Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Somewhat (Il)logical Pick for Super Bowl XLIII

Okay people, so I've been debating all week on which team I'm going to pick in tomorrow's Super Bowl. I like the Steelers because well, defense wins championships (cliche, I know), but it's true. But the Cardinals don't seem to be too big of an underdog anymore. Kurt Warner has been here twice before, and quite frankly, Larry Fitzgerald is playing out of his mind.

So let me get to the point. I'm so hung up on not knowing which team to pick, so I've decided to go with the most (il)logical way to pick tomorrow's winner: fantasy style. Wait.. what?

Every year I, like millions of other people, play in a fantasy football league. This year I used Fox Sports for the league I was in, so I've decided to do each team's roster based on how that Web site sets them up. So the rosters will consist of one quarterback, two runningbacks, one extra runningback/wide receiver, two wide receivers, one tight end or extra receiver, one tight end, a kicker and defense/special teams.

I'll calculate the totals based on each player's season fantasy average, and try to maximize each team's total output by toying around with the different lineups.

So without further ado:

Pittsburgh Steelers
Position______ Name_______ Avg.

QB______ Ben Roethlisberger_ 13.22
RB ______Willie Parker _____ 10.04
RB ______Mewelde Moore ____ 8.44
R/W_____Najeh Davenport ___ 3.58
WR_____ Hines Ward_______ 9.17
WR_____ Santonio Holmes___ 8.00
W/T____ Nate Washington___ 5.18
TE_____ Heath Miller_______ 4.81
K ______ Jeff Reed_________ 7.25
D/ST___ Pittsburgh________ 10.96

Total: 80.65

Arizona Cardinals
Position______ Name______ Avg.

QB _______Kurt Warner___ 20.07
RB_______ J.J. Arrington____9.01
RB_______ Tim Hightower___7.72
R/W______ Edgerrin James__ 5.84
WR______ Anquan Boldin__ 14.21
WR______ Larry Fitzgerald_ 13.44
W/T_____ Steve Breaston___ 9.72
TE_______ Ben Patrick*_____ 1.04
K________ Neil Rackers_____ 7.44
D/ST_____ Arizona________ 11.79

Total: 100.82

*Ben Patrick gets the nod over Jerame Tuman despite Tuman having a higher average score because Patrick actually played in more games and more recently (NFC Championship) than Tuman (Week 9)

Well then, it appears that based on my (il)logical methodology that the Cardinals will win Super Bowl XLIII and "shock the world." One thing that really surprised me here was that Arizona's fantasy defense/special team outscored Pittsburgh's despite Pittsburgh having statistically the best defense in the league.

Basically, this "statistical analysis" as I will refer to it, means that Arizona will win Super Bowl XLII by a score of 24-20. How did I get that score, you may be asking? I just made it up, but it sounds respectable.

That being said, this "statistical analysis" does not reflect my personal opinion on who will actually win the game tomorrow, because quite honestly, I don't care which team wins, even though I did have more Steelers on my fantasy team (three) than I did Cardinals (zero)... which might explain why I finished third this year... oh well.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Sad Story of Edwin Rios

If you're a sports fan from the South Florida area, you are probably familiar with the name Edwin Rios. If you aren't, let's fill you in on this once highly-touted player.

Edwin Rios, or Eddie as he goes by, is a 6-foot 190-pound point guard for the University of Miami. A homegrown talent, Rios graduated from Miami Senior High, one of the most storied high school basketball programs in the state.

His freshman year at Miami High, Rios averaged 22 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals per game, becoming the first freshman in the school's history to average over 20 points per game. He also made a name for himself with his AAU team, Team Breakdown, and he broke Carmelo Anthony's scoring record at the Las Vegas Big Time Tournament.

(Highlight Reel Audio NSFW)

Rios put on a show at the Las Vegas Big Time Tournament against some of the nation's top prospects.

As a sophomore, Rios averaged 25.4 points and led Miami High to the 2005 Florida class 6A state championship, with help of fellow current Hurricane Dwayne Collins, who was a year ahead of Rios in school.

