A Small Victory in the Battle Against NCAA Hypocrisy (plus some bonus Johnny Manziel news)

jay-bilas

 

Jay Bilas launched his most successful campaign against NCAA hypocrisy to date earlier this week when he revealed a little problem with the associations online store.  Bilas exposed that when you typed in the name of a star athlete, such as Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, these results came up:

This is despite the fact that jersey’s sold on the NCAA’s website are not technically supposed to be connected to a specific player, hence why there are no names on any of the jerseys.  The NCAA disabled the search function after news of the discovery by Bilas began to spread around the internet, but the damage had already been done.

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The Clock is Ticking for Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

Things aren’t looking good for everyone’s favorite struggling MLB superstar, and his future in the league.  Major League Baseball was originally planning to release the list of suspensions stemming from the Biogenesis case yesterday, but reports of Rodriguez and the commissioner’s office being “far apart” on what his suspension should be is slowing the process.  According to an article from ESPN.com, (link) one of the major hang up’s between the two sides is Arod’s desire to recoup at least some of the over 100 million dollars remaining on his contract with the Yankees.  The amount of time missed is also still a major obstacle for the two sides, with Rodriguez claiming he will fight any suspension, and the league threatening a lifetime ban if he does so.

A recent poll done in an article on Sports Illustrated’s online site showed that almost 50 percent (46.56 to be exact) of the reader’s felt that Rodriguez should receive a lifetime ban (link).  The next most popular option is through the end of the 2014 season, (at 18.5%) and just over 10 percent feel he should receive a 100 game ban.  So according to these numbers approximately 75 percent of fans (who responded to this poll) want to see Rodriguez receive at least a 100 game ban, significantly more than what other offenders are expected to receive.

Personally,  I selected the 100 game ban, the designated number of games for a players second offense, which is what I feel this should be considered.  Word on the street is that the other eight players involved, who have yet to receive their suspensions, will be given 50 games a piece.  Even Ryan Braun, who is widely accepted as being a repeat offender, (his first conviction was overturned on a technicality over how the sample was handled) was only suspended for the remainder of this season.  Additionally, there are many players who have admitted steroid use, or who were listed on the Mitchell Report, and who have received no punishment to date.

So the question is, why are so many people in favor of a lifetime ban for Alex Rodriguez?  Is it because he attempted to tamper with the investigation, and buy back evidence linking him to the Biogenesis clinic? (link to article)  Is it because people think there should be a longer suspension for a player’s second offense?  Or is it because people just don’t like him?  I’d say the last answer is most likely the correct one, and that fact combined with his age, and diminished production, are what allows for baseball to even consider a suspension of that length.  Maybe I’m biased, I am a Red Sox fan after all, and as a result not very interested in seeing the Yankees have a bunch of extra money all the sudden, but I don’t think Arod should receive a lifetime ban.  I’ve never understood the logic behind giving one person a far bigger punishment than all the others when they committed the same crime.  Just because Arod is a soft target, like Lance Armstrong was, doesn’t mean they should be used as scapegoats to prove how serious their sports are about getting clean.  The clock is ticking, by this time tomorrow we could very well know what the fate of Alex Rodriguez will be, and while I won’t be sad if his time is up, I don’t feel that would be the right decision for baseball.

The Battle for Last Place in the AL East has Officially Begun (Recap of Opening Day at Yankee Stadium)

Red Sox Yankees Baseball.JPEG-0a64eActually after this game, an 8-2 victory for Boston, I may be ready to bump them all the way up to third place in my season predictions.  It was nice to see a victory on opening day for the red sox who have opened the last two seasons 0-6. New members to the starting lineup all looked solid (with the exception of Napoli who went 0-5).  Jackie Bradley Jr. was 0-2 but had 3 walks, 2 runs scored and an RBI, and sticking with the youth movement Jose Iglesias went 3-5 with a run scored and an RBI for Boston.  Shane Victorino also had a solid game going 2-6 with 3 RBI’s, and was a key player when the Red Sox pulled ahead during the second inning.  (Side note on Victorino, he seems to wear a mouth guard while playing in the field, one of the stranger things I’ve seen, especially for an outfielder.  He does have pretty nice teeth tough, so whatever works for you).  Jon Lester had a solid outing with one shaky inning (the 4th, which has been his kryptonite recently, he had an ERA of 6.75 in the 4th last season) to pick up his first win of the season.  The bullpen also looked much improved, pitching four scoreless innings.  The only weak spot was Andrew Miller who gave up two walks, before regaining his control and striking out the next two batters in the 7th.  Joba Chamberlain was probably happy that a rain storm was already emptying Yankee Stadium when he entered the game.  Chamberlain only pitched 2/3rd’s of an inning, giving up 3 hits, 2 walks, and 3 earned runs in the 9th to put the game out of reach for the weakened Yankees roster.

