Friday, August 31, 2007

You Should Have Known Better

"But he made it clear, he couldn't stay
No harbor was his home."

After all of the years of pain and torment, did you honestly expect this would be easy?

Sure, I said that if we didn't win two of three against the Yankees, I would be pretty disappointed. So imagine how I'm feeling after we got swept at the "Boogie Down?" In any event, I'm extremely down, but at the same time, completely unsurprised that something like this happened. I hate to say it, but there's a reason the Yanks won 26 championships (by the way, if you ever happen to forget that number, pick an argument with a Yankees's bound to come up in the conversation). When it seems like all hope is lost, they seem to find something left in the bottom of their tank to will them back into contention. So, with the Stripes five games back, it's officially time to man-up for the Sox. Manny is going to be out for two weeks, the offense is really going to have to step it up.

So with a month left in the season, here's a breakdown of what is coming up for the Sox:

8/31-9/2: BAL
9/3-9/5: TOR
9/6-9/9: @ BAL
9/10-9/12: TB
9/14-9/16: NYY
9/17-9/19: @ TOR
9/21-9/23: @ TB
9/25-9/26: OAK
9/27-9/30: MIN

Right now, in comparison to the first half, it seems that the Sox have definitely come back to Earth, which again, is something that, although you don't want to see, you should have been expecting given the past history of this team. These next two weeks are critical for the Sox. With two series against the O's, and Toronto and Tampa at home, the Sox need to set the bar high on how they do here. A reasonable goal is to simply win each series. They have dominated play against all three teams this year, and even though one of their best run producers will be sidelined, they should have just enough offense and pitching to be able to get by. I know it's tough to say the words "to get by" in September, especially since a playoff spot is not set in stone, but right now, it seems like the Sox are in "survival" mode. While all of Red Sox Nation has their collective eyes set on the magic number (24 if you're scoring at home...that's the number of Red Sox wins combined with Yankee losses that need to occur for the Sox to win the East), these next two weeks will give everyone a definitive answer as to how far the Sox can go this year. Remember how everyone thought that with Schill, Becks, and Dice, we had a rotation that could dominate a short series? Well, they all got losses in the Yanks series, and while they did not have their best stuff, a lot of the blame should be put on the offense, who were no-hit in each of the final two games of the series through five innings, meaning that a great deal of unnecessary pressure was put on the starters to make every pitch count. When you try to aim a ball as a pitcher, because of the fact that one run could be the difference in the game, usually, the results are horrible. After the White Sox series, when they scored 10+ runs in four straight for the first time in franchise history, and only the fourth occurance in baseball history, it was thought that the offense had finally come back. What was lost in the shuffle was the fact that the pitching staff allowed only seven runs in the entire series. With offense inevitably comes pitching. While the staff has been outstanding this year (only team with three guys at 14+ wins), you cannot simply sit back and expect the staff to bail them out of every single jam they get into. Despite everything that happened, I find myself thinking that the Yankees are only capable of really getting up for one So, I am tempted to think that there will be a slight let down in the coming days. This is when it really counts. The bats went silent, and the pitching wasn't all that great, but now, the focus needs to be there while we play the "lesser" opponents. I can see it all coming unraveled if the Sox are unable to provide some kind of consistency in terms of offense. I believe that, over the long haul, the pitching will be there, but it's the offense, much like it has been all year, that needs to really step it up over the next month.

Last night, I witnessed a game that shouldn't have deserved a winner. The Steelers won 19-3 over the Panthers, but the game was actually much closer than the score would indicate. Let me say something right now. If you are a fan of either of these two teams, you are in store for a long, long year. First, let me start with Pittsburgh. Their problems once again will come from the guy under center...Big Ben...the "savior." Look, the guy certainly has talent, but just not enough to be considered a top-ten...even top-twenty quarterback in this league. What you saw in 2004 and 2005 actually didn't surprise me at all. Guys like Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox led the Steelers to the championship game in the last decade, so you know that if it all clicks, all you need is a guy who wouldn't f...I mean, mess it up. It seemed like Roethlisberger would attempt like 10-15 attempts a game in those days. Take a look at the amount of attempts for the first three years of Ben's career:

2004: 295 Over 14 Games (21.07 attempts/game)

2005: 268 Over 12 Games (22.33)

2006: 469 Over 15 Games (31.37)

Putting the game in this guy's hands alone obviously did not do the trick, and despite throwing almost 200 more attempts in '06 compared to his first two years, he only threw for one more touchdown. His INT's went from 11 to 9 to 23. What the Steelers have always depended on was a sound running game, an aggressive defense, and a QB who doesn't make mistakes. It's tough enough for Mike Tomlin already, considering that he's only the third coach for this team over the last three plus decades, plus now, he has to totally revamp the offense so that his defense, which is all of a sudden without playmaker Joey Porter, who scooted on down to Miami, does not have to be everything for this team. The truth of the matter is that Willie Parker, while outstanding, definitely needs that "change of pace" runner behind him, like he had in the Super Bowl run with The Bus. The Steelers need that bruiser to soften up the line so the shifty Parker can wear out opponents on the outside. Parker dealt out and received a considerable amount of punishment last year (when a bunch of your friends are Steeler fans, it's helpful to notice how they do for a topic of conversation). Parker gained close to 1,500 yards, but carried the ball 82 more times than he did in '05, which ranked him fifth in the NFL, behind two established backs (LT, Rudi Johnson) and two power guys (LJ, Steven Jackson). Parker fits neither of those classifications, so you have to wonder what that will do to his production this season. Again, the Steelers neglected to get him any kind of counterpart, sticking with Najeh Davenport and Verron Haynes (easily my favorite Steeler...if it's third and long, you can bet Haynes is split out beside the QB in the's like clockwork). So Parker will once again be asked to carry (pun intended) the offense once again by himself. What I do look for is a pretty good season from Santonio Holmes, who will be entering his second year from Ohio St. Hines Ward is pretty steady, and Heath Miller gets the job done over the middle, but the Steelers' success will all depend on what they do on first and second downs. If they get themselves into too many third and longs, this team will be right back to where they were last year, which was a .500 team at best. The defense is there, but they will definitely miss Porter. They drafted a replacement in Lawrence Timmons, who was moving very well off the snap, but there's no telling what kind of impact he will have in his first season. Again, I think that Ben cannot handle being "the guy," and he needs something or someone to take the heat off of him. The offseason came and went without Pittsburgh really getting anyone to add onto their offensive scheme, so basically, it will be much of the same offense as was seen last year.

