Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Top 10 Moments of the Decade in SoFla Sports

With the end of the year quickly approaching, and with it the end of the decade, we here at Fourth and Fail are taking a look back at the decade that was. Today, we take a look at the Top 10 moments in South Florida sports from the aughts.

10. 2003 NBA Draft. The season following a 25-57 record for the Heat, they were blessed with the fifth overall pick in the draft. Fortunately for the Heat, they drafted Dwyane Wade, who has, needless to say, panned out to be one of the best players in the league.

9. Wildcat Unleashed. September 21, 2008. Miami Dolphins 38, New England Patriots 13. The Dolphins came into Gillette Stadium and introduced the Patriots (and the league) to their new Wildcat offense. Ronnie Brown rushed for 117 yards and 4 touchdowns out of the formation, while throwing for another. The game marked the beginning of the Wildcat craze that has swept the league, though no team has perfected it like the Dolphins have. Oh yeah, it also ended New England's 21-game regular season winning streak, as well as the team's 12-game home winning streak.

8. Marlins Play Spoiler. This one was bittersweet for Marlins fans. The Marlins missed the playoffs in both 2007 and 2008. However, both years they closed out the season with a series against the Mets, and both times the Marlins managed to play spoiler and knock the hated-rivals out of playoff contention during the last series of the regular season.

7. Orange Jersey Monday Night Magic. In 2004, the Dolphins got off to a 1-8 start before the Wannstache resigned. Going into Week 15, with a 2-11 record, the Dolphins hosted the 12-1, defending champion Patriots on Monday Night Football. The Fins broke out the orange jerseys, and upset the Patriots, 29-28. It was arguable one of the biggest upsets in the NFL this decade.

6. Anibal's No-no. On September 6, 2006, in just the 13th start of his career, rookie Anibal Sanchez threw the fourth no-hitter in Marlins history. Against the Diamondbacks, Sanchez tossed the no-no -- the first since Randy Johnson's perfect game in 2004 -- by striking out six and walking four on 103 pitches. The moment perfectly encapsulated the Marlins unlikely 2006 season: the rookie-stacked team exceeding most expectations and remained in Wild Card contention into September. Highlights can be viewed here.

5. Camarillo to the Rescue. Week 15. December 16, 2007. The Dolphins were 0-13, and in overtime against the Baltimore Ravens. That's when Greg Camarillo came to the rescue. The undrafted WR out of Stanford made the play of his young career by being on the receiving end of a 64-yard touchdown thrown by Cleo Lemon. The touchdown was the longest offensive play for the Dolphins in 2007, and it was also the team's only win. Camarillo kept the Dolphins out of the (futility) record book, as they finished the season 1-15.

4. One GIANT Loss. If Camarillo's heroics kept the Dolphins out of the record books, then the New York Giants' upset over the then-18-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl kept the Dolphins in the record books. Because New York was able to unseat the Patriots, the '72 Dolphins were able to remain as the only undefeated and untied team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl. While some may not care about a 30-plus-year-old record, it still remains a symbol of pride to many South Florida sports fans.

3. 2002 Rose Bowl. This game, in which the Canes dismantled Nebraska and Heisman winner* Eric Crouch, was the culmination of a magical undefeated season -- capped off by a BCS title -- for UM. The team consisted of many future NFL stars, including Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee and Frank Gore (and that's just at running back), and is always in the class photo when the debates come around for the greatest college football team of all time.

*Heisman should have gone to Rex Grossman, but I digress.

2. 2003 Marlins run through the playoffs. Where do I start with this one? 2003 was a magical trip through the playoffs for the Marlins en route to the team's second World Series title. In the divisional round, the Fish knocked off the defending-NL Champion San Francisco Giants in four games. The decisive game ended with a signature play, as Mr. Marlin himself, Jeff Conine threw out JT Snow -- who tried to truck Pudge Rodriguez -- at home. Pudge held on to the ball through the contact, and the stadium erupted. It marked the first time a series ended with the potential tying run being thrown out at home.

In the NLCS, the Marlins took on the Cubs. Up 3 games to 1, with the series heading back to Wrigley, the Cubs looked to be primed for a trip to the Fall Classic. That is, until Bartman happened. One of the most infamous moments of the decade. It's tough to actually blame Bartman for what happened, especially when the team on the field unraveled (including botched ground balls). The Marlins went on to win the pennant.

In the World Series, the Marlins squared off against the Yankees, and Josh Beckett put on a performance for the ages in Game 6, with the Marlins up 3 games to 2. Beckett pitched a complete game, shutting out the Yankees and recording the final out by tagging out Jorge Posada on a soft grounder. It was quite a title run by the Marlins, and only topped by one moment in South Florida this decade.

1. 2006 NBA Finals. Facing a potential 3-0 deficit and down 13 points with six and a half minutes remaining in Game 3, the outcome didn't look bright for the Heat. A year after falling short in the Eastern Conference Finals, it appeared the team would come away empty handed in the franchise's first trip to the NBA Finals. The Mavs had a victory parade already planned... but that's when Dwyane Wade decided to throw a wrench in those plans. Wade went off, leading the Heat to a comeback victory in Game 3, 98-96. The Heat didn't lose another game in the series, and Wade went on to finish with one of the most memorable performances in Finals history while leading the franchise to its first ever NBA title.

We're sure there are plenty of other moments that deserve consideration as one of the best of the decade -- especially seeing as how we know of other moments that we discussed with each other that just missed the cut. If you have any qualms with our list, or just want to contribute your two cents to the conversation, feel free to do so in the comments.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Miami Heat All-Decade Team

Apologies for the lack of posting recently. It's been winter break, and I've been enjoying some down time to unwind. But this week we will be bringing you a few end-of-the-decade posts to reflect on the aughts. Today, we present to you the Miami Heat All-Decade Team.

Starting Lineup:

PG - Tim Hardaway.
Hardaway hardly played for the Heat this decade, though he did lead the team into the new millennium, and stayed on through the 2000-01 season, where he averaged 15 points and over 6 assists per game. After the 2001 season, he bounced around with a few teams before calling it a career. At the beginning of this season, the Heat honored Hardaway by retiring his No. 10 jersey -- making him only the second Heat player to receive the honor.

SG - Dwyane Wade.
Do I really need to explain why he makes the first team? Simply put, since being drafted in 2003, Wade has become the face of the franchise, as well as one of the top three players in the world, alongside Kobe and LeBron. He's also become a perennial MVP candidate. Hopefully, he will remain in a Heat uniform into the next decade.

SF -
Eddie Jones. Love him or hate him, Eddie Jones was one of the best players this franchise had playing for it this decade. Though his true position is at guard, for the purpose of this list, we moved him to small forward. Over his Heat career, he averaged nearly 17 points a game, while serving as a veteran leader.

PF - Udonis Haslem. Haslem's stats might not always be eye-popping, but since going undrafted out of Florida, Haslem has made a name for himself, spending his whole career thus far in Miami. He does all of the dirty work for the team: rebounding, taking charges and all-around hustle. Not to mention he has mastered the mid-range jumper. He is practically a walking double-double, and his desire to put the team first was epitomized by his willingness to come off the bench this season. He's a fan-favorite, and it would be a travesty to leave him off this list.

C - Alonzo Mourning.
The bicep rounds out the starting lineup at center. Though his halcyon days were with the Heat in the 90s, he makes the starting lineup on principle. His intensity on the court was matched only by his charity off of it, and combined, it has made him one of the most loved athletes in South Florida sports history. He was also the first Heat player to have his number retired by the organization.

Coach: Pat Riley
. Riley was the mastermind behind nearly all the Heat teams this past decade, and while he wasn't always the one on the bench making the calls (Stan Van Gundy and Erik Spoelstra both have had shots), Riley has been the man associated with the Heat more so than any other coach. He coached the team to its first and only league title in 2006 (after he took over for SVG -- but that whole ordeal will not be talked about here).


