Monday, June 30, 2014

NBA Notes; Draft & Opt Out Thoughts

Why will the Miami Heat will stay together? Salary Cap Circumvention

It made zero sense for Udonis Haslem (34) and Dwyane Wade (32) to opt-out of their contracts. Haslem, coming off his worst season as a professional opted out of a $4.6 million dollar player option. Wade, clearly on the decline and unable to stay healthy after 11 grueling professional seasons, opted out of a contract which would have paid him $41.8 million dollars over two seasons. Joining teammates Chris Bosh and LeBron James (both of whom have already opted out), Haslem and Wade have now created a record setting $55-million dollars in salary cap space. Really?!? Wade, Haslem, LeBron, and Bosh have already
agreed in principle to return to the Heat and with their agents have most likely already worked out the money. How do we know this? The Heat traded for Connecticut champion guard Shabazz Napier during Thursday nights draft, LeBron's request - the worst kept secret during draft week. Then Chris Bosh got on a plane and took off with his family on vacation, not something you're doing days before you become a free agent and need to be scheduling visits with other teams. I'd love for Adam Silver to look into an agreement which has Wade and Haslem opting out of favorable contracts for the good of the team, when they've already acquired multiple NBA Championships and have their retirement(s) looming sooner than later. See Joe Smith and the Minnesota Timberwolves if you're looking for precedent. When Haslem becomes a consultant to the Miami Heat after his retirement, I'd like to see what his salary looks like then.
It could be worse, you could be a Philadelphia 76ers fan.

Last years lottery selection, 6'11 Kentucky big-man Nerlens Noel, and this years lottery selection, 7'0 Kansas big-man Joel Embid, could potentially be one of the biggest, most dominant front courts we've seen in recent years, if we actually get to ever see it. After sitting out the entire season in 2013-2014 with a torn ACL, Noel should be making his 'Sixers debut this season. Embid on the other hand is a completely different story. Injuries to both his foot and back should keep him out for what would be his entire rookie season of 2014-2015. The 'Sixers don't get desirable free agents to come to Philly, they just finished a season with the second-worst record in the entire league, and were possibly shopping their reigning rookie of the year, guard Michael Carter-Williams. I get looking toward the next season, or a player in the upcoming NBA Draft, or a year when you have more cap-space than other teams, but which one is it? For a team that doesn't acquire many landmark free-agents, and spent an additional high-first round pick on a player who is under contract in Turkey for another three years, I really don't understand what Philadelphia is doing, other than doing absolutely nothing, extremely well.

Derrick Rose doesn't want to recruit, I'm cool with it.

At what point in his NBA career did you all look at Carmelo Anthony and say, his ownership hasn't brought in anyone to support him to win an NBA Championship? When Derrick Rose isn't rushing into the facility to meet with Carmelo and his people, when Derrick Rose decides he would rather NOT shoot a text to 'Melo to gage his interest in joining the Bulls, and when Derrick Rose doesn't feel it is his responsibility to recruit 'Melo specifically, I kind of agree. Yes, Carmelo Anthony's specific type of skills definitely give the Chicago Bulls a better shot at winning in the Eastern Conference. Sorry, but Carmelo Anthony has made some money in this league, he has played in the situation in New York where he thought was a better fit for him than in Denver, and now he has the ability to find a place where he's happiest and what is the best situation for him, so no I don't feel like Derrick Rose should have to run out and beg him to play with him. If Carmelo Anthony wants to win in this league, if Carmelo wants to play with top talent in this league, if Carmelo wants to play with a team that is committed and has a coach that is equally committed, then he should be begging Chicago to let him join their team, not the other way around. Remember who Derrick Rose is, while he has been injured for the last two seasons, he's still an alpha-dog, take charge, team leader, he's not someone who thinks he needs Carmelo Anthony to win, he someone he thinks he needs to be healthy to win.

Lastly, (2) Things that have really angered me this weekend.

