Friday, August 29, 2008

BAM! Keep It Real Friday

Even though that NFL preview tired me out and pissed you off, I'm back at it with Keep It Real Friday. Act like you don't love it.

Sticking with recent events, San Diego Chargers linebacker, Shawn Merriman, What are you doing? I'm all for playing hard, banged up, and even through pain, what I'm not for is playing stupid. I don't claim to be a doctor but I do listen to them, if four doctors say your knee is in trouble, it probably means your knee is in trouble. Merriman knows his body better than anyone, I trust that he is confident enough in the knee that he thinks it'll hold up, but is it worth throwing away one of the best young careers in the NFL? He's been compared to guys like Derrick Thomas and Reggie White, if that is the case your looking at a future Hall of Famer. Shawn, no one is putting you in "The Hall" on speculation. Your an incredible linebacker, your the leader of a top 3 defense in the NFL, and the odds of this being THE YEAR, the Chargers win it depend on alot more than just you. Strahan played like 20 years before he won a ring and that almost never happened. The Chargers are set for a 3 to 4 year window, have the surgery, come back in a year and tear up the league. If you really mess up that knee in say November, your looking at two seasons out the door before your 100% again. Alot can happen in two seasons just ask the Chicago Bears who have seen their window open and close in just two seasons. I admire the willingness, but Shawn, KEEP IT REAL!

In one dugout sits a team flush with young talent, from Boston's All-Star second basemen, Dustin Pedroia, to left-handed phenom Jon Lester. In the other dugout, lies a coffin, inside that coffin, the season of the 2008 New York Yankees. After dropping the first two games of a three game set against the rival Red Sox, in their house, you can officially place the final nail in their coffin. In their last season in 'The house that Ruth built', the Yankees, will ironically end their 13-year streak of playoff appearances. The team with the highest payroll in major league baseball is on the outside looking in. We could talk about the ballooned payroll ($200 Million), we could talk about Joe Torre donning Dodger Blue, or perhaps we could talk about Alex Rodriguez failures in the proverbial clutch but that's all secondary. The person to blame is the boss, the man who brought in the likes of Pavano, Randy Johnson, and any former All-Star regardless of if they fit or not. The son, who refused to deal unproven rookies for the, then Twins ace turned Mets All-Star, Johan Santana. I'm glad the Yankees will spend their money on Sabathia in the offseason, a pitcher who had his struggles in the American League this year before getting traded to the National League and dominating. In the past eight years, the majority of the moves that the Yanks have done, haven't worked out. New Stadium, New Manager, New Ace, SAME OLD YANKS. KEEP IT REAL!

You WANT me to say Tim Tebow is the next Archie Griffin, you NEED me to say Tim Tebow will be the next Archie Griffin, well your not getting that from me . . .yet. No one in the history of the Heisman Trophy has gone back to back, except Archie Griffin. While it may be to early to call, I'm calling it. Chomp, Chomp Gators, Tebow will be at the Downtown Athletic Club, but all he'll be doing is shaking the hand of the 2008 Heisman Trophy recipient. Sam Bradford of the Oklahoma Sooners may be playing for a National Championship but he isn't the Big 12 quarterback taking home the Heisman in December. That my friends is headed to Lubbock, Texas. My prediction for the 2008 Heisman Trophy is none other than Texas Tech quarterback, Graham Harrell. THAT JUST SOUNDS MORE HEISMAN! Harrell, the senior signal caller for the Red Raiders, has already thrown 10,600 yards in his career to go along with his mind-numbing 89 touchdown passes. Coming off his junior campaign which he tossed 48 TD's (most in the nation) and threw for over 5,700 yards. That would be more passing yards than Chase Daniel, Colt Brennan, and of course Matt Ryan. The number 1 reason you can pencil Harrell into the fray? College football's top wideout and guaranteed top 10 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, Michael Crabtree. The sophomore receiver brought in 22 touchdowns and caught 134 passes for nearly 2,000 receiving yards. A year together under their belt and Harrell will wrap up the Heisman by mid-October. The REAL Heisman trophy front-runner.

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight, I'm only 25 and I couldn't tell you the last time the Dodgers were actually in contention. If the majority of teams that were "in the mix" added guys like Greg Maddux, Manny Ramirez, and Casey Blake, they'd be distancing themselves from the pack by now. The Dodgers? Well they've just dropped the last 9 of 11 games and are resting 3 games back of first place in the National League West (and are three games under .500). Forget the Wild Card, their dismal record puts them 12 games off that pace. The Dodgers are 19th in the league in batting average, 25th in the league in slugging, and 18th in on base percentage. (behind teams like the Orioles and Indians) This is the team that was making a run at a championship? In what world? It is no wonder why Manny likes it in L.A., their thought process is about as logical as his. Monster contract to a declining Andruw Jones? Brilliant! NEWSFLASH, if every other team is staying away, maybe YOU should too! Sorry Joe, this probably was a bad idea. Then again, your getting paid like a king, so it isn't all that bad. Hey L.A., is it Trojan season yet?

SI's NFL Preview, straight trash. Next to Peter King, has anyone over at SI actually followed football for the past three years? "Dr. Z's" , Super Bowl prediction . . .New England v. Philadelphia? We've seen this right? Oh that's right, several years ago they actually PLAYED THE GAME, and the Pats won. Since the departure of Terrell Owens the Eagles have played so well, wait, no that's right THEY HAVEN'T. NFC East experts grade each of the divisions teams in nine different categories. Michael Lombardi gives the nod to Dallas in, QB, RB's, WR, TE, OL, DL, and LB's. He gives the nod to Philly in DB's after the signing of Samuel and it's a draw when it comes to special teams, given Philly rookie DeSean Jackson and of course the Cowboys addition of Adam Jones. Both teams have quality kickers in David Akers and Nick Folk. So when he clearly has the Cowboys better ALL OVER THE FIELD, yet somehow they are winning the division and going to the Super Bowl? The Eagles haven't given Donovan a quality wideout since Terrell and he isn't getting any younger. FOR ANY reason if Westbrook goes down, the Eagles season is over. If Barber goes down, or Jason Witten, or Owens, the Cowboys have backup plans all over the field. From rookie RB Felix Jones to rookie TE, Martellus Bennett, the Cowboys can run, pass, and block better than every team in the division yet Dr. Z and the rest of the SI football experts believe that the only team in the division that DIDN'T make the playoffs is bound for the Super Bowl, after adding SYSTEM DB, Asante Samuel. Ask yourself this, how many guys have the Pats let sign with other teams and lived to regret it? They pick the Cowboys to go 10-6 and make it in the back door of the playoffs as a Wild Card team. Last question, WHICH ROAD GAMES WORRY THE COWBOYS BESIDE AT PITT in week 14? Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers? A Strahan/Umenyiora less Giants defensive line? Maybe it's that soft as cupcake Dog Pound they visit in week 1? The two teams have almost the same exact schedule yet somehow Philly is escaping with a better record with less weapons? The Boys were 13-3 last season, show a little respect. KEEP IT REAL!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Can't Come Fast Enough

The comprehensive 2008 NFL Preview is here. While 2007 was dominated by the undefeated bid of the New England Patriots and of course the amateur filming done by Belichick & Co., I'm opening with a guarantee:

NO TEAM will go undefeated AND win the Super Bowl.

Now to more pressing issues.

