Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Tour Belongs to Tiger

TThis weekend's display at Bay Hill may not have been Tiger Woods' biggest win or even his most dramatic (see last years US Open), but it may have been his most important in his career to date. The whole tournament had a Tiger feel to it; Tiger down the first two days, lurking early on Saturday and creeping into the final group, playing lights out on Sunday with a dramatic final three holes that included a bogey and a 25-foot birdie putt to win.
It was all so Tiger-esque and was something we had become accustomed to the course of his career. Whether it was last year at the US Open, sinking a birdie putt to win on the 19th hole of a playoff, his "Miracle Chip" on #16 at the Masters in 2005, or the putt on the 18th hole at the PGA Championship in 2000 to force a three-hole playoff in which he won.

What is most amazing about Tiger's victory is the fact that he did it in only his third tournament back from reconstructive knee surgery. If this is any indication that Tiger is better than ever then the whole Tour should be quite worried when he plays. The fact that for nearly 8 months Tiger focused most on the strongest part of his game, his short game, and looked great on the green and chipping in, no one really has a chance to catch him in his quest for 18 majors.

I don't think Tiger will pull off a Grand Slam this year but I do think that he has the opportunity to win atleast 2. Anyways, I think we all look forward to some great Majors this year on the PGA.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Elite Eight

I was only wrong on two games in the Sweet 16, Kansas and Memphis, so I aim to make it up with these picks all winning.

UConn vs. Missouri - I liked how Missouri played in their huge win over Memphis. Missouri kept Memphis shooting very poorly and player terrific on offense. The only problem here is that Missouri runs into a UConn team that has been absolutely dominant in the tourney thus far. I don't expect UConn to take a step back but I do think that running into Missouri's press could lead to some issues, but UConn is just too good to lose this one.

Pitt vs. Villanova - Did anyone expect 'Nova's win against Duke to look so easy? I sure didn't but I also believed that 'Nova was much more athletic inside that Duke and would win the battle down low and that's exactly what happened with Dante Cunningham playing like Dwight Howard. Pitt on the other hand has Dejaun Blair down low and he seems to create mismatches with his size and athletic ability. I don't think 'Nova can make it past Pitt and will choose Pitt in this game but don't be surprised if 'Nova keeps it close because of the play of their athletic forwards mainly Cunningham.

UNC vs. Oklahoma - Blake Griffin is by far the best player in the NCAA this year and will be the #1 pick in the draft. The only problem here is that UNC is too talented on the perimeter to lose this game. The Griffin-Hansburough matchup is one to watch and suspect Griffin will dominate Hansburough, but it will be Ty Lawson and the other guards' play that will make this outcome favor the Tar Heels.

Louisville vs. Mich St - Michigan State has played well the 2nd half of the season after a bunch of injuries hampered them early on. I didn't think they'd make it this far but they've proved me wrong. I think that this could be a close game but Louisville has been making it look easy lately and they'll run away with this one late in the 2nd half.

This should lead to the 2nd consecutive year where all the #1 seeds make it to the Final Four.

Hopefully Monday I'll have something to brag about with these picks but until then enjoy these games with the highlight being the Pitt-Villanova game featuring two of the best Big East teams.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sweet Sixteen

Alright a look back on some of my picks followed by a quick re-up on this weeks picks.

First off West Virginia couldn't get hot like they had been prior to the start of the NCAA tourney and I knew this team was a stretch when I picked them to advance to the Elite 8.

Wake Forest absolutely flubbed it when it came to losing to Cleveland State in the first round. Now its not their fault that Cleveland State couldn't miss like the old Michael vs. Larry McDonald's commericial, but they didn't help their cause when they played very sloppy at both ends of the court.

Now for my predictions for the upcoming Sweet 16.

Louisville vs. Arizona - The Wildcats have proved everyone as to whether or not they belonged in the tourney. They've strung together two good games but I think the talent of Louisville will be too much. Plus I think that the Siena game was a wake-up call for Rick Petino's crew.

Kansas vs. Michigan St. - I didn't have the Jayhawks making it this far but I think with their experience they'll push through to the Elite 8.

UConn vs. Purdue - The pending internal investigation of Jim Calhoun's squad could pose some focus problems for this team but I think that the talent of the Huskies and leadership of its players won't let it affect them. Huskies run away with this one.

Missouri vs. Memphis - This is an interesting game featuring two of the nations best defenses. I think the raw talent of Memphis gives them the edge and that they will ultimately win the game but if they get into free-throw shooting trouble they are in for a tough one.