PG - Jason Williams. White Chocolate spent three years with the Heat, averaging about 10 points and 5 assists in his stint on Biscayne Boulevard. He also happened to be the PG at the helm during that fateful 2006 title run, which gives him plenty of credentials, along with the stability, to come off the bench at PG for this all-decade squad.

SG - Caron Butler. The Heat's first round draft pick from 2002 only spent two seasons with the Heat before being traded to the Lakers. But during his rookie season, he averaged 15 points a game, which was second on the team. Since his trade, he has developed into a respectable player, who consistently scores 20 points a game.

SF - Lamar Odom. Odom only spent one season with the Heat before being shipped to LA along with Butler, however, that one season was still good enough to land him on the bench of our all-decade team (17 points, 10 boards and 4 assists per game, while helping to lead the team to the playoffs a season after finishing 25-57).

PF - Brian Grant. I wanted to make an argument for Grant to make the first team at PF, but it was tough between him and Haslem. "The General" was a great leader for the Heat for four years, and like Haslem, his stats weren't flashy, but he did what the team needed him to do -- including playing out of position at center. His best season came in 2001, when he averaged 15 points and 9 boards. He was shipped to the Lakers with Butler and Odom before retiring and later being diagnosed with Parkinson's.

C - Shaquille O'Neal. Statistically speaking, Shaq made a good argument for the first team. His first season in Miami, he had an MVP-caliber season, averaging 23 points and over 10 rebounds a game in leading the Heat to the Eastern Conference Finals. The following season, he would help lead the team to its only NBA title. And while Shaq parted with the team on a bitter note, his contributions to the franchise still made him worthy of the all-decade team.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Poorly Timed Advertisement In Wake Of Chris Henry's Death

Chris Henry, the 24-year-old Cincinnati Bengals WR, passed away early Thursday morning after suffering ultimately-fatal injuries after a domestic dispute with his fiancee.

Henry, who was out for the season after breaking his forearm, was turning his life around following legal issues in his first few years in the league. But then Wednesday, he fell from the bed of a pickup truck and suffered injuries that ultimately took his life.

His passing is tragic, and untimely, and our thoughts go out to his family, both on and off the field.

Like many of you, I woke up this morning to the news of Henry's passing. I went to SI.com for the story, and much to my dismay, there was a poorly-timed advertisement banner above the story, and to the right of it:

That's right, after Henry passed from injuries that he sustained after falling out of the bed of a truck in Charlotte, North Carolina, this ad for Chevy Silverado pops up alongside the story of Henry's death.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Who Will Replace Charlie Strong?

When you become one of the best college football programs in the nation, other programs are bound to start picking off your coaching staff. It started last season, when Mississippi State snatched up Gators offensive coordinator Dan Mullen as its new head coach. Today, Louisville swooped in and will be naming Florida's defensive coordinator, Charlie Strong, the Cardinals' new head coach.

After Mullen left last season, I made an attempt at trying to name a few candidates that Florida could have pursued to replace him. Missing from that list? Steve Addazio. Which either means I had no business trying to make a guess at the replacement, or that Florida had no business promoting Addazio to the offensive coordinator position.

Since Strong will be gone this afternoon, I figured that I'd give this replacement thing a shot again, so here, I give you who I think Florida should get to replace Charlie Strong.
  • Dan McCarney. He's the current defensive line coach for the Gators, and this was only his second season working with Urban Meyer. He is a fiery coach, and my friends who have watched team practices are huge fans of him and his approach to coaching. Before he came to Florida, he spent a year as the d-line coach at USF, and before that, was the head coach at Iowa State for 12 seasons, taking them to five bowl games. He's the most likely choice, should Meyer and athletic director Jeremy Foley decide to keep the job in-house.
  • Chuck Heater. Another logical choice if the job were to stay within the current coaching staff. Heater, who is the current coach of the safeties and assistant defensive coordinator, has been coaching for over three decades, and is one of Meyer's favorite assistants. If you want to see the rest of his lengthy resume, click here.
  • Dick Bumpas. This one is a stretch, and was actually brought up in conversation twice yesterday in discussing this very topic. For those of you who don't know, Bumpas is currently the defensive coordinator for the TCU Horned Frogs. He is responsible for the team having the No. 1 total defense in the nation this season, the sixth best scoring defense, third best rushing defense and fourth best pass defense. Here's the rest of his resume. As I said, Bumpas is a stretch, but why not strike while the iron is hot and bring him in to a big time school where if he has a dominant defense, he won't be relegated to a BCS game against another mid-major team?
Those are just a few names that have come to mind in the last 24 hours, but I'm sure there are some other possibly deserving and qualified candidates out there that I have failed to mention. If you have any ideas, or candidates that you feel deserve the opportunity, feel free to discuss it in the comments section.

Charlie Strong Gets What's Owed To Him

The University of Louisville is set to name Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong as the school's knew head coach this afternoon. The school is holding a 4 p.m. press conference to introduce Strong as the Cardinals head coach, and I, for one, could not be happier for Strong.

As most of you know, I do some college football work over at College Game Balls. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post where I made a case for Strong to get a head coaching position. In it, I made a nifty little table of Strong's defenses at Florida over the last five years, which were overall pretty elite units. Check for yourself:

Now mind you, the 2009 rankings were as of mid-November, so they don't include the Alabama debacle. But Strong was putting out a consistently dominant product during his tenure at Florida. He has also widely been considered one of the best recruiters around, which I'm sure will only help him succeed at Louisville.

In that same piece, I argued that Strong should get his first head coaching shot at a BCS school, where he actually has a chance to do big things. Which is just another reason why I am thrilled for him that Louisville is making the hire. It's great to see that his race -- or his wife's race -- didn't matter to a school, especially after it's been thought for years now that that's the reason why Strong was never hired as a head coach before.

But Louisville was able to look past his skin, and his interracial marriage, and will be hiring one of the hardest working coaches in college football. The bottom line is that Louisville is making a great hire in Strong. Yet while part of me, as a Florida fan, is sad to see Strong leave after turning Florida's defenses into some of the best in the nation over most of the last decade, the rest of me couldn't be happier for him.

Why? Because Charlie Strong is finally getting what has been owed to him, and it's long overdue.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

2009 SEC Championship Game... Yeah, That Happened.

I don't really know how to go about writing this post, because it's something completely new to me as a blogger. See, I started this blog in October of 2008, shortly after the Gators lost to Ole Miss. Since then, they had reeled off 22 consecutive victories and I have not once had to comment about a loss. But then yesterday happened, and I've been trying to figure out the proper words to describe such a thorough beat down... and I'm fairly confident thorough beat down is an accurate term to describe the game.

As a fan, when your team loses, you try to come up with excuses and scapegoats to try and explain the loss. Some people may try and blame Carlos Dunlap, for his DUI and the suspension and distraction that resulted from it. Others will try and place blame on all of the talk swirling of defensive coordinator Charlie Strong becoming the next head coach at Louisville. Others will find some other excuse to help themselves sleep easier at night following a loss like that. But excuses can only take you so far and explain so much.

But to put it simply, Alabama dominated this game from virtually every facet. They doubled up Florida in terms of time of possession (about 40 minutes to UF's 20). Mark Ingram, by himself, out-rushed the Gators 113-88, and had twice as many rushes (28) as UF as a team (14). It's never good when the best rushing offense in the nation only rushes the ball 14 times, ten of which were with Tim Tebow. It also didn't help that the offense didn't have the ball long enough to establish the rush early on.

I'd bore you all with more stats, but by now, I'm sure we're all familiar with the numbers. It was the most yards allowed by UF under Urban Meyer. It was also the worst game plan of Meyer's tenure. Florida got beat Saturday in the Georgia Dome. They got outplayed. They got out-coached. But most importantly, they got out-hungered.

Nick Saban has his team hungrier for this SEC title than Florida was. Alabama had a bitter taste in its mouth after last year's game, and that team played like that memory was fresh in the players' minds. Yes, Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes came back for their senior year to win another SEC title and to have a shot at another BCS title, but if you want to win a title, you need to play like a champion. That's just what Alabama did.