Will the Giants catch fire and make a bid at back-to-back? Sorry New Yorkers, first Mike & the Mad Dog split up, the Yankees are about to miss the playoffs, and your defending Super Bowl champs have ZERO shot at going back to the dance. For starters, while I love that they upset the Patriots, they caught fire in the most critical time of the season. Beating Tampa, Dallas, and Green Bay while on the road and then traveling to Arizona to face the vaunted New England Patriots, and WINNING!?!?! The truth is they'd have lost 1 of those 4 games 9 out of 10 times, just so happens the one time they didn't was the only one that counted. Since the Super Bowl the Giants haven't exactly improved. Trading Pro-Bowl tight end Jeremy Shockey to the Saints, the retirement of All-World defensive end Michael Strahan (57 tackles, 9 sacks), the most recent season ending injury to Pro-Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora (13 sacks in 2007), and losing linebacker Kawika Mitchell (76 tackles in 07') to the Buffalo Bills. For a team that went 3-3 in the rough NFC East and 10-6 overall in 2007, things don't look to get any easier. The obvious play is to move former Boston College defensive end, turned Giant linebacker, Mathias Kiwanuka, back to his natural position,but the move that could give Giants fans something to cheer about would be bringing Strahan out of retirement to assist his old mates. (Last time he skipped training camp, 2007, the G-Men won the Super Bowl)

Is Tom Brady not playing in the preseason a major concern for the defending AFC Champion Patriots? Clearly. An aging defense aside, if Tom Brady misses any significant time during the regular season, the Patriots are D-O-N-E. Like the Colts if Manning's injury doesn't clear up fine, the Colts will be D-O-N-E. Some teams can survive with their backup quarterback, even win some games, the Patriots and Colts aren't those teams. The Patriots have some issues but all ribbing aside, they still have the best coach in the league and the best quarterback in the league (we could debate that, but I'll let it be). Fortunately for them, not even Teddy Bruschi at 40% of what he was three years ago can change that. The only thing that could change the Patriots odds is a little Matt Cassel action. The former Trojan backup to Carson Palmer & Matt Leinart has about as much experience starting NFL games as I do. Despite what you think of Dante Culpepper, he's played with #81 and he's won with #81, and if the Pats are undefeated when Brady goes down, who do you feel more comfortable with? Brady may be sick of answering questions about his more than questionable injury but the only way to solve that is to P-L-A-Y. (I love spelling out words, it adds an intangible). I won't devote any more time to neither Jim Sorgi or Matt Cassel, because like I said before if either one of them is in, the Colts & Pats are D-O-N-E.

Does it matter who is starting in Arizona? Matt Leinart or Kurt Warner, the truth is Arizona will probably hover around .500, miss the playoffs or get bounced in the first round. Their head coach is feuding with star wideout Anquan Boldin, they have an aging backfield led by Edgerrin James, I'm sure adding a quarterback controversy to the mix is just what the doctor ordered. Start Leinart, tell Kurt that the grocery store is missing their bagger.

Where will Brett Favre carry the Jets? I know Brett may not be in the prime of his career and the Jets may not exactly be the best team in the AFC, but it wouldn't' surprise me one bit to see them in the playoffs in 2008. Why do I think that? They have one of the easiest schedules in the league. Aside from road games against San Diego, New England, and Seattle the Jets play teams they should beat. Miami and Buffalo have more problems than a math book (been dying to use that one) and playing Oakland, San Francisco, and Tennessee away from the Meadowlands doesn't exactly pose a big threat. Favre has something left in the tank, more something than say Chad Pennington. Bottom line, a team that went 4-12 a year ago has acquired a Hall of Fame quarterback, has spent about $100 million in improvements and got handed a schedule which should give them another 6 wins. I don't know if 10-6 is good enough to get in, but it's close.

Will the Browns duplicate their 2007 success? How does an emphatic NO sound? Browns fans, as you know I'm a schedule guy, and unfortunately for you, your schedule is ridiculous. The Browns play the NFC East as their NFC divisional opponents. In the offseason, no division in the LEAGUE got better than the NFC East, a conference which placed (3) teams in the playoffs in 2007 and one in the Super Bowl. In the first four weeks of the season the Brownies get prime time home games against Dallas and Pittsburgh, then they follow that up with road games at Baltimore & Cincy, traditional tough places to play. While the Giants defense has weakened somewhat, the Browns get them and the Redskins in back to back weeks to start off October. If those 6 games weren't tough enough, my pick to win the AFC welcomes the Browns in week 8, the Jags. After the first 7 games of 2008 you may just be looking at a team that has won as many as 2 or 3 games. To run the table just to get to 10-6 may be impossible especially when you play at home against Indy and on the road against Philly and Pittsburgh. Sorry Brownies.

How good are the Dallas Cowboys? You won't find many people to argue that they don't have the most talent in the NFL, the real question is, how good WILL they be? The Cowboys have the best quarterback in the NFC, they have the best receiver in the NFC, they have arguably the best running back in the NFC, and then there is their defense. Dallas added veteran linebacker Zack Thomas to the 9th ranked defense in the league in 2007. The Cowboys had the 3rd most sacks in the league (46) lead by DeMarcus Ware (14 Sacks) and Greg Ellis (12.5 Sacks). Inside linebacker Bradie James returns to the Cowboys with his (101) tackles in 2007 and veteran strong safety Roy Williams seems to have improved his footwork in the offseason and looks to add to his tackle total in 2008 (2007, 92 Tackles). This team was 13-3 in the regular season last year and even with the loss of running back Julius Jones, the Cowboys have gotten even better adding super Arkansas RB, Felix Jones through the draft. If the Boys can get anything out Pacman Jones, rookie Mike Jenkins it'll improve on their less than stellar secondary. The Cowboys are going to be good and it'd shock everybody if they didn't break through this year and win a playoff game or too. It's no secret I'm picking Dallas to get to the Super Bowl, and with all this talent it shouldn't be a secret to you either.

Yes, it's a formality but let's give out a few award predictions:

Offensive ROY: (Rookie of the Year) To be an improvement for the Falcons at quarterback does Matt Ryan have to do anything but stay out of jail and off the IR? I love Matt Ryan, some would say we have a BROmance, others would say I just respect a calming personality in a city that is in need of same normalcy. Ryan's already won the respect of the owner (check out his guaranteed money) and he's already won over his coaches (he's the #1 starter on the depth chart before he's taken a snap in the NFL). Sure Ryan may not have alot of weapons, and sure he may turn into the next David Carr, but he's a legit #1 and judging by what I've seen of Brian Brohm and Joe Flacco in the preseason, Ryan is hands down the best quarterback drafted. Who did you think I was picking, Darren McFadden? (second choice, he's AP with no health problems)

Defensive ROY: Patriots linebackers have a way of playing a tad over their head while under Belichick. Rookie LB Jerod Mayo should fall in suit. Has had some quality preseason games (seven tackles against the Bucs) and with veterans Vrabel, Bruschi, and Harrison & Lynch behind him, Mayo should be allowed to make some mistakes that can be disguised. I like Jerod Mayo as the Defensive ROY if only because, I HAVE NO IDEA WHO TO PICK!

Offensive MVP: Don't worry, I'm not picking Romo. I'm doing this begrudgingly, I'm an admitted THIS GUY hater. Everyone loves him though, Brett Favre. Favre is the quarterback of a team that will win a significant amount of games more than they did the previous year. A team that went 4-12 will have a pretty good turn around and probably end up in the playoffs. Uncertainty around Peyton and Tom's injuries, the career ending injury to Charger linebacker Shawn Merriman, and the AFC West being terrible, clearly leads to a Jets run in the playoffs. Favre will get all the credit, the same way he did during the emergence of a nasty Packer defense and Ryan Grant in 2007. Barring a repeat performance by Tom Brady and Randy Moss, Favre will get an MVP in 2008, promptly sending all Packer fans to the hospital.

Defensive MVP: Cowboys DE, DeMarcus Ware. Ware is headed to another level in 2008. With 14 sacks in 2007, Ware was a automatic Pro Bowler, like I said before, add Tank Johnson, Pacman Jones, Zack Thomas, and Mike Jenkins to an already top ten defense, Ware will be unleashed. Call me a homer, but who else are you picking? Jason Taylor?

Stone-Cold Locks:

Marvin Lewis won't be coaching the Bengals in 2009.
Shawn Merriman won't be playing by October 1st.
Troy Smith of the Ravens will surprise some people.
Tarvaris Jackson is leading nobody to the NFC Championship.
Again, I have no idea what will happen with the Washington Redskins.

Wild Cards:


The first Wild Card team from the AFC will be the Indianapolis Colts. They still have Reggie Wayne, Peyton Manning, and Joseph Addai on offense. Despite Harrison being a little bit older and less healthy, the Colts can score points, they'll lose a few games but make the playoffs. Bob Sanders & Freeny back, these Colts can play and have alot left in the tank.

