What's Lincoln Thinkin'?
Assorted ramblings about sports and living in South Florida by CBS12 Sports Director Matt Lincoln.
Spotting the Future - 2014 NASCAR trends
Like a teenager losing to his little brother in H-O-R-S-E, NASCAR keeps changing the rules on us - and incredibly close to the season too. Now 16 teams will make the Chase (too many) and after each three races in the Chase, the bottom 4 get dropped out of the running (I like it). NASCAR will never tweak the schedule enough for the majority of Americans to care about its stretch run in early fall. The one change NASCAR really needs to make - end their season earlier.
But that won't happen, so let's just enjoy the season until the pigskin starts, shall we?
Here are some of the key drivers in sports, and how their careers are trending going into 2014. Plus, we'll forecast where their careers will be headed at the end of the year.
Jimmie Johnson - Johnson may have had his streak broken, but he showed that he's still the sport's best driver by getting his sixth championship. He's the Derek Jeter of NASCAR, unless you're a big fan of him, you don't really like him. But damn, you have to respect him. Forecast for 2014? - Keeps Steady. It would be more shocking if he wasn't a factor at all then if he won his 7th championship.
Matt Kenseth - You could say 2014 was the best season of Matt's career - even better than his Champion season. The 20 was the best car pre-Chase, and he seemed to fit perfectly at Gibbs. Plus with Denny Hamlin's issues, Gibbs could put all their eggs in the Kenseth basket. Forecast for 2014? - Keeps Steady. I think Kenseth should be right alongside Jimmie Johnson as the favorite to hoist the Sprint Cup at the end of the year.
Kyle Busch - After a few down years, Busch retook his spot as one of the best drivers in the game. 4 wins and a fourth place finish have Rowdy as a driver to be reckoned with again. Forecast for 2014? - Rising. I've always felt that Busch is the most tenacious and hungry driver in the field. He makes his best run yet at a Championship in 2014.
Joey Logano - White Bread had the best season of his career, making the Chase and being consistently competitive for the first time. Forecast for 2014? REALLY hard to predict. I could see it going either way for Logano - he's finally toughened up a little, but I'm not sure if it's enough to be a real winner. Likely he wins a race and slips into the huge Chase field.
Clint Bowyer - Not a great 2013 by any means (he had zero wins but still finished 7th in the final standings) but I feel like he's a guy that continues to improve, and always is a guy to be reckoned with. Forecast for 2014? - Rising. Bowyer is the reason why Michael Waltrip Racing has become a team a factor in the sport.
Kevin Harvick - The best active driver to not have a championship? He's in the hunt every single year, but that was as the tentpole for RCR. Now he races for Tony. Forecast for 2014: Beginning to dip. This is a whole new ballgame at SHR - I doubt he'll miss racing at Childress, but that doesn't mean he's an immediate title contender either.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Junior claims his team keeps getting better. But when will his flock of fans see him become that consistent winner again. Forecast for 2014: Steady. Lock it in - 2 victories and a 9th place finish in the Chase.
Ryan Newman - He's has some big victories on his resume, but he couldn't keep his job over Stewart-Haas. Now he'll look to team up with Austin Dillon to try to keep RCR a competitive squad. Forecast for 2014: Falling. Newman will be one of those drivers thankful that the Chase expands.
Kasey Kahne - Kahne has become successful at Hendrick, and he's more hard-nosed than the pretty face lets on. You could argue he's trending slightly upwards. Forecast for 2014: Steady. The question is not can Kahne be a very good driver. The question is can he become a GREAT driver. Jury is still out.
Greg Biffle - He's a nice guy, but there's no more boring guy to see out front than Greg Biffle. Forecast for 2014: Yawn.
Carl Edwards - I could've sworn this guy would be the next great champion. Now he's missed the Chase the last two years. Can't really explain it. Forecast for 2014: Going up. Because I don't think this slump can go on another year.
Danica Patrick - She finished 27th in points in 2014, and while expectations were relatively low, somehow she seemed to not even reach them. Forecast for 2014: Slightly up? Now it seems to be okay for people to say publicly what they were thinking to themselves a year ago - that she can't handle driving Sprint Cup cars. She has a long road to climb to prove those people otherwise.
Martin Truex Jr. - Truex lost his job, and now is driving that funky black & pink 78 Furniture Row car. Kurt Busch proved you could contend in it, but does anyone think that Truex is as good a driver as Kurt Busch? Forecast for 2014? I don't.
Tony Stewart - Two years removed from a Championship, Stewart broke his leg and missed most of the season. Outlook for 2014: Not up. I think this is the first season that Tony starts to think about becoming an owner more and a driver less.
Brad Keselowski - After winning the Championship, Kez missed the Chase last year. Outlook for 2014: Of anything that I've written here, what I believe the most in is this - Brad Keselowski is going to be a force to be reckoned with in 2014. His Championship was not a fluke, 2013 was. He will have at least 5 victories, and contend for the Cup.
16 Drivers that make the Chase: Johnson, Kenseth, Ky. Busch, Ku. Busch, Bowyer, Harvick, Earnhardt Jr. Hamlin, Kahne, Biffle, Edwards, Keselowski, Dillon, Logano, Gordon, Stewart
2014 Daytona 500 winner: Kurt Busch
2014 Sprint Cup Champion: Brad Keselowski
Who's the Dumb one?
Marcus Smart deserves to be suspended.
No athlete can go into the stands and put his/her hands on a patron.
But I hope this instance opens discussion about the bigger issue.
If you somehow missed the altercation between the Oklahoma State guard and the Texas Tech fan, you can see it here.
Smart is 19 years old. The man he's shoving is an almost 60 year old "adult" named Jeff Orr.
Orr says that he called Smart "a piece of crap". The 19 year old has apologized. So has Orr.
But it doesn't end there.
Professional athletes make millions of dollars, or at least hundreds of thousands. As part of this massive wealth, they have to deal with paparazzi, a lack of privacy, and obnoxious fans. That comes with the territory - it's part of the contract when you sign that deal.
But college athletes don't make those big bucks. In fact, Smart could've been a top 5 draft pick last year, but instead returned, because, he says, you only get one chance to go to college.
Orr, and men like him, need to look in their mirror and ask themselves what makes them such big men that they can spew profanity at kids a third of their age.
Orr has suspended himself from the rest of the Texas Tech home games, and he's actually handing it very well.
But will it actually change how the Jeff Orrs of Kansas, Indiana, North Carolina and every other school across the country treat opposing players?
I'm guessing most of them would wear it as a badge if they get their opposing team's star suspended.
Now who's the piece of crap?
Most important player in the Super Bowl? It's not Peyton
The most important player in the Super Bowl is a quarterback.
But it's not Peyton Manning.
Russell Wilson took a back seat to Marshawn Lynch in the Seahawks offense this year - he registered 250 yards passing in a game just four times this season - and his TD/INT ratio is 4/3 over the past four games.
But he's not hurt, or in a slump - the Seahawks have just not NEEDED him to make huge plays to win most games.
They ARE going to need him Sunday.
I see the physical Seahawks defense being able to intimidate the Denver receivers. The Broncos will not be able to score 30 points.
But they may score 24, or 27, and if that's the case than the Seahawk offense will have to make big plays.
And the pressure falls on Wilson's shoulders. The Broncos will go all-out on stopping Lynch and the run game. As much as the Seahawks will want to run the clock and keep the ball out of Manning's hands, they will not find that much success against 8 defenders in the box. Wilson will have to make big plays to Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate, but also use Zach Miller, and possibly Percy Harvin, to keep drives alive.
I can come up with numerous reasons why the Seahawks should win this game.
1. I think the Seahawk secondary will push around the Broncos receivers.
2. The Seahawks have a top-3 running game in the entire NFL and the Broncos will have to over-commit.
3. Seattle's front 7 is strong enough to limit the Broncos' running game, and, possibly, get Manning to move around.
4. If the weather does turn bad, the Seahawks are built better to handle it.
5. As a team, I just think they're tougher.
I can come up with only one reason why I think the Broncos should win this game.
1. Peyton Manning.
Somehow, Peyton by himself does seem to even out the mismatches.
So the key for the Seahawks is to make sure that quarterback play is not that much of a mismatch.
They need big plays from Russell Wilson.
And I think they get them.
We've all had enough.
Alex Rodriguez - take your glove and go home. And take Bud Selig with you.
Baseball has had a week to forget - with Dan Le Batard's mockery of the Hall of Fame voting process, to their biggest star of the last decade being dragged through the muck on national television. (Later in the day, and on the same network, of the biggest NFL games of the season. Nice look, MLB).
CBS News Anchor Scott Pelley outtro'ed his story on ARod by pointing out that no sport has as harsh of performance-enhancing drug rules that Major League Baseball. And those rules were created by Selig.
Well, pardon me if I hold my applause.
Performance enhancing drugs have ruined Major League Baseball. No sports fans treasure their record book and their Hall of Fame like baseball fans. Obviously, PEDs have sullied the record book. But now it's done the same with the Hall of Fame. Why should we care who makes, or who doesn't make, the Hall anymore? The best players of this era were dirty. We know which stars used, and we assume the other ones did too. So for the next decade, we're just going to let little guys get in the Hall? Here's a shocker: Cooperstown is facing declining attendance.
Selig ruined the MLB by letting steroids become commonplace. You had to use PEDs to keep the playing field even, not the other way around.
He doesn't now get to take credit for making the rules on steroids more stringent.
It's fitting that ARod is the guy he's being the harshest with. Selig is trying to take one more man down with him as he exits into retirement.
But it's too little, too late. Selig going on "60 Minutes" strikes of desperation. It seems like they're trying to pound the nails even harder into ARod's coffin - pound them too hard, and you'll break the coffin.
Besides, Selig created ARod. Rodriguez is a child of the steroid era, and that era existed because of Selig.
Both of these men are villains to the sport of baseball. And it's time for them to exit the stadium. Don't bother tipping your cap.
More than just Famous, Jameis is Fantastic
Just "Famous" doesn't give Jameis Winston enough credit.
Last night Winston lead the Seminoles to their third national championship, with an incredible final quarter and a half. After going 11-25 to start the game, he was 9-10 with 117 yards and two touchdowns on his final two TDs of the season.
