Archive for July, 2012

It was a weird 4th of July earlier this month as it was during mid-week, which I’m not a fan off. I like it when it’s on a Friday or Monday. So I went out for a run in the scorching heat and humidity – I was shot for the day. I then checked my texts and started getting into arguments with all sorts of people basically telling everyone this: Steve Nash can’t go to Toronto; it’s stupid because he’s an all-time great! “ouuu but it’s going home Andrew” he’s not from Toronto! He didn’t even play college basketball in Canada; heck he wasn’t even born in Canada! Going home is over-rated when you’re an all-time great. When you’re on a 7 game losing streak and a 9th seed in the East, congrats on going home!

Steve Nash deserves a fight for the championship, he’s Steve Nash!! Steve Nash led the NBA in assists the last 3 seasons and Phoenix didn’t have a 20 pts a game scorer! How the hell did he do that? That’s absolutely amazing! He’s still a 50% shooter from the field “Well Andrew, he doesn’t defend very well” who does though? Derrick Rose? Please!! Steve Nash to the Lakers is a game changer. Do you get how bad the Lakers were at the point guard position last year? Let me just sum up how bad the Lakers were. When they acquired Ramon Sessions, a back-up in freaking Cleveland, it was considered a major upgrade. When they acquired Ramon Sessions – who couldn’t start for Cleveland, they threw a parade in Los Angeles. The Lakers’ point guards at the end of last season were the 2nd worst in the league in points per game and 4th worst in assists.

Nash, not only led the league in assists with no stars – now he gets Kobe, Gasol and Bynum, but he also ranked 1st in assists per 48 minutes and 2nd in assist percentage. Meaning, did his teammates shoot better when he was on the floor? He was #2 in the league. This absolutely changes everything “But Andrew, the Lakers still don’t have a bench…” who does though? Indiana? How’d that work out for them in the playoffs? Oklahoma City had a much better bench then Miami, Miami had Lebron. Benches don’t win titles. Spurs had a great bench, Miami had no bench – you need stars!! They win you games in this league; if they didn’t, then Indiana would have 9 rings. But you know who’s got them? The Celtics and the Lakers because they attract stars! So he is a complete game changer.

The other thing in Los Angeles is that Steve Nash is one of these guys – there are about 3 or 4 of them in the league. Lebron is one of them; Chris Paul is one of them and Steve Nash, in that they upgrade everybody around them by a little. They take a B- player and make him a B+ player. They take a C+ player and make him a B- player and Nash is really good at that. The Lakers’ biggest problem – and any Laker fan will tell you, is that Pau Gasol and Kobe don’t mesh, they like each other and they’re really smart guys. The truth is, Kobe is not a true point guard, and he is a scorer and not a distributor. As a result, Pau Gasol gets frozen out and gets ticked off. Every year by the All-Star break Pau starts complaining “I’m not getting enough touches” with Nash…problem solved!

So A) you get a massive upgrade at point guard – Steve Nash and Ramon Sessions isn’t an upgrade, it is a mega upgrade! It’s Dwight Howard from Brook Lopez, it’s not even close. Secondly, you get a guy who led the league in assists in Phoenix with no legitimate scorers. What do you think he’s going to do with Kobe and Gasol? 3 years ago, Gasol was arguably the best big in the game, do you think he’s bad now? No, the Lakers point guards have been atrocious – nobody gets him the ball. This, if anything, revives his career. This is just an absolute game changer! Not to say that the Lakers still don’t have issues, but folks it’s the NBA, there is a salary cap, everybody in this league has issues and flaws Miami won a championship with no point guard and no center! Oklahoma City is great yet 4 of their top 7 players are non-scoring threats. The Bulls don’t have a 2nd scorer – these are 3 of the best teams in the league!