The second Wild Card in the AFC, this is how I figure in the New York Jets. They won't overtake the Patriots this year, it just isn't going to happen. Thomas Jones will have a bounce back year, former Steeler Alan Faneca boosts an offensive line that has struggled, and 14-year veteran full back Tony Richardson gives Favre even more protection from the backfield. Expect receiver Jerricho Cotchery to have a M-M-Monster year.


Either the Packers or the Vikings are getting in as a Wild Card the other will get in as the NFC North Champ. To think the Packers will completely implode is a little rash but to think the Vikings behind Tavaris Jackson will win the division, I'm a little hard pressed. I'm going to go with the Minnesota Vikings just because of the Jackson theory. Peterson plays behind the best offensive line in the entire league, Bryant McKinnie & Steve Hutchinson. They struggle at receiver, top wideout Bernard Berrian, but not many teams are strong at that position. I like the Vikings here but I could also see them missing completely and this spot going to the Eagles or Redskins.

I hold a Wild Card spot for Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Bucs. Tough loss last year at home against the Giants in Wild Card weekend. Possibly the most veteran bunch of receivers in the NFL, Ike Hilliard, Joey Galloway, and Michael Clayton. Fortunately their veteran but efficient quarterback Jeff Garcia doesn't make bad decisions. Cadillac being injured doesn't look good but the you can count on the Bucs to make up for that deficiency on defense. Barber, Hovan, the ageless Derrick Brooks, and Phillip Buchanon headline a quality defense and oh yea they drafted possibly the best corner in the draft, Aqib Talib.

Division Champs:


The AFC East champs will be the New England Patriots. Hey they are the Patriots and they do have the best quarterback in the league, remember Tiger didn't do so bad on one pin at Torrey Pines.

AFC North champs, I'm going with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Emergency blanket for Willie Parker, Rashard Mendenhall. Big Ben gets his tall wideout who will have a monster year in 2009, Limas Sweed, but could come on late for the Steelers. Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward are both healthy this year and will give that Steelers team an even more balanced offense. Their defense is as always, solid.

AFC South champs, the Jacksonville Jaguars turned it on late last year and will continue. Garrard came on strong and in his first full year as the definitive starter, expect big things. Jerry Porter is out of Oakland and in Jacksonville with Troy Williamson to give Garrard a few more weapons. Jones-Drew and Taylor bring back a dominant backfield again. This team is ready to roll even with top draft pick, DE Derrick Harvey sitting out almost the entire preseason.

The Raiders, Chiefs, and Broncos are all sub-par and the Chargers just have that much more talent. The AFC West belongs to the San Diego Chargers. Despite an injured Shawn Merriman, the Charger defense is nasty. Corners Cromartie, Jammer, lead an defensive group that led the NFL in interceptions last season. Castillo and Olshansky put enough pressure on the quarterback to cause those picks and allow them to overcome the absence at some point of Merriman.


The NFC East will be won by the Dallas Cowboys. I think I've told you that before. Expect somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-4, 13-3. Barber and Felix Jones will have monster years.

NFC North champs are going to be the Green Bay Packers, if they aren't, the fans may be looking for the closest ledge. I like Driver and Grant to elevate first year starter Aaron Rodgers. I also like that defense returning a veteran mixed group that was dominant last year.

The NFC South will be won the New Orleans Saints. Last year was a 'BRING ME BACK TO PLANET EARTH' season for head coach Sean Payton and Drew Brees. Adding two New York studs, former Jet Jonathan Vilma, and former Giant Jeremy Shockey will give the Saints a better dimension on both offense and defense. Will Reggie Bush please show up?

Next to the AFC East and the Pats, has any other division belonged to one team like the NFC West belongs to the Seattle Seahawks as of late. The Seahawks benefit from playing along the likes of Arizona, St. Louis, and San Francisco. A dominant home field advantage (7-1 in 2007) and adding rusher Julius Jones should improve their backfield. The lack of wideouts on the Seahawks could be the only thing that derails the Seahawks, we know it won't be their Tatupu led defense.

Super Bowl Preview: Dallas v. Jacksonville (you guess who I'm picking)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Keep It Real-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l

Olympics drawing to an end, the college football season is about to take off, and of course more pointless overpriced preseason NFL games. Time to take your weekly dose of KEEP IT REAL FRIDAY, and like it!

Like most things involving professional team sports in the United States, Major League Baseball is the last to catch on. After ENTIRELY too long without it, baseball will finally introduce "some" form of instant replay into it's hallowed ballparks. It's time that baseball stop with all this sanctity of the game nonsense. Instituting instant replay is about winning a World Series and not having it be considered cheap because a walk off home run was actually a ground rule double. It's about every other professional sport giving the referees call more validity. Instant replay is about putting the 1,213,000 video cameras in a sporting venue to use for the game rather than just the television stations and owners. Were not going to challenge balls & strikes, were not going to challenge whether a player was safe sliding into home, all were doing is clarifying home run calls. To avoid instant replay when you have the opportunity to utilize it, is absurd. Yet to expect an umpire standing at the third base line to be able to see a small white ball fall one way or another from 100 yards away, is utterly ridiculous. KEEP IT REAL baseball, I want to see homers that aren't doubles or even worse, foul balls!

Would you rather be The Worlds Fastest Man or a Heavyweight Champion of the World? Little back story, the conversation was brought up on Mike & Mike in the Morning yesterday, it also included The World's Strongest Man but since pulling a fire engine isn't exactly a fair barometer, were leaving it out. The World's Fastest Man, is the title that is given to the athlete with the fastest time in the 100m sprint, currently Usain Bolt of Jamaica with a world record setting time of 9.69 seconds. While very impressive to be faster than any man in the world, it really only makes you the last to be eaten by a pack of lions. You can't tell me who the fastest man in the world was twenty days ago and the only reason you could tell me who it is now is because it just happened. Other than a cheesy snapshot of you next to a giant clock, you don't get any trophy for being the Worlds Fastest Man. But if your the Heavyweight Champion of the World, for starters, your always called "champ" for the rest of your life, kind of like how the former presidents are all still referred to as "Mr. president." You don't get just a photo, you get like twenty championship belts, and women love wearing belts, especially ones with gold and diamonds in them. The prospect of a willing young lady wearing nothing but your championship belt? That's too awesome for anyone to pass up. I'm KEEPING IT REAL, nothing like a f-bomb laiden rant after winning the title belt . . "I TOLD YOU I'M THE CHAMP, NO ONE CAN BEAT ME, WORLD CHAMPION SH*T M*THA F*CKA" Chicks don't dig the track, they dig the ring and the belt . .

C.C. Sabathia is the National League Cy Young, deal with it. Since arriving in Milwaukee, Sabathia has been the National Leagues most dominant pitcher, hands down. In nine starts for the Brewers, Sabathia has pitched FIVE complete games since coming over from the American League. The Brewers new ace has 69 strikeouts in just 73 innings and has only allowed a combined 13 earned runs. I know Brandon Webb has been doing it all season and he's 19-4, he's very very very good, I GET IT. Sabathia is an American League pitcher in the National League, if what he's done in a Brewers uniform thus far isn't further validation of the much superior league then I don't know what is. If Sabathia reaches 15 wins by the end of September, you've gotta give the guy who goes 15-0 since July 6th the nod for Cy Young, ESPECIALLY if the Brewers get int he playoffs. Love Brandon Webb, but back-to-back Cy Youngs in different leagues, forgettaboutit. KEEP IT REAL!

I LOVE beach volleyball . . Okay, so maybe I only love Misty May-Treanor, but I'll stay with saying I love beach volleyball. Two American gold medals in beach volleyball, two amazing gold medal matches, and one more regret in my life. I should have gotten hardcore into beach volleyball. First off, you play in the sun the majority of the time, unless for some reason your in South East Asia for games of the 29th Olympiad. I don't think there has ever been a female beach volleyball player who didn't have some sort of sneaky hotness to her. But the main point here is, and I'll credit my buddy Joe on this one: If your going to be a professional volleyball player, why the hell would you be an indoor volleyball player. There are way to many people on the court, you don't have a cool uniform or get to wear wrap-around Oakleys, and of course, you have to wear bare white knee pads. With the exception of jail, there isn't a place where knee pads makes you more vulnerable to ridicule. Next to Phelps, Bolt, and Redeem Team, I think beach volleyball has been one of the top storylines of these Olympics. Love me some BEACH VOLLEYBALL!

