Que Sarah, Sarah

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 - Still looking for a Halloween costume?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Still looking for a Halloween costume?


The Top Ten Sports-Related Halloween Costumes for 2008

Halloween is fast approaching and people everywhere are scouring the web for this year's hottest costumes. Ladies, you don't want to show up at the party only to find you're one of many dressed as "Tina Fey doing Sarah Palin." And fellas, you're not gonna be the only "Joker in a nurse's costume" at the club, so don't run the risk of that pretty bird you've been working all night accidentally leaving with that other guy in face paint and a red wig.

Here's an idea! Why not combine your passion for sports with your passion for alcohol-infused, obesity-promoting holidays? Below: 10 sports-related Halloween costumes that are sure to amuse, entice and/or offend.

10. Tim Donaghy: In July, the former NBA ref was sentenced to 15 months in jail for gambling on games he officiated.
Costume Requirements: For all you lazy fans out there, this costume is quite simple. A ref's outfit, a wad of cash and some handcuffs. If you wanna get creative, tape a "Parking in rear" or "Exit Only" sign to the seat of your pants and carry some soap on a rope.

9. Madonna & A-Rod: Perfect for couples! Now that both superstars have split with their spouses, the most in-shape twosome since Hans and Franz are free to be together forever—or at least until next season starts.
Costume Requirements: HIS: The Yankees are out of the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, so an A-Rod jersey and a Yankees ballcap can be bought on the cheap. Not so cheap? That hundred dollar bill you'll have to carry around and use as a napkin. HERS: On her Sticky & Sweet tour, Madonna has been seen rocking knee-high boots, fishnet stockings, a pleather leotard and a top hat. All should be easy to find at your local S & M store. (Bonus: Add some boxing gloves and you've got your Oscar De La Hoya costume ready a year early!) .

8. Michael Phelps: Guys, are you dying to show off those chiseled abs one last time before winter sets in? Here's your chance.
Costume Requirements: A speedo, goggles, eight gold medals, aggressive manscaping.

7. David Tyree: Everyone remembers the unbelievable catch Giants' wide receiver David Tyree made in Super Bowl XLII.
Costume Requirements: A New York Giants uniform, a Super Bowl ring and a football to glue to your helmet. Don't glue the football to your hand, though—you might need that hand to double-fist.

6. Misty May-Treanor: Just months after winning her second straight Olympic gold with beach volleyball partner Kerri Walsh, May-Treanor tore her Achilles tendon rehearsing for Dancing With The Stars.
Costume Requirements: A sparkly gown, high heels, tranny-licious makeup, a cast and crutches. Carry around a volleyball and recruit friends to be your partner, Maksim, and judges Carrie Ann, Bruno and Len.

5. 2008 Barry Bonds: The King of the Swing hasn't taken one since the end of last season, despite filing for free agency in October of 2007. Let people know what Bonds is up to now that his baseball career appears to be over…
Costume Requirements: A San Francisco Giants uniform, an impossibly large head, a McDonald's visor and a drive-thru headset.

4. Pacman Jones: Gather your hos together to celebrate everyone's favorite strip club-frequenting, gun-toting, suspension-lovin' NFL cornerback!
Costume Requirements: A life-sized Pacman costume (true to the original video game), a bottle of Cristal and a wad of singles. Recruit all your "lady friends" to be strippers that escort you around the party, occasionally pausing to pick up your scrilla after you make it rain.

3. Manny Ramirez: The newest LA Dodger did it all for the blue in the 2008 playoffs. In eight games he batted .520, walked 11 times, hit four homers and drove in 10 runs.
Costume Requirements: A Dodgers jersey, a head full of dreads, a cane and a back-brace (from carrying the rest of the Dodgers on your back).

2. Chinese Gymnast: Ladies, this is a great way to have an of-the-moment costume, but also, as is the Halloween tradition, wear little to no clothing.
Costume Requirements: Red leotard, a red scrunchie and barrettes for your hair. Blue eyeshadow, chalky hands, underdeveloped breasts and baby teeth. Don't forget to proudly display your fake passport and be sure to eschew the traditional water bottle for a baby bottle.

1. Epic Fail: Any Chicago Cubs player.
Costume Requirements: A Cubs uniform, something to choke on and a box of Kleenex for your fans


Monday, October 20, 2008



http://www. mouthpiecesports. com/media/15184


FRIEND ME!!! : )

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 - I’M F****IN’ STEVE BARTMAN!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Cub fans everywhere are mourning the team's colossal tank job and wondering if the curse will ever be broken. Fear not, for I've taken it upon myself to end the Cubs curses once and for all.

See the video below for all the answers. Don't worry, it's safe for work...bleeps a'plenty. : )


Monday, October 06, 2008 - Go Nuts For The White Sox?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Go Nuts For The White Sox?


Saturday, September 13, 2008 - B-E-A-R D-O-W-N

Saturday, September 13, 2008




B elieve. Last year after training camp, the Bears claimed to be stronger, faster and better than the Super Bowl squad of 2006. Their 7-9 record proved otherwise. This year's preseason contests led many to believe that Chicago fans were in for another year of heartache. Opening day, the Bears ran all over the Colts, beating the AFC South favorites 29-13. That's why they play the game.

E fficiency. In the season opener, Kyle Orton was a respectable 13-of-21 for 151 yards and, most importantly, helped the Bears go 10-for-16 on 3rd downs. When Orton plays conservative, smart football, the Bears succeed. Seven different players caught passes from Captain Neckbeard, none for more than 50 yards. In Carolina, the offense should stick to the game plan that helped them crush the Colts–establish the run and throw to the open man-—whoever it may be.

A dewale. Bears' defensive end Adewale Ogunleye was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for week one, registering three tackles and three tackles-for-loss in Sunday's season opener. Ogunleye was also responsible for the Bears' lone safety, taking down Colts' running back Joseph Addai in the 2nd quarter.

R unning man. After a spectacular NFL debut, Matt Forte can no longer fly under the radar. Last week Forte became the first Chicago rookie running back to start in an opening game since Walter Payton in 1975. His 123 yards were the most ever by a Bears' back in his pro debut and the 12th highest rookie rushing debut in the history of the league. He showed tremendous breakout speed, quick feet, great hands and cutbacks so devastating he had the Tribune Company taking notes. Forte will have his hands (and feet) full in Week 2, facing a Panthers defense that held LaDainian Tomlinson to under 100 yards rushing last week.

D efense. The black 'n blues brothers are back. After a disappointing preseason that saw the Bears D make guys like JT O'Sullivan look like Pro Bowlers, the Monsters of the Midway opened up 2008 in classic style. They helped Indy christen the brand spankin' new Lucas Oil Stadium with sacks, strips, stunts and a safety. Carolina's offense looked poised and potent against the Chargers last week, despite being without the efforts of stud wide-out Steve Smith. The Bears D will need to continue to attack the line of scrimmage and take away the deep ball if they hope to contain Jake Delhomme and a surprising Panther receiving corps.

O h my, O-Line. Taking Chris Williams first in this year's draft, Chicago seemed determined to shore up its aging offensive line. After losing Williams to injury before one down of regular season football, all hope seemed lost. Not so fast, Chicago fans. The o-line was surprisingly strong against the Colts, protecting Orton and creating big holes for Forte and the run game. I'm worried about the return of Fred Miller, who was cut after a miserable season last year (and has gotten nothing but older since then) but perhaps the Bears' brass sees something I don't in the veteran tackle.

W here receivers go to die. Once and future Panther, Muhsin Muhammad, gave the Bears some bulletin board material last month when he told Sports Illustrated "Chicago is where receivers go to die." While Moose and his former teammates in Chicago have tried to downplay the significance of the comment in recent weeks, there's no denying that the pass-dropping, AARP card-holding wideout will have a big target on his back in Week 2. Even old friends like Tommie Harris, who remember the 13-year vet fondly, have plans for Sunday's reunion. "Moose is like a brother to me," Harris said. "I'm looking forward to seeing him. I might give him a big hug or something; maybe tackle him across the middle if it's a wide receiver screen or something."

N ew game, new challenges. Blasting Indy on Opening Day was sweet revenge for Super Bowl XLI, but one game does not a season make. After a week of watching tape, Carolina will be ready to take on Forte's feet and Babitch's blitzes. Orton and the Bears' receivers will need to play a much bigger role in week two and Chicago's D will have to stay creative and aggressive. I expect big games out of Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen and wouldn't be surprised to see Orton and Hester connect on a deep ball early in the game.

Thursday, September 04, 2008 - Get To Know Your Gators

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Get To Know Your Gators


TLOS Preview: 4 Florida

By Sarah Spain
Love of Sports Correspondent

(Starting August 1st, The Love of Sports began featuring one college football program each day, breaking down their offense, defense and - most importantly - their food, beverage, cheerleaders, tailgating prowess and all-around campus life! That's because those are the things we value here the most. College football is all about the atmosphere, and that's exactly what we'll give you all season long!)

Today's Preview - Florida Gators

TLOS Preseason Rank: 4
TLOS Predicted Record: 11-2
2007 Record: 9-4

I'm not exactly the biggest college football nut in the world. I'm not gonna lie to you.

You see, the football team from my alma mater, Cornell University, probably couldn't crack the high school Top 25, not to mention the Division I college rankings.

So, I enlisted the biggest UF fan in the world, Mike "I'd go gay for Tebow" Geezy to help me drop some Gator knowledge on the masses.

It wasn't hard to convince him, especially since I guaranteed him a Top 5 spot in the rankings if he did it. Seems only fair.


Last year, UF quarterback Tim Tebow became the first sophomore in history to win the Heisman Trophy. The guy was automatic, finishing second in the nation in pass efficiency while becoming the first major college player ever to throw for 20+ touchdowns and rush for 20+ touchdowns in the same season.

Geezy's take: "Basically, the guy walks on water. If I came home one day and found him in bed with my wife, I wouldn't even be mad."

Tebow won't have to do it all himself. Florida's returning some talented targets, too. Versatile junior WR (and sometime tailback) Percy Harvin is recovering well from offseason surgery for a nagging injury to his heel bone and, if back in prime condition, could battle Tebow for the Heisman this year. One of the most explosive players in the nation, he totaled 1,622 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, becoming the first receiver in school history to have over 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in a career.

Geezy's Take: "Harvin is the Devin Hester of college football. Absolutely untackleable (yeah, I just made up that word), 4.2 speed and can cut on a dime. Simply put, he's the most dangerous playmaker in the nation."

Other playmakers include tight end standout Cornelius Ingram and a stable of solid RBs. Kestahn Moore will likely be the starter, but the Gators are counting on a big year from Emmanuel Moody, a five-star recruit out of high school who sat last year after transferring from USC. Redshirt freshman Chris Rainey might just be the breakout player of the year for the Gators. The diminutive scatback could be a huge difference-maker for UF.

Geezy's Take: "Rainey is basically a human highlight reel. He's far and away the best 'quote' on the team, too - constantly cracking jokes and speaking his mind, no matter how it may sound. Oh yeah, and UF also has Jeffrey Demps, who just a couple months ago ran the fastest 100 meters by a high schooler EVER ... but he could very well redshirt this year, because they're so deep at the position."

