Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Top Three Records Currently Rotating...

Yeah, I'm trying to spice it up a little bit. More sports blogs later. Ahem, in no particular order...

1. Corinne Bailey Rae - The Sea

Beautiful album by a soulful singer. I didn't think her self titled debut would be outdone, but it definitely is here. In a society where the term "maturity" gets used a little too freely, The Sea seems to show an older, more contemplative artist. The blend of slow paced songs such as "Love's on it's way" is juxtaposed greatly with faster tracks such as "Paris Nights/New York Mornings". The listener will be able to tell she's having fun with a record that seems to show a variety of ways to mourn and celebrate.

Tracks to enjoy: "I'd do it all again", "The Blackest Lilly", "The Sea"

2. Little Brother - Leftback

The dynamic trio of Phonte, Big Pooh and superproducer 9th Wonder comes to a culmination on this album. Reportedly the last album to be released by the group, Leftback is an impressive effort by the North Carolina natives. While no growth is seen, there isn't a general need for one. Little Brother's great beats, accompanied with the strong lyrics by Phonte give credit to the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". As a fan and follower for the past few years, it is certainly sad to see this group go, but the promise of solo works keeps me at ease.

Tracks to enjoy: "Curtain Call", "24", "Second Chances"

3.Laws - 4:57

Meet your future favorite rapper.

At least that's what Laws claims on this album. What Laws lacks in being a veteran presence, he makes up with by raw energy and a strong lyrical presence. While some of the songs contain a certain cliche aspect (Choruses seem to be lacking a bit in creativity), the Justice League member proves that he has the right idea to move forward as a presence in underground hip-hop. From trunk rattling bass to electronic vibes, this album seems to have it all and is generally put together very well.

Tracks to enjoy: "Colors", "Hold You Down", "Hustle"

Monday, April 12, 2010

Random Monday Thoughts

1. If I had to make a guess as to who the most consistent player in the Cubs bullpen would be, my first guess wouldn't be Carlos Marmol. Not complaining, just saying...

2. I sure miss playing video games. The minute I only have one job, I'm all over that shit.

3. Another thing I miss? Reading leisurely. You could give me my favorite book and I'd be in Heaven; tell me I have to read three chapters a day and I'll kick and scream until I lose my voice.

4. The New (and last) Little Brother album = pretty decent. Not on par with the Minstrel Show or even Getback, but it's definitely worth the purchase and/or listen.

5. Phil Mickelson, if he hasn't already, catapulted himself into top 10 golfers of all time with his Masters win over the weekend.

6. With the NFL draft fast approaching, I wonder exactly how the Redskins' acquisition of Donovan McNabb will effect everything. My prediction? Jimmy Klaussen is snatched up by the Raiders, and his brash cockiness effectively forces Jamarcus Russel to void his own contract, surrendering millions back to the Oakland Raiders. In an interview, Russell states that he felt it was only right to give back money that he stole.

7. Maybe it's because my beloved Sixers suck a massive chunk of ass, but it doesn't quite feel like the NBA playoffs are around the corner; but for the fun of it, here's my finals prediction: Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Phoenix Suns (You read that right folks), in 5 games.

Listen, it's 75 degrees out. Therefore 7 seems like a good number to stop on. A more concise and relevant post to follow in the next day or so (hopefully!).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why the Masters will be an ultimate failure for Tiger Woods if he does not win this tournament.

Don't worry, this won't take long at all.

Since the beginning of the year when Tiger Woods first crashed his SUV, since all of the tales of adultery and scandal, since his stint in rehab for his "sex addiction", and since his declaration to comeback at this years masters, the sports and gossip communities have been having a field day with the story that is Tiger Woods.

What should Tiger expect from not only his fans, but his colleagues as he comes back? Who does he owe an apology to? How should he act? Where's Elin? What's the status on his marriage?

Notice how none of these questions addressed what really matters this week?

I'm going to say this right now: if Tiger Woods doesn't win the masters (which, at this rate, it doesn't look like he will) this will be a failure of a tournament for him, no matter what anyone else says.

I say this confidently for a number of reasons which circulate around one main reason: the fact that the Masters is about golf; not infidelity, not fan reaction, it's about putting the ball in the hole. Turning away from the countless reports of mistresses and problems in his personal life, and acknowledging the fact that this is what the public wants to hear about, the point is, when Tiger Woods steps on to a golf course, his personal life does not matter. It shouldn't matter to him, it shouldn't matter to his colleagues, and it shouldn't matter to us.

Let's get one thing out of the way: by the end of his career, if not already, Tiger Woods will be regarded as the greatest golfer in the history of the sport. However, while I appreciate and understand the necessity for a player transcending his sport through endorsements, culture, and being a global icon (i.e 23), the foundation of the man's success is golf.

