Tuesday, June 30, 2009

So what does it all mean?

USA Soccer with a 2-0 halftime lead. Brazil slaps them in the face in the second half to win 3-2, claiming the Confederations Cup Title.

Sort of like the Kobe Bryant led Lakers taking a 3-1 series (on Kobe's game 4 buzzer-beater) lead on the Steve Nash led Suns in the 2006 NBA Playoffs. Suns come back to win the final three games by an average of 18.7 ppg, and scoring an average of 120.3 ppg. That was pretty much Kobe Bryant (and nobody else) versus the best offense of this decade.

It is without doubt Brazil has the better everything. So what did the USA performance in this tournament show the world? Like the Kobe Lakers of 2006, USA made a statement saying that they have a capable team, who is able to compete with the world's best. In 2006 Kobe showed he is capable of scoring in prolific numbers, which can elevate his team to another level. USA Soccer needs to maintain their worldclass play for an entire match and tournament, not just a half.

The other night on Pardon-the-Interruption Bob Ryan questioned America's sense of entitlement in sporting events. That the general feeling surrounding the matches outcome, was of dissappointment, as if USA was supposed to win just because they led after 45 minutes. He went on to say that this wasn't as much of a choke job, as it was Brazil simply being the superior squad.

I am in 100% agreement with this. It really cannot be a choke if you are the inferior team. The point being is that in a match of this sort, Brazil v. USA on the World's Stage (the site of 2010 World Cup), you cannot judge a performance solely based on the first 45 minutes of play.

Brazil deserves the credit for winning, but do not discount this USA team any longer. By defeating Spain, and nearly Brazil, the world is on notice that USA Soccer cannot be walked over or looked past on the pitch.

Now, only if anybody in this country actually cared.

- Aaron

Saturday, June 27, 2009

For The Gators Fans...

Enjoy this home-video of The Florida Gators Band (Pride of the Sunshine) performing Michael Jackson's "Thriller"

Link coming shortly...

- Aaron

Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough...

The NBA Draft has come and gone...the NHL had one too...and baseball season has surpassed the 70 game mark as interleage winds down this weekend.

USA Soccer had what is possibly be the biggest win in its history. A 2-0 win over Spain in the Confederations Cup who went in ranked #1 by FIFA. Brazil now stands between the U.S. and a Confederations Cup title which be HUGE to win the Americans some respect in the futbol world. So Sunday @ 2:30 pm watch PLEASE be a part of Sam's Army.

June 25, 2009 saw the passing of an iconic legend who saw a man in the mirror that can heal the world with billie jean. Michael Jackson remains on all our hearts and minds each passing day, and will truly be remember as a musical genius. Hands down the greatest artist in the last 50 years.

South Florida news & notes...

The Miami Dolphins are starting a trend which personally I am finding both amusing and clever. Stephen Ross has added Jimmy Buffet and Gloria Estefan (and husband) as minority owners. A brilliant idea that is giving the South Florida community more of a reason to fall in love with the Dolphins once again. Not to mention the product on the field will be GREATLY improved regardless of how difficult the schedule is. Margaritaville meets the Conga Line @ LandShark Stadium...should be a show to see!

Pat Riley & Dwyane Wade have exchanged some soft blows about the superstar guard's impending free agency following the 09-10 season. Riley says he can't do anything until Wade re-signs, and Wade says he won't re-sign until Riley makes a move. All I ask is that Wade doesn't become too selfish this summer, and he works along with the core of Beasley, Chalmers, & Cook to help them grow as players.

The Florida Marlins fought back to the .500 mark and even went 2 over, before a loss Friday night to the Rays. The starting pitching has hit a stride, but the bullpen has begun to faulter. A move is needed to bring in another right-hander to help, as the struggling Lindstrom is on the DL for a number of weeks.

Peace, for now until later...

- Aaron

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Every time the conversation about the sport that doesn't use a ball arises, I always come back to the same issue. There is NOT ONE person covering the sport who I look forward to telling me about "the fastest game on earth."Barry Melrose WILL NOT suffice any longer.

I need more, NEW, and better personality to teach & talk to me about hockey.

You see it everywhere in the other three major sports.