Auburn wanted to make Florida State play the fourth quarter - because they dominated people all season, they got to rest their starters.
In this final BCS Championship Game, Winston showed that he can play his best when his back is up against the wall. He ONLY played well in the fourth quarter.
Winston is honest, he wears his heart on his sleeve, and he has a gift of gab. So much so, he delivered the most memorable post-championship game television interview since this.
He's an incredible young man, not just on the field, but how he conducts himself off of it.
This may be the beginning of the reign of one of the most likeable sports stars that we have ever seen.
And I'm so excited to see what Marvelous, Sensational, Astounding, Fantastic, Famous Jameis does next.
The Top 10 Sports Stories of 2013
This was my first year in the West Palm Beach area covering sports.. and there were definitely plenty of highlights. I boiled it down to just 10 - the best sports stories of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast. If you feel like I have omitted something, or they're in the wrong order - let me know!
#10 - The Williams sisters represent Team USA in Delray. The Williams sisters play in the Fed Cup in Delray Beach. Plus it's an especially great year for Palm Beach Gardens resident Serena Williams - winning two Grand Slams and ascending to #1 in the world - possibly staking her claim as the best female tennis player ever.
#9 - FA baseball in the NCAA tournament. The Owls played at regional host, and number one ranked North Carolina. FAU came back from a 6-2 deficit in the ninth, to take an 8-6 lead. The Heels would tie it and send it to extras. The Owls blew a three run lead in the 12th inning and lost 12-11 in the 13th. A heatpounding, and heartbreaking way to end the season.
#8 - Salty wins it all, and is coming home. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a former CBS12 Athlete of the Year, and Royal Palm Beach grad, had a walkoff hit for the Red Sox in the ALCS. He then helped Boston win the World Series. After the season, Salty announced he's coming home to suit up for the Miami Marlins.
#7 - Boldin wins the Big One. One of the most beloved players to come out of Pahokee. Anquan Boldin won his first super bowl title with the Ravens, scoring a touchdown in the win. Boldin was traded after the season to the 49ers and his charity continues to be very active in Palm Beach County.
#6 - The Perfect Panthers. Dwyer football wins all their regular season games by 24 points or more. Then cruises to 5 playoff wins, including close wins over St. Thomas Aquinas and East Lake to secure the school's first perfect season and second state championship.
#5 - A bowl game is coming to Palm Beach County. Next year FAU Stadium will host the Boca Raton Bowl for the first time. It will involve teams from the MAC, Conference-USA and AAC over the next few years. The whole region is getting holiday football fever, with the Bahamas, and Marlins Park also getting bowl games.
#4 - Buzz about a new spring training site in Palm Beach County. Plans for the new facility has drawn plenty of opinions. It seems to be off the table for the Central Boulevard area of Palm Beach Gardens, but county officials are looking for another spot to put the home of the Astros and Blue Jays. The future of spring training baseball in the county and on the East Coast of Florida may depend on this new facility becoming a reality.
#3 - Locals dominate the BCS Championship rosters. This was a banner year for local players in college football. 23 total players will play in Pasadena, including 17 on the Florida State Seminoles, and six on the Auburn Tigers. Maybe the best of the bunch - Park Vista grad and Auburn running back Tre Mason, who was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
#2 - The drug fiasco at Florida Atlantic. Head coach Carl Pelini and defensive coordinator Paul Rekstis resigned after being confronted by athletic director Patrick Chun that they had used illegal drugs. The resignation was later rescinded for Pelini, and he was fired instead. The silver lining, the FAU football team went 4-0 under interim coach Brian Wright.
#1 - Rory walks away. Returning as the Honda Classic reigning champion, Palm Beach Gardens resident Rory McIlroy was the costar with Tiger Woods at PGA National. But in the middle of the second round, McIlroy, at that point ranked first in the world, walked off the course after the 9th hole, saying that he wasn't in a good place mentally. What's wrong with Rory became an ongoing story through the golf season, but it all began at the Honda.
Bowling a 300 - Guaranteed Holiday Projections!
From watching hundreds of bowl games over the years, there's one thing that I know for sure - it's almost impossible to predict how motivated a team is going to look when they show up on game day.
Maybe they want to finish above .500 and end their season with a big win. Maybe they don't.
Maybe they want to honor their coach as he's on the way out the door. Maybe they don't.
Maybe they want to play well in front of what could be a home crowd in their home state. Or maybe they don't.
It's hard to understand the motivation of college kids sometimes.. especially when you send them to Las Vegas, Miami or Honolulu and expect them to be focused on football.
So these bowl projections are 100% guaranteed!
To be my best guess at what may possibly happen based on the un-scientific eye test and the unpredictability of a bunch of 20 year olds.
Saturday Dec. 21st
NEW MEXICO BOWL (Albuquerque, NM) - Colorado State vs. Washington State. Mike Leach likes to dress up like a pirate. There is still numerous sites in New Mexico to go panning for gold. WINNER: Washington State.
LAS VEGAS BOWL (Las Vegas, NV) - Southern California vs. Fresno State. The Trojan kids are used to going out in LA - they know what it's like to spend time in a city with bright lights. As for the Bulldogs, I wouldn't be surprised if the offensive line spends the a few too many nights at the all-you-can-eat buffets, and Derek Carr gets locked on the roof of his hotel. WINNER: Southern California.
NEW ORLEANS BOWL (Guess...) - Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Tulane. Neither one of these teams will have an issue with playing in the Big Easy. This is Tulane's town, and Lafayette is right down the road. Tulane is moving to an on-campus facility next year, and won't be playing in the Superdome anymore. Last chance for a big win in their house. (Which is really the Saints house, that they've been subletting for their entire existence, but you get the idea.) WINNER: Tulane
Monday Dec. 23rd
BEEF O'BRADY'S BOWL (St. Petersburg, FL) - Ohio vs. East Carolina.The Bearcats may be the worst team to make a bowl. So, enjoy the Cheesy Bacon Pub Chips. WINNER: East Carolina
Tuesday Dec. 24th
HAWAII BOWL (Honolulu, HI) - Oregon State vs. Boise State.The Beavers haven't won a game since the middle of October. Boise State is terrible playing on any surface that's not blue. Toss up to see who plays worse. WINNER: Boise State
Thursday Dec. 26th
LITTLE CAESARS BOWL (Detroit, MI) - Bowling Green vs. Pittsburgh.Pitt is 6 point dogs to Bowling Green. The Panthers were the epitome of that middle muck of the ACC this year. WINNER: Bowling Green
POINSETTIA BOWL (San Diego, CA) - Northern Illinois vs. Utah State.How much are these two teams loving being in San Diego during Christmas week? WINNER: Northern Illinois.
Friday Dec. 27th
MILITARY BOWL (Annapolis, MD) - Maryland vs. Marshall.Be smarter than the rest of the people in your bowl pool. Do not pick Maryland just because this is a virtual home game for them. The Terps are not very good. WINNER: Marshall
TEXAS BOWL (Houston, TX) - Syracuse vs. Minnesota. I don't think we'll see a lot of scoring in this game. The Gophers have played really well since their head coach has gone on medical leave for seizures. Honestly it was about time - I was seriously worried he was going to die on the sidelines. WINNER: Syracuse (Because I'm a homer)
FIGHT HUNGER BOWL (San Francisco, CA) - BYU vs. Washington.As Americans sit on their couch eating potato chips, peanuts, pizza and cookies, I hope a few see this game and think about the hungry people out there. Somehow I think they won't. WINNER: BYU
Saturday Dec. 28th
PINSTRIPE BOWL (New York, NY) - Notre Dame vs. Rutgers. With the Irish playing in the home of the Yankees, the Pinstripe Bowl could become the site for the National Playa Haters Ball. Just honor the Duke basketball team before the game and have Nickelback play at halftime. WINNER: Notre Dame
BELK BOWL (Charlotte, NC) - Cincinnati vs. North Carolina. The Tar Heels have had a forgettable season, but they've played better since sophomore Marquise Williams has taken over at quarterback from Bryn Renner - 5-1 in their last 6 games. How about that? Actual analysis! WINNER: UNC
RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL (Orlando, FL) - Louisville vs. Miami.Because there may be real Hurricane fans reading this (by the way, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can make sure some do exist) - I'll give you some real input. This has been a nice bounce-back season for the Hurricanes, but they have faltered against the better teams they've played this season. Fans in Florida know how good of a coach Charlie Strong is, and you should know how good of a quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is. So... WINNER: Louisville
BUFFALO WILD WINGS BOWL (Tempe, AZ) - Kansas State vs. Michigan. The worst game between two big-name programs. These teams have been awful this year. On the bright side... hmmmmmmmmm Asian Zing.... WINNER: Kansas State
Monday Dec. 30th
ARMED FORCES BOWL (Fort Worth, TX) - Navy vs. Middle Tennessee State. Okay, some are too easy. Look at the name of this bowl. Look at who's playing in it. Some of these aren't hard people. WINNER: Navy
MUSIC CITY BOWL (Nashville, TN) - Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech. Don't have a good feel for either one of these teams - but I'll give the edge to the SEC squad that has a month to prepare for the triple option. WINNER: Ole Miss
ALAMO BOWL (San Antonio, TX) - Texas vs. Oregon.You can talk yourself into taking Texas as much as you want - the game's in Texas, Mack Brown's last game as the Longhorns coach, they can save a dismal season with a win. All of that doesn't equal to the fact that Oregon is just better. WINNER: Oregon
HOLIDAY BOWL (San Diego, CA) - Arizona State vs. Texas Tech.Really have to give the Holiday Bowl people a lot of credit. Any more inane name to a bowl game than Holiday Bowl? It's not sponosored.. they could've named it whatever they wanted. Would you even have had a good guess as to where the Holiday Bowl was located if I didn't include it there for you? C'mon! Be creative! WINNER: Arizona State
Tuesday Dec. 31st
INDEPENDENCE BOWL (Shreveport, LA) - Arizona vs. Boston College.I believe that this was a huge year for the Pac-12, and I believe that the bowl season will prove that fact. See: Alamo Bowl, Holiday Bowl, Independence Bowl... WINNER: Arizona
SUN BOWL (El Paso, TX) - Virginia Tech vs. UCLA. -The only bowl game that you can watch on CBS12!!! Shameless plug! The Pac-12 won't sweep, and Bud Foster is one of the best defensive coordinators in the country. He'll find a way to limit an explosive Bruins defense. Will the Hokies get enough offense to win the game???? That's a GREAT question. WINNER: Virginia Tech