So today, as Tiger Woods, the Greatest of all time, aims to take a shot at that green jacket, keep in mind that whether he wins or loses, the affair never mattered. This is Tiger Woods losing the masters, Jordan missing the game winner, Montana running out of time...

It's the dominant force in a sport failing.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Maybe Next Year

As much as it hurts to say it, I'm going to spend this blog telling all you Cubs fans why we can all write this year off.

I know what you're thinking, "But Dan, it's only one game!" Well here's what I have in rebuttal. Yes, it's one game. One of the most important games of the season, and not only did we blow it, we showed a plethora of glaring weaknesses in the wake of a 16-5 shallacking to the Atlanta Braves.

The Cubs' rotation is in real trouble. It was bad enough watching ace-by-default Carlos Zambrano get yanked after 1 1/3 inning after giving up EIGHT runs, but it was even more cringe-inducing watching a young bullpen match that over the rest of the game. The only seemingly bright spot was Sean Marshall doing well on the mound, and even he got touched up for runs.

While Byrd looks like he will do well in this system, and while the Cubs offense does have some promise, they still show the inability to manufacture runs at will as they did in 2008. 5 Runs isn't too bad on an average day, but when you're playing from behind, it's hard to watch Alfonso Soriano get back into the groove at swinging at anything thrown in the direction of home plate. The bright spots of Aramis Rameriez showing that he is doing just fine coming off an injury plagued 2009 campaign, along with Fukudome showing the benefits of working with new hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, was overshadowed by a lousy pitching performance and an offense that was effective for two out of the seven innings.

Let's not kid ourselves, we know how these seasons go. We're Cubs fans. Whether or not we won this first game wasn't the important part; the importance comes in the fight we put up, and I saw little. Zambrano said he wanted to watch his temper, but after that outing, I wanted to see him choking the life out of a gatorade cooler in the dugout.

It's just proof that getting Milton Bradley out of Chicago was only the first step in solving the puzzle which is the Chicago Cubs. Better arms are needed, and if they don't make a trade, I don't even see them competing for the NL central, especially considering how St. Louis (those bastards) opened up the season.

Just remember kids: yes, there are 162 games in a baseball season. There's room for improvement and I don't expect the Cubs to lose every game like this, nor do I expect them to show no life for the remainder of the season. But I will say this, as ridiculous as it sounds:

It's never too early for the Cubs to start panicking.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


And what better way to usher in the new season than with a Sunday Night Baseball match up on ESPN of the New York Yankees going up to Fenway Park to challenge their bitter rivals the Boston Red Sox. While this match up makes all baseball fans salivate, and while my nose will be buried in the television set during this classic match up, my mind wanders to the NL Central to my beloved Cubs and their expectations for the 2010 season.

As an avid Cubs fan, you can assume that my anxiousness for the season to start is bittersweet: seeing as how they haven't won a World Series in over a century, the anticipation is lukewarm for success. However, there is something about this time of've got your Final Four, you've got your NFL draft, you've got your NBA playoffs, you've got your Masters, you've got your first've got EVERYTHING.

I've had my nose in all things Cubs. Ask me what's going on with other teams and I wouldn't dare speak on it because I don't want to sound like a moron. However the general consensus is that the Cubs will be lucky to come in 3rd in the NL Central. Now, while it pains me to say this, I can openly admit that the Cardinals seem to be the team to beat in the division; but don't count the Cubs out just yet; Carlos Marmol's performance this year in the closer spot is directly reflective of the way this season will turn out. Yes our bullpen is young, but if Marmol can effectively close games out like he has the capability to do, I feel as though the Cubs' offense can lead us to 88-90 wins. They are (For the most part) healthy and the starting rotation is, while not stellar, solid. Randy Wells is set to have an outstanding year and in my opinion, become the ace of the team.

Are there any superstars left on this team? If Soriano can return to form (Rangers form) and Derek Lee can continue to be the consistent hitter they need in the 3 spot, I feel as though the Cubs can compete for the NL lead in runs scored this year, and Lou Pinella reiterates this sentiment, knowing that the key to fighting for a playoff spot lies in the teams ability to manufacture runs.

This is going to be a long season. These aren't your '08 Cubs, and if this team has a shot, it's going to be in its physicality and its relentless hustle.

The city of Chicago has been waiting. Expectations are low, and now it the perfect time to surprise the baseball world. The realist in me predicts the Cubs will miss the playoffs, the optimist predicts a wild card birth and possibly a trip to the NL Championship series.

The miraclist in me...well, I won't even say it...

Enjoy the season everyone. Play ball.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Raiders Leaders in Efforts to Acquire Mcnabb

Let me just say, while most Raiders fans may believe that this is the right move to make, I do not.

