Monday, December 31, 2007

Moneyball Fallacy

Is it possible to rid the world of the pernicious misreading of Moneyball that Billy Beane's "paradigm shifting strategy" somehow permanently minimizes the profound discrepancy between large- and small-market teams?

Beane developed a different method of evaluating players that, so long as the Oakland A's were the only team using the method, provided the A's with some advantage that might offset the revenue advantage of the Yankees, Red Sox, &c. Once Beane's approach was adopted by other teams, he lost the advantage.

If the Red Sox and the A's use basically the same approach to evaluating player A and Boston has more money to spend, Boston's deep pockets means that the Red Sox are going to get and keep the player. (See Kevin Youkilis.) When the evaluations strategies are the same, revenue goes back to being the key factor.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Yeah, the BCS stinks. It was stupid that the BCS didn't allow Oklahoma to play Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Yes, we need a playoff. But in the meantime, we have 32, yes THIRTY-TWO College Football Bowls between tonight and the BCS Championship. That is alot of football goodness. Yes, the Keith Jackson Bowl Pool is back for the 11th year. Yes, I plan to finally win the damn thing. Since we started these contests have grown in popularity --so much so that now Yahoo, ESPN and countless others have similar confidence pools.

Every sports site around has previews and predictions. Here's one for tonight's Poinsettia Bowl between Utah and Navy by I picked Utah over Navy with a confidence value of 22pts (out of 32pts). But the schedule just keeps on coming. So when you're bored by the writers' strike or at a bar drinking beer w/ pals, there's almost always a game on. Good times!

San Diego
Dec. 20, 9 p.m. (ESPN) Utah (8-4) vs. Navy (8-4)
Last season: No. 25 TCU 37, Northern Illinois 7
New Orleans
Dec. 21, 8 p.m. (ESPN2) Florida Atlantic (7-5) vs. Memphis (7-5)
Last season: Troy 41, Rice 17
Birmingham, Ala.
Dec. 22, 1 p.m. (ESPN2) Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Southern Miss (7-5)
Last season: South Florida 24, East Carolina 7
Albuquerque, N.M.
Dec. 22, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN) New Mexico (8-4) vs. Nevada (6-6)
Last season: San Jose State 20, New Mexico 12
Las Vegas
Dec. 22, 8 p.m. (ESPN) BYU (10-2) vs. UCLA (6-6)
Last season: No. 19 BYU 38, Oregon 8
Honolulu, Hawaii
Dec. 23, 8 p.m. (ESPN) East Carolina (7-5) vs. Boise State (10-2)
Last season: Hawaii 41, Arizona State 24
Dec. 26, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) Central Michigan (8-5) vs. Purdue (7-5)
Last season: Central Michigan 31, Middle Tennessee 14
San Diego
Dec. 27, 8 p.m. (ESPN) Arizona State (10-2) vs. Texas (9-3)
Last season: No. 20 Cal 45, No. 21 Texas A&M 10

