Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wimbledon Men's Semi-Final Preview

Novak Djokovic vs. Jo-Wilifried Tsonga

Just about everyone expected this match to be Djokovic vs Roger Federer, but Tsonga had other plans.  Featuring a more mature game with a very powerful serve, Tsonga has put the tennis world on notice that he has arrived.  Tsonga is the upstart of this year's Wimbledon, but after taking Roger Federer to five grueling sets, does he have enough endurance and strength to take on one of the most athletic and best-conditioned athletes in tennis?

In Tsonga's favor is his career record (5-2) against Djokovic.  All of those matches have been played on hard court surfaces. However, 2011 has been the Year of Novak, and his relatively easy procession through Wimbledon has been evidence of that.  If he does defeat Tsonga, he will be the first player not named Roger or Rafa to be ranked World #1 since 2004.  Can he handle the pressure?

My Prediction: Djokovic in 4 sets

Andy Murray vs. Rafael Nadal

Murray is clearly the crowd favorite as he seeks to win his first Grand Slam tournament (and the first for a British national in 75 years).  Nadal has won two of the past three Wimbledon tournaments (the one he didn't win, he was absent due to injury), and is coming off a French Open win.

Murray has begun to show more aggressiveness with his serving and shot selection in recent matches, and he will need that against a hard-charging, quick athlete in Nadal.  One of Murray's main problems in beating the top tennis players is that he tends to be too passive and reactive when he should try and take control of individual points.

The injury to Nadal's foot didn't seem to bother him in the quarterfinals, but he will be expected to take another local pain injection prior to the match.  If Murray wins the first set and takes Nadal to five sets, I think he has a chance.  However, I fully expect the Spaniard to exhibit the kind of mental and physical toughness he is renowned for and show his true champion's heart.

My Prediction: Nadal in 5 sets

Photo by Clive Brunskill, Getty Images Europe

Fantasy Sports Feeling Lockout Pressure

With Fantasy Football participation numbers unknown exactly (some estimate greater than 24 million annually), it is difficult to get a firm handle on the amount of impact that the NFL lockout has made on the upcoming Fantasy Football season.

While legacy/dynasty and keeper leagues are still maneuvering via trades and rookie drafts, the average fantasy player is in limbo as to what will happen.

Because of the lockout, there are numerous free agents that are available in the NFL. Some prominent fantasy names include Matt Hasselbeck, Marc Bulger, Pierre Thomas, Mike Tolbert, Ronnie Brown, Vincent Jackson, Randy Moss, and Sidney Rice.

These names could all have dramatic impact on your fantasy team if they are signed by a new team that utilizes them well. Tolbert did well for me last year as a backup in San Diego.

However, one caveat to all this is that if a labor agreement is signed late into the off-season, the NFL may decide to force all these free agents to stay with their current teams for one year minimum.

That could dramatically affect production for different players, such as Marc Bulger.  As a backup for the Baltimore Ravens, he has little chance to see the field.  If he signs with a team like the Arizona Cardinals, he could be a top 10 QB this year.  Other examples abound throughout the league.

One other way in which Fantasy may be affected is in overall attention paid to the NFL.  Many pundits point to the rise of Fantasy Football as a major reason why the NFL has grown in popularity over the past decade to the point where it is overwhelmingly the most popular sport in America.

Time will tell, but eager fantasy owners (like myself) are anxious to get the labor dispute settled so that OUR season can start.

NBA Lockout Looms, Long Labor Struggle Ahead

There are several reasons why it appears that the coming lockout for the NBA will be a long one, much longer than the current NFL lockout.

1. The current CBA (collective bargaining agreement) between the owners and the players' association is far more heavily weighted towards players than any other major sport in America.

% League Revenues
MLB: 48% Players
NFL: 48% Players (current proposal)
NBA: 57% Players (in CBA that is expiring)

2.  There is not enough revenue sharing in the league to protect smaller-market teams.  Witness the recent tv contracts signed by the LA Lakers ($3 billion/20 year deal with Time Warner Cable), Portland Trailblazers ($120 million/10 year tv contract in 2007), and Houston Rockets (splitting $1 billion revenues with Houston Astros for Comcast deal).

When the NHL signed it's latest CBA, they made provisions for revenue sharing for its smaller markets, those that ranked in the bottom half of league revenues.

MLB has its own CBA revenue sharing plan, with $433 million redistributed to smaller market teams last year.

