Category Archives: Sports

NFL Kickoff 2011: Quick Thoughts

Green Bay Packers starting quarterback Aaron R...
  • I was disappointed to see that Aaron Rodgers shaved the mustache that had every Green Bay child spending his or her allowance on a rape whistle. I spent ten minutes outlining an essay – in the eventuality Rodgers played terribly – on how his pedo-stache was equivalent to Samson’s hair. But, Rodgers dashed my plans by playing his ass off. He remains the best quarterback in the league – with apologies to Tom Brady and the ailing Peyton Manning. I’m terrified of him should my Eagles meet the Packers in the playoffs again. 
  • Mr. “Guantanamo Bay is really just the Iberostar Varadero with door locks on the outside” Drew Brees played phenomenal as well, leading his team down to the Packers goal line in what could have been a tied game without some savvy defensive interference from Clay Matthews. Brees’ performance highlights exactly why attributing wins to a quarterback is ridiculous. Was it his fault Roman Harper was routinely beat or that the shortened training camp resulted in lethargy and confusion in the Saints defense. If the Saints hadn’t already won a Super Bowl, sports announcers would have inundated the weekend’s airwaves with stories on how Drew Brees is not a “winner”.
  • Michael Vick didn’t take nearly as many hits as I predicted he would – although I was scared during the first half where Rams defenders poured through the offensive line with no impediment. I upgrade Vick’s games played prediction from seven to nine before he suffers a gruesome injury.
  • Despite releasing the most underrated receiver of all-time (and my personal favourite) Derrick Mason, I’m happy the defense gave Ben Roethlisberger a taste of what those two co-eds felt once he locked the hotel room door behind them.
  • The Atlanta Falcons will not make the playoffs. Each year the Football Gods pick a team to smite – seemingly at random. Atlanta, you have been smote.
  • The Chicago Bears will win the NFC North as their only threat, the Minnesota Vikings, look awful with washed up Donovan McNabb at quarterback. I hate to say it but it might be time for him to wrap it up and let Christian Ponder get a few starts.
  • The Houston Texans defense will be one of the top five units this year. I hope then-GM Charley Casserly laughs at all those who ridiculed him for taking Mario Williams over Reggie Bush.
  • If my Fox television affiliate airs another Seattle Seahawks game I will start drinking. Heavily. I’ll give the Seattle coach a piece of advice for free; Tavaris Jackson is not the answer. You play in the weakest division in NFL history. A decent quarterback will get you into the playoffs. Switch before it’s too late.
  • The divet my ass made in the couch yesterday will take hours of remediation to get right again.
  • Tony Romo is the most unlucky quarterback. After the Jessica Simpson sideshow followed him around – as well as a pre-existing hatred of the Dallas Cowboys – I enjoyed watching him fail at the worst possible time. But after seeing it so often I’m beginning to feel bad for him. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league but I have a feeling the media will remember him unkindly because he lacks the bullshit “clutch gene”. Don’t worry, Tony. No such thing exists.
  • I can hear the Mark Sanchez media bandwagon starting up. As much as I hate the Cowboys, I had hoped they’d win just so I could avoid the 1,024th fluff piece about his Mexican heritage and good looks.
  • Cheerleaders may be the most superfluous profession now. If they aren’t getting naked on the sidelines, of what use are they?
  • RUSHING: Ray Rice will win the rushing title. Chris Johnson will barely crack 1,200 yards. Matt Forte will finish as  a top 5 back. Arian Foster will come back in week two and get injured again by week 11. He and Ben Tate will split carries by the end of the year. As a result, my fantasy team will finish in last place.
  • I will gain 15 pounds of pure fat. The human body was not made to be sedentary for eight hours straight. My hip is in agony from laying on it for so long.

2011 NFL Season Preview

The upcoming National Football League  season has seized all my waking thoughts. Frankly, I become slightly concerned when it strikes me just how long I spent last season (1) preparing to watch a football game, (2) watching the game, (3) talking about the game I just watched before (4) pouring over stats from the game I just watched for fantasy football purposes. I do this instead of productive endavours such as writing Kim Kardashian love letters in cursive loops of my blood, getting into better shape so that my dirty laundry no longer smells like Becel and bacon, mentally abusing my dog for not being able to play Sudoku, etc.

Call me crazy but I don’t give a damn.