The Panthers again looked dreadful. The same problems they had against the Pats resurfaced against the Steelers. They simply have no answer for stopping the run. Gary Russell (who looked brilliant, and could definitely contend for some PT with Pittsburgh this fact, there stands the chance he could become that change of pace guy they need) and Haynes ran wild on them, combining for 109 yards on 34 carries. Because the Steelers put absolutely no emphasis on their air attack (16 attempts for the game), their secondary was unchallenged for most of the night. Jake did not play at all in the game, as David Carr was designated as the starter. Carr did not do a lot in terms of trying to make himself seem as the more "attractive" option at QB, going 8 of 12 for 85 yards, including one pick. Their QB situation is going to be interesting as the season plays out. Personally, I don't think they have the line to be able to protect either of them. While Carr is probably used to winding up on his back, it's going to be interesting to see how Delhomme fares in the early portion of the season. Their first three games, St. Louis, Houston, and Atlanta, feature pretty stout front sevens, but not a lot of depth in their collective secondaries, so I would imagine Jake throwing 35-40 times in each of his first three games. Dwayne Jarrett will be their #2 receiver it seems. His frame is perfect for the NFL. He's not the fastest, but he's definitely a "possession" receiver. A guy who can go up and get the ball, or go over the middle and take a hit. His progress will also be interesting, especially when you consider that the guy who is throwing to him may alter from week to week. Again, in all seriousness, the only way to realistically believe that Carolina has a shot at making the playoffs is because the NFC is simply a weak conference, and that their division features two teams, Tampa and Atlanta, who, as of right now, seem like sitting ducks. Then again, the Panthers aren't looking like spring chickens themselves.

Number of Roethlisberger jokes before the Tyrone Carter pick six: 0

Number of Roethlisberger jokes after the Tyrone Carter pick six: 26, most of them dealing with his accident, with the others calling into question his abilities as a football player

Ok, I'll try and wrap this up before Joba Chamberlain throws a pitch at my head. In a recent Jim Caple article, entitled "Shut Up, Red Sox Nation," Caple talks about how Red Sox fans have become the most obnoxious in all of sports. Now while I don't really like taking shots at fellow columninsts (just try and pretend that I'm somewhat legitamate for right now), sometimes, I will read something, and start cursing uncontrollably at my computer. This was one of those moments. Now while it is known that, in the post-World Series win era, a large number of newbies have sprung up in the Nation, and it has annoyed a great number of hardcore fans, myself included, because they are the ones that get into Fenway, wear the newest fashions what-have-yous with the Sox on them, etc., etc., etc. The point is this: While this may be obnoxious to me because I've been a Sox fan since my inception into this world, and experienced a world of pain and hurt that shouldn't be put on any human being, does that mean it's obnoxious to the rest of the world? Hey, if they want to wear Sox apparel, let 'em, but to say that that's "obnoxious" is kind of overdoing a bit I think. Caple describes Red Sox Nation as "spoiled" and goes onto compare Sox fans with Cowboys fans, saying, basically, that Sox fans have the gaul to call themselves "Red Sox Nation" much like the Cowboys fans declared the franchise "America's Team." Ok, why don't we ease off of the gas a little while driving down the pretentiousness highway shall we? So is the first time in the history of sports that a team's fans have labelled themselves a "nation?" I'm pretty, I'm absolutely positive that it isn't. In fact, it's hard to find a team that doesn't have a fan base describing themselves as such, but yet, if the Sox do it, there's outrage. Caple also calls out the fans for only being there when the team wins. It was at this point that a steady stream of obscenities was coming out of my mouth. So a bunch of people got onto an already huge fan base, and now, we only care about the team when they're winning? Are you kidding me? When you peel off the "pink hats," this is the most loyal fanbase in the history of sports. It's funny how Caple says we should act like the White Sox fans, because "they had the decency to keep their celebration to themselves." Yeah, well here's the problem with all of that. See, the color of the Sox is not the only difference between the two teams. The Red Sox have a mystique about them, in that they had the ability to lose at such meteoric lengths that most believed there was an uncontrollable force...a "curse," that was keeping this team from winning a championship. The reason the White Sox didn't win for 88 years is because, well, their team sucked. What else do you want me to say? I'm not saying the Red Sox have always been a first place team, but for a vast majority of their history, they were. Let's look back on the history of the Red Sox and White Sox from when their championship draughts started and ended. In 44 of those 88 years, the White Sox did not get above .500. They went to two World Series, the one in 1919, which was famously "thrown" in the Black Sox scandal, and again in 1959, when they lost to the inevitable champion L.A. Dodgers in six games, none of it transpiring with anything noteworthy happening. I mean, the Dodgers had Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, Maury Wills, Don Drysdale, and Sandy Koufax...even Don Zimmer! How are they going to lose? Now, let's look at the Red Sox and their 86 year streak. The Red Sox failed to get over .500 33 times in 86 years, with a huge stretch of that coming right after the 1918 World Series win. The Red Sox went to the World Series four times, losing on plays such as "Pesky's hesitation" and "The Buckner," and in 1975, when perhaps the most historic home run of all-time was hit in Game 6. Also, I should mention that the White Sox were only in the playoffs four times in between their WS wins. The Red Sox went to the postseason ten times in 86 years. The point I'm trying to make is that the Red Sox were there, they had the ring in their grasps, and then, just as victory seemed to be the next logical step, it was snatched away from them in the most horrific of fashions. With that, Red Sox fans have migrated all throughout the country, and we're talking about true, loyal, honest, hard-working Sox fans. This is why we have comprised a "nation" for our fans...because we are everywhere. Do you think twenty years ago there would be a Boston bar down the street from my house in Charlotte? Then, his final line references us becoming Yankee fans. Well, the second all of us become brain-dead and clueless about our team, and have nothing else to say but "got rings?," maybe you'll have something.

