Monthly Archives: March 2011

Memo to the NFL: Leave Kickoffs Alone

There are times when it’s not worth fixing something that is not broken.

The NFL’s decision to move kickoffs to the 35-yard line is an example.

In the spirit of player safety, the NFL’s Competition Committee made that decision a week ago.  Word on the street is that the committee discussed the idea of banning kickoffs altogether!

Here’s what’s going to happen:

  • There will be a record number of touchbacks this season (if we have one).  More teams will have a “kickoff kicker” on their rosters to boom kicks in the end zones for touchbacks, preventing big run-backs for touchdowns or at least better field positions for offenses.  That means…
  • There are a lot of pissed-off return men.  Can you imagine weapons such as Chicago’s Devin Hester and Cleveland’s Josh Cribbs being strategically neutered in games?  I mean sure both guys will still be returning punts, but their breads are buttered returning kickoffs.

Why would the NFL mess with what is the most exciting play in football?  Can you imagine how pissed the cover men will be running their asses full speed down the field and not hit anyone?  It’d be like doing an Insanity workout video in pads.

This is another case of the NFL “wussifying” the game of football.

Oh, and while they are at it, why don’t the NFL suits and its players make some progress on a CBA to end this ridiculous lockout?

2011 MLB Preview

Opening Day for the 2011 Major League Baseball season is upon us.

WHOO-HOO!!!

With all the movement in the off-season, this should be a great season.

Here is how I see everything shaking out…

American League

East

  1. Boston Red Sox
  2. Tampa Bay Rays*
  3. New York Yankees
  4. Baltimore Orioles
  5. Toronto Blue Jays

ANAL-ysis: The Red Sox has enough pitching and hitting to win the division.  Sure Josh Beckett has been inconsistent, but Dice-K and Jon Lester should pick up the slack.  Plus they have the best bullpen in the division.  Tampa leaps ahead of New York based on pitching alone.  After my Yankees failed to land Cliff Lee, they essentially forfeited a potential playoff spot.  The Blue Jays and Orioles would contend if they were in weaker divisions.

Central

  1. Minnesota Twins
  2. Chicago White Sox
  3. Detroit Tigers
  4. Cleveland Indians
  5. Kansas City Royals

ANAL-ysis: This should be the Twins’ division to lose.  While the White Sox made some strides in signing Adam Dunn to be their DH, they do not have the pitching to challenge the Twins.  As talented as the Tigers are, I do not think they will overcome the Miguel Cabrera mess.  Meanwhile, the Royals are still serving as the minor league system for the high-revenue teams.

West

  1. L.A. Angels of Anaheim in Orange County
  2. Texas Rangers
  3. Oakland Athletics
  4. Seattle Mariners

ANAL-ysis: The Angels should benefit with the departure of Lee from the division (Rangers).  They have the talent and pitching to take back the division from the Rangers.  Meanwhile, Ichiro Suzuki is still sleepless in Seattle…

American League winner: Minnesota Twins

National League

East

  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. Atlanta Braves*
  3. Florida Marlins
  4. Washington Nationals
  5. New York Mets (METS = My Entire Team Sucks)

ANAL-ysis: The acquisition of Cliff Lee in the off-season should be good enough to win this division going away, provided everyone stays healthy.  The Braves should challenge at least for a wild card spot.  They have the pitching (led by Derrick Lowe) and hitting (led by Jason Heyward) to do so.  The Marlins have the talent to make some noise, but the division is too tough.  While the Nats are on the rise, the Mets are a mess.  If Wilpon does not sell the team in the midst of the Bernie Madoff mess, then God help Mets fans everywhere.

