Friday, December 3, 2010

Exactly Who is Getting Paid What?

Not every athlete has THAT contract. Not every athlete is Alex Rodriguez…or Sam Bradford as a rookie. The league minimum in the National Football League (NFL) is currently $325,000. This of course goes up with each year of experience, so the highest minimum salary paid is $860,000. Though this is a solid bread winning…it is far from the contract of 2010 first round draft pick Sam Bradford with the St. Louis Rams. Bradford signed a six year $78 million contract with $50 million guaranteed. Major League Baseball (MLB) is home to some of the largest contracts in sports history. Alex Rodriguez signed a 10 year, $275 million dollar contract with the Yankees back in 2008…the largest MLB contract to date. Joe Mauer, short stop of the somewhat conservative Minnesota Twins, will begin his eight year $184 million contract in 2011 (well worth it to seal his stay in the Twin Cities if you ask this Twins fan!) Yet the average MLB salary in 2010 was 2.5 million with a minimum of $400,000. A game of exorbitant salaries yes…yet it till seems like uneven distribution of compensation. If you go down the rungs of the minor leagues you will notice YOU make far more than these boys! Though if one is lucky enough…and I do mean luck…to gain a spot on a 40-man roster as a minor league ball player for two years or has one day of major league service, a salary of $65,000 is earned. We think of athletes as excessively paid…frivolous, sickening contracts. Is the league minimum still considered excessive? Do we as fans even know that some of our favorite athletes are receiving a minimum salary? Do we generalize without knowledge of who is actually getting paid what?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Where is the Justice?

ESPN has a huge problem with latching onto a team and glorifying them beyond all others. When the Yankees lose, they speak of the Yankee loss, not the victory of the other team...even when New York is out of the playoffs and a team like the Texas Rangers should be enjoying the spotlight. ESPN is doing the same now with Boise State. It is spoken as if Boise State is so much more relevant than TCU. Why is that? Why would ESPN prefer seeing Boise State stick it to the BCS as opposed to TCU? I beat ONE University of Oklahoma Football team in a BCS Bowl Game...HA! Where is the justice?!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tweet Tweet Tiger

Alert: Tiger Woods now has a Twitter account.
He has almost 200,000 followers in just a few days. He is following 7 accounts and the only actual person he is following is his friend NotahBegay3. Why is this relevant? Tiger Woods just now is on Twitter! For years celebrities have connected with fans via Twitter. Woods has never felt this need. This is the first sign I have seen that he actually wants (or at least sees the PR advantage of) to connect to fans. He gets a thumbs up from me on this...and most of you know how I feel about Tiger! In my opinion
Twitter has totally changed the way sports figures (and celebrities of all genres)have acknowledged and interacted with their fan base. By following those who are active on Twitter you get a personal inside look at the athlete's day-to-day life and how they interact with each other, as well. If you are not taking advantage of this opportunity you are missing out.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Keep it Clean Boys! The Cam Newton Issue

Now...Cameron (Cam) Newton of Auburn may not have asked for money...he may not have even wanted to be involved in the solicitation of money to play. Should he still be held accountable? Of course! You can bet on this...he KNEW his father was asking for a sum of money for Cam to decide which uniform... to put on. Would it be hard to tell Daddy you were going to take no part in that type of behavior? YES! However, it was still his responsibility to remain clean and ethical. You know who I feel sorry for? Second place. In the latest Heisman Race points Cam Newton had 73 total points. Second place belongs to LaMichael James of Oregon and Kellen Moore of Boise State with 53 points each. How would you like to win the Heisman in this case. Knowing that without this scandal there would be no way for you to win the award over the Auburn stud! No thanks. I would only want the honor if I KNEW it was really mine to have! What do you think?

Friday, October 29, 2010

What the Rangers are Really Made Of

The Texas Rangers made a dream come true for their organization and their loyal fans on October 22, 2010, by clinching a trip to the World Series for the first time. Dallas-Fort Worth has been a fun place to be this post season. I have been thrilled for all my friends who are huge Rangers fans. The Texas ball club exuded a spirit of excitement and confidence though their series with the Tampa Rays and the New York Yankees. Team members have demonstrated a boy-like charm that draws you in and urges you to cheer for no one else. However, during and after Wednesday’s Game 1 in the World Series against the San Francisco Giants, I began to wonder…What is this Rangers team really made of?
A Cliff Lee vs. Tim Lincecum match-up was sure to be a pitcher’s duel for the record books. Ultimately, the fascination was not at the astounding pitching, but how far off the mark each former Cy Young winner was. Cliff lee gave up seven runs and five doubles in 104 pitches before leaving the mound in the middle of the 5th inning. Prior to Game 1, Lee’s post season ERA was 1.26. You saw him against the Yankees, you saw him in the 2009 World Series with the Phillies. The Rangers have hung their momentum on this 6’3” starter from Arkansas. When Lee is dominating it is easy to follow his lead, but how will the Rangers push though when Lee is off balance? The answer to this question is what the Rangers are really made of.
With Lee in the dugout the Rangers’ bullpen allowed four more runs. You can credit Mark Lowe with three of those runs. In the meantime, Giants ace Tim Lincecum was taken out after 5 2/3 innings. He was lacking his freakish spark that normally follows him to the mound. Did the Rangers take advantage? Not as they should have. Though Texas had 11 total hits, All-Stars Michael Young and Josh Hamilton did not add to that number. It was worse in the field. The Rangers had four errors: one each by Young and Elvis Andrus and two by Vlad Guerrero. Additionally, where was the base running we saw in Game 5 against the Rays at the Trop (Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.)? In an ALDS 5-1 victory led by Cliff Lee on October 12, 2010, the Rangers showed the world what “run like a deer” really meant. This game showed some of the most impressive base running I have seen, with Andrus inspiring his team mates to follow his quick step. Speaking of Elvis Andrus, instead of stealing bases he was noted for his clumsiness Wednesday night, kicking a ball with his foot for an error. Andrus has what it takes to light a fire under this Rangers team. Signed by Atlanta at the age of 16 in 2005, Andrus was traded to the Rangers in 2007. In 2008, I was at Dr. Pepper Park in Frisco watching my friend Ole play for the Corpus Christi Hooks (Houston Astros AA team) in a game against the Roughriders. (Ranger’s AA team) My friend said to me, watch out for that Elvis kid…he will be starting for the Rangers next year. I took one look at the skinny guy and said…no way! He was fast though, and he could hit the ball. “Skinny Kid” started the 2009 season with the Texas Rangers as a 20 year old short stop, after Young agreed to move to 3rd base. I am struck by how well he has done…and by his current size. He has grown into a big league star…now the Rangers need him to lead like one.
Question the Rangers have what it takes to step and win after an off night? Thursday’s Game 2 of the World Series did not prove that they could. A 9-0 shutout by the Giants and starter Matt Cain was hardly the turnaround we had hoped for. Though fielding was improved with zero errors, Andrus, Nelson Cruz and David Murphy came up hitless. Andrus did steal one base, and CJ Wilson only gave up two hits. The Rangers bullpen continued their lack of control, allowing seven runs. Naftali Feliz did not make an appearance….shouldn’t he have?
I am hopeful that the answer to what the Texas Rangers are made of is not indicated by what we have seen thus far in the 2010 World Series. I am looking for some clawing and deer-like momentum that swings in favor of the Rangers. I want to see that boy-like giddiness, as seen in the ALCS against the Yankees, make its way back to the Texas dugout. Come on boys! IT’S TIME! (So I hear.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What’s Not to Hate? Why it is Easy to Despise the Yankees.