LIBERTY BOWL (Memphis, TN) - Mississippi State vs. Rice. -Put on my blue suede shoes and, boarded a plane. Touched down in the land of the Delta Blue, in the middle of the pouring rain... WINNER: Mississippi State
CHICK-FIL-A BOWL (Atlanta, GA) - Duke vs. Texas A&M. -This is not a confidence pool, but if it was, 30 points right here. Johnny Manziel in his final college game, against Duke?!?! WINNER: Texas A&M
Wednesday Jan. 1st
HEART OF DALLAS BOWL (Dallas, TX) - UNLV vs. North Texas. -See San Diego? This is how you name a bowl game! WINNER: North Texas
GATOR BOWL (Jacksonville, FL) - Nebraska vs. Georgia. -A couple of teams who had a whole lot go wrong in a season where they were hoping for a lot to go right. I'll take the Bulldogs here, but I don't like it. And neither will Bo Pelini, but I bet I can guess his reaction after they lose.. WINNER: Georgia
OUTBACK BOWL (Tampa, FL) - LSU vs. Iowa. -The Tigers are down to their freshman quarterback who led them to a win in the final quarter against Arkansas. But I'm betting he gets too psyched up for this game, and the Hawkeyes are just good enough to make him pay. WINNER: Iowa
CAPITAL ONE BOWL (Orlando, FL) - South Carolina vs. Wisconsin. - One last opportunity for Jadeveon Clowney to prove he has the type of motor to be picked in the top 3 of the NFL draft. WINNER: South Carolina
ROSE BOWL (Pasadena, CA) - Stanford vs. Michigan State. -Two of the best defenses in the country - it may come down to whoever can get in the end zone. I haven't been kind to the Big 10 in this column, and I think they lose the one that matters the most. WINNER: Stanford
FIESTA BOWL (Glendale, AZ) - Baylor vs. UCF. -UCF is better than the rest of the country realizes, but that Baylor offense is unstoppable. The Golden Knights are double digit underdogs in this game, and I can see the Bears trailing late and then beginning to unravel. Still, it's very hard to pick against one of the best offenses in the country against a defense that has seen nothing like it all year long. WINNER: Baylor
Thursday, Jan. 2nd
SUGAR BOWL (New Orleans, LA) - Alabama vs. Oklahoma. - Nick Saban vs. Bob Stoops. Analysis over. WINNER: Alabama
Friday, Jan. 3rd
COTTON BOWL (Arlington, TX) - Missouri vs. Oklahoma St. -A top 5 bowl game right here - I love both of these teams in a total coin-flip game. I'm going to be watching this one for sure... WINNER: Missouri
ORANGE BOWL (Miami, FL) - Ohio State vs. Clemson. -Buckeye-haters believed that they'd be exposed in the national championship game as frauds. Instead they couldn't even get there, getting knocked off by Michigan State the last week of the season. Now, they'll be proven fraudulent by the Tigers explosive offense. WINNER: Clemson
Saturday, Jan. 4th
BBVA COMPASS BOWL (Birmingham, AL) - Houston vs. Vanderbilt. -One of the best seasons in Vanderbilt football history - 'Dores beat Florida, Tennessee and Georgia in the same season for the first time ever. I'm betting they'll handle the Cougars. WINNER: Vanderbilt
Sunday, Jan. 5th
GODADDY.COM BOWL (Mobile, AL) - Ball State vs. Arkansas State. -Not sure how Alabama because the nation's capital for post-New Year's atrocious bowl games. WINNER: Ball State
Monday, Jan. 6th
BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP (Pasadena, CA) - Auburn vs. Florida State. -Okay, no more fooling around. Auburn has faced stiffer competition this season, and emerged with an SEC Championship belt. While Florida State racked up plenty of wins against the ACC muck, they've blown out every team that they've played. I worry sometimes when a team has crushed everyone what happens when they're in a game that's exceptionally close. Especially with a freshman quarterback. Still, it's hard to doubt Jameis, he's answered every bell this season, and now there's just one more left. WINNER: Florida State
There's only 1 that can be #3
The most iconic numbers in sports are retired. There's a reason why that is - it's to honor the person that wore that number; what they did on the field/court/track, how they helped grow their sport, what they meant to the sport's fan base.
When you retire a number, fans speak about the reverence for that player. They look up and see that number on the outfield wall, or in the rafters, and remark about how special that one player was, because no one can wear that number again.
NASCAR should have retired the #3, and it's ridiculous that Richard Childress feels he is "honoring" Dale Earnhardt by having his grandson drive his car.
RCR announced Wednesday that Austin Dillon will be driving the #3 car in the sport's top series next year.
In the press conference, Childress says he's giving old Earnhardt fans a new driver to root for. That's exactly what he's banking on - more interest in his team. His elder statesman, Jeff Burton, has been awful in recent years and is being ushered out. His best drivers, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer, have left to join other teams. RCR is moving to irrelevance. And bringing the 3 back, is the one thing they can do to make noise for next season.
With all due respect to the King, Earnhardt is the most iconic person in the sport. He was the sport's biggest star when it made the jump into mainstream racing. He made a connection to race fans like no other driver has, and it would be hard to believe, anyone ever having again. And most of all, he died right in front of our eyes, on the sport's biggest stage.
His life will continue to be honored by NASCAR. But Earnhardt leaves the biggest legacy of any driver, and he deserves to have the biggest honor you can bestow.
There should only be 1 driver to ride that #3. And NASCAR failed to make sure that happened.
Bye Bye BCS - Good Riddance
Florida State is one win away from playing in the national championship game, and they would deserve it.
And if Ohio State beats Michigan State in the Big 10 title game, they should make it too.
But they won't. The one loss winner of the SEC will likely wind up leap-frogging Ohio State because of the perceived difficulty of the conference. The common belief is that "the SEC is a MUCH better league than Big 10, so therefore, the SEC champion is more DESERVING of a national championship shot than the Big 10 champion".
And herein lies the problem that I've always had with the BCS.
We have people behind keyboards, and mathematical equations dictating who should play for a national championship, and not players on the field.
Ohio State plays big boy football. They play at the highest level of Division 1. They have beaten every team that has lined up in front of them.
And they have won every time.
FBS football is the only college sport at any level that you can win all of your games and not have a chance to win a national championship.
And that's not fair.
There are pundits and talk radio hosts that would respond to that with "Life's Not Fair".
Well sports are not life. We have an established set of rules that we create and control for each sport to ensure that no athlete has an unfair advantage over another.
The new playoff system will only begin to fix what the BCS has screwed up over the years. We are going to need more playoff teams than just 4, and I believe one day we will get at least 8 and maybe 16.
Because hypotheticals and biased opinions shouldn't judge who gets a chance at a BCS Championship. It should happen on the field.
Auburn lost to LSU earlier this season. Missouri fell to South Carolina. Ohio State has answered every test that they have faced.
There should be a battle of undefeateds in the BCS Championship Game in Pasadena. As long as the Seminoles and Buckeyes take care of business Saturday.
Why the Dolphins are better than...
After one of the most embarrassing weeks in the history of the franchise, the Dolphins bounced back with one of their biggest wins of the year. Now, not only do they get their confidence back, but they're in a great position to still make the playoffs.
The Fins are fighting with 8 other teams for one final playoff spot.
Assuming that the Chiefs, Broncos, Colts, Patriots and Bengals will all earn postseason berths, the Fins are fighting for the #6 seed.
So while the odds don't seem to be in their favor, I actually believe the Fins are in a great position to still make the playoffs.
Here is why the Dolphins are better than the other 8 teams they are up against:
New York Jets (5-5) - The only other 5-5 team, the Jets have certainly looked better at times than the Dolphins have looked at their best. But New York has had some absolute clunkers behind rookie quarterback Geno Smith. The Fins have two games remaining against the Jets - if they win both of those games, New York is out of the running.
Baltimore Ravens (4-6) - The Ravens have been shameful in their title defense. They can't run the ball and Joe Flacco is the most overpaid player in football since Albert Haynesworth. The Ravens defense has shown zero ability to bounce back from the losses of their leaders from last year.
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-6) - There have been times this season when the Steelers have played like the worst team in the entire NFL. They have found a little bit of juice in the running game behind Le'Veon Bell, but their defense has been gashed almost all season.
San Diego Chargers (4-6) - You just watched them and their issues. That win is worth two games here.. because if the Chargers and Dolphins wind up tied, San Diego is staying home.
Cleveland Browns (4-6) - Remember that team that the Dolphins beat 23-10 on their home field in Week 1? The Browns are worse today then they were at the beginning of the season.
Tennessee Titans (4-6) - Ryan Fitzpatrick is their quarterback now. Moving on...
Oakland Raiders (4-6) - Raiders are just barely good enough to keep games interesting. Terrelle Pryor has had some good games, but now he's hurt, as is almost all of their best offensive players. Also worth noting, they are the RAIDERS.
Buffalo Bills (4-7) - Bills are probably in too deep of a hole to get into this discussion, and their only chance is the luck that has evaded them through the first 11 weeks, comes back in waves for the final five games.
9-7 is almost definitely going to win this Wild Card. For the Fins that means a 4-2 finish. They have home games against the Patriots and Panthers, where they will be underdogs, and road games at the Steelers and Bills to go along with their home and home with the Jets.
They can find a way to get four wins in that stretch.
And who knows? With this motley group of teams they're fighting with, 8-8 might just be good enough.
In Incognito madness, no one can hide
Richie Incognito is a ticking time bomb. With an incredibly short fuse.
This exodus from the Dolphins marks the fourth time that he has been forced to leave a team because of personnel issues. (Grantland outlines his past experience as a an inconsiderate, pain-in-the-butt)
And now it seems, thanks to some great reporting from our friends at The Sun-Sentinel, that the coaches pushed Incognito to "toughen up" Jonathan Martin, after Martin was a no-show at OTA's.
If that's the case, heads are going to roll.