Central

  1. Cincinnati Reds
  2. Milwaukee Brewers
  3. St. Louis Cardinals
  4. Chicago Cubs
  5. Houston Astros
  6. Pittsburgh Pirates

ANAL-ysis: The Reds were young and dumb in winning the Central title last season.  They are now a seasoned group with young stars (Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce and Aroldis Chapman) to go with their veterans (Scott Rolen and Bronson Arroyo).  Chapman should be lethal as a closer with his 100 mph stuff.  I did like the Brewers landing Zack Greinke from the Royals in the off-season.  The Brew Crew has the bats to challenge the Reds.  The Adam Wainwright injury REALLY hurt the Cardinals.  Chris Carpenter cannot do it alone in their starting rotation.  Meanwhile, the Cubs are still in-fighting, the Astros are the Astros, and the Pirates should either fire its ownership or refund their season ticket sales.

West

  1. San Francisco Giants
  2. Colorado Rockies
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks
  4. Los Angeles Dodgers
  5. San Diego Padres

ANAL-ysis: The Giants have the second-best pitching staff in the game (behind the Phillies), led by Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez.  Their hitting is the only thing that will prevent them from repeating as World Champions.  Aside from the Rockies, who always have a mid to late-season run in them, the rest of the division is so weak that the Giants should win by default.

National League Champion: Philadelphia Phillies

World Series Champion:  Philadelphia Philles

*-denotes wild card team

2011 NCAA Tournament: Sweet 16 Preview

WOW!

You got to love the upsets of the opening weekend of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.  Richmond?  Florida State?  And best of all, VCU (by the way, I am STILL apologizing to VCU)?

This is how I see all four regions shaking out in the Sweet 16…

East Region

Teams remaining:

  • Ohio State
  • UNC
  • Kentucky
  • Marquette

ANAL-ysis: This is still the mother of all regions.  I still see Ohio State taking this region, though I think Kentucky will give them the biggest challenge.  Put it this way, whoever wins the O. State-Kentucky game will win the region.

West Region

Teams remaining:

  • Duke
  • San Diego State
  • UConn
  • Arizona

ANAL-ysis: I still am holding onto my Duke pick to appear in the Final Four, but Arizona scares me.  Arizona is very athletic, and its length will give Duke fits.  I don’t think ‘Zona will be able to check Duke stud guard Kyrie Irving.  I think UConn will run out of gas against San Diego State.  Look for San Diego State to use the home court advantage to push Duke to the limit in the Elite Eight.

Southwest Region

Teams remaning:

  • Kansas
  • Florida State
  • VCU
  • Richmond

ANAL-ysis: We should re-name this region “The Upset Region” because all but Kansas are double-digit seeds!  A buddy of mine told me he converted his bracket into a paper airplane largely because of this region.  While Kansas should help me look good for picking them to be in the title game, I don’t know what to expect from this region.  People will be clamoring for the “all-Richmond” match-up in Richmond-VCU, but I think Kansas and Florida State will battle it out for the right to go to the Final Four.

Southeast Region

Teams remaining:

  • Florida
  • BYU
  • Wisconsin
  • Butler

ANAL-ysis: This is the region no one is talking about.  Maybe because there is not a lot of star-power in this region.  Maybe because there is no clear-cut power in this region.  That’s too bad because this is the most wide-open region in the tournament.  An overrated top-seed in Pitt lost to Butler (my Final Four pick) in the last round, while Florida, BYU and Wisconsin eased their way into the Sweet 16.  I am still holding onto Butler winning this region, but BYU is the only team that could ruin that twisted fantasy.

To VCU: My Bad…

I am going to apologize to Virginia Commonwealth University, affectionately known as VCU.

Here we go…

Dear VCU,

I want to apologize for dissing your selection into the 2011 NCAA Tournament.  I am also sorry for poo-pooing your conference.

I didn’t realize how good of a team you guys have.  In fact, I didn’t know you were going to take all the criticism I (and others) laid on you to heart.  Speaking of heart, your squad has plenty of it.

Finally, I want to apologize for Jay Bilas and his funny crack-back on the NCAA tournament selection committee on your selection.

I want to make some amends by giving you props on beating down Georgetown and Purdue in subsequent rounds as if they stole something from you (I’m not going to even mention your thrashing of USC because USC should have been NIT-bound).

Bottom line: you guys are obviously good.

By the way, when you guys lose to Florida State in the Sweet 16, you should still be proud of your run.