Orlando, Fla.
Dec. 28, 5 p.m. (ESPN) Boston College (10-3) vs. Michigan State (7-5)
Last season: Maryland 24, Purdue 7
Dec. 28, 8 p.m. (NFL Network) TCU (7-5) vs. Houston (8-4)
Last season: No. 16 Rutgers 37, Kansas State 10
San Francisco
Dec. 28, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN) Maryland (6-6) vs. Oregon State (8-4)
Last season: Florida State 44, UCLA 27
Charlotte, N.C.
Dec. 29, 1 p.m. (ESPN) UConn (9-3) vs. Wake Forest (8-4)
Last season: No. 23 Boston College 25, Navy 24
Memphis, Tenn.
Dec. 29, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN) Mississippi State (7-5) vs. UCF (10-3)
Last season: South Carolina 44, Houston 36
San Antonio
Dec. 29, 8 p.m. (ESPN) Penn State (8-4) vs. Texas A&M (7-5)
Last season: No. 18 Texas 26, Iowa 24
Shreveport, La.
Dec. 30, 8 p.m. (ESPN) Colorado (6-6) vs. Alabama (6-6)
Last season: Oklahoma State 34, Alabama 31
Fort Worth, Texas
Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN) Cal (6-6) vs. Air Force (9-3)
Last season: Utah 25, Tulsa 13
El Paso, Texas
Dec. 31, 2 p.m.(CBS) USF (9-3) vs. Oregon (8-4)
Last season: Oregon State 39, Missouri 38
Boise, Idaho
Dec. 31, 2 p.m. (ESPN2) Fresno State (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)
Last season: Miami 21, Nevada 20
Nashville, Tenn.
Dec. 31, 4 p.m. (ESPN) Florida State (7-5) vs. Kentucky (7-5)
Last season: Kentucky 28, Clemson 20
Tempe, Ariz.
Dec. 31, 5:30 p.m. (NFL Network) Indiana (7-5) vs. Oklahoma State (6-6)
Last season: Texas Tech 44, Minnesota 41 (OT)
Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) Clemson (9-3) vs. Auburn (8-4)
Last season: Georgia 31, No. 14 Virginia Tech 24
Tampa, Fla.
Jan. 1, 11 a.m. (ESPN) Wisconsin (9-3) vs. Tennessee (9-4)
Last season: Penn State 20, No. 17 Tennessee 10
Jan. 1, 11:30 a.m. (FOX) Missouri (11-2) vs. Arkansas (8-4)
Last season: No. 10 Auburn, No. 22 Nebraska
Jacksonville, Fla.
Jan. 1, Noon (CBS) Virginia (9-3) vs. Texas Tech (8-4)
Last season: No. 13 West Virginia 38, Georgia Tech 35
Orlando, Fla.
Jan. 1, 1 p.m. (ABC) Michigan (8-4) vs. Florida (9-3)
Last season: No. 6 Wisconsin 17, No. 12 Arkansas 14
Pasadena, Calif.
Jan. 1, 4:30 p.m. (ABC) USC (10-2) vs. Illinois (9-3)
Last season: No. 8 USC 32, No. 3 Michigan 18
New Orleans
Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. (FOX) Hawaii (12-0) vs. Georgia (10-2)
Last season: No. 4 LSU 41, No. 11 Notre Dame 14
Glendale, Ariz.
Jan. 2, 8:00 p.m. (FOX) West Virginia (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (11-2)
Last season: No. 9 Boise State 43, No. 7 Oklahoma 42 (OT)
Jan. 3, 8 p.m. (FOX) Kansas (11-1) vs. Virginia Tech (11-2)
Last season: No. 5 Louisville 24, No. 15 Wake Forest 13
Jan. 5, Noon (ESPN2) Rutgers (7-5) vs. Ball State (7-5)
Last season: Cincinnati 27, Western Michigan 24
Mobile, Ala.
Jan. 6, 8 p.m. (ESPN) Tulsa (9-4) vs. Bowling Green (8-4)
Last season: Southern Miss 28, Ohio 7
New Orleans
Jan. 7, 8 p.m. (FOX) Ohio State (11-1) vs. LSU (11-2)
Last season: No. 2 Florida 41, No. 1 Ohio State 14

Monday, December 10, 2007


A big thanks to Old as Dirt who sent me one of the best things ever last week in preparation for the big Steelers-Patriots game (which turned out not so big, more on that later). I anxiously tore open the UPS delivered package to find this:

That's right, my very own Steelers hard hat for game day. Nice.
OAD requested a picture with me wearing it so he had "proof that I got you to wear a helmet".
Well, game day came and once again I had reason to hate the Seachickens, or more importantly, that I lived in an NFL city that was not Pittsburgh. Why you ask? Because the NFL has some stupid licensing agreement that dictates that if a team is playing at home then no other games can be televised on the local affiliate. So that meant that even though we pay a bajillion dollars for our cable, I was stuck with the stupid Chicken Hawks versus the Cardinals. Ugh. The worst was when I was watching the NFL pre-game on CBS and at the end when they went to their scheduled televised game they made a point of taunting me, "...and later, most of you will be watching the marquee game of the day between the Steelers and Patriots". Aaaarrghh!!!
Being resourceful though I resorted to old school meets new school by finding the game on an online streaming CBS radio station and hooked it up through my stereo:

After the first quarter I went very old school and took my lady's Walkman and listened to AM 950 in between trees blocking the signal on my ride. The last time I listened to a game on AM radio whilst on a ride I didn't like the outcome of that either. It was November 25, 1995. I know the date exactly because it was when #2 and unbeaten Ohio State with standout players like eventual Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George, Mike Vrable, Shawn Springs, Terry Glenn and Orlando Pace played the 8 and 3 Wolverines in Ann Arbor. It was the day that Wolverine running back Tim Biakabutuka ran all over the Buckeyes, finishing the game with 313 yards and a Michigan upset over the Buckeyes.
The lesson in all of this: no more listening to games that I care about the outcome on a ride. Superstitious? You bet.

I wish I could quit you!

I've been an Arena Football fan since the very beginning. Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but I love the game. Lots of action and I like watching guys playing for the love of the game and trying to make it to the next level. Any way, I've had season tickets for the Arizona Rattlers since I moved here. The tickets got really expensive for my close-to-the-action seats. So much so that I cut them loose. It didn't hurt that the Rattlers absolutely sucked last year.