The NFL also has a form of revenue sharing among its teams, but as the league is highly secretive on the financial details of its individual franchises, exact numbers are unknown. There hasn't been any direct evidence that any of the NFL franchises are in any financial difficulty. Most of their issues regarding spending involves tight-fisted owners.

Here's a breakdown of NBA franchise Operating Profits, as estimated by Forbes.

For the data listed in the above graph, go here

Novak Djokovic - One Day Away From Being On Top

On Friday at Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic, with a victory over Jo-Wilifried Tsonga in the semi-finals, can finally vault over Rafael Nadal to become the #1 ranked player in Men's Tennis.

It's a testimony to how good Djokovic has been over the last few years that he can overtake a player who has won three out of the last five Grand Slam Tournaments and who could still win Wimbledon this year.  Djokovic has been ranked #3 behind Nadal and Federer since 2007, but his consistent play in the past year has been a major reason why he finally vaulted Federer earlier this year to gain the #2 spot, and why he is so close to overtaking Nadal now.

Djokovic's winning streak of 41 straight matches to open the 2011 season before finally losing in the French Open Semi's to Federer was the talk of tennis and the sports world.  During that time, he has won seven ATP titles, already besting his single-season best of five titles won in 2007 and 2009 with several tournaments still to play this season.  He has also not lost a Final that he has participated in all year.  

In his career, Djokovich has won two Australian Opens and appeared in the Finals of two US Opens, both hard court tournaments.  While he has never appeared in a final at either the French Open or Wimbledon, being ousted in the semi's a handful of times in both events, Djokovich is feeling highly confident of his chances:
"I feel good physically and mentally," said Djokovic before the tournament started. "I feel I have the strongest approach to Wimbledon that I ever had because of the confidence that I have, and because the last six months have been the best six months of my career."
Why has Djokovic been so dominant this year? Some would point to a maturity that he seems to have finally gained.  I had a hard time liking him a few years ago simply because of some of the things he said off the court, and the way his team acts during matches at times.  Those issues have largely disappeared this year, however, and Djokovic seems far more focused and prepared than he ever has.

Another factor has been a nutrition change.  Djokovic was found to be gluten-sensitive at the end of 2010, and eliminated glutens from his diet at that time.  Between his diet and his subsequent improved conditioning, Djokovic looks to be replacing Federer as Nadal's chief rival.

Reggie Bush Isn't Going to Send the Heisman Trophy Back

Sports by Brooks is reporting today that ex-Heisman Trophy recipient Reggie Bush has yet to return the trophy to the Heisman Trust.

It was on Sept. 14, 2010 that Bush released a statement in which he indicated he was forfeiting the Award. Many news outlets at the time assumed he was returning the trophy and reported as such.  The statement followed weeks of speculation surrounding the Heisman Trophy winner and whether the Trust would strip him of the award after USC's 2004 season (the one for which Bush won the Heisman) was stricken from the record books.  Bush ended the speculation when he announced he was voluntarily forfeiting his Heisman Winner title.

While Bush has never admitted his guilt, NCAA investigators at that time had uncovered substantial proof that Bush and his parents had received almost $300,000 in illegal benefits while Bush was a star running back at USC. These findings were a large reason why the NCAA heavily penalized the program in 2010, prohibiting it from attending Bowl games for two years, reducing scholarships to the football team by 10 for three years, and stripped its 2004 National Title that Bush helped them to win.

After those penalties were assessed to USC, the nation turned its eyes to what would happen to Reggie Bush, the chief violator in this matter. Bush was being sued by agent Lloyd Lake, the man who had given Bush and his family the $300,000. This whole matter may never have come to light if Bush hadn't opted to sign with a different agent, triggering Lake's lawsuit.

Sports By Brooks also confirms that Bush has since paid back the $300,000 he owed to Lake. Of course, however, that's still not an admission of guilt.

One has to speculate, now that this issue has returned to the public eye, will Bush be shamed into actually returning the troph?. I doubt that the Heisman Trust will pursue any legal action to get it back, as they have remained very quiet and private during the past year in regards to this matter.

It won't surprise me or anyone else if the Heisman is never returned.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

American Defender Onyewu Demoted in Europe

Oguchi Onyewu, former star defenseman from AC Milan and the American National Team, has been sent (in a FREE trade) to Sporting Lisbon, a Portugese team.