NFL has an array of former pro bowlers and legends in and around the coverage of games. Deion Sanders, Steve Young, Warren Sapp, John Gruden, Dan Diedorf, Tony Siragusa, Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Jimmy Johnson, Marshall Faulk and list goes on. For god sake Tiki barber retired so he could cover the games on TV!

The NBA is a league like none other because it is the smallest and most close-knit of them all. Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Magic Johnson, Jeff Van Gundy, Hubie Brown, Dr. Jack Ramsay, Jalen Rose, Mark Jackson, Jamal Mashburn, etc. In the recent past Steve Kerr & Danny Ainge left the booth to become GM's.

MLB is covered in more depth than all others sports just because the nature of the game. Orel Hershiser, Dave Winfield, John Kruk, Joe Morgan, Harold Reynolds, Steve Phillips, John Hart, Buck Showalter, and many many more.

Why has the NHL and its players seem to have lost out on the easy transition from playing their game to analyzing their game?

There are a few responses to this question.

1) The NHL is less "fraternal" than all the other sports. Meaning less camaraderie exists between the players, coaches, management, league, and ultimately the ones who cover the sport.

2) The previous response could stem from the fact that more languages and nationalities are in the NHL than any other sport. When the best players in the game do not assimilate very well into America and learn english, it leads to the inability to connect with the fans.

3) The networks, mainly Versus (they also run NBC's coverage) have failed to put people in place that a casual fan would recognize and latch onto. ESPN has tried to use Barry Melrose & Matthew Barnaby, but that is not enough!But that does not excuse Great American & Canadian players: Messier, Borque, Hull, Roy, Amonte, Vanbiesbrouck, Leetch, Richter, Robitaille, Lindros, Primeau, & LaFontaine...just to name a few. Of these guys only Vanbiesbrouck and Hull have entered the the media side, and that was only in a minor role.

Has the NHL sport not been as good to these guys as the MLB, NBA, & NFL to its players?
- No! They all have made millions.

I place blame on; First the players for not caring about the sports view in America, and Second the networks which cover the sport.

A message to Versus, if you are going to be the only network which covers the sport, then hold some freakin' auditions for players, coaches, and front office people who will add some insight that a casual fan is thirsting for.

At least the players and on-ice product are getting better! Only time will tell if the people covering the sport do as well.

- Aaron

Friday, June 19, 2009

Baseball is A Numbers Game

In Sport one (1) fact remains a constant. It is that Baseball was, is, and continues to be all about the numbers. In no other sport can numbers, and moreover SPLITS teach you about player's aptitute or ineptitude in ANY GIVEN SITUATION.
Check out Baseball Reference for any, and all information on stats.

Let's take a look a former Marlins Catcher, and current Twins backup Mike Redmond. He is a career .291 hitter with only 13 homers in 2140 at-bats, BUT off Tom Glavine a .438 with 2 homers in 48 at-bats. Redmond is also a lifetime .327 hitter versus left-handed pitching, while a pedestrian .272 against a right-hander. Now, remember that Glavine is a Hall-of-Fame pitcher who for his career has a .256 BAA right handers.

Glavine v. Redmond is a mysterious instance in which a hitter dominates a certain pitcher for god-knows why.

Here is a list of just some of the infinite amount of spilts that are available...
2 outs, RISP (runner in scoring position) - A "clutch" split
Day Game/Night Game
By Count
As starter/substitute
vs. Team or Pitcher
...And many, many, many, more.

The fact remains baseball is a number game, but at what point does a manager decide to look at the player and not the splits, or scouting report. Sometimes too often in my opinion, managers make decisions on what paper says, and they lose that player-manager trust which instills confidence in the player.

As a Marlins fan I can remember a plethora of decisions Fredi Gonzalez has made that purely were paper-based. Sometimes they work, but sometimes they don't, and that is why Managing baseball HAS to be more than just based on statistics.

Tony La Russa revolutionized baseball with his use of the bullpen, and he is doing it again by batting his pitcher 8th. Now this is a man who isn't afraid to go against what the stats predicate.


