Friday, April 29, 2011

NFL Draft introduces "experts"

NFL fans are batting 1.000.

They are by far the most knowledgeable fans of any sport.

Remember back in 2000 when the New England Patriots drafted quarterback Tom Brady in the sixth round – 199th overall? Remember how the MENSA’s on message boards were like, “The Patriots got themselves a steal. Great job by New England. Future MVP.”

It seems like yesterday fans pegged that pick correctly.

Or how about when the average NFL “ham and egger” predicted that former Denver Bronco Terrell Davis, who was also a sixth rounder, would set the NFL world on fire by rushing for 2,000 yards in 1998.

It’s truly astonishing how many fans were able to correctly forecast Denver’s decision.

So when I read that Auburn’s Cam Newton, Florida State’s Christian Ponder, and Pittsburgh’s Jonathan Baldwin are all going to be busts then I have to roll with it because the fans are perfect thus far.

Think about this for a minute: With their second overall selection, Oakland drafted a “can’t miss” prospect in Robert Gallery back in 2004, and he has done a masterful job with zero Pro Bowls and has switched positions on the offensive line multiple times.

I read that he was a future All-Pro left tackle. That one’s a mulligan. Next…

Defensive tackle Wendall Bryant was a steal for Arizona at number twelve overall back in 2002. I read that he was in the mold of Warren Sapp.

That worked out well for the Cardinals and Bryant now plays for the Omaha Nighthawks.

Or how about that horrible Mario Williams pick back in 2006? Remember, it was a major reach taking Williams over the likes of Reggie Bush, who is about to lose his job to Mark Ingram, and Vince Young, who’s about to get let go or traded in favor of Jake Locker.

The nerve of Houston taking a two-time Pro Bowler and two-time first team All-Pro selection over the likes of Bush and Young.

I haven’t seen Ponder throw a single NFL pass yet and I know he’s a bust.

Cam Newton’s too dumb and Jonathan Baldwin is too slow.

These are all quantifiable reasons why these three athletes have no chance of making it in the NFL. The fans decreed it to be true, so because of their vast knowledge and firsthand NFL experience it must be true.

Fourth through seventh rounder’s, please quit now. There’s no point in pursuing your dreams of being an NFL standout. The Pro Bowl and especially the Super Bowl is far beyond your grasp.

Just ask Pittsburgh’s James Harrison and Green Bay’s James Starks. Both were undrafted and neither has seen an NFL field let alone a Super Bowl.

As long as the fans and the so-called “experts” continue to assess NFL talent correctly, I’ll continue to not make fun of them in the process.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a lottery to win.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lightning storm back, take series

If you listened to my show last week you’d know I predicted the Tampa Bay Lightning would get rocked 4 games to 1.

Can you blame me? They were down 3-1 and lost an overtime heartbreaker to the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 20th.

Dwayne Roloson gave up a sloppy game-winning goal in the second overtime to James Neal. A goal that Roloson himself appeared baffled.

Steven Stamkos was nowhere to be found and the only offense came from Martin St. Louis and a virtual unknown in Sean Bergenheim.

Roloson was the scapegoat and took the blame for the three losses, and he did so with class. But he was inconsistent and unreliable, and deserved part of the blame.

And I was supposed to say that all is well? That the Bolts had the Penguins right where they wanted them and that they were going to win three in a row to take the series?

Crow never tasted so good.

The Lighting showed the heart of champions and tremendous resolve, defeating the Penguins 1-0 Wednesday night and taking the series 4-3 to advance to the semifinals of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The “scapegoat” quickly turned into the G.O.A.T. after putting together three consecutive stellar starts, including a shutout in last night’s win.

Roloson was once seen as the reason Tampa wasn’t going to advance and he proved the naysayers wrong with his game seven performance.

The Penguins unleashed everything they had at Roloson, taking 36 shots – 13 more than the Bolts – and Roli was up to the task, stopping everything Pittsburgh shot at him.

The 41-year-old goaltender understands that this is his last hurrah. This is it for him. He needs to put it all on the line now while he has an offensive-minded team to back him up, and I believe Roli’s best playoff games are still ahead of him.

The Stanley Cup playoffs tend to expose the legends and the once unknown Bergenheim has become Tampa’s local hockey hero.