The Dolphins know what they have in Incognito. This promo, was obviously made tongue-in-cheek. And now, seems completely unbelievable.
And there are numerous videos on the internet like this one, of Incognito raging in public and yelling profanity.
So the Dolphins coaches knew.. which makes their request absolutely UNacceptable.
Is the owner to blame when a pit bull attacks a neighbor? He certainly is when he let's go of the leash and says "Go Get Him".
It certainly is a sad state of affairs that an adult can threaten and demean a co-worker to the point that they can't take it anymore.
But what I find much more troubling, is that Martin felt like he had no one within the Dolphins to turn to. He didn't go to Joe Philbin. He didn't go to Cam Wake, or another veteran leader on the team. He didn't even go to someone in the front office. He felt like he had absolutely no one to turn to - and had to quit the team.
So maybe Martin knew that Incognito was on coaches' orders.
And if the NFL can prove that, there will be a new set of coaches in Miami next year.
The Fins at the Bye
The Dolphins have problems. Like serious problems.
But that being said, they need to be ecstatic right now to be 3-2 at the bye.
Before the season started, I wrote in this space that if they went 2-3 in their first five weeks, they should be happy.
So, 3-2? Let's have a party.
The Dolphins have just finished the toughest five game stretch of their schedule.
While some games may seem tougher from here on out (home against San Diego, home against Cincinnati) other games are actually easier (at Tampa, the Patriots games).
They've put themselves in a great place to make a run at the AFC title, and at the very least, earn a playoff spot.
Now, they must do a better job at protecting Ryan Tannehill. Right now he's on pace to break the record for being sacked in a season. He's on pace for 77 sacks - most quarterbacks don't make it that far because they get hurt from all those hits.
And they MUST find a way to be more consistent running the ball - they now have two games in which they've run for less than 25 yards in the entire game. That's pretty pathetic.
Now they're defense seems to be banged up - with Cameron Wake, Dannell Ellerbe, Dimitri Patterson, Koa Misi, and others nursing injuries.
So, a perfect time to have a bye. A perfect time to get healthy on defense. A perfect time to get the issues with the offensive line fixed. A perfect time to look back at what has been a great start to the season - and look ahead to what can be accomplished.
2. Kansas City
No overreaction here - Dolphins wins VERY impressive
There's only one AFC team that's looked more impressive through two games than the Miami Dolphins.
That's the Broncos.
But other than Denver, no AFC team has played better than the Fins so far in 2013.
The Dolphins are one of only five AFC teams that are 2-0 (there's only three in the NFC).
The Fins win over the Browns is one of only three double-digit victories by road teams (others are KC over JAX and DEN over NYG).
The Fins win over the Colts is one of only two games where a visiting team has beat a playoff team from last year on their home field (other is Eagles over Redskins in Week 1).
The Broncos have looked incredible with blowout wins over the Ravens and Giants, but the rest of the AFC has not impressed.
The Texans are 2-0, but they've needed an OT touchdown and a last minute of regulation touchdown to get there.
The Patriots are 2-0, but have barely beat teams they were double-digit favorites over.
The Chiefs are 2-0, but one win came over the hands-down worst team in football, Jacksonville.
So the Dolphins have the 2nd most impressive start in the conference.
But as we know, a 2-0 start does not a great season make. In 2010, the Fins started 2-0, and finished 7-9.
But it is a dandy start.
AFC Top 10 through Week 2
3. Kansas City
5. New England
6. San Diego
NFC Top 10 through Week 2
2. San Francisco
3. New Orleans
5. Green Bay
7. St. Louis
First Game? Fins must win
The NFL season is 17 weeks. It's 16 games. It starts in very early September, and the regular season ends in very late December.
But I'm going to say it anyway.
If the Dolphins want to have a chance at the playoffs,
If the Dolphins want to challenge the Patriots for the AFC East title,
If the Dolphins want to be relevant in the NFL landscape in 2013,
They MUST win Sunday at Cleveland.
Yes, just one game in, the Dolphins are facing a must-win scenario.
Why? Let's take a look at their schedule.
The Fins have a bye in Week 6, and their preceding schedule is absolutely brutal.
After the game at Cleveland, it goes like this.
Week 2: at Indianapolis
Week 3: vs. Atlanta
Week 4: at New Orleans
Week 5 vs. Baltimore.
There's a reigning Super Bowl Champion in there, two other playoff teams from last year, and another, in the Saints, who may have the best offense in the NFL.
So a loss to an improved Cleveland Browns squad means (gulp!) 0-5 going into the bye is a definite possibility.
The Browns have a top 10 defense, and one of the best young running backs in the league. But this game is the easiest of their pre-bye games.
So, it's a definite must-win.
After the bye, the schedule gets easier. There are home games against San Diego and Carolina, and of course two apiece vs. the Bills and Jets.
But if they start 0-5, or even 1-4, the playoffs will seem very very very far away. I can't imagine what the psyche of any team would be like at 0-5.
That being said, 2-3 may not look great on paper, but they should be ecstatic if they can get to that before Week 6.
In the AFC in 2013, 9-7 could very well make the playoffs. For the Dolphins' year to be a success, that's where they have to get to. If they lose to the Browns Sunday, I don't see 9 other wins on that schedule.
What would be a success in your mind for the Dolphins in 2013?
Don't be a homer - Fantasy Fins
The Dolphins have added some explosive weapons to their offense, and even the most skeptical fans believe that unit should be better this year. But should you use those weapons to win your fantasy football league?
Before I break down each Dolphin's fantasy value, here are some parameters - these projections are for 12 team non-PPR leagues with standard scoring.
Ryan Tannehill - Definitely the place to start, Tannehill is not creating a lot of fantasy buzz this preseason despite the amount of new weapons he has around him. That's because of two reasons. First, he had a ridiculously low TD total last year (12). Most decent quarterbacks have around 25 touchdowns - even if you're projecting improvement in year 2, DOUBLING his touchdown total does seem unlikely. The other reason why he's not going very high in drafts, is that the quarterback pool is very deep. The explosion of Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick last year has brought the total of "Very Good" quarterbacks to 12. That's not including dependable QBs like Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Andy Dalton.
Final Thoughts: Tannehill is not a quarterback you want to have to start in Fantasy. I have him ranked as my 25th best QB going into the season. If it's a 12 team league, and each team drafts two QBs, I guess that means I don't think he should be drafted. If you have faith that he will make a sophomore leap, than take a flier on him in one of the final few rounds. But I wouldn't take him over guys like Sam Bradford or Carson Palmer.
Mike Wallace - He was one of the most sought-after free agents, and he has some of the best speed in the league. His numbers tapered off last year, as he was held to 64 catches for 836 yards, and 8 TDs in 15 games. That was with Ben Roethlisberger, a better quarterback than Tannehill.
Final Thoughts: As much as Dolphins fans would like to think so, Wallace is not a first tier, or second tier wide receiver. It's hard to believe that he would have the best season of his career in his first year in Miami. Expectations should be around what he did last year. That's good for the Dolphins, not GREAT for your fantasy team. I have him ranked 24th among wide receivers, and could stomach seeing him go as high as 20th.
Brian Hartline - The most dependable receiver the Dolphins have, Hartline has some explosive games last year. He had a career season, with 74 catches for over 1,000 yards. The issue with Hartline has a fantasy receiver, is he has a history of not being able to get in the end zone. He has just 6 touchdowns in his 4 year career.
Final Thoughts: Most fantasy experts don't believe Hartline is draftable. I do not think his numbers will go down BECAUSE of Wallace in the picture. I think the same number of catches and yards are in reach, and if he can turn his 1 touchdown from last year into 5-6, then he becomes a reliable play. I have him as my 48th ranked wide receiver.
Lamar Miller - Miller is expected to earn the starting running back spot, but his future has got a lot more cloudy. He has been splitting carries with Daniel Thomas now with the first team, and the thoughts of him breaking out into a top 20 running back seems more unlikely now.
Final Thoughts: I don't like drafting players without a proven track record, who are battling for a job. He could run for 1200 yards and 8 touchdowns, or he may be worthless for you. I have him as my 30th rated running back, and he is sliding.
Daniel Thomas - Now Thomas is the hot name with the Dolphins. But he has been before, and he's just never been able to stay healthy.
Final Thoughts: You are playing with fire here. So many questions in Thomas's career, it's tough to draft him with any confidence. However, if you take Miller, than doubling up with Thomas in a very late round could guarantee that you have the starting running back for the Dolphins. If they split carries all year, then you're screwed. But if one wins out, you're golden. If I don't draft Miller, I'm not drafting Thomas.
Dolphins Defense - The Dolphins did not have a very successful fantasy season on defense last year. By ESPN.com rankings, they finished 18th in total points. With the strength of the defensive line, some young playmakers in the secondary, and the attention in camp to forcing turnovers, the defense must be better from a fantasy standpoint.
Final Thoughts: They have not proved they're an elite defense yet, but they should be useful from a fantasy perspective. I like to be the last person to draft a defense, and then pick up and release teams depending on their matchups. Going up against the Jets and Bills twice a year, will make this defense at the very least be a spot starter, and possibly a top 12 unit.
Those are all the Dolphins players that I believe are relevant from a fantasy perspective. If you have any thoughts about the upcoming fantasy season - send them my way.
"End of Days" trade, not so bad
Listen, I totally understand why everyone hates Jeffrey Loria.
But, his fire sale to the Blue Jays this offseason is actually looking more like a stroke of genius.
All five players that were sent to Toronto that were supposed to be major parts of their plan to contend with A-L East have faltered.
While the prospects and young guns that the Marlins received in return have not totally panned out yet, it's better to have young players to be optimistic about, than veterans who may be washed up.
Let's take a look at the main players:
Jose Reyes: The centerpiece in this deal, Reyes is by no means washed up. But at a position where it's easy to get slid into and injured, that's exactly what happened. Reyes has played in just 54 games this year, and while he's still putting up good numbers, Toronto's season went into the toilet when he was on the disabled list.
Josh Johnson: Mired in the worst season of his career, Johnson is 2-8, with an ERA of 6.20, and a WHIP of 1.66. Now he has a forearm injury, which might actually be good news for the Jays so he doesn't have to be out there getting torched.
Mark Buehrle: He has an okay record, at 8-7, but his 4.43 ERA is the second worst of his 14 year career.
