Monday, April 25, 2011

A Kiss From A Rose!!!

From the first time I saw Derrick Rose play at Memphis in 2008, I could tell he was a man playing among boys. Just looking at his stautcher and the way his body looked at age 20 was ridiculous. He didnt take long to prove it on the college hardwood earning third team All-American Honers, The Bob Cousy Award, which is given to the nations best point guard, and the John R. Wooden Award, which is given to the nation's best player. He didn't just earn awards, but also took his team to the National Championship Game where they eventually fell to the Kansas Jayhawks in overtime.
After his first year at college, Rose decide to go pro and was the first pick in the draft by the Chicago Bulls. Rose, in his first year, came out with a bang, earning Rookie of the Month in November, December and in March, before eventually taking home Rookie of the Year honors and leading his Bulls to a 7th seed in the playoffs. Waiting in the playoffs were the defending conference champs Boston Celtics, but Rose didn't seem overwhelmed at all, taking the series to a seventh game before finally bowing out. It was a tough loss but also a good look into the future of what the Bulls now have.
Whenever the MVP for a season is handed out I like to look back and compare numbers and stats to former MVPs and see how the player stacks up. With Rose, it wasn't really with the numbers, but more with his play. He reminds me of three different MVPs in the decade. Rose reminds me of Steve Nash in terms of his great court vision and his ability to finish around the rim, Nash was a two time MVP. Lebron James is also a two time MVP, his pure power and dominating style of basketball is what I see in Rose with his thunderous dunks and blocking skills. With five seconds left on the clock, who would you want the ball to go to? There is only one answer to that question and thats Kobe Bryant, but Rose is slowly making a case for himself as a clutch player, having five career game winning shots.
I usually don't like the MVP to be given out before the playoffs are over because what better place to find your Most Valuable Player than in the most valuable time, but Derrick Rose deserves it more than anyone. He lead his team to the overall best record in the NBA and the number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. With injuries to Jokim Noah and Carlos Bozzer all season long, Rose kept on rolling, putting up 25 ppg and dishing out 8 assists a game and scoring just as much on the road as he did at home. Scoring 1002 points and 25.1 ppg at home and 1009 points and 25.2 on the road.
Now there is only one legend in Chicago and it will take a monster career to fill the shoes of Micheal Jordan. I believe Rose is slowly growing and one day will be in the same conversation as Jordan as the best in Chicago.

D-Rose for MVP!

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Take me out to the ballgame"

As Terrell Owens would say, "Get your popcorn ready."

It's baseball season once again, where everyone is in first place and the dream of lifting that World Series trophy high over head while being showered in champagne is still fresh. This is a very exciting time for me.  I was first introduced to the game when I was about 4 or 5, with my dad teaching me how to field grounders with a tennis ball and a little plastic glove. Now, at 22,  I live, sleep, eat, and drink baseball.  My cable provider just added the MLB Network and my T.V. stays there. My dream was to always play in the majors, but my lack of athleticism was the end of that. Now, my dream is to work in baseball in any way possible.  I heard a story of a young fellow in southern California who won an online raffle to sit in front of 8 televisions and watch every MLB game this year, from opening day to the last out of the world series. THAT'S OVER 2,500 GAMES!!!  You wouldn't have to pay me at all to do that.  A nice comfortable chair with all the food I can eat and I'm good. This blog is going to be about the 2011 season, what I have seen so far and my predictions as to what the season will be like.

With the aquisitions of 1B Adrian Gonzalez and LF Carl Crawford, everyone was ready to hand the Boston Red Sox the trophy in March.  A good saying I once heard was,"You can celebrate in April, but we will be dancing in October." This is why we play the games, because nothing is won in spring training.  I have never been a big fan of big money spending in the off season; I believe the off season is where you build up your farm system and bullpen. Want an example? I'll give you one.  New York Yankees love to show their wallets and just how deep they go. They have the highest payroll in baseball and how many rings do they have to show for it?  None. One big goose egg.  Now the oppisite, Texas Rangers (besides the Cliff Lee deal) they made it all the way to the World Series with a bunch of system kids that have played and came up through the minors together.  But hey, to each his own.  In my opinion, the Yankees will not win a championship with this group.  I just don't see it happening.  Back to the Red Sox who have started 0-6..  It is early, but not the start everyone expected. Oh well, 154-6 isn't too shabby... except to the NATION!

