Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ohio State Falls Apart, Again

It wasn’t the death march to the gallows – not the slow, measured trek to a public execution -- that so many had predicted. In the end, the biggest game Saturday just concluded in another loss for Ohio State to Top 5 team.

All things had been pointing to a demoralizing blowout for the No. 8 Buckeyes, regardless of the fact they were playing No. 3 Southern Cal inside The Horseshoe and the Trojans were starting freshman – and not a redshirt freshman -- Matt Barkley at quarterback. But the game wasn’t a blowout; it was an 18-15 nail-biter.

None of that meant much to the Buckeye faithful.

Not in The Horseshoe. Not in Columbus. Not anywhere Ohio State goes when its opponent on the other side of the football field is more than Navy or the Mid-American Conference punching bags the Buckeyes fatten their out-of-conference record on.

(Continue to Justice Is Served)

Weis' Play Calling Costs Irish

How much more of this must Notre Dame fans endure?

Notre Dame's supposed improved defense proved to be anything but in Saturday's 38-34 loss at Michigan. It's unfathomable the Irish could give up 38 points to a freshman quarterback making his second career start.

Also unfathomable was the reckless play calling in the final minutes by the most over-hyped coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision. That of course would be our man Charlie.

(Continue to Bob Birge's Irish Eyes Are Smiling)

Are You Ready for Some Football?

How's that for a way to kick off the 2009 NFL season?

The defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers needed to overtime Thursday night to survive the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field and Ben Roethlisberger had to engineer another clutch drive to pull off the win, just like he did in Super Bowl XLIII. Santonio Holmes once again had a big game and put up identical numbers to his Super Bowl MVP performance --nine catches for 131 yards and a touchdown.

So now we have a full slate of games scheduled for Sunday, with the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders closing out Week 1 on Monday night, and if that game or any of the ones being played on Sunday rival last week's college football Monday night spectacular between Miami and Florida State, we're in for an incredible season.

Obviously, there are a lot if intriguing story lines involving quarterbacks, starting with Tom Brady looking to show everybody that his knee his fine and he is the same quarterback who threw 50 touchdown passes and led the Patriots to an unbeaten regular season two years ago.

(Continue to NFL Guru)

Eagles Plagued by Doubts

After being a listed as an odds-on favorite to win the NFC East based on their free agent acquisitions and the draft, the clouds of doubt are starting to gather around the City of Brotherly Love.

And those who picked the Birds are now having second thoughts.

Perhaps the biggest concern is their patchwork offensive line. Guard Todd Herremans is out with a foot injury and Shawn Andrews, who didn't play at all during the pre-season, is still nursing that bad back that kept him out of last season.

So that means a pair relatively inexperienced lineman—Winston Justice (right tackle) and Nick Cole (left guard) will open the season on the road against the Carolina Panthers, who have an All-Pro defensive end named Julius Peppers.

(Continue to NFC 'Easter)

Dolphins Should Ground Falcons

After weeks of player moves, exhibition games and endless preseason analysis, the games are finally set to begin.

And the Miami Dolphins certainly face a difficult challenge in Week 1, at an Atlanta Falcons team that made the playoffs with an 11-5 record last year and is considered to be a rising power. It's the first of three straight games against playoff opponents for Miami. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. in Atlanta.

The Falcons boast one of the NFL's top offenses, led by second-year quarterback Matt Ryan. "Matty Ice" was a revelation in his first season, completing 61.1 percent of his passes and throwing for 16 touchdowns.

(Continue Dolphins Watch)

Life After DirecTV

And today it begins. Yes, the full slate of games that begins the NFL season, but on a personal level, for me it's life after DirecTV.

When we bought and moved into our house five years ago, it represented a freedom of choice for us - if we wanted a dish, we could get a dish. (As opposed to our apartment, which had a restriction on satellite dishes.) Thus, we fulfilled my dream of watching the Jets when I wanted, without having to leave the comfort of my own home (and allowing me to let fly whatever I needed to say during a game in the company of family rather than complete strangers).

Well, after last year's debacle of a season, I succumbed to my wife's request to go to a cheaper cable option, thinking I would never care to schedule my Sundays around the Jets again.

Then this weekend hit. And I still care.

(Continue to 200 Miles From the Citi)

The Best Baller? No Debate

Who’s the best baller on the planet right now?

Kobe Bryant or LeBron James.

This debate was seemingly raging highest during the course of the 2008-2009 NBA regular season.

A highly-anticipated 2009 NBA Finals showdown of the sport’s two biggest heavyweights might have provided a little insight, but Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic spoiled the suspense by knocking out King James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

On the September issue of Pro Basketball magazine, the Cavs phenom and Los Angeles Lakers superstar are pictured side-by-side with the huge headline “LeBron vs. Kobe. Who’s better?” underneath them.

(Continue to All Net)

Stringer Well Deserving of Hall

It was a steamy June day outside. Inside, the temperature in the field house in Piscataway, NJ, was rising just as high on a half dozen basketball courts. The teen girl basketball players from Amateur Athletic Union teams along the East Coast were oblivious to the steely-eyed woman watching the box outs, crossover dribbles, off-hand lay-ups and defensive positioning. That woman watching intently was legendary coach C. Vivian Stringer.

Stringer, the head women’s basketball coach the past 14 seasons at Rutgers University, received basketball’s highest honor Friday night in Springfield, MA -- induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Stringer is part of an induction class with Michael Jordan and fellow NBA greats David Robinson and John Stockton and Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan that is being touted as the greatest in the hall’s 50-year history.

But on that late June day in 2008, Stringer was doing what she has done many, many times over a distinguished career, and that is watch – and nurture – young female ballers.

(Continue to 7-22 DMA Sports)

Phillies Closer Nightmare

Enough Already!!!

To quote Green Day: Wake me up when September ends.

I don't want to write or debate about the Phillies current closer predicament any longer. This is ridiculous...and almost laughable because the team is on the verge of collapsing like the Mets have the last two seasons.

The Florida Marlins are five games back and play the Phillies six more times, including the final series of the season at home which should make things interesting.

(Continue to Philadelphia Sports Scene)

Grouping Teams for Pennant Races

Every year we go through it, there are three groups of teams in September. The first group is those headed to the playoffs and those trying to reach the playoffs in the wild card race. The second group are teams with big payrolls and expectations trying to figure out what went wrong and the final group are teams hopelessly out of it and using the time to utilize a youth movement that they hope will someday get them in group one.

This is where I see them:


Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Angels, Rangers, Twins (though they're trying to hold on for dear life), Phillies, Marlins and Braves (also holding on), Cardinals, Dodgers, Rockies, Giants.

(Continue to Grand Baseball Concourse)
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