Wrapping up Keep It Real Friday with this . . . I'm done with the preseason football games. The 49ers v. the Bears will be bad enough during the regular season with both teams starters on the field, whose excited for the J.T. O'Sullivan v. Kyle Orton matchup? But to have that teaser on a Thursday night preseason action, it's not right. I'm going on a limb when I say this but neither of those quarterbacks will win more than 6 games this season and that's a stretch. Alex Smith for the 49ers and of course everyones favorite 5'8 quarterback, Rex Grossman of the Bears have officially been designated #2's, I'd say this is a low point in their careers. I hear they need a back up in Green Bay, were they treat quarterbacks great!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Say It Ain't So . .

It's so, and it's unprecedented. The team that finished 66-96 in 2007, the Tampa Bay Rays, with Major League Baseball's worst record, currently has an American League East crown on it's radar. The Boston Red Sox are four and half games back and the once untouchable, New York Yankees, are 3-7 in their last ten games putting them 11 games off the pace. Not even the Tampa Bay Rays themselves would have guessed they'd have 11 more wins than they did last season . . . .WITH 37 games remaining.

About those 37 games:

After the Rays wrap up their 3 game set with Anaheim tonight, a set in which they've taken the first two games, the Rays match up 13 more times against opponents who are in the playoff hunt.

Aug. 22nd - Aug. 24 (3 games) against Ozzie Guillen's Chicago White Sox. The Rays are 4-3 against the White Sox in 2008, but they haven't played each other since June 1st, when the Rays were still a punch line. The White Sox, while only winning three games this season against the Rays, have outscored them in the series 24-16. For a team that just lost Evan Longoria (22 HR's, 71 RBI's) that doesn't bode well. Even though the Rays have solved some of their road woes (currently 30-31 away from St. Pete), the White Sox are 44-19 in Chicago, where these upcoming three games take place.

The next time the Rays play a team involved in the hunt isn't until September 8th, when they arrive in Boston. Between September 8th in Massachusetts, through September 17th in Florida, the Red Sox and Rays square up (6) times. This will be the first sniff of playoff atmosphere for the young Rays. The most significant role in this series may be that of the New York Yankees, who get three games against the Rays sandwiched in between two-three game sets with the Red Sox. Before the Rays head back to St. Pete they will have completed a 3-city, 9 game road trip, this close to the end of the season with the division title looming will provide plenty of pressure for Tampa. Teaser: These six games will determine the American League East champions.

After facing division foes from August 26th to September 17th, Toronto (6) Baltimore (3) New York (6) and Boston (6), the road doesn't get any easier for Tampa. The remaining four games against playoff caliber teams will be a four game set at "The Trop" against Minnesota, from September 18th to September 21st. The surprising Twins are 71-54 and sit a game back of the division lead in the American League Central. For the Twins, being 71-54, close to the division lead, and only a game and a half back of Boston for the Wild Card, after just trading their top pitcher (Johan Santana) this past off season is somewhat of a miracle. This series will be the be the last four games the Rays play at Tropicana this regular season, barring an absolute implosion this Rays team will revisit "The Trop" for October baseball. (that's a sentence I thought we were twenty years from) Twins v. Rays has playoffs match up written all over it, not only could this be an important regular season series for Tampa but it may just be our preview into the playoffs.

The Rays play an additional 23 games to finish off the regular season (next to the 13 against Playoff hunt teams):

Six games against division rival Toronto, whom the Rays have dominated this season going 9-3 in their first 12 games. The Blue Jays kick off Tampa's six game home stand on August 26th, then kick off the Rays 9-game road trip on September 5th.

The Rays get seven contests with the Baltimore Orioles, 8 wins and 3 losses already to the O's, expect much of the same. The Rays go to Baltimore to play the last 4 games of their season series entering the last week of regular season play. Coming off of Boston and Minnesota, Tampa could be playing for their playoff lives or coasting toward an American League East crown.

Fortunately for Tampa they close the season in Detroit against the Tigers. Four games against the biggest disappoint in baseball sounds like a great way to end a dream season. The Tigers are two games under .500 (62-64) and have already dropped their first 3 games this season against Tampa. Not since Siegfried & Roy's tiger failed to finish off the two of them has a tiger been this big of a disappointment. The Tigers and their $138,685,197 will most likely drop at least 2 of 4 games to the miracle Rays (payroll $43 Mil.)

The Kicker, The Wild Card, The Key:

The New York Yankees. Yes, they won't win the American League East, and winning three of their last ten doesn't look good for a Wild Card bid when they are currently six and a half back of that. But these are the Yanks, they can score 10 runs on you any night, and lucky for them, they get to play spoiler in all of this. One of the few teams that the Rays haven't dominated this year, the Yanks are 7-5 against their division rival and go to the well for seven more games against them. The Yankees visit Tampa for the first weekend in September, and then Tampa visits the Bronx on the tail end of their 9 game three city road trip. The Yankees may not still be in it at that point but veterans Mike Mussina, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Andy Pettitte arent' exactly the type of vets to mail it in, say like a certain outfielder with long dreads, currently on the Dodgers might be.

Welcome to professional baseball Tampa Bay, sometimes the season doesn't end in September.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

HARD KNOCKS: The Super Bowl Edition

I'm going to start this off by saying, if you aren't watching HBO's HARD KNOCKS, a documentary of training camp with the Dallas Cowboys, you need to be. Aside from realizing that I cheer for the Yankees of professional football (I've been in denial), this show is absolute genius. From Jerry Jones giving his grandson a slap in the head to Cowboys defensive backs coach, Dave Campo, having his pants pulled down, this show has more upside than Mel Kiper and Todd McShay on draft day.

I give you the FIVE (5) reasons to watch HBO's Hard Knocks:

5. Blah, Blah, Blah. That's what I have to say to all of you who disagree with reason number 5. You might just be watching the very beginning weeks of a teams Super Bowl season. A Tony Romo botched snap against Seattle in 2006, a Patrick Crayton dropped pass against the Giants in 2007, at this point, what else could possibly go wrong for the Dallas Cowboys? This team is due, the Cowboys are the hands down most talented team in the NFC and with 13 pro bowlers, whose going to argue? I've listened to the "experts" flaunt out the Saints, Vikings, and even the FavreLESS Packers, but the truth is, the Dallas Cowboys are decidedly the most dominant team in the NFC. Romo to Owens tops any quarterback to receiver combo in the NFC, DeMarcus Ware leads a defense that just added veteran leader Zack Thomas to the fold, and with the explosive rookie back, Felix Jones, the Cowboys added a perfect compliment to their All-World banger Marion Barber. Former "I'm way to comfortable outside the law" teammates, Tank Johnson and Adam "Pacman" Jones are looking to redeem their careers and lives in Big D. For a team that is coming off a 13-3 season and has the potential to put even more than 13 people on the Pro-Bowl roster, the Dallas Cowboys are primed and ready to march toward the Super Bowl.

4. Not only have the Cowboys granted HBO access to their training camp, they've granted them TOTAL access. In only the second episode of the show we've already been allowed to listen in on conversations with Jerry Jones and the agent of now former Cowboy receiver Terry Glenn. We got to see rookie hazing, the elder Cowboys (and Cowboy coaches) supplied fruit genitals (to be used as microphones) to the Rookies, those rooks had to then sing a song of their choice while holding the genital shaped fruits and using them as mics. As mentioned before, defensive backs coach, Dave Campo, got his pants pulled down by some of his DB's, at which point he gave the priceless line "come on guys, you know I don't wear underwear." Another un-identified Cowboy climbed out of the ice tub and showed the camera men how ummmmm, god gifted him, no editing done there. On a more serious note, the Cowboys coaching staff gives you pretty much full access to their player assessment meetings, whose impressing and who isn't. Cowboys COO and Executive Vice President, Stephen Jones, gives you a complete look into the conversations he has regarding player contracts, signing bonuses, and where the negotiating stands. Un-signed rookies and free agents who are attempting to make the Cowboys squad are evaluated by front office members and even showcased for the viewers to see their progression at Cowboys camp. From the more obscene moments, to the unfiltered mouths of athletes, Hard Knocks doesn't leave much room for the mind to wonder about what happens off camera, it's all right there for us to see.