But just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in! The Rattlers have made some solid off-season moves (including signing league leading receiver Siaha Burley), but more importantly they lowered prices and made a great, unheard of, guarantee. If the Rattlers don't make the playoffs, we get ALL of our money back. The Rattlers used to sell out, but the Dbacks changed all that. They need more fannys in the seats to create a fun atmosphere. This guarantee is a great way to do that. I got much cheaper seats (in the end zone of the lower bowl) so that it could be affordable and it should be fun. The view from my seats: click here.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Sisyphus in the Desert (AZ Cardinals Top 10 Losses Ever)

We all know the Myth of Sisyphus, the guy doomed for eternity to push a boulder up a moutain, only to have it fall back down when he is about to succeed. Over and over again. Since the Cardinals moved to Arizona back in 1988, being a fan here is alot like that. Sure we had a tiny run of success in 1998. We'll always have 1998. But other than that tiny blip of happiness (taken away by the Bidwill's stunning parsimony and short-sightedness that off-season), it has been tough out here in the hot desert.

The Cardinals repeatedly find new ways to lose and new ways to kill progress. But last weekend's loss against the woeful 49ers may have taken the cake. Not only did numerous players have to make bone-headed mistakes in order to get the loss, but the coaching staff had to put in record-breaking performance for consistent mismanagement. I like Whisenhunt, but this stuff is unacceptable. Anyway, the loss inspired us to list the 10 worst Arizona Cardinals losses in their troubled tenure here. The secret common link is Bidwill incompetence. Use the comment option below this post to let us know how you'd rank 'em.

#1. “We Let ‘Em Off the Hook!”2006 Week 6: Cardinals v. Bears.
The loss marked the first time in history that a team blew a 20-point lead to an opponent who did not score any offensive touchdowns. As a fan at the game, this was just unbelievable. Missed FGs, defensive TDs for the Bears,e tc.
At the post-game press conference, coach Dennis Green erupted at reporters. "The Bears are who we thought they were! That's why they took the damn field! You want to crown them, crown their asses! They're who we thought they were and we let them off the hook!" Enjoy the infamous Dennis Green video here.

#2. “10 pt Favorites”
2007 Week 11: Cardinals v. Niners
This game is so bad, we had to break it down.

*Cardinals are 10pt favorites at home against the woeful 49ers (on a 8 game losing streak!) with Trent Dilfer at QB. A Cardinals win would put them in great position for the playoffs. Yet they lose despite outstanding performances by Larry Fitzgerald and Kurt Warner.

*"The Celestine Prophecy": This bodes very bad for the rest of the year. Due to injuries we had someone named Celestin[e] in the game (#35) at Safety. He was just dreadful. Gave up big runs and got juked out of socks by Arnez Battle on that long TD pass when the Cardinals were trying to hold it together. Not only was he not cut, but he will be starting this week vs. the Browns. Terrance Holt was dreadful too, but with Eric Green out, what can we do?
One of several goats:

*Off his Rackers: That Pro Bowl seems long ago. This is the 2nd game on the list the Cardinals could have won if Rackers had done his job by making a simple, mid range Field Goal. I love the guy –gutsy, tackles on kick offs, and funny. But he HAS to make a clutch kick.
Another Goat:

*Bar Barr: The Cardinals were penny-wise and pound-foolish once again! They let Scott Player go to save money and picked up bargain-basement Mike Barr. When the Cardinals needed a clutch punt, he shanked it and put the Niners in business. He was the worst punter in the league this year and this game sealed his fate. He is history. But the Cardinals history of cutting corners bit them in the ass yet again.
Barr's Resume Picture:

*Breaston. THREE times he returns punts inside his own 12. How could he know that rookie TE would make blunderous bad blocks two plays in a row? But still, quit returning them when we have the lead late. He is speedy, gutsy and talented and I’m glad he’s here. But he needs a coach! Clearly the Cardinals forgot to spend time teaching Breaston the basics. Damn Michigan grads.

*Gee Whisenhunt? This game may hurt because of the repeated, BONEHEADED mistakes by the coaches. Repeated clock management blunders and just idiotic playing calling with the game on the line (way to call 4 passes in a row when we’re trying to run the clock down in the 4th quarter). Why did we go for it on 4th down with Rattay when we needed that FG to tie? Sure, it worked, but it barely did and that would have been the game. But with the game on the line, Bryant Johnson was out of bounds at the one foot line and instead of lining up and running a play with 6 seconds left on the clock, we wasted the play on a time out that was COMPELTELY unnecessary. This meant we had to pass and San Francisco knew it. Needless to say they broke up the pass. Then we MAKE the winning kick in OT only to have it taken back on a delay of game penalty. Then he missed. Outrageous. Plus I hold the coaching staff entirely responsible for Ben Patrick’s IDIOTIC and useless clipping penalties.