During that year, Rios verbally committed to UM, and was considered one of the top point guard prospects in the class of 2007. That year, Collins graduated and signed with UM, and Rios, following an incident at school where his car was broken into and he was threatened with notes by some classmates, transferred to Chaminade Madonna (Hollywood, Fl). A big deal was made of his transfer and all the accompanying details of what caused it.

That season, as a junior, Rios averaged 20 points and 10 assists per game and led Chaminade to a school-record 25-5 record and their first regional final appearance in 40 years.

Following his junior year, in which he was named to the all-state first-team for the third straight year, he transferred back to Miami High because his family didn't think the other school was adequately preparing him for college. Rios' stock was falling, as he was once considered a top recruit nationally.

His senior season back at Miami High, Rios averaged 26.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists and was again named to the all-state first-team.

After a high school career that had its ups and downs, from winning a state title and being a local high school legend, to having his car broken into and being threatened by fellow students, Rios finally fulfilled his verbal commitment from his sophomore year, and signed with UM.

He didn't have the immediate impact that some people expected from him following two-plus years of hype before his arrival. His freshman season, last year, he averaged 3.4 points in just 14 minutes per game.

This season, he was averaging 4.7 points per game in fewer minutes, but was suspended from the team in December for two days, and again earlier this month for violation of team rules. A career that looked like the sky was the limit just a few years ago while he was in high school began to take a free fall.

That free fall culminated Wednesday when Rios was arrested in Miami and charged with two counts of burglary and two counts of grand theft. He was released after posting the $22,500 bond.

This fallen local star looks like his time in the South Florida limelight is finally coming to an unfortunate end. It really is sad to see such a talented individual go through various problems, especially when it culminates in something like this.

We are all human, and we all make mistakes, but athletes like this, ones that are given every opportunity to succeed and become role models (such as Rios hoped to become for Cubans as a star basketball player), need to learn that they can't get away with everything. It is really a sad story of a kid that showed so much promise growing up, but it is also one that we see all too often.

The "IT" Thing to do in Basketball This Week...

... is apparently flirting with ridiculous stat-lines, particularly if you play in the backcourt.

Monday night Chris Paul flirted with a rare quadruple-double against the Sixers, finishing with 27 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds and seven steals, for his league-leading fifth triple-double this season.

The following night was LeBron's turn to put up an insane stat-line. While teammate Mo Williams stole some of the spotlight with his career-high 43 points, LeBron finished with his third triple-double of the season, chipping in 23 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists.

That would be back-to-back nights where basketball fans witnessed a triple-double, which is somewhat of a rare occurrence. But wait, there's more.

Wednesday night it was Dwyane Wade's chance to match his fellow superstars. He finished the third quarter with 14 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. A triple-double was almost guaranteed... until Wade got to rest for the entire fourth quarter.

So no third triple-double in three nights for basketball fans, right? Wrong. All basketball fans had to do witness another one Wednesday night was to catch the Florida Gators hosting reigning SEC champion Georgia Bulldogs.

Florida guard Nick Calathes posted the third triple-double in school history (Corey Brewer had the first), and the second of his career against the Bulldogs. Calathes put up 20 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists before being benched in the final five minutes of a Florida blowout victory.

Can we make it four nights in a row with a triple-double? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sun Sets on Mourning's Career

Alonzo Mourning, seven-time All-Star, 2-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and the face of the Miami Heat franchise for the better half of the 90's and well into this millenium, announced his retirement Thursday, bringing to an end an inspiring 15-year career.

Mourning, who turns 39 in February, hasn't played a game since December of 2007 when he tore up his knee against the Atlanta Hawks. Although he was drafted by Charlotte (the Hornets, not the Bobcats), and at one point played for the Nets, Mourning will be remembered most for his pivotal role in guiding the Heat to six straight playoff births at one point, and being arguably, the biggest fan favorite whenever he stepped foot inside the American Airlines Arena or old Miami Arena.

Mourning's career wasn't all cheers, though. In 2000, Mourning was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a kidney disease that forced him to miss the first five months of the season. Despite being ill, the league's fans still voted Zo to the All-Star Game in 2002.