It's been a difficult past few years for Onyewu, who ruptured his patellar tendon in 2009 and has struggled to regain the form he showed prior to that. He had been a mainstay for the U.S. National Team but has had difficulty keeping up with quicker, more nimble opponents.

Here's hoping that Oguchi can help Sporting Lisbon regain the winning ways it used to enjoy.

Cute Moment: Juan Martin del Potro and the Ballboy at Wimbledon

In his match against Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon earlier this week, Juan Martin del Potro had a funny moment teasing one of the ballboys.

Jaromir Jagr Offered Contract by Penguins for Comeback

In a somewhat surprising move, the Pittsburgh Penguins culminated several days of rumors by offering former forward Jaromir Jagr a one-year contract worth $2 million.

Jagr, 39, a former 1990 draft pick by the Penguins, led the Penguins to two Stanley Cup Championships. He has currently been playing in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League for the past 3 years.

Rather than an attempt to add a high-quality player to the Penguins team, this seems like more of an insurance policy against future loss of offensive stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins were one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference before injuries forced both to miss the rest of the season.

Crosby was the victim of two hard head shots in the first week of January, resulting in serious concussion symptoms that lasted the rest of the season and kept him off the ice.

Malkin tore his ACL and MCL a short time later, leaving the Penguins without any solid scorers. Crosby missed half of the season, but remained the team's points leader for the entire season with 66 points in 41 games.

Will Jagr sign with Pittsburgh? I would imagine he will. Finishing his career in the city where it started should be appealing, and another season in the NHL would be very attractive as well.

Wimbledon Quarterfinal Results

Roger Federer was upset today at Wimbledon by Frenchmen Jo-Wilifried Tsonga. In a dramatic 5 set match, Federer jumped ahead 2 sets to none before having his game fall apart and allowing Tsonga to take all three of the remaining sets 6-4.

It seems an improbable end to Federer's run through Wimbledon this year, after showing some great form for the past few months. It was also the first time in a Grand Slam tournament that he lost the match after going up 2 sets to none (career 178-0).

Novak Djokovich was able to overcome a first set loss to Bernard Tomic before he rallied for 3 straight set victories.

Andy Murray easily defeated his opponent, unseeded Felicano Lopez in 3 straight sets.

Rafael Nadal was in fine form today and was able to defeat Mardy Fish 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. Nadal was never in really any trouble today, and is playing far better in this Wimbledon than he did at the French Open.

Semi-Final Matchups: Nadal vs. Murray and Djokovich vs. Tsonga

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Awesome Fox Sports Video With Ed Hochuli on NFL Referees

<a href='' target='_new' title='Hochuli explains all' >Video: Hochuli explains all</a>

Analysis of USA-North Korea: Women's World Cup

There is an excellent analysis of today's group play match against North Korea by Grant Wahl, Sports Illustrated's Soccer Writer (the absolute best American soccer commentator we have).

One can read that here.

For a more amusing take on an analysis of the ESPN analysts, go here.

More on the American Women's team is coming in the next few days.

Photo: Dave Bergman/SI

MLB To Attempt Hostile Takeover of Dodgers??

Despite Los Angeles Dodgers' owner Frank McCourt's best efforts to stave off financial ruin by holding onto the Dodgers, MLB and Commissioner Bud Selig have an Ace up their sleeve.

When the Dodgers organization filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy yesterday, that put in motion the mother of all save opportunities for one of baseball's most historic franchises.

In the MLB bylaws, there is a provision that if a team declares bankruptcy, MLB has the opportunity to come in and seize the team (seems like a reasonable provision).  Last year, the Texas Rangers filed for bankruptcy, but that was a relatively quick process and there was an immediate sale of the team.

McCourt is trying desperately to save his ownership of the Dodgers, but he may have forced MLB's hand here.  One would wonder if it came to a legal battle, would MLB go that far?

Wimbledon Men's Quarterfinal Matches

On Wednesday, the final 8 players will compete in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. Preview:

#1 Rafael Nadal vs. #10 Mardy Fish - Nadal has a career record of 5-0 against Fish, who despite the decent year he's had and the rise in rankings he's seen, shouldn't pose much of a problem for Nadal.  The only thing that can stop Nadal is if he re-injures the foot.

#4 Andy Murray vs. Feliciano Lopez - Ranked 44th in the World, Lopez defeated Andy Roddick earlier in the tournament, setting up a match with the overwhelming fan favorite, Andy Murray.  Lopez just came off a very long 5 set match, and he has never beaten Murray in four chances, so I'd expect Murray to cruise in this match.