This game hurt. It was a grand combination of stupidity and it cost us the playoffs (most likely).

#3 "The Shutouts"
2003 Week 2: Seattle 38, Cardinals 0. In Arizona. Bryant Johnson and Calvin Pace's first game. Nice trade down Cardinals.
2002 Week 13: KC 49, Cardinals 0.
1996 Week 3: Patriots 31, Cardinals 0.

#4 "Rattay's Greatest Game"
2004 Week 5: Cardinals at San Francisco
The Cardinals were up 28-12 with 8 minutes to go against winless San Francisco. But the Cardinals choked and made Tim Rattay look outstanding by giving up two TDs and a 2pt conversion in the last few minutes. This was a game the Cardinals were "supposed" to win against a winless Niners side. We should have remembered this game. The Cardinals did try to return the favor in Week 14 of 2004 when they came back to tie the game after being down 28-10 to the Niners in the fourth quarter. Sadly the Cardinals were who we thought they were and the 49ers won it in OT with a FG. Better still, these two games were the 49ers only wins of the year.

#5 "False Start"
2005 Week 2: Rams at Cardinals
Is there a team crushed by false start penalties more than the AZ Cardinals? This game sums it up perfectly. Down 17-12 in Tempe but making a great last-minute drive for the score, the Cardinals screw up in clock management. Warner (otherwise playing a great game) gives up a brutal sack when they were at the 5. With seconds counting down, the Cardinals had time for one play in the red zone, only to blow that when Leonard Davis was whistled for false start --and so the game ended without a chance to try that last play. Gut-wrenching.

#6 “Rejected Gift”
2006 Week 3: Rams at Cardinals
The Cardinals' valiant try for a 4th quarter comeback falls far short. The only score that Arizona could muster was a 6-yard TD run by RB Edge. Yet, after a Bulger fumble deep in St. Louis territory while trying to run out the clock, the Cardinals were in position to steal one. Finally! The Cardinals set up for an easy chip-shot field goal to win, but Warner fumbled a snap and St. Louis recovered to seal the victory 16-14. Ugh.

#7 “You Complete Me Buddy”
1995 Week 17: Dallas at Cardinals.
Before a sell out crowd on a Monday Night, the hapless Arizona Cardinals give this craptastic gift to all loyal Cardinal fans: A 13 - 37 drubbing by the hated Dallas Cowboys. Yikes! Coach Ryan told us: “You’ve got a winner in town.” Yeah, right Buddy. Somehow this game was used for game action scenes in the movie “Jerry McGuire.” Highlight: Larry Centers leaping over the Cowboys defender and keeps running. Lowlight: Buddy Ryan leaving the field before the end of the game -- knowing he is done in Arizona.

#8 "Buddy Ain't A Winner"
1995 Week 5: KC 24 Cards 3.
Awful game with the added bonus that Steve Bono sets record for the longest run by a quarterback in NFL history with a 76-yard touchdown scramble. Check it out:

#9 "Rackers' First Choke?"
2006 Week 5: KC at Cardinals.
Up at home 20-10 after three quarters in Matt Leinart's first start, the Cardinals go into a shell and find a way to lose 23-20. Rackers gives us a preview of things to come by missing a 51yd FG that would have tied it with 2 seconds left.

#9(b) "Another Blown Lead"
2005 Week 5: Carolina at Cardinals
This one ties with the KC game because again the Cardinals were up 20-10 at home after 3 quarters and found a way to lose it 24-20. The 4 turnovers helped.

#10: "[im]Perfect Season Ruined"
1996 Week 9: The 0-8 Jets face the 3-4 Cards before a packed house (OK 28,088) in a crucial game in which they can pull to .500 at the halfway point of the season. Instead of pounding the worst team in the league at home, the Cards give up 31 points (to a team averaging just over 14 points before the game) while only scoring 21. The Jets fail to win a game the rest of the year, finishing 1-15.

*Agree? Disagree? Please post your comments and take part in the poll. Thanks!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bonehead of the week

I like to drive fast. But come on. Here's a guy claims to have driven 219 in his Lamborghini on a local AZ highway and then posted his video on the web. You can read about it here. The youtube video is below. Yes, the police are investigating. Seems his video is exhibit 1.

Nice work braniac. Other local blogs have taken on the chase --it seems he likes to hit the local party scene, as noted in snarky "Dirty Scottsale". Here is their report on our speeder. And here.