He missed the 2002-2003 season because of his condition, and retired in November 2003 while with the Nets. His cousin gave him a kidney, and he returned to the Heat in 2005, as a backup to Shaq. That's when all of his years of dedication and rising above adversity paid off and he won his first NBA title.

While Zo was a fan-favorite on the court, off the court he probably did more for the city of Miami than any other athlete the town had seen. He started his own charity, Alonzo Mourning Charities, Inc. in 1997 and started an annual celebrity basketball game and other events with Zo's Summer Groove. In 2007, he started Athletes for Hope with a star-studded cast of its own.

His organizations help under-privileged children and families and opened the Overtown Youth Center in 2003. After his diagnosis, he also began Zo's Fund for Life to raise money for research and education on FSGS.

Last year, Zo passed the torch of Zo's Summer Groove over to Heat superstar Dwyane Wade. How fitting, no?

The face of the Miami Heat franchise for nearly a decade, handing over his annual charitable event to the current face of the franchise, who has his own foundation, Wade's World. The franchise's all-time leading scoring, passing the torch to the one who will, barring injury, overtake that spot in franchise history.

Zo will always be remembered by fans for his intensity on both ends of the floor, his nightly block parties and a bicep flex that could put Hulk Hogan to shame. Yet, while Heat fans will never forget the great player and person that Zo was on and off the court, the franchise must make his number 33 jersey the first Heat number retired.

While Michael Jordan's 23 is already in the rafters in Miami (out of Pat Riley's respect for MJ) and NFL and Miami Dolphin great Dan Marino's 13 accompanies Jordan's up there, Mourning's 33 will soon rest there, watching over the American Airlines Arena, and his presence will always be felt by the Heat franchise and their fans.

It's the very least we could do for a man that did so much for the city of Miami, in sports and humanitarianism. Heat fans likely hope that Zo stays on with the franchise in some capacity, but if not... enjoy your retirement, Zo, you've earned it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Quick Word

Sorry for going AWOL the past week, everyone. Been quite busy/preoccupied. However, I'll be back on Wednesday with some new posts. So until then, stay sweet, folks!

Also, enjoy the inauguration of our 44th President today.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jodie Meeks Apologizes for Making Your Defense Look like Swiss Cheese

54 points on 15-22 shooting (10-15 from beyond the arc) and 14-14 from the free throw line.

Not going to lie, that's pretty impressive. Jodie Meeks' show made Tennessee's defense look "pitiful" according to Vols coach Bruce Pearl.

Not sure what's better: breaking the single-game scoring record for a program as storied and presitgious as Kentucky's, or doing so against one of your in-conference rivals (one that was the unquestioned favorite to win the SEC coming into the season), and on their home court.

The Wildcats might need a few more nights like that from Meeks to win the SEC this year (actually, that's a lie, the SEC seems to be having a down year in basketball so far). Oh well, at least the league can bask in the limelight while Meeks' performance is still in the news.

And at least Kentucky certainly has an impressive scorer this year in Meeks, who leads the SEC in scoring at 25.9 points per game.

Block Party, Anyone?

Last night I was watching SportsCenter and they were fascinated over LeBron James' ability to block shots. They even brought up a graphic that showed his blocked shot stats over his career. Now don't get me wrong, his current 1.31 block per game is impressive, but it only ranks 29th in the league.

Dwyane Wade on the other hand, who, despite being the leading scored this season, is being overshadowed by Lebron James in the media. The stats speak for themselves: Wade is averaging 1.6 blocks per game, ranks 16th in the league, and 1st among guards. Where's the credit he deserves?

Of course, Lebron's blocks are usually pretty entertaining to watch, pinning balls off the backbord and spiking shots like he was playing volleyball... but the man is nearly 6'9" and 270 pounds according to some. He should be making those plays, it shouldn't be the big surprise that it is.

What's more impressive is Wade's 1.6 blocks per game at only 6'4" and 220 pounds. Let's not forget just over a week ago when Wade, down the home-stretch of a close game against the Nets emphatically blocked a Vince Carter shot, followed by 2 blocks of Brook Lopez dunks.