3. These Dallas Cowboys have very little drama. Unlike Packers camp with Brett Favre playing for the Jets, Giants camp with Plaxico Burress unhappy with his current financial situation, and Stephen Jackson, who still hasn't arrived at Rams camp, the Dallas Cowboys are all accounted for and ready to go. The relaxed attitudes of Wade Phillips and Tony Romo, the careful instructions from coordinator Jason Garrett for his team to "play with swagger," and of course the most exciting man in pro football, Terrell Owens, the Dallas Cowboys are drama free and ready to pursue a ring. Rather than listening to reporters ask questions about a quarterback controversy, a player holding out, or even a coach on the brink, the Dallas Cowboys are left to do their own thing. The Dallas Cowboys have a veteran Super Bowl winning back-up quarterback, Brad Johnson. Their quarterback is injury free thus far, unlike Peyton and Brady. Star safety, Roy Williams, has switched numbers so QB's can identify his poor coverage as early. T.O. is selling t-shirts rather than doing sit-ups in his driveway (surprisingly this is much more productive) and of course, there has been no siting of Jessica Simpson. Always a good thing.

2. He isn't just rich, he's extremely intelligent. You can criticize Jerry Jones for many things, you can't however criticize him for what he is doing with these current Cowboys. With the probable help of former head man in charge, Bill Parcells, it seems as though Jerry has begun to not only surround himself with people who have less of an agenda to move up, but people who have an agenda to bring the Cowboys back. Son, Stephen Jones, the coaching family Garrett (led by Offensive Coordinator and heir apparent, Jason Garrett) and of course the players coach to end all players coaches, Wade Phillips. Jones has been able to recruit and keep troubled stars for the benefit of his team, he's the boss in Cowboy camp and there is no doubt about that. The owner that once brought in power driven football guys like Jimmy Johnson, Bill Parcells, and Barry Switzer has attempted to make a transition toward non-self agenda guys like Wade Phillips, some would call them "company guys." This new Jones approach may just be the perfect way to bring back the winning ways of the Dallas Cowboys. During episode 1, Jerry starts off the season with an opening speech. He states "some say I'm a pretty good salesmen, I'm going to tell you the four rules of sales" he pauses and continues "the first one is to ask for the money, and I seem to have forgotten the other four." Coming from the man who has just financed the largest athletic stadium in the world. Big things happening in Big D.

1. The number 1 reason to not only watch HBO's Hard Knocks, but to cheer on the Dallas Cowboys: Because they are the DALLAS COWBOYS, America's Team, Hollywood on Turf, need I go on? The Cowboys glory days seem so far away by now, the team hasn't won a playoff game in the entire Bush presidency, and what better way to ring in a new presidential term than inviting the Super Bowl Champion Cowboys to the Rose Garden? The superstar quarterback with the Hollywood girlfriend, the most physical wideout of the past twenty years, a owner with a wallet as big as the state of Texas. These are the Dallas Cowboys, the team that takes in the likes of Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson. If you remember the days of Michael Irvin dunking over goal posts, James Washington picking off Jim Kelly, Emmitt Smith running toward history, and of course America's golden boy before Tom Brady, Troy Aikman. Today in 2008 with Tony Romo under center and T.O. split out with Marion Barber in the backfield, tell me your not excited? Forget about those Giants and their amazing super bowl win, tune into Hard Knocks and get on board with the rest of America.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gold Standard

It doesn't have the cultural significance as say Jesse Owens circa 1936 in Berlin, but winning 8 gold medals in Beijing places Michael Phelps alongside if not ahead of nearly every Olympic athlete, ever.

I was excited about what I'd watched Phelps march toward over the past 10 days, but it wasn't until Thursday night that I realized how excited the rest of the America was. My friends and I aren't good barometers on who watches non-conventional sports, we watch poker, golf, and even NASCAR, but on Thursday night it wasn't just us anticipating Michael Phelps next dive into the pool. About ten women, three bartenders, fifteen men, and three monkeys cheered on Phelps crazily as he dove in for his second time of the night. Funny thing is, he wasn't even competing for a medal, this was a preliminary heat. Now the monkeys may have just been copying what the humans were doing, but everyone in that bar was cheering this guy on like it was a game 7 of the World Series and a run was coming to the plate in the bottom half of the ninth. Two days later on Saturday night, in a bar, inside the Tropicana Hotel, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, hundreds of people sit and cheer on Michael Phelps as he races toward history. It may have took the greatest medal run in Olympic history to capture a countries focus, but consider it captured.

When American, Jason Lezak, completed his record setting leg of the 4x100m freestyle relay, and inched out the heavily favored French team to give Phelps his second gold medal in as many tries, I was hooked. Eight tenths of a second will do that for a guy who loves close finishes. From August 9th to August 17th, Michael Phelps jumped into the pool for 17 competitive swims, 8 for medals. His program was one of the most physically daunting programs ever attempted by an Olympic athlete. 2008 would be the last opportunity Phelps had at becoming the Olympic athlete he wanted to be. Michael Phelps beat opponents by the smallest of margins and the largest of margins, he smashed world records, he relied on relay teammates, he did everything with more confidence and control than Tiger on Sundays.

When ESPN chooses to do their lists of top 50 athletes of all-time, the Baltimore-native, Michael Phelps, will be in their top ten. To think on August 8th, he may not have even been in the discussion, then in a period of less than ten days, he is not only in the discussion, he IS the discussion. Phelps will still be a competitive swimmer in 2012 in London, but he'll be 27 years old, to expect to race this program in four years would be to daunting for anyone, even Aquaman. For most athletes, becoming the most decorated Olympic athlete of these games would be sufficient, for Phelps, becoming the most decorated Olympic athlete EVER, was the goal. Michael Phelps is the new Gold Standard of Olympic dominance.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Keep It Real Friday: FavreLESS Friday

Were off and running, Keep It Real Friday won't include Brett Favre talk, Aaron Rodgers talk, and I don't want to jinx it so no Yankees are dead talk, KEEP IT REAL:

I know I've said it before, but it needs to be said again: What Michael Phelps is doing in Beijing is the most unbelievable athletic accomplishment we've seen this year. Six gold medal performances and six world records broken in each of those efforts. Not since Barry Bonds was slamming 80 homers a season was I this impressed by the breaking of historic records, err bad example. In a calender sports year that has included possibly the greatest tennis match of all time, Federer v. Nadal at Wimbledon, possibly the greatest golf tournament of all time, Tiger on one leg at the U.S. Open, and the greatest upset in Super Bowl history, Giants over the 18-0 Patriots, a 24-year old Olympic Swimmer from Baltimore is trumping everyone. SI Sportsman of the Year, ESPY Male Athlete of the Year, and maybe even Time Magazine Person of the Year. KEEP IT REAL, Michael Phelps is an Olympic GOD.

At what point do the Texas Rangers realize, to win at the highest level of baseball, its all about pitching. No team fails to grasp that concept quite like the Texas Rangers. From the historic signing of Alex Rodriguez back in 2001 to the construction of their current roster, the Rangers have never developed nor signed quality front line starting pitching. The Rangers divisional opponents, The Seattle Mariners trade for Eric Bedard and develop Felix Hernandez, the Anaheim Angels acquire Jon Garland and develop Ervin Santana, Francisco Rodriguez, and John Lackey, the Oakland A's have developed AND traded big league pitchers Barry Zito, Rich Harden, Danny Haren, Tim Hudson, and Mark Mulder. The Rangers? The biggest pitching moves they've made in the past ten years was signing a washed up Eric Gagne in 2007 (granted they got a kings ransom for him at the deadline from the Red Sox) and acquiring the likes of Chan Ho Park in 2002 for three seasons. After scoring 17 runs against the Red Sox on Tuesday night and LOSING, the Rangers followed that up by giving up another 8 runs on Wednesday, and finally 10 runs on Thursday. All-Star Rangers, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Milton Bradley, and Josh Hamilton drive in enough runs to win against the Royals and Mariners, but to beat teams like Anaheim and Boston, aces are what you need. GET A PITCHER and KEEP IT REAL!