The bottom line is that he is a giant-ego'd idiot.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What the Devils must do

Two QB's with damaged digits and two formidable stables of RBs. Gents, this game will be decided on the line. ASU's Dexter Davis and Luis Vasquez (top) must punish Booty, and the ASU O-line must contain Sedrick Ellis (bottom) and Lawrence Jackson. If they bring a knife, we bring a gun. If they send one of ours to the hospital, we send one of theirs to the morgue. That's the Chicago way.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Brad Bird's politics are confused

Iron Giant was a lovely mess of an allegory.

The Incredibles was wonderful, but are we really supposed to believe that a super-villain smart enough to wipe out nearly all super heroes would be a champion of mediocrity?

And, now comes Ratatouille, just released on video.

Spoiler alert.

The animating spirit of Ratatouille is Gasteau, a proponent of the radical — for France — theory that Anyone Can Cook. Remy, the rat protagonist, channels Gasteau and becomes, Cyrano-like, a top chef and the savior of Gusteau's formerly five-star restaurant.

But, once Remy resuscitates the restaurant, he becomes indispensable. Surrounded by talented, driven, and trained cooks — including the oh-so-sweet Colette — none of his magic rubs off. And, when he goes AWOL, the restaurant nearly sinks. Until he returns.

Turns out, only Remy Can Cook.

Bird makes wonderful movies. And, I've got no problem with movies with a message. (Lion King anyone?) But, if he's going to make the message front-and-center, he ought to work it out a bit better.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

To get her poor dog a bone...

If you thought the rash of silence concerning bringing a MLS team to Phoenix was getting, well, a little too silent; news comes out that Dana Gagnon is looking to field a USL 1 team here or in Tucson ( well that's a good leader right?) USL first, MLS 2011! Not so fast, a Republic sidebar notes that Gagnon is "raising" funds for an economic report and architectural renderings to show potential investors. So now we know what has been going on behind the silence -NOTHING! Old mother hubbard went to the cupboard to find that ART Moreno ain't there folks! Gagnon's "We just need to be persistent", quote shows more than a hint of desperation.

First off, looking at Mesa for a site is absurd. The city is broke. It can't pay off the bonds it floated a few years ago. Fiesta Mall might be a good location and a winning development proposal (not unlike the KC, Saint Louis, and Philly proposals) to perk up a flailing, failing retail black hole. But beauty is only skin deep, and with no government assistance of any kind coming from Mesa it is DOA. Second, why would ASU be even remotely interested in such a huge facility for soccer? They barely support a women's soccer program and it is one of only two schools in the Pac 10 that don't have a men's team (U of A #2). Its a Title 9 program...I wouldn't be surprised if ASu puts its new indoor football facility where the soccer field currently sits and make the women's team play on the intramurals fields or Kiwanis Park.

So the Mother throws us a USL 1 bone, but there ain't no meat on it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Red Card Ain't Enough

Check out this foul by Binya of Benfica in Champions League Play against Brown of Celtic last night. Outragious. UEFA is investigating as reported by ESPN here. This one is a no brainer. Check out the video below. The slow-mo replay is at the 49 second mark --and clearly requires a long suspension. The question is whether Binya had orders to do the foul.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Yeah What He Said:

Check out this Wetzel column in Yahoo Sports.

MLS KC Wizards are Moving (Sort of)

Read the MLS K.C. Wizards' press release here.

It looks like the half-empty NFL Chiefs stadium is a thing of the past as the Wizards finally get smart and move to a smaller stadium. The good news is that SSS (soccer specific stadiums) have done quite well for MLS (See Toronto's success at the gate this year as an expansion team). The bad news is that the Wizards are playing for two years in a crappy minor league stadium in Kansas until their SSS is complete. Check out the picture below.
This is not good. Right now it holds about 6k, and they plan to expand it to 10k. But the problem is that it will be bush league and may have trouble luring folks across the river into the Kansas side. But if they can lure the crowds then they should do quite well because it will create something that hasn't existed in the 10 years the Wizards have been around -- more demand for tickets than supply. This could put them in good position for a big crush for tickets when they move into their new stadium in 2010. At least here's hoping...

Monday, November 5, 2007

"Are you in heaven now?"

Those were the words uttered by my lady in the first half of the Monday Night Football game as the Steelers were up by 21 to 0 against the dreaded Old Browns (i.e. The Ravens) and Terry Bradshaw was being interviewed in the booth.

My answer: "Hell yeah I am in heaven".

It was fantastic. The Steelers demolished the Ravens 38-7 and the 75th anniversary team was introduced at half-time. Steeler greats Stallworth, Swann, Blount and Bradshaw were all interviewed, the 70's Steeler dynasty team was talked about over and over again, and the present day Steelers were killing a hated division rival.
I would say, my birthday came a few days early.