The Three Wise Men

I’ve stayed silent when each girlfriend past and present said, in no uncertain terms, being a sports fan is stupid. To cheer for one group of ignorant millionaires on a team owned by ego-maniacal billionaires (yes, I’m looking at you Al Davis) over another of the same, when none of the principals have not the faintest idea of your existence, is the height of folly. Yet, each year, when Calgary’s six days of summer give way to cold winds and morning frost, I’m as excited  as Rex Ryan in a Manolo Blahnik Boutique. Here are five quick, unrelated thoughts on the upcoming season: Continue reading

Stupid NBA Owners vol. 257,235

It looks like the Greg Oden experiment will continue next season (whenever that may be).

Because every time to you have the chance to pay $10 million for a kid whose managed to play 82 games in three years, you’ve got to jump on it. I mean, he’s only 23 and already walks like my 68-year-old father whose had two ankle surgeries and a bum knee drained. What could possibly go wrong?

Remind me why we’re headed for a lockout again.

Jerry Rice vs. Andre Johnson

Dammit Skip. You’ve put me in a sort of identity crisis. I thought I’d found a kindred spirit in a dislike of all things LeBron James. Finally, I’d found someone who could see through LeBron’s stat padding, his stubbornly raw offensive game, the coddling received by Cavalier ownership and, most importantly, the special rules that apply to him during games (take as many steps as you need, what’s a pivot foot? on-the-fly abolition of charging infractions). But after you said you’d take Andre Johnson over Jerry Rice, I can’t help but think your LeBron criticisms aren’t genuine, that perhaps you say things for attention. And here’s where my identity crisis comes in: if your LeBron criticism is solely to bring attention to your show, what does that mean of mine? Am I an attention whore? Am I a contrarian? Do I know what the fuck I’m talking about? Ever?

Let’s put this existentialist dilemma aside for the moment and focus on the lunacy of your latest claim. First let’s examine how Johnson and Rice compared during their best three seasons.

 Andre Johnson (2008-10):  302 catches/4,360 yards/26 TDs

Jerry Rice: 238 catches/3,219 yards/18 TDs

 Clearly Andre Johnson put up better numbers than Jerry Rice prime for prime. Not by much though. Oh no, wait. Rice put up those stats at 40 years old while he was breaking down on the Raiders! Let me try this again.

 Rice (1993-95): 322 catches/4,850/43 TDs

 In fact, you can compare any Rice three-year stretch from 86-95 and compare it to Johnson’s last three seasons and I guarantee most would still pick Rice. There’s the possibility Johnson may still have several more productive seasons – comparable to some of Rice’s best. But Johnson’s not as young as you may think.

 He turns 30 next month. I was surprised when I looked that up admittedly. I assumed he was younger because he’s only really been a dominate receiver the last three years.  Don’t believe me? Prior to the 2008 season, where he established himself as a premier receiver whose injury problems were in the past (Rice missed four games total in his first 12 seasons, Andre has already missed 10)  his best single season stats was 103/1,147/5.

 Johnson (first 5 seasons): 371/4,804/25

Rice (first 5 seasons): 346/6,364/66

 Yes, you read that right. Rice scored 40(!!!) more touchdowns than Johnson in their first five seasons in the NFL. In fact, Jerry came within 3 TDs of Johnson’s total in a single fucking season. But I fear Skip already knows this but saying Rice is better than Johnson doesn’t draw too many listeners to First Take.

Let me say that Johnson is my favourite active receiver after Derrick Mason. To say he’s a beast is one thing (he is) to say he’s a better receiver than Jerry Rice is heresy.

If I am, in fact, a passenger aboard the Contrarian Attention Whore Express, I’ve gone a stop too far and I’m jumping off now. I’ll find my way home from here.

P.S. Them cornrows he rocked when he had the Citizen Kane hairline was one of the most underrated athlete miscues of all time. Below Terrell Owens‘ suicide press conferences with Drew Rosenhaus but above Michael Jordan leaving the NBA to play baseball.

T’Wolves Draft Pick Lies About Age

I thought we men only started lying about our age once we hit 40 but were too shameless to stop trying to pick up 18-year-olds at the bar. Or a plot of a romantic comedy. I’m pretty sure Drew Barrymore starred in a movie where we all pretended a 40-year-old woman with 10 solid years of drug addiction under her belt could pass for a high school student.

It begs the following questions:

  • Can we officially give the worst active GM award to David Khan? How does something like this happen? I couldn’t lie my way into a $9.25/hr telemarketing job back in ’97 but it workds on a professional sports franchise?
  • Hopefully this will shed some additional light on how NBA teams are losing money. Complain as they might about players seeking exorbitant salaries, it’s clear that owners could avoid losing so much cash if they stopped hiring idiot GMs who don’t know how to conduct a Google search on someone they aim to employ.
  • How many more times does Oden have to blow out his knee before we’re ready to admit he’s 46 years old?