Alright, had to work out some of the frustration there. Take care now. Peace.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Letter From The Writer

"Get over it."

Apparently, some people on Sports Central figured they could basically say whatever they wanted to and try to make me out to be someone who goes out trying to desecrate another person's name and character. Also, I guess they wanted some kind of retraction or apology or something like that.

Guess what?...not happening.

If you honestly think that I am going to change my story, you're dreaming. The only mistake I made in the article was that Brennan replaced Leinart as a senior and not a sophomore. That was my bad. Brennan actually started JV his sophomore year. So for that, I will apologize. However, for an article that was meant to be a story of a kid who had turned his life around, people continued to focus on the negatives. Sorry if he did what he did, but that was part of the story. IT'S A PRO-COLT BRENNAN STORY!!! This is my push for him to be considered as a Heisman finalist, not some article meant to remind people that he's a "bad guy" or something like that. Anyway, the un-edited article is still up on my decide for yourself.

So, I figured when people say the words "slander," you may want to take a stand, or at least do something in order to try and rectify the situation. I'm still going to crank out articles on my site because people who enjoy, you know, good writing, seem to appreciate it. Thanks for all of you who have stuck with me this past year. I hope that I can continue to bring you more quality stuff. Yankees series starts today, and the Pats last preseason game is on Thursday. USC also opens up against Louisiana-Lafayette, sans Blake Mitchell. So, we'll see what Chris Smelley is made least against a bottom tier team. Take care everyone. Peace.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Back To The Grind

"That there, that's not me
I go, where I please."

So I guess there are a few things to talk about. Hopefully I get, I don't know, a few of them out of the way here.

The insurance job is no longer. I went to school for a month, learned all the products, practiced my speech and my presentation over and over again, and yet, when I was actually out there seeing people, I knew that this was not right for me. I had my doubts all along, but after just a few days of doing this, I realized two things:

A. If you don't have a sense of passion for a job...well...don't do it.
B. If you can't completely trust your boss and their intentions for what they do, that is not going to work out at all.

Actually, talking to a few of the seniors I saw definitely gave me some perspective. First of all, it's exceptionally tough to pull off the idea that you've been "doing this for a while" when you can barely pass for eighteen years old, let alone a polished veteran. Second, you can read and learn about every kind of insurance there is, but basically, what it comes down to is that you are making them think about the absolute worst things that could happen to them. Oral surgery, hospitalization, serious physical drawbacks, and yes, death. After I fully realized what exactly this was that I was getting into, I knew that there was no way I could continue on. Yes, I don't have a real job yet (I am a fitness consultant at Peak Fitness and still work for the Panthers), but at least I'm a lot happier now, and I'm not dreading waking up in the morning, and loathing the fact that I had to meet with a guy I didn't like, trust, or liked communicating with. His promises were smoke and mirrors, and I pretty much knew it all along, but once it got serious, I was 100% sure about what I had to do. So, the hunt for a new job is now in the works. Nobody said this would be easy, but actually living through it is pretty tricky.

The Sox just absolutely brutalized the ChiSox. I mean four games in a row scoring 10+ runs? I know the last time they did three was back in '00 against the Twinkies, but I can't even imagine the last time we did it four times. See, this is what happens when you play bad teams. The Yankees were able to cut into the Sox' lead big time while playing these same White Sox, Orioles, and other bottom feeders. Now that the roles have been reversed, the Sox gained 5 1/2 more games on the Stripes, and now, with a three game series coming up, this could be it right here. In all honesty, it's a strangely odd scenario to have this kind of lead going into September. Of course I wasn't around in '78, so I'm not quite sure what to think at this point. Sure, we won back in '95, but I was 10...a lot has changed...wait, no, no it hasn't. I still listen to oldies and dream about sitting in the bleachers on summer's night...I don't think that will ever change. So what do I think will happen? Well, I think we'll beat the crap out of them. The Yanks still have to play the Tigers tomorrow, and they're going up against Verlander, and you know how I feel about him (in case you forgot, extremely optimistic). So, I think they'll drop tomorrow's game, leaving them eight back. Sure, they know that a series loss against the Sox means that they're finished, but what are they going to do? They have no starting pitching outside of Wang, who, luckily for them, will be pitching the series finale (vs. Schill). Pettitte will be up in game one against the Dice man. I guess you can say he's done ok for the Yanks this year (10-7, 3.69 ERA), but he's not nearly as effective as he once was. The one thing that concerns me in this game is the Sox being unable to give Dice some run support. Remember that, although he's 2-0 against the Yanks this year, he gave up six and four runs in his those two starts. Also, he hasn't been getting the kind of runs needed to be giving up those kinds of numbers. One thing that Dice has to focus on is walks (currently sixth most in the AL). He needs to be able to trust that his defense will be there for him, and that it's ok if some of those balls get batted around. Despite being in second, the Yanks, statistically, are the most patient team in baseball. Therefore, you have to throw strikes in order to get anywhere. The rest of the series goes as followed: Beck against Roger on Wednesday, Schill/Wang Thursday. Truthfully, I would be disappointed if we didn't take at least two from them. The bats are heating up, and the Yanks are reeling. This would likely be the knockout blow if the Sox were able to have a 9 or 10 game lead following this series.

