Friday, October 23, 2009

Disconnect the Cable, Please

It’s late Friday morning in late October, and Tom Cable is still the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Somebody please explain why.

Never mind, for the moment, that in an investigation that somehow stretched out for nearly three months, Cable was spared of assault charges by police in Napa, Calif., where the Raiders’ UFC camp … er, training camp hosted some sort of incident in August that left assistant coach Randy Hanson with a broken jaw.

Also, never mind that the Raiders’ rock-solid grip on laughingstock-of-professional-sports honors is being loosened this week only because of the slapstick routine that the Redskins franchise has become – and because the Raiders managed to win a game last week.

(Continue to The Steele Drum)

Jeff Fisher's New Jersey

Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher is a favorite around the Grill Room, but what in the hell was he thinking (or drinking) the other night when he showed up at a fundraiser wearing a Peyton Manning jersey?!

And don't bring that sports-fans-are-maniacal-and-need-to-lighten-up-a-little crap around here, to excuse the coach's bizarre behavior.

Yeah, sports fans are often completely and ridiculously over the top, but whether that's right or wrong has nothing to do with it. They just are and always have been. It's best we accept this as fact and move on.

Without these maniacal fans, sports as we know them, would dry up and go away. It's that simple.

(Continue to The Grill Room)

Snyder Needs to Get Out of the Way

The removal of Redskins head coach Jim Zorn's playcalling duties and bringing in longtime NFL assistant Sherman Lewis as a consultant to call plays for the struggling Skins is the latest episode in the daily soap opera of an owner who runs the team like he's playing in the Yahoo fantasy football league.

While it's not news that the Redskins owner is woefully deficient in his football I.Q., you have to wonder why he didn't just go all the way and fire Zorn and get it over with rather than cutting off his gonads and allowing him to twist in the wind.

But as my significant other often tells me it's like bringing logic to a situation that steadfastedly resists it. The Redskins during Snyder's tenure have been a classic example of a bizzare situation trying to figure out which way is up, something they have yet to figure out.

After all, this is an ownership that brought you Steve Spurrier with former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel leading the offense until they found out that Vanderbilt and Kentucky don't play in the NFC East.

(Continue to NFC 'Easter)

Lovely Impression on Valentine's Day

Bobby Valentine got nostalgic. He sat with journalists Thursday inside Progressive Field and reminisced about the glory days of Cleveland baseball. Valentine remembered those days, as does any person who calls himself an Indians fan.

He relished an opportunity to bring those days back. That was the reason he was in Cleveland talking baseball. He was making a case to GM Mark Shapiro to hire him as the next manager of the Indians.

“I had a great day – a great day,” Valentine said. “I talked to baseball people – talked baseball. I couldn’t be happier with that.”

(Continue to Justice Is Served)

Phillies in the World Series, Baby!

Fighting back from behind in clutch situations...jumping out ahead early on...forgetting mistakes and making the next play...this Phillies team has done it all this postseason.

They removed the hearts of the LA Dodgers for the second year in a row and have shown the character of a championship team.

This team has captured the hearts of the city of Philadelphia and their chemistry is unmatched--even by the New York Yankees which is basically a team of mercenaries, free agents with big contracts and low levels of loyalty...(Damon and Boston...A-Rod and his wife and the integrity of baseball...Teixeira and the Braves/Angels/Texas...Burnett Blue Jays...Sabathia Brewers).

(Continue to Philadelphia Sports Scene)

Can D-Backs Recapture Winning Ways?

Finishing a season 70-92 and 25 games out of first place in the National League West division is miles away from the Arizona Diamondbacks' 2001 World Series Championship form. It's steps behind their playoff teams of 1999, 2002 and 2007.

Making the playoffs--and eventually winning the whole thing--is the reason why teams play the games. And of course, it's the Diamondbacks' ultimate goal.

But after such an abysmal year, how do they return to form?

The Arizona Republic had an interesting article on just how the Diamondbacks can once again become a contender. It was a four-step plan with began with picking up pitcher Brandon Webb's 2010 option.

(Continue to Arizona Sportspage)

Thrashers Need to Sign Kovalchuk

If the Atlanta Thrashers ever hope to make serious inroads in Georgia's sporting landscape -- is it even possible to compete with the Braves, Falcons, college football and NASCAR? -- they can't afford to lose their most exciting players.

Hockey is a tough sell in the South as it is, which is why the Thrashers had better find a way to keep star left wing Ilya Kovalchuk in town. Either that, or trade him for a bushel of talent.

Of course, you might ask why the talented Russian would want to keep playing in a city that doesn't really appreciate hockey and for a team that has missed the playoffs six times in his first seven NHL seasons.

At any rate, Thrashers general manager Don Waddell, who somehow manages to hang onto his job despite the club's ineptness just about every year, is trying to sign Kovalchuk to a new contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

(Continue to Through the 5 Hole)

Ingram Destined for NFL Stardom

In the last 25 years only two running backs from the University of Alabama have made a dramatic impact in the National Football League.

One of those would be Bobby Humphrey, a former NFL Rookie of the Year and All-Pro with the Denver Broncos, and the other would be Shaun Alexander, a former MVP with the Seattle Seahawks.

Glen Coffee, a rookie with the San Francisco 49ers, could become the third. But if Coffee doesn’t fill the bill, then there’s another Crimson Tide back on the way.

In a few years, Mark Ingram will be giving NFL defenses fits.