#3 Roger Federer vs #12 Jo-Wilifried Tsonga - I have picked Federer to be the last man standing, so I'm counting on him to run through Tsonga.  However, Tsonga has beaten Federer before (Federer leads 4-1 in head to head matches), and he has been playing very well on grass this year.  He defeated Nadal in the Queen's Tournament, and lost in the final to Murray.

#2 Novak Djokovic vs Bernard Tomic - Despite the fact that they haven't played each other in an official ATP match, they know each other quite well thanks to over a dozen hitting sessions over the past few years.  At 18 years old, Tomic is the youngest player since Boris Becker in 1986 to reach the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.  All signs point to Djokovic demolishing young Tomic, but I'm hoping he gives him a decent match.

American Women Defeat North Korea at the World Cup

The United States Women's Soccer Team defeated North Korea earlier today 2-0.

After ending the first half scoreless, the Americans got on the board in the 54th minute with a goal by Lauren Cheney (below in pic).  Another goal was added in the 76th minute by Rachel Buehler.

The next game for the U.S. team in group play will be on Saturday.  Broadcast on ESPN, coverage will start 11:30 a.m. EST.

Nadal's Foot NOT Broken, Will Continue to Play

Rafael Nadal went to a London hospital last night to have the MRI exam, and the results today came back showing nothing seriously wrong with his foot.  He will be able to continue to play.

Of course, watch how he does with that foot the rest of the tournament and year.  Nadal has become a bit more injury prone over the last few years, and we'll have to watch and see how the foot holds up once hardcourt season starts for him.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dodgers Pummel Twins; McCourt Better Watch It Doesn't Happen To Him

I wouldn't normally report on one single MLB game, but I thought tonight's Los Angeles Dodgers beatdown of the Twins was a bit symbolic. Could they have been picturing their owner's face on the ball itself?

15 runs on 25 hits was one of the best offensive games the Dodgers had played all year.  It comes on a day when their owner, Frank McCourt, had the Dodgers file for bankruptcy as an organization.

In a legal carnival that has lasted for months, McCourt has tried in every possible way to retain majority control of the once-proud franchise despite the fact that he can not finance the organization anymore.  He has spent almost all his money in a highly lavish lifestyle that he can no longer maintain, especially now that his soon-to-be ex-wife will be taking much of what he has left.

Because of his non-existent funds and greatly reduced income from ticket sales since this whole fiasco began, he can't meet the Dodgers' payroll.  He's been lucky to so far, but every month the players and employees have to wonder if they're going to get paid.  Millions are owed to players who have been traded or released. Even Vin Scully, Hall of Fame legendary announcer working for the Dodgers, is owed over a million dollars in salary.

The Dodgers are one of the most proud and storied franchises in the history of MLB.  Here's hoping this bum gets kicked out of the building soon and they change the locks.

Nadal May Have Broken Foot, Getting MRI Before Quarterfinal Match

Rafael Nadal was able to defeat Juan Martin Del Potro today in a fiercely contested match 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4.

However, late in the first set, Nadal appeared to hurt his foot during a rally and needed a lengthy medical timeout to deal with the issue.
"I felt something that like crushed there in the back of the foot outside," Nadal said. "I seriously didn't know, at that moment (in) the match, I didn't know if I will have the chance to continue playing."
During the timeout, Nadal had his foot taped but continued to show signs of pain for the rest of the set, limping at the start of each point.  Once he had won that first set, he returned to the trainer's room to have the foot more heavily taped and seemed to do better with it afterwards.

 Nadal stated afterwards that he was planning on getting an MRI very soon to assess the damage.

Wimbledon Day 8, Round 4

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovich both advanced to the quarterfinals today at Wimbledon with easy straight set wins over their opponents.

Roger Federer had a harder time of it today as he lost his first set of the tournament but ultimately won 6-7, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to also advance to the quarterfinals.

Rafael Nadal is still currently in action in what has been a fairly difficult match against Del Potro.  He has also lost a set today, but is currently up 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, 0-1.

Both Williams sisters were eliminated today in 4th round action in straight sets. Not only did that end both women's attempt at a comeback, but also probably guaranteed poor ratings for the rest of the Wimbledon women's coverage.

Terrell Owens tears ACL, His 2011 NFL Season in Jeopardy

A report came out over the weekend that NFL Free Agent Terrell Owens has recently had surgery to repair a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). Owens was apparently injured at some point in the off-season, but there are no confirmed reports as to how.