Another season…another exciting trip to the post season…another humiliating sweep by the Yankees. This is the status of the Minnesota Twins and all who invest their loyal fandom into this club. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach the day I heard the Twins would face the Yankees in the 2010 ALDS (American League Division Series). This immediate reaction to a defeat not yet realized, was the result of knowing all too well the history of the Twins vs. Yankees post season play. 2003, 2004, and 2009 resulted in a 9-2 record in favor of the Yankees over the Twins in post-season match-ups. For the second season in a row, the Twins would face the Yankees in round one. The 2009 remarks of “David vs. Goliath” rang in my head. However, in 2010 Minnesota had home field advantage and would play their first playoff game outside in the Twin Cities (Target Field) for the first time since 1970. The American League Central Champs should be able to knock off the AL wildcard right? No…second year in a row equaled the second 3-game sweep in a row for the Yankees over the obviously mentally blocked Twins. Remember that sinking feeling I mentioned? This wasn’t just the feeling of a fan who knew the upcoming challenges her team would face…I hate…despise…detest…the New York Yankees. To a point that leaves me a bit nauseous.
The New York Yankees…you love them or you utterly hate them. Am I right? It’s like Notre Dame, or the Dallas Cowboys. The Yankees are the most beloved baseball team in America, as well as, the most loathed. I can’t tell you why people dislike the Yankees. I can, however, touch on why I personally flinch when they are mentioned. See if you can relate…or are you a Bronx Bomber faithful?
1. All of the above: They lord over my team every year! In this decade I would guess that the Yankees are hated most in the Twins Cities…second only to Boston. What’s not to hate?
2. Money isn’t everything. Just ask the Tampa Bay Rays. However, it obviously does not hurt. The Yankees have a current payroll of $206,333,389. Nasty. This is the second highest payroll in MLB history. I must note that money, though it does not hurt, doesn’t always help either. The highest payroll in history was the New York payroll of 2008 ($209, 081,577). Ask Yankees fans who they cheered for during that post season, as their boys also watched the playoffs from home. Still…with all that money and clout being thrown in our faces…what’s not to hate?
3. New York, exorbitant amounts of cash flow, celebrities vowing allegiance, clean-cut pretty boys. This could go one of two ways. But, I say give me down-home All-American boys (or even one hot 1st baseman from British Columbia), raised up from a successful farm system, playing in a smaller market, with fans like you and me. You can’t walk a mile in NYC without seeing Derek Jeter in some advertisement, in some window. Those Yankee boys even pose when they are sliding home! Their every movement is calculated because they know all eyes are on them. A little too much like Paris Hilton for me! What’s not to hate?
4. Last, the “there is nothing and no-one money can’t buy” principal. I was somewhat of a Rangers fan a few years ago. My favorite players? A one Alex Rodriguez and a one Mark Teixeira. A-rod (or as I like to call him…A-fraud) was brought to Texas making history with his $252 million contract that would have ended in 2010 (can you imagine?). A-rod was the 2003 AL MVP (leaving the illegal substance thing alone here). However, the Rangers came in last place in their division the three years he was on the roster. In 2004 New York bought out this contract. A-rod has won MVP awards in 2005 and 2007 since that trade. Mark Teixeira (Big Tex) started his rookie season in 2003 for the Rangers. After brief stints in Atlanta and LAA, he was signed to a contract of 180 million over eight years for the Yankees 2009 season. Perhaps the most shocking and unsettling trade…Johnny Damon’s jumping of the ship from the Boston Red Sox team he pivotally helped win a World Series for in 2004 to his arch rival. In 2006, after campaigning for a larger contract, even to Red Sox skipper Terry Francona, Damon signed a $52 million over four year contract with the Yankees. In reports, Damon basically said the he urged Boston to pay him more money, but the Yankees players were calling to recruit him and they did a good job of it. Please note the agent for all three of these All-Stars: Scott Boras. Mammas don’t let your babies be represented by Scott Boras! While you’re at it…pray your favorite player doesn’t get nabbed by New York. Every offseason fans fear the Yankee front office, as well they should. What’s not to hate?
Fact is…the Yankees are good. A little too good. A little too easy to hate!

