Thursday, December 21, 2006

Looking back at '06; looking ahead to '07

Have no fears! If you missed anything in the sports world during 2006, I have reviewed the Top 10 stories of the year.

Also, at no additional cost, you don’t need to waste time following anything in 2007 because I have looked into my crystal ball to give you the top stories of 2007. Your wife can thank me later.

10. MNF signs off on ABC; moves to ESPN-
Monday Night Football moved from ABC to ESPN this year after 36 years on network television. ESPN’s Sunday night package shifted to NBC, which got back into the NFL. ABC’s Al Michaels and John Madden also jumped to NBC along with their longtime producer and director. MNF was must see TV on ABC and was routinely one of the highest rated programs on network TV since the days of Howard Cosell, “Dandy” Don Meredith and Frank Gifford.

9. Who won the Stanley Cup?-
If the Carolina Hurricanes win the Stanley Cup but no one sees it, does it really count. Carolina defeated Edmonton to win the Cup, which made many hockey purists vomit, although many did not see it actually happen. Game 3, shown on NBC, lost its time slot in the Los Angeles market, a region that includes two NHL franchises, to reruns of “I Love Lucy” (sadly, that’s true). The NHL barely drew ratings on ABC and ESPN in 2004, then melted away an whole season before coming back to get worse ratings last season on NBC and OLN, whose rating for Game 2 of the finals was out-rated by a rained-out baseball game on ESPN that never started (again sad but true).

8. TO “attempts” suicide-
I hate T.O. and I hate myself for having him on this list but it was a huge story (see circus). I won’t inflate his ego anymore by rehashing the story.

7. Barbaro’s rise and fall-
Barbaro decisively won the 2006 Kentucky Derby and was a heavy favorite in the Preakness Stakes. But, during the Preakness, he fractured three bones in and around the ankle of his right hind leg. The next day, he underwent surgery for his leg injuries. After initially favorable reports regarding his recovery, Barbaro developed an infection in the broken leg in early July. Through the surgical removal of most of the laminitic hoof, aggressive pain management, and the use of a sling, Barbaro began a slow recovery. By October, Barbaro's prognosis was improving. His cast was removed in early November and replaced with a bandage, a move that suggested that Barbaro's recovery was progressing well. The injury ruined his chance at the Triple Crown and ended his racing career. No horse has won the Triple Crown since Affirmed won in 1978.

6. More BasketBRAWL-
Ten players, including NBA scoring leader Carmelo Anthony were ejected for fighting during a wild brawl near the end of a December game at Madison Square Garden. Punches were thrown and players flew into the crowd in the NBA's ugliest scene since Ron Artest and other Pacers players greeted Detroit fans with right hooks in 2004. With the Knicks on the verge of another embarrassing home loss and angry that Denver still had its stars on the floor, Knicks guard Mardy Collins flagrantly fouled the Nuggets' J.R. Smith to trigger the melee. Anthony trying to rehabilitate his image after a few off court messes the last few years was slapped with a 15 game suspension, the sixth longest in NBA history.

5. Tiger dominates PGA Tour-
Despite losing his father and many pundits saying he was in a slump in 2006, Tiger solidified his lock as the greatest player in the world. He silenced many of his critics finishing the season with six straight wins including the British Open and PGA Championship. He won eight tournaments in ’06, many in dominating fashion, earning his 8th PGA Tour Player of the Year award. His two majors gives him 12 for his career, leaving him at 30 years old, only 6 behind Jack Nicklaus.

4. The Steelers win Super Bowl-
Jerome Bettis returned to play in the Super Bowl in his hometown of Detroit as Pittsburgh won their first title since 1980. The Steelers came in as the 6th seed and won every playoff game on the road defeating Cincinnati, then favorite Indianapolis, and finally Denver before taking out Seattle in Super Bowl XL. Crappy officiating marred the game, but Bettis ended his career on a high note and head coach Bill Cowher gets his first championship after many near misses in the AFC title game.

