Monday, September 7, 2009

Ali Walks on the Ugly End of Life

Muhammad Ali used to cut a handsome figure, standing tall and proud and often defiantly in the face of opposition that crushed lesser men’s spirit and will.

Ali was "pretty," his body strong and sinewy and sleek. His charisma melted hearts -- or hardened them. He was all that people who chronicled the sport wanted to see in a great fighter: He drew an emotional response.

Not everybody loved Ali; not everybody loved Mother Teresa either. But whatever hatred people harbored for Ali softened as the champ aged.

(Continue to Justice Is Served)

Washing Gilmore Down with Tequila

I tell ya these holiday weekends really reek havoc on the staff of the Grill Room.

With college football finally blowing up all over the place, things got so busy our crew had to redirect many of our wobbly patrons toward other establishments serving tasty sports morsels at World Sports Blogs.

And if that weren't enough...we are still cleaning up this morning after a fairly ugly incident involving ESPN college football 'analyst' Rod Gilmore.

Worse, this sorry scene transpired even before we were able to get into the Tila Tequila (pictured above with Charger LB Shawne Merriman). But more on all that below.

(Continue to The Grill Room)

Book Tide for SEC Title Game

As I was watching No. 5 Alabama put the finishing touches on its 34-24 season-opening victory against No. 7 Virginia Tech Saturday night at the Georgia Dome, I turned to my wife sitting on the couch in front of the TV beside me and told her that we could dispense with the rest of the season and go right to the SEC Championship game between the Crimson Tide and Florida.

An astute football fan in her own right, she replied, “It’s just the first game.”

“But,” I responded, “It’s still going to be the Tide and the Gators.”

Florida was always a lock, but I had my doubts about Alabama -- because of their revamped offensive line, not because of new starting quarterback Greg McElroy.

Continue to Rue's Rant)

What to Do About BYU?

In 1984, BYU went 13-0 and won the national championship - the last consensus national title for any school not in the current BCS conferences. What's largely forgotten is that the Cougars played only four teams that finished with a winning record, the best being Air Force's 8-4.

That won't be the case this year.

Should BYU go undefeated this regular season, its 13th game should be for the BCS national title, because its schedule would be worthy for it.

After upsetting Oklahoma, 14-13, at Cowboys Stadium last night, the Cougars should be ranked in the top five of the polls, the most critical element comprising the BCS standings formula. If they fail to crack the top five, then the Mountain West Conference's mounting grievances against the BCS will have the fiercest argument yet.

(Continue to BCS Guru)

Are These Yankees Like the '98 Yankees?

The Yankees are playing very impressively and winning with the frequency that they won during other years. That is drawing various comparisons to the 1998 team with lines such as machine-like efficiency.

One similarity that seems obvious to me is playing with a fire. If you remember the 1997 team was stunned in the first round by the Indians after winning it all in 1996. The images of Paul O'Neill sliding at second are so vivid and that team had a bunch of gamers who were determined not to let it happen again.

It did not. The Yankees started 1-4 and finished 114-48. This team started 13-15 and was 38-32, so that's a difference.

(Continue to Grand Baseball Concourse)

Rookie Pitchers Give Orioles Hope

Chugging frightfully toward a possible 100-loss season, the Baltimore Orioles somehow showed up on national television Saturday with those throw-back Negro League uniforms, topping the playoff-contending Texas Rangers 5-4 on Fox's Game of the Week.

Major League Baseball fans know diamond-ball in the Baltimore -Washington market is bad this year and has been that way for too many seasons to want to count. With 26 games to go in the 2009 season, the Orioles, and the region's other MLB franchise, are sitting on 81 and 90 losses, respectively.

(Continue to DMA 7-22 Sports)

Your 2009 NFL Standings

Like everyone else, I like to try my hand at the ol' NFL predictions, so here they are.

Warning: I don't know any more than you do.

A couple of clarifications:

-I would give these picks, especially the extremes (15-1 and 1-15, for example) a +/- 2 margin of error.

(Continue to 200 Miles From the Citi)

Tough to Hide from the Turk

Saturday around the NFL was akin to to April 15th for the rest of us. Just like that dreaded tax deadline, the final cutdown day for all 32 teams is the least fun day of the year for all involved.

From the coaches' perspective, this is the part of the job they hate, when they have to tell players they have come to know and respect that they just don't fit into their plans and they need to turn in their playbook and uniform.