1. Jason Kidd and the Milwaukee Bucks - Rather than remembering you were almost fired last winter and should be grateful that the Brooklyn Nets gave you an opportunity to coach in the NBA with no coaching experience, you looked around and saw Fisher and Kerr getting paid and decided to try and force the hand of Brooklyn ownership by requesting a title promotion when arguably you were one of the worst five coaches in the NBA just a season ago. Didn't work, Brooklyn was ready to part ways with you, and you went to people you knew and worked out a deal which would have you coaching in Milwaukee. The Bucks fired Larry Drew after publicly embarrassing him by going to work out the Kidd deal prior to actually letting him go. Here's what is going to happen, the Bucks will continue to be bad, they're too young right now to bail out Jason Kidd's poor coaching, and both Kerr and Fisher would be better coaches and deserved the money they got. There is a reason I've never been a Jason Kidd fan, because he's a jerk.

2. I want Kevin Love in a big market. Come on Minnesota, make one of these deals, send the guy to Boston. Completely for selfish reasons, because I didn't even want the C's to make a 1st round pick, I just want Kevin Love to play with Rondo and help find a third piece. Look, the NBA would be much better served with the Lakers and Celtics being competitive. Like the Spurs, but let's face it, 90% of us cheering for San Antonio were cheering for LeBron to lose more than anything. My friends kept telling me after the draft, 'Lynchy, this is a really good draft for the Celtics, and everyone is saying it.' However, i would much rather have some established player, in Boston, playing with an outstanding point guard in Rajon Rondo. Is that too much to ask for?!

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Out Of Hibernation; NFL Is King

How perfect is the NFL 'machine'? No one does it better. The NFL Draft pulls down better television ratings than some World Series games, better than NBA playoff games (in the same time slot), and I'm sure it'd even give the series finale of Friends or Seinfeld a run for its' money. Why? Because you can't write the story lines better!

In some years, the fact that the New England Patriots selected the heir apparent to their 3x Super Bowl winning quarterback in the second round, would be THE storyline as the three day draft festivities were winding down. In some years, the Minnesota Vikings trading back into the first round to select former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who at one time was considered a guaranteed top-five selection, would be enough to lead the news cycle. However, in 2014 - those story lines don't even sniff the first few thoughts about this NFL Draft.

Get after it . .

It's hard to believe there has ever been a louder buzz coming out of Radio City, which has hosted the likes of Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald, than when the most magnetic star in the game was anxiously watching himself get passed over again and again in the first round. I'm sure that current Packers Super Bowl winning quarterback and 24th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, Aaron Rodgers, knew what that felt like. There isn't enough half smiles, fake table conversation, and bottles of water to swig on to make that time go by faster.But when 2x Heisman finalist Johnny Manziel finally got the phone call that he was headed to Berea, Ohio as the Cleveland Browns had pulled off a trade to get into the first round and select him, the NFL Draft exploded! Say what you will about Manziel's size, his background as the grandson of an East Texas oil baron, or his arrogant persona which reached new heights this past weekend, the fact remains that 'Johnny Football' hysteria is going to breath life into Northeast Ohio, life which hasn't been the epicenter of the sport universe since its' native son Lebron so famously took his talents to South Beach.

Bottom line; The Browns need to be seriously given props to what they accomplished over the past weekend. It would have been very easy for them to add Manziel at #4, but they had a plan, stuck to it, and executed to perfection. Traded the #4 pick for the #9 pick, while snatching a 1st round pick in the 2015 NFL draft through Buffalo. Complete steal. Cleveland wanted Justin Gilbert to place across the field from Joe Haden and needed to find a way to move back to take him, they did that while adding what is most likely going to be a top 10-15 selection a year from now, maybe better. Then they sold their #26 pick they had landed by trading Trent Richardson last season for the Eagles #22nd pick and landed the quarterback they had as their #1 quarterback on their 'big board.' Find a team that had a plan which was executed better than theirs? Bravo.