3. Phil loses U.S. Open-
“I’m such an idiot,” was the quote of the year. Phil Mickelson said this to reporters after blowing the lead on the 72nd hole of the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Had he won, Mickelson would have taken over the #1 spot in pro golf. After he won the Masters for a second time, many thought “Lefty” could have a shot at the Grand Slam. But, the story quickly turned to the biggest collapse in a Major since Jean Van de Velde at the 1999 British Open.

2. Texas wins the National Championship-
The Longhorns secured their first National Championship since 1970 on the back of QB Vince Young. Texas defeated two-time defending champion USC 41-38 with a last second touchdown by Young. With UT down five and facing a 4th-and-5 from the eight-yard line, Young checked with his three receivers in the pattern, but everyone was covered. He saw an opening on the right side. It was just enough room for him to scamper eight yards for the game-winning TD and bring Texas' fourth National Championship back to the Lone Star State.

1. Heat win NBA title-
The Miami Heat overcame long odds to win their first ever NBA title. The Heat rode young superstar Dwayne Wade past Dallas despite being down 0-2 in the series and down 13 points in the 4th quarter of Game 3. Wade's Game 3 performance was especially memorable; Wade finished with 42 points (tying his career playoff high) and 13 rebounds (career high). 15 of his 42 points came in the 4th quarter, in which the Heat erased a 13 point deficit over the final 6:34 with a 22-7 run.The Heat became only the third team in NBA history to win the Finals after being down 0-2. Pat Riley won his first title since the “Showtime” Lakers era, Shaq won his 4th championship and first without you know who, while veterans Gary Payton and Alonzo Mourning won their first titles. Wade had the third highest scoring average ever by a player in his first NBA Finals with 34.7 points per game.

Fearless Predictions for 2007- don’t waste time watching sports in 2007, here is what is going to happen…

* The San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints will play in Super Bowl XLI. LaDainian Tomlinson will rush for 178 and three scores on his way to the MVP but it will be the late touchdown to Antonio Gates from Philip Rivers that will seal the first title for the Chargers.

* The Dallas Mavericks will cut down the nets as the NBA Champion. Mark Cuban will purchase the most obnoxiously large championship rings that will make most rappers jealous.

* Maurice Clarett will sign with the Oakland Raiders, despite still being in jail. Al Davis will announce that his contract will begin the day he is paroled.

* The Buffalo Sabres will erase memories of “No Goal” and “Wide Right” winning the Stanley Cup in six games over the Anaheim “Stop Calling Us Mighty” Ducks.

* Phil Mickelson will win the U.S. Open with a birdie on 18 holding off a late surge by Tiger Woods.

*The University at Buffalo football team will go 6-6 en route to their first ever appearance in a bowl game, the International Bowl in Toronto.

* My two-year-old son will outshoot me in an 18-hole grudge match at a Buffalo area golf course. I will put 13 balls into the water but the dawn of the next great golf legend is born!

* You will read this blog next year at this time and be fully convinced that I have way too much free time!

Happy New Year!!!!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

NFL Midseason Shuffle

I really didn't see this coming. The Miami Dolphins, who many national pundits picked to go to the Super Bowl, resemble the disaster that hit Buffalo two weeks ago (the Snowstorm, not the Bills-Lions game). I was just at a B.P.H.A. meeting (Believing the Preseason Hype anonymous) the other day about this.

Me: Hi everyone, my name is Brendan and I bought into the Dolphins preseason hype.

Crowd: Hi Brendan. (Murmurs of..yeah pick a number pal).

Me: I thought I wasn't going to be one of those guys that bought into what everyone was saying about the Dolphins....

Moderator: Go on.

Me: I mean, Daunte Culpepper was a solid QB in Minnesota and they did win 6 in row to end last season.

Moderator: Oh Brendan, the first step to recovery is admitting you bought the hype. Remember, the Dolphins beat 6 lousy teams at the end of last season including Oakland, Tennessee, and your equally lousy Bills. National pundits usually hop on each others bandwagons and don't know what they say.