The skill positions may be sexy, but the O-line is the heart of the Gators. Their top offensive lineman, Phil Trautwein, missed all of last year with a stress fracture, but he'll be back at left tackle and ready to lead UF's best O-line in years.


Middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, who was voted preseason First-Team All-SEC, is the leader of what looks to be a very mediocre Gators defense. DE Carlos Dunlap will have big shoes to fill, taking over for the eighth overall pick in last year's NFL Draft, Derrick Harvey. Corner Joe Haden and free safety Major Wright both started all last season as true freshman, a testament to UF's lack of depth. Their secondary was atrocious, but should be better now that those two have a year of experience under their belts. Starting strong safety Dorian Munroe is out for the year after tearing his ACL, and much beloved co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison left UF for the Baltimore Ravens. There are two solid guys on the D-Line, Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap, but after those two, things get messy. Bottom line: UF's offense will have to carry this team.

Geezy's Take: "Spikes is rated as one of the best MLB in the country by many, but I think he could stand to improve A LOT. True freshman Will "The Thrill" Hill has a chance to start at safety, but will have to compete with Ahmad Black, who had a great spring. Hill's drawn numerous comparisons to maybe my favorite Gator of all time, Reggie Nelson, or as Gator fans call him, RFN (can you guess what the F stands for?)"

Season Outlook

After a rebuilding year that saw UF go a disappointing 9-4 last season, hopes are high for coach Urban Meyer's squad. While the Gators are probably another year away from being championship caliber, if everything fits into place they've got a chance to go all the way this season.

The three main rivals are Tennessee, Georgia and Florida State, but one of the biggest games of the year will be against a team they haven't beaten since 1985, the Miami Hurricanes. While they don't play Miami every year, the 'Canes dominance in recent years has made them the team to beat.

Geezy's (honest) Take: "I hate them, I hate them, I hate them, I hate them. Pieces of s*** scum, their thug nation will invade Gainesville and get spanked. Bitches."

The Old Ball Coach

Of course, any time UF faces their former Heisman Trophy-winning QB, national title-winning "Head Ball Coach" and basically the face of the program, Steve Spurrier, things get serious. Spurrier's Gamecocks will return to the Swamp on the opposing sideline for the first time since 2006, when Jarvis Moss blocked a chip shot field goal with no time left to preserve a Gators win and their national title hopes.

Geezy's Take: "When Spurrier returns it might be the first time in college football history that both the opposing coach (Spurrier) and a current QB (Tebow) face off in a stadium that already has both of their names and numbers painted on the walls."

The game of the year for UF will be against the Georgia Bulldogs - an annual event dubbed "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party." Last year, the entire 'Dawgs squad stormed the field and danced in the Gator endzone after scoring the game's opening touchdown. The move so angered UF coach Urban Meyer he slammed the Bulldogs in his new book, vowing to get revenge.

Geezy's Take: "In my opinion, this will be THE best football game of the entire year, in the entire country. We have a bone to pick with Georgia after that chickens*** move they pulled last year. Did I mention that we've won 15 of the last 18 matchups?"

School Traditions

The 2009 Princeton Review just named UF the 1 Party School in the nation, an "honor" that's no surprise to the school's alumni. Gainesville's got it all: the food, the Southern charm, the tailgating and, of course, the girls. (Seriously, even I can appreciate the kind of women that result from uninterrupted sunshine and an all-year-long bikini season). The Swamp holds over 90,000 people and is widely viewed as the loudest, most intimidating stadium in all of college football. One of the most chill-inducing traditions for Gator fans comes at the end of the 3rd quarter, when the entire crowd locks arms and sways in unison to "We are the Boys." When Meyer was hired, he put in place a few new traditions. One, The Gator Walk, is when the entire team, dressed in suits and ties, walks through a pack of cheering fans, giving high-fives on their way into the stadium. Another is the serenade that follows every game--a team-wide singing of UF's alma mater and fight song in the corner of the field facing the student section.

Geezy's Take: "Don't forget Mr. 2 Bits. I'd try and explain who he is, but it'd be too long-winded. Google him. Hes a legend."

Famous Alumni

--Steve Spurrier, Former Florida head coach, NFL 1 draft pick
--Emmitt Smith, NFL Hall of Famer, game's all-time leading rusher
--Cris Collinsworth, All-Pro WR, NBC and Showtime broadcaster
--Fred Taylor, All-Pro NFL running back
--Heather Mitts, World Cup & Olympic soccer player
--Erin Andrews, ESPN broadcaster and blog icon
--Jesse Palmer, The Bachelor, former Giants backup QB, curent ESPN broadcaster
--Joakim Noah, Sideshow Bob of the sports world
--Bill France, Jr., Former president of NASCAR
--Tom Petty, OK, he was never technically a student, but was born and raised in Gainesville and actually used to work for the UF grounds crew - no kidding
--Joe Scarborough, Host of Morning Joe on MSNBC
--Jonathan Demme, Academy Award-winning Director, Silence of the Lambs
--Faye Dunaway, Academy Award-winning actress, Network
--Stephen Stills, Musician - Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

Sunday, August 31, 2008 - Ramirez’s Late Inning Lumber

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ramirez’s Late Inning Lumber


Rami's The Cubs' Biggest Stick

By Sarah Spain
Love of Sports Correspondent

Thursday night, Aramis Ramirez powered the Cubs to a comeback win over the Phillies with an eighth inning grand slam.

The Cubs' sixth straight win put them at 34 games over .500 and gave manager Lou Piniella something to smile about on his 65th birthday. Wrigley Field was rockin' as the Northsiders moved even further atop the N.L. standings.

Nearly every man on the Cubs roster has played the hero at some point during this magical season. From Alfonso Soriano's solo shot to beat the Phillies on Friday, to Daryle Ward's ninth inning three-run pinch hit job to beat the Marlins in mid-August, all the way back to Ronny Cedeno's five-RBI performance in a big 8-1 victory over the Mets in April.

This team's shown itself to be full of gamers. But of all of the Cubs' clutch performers, no one's been bigger in big situations than Ramirez.

After Thursday's game, Ramirez spoke to reporters about his late inning heroics. "I've been able to do that since the minor leagues," he said. "I've always been able to drive in runs. It's something I'm proud of, and I like to be in that situation late in the game."

As of Saturday afternoon, Ramirez had 100 RBI on the year, 45 of which came in the seventh inning or later. That means 45 PERCENT — nearly half for those of you not big on math — of his RBI have come late in games, when they matter the most.

Ramirez, who leads the Cubs in RBI, is now tied with Carlos Lee for third-most RBI in the NL behind Ryan Howard and David Wright.

Still not impressed? How 'bout this for a stat? Ramirez has 24 home runs this year, and 11 of them have come in the seventh inning or later. Yup, that means 45 percent of his long balls have come in the clutch, too.

As the Cubs look to put the past — and their supposed curses — behind them, they can rest assured that with Ramirez in the lineup, no game is over until the final out is recorded.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - Love It Or Hate It...There’s Something About Favre

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Love It Or Hate It...There’s Something About Favre

Love It or Hate It?
By Mad Love on 07/29 at 05:47 PM
.. -->
OK people, I think it's apparent this Brett Favre thing has gone just about far enough! Yet, the media keeps jamming it down our throats. I know Sarah Spain's fed up with it, but how about you? Do you Love or Hate the Favre coverage?

By Sarah Spain
Love of Sports Correspondent

Monday, on ESPN's Pardon The Interruption, host Michael Wilbon started off the show by lamenting ...

"There's a ton — a ton! — of great baseball stuff to talk about, but NOOOOO! We, like everybody else, are obligated to smother you with wall-to-wall Brett Favre."

ESPN has always tried to force-feed its audience time-killers during the slow summer months ("Who's Now?" and "Titletown, USA" anyone?), but rarely do its anchors acknowledge a dead horse while it's still being beaten.

A story that began as nothing more than a few rumored text messages has quickly become a PR nightmare for the Green Bay Packers and a topic of endless discussion for the sports media. As one of the most compelling baseball seasons in years rounds the corner into the home stretch, and the Beijing Olympics loom on the horizon, it's the "will he or won't he" of one man that dominates the headlines.

Brett Favre is the sports world's Britney Spears.

Even as reporters and writers bemoan Favre's complete media takeover, they contribute to it. Stories like "Brett Favre: Sick and Tired of the Guy" and "Brett Favre – Get Off My TV" dominate popular sports blogs. Shows like PTI introduce another day of Favre news (or non-news, as is often the case) with an apologetic preface, but wouldn't dream of letting the topic go unaddressed.

If everyone's so over Favre, then why is everyone still talking about him?

The truth is, Love It or Hate It, Favre's struggle to un-retire is compelling — especially for those who saw it coming.

Mere moments after the face of the Packers tearfully announced his retirement, rumors of his imminent return began to circulate. I guess statements like "I know I can play, but I don't think I want to" didn't make for a very convincing exit.

A little over a month after his official press conference, Favre's appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman left the proverbial door even more ajar.

"I think when training camp gets close, I will ... something's bound to happen," Favre said cryptically. Letterman saw an opening and jumped on it: "What does that mean? You just said, 'Something's bound to happen,' so this makes me think you're not retired."

Favre replied with a wry smile, "Butterflies, or I don't know. I don't know. Something's bound to happen."

Something has happened, and it's literally tearing Green Bay apart.

When rumors of Favre's return first emerged, it seemed everyone was on the side of the future Hall of Famer. Fans were excited at the prospect of his return, and media members assumed the Packers would welcome him back with open arms, a la Michael Jordan and the Bulls or Jay-Z and Def Jam.

But as negotiations continue, the idea of Favre wearing the Packers' green and gold seems less and less likely. The team's embraced a new quarterback, in Aaron Rodgers, and two more signal callers were added to the team via the draft. Plans were made for life without Favre.

Who could ever have imagined the organization would turn its back on the man who just months ago led them to the brink of Super Bowl XLII? The man who's been the name and face of the franchise for 16 years. Even more surprising is that the majority of Green Bay fans seem just as ready to move on as their owners.

Therein lies the intrigue that keeps this story on the front pages of newspapers. The comeback of a high profile athlete is always big news, but the comeback of a high profile athlete who is no longer wanted? That's made-for-TV movie material.

Paging Kevin Costner. Kevin Costner, please pick up the white courtesy phone.

Whether or not you hope to see Favre in an NFL uniform this season, you have to admit the story's got legs. Love It or Hate It, there's enough drama in the city of Green Bay to keep Favre's name echoing throughout the blogosphere and etched firmly atop the PTI rundown.

What do you think of Favre-gate?

Should certain superstars be afforded the right to change their minds mid-retirement, even if it's detrimental to their team? Should the Packers trade Favre, release him, or hand him a clipboard and watch him squirm?

Do you Love or Hate the constant media attention Favre's currently receiving?