Dominic Moore skated behind the net towards the left side of Penguin goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury and passed the puck to Bergenheim, who was standing alone below the right circle and put the biscuit in the back of the net for Tampa’s lone goal.

The sequence was the exact same play the two unleashed in game six’s 4-2 win.

With Stamkos finally making his presence felt and Vinnie Lecavalier doing what Vinnie always does, Tampa’s scorers are dangerous. If Roloson continues his hot streak this team will continue to surprise in the playoffs.

Up next, Friday April 29th against hated rival Washington. The Lightning lost the season series 2 games to 4.

I’m not feeling the greatest about this series, but I’d love nothing more than another heap of crow.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Florida's Jenkins popped for marijuana...again

I really don’t care either way.

If potheads want to “toke Buddha,” then be my guest.

I’m not one to judge.

If degenerates want to get baked and devour Fritos on a daily basis, then more power to them.

I’m not one to judge.

If smoking chronic and taking huge riffs of ganja from a glass tube all while sitting on your couch, waiting for Billy Madison's penguin to walk through the door, makes life a little easier, then have at it.

Seriously, I’m not one to judge because I don’t care.

This has nothing to do with marijuana.

This isn’t a rant or a diatribe on the legalization of weed, nor is it a political stance on how legalizing it would contribute to reviving the United States and pull the country out of its current depression.

This has everything to do with the sheer stupidity of one college athlete – namely Florida’s cornerback Janoris Jenkins.

Jenkins has been arrested twice this year for possession of marijuana and three times since 2009.

Will Muschamp will have his first real test as the Gator’s new head football coach.

So what does Florida do with Jenkins?

The senior passed up millions in potential first round money to come back and finish out his college career at Florida – a decision many, including myself, questioned.

Jenkins clearly has a problem. Get busted for marijuana once and it’s funny. Laugh it off. The majority of college kids smoke.

Popped twice and now it’s not as funny and becoming borderline problematic.

Three times and the student-athlete is a concern, and a distraction to a team that’s attempting to alienate the stigma that has haunted Florida since Urban Meyer’s reign.

Muschamp has an overwhelming decision to make: Set precedence and an example by kicking the best player off of his team or allow him yet another chance to rectify his actions.

Why do I have a distinct feeling it’ll be the latter?

Now, I said this blog wasn’t about ripping on potheads, and I’m not. I will; however, crack on a football player that doesn’t adhere to the law and is a habitual offender.

See what I wrote there: “Adhere to the law.”

I don’t care if smoking pot has never assisted in a deadly crime, which I’m sure it has. I don’t care if reefer has never transformed mild-mannered guys into rowdy hooligans.

The fact of the matter is the possession of marijuana is ILLEGAL.

Spare me the lecture about how smoking pot comes from the earth and should be legalized. Until I see a slew of Phish fans openly walking down the street with a joint and chatting it up with a police officer, rules have to be followed.

And for some odd reason Janoris Jenkins, the gifted Florida athlete that gave up millions to take one more run at a National Title, can’t put the dutchie down.

Then again, what do I know? I don’t smoke, and I’m not a future multimillionaire.

I’m not one to judge.

Bucs to release Talib

What do the Buccaneers do with troubled cornerback Aqib Talib?

There’s no doubt that the former first rounder has Pro Bowl talent, and I would argue that Talib is the second best player on Tampa’s current roster – the first being Josh Freeman – but where does the Buccaneer organization draw the line?

Last March, Talib had a warrant out for his arrest in Garland, Texas after being accused of “pistol-whipping” his sister’s boyfriend and allegedly firing the gun in the boyfriend’s direction.

Talib turned himself into authorities and was released on a $25,000 bond.

Before this incident, Talib got into a fistfight with then fellow teammate Cory Boyd at the NFL’s Rookie Symposium back in 2008.

Talib followed that dustup by fighting Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn during OTAs in 2009.

And finally, the infamous cab fight in August of 2009 where Talib allegedly hit a taxi driver in the right ear. He was suspended for one game.

GM Mark Dominik has had enough.

According to Rick Stroud of the St. Petersburg Times, the Buccaneers plan to release Talib once the new CBA is in place. The lockout prevents the organization from doing anything at the present time.