Your narcissistic, sports-loving brother in Christ,

Scott Burks

2011 NCAA Tournament Preview

Hooray, the NCAA Tournament is here!

Another year of brackets, another year of getting my brackets “blowed up” by an upset or several.

Here is my breakdown of each region:

East Region

Top four seeds:

  1. Ohio State
  2. UNC
  3. Syracuse
  4. Kentucky

Dark horse: West Virginia

ANAL-ysis: This is the mother of all the regions.  What a reward for the top overall seed Ohio State!  If it survives its second round match-up with Villanova, it gets to face West Virginia or SEC champ Kentucky in the Sweet 16.  However, I think Ohio State is truly the best team in college basketball, and will prove me right in winning the East.

West Region

Top four seeds:

  1. Duke
  2. San Diego State
  3. UConn
  4. Texas

Dark horse: Texas

ANAL-ysis: Texas is the only team in this region that has a chance of preventing Duke from making the Final Four.  It’s maddening because Texas is so talented on paper, but you never know from its inconsistent play and at times bizarre coaching.  UConn  is too much of a one-man team to make any noise in the tournament.  Kemba Walker is a beast, but who else on UConn scares teams?  Plus, UConn will be worn out from its Big East tourney run (five games in five days).  San Diego State is just too green tournament wise to make a serious run.  Look for Duke to come out on top in the West.

Southwest Region

Top four seeds:

  1. Kansas
  2. Notre Dame
  3. Purdue
  4. Louisville

Dark horse: Purdue

ANAL-ysis: Purdue and Notre Dame have the potential to make some noise in this region.  The problem is that one will lose to the other in the Sweet 16.  I’ve seen enough of Louisville not to take them seriously.  In fact, I’ll be surprised if it got past Richmond in the second round.  None of that matters in the end because Kansas is just too strong and too good.

Southeast Region

Top four seeds:

  1. Pittsburgh
  2. Florida
  3. BYU
  4. Wisconsin

Dark horses: Butler, Kansas State, Old Dominion

ANAL-ysis: This is the weakest region.  Pitt should have a clear path to get to the Final Four – except Butler will put them out of its misery in the second round.  In fact, I have Butler winning this region.  Yeah, I said it!  Butler is very experienced (they were last year’s runners-up), and will come back hungrier than before.  Butler will not be intimidated by Pitt.  I mean, aside from Kansas State and Old Dominion, is there a team that could measure up to Butler’s experience and moxie?  And should we take Florida seriously (really?)?  As much as I like to see Kansas State coach Frank Martin scream his way into the Final Four, Butler should come out on top.

Why in the Hell is VCU in the Tournament?

Every year we have our fair share of teams who were snubbed out of the NCAA Tournament.

We also have our fair shares of teams people feel didn’t deserve to make it.  This year we may have our first “WTF?”

Enter VCU.

What is so wrong with including Virginia Commonwealth University you ask?

Peep this.

The Rams didn’t finish in the top TWO of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).  VCU lost in the CAA tournament final to Old Dominion.  They have an RPI of 51.  They only have three wins against top 50 teams (UCLA in New York, at Old Dominion and George Mason in the CAA tournament).  They lost five of their last eight games before their conference tournament.

And you mean to tell me VCU is more deserving of being in the NCAA Tournament than Virginia Tech or Colorado?

Again, when it comes to the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, why ask why.

Another Annoying Sports Poll…

NFL Lockout not Necessarily a Bad Thing…

“What?”

“Are you kidding me?”

“You are a f—– moron…”

I imagine those statements – and others with more colorful language – have popped up upon reading the title of this rant.

I don’t think things will be all that bad.  In fact, I think it will be a good thing in the long run.

Keep in mind that the NFL Players Association decertified before yesterday’s deadline.  That means the players can (and had) file an antitrust suit against the NFL.

In return, the NFL locked out its players.

So again Klownboy, what about this makes it a good thing?

The answer is two-fold.

