Sunday, January 29, 2006

red. wings. suck.

I was at the Dallas Stars game Saturday vs the Red Wings and will be there again tomorrow night against San Jose. But talk about a great game and an electric crowd, the Detroit game definitely had the look and feel of a playoff game. The media, among many, have been on the Stars fans and their lack of support. Well look at some of the games the Stars played at home earlier this season and you should be able to see why. Too many times they've come out and played down to the level of their opponent, only to lose a close game that they should have won. Too many times the Stars have come out and played a great first period and decided that should be enough to win and put in on cruise control the rest of the game. Too many games like that and loses that shouldn't have been are a direct reflect of the crowd and the support they provide. This Stars team has the talent to go far into the playoffs, there's not another team playing as well as the Stars are right now. If the Stars bring the intensity they brought to Saturday's Red Wings game to every game, first, they wont lose many between now and the end of the season and second, the crowd will be 'electric' every night.

I heard several people say that the Detroit game was the best they'd ever been to. Outside of some of the Colorado playoff games and the Stanley Cup Finals, it ranks right up there. The Stars have the chance to do something very special this year; hopefully they realize that and play to their potential. The Stars have some of the most skilled players in the league, witnessed by their 8-0 record in shootouts. With Marty Turco on top of his game, the Stars have a chance to win every game they play.

No team is more hated in Dallas than the Red Wings. Colorado is a close second, but when Detroit comes to town, bandwagon Red Wing fans emerge from the woodwork. How great was the expression on those Red Wing fan's faces when Lehtinen tied the game and the realization of a potential shootout loomed. The Wing fans were boisterous all game until all the sudden they didn't have the lead and chants of 'Red Wings Suck' echoed through the arena. The Stars were jobbed all game long by the refs, as if NBC was dictating that Detroit needed to win because they have a bigger following and to segue into the upcoming Super Bowl. The Stars PK did a great job with only giving up one PP goal, that on a penalty by Turco for slashing. The Stars made the most of their chances, tied it late in regulation, killed another penalty in the OT and won where have so often before, in the Shootout. Modano provided the difference maker with a blistering wrister going top shelf and all the Dead Wing Fans went home to cry. A great game, start to finish and a great crowd as well. I'll be at most of the home games the rest of the year so LETS GO STARS!

Monday, January 23, 2006


Eighty-one points in a game... eighty-freakin-one! Simply an incredible achievement for Kobe Bean Bryant. The second most points EVER scored in a game. It was quite possibly the greatest scoring performance in NBA history. Yeah Wilt had 100 back in '62, but there wasn't anyone with his size that could guard him in that day and virtually all his points were down in the paint.

I watched Kobe drop 62 on the Mavericks in three quarters back in December. The Mavs threw everyone they had at him, double and triple-teamed him to no avail. Sunday night, the Raptors did the same thing, with the same result. What a shame this game wasn't on national television though most of Kobe's 28 field goals were shown on every sportscast in town. Here's a scary thought... if Phil lets Kobe play the 4th against the Mavs, Kobe probably has TWO 80 point games within a month! Michael Jordan never scored 80, his career high was 69.

Kobe rallied the Lakers from 18 points down in the 3rd quarter, single-handedly delivering an 18 point win. That’s a 36 point swing! Bryant's performance was the greatest show that the NBA has ever seen. Kobe is averaging 36 points a game, the most in the last 18 years since MJ was averaging 37 for the Bulls back in the day. These weren't all easy baskets and dunks by any means; several shots were put up with hands right in his face, only to find the bottom of the net.

The man is virtually unguardable. His shooting range goes way beyond the three-point line, and his ball-handling ability allows him to get to any spot on the floor. His strength and fearlessness puts him at the free-throw line time and again, and his steely nature at the end of games makes him lethal in the clutch. He is a basketball machine.

If Kobe had come before Michael, they would be comparing MJ to Kobe instead of the other way around, he's that good. Kobe Bryant has to win the NBA's MVP award. No one else is even close right now. Elton Brand was the early-season favorite after his fast start, and Steve Nash has been mentioned as a repeat winner for leading the Suns to first place in the Pacific Division. Dirk Nowitzki also deserves consideration for his play and for the success of the Mavericks. But Kobe has elevated his game to an entirely different level – one that has rarely been seen in the history of the NBA.

He is far and away the best player in the league. And after the show he put on Sunday, can anyone argue that he's not the MVP?

Two of his 81

Congrats from Phil and the rest of the team

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

march madness cant come soon enough

Is there anything more painful than American Idol?!? I think not.

I was 3-2 on this weekend's NFL game picks, a slip off from last week's 3-1.

So our local LBOH (Little Ball of Hate) Jen Engel is still ranting about how "horrible" the officiating was this weekend in the NFL playoffs. I'll admit, the Polamalu non-interception call was pretty bad, but other than that, there wasn't much to complain about. A missed delay of game and a questionable pass interference call we're maybe the only other calls that were game impacting. All in all, the teams that played better and won the turnover battle came out on top.
You can't review every play until 'everyone' is happy and thinks they got it right. No one would every watch a game that takes 5 or 6 hours to play. Comparison to the systems employed in college football is a joke, as NO ONE likes the current college football review system to begin with. There's going to be judgment calls in every game, which people are going to disagree about, and that's part of what makes the game interesting. Outside of the non-interception call, the refs didn't miss any obvious calls this weekend and no more than they have been all year. The only difference is that there were only 4 games this weekend and they were all televised. Calls will be missed in every game, it’s the nature of the game and you live with it.

