Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Sports Quick Hits - Memorial Day Edition
We at Two Guys Talking Sports hope you had a great Memorial Day Weekend and we would both like to thank our troops here and abroad that make the United States of America the greatest counry in the world. Thank you!
Perhaps in a somewhat ironic twist of fate, Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel resigned among many rumors and allegations of his players having received improper benefits, 5 of whom are already suspended for the first 5 games of the 2011 season. Now, we've found out that a Sports Illustrated article slated to hit newsstands this week has evidence of violations going back to 2002, including rigged raffles that gave prizes to potential Buckeye recruits. I guess we should've paid more attention to Stanley McClover's HBO segment during the Cam Newton saga. McClover, who played at Auburn, and then had a brief NFL career, was recruited by Ohio State. He claims to have received money from the Buckeyes, Michigan State, and at an LSU football camp. In the HBO special, he also claimed that Ohio State provided him with an empty dorm and multiple women whom he had his way with. I've heard several reports such practices were still operational as late as Solomon Thomas being recruited to Columbus.
All things considered, I think this is the right move by Jim Tressel, and unlike most Buckeye fans, this didn't come as a shock to me. I think he was going to be out one way or another sooner rather than later. It also lends credence to my crazy uncle's rumor about Bo Pelini, the current head coach at Nebraska. In a fit of "Buckeye fever" let's call it, after a big win circa 2007 if my memory serves me well here, my uncle (who is an alumni chapter president in a rather large city, and has personal ties to Archie Griffin and Gene Smith) called me up and said he'd heard a rumor that Tressel was going to retire after QB Terrelle Pryor left Ohio State, and the front-runner (Pelini was at LSU at the time) would be Bo Pelini, himself a former Buckeye. Just some food for thought, we'll see if it happens. Pelini 2012!
I won't miss Tressel as much as others will. My own grandmother said she'd have voted for him to be the Pope. I think know that everything he preached about integrity and doing the right thing just comes of as a sham and his resignation saved what little dignity he had left. While he brought a National Championship to Columbus, along with 3 National Championship Game appearances, multiple Big 10 titles, and a sterling record versus rival Michigan, his legacy will be for something else. I myself thought he was overrated and often got out-coached against better opponents, and he couldn't get the Buckeyes to win from behind if they trailed by more than 7 points (they weren't behind often as they played "weaker" non-conference opponents and the Big 10 took a pretty big dip in recent years) but he had a winning tenure. Now, as Ohio State's immediate future rests in the hands of Luke Fickell, we'll all be left to wonder what Tressel was really doing in Columbus.
The Florida Marlins would be in first place in any division except their own, and the AL Central. All those trades and non re-signing key players have allowed the Marlins to build from within and they have a ton of young talent. Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton, Emilio Bonafacio and others have contributed to a 30-22 record, and they have the look of a team that will contend next year, as they open a shiny new stadium near downtown Miami, as well.
No one in baseball is hotter than the Arizona Diamondbacks who've come out of nowhere in the NL West to take over 1st place this past weekend with a 30-24 record. However, a closer look at their coaching staff says that this maybe shouldn't be as much of a shock.
Manager - Don Mattingly
Batting Coach - Don Baylor
Pitching Coach - Charles Nagy (remember him Indians fans?)
First Base Coach - Eric Young
Third Base Coach - Matt Williams
Bench Coach - Alan Trammell
Special Assistant - Jerry Krause
That's like a mix of 1980s and 1990s All-Star teams. Maybe coaching really does make that big of a difference.
I'm going to go ahead and label the Milwaukee Brewers as pretenders right now. Until they've proven they can beat the Cincinnati Reds and play decent ball away from Miller Park, where they're 21-7 on the year and just 8-18 on the road, they're not going anywhere. And the Reds right now are colder than just about anyone or anything other than the draft going through Jim Tressel's office (sorry Chizzy, I had to).
The NBA Finals start tonight, and while I may have lost in my bracket - I had the Lakers over the Bulls in 7 - not all is lost. It's actually a pretty compelling rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals where the Heat, behind Shaq and Dwyane Wade, defeated the Mavs 4-2. Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, etc all might be playing in their last NBA Finals. The Big 3 get a chance to prove that triumvirates can actually win in the NBA. LeBron's in his second NBA Finals, Bosh is in his first, and D-Wade gets to defend his 1-0 record.
I'm torn on who to root for. Dwyane Wade's one of my all-time favorite NBA Players, but I loathe LeBron James. Seriously, is their a bigger pansy in professional sports than the "King"? We'll see if he continues his abnormally good clutch play in the Finals. As for the Mavs, I've never really been a Jason Kidd fan, but how can you not appreciate Dirk Nowitzki? I mean, just check out this, this, and this with an assist from Steve Nash, and you'll know why I'm rooting for him. That, and he's just an offensive genius.
I guess when it comes down to it, I'm pulling for the Mavs, if only to see what kind of victory parade Mark Cuban would throw in Dallas. I mean, the players have HD television sets and PS3's in their lockers. I think he'd throw a helluva party. On the other hand, if I'm a betting man, give me Miami in 5. I think they've got it this year, and as much as I hate to type this, I think LeBron's going to guard Dirk and shut him down.
No real news to report here. NFL Network's showing their Top 100 players, and so far, I've got to say I'm sort of mixed. Donovan McNabb makes it but LeSean McCoy doesn't? Or the Bengals not landing any of the three between Andrew Whitworth (I personally don't think he deserves to be on the list), Jonathan Joseph, or Leon Hall? The last two certainly are worth serious consideration. I'll congratulate the Dolphins' Cameron Wake (63) and Brandon Marshall (61) for making the list, as well as left tackle Jake Long, who is on the list, but they haven't gotten that high yet.
Friday is NFL Armageddon day. The appeals process continues in the 8th Circut Court of Appeals in St. Louis. I went into this more in last week's Quick Hits edition, so I'll just let you form your own opinion of whose side to be on.
In my personal opinion, I'm supporting the players in this case, however , in order for there to be an NFL season this year, the following is what needs to happen:
1) DeMaurice Smith and the Players present a not-so-great case on Friday. DeMaurice Smith and his crazy antics are making him more the fall-guy every day.
2) The 8th Circut Rules in favor of the NFL by mid-July (reportedly the earlist a ruling would come down according to Adam Schefter).
3) This forces both parties to go back to the collective-bargaining process as Roger Goodell has wanted for some time now, and hammer out a deal that eliminates the potential for any 18-game schedule, agree on a salary cap and a rookie wage scale, provide better benefits and pension for retired players, and insert a clause that examines stupid rules - like everyone the NFL has come out with this offseason, such as kickoffs being moved to the 35 and the Steelers rule.
4) Agree on provisions for free agency for this year. Hopefully, this will allow for players who've accrued at least 4 NFL seasons to become unrestricted free agents.
5) Get back to Football. It's as simple as that. The fans want football.
Other Sports News
- Dan Wheldon won the Indianapolis 500 thanks to a wreck on the final lap.
- The NFLPA has formed its own Rookie Symposium for players to attend since the traditional one has been cancelled by the lockout.
- Albert Pujols, the consummate pro, will play 3rd base again tonight for the Cardinals.
- FC Barcelona won the UEFA Champions League with a 3-1 defeat of Manchester United over the weekend.