I love playing Devil’s Advocate. It’s just my thing…

What has Aqib Talib done other than getting into a few minor fights?

What happens if Talib is exonerated of all charges? What do you say if we discover that Talib was defending his sister when the assault occured?

I ask because if the Buccaneers release him he will go to a team that needs cornerback help in the worst way. Namely New Orleans or Atlanta.

Can you imagine Talib lining up against Bucs’ wide receiver Mike Williams? Who would get the better of that matchup? Williams is solid, but my money’s on Talib.

I’m all for allowing the justice system to work itself out and give Talib his due process. I was under the assumption that being “innocent until proven guilty” still applies in this country. In the NFL it’s the other way around.

Every organization is so afraid of Sheriff Goodell that they’d rather jump the gun and react hastily then come to a logical conclusion. Allow the courts to decide his outcome and then the Buccaneers can determine what do to.

The lockout may be a blessing in disguise for Tampa when deciding Talib’s fate. Considering they can’t do a single thing until a negotiation is reached between the owners and the *NFLPA, this may give the organization some time to rethink their position with Talib.

If he’s found guilty of all charges then he goes to jail and the organization looks smart.

If Talib walks and is released, he’ll make Tampa Bay realize the mistake they committed by signing with an NFC South squad. That’s the kind of guy he is.

The Buccaneers are in a lose-lose situation. No good can come of this. And before people reply with, “Yeah, what about Nnamdi Asomugha?”

Sorry to say it, but the Glazers haven’t spent money in a long time and they’re not about to sign the most sought after free agent in the current market.

It’s not going to happen.

I say let the authorities work it out and base a decision off of their verdict. If Talib is going to get kicked off of the team for one isolated incident then might as well start sending other players packing.

Three fights and a monumental mistake should not equal dismissal.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Legend of #13

Twitter can be an incredibly entertaining tool. Just ask Rays’ outfielder Sam Fuld.

The 29-year old exploded onto the MLB scene by rocking the Boston Red Sox on ESPN Monday night. Fuld had 4 hits in 6 at-bats with 3 RBI and a homerun.

He could’ve hit for the cycle, but in his last plate appearance Fuld opted to dig for a double rather than stop at first, which would’ve secured his place in Rays’ history as the second player to hit for the cycle (BJ Upton is the first and only player in Rays’ history).

In the 5th inning of last night’s outing, Fuld tied the game by scoring Kelly Shoppach in on a shallow dribble two feet in front of home plate. Neither Adrian Gonzalez nor Jason Varitek could make the play and Fuld reached first safely.

Fuld has also displayed his athletic ability throughout the young season by running down and catching difficult balls in the outfield.

The Twitter world is blowing up with “Legend of Sam Fuld” hash-tags (#LegendofSamFuld). So much so that his teammates have joined in on the fun.

They’re similar to what we used to see with the Chuck Norris myths. “Chuck Norris doesn’t sleep. He waits,” so on and so forth.

One such #LegendofSamFuld saying making the rounds is “I’ll keep rooting for Sam Fuld…if he lets me.”

They’re cheesy and slightly sophomoric, but they’re fun and lighthearted which is a positive sign that the Rays’ fan base is starting to come around after the dismal start.

Fuld’s legend has definitely made the fans forget another legend; at least for the time being.

The Legend of #13 is turning into a nightmare. I refuse to call him by his first name because of how he treated the Bay area.

I’d be more than happy to give him his recognition, but he didn’t respect St. Petersburg when he arrived in Boston. He adhered to the fun when the Boston media ripped the Rays’ fan base, and he didn’t even attempt to defend the team or the fans.

It could’ve been easy for him to answer the questions with something vanilla like, “Tampa was great, but I’m in Boston now and I’m focused on winning this organization a championship.” Canned. Non-malicious. Simple.

Instead #13 added fuel to an already heated rivalry.

It wasn’t until a month or so later that he even acknowledged the Bay area via a small clip in the St. Petersburg Times. I, for one, wasn’t going to give him credit for something players do once leaving their longtime organizations.