Now that's impressive.

Oh yeah, don't forget that for their careers, Wade averages .9 blocks per game to LeBron's .8 (and that's with Wade missing a good chunk of last season).

So, ESPN, where's the Dwyane Wade block graphic?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Superman Returns

"One more thing. Let's do it again, I'm coming back."

The dramatic fashion with which Tim Tebow announced he will return for his senior season made a stadium of roughly 40,000 Gator fans erupt in celebration. The eruption was so loud that you might have thought Florida just won another national title. Maybe they already did.

I don't want to get bold and predict a repeat for Florida in 2009, but with Tebow returning to guide the best offense in Florida football history, you have to like their chances. Superman will be in Gainesville for one more year, ready to cement his place in college football history (if he hasn't already).

However, the biggest questions remaining are whether the two other (super)heroes on the team will be back as well.

Brandon Spikes, by some accounts, will come back for his senior season and bypass the possibility of being a first-round draft pick by the NFL. That would give Florida all 11 starters on an already stacked defense returning in 2009. Charlie Strong must be as giddy as Florida fans by that possibility.

Percy Harvin, on the other hand, has until Thursday to make his decision. It should be a no-brainer for the lightning-quick, shifty, injury prone all-purpose wide receiver to take his first round potential and cash in with the NFL before he succombs to a more serious injury. However, after Sunday's celebration in the Swamp, Harvin told Sun Sports that he's leaning towards coming back for his senior season as well.

If so, Florida has got to be the undeniable favorite for next season, and would no doubt be reminiscent of the 2007 Gators basketball team that returned all five starters for a repeat.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Other Thoughts on the National Championship

I cannot emphasize enough how sick Major Wright's hit on Oklahoma's Manny Johnson was, so we'll show it to you again, because this exact scene is replaying in Sooners wide receivers' minds today.

- Is Tim Tebow the greatest COLLEGE football player of all time? I'm not quite sure, though he is certainly up there. Without a doubt, the mark he has left on the game is unquestionable. He has been an integral part of two national title squads, has become the first sophomore to win the Heisman trophy, the first player to throw and rush for 20+ touchdowns in a single season, and finished with the most first place votes in this year's Heisman ceremony. If he leaves Florida now, he will go down as the greatest player at Florida ever, but if he stays one more year, he has a chance to become the best player anywhere, ever.

- If Tebow does leave, I will die a little bit inside. But if he stays, Florida has got to be the preseason favorite to win it all again, even if they lose Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes to the NFL draft.

- What could have been Harvin's last college game certainly was a show, as he and Urban Meyer promised. He's just too complete of a skill player, that probably fits the Reggie Bush, Steve Smith mold in the NFL.

- If Charlie Strong does not have suitors lining up at his doorstep trying to lure him away from Florida for a head coaching position somewhere, there is something terribly wrong with this world. The man devised game plans to shut down two prolific offenses (led by Heisman winners) in two BCS national title games (Ohio State and Oklahoma). As difficult as it would be to watch him leave for another team, he without a doubt deserves the shot and has earned it.

- Is there any more debate over which conference is the best in college football? The Big 12 may have been the most exciting to watch, but in two head-to-head bowl games with the SEC, the Big 12 lost both. Texas Tech lost to Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl, and obviously, last night's title game.

- The Big 12 South needed a late-game touchdown pass from Colt McCoy to Quan Cosby to barely finish the bowl season 1-4, with Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Missouri and Oklahoma State all losing their bowl games.

- Texas and USC should not be whining about being number one. Their conference commissioners agreed to the current BCS format. Utah didn't have a chance this year because they started the season too low in the pecking order. Get over it. We are not going to get a playoff anytime soon, and a "plus-one" as many people want, would have also left out one of those teams this year, so deal with it. It's and imperfect system, but that's what happens when you have 119 teams playing a 12-game schedule in 11 different conferences (plus Independent teams). It if difficult to compare teams when you have that many, and that little regulation between conferences.