How is the Manziel story line topped? The co-SEC defensive player of the year and first openly gay NFL draft prospect, Missouri's Michael Sam, was drafted #249th by the St. Louis Rams. What the kid did, during the draft process none the less, was nothing short of brave. Now comes the difficult part of life in the NFL, he's going to have to go out there and make that roster. St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is one of the most creative coordinators in the NFL and is superb at identifying talent. Michael Sam is really going to have to prove that he is talented enough to play on one of youngest and most explosive defenses in the NFL, that's not an easy task for anyone, let alone a player who is going to have more distractions from the media storm that will descend upon Rams training camp.

Bottom line; Look, he was one of the best defensive players in college football's most elite conference last season. A conference that put 48 additional players into the draft this year. He isn't a bad football player or a non-deserving football player. I just hope he'll be able to compartmentalize the media aspect of this and show every doubter that he deserves a spot on that roster, and they'll be other doubters that we won't hear from but will have their opinions.

I used to really, really, look forward to the Oakland Raiders draft selections. From Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain, Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, to LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, I was always excited for some drama and unpredictability. But you aren't getting that from Oakland anymore, or at least it seems that way. The Raiders went out and added some real value this off-season bringing in Antonio Smith from Houston, Justin Tuck from New York, and Lamar Woodley from Pittsburgh, all successful players in very good defensive systems. Then through the draft they brought in linebacker Khalil Mack who is amongst the most talented players in the entire draft process. It's clear they've addressed their defensive needs, and are moving away from errors of the past.

Bottom line: We have got to give Oakland a ton of credit, their second round pick Fresno state quarterback David Carr has a huge upside but unlike other franchises they don't need to play him right away because they brought in veteran Matt Schaub to do just that and take the pressure off of Carr as a starter. If Oakland continues to improve and make moves like this each and every draft, you can bet they'll make that AFC West very interesting.

The draft is a huge lottery, you never know what is going to pan out, but it is in fact another example of why the NFL is king when it comes to entertainment. No secondary league survives the competition, they continue to bring in fresh new bodies every year from one of the most unfair feeder systems around, and from the draft to mini-camps to training camp, the NFL dominates even in the off-season. There is a reason why we refer to World Series as baseball's Super Bowl, or maybe we should start doing that . .

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Name Change Next?!?

The Washington Redskins and Robert Griffin may want to seriously consider a name change after the 'Skins dismal 2013 season. Just two years ago, almost to the day, Robert Griffin was hoisting the Heisman Trophy, now he's being benched with three regular season games left in his sophomore campaign in order to protect 'the future' of the franchise. 'Skins head coach Mike Shanahan won't make it out of this season with his job still in tact, that much is clear. The quarterback who was expected to be everything and then some after his rookie season will now have to prove himself again to be in competition with his fellow draft 'classmates,' Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson who will both be leading their respective franchises into their second straight postseason appearances. Ask any 'Skin fan you can find, eight months to prepare for 2014 isn't going to be the solution for RGIII and owner Daniel Snyder. What will?!?

Glad you asked;

1. A Defensive Coordinator who is going to be part of the solution not part of the problem. Between his blowups with other assistant coaches and his own players, current defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is not that guy. The Redskins defense is a laughing stock, they can't cover or rush the pass, good luck in a league where 34-year old journeyman quarterback Josh McCown looked like f*cking John Elway in his prime against the Dallas Cowboys this past Monday night. This is an offensive league folks, you better find a way to play defense if your plan is to compete for a Super Bowl. Offensive guru and Super Bowl winning head coach Sean Payton knew to bring in defensive mind Rob Ryan to help his Saints get back to where he thought they should be. Pete Carroll in Seattle has done everything he can to ensure his defense brings the pressure and let's stay out west, the 49ers and all-world pass rusher Aldon Smith aren't anything to scoff at either. If I were running the 'Skins, my first calls would include a short list of Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator 'in waiting' Keith Butler, and redemption project Steve Spagnuola.