My team is, yes, the loveable losers from the north side of Chicago. 102 years of pain and misery and coming so close in 2003 to see it all just fall apart.  However, the NL Central may look a little different this year. The Pittsburgh Pirates finally look relevant and atleast willing to put up a fight. I believe this is the changing of the guard in the Central. Those bottom feeders from the past years are going to push their way to the top and the champs of past years, such as the Cards and Stros, will be looking up.  It was bound to happen sooner or later with all the last place finishes of the Reds and Pirates.  It gave them time to build the farm system and it is showing.  Meanwhile, my Cubbies will be a middle of the pack team again and that's okay, looking at last season, because it can only go up from here.  I think the Brewers will be right there with us.  Now the Cardinals are an interesting story. With the nest player in the game, you always expect them to contend, but this being his contract year and so much speculation as to whether St. Louis will pony up the money is still to be seen. Since 2005, when the Astros made their World Series run, it has been a rough, slow uphill walk.. especially after trading their ace Roy Oswalt and All-Star Lance Berkman in 2010.  It is time the Astros started rebuilding.

There are some pretty big milestones to be reached this year.
1) Mariano Rivera needs 43 saves to take the top save spot from Trevor Hoffman.
2) Jim Thome is closing in on 600 homeruns for his career and there is an outside chance the Manny Ramirez could join him with only being 45 dingers for 600.
3) Mark Teixeira and Paul Konerko are going to hit their 300 homeruns this season if they stay healthy.
4) Ichiro has 7 batting titles, that has him tied with Ty Cobb and Pete Rose.. pretty good company.
5) Derek Jeter needs 74 hits to get to 3000.  Experts say he will get it sometime during the middle of the season, and the Yankees do play in Wrigley field in June!!!

A few rookies I'm looking at to have a big season:
1)Michael Pineda- Seattle Mariners. A big tall flame throwing right hander to compliment King Felix.
2)Zach Britton- Baltimore Orioles. A south paw that will start the engine again in Baltimore.
3) Kyle Drabek- Toronto Blue Jays. Part of the Roy Halladay trade, he will lead a young rotation in Toronto.
4)Freddie Freemen- Atlanta Braves. Another good looking rookie coming out of that farm system; big, tall First Baseman.
5) Brandon Belt- San Francisco Giants. A big First Baseman that will help for a repeat.

My predictions:
This will be a really fun season.  It seems like a lot of teams we haven't seen in a long time will be pushing for a playoff spot. In the NL west, I like the San Francisco Giants. They have just too much fire power in the rotation for anyone to keep up.  I like the Cinncinati Reds in the Central.. A really good lineup. The Philadelphia Phillies will come out of the East with the 4 Aces, and the Rockies will win the Wild card.

In the American League is where alot of teams will start to show how they have just rebuilt. The Orioles, Blue Jays, Royals and A's will all be around come September. In the West, I like the Rangers and their deep loaded line up. The White Sox will take to Central behind the big bats in the middle of that line up and the Boston Red Sox in the East behind all their money. With the Wild cards going to the Yankees.

World Series: San Francisco over Boston and 7 games.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A New Sheriff in Town: Andy Taylor or Barney Fife?

The past year has been a rough one for the Volunteers of Tennessee.

Thinking back to the 2010 season, I saw a program that was on the rise. It was coming off its first Elite Eight ever and had a coach that knew what he is doing and was bringing in big time recruits. Bruce Pearl was on the verge of building a powerhouse program... So we thought.

A year has passed and all those dreams are out the window for now, and that so called coach that knew what he was doing, didnt. Those big time recruits were now going to other schools.  What happened you ask? NCAA allegations happened. Bruce lied to the NCAA about some recruiting violations and brought more shame to a athletic department that was going through the same allegations as the football team, thanks to the snake that is Lane Kiffen. So at the start of the 2011 season,  Pearl's job was up in the air. The season started with a bang; 7-0 ranked 7th in the country, with wins over Villanova and Pittsburgh.  It was all down hill from there.  The Vols barely got into the Tournament as a 9 seed and got blown out by Michigan on the second day of the Tournament.  Two days later, Bruce Pearl was removed from all duties as head coach.

Now what does a program like Tennessee need?
1) A new fresh face.
3) An Andy Taylor, and not a Barney Fife!!!

Everyone knows when Andy Taylor is running the great small town of Mayberry, North Carolina, things run smoother than water off a duck's back. But when good ole' boy Barney Fife takes over, things get out of hand... and in a hurry. He means well but usually ends up creating a bigger mess than the mess he is trying to clean up. Andy, on the other hand, is as harmless as could be and always has the right heart and mind to deal with any situation. Cuonzo Martin may not be Andy Taylor, but in time he could be. Here is why..