Friday, September 17, 2010

True Grit

I try to state the facts…as any so-called journalist would. So fact: my post for today was going to come from a far different angle till I had a change of heart this morning. I had decided yesterday to blog about women in sports, commentators in particular, and raise the question of how the public views women athletes, coaches and media representatives and weigh in with my opinion. However, after receiving the heart breaking news of the death of former University of Oklahoma Women’s Basketball standout Rosalind Ross, I quickly changed my path.
Let’s face it. I’m a baseball fan, a PGA tour junkie, and I get hyped over Sooner and Irish football and Blackhawks hockey. Not much in there speaks of a devotion to women’s athletics. Little known fact: I have some pretty strong ties to the University of Oklahoma Women’s Basketball Team. I attended every OU WBB home game in the four years I was at OU in a working capacity. For two school years (1998-2000) I worked for The University of Oklahoma Athletic Media Relations, my senior year (2001-2002) I was in charge of the Lil’ Sooners program through the marketing department and I lived with a couple of team members. However, my junior year (2000-2001) Oklahoma Women’s Basketball was about 50 percent of my life. I worked in the office, was a member of the team manager unit (shout-out to Kamoche, Mary and Lindy), stayed at Lloyd Noble Center at all hours of the night doing their nasty laundry, house-sat for Coach Jan Ross and begrudgingly ran errands for Coach Sherri Coale. The works! Was it my fondest job? No. Thankfully though, I have some incredible memories. One of my best friends is a result of this opportunity and I was blessed to be a part of the lives of some truly strong, talented, fun and memorable women.
From the outside, we had a pretty unique team of girls. No offense, but take a look at most women’s athletic teams and you don’t always find the most attractive, witty, smart, well-rounded group. These girls were different. Diverse all-american girls. The kind you are proud to travel with…as a group of tall attractive confident women draw quite the attention! Take away all the fluff and you are left with some real substance. Former Oklahoma forward Caton Hill earned her medical degree and is now a U.S. Army Captain serving as a flight surgeon in Afghanistan. Caton could hammer down some rebounds with great authority…now she is putting that same strength to use in such a powerful way to serve our country.
No matter who the girls are though…you are still working with a bunch of girls. Being a Division 1 athlete leaves you privileged, does it not? Somedays, the demanding prima donna bug would bite. Oh nothing too bad, just the typical I don’t want that flavor of Gatorade type thing. Ha! There were three girls that always stood out to me as winning the “award” for laid back, grateful and no complaints. Emily Britt (Page) who is still one of my very best friends, and still never complains or speaks a harsh word. LaNeishea Caufield (-Daniels) who is an Oklahoma WBB legend, a proud mother of two and has a heart as big as Lloyd Noble Center itself.
Lastly, and the reason for this posting, was Rosalind (Roz) Ross. Roz never, and I mean never, complained…to anyone as far as I was aware. Roz was from Milwaukee and was very proud of her hometown. I recall the first time I met her. Roz and LaNeishea were riding with me to a team event and Roz was telling me all about coming from Milwaukee to Norman, Okla. Some days Roz was quite, focused on working hard and her job as a strong force on the team. Most days though, Roz was silly. Chatting, laughing and teasing. She was always so respectful and kind. She did not want special attention, that is just not who she was. The news of her harsh death in her beloved hometown of Milwaukee has pained so many who knew her. In a statement, former teammate Caton Hill is quoted, “Roz was a true, good person who was one of the grittiest, hard-working teammates I have ever had. I am incredibly sad that I will never hear her high-pitched, speedy banter again or be able to joke back and forth with her again.” True grit. I know this is how all of her teammates would respond. Grit is exactly the word. Not simply because she hailed from Milwaukee. Roz was an integral part of a 2002 national runner-up team that put Oklahoma Women’s Basketball on the map and in the record books. She helped to lead the 2001 team to the NCAA Women’s Sweet Sixteen in Spokane, Washington. Topping off her success she was drafted in the first round (16th overall) of the 2002 WNBA Draft, by the Los Angeles Sparks. She did all of this, working hard day-in and day-out…with a torn ACL. The injury was received in high school and she did not even know it until she reported for preseason practice at OU in 2000. She played without surgery and without anyone ever thinking about it, because she never brought it up. What an amazingly strong woman. What a blessing to have personally witnessed this strength.
To the memory of Roz Ross and her dear friends, her Sooner family, and her sister LaNeishea Caufield.
Photos: #33 Rosalind Ross, #10 Caton Hill and #20 LaNeishea Caufield-Daniels (photo of Ross and Caufield-Daniels from Sports Illustrated)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Other Uniform: A Tradition of College Football