The death of an NFL team, the quarterback controversy. The most important position in major professional team sports is the quarterback of a football team. A controversy surrounding that position is the single reason why "quarterback competitions" in training camp, are the death of an NFL teams season. The Colts, Cowboys, Patriots, Chargers, Steelers, and Jaguars are the only teams I consider to be ACTUAL CONTENDERS for a Super Bowl trophy. The common thread? None of those teams are in the midst of quarterback competitions. The Ravens, Cardinals, and Dolphins, all haven't fully bought into who is under center, and of course all of those teams will pick in the Top 10 in 2009 and miss the playoffs. I don't know what these teams are pondering, Troy Smith should be the starter in Baltimore, Matt Leinart should be the starter in Arizona, Kurt Warner should be back stocking shelves, and who cares who starts for the Dolphins, they passed on Matt Ryan. Newsflash to NFL teams everywhere, pick your starter and stay with him, just KEEPING IT REAL.

(I may have an eight year olds sense of humour, but I love saying KEEP IT REAL)

A little less of KEEP IT REAL FRIDAY, but next week were coming strong: NFL PREVIEW, OLYMPICS WRAP-UP, and the fall of the Tampa Bay Rays. KEEP IT REAL!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

2006 Loss, Avenged

As predicted by your author and co-founder of LynchyRightNow.Com, the United States poured in 92 points in route to a 23-point drumming of Greece on Thursday morning. Not 7-foot tall centers, zone defense, or the Chinese air could stop the U.S. hoops team from avenging their 2006 World Championships loss to this Greek team.

Greece's Spanoulis got his 14 points but shot a dismal 0-5 from behind the arc. Dwayne Wade and Lebron combined for 30 points, and the duo Bosh and Bryant added 18 a piece. The US team had 13 more assists than their Greek counterparts (23-10) and dominated them defensively, led by Wade's 6 steals. The United States forced 25 turnovers and blocked seven Greek shots. A far cry from the team that couldn't get off the mat back in the 2006 FIBA World Championships.

Unfortunately it wasn't all aces for the newly improved U.S. Men's Olympic Hoops Team, they continued their poor three point shooting (7-20) but specialist Michael Redd was 1-2 in only 6 minutes played. I'm going out on a limb here, (half kidding) this team is winning Gold and I haven't been so confident saying something since I said John Kerry was going to be the President . . errrrrrrr GO USA!

This isn't Japan, This isn't 2006

Almost 720 days have passed since the 2006 FIBA World Championships, today, the United States gets their shot at redemption. For Vasileios Spanoulis (NO idea how to pronounce that) and the Greeks that sent the U.S. home without a championship, were not in Japan and this isn't the same team you played on September 1st, 2006. On that day, the national team from Greece completed an international upset that clearly sent shock waves to U.S. Basketball and everyone involved.

Today, your staring down a team who has enough players that remember that loss and has made enough changes to certainly avenge that loss:

Introducing, the NEW Chris Paul. Replacing the Chris Paul of September 2006, is the Chris Paul of 2008. Coming a off an NBA season in which the former Wake Forest point guard averaged 21 points and nearly 12 assists a game. Paul has replaced the likes of Steve Nash (2-time league MVP) as the games top floor general in 2008. After improving his career assists per game average by more than an assist a game in 2008, Paul returns back to the national stage aware of his past performance and hungry to erase that memory. Gone is the man who you saw go 0 for 5 in 24 minutes against the Greeks back in 2006.

Don't know Michael Redd? He may not be a household name in the United States, playing in NBA hell (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) will do that to a man, but he's more than worthy of wearing the red, white, and blue in Beijing. Michael Redd has hit over 110 three-pointers playing for the Milwaukee Bucks each of the last two seasons, and for a team that shot a dismal nine for twenty-eight from behind the international arc against the Greeks, he'll be a welcomed addition. While stars Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James can take the ball to the rack, their 3 for 12 effort that day leaves something to be desired. Redd provides a better 3-point option for the U.S. team, an option their 2006 version didn't have.

No disrespect to Joe Johnson and Kirk Hinrich, but there is a duo from Utah that provides a stronger more physical dimension to the U.S. Olympic team. 6-3 All-Star guard Deron Williams and fellow Jazz teammate, the 6-9 260 pound forward, Carlos Boozer, give the U.S. team more physical depth. A Greek team that puts out 6 players 6-9 or taller will need to be defended by players who can play bigger than they are, players like Boozer and Williams. Williams strong play at the guard spot will give fellow guards Jason Kidd and Chris Paul the ability to rest without the U.S. team missing a step. The veteran Kidd, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams, control a back court that the U.S. team needed with strong wing players and guards, Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James, and Dwayne Wade being able to move without the ball so well.

For what the U.S. team lacks in height, they make up for in KOBE! Out are the likes of Antawn Jamison, Shane Battier, and Elton Brand, in is the GREATEST PLAYER ON THE PLANET. Yes, Kobe Bryant is the greatest player on the planet, and can probably talk trash in more than one language. Not only is Kobe one of three players on the Olympic team with championship experience, but he's the only player on this roster who was still playing for a shot at an NBA title come late June 2008. Kobe has had two lackluster games thus far in Beijing and anyone who has watched Bean play over the last decade, knows Kobe is due. The greatest pure talent this country has seen since Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant provides a completely new dimension to this team. A top defender, scorer, and passer, Bryant could anchor this team to a gold medal, another trophy to add to his littered mantle.

You know 2006 FIBA World Championships lead scorer, Carmelo Anthony, is back and you know that Lebron James is also joining him. Unfortunately for the world, so is Dwayne Wade, a healthy Dwayne Wade. The last time the world saw Wade he was coming off one of the most impressive finals run the NBA had ever seen, with his Heat out of contention since the second month in the season, Wade has had plenty of rest, and it's shown. Wade has scored 19 points in each of the first two games and gone a combined 13 for 15 from the floor since arriving in THE PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF CHINA (sounds inviting, yet scary, that's accurate) With the U.S> team primed and ready to play Greece, it's Dwayne Wade who has been most impressive.

You have been a HUGE blemish on the history of U.S. Basketball, but Greece, you may have woken up a monster and lucky for you these Olympics aren't in Athens.

(If the U.S. gets Pick n' Rolled to death again, just forget I wrote any of this)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

No Gills, No Problem

So U.S. Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps, isn't a fish and he doesn't have gills, still he's the closest were ever going to get to seeing a Merman (come on guys, Zoolander?) The most dominant Olympic athlete of the past 20 years, Phelps, is in the midst of completing one of the most grueling Olympic runs that any athlete has ever attempted (17 swims, in 9 days). The payoff? A record setting 8 Olympic Golds.

Phelps won his first Beijing gold on Saturday night, second in dramatic fashion on Sunday night, and third in dominant fashion on Monday night. I will be the first to say that I admit, I'm not a die hard "Olympics" guy. I don't anticipate the Opening Ceremonies, (which were incredible) I could care less about sports like fencing, water polo, and handball, but this year, because of Michael Phelps, I'm on board, all the way.

The Phelps story was somewhat built for Hollywood and while in Beijing it still maintains the Hollywood ending. To be a little crass, the "Frenchies," got Phelps and his teammates all fired up right before they hit the water for Phelps second bid at Beijing gold (4x100 freestyle relay) BAD MOVE! The heavily favored French team failed to beat the Americans, and in the worst way possible. A come from behind American win by just fractions of a second sent the French team home, and you thought the Celtics come from behind win to beat the Lakers at the Staples was the best we could get in 2008. Phelps, with team in toe, kissed the golds, listened to the National Anthem while the French looked on, priceless. Hey, this is as close to USA v. Russia, circa 1980, as your going to get.