Me: But, shouldn't those national guys be smarter than this.

Moderator: Seriously, what wrong with you man!!!! You know just as much as those guys. Deep down, you knew the Dolphins would be crappy. After all, your former coach, Mike Mularky is running the Dolphins offense. Besides, isn't there some kind of law that guys who live in the Buffalo area aren't allowed to say anything nice about Miami.

Me: You're right. I see the error of my ways. Where do I go from here?

Moderator: Use your own insight to do your predictions and please never pick the Dolphins for anything again. Who's next...number 17,987 are you here?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Forecasting the NFL Season

Bloggin' wondering whatever happened to me doing this once a week. What a freakin' slacker? How hard is it to make up crap about sports once a week. Ok, so I've been a bit lazy, but I'm coming back strong today....

Do you smell that? No, not the three day old Meatloaf in the fridge…the other smell. Yes, my friends, that is the smell of football season. Time to forget the yard work, the leaky faucet, and the dirty garage. That stuff can all wait until after the Super Bowl (if not longer).

Since I don't have the time to be a fantasy football player and let's face it, neither of us will see every game this year, let me tell you how the season will go.

AFC East

1- Miami
2- New England
3- Buffalo
4- NY Jets

The Dolphins will have a solid season if Daunte Culpepper stays up right on his surgically repaired knee. He has great skills players around him too. Look for WR Chris Chambers to have a banner year and RB Ronnie Brown to establish himself as one of the best backs in the NFL. The Patriots have lost too many players in the off-season to reclaim their throne. The Bills may surprise people…remember the Rams and Pats were in the toilet the year before they won the Super Bowl. The Jets just down right stink. They may win a few games by accident.

AFC North

1- Pittsburgh
2- Baltimore
3- Cincinnati
4- Cleveland

The Steelers are the champs until proven otherwise. If Big Ben is fully recovered from his accident and the loss of his appendix, the Steelers may actually have a better season that last year. I'm a huge fan of Steve McNair and think moving to the Ravens will allow him to return to his old form. The Bengals will drop off despite the MVP season that Carson Palmer will have. There are not enough Chico's Bail Bonds locations in Cincy to make them a title contender. The Browns will be better than last year, but that is not saying much.

AFC South

1- Indianapolis
2- Jacksonville
3- Tennessee
4- Houston

The Colts will lock up the division by Thanksgiving with only a mild chase. Too many weapons for the best offense in football. The Jags will be in the playoff hunt but only for the wild card. Tennessee and Houston will fight it out for third place. If Houston can find a RB, they may take it. The only interesting story in Music City is when will Vince Young take over at QB (the answer is week 4).

AFC West

1- Denver
2- KC
3- San Diego
4- Oakland

I'm going to use this time to bag on the Raiders. I hope they enjoy the #1 pick in the '07 draft. The only thing worse than bringing in Jeff George a week before the season to tryout at QB only to cut him 5 days later is the notion that after 5 years off, the hugely talented but grossly underachieving signal caller could actually help them. Al Davis has truly lost his marbles. This team is a joke. I'm surprised they didn't bail Maurice Clarett out of jail so he could join the dysfunction.

NFC East

1- NY Giants
2- Washington
3- Dallas
4- Philadelphia

The Giants and Redskins can both win the division…I'll take NY because they have a better QB in Eli Manning. The Cowboys will implode around Thanksgiving with the T.O. circus (anyone want to bet, he gets suspended or kickoff the team). Philly is rebuilding but Donavan McNabb finally has a WR to throw to in Donte Stallworth.

NFC North

1- Chicago
2- Minnesota
3- Green Bay
4- Detroit

The Bears win the division by default. This is easily the crappiest division in football. If anyone other than the Bears hits the .500 mark in 2006, I will retire from sarcastic football prognostication (doubtful).