We all like to predict the outcome of upcoming sports seasons. Pre-season rankings give us an indicator of how our team is expected to perform. More often than not, a few teams move several rungs from their pre-season ranking after only two outings. In 2009, the University of Oklahoma football team began the season ranked third. After quarterback and 2010 number one overall NFL draft pick, Sam Bradford received a season ending injury against Brigham Young, Oklahoma dropped to 13th in the week two USA today poll. Anything is subject to change in sports.
Well, almost anything. When you picture Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel in your mind, what do you see? Ohio State neck tie, short-sleeve, white collared shirt and red Ohio State sweater vest…or possibly a silver one to dice it up. What about Bob…Stoops? Oklahoma golf shirt and white Oklahoma visor hat with a breast cancer awareness pin on the side. Bobby Bowden? Some version of a Florida State coat or jacket. Isn’t it warm in Florida? Speaking of jackets…how old an un-kempt might that blue Penn State jacket of the legendary Joe Paterno’s be? Of course, these staple coaches uniforms, steeped in superstition and tradition, are not exclusive to NCAA football. You can usually count on Bob Huggins, head coach of West Virginia Men’s Basketball, to wear a warm-up suit to his games. Level of game deep into the NCAA Tournament having no affect on his wardrobe. Oh, and I see a lot of MLB managers consistently wearing baseball uniforms to the ballpark. Well, you can cross that one off this list, but let this stand as a side note that I have never understood that tradition. Hey…borrow Huggins’ warm-up suit idea!
One appeal of college sports is the plethora of traditions held by each university and nation of fans. I certainly celebrate that! Ladies, I do advise you to make an effort to keep that Oklahoma visor your significant other has to golf course outings only.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Gazing at the Stars

Today’s post is a bit of a fluff piece, but I hope it is something you enjoy thinking about.

Aside from a Bradley Cooper (Hangover, He’s Just Not That in to You) sighting, there are few movie stars or musical artists that would cause me to hyperventilate. I met Gavin Rossdale at a Bush concert in Norman once, and I immediately was dragging him over to meet my friends…leaving him astonished at my boldness. However, if you put me within 50 feet of one of my favorite athletes I can barely speak.

This week the Twins, my favorite baseball team, were in Arlington for a four game series with the Rangers. I had really great seats each night. Thursday I ran down to the dugout right after the last pitch of the 6-4 Twins win. Being that close to Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel sent me into a frenzy! Why are we so fascinated by athletes? Is it that their autograph holds a certain dollar value? Is it that we can brag about meeting them, if we are so lucky? Or is it that they are living the dream of playing a sport we love, and are so successful at it? I’m guessing it is a combination of reasons. I am so passionate about the Twins. Their victories are my victories. Joe Mauer is integral to that success, therefore, I am in awe of him. I would love to visit with him about baseball, but just to see him is exciting. In May I was able to attend the Crowne Plaza Invitational at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth. While waiting on a friend I was blessed to find Ian Poulter standing right in front of me after finishing the 18th green. My hand shook and my voice quivered as I held up a paper fan for him to sign. I didn’t come down from that high for days! He is my favorite golfer. Thankfully I poised myself well enough to talk hockey with Stewart Cink when he came through. You better believe I told everyone I knew about our small chat and about the tweet he sent out for me that evening.

So what athletes would leave you star struck? Who would you chose to have over for dinner? What experiences do you have to share? By all means, open up the discussions…an encounter isn’t much if you don’t tell your friends and an autograph is worth far more displayed in your home or office than what it would bring on eBay.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

For Love Of The Diamond

This is the inagural season for Target Field, home to my favorite baseball team the Minnesota Twins. I have been jealous of each friend who has sat in attendence, though I know someday my time will come. Listen up, the Twins aren’t the only baseball team in the Twin Cities to have earned a little piece of my baseball heart. A mere 14 miles from Target Field is Midway Stadium. Built in 1982 and holding 6,000 seats, Midway has averaged 98% capacity for all regular season games played. Welcome to St. Paul Saints Baseball. I would say it is a lil slice of Heaven, but that would be pretty lame. The Saints are members of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. Listen to a radio broadcast and you will know their most loyal sponsor is the local Catholic church, and the Saints’ spot-on, hard-working an loyal “clubbie’, Luka, is sometimes paid in drinks and burgers. Sceptical? Asking who wants to watch independent ball? I hear ya. However, this former home to MLB stars such as Darryl Strawberry and J.D. Drew, has locally televised every home game in the team’s history…and NO OTHER professional baseball team can claim that. Once you get a feel for this charming team, you can’t help but root for them. Guys that are playing purely for the passion and dreams of baseball, just hoping for a shot. Some are leaving behind wives and children states away, and some are barely old enough to drink on the bus! Then a few are…well…pretty dang amazing. First baseman/designated hitter Ole Sheldon, number 23, serves as the Ortiz, Howard, Pujols of the group. Batting a modest .273 for the season, he leads the Saints with 17 home runs, nine being the next best. Sheldon has a team high 311 at-bats resulting in 65 R.B.I. (runs-batted- in) and 85 hits. Now this may not catch your eye, but with a batting stance that will raise an eyebrow and a record number of um…adjustments per game, Sheldon deserves a shout out.
I have never known someone to be more screwed over at work and complain so little as Sheldon. For years, work ethic, determination, talent, personality and patience were not enough to overcome the politics of an Astros organization ridden with blind eyes. Told he could never hit home runs, Sheldon now sticks his bat up to the Astros and continues to pull long balls. Sometimes guys are in the right club at the right time and move up quick, sometimes guys are just more talented and sometimes you just have to pick up and keep swinging…whever you end up. Go Saints! (Thanks to Luka for my really sweet hat!)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sports Sprinkles