Again, fantastic.

Wow -Arena Done in New York

Bruce Arena is stepping down after just one year as coach of the New York Red Bulls of MLS. Amazing. MLS has tried to produce a winner in New York for over a decade now, and Arena is one of the best coaches ever produced by the USA. Clearly there is more to this story and I look forward to finding out the scoop. But here is the LA Times story.
Red Bulls were disappointing this year but they have some great young players and show promise. If only Bruce hadn't wasted so much money on Claudio Reyna...


A ha ha ha ha ha.........I was a little torn going into this game yesterday as to who to root for since the Browns are in the same division as the Steelers.

In the end, my disdain for the Chickens of the Sea won out over divisional concerns.

I can't wait to hear the lamenting of the Seachicken fan base.

Boo hoo.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Mourning the Sting & Bonner

So the pro indoor lacrosse league the NLL avoided losing the season by resolving its labor dispute with players. Good. But unfortunately, expansion team Boston and Arizona Sting will not play the year. I've been to a couple of Sting games and they're actually really fun. So they'll be missed (though I only go when I get tickets for free-- so that is probably part of why they lost $5M last year). This isn't necessarily
a bad thing in my view, as it opens the door just a bit for pro indoor soccer in PHX.

*The AZ Rattlers (arena football) let long time starter Shederick Bonner go (to Chicago). Read the Republic Story here.
This is a blow to Rattlers faithful as Bonner has been the QB here for well over a decade. But new ownership is spending serious money on player upgrades (they have to --they've offered FULL REFUNDS to season ticket holders if they don't make the playoffs) and they don't have room to overpay an aging QB. I cancelled my season tickets (due to my mgmt demanding I slash personal spending) but it looks like this may be a good season for the Rattlers. They are pursuing former star Chris Horn (who has been in the NFL the last three years) and if they get him they would have the best WR corps in Arenaball.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A-Rod to the Mudhens?
Who the hell does Hank Steinbrenner think he is dissing the 2007 Western Division Champion Toledo Mud Hens?

Chicago Fire knocks off DC

DC United Came into the 2007 MLS playoffs as one of the favorites to win it all (I picked Houston). Too bad they ran into a hot Chicago Fire team (get it?) that had to win a bunch of games at the end of the season just to sneak into the playoffs on the last day (shades of the Colorado Rockies). Last night's game was great --the kind that even soccer-haters could enjoy. The Fire upset DC in game one by a 1-0 score on a last minute goal in injury time. Last night they were up 2-0 at half time only to watch DC roar back to make it 2-2 near the end. The last 5-10 minutes of the game were fantastic as DC kept surging forward to get the goal that would win it.

"The last 3 minutes were like 35 minutes," captain Chris Armas said. "You're almost out of gas. You're fighting. Give them a lot of credit for the push, and give our guys credit for holding them off." S.I. story here.

But it was to no avail as Chicago barely held them off for a 2-2 tie --which gave them a 3-2 advantage on aggregate. Sorry DC, better luck next year. The good news is that we get to see more of "evil" Blanco as he pushes Chicago towards the title.

Enjoy the highlights:

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Kevin Durant v. Phoenix - Round 1

The Nuggets got the first dose of The Kevin Durant Experience, but kid will still be wet behind the ears for tonight's Suns-Sonics match-up

For basketball junkies, a contest between the best offensive team in the league and the most promising offensive phenom since LeBron qualifies as must see TV.

As a fan of the Suns and an owner of KD in my dynasty hoops league ... I'm full-on psyched.

You have to think Durant's looking forward to the game, too. In an interview last season on, KD gave props to the Suns --

Burt(Jonesboro, Ark): Hey Kevin, what is your favorite NBA team to watch?

Kevin Durant: I love the Suns. I love how they play. We try to run our offense [at the University of Texas] after them. I love watching the Suns.

So what can we expect from Durant v. PHX? Last night's Nuggets-Sonics tilt provides a pretty good preview. Like DEN (only moreso), the Suns play a wide-open, run-and-gun style of basketball.

Versus Denver, KD put up what should be a typical line for him during his first season -- 7/22 FG, 2/4 FT, 18 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, 1 block, 3 treys. You'd like to see him get more efficient w/ his shots, but given the burden of carrying his team at age 18, that's quibbling. He's a fantasy basketball player's dream.

Durant should experience some growing pains in his rookie year, but by next season, I think you'll see him leapfrog the average draft position of at least one of the Suns -- Shawn Marion, Steve Nash and Amaré Stoudemire -- who are going in the Top 10 of most 2007 fantasy hoops drafts.