Truth be told, I had a bad feeling about the game all week, even before the Dunlap fiasco. This Florida team this year was good. They ran their regular season schedule. But they weren't last season's team. Ted put it best when he tweeted to me last night that in order to repeat, a team has to be better than they were the year before. It's a valid point, and despite a better regular season record, Florida was not better than last year's team. Losing Percy Harvin will do that to a team.

But as disappointing and as devastating as this SEC title game loss was, there's something to be said about this season. A 22-game win streak is nothing to scoff at. Nor is a 12-1 season. But as a friend -- a Gator hater, for what it's worth -- put it into perspective last night: when a 12-1 season and a BCS bowl berth is considered a failure, your team is doing something right.

And he's right. Any other season -- while team's should always strive for a national title -- a Sugar Bowl berth would be great. But not this season. This was supposed to be Florida's year. This is what Tebow and Spikes came back for. This is what this team worked for all year. Yet, it wasn't meant to be.

Instead, Tebow and Spikes will have to settle for a bittersweet Sugar Bowl against Cincinnati to close out their careers, and close out what was a once-promising season. Pasadena was intended to be the final destination for this team, but Alabama re-routed Florida's itinerary on Saturday evening, and now Florida's final destination will be the Big Easy, where it might not be so easy against an undefeated Cincinnati team.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Another Year, Another Irrelevant ACC Championship Game

This year, I've tried defending the ACC and their reputation and legitimacy as a BCS automatic qualifier. As expected, it got tougher as the year went on and now that it's the end of the college football regular season, I'm pretty much back at square one. The title of this post is the main reason why.

It started out so promising though. Over the first month of the season, there were several games that would seem to suggest progress in the conference.
  • Virginia Tech hung with Alabama and played a very competitive game before losing the Kickoff Classic. Compare that with the previous year, where Alabama handled Clemson in convincing fashion.
  • Miami and Florida State played a thriller in front of a national audience that caused people to debate whether each program was "back," and had most pundits saying, "yes" or "probably."
  • Both schools followed up with beatdown wins over top-15 opponents. Miami took down Georgia Tech 33-17 in front of national television again while Florida State went to Provo and beat BYU 54-28.
  • Virginia Tech beat the now top-10 Miami team in soggy Blacksburg, which suggested that those two teams plus Georgia Tech was a trio of powers that may play out like the Big 12 South from a year ago.
Unfortunately for the ACC, the rest of the season played out similar to how it's been in the last few years. On the Atlantic side, each team beat each other up and seemingly had three conference losses by November, while no teams were ranked and relevant in the national picture. Florida State was especially disappointing, losing a non-conference battle to South Florida before racking up three more ACC losses.

On the other hand the Coastal division looked good for a while. As I mentioned, the trio of GT, VT, and Miami appeared to be solid top-15 teams. But the second half of the season proved otherwise. The Hokies lost at home to North Carolina, who also tripped up Miami later after they had already been bit by surging Clemson.

Still, there was hope of a worthy BCS representative and a top-5 finish in the polls for Georgia Tech who was sitting at 10-1. All they had to do was take down an inferior Georgia team in a game they should have no problem getting up for, considering its a rivalry and it was Senior Night at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Wrong. The Bulldogs ran the ball 44 times for 339 yards and Tech coach Paul Johnson, triple option genius, called four straight passes on the final drive, the last of which being a flat out drop by Demaryius Thomas that even Ted Ginn thinks was embarrassing.

Not to be outdone, the surging Clemson I mentioned earlier went to their in-state rivals South Carolina, who had lost three in a row, and got housed. Fraudelent Heisman candidate CJ Spiller started the game with a kickoff return for a touchdown but it was all downhill after that. It was 24-7 South Carolina by the half, and it ended up 34-17 in the Gamecocks favor. It wasn't as close as that score would indicate.

So yet again we have a BCS Consolation Game in effect for the ACC title. This the fifth year of the ACC Championship Game and of all the ten teams that participated, only two were even ranked in the top-10 (VT in 2005 & 2007). Obviously that means no game has even had the smallest of impact on the National Championship Game selections.

That is what the ACC needs.The past couple years, the ACC hasn't been as bad people would think. There is good depth, and as recently as a couple weeks ago, it was the conference with the most teams in the top-25. But, that doesn't mean much in the court of public opinion. The SEC has shown us in the last 5-10 years that if you have teams playing for and winning national titles, it makes the whole conference look better.

So, in another hour or so, I'm going to turn on the SEC Championship Game, a de-facto National Semifinal (Playoff? What a novel idea!) and keep dreaming that the ACC will someday reach this level. Cheers!

Friday, December 4, 2009

In Which We Discuss The World Cup Draw

The eight groups in South Africa have finally been set (Sorry Ireland). You can find the draw here Here’s a group-by-group analysis of each group:

Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, and France

This group can be considered to be the Group of [mediocrity] death (Everyone knows what the real Group of Death is, and it’ll be covered). France’s luck continues to go their way, and they are still good enough to advance out of this group. I will not automatically hand them this group, but they can surely finagle their way out. Mexico and Uruguay will be a great game that could undoubtedly determine who is going to be the other team advancing with France. However, if you were watching in 2002, then you should know that the host team should never be counted out.

Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, and Greece

This group is a very difficult group, and it could very well be a trap group for the Argentines. If Argentina plays in the same form that they have been showing then I would suspect that they will be that big name team that fails to get through. Nigeria would love to take another shot at Argentina after the Olympic finals loss, and don’t be surprised if everyone starts shouting ODEMWINGIE! The other team that will give Argentina problems is Greece. Every soccer fan knows that Greece loves to stack a good nine players on defense, and then counter on rare occasions. Greece is looking to win 1-0 if not draw, and that will give Argentina fits. I don’t see South Korea surviving this round, but they could get a point from Greece. Greece and Nigeria advance unless Argentina gets it together, and Maradona is booted out the door.

Group C: England, USA, Algeria, and Slovenia

Uncle Sam’s Army has no excuses to not be in the top 2 of this group. England will be a great test to see how the US team is going to perform in the South African edition of the World Cup. England and the USA are the clear 1 and 2 teams in this group. Algeria will not fare well at all, and I think the USA has enough to take care of business with Slovenia. Here’s hoping to a speedy recovery for Gooch and Davies.

Group D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, and Ghana

The #2 spot is up for grabs in this year, but I just can’t imagine Germany not advancing out of this group. By no means will it be easy for them, but they are a great TEAM looking to forget about the Euro Cup Finals. The “Socceroos” are hoping that they do not get robbed like they were against Italy the last time around. Serbia is a better team than many people may think, and they may be able to have a say in this group before it is all said and done. However, I see the African champs of Ghana prove that the last time around was no fluke, and they squeak by the other two teams behind Germany.

Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon

This group will all depend on how much Eto’o and company have left in the tank. The Dutch will come out with another offensive blitzkrieg like they did in the Euros, and I fully expect them to take this group. Japan will be a welcome mat worth three points for whatever team faces them. The Danes match up against Cameroon will go a long way in deciding who takes the 2nd spot in this group. I would recommend both team pouring it on Japan to boost their goal differential in the case that they draw in their tussle.

Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia

Lucky break for the aging defending champs here. Italy will have no problems winning this group, and they could very well do so in nine point fashion. I do not see the “Kiwis” causing any problems in this group. Slovakia and Paraguay will square off for the 2nd spot in this group, and I think the Slovakians will be able to pull out a win here.