What I can't wait for are the September call-ups. I have never been more excited than I am right now to have the rosters expand, because let's face it, normally, we would have no one to call up, and we would watch all of our prospects flourish in other places while our "can't miss" veteran additions were tanking (except 2004...that was a bizarre, yet fairly good year). Now, the Sox have been able to keep virtually all of their best prospects (except David Murphy), and now, they get to help the best team in baseball make a push for a title. It's significant because not only are these guys really good, but they will be able to add depth at crucial positions, namely the infield and the bullpen. In the infield, Jed Lowrie, who has had an amazing year in the minors, hitting .300 and driving in 68 RBIs while splitting time between Portland and Pawtucket. Alex Cora, who I still love, has been victimized by about a three month slump, so having a guy like Howrie, who can give Dustin or Julio an occasional night off, and can add some pop, will go a long way. One guy that may be overlooked is Chris Carter, the first baseman acquired from the Nationals in the Wily Mo Pena trade. Carter has been doing some big things in the minors. Two years ago, Carter went off in A and AA for Arizona (Carter was still on the D-Backs this year, but the Nats traded for him in order to get Pena), hitting .297 with 31 homers and 115 RBIs. The past two seasons, Carter has hit over .300, and his RBI production has still been rock solid. Plus, it never hurts to have a lefty hitter coming off the bench, especially when the entire starting infield hits from the right side. Eric Hinske is there, but Carter is a guy who is an above-average fielder, and would provide an even larger spark to the lineup. In the bullpen, it will be the return of Clay Buchholz, who I've literally been drooling over (baseball-wise) for months and months. He finally made his major league debut last week, and while his walks were on the high side, and he wasn't completely on top of his game, he did enough to vindicate the amount of buzz that Red Sox Nation has has about him. This guy is the real deal. In addition, he will likely be joined by Michael Bowden, who has also had a rapid rise through the Sox farm system, and although he is in AA Portland, I expect that he will get the call up. What's funny is that AA has become the new AAA. See, the best prospects are now playing at AA before getting called up to the majors, and AAA is reserved mostly for veterans who are on the cusp of making it to the show. In any event, Bowden and Buchholz represent the future of the staff, but for now, they will be relied upon to pitch innings from the 'pen, sparing the arms of Snyder, Delcarmen, and Gagne (give the guy a chance!). Of course, along with those guys, Jon Lester, who was sent down temporarily to Portland, but will be recalled in early September, and my personal favorite, Jacoby Ellsbury, will be up with the big team as well. This is going to be some fun stuff.

So I made my Guest Relations debut Friday at the BOA (Bank of America Stadium...that was my attempt at anagram greatness) as the Pats put a whooping on the Panthers 24-7. Panther fans showed their true colors by vamoosing in the third quarter. Apparently they had better things to do on Friday night. Maybe it's just me, but if I pay for a ticket, whether it be a preseason game or the postseason, I am not leaving until the final snap is made. You never know what you're going to miss. Anyway, I can kind of understand why they were leaving, because their team was stinking up the place. They had one standout play (the Colbert TD), and other than that, they seemed completely hesitant and reluctant to try and make a big play happen. In addition, their ground game did not look like the two-headed monster that has been advertised since last season. Sure, the games don't count, but I can already see Carolina will be in trouble in terms of their line and their inability to stop the first contact from being made behind the line. DeAngelo went for 29 on nine carries, and DeShaun, well, you don't even need fingers or hands to count how many yards he got...0 on three carries. Delhomme actually played well, throwing for 162 yards and cumulating a 109 passer rating. I'm going to go ahead and chalk that up to the fact that if he keeps stinking it up, he'll soon be riding the pine in favor of David Carr, who in comparison looked really bad. Defensively, they looked just as miserable as Carr and the running game. Of course, when you're playing against Tom Brady, you're bound to look really bad. It was nice to see Dan Morgan back out there. He received a loud ovation every time he was involved in a play. Their secondary got torched on numerous occasions, and their run defense was terrible. The Pats had numerous third/fourth and shorts, and seemed to convert all of them. They drafted Beason from the U to try and help out, but it seems a little bit unrealistic to expect a rookie to somehow make up for the weakest part of the defense. Again, their unwillingness to bring back Will Witherspoon is biting them in the you know where, and frankly, they are deservant of what they are going to get this year, which is another season on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.

Ok, enough about the Panthers, let's talk about a real team. I don't know what kind of grace period a dynasty gets, but I think if you give it to us, we're going to keep this thing rolling on. The weakest part of this team right now is the kicking, and given that Gostkowski had a great year last year, and that Baugher will probably need a little time to get used to punting in the NFL, I'm not worried at all. As long as TFB (Tom Curse Word Brady) is under center, this team is bound for a big-time Super Bowl push. Laurence has his first carries of the year, and if anyone was concerned about his health, at least for right now, they were silenced on Friday. Getting called on a whole bunch at the beginning of the game (I think it was something like 13 of the first 16 snaps), Maroney was able to show off the toughness that made him an instant fan favorite in New England, going for 58 yards on 15 carries. The question still remained about who would help Maroney out if he needed a breather. Well, turns out that we are in fairly good hands. Sammy Morris looked awesome on the couple carries he had, and looked good on both of his receptions from out of the backfield. Heath Evans also made a lot of noise, ripping off a 43 yard rush, and a goal line touchdown. All and all, the Pats rushed for 148 yards, which is huge for this team. Clearly, Bill and the rest of the staff wanted to emphasize the running game, and with a 4.1 average per rush, they hushed much of the skepticism surrounding how effective this unit could be. The passing game was brilliant, and Tom looked incredibly poised, even though his mind couldn't have possibly been entirely focused on the game given everything that went down in his personal life. Brady did what has become his trademark, hitting a boatload of different receivers (eight that night), and doing it with tremendous accuracy (17/22, 169 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 128.4 rating). Now imagine that, while this team is banging on all cylinders, we still haven't seen what Randy Moss will bring to the table. Yeah, remember...we got him too. It's hard enough to cover Donte, Wes, and Reche now, but imagine what it will be like in five-wide sets, with Moss and Jabar, Troy Brown, or Kelley Washington added in. Yikes. This is going to be an offensive explosion this year, and while nothing is etched in stone yet, there is no way this offense won't be one of the top 5 or 6 in the league...absolutely no way. Another thing that is going to happen is that we're taking the AFC East...yes, again. Those guys in the Meadowlands and in Orchard Park can do whatever they want to do (Miami is even worth mentioning), but there's no way they will be able to stop this freight train.