BOXING: A LOOK AT THE 2ND HALF OF 2011

For the past several years, boxing had fallen behind the UFC (and YouTube videos of teens crotching themselves with skateboards and women tumbling from grape barrels) as the flagship “watch people get hurt” sport.  Blame it on Manny; blame it on Floyd, blame it on Top Rank and Golden Boy but boxing had beached on the pop culture stream. We satisfied our lust for corporeal punishment in the Octagon. 2010 served as a boxing renaissance and it occurred while the two biggest draws did everything in their power to not fight one another. Here’s what we have to look forward to in the last half of the year.

 

Five Stars

 

Wladimir Klitschko vs. David Haye – Ring/IBF/WBO/WBA heavyweight unification (July 2)

There are six things I look for in a fight. Usually, I’m lucky if a particular fight fills three of the categories. Klitschko/Haye is, along with Hopkins-Pascal II, is the only fight this year to fill out four.

1)      Legitimate Bad Blood – Ever since Haye wore a shirt of decapitated Klitschkos before backing out of signed fights with both brothers Haye, the brothers Klitschko have wanted to straight up merk David Haye. No exaggeration. If Wlad batters Haye until he is left twitching in the center of the ring don’t be surprised if you hear him growl: “if he dies, he dies.”

2)      Significance – The outcome of the fight should affect boxing or, at the very least, the division.  This fight will potentially re-ignite the public’s waned interest in a dead, uncompetitive division. A Haye victory will have more significance as the American public has grown tired of watching the K-Bros lay waste to all challengers.

3)      Theatrics – An interesting fight needs a villain. Haye has never won a significant bout at heavyweight aside from his life-or-death struggle with a plodding, limited Valuev. On the other hand, Wlad hasn’t lost in over six years (12-0, 10 KO). But listening to Haye, you’d think Wlad was a journeyman tomato can with no shot at beating a present-day Larry Holmes. Haye’s mouth continues to run about as fast as he’s been running from this fight. I would love to see him shut up.

4)      Equal skill levels – The jury’s still out on Haye at heavyweight. We know he is relatively quick and can punch. Wlad’s chin is notoriously weak. If Haye can get a right hand past Klitschko’s tight defense – which he can and will – we may see Wlad crash to the canvas

5)      Fighting styles – Wlad has a notoriously boring style he’s adapted to protect his weak chin. Although very effective (he hasn’t been seriously hurt in nearly a decade) it makes for some godawful fights. Haye, I fear, will run as he did with Valuev.

6)      Finality – As long as the Klitcshkos refuse to fight one another, this division will never have an undisputed king. Should Haye win and go on to beat Vitali in the winter he would reign over the heavyweights. It’s a long shot.

Victor Ortiz vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr.WBC welterweight title (Sept 17)

Tired of fighting ex-girlfriends and security guards, Mayweather has elected to use his fists in the ring. At last. This is an intriguing fight not so much because it will make for good pugilistic drama – Floyd is in a different class than Ortiz and I believe Ortiz knows it – but more for the potential what ifs. Every fighter has that one tussle where they just don’t have “it” anymore. That fight happened to Roy Jones almost a decade ago and he still doesn’t realize it; on the other hand it doesn’t look like that fight will happen to Bernard Hopkins until he’s eligible for Social Security benefits.  For everyone waiting for Floyd to hit that wall, the ingredients are there for it to happen (which I doubt it will). He’s had a long layoff, he’s nearly 33, he’s fighting a young guy who isn’t afraid of being hit and it’s unclear whether Floyd’s fighting because he’s still passionate about the sport or whether he needs the money to pay Uncle Sam. It should be interesting. Just don’t be surprised if Ortiz gets TKO8.

 

Four Stars

 

Pacquiao vs. Marquez III – WBO welterweight title (Nov 12)

Despite having scored Marquez the winner in their previous two close bouts, this match-up gets knocked down a point because it will be a blowout. Marquez looks awful at any weight higher than 140 lbs. Had this fight taken place at 135 lbs I would have been more interested. But Manny has made a HOF career off beating fighters at catchweights and it shows no signs of stopping now. It’s a good fight for both fighters that needs to happen and both fighters will come forward, trading leather for as long as it lasts. Manny is on a roll  but he’s shown evidence in his last three fights that he’s breaking down. The only problem is Marquez is further broken down than Manny.