Group G: Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal

Ladies and gentlemen, without further adieu I give you all the dreaded Group of Death. Kim Jong Irr, keep focusing on your nucrear program because your soccer team has no chance. How great does Kaka vs. Drogba sound? How about Drogba vs. Ronaldo? Still not good enough? That’s cool, because we’re also going to see Kaka vs. Ronaldo in an always intense showdown between Portugal and Brazil. This group is going to be very exciting, and also very difficult. I personally think Brazil will fight it out and earn the one seed. CR9 is may favorite player, but he has never really played the same way for Portugal that he has for his clubs. Portugal is too old and their form is not great right now. Therefore, Drogba gets the Ivory Coast out of the first round and keeps his World Cup hopes alive. I am hoping I am wrong about this, but I am trying to assess this as well as I can. One of these powerful teams will not be making it to the Round of 16, but that’s the way of the draw.

Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile

Loyal readers, we are looking at a new Spain. This version of “La Furia Roja” no longer play as individuals stars. Instead, this Spanish team has finally learned the meaning of the word “team.” I do not expect this team to choke in the early goings this year, and they will be able to advance out of the group stage with ease. The 2nd spot is once again up for grabs between these teams. I have decided that, for kicks, I am going to be the guy that sees Honduras through because if there is a nation that is in dire need of something to believe in…it’s Honduras.

I will go over the round of eliminations in a later post as we get closer and closer to the World Cup.

We Now Return You To Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

In case you haven't noticed, things have been kind of umm, dead around here the last two weeks or so. For that, we apologize, but it was one of those times where all the stars aligned and I had to buckle down to finish off the semester. That, combined with a about a week of family-related activities around Thanksgiving, and you have my excuse for not delivering some quality work.

But rest assured, folks, I am back and (maybe) better than ever. We've got a few things on tap for you in the coming days, including a look at the World Cup draws. I'm sure we'll also delve into all the college football championship game happenings this weekend and all that good stuff. So stay tuned, and welcome back.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What the New LA Stadium Means for the Jaguars

Los Angeles has been trying to bring the NFL back to their city. I, like many football fans, believe that the NFL would only get better by installing a franchise in one of the top markets in the country, let alone the world. Information on the stadium can be found at this site.

Feel free to check it out and provide feedback on it if you would like. This story is not about the intricacies of the stadium, but more so about the professional franchise that would inhabit it. Will a new group come together and form an expansion team? Possibly, but another possibility would be the re-location of a franchise that already exists. Leading candidate for relocation: The Jacksonville Jaguars

Wayne Weaver's franchise has had a very hard time making revenue over the past decade. The team's games are constantly being blacked out in an effort to try and sell more tickets, but people still are not filling the stands. Jersey sales are not exactly going as fast as say a divisional rival Colts jersey. The team is not even as bad as the state-rival Bucs. When you stop and actually look at what is going on in Jacksonville...they boast the state of Florida's best record at 5-4!

Despite all of this, the franchise is still having a terribly difficult time thriving in Jacksonville that the powers-that-be must start asking themselves "Is Jacksonville really the best place for our franchise?" We will know a lot more in the coming years as this stadium is built. I Believe that the Jacksonville Jaguars have one last stand plotted out to give the actual die-hard Jags fan some hope that their team will not leave them. Who/What is their last hope? I think everyone already knows the answer to that.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have already come out and said that they are interested in using their first round draft pick to draft Florida Gator Quarterback Tim Tebow. Now, I am among those that believe that Tebow does not have the ability to hack it as an NFL quarterback, but this is the smartest move that the Jaguars organization can make at this juncture.

Let's face it, Tebow was born and raised in Jacksonville - making him a local hero to many. Tebow would be drafted to put some more Jags fans in the stands, and it wouldn't end there. Tebow's Jaguar jersey would definitely be a hot sell, and that would help bring in jersey revenue that MJD is trying to bring in all by himself.

The final part of this trifecta would be that the media, as we all know, loves Tebow. Therefore, Jacksonville would definitely get a lot more coverage than it is used to, and the attention could also make some people in the Jacksonville area notice what they have.

If Operation Tebow fails in Jacksonville then there is obviously no hope for an NFL franchise to be successful in that city. Weaver won't have to pack it all in though...there's a nice stadium waiting for him in a fantastic market that is craving an NFL franchise.

The Week 11 "4th and Fail" College Football Top 10

Each writer for this blog, weekly, will compile their own top ten college football ballot. For each ballot, first place gets ten points, second place gets nine, and so on. We will then add together the totals and bring to you our collective poll. With that said, I present to you the Week 11 "4th and Fail" College Football Poll.

Here's last week's poll for a reference point.

Final Ballot (with Total Points in parentheses)

1. Alabama (38)
T-2. Florida (35)
T-2. Texas (35)
4. TCU (27)
5. Cincinnati (25)
T-6. Georgia Tech (18)
T-6. Boise State (18)
8. Pittsburgh (12)
9. LSU (5)
10. Ohio State (4).

The voting breakdown is as follows, with brief explanations from each writer:

-TV's ballot.

1. Florida
2. Texas
3. Alabama
4. Cincinnati
5. TCU
6. Georgia Tech
7. Boise State
8. Pittsburgh
9. Ohio State
10. LSU

Explanation: The top three have not changed, nor will they until one of them loses, and Cincinnati keeps getting it done -- now with both Collaros and Pike. TCU was impressive in its thrashing of Utah, and Georgia Tech booked its trip to Jacksonville for the ACC title game. Boise is still lingering and undefeated, despite a less-than-impressive schedule. Ohio State clinched the Big Ten with a win over Iowa, so they get some love in this poll, and LSU is still the best two-loss team.

-Ted's ballot

1. Alabama
2. Texas
3. Florida
4. TCU
5. Cincinnati
6. Boise St.
7. Georgia Tech
8. Pittsburgh
9. LSU
10. Ohio St. FML

Explanation: To help me with my ballot this week, I consulted with the Jeff Sagarin computer rankings. I mainly tried to get a better sense of the schedule each team has faced. The other factor in some of my poll shuffling this week is that I like a team that makes a statement. The two biggest statements this weekend were TCU and Alabama. That's why they each bumped up a spot. This week also features the unfortunate return of Ohio St. I don't know how I should feel about them making a BCS bowl again. I'm really tired of them, and don't wish them any success, ever. But, they will face a Pac-10 team (Probably Oregon or Stanford) who should steamroll them. Another humiliating loss on the national stage would be gratifying at least.

- Wooj's ballot

1. Alabama
2. Florida
3. Texas
4. TCU
5. Cincy
6. Boise St.
7. Georgia Tech
8. Pitt
9. Oregon
10. Ohio St.

Explanation: The top 3 stay unscatched and on their respective collision courses. Cincy's Friday night struggle and TCU's convincing win over Utah has prompted be to switch their positions on my list. Boise State remains at 6 for once again not playing a meaningful schedule. Georgia Tech comes in at #7 as the top 1 loss team. The Wannstaches of Pittsburgh U come in at #8 this week after most likely nailing the proverbial coffin of Charlie Weis' coaching career at ND. Oregon comes in at #9 as the top 2 win team and the likely winners of the Pac-10 Conference. Finally, as much as I hate them, the Buckeyes of Ohio State did win the Big 10 through a tiebreaker with Iowa and they will be heading to the Rose Bowl. Therefore, I must give them some credit and stick them at #10 on my list.

We also have a guest ballot this week coming from a friend of the site, Chucker. He did a favor for us the other day, and this is how we reciprocate that favor.

- Guest ballot: Chucker.

1. Alabama
2. Texas
3. Florida
4. TCU
5. Cincinnati
6. Georgia Tech
7. Boise State
8. Pittsburgh
9. LSU
10. Oregon

Explanation: Good to be here folks, hope I’m not a “one-hit wonder”. Bama gets the top nod here after easily taking care of a Mississippi State team that Florida struggled to put away. Texas seemed to finally hit their stride and look to cruise on into Pasadena. TCU edges out Cincy for the 4th spot after the Bearcats squeaked out a W against West Virginia. Georgia Tech (and their nauseating offense) remains the best one-loss team after clinching a birth in the ACC title game (good luck selling that one out) and undefeated Boise continues to hang around following their manhandling of the Vandals. The great “Wannstache” and his Panthers come in at number 8 while the Tigers and Ducks round out the top 10. Couldn’t bring myself to put Ohio St. in the top 10 well…because it’s Ohio St, and because it’s the Big Ten.