Unless of course we can convince one of top 5 QB's in the league to sign an extension with literally the worst team of the last 8 years, this move is just another sad attempt to rejuvenate a team while effectively OVERspending (One of Al Davis' trademark moves in the past 20 years).

The problem lies in McNabb's outlandish contract that has scared off pretty much every other team in the market for the Eagles' QB, and rightfully so. Due a roster bonus and a large annual salary, The Raiders would have to lock him up with at least a 2-3 year extension in order for this deal to make any sense whatsoever.

Yes, McNabb could bring the kind of winning attitude to one of the saddest and most dysfunctional teams. Yes, he could potentially make this team a playoff contender in a shaky AFC West; however this trade is just a quick fix. Al Davis falls in love with veteran QBS (see: Rich Gannon) and while they are more than competent and able to lead a team better than Jamarcus Russell, there is also a very energetic Bruce Gradkowski who won over the locker room last year.

True, Russell has so far been nothing but arguably the biggest draft bust of all time. However, the kid is still very young and has a remote chance of becoming something in the NFL. If he needs more time, let him sit on the bench a little while longer and watch Gradkowski. Obviously McNabb is a more ideal QB than Gradkowski, but if the idea is to teach Russell, Gradkowski could get the job done, and much much cheaper.

So far, no deal is even in place, but all the pieces are there. Let's just hope for the sake of the Raiders, they are able to realize that an extension is necessary in order to make anything out of this.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Elite 8 Wrap-Up and Final Four Predictions

Ok ok, so that didn't go so well.

I don't know what stings more: the fact that my predictions were ridiculously terrible, or the fact that the only game I correctly picked was Duke. However, as they say at the podium, it is what it is and it's time to move on, once again taking it one day at a time and giving it 110%.

I hate Duke. Ok so ANYWAYS, Let's move on. The Final Four, despite the fact that those white collar wankers from Durham are in it, promises to be one of the most exciting ones in recent history.

No 1 Duke vs. No 2 West Virginia

Ok, so of course Duke is playing very well. Their defense is always superb under Coach K and when they get hot from outside, it's very hard to beat them. However from this point on, I will not pick them from this point on, on principle alone. So let me give you some reasons I believe West Virginia will pull this one out. They are resilient. West Virginia doesn't win pretty, and I don't expect it to be any different in this game. If they want to win the game, they're going to have to crash the boards and play smart. With Mazzulla playing the ball of his life, I don't expect the Mountaineers to back down now, look for WVU in a close battle.

No. 5 Michigan State vs. No. 5 Butler

Now THIS is the game I've been waiting for. The battle of the two improbables. Tom Izzo led MSU heads into this game having no business being in the Final Four, however they define the blue collar team. They're tough defense and never say die attitude has gotten them into the final rounds as their star guard sits on the bench with injuries. However they're headed to Indianapolis: Butler's territory and facing a smart team that is on the nation's largest winning streak and riding a wave of confidence that I believe no one can alter.

West Virginia vs. Butler. Your National Championship game. Bow to me.

Stay tuned for baseball talk next post!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What We're learning (or should be learning) as we finalize the Elite 8.

The nets are soon to be cut down, and each team is scrapping for glory. In one of the most thrilling NCAA tournaments in history, there seems to be some sense of normalcy as we head into the Elite 8.

In a tournament full of upsets, the playing field seems to be leveling off. The lower seeds have flaked off, albeit valiantly (Pesky 9th seeded UNI was disposed of by the much more experienced Michigan State University), and the dominant 1 seeds in Duke and Kentucky have impressively claimed their spots as front runners in the competition.

*On a side note, I'd just like to remind everyone that Duke will always have a special place in my heart...the place in which all of my unadulterated rage and hate comes from.

ANYWAYS, let's break down the matchups.

No. 5 Michigan State vs No. 6 Tennessee
Let's face it, MSU is experienced and has the coaching advantage in being led by Tom Izzo. However as the tournament progresses, the loss of Kalin Lucas will prove more and more costly. Granted, reserve guard Korie Lucious has been filling the role more than satisfactorily, but the key to competing for a National Championship lies in depth, and I believe that a hungry and very athletic Tennessee squad will be able to take advantage of that aspect of the game. Look for the Vols to pull out a tough victory.

No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 2 West Virginia

In my opinion, the most intriguing and possibly the most entertaining game will be the Kentucky John Walls vs. West Virginia. I look for John Wall to take advantage of the mismatch against counterpart Joe Mazzulla. While West Virginia has shown itself to be one of the 2 seeds who actually deserved it (I'm looking at you Nova), I just believe them to be completely outmatched in this game. At the beginning of the tournament, I was convinced that Kentucky's lack of experience would ultimately be their downfall; but in a tournament full of upsets, and high seeds dropping left and right, I see Kentucky riding their pure athleticism all the way to the championship round. Kentucky wins this one big.