This past season Owens played for the Cinncinnati Bengals on a one-year contract. He had 72 receptions for 982 yards and 9 TDs. Pretty respectable numbers for a guy who was in his 15th season in the NFL.

However, off-the-field attitude issues (that sometimes spill onto the field), have made it difficult in recent years to get signed. He has managed consecutive one-year contracts with losing teams Buffalo and Cinncinati, seemingly not getting offers from any winning franchises.

Owens, with his history of overcoming injury (remember the Eagles Super Bowl year), could conceivably come back in time to help a playoff contender, if a team wanted to roll the dice on a 37 year old with a major attitude and coming off of ACL surgery.

Despite the bad reputation, Terrell Owens is no doubt a future Hall of Famer. Currently ranking 2nd in career receiving yards, tied for 2nd (with Randy Moss) in career receiving TDs, and is 5th in career receptions (although he is one season away from jumping into 2nd place).

That's pretty significant considering that Jerry Rice's receiving records will likely never be broken.

Photo by Mark Zerof, US Presswire; Courtesy of USA Today

Sunday, June 26, 2011

NHL Realigning Teams After Addition of Winnipeg Jets

In a move that surprises few, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has proposed a realignment plan that would drastically alter the face of the NHL for the 2012-2013 season.

Bettman's new realignment plan was triggered by the move of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg to become the Jets. The new realignment plan would look something like this:

There are still two conferences, but now there would be only 4 divisions total instead of the current 6. Each conference would have two divisions, one division with 8 teams and one with 7 teams.

Specific team changes would include having the Red Wings and Blue Jackets move into the Eastern Conference. Playoff teams would be composed of the top 4 teams in each division.

This past season, the NHL was structured as follows:

Eastern Conference:
Atlantic Division (Flyers, Penguins, Rangers, Devils, Islanders)
Northeast Division (Bruins, Canadiens, Sabres, Maple Leafs, Senators)
Southeast Division (Capitals, Lightning, Hurricanes, Thrashers, Panthers)
Wetern Conference
Central Division - Red Wings, Predators, Blackhawks, Blues, Blue Jackets
Northwest Division - Canucks, Flames, Wild, Avalanche, Oilers
Pacific - Sharks, Ducks, Coyotes, Kings, and Stars

SI's Grant Wahl on USA Loss to Mexico

Here is Grant Wahl's take on the Gold Cup Championship game.

And here's a replay of that amazing goal by Mexico's Giovani Dos Santos.  Watching it over and over, it's clear that Howard HAD to try and make a play because his defense was just standing there.  Both Bocanegra and Jones had a chance to stop this goal and they were a step slow.

Wimbledon Day 7, Rest Day

Monday will kick off Round 4 action, with Nadal, Djokovich, Federer, and Murray all having scheduled matches.

So far most of the top 4 men have looked excellent in their earlier matches.  Nadal and Federer have yet to drop a set, Djokovich has dropped one, and Murray has dropped two in 3 matches.

 It doesn't look as if anyone else is playing well enough to take down one of these 4 before the semi-finals but obviously Murray would seem to be the most vulnerable and is playing Richard Gasquet on Monday, who always plays him very tough.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mexico Swarms Over United States to Win Gold Cup

Tonight in Pasadena, California, Mexico defeated the United States 4-2 in a game that was closely contested til the final 15 minutes.

Over and over, Mexico seemed to get the ball ahead down low where a few choice passes set up nice shots on goal.  The United States defense frequently seemed a step or two slow and not aggressive enough to counter the quicker Mexicans.

Pablo Barrera scored twice for the Mexican squad, with Andres Guardado and Giovani Dos Santos contributing a goal each.

For the Americans, both Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan scored.

Overall, it was the best game played by the Americans from start to finish all tournament, but they were no match for the more skillful and quick Mexicans.

One match note: Freddy Adu started for the US squad and played extremely well out at right winger, getting the assists on both goals.

FIFA Women's World Cup

The FIFA Women's World Cup begins tomorrow in Germany, and SportingJules will be covering the United States Women's team as they attempt to win their third Cup since 1999.

While Germany is the favorite in this tournament (having won the last two World Cups and being the home team this time around), the United States is still the #1 ranked women's team in the world. They've beaten this Germany team three times in the past 2 years, and have built their team with a lot of young, strong, athletic talent.