The Lakers have 4 current players – either current all-stars or who use to be. Even though Nash isn’t, he’ll lead the league in assists next season for the 4th straight year – this is an absolute gigantic move! Go look at his numbers, his points have gone down but the Lakers don’t need points, he also adds a shooting touch from the perimeter. Kobe had his worst shooting year ever….why? Is he that bad all of a sudden? No, he was averaging 28 pts a game. Since they had no point guard he was basically forced into making his own shots way too often – now he’s going to get open jumpers occasionally. Kobe’s field goal percentage will go up by like 5%. Big win for Kobe, big win for Gasol, big win for Mike Brown, the head coach, who’s a defensive minded head coach, he’s not a great offensive minded guy so Steve Nash takes a lot of that headache off his table.

Metta World Peace was interviewed on the Scott Van Pelt Show shortly after Nash signed, you can make fun of Metta World Mishap all you want but the guy knows basketball saying “ he [Steve Nash] has a lot of weapons around him, he’s one of the leading assist guys of all-time. So if you give him the ball, he can dish it out to Metta World Peace, Kobe Bryant, the big Spaniard, Bynum – and he’ll make us look even better…” Never forget this: In the 5 games against Oklahoma City in the playoffs – Games 2, 3 and 4 with final scores of 77-75, 99-96 and 103-100, LA led in every one of those games in the 4th but Ramon Sessions was their point guard. LA is not that far off “but they don’t have a great bench like the Spurs Andrew” they lost 4 straight games at the end of the year because they didn’t have the stars that OKC did – it’s a star driven league. The Knicks have a bench yet it only won them one playoff game. Indiana has got depth but couldn’t beat Miami without Chris Bosh! I think this move is a complete game changer!

I still think Miami is the favourite, LA has closed the gap on OKC though I’d still give them the advantage because they are young, they’ve got chemistry, coming off a very good Western Conference playoff run but I’d put LA and Boston as tied for 3rd. Now do you still pursue Dwight Howard? I think yes! You have to go after Dwight Howard. Now I can live with Bynum, Gasol, Metta, Kobe and Nash – I can live with that. But he adds youth and he’s a better defensive player. Bill Simmons was on The Thundering Herd last month – I just wonder if Brooklyn even understands, does the Orlando Magic front office understand that what Brooklyn was offering was a bunch of draft picks late in the 1st round and C+ players. Do they realize that the Lakers could give them Bynum for Dwight Howard?? Bill Simmons talked about that saying “I just don’t think you should be able to get him for the poop poop platter that the Nets were offering.  None of those guys in the trade will ever be an All-Star, the 1st round picks that they would be giving up would be at the bottom of the 1st round. If you’re an Orlando Magic fan, you cannot accept that trade, you just can’t”

I totally agree with Bill – this Brooklyn offer, everyone was falling in love with it! It’s a bunch of C+ players and late 1st round draft picks, there is no Andrew Bynum in there! So does Orlando realize that getting Dwight Howard’s equal, better offensively though not as good defensively, is as good as your going to get! Anytime you trade stars you end up losing, it’s very rare when you can give up Dwight Howard and get a Bynum, which just simply doesn’t happen in the NBA. Normally you give up a star and end up getting like a Caron Butler x4, draft picks late in the 1st round – those have no value, you see everyone in the league give away draft picks, they have no value outside of the top 5.


I’m not into even – never had been for that matter! Some people, some teams, some programs, some franchises, some coaches, some athletes, men and woman, some work harder are more committed, sacrifice more, and put in more hours. I’m for that woman, that kid, that man earning a better spot at the table of life. Why work hard if there is no reward? In baseball, the American League East – the Yankees, Red Sox’s, Rays, Jays and Orioles – could see 3 teams get into the playoffs come October.  I’m okay with that! They are more committed and spend more money.