Pittsburgh vs. Xavier - I think that Pitt is way too talented to lose this game and you'll see the Panthers "Big Three" play well.

Villanova vs. Duke - This is the match-up of this round. Two athletic teams that come from the two best conferences in college basketball. I think that for 'Nova this is a great match-up, I've watched them play all year and found this team has a knack for staying with any team they play. I thinks Villanova wins this in a close finish, possibly overtime.

UNC vs. Gonzaga - Easy pick with a Tar Heel teams that has a semi-healthy Ty Lawson. They're too good to let this Gonzaga team get to them. Blowout with UNC.

Oklahoma vs. Syracuse - This is where I think that Syracuse runs out of steam. Plus I think that with the way Blake Griffin is playing he'll be way too much for the Orange to handle.

Almost all chalk! Let's see how my picks hold up.

Lions new logo?

I saw on FoxNews this morning that the Detroit Lions have had another gaffe. This time someone put up a new souvenir on NFL.com that unveiled the logos seen here.

I like the logo and thinks it adds a little flare to the current lion and updates the font on the team name.

I do find it interesting how they put an emphasis on enlarging the "L." Is that a tribute to their 0-16 season or the fact they haven't had a winning franchise since prior to Matt Millen?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Loosen your Sphincter NHL

As you might have seen on ESPN, Alex Ovechkin scored his 50th goal of the season last night, which put him in special company as being one of only four players to have three 50-goal seasons in their first four as a pro. The scoring spree Ovechkin has been on this year has him in position to become the first back-to-back Hart Trophy (MVP) winner since Dominick Hasek did it back in 1996. Pretty impressive for a guy who is only 23.

But the real story was the celebration that followed his 50th tally of the season. After Ovechkin scored, he stopped just pased the goal and placed his stick on the ice. He then proceeded to place his hands overtop the stick pretending as if it was on fire and/or warm. FANTASTIC!!! I love watching celebrations and seeing players be excited after they've scored. In hockey you never see this and for a change you get to see a player who isn't straight-faced and stiff when he scores.

Other players, teams, and color-commentators feel differently about this. Recently we heard Don Cherry, CBC analyst, criticize Ovechkin for his celebrations like jumping into the boards or raising his hands like a soccer player. Even the "face" of the league Sidney Crosby criticized Ovechkin for his celebrations as being too excessive and stupid. After lastnight more criticizm came from not only the opposing coach Rick Tocchet, "he came down a notch in my book," but the Capitals coach as well Bruce Boudreau, "I personally don't like it that much."

Now I can understand the feelings from the coaches because they are older and hockey was different back when they played. But for players to come out and say something as well, I kinda find it interesting. I mean if you look at the NHL right now, you see that after the lockout there were rule chages made to promote scoring and get rid of ties because for the longest time goalies dominated the game and really pushed away the casual fan. Fans come to watch hockey to see goals be scored, fights breakout, and beautiful skating. When you watch a game that has a low score you can appreciate the great goaltending but don't tell me you wouldn't rather see a high scoring affair.

Anyways, while the NHL hasn't done anything yet, Ovechkin seems to be becoming the NHL version of Chad Johnson or T.O. Seemingly outcast by his peers and other team officials, but embraced by his fans and teammates. For a post-lockout NHL this is something they need. They need someone to bring flare to the game, show emotion, and evoke the temper of other players. Right now Ovechkin is doing that. And have you seen the Verizon Center on any given night? Have you seen opposing arenas when the Caps come into town? Have you seen a jump in ratings and fans since this guy has become the real "face" of the NHL?

Looks like the league may need to either turn a blind eye or have a chat with these unhappy coaches and players and tell them that without Ovechkin, this league could be just as gone as the XFL.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Let the Madness begin

On the eve of the beginning of NCAA Tournament, most of us are frantically trying to analyze and make last minute changes to our brackets with the hopes that we have "THE" bracket. Well staying with the spirit of making picks I'll breakdown my Final Four and some of the other interesting match-ups and upsets that I have.

First Round Upsets:
Arizona - two words Chase Budinger
USC - long and athletic up against BC
Utah St - Marquette lost 5 out of 6 once they lost PG Dominic James
Maryland - if they can guard the 3 Cal is in for a surprise
VCU - Eric Maynor is a top-10 PG who can take over a game
W. Kentucky - back again for another run into the sweet-16?