Tiger Woods: The Ultimate Disappointment
Tiger may still be the #1 golfer in the world, but that is not the litmus test here…and that ranking may not last long anyway. I don’t usually look at someone not even ranked in the top 100 in FedEx Cup points (points system for PGA-Woods 111th) and one who has lost his automatic qualification for the Ryder Cup , (Championship held between USA and European PGA Tour Pros every two years) as the world’s top golfer. Tiger fans are at the end of their rope, and Tiger “haters”, such as myself, are just about fed up with his slump as well. I mean…what’s to hate these days? This week Woods is playing in the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio. He has won this tournament seven times, three times since 2006. Thursday Woods scored his all-time worst at Bridgestone and is currently tied for 75th place at six over par. On May, 2, 2010 Tiger missed the cut at Quail Hollow. The phrase “missed the cut” and the name Tiger Woods in the same utterance? Wood’s best showings in 2010 have only landed him tied for fourth at the Masters and the U. S. Open Championship. Will the real Tiger Woods please step up?
Apathetic to A-Rod
Alex Rodriguez, third baseman for the New York Yankees, became the youngest slugger in history to reach the 600 home run mark on Wednesday. The hit came against Toronto Jays’ Shaun Marcum in the 1st inning in New York. Have you noticed anyone getting really excited, or talking about this historic feat? Know anyone who was on the edge of their seat for the 13 games and 47 at bats in between 599 and 600? Doubtful. The only media coverage you will see is about how most passionate baseball fans are unimpressed with A-Rod’s membership into the 600 club due to his link with steroids. Rodriguez joins Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey Jr. in this elite club. As you can see, this list of names wasn’t clean prior to A-Rod (Bonds, Sosa.) A-Rod’s comment? “I’m at peace with my game and I’m at peace with myself.” Good thing someone is!
Lance Armstrong is being investigated by a Federal Grand Jury on his possible use of performance enhancing drugs. The seven-time Tour de France winner has never failed a drug test, however, fellow teammates from the U.S Postal Cycling Team have said Armstrong encouraged the illegal use. No shock there…he has been accused for years now. After years of false claims of innocence by numerous professional athletes, I just assume anyone linked to steroid use is guilty. I think most people do. Two things stand out about the Lance Armstrong case, though. Armstrong has teamed with Nike to produce the enormously popular and successful LIVESTRONG brand to raise money for cancer. A revelation of guilt would make Armstrong, a cancer survivor and inspiration to many, the biggest liar and scumbag in sport…ever. Second, that would not stop the majority from still admiring and supporting him. Obviously…this is not baseball. In baseball, tradition and statistics are sacred. In cycling…well how many actual cycling fans do you know? Chances are even they don’t care about this outcome.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Out of Bounds. How Far is Too Far?

The foundation of sport is competition…Is it not? From our early years in organized sports rivalries are formed. There was always that one team that out-right squashed your team and you couldn’t wait for a re-match. I suppose thoughts of adoration filled your mind and you only spoke highly of this dreaded opponent. NO! You complained, put down, and downright plotted your revenge till you faced them again…and during that match up frustration and anger propelled you to compete with vigor! Right? Of course, we were all taught about sportsmanship. We tried our best to play a safe game, shook their hands afterward and were embarrassed of parents that acted inappropriately from the stands (for the most part.) However, did we lose more and more of this weak version of sportsmanship that we have turned into ruthless, offending fans?
That is not really the question. The question is how much of this behavior is unacceptable. I have been labeled a “hater” by many of my friends and foes. Whether or not that is true is debatable. I have never liked Tiger Woods…what am I expected to say after his scandals? Come on! Look...I believe that sport needs a healthy dose of trash talk. I can handle it. Bring forth the comments about how the Twins are mediocre and how OU will never win a NCAA National Championship! If we have no foes on a team and personal level, what can we fight for out there? What is the glory of winning if you are not overcoming doubt and adversity? People are offended WAY too easy when it comes to sport. Friendships are lost simply because one makes an “unacceptable” comment about the team or sport someone loves.
Why is that? People voice that “everyone should keep their opinions to themselves, “and “why do you have to hate on him? He is just a man!” Let me address these two comments. Do you watch ESPN, read Sports Illustrated or tune into local sports radio? These media outlets are filled (whether you want to admit it or not) with opinion and bias that skews public opinion daily. Ask everyone to not share whatever it is they think or feel about sports, and you would beg for it back after a week! Also, athletes from the college level up choose to be put in the spotlight and are compensated for their service. They have an obligation to the media and the public. Do we cross the line into what is fair game? Absolutely. But athletes know that is likely before going into the situation. You really can’t feel sorry for them can you?
The widely used phrase “it is just a game” is simply not accurate. It is a business, a need for victory, and a release for all the aggression pent up from daily frustrations. Vince Lombardi said, “If winning doesn’t count why do they keep score?” I say, “Enjoy the trash talk you get…because tomorrow will lend you the opportunity to return it!”
“This is one of the greatest rivalries in sports. It’s great for baseball and it will always be great for baseball. If anything, the energy that comes from the fans being into it locks you in. I expect heavy boos. I expect nothing less from those fans.” – Mark Texeira, N.Y. Yankees

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sports Sprinkles

LeBron James:
What “King James”, had hoped would be a television event that would be as epic as his performance on the court, turned in to well…epic television alright. The Decision aired on ESPN, July 8. It was watch by thousands, and also ridiculed by thousands. It is certainly epic in my mind as the biggest waste of space that could have been used for relevant sports chatter or better yet, a baseball game perhaps! I am not sure what James accomplished, except gaining even more attention to his crazy antics, and a Steve Carell spoof during the ESPYS. That is actually something he can take pride in being associated with…because that was funny!
ESPY Awards:
Speaking of the ESPYS…thank goodness for their existence. Pulling up At Bat ( app for baseball scores and news) to see “no games scheduled” in the middle of summer is almost heartbreaking. Thus we are saved by ESPN’s night of celebration, remembrance and laugh-out-loud humor! However, there is one basic thing to note when watching the ESPYS. It is the nominations that are worth watching. Calm down if you feel your favorite MLB team, NACAR driver, or heroic play during the NBA finals will win a single award. NFL football rules the hearts of fans in this nation. If a football shows up in a highlight reel…an award will ensue. Due to the service provided by the ESPYS…we are ok with that!
The British Open Championship:
Simply called The Open Championship because of its historical significance to the sport of golf and tournaments alike. The Open, played this year on the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland was thrilling, despite lacking the story of 2009. In 2009 you had the almost legendary comeback of one of the Open’s finest champions, 59 year-old (at the time) Tom Watson. Watson came back to take the lead on Sunday of the 2009 Open Championship and eventually would enter a playoff situation leaving Stewart Cink to win his first Major Championship. I must say tears came to my eyes as Watson re-called what could have been in 2009, though I was of course proud of Stewart Cink, a solid favorite of mine. 2010 would not provide the drama of 2009, however, it was refreshing to watch players from a variety of positions in the FedEx Cup Rankings battle for top spot on the leader board. Glimpses of Tiger and Phil were few and far between as viewers were privy to the talent of Oosthuizen, Casey, Westwood, McIlroy and Stenson. None from the US and none greater at St. Andrews than Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, who shot 16 under par for the win. Notably, Oosthuizen, whose caddy Zach Rosego is the only black caddy on the European Tour, gave a happy birthday wish to Nelson Mandela and expressed his excitement over all the South African flags present Sunday in support of his victory.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Out With the Old…Mike Modano stirs up interesting debate.