Chris Coghlan, We Salute You

I know what a lot of you (including my brother) are thinking: Baseball? In late-November? C'mon man. Well tough luck, because we're talking baseball this post.

The 2009 National League Rookie of the Year was named today -- as was the American League's, but we don't care too much about that -- and the winner of this year's award, as voted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, is the Marlins' LF Chris Coghlan. Coghlan won the award in a close vote over Phillies pitcher J.A. Happ, making him the third Marlins player to win the award, joining Dontrelle Willis and Hanley Ramirez.

For the season, Coghlan batted .321 for the Marlins as the team's lead-off hitter once Emilio Bonifacio was taken out of that role. He also hit nine home runs and batted in 47 runs, while scoring 84. Coghlan was called up in May, but after the All-Star break he had 113 hits, which is the most by any NL hitter -- rookie or veteran -- in the last 45 years.

It's an eye-popping stat when you think about it. Then, add in that Coghlan led all NL rookies in batting average, runs, hits, total bases and OBP (.390) and it's pretty clear that Coghlan was deserving of the award.

I guess all that campaigning that Tommy Hutton and Rich Waltz did for Cogs in the booth at the end of the season really helped out.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Heat - Cavs: LeBron Adds to the Rumors

The Heat and Cavs played last night on national television, and as expected, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James did not disappoint. The two combined for 70 points (36 from Wade and 34 from LeBron) and several highlight-worthy plays, including this abusive dunk by Wade on Sideshow Bob Anderson Varejao:

Yeah, that was just a filthy dunk. Notice how Varejao bounces off the ground and into the basket's support.

Anyways, the Cavs wound up winning, and the Heat dropped to 6-2 on the season. But the most intriguing part of all of this goes back to the rumors of LeBron joining Wade in Miami next season.

Yes, it is still probably far-fetched, but where there is smoke, there is fire. It dawned on me the other day that if LeBron were to join the Heat, he would have to change his number from 23 because the Heat retired that number when Michael Jordan retired (for the final time) due to the mutual respect between Jordan and Pat Riley.

So LeBron would have to wear wear something other than 23. Then this happened after the game: he spoke about how he thinks no one should wear MJ's no. 23 at all in the league, and suggested that he will change his own number next season to 6 -- his Olympic number.

This can only add fuel to the fire that is the ruminations that people think LeBron will join Wade in Miami in 2010 and beyond.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

UM's Nike Pro Combat Uniforms

Nike has decided to let 10 other schools get the chance to be the Oregon Ducks for one game this season. The Pro Combat Jerseys are labeled as the “the next generation” of jerseys. The 10 schools that will be getting the chance to be among the first to test-drive the Pro Combats will be: Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, TCU, FSU, Ohio State, Mizzou, LSU, VT, and Miami. My colleague Tom will be reviewing the jersey for his beloved Gators, but now it is time for me to critique “the future.”

I can try and try all I want to try and say that these jerseys are cool because I love "The U," but that would be like trying and trying to convince myself that "Spiderman 3" was a quality movie all over again. The jersey just looks downright tacky. The white jersey, pants, AND BELTS?! I know this is Miami, but I didn’t know that Nike wanted the Canes to endorse the Santeria following in Hispanic South Florida. Also, what’s up with the two color tones on the number? [Ed. note: CGB points this out as the "my first Photoshop effect" gradient in his VT Pro Combat uniform review]

Did the people at Nike actually think that this was aesthetically pleasing to the eyes of football fans everywhere? Really, Nike?


The only thing I can hang my hat on is that we don’t look like a glorified arena football team and Atlanta Falcon’s love child (DAG GUMMIT!). I can also proudly say that this jersey still at least looks like a Miami Hurricanes jersey (Go Bayou Huskies?).

I will agree with the majority of fans out there that believe that the gloves are a redeeming quality of these jerseys. I am a fan of how the gloves say “The U” on the Velcro straps for Miami’s jersey, and the camouflage is a fun coincidence. I love how "The U" logo is formed on the palms of the gloves, though.
However, the gloves are not redeeming enough, and therefore I will not be endorsing “the future.” I am glad that the Canes will only be forced to wear these things for one game. Hopefully Jacory Harris can be creative and think of something to add appeal to Miami’s Pro Combat edition. The new jersey is trash, and for once I’m not talking about the state.

Byron Scott Fired: That Was Fast

We are just two weeks into the NBA season and we already have the first coaching casualty of the 2009-10. Byron Scott, (now former) coach of the New Orleans Hornets was canned after a 3-6 start -- and after being throttled by the Suns on Wednesday night.

His replacement for the time being will be Hornets GM Jeff Bower. Scott was just a season and nine game removed from being named the NBA Coach of the Year in 2008, and coaching the Hornets to the the Western Conference semifinals.

Now, do I think the Scott firing is a bit brash? Indeed. I mean, seriously, we are only nine games into the NBA season and it's not like the Hornets don't have the talent to compete. They have a roster that includes arguably the best point guard in the game in Chris Paul, and the likes of Emeka Okafor, Peja Stojakovic, David West and the supposed X-Factor of the 2006 and 2007 NBA playoffs: James Posey.

Given more time, I think the Hornets could turn it around with Scott at the helm, if not, at least give him the chance to do so because being fired just two weeks into the NBA season is a tad absurd.

Nu'Keese's Troubles and The Irony of It All

For those who didn't already hear -- and even for those who did -- three Tennessee Vols football players were arrested early Thursday morning and charged with attempted armed robbery. Among the three arrested was Nu'Keese Richardson. Yes, that same Nu'Keese Richardson who spurned the Gators and Coach Urban Meyer at the last minute to sign with Lane Kiffin and the Vols.

While I always hate seeing athletes who are given every chance to succeed go and do something so asinine to blow the opportunities granted to them, I can't help but laugh at the details of this heist.

Nu'Keese, and the other two players (Janzen Jackson and Mike Edwards), attempted to rob someone outside of a Pilot on the Knoxville Strip. Funny fact number one: the Pilot is apparently owned by a UT alum, and former football player that is a big athletic booster for the university.

After attempting to rob a vehicle at gunpoint -- with a pellet gun (that's funny fact number two)-- the three left with no valuables. Later, the car that was described at the scene was pulled over on campus. The escape vehicle: a Toyota Prius. Yes, this was an Eco-friendly robbery attempt. You might want to mark that as funny fact number three. After searching the vehicle, police found drug paraphernalia and a bag of marijuana (bonehead/funny fact number four).

Seriously people, you can't make this stuff up. It's almost on par with the Delonte West arrest this summer (but nothing compares to the hilarity of his arrest).

The cherry on top of this story, especially if you are a Gator fan (which I clearly am), is that on Wednesday, Lane Kiffin was boasting about how the Vols' football program had recorded zero arrests in the 11 months since he was hired. Oh, the irony. The timing of it all makes it that much more comical.

The only thing I'm waiting for in this story is the part where Kiffin reminds the media that Meyer also tried to recruit Richardson (because he can never resist trying to take a shot at the Gators).

As for the punishments for these players? Well, we will have to wait and see what happens.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thoughts On LeBron's Comments

LeBron James wants to win championships; it's no secret to anyone. He wanted everyone to know that winning those championships is more important than getting a max contract when the off-season rolls around.

Does this mean LeBron doesn't want a maximum contract for 2010 and beyond? Of course not. It just means that he would be willing to take a lesser contract if it meant winning championships, because, "winning is more important to me than money at the end of the day," LeBron said.

Now what does this mean for eager basketball fans such as myself? It means that there are legs to any pipe dreams that I -- and other Heat fans -- may have about the possibility of LeBron and Dwyane Wade calling the AAA their home next season.