Monday, June 15, 2009

The Dog Days of Summer

Now that hockey and basketball have come to a close the never ending season of the NFL is at the forefront. Oh those OTA's really get me goin! Really though, I love reading Omar Kelly's Twitter, he is my eyes & ears for the Miami Dolphins. As well baseball canters on with 3 and 1/2 months to go. Next up to look forward to is the Midsummer Night Classic. VOTE FOR HANLEY!!! I predict a Santana v. Halladay matchup highlighting the night. Last year Josh Hamilton stole the show and we said goodbye to Yankee Stadium. Josh Johnson should be an All-Star. Not just saying this as a Marlins fan...He is a Top 3 Pitcher in the National League (Santana, Lincecum, then Josh).

Congrats to Crosby and Kobe. Leaders of Men.

- Aaron

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Growing Up in the NBA

I started this thought after reading a Dwight Howard Twitter post “I wish I had those free throws back, but I can't shoot them again. All I can do is move on & try to do better next time." –@DwightHoward. Dwight Howard is right, he has to move on and try better next time (his next Finals appearance that is). Barring a Magical comeback, in my opionion the series is already won.

This led me to the idea that growing pains happen in the NBA like no other sport.

Put into context the much maligned behavior of Kobe Bryant immediately thereafter Shaq’s departure during the 2004 offseason. Missed playoffs, two consecutive first round defeats to Suns (4-3) & (4-1), finals loss to Celtics, and now entering game 5 of the 2009 NBA Finals with a 3-1 advantage.

The behavior I spoke of was his attitude towards his teammates, GM, and the Lakers Franchise. Don’t forget he criticized management for not trading Andrew Bynum for Jason Kidd. Bynum may be the key piece to this years’ title, and Kobe pretty much condemned him openly and publicly.

Basketball can be dominated by one player more than any other sport and that is what captivates you. You watch each possession and your mind is swaying from side to side on what will he do, pass or shoot?

Rare it is to see a player come into the NBA and achieve championship success at such an early stage in their careers. Occasionally we see early winning like with Magic, Larry, Duncan, & D. Wade, but those can be attributed to hall-of-fame teammates on the rosters.

Way more often we see what Michael Jordan, the Pistons, Rockets, as well as Shaq & Kobe’s Lakers deal with en route to championship glory. See LEBRON JAMES first six years!

MJ tasted defeat six year in a row before even reaching the NBA Finals, but won in his first attempt. 6 championships in 6 appearances in the Finals ensued to become THE GREATEST PLAYER OF ALL TIME. His six early exits before his first Finals in ‘90-91 were as follows: 3 straight First Round losses, a Semi-final loss & 2 straight Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Pistons.

The ‘Eighties Pistons led by Isiah Thomas had four early playoffs exits. Following those were a NBA Finals loss before winning back-to-back in 1989 & 1990. Isiah has now fallen flat in life after basketball. He has ruined the CBA, Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, & New York Knicks and now will try to do the same with FIU.

The Hakeem Olajuwon led Houston Rockets of the Mid-1990’s had much more growing to do then the two previous. He managed to reach the Finals (but lost) in his second season (with the help of Ralph Samson) only to not return until the ’94 Finals. Olajuwon lead the Rockets to back-to-back titles in 1994 & 1995.

The Shaq led Lakers at the turn of the century truly with through much defeat as well. Shaq & the Lakers lost two straight years to the Jazz, which was followed by a Semi-Final loss to Tim Duncan’s Spurs. A Three-Peat in 2000, 2001, & 2002 followed. Even when Shaq went to Miami they lost in the Eastern-Conference Finals in 7 to the Detroit Pistons, prior to a Finals Championship in 2006.

Bringing us back to where we started with Kobe Bryant’s chance to win the crown jewel of it all, the Larry O’ Brien Championship Trophy. This is how history is made, so the only question remaining is how long until Dwight Howard returns to the Finals?

Let’s hope for a great game 5 and maybe Dwight can keep the trophy out of Kobe’s hands just a couple more nights!

- Aaron

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

MLB 2009 First-Year Player Draft

Major League Baseball just conducted its first ever televised draft, here are some thoughts on the FAD. Bud "I take no blame" Selig is trying to generate interest in the MLB first year player draft, while (for years) watching the smashing success of the NFL's and the lesser NBA's be broadcasted nationwide.