-What will be the punishment that Utah Coach Kyle Wittingham will receive for failing to vote Florida number one in the final coaches poll, in which all coaches are obligated to vote for the winner of the BCS title game?

- Fox should not be able to broadcast college football games. They don't broadcast any during the season, so why should they get the biggest game of the year? Their commentators are horrible and don't make the broadcast any more interesting.

- Speaking of that broadcast, Thom Brennaman certainly loved Tebow. The question of the night: Just how much better of a person would we all be if we spent a day with Tebow?

- Bob Stoops was horribly outcoached by Meyer and Co. There's really nothing more to say about that, the game film speaks for itself.

Now it's time to get back to basking in the awesomeness that is sweet, sweet victory.

Glorious, Glorious Day

Words cannot begin to describe the feeling of winning a national championship. The celebration that ensued here in Gainesville on University Ave. can only be described as a celebration like that of New Year's Eve. The whole city turns into one big party and the streets overflow with joyous students and fans.

As for the game itself, it was not nearly the offensive onslaught many of us expected, though Percy Harvin certainly put on a show for Florida, as he said he would. Instead, it was the defenses that defined the night.

Florida held an Oklahoma offense that averaged nearly 55 points per game to a mere 14. No one moment defined the night more than Major Wright's opening-drive hit on Oklahoma wide receiver Manny Johnson. It was quite possibly the most well-timed hit EVER, and it certainly placed the fear of God into the Sooners' wideouts.

Wright tattooed Johnson, and the Sooners receiving corps, save tight end Jermaine Gresham, were nervous the rest of the game, and it showed. Wright's hit on Johnson had an effect on Johnson's bobbled goal line pass that Wright eventually intercepted, as well as Ahmad Black's interception in the fourth quarter, not to mention the other dropped passes Oklahoma had throughout the game.

Florida's defense set the tone for the game, and while Tim Tebow will get all the praise for being offensive MVP and carrying the team on his back when it mattered most, and Harvin put forth a ridiculous showing despite not being 100%, this championship would not be possible if it weren't for the maturation of this yound defense, which will return at least 10 starters next season, largely thanks to defensive coordinator Charlie Strong.

So thank you, Coach Strong, for your masterful gameplan. Thank you, Major Wright, for your bone-crunching hits. Thank you, Tim Tebow, for your relentless leadership. Thank you, Percy Harvin, for your heart and dedication... and speeeeeed. And thank you, to Coach Urban Meyer and the rest of the Florida Gators, for bringing another championship back to Gainesville and the rest of the Gator Nation.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Judgement Day Is Upon Us

January 8th is finally here.

We've waited over a month for this day. Florida and Oklahoma in Miami for the BCS title.

The excitement is hard to contain. Over the past month, everything that can possibly be said about this game has been said.

You know, everything from Heisman winner vs. Heisman winner, to Percy Harvin and Demarco Murray's injuries. From Urban Meyer possibly becoming one of the best young coaches of our time and Bob Stoops' four-game losing streak in BCS bowls, to Dan Mullen taking the Mississippi State head coaching job and being replced by Steve Addazio (though Mullen will still help call plays tonight).

Oh, and let's not forgot all the debate about whether the winner of tonight's game will even be voted the AP national champion. Utah went undefeated and dismantled 'Bama in the Sugar Bowl, USC handled Penn State in the Rose Bowl and Texas sneaked by Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

All of those teams' coaches are politicking for a share of the title, but the bottom line is that the winner of tonight's game will be the real national champion. As much as those other teams will complain, the fact of the matter is that they didn't impress the voters enough during the regular season to earn a spot in the BCS championship game. Oklahoma (sorry, Texas) and Florida did, that's why they are facing off.

This could be one of the most anticipated national title games in memory. Two of the top offenses in the country, led by the last two Heisman winners (and only sophomores to ever win the Heisman), from the two best conferences in the nation, coached by two of the best coaching minds in the game today.

What ever happens tonight, that team will have earned their national title. The reality is that we won't see a playoff any time soon, so none of those other teams will have a chance to make their point. We don't even have a plus-one system (which, by the way, would have still left Utah out this year).