USA vs. North Korea Tuesday, June 28 12:15 p.m. EST ESPN

Manning Brothers At It Again

Wimbledon Day 6, Round 3

With expected victories by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the books today, and Djokovich up in sets 2-1, the story of the day has been teenage Australian player Bernard Tomic defeating 5th seeded Robin Soderling today in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 to reach the Wimbledon Quarterfinals.

Tomic has been the hope of the Australian tennis public for a few years now, after winning both the 2008 Australian Open Jr Title and the 2009 US Open Junior title.  Since then, his career has been stalled, unable to win more than one match at any Grand Slam Senior Tournament.

This year, Tomic has shown great progress.  He made the third round of the Australian Open but was defeated by #1 player Rafael Nadal.  Today he showed again why Australia thinks he follow Leyton Hewitt as the next big Australian tennis star.

Bernard Tomic, photo courtesy of

USA vs Mexico - Tonight!

For the 5th time since 1991, the Gold Cup Championship game will be between the United States and Mexico.  Overall, Mexico has a 3-1 record in these games, outscoring America 10-2 over that span.  In fact, the last time these two team met in the Gold Cup Final in 2009, Mexico dominated the Americans 5-0.

However, let's remember the circumstances of how that drubbing came about.  America had just come off a sensational run through the Confederations Cup in South Africa.  An upset over the #1 ranked Spain team, and a close game with Brazil in the final where the United States took a 2-0 lead into the half, only to lose 3-2.

Coach Bradley decided to rest many of his best players. Donovan, Dempsey, Howard, and many other key players in the Confederations Cup didn't play in the Gold Cup.  In the Gold Cup Championship game, the Americans were simply outgunned by a good Mexican squad.

Tonight the matchup would seem to favor the Mexicans.  The Mexicans are led by their young, international superstar, Javier Hernandez (known as Chicharito, aka "little pea"), who already has 7 goals in this tournament.  The game is being played in the Rose Bowl, in Pasadena, California and presumably will have the stands filled with mostly Mexican fans.

However, history has shown that this American squad seems to prefer the underdog role, and if they can find it in them to recapture that magic of 2009 in South Africa, we should see quite a game tonight.

**Note: The game can only be seen on the Fox Soccer Channel

Misleading Sports Writing by ESPN Again

I consider myself a well-informed Sports fan who reads from a lot of different sources.  For years, ESPN has been my go-to for instant analysis of a lot of big sporting events.  However, in recent months I'm beginning to rely on them less and less.

Today there was another example of why that is.  On their main news page of, there is an article link entitled: "Rothlisberger: Broken foot may need surgery".

Of course, I'm shocked as a football fan that his foot, injured last year, would require surgery so late in the year before football activities (hopefully) start again.

However, when you actually read the article (and the title of the article itself is Ben Rothlisberger: Surgery an Option"), Big Ben talks about how he's had all this time to rest the foot and it's doing great:
"It's doing really good. It's healed up," he said. "Obviously, it helps when I'm not cutting and planting and doing all of these different activities. It's really come a long way. I haven't had too many problems with it recently."
I've seen this many times before with ESPN's front page.  It's misleading, and it's poor journalistic integrity.  Of course, an article that says "Rothlisberger's foot doing great; surgery probably not needed" won't get as many hits, and that hurts the writer.  

Friday, June 24, 2011

Winnipeg Set To Regain Old Team Name

Looks like the old Winnipeg Jets are back in town, as if nothing had happened.

However, a lot HAS happened.  In 1996, the franchise that was the Winnipeg Jets packed up and left the country, moving to Phoenix and renaming themselves the Coyotes.

Prior to that, Winnipeg found it difficult to support an NHL franchise in a time when NHL's operating costs were skyrocketing.  Expansion in the United States drove up player salaries and the exchange rate put Canada at a disadvantage.  They had to pay American salaries, but collect revenue in Canadian money (when the exchange rate was $1.40 Canadian for every American dollar). Winnipeg was also the second smallest market in the NHL at the time.

The financial situation is much different now for Winnipeg.  First of all, the last collective bargaining agreement in the NHL established a salary cap, with salaries based on league revenues to keep costs under control.  And, perhaps more importantly, the American Dollar is now less valuable than the Canadian (roughly 1 American Dollar for every 0.94 Canadian).

Winnipeg was able to name their team the Jets because the NHL owns the rights to the Phoenix Coyotes and the Jets name itself.  They've made it known that they'd have no objection to Winnipeg taking the name back.