First, we may get a chance to see how each owner spends his money.  Keep in mind the owners have been crying poverty up to this point, citing reasons why they want an extra $1 billion off the top.  While there have been owners who privately financed new stadiums (Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Giants co-owners Mara/Tisch and Jets owner Woody Johnson), there are some that had sweetheart deals in their stadiums (Bengals owner Mike Brown comes to mind).

Don’t you want to see how cheap-ass Mike Brown spends his money?  Don’t you want to see Jerry Jones, Patriots owner Bob Craft call out Brown for being so miserly and wonder aloud why in the hell they are sharing revenues with that fool?

Don’t you want to see other NFL owners look silly when it becomes apparent that they ALL are profitable and their extra $1 billion demands are greed at its worse?

Second, this is a chance for us fans to FINALLY flex our financial muscles.  We need to take a stand by doing things such as, oh I dunno, not purchase season ticket packages for the upcoming season.  The owners will feel that pinch almost immediately – especially those who have more than a modest investment in their stadiums.  The owners have to find a way to pay off those loans/bonds, right?

In the end, both sides (owners and players) are to blame – more so the owners.  But, as in every sports labor conflict, the only true losers are we the fans…

Et Tu Coach Tressel?

With the news of Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, a.k.a. “the Sweater Vest”, getting popped two games by the school for not coming forward when he found out several of his players were violating NCAA rules regarding improper benefits, I have concluded the following…

  1. No college coach does things the “right way”.
  2. Winning is indeed the ONLY thing.

I mean let’s face it, college football (and basketball) coaches in major programs are hired to do two things: win games and championships.  After all, more wins = more $$$ to go around for schools and their respective conferences.

Why else didn’t Tressel come forward when he found out that some of his players, including star QB Terrelle Pryor, were caught up in a federal drug trafficking case and the sale of memorabilia?  I mean, drug trafficking is ONLY a federal offense right?  Who cares as no one knows?

All for the sake of winning games.

The NCAA may not be done with this.  It is still investigating and could reject Ohio State’s self-imposed penalties and add more sanctions.  After all, the NCAA does not like to be lied to – even if it is in the form of withholding acts of wrong-doing.

The sad thing is I thought Tressel was above this.  Even after he did get popped at Youngstown State way back when, it appeared that he went about his business the right way with integrity in tow.

Well, I guess not.  As the saying goes in college football, if you are not cheating, you’re not trying…

College Basketball’s Conference Tournament Time Is Best Time of the Year

There is nothing like college basketball tournaments.

From the pageantry, the excitement, to lots of $$$.  College basketball tournaments is one of the things that is right with sports.

Let’s start with the mid-major conferences.

Conferences such as the the Big South, MEAC, SWAC, CAA, Ohio Valley Conference, Missouri Valley Conference, Horizon League and the MAC use this as their primary money makers because they are not on TV as much as their major conference counterparts.  I mean, do you think the MEAC and Patriot League cutting lucrative TV deals with ESPN and CBS?

Perhaps the most important aspect of mid-major conference tournaments is that for most of them, this is the ONLY way its schools can qualify for the NCAA tournament.  Look at the excitement that surrounds their conference championship games, especially if the top-seed gets upset.  Those kids celebrate as if they won the NCAA title.

Now the power conference tournaments are just as exciting for different reasons.

First of all, each power conference has its fair share of bubble teams.  That alone leads to big story lines as well as those teams playing as if their NCAA tournament have already begun.  All eyes will be on the likes of Virginia Tech, Maryland and Boston College from the ACC; Marquette and Providence from the Big East; Minnesota and Michigan State from the Big Ten; Tennessee and Alabama from the SEC.

Finally, would you like to watch the Big East tournament while having a cold one and some chips?  I love how brutal that conference tournament will be with Pitt, Notre Dame, Louisville and Syracuse having byes for TWO ROUNDS , followed by St. John’s, West Virginia, Cincinnati and Georgetown with one bye.  Hell, the conference is so deep that  Connecticut has to play in the opening round!

College basketball conference tournament season: it’s FAN-tastic!

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