Bottom line is that today is Judgement Day for Florida and Oklahoma, and by the end of the night, one of them will be the king of the college football world, and no one can take that away from them.

Now, on to the prediction:

Both of these offenses, on paper, seem to be unstoppable. However, Florida has one of the top defenses in the nation, and that's something that Oklahoma has yet to see this year. Florida won't completely shut down Oklahoma, but they will stop them enough.

Florida 38 - Oklahoma 27.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Has Any One Seen Chad Pennington?

We'd like to file a missing person's report for a Mr. James Chadwick "Chad" Pennington. He was last seen on December 28, 2008 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. If seen, please contact the Miami Dolphins organization as soon as possible. Thank you.

Not to be the one to point fingers, but does anyone else think the Jets kidnapped Pennington following last week's game and in his place left the Dolphins with Brett Favre? If not, Pennington certainly put on his best Favre impersonation in the Dolphins wild card game against the Ravens.

But we like to believe that Chadwick is far too good of a person to do that, so we'll stick with our kidnap theory.

All season long the Dolphins committed only 13 turnovers, 7 coming from Pennington interceptions. Against the Ravens on Sunday, the team committed five, with four coming from the arm of Pennington. That's a very Favre-like stat.

After all, the Jets do loathe the Dolphins. Maybe they realized it was a mistake to release Pennington. They would have the motive to pull off such a heist.

As for an alibi? Conveniently, Jets owner Woody Johnson is out of the country, and former head coach Eric Mangini has been nowhere to be seen since Monday, and we're not quite sure this "firing" alibi would hold up in court.

So perhaps Pennington really is missing, and maybe the Jets know his location, but one thing is for sure: the guy who ran the Dolphins' offense today was not the Chad Pennington we have all grown to know and love this year.

Besides, just look at this picture of "Pennington" taken during Sunday's game:

Yes, four, the number of interceptions thrown by "Chad" during Sunday's meltdown.
Certainly looks like Favre. If it looks like Favre, and it throws like Favre, then it must be a Favre.
So New York Jets, please return Pennington to the Dolphins immediately, no questions asked just this once.
Unless, of course, we're barking up the wrong tree with this whole missing person thing. Maybe we should be interrogating Ed Reed. He seems to have made a career out of making good quarterbacks disappear...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Darren Sproles is Quickie Von Quick Quick

LaDainian Tomlinson may have left the playoff game against the Colts in the second quarter, but Darren Sproles filled in quite well. While his fast may not, "smell like french toast," as LT's does, Sproles' fast was still faster than Indy's fast, as he scorched them for 328 total yards, third most all time for a playoff game, and the Chargers bounced league MVP Peyton Manning and Co. from the playoffs in an overtime thriller.

Final score: Chargers 23, Colts 17.

Everyone liked them to make the playoffs in the preseason, but few suspescted they would make it after starting the year off 4-8. If San Diego can knock off the hottest team in the league, and do it largely in part without their best player, just how far can this team go?

Who out there likes the Charger's chances next week against either the Titans of the Steelers?

One thing is for sure: the sooner the Chargers lose, the sooner we get to stop seeing this clip played on ESPN every time they mention the Chargers and their upcoming game.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Texas Tech: McCluster****ed

Apparently 94% of people said Ole Miss couldn't beat Texas Tech, at least according to the Ole Miss players holding up a dry erase board on the sideline at the end of the Cotton Bowl.

Well, those 94% were wrong: Ole Miss 47 - Texas Tech 34.

As a Gator, it's good to see the team we lost to stomp the team that Tech coach Mike Leach voted 2nd in the final Coaches' Poll.

All-purpose back Dexter McCluster went wild(Rebel) on the Red Raiders, accounting for 182 total yards on offense and a touchdown, as the entire Rebel offense accounted for 523 yards.

It's good to see that ESS EEE SEEE SPEEED still prevails over all, even against one of the nation's most prolific offenses.

Let's hope the same result happens when the SEC and Big 12 square off in Miami next week.

That is, of course, if Tim Tebow isn't still playing right tackle for Cincinatti under a pseudonym. Because, you know, Florida kind of needs him.