Welcome back to the NHL, Winnipeg Jets!!

Wimbledon Day 5, Round 2 wraps and Round 3 starts

Today marked the first major men's upset of the Tournament, with #8 seed Andy Roddick getting ousted in straight sets (6-7,6-7,4-6) by unseeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

In other action, upstart American youngster Ryan Hamilton was unable to capture yesterday's magic against David Ferrer.  Starting the day up 2 sets to 1, Ferrer quickly took control of the match and won in 5 sets.

Andy Murray successfully defeated his Third Round opponent in 4 sets, while Rafael Nadal won the first set of his match before it was called for darkness.

Saturday is a HUGE day in Men's tennis at Wimbledon.  Nadal needs to finish his match, and we have the luxury of watching Federer and then Djokovich play on Center Court.  And yes, Serena is playing tomorrow as well.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Australian Soccer Player Tossed for Genitalia Piercing

A very weird and unique situation played out in Australia recently where a young soccer player was given a red card for sporting a genitalia piercing.

Aaron Eccleston, Captain of the Old Hill Wanderers, a club team in Australia, was injured by a ball to the groin and taken off the field.  Prior to his return, the head official somehow learned of the man's piercing and, when Eccleston came back onto the field, the official immediately yellow-carded him for unauthorized return to the field.  Then he ordered him into the dressing room to show him the illegal jewelry.  Once seeing it, the referee awards Eccleston a red card and booted him out of the game.

It is illegal for a player to wear jewelry on the field, but who would want to wear THAT when playing soccer?? He should have gotten a red card for sheer stupidity.

Here's a video of the incident. Warning for graphic language.

NHL Releases 2011-2012 Schedule

It's a busy time for the NHL, barely a week after the Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup.

Yesterday the NHL handed out its annual awards in a ceremony in Las Vegas.

Norris Trophy - Nicklas Lidstrom, Det (Top defenseman)
Frank Selke - Ryan Kesler, Van (Best defensive by a Forward player)
Jack Adams - Dan Bylsma, Pit (Top Coach)
Calder - Jeff Skinner, Car (Top Rookie)
GM of the Year - Mike Gillis, Van (uhm, best GM-ing)
Lady Bing - Martin St. Louis, TB (Skill/Sportsmanship)
Vezina - Tim Thomas, Bos (Top Goalie)
Hart - Corey Perry, Ana (MVP)

For a breakdown of the voting, go here.

Today the 2011-2012 schedule was released.  Some early notes:

*Boston opens its season at home against Philadelphia on October 6.
**Winter Classic matchup: Rangers at Flyers, Jan. 2
***The Rangers, Sabers, Kings, and Ducks will start their seasons playing games against each other over two days in Europe.  Stockholm, Helsinki, and Berlin will be the 3 hosting sites, marking the first time a NHL game will be played in Germany.

Finally, tomorrow is the NHL draft.

Wimbledon Day 4, Round 2

The weather interrupted several matches today at Wimbledon, but most of the top seeds were able to finish their matches before play was called on account of darkness.

Federer, Djokovich, Soderling, and Tsonga all won their matches today.

One upset potentially brewing was American Ryan Harrison leading #7 seeded David Ferrer 7-6, 1-6, 6-4, 2-4 when play was suspended at the end of Thursday.

Harrison is a virtual unknown to the casual American tennis viewer, but the 19 year-old has accomplished some rare things since he has turned pro in 2007. He won the US Clay Court Championships in 2008, becoming the 10th player in ATP history to win a title before turning 16. With that win, he also became the 3rd youngest player to win an ATP title (one of those other guys was Rafael Nadal).

Harrison is currently ranked #122 and has never advanced to the 3rd round of any Grand Slam tournament.

Photos are courtesy of Getty Images/AP

Freddy Adu Makes the Most of His Chance

Once billed as the greatest soccer talent that the United States had ever produced, Freddy Adu's career has been an overwhelming disappointment so far.

At the tender age of 14, he signed a contract with D.C. United of the MLS in 2003, sparking a wave of interest in the sport here in the United States as it seemed a teenage phenom was going to catapault U.S. Soccer into a new level of popularity and success.

However, in the 8 years following that historic signing (youngest ever to sign a pro contract in this country), Adu's career has had its share of ups and downs (mostly downs). Bouncing around from one club to another (DC United to Salt Lake to several European clubs), Adu hasn't played for one squad longer than two seasons since his DC United days.