In college football last month, we voted for even! We didn’t vote for fair. We have now finalized a 4 team playoff – there is some good news of course, you can now lose a game and still play for the national title. If Ohio State, USC or Oklahoma, Virginia Tech play great all season long and suddenly get nipped by an inferior team in Week 10, but can still win their conference championship, they will get in now.  But what was decided last month wasn’t fair, but even. The SEC is now going to get in only 1 team. Here’s what we are going to get:  The best team from the south, the winner of that Ohio State/Michigan game, USC out west and a Big 12 champ – the Big 4, touching every corner of America. That’s certainly more even but I’d contend it’s not fair because you and I know that conferences are not all even. The SEC has been more committed and worked harder, paid more for their coaches, recruited better players – they will not be rewarded.

Today, college football is more even and although it creates more arguments – more material for me to rant about, the media however often confuses fair and even. A really good team will get left out every year, one that scheduled much tougher games. Don’t think for a second that college football is even. For example, go look at LSU’s schedule last year (seriously, look it up) they played 7 of the top programs in the country: Oregon, @ West Virginia, Florida, Auburn, @ Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia – heck I’m not even counting the SEC championship game. Do you want to know who Iowa played in 2007? Ohio State and Michigan weren’t even on their schedule!! They loaded up with teams like Florida International! They didn’t even play a top 20 team that year, until they got into the Big 10 championship. If your okay with that then so am I, I really don’t care.

By the way, who is going to select the final 4 teams? Oh shoot, it’s a committee!  You don’t think they’ll be biased there? Go check out the Heisman voting. What was the only region last year to vote in Andrew Luck for the Heisman? Oh what a shock! He plays for Stanford, the guys out west. What was the only region to have Trent Richardson in at #2? What a shock! He played at Alabama, the South had him. Fair isn’t even and even isn’t fair. Every region will be represented – if this was baseball, sorry 2nd place team in the American League East, you don’t get in, but the Cleveland Indians do!! That’s what we voted for in college football. Now I’m not totally against it, it’ll certainly be fun, it’ll be good for the fans, and it’ll be more “even”…there’s a lot of good stuff. We’re going to get 2 really good days of this stuff where #4 meets #1 and #3 meets #2…I’m all for that. But I think sometimes we confuse fair with even – I’m not a big believer in “even” in life. I’m a big believer in that the harder you work, the more you get.

Here’s another thing, only 4 teams get in yet we have 5 power conferences and Notre Dame. Are you going to be okay when Notre Dame goes 11-1, can create their own schedule, gets in over LSU whose also 11-1 but finished 2nd in their conference and has 7 quality wins to Notre Dame’s 2? Is that more intellectually honest? The idea here, what I’m trying to tell you is that we’re still going to have massive bias and massive arguments. It’ll be better for ESPN, better for my blog, better for people in the media, but it will not be fairer!! It’ll just be more even. This is going to ensure than one big dog from every part of the country gets in.

You Yankee fans out there today, would you be okay if even if you committed more than the Mariners, with a new system, just to ensure we get a team from the Pacific Northwest in? They get into the playoffs every year and you don’t? Would you be okay with that? I certainly don’t think you would. Speaking of which, last month there was a particular play at a Yankee game, where Dewayne Wise was ruled to have made a catch when in fact he didn’t. He went into the stands, doesn’t make the catch, fan has the ball in hand, but the umpire rules that he had caught the ball.

Now, here’s the interesting part – when did everyone discover that it wasn’t a catch? Ahhhh when the REPLAY was used is how we found out the truth! How ironic is that?? When did we find out the truth on that call? Replay! Which MLB refuses to use and the decision not to use it looks sillier by the day. It was not easy to see but of course was easy to see with replay because a fan was holding it in the air and the umpire apparently didn’t see it as the player Dewayne Wise ran into the dugout with no ball in his glove – the umpire never checked. Folks, what if that were an ALDS game? We have to get replay into these big baseball games

Understand that I’m not rooting for stuff to be fixed, but here is what’s funny. I was talking with someone earlier this week – and I thought a lot of about this. He did some work at HBO overseas, he was a very low paid employee – not sure if HBO even paid him but rather the producer Frank Belmont. He sat ring side for about 20 fights and he would go home to his roommate and say “god I saw this and this and this and this” and his roommate would say “I watched the same fight on TV, I didn’t see that” so his roommate would him “what did you see?” and he said “the real fight, the one on ring side” Three judges ring side saw something that a lot of people on TV did not and the other people 5 rows back did not.