Overall a nice start for the Red Sox after a reason most fans would like to forget.  The teams have the day off tomorrow before returning to action Wednesday night in the Bronx.  (Game will pit Clay Buchholz against Hiroki Kuroda with a 7 pm start time).  Positive notes for the Yankees, umm… Martha Stewart was there, so were Donald Trump and Regis (basically every annoying New York celebrity).  Sorry that’s all I’ve got Yankees fans, but who doesn’t feel better just knowing Martha Stewart is around, focus on that and I’ll see you sometime later in the week for another recap.

Martha Stewart

 

An Apology for a Season of Half-Hearted Support

keita

I generally consider myself a pretty devoted fan of all my sports teams.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been a Syracuse basketball fan since I was 10 years old, and for most of the past (almost) 21 years I would consider myself very devoted.  I watch all the games, frequently in my team apparel during the regular season, and when March rolls around I start with the superstitions.  I can’t prove it, but I’m fairly certain that by eating the same food and wearing the same clothes every game day, I willed the team to the 2003 title.  But this year something just didn’t click with me.  Even when we were winning, and looked like we might be headed for a number one ranking, I didn’t feel the connection with this team like I have with those prior.  As the losses started coming more frequently towards the end of the season,  I felt myself drifting further and further from the team, culminating with the extremely disappointing drubbing at the hands of Georgetown last weekend.  I was feeling negative going into this final Big East tournament.  I saw us winning one or two games in the Big East tournament, and ending up in the NCAA tourney with a dreaded #5 seed.  But then, just as I was ready to write this years team off, some hope emerged.  We started hitting some shots again, and had the look of a team with some life and heart, (a team that left the building during the second half of last weekends Georgetown game).  Following last nights overtime victory over Georgetown, I’m all the way back.  I finally saw the heart of this years team, and found our connection.  Triche and Southerland have stepped up mightily, leading the team, and finding their shooting strokes (Southerland tied assistant coach Gerry McNamara’s tourney record for 3 point field goals last night with 16).  They also look like two guys who might finally understand that best case scenario they have 7 games left in their respective basketball careers, and they look like they want to make the most of them.  The team also looked like a group that just finds a way to win, a look they had earlier in the season when Southerland was out with academic issues.  If you had told me prior to last nights game that we would have been carried by Keita going 7-7 from the free throw line, and that Cooney would out score CJ Fair, I would have said you were crazy.  But that’s what happened.  In interviews following last nights game the players said Boeheim explained the significance of the Big East tournament, and what it means to him.  It seems like the players took it to heart.  I don’t think Boeheim cares more about winning this last Big East tournament than he does about winning another NCAA title, but I think it’s a close second.  Personally, while it would certainly be nice to go out on top, I’ll feel ok if we loss to Louisville tonight.  We’ve certainly improved our seed for the NCAA tournament, and more importantly we’ve regained our confidence that we can win, and the desire to want to win.  And most importantly, (not really) I’m fully back on board with this team.  So I’ll be tuned in tonight, eating the same food, (and during last nights game I ate a popsicle (yeah I know, shut up) and somehow it was too cold and stuck to my lip and ripped the skin off, and I’m doing that again tonight, that’s dedication) and wearing the same clothes, and willing the team to victory. Let’s go Cuse, WHOO! (that’s for my mother, for those who think I’ve lost it).

My 10 Favorite Moments From the Last 20 Years of NBA All-Star Weekend

all-star-2013-houston

I’ve decided to celebrate the upcoming NBA All-Star weekend by looking back at my 10 favorite moments from previous All-Star weekends (in no particular order).

1. Chris “Birdman” Anderson misses the same dunk 15 times in 2005 slam dunk contest (this video greatly abbreviates how long he was actually up there trying to complete this dunk).