Surprise Sweet-16:
Missouri - great defense gets a break when they meet Utah St.
Arizona St - Syracuse's luck runs out against the Sun Devils
West Va - good shooting Mountaineers shock defending champ Kansas

Arizona State - runs into a recently inconsistent Oklahoma to advance to the Elite 8

Final Four:
Louisville - despite a weak conference schedule the Cards have the easiest road to the Final Four
Memphis - strong defense and a chip on their shoulder muscle the Tigers in once again
Pitt - Dejaun Blair dominates the East in a win over Villanova
UNC - makes it this far despite a well-less than 100% Ty Lawson

Championship Game
Louisville - Memphis can't quite hang with the Cards
UNC - Lawson close to full strength gives a huge edge to a UNC team whom many thought could run the table this year

Despite having a schedule that didn't feature Pitt, UConn, or Villanova twice, the Cardinals are a team that is well rested from an easy Big East grind. Terrence Williams is the Most Outstanding Player and leads Louisville to a National Title and Rick Petino gets another one.

Friday, March 13, 2009

When will women's golf have this?

Yesterday at the WGC-CA Championship, Henrik Stenson had an interesting 3rd hole that was only missing a topless European beach and a Sangria. After his first shot went wayward into the muck at Doral, Stenson decided that rather than take a drop he would play his ball while standing in the mud. Now while most normal golfers would have either taken the drop OR taken off sock and shoes and rolled up their pants, Stenson thought it would be much more dramatic if he would take the shot with just his briefs on. So while assessing his shot Stenson dropped his pants and peeled off his shirt and took his 2nd shot on the 3rd hole.

Was it completely necessary to do this? Or was this more for effect? I can see a player taking the shot looking like Tom Cruise in Risky Business with just a shirt and tightie-whities so that their pants wont get muddy, but taking the shirt off as well? Can't really see anyone else doing that.

Hopefully Stenson is on to something though. I hope this starts a new revolution in golf where more players start to play in underwear. It will make things more interesting and if it moves to women's tournaments, it will lead to unprecedented ratings with Natalie Gulbis, Paula Creamer, and Erica Blasberg all sporting the latest in Victoria's Secret lingerie.

This will come with some drawbacks. For example, I'm not to sure I want to see Jiyai Shin or Phil Mickelson in their skivvies but I would be willing to tolerate it if it meant that we could see Lorena Ochoa bending down to read the greens in bra and panties.
Anyways, this is all just a pipe dream and I hope this incident is not just confined to the PGA.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It's already March, where's the Madness?

With Conference tourney's revving up and the NCAA Tournament right around the corner we've hit the part of the season where the debating starts. We'll argue who's in, who's out, strength of schedule, quality wins, etc. But have the conferences gotten too big? The ACC is 12 teams, the BIG East 16, and Atlantic 10 with 14? Does the large amount of teams per conference muddy the waters when not every team plays home and away games at each of there conference opponent?

A classic example is Louisville. Louisville, though very good has had one of the easiest Big East schedules all year. They played all the Big East teams once and had home games against Notre Dame, Pitt, UConn, and Marquette. All of these teams were ranked in the top 13 when the Cardinals played them. They only had to play at Syracuse and Villanova in a conferernce that is arguably the best in college basketball.

Maryland on the other hand is a team that is exact opposite coming out of a strong ACC that has had three different teams hold the #1 spot in the polls at some point this year. Maryland Duke and UNC twice, at Florida State and at Clemson, while having only Wake as the other home game vs a ranked opponent.

Now, I'm not making a case for Maryland and against Louisville, but I do find it interesting how the conference schedules have broken down over the past few years as we've seen an influx in the amount of teams in the elite conferences. When you stop playing teams in your conference twice a year, once at home and once on the road, the integrity of the tournament comes into question. What was once a fair way in deciding who belonged and who didn't from these major conferences has become a debate because of the saturated conference structure.

To truly have a fair regular that is uncompromised by the dilution of teams in the major conferences we need to have either less non-conference games which would allow for teams to have both home and away games against each team. Or we need to put a cap on the amount of teams allowed per conference so that we can still allow for some non-conference matchups as well as all the in-conference home and away battles that have become a part of the college basketball landscape.

Either way something needs to happen because aside from a screwed up conference setup, the NCAA Basketball committee has it right when it comes to deciding a National Champion. The NCAA Tournament is still the premier way to decide who the best of the best is.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Media Score Card: Dan Snyder vs. Jerry Jones

It hasn't even been a week since the start of free agency and the battle for the offseason Media Super Bowl and Jerry Jones has countered Dan Snyder's signing by releasing Terrell Owens. For the past decade the offseason has been dominated by these two men who own the two most wealthy franchises in the sports world.