Oh by the way, we have defense too, in case you were wondering. Watching the linebackers move around was awe-inspiring. This group is just filthy. Ok, and coming off the bench will be Junior Seau and standout rookies Oscar Lua, who had an interception, and Justin Rogers, who the coaching staff has been nuts about so far. Then, the D-Line features arguably the best end in football, Richard Seymour, one of the top 5 nose tackles in Vince Wilfork, and the recently well-compensated Ty Warren at the other end position. While Warren did not play on Friday, and Seymour has seen limited action so far, the line will be healthy at the start of the season, and rounds out the best front seven in the whole damn land. In the secondary, there were a few lapses, but overall, the D-Backs played well, especially Rodney Harrison, whose absence is one of the biggest reasons the Pats did not make the Super Bowl last year. Meriweather played corner for most of the second half, and while he made a team high five tackles, I just don't see him as a corner in the NFL. This guy just seems to be meant to be a safety. He is a heavy hitter, and makes that sound when he tackles like the big-time hitters do, like Urlacher and Zach Thomas. However, in terms of need, corner is probably higher on the priority list, especially when you consider how well The Colonel played last year (that's James Sanders for those of you on the outside). Speaking of corners though, a gigantic question may be close to being answered. Rumors were swirling all over the place in connection to the imminent return of Asante Samuel. If Asante signs his one-year franchise tenure...forget about it. Just forget it. Your team doesn't have a shot, and even if they do somehow pull a miracle, we'll probably play you again, and then beat the crap out of you (see Pittsburgh in '04). With a Samuel/Hobbs/Harrison/Wilson starting backfield, the team officially will have no holes. This is the best team in the league, and while this may sound a little premature, could end up being one of the best of all-time. You have to play each game one week at a time, but you know I can't wait until that Indy game this year, where it stands to reason that the Pats will be coming for some revenge. I'm going to go to the bar and demand that "Payback" by James Brown be played at least three or four times.

Ok, well I hope I gave you a little insight into what the doings are. I'm looking for a morning gig, and hopefully, everything will get figured out soon. Call me the breeze kiddo. Hope everyone is doing good out there. Take it easy. Peace.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Colt Brennan Article

"Don't it seem so strange
How it just don't change
Things just stay the same
As they've always been."

So Sports Central actually gave me an assignment this week. The topic: "College Football"...that's it. So basically, I could write about anything. I was thinking about doing a write-up on the SEC or the mess at South Carolina, but decided to be impartial and do a story on Colt Brennan, the Heisman hopeful for the Hawaii Warriors. They don't play the toughest schedule, but what separates Brennan is that he's got the goods to be a hell of a player no matter where he would have gone. I know you may have heard of him, but I thought it might be interesting to go through how he got to where he is today. So I hope you enjoy.

Say Aloha To Colt Brennan

You know who Colt Brennan is ... but do you really know who Colt Brennan is?

True, after leading Hawaii to a bowl win against Arizona State last year, Brennan's name definitely surfaced on most college football fans' radar, but not many outside of the islands knows about Brennan's story in addition to his potential as a great young quarterback.

It all started back in Laguna Beach, and while it is not known if he ever ran into the cast mates of the popular reality series, Colt attended Mater Dei High School, where he backed up another well-known southern Californian, Matt Leinart. Once taking the reigns as a sophomore, Brennan guided Mater Dei to a league championship. While in school, Brennan also was a superb basketball player, and was integral in helping the school win its league title as a senior.

Once Brennan graduated, he went on to Worcester Academy, located in western Massachusetts, where he started for one year. Brennan then committed to the University of Colorado. After his red-shirt season in 2003, Brennan was in the middle of a firestorm of controversy. First, an incident involving a young woman to which Brennan plead guilty to charges of burglary and trespassing. There was also speculation that he was involved in numerous incidents involving the Buffaloes' football team, which has been cited numerous times in the last few years for unlawful acts against fellow coeds and recruitment violations.

Brennan decided to enroll at Saddleback Community College, where he led his team to a league championship, and in addition, was named the state's offensive player of the year in 2004. After all of the baggage he came in with, Brennan was able to shed all of it, and became a premiere quarterback during the offseason recruitment period. Despite getting an opportunity to start at Syracuse, Brennan opted to attend the University of Hawaii, where he would take over for Timmy Chang, who became the all-time leading passer while starting for the Warriors.

Brennan was a star in Hawaii from his first start, and managed to lead the nation in passing yards and touchdowns. Despite all of his heroics, the Warriors did not make a bowl appearance, a first for the team in four years. But the expectations surrounding Brennan and Hawaii were enormous entering the '06 season, and Brennan would do nothing to disappoint.

Critics believed that Brennan was the recipient of an easy schedule when he posted his numbers, but he was determined in his junior season to prove that he was, indeed, for real. Brennan passed for an NCAA record in touchdown passes and passer efficiency. The Warriors were dominant in the WAC, especially at home, where Hawaii seems to prosper every year. With a national spotlight shining on Brennan since his first snap of the '06 season, he has yet to disappoint.