KD and the Suns have a lot in common. They can score on anyone. They fly up and down the court and finish in transition. They stroke the three. They're long and quick, but they don't like to bang on defense. Because they lack the girth to play physical basketball, they rely on guile and skill to beat their opponents.

At some point this season, that's going to be a problem for Durant and the Suns alike.

Although even as a rookie he'll put up gaudy numbers on regular basis, KD will get abused by some of the more man-sized swingmen in the NBA. Ron Artest will shut him down. Kobe will challenge him on every possession. The thought of Durant trying to defend LBJ in the post makes me cringe.

For Durant, whose real team is nowhere near playoff-caliber, that means a depressed score line for his fantasy hoops owners. For the Suns, the stakes are much higher -- the NBA championship hangs in the balance.

It seems likely that the Suns will again pay the price for their inability to go toe-to-toe w/ more physical clubs during the NBA playoffs. Phoenix forfeited perhaps their best shot at a title last season when they let the Spurs bully them in the semi-finals.

Once it became clear that the refs weren't going to call the game clean, Phoenix needed to sharpen their elbows and let the Spurs get on the receiving end of some very hard fouls. Instead, they filed their grievance w/ the NBA and settled for an early off-season. While I'd like to believe this season will be different, I can see the Suns beating their nemesis from San Antonio only if they learn to fight back.

Both Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns will give us plenty of pyrotechnics this NBA season. High scoring, high flying basketball is in the works. But the success of the 2007/08 campaign for both of tonight's combatants will depend on whether and how quickly they toughen up and take the battle to their opponents.

Let's get ready to rumble.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Is this the year for the Suns?

My father-in-law has part of a season ticket package for the Phoenix Suns, and so I get to join him for about 7-10 games a year. I know. I'm blessed. We have good seats and the games are a blast. For those who hate the NBA and prefer college hoops, I have no idea what you are talking about. Maybe its because I get to see the run-n-gun Suns, but NBA basketball is really fun to watch. [insert hilarious "It's FAN-Tastic!" joke here]
The Suns were crushed in the playoffs last year by the evil thuggish Spurs. Okay I actually like the Spurs, but there is no doubt that they were allowed to be way too physical with the Suns. Memo to Bob Horry: KMA!
Anyway, the Suns lost their one physical guy (Kurt Thomas) --but that is not all bad because he was slowing us down. The Suns will cruise to 60-65 wins again this year, but its the playoffs that matter. We've added a gimpy Grant Hill --which should help. I love the guy regardless. At Center we have Sean Marks and uh... Brian Skinner as stoppers (and when Amare wants to play forward) and we have the rookie Alando Tucker (from Wisconsin) as our defensive Forward. So, yeah, we aren't exactly going to match up well with the Spurs. But mebbe we won't face them in the playoffs (if we can get Dallas or Utah to do that for us). Shawn Marion is unhappy, but he is in a contract year and is 'top-effort all the time' guy anyway, so he'll be fine. Plus, we still have the amazing Steve Nash. He is the coolest. Despite our playoff woes, I still love the way the Suns play and I think they can stay healthy, this is the year they disprove all the haters who say all out basketball can't work in the playoffs. That said, I still pick the Spurs to win it, but I am hoping for the Suns.


1. Chicago (will they get Kobe?)
2. Boston (should be a blast to watch)
3. Detroit (they could crash and burn)
4. Miami (not that good)
5. New Jersey (Should be good)
6. Milwaukee (eh....)
7. Cleveland (no surprises this year)
8. Atlanta (Joe Johnson is a baby)

WEST (By far better)
1. Phoenix
2. San Antonio
3. Dallas
4. Denver
5. Utah
6. New Orleans
7. Houston
8. LA Clippers

EAST FINALS: Chicago over Boston
WEST FINALS: San Antonio over Phoenix

NBA CHAMPS: San Antonio over Chicago

An End to "Busch-Wacking"?

According to something called Scene Daily, NASCAR is considering a rule change for its 2nd level series (formerly known as the Busch series, now with Nationwide Insurance as the new title sponsor) that would prevent NASCAR's top drivers (in the Nextel Cup) from getting victory points in the lower series. Read the story here.

This is an essential move if the Busch...err Nationwide Series is to have any meaning. Right now the series is dominated by Nextel Cup drivers who drop down for extra practice and ca$h. This would be like Major League Baseball teams playing minor league teams and being eligible to win AAA level championships (Hey, maybe the Reds can finally win again!).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

uh... Viva USA 2007!

Amongst all the hype about South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014, some soccer news got lost.

It seems there is an officially sanctioned FIFA world tournament that starts next week!
And, yes, USA is in. Of course I'm speaking about something called the "FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janeiro 2007."