2. A Head Coach who is comfortable bringing in people to surround himself with talent in order to make his job easier. How has Marvin Lewis lasted so long in Cincinnati? Mike Zimmer. How has Mike Tomlin been so successful in Pittsburgh? Dick Lebeau. Why has Dan Snyder's last several choices as the head man in Washington had a rough ending? He picks guys who are mostly in it for themselves. All due respect to Kyle Shanahan and what the 'Skins did last season, but let's be honest you don't move all in with your son as offensive coordinator if you don't think he'll at the very least listen to Y-O-U. Clearly Broncos interim head coach Jack Del Rio is prepared for another NFL head coaching job, his leadership during head coach John Fox's medical leave surely made people start to think of Del Rio in that role again. Recently fired Texans head coach Gary Kubiak shouldn't be out of work for too long, he may have done what he could in Houston and it was time for a change, but that doesn't mean he can't defer to assistants and still lead a pretty solid team. As long as the next head coach isn't a dominating personality, like Shanahan the 'Skins may be okay. Snyder, that means NO JON GRUDEN! But maybe a Jay Gruden . . hmmmmm.

3. Lose the name. I'm all for standing up for what you believe in. I'm all for not giving into public opinion. But even Anthony Weiner has to look into the mirror (without a camera phone) at some point. American Indians are offended by the name Redskins, as they have a right to be. There are 50-names I could think of off the top of my head which would pay respect to Native Americans and keep the spirit of the 'Redskins' alive. The Washington Brave, The Washington 'Skins, anything would be better if a large section of people feel as though your current name is insulting, which they're probably right, you ought to just change it.

Is all of this going to help you if you've picked Robert Griffin as your fantasy quarterback next season? Probably not, but at least it'll prevent Kirk Cousins from selling me a Subway tuna melt 18-months from today.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

See You In The Rafters

June 24th, 1998 - I turned 15, stopped believing females had cooties, began to thumb through my mother's J.C. Penney catalog (bra section) a little slower, and the same day our Boston Celtics would select a small forward from Oakland, California who played his college ball in Lawrence, Kansas with a natural chip on his shoulder.

That player, now 15-year NBA veteran with well over 1,000 games started in Celtic green, a top-20 scorer in the history of the game, an NBA Finals-MVP in hand, has written himself into Celtic lore, the most storied basketball franchise in the game. What more could we have asked from Paul Pierce? Nothing.

I grew up with Paul Pierce. His 15-year career has spanned my years in high school, college, and beyond. In the winter/spring/summer of the 2001-2002 NBA season, a group of friends and I would travel from our freshman years at various institutions of higher learning in the northeast and meet in Boston to see Paul Pierce lead a Celtics band of misfits including the 'Original Creation' Eric Williams, 'Batman' Tony Battie, and fan favorite Antoine Walker to their first Eastern Conference final in seven years. It was then I learned of the true lion of a man that Paul Pierce was.

Down 21-points heading into quarter number four of a tied-up (1-1) conference final, Paul Pierce dropped 19 of his 28 points that night and led the Celtics on a historic comeback toward victory. Pierce stood on the scorers table after the game and just electrocuted the sold out then FleetCenter. I looked to my left as one of my friend's held a ceiling tile he pulled out from the last row of the arena under his right arm, to my right was another friend of mine with Adidas 'shell-tops' spray-painted Celtic green, and there was Paul Pierce running on pure emotion from the legions of Celtics fans roaring around him. That was my Pierce moment, I have the ticket stub to this day, and forever in my mind will be that moment. To me, that was whatever moment my father used to talk about Larry Bird. That was the moment I'd tell my future children, I was on a straight high that no drug could provide, even writing this makes the hair on my arms stand up.

On a personal clip; That same Spring that my high-school friends and I would come back home to hit-up Celtics playoff games, I had experienced the first real loss of my life with the passing of my grandmother, a rock of a woman, Shirley Lynch. So yes, 'The Truth' played a part in both helping me cope with loss but also helping me move on with life.