After leading his team to a 10-3 mark during the regular season, Brennan and the Warriors took on the ASU Sun Devils in the Hawaii Bowl, a game played at Aloha Stadium in Honululu. While the Devils stayed in the game for most of the game, Hawaii proved to be too tough for A-State's defense to handle. Brennan had another incredible game, where he threw for 559 yards and 5 scores in Hawaii's 41-24 victory.

After the game, it seemed as though Brennan would declare himself for the NFL draft. Riding high off of an incredible game and even more astounding career, Brennan was slotted to be chosen in the late first round, but after careful consideration, Brennan decided to return for another year at Hawaii. Although his decision was scrutinized by the national media, Brennan is already reaping the rewards for staying in school for his senior year.

Colt has been installed as a Heisman Trophy favorite after his sixth-place finish in the vote last year, and if Darren McFadden is unable to be the kind of back he was last year, there stands to reason that Brennan could become the first Heisman winner in the history of the University of Hawaii.

Colt Brennan could be playing in preseason games right now with an NFL team, making millions, and realizing a dream shared by every kid playing football. However, Brennan decided that, one, his draft stock could rise even higher than it is now, and two, he is in a place where he is already a legend, and the chance to win another bowl game, and some other postseason hardware, was too much to pass up.

Although he experienced a lot of bumps early in his college career, Brennan has now been slated as the best signal caller in the country, and a dedicated student of the game, as well as in school, Brennan has put himself in the ranks of Steve Young and David Carr as one of the WAC's all-time best QBs, and even further, one of the best to ever play collegiately.

I want to thank everyone who came to my graduation on Saturday. The fact that more than my Mom and Dad were there was amazing to me. I will be back in the commonwealth Friday night. After another little shindig for me, I'm heading to Fenway for the Halos game on Saturday. Then, back to the grind come Monday morning. Remember the Pats pre-season game against the Panthers is on Saturday the 24th, and tickets are still available, so if you are in the Carolinas, or you want to make a road trip, definitely make that happen. I don't know what section I'll be in, but it should be pretty easy to spot me...I'll be the one with no hair. So, hopefully I'll be seeing some of you guys real soon. Take care, and thanks for checking in. Peace.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Jabar Gaffney Article

"Times are hard, you're afraid to pay the fee
So you find yourself somebody, who can do the job for free."

Here's my latest submission to Patriots Insider. So far, this has been a great relationship, and even landed me a cover story with my Laurence Maroney article. My hope is that I get more of my stories on the site and create somewhat of a buzz about me and this site. Times could become somewhat hectic in the coming months though. I am due to start my insurance gig on Wednesday, I'm still in the market for a second job, I'm working game days with the Panthers, I just applied to become a Big Brother, and also, there's my college football tour I plan on taking. So, while I hope to keep updating this site as much as I can, it may become a little difficult. Also, I think I'm going to invest in a digital camera so I can document all of my journeys. While it's likely that I'll be a one-man band on these road trips, I believe that this is a great opportunity to meet people that I probably would never have seen or heard from before, so I'm really looking forward to that. Anyway, here is the article:

Lost In The Shuffle
While the Pats made a series of moves boosting their receiving core, Jabar Gaffney’s name is not getting mentioned as much as it did during the Pats’ playoff push last year.

“That's where I want to live the rest of my life. A warm place with no memory.” ~Shawshank Redemption

Randy Moss, Donté Stallworth, Wes Welker, Kelley Washington. These were the four heralded acquisitions made over the off-season to try and help Tom Brady, and the rest of the Patriots, get over the hump they experienced in Indianapolis last season, and get them back to the Super Bowl. However, one receiver, who is a holdover from last season, could be as valuable as any of those prized additions will prove to be.

Jabar Gaffney came to the Pats last year as a relative unknown. After a two season career at the University of Florida, where he recorded back-to-back 1,000 seasons, Gaffney was drafted by Houston with the 33rd overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. As a compliment to Andre Johnson, Gaffney played four seasons with the Texans, but never recorded more than 55 receptions or 650 yards despite having a double-digit average yards per catch three out of four years.

Gaffney then signed a one-year deal with Philadelphia last year, but was cut during the pre-season. The Pats picked Gaffney up in October, and promptly signed him to a two-year contract.

Gaffney played in eleven games, and started six of those contests. While Gaffney was back in the NFL, his number was not called very much at all in the regular season, as he was mostly used as a decoy on the outside. Fellow Gator Reché Caldwell was getting most of the attention from Brady, hauling in 61 receptions for 760 yards. However, Gaffney’s time to shine was fast approaching.

In the first playoff game of his NFL career, Gaffney stared in the Pats’ passing game, catching eight of Brady’s 22 completions for 104 yards. Gaffney showed a knack for going over the middle and making athletic catches, something that only Troy Brown could be relied on to make. With a new-found confidence in Gaffney, Brady targeted Gaffney in their next game at San Diego, to which Gaffney responded to with another 100-yard performance.

In the AFC Championship game against the Colts, the Pats cruised to an early first half lead, but Gaffney was not being looked to like he had been in the previous two playoff games, only getting one look and no receptions. Finally, in the second drive of the third quarter, #12 got Gaffney involved, hitting him for a first down to get the offense inside the five yard line. Then, Brady hit Gaffney in the back of the end zone on a remarkable scoring strike, highlighted by Gaffney amazingly gaining possession before getting pushed out of bounds, a play that was reviewed by the Colts, and upheld. The score was the final touchdown of the Pats’ season, as they went on to lose in a heartbreaker.

Throughout the game, Patriot receivers were not sure-handed whatsoever, which begs the question of why Jabar was not in the game plan as much as he was in the rest of the postseason?