I don't know who is on our team or what are chances are, but I do remember watching some beach soccer on ESPN years ago and the USA did pretty well --even against Brazil. We had a fat goalie (David Vanole) as our leader and played tough. (RIP David)

Go USA! No one here will be able to watch, but go you boys! Here's the USA team info: here. Do it for the Vanole!

Viva Brazil 2014

No big surprise here. SI reports that Brazil has been awarded the 2014 World Cup. Given FIFA's "rotation system" and the fact that the only country in South America prepared to host the World Cup Tournament is Brazil, Brazil was a shoo-in.

The problem is the same as it was in 1986 for Columbia (Mexico had to step in when Columbia Couldn't pull it off) --will Brazil be able to get it's economy and infrastructure in place in time to host this mega-event? Actually, the problem is worse this time. The event is MUCH larger than it was 20 years ago, and will only be bigger come 2014. Brazil meanwhile is a mess.
SI's Tim Vickery says here that Brazil will probably not pull it off.

USA is poised to sweep in and take on the host duties if it can (and Brazil cannot) --an outcome FIFA would like to avoid. But don't get too hopeful Americans, no less than The Economist magazine says that Brazil's economy is on the upswing here. If they can get organized then it may be time for us to start learning Portugese and saving our cash for a trip to South America.

American fans have been counting on getting the World Cup in 2018 --because the previously-mentioned FIFA rotation system lands on North America in 2018 and USA would be the obvious front-runner based on our "big event" experience and the unmitigated success of the 1994 World Cup in USA. But not so fast my friend. FIFA has just announced the rotation system is dead starting in 2018! (click here). This is a clear blow to USA Soccer and leaves things wide open for 2018. SI notes Australia is serious about getting it. Click here to read. So perhaps our best shot is to "steal" a world cup from Brazil for 2014 or South Africa for 2010. This move may also reflect FIFA's unspoken belief that 2010 will be taken from South Africa due to organization problems -and given to the USA. Time will tell.

10/31 Update: Here's the trouble --England is bidding for 2018 and will likely get the support of the very powerful Europe Federation.

Monday, October 29, 2007

This is good. Gives us all hope

Will the Cardinals Shoot Themselves in the Foot?

As the photo reminds us, AZ Cardinals fans don't have it easy. Every year the Cardinals find new ways to lose. But this year gives us some home. 3-4 ain't pretty, but the Cardinals have shown they can beat good teams (Steelers) and can play any team close. So the playoffs are still a hope if they can beat the Seahawks and keep winning.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Are You Ready for Some (More) Football?!?!

Mark Cuban and some wallstreet types are planning a new FALL football league (called the "United Football League" to play on Thursday and Friday nights in the Fall. They are targeting big cities w/out NFL teams (Think Las Vegas, Mexico City, Columbus, Orlando, San Antonio, etc.)

Check them out at their new temporary site: UFL Site

You can even get involved in helping bring a team to your city.

Columbus would be perfect --Crew Stadium is nice and is small enough to create a cozy atmosphere and make tickets a little tougher to get.

For more info, Our Sports Central has a longer background story on the UFL Here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Verses" Network May Be Worth Watching After All

Who knew? But there is an interesting show on VS. Network called "South Sidney Story." Its about the purchase of a moribund but well-loved rugby league (NRL) team called the South Sidney Rabbitohs by famed actor Russell Crowe. The purchase is quite controversial and its been fun watching as things develop and the team gets competitive. Check it out. As for Rugby league, its like a cross between traditional rugby (Rugby Union) and NFL football. Ultimately it is rugby with 6 downs before possession is lost.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bad Week for Racing in My World

1. CART cancelled the Phoenix Grand Prix scheduled for downtown Phoenix this November due to lack of sponsorship, etc. It was probably the right call, but it would have been a blast to watch the cars zoom through the downtown streets near where I work. That drive through the elevated 7th avenue portion near the baseball stadium is perfect for racing. Dammit. [Check out the sweet street map by clicking on the image to the left]

2. Tony Stewart (one of my favorite NASCAR drivers) is switching to Toyota next year. From the Charlotte Observer:
"Joe Gibbs Racing, which has fielded General Motors cars in NASCAR competition since the organization's inception in 1992, will move to Toyota beginning in 2008, The Charlotte Observer has learned. A news conference has been tentatively scheduled for Wednesday at JGR's headquarters in Huntersville, N.C., where the official announcement is set to take place, sources said on Thursday. Officials with Toyota, JGR and Nextel Cup drivers Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin are scheduled to be in attendance. " For the record, Toyota sucks.

I guess I'll go to Manzanita tonight to wash out my sorrows with some dirt track racin' and beer with Ron.

Monday, June 4, 2007