Thursday, July 24, 2008 - Holdin’ Out For A Hero

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Holdin’ Out For A Hero


Brief thoughts on the Hester Holdout...

The Hester Holdout
By Sarah Spain

Last night on my way home from work I was listening to All Night With Jason Smith on ESPN 710. The topic was Devin Hester's holdout and subsequent absence from the Chicago Bears training camp. Smith feels that Hester, primarily a punt and kick returner, is asking for too much because his role on the football field is equivalent to that of a late reliever in baseball. Fleshing out his analogy, Smith compared quarterbacks to starting pitchers—when a team loses, most of the blame falls upon the starting pitcher or the quarterback–and kickers to closers–when the game's on the line, it's in their hands (or feet, as the case may be). Smith claimed that Hester, like a late reliever, played an important role in–at the most–half of the games in which he played last year. While I agreed with a lot of Smith's thoughts, his fatal flaw was in not watching enough Bears games.

Hester affected almost every single Chicago offensive possession last season. Teams that dared kick to 23 were immediately burned by another ridiculous highlight reel return from the Windy City Flyer. When he wasn't taking it to the house, he was taking it three-quarters of the way there and giving the anemic Bears offense a decent shot at getting in the endzone. Most importantly, Hester's influence was obvious when he didn't even touch the ball. Every time the Bears started their drive near midfield, it was because of Devin Hester. Every pooch punt and squib kick that bounced out of bounds at the 45 yard line was the result of Hester's inhuman ability to beat an entire special teams unit. You cannot underestimate the importance of field position in football, and thus, you cannot underestimate the importance of a Devin Hester.

Looking beyond the league-changing stats Hester puts up as a returner, Bears fans see a real future for him at wide receiver. With an entire off-season to learn the offense and get more comfortable with his routes, Hester may surprise a lot of doubters who want to see him as just a special teams player. Everyone knows that Hester is the greatest returner in the history of the game, but at this point, no one–not even Lovie Smith–knows whether Hester will be a 1, 2 or 3 wide receiver by the season opener. His enormous potential is one reason Bears brass shouldn't be short-sighted in their contract talks. Hester's deal shouldn't be based on the contracts of other special teams players or wide receivers. He's ten times more valuable than any returner in the league and until he's in camp working with the offense, there's no way to tell how he'll fare as a consistent receiver. Sad as it is to say, the Bears as a team have the worst skill players in all of football. Most football fans would describe the team's quarterback(s), receivers and running backs as "strike year" standouts. Give Hester what he wants. Late reliever, special teamer–whatever you wanna call him–he may just be the most important player the Bears have got.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008 - Love It Or Hate It...Thunder-whelmed?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Love It Or Hate It...Thunder-whelmed?


By Sarah Spain
Love of Sports Correspondent

After 41 years in Seattle, the team formerly known as the Sonics is headed to Oklahoma City.

It's been weeks since the move was announced, but the NBA has yet to reveal the franchise's new official name and colors. So, while Kevin Durant and Co. play their summer league games in nondescript black unis, impatient fans everywhere have been tossing around possible monikers.

The O.C. Wranglers. The Oklahoma Marshalls. The Bandits. The Barons. The Oklahoma City Outlaws.

Even the O.C. Umenyioras.

On Friday, local TV station KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City announced that a source confirmed the team would be named the Oklahoma City Thunder. While O.C. team officials have yet to respond to the report, KOCO.com also sites a newly registered website as their evidence.


"KOCO.com confirmed that the registrar for all of the NBA's Internet domain names reserved okcthunderbasketball.com and okcthunderbasketball.net on July 10 …"

… Over the course of the past two weeks, KOCO.com and SportsXtra have worked together to research what's called 'whois information' on more than 200 domain names, with the focus primarily on possible nicknames such as Barons, Outlaws and Thunder. Most domain names and variations of them had been registered well before the settlement between the city of Seattle and the former Seattle Supersonics of the NBA."

It's possible the newly registered domains are the work of yet another fan hoping to cash in, but the timing of the registry has fans all over Oklahoma buzzing.

Some locals seem excited about the endless pun possibilities: Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman wrote, "The team store can be ThunderWear, which will market Thundergarments … The beer at ballgames can be ThunderWater. Analysis of the payroll cap can be called ThunderFunded."

Others — particularly those who dislike puns — are less than impressed with the name.

And I'm one of them.

The Oklahoma City Thunder? I hate it, for a number of reasons.

1. I've always been partial to teams who are named after actual creatures or characters. Not only do teams like the Bengals and the Warriors sound much more menacing than those named after inanimate objects, like the Lightning or the Fire, they also make for much better mascots. I'd rather cheer for a dancing Benny the Bull or a trampolining Hugo the Hornet than root for the Stanford Tree.

The Heat, Jazz and Magic are the only current NBA teams whose nicknames aren't pluralized animate objects. The Thunder would fit in better in the WNBA — a league whose teams are primarily named after weather systems or temperatures (i.e. the Sun, the Storm, the Fever, the Mercury).

2. Oklahoma already has a team named the Thunder — their minor league professional football team. Of all the names in the world, you'd think Clay Bennett could come up with a new and original one. Then again, if you've made a name for yourself stealing another city's team, I guess stealing a name isn't such a big deal.

You can't put all the blame on team brass, though. Seems the good people of Oklahoma are just as uninspired as their new team's owners. Shortly after the Sonics' move to Oklahoma City was announced, The Oklahoman held a 64-name bracket competition to see what name Oklahomans would give their first major league franchise. The Thunder beat out the Outlaws in the final. The paper's poll had no bearing on the actual naming of the team, but it seems Oklahoma's fans and owners all agree that stealing is A-OK.

3. I was really hoping the rumor about the Oklahoma City ThunderCats was true. As an '80s baby who admittedly used to pretend to be "Cheetara" in backyard games with my cousins, I can think of nothing better than an NBA team named after one of my favorite childhood cartoon series. Plus I'd love to see that ThunderCats insignia on the uniforms — totally badass.

What do you think? Do you Love or Hate the name "Oklahoma City Thunder?" What would you name YOUR NBA franchise?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008 - Don’t Sleep On These Busts...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Don’t Sleep On These Busts...

http://www.commishkit.com/articles2.htm (Click on top right icon - Fantasy Gods 2008)

It's only July, but it's never too early to talk fantasy football. So put down that Corona, kick that girl from last night's pool party out of your bed and get your head back in the fantasy game. I know you're a bit out of shape, so in the spirit of summer - a time for flimsy dresses and bad decisions - I'll try to keep it short and sexy. Here are my predictions for 2008's sleepers and busts…


Big-name busts can ruin your entire fantasy season. There's nothing worse than a hyped-up first rounder who can't get the job done. One of last year's biggest busts, Reggie Bush, has spent the off-season cuddling with another sizable bust - the one belonging to girlfriend Kim Kardashian. In honor of The Bush and The Tush, I give you my potential busts of 2008…

QB: Derek Anderson - Browns

Anderson's breakout 2007 campaign earned him a spot in the Pro Bowl, but I've got some doubts about the Browns signal caller. He threw for 29 touchdowns and ran for 3 more, but his completion percentage (56%) and 19 interceptions are troubling. With one year under his belt - and a revamped receiving corps featuring Donte' Stallworth, Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow and Joe Jurevicius - Anderson might settle down and improve his accuracy. On the other hand, he might get too comfortable and become even more careless with the ball. Worst case scenario? Anderson starts off poorly and gets yanked for the always lurking - and quite capable - Brady Quinn.

Other potentially comBUSTible QBs: Matt Hasselbeck, Eli Manning, Donovan McNabb.

WR: Marvin Harrison - Colts

Harrison's knee injury caused him to miss 12 games last year and even when he returned he wasn't the Marvin Harrison of old. His name and legacy may tempt owners to draft him early, but the 35-year-old is no longer a 1 WR and shouldn't be drafted as such. To add insult to injury, (pardon the pun), early in June, the Indianapolis Star reported that Harrison could start this season on the Physically Unable to Perform list until he gets full medical clearance. Fantasy owners should be wary of Harrison's off-the-field distractions, as well. There was a shooting outside his car-wash/garage last April and, though Harrison claims he wasn't involved, police have matched the bullet casings from the crime to his gun.

Other potentially comBUSTible WRs: Javon Walker, Lee Evans, Hines Ward.

RB: Jamal Lewis - Browns

At first glance, Lewis's numbers from last season are impressive. He rushed for 1,304 yards, averaged 4.4 yards per carry, scored 9 TDs rushing and 2 receiving. However, a closer look reveals that the bulk of Lewis's stats came in five games in which he ran for over 100 yards. In eight of last year's 16 games, Lewis couldn't break the 65-yard mark. He had 4 touchdowns in Week 9 against Seattle alone, which means he had just 5 rushing TDs for the rest of the season. When it comes to fantasy football, a top running back needs to be, first and foremost, consistent. The guy's got heart and fight, but I'll be surprised if he can bring it week after week in '08.

Other potentially comBUSTible RBs: Edgerrin James, Ronnie Brown, Laurence Maroney.

TE: Jeremy Shockey - Giants

A pre-season deal that trades Shockey away from the Giants seems likely at this point. Last year's Super Bowl Champs won it all without him and their team-first approach doesn't mesh with Shockey's me-first attitude. Besides, second year man Kevin Boss is ready to fill the shoes Shockey seems all too happy to give up in New York. While the four-time Pro Bowler still has the skills to play, last year's injury and all the drama off the field have significantly lowered his value in the Giants offense. Also of note? Shockey and I share the exact same birthday, right down to the year - August 18, 1980. (Guess that explains my considerable bust potential as well…)

Other potentially comBUSTible TEs: Ben Watson, Vernon Davis, Todd Heap.


Sleepers - whether they're complete unknowns or just guys who greatly exceed expectations - are the secrets to fantasy success. One of my favorite sleepers last year was Tony Romo. The Cowboys cutie made some mistakes late in the 2006 season, but 2007 owners who took a chance on him as a 1 QB were highly rewarded. In honor of Romo and the beautiful blonde he sleeps with, I give you my potential sleepers of 2008…

QB: Aaron Rodgers - Green Bay Packers

Truth be told, no one outside Packers camp knows much of anything about Aaron Rodgers. Talk about a real sleeper candidate! The heir to King Favre's throne has inherited a nasty crew of offensive weapons including WRs Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, TE Donald Lee and last year's late-season stud Ryan Grant. Like Tony Romo, Rodgers has had plenty of time to watch and learn, a luxury most NFL QBs these days don't get. Owners can expect a few turnovers early on, but if he can stay healthy, I think Rodgers will make the most of an opportunity he's been waiting three long years to get. If you're feelin' lucky, the reward might be worth the risk…and isn't that what sleepers are all about?

Other QBs you shouldn't SLEEP on: Jake Delhomme, Jay Cutler.