Now, #13 is a villain in a hostile Boston town. He’s batting an anemic .152 with one RBI in 46 at-bats. The “boo birds” were clearly heard in yesterday’s loss after #13 flied out to leftfield in the 8th.

Funny, I don’t recall him getting booed while playing leftfield in the Trop.

While #13’s legend diminishes, Fuld’s grows. Sam Fuld is in a no-pressure situation. You can see that he’s having fun and his loose nature is clearly paying dividends.

#13 is struggling with his new batting stance, as well as striving to adjust to the pressure cooker that is the Boston media.

Hitting and winning are contagious. You want to surround yourself around that kind of collected and confident energy. And that’s the sort of impact Sam Fuld brings to the Rays as well as the Bay area.

May Sam’s legend grow.

And may the karma persevere.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rays' Fans: Don't Panic! Maddon isn't...

I wrote this yesterday in regards to Maddon's meltdown v the White Sox on Sunday...

No one’s supposed to panic.

As Rays’ fans, we’re supposed to sit back and allow the season to unfold because, as we all know, no one wins a World Series in April.

Sure, we can yell at the television, boo at the Trop – which is the most ridiculous display of disapproval a fan base can do – and we can all flap our gums over at the local watering hole while hanging with our friends and voice our displeasures.

That’s our role though. That’s what we’re supposed to do as fans. We’re “fanatics.” We’re unreasonable. When the going gets tough, we all whine and point out the obvious mistakes the team makes.

We’re supposed to meltdown.

This may come off as an anti-Maddon column, but I assure you that’s it’s not. I’m not going to vilify him and treat Maddon like the Bay area treated Gruden.

I think Rays’ skipper Joe Maddon is a great manager. I believe he, like the majority of professional coaches, do the best that they can with what they’re given. Maddon has done a phenomenal job of what he has had to work with. He keeps his cool and typically picks his battles wisely.

With that said, Maddon flipping his lid and melting down during the top of the 6th inning in yesterday’s loss to the Chicago White Sox was embarrassing.

Dan Johnson ripped a hard shot off of Paul Konerko’s glove, which was quickly recovered by Gordon Beckham who threw a laser to first base to try and beat the hustling Johnson out.

Gavin Floyd clearly bobbled the ball and Johnson was called safe at first. Ozzie Guillen trotted out of the dugout and disputed the call. The umps convened and reversed it, which took a run off of the board and ended the inning.

Now it gets interesting. Maddon sprints out of the dugout like a man on fire. Animated and yelling, he eventually gets kicked out of the game, but not before gesturing to the umpires that they’re ejected.

That’s right. Smokin’ Joe pretended to toss the umps out of the game. Way to keep your composure, Joe. Phillip Wellman, the former manager of the Mississippi Braves who became famous for his on-field tirade, thought you lost your cool.

We’re the ones that are supposed to lose it. We’re the ones that are supposed to voice our opinions, no matter how unrealistic they are.

And right now we’re sick of hearing that “It’s early and there’s no need to panic.”

How are we not supposed to panic when the manager of the Tampa Bay Rays is erupting and actively hysterical? He’s clearly panicked. Are we supposed to wait until June before we’re officially allowed to be frightened?

It may not be Chernobyl yet, but if Maddon keeps this act up it will be.

Like I mentioned, Maddon was reacting to the bad call, which was an awful overturn. A manager should never be allowed to come out of the dugout and argue a call in their favor. If that was the case, managers should be allowed to enter the batter’s box and dispute every single ball and strike with the ability to argue each one of them.

I’m not saying that particular play would’ve won the game for the Rays, but it certainly might’ve established momentum making for a more enjoyable experience. Making for a more competitive contest.

So, I’m fine with Joe and how he went out there to take up for his player and dispute a horrible reversal, but he did so in a manner that was embarrassing to a team that is struggling mightily. He did it to a city that is tired of having to defend this squad to the northern hordes that invade our proud community.

Let the fans develop incoherent rants and illogical strategies. Focus on turning this team around and cultivating chemistry.

Focus on winning.

Leave the panic to us.

It has been far too long...

I started this blog a long time ago and I need to get it going again. I have no idea what kind of a following I had, but, for the sake of the 3 fans that I had, as well as bettering myself as a sports columnist, it will be revived. Let's rock...