never quite as good as, that of Michael Jordan. Last but certainly not least, I would hate to have lips that smack together between every word I speak.

Tom Brady - 3 Super Bowl Rings, 2 Super Bowl MVPs, 1 NFL MVP, the reputation as the greatest clutch QB ever and a feel good story as a 6th round pick out of Michigan who only shared time as a senior starter with the infamous Drew Henson (only if he had developed into a prospect for the Yankees) all add up to a great resume. So, what do I not like about Brady? Besides the fact that he plays for the Pats (Even though I'm a Giants fan, I still hate them), his 6 year, $60 million contract is truly nothing special (although soon he will be negotiating a new one which is sure to be quite lucrative.) Another Problem with Brady? He is not the best player in his sport, let alone his position. That would be Peyton Manning. Yes, I said it. Brady's 50 TD season in 2007 is the only one in which he threw 30+ TDs. His next highest is 28. And he has only thrown for over 4,000 yards twice, whereas Peyton has done it 9 times, and never has his yardage for a season dipped below 3,700. Also, he has 4 30+ TD seasons and his lowest output was 26 in '99 and '01, his 2nd and 4th seasons. Even though Peyton has two less titles and three less Super Bowl appearances, he has never had a dominating defense. And if you make the argument that Manning only succeeds because of his teammates, the same can be said about Brady. His one monster season came with Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Donte Stallworth as receivers, and an offensive line that was one of the best in football. But Manning, through 4 games of '09, with a depleted receiving core, a makeshift offensive line and zero running game, is 4-0 with a 114.5 passer rating, has 9 TDs and 3 picks. Not too bad. But the real reason Brady isn't ideal is because of one thing: The baby situation. No one wants the child of a women he's not married to (Bridget Moynahan). Especially me.

Tiger Woods - When he retires, he will be the undisputed greatest golfer of all time. With 14 Major Championships and 71 PGA Tour wins, Tiger is 33 years old and only 14 years into his career. It took Jack Nicklaus 25 years to set the record of 18 Major Championship wins and Sam Snead 30 years to set the PGA Tour wins record at 81. Also, by 2010, Tiger should surpass $1 billion in career earnings, including endorsements and purse money. And unlike most golfers, he's in great physical shape, and has an extremely attractive wife in Elin. So, what is there not to like? Firstly, he plays golf. While I may watch the last few holes of an exciting major, I do not care year round, and as far as I know, neither do most people. Also, while the Tiger first pump is legendary, so is the ridiculously awkward hi-five with caddy Steve Williams. (Start at the 1:20 mark). My favorite part about the awkward encounter is when they momentarily hold hands and wonder when to let go... If Tiger played basketball or football, this would be a no-brainer. But golf removes him from the top spot on my wish-list.

Others that didn't make the cut but were worth consideration: Roger Federer (He can do way better than his current wife. All Baseball Players (steroids), All Hockey Players (no one cares about hockey), and David Beckham (not American).

And the winner is....

LeBron James - In my opinion, he is the best player in basketball. While Kobe may be the player you want most in the 4th quarter, the game is over if you have LeBron for the first 3. Also, while his current 5 year, $80 million contract may be modest for a player of his caliber, LeBron's numerous endorsements more than make up for it. Also, he's set to receive a huge payday in the summer of 2010. No matter where he lands, big money will find him. In the public eye, LeBron is one of the most well-liked players. He's always talkative to the media (Well, almost always. He was upset they lost to Orlando. Let him be a baby once,) and he's generally perceived as a good person. It's hard not to like him. LeBron even made it onto Entourage (only the true stars of today make guest appearances...) Plus you can't tell me you didn't enjoy the Cavs' cool sideline celebrations and handshakes throughout the season; I know you were reliving your days as star of your middle school basketball team (at least I did. And don't lie. You remember what the most points you scored was, who it was against and how you scored every bucket). So, what is LeBron lacking? Nothing. Comparison to Jordan? You just can't compare the two. Unlike Kobe who possesses a similar skill set, LeBron has unparalleled power and athleticism. He is a completely different player from Jordan. The big question: where are the rings? The simple answer: They're coming. He has only completed six years in the NBA, and has come close twice with no help from his teammates whatsoever. The Cavs should compete again this year, and Shaqovich should only help. Even if LeBron changes teams in the summer of 2010, you know his new team will not make the mistake Cleveland did by not surrounding him with talent. And if you want a scary thought, LeBron is only going to get better.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