Monday, January 16, 2006


Anyone see the love-fest Shaq and Kobe put on before their game at The Staples Center tonight? I kept waiting for them to pull a Magic-Isaiah pre-tipoff kiss. They didn't quite go that far though. Kobe put on a show once again, knocking down jumpers at crunch time in the 4th quarter with Gary Payton and Dwayne Wade in his face. Sure, I’ve got a man crush on Kobe, but straight up, the dude is the best player in the NBA and after he carries this Laker team into the playoffs, he deserves to win the league MVP.


Saturday, January 14, 2006

divisional playoff picks...

Saturday's games:
Washington +9 at Seattle - Total 41

Washington had a whopping 120 total yards against the Bucs last week; expect much of the same vs the Seahawks who will look to take Clinton Portis out of the game. Brunell's gone 8 straight games without a 200 yard passing day and has completed only 23 total passes the last 3 games.

Seattle is rested, and at home, both good things and are 9 point favorites (history says this a a good thing). Seattle rolls in having turned it over only 17 times in 16 games! They have the best red zone offense in the league and offer an incredibly balanced offense. The Skins are not likely to get steady pressure against the veteran (and perhaps best in the league) offensive line. Less pressure = less turnovers. And it's turnovers that have been feeding these Skins the last month and a half. Expect Shawn Alexander and Seattle to roll and win by at least 2 touchdowns.


New England +3 at Denver - Total 43.5

With the kind of roll NE's been on (7-2 SU in their last 9), spotting them 3 points seems to invite a play on the Pats. But look closely at those 7 wins. Their victims include Miami, New Orleans, Tampa, Buffalo and the Jets twice before pulling away from Jacktown last week in the second half. In fact, only 2 of NE's 11 wins came over playoff teams: Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. Denver has only 2 such wins also but one of them was a 28-20 beating of the Pats in Denver in mid-October. The Broncos didn't lose a home game this year.

NE's run has been fueled by a return to health of several key defenders. That health's seen them cut their rushing yards allowed just about in half since the eighth game of the year. The Broncos finished last in the league in sacks and 29th in passing yards allowed. That last stat's understandable given that Denver's been ahead of everyone, forcing them to throw and abandon the run.

NE's won 10 straight in the playoffs, two as a dog. Maybe the most important stat of this game is Bill Belichick has been incredible when facing the same QB for a second time in the same season (as he is Plummer). Coach Belichick is 14-1 SU and 12-3 ATS in such situations while at NE, the one SU loss coming against Miami in the last week of the season when the starters were pulled early.

One last interesting stat, the three winningest QBs in the NFL over the last three years are:
1. P. Manning
2. T. Brady
3. J. Plummer

This appears to be a close game and I'll take Brady to make the plays over Plummer.


Sunday's Games:
Pittsburgh +9.5 at Indianapolis - Total 48

Indy has by far the better offense and an underated defense that quite possibly is as good as the Steelers if not better. Indy will be able to shut down the Steeler running game forcing Ben Rothelberger to win this game with his arm. Special teams might give an edge to Pittsburgh and the coaching matchup is even. Indy had a bye week and will be well rested. This game comes down to two factors... Indianapolis is the better team and is playing indoors at home. From a betting standpoint, this is could be the playoff game of the year.


Carolina +3 at Chicago - Total 31

An obvious defensive battle between the Bears and Panthers which will feature many punts and a battle for field position. A key stat is Rex Grossman has only played 6 qtrs all year. Carolina has a definite edge on the offensive side of the ball. Can anyone stop Steve Smith? The defenses are about even with maybe a slight edge to the Bears. I think the overall edge here goes to the Panthers as this team's been to the playoffs before, the Bears haven't sniffed the playoffs in years. A close game to be decided by turnovers.


Monday, January 9, 2006

musings from the weekend in sports...

• New England is not the team Indianapolis is hoping to see coming to town in two weeks.

• It was only a matter of time until Eli Manning was going to cost the Giants an important game.

• Tough loss for the Bucs though I think we've seen this version of Chris Simms before. John Gruden didn't shield poor Simms from the media a la Mack Brown though.

• Marcus Vick and Sean Taylor, what in the world is going through your heads?

• Many have anointed the Red Wings as the best team in the Western Conference... they must have not seen the Stars come back from 3 goals down to beat the Wings in Detroit 6-3 on Sunday. Dallas is tied for the most wins in the NHL with 28.

• Kobe Bryant's point totals in his last 4 games... 45, 48, 50 and 45, making him the first player to score 45 points or more in four consecutive games in more than 41 years.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

blonde joke

Just when you think you've heard them all, this blonde joke might be the best ever!