Emilio Bonifacio: Hitting at .218, the worst of his career, Bonifacio was recently traded to the Royals for nothing.
John Buck: The catcher was quickly traded to the Mets, and while he has hit 14 homers, he's been terrible since June, and is hitting .218.
Yunel Escobar: Acquired by the Marlins in the trade, the Fish then shipped him to Tampa. He's been decent, hitting .257 with 8 homers as the Rays' everyday shortstop.
And this is who the Marlins received in that trade:
Adeiny Hechavarria: As the Marlins everyday shortstop, Hechavarria has shown flashes of brilliance at the plate and in the field. But overall, he's hitting .254 with just 26 RBI's in 105 games
Derek Dietrich: Acquired from Tampa for Escobar, Dietrich spent some time with the big club, but he hit just .214.
Henderson Alvarez: Missed most of the first half of the season because of injury, but has pitched well since getting into the starting rotation. He's 2-1 in 8 starts, with a 3.18 ERA, and he's given up just one home run.
Jake Marisnick: Since getting called up straight from AA with Christian Yelich, Marisnick has been mostly quiet, hitting .203 in 21 games.
Justin Nicolino & Anthony DeSclafani: Pitchers have split the season at Jupiter and Jacksonville. The jury is still out.
There are lots of former Marlins fans who say they are boycotting the team because of the fire sale, and specifically this trade. But if this trade did not happen, what would the difference be? It certainly didn't help Toronto, they're right where the Marlins are. Last place.
Problems with Johnny Football's Johnny Hancock
Football coaches spend months, and sometimes years, trying to get star recruits' autographs.
But after they sign that letter of intent, signing their name is becoming a royal pain in those coaches' behinds.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel is facing a possible suspension of NCAA rules that he received money for signing memorabilia.
Manziel certainly knew this was against NCAA rules - this is the exact sort of thing that college compliance offers are paid to let star athletes know.
So whether your think this rule is right or wrong, Johnny Football deserves punishment for putting his Johnny Hancock on stuff for money.
But the fallout has been unfair. The University of Miami is now limiting their athletes to only signing school-issued posters at this weekend's CanesFest. The Gators are too - but they were one of the first ones to do that 15 years ago. And the University of Louisville is banning all autographs at their signing day.
Autograph-seeking has always been a seedy affair. Anyone who has been to as many games as I have has watched full-grown men push aside kids to get athletes to sign gear.
It certainly feels like we're coming to some sort of crossroads with the NCAA. With anger about the ongoing investigation into the Hurricanes (will it EVER end?) and perceived unfair rules (Ohio State players penalized for selling their OWN STUFF for tattoos), fans of college sports are getting sick of it.
So what needs to change?
Paying players? That doesn't solve ANYTHING. Players are just going to want MORE money (that's human nature right?). Also, do all players get paid equally? It would be absolutely impossible to calculate worth.
I agree with the NCAA that allowing Manziel to get paid for giving his autograph opens up a whole can of worms. (Boosters telling recruits "Come to our school, and we'll give you $1,000 a month for your autograph, etc.)
So, in my opinion, it is not the rules that need to change. It's the coaches.
You think Kevin Sumlin has scolded Johnny Manziel behind the scenes about all of this? Do you think Sumlin treats Manziel like a Sophomore in college, or a superstar?
I'm willing to bet on the latter - these coaches act like they're the stars' best friends. What these players really need, is someone to keep them in line. Someone that they don't want to let down.
They're not superstars yet. They're college students. And if the coaches aren't the ones to keep them in line, who will?
First week of Prep practice
My first week of high school football practice in Florida, and I have to tell you, I'm impressed.
It is hot out there. Like, really, really, really hot.
And there is a lot of running. Like, a TON of running.
And these young men are gutting through it. One common theme around the area is that high school football is now a year-round sport. Players arrive for the first day of fall camp, and there is no adjustment time to get in shape. Coaches expect their players to have worked out all summer together, and be in game-shape on Day One. In many of the practices that I stopped at this week, that was definitely the case.
Here are some of the things that I took away from each of my stops this week:
Palm Beach Central - K.C. McDermott is one hulk of a man. The Miami-commit offensive tackle was described by head coach Rod Harris as "the perfect player". Seeing him with pads on, I have absolutely no idea how any defensive lineman could get around him. He's 6'6" and approaching 300 pounds - he looks like he could start for the Canes right now. Running Back Thomas McDonald says McDermott gives him open holes, on every play. I guess if there's one drawback - the defense knows which side the play is going on every play.
Dwyer - Certainly the trifecta of wide receivers - Johnny Dixon, Clint Stephens, Ezra Saffold - are incredible, but I also left very impressed with quarterback Daniel Parr. Great size, great arm the biggest issue he will have, is having enough snaps a game to get it to his incredible weapons.
Jupiter Christian - Quality over quantity certainly for the Eagles. JCS only had 25 or so bodies out there, but they have some good size, and some talented players. They went 3-7 last year, and coach Bill Powers admits his team probably won't win a state championship (he's won two, so he knows) but he says they'll be a LOT better than they were last year. He also wanted to clear up some media reports that he had brought in some transfers - every player on the JCS roster has been a part of the school prior to this year.
South Fork - Head Coach Dennis Lavelle is a riot. One of the funniest high school football coaches I've ever met, he's keeping pretty realistic about his team this year. They won 9 games last year, and have to replace almost everyone on offense. But he has one of the best defensive players in the area - Junior Linebacker Blake Lucky.
Cardinal Newman - I only got to watch Newman do wind sprints for about 45 minutes. There are times when I'm at practices where I lament the fact that I did not play football. Being at Cardinal Newman on Monday afternoon was NOT one of those times. I will tell you this - the Crusaders may have the best manicured field in the county.
Park Vista - I left very impressed with quarterback Qwad Martin. He's not the biggest guy - but he's quick and has a lot of life on his ball. I thought the Cobras and Dwyer were the most impressive teams that I've seen at practice this week.
Seminole Ridge - An offseason of tumult may have little effect on the Hawks this year. Scott Barnwell is going to pick up where Matt Dickmann left off. But, Seminole Ridge fans may be excited to find out, there may be a lot more passing in Loxahatchee this year.
Those are the 7 practices that I was able to see this week. I will be stopping by more next week.
There's no fixing the most boring football game of the year
The NFL is trying to fix the most boring football game of the year.
But there is no fixing the Pro Bowl.
Instead of the best players from the AFC playing the best players from the NFC. Now the leading two vote-getters will pick their own teams - in what amounts to taking fantasy football to an entirely different level.
But this glorified pick-up game will mean less than the fantasy football league you have with your coworkers or college buddies - at least with those there is either money or pride on the line.
The Pro Bowl means NOTHING. At a time, when football games mean EVERYTHING.
The Pro Bowl is the only "all-star game" that happens at the end of the season. The NFL doesn't want its players injuring themselves in a meaningless game, when there are meaningful games ahead.
Moving the game away from Hawaii and to the week before the Super Bowl has drawn negative reviews from NFL players.
A few years ago, Aaron Rodgers bemoaned how many of the players chose not to take the game seriously.
But when it counts for nothing, how can they take it seriously?
The act of playing in the game doesn't mean anything to players and fans.... the announcement of who makes the team is the most important part.
So let's just kill the Pro Bowl. Who would miss it?
Instead, let's have a huge post-Super Bowl party. Like the Oscars, or the ESPYs, let's have a black tie gala, featuring comedians and musical acts in an exciting city like Vegas or L.A. The All-Pro players will be recognized and honored, and no one will worry about getting hurt, or taking it too seriously.
The NFL season is 17 weeks of incredible fun. Then the game that is supposed to be about fun and nothing else, is a bore. Just get rid of it.
British Open winner will definitely be....
Picking one winner for a golf tournament is a fool's errand. It's incredibly difficult to pick the exact player in a field of 156 who's going to play the tournament of his life.
So I came up with 10 contenders - the winner of the British Open will DEFINITELY be one of these players.
In no particular order, here's the list, with why they could lift the Claret Jug:
1. Brandt Snedeker - The American tied for third in last year's British Open, and has been one of the best players in the world in the last calendar year. While he's not the first player that you think of when you think "best player to have not won a major" he has the type of steady play that can win one this week.
2. Matt Kuchar - My pick to win the U.S. Open, was a disappointment. But I'm not giving up on him yet - he's still got the all-around game to contend and win at Muirfield. This is the first year of his career with multiple wins, it could be his first with a major too.
3. Graeme McDowell - He's had a rollercoaster year - in 8 events, he has 3 wins and 5 missed cuts. So when he's hot, he's been real hot, and he has to be on the short list of guys who CAN win this weekend.
4. Henrik Stenson - He should've won at Castle Stuart last week, but Phil toppled him on Sunday. He's had a great year all over the world. He'll be comfortable playing links golf, and can win as long as he stays out of his own way.
5. Phil Mickelson - He can win any event he's entered in, so he has to be on this list. He's never won a British Open, but he hadn't won a Scottish Open either prior to last weekend. Now that he's embraced links golf instead of fighting it (he left his driver at home this week) we know he has the short game to win the Claret Jug.
6. Lee Westwood - Almost always in contention. I'd be surprised if he wasn't this week.
7. Jason Day - He has four top 3 finishes in majors since 2011. When you think of the best players in the world, his name doesn't jump off your tongue, but he's found a way to get on that first page of the leaderboard on Sundays when it matters the most. He certainly made things interesting on Sunday at Augusta this year. Maybe this is the week that he seals the deal.
8. Ernie Els - He's the reigning British Open champion, and he won the last British Open at Muirfield. No one will feel more comfortable than Ernie this week.
9. Zach Johnson - One of the best short games in the world, and with the course expected to play quick, you don't have to be long off the tee to contend. Unlike some of the other players on this list (Sneds, Day & Kuch) Johnson won his major early in his career, and has been very successful in the years following. This might be his opportunity to get #2.
10. Tiger Woods - He's been off for a month, and we don't really know how that elbow is going to hold up. But I'm not going to doubt the best player in the world, and one of the top 2 players ever.
And just for kicks, here are 5 contenders who WON'T win at Muirfield:
1. Adam Scott - He's been taking it too easy this year since winning the Masters. I can't believe he's as sharp the other top players in the field.