In 2005, prior to the annual NBA Draft, despite that Pierce was rumoured to be tired with the traditionally young nucleus the Celtics wanted to surround him with, it was Pierce who blocked a potential trade that would have sent him to Portland in exchange for the third-pick overall and veteran Nick Van Exel, a pick which was suspected to ultimately have landed the Celtics current all-stars Deron Williams or Chris Paul. Pierce would ask Celtics brass that they do not trade him because for his frustrations he desperately wanted to remain a Celtic for life, and be part of that team that would eventually raise Banner 17. Now there is a good chance that I'm mis-remembering things, but to me, this is one of the moments that ultimately changes my history as a Celtics fan, so I tend to lean on the side of story than fact. Either way, Celtics fans walked away with a player who had been in a Celtics jersey longer than anyone they remembered.

Then came the summer of 2007. In a series of moves made by general manager Danny Ainge, the Celtics would quickly turn around and change the next six-seasons of the history of the franchise, six-seasons which would outline and define the career of Paul Pierce as a true Boston Celtic. The Celtics would mastermind two-trades, for future hall-of-famers Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. The 'trio' of Pierce, Garnett, and Allen would then lead to a historic turn around by the Celtics from a 24-win season in 2007 to a 66-win season a year later, and ultimately an NBA Championship, the first for the franchise since 1986. There are moments during that run that are so personal to me that I can't do justice in words, you'd have to see it on my face to believe how awesome they were.

I was at a Boston Red Sox Sunday afternoon game on May 18th, 2008, still on a high from a World Championship won the previous fall. With a Game 7, of the Eastern Conference Finals looming for my Boston Celtics, I really didn't want to got to a regular season, Sox vs. Brewers game. Just innings into the game, we bailed, and decided if we can't get into the TD BankNorth Garden, worst case scenario we catch the game The Four's. A hot cab later, I stood in front of the Celtics ticket-office with a man explaining to me that a quarter into the game, best he could do was $240.00 a person, and he'd get us into a luxury box, but don't expect anything but the seats. Done. I was going to catch Paul Pierce battle for his shot at an NBA Conference Finals, again.

To me, that day will be trapped in time. The games most talented player, LeBron James, in his fifth season as a professional, would be in the battle of his career at the time. With future Hall of Famers Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett taking back seat, Paul Pierce would assume the driver's seat vs. LeBron James. Pierce would go toe-to-toe with LeBron, point after point, play after play, you weren't beating him, in the house he helped build, on that day. I again allowed the hair on my arms to stand-up, remembered that day in 2002, years earlier, when Pierce stood at the apex and let you all read the name on the front of his jersey, not the back.

So personal to me, that moment eclipses the moment in which Pierce out dueled legendary Laker Kobe Bryant in the NBA Finals weeks later and led the Celtics to a 17th NBA Championship, and an NBA Finals MVP to boot. That's how deep his career runs with me. My father and brother can talk about Havlicek and Bird, but can't sniff what I've seen with Paul Pierce.

For years I've told my friends, "I've seen Pierce at the top of the mountain, but I want to be there the day they pull #34 alongside #6, #33, #14, and #17. Because that's where he belongs."

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Morning Thoughts

One & done this week . . .

Mr. Commissioner, please explain why? Typical apologists of performance enhanced sluggers in Major League Baseball, that we are. However, can't we please just move past this part of 'the game?' Twenty-players the MLB is going to attempt to suspend for suspected performance enhancing drug use, due to their relationship with South Florida 'anti-aging' biochemist Tony Bosch. We know injured Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez is dirty, we've know that for a while now. No one bought that Milwaukee Brewer Ryan Braun was clean after his failed-test in 2011, despite his winning appeal of the failed-test in 2012. When current Blue Jay and former San Francisco Giant, Melky Cabrera, failed his test and was suspended last season, not a single-person was standing on their soapbox claiming Cabrera's innocence. As for the other 17-players on Mr. Bosch's scribbled notes of whichThe MLB is prepared to use as their reason for suspension, leak their names, let the court of public opinion run wild with it, and move on. No major professional sport from coast-to-coast of The United States is being more vigilant when it comes to performance-enhancing substances, and for good reason, we get it. We're moving on from cyclist Lance Armstrong for crying out loud, and he's a man who might possibly be the worst offender of any professional athlete we've had. What good does it do to have these suspensions looming through the legal process? There are some great things going on in Major League Baseball, but based on news stories like this, you wouldn't know it.