I’m not saying those judges saw it right but boxing is a subjective sport…that is judged! We’ve had all sorts of these controversies in the Olympics, judged sports.  When you ask people to judge things – reasonable and highly educated people can see something different. You could take two guys from Harvard – Obama speaks, one is Democrat the other Republican, they see two different speeches. What you are denying if you think it’s absolutely fixed is that human beings simply cannot see things differently. I can watch Ellen DeGeneres and think she’s a riot; you can watch her and not think she’s funny yet it’s the same act. Comedy is a great example; guys who I don’t think are funny at all could be absolutely hilarious for you. So to deny that people could watch the same comedian, the same television show and have completely different opinions…why are any of us denying that?

I’d get so much hate mail saying that Tim Tebow was a great quarterback and I would answer “what are you watching?” that’s the same guy that is now saying “that Pacquiao fight was fixed” My friend sat ring side for 20 fights, went home and told somebody what they saw – that one person saw one fight, my friend saw another…yet same fight! I’m not saying that the decision was right but to deny that human beings can see things differently is simply denying humanity. “Well Andrew, there’s rum ours…” there’s always been rumours! They usually start from guys with no access; rumours are people with no access.  “The NBA…it’s rigged” really? I mean, if it was fixed then tell me who made money? Vegas got their butt handed to them on that Pacquiao fight, they got crushed! Sports columnist called it “the sports’ worst loss ever” you might say “Bob Arum fixed it” read what Bob said after the fight, he was ripping the judges!! Calling them incompetent saying “I was absolutely stunned when I heard that one judge had put one in for Bradley, I mean it wasn’t a close fight at all. It was an 11-1, 10-2 fight, the press, the fans, everybody had it that way, everybody except these 3 judges that is”

People see what they want to see and everybody had money on Pacquiao. You could host a sports talk radio show and may literally get someone accusing the NBA to be rigged. Now, that’s a secondary issue though because if it was rigged, it’s still not bad for the NBA. Charlie Sheen is a hell of a lot more interesting when he’s got problems at home – let’s be honest about it, part of Boxing’s twisted charm is this fixed thing. Boxing is more interesting when it’s controversial. “Andrew, I’ll never watch Boxing again” you never watched it to begin with!! Only 1% of sports fans consider it their favourite sport. So don’t give me this “I’ll never watch Boxing again” yet 1% of Americans, according to a Harris Interactive poll, say that Boxing is their favourite sport. Do I believe double that – 2% will watch a re-match because of the controversy? Absolutely!! This is great for Boxing.  Yet people are saying Boxing is going to die…really? Really? And Robert Downey Jr. won’t get another gig neither will Charlie Sheen. Controversy sells – the Kardashians, the more divorces the better the ratings!! Rush Limbaugh’s ratings go up during controversy. So the idea that Boxing is going to die – firstly of all, it’s been largely dead on broadcast networks for 30 years. It will, in re-match get huge ratings.

Now, on the whole thing on being fixed – never forget this, the NBA, the Olympics, Boxing and Wrestling are allegedly for quite some time, rumoured to being fixed. My blog will get astounding viewership numbers. No one has ever claimed hockey as being fixed? Because nobody watches! The reality is that as long you don’t know who’s going to win before you go to a Boxing match, who cares! Now I’m not advocating on these matches being fixed. What I’m saying is that if I told you two guys from work were going to be out in the parking lot in 10 minutes to fight, a real fist fight – now it could be rigged, but they’ll still have a real fist fight. You’d probably go out of your office and watch but if I told you those two guys are going out to play marbles and it won’t be rigged, you wouldn’t watch. Why? In the end, even though Storage Wars, Pawn Stars, Kardashians, Survivor are all written and scripted. If you don’t know the final result, you will tune into see the drama and a big fight has drama.