Both the NBA & NFL typically see a first round pick play significant roles in their upcoming season. Compare that to a Major League draftee, who will waaaaay more often than not spend considerable time playing in the minor leagues. That means Rookie Ball all the way thru AAA.

That is the problem point blank. I DO NOT care about someone who will not make my team better instantaneously. Jake Long (pro bowl as a rookie), Dwyane Wade (game winning shot on Baron Davis in first round playoff series as rookie), and 2008 Marlins first pick Kyle Skipworth (climbed from rookie ball to A ball).

I guess Major League Baseball is televising it because they finally have a network that would consider covering it (their own MLB Network). If you want to see who your team drafted, for impact to be seen years from now...2009 MLB DRAFT TRACKER

The everyday, average baseball fan, let alone the die-hard cannot get excited over a player who most likely won't even be in the big leagues a couple seasons. Props to Good ol' Bud for trying, but all I saw today was a televised draft nobody cared about. For the record, people who love baseball can't even figure out how the draft works in its entirety. For help on that, check out this: MLB First-Year Player Draft Rules

Yea...we may see Scott Boras' Million Dollar Arm Steven Strasburg possibly in the Majors as soon as this year. That is less common than a high school player making an impact his rookie season in the NBA (Moses Malone & LeBron James, and THAT'S IT)

Given David Price, the Rays phenom left-handed pitcher; drafted 1st overall in 2007 he waited until September 14, 2008 (1 year, 3 months, 7 days) to make his debut. WooooHooooo!!!!


p.s. If it sounds like I dislike Good ol' Bud, you are quite right, because I do. Step up like a man, and apologize to the fans for not caring about the steroid issue in the sport. And you didn't do anything until CONGRESS FORCED YOU.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tuesday @ 8pm v. 9pm

What will you be watching?

At 8pm is game 6 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals and at 9pm is game 3 of the NBA Finals.

Only 4 even-strength goals by the Penguins against the Red Wings in 5 games. I thought they had an unstoppable offense? Let's hope Pittsburg can create some better opportunities and let's see if Crosby, Malkin, Guerin, & Staal play HUGE in a elimination game. The difference between these two teams is Defense, and DEFENSE wins championships. But, Pitt won its only 2 games on their ice already, so if this series goes to a seventh game in Detroit it should be one to remember.

The Lakers feel they haven't even played their best basketball, and they won game one by 25 points. Overtime of game two was disastrous fot the Magic. I wrote that the Magic cannot win without getting Dwight the ball. Case in point, the last 8 possessions of overtime Howard touched the rock ZERO times. I don't even want to get started on Van Gundy's substitution patterns. He looks lost since Nelson's return, who looks to be playing at like 83%.

You will be able to get the first period of game 6 in before game 3 starts, so please don't pass on the fastest game on the planet. You will enjoy! And even if you do it because your friends force hockey upon you; this should be the most physical game yet, so you definitely don't want to miss a huge check that freed up Crosby for a breakaway.

- Aaron

Don't forget also at 7:10 Cardinals v. Marlins in an awesome pitching duel. Marlins ace Josh Johnson head-2-head with Cardinals ace and former Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter.
STL: Carpenter (4-0) 0.71 ERA
FLA: Johnson (5-1) 2.63 ERA

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sayin' Goodbye to Slammin' Sammy Sosa

Well, it was only a matter of time...before the only player in Major League Baseball history...to hit 60 homers in 3 different seasons. Too bad Sammy Sosa will be remembered by most for forgetting how to speak english when on Capitol Hill and wilting away like a balloon who has lost its inflation.

It was a great ride for Sammy Sosa, who formally announced his retirement from baseball on June 4.

Steroids or HGH...we may never know, but what we do know is that he hit the ball harder, farther, and over more fences than anyone for a long period of time. Possibly the greatest portrayl of the steroid era is seen through the rise an demise of Slammin' Sammy Sosa.



WORLD HOCKEY UPDATE (game 4 of stanley cup finals was tonight) Penguins 4, Red Wings 2...Stanley Cup Finals tied 2-2


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Maybe next game...

What a battle! The Magic really went to their best player the entire game! Howard was really a force! You live and die by the 3-pointer, and tonight was murder.