Amir Khan vs. Zab Judah – WBA/IBF junior welterweight unification (Jul 23)

Before Tsyzu made Zab do the safety dance back in 2001, I thought he would one day become the best lightweight in the world. He had an electrifying combination of speed and power. But he was lazy defensively and got hit with too many flush shots. I thought he would improve that deficiency with age but he’s become even more lazy. Khan faced similar shortcomings but since hooking up with the great Freddie Roach, he’s improved immensely. The style similarities makes this a must watch.

 

Marcos Maidana vs. Robert Guerrero – WBA interim junior welterweight title (Aug 27)

I’ll get this out of the way now; I love Guerrero. He’s one of those fighters I sense big things from. Which means he will be knocked stiff by Maidana – one of the most exciting fighters in boxing. Should both Guerrero and Khan win, a fight between the two will come in the next year or so. Maidana has a very good chance of spoiling those plans. He came within an eyelash of knocking Khan out and he also pummeled Floyd’s opponent Victor Ortiz into submission.

 

Three Stars

 

Vitali Klitschko vs. Tomasz Adamek – WBC heavyweight title (Sept 10)

Go to Youtube and watch the Klitschko vs. Shannon Briggs fight. Now imagine it happening again except to a smaller man with a worse (at least I hope for his own sake) chin.  If Adamek wishes to fight again after this he better hope he has a better corner than Briggs.  We will witness a slaughter. Too bad. I like Adamek.

Tavoris Cloud vs. Yusaf Mack – IBF light heavyweight title (Jun 25)

Both are relatively young, big punchers with not much by way of defense. Should be good brawl that ends with Cloud on top. Would love to see him against Pascal.

Joseph Agbeko vs. Abner Mares – IBF bantamweight title (Aug 13)

The winner of this fight could be considered the best little fighter not named Donaire. I expect a rugged fight that will go the distance. I’m leaning toward Mares but Agbeko looked good in his last fight.

 

Ricky Burns vs. Nicky Cook – WBO junior lightweight title (Jul 16)

Over in the UK this is a huge fight though both fighters are virtual unknowns over here. Neither is the caliber to seriously challenge for a meaningful title but will be an exciting scrap between two very good fighters.

 

Two Stars

 

Danny Green vs. Antonio Tarver (Jul 20)

Both men have legacies that are somewhat tricky to pin down. Green has amassed a serviceable record made possible by him never venturing outside of his native Australia. The two times he has stepped up in competition he’s lost (to Mundine and Beyer) and was perhaps party to a fixed fight last year against Paul Briggs – a man who we will thankfully never see in the ring again. Tarver, on the other hand, has made a career off wins over the dreadfully faded Roy Jones Jr. Had it not been for the upset knockout of Jones, Tarver would be regarded as a top-tier light heavyweight and nothing more.

 

Paul Williams vs. Erislandy Lara (Jul 9)

I’m interested to see how Williams fights after having his brain punched into the 4th dimension by Sergio Martinez last year. It was a sick, sick knockout that some boxers would never recover from mentally. Williams has a free-swinging relentless style. Will he tighten up to avoid getting his chin cracked again? Lara doesn’t pose too much of a threat to the old Williams who battered Winky Wright. But if the knockout ruined him, we may see Lara take a tight decision.

 

Devon Alexander vs. Lucas Matthysse (Jun 25)

After falling asleep in the 4th round of Alexander’s fight with Headbutt Bradley I made a vow to never watch a fight involving either man. But kudos to Devon for picking a very tough fight coming back. Matthysse is a fighter in the Mickey Ward vein. He will keep swinging without fear. Matthysse is a very aggressive fight who near.

7 Thoughts on the 2010-11 NBA Finals

 

Dirk Nowitzki
Image via Wikipedia

For the first time in three months I have become re-acquainted with a transcendent, yet fleeting, joy. 2011 has been an arduous year – marred by illness, betrayal and a celibacy so painful even the carnage of a car wreck elicits an erection. As with all other depressives and ambulatory disappointments, I buried myself in sports (including golf) to escape the pain, the NBA proved particularly helpful. 

I became so invested in the recently concluded season I would have thrown myself from a bridge and into the rocky shore of the Bow River if the Lakers or the Heat won the NBA Championship. I was certain this would happen. David Stern could not possibly allow a playoffs to unfold without his paws yanking the levers to ensure a profitable outcome. Maybe he did, but this time – the first time since Chicago ran through the 1990s – I was on the right side. As my face broke into a foreign smile while LeBron James hid under the basketball for the 3rd straight game (like an obese child picked last and hoping to endure the game without drawing attention to his club feet and sweaty jowls) I ran to the computer and wrote down my thoughts on this joyous series. Continue reading