Another question that lingers is why is Gaffney being pushed out of the receiving plans of this team? Sure, the receivers, on a whole, let down the Pats against Indy, but the fact remains that Gaffney, who is only 26, could be a big weapon in this offense. His ability to go over the middle is invaluable. Troy Brown, as crazy as this may sound, probably won’t be able to play forever, so Gaffney, who probably won’t be as versatile, would be able to line up opposite of Wes Welker in the slot in four or five wide receiver sets.

The hope is that not everything has been forgotten about what Jabar Gaffney did in last year’s postseason. Not by the fans, and more importantly, not by the organization. While the receiving core has been built up to extreme lengths, Gaffney has proven that he can play in this offense, and that given the opportunity, he can flourish.



Monday, August 06, 2007

The Last Hoorah

"Come on baby finish what you started."

No, not for this site, but for my days being a contributor to the "Daily Gamecock's" sports section. It was fun writing under deadlines and attempting to try and have a limited word count (I think I kept in under 500 words once...I'm not good at abbreviating). Anyway, here are my final two submissions. It will be fun when I go down on Saturday and pick up a paper, flip to the sports section, and see my ugly mug staring back at me (I know I'm not a good looking guy, but that is one of the most unflattering pictures of all-time...not my decision though). The first was a further elaboration of my thoughts on Bill Walsh, and the second was about MLB umpires refusing background checks. Hope you enjoy:

The Passing Of A Legend
After battling leukemia for over three years, Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh passed away on Monday

Very few men, whether it be player, coach, or owner, had the kind of impact on the game that Bill Walsh did.

Walsh, who is most known as the man who led the 49ers to three Super Bowls during the 80s, passed away at the age of 75. Walsh was initially diagnosed with leukemia in 2004, and revealed he was receiving treatment for the disease last year, but the cancer went into remission earlier this year, and ultimately claimed the life of a coaching legend.

Walsh’s mark initially was felt in the NFL as an assistant for Oakland, Cincinnati, and San Diego. His stop in Cincinnati was where Walsh crafted the famed “West Coast” offense. He had a brief stint in Stanford before returning to the NFL in 1979, this time, as head coach of the 49ers, a position he held for 10 seasons.

In his first year with San Francisco, the Niners also drafted Joe Montana in the third round of the NFL Draft. Montana went on to be a legend in his own right, capturing two MVP awards and all three of the MVP awards in the Niners Super Bowl victories. Walsh also was responsible for picking Hall-of-Famers Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott, and trading for another Hall-of-Famer in Steve Young during his regime. The 49ers became the team of the decade, and Walsh was officially one of the greatest coaches in NFL history.

After taking a break from coaching, Walsh returned to the sidelines for his second go-around with Stanford. In his first season, the Cardinal went 10-3 and won a bowl game. However, the team floundered in his next two years, and Walsh again left football in 1994, this time for good.
Although he would go on to become a commentator and an analyst, Walsh will forever be known as a great coach, and in addition, a great teacher. What may be even more awe-inspiring other than his career marks are the coaches that tutored under him while he was in the NFL. If you look at Walsh’s coaching “tree,” you will find 16 of the NFL’s 32 head coaches, including Mike Holmgren, Mike Shanahan, and Tony Dungy.

While Bill Walsh may not be with us anymore, his legacy will outlive anyone. Whether it be the laminated play sheets, his famed offensive set, his masterful job coaching a dynasty, or the countless number of players and coaches he affected during his astounding life. Walsh always shied away from the praise he received over the course of his near-30 year career, but the way he went about his business, and his demeanor both on and off the field is something that will be talked about for generations to come.

Do Umps Have Something To Hide?
After umpires reject MLB’s request for background checks, questions continue to swirl about the integrity of professional officials.

Officials were already dealt a black eye following the Tim Donaghy scandal that broke last month. Now, it appears as though the ship may be thrown even further off its course.

The World Umpires Association, which is the union for all Major League Baseball umpires, rejected MLB’s request to conduct background checks on all currently employed umpires. The union sent a letter to Rob Manfred, MLB’s executive vice president of labor relations on Monday, calling baseball’s inquiry a “knee-jerk, misguided witch hunt.”

While the union’s reasons for turning down the request are indeed valid, calling into question the scope of the amount of information that is to be gathered, and who exactly will be able to see this information once gathered, it still doesn’t take away from the fact that fans of the game, and people in general, will read the headlines and continue to have a sense of doubt about if games are being called “straight.”

Since NBA commissioner David Stern came out and made it known that Donaghy was involved in gambling on games, and possibly having an impact on the outcome of the games he refereed, the general public’s view on officials has almost the same kind of feel as the issue of steroids in sports. If a player hits an unusual amount of home runs, it has now become second nature to suspect he is “on something.” Now, if a referee or an umpire makes a bad call, there will be a growing number of people who will accuse the official of fixing games, or having “mob ties.”

Still, the fans’ suspicion does have validity. Besides Donaghy, there have been an astounding number of “crooked” officials who have been caught all over the world for fixing games and gambling offenses. Yes, this is a problem that should have been dealt with before this scandal hit, but the fact that it is at least being dealt with means that baseball is taking some initiative to see to it that this sort of questionable behavior will not make its way out on to the diamond.

While the background checks will not be able to completely stop the possibility of a future incident, this will at least ease some of apprehension people may have in how an umpire calls a game. When a fan goes a game, they should go with the idea that the game will be decided by the participants, and that the officials, while integral, call the game how they see it, and not how they want to see it.

Have a good week, and thanks to everyone at the Gamecock for helping me do this. It meant a lot to write for my school paper and rep my thoughts through that medium. Too bad it came after I graduated. I probably should have thought of this before. Peace.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

What America Listens Too

"I knew that if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they'd be happy for awhile."