On Monday, March 28, 2011, Cuonzo Martin was hired to be the 18th basketball coach at the University of Tennessee.  This is a little bit of information about Martin-

  • Born: September 23, 1971 in Illinois; has a wife named Roberta and 3 kids.
  • Was a standout player at Purdue University, playing in 127 games and scoring 1666 points in 4 seasons
  • Drafted in 1995 by the Atlanta Hawks and played 4 seasons in the NBA
  • In 1997, he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and had a tumor between heart and lung but a year later he was in full remission
  • Worked under Gene Kaity and Matt Painter as an a Assitant coach at Purdue
  • Named 2011 coach of the year in the Missouri Valley Conference at Missouri State.
Now, he's the head coach of a mess of a team and program. I believe he can turn it around. The video at the top of the page is his acceptance speech for the Coach of the year in the MVC. His passion and honesty for the game is exactly what Tennessee needs.  He may not be the big name, but I don't think the Vols need that right now. Look at the football program. After Kiffen abandoned them,  they hired Derrick Dooley.  He's not a big name, but he is going to build his program the right way. I believe Coach Martin will do the same.

So congratulations Coach Martin and family,  welcome to ROCKY TOP!!!!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Is Your Bracket Busted?

Well, this is my first post and I really couldn't have picked a better time to start this thing than right now. So much happening in the sports world. Baseball spring training is about over and the new season is as fresh as a bottle of Febreez and my Cubs are looking GREAT... too bad it's still spring training. The NBA playoffs are right around the corner. Will Kobe and the Lakers bring another title back to the West coast? Or will the upstart Chicago Bulls and D-Rose win it for the Windy City? The NFL still cannot make up its mind... if nothing gets done we'll still have Arena Football League. I know....I can hear your screams of excitement blasting out of my computer. But it is March,  and the that can only mean one thing...Well, two if you count constant sneezing and dry eyes due to allergies from clouds of pollen.. But I'm talking about March Madness, the greatest post-season in all of sports..68 teams all have a shot at a title. Big teams proving how BIG they really are and scrappy mid majors proving they can play with the big boys. Buzzer beaters and upsets galore. My favorite time of the year is when I can smell the ink from the freshly printed off blank brackets. Like everyone else in this great nation, I too filled one out, and the first weekend went fairly well with surprises from Louisvile and Vanderbilt, but for the most part, still well intact. Third Round-  I start taking some big blows.. Notre Dame got speared by the Seminoles of Florida State and Syracuse got downed by Marquette. Not to mention Pittsburgh is our first number 1 seed to fall to those darlings of the dance, yes they're back, The Butler Bulldogs. Now we're down to the sweet 16, where it starts to mean something.  Schools hang Banners in your honor for making it this far. North Carolina is a team that nobody has been talking about and after the beatdown they put on Marquette, they should be on everyones radar.. two more number ones go down with the Dukies getting beatin single handedly by Derrick Williams of Arizona in a blow out. John Calipari's young Wildcats won an all out brawl against Ohio State (in my opinion the best game so far in the tournament). Now we're getting serious, Elite Eight. One win and you're there. The Final Four! The promise land for college basketball.  I'm writing this on a Saturday night, so we're in between days. Two games were played today and two great games they were.

Game 1:  2 seed Florida Gators Vs. 8 seed Butler Bulldogs.. This game showed me why Butler must be feared when they get to March. They have no quit. I'ts not in their  vocabulary. They could be down 20 and play like they're down 2. Florida had this game in hand with 25 points from big center Vernon Macklin, but just like a Bulldog, they dug down and got dirty. Butler took this game to overtime and with poor clock managment by the Gators, the Bulldogs are going back to the Final Four.
Game 2: 3 seed UCONN Huskies vs. 5 seed Arizona Wildcats...this game was a great matchup of 2 super stars..Derrick Williams of Arizona and Kemba Walker of Uconn.. and again it was Kemba being Kemba. With nasty crossovers and pure step-back jump shots, he led his Huskies back to the Final Four. ON SUNDAY: two more games on Sunday which will fill out the rest of the Four..
Game 3: 2 seed North Carolina Vs. 4 seed Kentucky Wildcats. Prediction...No more Ohio State. North Carolina will seize the opportunity against a young Kentucky team 73-65.
Game 4: 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks Vs. 11 seed VCU Rams.Prediction....WONDER TWIN POWERS ACTIVATE!!!!! Kansas way to much.80-70..

Well,  this is it for my first post. I would love comments. Too long? Too short? Not enough info? All comments are encouraged..and I hope your bracket isn't as busted as mine.. By the way, I had Uconn and Florida in the Finals.. atleast one made it through.. ;)

and in the words of the great Harry Carey.. "live it up, the meter's running."