WR: Santonio Holmes - Steelers

Even if you don't believe in the "third-year breakout" theory, you should believe in Santonio Holmes. In just 13 games last year, Holmes scored nine touchdowns and had 942 yards on 52 receptions (his 18.1 yards per reception were a league best). Teammate Hines Ward, who's coming back from off-season knee surgery, is entering his 11th NFL season. His yardage totals have declined or plateaued every year since 2002 and I think he'll eventually become the number two wideout behind Holmes. If Big Ben stays healthy, fantasy owners might get a steal drafting a number two receiver who puts up stats like a number one. Ya feel me, Holmes?

Other WRs you shouldn't SLEEP on: Anthony Gonzalez, Dwayne Bowe, DJ Hackett, Devin Hester.

RB: Matt Forte - Bears

Now that the Bears have let go of Cedric Benson, the starting position is wide open for Matt Forte. In his last eight games at Tulane, he averaged a ridiculous 202.3 yards per game on the ground and scored 23 rushing touchdowns on the year. The versatile Forte also caught 32 passes for 282 yards and prides himself on his pass blocking skills. Rex - will he be Sexy Rexy or Train Rex? - Grossman is still under center in Chicago, so once again the Bears will be all about running the ball. The "other" Adrian Peterson will steal some carries, but Bears brass are counting on a breakout season from Forte, who should benefit from a shored up offensive line that will include the team's top draft pick, Vanderbilt standout Chris Williams.

Other RBs you shouldn't SLEEP on: Ahmad Bradshaw, Ryan Grant, Pierre Thomas, Michael Turner.

TE: Greg Olsen - Bears

With last year's top offensive targets, Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad, out of the picture, Olsen should play a much bigger role in Chicago. The 6'5", 250 pounder was the first tight end drafted last year and while his freshman campaign was a bit disappointing, early reviews out of this year's camp are glowing. Olsen will have to battle fellow tight end Desmond Clark for looks, but in an anemic offense with few other options, they'll both get plenty. Expect Olsen to grow into a Shockey-esque player - minus the attitude and the eagle tattoo.

Other TEs you shouldn't SLEEP on: Chris Cooley, Anthony Fasano, Owen Daniels.

Friday, June 27, 2008 - The Sequel At The Cell

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Sequel At The Cell


Crosstown Classic—The Sequel At The Cell

Paul M. Banks vs. Sarah Spain

PB- Given what happened at Wrigley this past weekend…I'm ready to start discussing this weekend. The Sox have the second most home wins in the AL and the Cubs are a less than awe-inspiring 16-20 away from Wrigley. That said, are you worried about heading into The Cell?

What about the fact that your Cubs now have to deal with a U.S. Cellular Field crowd filled with thousands of my SICA people from places like "The Wood" (Crestwood) and "The Port" (Lockport). The wrath of the SICA crowd this weekend frightens you, doesn't it?
SS- You may be more than ready to forget about the complete and utter thumping your Sox received last weekend, but let me take a moment to mention how wonderful it was to watch the Cubs give the Wrigley faithful—and Northsiders nationwide—such an entertaining, awe-inspiring, belief-reinforcing series. Ozzie Guillen proved himself to be less-than informed about his opponent: "He just had a good day." Guillen said of Jim Edmonds 2 HR performance in the Sox loss on Saturday. "I'm not going to promote [the] guy who's hitting .218." Jim Edmonds was, in fact, batting .238…And, more importantly, OVER .300 as a Cub. Even better, Guillen had to eat his words on Sunday. "Jim is Jim. Jim is not going to scare me," Guillen said Saturday. "I will pitch to him another time." But he didn't. He intentionally walked him.

When it comes to outspoken, opinionated managers, I'll take the usually positive Sweet Lou over an eternally bitter Ozzie. The quickest way to display one's insecurity and jealousy is through catty remarks, like Ozzie's classless ripping of Wrigley. I know you love Ozzie, but do you support his trashing of one of Chicago's most recognizable and beloved landmarks? As for me, I'll take a rat-infested treasure over a heartless, tradition-less, corporate monolith any day.

Speaking of The Cell…I'm more worried about the Cubbies getting shanked than swept in that haven of White Trash debauchery. Provided they're not storming the field to attack D. Lee and the boys, your SICA crew doesn't scare me. Sox fans are more deserving of pity than they are of fear. Cubs fans are always commended for staying faithful to a team that hasn't won the World Series in a century, but what about you Sox fans? You guys stay true to a team that threw the World Series! Cubs fans are like wives who stay faithful to a loving but eternally unemployed husband. Sox fans are more like wives who stay true to an abusive husband.

PB- The Cell is tradition-less? Are you dismissing the fact that it's overseen more World Series championships than Wrigley Field has? Despite its pig-sized rats, I can't hate Wrigley too much, because it's a big part of why the Cubs are such a national brand, and their appeal on both a national and local level is a big part of my job. Although I understand its attraction, I still think it's a bit overrated. Yes, the scoreboard looks like the one in The Natural and the park overflows in old-school charm, but the constant tourist whoring detracts from it. Like the Cubbie Kool-Aid that's flowing freely all over town these days, the Wrigley experience starts out sugary sweet. However, later it ends up rotting your teeth and giving you nausea. Ok, maybe it's a bit more like candy. Ozzie trashes everything and everyone, sometimes he's right and sometimes he's wrong. In this case, the latter.

The White Sox gave baseball its first exciting and memorable yet utterly criminal and amoral moment in 1919. Therefore, in keeping with the lovely analogy you initiated, all the mentally deranged women walking around with "bad boy complexes" should love this team. Ah yes, the obligatory Sox fans=white trash reference….as Chris Rock would say, "that train's never late!" It doesn't bother me though because the sort you're describing (I call them "Jolieters") only make my sophistication, classiness and material success (I probably could have just said "juice" there) look even bigger by comparison.

There has to be a weakness in this Cubs team somewhere, what is it? How can my boys exploit it? (By the way Turner Broadcasting Service, if you're reading this, we should set up a deal where every time I use the phrase "my boys" it will directly link to the page for your show "My Boys." A Chicago based sports webzine advertising a sitcom about a Chicago sports writer? Just think of all the potential viewers you would reach! TSB and TBS: with abbreviations so close to one another, we were made to synergize!)

SS- Yeah, yeah, the white trash comments are unoriginal. Kinda like the "Cubs fans are drunk frat guys" bit. Of course, there are always exceptions. I'm a drunk, but not a frat guy. You're white, but not trashy. The Sports Bank: breaking stereotypes on the daily! In all seriousness, the series at The Cell will be much tougher for the boys in blue than last weekend's rout. If you're looking for a weakness, I think you've found it in our less-than-stellar away record. When the 2008 schedule came out I had mixed feelings about the lopsided home vs. away games early in the season. Yes, winning is contagious. Yes, the Cubs' hot start certainly gave them confidence and swagger. On the other hand, it can be difficult to face an overabundance of away games late in the season when the team is tired and injured. Away series' against strong teams like the Rays and White Sox will help prepare the Cubs for all-important postseason play. Speaking of being prepared…Contreras will take the bump in the series opener—do you think his meltdown last weekend was an aberration or are you concerned that he'll self-destruct again?

PB- I am a bit worried about Contreras as he is (along with John Danks and Gavin Floyd) a crucial factor in this season's success. Last year, Contreras threw a lot of very slow fastballs and sinkers that stayed afloat. For most of this season, he's looked like he put his bitter divorce behind him and his head is back in the game. If he gets rocked again by the Cubs's 1 offense in all of MLB, I won't be too worried. However, if his rocky streak extends a couple starts beyond that, I would have to suspect that something is psychologically troubling him again. I think—and hope—his mechanics and his stuff are still sound.

My favorite White Sox shirt selling on the streets of the Chi parodies the "It's Gonna Happen" slogan beloved by you and your Cubbie brethren this season. These shirts simply state "It's Not Gonna Happen." As Homer J. Simpson would say: "it's funny because it's true! HA HA!" I think you should get one of these shirts or a business card, key chain or something with this slogan, so you can just flash it at the dozens of overzealous men who come on to you every time you attend a sporting event, go to a nightclub, get on a bus…well, pretty much every time you leave your house. It would save you some trouble. Do you find any of the anti White Sox shirts out there to be especially clever?

SS- Unfortunately, I don't get to see too many anti-White Sox tees out here in LA. There are Cubs fans everywhere, but us transplants are more into reppin' our team in Dodger country than in dogging our rivals. However, if your choice is something as simple as "It's Not Gonna Happen," then mine is the always effective: "Sux".

p.s. – The fact that they cast that "My Boys" show without first inviting me to audition is a travesty, I tell you! A Chicago girl who hangs with the boys and works in sports? It's worse than Joel Silver continually ignoring the future big screen Wonder Woman living just miles away from him!
PB- What can I say? Simple shirts appease a complicated man like myself. Let's cut the chatter and get to the games. Welcome to the Cell!
SS- I'm in. Let's get weird.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 - Love It Or Hate It...Shaq It Like A Salt Shaker?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Love It Or Hate It...Shaq It Like A Salt Shaker?


By Sarah Spain
Love of Sports Correspondent

Monday evening, TMZ.com released footage of everyone's favorite NBA center and part-time sheriff/rapper/genie, Shaquille O'Neal, getting wicked on the mic at an NYC club.

Shaq-Fu briefly dissed fellow big men Patrick Ewing and Kareem Adbul-Jabbar, but focused most of his vitriolic verbiage at the Heidi to his Lauren Conrad ... Kobe Bryant.

The fallout from the outrageous rap has some wondering whether Shaq has forever tarnished his legacy in Los Angeles.

Shaq and Kobe led the Lakers to three straight NBA championships from 2000-02, but became bitter enemies when Shaq was traded away at Kobe's behest. In 2006, the hardwood hotheads finally cooled down a bit, shaking hands and embracing before a Lakers/Heat matchup at the Staples Center.

Those who believed the two superstars had forgiven-and-forgotten may be shocked by Shaq's very public, and very personal, attack on his former teammate.


Here are just a few of the gems in O'Neal's lyrical beatdown ...

First, Shaq calls out Kobe's inability to win it all without him as a teammate, noting the Lakers' loss to the Celtics in this year's NBA Finals: "You know how I be, last week Kobe couldn't do without me."

Later, Shaq blamed Kobe for his divorce.

"I'm a horse. Kobe ratted me out. That's why I'm getting divorced. He said Shaq gave a [woman] a mil. I don't do that 'cause my name's Shaquille. I love 'em, I don't leave 'em. I got a vasectomy, now I can't breed 'em."

(You may remember that Kobe threw Shaq under the bus during his 2004 rape trial. The Los Angeles Times reported that Kobe told police "he should do what Shaq does ... that Shaq would pay his women not to say anything ... Shaq has paid up to a million dollars already for situations like this.")

And, of course, there was an easy-to-learn chorus to get the crowd involved.

"Kobe, tell me how my a** tastes."

Shortly after the video was released, ESPN, L.A. sports radio and other media outlets began questioning Shaq's intent. Was the notoriously funny big man just poking fun at the duo's well-publicized falling-out? Or was Shaq fanning the flames of a still-smoldering feud?

