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Archive for March, 2011

NCAA Final Four: Kentucky, UConn, VCU, Butler

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For this sports fan, few events offer a prolonged and sustained period of sports enjoyment than the NCAA Men’s Championship Basketball Tournament, affectionately referred to as “March Madness.”  As exciting as this annual pilgrimage through the brackets is, we usually find ourselves starting at fearsome foursome of at or near top seeds during the Final Four weekend.  Not so in 2011.  Salute the infiltration of the Mid-Majors to the Final Four.

This weekend’s games are comprised of the #4 seed Kentucky Wildcats playing the #3 seed Connecticut Huskies (Saturday, 6:09PM EST) and the #11 Virginia Commonwealth Rams playing the #8 Butler Bulldogs.  When I watch the tournament every year, after rooting for my local interests, I secondarily have a secret crush on the underdogs.  Yeah, I’m telling you that my ultimate wish would be to see four #16 seeds make it to the Final Four and set the bracket right on its ear.

Why VCU is taking the cake after the jump >>

So How’s That NFL Personal Conduct Policy Working for You?

The NFL has maintained that it will continue to enforce the personal conduct policy during the player lockout. Not that it would need to, because the players have been on their best behavior during negotiations. (NOT.)

Aqib Talib from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the latest to go on the list of players who have been arrested. The Bucs said that they are “deeply troubled” by the charges but that “Due to current labor circumstances, we will withhold any further comment or action.”

After all, what can they say? Talib is now the sixth player arrested since the lockout began. There is a nice, tidy list at Fox that shows the arrests since the lockout. They include:

Chris Cook (Vikings) – for “brandishing a gun during a verbal altercation with a neighbor.”

Bryan McCann (Cowboys) – who was arrested after a “public intoxication” charge.

Johnny Jolly (Packers) – Yes, I’m biased and actually think the Packers have a great group of guys now. They seem… gentlemanly. But Jolly is the odd man out in that group because he was just busted for “allegedly possessing 600 grams of codeine syrup in his Cadillac Escalade.” He was gone all of last year (suspended) for personal conduct violations.

Then there are the two guys who just had to call attention to themselves by cranking their music super loud:

Jason Peters (Eagles) – arguably the least troublesome of offenders, who merely “violated the city’s loud music policy” in Shreveport. However, he did resist arrest. DOH!

Mario Henderson (Raiders) – apparently loud music is a problem with NFLers. Oh, that and driving around with guns that they don’t have permits for. (Which makes me suggest that if you are going to drive around with a gun in your car for which you do not have a permit, maybe you should call less attention to yourself and keep your music at a dull roar.)

Players have been arguing that the NFL owners are not treating them like equal business partners, but when you see arrests like this it just hurts their case. Business owners do not act like this, because if they do they are quickly put out of business.

Should Michael Vick’s Old High School Honor Him?

Seems like Michael Vick sparks controversy even when he isn’t doing anything wrong. The latest snit involving Vick centers around his jersey in Warwick High School. The school had proudly displayed Vick’s jersey right up until the dog fighting incident and conviction. The school decided then (2007) to take it down. No use highlighting a football star when he falls from grace, right?

I remember at the time of his conviction, people said he was done. No team would hire him and he’d never be back in the NFL. Of course, those people were wrong. Now, of course, Vick is back, and stronger than ever. He actually seems to have more respect from fans, coaches, and players than he did before, and how wowed people were with his talent before, that’s saying something.

More on Vick after the jump >>

Hardest Sports Tickets to Score

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Hardest Sports Tickets To Score

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Matt Cooke’s Latest Head Shot

The talk these days is on the NFL and the rules changes designed to protect players from head injuries, but let’s not forget the NHL, which is dealing with its own version of excessive play. Pittsburgh Penguins player Matt Cooke is no stranger to punishment, and just got his latest (and harshest) penalty on a hit to the New York Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh.

Hockey is known for fights and hard hits, but the head injuries some of these guys are suffering just aren’t worth it. Just how harsh was the hit on McDonagh? Judge for yourself:

I think what made this hit really bad was that McDonagh didn’t see it coming. He was focused on the puck. Besides that, there was no reason for Cooke to use the elbow to smack his head. Excessive.

More on his fines and suspension after the jump >>

Female Sports Fans Say Jeter is the Best

Who says women don’t have opinions on sports? Certainly not me. And certainly not New York sports fans, who helped vote Derek Jeter to the tops of the “Best New York Athlete Ever” list.