So the idea that it was rigged and you’ll turn away forever is false on two fronts: A) controversy sells B) even if it was rigged, as long as it’s good television and good drama, we’re always drawn to it. Everything is rigged on television, all the reality shows are scripted yet you still watch don’t you? In fact, I would argue that the more scripted and rigged the show, the higher the ratings! In the end, you don’t know who’s going to win on those reality shows and you don’t really care, you just want to be entertained “entertain me!”

Drew Sharpe is a very good writer, he writes for the Detroit Free Press and he makes a great point in one of his articles I read recently. He says “you know it’s funny, Lebron James does not merit much sympathy or compassion because he willingly placed a bull’s eye on himself – the whole crowning himself King and all. But the level of animosity directed at him and the Miami Heat for their hubris reeks of hypocrisy by America sports fans” Continues Drew Sharpe “I suppose those same people, who cried that the Miami Heat violated some code of competitiveness by amassing as many good players as possible, they must also hate the original Olympic Dream Team right?” After all, the concept of a “super team” and the swagger brought was born in 92’ in Barcelona. Why do I suspect that some of the strongest Miami Heat bashers remain as some of the strongest supporters of what the Dream Team represented and created?

Never forget that U.S. basketball opted against the long standing conventional approach of taking the nation’s best college players. Why? Because it had grown outdated and less reliable against gradually improving foreign players, U.S.A. basketball needed an alternative for accelerating America’s return to world basketball dominance. The Dream Team was also a great marketing tool, whether you liked it or loathed the concept; you simply could not ignore it. The same is true with Lebron James and the Heat. Had they lost Game 7 against Boston, the NBA season would have officially concluded before the Finals!

Outrage by the Dream Team and Miami! No, we loved that entire swagger! The Dream Team was virtually taunting the other countries, with them pounding there chest regularly. I still contend that sometimes in life, you think you hear something but you hear something else. Like when Lebron James held that press conference talking about championships, it went something like this “…not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7 – and when I say that, I really believe it. We believe that we can win multiple championships if we take care of business and do it the right way”. Did you read that carefully? He said “We believe that we can…if…” that’s not that much hubris. For the record, we all play to the crowd – I try to cater to Ohio State diehards when they have a good game and rip on Michigan. If I talk about Lakers, I’ll bang on the Phoenix Suns and the Utah Jazz. If I talked about Utah, I’d be banging on the Lakers. All Lebron James said was “we believe we can if…”

I may be wrong on this, but I think this is what you all THINK you heard him say “I will rule over the NBA for the next decade, winning every MVP award and championship possible. I am the King and you people are my loyal subjects, bow before Lebron, Jordan and Kobe have nothing on me. I am the greatest player the NBA has ever seen. No more questions, the King exit’s the room” I think that’s what you all thought you heard. Again, he said “I believe it’s possible that we can if we work hard” Come on people, slow down. I can imagine that anyone in the public speaking business, you always try to play to the crowd – that’s just part of the business! How many of you have been public speakers? Less than probably 1% of you, I included. I know someone whose been doing it his entire life, he always talks about playing to the crowd. If he does a remote in Columbus or LA, he plays to the crowd, it’s called knowing your audience. He was telling me that when he goes and does a speech the first thing he asks the person who hired him “who’s the crowd? Are they men or woman? What’s the break down? Cocktail served or not? Is it a clean audience or not?

So when Lebron goes out and says “we believe we can if …” he wasn’t demanding anything, wasn’t guaranteeing anything, he was just playing to the crowd.  It’s what every radio personality in the country does. If you listen to Alabama radio – who do you think they are rooting for? Alabama! Listen to New York sports radio, who do you think they are rooting for? New York teams! Dallas radio? Talking about the Cowboys, Rangers and Stars – they’ll all just playing to their audiences, you better your bread. You know who that celebration was truly for when Lebron and co. came out and did that presser for the fans? It was for Miami Heat Season ticket holders – once they signed Lebron and Bosh, they invited them all in and it was kind of like a butt kissing and all. For the record, 20 years ago if that had happened, you would’ve never seen tape of it. You do something and like 10 minutes later it could be on YouTube, it’s up on the blogs and you perhaps didn’t even intend for it to end up on the blogs.