2. Rory McIlroy - The British Open is not the type of tournament to turn your game around overnight.
3. Justin Rose - Since breaking through as a 17 year old, Rose hasn't had a top 10 in the British Open since. I know he just won his first major, but this event is too much in his head for him to win. Maybe he contends.. but he won't handle the pressure of a down-to-the-wire Sunday.
4. Dustin Johnson - He's been way too erratic this year. He's the anti-Zach Johnson - he has the advantage when the course plays long. Muirfield is not expected to.
5. Luke Donald - He's the best player in the world who's never been IN CONTENTION at a major. Until he proves that he can be anything other than absolutely terrible on the biggest stages, I'm selling his stock.
What do you think about this week's British Open?
Goodell helpless to off-the-field issues
Two more NFL players were arrested today. Raiders linebacker Kaluka Maiava was charged with assault after a bar fight, and Patriots defensive back Alfonzo Dennard was arrested for suspicion of DUI.
They've put their names on a list, that now numbers almost 50, of NFL players that have been arrested since the Super Bowl. But if you take away Aaron Hernandez, the first active player to be charged with murder since 2001, this has been a pretty typical NFL offseason for bad behavior.
666 NFL players have been arrested since January of 2000. Deadspin does a great job breaking down the NFL arrests over the past 13 years. They found that the three most common charges in the NFL data base were DUI, assault & battery and drug possession. The numbers also show, that NFL players are less likely to be arrested than your average American adult male. However, an NFL player is more than twice as likely to face a weapons charge than your average American male.
I think the article is trying to show that NFL players don't get arrested more than your average man, so the NFL does not have a crime issue.
But of course it does.
An average man doesn't get his face plastered on ESPN, every sports page in America and on CBS12 newscasts when they get arrested. But NFL players do.
An average man can not have a negative impact to a multi-million dollar business. But NFL players can.
An average man is not a hero to thousands of young children all across the world. But NFL players are.
I understand that NFL players are targets when they go out in public. But that does not excuse domestic violence. Or driving under the influence. Or drug possession. Or murder, of course.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has tried to implement on-the-field punishment for off-the-field issues, but that has obvious not had very little effect.
If the thought of possibly going to jail doesn't keep an NFL player from getting into a car drunk, hitting their wife, or drawing their weapon, then getting suspended a couple games won't deter them either.
What really needs to change, is the culture inside locker rooms. An NFL team is so large, that it's hard for one or two captains to keep 70 players in check. But if each team starts a leadership committee - a group of players that keep an eye on each other, talk to those that are in trouble, set up drivers for nights of drinking, and so on, then maybe we will see players start to be more responsible when they are on their own time.
Will we ever be able to get rid of all off-the-field issues? Of course not. But these are young, rich, violent men, who think they own the world. They don't think "the man" can keep them down, whether that's the police, or the commish. Their peers and teammates may be the only ones who can get them to see that crime doesn't pay.
The best food for an eating competition
This afternoon Joey Chestnut devoured 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Many people are repulsed by the thought of competitive eating, and that has a lot to do with what is the spectacle on July 4th in the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. The competitors, especially Chestnut, look like they are in physical pain during those ten minutes. They're dunking hot dog buns in water (gross), chewing with their mouths wide open (doubly gross), and going so fast it's hard to tell sometimes if they're actually vomiting while they're eating (insanely gross).
This one event paints competitive eating in a pretty bad light. While the spectacle is disgusting, the majority of Americans have trouble wrapping their mind around eating 2 or 3 hot dogs, never mind 60 or 70.
So that made me think of this question - If I had to participate in a eating competition, what would be my food of choice?
Let's start by eliminating possibilities:
- Anything that is mostly starch has to be eliminated. French fries, cookies, cake, breadsticks, pizza, etc. are all way too heavy. I wouldn't get very far, because it would feel like a rock in my stomach.
- Anything too cold is out - I love ice cream, but the possibility of permanent brain freeze makes this too dangerous.
- Can't do anything too spicy. I want to enjoy this competition, and while I like spicy foods, I don't want my tongue, lips and fingers to be on fire while I'm trying to eat.
- Steak would be too tough. Beef would be really heavy in the stomach, and after awhile, you're jaw would hurt, and you'd feel like you're eating rubber.
- It has an interesting taste. No scrambled eggs, or baked potatoes - you have to want to keep eating as long as possible.
So these are the REAL eating competitions that I would want to watch/participate in more than the hot dog eating contest:
Ribfest Chicago's Rib-Mania Eating Championship (IL) - There are few things more tasty in this world than ribs. Eating ribs is somewhat difficult, and that adds a challenge that keeps you interested in eating. The food is not that heavy, and you can add different sauces to spice it up. The only catch is that it would be incredibly messy, but that doesn't bother me.
World CheeseSteak Eating Championship at Dorney Park (PA) - While this would be a lot of starch, the tastiness of the cheesesteak makes it much more about the meat and cheese than the bread. I'm not sure how many I could do, but I would love to try.
Boomtown Casino & Hotel Reno Lobster Eating Championship (NV) - Yes, lobster. Most other seafood I would like to eat only in moderation, but lobster I feel would be an incredibly enjoyable way to eat yourself into oblivion.
Midway Slots World Crabcake Eating Competition (DE) - As long as these were high-level crabcakes, and they weren't overly bready, this would be awesome.
What would YOU eat if you had to be in a eating competition?
2013 NBA Mock Draft
Ever since I was a sophomore in college, I've filled out a mock NBA Draft. I've had some great ones (I had 14 correct in 2008) and some TERRIBLE ones (twice I've had only 1 right). This draft is one of the hardest to project, with even the first pick still tough to gauge at this point. I'm not expecting this mock draft to be too successful.. but here it goes.
1. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS - Alex Len 7-1 255 C Maryland Soph.
I've flip-flopped on this pick a few times over the past weeks,which shows you just how crazy this draft is. The guy here for the better part of the last year has been Noel. Every media member in Cleveland says they have soured on Noel over the past few months. Whether that's a smoke screen or not, I'll buy in. Len, despite being older, is a much better offensive player, and while he has recently had 1 ankle surgery, Noel is on a 2nd knee surgery. Bad knees on a big man going #1 overall is a bad combination. So Len steals Noel's sunshine (Get it?) and goes #1.
2. ORLANDO MAGIC - Nerlens Noel 6-11 206 PF/C Kentucky Fr.
Orlando is one of a few teams in this draft that are in TOTAL rebuilding mode. Noel may not be 100% healthy for a year or so, but he could be a defensive beast after he matures. You could say shades of Dwight Howard but Noel weighs about as much as Howard's shadow, so that may be a reach. But there is NO question that if the Cavs pass on Noel, the Magic take him.
3. WASHINGTON WIZARDS - Otto Porter 6-9200 SF Georgetown Soph.
A pick that makes too much sense usually doesn't work out. But Porter is the player most ready to step in and play right away, and the Wizards really need a mature small forward to step in with Bradley Beal and John Wall. Plus, he's a local. But things very rarely make sense in our nation's capital, so who knows.
4. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS - Anthony Bennett 6-7240 SF/PF UNLV Fr.
Bobcats are the worst franchise in the league, and will be for the next decade. They must feel like they're constantly building on quicksand - because they keep adding pieces but they never get anywhere. Bennett is a tweener forward who could have trouble finding a position in the NBA. They could take Oladipo here.. but that would be the smart thing. And they're the Bobcats. Lets have one more disastrous draft before they become the Hornets again, shall we?
5. PHOENIX SUNS - Victor Oladipo 6-4 213 SG/SF Indiana Jr.
Most people who have talked to these potential top 10 players find Oladipo to be the most impressive person in this draft - from his work ethic, to his intensity, to his love of the game. The issue, is that the player he's comparable to in the NBA is Tony Allen. Is Tony Allen worth a #5 overall pick? That being said, the Suns can ill-afford to strike out here, as they are in in rebuild mode, and this is a guy that can you can build a team with.
6. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS - Ben McLemore 6-5 190 SG Kansas Fr.
When I did my first draft, I had McLemore as the #1 pick. Talent-wise, he's off the chart, with a sweet shot (even drawing Ray Allen comparisons). But he is the anti-Oladipo - he has come off as immature, and experts say he's not always confident in that sweet shot. He's the best option here for the Hornets because of his upside. But on a team without a lot of leadership, he may just fade away. Still, he has the talent to be #1 so the Pelicans swoop down and gobble him up. (The miserable metaphors will stop eventually).
7. SACRAMENTO KINGS - Trey Burke 6-1 190 PG Michigan Soph.
Kings are taking point guard here, and have plenty to choose from at this point in the draft. They need a level headed leader to handle all their head case players. Burke seems to be that type of guy. Is Michigan's March Madness run inflating his stock? Possibly. But he was the #1 point guard in the country all year long.
8. DETROIT PISTONS - Michael Carter-William s6-6 185 PG Syracuse Soph.
MCW is not as polished of an offensive player as some of the other point guards at this point in the draft, but he is the PERFECT fit for Detroit. The Pistons want to move Brandon Knight from the point to the two. Knight is 6'3", so they need a big point guard who can throw lobs to their talented big men. MCW will take some time to ripen (yes, like an Orange) but if his shot continues to improve, he has a chance to be the best PG from this draft.
9. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES - CJ McCollum 6-3 197 PG/SG Lehigh Sr.
This year's Damien Lillard. If you don't know who Damien Lillard is, get out more. They're both well-seasoned scorers from small schools whose talents translate well to the NBA. Lillard won the Rookie of the Year. McCollum could too.
10. TORONTO RAPTORS - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 6-6 205 SG Georgia Soph.
In the college basketball landscape, you're more likely to have watched Lehigh play this year, than Georgia. SEC basketball is about as bad (if your name is not the Wildcats or Gators) as SEC football is good. But Caldwell-Pope was the conference player of the year as a sophomore, and single-handedly turned UGA from an atrocious team to a better-than-average team. He could certainly go one pick earlier to Minnesota.
11. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS - Cody Zeller 7-0 230 PF/C Indiana Soph.