Yes, I mean ever. Babe Ruth’s legacy couldn’t even hold a candle to Jeter’s beautiful caramel skin and green eyes… oops I mean sports skills.

Jeter received “received 14 percent of the vote, including 17 percent of the female vote and 10 percent of the male vote. Ruth, the Hall of Fame home run hitter and one-time pitcher who retired in 1935, received 11 percent of the overall vote and topped Jeter among New York men with 14 percent.”

Not surprisingly, younger voters tended toward Jeter, while the older ones voted in Ruth. Jeter had the lock on the 18 to 34 year old range, while Ruth was voted in by 50-64 year hold fans. Makes sense, since Jeter is the current Yank and Ruth is long gone. What surprised me the most was the Jeter topped even Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Joe Namath. Wha…?

There is a reason Jeter has the coin to build a city-like mansion: he’s a great player and the Yankees pay him well. But better than Babe Ruth? Well, sure. Jeter is inching his way to get 3,000 career hits as a Yankee. If he does, he’ll be the first player to do it. So I guess that should give him some credit. The thing is, I just can’t help thinking that those green eyes had something to do with it too. Of course, if looks meant anything A-Rod would be on the list, and he didn’t crack the top five. So maybe New York fans do know what they’re talking about.

Adrian Peterson’s Slavery Comment

Maybe what is needed among NFL players trying to plead their case is a little “PR 101″ training. Because I was on their side until Adrian Peterson made his major “oops” statement Friday likening the NFL salary negotiations break down to slavery.

Peterson’s rant started because he wanted the team owners to open their books. While I think an employee normally doesn‘t have the right to ask for this, since NFL salary and bonuses are sometimes tied to revenue it’s a valid point.

Peterson said, “. . . If they have nothing to hide, just give us the information. Why not? Obviously, there’s a lot to hide.”

So far so good. But then he kept talking, saying, “It’s modern-day slavery, you know?”

No Mr. Peterson, it most certainly is NOT modern-day slavery.

Peterson continued to show ignorance by saying, “…there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too. With all the money . . . the owners are trying to get a different percentage, and bring in more money.”

Yes. All we little workers of the world have to deal with crappy deals. We work long hours and don’t get paid what we should. But if we honestly believe our situation is akin to slavery? Come on, already.

Peterson showed just how out of touch he is with the average worker, which happens to buy the tickets to his games. If he was trying to endear himself and his cause to fans, he fell short.

Some folks are saying, “well he didn’t mean it that way” and “it’s just a word” but you know what? It’s a word that has some incredibly painful history to it. It’s not one to be used lightly, and it’s certainly not meant to be thrown in the same sentence with million dollar salaries.

The thing I find most ironic is that Peterson wants the NFL owners to treat players with the respect befitting a business partner, and yet with his latest rant he has showed that he doesn’t deserve it.

A Jayhawk Fan’s Guide to Your 2011 Bracket

Jayhawks Tournament BracketEvery year I get another chance to make my picks for the NCAA Tournament, and every year I think my brackets are the best. And then every year (or at least last year) my champion gets knocked out in the 2nd round to a team nobody but my fellow Iowans have even ever heard of.

I’ve used a number of tactics through the years to make my picks. A few of my favorite include flipping a coin, throwing a dart, or picking the meaner mascot. The results are usually the same…by the end of the first weekend I’ve lost half my final four and by the end of the Elite 8 I’m mailing checks to all the bracket managers because (like the Royals on May 1) I’m already mathematically eliminated.

That being said I have experienced a sprinkling of success here and there, most notably in 2008 when I rode my Kansas Jayhawks to a Ruby’s Pub Bracket Challenge victory, ending a lifelong bought of literal madness in March.

Here are my top methods for guaranteeing success when making your picks in your bracket this year…

Where would you rather go on vacation?

This is usually a pretty easy decision unless you’re male and picking between Louisville and Morehead State. I don’t actually know where Morehead State is, but brains full of all the testosterone I’ve lost since I turned 20 will only be thinking one thing, and it won’t have anything to do with Kentucky. Saint Peter’s vs. Purdue falls into this category as well.

This year’s toughest pick using this criteria is the Southeast Region’s #2 vs. #15 game, Florida vs. UC Santa Barbara. Which is a better vacation spot…Gainesville, Florida or Santa Barbara, California? Being allergic to the sun as I am, I would choose neither, which leads us to my second method…

Continue with more tips on making your 2011 bracket picks >>