NFC South

1- Carolina
2- Tampa Bay
3- New Orleans
4- Atlanta

Carolina may be the best team in the NFC. Tampa Bay will have a strong running game, but their passing game leaves a lot to be desired. Drew Brees and Reggie Bush will make it interesting for Saints fans…they may go 8-8. Atlanta is the most overrated team in football…watch in glee the number of fans that jump off the Michael Vick bandwagon…look out belowwwwwwwww.

NFC West

1- Seattle
2- St. Louis
3- Arizona
4- San Francisco

Seattle has all the tools to return to the Big One. St. Louis will either be solid or a disaster…I can't decide which. Arizona will be a lot better with The Edge running the football (from da' U). Hope to see Matt Leinart this season. I want to pick them over the Rams, but they need to prove that they are not the same old Cards. The Niners will be a punching bag once again.



1- Pittsburgh
2- Indianapolis
3- Denver
4- Miami
5- Baltimore (wild card)
6- Jacksonville (wild card)

Indianapolis will beat Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship.

1- Seattle
2- Carolina
3- NY Giants
4- Chicago
5- Washington (wild card)
6- Tampa Bay (wild card)

Seattle beats Carolina in OT to win the NFC Championship.

Super Bowl XLI
Peyton Manning gets the monkey off his back with four touchdown passes as the Colts defeat the Seahawks 31-27.

Now go mow the lawn!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I think I misquoted myself

Bloggin' wondering how you get misquoted in your own autobiography!

Terrell Owens published his second autobiography recently. Yes, I was shocked too to realize how someone who has done so little could have not one, but two autobiographies.

The beginning of the book states, "These are my own words". Apparently, the flap is over a piece in the book that references his comeback in the Super Bowl XXXIX as "heroic".

Just so T.O. and his handlers are clear, an autobiography is supposed to be by YOU and Owens then clarifies it further (in case we didn't know that it is written by him) that these are in fact his "own words".

Owens says that he did not say that. Because "it was one of the words that Jason used." Jason being Jason Rosehaus the "co-author" and brother of T.O's agent Drew Rosehaus. Terrell Owens' publicist denies that Owens was misquoted in his own autobiography.

So basically, T.O., Drew, Jason, and anyone else in the Owens camp are complete morons.

So what have we learned here kids. (1) That T.O. didn't proofread his own autobiography, (2) nepotism is alive in well, (3) only Owens is vain enough to milk more publicity out of a situation like this, and (4) we are a suckers (me mostly) for giving Owens more undeserved pub.

Here's hoping the first time he crosses the middle this year for the Cowboys that some Free Safety rings his bell and shuts him up.

Friday, July 14, 2006

All-Star Edition

Reflecting on the Major League Baseball All-Star game wondering what Fay Vincent is doing these days.

I tuned into Home Run Derby for all of 30 seconds only to realize I already know what is going to happen. If we already know they are going to hit home runs, where is the element of surprise? A friend of mine said he watched because he wanted to see how far the ball went. Hmmmm. I think I would watch for that only if they got more points the farther it went. Maybe that would have been better when all the players were still juicing.

I too will jump on the bandwagon of those in the media ripping Manny for not attending the All-Star game. The fans did vote him in after all. Bad knee or not, he should at least show up. Worst of all, he still gets a bonus check for making the team. If you don't show, you should not get paid for it. How many years has he stiffed the All-Star game? Sadly, Bud Selig will do nothing about this. Can you imagine what would happen if Peyton Manning or Shaq pulled something like this? Next year, let's just leave Manny off the All-Star ballot so MLB doesn't get embarrassed again.

I liked the All-Star batting practice jerseys on Monday night. Putting each league in one of the Pirates primary colors was genius. Just when I thought baseball had things going in the right direction...BAM...they botch it up.

Call me naive but I thought on Tuesday when the All-Star game was played that they actually might have All-Star jerseys. Nope. I don't care if they wear their own pants and cap, but can we please take Manny's All-Star check and buy each team jerseys? I can see Derek Jeter in pinstrips 11 and a half months out of the year. Just one night it would be cool for him to play in a jersey representing his league!