At one time, Zeller was the odds on favorite to be the #1 pick. But his upside just does not match the same upside as the guys at the top. That being said, a lot of teams in the top 10 have brought in Zeller this week (including the Cavaliers) but that all may just be draft-week games. This is more where Zeller belongs,and the 76ers need a new center, to try to block this past year of Andrew Bynum from their memory.
12. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER - Steven Adams 7-0 255 C Pittsburgh Fr.
Thunder are waiting to see just how good of a player they can get here. Adams is a guy who had ZERO basketball skills at the beginning of last season with Pitt. And by the workouts in Chicago, he had become one of the most talented big men there. The Thunder would love to get someone who could help them right away. Adams is certainly a work in progress, but he could act as a big body, especially if the Thunder amnesties Kendrick Perkins. Thanks to the NBA, amnesty can now be used as a verb.
13. DALLAS MAVERICKS - Dennis Schroeder 6-2 168 PG Germany
The Mavericks are somewhat in the same boat as the Celtics - once talented teams whose window is LIKELY shut, but they'd really like to find a way to stay relevant. The Mavericks would like to keep cap space open so they can pay for the big stars when they become available. They really don't have much of consequence on their roster as-is, so they'll take best player at this point, which is this quick German point guard.
14. UTAH JAZZ - Shane Larkin 5-11 171 PG Miami Soph.
The Jazz will no doubt be after a point guard with either this pick or pick #21. Shane Larkin is the kind of guy they want - great leader, dependable scorer, good vision. The bigger issue is whether they think they can get him at 21. I think they reach out and grab him here,especially with Burke, MCW and Schroeder off the board.
15. MILWAUKEE BUCKS - Shabazz Muhammad 6-6 225 SF UCLA Fr.
Muhammad is a bit of a risk - he was supposed to be one of the best players in college last year, and it never really materialized. Hes got some daddy issues (read about them here) and there's even a story about him lying about his age. All of those red flags are why he's still available at 15. The Bucks have had some success with guys that don't have the cleanest track records (this ain't your fathers Andrew Bogut-Bucks anymore, son), and with Monta Ellis opting out, they could use someone who can fill it up.
16. BOSTON CELTICS -Sergey Karasev 6-7 197SG/SF Russia
The Celtics have been dealing with their coach mess, and KG mess, and Paul Pierce mess, its easy to forget, they have a draft pick to make. I don't know if Danny Ainge even knows where the Green goes from here. Karasev is a high-volume scorer at a position which may need some filling if Pierce is to leave to LA. Gorgui Dieng is an option here, but they'll go with the younger player, as you get the feeling that the Celtics aren't close to winning again.
17. ATLANTA HAWKS - Mason Plumlee 6-11 238 SF/PF Duke Sr.
Which Plumlee is this? How many more are there? Do they just form out of Coach Ks back when he eats after midnight?
18. ATLANTA HAWKS - Giannis Adetokonbo 6-9 205 SF Greece.
There's no one on the internet who knows how to spell this guys name. Honestly.
19. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS - Lucas Nogueira7-0 220 PF/C Brazil
Cavaliers can afford a gamble with their second round pick. Plus, the Cavs already have a Brazilian center. They may be awful at basketball, but this could be the best soccer playing team in the NBA.
20. CHICAGO BULLS - Allen Crabbe 6-6 197 SG California Jr.
Bulls need a shooter,and a replacement for Rip Hamilton. They certainly have their choice of a few here and Crabbe fits the bill. Why? Because he has a funny name, and he is funny looking. So he fits great on the Bulls.
21. UTAH JAZZ - Kelly Olynyk 7-0 234 C Gonzaga Jr.
Jazz went backcourt with first pick, they'll go front court with the second pick. Olynyk projects more as a face-to-the-basket power forward, so he'll be able to play with Enes Kanter.
22. BROOKLYN NETS - Rudy Gobert 7-2 238 C France
Most Brooklyn people say the Nets are fine where they are, and are looking for someone they can stash overseas. Because anyone who watched the Nets this year thought "Yeah, this is the best team in the NBA that has no room for improvement."
23. INDIANA PACERS - Tim Hardaway Jr. 6-6200 SG Michigan
Pacers need a shooter - that became obvious in the Eastern Conference Finals. I like this move A LOT for them. Hardaway will provide instant scoring, and will give the Pacers even more insurance to move Danny Granger.
24. NEW YORK KNICKS - Gorgui Dieng 6-11 230 C Louisville Jr.
Dieng is just about the oldest player who is available in this draft,and he could be the center of the future post-Tyson Chandler. Plus, he wont take shots away from Carmelo Anthony. That seems to be what means most to the Knicks.
25. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS - Tony Snell 6-7 198 SG/SF New Mexico Jr.
End of this draft I see a big run on wing players. They're becoming the most important role players on NBA teams (think Mike Miller, Shane Battier, Lance Stephenson, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard). The Clippers are close to being a title contender, adding the best shooter, who has really good size, is the move here.
26. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES - Jamaal Franklin 6-5 191 SG/SF San Diego St. Jr.
Speaking of Leonard, Franklin has drawn a lot of comparisons to him, because of his game and because of their SD State pedigree. Franklin is not as good of a shooter though, which is why he won't be taken as high as Leonard was. Franklin is a long defender, and the Timberwolves went offensive first.. so they'll go defensive second.
27. DENVER NUGGETS - Reggie Bullock 6-7 200 SG/SF North Carolina Jr.
Again, a team in need of a shooter on the wing. This is a shooter on the wing. Move along, nothing else to see here.
28. SAN ANTONIO SPURS - Isaiah Canaan 6-0 190 PG Murray State Sr.
The Spurs are smarter than all of us, and they typically have their own thoughts on players that are different than the norm. And they're usually right. It would make sense that at this point they're keeping their eye out for a future replacement for Tony Parker, or a future replacement for Manu Ginobili. Canaan is the type of heady player that it would seem like the Spurs would like. (If Coach Popovich likes ANYTHING, that is.)
29. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER - Glen Rice Jr. 6-6 211 SG NBA Developmental League.
The Thunder keeps adding players, and they've got their choice of some talented wings here. Glen Rice Jr. got kicked out of Georgia Tech, and then led his D-League team in scoring. Some team is going to take a chance on him, and the Thunder can afford to take chances.
30. PHOENIX SUNS - Ricky Ledo 6-6 197 SG Providence, Fr.
Who do you think should be the first pick in the NBA Draft?
Phil's unexplainable Open history
Again? How can this possibly happen again?
Phil Mickelson called his runner-up finish at the U.S. Open: "heartbreaking".
And there are plenty of reasons for him to call it so:
1. He had the lead after the first, second and third rounds.
2. He wanted to celebrate his 43rd birthday with one of the biggest gifts in his sport.
3. He wanted to award his daughter the trophy on Father's Day - just five days after he made the now famous overnight flight to the first tee from her 8th grade graduation.
4. He wanted to honor his own father on Father's Day - the man who taught him the game, and passed away 11 years ago.
5. He's one of the best American golfers in the history of the game - and he wanted to win America's championship.
But of course, the one that gets the most traction -
6. He's been this close 5 times prior.
We've seen this story before - at Pinehurst, and Shinnecock and Winged Foot and Bethpage (twice) - Phil puts himself into contention, but at the end he just can't make the shots that someone else makes.
Not surprisingly, in five of the six runner-up finishes the winner has outscored Phil on Sunday.
In four of those six, he's been either the leader after the 2nd or the 3rd round.
In none of those six, has he played the course under par in the final round.
The numbers all tell the story, of how Phil never has won.. but why is a much more challenging question.
Lefty has 41 Tour wins - only 8 golfers have more.
He has 3 Masters victories - only 3 golfers have more.
He has 4 total Major wins - only 14 golfers have more.
This is not a man who chokes under pressure. But still, at his nation's championship, he remains the bridesmaid.
What it teaches us is that the golf gods are fickle. On Father's Day 2013, they decided Justin Rose, a man who no doubt deserved his first major, had finally reached HIS time for greatness.
Mickelson LOST this major, as much as Rose WON it. But that's my stance on this inane argument in all cases - in any sport a team/player loses, as much as the other one wins. Mickelson had opportunities to beat Rose and he did not do it.
Just like in 1999 at Pinehurst and Payne Stewart.
And 2004 at Shinnecock and Retief Goosen.
And 2006 at Winged Foot and Geoff Ogilvy.
And any golf tournament that Phil played in that he didn't win.
Mickelson will have to go to sleep knowing that another U.S. Open slipped through his fingers.
And the only thing that may comfort him is he must be used to it by now.
U.S. Open pick - I got the Kuch
We all know Tiger Woods is the top-ranked player in the world, and Rory McIlroy is cemented in that #2 spot. Masters winner Adam Scott has climbed to #3.
#4? That's occupied by the steady Kuch.
Matt Kuchar is the hottest player in golf, and his game is well-suited to win the first major of his career this weekend in Merion.
To win this week at golf's toughest test - you need to be accurate with your drives, dead eye with your wedges, and have a hot flat stick. Kuchar has all of those things right now - having a win and a 2nd place finish in his last two events.
While he is major-less - Kuch has the cojones to handle the pressure of the big stage, as shown by his win at The Players Championship last year.
Your big hitters will struggle this week, and your shorter guys - Steve Stricker, Graeme McDowell, Zach Johnson - will have a chance to contend. But Kuchar has the short game that those guys do, but has more distance off the tee.
Matt Kuchar is currently the best player to have never won a major. He won't be after this weekend.
Tebowmania lands in Foxboro
It seems there are only two people who think Tim Tebow can help a football team - Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels. The Patriots offensive duo both were in love with Tebow coming out of Florida, and they apparently have seen nothing over the past three years in the NFL to make them change their minds.
I "like" Tim Tebow because of this reason - the majority of people don't think he can be an NFL quarterback. And in his only opportunity to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, he led the Broncos to the playoffs, and a memorable playoff victory. I like the fact that he bucks most major athlete trends, with his outwardly open religious views, and his goodie-two-shoes persona. I like how he strives on proving people wrong, and hasn't changed who he is despite his insane popularity.
Bill Belichick answered each question at his press conference with some variation of "we'll use him however he fits best for this team". While Belichick may be the craftiest head coach in the history of the game, I think in this scenario he really has no plan for Tebow. Tebow signed a two year deal with NO guaranteed money. So I think there's a chance he'll never suit up for the Patriots in a game.