When the Cowboys announce a new bigger stadium than the current largest stadium owned by the Redskins, Snyder immediately starts consulting the District of Columbia with idea of building a new stadium even bigger than the new one in Dallas.

When the 'Skins make a big splash this year in free agency Jerry comes right back with the release of TO. This back and forth to gain the media attention between these two has been somewhat comical over the years and this year might prove to be the best yet. As Dallas continues to shed its big names the Redskins continue to add more. Will "The Danny" add TO to the 'Skins to one up Jerry? Will the Cowboys continue their cutting spree and release anyone else.? Will the two finally decide to drop trough and see who's junk is bigger than the others? These questions and many more remain and it should be an interesting offseason since it's only been a week and we've had so much drama already.
It's your move Danny.

Where will the TO reality show land?

So late lastnight the Cowboys decided to cut ties with Terrell Owens. Now TO has to take his Vh1 reality show to another city and restart his life goal of slowing tearing apart each team in the NFL. 3 down, 29 to go.

So where will the quarterback-loving player land? Well the obvious answer seems to be Redskins and who would be wrong to assume that wouldn't be the place for him to go. The fact that Dan Snyder seems to love to sign the big name player and last year made an offer of TWO possible first round picks for Ocho Cinco. TO after all would be a great fit in the nations capital. The 'Skins run a west coast offense that Owens came into the league playing in. They need another threat at receiver since the three 2nd round picks they used last year combined for 1 TD. And TO would get to play two of the teams that gave up on him twice a year. Makes all the sense in the world for the 'Skins to bring in a motivated TO.

Other possible places for Owens to land.

How about the Giants. They need a big receiver with big play ability since the future of Plax is in the hands of the New York judicial system.

Ravens. They tried to trade for him the first time around and also need a receiving threat. Seems logical for Ray-Ray and TO patch up their differences and come together with a young gun at QB to get past the Steelers and into the Super Bowl.

Bucs. They had a purge on their team and had the cap space to bring in Haynesworth so why not settle for a guy like TO to work with the bazillion QBs they have. Could make logical sense to bring him in and let him stimulate the offense and allow for their inexperienced guys to get some 1 on 1 coverage.

Rams. Great running game, a quality QB, and Torry Holt asking for his release. This would be a a great fit for TO who would become the main man in St. Louis, a team in desperate need of a playmaker beyond Steven Jackson.

Of course, this is a short list of the possible teams but there are a lot of teams that wont make a play for him out of fear of him being a cancer to the locker room. Believe me though when I say that there will be a number of teams making a play for TO just on the fact that he is still one of the ten best receivers in the league. Let the saga begin.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cassel and Vrabel for a 2nd Round Pick?

There's something fishy about how convenient and easy the Chiefs and their new GM Scott Pioli were able to land Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel for only a 2nd Round pick. Almost sounds as if the Patriots franchised him for Pioli so that no other team would make a play for Cassel. Guess the best way to describe it, a goodwill gesture from the Pats thanking Pioli for being a part of a front office that has put together the best football team this decade.

Now getting Cassel doesn't necessarily make KC the Miami worst-to-first team for 2009, but it sure helps. Matching Cassel with a potential playmaker like Dwayne Bowe and a Pro Bowler like Tony Gonzalez sure makes the offense better but Cassel will also take away some of the reliance on work-horse Larry Johnson who has also seemed discontent with the direction KC was going. Adding Vrabel also give this porus defense another playmaker at the hybrid-linebacker spot that features Derrick Johnson as their tackling machine and Glenn Dorsey who hopes to come into his own in his sophomore campaign.

Were KC might have improved the most is at the coaching position. Herm Edwards is a fine coach and all but in KC he could never find an offense that could outplay their defense. He was also hampered by a bust at QB in Brodie Croyle who was supposed to be the quaterback of the future for this team but epically failed to outplay Damon Huard of all people. Todd Haley, based on what we saw of him in the playoffs, mainly his firery shouting match with Anquan Boldin, should be able to inject a different style into this offense and that will start with the new face of the team in Matt Cassel. If Cassel can stay off his back, which has recently been a problem in KC, Cassel immediately makes this team 2 games better than they were before. Add another receiver to become the possession guy that Gonzalez is and this team's offense could have a similar feel to Arizona, only with a fantastic running back.

Now we just have to wait and see if Cassel is as good as he was this year or if he was a someone who benefitted from a system that has produced 4 Super Bowl appearances and 3 Lombardi trophies in the past eight years.