I guess everything wasn't all bad during the All-Star break. Ozzie Guillen didn't insult anybody...that we know of!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Still wish I was on vacation

Just sitting here wondering whatever happened to Shooter McGavin...Ok, that's a lie, I'm still thinking about being on a soap opera. Hey, at least I can admit to it. There is a 12-step program looking for me!

While in Florida, I had a chance to golf. I am a pretty crappy golfer but still hit the links. Early in the vacation, I played the course at the condo complex my father-in-law owns a unit in. Names of people, complexes, and courses have been hidden for security reasons (you understand later).

My father-in-law warned my brother-in-law and I that there was a ton of water on the course. I have a bad slice and of course most of the water is to the right so I needed to prep. Estimating that I would lose about 158 golf balls, I went to the store and picked up 30 Top Flite balls for $20.

The day started out with the guy at the pro shop telling me that my Greg Norman design mock neck GOLF shirt was not proper attire. This went over well with my wife who bought me the shirt for Father's Day and was the first time I had a chance to wear it. So, I took the 23 second drive back to the condo to get a collared shirt. Bad Karma followed...

Holding true to form, I put my first two shots on the 1st hole in the drink. I think I was on pace to shoot a 280 on a par 72 course. The real fireworks began on the 5th hole. No water to the right at the tee but there were condos. Do you see where this is going? I hit the roof of the condo. We freaked out and decided to head to the drop area.

Lost a few more balls, hit another condo (or two), and finished the round shooting a 141, almost double of par. In all, I lost 25 golf balls and hit 3 condos. My wife again was thrilled.

My brother-in-law and I went back out later in the week to a public course that was more on our level (see easier in the dictionary). I had my best triumph and a near disaster all in one day.

On the par 4 332-yard 11th hole, I used my brother-in-law's Nike driver to tee off (I know that goes against all golf etiquette but do you see that I needed the help). No water or condos on this hole so I promptly teed off and hammered a 264 yard drive straight down the fairway. We had a cart with GPS and tracked it. The longest drive of my life!!! I instantly offered to buy the driver but the deal could not be closed. I bogeyed the hole. Yes, it took me four shots to go the last 68 yards.

I continued to use the Nike driver which led to near tradegy. On the 13th hole, condos lined to the right. I wallop another big drive except this time, it's screaming toward the condos. Luckily, a palm tree slows it down a bit before I sent it on to someone's upstairs porch. May or may not have sent it through the Lanai. We are sure without the tree interference, the ball would have gone through the condo. We paused to see if we could hear anyone whimper in pain. Nothing so we scattered and I took a drop.

I shot a 120 on the day, hit 2 condos, and only lost 10 golf balls.

Ahhh, improvement! My wife is so proud!

I'm thinking I should still be on vacation

Just got back from vacation wondering why I can't get a walk on role on "Days of our Lives"? All I'm asking for is one episode and they can even kill me off in the end, like in a warehouse explosion so they leave the door open for me to make a comeback. Sports broadcasters do this all the time. John Riggins, of Westwood One, was a regular on a soap (The Guiding Light). Craig Kilborn of ESPN fame (who did play-by-play for them) also appeared on a soap (The Bold and the Beautiful). Call me, I'm ready!!! Ok, so I have thought about this way too much...on to sports.

I spent a week down in Florida with my wife and son so I have a little catching up to do.

* My sister-in-law tried to convince me that the World Cup is exciting. Moreso that it is better than American Football (gasp!) She has watched many of the games, but I just can't get into it. Why invest an hour and a half of sports watching for one goal. ONE GOAL. I need scoring! Besides, I can't tolerate all the diving that goes on. A guy falls over a long blade of grass and gets removed on a stretcher. Didn't Jack Youngblood of the Rams play on a broken leg? These "football" guys won't play with a broken nail. Score one for American Football.