Think about that old guy that you work with about whom it is said once a week “why doesn’t he just retire? If I was his age I would be long gone!” We end up thinking that it would be much easier to have this guy…who is very personable and is looked to as a leader…move on and make room for someone younger with a fresh spin on things.
This is not unlike the Mike Modano “situation” that became a final decision June 30th. After 22 years with the NHL, Mike Modano was asked to depart from the Dallas Stars. This spurs the debate: was it fair to force a guy who was once considered the face of the franchise, out instead of allowing him to decide his retirement date?
Modano was drafted in 1988 by the Stars organization as the first overall pick. The center has not been a front line player for the last two years. In 2009-2010, Modano played in 59 games and had 14 goals in 16 attempts. Compare this with Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks who played in 82 games and had 30 goals in 58 attempts…plus a trip to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Kane, right wing, was also drafted as a first overall pick by Chicago in 2007.
Mike Modano isn’t the only geyser on the block that has left club owners thinking it might be time to alleviate his salary from the payroll. What about former Seattle Mariner Ken Griffey Jr.? Griffey was the 1st overall pick for Seattle in 1987 and made his MLB debut in 1989 with 455 at bats, 61 runs, 120 hits, 16 home runs and a .265 batting average. Last season the designated hitter (DH) for Seattle had 387 at bats, 44 runs, 83 hits, 19 home runs and a .214 average. Ah, DH, where baseball greats ride out their career with ease! American League MVP in 2009 and Minnesota’s 2001 1st overall pick, Joe Mauer had 523 at bats (out DL for first part of season), 94 runs, 1914 hits, 3 home runs and a .302 batting average as starting catcher. Ken Griffey Jr., made the decision to retire in June of the 2010 season.
Arguably the most controversial example is that of NFL great Brett Favre. After dragging his feet about retirement and joining the Minnesota Vikings for the 2009 season, Brett Favre posted 363 completions in 531 attempts, for 68.4%, 7 TDs and 7 interceptions. The 1991 draftee (2nd round pick of the Atlanta Falcons) played his first season with Green Bay in 1992 with 302 completions, 471 attempts for 64.1%, 18 touch downs and 13 interceptions…only 3 seasons prior to his 1996 NFL Championship season. Peyton Manning was the 1st overall pick of the 1998 draft for the Indianapolis Colts. In 1998 he had 326 completions in 575 attempts for a 56.7 percentage, 26 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. In 2006 he led the Colts to a Super Bowl Championship and in 2009 had 99.9 completions in 393 attempts for percentage of 68.8, 33 TDs and 16 interceptions. Seemingly, these QBs have the best argument for sticking around, as both Manning and Favre have gotten better with age.
This debate only exists because fans look to these athletes in a nostalgic light. “But I started playing baseball because I wanted to be just like Ken Griffey Jr.,” “But Modano was the reason I grew to love hockey!” These are points to note, however, that is why we have hall of fames. We are given the opportunity to appreciate the career of our favorite athletes, all the while…teams have space on their payroll to bring in a rising star that will be the reason for new generations to fall in love with the sport! Let’s find the room to bring in these young guys who have worked hard for their big shot…room on the payroll and in our fan club.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Anti-Summer Slump