Just think: if there's one person who could convince LeBron and/or Wade to take a less-than-max contract during free agency, who would it be? Probably Pat Riley. My eyes widen in wonderment at the mere idea of LeBron and Wade on the same team, even if it's just conjecture at this point. But if it could, in fact happen, LeBron would certainly get those championships he dreams of, and Wade would add more hardware to his collection.

Now that is an image I can get used to.

Just imagine a team anchored by two of the best players in the world, and surrounded by a supporting cast that could include Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem, among others.

And while I realize the unlikeliness of such an occurrence actually happening... a fan base can dream, right?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Five Things We Think We Think We Might Know: Week 10

Okay, so I flaked on this post last week, and I apologize. But rest assured, loyal readers, I'm back with a fresh five things we think we think we might know.

1. When Notre Dame loses, America wins. I quipped about this on Saturday, but I'll go at it again. Everyone hates Notre Dame, it's no secret. So when Notre Dame loses, America wins. And since this weekend, Notre Dame lost to Navy -- a branch of America's armed forces -- America won twice! Also, the loss means we don't have to see Notre Dame back its way into a BCS bowl.

2. Iowa got the Dennis Dixon treatment. The Hawkeyes were undefeated heading into the weekend, and then against Northwestern, Ricky Stanzi went down with a leg injury. Much like 2007 when Dennis Dixon went down for Oregon, and they dropped from No. 2 in the BCS to playing in the Sun Bowl. Hopefully Stanzi's injury won't have that drastic of an effect on this Iowa team, as they still control their own destiny in the Big 10.

3. Boise State is going to get screwed this season. If things shape out the way we think they will, Boise State is going to be left out of a BCS bowl. TCU, also undefeated, also non-BCS conference, jumped to fourth in the BCS poll this week. So Boise will end up playing somewhere other than Pasadena, Glendale, Miami or New Orleans come bowl season. But things rarely shape up as we expect them to in college football.

4. Jahvid Best is lucky to be walking. That fall he had on Saturday was blood-curdling, and beyond scary. It's usually never a good sign to see a player motionless on the ground (after landing on his back/neck) and then get carted off the field on a stretcher and being pumped oxygen. Fortunately for Best, he only suffered a concussion and has movement in all of his extremities.

5. Arguably the best QB in the nation is likely out for the rest of the season. No, not Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy or Case Keenum. Christian Ponder, FSU's star QB separated his shoulder in Saturday's loss to Clemson. It's a shame, because Ponder has been putting up ridiculous numbers and would probably be contending for a Heisman if it wasn't for FSU's Swiss cheese defense.

The Week 10 "4th and Fail" College Football Top 10

Each writer for this blog, weekly, will compile their own top ten college football ballot. For each ballot, first place gets ten points, second place gets nine, and so on. We will then add together the totals and bring to you our collective poll. With that said, I present to you the Week 7 "4th and Fail" College Football Poll.

Here is last week's poll, as a reference point.

Final Ballot (with Total Points in parentheses)

T-1. Florida (27)
T-1. Texas (27)
T-1. Alabama (27)
4. Cincinnati (21)
5. TCU (18)
6. Boise State (14)
7. Georgia Tech (13)
Iowa (6)
T-8. Pittsburgh (6)
T-10. LSU (2)
T-10. Oregon (2)
T-10. Utah (2)

Thoughts: Um, wow. This has got to be as odd a poll as we have seen so far this season. Apparently all three of us see no distinction between UF, Bama and Texas, but there is a gap between those three and the next group of teams. But there is also quite a gap between the middle-of-the-pack and the bottom tier of the top ten.

The voting breakdown is as follows, with brief explanations from each writer:

-TV's ballot.

1. Florida
2. Texas
3. Alabama
4. Cincinnati
5. TCU
6. Georgia Tech
7. Boise State
8. Iowa
9. Pittsburgh
10. LSU

Explanation: The top three have not changed, and Cincinnati survived a late push by UCONN to stay undefeated. TCU cracks the top five after Iowa suffered from Dennis Dixon Syndrome. GT is now probably the best one-loss team, so they come in ahead of Boise. Iowa stays in the top 10 because they still control their destiny in the Big 10 despite the loss to Nowrthwestern (and not the good Northwestern that plays high school ball in Miami). Pitt cracks the top 10 because well, they only have one loss. And LSU is the lone two-loss team in my ballot because their two losses are to two of the top three teams in my ballot -- plus they got jobbed out of that interception.

- Ted's ballot

1. Texas
2. Alabama
3. Florida
4. Cincinnati
5. TCU
6. Boise St.
7. Georgia Tech
8. Pittsburgh
9. Utah
10. LSU
Explanation: The top six shapes up pretty easily. It really doesn't matter where Texas, Florida, and Alabama are, they all control their own destiny to the National Campionship game. I think Texas has the best and most complete team as of right now. Both the Gators and Crimson Tide offenses are still a bit underwhelming. Georgia Tech is now the best one-loss team in the mix and has a chance to finish with a mighty-strong resume (rivalry game vs Georgia and ACC title game left to play). By no means do I think Pittsburgh and Utah are the 8th and 9th best teams in the country, but by default they have moved up. They do have nice resumes, but both have a game against a top five opponenet coming up. I'm keeeping LSU in the ten spot because they're the best two-loss team by a distance, although Ohio State is lurking, FML.

- Wooj's ballot

1. Alabama
2. Florida
3. Texas
4. Cincinnati
5. TCU
6. Boise St.
7. Georgia Tech
8. Iowa
9. Oregon
10. Pitt.

Explanation: The top 3 remain as is for surviving the week unscathed. Cincinnati barely escaped an inspired UCONN effort, and they also edge out the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian for the #4 spot. Boise St. comes in at number 6 even though they needed all 4 quarters to earn a W against more weak opponents. Georgia Tech comes in at #7 after Wake Forest broke my Miami Hurricane-biased heart and let Georgia Tech remain as the class of the ACC Coastal Division. Iowa lost Stanzi and their undefeated season this past weekend, but seeing as they are a one-loss team in a decent conference they still deserve a spot in the top 10. I choose to show Oregon some love because there is no way that USC should be ahead of them after only one removed from the shellacking in Eugene. Finally, the Pitt. Panthers come in at the 10 spot in this week's poll until further notice.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Fins Should Have Signed Chris Chambers

Former Dolphins WR Chris Chambers was released by the Chargers last week, and subsequently picked up off of waivers by the Kansas City Chiefs. Some people, myself included, thought it would have been awesome for the Dolphins to re-sign the WR they traded a couple of years back. And today's performance only adds to the argument that the team should have done so.

Today, in his first game with the Chiefs, Chambers caught three passes for 70 yards and 2 touchdowns. Thus, I present you with three reasons the Dolphins should have signed Chris Chambers when they had the chance:

  1. Ted Ginn Jr. is not a No. 1 receiver.
  2. Brian Hartline is not one either.
  3. Nor is Davone Bess.
In other news, the Fins lost to the Patriots today, and Ginn and Hartline (both out of Ohio State) dropped very catch-able passes on the team's final drive. It was the Dolphins first loss in the division, and dropps them to 3-5 on the season.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

In Honor of No. 27: 27 Reasons to Hate the Yankees

First off, congratulations to the New York Yankees for buy--er winning the 2009 World Series. To commemorate the franchise's 27th World Series title, I present to you my list of 27 reasons why I hate the Yankees.

1. They are a New York team, and as a South Floridian, it is my natural duty to hate teams from New York.

2. They bought themselves this title. You can argue that they have some "homegrown" talent on that team, but combine the contracts of A-Rod, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and AJ Burnett, and you have well over a half billion spent on bringing guys in.

HGH. Andy Pettitte did admit to using it, people. How soon people are willing to forget that because he won a title this year.

A-Roid. Hey, look! Another guy who took banned substances... and lied about it in a nationally aired interview.

Derek Jeter's "clutchness." I respect that Jeter has been the captain of this team for years now, but I, like many others, am sick of his alleged ability to be clutch. It's overplayed.

This title "christened" the New Yankee Stadium "the right way," and this makes me sick.