7 Ways to Recognize a non Baseball Fan at a Baseball Game

Recently I was watching the Twins and Tigers on ESPN. In a crucial game that played a large role in determining the playoff futures for both teams, the intensity grew with every single pitch. But when Carl Pavano led off an inning with a strike one, some idiot girl sitting in the premium seats behind home plate stood up and clapped. My first thought: What are you doing? But she got me thinking. How many clueless fans have ruined baseball games? Many. Here are 7 ways to recognize non baseball fans at a baseball game.

1. The girl behind home plate, i.e. people who don't know when to cheer.

I know I'm not the only one that wants to smack the stupid guy who gets pumped when his team's shortstop makes a routine play. Only in the following situations may plays in the field excite you.
a) An inning-ending out with a runner(s) in scoring position
b) A strikeout of a player generally hated by the fans of your team.
c) A really amazing individual effort, i.e. diving catch.
Otherwise, stay seated and clap sparingly.

2. That guy's girlfriend who's wearing the jersey of a team that's not even at the game.

You're not supporting the game of baseball. I'd prefer if you just showed up in high socks, a Lacoste shirt tucked into khaki shorts and loafers. Even though I hate the Red Sox (I'm a Yankee fan), I'd almost prefer a David Ortiz Jersey at a Yankees vs. Sox game in the Bronx than an Evan Longoria jersey. At least you're picking a side.

3. People wearing the wrong colored hat of their team

While it's a great way to make some extra cash for the owners, I am strongly against buying them. It might be stylish to wear a sideways pink Yankee hat, just not at a baseball game. The only exception to this rule is the "vintage" or "throwback" hat. It's always good to appreciate your elders.

4. People who say the score backwards

You got up in the middle of the 5th to get an overpriced hot dog and a bottle of water with no cap. As you're spilling it all over yourself and the mustard packets accidentally fall on your favorite jersey, you manage to squeeze out the words "Did anyone score while I was gone?" Then some guy trying to sound smooth casually says, "No. It's still 4-6." Actually, its 6-4. Thanks for making me laugh at your stupidity though.

5. People who leave the game early because "its getting late."

Most people know that baseball is a slow game, and most of the drama usually happens in the late innings anyway. Is it really going to make that big a difference if you leave 45 minutes earlier? If it's a day game and you had prior arrangements for afterwards, you should have thought about that before you shelled out way too much money to go to the game anyway. If it's at night, your boss does not like you more because you show up 15 minutes early to work. In fact, he can see through your obvious ploys. So just stop leaving early and watch the rest of the game.

6. People who prove their fanhood by pulling out random stats.

I saw those ESPN commercials also. It might be interesting that Derek Jeter hits .314 with more than two runners on base with less than two outs before the 6th inning (I wonder if that's actually true,) but lets analyze what went into this amazing fact. You had to decide it was necessary to:
a) Find it on the internet
b) Take the time to remember it.
c) Find a time to casually slip it into the normal conversation of a baseball game.
Too bad all your effort is for nothing.

7. People who stand up anticipating a Home Run after every fly ball.

It's called depth perception. Give it a second before you stand up. Everything's going to look like a Home Run initially. But let's be realistic. How many HRs are hit in a game? I'd say somewhere in the 2-6 range. How many fly balls are hit? Assuming you only stand up for your own team's fly balls (including foul balls), I'd guess around 20. That means an average of 20% of fly balls leave the park. And that's a pretty generous number. That also means that 80% the time . . . you look dumb.