We are in that valley of the year where athletic organizations from high school to the professional level start to seem like a small town on a Saturday night…boring and restless. Media outlets from ESPN to sports radio shows are talking about the NFL already…which seems to be just fine with a mass of American sports fans. The Stanley Cup Finals are over and an NBA Champion will be decided in a few days. These months are known notoriously as the “summer slump” in the world of sports. Not this year…
There is no rest for the weary this year. Wives, who have no interest in sports, and were looking forward a few months in the summer where the whole family could just enjoy each other by the pool on a Saturday afternoon, sorry. Ladies…let me enlighten you as to why you will not be resurrecting and watching the entire series of Felicity during the weekends this summer! Reasons why there is no slump this summer…what to watch…and what to talk about besides the NFL.
• 2010 FIFA World Cup: I know so little about soccer. I know even less about the World Cup...I don’t even know what FIFA means. I know it is in South Africa, that fake soccer fans all over the USA are flocking to watch it and that the USA team had a draw (tie) against England. This draw was a huge success for the red, white and blue. England, known for their football (soccer) pagentry world-wide, was due to completely roll over the American team. They didn’t and good for the US…but any sport where we as Americans are thrilled with a tie instead of a whoopin’ is no sport for me!
• NCAA conference re-alignments: Though the media seems to say very little on this subject, except statements of opinion, because no one is clear on much of anything yet, this topic alone is worth watching Sports Center for. When I worked at the University of Oklahoma Athletic Department, summer was for cleaning, organizing, media guide preparations, and camps. However, my friends at the AD have noted that their heads are spinning and that there is certainly more going on this year due to this time of uncertainty and change. Nebraska will head for the Big 10 in 2011, Colorado will begin play in the Pac-10 in 2010, and Boise State (UGH…to be beaten in a bowl game by a team that plays on a blue field is just unbearable) will settle into the Mountain West. Watch and wait on Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A & M and Texas Tech, to decide what conference they will align themselves with. (see earlier post for more details)
• The College World Series in Omaha: The College Baseball World Series is not something I typically get too excited about. I honestly have not good answer as to why. My love of baseball derived for my love of college baseball (no not college baseball players…at least not entirely). However, the OU Sooners are one game away from their first CWS appearance since 1995, one year after their 1994 National Championship. TCU topped Texas for their first ever trip to the CWS. Texas was ranked second for the season. OU is playing Virginia for this coveted spot tonight, a team who ended the season ranked fifth.
• Champions Tour PGA Golf…The Majors: What is not to like about golf really? Those making bleh sounds as you read this…have you ever tried to learn more about these guys? The Tour is made up of some of the most fascinating professionals in sports. Check out or check out The Golf Channel…heck just get on Twitter. It is hard to get an idea of what the PGA is all about by only watching The Majors. No matter how far back Tiger and Phil are they will get the majority of air time shared with the leading pair. However, do some home work and really enjoy The Majors this season. Follow online and on The Golf Channel. US Open, June 17-20, Pebble Beach California, Lucas Glover holds the title. The Open Championship, July 15-18, St. Andrews, Scotland, Stewart Cink. PGA Championship, August 12-15, Whistling Straights, Kohler, Washington, Y.E. Yang.
• MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: Summer IS baseball! It starts with T-ball….co-ed softball leagues, high school summer leagues and the College World Series. MLB baseball does not start in October (playoffs)…it starts in April. Being the obsessive baseball fan that I am I am always highly annoyed by the comments “there is a lot of baseball left to play” or “it is only one game.” The Minnesota Twins (my beloved team if you didn’t know) have had to play a play-in game the past two years to earn a playoff spot. Don’t tell me every game does not count! One devastating loss a month leads to six within a season. Let’s just say your team was lucky enough to only have six losses…which they won’t ever be… there was an average margin of six games between the wins of the top two teams in each division last season. Meaning, if on average, second place teams had one seven more games they would have won the division! EVERY GAME COUNTS IN BASEBALL. So tune in now. Pick out your favorite rivalries and learn to appreciate the drama and entertainment that is America’s Past-time. Nothing says summer like the ballpark!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Straight Sick!

Cy Young once said, “Gosh, all a kid has to do these days is spit straight and he gets forty-thousand dollars to sign!” I assure you Stephen Strasburg didn’t have to spit at all! Strasburg, baseball prodigy and pitcher for the Washington Nationals, will make his major league pitching debut tonight (Tuesday, June 8, 2010) in Washington against the Pittsburg Pirates. It is the most anticipated debut in MLB history. Care to know why #37 Jerseys have been selling like water on a hot Texas day…when Strasburg hasn’t played one major league game?
Strasburg, 21 native of San Diego, has sold out every venue he has pitched in since high school. Tickets to his debut with the Nationals sold out in two hours and 200 media credentials were distributed, three times the normal amount. The 2009 Baseball America High School Player of the Year skipped his final two seasons of high school ball and earned his GED to play baseball at San Diego State Junior College in 2010. His record at San Diego State was 8-3, with a 1.57 earned run average and 133 strikeouts in 97 1/3 innings. And…just so you won’t question his ability as a well-rounded star…he can also play third base (3B) and right field (RF).
Beyond highly touted and compensated to reflect his clout, anyone with even a slight interest in baseball should wonder…will he be worth the hype? Strasburg was handed a 15.1 million dollar signing bonus in the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft as the number one overall pick by Washington. In 2001 the Cubs drafted pitcher Mark Prior for 10.5 million (record setting signing bonus till the 15.1 million awarded Strasburg) Prior was released by the San Diego Padres in 2009. Another prospect in 2001 was dealt 9.5 million by Texas Rangers. However, Mark Teixeira, also a client of the famed agent Scot Boras (known for being a lethal negotiator in baseball and Strasburg’s agent) has had a little better luck. Teixeira garnered the largest signing bonus given to a position player (3B) in draft history. After seasons with the Rangers, Angels and Braves…Big Tex signed a Texas sized $180 million dollar package deal with the New York Yankees in December 2008. In addition to owning a 2009 World Series Championship ring, he also led the AL in both home runs (tied with Carlos Pena of Tampa Bay) with 39 and RBIs with 122.
So will Strasburg be a Mark Prior or a Mark Teixeira? Reports are that he will be a Stephen Strasburg and unlike anything seen in baseball history. The excitement surrounding him is certainly unlike anything the Washington Nationals have ever seen. For now it is watch and wait…something the baseball loyal will all be doing tonight!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sailing to the Coast? Not Without Choppy Waters!