According to Shaq, the rap was just the natural reaction of an "MC" being handed a mic. He told ESPN's Steven A. Smith: "I was freestyling. That's all. It was all done in fun. Nothing serious whatsoever. That is what MC's do. They freestyle when called upon. I'm totally cool with Kobe. No issue at all … Please tell everybody don't make something out of nothing."

Shaq may be waving the white flag now, but the video (particularly the section about Kobe's role in his divorce) tells a different story. Entertaining as it may be, the rap is an obvious jab at the Lakers star — and a clear sign the two men won't be sharing a bicycle built for two anytime soon.

After the Kobe/Shaq blowout, most Angelenos took Shaq's side. Shaq was just easier to like than Kobe. The big man's easy smile and hilarious soundbites — not to mention his MVP-winning stats – made him a fan favorite. Despite their nasty breakup, L.A. loved Shaq and continued to love him for his contributions to the Lakers, even after he'd moved on.

Now, some L.A. fans question whether Shaq has worn out his welcome in the City of Angels.

Was Shaq warranted in his attack on Kobe? Maybe.

Was a club the right place to air years-old dirty laundry? Probably not.

Will Shaq's legacy in Los Angeles be affected by his outburst? It shouldn't be.

I'm have to admit I'm biased.

I love anyone and anything that reinforces the centerpiece of my "Kobe will never be M.J." argument, that Kobe has never won it all without a dominant big man (and wasn't even the MVP when he did win).

So, what do you think? What about all you Shaq fans out there?

Do you think he'll be remembered more for the championships he helped bring Los Angeles, or for his public attacks on L.A.'s current MVP?

Will Jerry Buss and the Laker brass still be willing to hang O'Neal's number from the rafters in Staples?

Did you Love It or Hate It?

Sunday, June 22, 2008 - Bartender, another draft please...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bartender, another draft please...


Rating the Pro Drafts

The TSB staff tells you what each of the four major sport drafts bring to the table

Three of the major sport drafts are held in June. It's the season for amateurs going pro, just like February is the season for all-star games, it also has three of the four major sport events. This was probably my favorite TSB panel question ever…mostly because I didn't have to do a ton of work in answering it. I just sent the question and writer assignments out and my talented and hard-working staff did the rest. Simply just calling the play and handing the ball off to my top four playmakers yielded the following insightful analysis…and the metaphor choice told you what my favorite one is!

David K.- NBA
As if there is even a question about which draft I think is the best… The NBA Draft trumps all others, hands down. Here's why:

1) It's a one-day, three hour event. It doesn't take two days and 18 hours to complete like the NFL and MLB Drafts.

2) Except for the ten or so foreign players drafted, there is a good chance that the average football fan has heard of almost every player selected. That certainly can't be said of the NHL or MLB Drafts where the average fan has maybe heard of ONE player who gets picked…Maybe? As for the NFL Draft, except for the major talents and most of the skill positions, you haven't even heard of these guys. Let's be honest, has anyone ever seen Joe Flacco play? Had anyone ever heard of him until Mel Kiper Jr. started talking about him after the season was over?

3) Speaking of Kiper Jr., he is not part of the NBA Draft which automatically adds points to my argument for roundball.

4) Yes, we have to suffer through Stephen A. Smith and Dick Vitale during the NBA Draft, but their arguments put any Kiper Jr./Todd McShay disagreement to shame. Didn't we all think Vitale and Smith were going to fight in the parking lot after last year's draft?

5) The ridiculous outfits the players in the green room wear. Remember Joakim Noah's draft day attire last year? You just don't get that with the other drafts.

6) There is, thankfully, no NBA Live show every day on ESPN for the two months leading up to the draft where we have to deal with reckless banter about every single team's every single possibility with every single pick. Seriously, by Mid-March, I want to vomit at the sight of Trey Wingo on the NFL Live set.

Case closed. I will now celebrate with my Championship belt!

NFL- Sarah Spain
Since we all know the NFL draft is the best around, I'll make my argument quick and painless.

1) Big, chunky dudes stuffing their huge necks into collared shirts and their huge asses into mustard-colored, quadruple-breasted suits. "Fat man in a little coat," indeed.

2) Fans, particularly New York Jets fans. They may be annoying and loud (not to mention way too fond of gold chains, wife beaters and shaved chests) but Jets fans add a raw, game-like feel to an event that is essentially an old dude announcing names at a podium.

3) Mel Kiper Jr's hair- Much more impressive than any of the draftee highlight reels he introduces.

4) Crowd-wide heckling of Chris Berman.

5) Shocking draft droppers like Brady Quinn. Rarely do players in other sports drop as dramatically as NFL hopefuls. Watching Quinn squirm in his chair was alternately hilarious and tragic. The only other selection ceremony with this kind of drama involves a rose and a Bachelor.

6) Watching the satellite feed of a player who wasn't invited to New York get the call at home, surrounded by friends, family and the college sweetheart he'll be cheating on in…3….2….1. Heartwarming.

7) It's looooong. People who don't like football may not be interested in the later rounds (or any rounds at all) but diehard football fans wanna see every guy right down to Mr. Irrelevant. When someone like Marques Colston barely avoids the dubious final draft spot then blows up in his first season, draft fans can say they called it right from the moment he was picked. You never know when the next Tom Brady will get his name called…

Soxman- MLB
While Major League Baseball has made a huge push over the past few years to generate more excitement over its amateur draft, it remains the least exciting of all professional sports drafts for several reasons:

Seedlings Don't Bare Fruit Immediately
Unlike all other professional drafts in which top picks are expected to make an immediate impact with their team, it can be years before a MLB top draft pick ever plays in a major league game. Since the draft began in 1965, less than one percent of the top 50 draft picks ever start immediately in the major leagues. Future Hall of Famer and White Sox Legend Frank Thomas was selected in the June 1989 Draft, and did not make his MLB debut until August 1990. While Thomas was considered to be fast tracked for the majors, he played in the minors for well over a year before getting his first MLB at bat.

Most Never Make It to The Show.
The vast majority of players selected in the draft will NEVER play in a single MLB game. Even worse- just over 50% of all first round draft picks have more than 5 games of major league service.

America's Pastime Only Applies to the Pros
While NCAA baseball has grown in popularity in recent years thanks to ESPN, it only has a fraction of the popularity of college football and basketball. Simply put, have you ever seen a "May Madness" bracket for the college baseball play-offs? Or gone to a college World Series party?

Draft Picks Are Not Guaranteed
Players drafted in June MUST be signed by August 15th or the team loses rights to that player, essentially making him again eligible to be drafted by another team the following season. The most famous player and most notorious agent to spurn a team under this rule in recent memory were J.D. Drew and Scott Boras.

Drew was the second overall pick in the 1997 Major League Baseball Draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. Boras warned all teams not to select his player unless they were willing to pay his client $10 million. The Phillies ignored Boras and drafted him anyway with no intention to pay the Boras asking price. Drew refused to sign and played for the St. Paul Saints of the independent Northern League that season. Drew was then drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in June 1998, and made his debut later that year in September. He was forever hated by Phillies fans for spurning the team. Interestingly enough, the MLB draft is the only draft among all professional sports that actually takes place during the course of the season. Despite all the reasons that it is currently the least popular draft, it will forever remain my favorite draft, because it is an essential building block of the game that gave Soxman life.

NHL Draft Superiority? Not Quite, but it's closer than you think.
By Peter Christian

We are all clear that the NFL has done the best job of exploiting its draft (without looking it up I would guess that the NFL nets at least 8 digits from the draft weekend). The NBA Draft is one of the most fun to speculate about (because of the extremely high bust vs. breakout ratio) and the MLB Draft can never be fan friendly (due to the immense draft pool and subsequent waiting period for most players). The major sporting draft that often gets left out of the "Entertaining for Fans" Category is the NHL Draft. That fact alone is very disappointing since the NHL Draft is often the most eventful draft of the four sports. If you didn't already know, for fans eventful = entertaining and exciting.

At face value the NHL Draft has all of the same things to offer as the NFL and NBA drafts (known prospects and lots of talent) and tends to offer more draft day trades and player movement but doesn't get even a quarter of the attention from casual fans the two major sports drafts do. However, for those who do stay interested they get the pleasure of being part of the best draft process in North American Professional Sports (or NAPS as the kids call it on the streets, not to be confused with the National Association of Postal Supervisors that my dad is a member of). The NHL draft set-up is undoubtedly the most conducive to excitement, both for the league and the fans. Unlike the NFL, MLB or NBA, the NHL draft brings all of the team General Managers together in the same place. With all of the decision makers together trades and back room deals are bound to happen. And they do. While the NBA usually has a couple of draft day deals that have teams sending a player and a pick packing in the effort to move up in the draft to get their guy, the NHL usually has a bunch. Every team has their eye on a certain player and has a plan to get that guy if it looks like he might come off the board before their slot. What's more, the NHL rivalries transcend to the draft as well. If the Maple Leafs know that the Canadiens have their eye on Player X and the player they had their eyes on is gone, they are more likely to take Player X just to screw their rivals rather than trade down and accumulate a few more picks. That just doesn't happen in the NFL or NBA.

So with so much going on at the NHL Draft why isn't it a bigger fan event?

The simple answer is marketing. Shocking, I know. The fact that the NHL cannot even swing a major network deal for its regular season games (one game a week on NBC from January through April is a joke) means that they have got bigger fish to fry than working on selling the NHL draft to the casual hockey fan. That being said, the NHL draft is still a great product and should be recognized as the format that is best among the best. At least it is still considered more entertaining than the MLB draft. Hey, it's a start.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 - KG wins, Kobe chokes, MJ reigns supreme...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

KG wins, Kobe chokes, MJ reigns supreme...

I said I'd never do it...but I did.

I've always avoiding tackling the Kobe v. MJ issue because I never thought I could give it the time and effort it required. If I were even to attempt to write comprehensively on the topic, I'd be researching and rewriting for weeks. My love for MJ is as strong as my disdain for those who seem so quickly to forget the past. Knowing I may never write the magnum opus I dream of, but inspired by the recent resurgence of the Kobe v. Jordan discussion (not to mention Kobe's pathetic finals performance), I decided to do a brief bit on the topic--a memo, if you will. Very little writing was required...the numbers speak for themselves.

Just a couple thoughts on the Celtics Championship and Kobe Bryant ...

1) Congratulations to my boyfriend, KG. You deserved to win it all and you're smokin' hot--even when giving nonsensical, incomprehensible, slightly ghetto post-game speeches.

2) Thank you, Kobe, for your piss poor play throughout the series and for further proving my lifelong argument that you are not and will never be better than Michael Jordan...

So Kobe, here are a few things to stick in your pipe and smoke while you're suffering through a long, embarrassing off-season....

...MJ never would have allowed his team to suffer the greatest single game collapse in NBA Finals history. (game 4)

...MJ never would have allowed his team lose by 39 points--a new record for the greatest margin of victory in a Championship-clinching game. (game 6) (FYI-The most one-sided game in Finals history still remans the 42-point victory by the MJ-led Chicago Bulls over the Utah Jazz (96-54) in 1998.)