Jorge Posada's incessant need to have a conference with his pitcher at the mound. Seriously, it's like after every pitch. Isn't that what the signs are supposed to be for?

Yankees bandwagon fans. This happens when any team wins a title, but the Yankees ones suck even more, because the franchise bought these fans when they spent half a billion on players.

Actual Yankees fans... because they are Yankees fans. Chanting "Twenty-Seven," really?

. Joe Girardi. I have mixed feelings on him because yes, he did take everyone by surprise with the Marlins when he won Manager of the Year. However, he also overused his young pitchers (Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez needed Tommy John surgery).

Did I mention they are the Yankees?

. Johnny Damon. I admit, I liked him when he was with the Red Sox (mostly because I used the Red Sox in MVP Baseball 2004, and because he was on the team that beat the Yankees after being down 0-3 in the ALCS). But, to win a World Series with Boston, then to go on over to that teams most hated rivals. That's not cool.

. Yankees fans. They are a step above Philadelphia fans... maybe. Not sure. It's a close call.

Centaurs. A-Rod has a self-portrait of himself as a centaur in his bedroom. That's funny, but it makes me hate him and the Yankees even more.

Those ridiculous boating rope necklaces that AJ Burnett and Joba Chamberlain wear around their necks.

The absurd pricing of seats at the New Yankees Stadium. In general, it's expensive enough for families to attend sporting events, but the Yankees make you put a down-payment of your first-born child to afford tickets... or something like that. Point is, it's way too expensive.

They are the Evil Empire. This point does not need to be elaborated.

The "Aura and Mystique." The Yankees are not Rick James, they do not emanate a mystical aura, and neither does their stadium.

They got rid of one of the best monuments in sports, Yankee Stadium, for a new stadium that looks essentially the same as the old one... minus the history.

Have I mentioned the fans? I did? Well they deserve another mention.

They are in the largest market in sports, so they are forced down our throats on the regular.

They invade the state of Florida every spring for spring training.

The ownership and management. Seriously, the Steinbrenner's and Brian Cashman make headlines more than some lesser MLB teams.

The arrogance. They have won more than any other franchise, and they know it... so they often feel it is their right to win a World Series.

Have I mentioned that they buy their championships? (Just for reference, this Yankees team spent $192 millions this season, while the 2003 World Series Champion Marlins spent just $54 million.)

They are the New York Yankees and I hate them because they faced the Marlins in the 2003 World Series. Even though the Marlins won, it furthered my hatred for the Yankees.

THEY MADE ME ROOT FOR THE PHILLIES! Now I feel dirty, and need to have my soul purged.

An Interesting AJ Burnett Factoid

So I was trying to think -- which can be dangerous -- and was thinking of Yankees on this World Series team to win titles with other teams. There are some, including Johnny Damon and Eric Hinske, both of whom won World Series titles with the Red Sox (Damon in 2003 and Hinske in 2007).

However, one name stands out when I think about guys on this team that have won a title elsewhere: AJ Burnett.

The pitcher that the Yankees spent $82.5 million on started two games in this World Series, going 1-1. Burnett's other World Series win? Well that would be with the 2003 Florida Marlins. And who did the Marlins play in the 2003 World Series? That's right, the Yankees.

I believe that makes AJ Burnett the only player on this Yankees roster to win a World Series with the Yankees, and one against the Yankees.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Week 9 "4th and Fail" College Football Top 10

Each writer for this blog, weekly, will compile their own top ten college football ballot. For each ballot, first place gets ten points, second place gets nine, and so on. We will then add together the totals and bring to you our collective poll. With that said, I present to you the Week 7 "4th and Fail" College Football Poll.

Here's last week's poll, as a reference point.

Final Ballot (with Total Points in parentheses)

1. Florida (29)
2. Texas (27)
3. Alabama (26)
4. Cincinnati (19)
5. Iowa (18)
6. Oregon (17)
7. TCU (10)
LSU (8)
9. Boise State (7)
10. Georgia Tech (5)

The voting breakdown is as follows, with brief explanations from each writer:

-TV's ballot.

1. Florida
2. Texas
3. Alabama
4. Cincinnati
5. Oregon
6. Iowa
7. TCU
8. Boise State
9. LSU
10. Georgia Tech

Explanation: Florida and Texas both looked dominant, so yes, I dropped Bama after their bye week. Cincy is still winning, so I've got them fourth. Oregon has been so impressive since the Blount incident. That's part of the reason they are ahead of an undefeated Iowa, but it's also because Indiana is really bad. If Iowa bounces back next week, they'll rejoin the top 5. TCU and Boise are still winning, but not really playing anyone. LSU and GT round out the top 10, with LSU coming in ahead of GT because it took GT until the fourth quarter to distance themselves from the 110th best offense in the nation in Vandy.

- Ted's ballot

1. Texas
2. Florida
3. Alabama
4. Cincinnati
5. Iowa
6. Oregon
7. LSU
8. Georgia Tech
9. TCU
10. Boise St.
Explanation: Texas has been the best team over the last several weeks and did something that Florida and Alabama have not. They went to top 15 team's house and won soundly. I hate to penalize teams that were idle, like Alabama was, but Florida and Texas were too impressive not to move up. Iowa probably deserves to be lower but so long as they have zero losses, they aren't falling. As for Boise St and TCU, they remain undefeated, but Oregon, LSU, and Georgia Tech have much better resumes and have played multiple tough games. TCU and Boise St. are essentially in a competition between each other for an automatic BCS spot. It will most likely come down to TCU's game against Utah, who at the moment is still ranked. The Horned Frogs have a chance for another big game while the Broncos don't.

- Wooj's ballot

1. Alabama
2. Florida
3. Texas
4. Iowa
5. Oregon
6. Cincinnati
7. TCU
8. Boise St.
9. LSU
10. Georgia Tech

Explanation: I’m not about to push Alabama out of the top 3 like the BCS has just because they had a bye. I also will not push Texas ahead of Florida because Florida decided to look like the #2 team in this week’s poll. Texas had a big win, and they still do not need to worry as long as they just win out. Iowa stays at #4 because even though Indiana gave them more of a scare than necessary – they are still the undefeated Big 10 (Little 11) frontrunners. Oregon stays in at #5 for winning the aforementioned match in which the winner would stay ahead of the Bearcats (Who come in at #6 because I don’t think being undefeated in the Big East is very impressive at all). TCU stays ahead of Boise St. as they fill in the 7 and 8 spots. Although I still believe that LSU is completely overrated they have been given the #9 spot because they are still a 1-loss SEC team that “controls their own fate.” Georgia Tech stays at #10 for having problems with Vandy.

On the cusp: Penn St. and Pitt.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

In Which I Apologize to Ted Ginn Jr.

After last week's demoralizing loss, I finally jumped off the Ted Ginn Jr. bandwagon, and, like the rest of Miami, I ripped him for his poor performance. I said it was the last straw for me as a believer in Ginn's ability.

And then he went and did what he did today against the oh-so-hated Jets. Ginn had 299 return yards, and two kickoffs returned for touchdowns of at least 100 yards each.

I'm not about to go and recant everything I said about Ginn, or jump back on his bandwagon. However, I feel an apology is due. So here it is: I apologize for saying there is no spot for you on this Dolphins roster, Ted Ginn. Let's face it, the truth is that you do have a spot on this team... just not as the no. 1 receiver.

After today's performance against the Jets, it is quite clear that you are the threat on kick returns that the franchise expected you to be, and probably a career slot receiver.

And while I will not jump back on the bandwagon that I once seemingly piloted, I will not show the disdain for you that I felt after last weekend. I will settle for indifference. But please, Ted Ginn, do keep up the good work, because this team needs everything it can get.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Your 2009 Miami Heat Season Preview

The Miami Heat open their season tonight against the oh-so-hated New York Knicks. Here's what you need to know about the team this year, and what to expect from them.

Oh, 2006, you seem like such a distant memory...