The latest meetings and rumors concerning a total makeover of certain NCAA conferences have certainly perked up some ears! A smooth sail to another conference by Big 12 schools may be jarred by a resist to change and a struggle for the upper-hand. Rumors state that six Big 12 schools have been invited to join the Pac 10 Conference: Colorado, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A & M and Texas Tech. Though, both conferences are meeting separately at this time, these are just said to be RUMORS…with some very real potential if you ask me. However, according to an article on ESPN, Big 12 Commissioner Don Beebe said today that he is "comfortable" the league will remain intact.
That’s not exactly the tone school athletic directors were taking. In an interview this week University of Oklahoma Athletic Director Joe Castiglione said “We (Big 12) make our own decisions…we have always made our own decisions.” The comments by Castiglione, Osborne and other ADs did not lead one to think they would stay put, only do what is best for the Big 12 conference…and their respective programs. Question = what is best?
The Pac 10 is comprised of Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington and Washington State. Pretty solid programs! Add the six “invited to join” and you have a power conference. As an OU Alum do I fear the competition of this power conference? Isn’t sport defined by competition? In a game of numbers, yes, it would be more challenging to leave the Big 12 and join the Pac 10. The Pac 10 has won nine football national championships, six men’s basketball and a whopping 26 in baseball. The schools in the Big 12 have won a respectable 17 football national championships, four men’s basketball and 10 in baseball. Aside from Kansas’ men’s basketball championships and Nebraska’s football championships, most of that talent has been in the six schools being sought to take the leap of change. So, the Big 12 North would be worth ditching quite simply.
This leaves the next question, who will take the weak? The Big 6 just isn’t going to happen… talk about your next Mountain West Conference. Way below average (no last year’s TCU BCS bowl appearance does not boost this standing). No doubt a re-vamp by select NCAA conferences would equal more interest if not utter excitement, which basically equals money in the deep pockets of athletic programs involved. I find it exciting. Sounds a little like “This Land is My Land.” “From the Texas Hill Country…to The Port of Seattle…this conference was formed for victory!”

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Holla for the Habs!

Twas the night before the Stanley Cup Finals and all through the land…all were determining of whom they would be a fan. I have been pressured yearly by my Canadian and Northern U.S. buddies to take an interest in hockey. This year I took the bait somewhat, spurred on by the Olympics in British Columbia. Actually, it started with the Juniors Gold Medal game between USA and Canada. Juniors is a “prep league” for professional hockey and this game was bigger than our Super Bowl in Canada. Seriously, it was crazy…and don’t expect to have an easy time finding an outlet to view Juniors hockey in America…though it was on EVERY TV in Canada. USA took the gold…lighting the fire for the USA vs. Canada Olympic match-ups. Throughout the season, I have followed 5 teams loosely. The Chicago Blackhawks being one of them. (Habs, Leafs, Bruins, Avalanche) Consistently at the top of NHL Power Rankings…the Blackhawks were a favorite for the Stanley Cup all season. I was able to see them at my first ever live hockey game this season vs. the Dallas Stars. So, that is my pick for the finals. However, before we begin the best of seven games to hand out the coveted goblet, I would like to draw your attention to a team who gets my “valiant effort” award of the season…though we already can see I am no expert. Raise your glass to le Club de Hockey Canadien…or the Montreal Canadiens! What a surprise they came to be! The Canadiens or the Habs as they are called…a shortened form of les Habitants…as natives to Quebec are referred to. Confused yet? Yeah…that is French Canada for ya. Montreal is one of the Original Six that formed the NHL in 1942 and have won 24 Stanley Cups…more than any other organization. But this season, the Habs were ranked in the bottom of the Power Rankings from week 1. Their last ranking was 18th out of 30. Making the playoffs, they were set to take on the Washington Capitals in the NE Division series…the Capitals ended the season first in the rankings. With the spirit of a team rich in hockey greatness, the Habs defeated the number one ranked club in seven games and moved to once again surprise. The Pittsburg Penguins, equipped with famed Sidney Crosby the hockey superstar from Ontario, fell prey to the Habs in 7 games as well. Fans mobbed the streets of Montreal and the Bell Centre prepared to host the Philladelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals. A series with the Flyers seemed to be ideal. The Flyers ended with a 14 slot in the Power Rankings and were no match in talent to the foes Montreal had already passed by. However, the Flyers ended the Habs finals hopes in five games. A solid season by Cammalleri, Gomez, and Plekanec…who top the stats chart for the Canadiens. A tremendous effort by a fun team to watch…even for a bunch of Canadiens!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


What beats Ian James Poulter's pretty pants on the golf course? His passion on and off the course! Ian Poulter is one of golfs' most colorful and exciting figures to follow. Yes his tartans, (pants as they are called in England) designed by his own label IJP Design, are stylish to say the least, but Pouler offers a unique style of professional golf that is refreshing. Sure sure...the usual suspects are great to watch on a Sunday afternoon: Tiger, Phil, Y.E. Yang...I mean Anthony Kim. But are they entertaining you day to day with their fun-loving personalities and zeal for life? Poults as he is affectionately called by friends and fans, lives to entertain. The Orlando AND London resident is one of Twitter's most active PGA professionals...and on Arsenal Game days...Poulter's beloved football club in London...He is VERY active! Poults lets fans into his life so extensively via Twitter and one feels like they know him so much more than most other PGA Professionals. Isn't it more fun to feel you have a sense of who your favorite sports figures are? A devoted father and husband, loyal Arsenal fan, Orlando Magic season ticket holder, designer of his own golf apparel line, silly golfer from Across the Pond! A false look into his life?...genius PR? Who knows...if he is marketing it...I'm buying.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Move If Ya Wanna!

Hello Sports Fans and Loyal Friends! Welcome to 2010 and KooKoo's Review!
First order of business is...this is a free-to-read Blog! If you are not diggin my free flowing opinions and choice of topics you have two choices: post a comment...let it rip...I promise I will have a counter argument, or in the words of MIMS...Move If Ya Wanna! You are under no obligation to stay here.

Speaking of movin...and I do mean movin...this first post will be a shout out to Usain Bolt. A man who no one else...MOVE! Bustin a 100 (that's 100 meters on a track ladies) in 9.58 seconds. He has had one heck of a 2009. This Jamaican has become a household name world wide...mostly for his signature Bolt pose. As his mother says "even as a small child he would run instead of walk." Maybe we can all learn a thing or two from the "Fastest Man Alive" as we start the new year. Move!