Many times it's a young kid fresh out of college who gave everything throughout training camp, maybe even fought through injury to try and earn a spot but there just wasn't any room at his position. Other times it's a seasoned veteran like Zach Thomas, beloved by Miami Dolphins fans young and old, who isn't ready to hang up the cleats just yet but a team like the Kansas City Chiefs couldn't find a place for his battered body, so now he has to hold out hope that there's a team out there willing to give him one more shot.

(Continue to NFL Guru)

Chiefs Cut Thomas; Next Stop: Miami?

Last week, a rumor circulated saying former Miami Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas was set to retire.

Agent Drew Rosehaus denied it, but it may become a reality sooner than Thomas thinks. Sunday, the seven-time Pro Bowler was cut by Kansas City after failing to appear in any preseason games.

The question is: What now? Does Thomas hang up his cleats, and hope to one day hear his name called for the Hall of Fame?

Or, does he decide on one more regular season run, perhaps with the Dolphins?

(Continue to Dolphins Watch)

Bucs Soon to Find Out What They Got

Raheem Morris finally has his squad in place and it looks nothing like the 2008 Buccaneers of Jon Gruden.

Byron Leftwich will lead this team into battle against Dallas next Sunday and his immediate backup will be the Wonder Boy -- Josh Freeman. And that means that this team is one really good lick away from Morris and Mark Dominik's self-fulfilling prophecy.

It's not far fetched that Leftwich can get knocked out of a game, anytime. He's a perfect target in the pocket and you know that Dallas can produce a pass rush. But if all goes to Morris' plan, these Buccaneer will run the ball over and around Dallas and keep the 'Boys guessing when big ole Byron will wind up the windmill and hit an open receiver.

(Continue to Buccaneer Bow Shots)

Sharp, Reesing: A Good Day for KU

KU fans for the most part should be happy with a 49-3 victory on opening day no matter who was on the schedule. Yes, there were some bone-headed plays (see Anthony Davis' three pass interference calls in the first half), but quarterback Todd Reesing adjusted well to a defense that forced him to run the ball, and the 'Hawks came out winners by 46.

Both Reesing and senior tailback Jake Sharp proved once again they are keys to a successful season by accounting for 77 percent of the team's total yards. So the question is: Who had a better day?

(Continue to Inside Jayhawk Nation)

Georgia's Coach Drops the Ball

It’s a question many people have been asking: Where in the world were freshmen receivers Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten in Georgia’s 24-10 loss to Oklahoma State?

Well here’s your answer, and it comes from senior wide receiver Michael Moore (from David Hale’s blog where he grades the game).

“(Wide receiver) coach (Tony) Ball is in the box, so he doesn’t have direct contact with us, and he didn’t realize that until the end of the game,” Moore said. “We didn’t know what the rotation was going to be like and we basically stuck with just the three guys.”

Ball didn’t know? Seriously?

(Continue to The Chapel Bell)

U.S. Open First Week: Ups and Downs

Roger Federer – Not extraordinary, not so bad anyway. He managed his energies on court enough to find his form. Devin broke him twice, he lost a set to Hewitt but Roger defeated the Aussie for the 14th time in a row. He’s the main candidate to win the title. Vote: 6.5

Rafa Nadal – Not so bad. He’s in the third round despite an abdominal injury against Almagro, who has to learn the difference between playing a series of beautiful strokes and playing a match. Rafa was broken five times, really too many, but the Spanish derby was exactly what the new, leaner Nadal needed: a straightforward three-setter that tested him enough ... but not too much. Vote: 6.5

(Continue to ATP Tennis 360)

England Falter for Second Time

Not unlike the first one-dayer, England managed to grasp defeat when victory looked easier, only this time it was even more lamentable after such a solid opening stand between Strauss and Bopara.

Even when England were coasting along at 76 for 0, in reply to Australia's 249, I can remember thinking - 'going well, but it might still be 90-odd for four' - and so it proved.

England's middle order wickets are more contagious than swine flu.

The stop-start run out involving Collingwood and Shah seemed to sum up the team's lack of direction. In fairness to the run-shy Shah, he went on Collingwood's call this time - but the fact Colly stuttered is indicative of a lack of confidence with the Middlesex man.

(Continue to Crick Down the Legside)
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