In going along with something that basically everyone already knows, I am a huge geek. I find the most insanely useless stuff absolutely fascinating. Something that has always grabbed my attention has been the list of the most popular albums of all time. So, I figured I might share one of the "passions" of my life. Way back in the day, I could name the top 20 in order, but then again, back then, I could do long division, read a book, and hit a curveball, so times have changed a little bit. Here now is the list. The number in parentheses is how many times that particular album went platnium. I got the info from RIAA's website. Enjoy.
  1. The Eagles- Greatest Hits 1971-1975 (29x)
  2. Michael Jackson- Thriller (27x)
  3. Pink Floyd- The Wall (23x)
  4. Led Zeppelin- IV (23x)
  5. AC/DC- Back in Black (21x)
  6. Billy Joel- Greatest Hits Vol. I & II (21x)
  7. Garth Brooks- Double Live (20x)
  8. Shania Twain- Come On Over (20x)
  9. Fleetwood Mac- Rumors (19x)
  10. The Beatles- The Beatles (White Album) (19x)
  11. Boston- Boston (17x)
  12. Whitney Houston- The Bodyguard (17x)
  13. Led Zeppelin- Physical Graffiti (16x)
  14. Garth Brooks- No Fences (16x)
  15. The Eagles- Hotel California (16x)
  16. Elton John- Greatest Hits (16x)
  17. Alanis Morissette- Jagged Little Pill (16x)
  18. The Beatles- 1967-1970 (16x)
  19. Hootie And The Blowfish- Cracked Rear View (16x)
  20. Pink Floyd- Dark Side Of The Moon (15x)
  21. The Beatles- 1962-1966 (15x)
  22. Santana- Supernatural (15x)
  23. Bruce Springsteen- Born In The U.S.A. (15x)
  24. Guns 'N Roses- Appetite For Destruction (15x)
  25. The Bee Gees- Saturday Night Fever (15x)
  26. Simon And Garfunkel- Greatest Hits (15x)
  27. Metallica- Metallica (Black Album) (14x)
  28. Garth Brooks- Ropin' The Wind (14x)
  29. Journey- Greatest Hits (14x)
  30. Meat Loaf- Bat Out Of Hell (14x)
  31. Backstreet Boys- Backstreet Boys (14x)
  32. Britney Spears- ...Baby One More Time (14x)
  33. Bruce Springsteen- Live 1975-'85 (13x)
  34. Backstreet Boys- Millennium (13x)
  35. Prince And The Revolution- Purple Rain (13x)
  36. Whitney Houston- Whitney Houston (13x)
  37. Steve Miller Band- Greatest Hits 1974-1978 (13x)
  38. Led Zeppelin- II (12x)
  39. Jewel- Pieces Of You (12x)
  40. Def Leppard- Hysteria (12x)
  41. Kenny Rogers- Greatest Hits (12x)
  42. Shania Twain- The Woman In Me (12x)
  43. Kenny G- Breathless (12x)
  44. Various Artists- Forrest Gump Soundtrack (12x)
  45. The Dixie Chicks- Wide Open Spaces (12x)
  46. Matchbox Twenty- Yourself Or Someone Like You (12x)
  47. Phil Collins- No Jacket Required (12x)
  48. Boyz II Men- II (12x)
  49. Bon Jovi- Slippery When Wet (12x)
  50. The Rolling Stones- Hot Rocks (12x)
  51. The Beatles- Abbey Road (12x)
  52. Pearl Jam- Ten (12x)
  53. Led Zeppelin- Houses Of The Holy (11x)
  54. James Taylor- Greatest Hits (11x)
  55. 'N Sync- No Strings Attached (11x)
  56. Creed- Human Clay (11x)
  57. Various Artists- Dirty Dancing Soundtrack (11x)
  58. TLC- CrazySexyCool (11x)
  59. Shania Twain- Up! (11x)
  60. Various Artists- Titanic Soundtrack (11x)
  61. Outkast- Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (11x)
  62. Celine Dion- Falling Into You (11x)
  63. The Eagles- Greatest Hits Vol. II (11x)
  64. Kid Rock- Devil Without A Cause (11x)
  65. The Beatles- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (11x)
  66. Norah Jones- Come Away With Me (10x)
  67. ZZ Top- Eliminator (10x)
  68. Carole King- Tapestry (10x)
  69. Celine Dion- Let's Talk About Love (10x)
  70. Aerosmith- Greatest Hits (10x)
  71. The Doors- The Best Of (10x)
  72. Eric Clapton- Unplugged (10x)
  73. Stevie Wonder- Songs In The Key Of Life (10x)
  74. The Doobie Brothers- Best Of The Doobies (10x)
  75. Patsy Cline- Greatest Hits (10x)
  76. Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers- Greatest Hits (10x)
  77. Def Leppard- Pyromania (10x)
  78. Bob Marley And The Wailers- Legend (10x)
  79. Various Artists- The Lion King Soundtrack (10x)
  80. Linkin Park- Hybrid Theory (10x)
  81. The Dixie Chicks- Fly (10x)
  82. Madonna- The Immaculate Collection (10x)
  83. Led Zeppelin- Led Zeppelin (10x)
  84. Billy Joel- The Stranger (10x)
  85. Madonna- Like A Virgin (10x)
  86. Van Halen- Van Halen (10x)
  87. No Doubt- Tragic Kingdom (10x)
  88. Lionel Richie- Can't Slow Down (10x)
  89. Nirvana- Nevermind (10x)
  90. 'N Sync- 'N Sync (10x)
  91. Van Halen- 1984 (10x)
  92. Britney Spears- Oops!...I Did It Again (10x)
  93. Garth Brooks- The Hits (10x)
  94. George Michael- Faith (10x)
  95. U2- The Joshua Tree (10x)
  96. Mariah Carey- Daydream (10x)
  97. The Beatles- 1 (10x)
  98. Mariah Carey- Music Box (10x)
  99. Green Day- Dookie (10x)
  100. MC Hammer- Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em (10x)

You can find the rest of the list at this site. Take it easy everyone. Peace.