The Basics:
- 2008 Record:
43-39, 5th seed in the East, lost in 1st round of playoffs to the Atlanta Hawks
- Coach: Erik Spoelstra, second season.
- Opening Night Starting Five: PG Mario Chalmers, SG Dwyane Wade, SF Quentin Richardson, PF Michael Beasley, C Jermaine O'Neal.
- Key Additions: SF Quentin Richardson, PG Carlos Arroyo
- Key Losses: SF Jamario Moon

The Analysis: The Miami Heat’s 2008-2009 season ended in the first round of the NBA playoffs in a seventh and decisive game against the Atlanta Hawks. The Heat did not really make any power moves, and this is because the organization failed in trying to bring Lamar Odom or Carlos Boozer to town is trying to have as much salary cap space as possible for the very much hyped summer of 2010. As it stands now, the Heat will have the most cap space in what is sure to be a legendary summer of free agent signings. That’s right, they will even have more than the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets. Another perk that goes in the Heat’s favor is that they can pay Dwyane Wade more than any other team can. The Heat would also have enough money to bring in another, or maybe even two, superstars!

…wait, we still have to get through the 2009 NBA regular season? Oh, okay. Sorry about that loyal failures (because you are readers of our blog not because you are inept in life), where was I? Oh right, let’s get back on track shall we?

The Miami Heat didn’t make any major changes, but there were plenty of subtle ones. Jamario Moon left the Heat to sign with the Cleveland Lebrons in hopes of winning a title this season. The South Florida franchise parted ways with Mark Blount and traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Luther Head decided to sign with the Pacers as a free agent. Don’t get the wrong idea though - the Heat did manage to sign some role players as well. The Heat’s biggest move was the addition of Quentin Richardson in the aforementioned Blount trade, and it looks as though Q-Rich will finally being staying put after a surely hectic offseason. Q-Rich will be starting at the 3 spot for the Heat come tonight against the hated Knicks, and his 3-point shooting ability will definitely be a big help (35.4% from Eric Reid Kaboom-land in his career). The Heat also signed Shavlik Randolph, a forward in his fourth year out of Duke. I don’t really see this player doing much for the Heat this season, but he’s 6-10 236 so I won’t say no. Finally, the Miami Heat signed FIU product Carlos Arroyo (he of Puerto Rican Olympic basketball fame) only two short weeks ago. I think Arroyo will see a solid amount of time backing up Mario Chalmers with Chris Quinn. I wouldn’t doubt it if he’s in games late to ice them with his career 80% from the FT line. Now, let’s talk about the returning pieces of the puzzle.

Let’s start with the bench players and work our way up into the role players, shall we? Dorell Wright, five years later and we still don’t know what to say about this kid. He undoubtedly has potential, but he has never been able to tap into it and become the star we have been hoping for. Maybe this year could be that year that Dorell steps it up, but prior history would say that he will remain with limited minutes in a limited role. The Heat used Jamaal Magloire for his presence on defense as well as to be able to be the player to commit fouls when necessary, and I do not see his role expanding from that this year either. The Miami native, James Jones, will continue to have somewhat of a role as a shooting specialist this season, but I would not be surprised if we saw more of him. Yahkouba Diawara will continue to have his role on the court for his length, so expect Coach Spo’ to put him in for specialized defensive situations. The same role can also be attributed to Joel Anthony, who will be seeing time as Jermaine O’Neal’s back up. Joel Anthony’s role on the team could be expanded very easily due to the major question mark that is O’Neal’s health (knock on wood). Quinn will still get substantial time as a back up to Super Mario this season, and I will allow it due to his heart and hustle [Ed. Note: some would say he’s scrappy!]. Daequan Cook will be seeing a lot of time this season in a more expanded version of James Jones role on the team. Cook has shown clutch ability and can easily sink the shot from downtown. He is one Ohio State Buckeye in a Miami franchise that I CAN stomach from night-to-night (I’m looking at you, Ted Ginn). The sixth man on the team, along with the starters, will get a more in-depth look.

The Heat made a kind of surprising move in putting their captain, Udonis Haslem, on the bench. Both the Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald have reported that the coaching staff of the Heat has elected to start their young investment, Michael Beasley, over the Heat’s blue-collar veteran captain. This came as a surprise to me because I had heard that Beasley was going to be moved to the 3 spot this season, and that he would be playing behind Richardson. However, we now know that that is not the case. This move will undoubtedly show the character of Haslem, and every true Heat fan knows that the Heat’s great leader is always willing to do what the franchise thinks is best. Haslem will still see plenty of time this season, and he will only end up working even harder without having to worry about fatigue as much.

The Heat will have the former-Kansas Jayhawk icon, Mario Chalmers, starting at the point this year; and I am very curious to see how much this 2nd year player has improved over his first professional offseason. There are two things I will be looking for in Chalmers this year. First, I would like to see how he has developed as a point guard in the facet of making the right decisions. I am interested to see if Erik Spoelstra and company have been able to get Chalmers to act more like a floor general instead of just a pure scorer like he once was. If Chalmers, can balance being a floor general and still maintain his ability to put points on the board then it would be safe to say that the Heat have found their point guard for the future. He can solidify his spot as being the Heat’s point guard moving forward if he has improved in my other quandary about him - has his defense improved? Chalmers was among the best in the league in steals per game, and if he has gotten even better at position defense then he could very well be one of the top defensive point guards in the league as soon as this season.

Q-Rich was already touched on slightly, but I still have a few things I would like to see. I would simply like to see how quickly and how well he can fit in with the rest of his new teammates in Miami. If he struggles early, I would not be surprised if Coach Spo' decided to go forward with moving Beasley to the 3, and thus returning Udonis Haslem to the starting line-up at the 4. We know the guy can score, but we just don’t know how he will fit into the Miami Heat system just yet.

Jermaine O’Neal claims that he is 100% and feeling like an all-star once again. O’Neal claims to be playing with a chip on his shoulder to prove all of his doubters wrong, sort of like how D-Wade had to last season. Anytime that O’Neal even limps people will be skeptical about his health, but that is to be expected. O’Neal will have questions about his health surrounding him in every pre- and post-game conference, and he will simply have to do what he feels he is able to do this season. I personally like to see this fire out of the Heat’s big man, and I wouldn’t mind seeing that Pacers player that always seemed to dominate the Heat only a few years ago.

To me, Beasley will be the biggest X-factor of the Heat’s season this year. Dwyane Wade will continue to be Dwyane Wade, but as we saw last year, that can only take the Heat so far. I am interested in seeing how Beasley bounces back this season. I have heard nothing but good news about his development as a basketball player. Everyone around the organization has said that he has gotten stronger and improved on his skill set. However, like Jermaine O’Neal, there will be questions surrounding Beasley all season. This, of course, is due to Beasley’s stint in rehab over the summer that was related to drug and alcohol problems. Beasley has said that he is now sober, and the team has supported him the whole way through this ordeal. I think the Heat will continue to support him because they have invested so much in him, and I think that he could be up for the Most Improved Player award by season’s end. If Beasley can become that 20-10 (pts-rebs) player that some people are suggesting he could be this season then I would have to say that the Heat could do some damage past the regular season.

The Heat went 43-39 last year with this new team together for the first time. Many members of that team have returned, and there is undoubtedly more chemistry between them due to having one year under their belt. Dwyane Wade will continue to be a stud and MVP candidate, but that only got them their record from last year. I think that if Jermaine can stay healthy, Chalmers can impress me on both of my aforementioned fronts, and if Beasley can be that stud people are saying he could be as soon as this season then it would be hard to say that the Heat would not improve. I personally don’t think Chalmers and Beasley will accomplish what I’m looking for them to accomplish immediately, but the Heat will definitely be a better team after the All-Star break.

The Prediction: 48-34 (five-win improvement over last season), which I think translates to the 5-seed in the East. Yes, a 5-seed. I think the East improves somewhat this season. The real question will be whether or not this record will be enough to convince Wade to stay in Miami beyond this season. Only time will tell.