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Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Morning Thoughts

I've been on board with MTV's The Real World for the better part of my life. Mostly because I just wanted to know what it was like when seven strangers were picked to live in a house and have their lives taped to find out what it's like when people stop being polite and start being real! (Sorry, had to do that.) In all honesty, it's a great show that has really transformed an entire generation and ultimately created the 'reality-television' genre. I'm not sure if that last sentence is a societal win, but we'll take it. Anyway, the most current installment of the series takes place in Portland, Oregon - not to sure why, but it does. Given that I haven't really been invested in the television show since the cast was in Cancun, Mexico back in 2009 and that I'm turning thirty-years old in less than a month, I figured I'd give The Real World: Portland a shot on my DVR. This most recent three-week binge I've taken to catch up on the entire show from this season has been just that, a binge. Watching about eight or nine episodes in a three week period has really got me messed up and left me with some real revelations;

1. What the f*ck?!? You've got to be a special kind of moron to move to Portland, Oregon where chances are you've got to be at least amongst the top five most exciting things going on, and immediately get into a serious relationship with anyone in the actual house. I just want to scream at this kid 'Johnny,' from my home state of Massachusetts to boot, Portland should be your oyster and the odds of you and this girl who resides in Arizona actually making it have got to be slim!

2. I might be a bit too old for this. Go back and read item one, in which I give relationship advice to a kid who is most likely at least six years younger than me and hammered at least five out of every seven days. But seriously, the cast has had at least a half dozen on-air discussions about such topics as race, sexual preference, religion, and how they were brought up. I'm twenty-nine years old and have never had a serious conversation about race, sexual preference, religion, and how I was brought up with any of my friends, let alone people I'd only known for the past three months. Maybe I didn't notice it when I was watching the show and the cast was the same age as me, but is this really what twenty-somethings discuss now? I'll tell you what my college roommates and I discussed; breasts, beer, breasts, and beer. In that order.

3. The employment factor has gone off the tracks. I don't expect the housemates to have a job where they're actually doing something productive for society, also I'd hate to see them have real jobs which actual participating members of society could have. That being said, Portland's cast pretty much does nothing. (2) Of the (7) member cast are fro-yo jockeys selling out of a canteen, and the other (5) are "working" at a pizza place doing tasks which amount to about two hours of work and five hours of sitting around drinking discussing some of their absurd arguments they've had that day. Why can't MTV put them together with a non-profit where they're not making money but are required to go and act appropriately or they get removed from the house.

(I've officially alienated every reader who was out on MTV's The Real World five years ago, my bad.)

Next Thought . . .

LeBron James. Odds are that the NBA's greatest player will will his Miami Heat to a second-straight NBA Championship. While the Indiana Pacers could push the Miami Heat to seven games, I still see a situation in which the Heat are hoisting the Larry O'Brien after San Antonio gives them a run. That being said, no one really likes LeBron. But why?!? He's a friendly guy, probably loves the kids, makes a ton of commercials for non-sneaker stuff, I'll help you out on this one. He took his talents to South Beach, period. Sure, he'll make a ton of moments that he'd hope would erase him sitting on that director's chair at a Boys & Girls club with Jim Gray, but he'll still be wearing that Heat jersey in all those 'new' moments. The Cavaliers, the franchise he left, are on the verge of having their second top pick overall since James left them, and we love them for that! Why? Because we dislike LeBron. Anyone else watch him storming around the court after he fouled out in the Heat vs. Pacers pivotal Game 4? Anyone else think he muttered this sentence, "How dare they call fouls on me, I'm LeBron, LeBron don't foul!" Anyone else think that 'King James' talks about himself in the third person, in fairness very similar to how Kobe calls himself by his nickname when he tweets?!? We'll never like LeBron, and not just in Boston where he squashed any hope that our aging superstars would bring us just one more banner in this run, we'll never like him because he's not likeable on South Beach, and if you don't think that bothers a guy like LeBron, you haven't been watching him! Did Michael ever do a commercial in 'The Barber Shop' with the motive to have us believe he was 'that-guy,' No, he did a commercial where he scored 50 points in wing-tips because he was in the board room moments before!