...MJ never would have called out his teammates and demanded a trade via a parking lot home video.

...MJ's LOWEST NBA Finals PPG Average--27.3 PPG (1996 Finals) is still better than Kobe Bryant's HIGHEST PPG NBA Finals Average--26.8 PPG (2002 Finals)

...MVPs - Jordan = 5; Kobe = 1
...Finals MVPs - Jordan = 6; Kobe = 0
...Scoring Titles - Jordan = 10; Kobe = 2
...Career Playoff PPG average - MJ = 33.4; Kobe = 24.3

Want some more?
Career Scoring Average * Michael Jordan - 30.12 Kobe Bryant - 24.96
Highest Scoring (season) * Michael Jordan - 37.1 Kobe Bryant - 35.4
Career Assists Per Game * Michael Jordan - 5.3 Kobe Bryant - 4.6
Highest Assists (season) * Michael Jordan - 8.0 Kobe Bryant - 6.0
Career Rebounds Per Game * Michael Jordan - 6.22 Kobe Bryant - 5.30
Highest Rebounding (season) * Michael Jordan - 8.05 Kobe Bryant - 6.88
Career Offensive Reb. Per Game * Michael Jordan - 1.56 Kobe Bryant - 1.21
Highest Offensive Reb. (season) * Michael Jordan - 2.04 Kobe Bryant - 1.64
Career Steals Per Game * Michael Jordan - 2.35 Kobe Bryant - 1.53
Highest Steals (season) * Michael Jordan - 3.2 Kobe Bryant - 2.2
Career Blocks Per Game * Michael Jordan - 0.83 Kobe Bryant - 0.58
Highest Blocks (season) * Michael Jordan - 1.6 Kobe Bryant - 1.0
Career Turnovers Per Game * Michael Jordan - 2.73 Kobe Bryant - 2.94
Career Turnovers Per 40 Minutes * Michael Jordan - 2.85 Kobe Bryant - 3.22
Lowest Turnovers Per 40 (season) * Michael Jordan - 2.1 Kobe Bryant - 2.8
Highest Turnovers Per Game (season) * Michael Jordan - 3.5 Kobe Bryant - 4.1
Career Assist-to-Turnover Ratio * Michael Jordan - 1.93 Kobe Bryant - 1.57
Highest Assist-to-Turnover (season) * Michael Jordan - 2.57 Kobe Bryant - 1.96
Career Field Goal Percentage * Michael Jordan - .497 Kobe Bryant - .453
Highest Field Goal Pct. (season) * Michael Jordan - .539 Kobe Bryant - .469

I could, literally, go on FOREVER. I could talk about how Kobe has never won a championship without a dominant big man to draw double teams away from him. I could point out that MJ would NEVER be on a championship-winning team and NOT be the MVP or even the first option (see: Shaq). I could also make note of the fact that MJ is better looking, more beloved and less of a rapist than Kobe.

BUT...I've got old MJ highlights to watch. If you want some more, start here...


KOBE BRYANT'S GREAT BUT HE'S NO JORDAN: http://www.statesman.com/news/content/sports/stories/other/06/17/0617golden.html?cxtype=rss&cxsvc=7&cxcat=54


Wednesday, June 11, 2008 - Love it or Hate it...Retiring On Top

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Love it or Hate it...Retiring On Top


By Sarah Spain
Love of Sports Correspondent

Jim Brown did it young. Michael Jordan did it twice. Vince Young has thought about it, and Brett Favre may or may not have done it yet.

At some point, every athlete must retire. Some pros hang up their cleats due to old age, some are forced into it because of injury and sometimes the world's best just don't have the heart or the head for it anymore.

Recently, several athletes have called it quits at the top of their game.

The world's top-ranked female tennis player, Justine Henin, retired a few weeks ago at the ripe old age of 25. Henin spent more than 100 weeks ranked 1, but in mid-May she told her agent, "I've won everything I need to win. I have more money than I can use in three lifetimes, and I don't have the will to play one day more."

Henin's sudden announcement came right on the heels of a similar statement by Annika Sorenstam.

"I'm leaving the game on my own terms," said Sorenstam of retiring at the end of this season. "I have other priorities … I'm happy, content and at peace."

The winner of 72 LPGA events and a record eight LPGA Player of the Year awards had won her third tournament of the season just days before her announcement.

Earlier this week, world welterweight champ Floyd Mayweather, Jr. called it quits for the third — and what most believe will be the last — time. The former Olympic medalist and undefeated five-time champion was as dominant as ever in his recent bouts, but said of his decision, "[the] past few years [it has] been extremely difficult for me to find the desire and joy to continue in the sport."

On Monday, two more greats announced they had played their last games.

Legendary NHL goalie Dominik Hasek announced he was hanging up his skates just five days after his Red Wings won the Stanley Cup. Many consider Hasek, the first goalie to become a two-time MVP, a first-ballot Hall of Famer. While Hasek's younger platoon-mate Chris Osgood was the hero in this year's playoffs, the man known as the "Dominator" told reporters his decision wasn't affected by his recent playing time.

Like Henin and Mayweather, Hasek attributed his decision to a lack of passion.

"I don't feel today that I'm ready to compete on the highest level," Hasek said during a press conference. "Not because of the physical things, but because I need motivation every day … Right now, I don't feel it's there, and I don't want to disappoint anybody."

Across the country, another champion said goodbye to the game he'd devoted his life to. Mere months after his New York Giants stunned the New England Patriots in one of the most historic upsets in NFL history, Michael Strahan announced his retirement. The seven-time Pro Bowler and NFL record-holder for single-season sacks showed no signs of slowing down last season, his 15th in the league.

With a Super Bowl ring on his finger and a final game that seems nearly impossible to best, Strahan can truly say he's leaving the game of football as a champion.

"He retired at the top of his game," said Strahan's teammate and friend Osi Umenyiora. "A lot of us don't get the chance to do that."

A.E. Housman's famous poem "To An Athlete Dying Young" speaks to the appeal of bidding farewell with your name still in lights and your records unbroken.

"Smart lad to slip betimes away/From fields where glory does not stay/And early though the laurel grows/It withers quicker than the rose."

But is it really best for athletes to say goodbye with the metaphorical laurel wreath still fresh upon their heads? Are fans ever really satisfied if they know their heroes could've laced 'em up for a few more years?

And what of those who seem to overstay their welcome? Many thought Jordan's years in Washington somehow took away some of the glory of his final season with the Bulls. I personally believe M.J. earned the right to play as long as he wanted, provided his love for the game and his competitive desire remained. That's not to say I would've minded if his last shot had been that game winner in Utah, though.

So, the best of the best must choose: leave at the height of their career, or leave when they're satisfied they've given all they could.

Strahan and Hasek left as champions, but both could have returned in search of the elusive repeat. Was the time right for the two greats to move on, or were there more sacks to be had and more saves to be made?

Are you loving or hating the retirement of two of this generation's best?

Sunday, June 08, 2008 - DErosa is DElicious

Sunday, June 08, 2008

DErosa is DElicious

Mark DeRosa went 3-for-5 with a solo homer and 2 rbi tonight to help the Cubs salvage a split with the Dodgers. The Northsiders have won 11 of their last 14 and continue to enjoy the best record in baseball. Sports Banker Dave K. and I discuss this season's surprises and what the Cubs have to do to hang on to the top spot...


Inaugural Cubs Exchange

By David K. & Sarah Spain
Not sure if you heard, but the Cubs have the best record in baseball. The team hasn't been on top this late in the season since 1908 and we all remember what happened that year…or at least we've heard. Seems like the perfect time for a Cubs e-mail exchange since Paul and the Soxman do a weekly exchange about that "other" Chicago baseball team.

Sarah, I think you'll agree with me that there have been plenty of surprises this season for the Cubs. Here are a few that stand-out to me:

1) The Cubs, usually known for the longball and massive amount of strike outs, lead MLB in runs, batting average, on-base percentage AND OPS. Plus, they're second in the bigs in walks; that's un-heard of for a team who calls Wrigley Field home.

2) Ryan Dempster's unbelievable transition from closer to starter. Through 12 starts, the artist formerly known as Ryan "Dumpster" is 7-2 with a 2.75 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP.

3) The consistency up-and-down the line-up. It really doesn't matter who Sweet Lou puts in to start on a daily basis, because there is no "easy" out. Even Hank White is tearing it up at the dish this year. Not to mention the amazing production from Ronny Cedeno and Geovanny Soto and the timely hitting of Reed Johnson and Jim Edmonds.
What is the most surprising thing you have seen this season with the Cubs?

Great points, Dave. I distinctly remember the infamous quartet of Ryan "Dumpster," Michael "Worst," Will "OH…MAN" and Scott "Error." Thank god things are finally coming together…which brings me to my first surprise:

1) The Cubs bullpen is ranked third in the National League and has reduced its earned-run average to 3.22. While most pre-season bullpen reviews were positive, there were questions about Wood taking over the closer role and the pen's lack of lefties. The only question now is whether the starting rotation can get more innings in and keep the bullpen healthy and fresh. A bonus? I've watched 90% of this season's games for work (I've missed a few on my days off) and NOT ONCE has Carlos Marmol come into a game without being described by the words "nasty" or "filthy." Even opposing teams' announcers have to respect Marmol-aid. Gotta love it.

2) Geovany Soto. Soto had a stupendous minor league season last year, winning the Pacific Coast League MVP, but no one could have expected the kind of success he's had so far in the bigs. Soto is leading all catchers in NL All-Star voting and, if he maintains the top spot, would be the first NL rookie backstop ever to start at an All-Star game.

3) Speaking of rookie All-Stars, Kosuke Fukudome is another surprise for me. Despite the tremendous buzz surrounding his arrival in the States (not to mention the tremendous paycheck he's pocketing) I wasn't sure how the rookie outfielder would deal with the big move. After a disappointing Spring Training that saw him lead the league in walks but not a lot else, Fukudome was still a mystery to Chicago fans and media. It didn't take long for him to introduce himself; his Opening Day 3-run homer made him an immediate fan favorite. Fukudome trails only Alfonso Soriano in NL outfielder All-Star voting and could be the first NL rookie outfielder since 1948 to start the Midsummer Classic.

This Cubs team is certainly full of pleasant surprises–but the season is far from over. What do you think the team needs to improve upon in order to continue their league-leading ways and succeed well into October?


To add one point to your Soto lovin', Sarah, how about the way he's handled the starting pitchers this season. For a rookie to have that much control and the trust of his starters is a pretty impressive feat. Plus, he's kept Carlos Zambrano somewhat sane which is a blessing in itself.