Los Angeles didn't even play that well. Quickness was the key, and poor decision making was the undoing. Then, factor in the greatest player of this era who was right on point.

Just total domiation by the Lake Show.

- Aaron

2009 NBA Finals Preview

Orlando Magic v. Los Angeles Lakers

Position by Position look at the 2009 NBA Finals.

Point Guard: Derek Fisher v. Rafer Alston

Fisher has the Finals experience but Alston is the type of player that can change the complexion of at least one game.


Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant v. Courtney Lee

No comment necessary. Look for Kobe to attract the defense and get his teammates involved early and often.


Small Forward: Rashard Lewis v. Trevor Ariza

My favorite matchup of the Finals has the chance to be a real turning point for whomever shows up to play. I like Ariza’s game a lot, especially his defense, and Rashard’s stroke is smooth like butter when his shot is on.


Power Forward: Pau Gasol v. Hedo Turkoglu

Hard to look at this one straight up. Hedo is not a PF, but the Magic style of play can cause major problems for the Lakers. Hedo is the primary ball handler in the 4th Quarter so it will be interesting to see how the Lakers play it. Gasol can dominate this series so long as Dwight is not guarding him. I think the Lakers will start the game trying to get Gasol going on the low block.


Center: Dwight Howard v. Andrew Bynum

This can be a huge boost for the Lakers if Bynum can even play somewhat mediocre. Howard will elevate his game to a new level in the Finals, so Bynum will be using up all 6 fouls. I can’t wait to see Dwight’s averages when it is over; I say at least 15 boards and 4 blocks per game.


Now for the intangibles...I will take the Lakers bench because Luke Walton will play a HUGE part in the series' outcome. Jameer Nelson is a possible addition after being injured since before the All-Star break, and he could be a game changer. How can you take Van Gundy over 9 Championships in 11 Finals appearances? The Magic crowd should be rowdy in their home games, and the Lakers fans will be chaotic as always.

---I FORGOT COMPLETELY about Lamar Odom when this blog orginally posted. Let's hope Lamar Odom doesn't forget to show up, as he has in the recent past.


I will take the Lakers in 7BUT if the Magic steal one of the first 2 in L.A. that could change.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What's the Difference?

As the end of this season draws near I would like to talk a little about TEAM. It means many things on a broad-scope, but in basketball it speaks a state of play.

This came to mind when thinking about LeBron and the loss aftermath. For 66 wins the Cavs played as a team (case in point, regular season means little). The playoffs in the NBA expose you like none other. Every deficiency gets magnified ten-fold (LeBron’s supporting cast). BUT, with the right coach those deficiencies become beneficial to your team, see VIDEO.

The point I am trying to make is that no matter how great any one single player is, the worst part of a teammate’s skill set will get hung out to dry. LeBron can’t make up for everyone else, but what he can do is get them into a better spot to succeed. I liken back to everyone’s favorite comparison (Michael Jordan). The best player he ever stepped on a court with was probably Scottie Pippen, not a premiere, centerpiece, superstar-type player by any standards. He was a very-good, all-star caliber player that excelled in team play. In the season after Jordan’s initial retirement, Pippen led that Bulls team to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, losing in 7 to the Knicks, who lost in the 94 Finals to the Rockets in a memorable 7 games.

What I am trying to portray with that example is how playing well as a unit, and not 1 guy surrounded by 4 bystanders, will elevate each individuals play to a new level. It is a thing of beauty to see the frantic scrambling of defenses trying to make their rotations out to the perimeter. That is of course if you even understand what a defensive rotation entails in the game of basketball. It is a game where one player can make all the difference or be the beginning of a 48 minute struggle (see Dwyane Wade).

Overall it comes down to individual matchups predicated on team play. That is where the Magic came to dominate the Cavs. Cleveland does need better players around LeBron, but where did there #1 ranked defense go? The Magic scored nearly 104 ppg in the 6 game series, after only allowing 91.4 during the regular season, and 78 ppg in the FIRST TWO ROUNDS COMBINED. Cleveland’s loss was just as much about Orlando’s ability to expose Lebron’s supporting cast as it was their lack of defensive commitment.

I guess it comes down to the dominant big man theory.

NBA Finals Preview to follow.


New York Times