(Continue to Rue's Rant)

Pac-10's Race to the BCS

The first BCS Standings have been released and there are a few things that caught my attention. Boise State (.8083), Cincinnati (.7870) and Iowa (7869) are all ranked ahead of USC (.7695). The bottom line is the Trojans are a much better football team than Boise State, Cincinnati and Iowa. If the Trojans continue to win they will eventually pass those teams.

Boise State will be hurt by their remaining schedule. It is highly unlikely that any team that Boise State faces for the rest of the season will be ranked. On the other hand, USC still has to face Oregon (AP #12) and there is a chance that Arizona State and Arizona will be ranked by the time they face the Trojans. The Iowa Hawkeyes still have to play at Michigan State and at Ohio State. The Bearcats have West Virginia, Illinois and Pittsburgh on their schedule. There is a lot of football left and upsets will happen.

(Continue to Inside the Pac-10)

USF vs. Pitt: Dion Meets Kion

First things first. When South Florida takes to Heinz Field on Saturday to face Pittsburgh, this is simply a "must win" for the Bulls.

It's a must win because they fell flat on their collective faces last Thursday at home when they had a chance for a statement win against unbeaten Cincinnati.

Even with Bearcat quarterback Tony Pike out of the game by the third quarter, the Bulls were seemingly helpless to stop backup Zach Collaros. The result was an embarrassing 34-17 loss and a poor start to a difficult stretch of October Big East games.

Pitt is unbeaten in the Big East, 3-0 and brings a balanced attack that features a spectacular freshman named Dion Lewis. He's explosive to say the least. He's the second leading rusher in the nation with 918 yards. He's already drawing comparisons to Pitt great Tony Dorsett.

(Continue to Running with the Bulls)

Clocking Ochocinco All in the Show

Ray Lewis hit Chad Ochocinco in the mouth a couple of Sundays ago in Baltimore’s game versus Cincinnati.

Predictably, the NFL took exception. The league fined Lewis $25,000 for breaking its "defenseless receiver" rule among other charges of unnecessary roughness on a play where Ochocinco was clocked coming across the middle late in the fourth quarter of Cincinnati’s compelling 17-14 win over Baltimore.

You would think Ochocinco would be fuming mad and pointing to Nov. 8 for retaliation when the Ravens and Bengals hook up again in Cincinnati. But with Lewis and Ochocinco, two of the league’s premier players, everything is not always what it seems.

Ochocinco’s pummeling reverberated around the league that Sunday and ignited a mini-firestorm over the state of rough play in the NFL. Old-school NFL types may besmirch Lewis for the hit and say he deserved the fine. Granted, the league did have to fine Lewis in its attempt to reduce unnecessary injuries.

Only this was different.

(Continue to DMA 7-22 Sports)

Grading the Dolphins

With the Dolphins on a bye this past weekend, this seems like a good time to grade the team on its performance so far this season:

Offensive line -- B: The space-eaters up front are reportedly making a combined $155 million in salaries this season, and they've earned every penny in the running game, paving the way for a ground game that leads the league with an average of 177 yards per game. It's not just that the Dolphins are running it a lot; they are also running effectively, as their 4.8-average per carry attests. The only downside: The pass protection has been leaky at times, as the Dolphins have allowed 13 sacks through five regular season games, tied for 13th in the NFL.

(Continue to Dolphins Watch)

UFC 104 Preview: Machida vs. Shogun

With its 104th pay-per-view event, the UFC returns to Los Angeles featuring a main event in the Light Heavyweight division as champion Lyoto Machida takes on fellow Brazilian and challenger Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.

Machida, 31, will be making his first title defense and first appearance since dethroning then champion and fellow undefeated star Rashad Evans back in May at UFC 98. Machida will be looking to further establish the discipline of Machida Karate not to mention the "Machida Era" in the UFC Light Heavyweight division.

But he's going to have to do it by beating a very capable challenger in Rua, 27, whom presents a very formidable fighting style with his duo black belts in Muay-Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Rua is capable of dominating the stand-up portion of a fight ala Anderson Silva or take you down and submit you ala BJ Penn. Prior to arriving in the UFC, Rua was widely considered the top 205 lb prospect after his dominance in Pride.

(Continue to Fighter's Corner)

Something Is Rotten in Denmark

Once upon a time, tennis was a sport for gentlemen. Then John McEnroe, Jeff Tarango arrived and a certain level of bad behaviour started to diffuse and be tolerated. Now that more and more people tend to associate "personality", "character" with sudden eruption of fury, the mood of Ilja Bozoljac or the Austrian Daniel Koellerer, whose motto is "If you respect your opponent, you have already lost", are becoming common.

And proliferate where the luxury and artificiosity of top-class events leave his place to the not-glamorous tournaments belonging to the second or third tier circuit, like Challengers or Futures. The last episode is only another confirmation of this stigmatizable evolution. If we should give a title to this story, the only suitable would be: "Something is rotten in Denmark."

(Continue to ATP Tennis 360)

Where to Go When You Don't Go Pro

Kids, I want you to stay in school.

Play an instrument, learn a trade, go to college, join the family business, start your own business, join the Peace Corps (not the Marine Corps), do whatever you can to diversify and maximize your youth.

Discover as many ways as you can to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Do something productive and positive with your life and try to make a living doing something you love, ‘cuz you ain’t going pro in sports.

Haven’t you seen that commercial during every college football game? “There are over 400,000 NCAA student-athletes, and almost all of us will be going pro in something other than sports.”

That commercial ain’t lyin’. Your odds of going pro are a little over 500,000 to 1, and unless you’re 6-foot-3, 215 with a 4.5 forty or a 40-inch vertical or a 60-percent jumper or a 95-mph fastball, you’re not that 1.

(Continue to Sport Imitates Life)
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