* I'm trying to get close to baseball again but it's hard. I used to be a huge fan when I was a kid. My grandfather (who was a prophet) told me baseball was boring and the only way he would watch is if they put land mines in the outfield (now that's a good reality show). I became disenchanted with the sport after the strike in 1994 and only in the last two years have I begun to pay attention again. I got upset last week when the all-star teams came out. Not so much about who's in and who's out but the ridiculous rule that every team has to represented. Is that a true all-star game? No. It's a game featuring the best player from each team and a few others. Why does each team need to be represented? Are we going to hurt the feelings of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays if they don't get a guy on the team? Give me the best 12-14 players and 10 pitchers and see what they got. I'm not even getting on my soap (opera) box about the winner getting home field in the World Series but can we seriously talk about getting these things changed.

* Speaking of the World Series, is our country that narcissist that we think we are the only country that has sports. Just because there is a team in Toronto does not make MLB a world league. Isn't that what the World Baseball Classic is find the true WORLD champion. I'm not just picking on baseball, the NBA does this too. The Miami Heat did not win the world championship, they won the LEAGUE championship. I think the Olympics proved that we are no longer superior in hoops. Again, having a team in Toronto a world does not make. Yes, throw the "well the best players in the world play here". Not really. How many of the guys on the Argentina team that won the Gold medal in Athens are in the NBA? The answer is three (as of the Athens Games) Manu Ginobili of the Spurs, Carlos Delfino of the Pistons, and Andres Nocioni of the Bulls. Two,who I'm guessing you didn't know before you read that, were non-factors on their respective teams.

* I'm so glad Shaq got the better of the Kobe-Shaq divorce. He guaranteed a championship in South Beach and a mere two years later brings one home. Can youuuuuu dig it?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Here's What I'm Thinking-June 19,2006

Just sitting around wondering whatever happened to Maunte Bol...

* Since when is it OK to use Final Fourism's in other sports? In the last few weeks, I heard two cases that made me realize how big the "Big Dance" actually is. The Arena Football League was setting up their conference title games as the "Final Four". They even had a history of how each season's "Final Four" fared. Now, I worked for the Buffalo (now Columbus) Destroyers for two seasons and worked for the AFL during ArenaBowl XVI and never once heard the term "Final Four" used, more or less with full history and stats. Then, I was listening to Buffalo's all-sports station WGR (which I have also done work for) tout their latest installment of their Rookie contest (basically, they are going to hire a regular Joe to be an on-air commentator) to listen if the "Elite 8" can handle live radio. Then, I'm sure they will be paired down into the...well you get it.

* If the NBA Finals are supposed to tip-off at 9 p.m., why do we have to wait until 9:18 or so for the tip. For those who just want to watch the game and skip the pregame show, when they say the game is at 9, we should expect the game to start at 9 or within a few minutes after. Listening to the PA announcer nearly blow a vocal cord doing the starting lineup, doesn't really make for exciting TV. Just give us the anthem and tip-off. The PA announcer can pump up those in attendance, but it really doesn't translate when I'm on the couch. It's bad enough I can't stay awake to watch the whole game because I have to get up in the morning (whatever happened to catering to the East Coast viewers) but the extra 20 minutes only makes me wish I didn't have to wait to see the actual game.

* Interesting geography lesson for sports fans of my old town of Dallas. Depending on which league you follow, here is where Dallas lies in the country....
NFL- Cowboys are in (NFC) East
NBA- Mavericks play in the Southwest (Division)
NHL- Stars compete in the Pacific (Division)
MLB- Rangers swing in the West

* Congrats to my friend Kevin Casesse of the Rochester Rattlers. Kevin, a former Duke lacrosse player, was named Interim Head Coach for the Blue Devils. I know Kevin will straighten out the program and get the Dukie's back on track. He plans to recruit during the week and play for the Rattlers on the weekends. At 25, this is a huge responsibility and he is up for the task. The players already agreed to a new code of conduct,which they all had a hand in writing and the positive change has been immediate. His phone and email box are filled with recruits wanting to get back in the fold. Hopefully, the intensity and hard work he shows on the field will give his players and recruits a good starting point of the level of lacrosse he will expect as a coach. Just hope he remembers to get some sleep.