Barring any injuries or serious tanking, I love the depth of our line-up. With the Johnson/Edmonds platoon in center field, our 1-8 is solid as can be. Add in key bench guys like Fontenot, the versatile/speedy Cedeno, a solid back-up catcher in Blanco, and a pair of lefty bats in Daryle Ward and Micah Hoffpauir, and we seem to be set with our hitters/fielders. And how great is it to have a guy like Mark DeRosa? Not just because you think he is dreamy, but because his ability to play five or six different positions without missing a beat defensively is a luxury Sweet Lou must love having. Also, don't count out Felix Pie who could be a key contributor later in the season when the rosters expand –he may just have enough speed and defense skill to make the playoff squad.
Our bullpen has been solid. The Marmol/Wood combination has been consistent enough that nothing needs to be messed with in terms of our set-up man and closer roles. Middle relief has seen some pleasant surprises. Scott Eyre has been that effective situational lefty needed out of the pen since coming off the disabled list. Bob Howry has bounced back nicely after an awful start to the season and is a great 7th inning reliever when needed. Michael Wuertz is the perfect middle reliever and inning eater while other guys like Neal Cotts, Jose Ascanio, and Sean Marshall provide depth and flexibility. I think our bullpen will remain steady.

Starting pitching has been and still is my biggest area of concern. Big Z is having a Cy Young caliber season, but in my opinion, is Chicago's only reliable starter. Call me a pessimist, but I'm still not sold that Dempster can keep up his remarkable start to the season. I don't trust Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis and their five-plus ERA's at all. Sean Gallagher has pitched well enough to keep the final starting spot, but is he a guy you want on the mound in a pressure playoff situation? We still don't know if Rich Hill will bounce back and pitch his way into the Cubs rotation. With that said, Jim Hendry should try to add another solid starter for the stretch run. If it takes giving up a couple prospects, so be it. We all know how long it's been since a Cubs World Series, so you have to roll the dice and try to make a move later in the season to improve your chances.


As I write this, the Cubs are just a few hours away from taking the field at Dodger Stadium to try to even up the series at 2 games apiece (and avoid dropping 3 straight for the first time all season). Unfortunately, the team that had us running out of positive adjectives now has me scratching my head. Carlos Zambrano fell apart on the mound and in the dugout Saturday, giving up 7 runs on 13 hits then unleashing his anger on a couple of Gatorade coolers. While his off day certainly puts a dent in your "reliable starter" theory, I've got to believe that Z will pull it together before his next start and continue his campaign for the Cy Young.

Zambrano's costly breakdown in the 7th inning Saturday dug a hole too big for the Cubs to get out of, but it's the errors, including a rare missed catch by Kosuke Fukudome, that concern me more. The Cubs' sloppy play and impatient hitting both Friday and Saturday were out of character for this team and need to be nipped in the bud before they become regular habits. Impatience and lack of focus seemed to be the cause of the team's slumping offense. All season, consistent hitting has allowed the Cubs to be aggressive on the base path. The team produced just 10 runs in their last two losses, making it difficult to put together big innings or play the kind of baseball that's put them on top.

After winning 9 straight, the team has dropped 3 of their last 4. Let's hope the losses were just the result of a brief letdown after the win streak was snapped. Despite their recent struggles, the Cubs are still tied for the best record in baseball, a stat I reminded every Dodger fan who tried to talk smack over the past few days. A big win tonight should get the Cubs back on track and silence the LA fans faster than you can say "sub .500 record."


Wow Sarah, your pessimism is un-characteristic just like the Cubs play Friday and Saturday.

Yeah, I guess I jumped the gun on the whole "Carlos has been sane this season" comment. My bad. At least he's beating up Gatorade coolers though and not his battery mate. Before Sunday night's game, ESPN's Peter Gammons did say that Zambrano mentioned to him that Z needs to stop his immature temper tantrums. But as the saying goes, "actions speak louder than words."

And to quote the great Maury Ballstein, "What happens when you fall off the horse? You get back on." Cubs got a great outing from Jason Marquis Sunday night, and Mark DeRosa did enough offensively to secure a series split in L.A. So rest assured Sarah, Cubs fans are far from panic mode.

Thursday, June 05, 2008 - Let’s Do This Thing

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Let’s Do This Thing

The NBA Playoffs start tonight...check out the Sports Bank Staff's Finals predictions...


NBA Finals Predictions

By the TSB Staff
Paul M. Banks: Boston in 6
Remember when we were forecasting the MLB playoffs at the start of Ocotber and I said "Boston over Colorado in 4" yes, yes, thank you. I'm going to the Beantown well once again. I've written so many things pandering to the sports teams of "America's Athens" this past year…that I've run out of Dropkick Murphys, Boston and Aerosmith references. So I'll go Mighty Mighty Bosstones here: "the impression that I get" is that this series comes down to point guard play once all the other factors have been equalized. And Rajon Rondo will vastly outperform the Derek Fisher-Jordan Farmar platoon.

Dave K. Lakers in 5
Who is going to guard Kobe? Ray Allen? HA! The Mamba would drop 60 a night if the Celtics have Allen guard him. Most likely, Paul Pierce will draw the defensive duties of trying to slow down the league MVP, which means Allen will have to guard a guy six inches taller than him in Vlad Rad. Plus, the Lake Show's bench is much deeper and more consistent than Boston's, who still haven't found the right mix of young guys and veterans to come in during the playoffs.

Soxman: The Boston Celtics in 7
East vs. West, Sega vs. Nintendo, and winners of 30 NBA titles between them, the Lakers and Celtics will meet in the finals for the 11th time, bringing back the most popular rivalry of all-time in the history of the NBA. While I will forever love the Zen master Phil Jackson, it is time for the Green and White to once again wear gold, and not Laker Gold either. The Lakers have an excellent team and while I don't like him, Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA.

So why the Celtics? One word: CLASS. In the post-Jordan era, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce have been stewards to the game. With no hoopla, rap videos, or "Inside Edition" controversy, they have been masters of their trade earning the right to be called champion.

Sarah Spain: Celtics in 7.
Yeah, I know everyone's picking the Lakers. I know LA has played better in the post-season. I know Phil Jackson is a Hall of Fame coach and Kobe Bryant is a Hall of Fame player. I don't care. I'm picking the Celtics–and not just 'cause I've seriously considered having franchise babies with Kevin Garnett (just imagine that kid's wingspan!) Defense wins championships. Just ask Jerry West. Back in 1969, West was the first (and only) player ever to win the NBA Finals MVP award despite playing for the losing team. West averaged 37.9 points a game in those Finals, but Boston (yes, Boston) still beat the Lakers to win it all. Combine hardnosed defense with unparalleled heart and desire and this is the Celtics series to lose. Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are desperate to win their first TEAM championship, Kobe's just hoping to improve his INDIVIDUAL legacy with another ring. Take a look at these two teams just before the start of the 2008 season: the Celtics Big Three held a press conference as a united trio, determined to win it all; Kobe held press conferences in supermarket parking lots calling out his team and its owners. The Lakers don't deserve to win, and they won't.

Andy Weise: Lakers in Six….. or dare I say, five? OK, six.
I'll admit I was on the Celtics bandwagon most of the year hoping Kevin Garnett and company would get to the NBA Finals. After the first two rounds though, I thought for sure the Pistons would pull it off. Luckily the Celtics finally learned how to win on the road. I can't go against the Western Conference Champion Lakers though. Lamar Odom has blossomed into the player we all thought he could be: A great third option. Pau Gasol has taken tons of pressure off of Odom and enabled him to play off Kobe and Gasol when he needs to. And yes, Kobe is still the best player on the planet. Doc Rivers shouldn't even be in the same sentence as Phil Jackson What is this, ring No. 10?

Seymour Pennants: Kobe is a Jackass
OK, everyone saw Kobe's YouTube video, showing him jumping over an Aston Martin. The video that spawned 100 imitators (and at least 90 hospital visits).

Well Kobe did it again, this time with the stars of Jackass, Wee-Man, Chris Pontius, and Dave England. This time, "Black Mamba" leaps over a pool of "deadly" black snakes to dunk (guess what kind of snakes they are supposed to be?). Kobe Wan Kenobi got twice as much air as His Airness, with the help of suspended cables like a kid in a Peter Pan high school play.


Kobe's stunts were lame, but the Jackass guys are funny. If they wanted to make a funny ad, they should have featured Wee-Man wearing Nike HyperDunks, and have him sky over Kobe, just to slam it home in the Kobster's face. Flying midgets are much funnier than billion dollar basketball stars playing Mary Poppins.

I'm hoping Boston takes the Lakers, just in retribution for these stupid ads. When you say "Kids, don't try this at home", you can guarantee you'll get 100 YouTube videos done by kids trying to jump over cars. And almost as many hospital visits.

Check out these 2 outtakes from the original Kobe Aston Martin jump. If only they were real…



Hell, with the right editing software, both my walker and I could jump over an Aston Martin. I'm Seymour Pennants, and I'll dunk on young Banks any day. Maybe I'll be in a good mood and donate my sweaty tube socks to Soxman for his latest headgear fashion statement. Bring it!

Seymour Pennants

Tuesday, June 03, 2008 - ove it Or Hate it...Standings Shakeup

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Love it Or Hate it...Standings Shakeup


By Sarah Spain
Love of Sports Correspondent

The March 31 issue of Sports Illustrated featured a 78-page MLB Baseball Preview, complete with regular season, playoff and World Series predictions.

MLB fans everywhere were eager to read the opinions and forecasts put out by the most trusted source in sports since 1954.

According to SI's experts, the Yankees will win the American League East, the Tigers and Indians will go 1-2 in the AL Central and the Florida Marlins will finish dead last in the NL East. The St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays will both just barely escape the bottom spot in their respective divisions and the Colorado Rockies will take the honors in the NL West.

As the old expression goes: "that's why they play the game."

About a month from its halfway mark, the 2008 baseball season has the experts scratching their heads. As of June 1, the Yankees were a half game out of last in the AL East, while the Marlins sat just a half game out of first in their division. The Tigers and Indians were wading through the gut of the AL Central, the Cards were a just few games back of first in the NL Central and the Rockies — boasting the worst record in baseball — were the cellar dwellers of the NL West.

Of course, baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. There's certainly time for the Yankees to turn things around and for the Rays and Marlins to tank.

The question is, do fans want to see order restored or is this standings shakeup good for baseball?

While Yankee haters everywhere are happy to see the Starbucks of baseball sputtering and sinking, some find it hard to watch such a storied franchise die. Gone are the days when the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry actually meant something. Things have gotten so bad, no one even talks about whether Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are friends anymore — there are bigger fish to fry. For instance, why the Yankees are flirting with last place while the Marlins, an ENTIRE TEAM with an Opening Day payroll less than that of A-Rod ALONE are battling for first.

Meanwhile, the (presumably soon to be higher-paid) Marlins players look out over the rows of empty seats in Dolphin Stadium and wonder what it will take for the fans to get wise. Last year, on the first of June the Marlins were three games under .500 and their state-mates, the Rays, were a staggering eight games below even. Hot starts by the two surging clubs have the media buzzing, but many wonder if the apathetic residents of the Sunshine State are deserving of their winning teams.

Maybe the Yankees are the Spurs of baseball. Fans are sick of their winning ways; they're ready to usher in a new dynasty. Just as the New Orleans Hornets brought new faces and new fans to the NBA playoffs, so too will baseball's new darlings. It may take some time, but eventually improving clubs will see their attendance improve, too. Yankees fans will still be around, win or lose, but only with continued success will Marlins and Rays fans come to the party.