. . . more on the Spurs later this week!

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Morning Thoughts

Friday Morning Thoughts back at it!

Let's Get After it!

Thoughts and prayers to the people of Oklahoma and specifically Moore, OK. On the real though, it's just flat out sad. No person living in this country of freedom should have to live in constant fear of losing everything in a disaster such as this. Yes, in America we shouldn't be exempt from natural disaster, but this is just a scary way to live and it seems like it is happening more and more. It might be that in this age of social media and unlimited access that we just see the images and hear of the destruction for longer periods of time and in a much more saturated way, yet it still seems like natural disasters are happening much more often. Tornadoes are too scary, they're unforgiving, they're unrelenting, and they leave no real survivors because everyone is ultimately affected in a horrible way by just having the memory of the fear. Be that as it may, our heart really goes out to these people who didn't deserve to have their lives shattered and their faith tested.

Through May 23rd, Major League Baseball has been somewhat of a second thought. Even in baseball rabid New York and Boston, we have the Bruins, Rangers, and till last week the Knicks on our mind. That being said, I've watched a ton of baseball already and two players specifically jump out at me. (Insert your thought on an East Coast Bias.) Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz is having a fantastic Cy Young worthy season. Am I bias? Possibly. The Red Sox have had some success with right-handers from the Lone-Star State, Beckett, Clemens, and now Buchholz. In the ten-starts Buchholz has had this season, the Sox are 9-1 in those outings, with Buchholz recording a 7-0 start through Wednesday. He's allowed two-earned runs or fewer in nine of those ten starts. The more important thing to remember is this; with a 1.73 earned run average, it's going to be Buchholz' responsibility to stop losing streaks and help this short-on-power Red Sox offense get wins. . . . Second player, Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera. Last year the then 29-year old Cabrera became the first player in 45-years to win the elusive Batting Triple Crown. Even more impressive, he could do it again! Cabrera possesses that undeniable intelligence at the dish that we once reserved for hitters such as former superstar Manny Ramirez. His ability to hit for power, average, and pick-up 'ducks-on-the-pond' whenever possible. A month plus into the season and Cabrera is one home run shy of the American League lead while hitting .391 and has already driven in 55-runs, both good for the lead in either category. Could Miguel Cabrera be both the quietest and most dominant player in Major League Baseball at same time? We think so.

I'm really happy for the original honey badger, former Heisman finalist, defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. Sure, all of his problems and off the field issues are self inflicted and part of me still thinks that 'Badger isn't going to be able to stay out of his own way for the better part of his future NFL career. That being said, why can't we be excited that this young man is getting a shot at the next level, and a very good shot for that matter. The Arizona Cardinals went out and picked Mathieu up in the third-round of the April NFL Draft, without seeing him play in game competition in over a year. Mathieu just inked a $662,500 signing bonus (guaranteed money) on top of a his very carefully constructed 4-year deal. Arizona has put provisions in place to protect themselves in the event that the self-diagnosed marijuana addict is suspended by the NFL for drug related violations, well played. The fantastic part about this is what Arizona is doing to help him, they aren't paying him if he goes back to his old ways, they aren't bending over backwards for him, they're putting him in the same defensive backfield as another form LSU star, Patrick Peterson, who will play the mentor role. My point is, all of us loved watching Mathieu play football in college and while I don't actually think he was Heisman worth, he's a player in one way or another and it's good to see that he gets a shot at redemption as we all should at times!

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