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

it was a classic... choke job

Texas got a late Christmas gift tonight from SC as So. Cal. gave away the national championship. Texas played a great game tonight no doubt, but they should be thanking Pete Carroll though for some boneheaded play calling including not kicking the chip shot field goal to go up 10-0, not running LenDale White 3 straight times on the last possession (which resulted in at least 10 yds ALL game long), passing the ball on second down at the end instead and stopping the clock, and going for it on 4th and 2 at mid-field when running 3 times and punting (if it was still needed) would have made Texas go 80-90 yds with at most 90 seconds. If you use more clock, punt it deep on 4th if you're short and leave less than 90 seconds for Texas, you make Vince beat you with the pass, not the run. Knowing that, USC has a better chance of stopping Texas and they probably win. Sure it was a gutsy call by Carroll, but a bad one on 4th and 2 on the 45 with over 2 minutes left in the game.

SC came out and thought it could play Texas like they did everyone else, show up and win instead of playing smart. It was a great game to watch and Texas brought their best, though I would have to agree with Matt Leinart, SC is the better team, but the better team doesn't win if they don’t bring their A game in the championship game. They came in with that SC swagger that just stepping on the field would let them win, but that doesn't happen against a good team like Texas. Probably the most amazing thing to me was that Mack Brown out-coached Pete Carroll, which I would never have expected.

Finally, shame on SC if they didn't know Vince was going to run it on 4th down. I bet the thought of throwing the ball never even crossed his mind. He hadn't hit a receiver that wasn't wide open all game and with the end zone working as an extra defender and shortening the field, no one was going to be wide open. The Vince run was more obvious than the Leinart sneak on 4th down early in the game yet SC was dropping back and playing pass. Too many gifts, not to even mention the bonehead pitch by Reggie Bush after he had already made a big gain, to overcome just by showing up. I won’t even go into how bad the replay booth was, that was simply horrible with two plays clearly going against SC that were wrong, one taking a turnover away.

It was a great game to watch, Vince Young played a great game as did Matt Leinart and LenDale White, but the best team didn’t win.

USC's Pete Carroll

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

some musings from the bowl games...

• Does anyone care about any Bowl game played before Christmas? They generally have second-tier teams playing in places like Boise, Fort Worth and Shreveport.

• Teams that forgot to show up in no particular order: Georgia Tech, Miami, Iowa, Auburn, the Texas Tech offense and Georgia (in the 1st qtr)

• Teams lucky to win: Penn State, Nebraska, TCU, UCLA and Nevada

• No way is Texas Tech the second best team in the Big 12 and the team that should have been in the Cotton Bowl.

• The most dominating performance so far goes to the Ohio State Buckeyes who beat up Notre Dame on both sides of the ball. LSU's dismantaling of Miami (The U as they like to be called) comes in a close second, but anytime you hang 600+ yards on a ND team, that's quite an accomplishment. The score could have been much worse as well.

• AJ Hawk sacked his girlfriend's brother, Brady Quinn twice... gotta wonder how that affects the relationship?

• Ohio State's offense is much improved from earlier in the year when they gave a game away to Texas. I think its easy to say that had Tressel not split series between Smith and Zwick, a rare bad coaching decision on Jim Tressel's part, that the Buckeyes win that game. They also had a dropped touchdown pass late in the game that would have given them a win. If they played today, no doubt to me that Ohio State wins.

AJ and Troy

Santonio Holmes and Troy Smith

Laura Quinn not sure who to root for

Monday, January 2, 2006

thoughts on the cotton bowl

After watching the Cotton Bowl, hopefully it became apparent to everyone else what I’ve known all year. Texas Tech is a much over-rated team. Tech was controlled on both sides of the ball by Alabama and though the game was decided by a late field goal, you wouldn’t have thought so by watching the game. Tech fans have been whining that the ‘Bama TD on the second play of the game should have been reviewed as the receiver’s knee was close to being on the ground as he caught a quick screen pass. Some have even inferred that Fox Sports is partially to blame for not showing replays soon enough. Say what? Fox is to blame for a possible missed call? This is a call that most likely would be difficult to overturn to begin with. What are people smoking these days?!?

It's not Fox Sports’ job to officiate the game. The booth should have access to all available replays even when TV isn't showing them to the audience (if not, it's pretty useless to begin with) so any blame there may be lies strictly with the officiating crew. And that's only if you could 'conclusively' say that the knee was for sure down. And I'll add that's a ridiculous rule to begin with in college football that should be changed.

But can we stop whining about whether the Alabama receiver's knee touched the ground or not. This is Texas Tech with ‘innovative’ Mike Leach running the show. This is the offense that was featured on the cover of the NY Times Magazine. Could they not get more than one touchdown by the end of the game? This is the offense that brags about hanging 75 or 80 points on inferior opponents. Can the great Tech offense not generate more than seven points?

It simply shows that the spread offense is a wonderful gimmick scheme that lets teams like Tech, Northwestern and now Vanderbilt that don't have the talent base of the top football powers compete against many teams. But when they play teams that are physically superior they struggle. No shame in that, but that's the reality. Tech has maybe the best 5-yard passing offense in the nation... and that's about it!