The U.S. swimming phenom goes for more golds tonight, and after tying the likes of former U.S. Olympic greats like Mark Spitz and Carl Lewis, Phelps looks to swim past them. In case you haven't read each of the 30 Olympic previews put out by everything from magazines, newspapers, or online sources, Michael Phelps can achieve a record setting 8 gold medals in this Olympics. Not Tiger Woods winning the U.S. Open on one pin, the Patriots choking in the Super Bowl, or the Boston Celtics return to glory should trump this bid. As long as Phelps doesn't turn down the road of Big Brown, he'll have thirty years of sponsorships from Wheaties to Gatorade ahead of him. For the remainder of the Olympics, this is a Michael Phelps world, and your welcome to live in it.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Keep it Real Friday: All In

My first Keep It Real Friday since I returned back from Sin City and from the start of NFL training camps to the start of the Olympics tonight, alot has gone on over the past two weeks. Strap on your cheeseheads, burn your #4 jerseys, and get on the Aaron Rodgers train, were off:

Hmmmmm, Where should we begin? For what has seemed like months, the Brett Favre saga is finally drawing to end. If you find yourself asking why Favre isn't on Tampa Bay, here's why. The Bucs current roster includes not 3, but 5 quarterbacks. So what your saying is 38-year old Brett Favre is an overwhelming better option than Jeff Garcia? Garcia is the same age as Brett (38) and over the past two seasons in nine fewer starts, Garcia has been the better quarterback. Since his final six regular season starts in Philadelphia (where he led them deep into the playoffs) and over his 13 starts with Tampa Bay in 2007, Garcia has a quarterback rating 11 percentage points higher than Favres, has averaged 13 less interceptions and nearly 12 fewer TD's, albeit in nine fewer starts. Garcia is less prone to the untimely interception, a circus-like ending to a season, and has only one fewer playoff win than Favre over the past ten seasons. Gruden may love to stockpile QB's, but they weren't giving up a potential first rounder for a 2-year lease, especially when Jeff Garcia isn't a bad option.

While were on it, I swear this will be the last you hear from me. Packers GM Ted Thompson, and head coach Mike McCarthy have a long tough road ahead of them. While Aaron Rodgers will have to be the guy to follow a legend, due to the events of the last couple months Thompson and McCarthy will be the guys credited for pushing that legend directly out the door. McCarthy and Thompson willingly drew a line in the sand and never wavered, they made their decision and refused to allow public outcry and outside opinion affect their own. If next season results in anything less than an appearance in the Conference Championship or even better, the Super Bowl, that decision they stood by will be endlessly scrutinized. The legacies of Thompson as a general manager and McCarthy as a head football coach will be directly defined by the success of the Packers, post-Favre. I have to give credit where credit is due on this one, I admire the stance, and wish you all the luck. After the Cowboys visit Lambeau on September 21st that is.

HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa, Tell me someone else saw those American cyclists wearing masks to cover their nose and mouth upon arrival in Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympics? These cyclists were on the cusp of Keeping It Real, that is until today, when they promptly apologized for insulting the Chinese and the Olympic Games organizing committees. Is it just me or is the IOC (International Olympic Committee) the new version of the La Cosa Nostra? The members of the U.S. men's basketball team, primarily Lebron James, were prepared to make statements to the press about topics like pollution, Darfur, and Tibet. Just weeks later, as documented on ESPN's Outside The Lines, the globally conscious superstar no longer thinks that these games should be a pedestal for politics, in short, he's in China to win a gold medal. I've heard of back peddling, but there is something entirely different going on here. The U.S. Olympic Committee has issued apologies to the Chinese and IOC for the actions of a few U.S. cyclists, oh yea, and those same cyclists issued written apologies (while men with black hoods on stood next to them). The U.S. Olympic Committee also mentioned that they never handed out those masks, nope those were given by out by another national governing body, riiiiiiiiiiiiight. I'm not saying that wearing a mask is entirely necessary, even though the air quality in Beijing is as good as the air quality in a West Virginia coal mine, I'm just saying it was kind of funny to see those guys get off the planes in t-shirts that read were in BEIJING, wearing Darth Vader masks. Keep It Real, no one on the plane trip over thought, wait maybe were going to get some trouble for this? Once the IOC got wind, the apologies came flowing in.

About King James, if you think Lebron James is going to be playing in Greece for Olympiakos come 2010, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you. What Lebron's people said was "If Lebron were offered $50 million a season, he'd seriously consider the jump to Europe." Really? So Lebron would skip becoming the highest paid player in the best league in the world (the NBA), in the best market in the world (New York), to play for a championship that no state side person has ever heard of for $50 million dollars a season? $50 Million is a HUGE amount of money, that's more than "A-Rod Dollars," but is it enough to lure Lebron from the United States? In short, NO F'N WAY. The United States barely cared about Yao, Dirk, and Manu, until they played in the league with that Jerry West logo. Our kids don't won't pull on Nikes sporting a Lebron logo if he is dunking over 5'8 Europeans. Gatorade doesn't shell out millions of dollars to athletes that you never see play. Lebron probably banks $100 million a year in U.S. endorsements alone. Jordan became known worldwide while playing in Chicago, not L.A., not New York, CHICAGO! Before you get all worried David Stern, remember, IT WON'T HAPPEN! Lebron is way too image conscious to jilt the United States, the NBA, and his millions of fans stateside. More importantly however, with Lebron there is way too much money to be made in one of the richest countries in the world, the United States. Lebron did a great job hosting the 2007 ESPY awards, its proved he is one of the top two most dominant male athletes on the planet, he can sell NIKE's from Boston to Beijing, and he doesn't have to be playing in Athens to do so. Olympiakos can have all the 6th men on NBA teams they want, we'll keep Lebron.

A little "homerism" coming right down the pipe here: Jason Bay, not Manny, but not all that bad. While Bay isn't putting the earth shattering numbers up that Manny is in Los Angeles, he's eased Boston fans into transition very well. The Canadian born outfielder has hit safely in each of his six games for the Sox. 11 for 26 at the plate, 6 RBI's, and slugging .692, not bad for a guy replacing a future Hall of Famer. A 3-game set against Oakland and a 3-game set against Kansas City will do that for a guy, so will batting behind David Ortiz, reigning World Series MVP, Mike Lowell, and All-Star game MVP, J.D. Drew. Just as the American League contenders thought that Boston was dealt a major blow by being forced to move Ramirez to the West Coast, they've added an all-star in Bay and are on the cusp of adding veteran hitter Brian Giles to bolster their bench. Gone are the days that Boston was the cute underdog story, they are on the tails of the first place Rays, (still feels weird saying so) and safely holding off the Bronx bombers. KEEP IT REAL, they'll be there in October.

The book is still out on whether or not the New York Jets actually will compete for a wild card spot in the AFC, but today they got better. Broadway Brett gives the Jets a better chance to win than Howdie Doodie (Chad Pennington) but then again any new QB might have improved their chances. From coveted rookie linebacker, Vernon Gholston to All-World 11 year veteran Alan Faneca, and now the legendary Brett Favre, is there anything out there that the Jets want they haven't gone out and got? I never want to see any franchise out of the tri-state area win much more than a box of crayolas, but FINALLY there is a team in AFC East that could give the Pats a little trouble, maybe even just get lucky and win one. Since "The Tuna" rebuilding project is more than two years away and the Buffalo Bills have decided to play games north of the border, were left cheering for the Jets, hey last time we rooted for a team from New York to knock off the Patriots it worked out pretty well. KEEP IT REAL! Pats have competition.

Hope you enjoyed the first KEEP IT REAL Friday since I went on vacation, tell your friends, family, and people on the street, Friday, YOU KEEP IT REAL!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Steve Smith, Paul Pierce, and Ocho Cinco!