No. 1 Duke vs. No 3 Baylor

Now that I've given Kentucky WVU the props they deserve as being the most intriguing match up, let me move on to the game that I'll be paying most attention to. I can be fair and say that I fully expect Duke to win this game, and I'm man enough to admit that that admission fills my gut with so much agony that I'm coughing blood on the keyboard as I type. The truth is, Duke's outside shooting mixed with their slightly improved inside game makes them a dangerous team. While Baylor used consistent runs to advance against St. Mary's, they haven't seen a defensive unit like Duke's. Having said that, Baylor does have Duke beat in one category: lack of blatant homosexuality. But still, Duke wins.

No. 2 Kansas State vs. No 5 Butler

Hey, who would have thought that out of the two Kansas based programs, Kstate would be the one considered a favorite to make the final four? I'm not even going to sugar coat this: Kansas State is going to dominate this game riding the sheer aggression of Frank Martin alone. In order to stop Butler runs, Martin plans to spew regurgitated bat blood on his players. The trend will work, because even though the Bulldogs have effectively shed that "mid-major" label, and are a very talented team on both sides of the ball, I see Kansas State much like I do Kentucky in the Elite 8: far too athletic to lose this match up. However I'm not completely sold on this pick; Butler has proved round after round that it is a solid basketball team. Look for Kstate in a close one.

In closing, Duke sucks. Everyone enjoy the games!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The NFL's New Overtime Extravaganza!

Yesterday, NFL Owners voted 28-4 in favor of changing the overtime rules (in the postseason only). In such an instance:

-The team who receives the ball first can win the game with an opening drive touchdown.

-If the team who receives the ball first scores a field goal, the opposing team will get the ball as well and have an opportunity to either tie it with a field goal of their own (in which case, repeat the first step), or win it with a touchdown. After each team has had one possession, the game reverts back to the old overtime rules, with the next team scoring being declared the winner.

-Any defensive score results in the end of the game.

I'm indifferent. I don't know what I feel about this rule. Statistics show that first possession only seems to matter in the regular season, and since this isn't going to be implemented in the regular season, I guess I'm just sort of waiting the first few postseason overtimes to see how it goes down.

Reform in the NFL is needed and inevitable at times. This rule change came as a surprise to a lot of people, so we're just going to have to buckle down and hope that the whole two page document was worth it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Why ESPN is slowly drifting towards MTVism.

I'm at a crossroads with my love for ESPN.

Yesterday, as I watched a five minute interview with Tiger Woods, uncovering absolutely no new relevant information, I rolled my eyes and waited until it was finished so that I could hear more about March Madness (which happens to be one of the best in tournament history by the way). However much to my chagrin (notice I didn't say surprise), I found myself watching countless minutes of instant reaction and analysis to the five minute interview. I believe after about 15 minutes, I just kept watching to see how long they could talk about things we already knew. I think the low point was hit when I heard them discussing his body language to see if he was lying when answering any questions.

Is this what we've come to? Breaking down every twitch, shifting glance, and word from a sports megastar? For reasons that go beyond the golf course? Need I remind people that he gets paid to be a golfer? There is no leaderboard for best husband or dad out there, and the last time I checked, ESPN was a sports network, not the medium and moral compass for all of our stars.

Granted, the news was shocking. If this had been Dennis Rodman, Chad Ochocinco, or any other flamboyant athlete, I think it might have gotten about a 20 second clip in a 2am Sportscenter broadcast; however this is Tiger Woods: the greatest golfer that ever lived, and quite arguably the most reserved and sheltered athlete of all time. Come to find out he was sheltered for good reason! Granted, this news was interesting. Any time we have a star that is looked up to by millions of children, and respected by a countless number of media, colleagues, and sports fans across the world, we expect a certain character, and when we don't get that character, we tend to lose our minds a little bit.

The point is, ESPN, is this news worthy of airtime? Of course. Is this news worthy of so much airtime? I think not. As reporters it's your job to cover the stories, and in a down week or so with not many relevant games going on, I might even turn the other cheek. But damn it, Northern Iowa just beat #1 overall ranked Kansas, we're in the midst of one of the most compelling college tournaments of all time, and you're analyzing eye movement on a golfer?

I don't think I'm alone when I say this: although Tiger is a public figure and his life off the course is important to the average fan, it isn't everything. Cover it if you must, but please remember that there's much going on in March. The NCAA tourney is captivating the nation, the NBA season is coming to a close, and the MLB season is about to start up. Let's focus on Tiger at Augusta when Tiger comes back. Until then, give the other athletes the respect they deserve.