Believe this - Tebow will not be taking quarterback snaps while Tom Brady is healthy. Brady is still the best short yardage quarterback on the team.
So, here are the different options of what can happen with Tebow, and the percentage of how likely each one is to happen:
1. Tebow provides the Patriots with some intel on the Jets over the next few months. He's cut during the preseason games. (45%)
2. Tebow opens the season on special teams, and begins to take snaps as a halfback/tight end, similiar to the role Aaron Hernandez has now. (35%)
3. Tebow stays on the roster as a quarterback, and he's not heard from for the entirety of 2013. Ryan Mallett gets traded and he goes into 2014 as the backup quarterback with the possibility of him taking over for Brady in 2016 or 17. (17%)
4. Tom Brady gets hurt, and Belichick implements a similar offense to what we saw from the Broncos in 2011, handing the keys to Tebow. (2%)
5. Tebow is brought in solely to be Rob Gronkowski's life coach. (1%)
I don't know if Tim Tebow can be an NFL quarterback.
I don't know if Tim Tebow can be a viable NFL player.
I do agree with the fact that Bill Belichick is the best coach for Tebow - not because he's such an incredible mastermind that he can mold Tebow into a viable player.
But rather that more than any other coach, Belichick knows how to USE players depending on their specific talents.
If Tebow can play in the NFL, Belichick will find a way to use him.
If not, he'll join the long line of former Patriots cut before Week 1.
Heat/Pacers more about flipflopping, not flopping
The Heat blew the Pacers away in Game 7. And I don't think anyone is surprised.
But that's just what has been crazy about the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Heat just weren't the better team, they've always been the best team. So no one should be surprised that the won.
But their erratic play has been headscratching and confounding.
Ray Allen hit some shots. Finally.
Dwyane Wade looked rejuvenated. Where has that been?
Chris Bosh nailed a big 3. Well it's about time.
But none of that was surprising.
While all the talk during the early part of this series was about flopping, it's really been about flip-flopping.
Prevailing thoughts during this series:
After Game 1: Heat are going to roll.
After Game 2: Pacers could make this interesting.
After Game 3: Heat in 5, no problems.
After Game 4: Pacers may have the Heat's number.
After Game 5: It was scary there for a second, but the Heat have it.
After Game 6: LeBron can't beat the Pacers by himself, the Heat are going to lose this thing.
After Game 7: See? The better team won!
The NBA Finals start Thursday, and right now, nothing will surprise me.
Craig Sager - A 21st century clown
The NBC in Miami recently did a behind-the-scenes look at TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager's wardrobe that he takes on the road. You can see it here (but finish reading this blog first).
Sager is known as "Mr. Fancy Suit" for the ridiculous garb he wears during games. Just check out the few pictures that I've chosen below.
The man has spent almost 20 years as the main sideline reporter for TNT's NBA coverage, and before that had a long career as a local sports guy (including a few Florida stops, in Ft. Myers and St. Pete).
I'd like to respect the guy - but in the year 2013, you have to be more than the clothes you wear.
Sager has built himself a niche-popularity that's based solely on his ridiculous custom-made suits.
TNT gets kudos for the best in-studio show on television. Plus, they have two of the best game-callers in Marv Albert and Steve Kerr.
But it's time they cut the clown - and give us another person in the broadcast who is more than just an eyesore.
Sports Fan First, Sports Star Second
Keegan Bradley may reside in Jupiter, but the former PGA Champion will always call himself a New Englander. The Woodstock, VT native has risen to the top of the golfing world, but if you look at his twitter feed, he could just be another Sully, Tommy or Billy from South Boston.
Bradley is a diehard Red Sox/Patriots/Celtics/Bruins fan - and he loves to make that fact known - "@Keegan_Bradley (10 May) Good luck to Ryan Clark and the steelers when they face Brady and the Patriots #runitup."
He tweeted throughout the Bruins memorable Game 7 comeback victory over the Maple Leafs last week - "@Keegan_Bradley (13 May) One of the best sporting events I've ever watched!!! #bruins"
Really Keegan? How about the sport you play professionally? You've had great views of some incredible golf finishes...
But no, the man loves his Boston sports, and hates his New York sports - "@Keegan_Bradley (3 May) If u breathe on Melo he's going to the line." "@Keegan_Bradley (1 Apr) Youk chant in Yankee stadium. Gross."
I always find it refreshing when athletes who reach the pinnacle of their sport stay true to their roots. Anyone who grows up in New England has been ingrained to love their teams (just ask me.. I have the Red Sox game on one tv, and the Bruins on the other in my office as I write this). But typically those that make it big time, get too big to be a fan anymore.
But not Keegan.
Would it be blasphemy to put a huge Celtics logo on the back of a Masters Green Jacket?
I say No to Spo
Erik Spoelstra is maturing and gaining experience as an NBA coach. He did a great job keeping the Heat's focus sharp, and very rarely this year did they play under their potential.
But if I had to come up with the top reasons why the Heat had the best record in the league this season, I'd go a long way down that list before I get to their coach.
That's why there's no way that I would give Spoelstra the Coach of the Year.
As reported by the Sun-Sentinel, Spoelstra is happy he wasn't given the award, comparing it to the "SI curse" because four of the last seven coaches who have won the award have fallen on hard times afterward.
Spo did finish second, but I wouldn't even have him in my top 5.
Baseball stat fanatics love to talk about WAR, or wins above replacement. And while that's harder to figure out from a coaching perspective, we can use a little common sense.
Substitute another coach in for Spoelstra - George Karl, Greg Popovich, Doc Rivers - and how much change would there be in the Heat's record? I'd argue it would likely go up.
Karl won the award this year, and was my pick for Coach of the Year. Put Spo as the head coach of the Nuggets.. would they finish THIRD in the West? Of course not - they might even miss the playoffs.
Coach of the Year is just like Most Valuable Player. The award goes to what coach meant the most to his team's success over the course of a season.
Erik Spoelstra is not as valuable to the Heat's success as other coaches are to their team's success. With LeBron, Wade, Ray, Bosh, and the players that he has, Spo is just not that valuable.
What do you think about the Heat's Coach? Hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.
Dee forecasts death of Dolphins in Miami
It's hard to find pictures of Dolphins' CEO Mike Dee not smiling - notice the cartoonish grin in his picture below. Even his name seems somewhat jovial (it makes me think of a child riding the Tea Cups at Disney - "WEEEEEE!!!")
But now it's Dee whose head is left spinning after the Florida Senate didn't even get the chance to vote on the Sun Life Stadium renovations bill. Dee spoke this weekend to WFOR, the CBS affiliate in Miami. (You can see their story with much of the interview here.)
The three highlights of the interview:
- Neither Dee nor owner Steve Ross knew the "desperate condition" of Sun Life Stadium when Ross bought the team.
- House Speaker Will Weatherford is the only person to blame for the bill not passing, and that's it an "abuse of power that will follow his career for a long time."
- The future of the Dolphins in South Florida is "clearly bleak" after Ross sells the team.
Clearly, Mike Dee is no longer smiling.
In regards Ross's ignorance of the stadium structure, WFOR's Jim DeFede makes a great point - it's obvious now that what happened this week was Ross's plan from the beginning. He'd target public money to go after renovations, and he'd get it - because the state will know how important it is for South Florida to be the premier location in the country for major sporting events.
But with the Marlins Park disaster casting a huge shadow on this decision, Weatherford did not want to see it even have a chance to pass.
As Deadspin asked today, "If a stadium upgrade is so important, why don't the Dolphins just pay for it themselves?"
Ross has said he has absolutely NO plans on doing that. Dee says in this WFOR interview, that stadiums are publicly funded all across America - this is how it works, why should it be any different here?
The problem is, as Sun-Sentinel Dolphins beat writer Omar Kelly has mentioned today on Twitter, the Dolphins don't NEED a new stadium. They WANT one. In the words of Omar: "@OmarKelly: I've seen stadiums across country. Sun Life is fine. Gets the job done. It's the Accord of Stadiums. Problem is half of NFL are Mercedes."
And Roger Goodell wants to have his Super Bowl in a Mercedes, not an Accord.
So, it looks like South Florida will not get Super Bowl 50 or 51.
But everyone really needs to calm down about the empty threat of the team leaving town. When Ross sells the team, the new owner would be certifiably INSANE to move this team out of South Florida. If an owner is buying a team just to move it to L.A., why would the Dolphins be the team he buys? There would be other, cheaper, teams to buy and move. And investing in a sports team in South Florida is money in the bank.
As so often in life, a big issue in this whole thing is timing.
It's too soon after the Marlins Park travesty. It's at a time when a House Speaker decides to usurp too much power. And right now, the stadium just doesn't NEED these renovations.
Sun Life Stadium will one day get the changes it needs to be a Mercedes. And Miami will once again be a Super Bowl destination. Then Mike Dee will smile again.
Welcome to the Thinktank
Welcome to What's Lincoln Thinkin' - the one web page on CBS12 that I get free reign to give you my thoughts about not only the sports world.. but also other things that are going on in South Florida.
This marks almost two months on the job for me, as we work the transition from the legendary Pat Murphy, to myself and John Evenson. West Palm Beach has been incredibly welcoming to us, and we can't have asked for a better group of people to work with than those at CBS12.
One of the things that I've really enjoyed so far is being a part of the CBS12 Athlete of the Week. We're obviously continuing the tradition, that has spanned over 5 decades of recognizing young athletes in Palm Beach county and the surrounding areas. A new wrinkle to our Athlete of the Week - is that we are bringing them into the station, to get a tour of the studio, and see how a newscast is put together (this is Royal Palm Beach pitcher Jordan Lauginiger below). For us, it's just another day at work. But these young athletes are all super excited to get the behind-the-scenes tour. And just about each one gets a John Matthews hug with their visit.
I want this blog to be a two-way street. So let me know what you're thinkin' or ask me questions, by shooting me an email at email@example.com, or shooting me a message on twitter, or facebook.
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The Dwyer Awards
The William T. Dwyer Awards for Excellence in Education honors outstanding educators from public and private schools in Palm Beach County.
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Pet of the DayWatch our "Pet of the Day" videos for adorable pets that need a loving home!
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