Apologise for the three week absence – found myself touring all over Spain for two weeks and have been playing catch up for the last week or so before piecing something together, but here we go! So it’s no secret that I have several theories in life – most that I care to share with you on this blog. Before leaving for Spain, I thought about North American sports and when you think about it, the NHL is really the only league in North America with parity. In baseball, Kansas City, Oakland, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Seattle…they simply cannot compete financially, let’s quit that argument right now. In the NBA nobody disputes that you really need a star in order to get to the next level. In the NFL, parity is widely overstated and exaggerated – New England has 5 Superbowls in 11 years, Green Bay, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, New England and the Giants…you know that they are always going to be good.

But the NHL has got ultimate parity, a strong rigid salary cap – 9 different Stanley Cup winners in 9 years, won by often young, dark horse teams. The lower seeded usually sneak in, get momentum and win. What does all this parity get the NHL? A rating on a Monday night  which is a great television night, with nothing else on and I mean nothing else on, you get an invisible league with mostly starless teams and a lower rating that your average college football game on a terrible TV night like a Saturday.

Canada has got parity but the U.S. doesn’t have it as much. But the 20 best hospitals in North America, 19 of them are in the U.S. Of the 20 best universities, all 20 are in the U.S. Parity squishes everything in the middle; it valiantly protects the bottom and handcuffs those at the top – affecting ultimate greatness. Some would call that socialism – is sports really better than for that? Or with that? Really? Is sports really better with everything smushed in the middle? And if you love that in sports – why are you so deathly afraid of socialism in the form of a government? At least I’m consistent in that I believe parity and socialism are both garbage! But parity fan – to me, reeks of socialism fan to me.

To me sports are better with stars, people not only to root for but against – real villains! I don’t want a jungle where every animal is equal, I think Africa is more interesting – the Lion and the Tiger chase the Gazelle every day. Parity guy roots for all Gazelle’s. I love the Lion, by the way, the Lion doesn’t always win, and it sometimes gets killed by a horn or other predators. Even Hyenas have killed Lions! Why should the Yankees have to suffer for being born a Lion? Life isn’t equal, why force unnaturally sports to be. Milwaukee will never be Chicago – don’t like it? Get on a car, train, bus or plane and move!!  But at least with a Lion in the jungle you’ve got a formidable presence to root for or against.

I hear about parity all the time “Andrew, you’re an elitist!” noo, you have the wrong word! I’m a traditionalist. I like the Lakers, I like the Yankees, I like Ohio State football, I like Duke Basketball – they’re just interesting. Sometimes I root for them and sometimes I root against them! But I like villains because life becomes more interesting. Why punish New England for having a better head coach in Belicheck, a better quarterback in Tom Brady and a better receiver in Wes Welker – all of those 3 men were available to the entire league. Belicheck was fired, Brady went late in the draft and Welker was available to all other teams.

You go ahead and support socialism and parity, salute the NHL and the Los Angeles Kings. I enjoyed Oklahoma City vs. Miami for two weeks or so – 2 guys who will probably meet each other in 4 of the next 5 NBA finals. Parity is for people afraid to compete, afraid to move to a better place …and I should congratulate that? No thanks! Go ahead and knock yourself out. Parity stinks, socialism stinks, cramming everything into the middle stinks. Greatness is what I want to watch on my television screen and the culture I want to live in my life. Life has never been even – my parents try to tell me that every single day. If you think it is, you are delusional and it’s a horrible message to ever give a kid. Life’s not fair or even and you don’t deserve squat nor do my future kids, you earn everything!