The baseball trade deadline has come and gone with excitement, the NFL pre-season is on the horizon, and "Redeem" Team USA is about to take Beijing by storm. Yet these athletes can't stay off the front page and in most cases, it's not good.

Carolina Panthers team captain and Pro-Bowl receiver, Steve Smith, has made headlines recently, and those headlines aren't good ones. The Panther wideout will be on the sidelines for the first two games of the Panthers regular season. NO injuries, NO failed drug tests, and NO contract disputes, just the occasional fist fight with YOUR OWN TEAMMATES. Fellow Panther, Ken Lucas, told reporters that events like this bring a team together, this coming from a guy whose nose is broken and eye is swollen like a grapefruit. He's a company guy, and I'm impressed. If it were me who was attacked by a teammate, a CAPTAIN none the less, I wouldn't have been so "team oriented" when the press wanted a few words from me. My words would have included at least 3-5 four letter words that Smith wouldn't have exactly liked. In the words of Allen Iverson, "Were talking about practice, not a game, practice." Grow up Steve, there's a reason why the Panthers won't win a Super Bowl, with leaders like you, what else could we expect? A few days after the Hall of Fame places Redskin great, Art Monk, into it's illustrious walls, Steve Smith is getting slammed with a two-game check penalty and if he wasn't as good as he is, you wouldn't see Smith as a Panther. From a fan of a team that just sent it's star baseball player packing, trust me these things aren't "isolated" incidents. Smith is more than talented and he is a game changer, but he's a receiver and with the exception of #81 in Dallas and #81 in Foxboro, no receiver is worth these troubles.

Celtics star team leader, Paul Pierce, is currently playing with fire and if recent events continue, he'll get burnt. If Paul wants to claim he's the "BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD," he's the reigning finals MVP and I'm not going to find fault in him for thinking so, if it's only him who does. However, I do take issue with being pulled over in the early morning hours suspected of driving while under the influence. Paul was never cited and only detained for a short period of time, he also passed a sobriety test, and only then decided to call for a car service home. Paul you don't need to make this mistake, you have more than enough money to have a limo escort you around town, if your trying to save a couple bucks, grab a cab. Surprisingly, I was in Vegas on Saturday night, my buddy Mike won $900 bucks at Caesars and after watching my other friend Dan do a photo shoot with the 40-year olds of Las Vegas at the Bellagio (which he doesn't remember), we grabbed a limo service for the ten minute ride back to where we were staying. Grand Total = $150 after tip. I'm shooting in the dark here but I'll venture to say Pierce had slightly more than $150 in his pocket while in Vegas. Again I'll ask, why do celebrities who could afford to have drivers, take a risk? The TRUTH is, Paul needs to be careful and use his head, it's 3:30 AM and cops are just looking to pull people over for anything, drinks or no drinks, Please Paul.

Never-at-a-loss for words wideout, Chad Johnson, is behaving, yes I said behaving. After a busy off season, the receiver known as "Ocho-Cinco" is at training camp, and quiet, for now. This is a good one, I actually want to congratulate Johnson for his behavior. A surgically repaired ankle later and Johnson is no longer talking contract disputes he's letting his play do the talking. Wide Receivers are a dime a dozen, the Bengals were prepared to move on without Johnson and it is because of that, that Johnson has quieted down. Chad, I love the antics, I love your game, but don't fall down the same road as other stars, we want to see you play, not sit out because you aren't getting paid. Johnson is rarely injured (16 games, each of the last 6 seasons) , he's caught 87-97 balls a season during that same time period, and twelve-hundred yards a season to go along with his 15.0 yards per catch (career). The man can play, and fortunately for us, he's decided to. Ocho-Cinco Baby!!!!!

While I love the distractions these three athletes have provided for all of us who don't care about what Brett Favre does, they are distractions. Then again, it gives me something to write about so, PLAY ON!

Monday, August 4, 2008


Funny, isn't it? Dodger blue must make people do strange things. In the case of newest outfielder, Manny Ramirez, Dodger blue has made him turn singles into doubles, run out infield ground outs, and leave his cell phone inside the clubhouse. These were all things that the embattled future Hall of Famer hasn't done for five or six years while back in Boston, but now, Manny is a respectable teammate who just wants to be "one of the guys." NEWSFLASH MANNY, that ship has sailed.

Sox first baseman, Kevin Youkilis, annoyed you with his post at-bat reactions due to his frusterations at the plate. Red Sox traveling secretary, Jack McCormick, wasn't able to do what poor, hard-working, Manny Ramirez wanted him to do. Then, to top it all off, management was not being "nice" to Mr. Ramirez. Your right Manny, everyone was intentionally painting you as the bad guy.

GET A GRIP! The only one who has sullied the reputation of THE premier right handed hitter of this generation is YOU! Not Theo Epstein, John Henry, or anyone else you'd like to pass blame onto. In this town, we don't give most athletes the rope we gave Manny, and in this town, we never should again.

8 for 13, 2 Homeruns, and 5 RBI's, these are Ramirez' numbers in his first series with the L.A. Dodgers. As a fan of the Red Sox, I know what Ramirez can do at the plate and those numbers don't surprise me one bit. What surprises me is the complete 360 degree attitude shift that Manny has demonstrated over the weekend. For the past two months, Manny has shoved teammate and fellow All-Star Kevin Youkilis, been involved in a physical altercation with traveling secretary Jack McCormick, and made it known that he was sitting out games not because of injury but to "make a stand" against management. This past weekend, in his first series as a Dodger, Manny wasn't pushing Russell Martin, causing Joe Torre and Ned Colletti to lose their hair, and making fans disgusted at what they see on the field. Like I said before, funny what Dodger blue must do to someone?

Before I completely erase Ramirez from my mind I'd like to correct him on a couple things that really bothered me: (if you haven't thought I was bothered already)

Nomar Garciaparra was moved mid-season 2004 because GM Theo Epstein saw potential in this team, not as a playoff team but as a CHAMPIONSHIP contender. Garciaparra would get a standing ovation in this town tommorow if he got up to bat, and for the next twenty years. You wouldn't be able to call yourself a World Series MVP had Epstein not been bold enough to deal Nomar for the likes of Orlando Cabrera and Doug Miencatykwicz ( I could never spell his name ) Before you spout off about how Nomar was treated in this town by this management, due your homework.

Pedro Martinez wasn't resigned by this management team because he was Pedro circa 2005, not Pedro circa 1999. Martinez would wear his Mets jersey into the Fens and get cheered like he was still on the home club to this day and for the next twenty years. Your friend Pedro wasn't "mis-treated" he just didn't get what he wanted, kind of like you. I have no ill-will toward Pedro, he got his money which is what he ultimately wanted and I can't hate on someone for that. Manny, you know what Pedro never did in all his years in Boston? He never crossed those white lines and didn't pitch his a** off. Despite his pending free-agency, Pedro never walked onto that field in front of those legions of fans and gave half of what he had, and never would. It's called respect Manny, have some.

Finally, I would like you to explain to my 10-year old brother and the thousands of children who admire your skill, as to why your playing baseball in Chavez Ravine and not in Fenway Park. I don't expect you to do that. I don't expect you to tell them that you don't care that they paid good money to watch you play hard and you dogged it. I don't expect you to apologize to those fans for the past two months. I don't even think you care about what those fans think, you don't respect us enough to run out a groundball in the middle of a no-hitter. We watched you, watch three straight strikes go by you because you were upset with the front office. Those kids stayed up late to watch you do that?

To be frank, I'm embarrassed that I considered you one of my favorite ballplayers of all-time. I'm embarrassed that I cheered for you like I cheered for the ultimate gamers, Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez, the Ironman Cal Ripken Jr., and Nomar Garciaparra, a man I still cheer for to this day.

The most popular used phrase surrounding Ramirez was "Manny being Manny," the truth is "Manny being Manny" is just an excuse for poor sportsmanship, spoiled athlete, and run of the mill PAIN IN THE A**. I'm glad that Manny is playing for the Dodgers, I'm glad that he has become Joe Torre's problem, and I'm glad that Terry Francona can fill out a lineup card without having to wonder if Ramirez will take a few cuts in the ninth inning.