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Why the Public Should Stop Worrying About PED Use in Sports

ray-lewis-7

 

As most people know at this point it has been a big week in the world of accusations of PED use by pro athletes.  Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was connected to the banned substance IGF-1.  The substance is banned by all professional sports, and according to a story set to run in Sports Illustrated next week was obtained by Lewis in the form of deer antler spray, which he was given to help recover from a torn triceps injury this fall.  Christopher Key, co-owner of SWATS, (the company who supplied Lewis with the spray) says he also supplied the spray to about 20 university of Alabama football players prior to the 2012 BCS title game against LSU (source).  Lewis has denied using the substance, and has used the tried and true defense that he has never failed a test.  Lewis was supported by Ravens vice president of communications, Kevin Byrne, who released the following statement on behalf of the team: “Ray has been randomly tested for banned substances and has never failed a test. We have never been notified of a failed test. He has never been notified of a failed test” (source).  Of course the great thing about IGF-1, and similar substances such as HGH is that there is no test in place to determine their presence in an athletes system.  Turns out its pretty easy to never fail a test for a substance they don’t test for, Lance Armstrong managed to dope through seven Tour de France titles with this method.

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Remember When Dwight Howard Used to Be Fun

Remember when Dwight Howard used to do fun stuff like this, (or any of the other slam dunk contests against Nate Robinson, even if that battle did get old after a while) or stuff like this:

What has happened to the Dwight we used to know and love (kinda).  Earlier this week Howard complained about touches following a loss to the Chicago Bulls, and then took the statement back two days later calling his earlier statement “immature.” (source)  This is just the latest in a string of incidents in the last few years.  Many felt Howard gave up on the Orlando Magic last season after expressing a desire to be traded.  Former Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy, who had a notoriously shaky relationship with Howard, accused the star of pushing to get the coach dismissed from the team. (source) Howard’s production in Los Angeles, and his relationship with Kobe Bryant have been so bad that many have been forced to say that Howard may just not fit with the Lakers.  Kobe Bryant has been trying to teach Howard to have more of the edge he feels all great players need (the following is a quote from Bryant during an interview with Sam Amick of USA Today).

“He wants to be one of the greats of all time, and to do that you have to learn from the greats of all time – be it Bill Russell, be it Shaq. I mean Shaq was a moody, temperamental dude. So if you watch all the big men who have come before, you start to see a common denominator.

“Wilt (Chamberlain), God bless him, was phenomenal, but he didn’t have (the same edge). Russell and (those) guys win repetitive – (Michael) Jordan, Magic (Johnson), myself. You’ve got a little (expletive) in you. I want (Howard) to be great, so I’m trying to push him.”

In the article (link) Amick refers to Howard’s personality as passive aggressive, and say’s Bryant may be trying to teach the big man a lesson he doesn’t want to learn.  Time (and probably not a lot of it since Howard is currently on the trading block) will tell if Bryant can bring Howard around to his way of thinking.  Maybe Howard just doesn’t have that edge in him, as Kobe said not everyone has it, and I’m sure Howard would settle for being as good as Wilt.  Instead of trying to find an edge I wish Howard would focus on finding himself, and go back to being the fun, goofy guy of old.  I think going back to his old self would make Howard more fun to watch, and get his production back on track, a fact that would cheer up fantasy owners around the country.

The Good, The Bad, and The Really Really Weird (a recap of the past week in college sports)

The past week has been remarkable in a lot of ways for college athletics.  College basketball is in the meat of its conference schedule, and those who contended there was no dominant team this year have been proven correct as the underdog has taken almost as many games as the favored team (The Good).  In the midst of a great college basketball season the NCAA finds itself in trouble (again) this week with a scandal emerging around its investigation of the University of Miami (The Bad).  And finally the Manti Te’o story continues to be the gift that just keeps on giving as new details have emerged this week (The Really, Really Weird).  All these topics deserve some attention so I’ll start with The Good.

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Why I Still Can’t Hate Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong, Oprah Winfrey

I was ready to be done with Lance Armstrong earlier this week before his interview with Oprah.  I was convinced he was only doing the interview in an attempt to have his life time ban from sanctioned sports removed, and had been feeling very disappointed in him following his complete separation from the Livestrong organization this fall.  As I’ve written previously I had been aware Armstrong must have been doping long before the USADA’s Reasoned Decision was released.  Following the suspensions of most of his main rivals between 2006-07, it became virtually impossible to believe Armstrong hadn’t been doping right along with them.  In this post I plan to cover the interview, and why despite his admitting to being a cheater, a bully, and a jerk I still can’t hate Lance Armstrong.

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The Weekend Sports Recap…yes I know it’s Wednesday

 

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jones catches a pass behind Denver Broncos free safety Moore and then scores a touchdown late in the fourth quarter in their NFL AFC Divisional playoff football game in Denver

It’s Wednesday again! which means it must be time to talk about stuff that everyone else stopped talking about like yesterday morning! The divisional round of the NFL playoffs more than made up for the sad display from wild card weekend, and we saw the two remaining unbeaten teams in college basketball go down.

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