Not only will the fans take notice of the new teams to beat, managers and owners will, too. Instead of the "spend first, think later" approach of the Richie Rich Yankees, clubs may follow the smarter, more modest ways of the Marlins and Rays — the teams with the two lowest payrolls in baseball. It seems this year the underdog still has a chance.

That's why I'm loving the "backwards day" feel of today's baseball landscape. What do you think?

Is baseball better off when the Yankees are winning or are fans ready for change? Are you loving or hating the surprises of the 2008 season?

Thursday, May 29, 2008 - Old School Is New School?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Old School Is New School?


By Sarah Spain
Love of Sports Correspondent

Thursday morning, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Chicago Bulls are expected to name Doug Collins their new head coach.

You may remember that Collins used to man the sidelines for the Bulls from 1986-1989, coaching them to their best record in 15 years during the 1987-88 season. They made the playoffs all three years and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in Collins' last year at the helm.

Despite his success, the Illinois native (and former summer camp basketball coach of yours truly) was fired by Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and replaced by his assistant, the legendary Phil Jackson. After leaving Chicago, Collins coached the Pistons and the Wizards, then took to the mic as an analyst for TNT. Through it all, he's remained close with Bulls management.

Just a few weeks ago, the former four-time NBA All-Star declined an offer from the Bucks, telling reporters he had no interest in leaving TNT. With a Chicago offer on the table, though, Collins seems to have left his coaching door slightly ajar.

Bulls GM John Paxson released this statement about the rumors:

"I have been in contact with Doug Collins in regard to our head coaching position. Contrary to some reports that are currently out there, we have not reached an agreement. Right now, his commitment is covering the Western Conference Finals for TNT. When that series concludes, we will continue our dialogue. In the meantime, I will continue to talk to other candidates and review our options."

Perhaps the draw of his home state and relationship with Reinsdorf and Paxson will play a hand in bringing him back to coaching. And let's not forget the ace up the Bulls' sleeve: the No. 1 draft pick. Collins did, after all, start his career coaching a promising young guy in Chicago by the name of Mike.

When Collins joined the Bulls in 1986, they were a team with an outstanding young superstar, but no identity. If Collins were to join this team, the situation would be quite similar. On June 26, this team will be handed a golden opportunity in the form of either Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley. Chicago fans everywhere are holding their breath for the second coming of (heck, even a poor man's) Jordan.

Collins' fiery coaching style wasn't immediately appreciated by a young Jordan, as the two butted heads and Jordan questioned the authority of the first time head coach. However, when he joined Jordan and the Wizards in 2001, a more mature M.J. displayed nothing but respect and admiration for him. Most notably, Jordan assured any and all who asked that it wasn't he who forced Collins out of Chicago in 1989.

Whether Jordan endorsed the move or not, most agree it was the browbeating, overbearing coaching style Collins employs that got him canned. Just this past year, the Bulls were led by a similar coach, Scott Skiles, and he was unceremoniously fired midway through the season. Why should Chicago fans believe Collins would fare any better in the Windy City?

Back in the '80s, Bulls assistant coach John Bach said of Collins: "The Doug Collins you see at a game is a very emotional, excitable, quick-thinking man. It drives players, it excites them, it angers them and it motivates them … There are two kinds of teams, those that are led and those that are driven. This is a driven team, largely due to Doug.''

By the time he was fired, Skiles was yelling at a team that was no longer listening. He had lost their respect. Collins isn't the kind of coach that would cause a rift with a player over a stinkin' headband. His intensity is more about winning the game than it is about hard-headedness. His tendency towards histrionics (and his occasional battle with postgame tears) speaks to the emotion and passion he brings to coaching. That feeling of desperation and that need to succeed are exactly what's missing from a Bulls squad that seems doomed to hover in mediocrity.

If Doug Collins is named the new head coach of the Chicago Bulls, I'll be hesitantly hopeful. He can scream and cry all he wants, as long as it gets this underachieving team back into the playoffs and beyond.

Monday, May 26, 2008 - Your Brain On Cubs

Monday, May 26, 2008

Your Brain On Cubs


George F. Will
'Your Brain on Cubs'

It is said there are no atheists in foxholes. There should be lots of them in Wrigley Field in the Cubs' 10th decade of rebuilding.


Aren't cartoons supposed to be funny? In a New Yorker cartoon, a man and a woman are seated at a restaurant banquette and the man says, "OK, Cynthia. I'll tell you my hopes and dreams, my joys and my passions. But be forewarned—they all concern a particular sports team." What is funny about that?

It is not nice to joke about a neurological affliction. Fortunately, we can now comprehend the condition, thanks to a new book, "Your Brain on Cubs: Inside the Heads of Players and Fans," a collection of essays by doctors and others knowledgeable about neuroscience and brain disorders associated with rooting for a team that last won the World Series a century ago.

The sometimes terrible truth is that being a sports fan is a physical phenomenon as well as a psychological condition: It involves observable (with imaging technology) alterations of brain matter. Jordan Grafman, a senior investigator at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, was born and raised in Chicago, so he knows whereof he speaks when he speaks, politely, about the "paradox" of being a Cub fan even though baseball is supposed to provide relief from life's problems. Grafman has been to a pleasant purgatory, Wrigley Field, and returned with good news: Yes, rooting for the Cubs is a minority taste because it is an interminable tutorial in delayed gratification, but "there is some evidence that being in the majority (everyone loves a winner) reduces reflective thinking."

Rooting for a loser makes one thoughtful, or perhaps neurotic, which on Chicago's North Side may be a distinction without a difference. "The scientific literature," Grafman says, "suggests that fans of losing teams turn out to be better decision-makers and deal better with divergent thought, as opposed to the unreflective fans of winning teams."

Group memberships—in families, tribes, nations, religions—are so common and powerful as components of identities that they must be in some sense natural. That is, they are adaptive aspects of the evolution of humans as social creatures. But how does the group identity of Cub fans help them flourish? By giving them brain calisthenics. Grafman says that "given the complex situations and thinking that Cubs fans have had to engage in," their "frontal lobes are consistently activated" as they think about their affiliation.

Relative to the brains of other animals, human brains have disproportionately large prefrontal cortexes. Hence the human knack for planning, reasoning and experiencing subtle variations of feelings. Grafman says that when a fan's team wins, "the brain's reward system, including the ventral brain stem and basal ganglia," pumps dopamine into the brain, which gives—or perhaps is—the experience of intense pleasure.

Narcotics do that, too. Are fans of winning teams in danger of addiction? If so, are Cub fans fortunate? No.

Kelli Whitlock Burton, a science writer, and Hillary R. Rodman, an associate professor of psychology at Emory University, cite studies of activities in the portion of the brain that registers depression, sadness, grief and euphoria, three of which are pertinent to Cub fans. Burton and Rodman note that drug addiction can cause changes in neural sensitivity and structure, and they wonder whether a Cub fan "has subtle and long-lasting changes in his or her brain reward circuitry, comparable to a kind of addiction." They say "a limbic structure called the amygdala, deep within the temporal lobe, shows abnormally high activity in depressed patients." Studies of "induced sadness"—e.g., the brain activity of a person grieving about the end of a romantic relationship—might tell us something about a brain on Cubs. Furthermore, rats that are made to experience "acute and persistent defeat" undergo long-lasting changes in the ability of certain nerve cells to respond electrically to stimuli.

Burton and Rodman report that scientists are identifying "the chemical bases of long-lasting brain changes after social defeat, with the neurotransmitter serotonin—also heavily implicated in clinical depression—among the substances most clearly involved." In fans, as in players, a team's success or failure can cause hormonal changes, particularly in the production of testosterone. Does that mean Cub fans, in a kind of Darwinian "natural deselection," have trouble reproducing?

Writers Tom Valeo and Lindsay Beyerstein report that cognitive neuroscience has produced evidence that the brain strains to produce explanations for things "and it will make up stories to cope with phenomena it cannot otherwise account for." Hence we are hard-wired for religion, and for baseball's many superstitions, such as that of Julio Gotay, a journeyman for the Cardinals and others in the 1960s, who played with a talismanic cheese sandwich in his back pocket. Superstitions give people a sense of control amid uncertainties.

The brain "wants" to see outcomes as connected to preceding events, so fans get the brain-driven pleasure of thinking that their rooting, which is prayer in a secular setting, somehow helps cause their teams' successes. Well. It is said there are no atheists in foxholes. There should be lots of them in Wrigley Field as the Cubs finish the 10th decade of their rebuilding effort.

4:50 PM - 2 Comments - 1 Kudos - Add Comment - Edit - Remove

The Fix Is On???


Will the Next Cubs World Series Win be Fixed?

By the TSB Staff

If and when the Cubs win the World Series, do you think it will be fixed? Seriously, we know at least one World Series in Chicago was fixed…and yes, it was 80 years ago, but do you think the Cubs' next triumph will be scripted and pre-arranged? Is that the only way it could actually happen? Why or why not? If it happened this October, exactly 100 years to the date, would that affect your answer?

Paul M. Banks:

All I'll say is this- 1908 to 2008 seems like a nice story…perhaps a little too nice to be as they would say in an economics course, "pure competition." So it might seem a little fishy this season if they hoist the World Series trophy this October. Then again, to go over a century and NOT close the deal seems even more unlikely than any possible scripted ending. So my heart, mind and hunch says "Eamus Catuli" and if they win it all this fall (or whenever they do it again finally), it will occur under a "free market" system and not under pre-arranged conditions.

Sarah Spain:

Today's baseball landscape is far too media-saturated for game fixing or scripting of any kind to be pulled off successfully. These days, Roger Clemens can't keep decades-old extramarital affairs with 15-year-olds a secret and Tony LaRussa can't fall asleep at the wheel without the resulting police video reaching the interwebs. If the fix was on, someone would surely find a way to appear in front of Congress to snitch. Not only is the media more involved, the leagues themselves are more self-aware as well. Tim Donaghy's transgressions have caused the MLB and other professional leagues to shine a bigger spotlight on their officials.

So while the idea of the Cubs winning the World Series exactly one hundred years after their last win sounds like the stuff of movies, if it happens, it will be for real. Curses make for great stories, but the Cubs' woes are the result of players, managers, blown trades and bad plays. The team won't need a script or a fix to win it all, they'll just need to be the best team on the field when it counts. As a Cubs fan, I can't think of better way to put a halt to a hundred years of tears than to win it all in true Hollywood fashion.

Seymour Pennants:

Dad (Ivon Pennants) put the fix in for 1907 & 1908….and what's good enough for dear old Dad, is good enough for me. Got some of my "friends" from the old neighborhood together to raise the amount to fix it this year - The teamsters, some of Rosti's old boys, the guys at Gene & Giorgetti's. We'll raise enough to fix opposing players, the umps….hell, we're even bribing Bartmann to stay home. It cost Pops about $500 and a hooker. I figure if we double that we should be fine.