In a time when many other young American players have found success in Europe, Adu's current club is Caykur Rizespor, a second division Turkish team.  Frequently loaned out to other squads by Benefica (the Portugese Superliga team that owns his contract), Adu has struggled with showing the maturity and work ethic needed to advance his situation.

Then came his surprising selection to the US Gold Cup team, a decision that was criticized by many.  However, Adu rewarded his coach's faith with solid play and a nice pass that set up America's lone score in the semi-final win against Panama.  After the game, his teammates and coaches praised Adu for his work so far on the team, and Adu now sounds in interviews like a young player who finally gets it.

Will this be the one shining moment for Adu, who will return to his Turkish team after the tournament ends?  Or, rather, will his experience on this Gold Cup team trigger a new, mature work ethic that will push him towards greater heights?

I'm rooting for the kid.  After all, he only just turned 22. His best soccer years should be ahead of him.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

USA vs Mexico in Gold Cup Finale

I'm hesitant to say that either the United States or Mexico looked particularly good in their semi-final matches on Wednesday night.  Clearly, it was more a case of not trying to commit the dumb mistake that would lead to a goal more than it was proving dominance.  Not exactly the kind of soccer that most fans want to watch.

In any case, Saturday night it will be United States vs. Mexico for the Gold Cup Championship. Just like virtually everyone expected.  More analysis to come...but this will hopefully be a great match in a very heated, long-term rivalry. 

Wimbledon Officials Criticize Grunting


Ian Ritchie, the chairman of the All England Tennis and Lawn Club, recently gave an interview that stated his intentions to reduce the very loud grunting that has taken over the women's game.

Blaming the increase in women's grunting on the players not being "educated" enough about the issue, he noted that grunting from the women seems to be on an increase throughout the entire tour. One player who was noted to be quite loud so far in the tournament was Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, whose wails would routinely last 1.5 seconds.

How loud is loud?
Lawnmower: 90 decibels
Victoria Azarenka: 95 decibels

There is actually a study going on examining the effects of grunting in tennis, in relation to whether or not it gives the grunter a tactical advantage.  Conclusions from the study:

It is difficult to ascertain whether many of the most prolific grunters intentionally grunt to distract their opponent. There is little doubt, however, that they are cheating their opponents. Grunting not only decreases their opponent's ability to  judge the direction of a shot, it also reduces the amount of time they have to respond to every shot. These consequences on faster tennis surfaces, such as the grass courts  of  Wimbledon,  or  the  hard courts of the Australian and US Open, are likely to be profound.

US Soccer Teams Faces Rematch With Panama TONIGHT!

At 7 p.m. EST tonight on the Fox Soccer Channel, the Men's National Soccer team will square off once again with Panama, the team that upset them less than two weeks ago, 2-1.

Every soccer prognosticator has stated that USA vs Mexico in the Gold Cup Final has been an almost lock since the tournament began.  However, extremely poor play by the US squad for most of the tournament has put that potential match-up in jeopardy a couple times.

The United States team definitely needs to come out strong and quick in tonight's game and put Panama away early.  In my opinion, Landon Donovan needs to atone for his benching in Sunday's win against Jamaica.  Coming back to the National Team so late (7 a.m.) after his sister's wedding in California is inexcusable in my opinion.  He needs to show some strong leadership tonight.

Wimbledon Day 3, Second Round Starts

Today the second round got underway at Wimbledon, and still no major upsets so far in the Men's draw.

Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, and Mardy Fish (American) easily defeated their opponents today in straight sets.

My hope of the big Canadian, Milos Raonic, giving Nadal a run in the 3rd round were cut short when Raonic took a nasty fall in the first set of his match and seemed to injure his leg.  He retired from the match shortly thereafter.

Currently, I'm listening to Wimbledon Radio's broadcast of Andy Roddick's match going on right now.  Currently, Roddick has won the first set, and is up 1-0 in the second.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Where Can I Watch US Soccer Games???

Anywhere where there's an Official US Soccer Bar

Check the link for a bar near you, or download their PDF form to get your favorite sports bar to apply.

Wimbledon Day 2 - Top Seeds Cruise

Day 2 is ending at the All English Club and today saw Roger Federer, Novak Djokovich, and Andy Roddick defeat their opponents in straight sets.  Even John Isner was able to dominate his opponent, Nicholas Mahut, in straight sets as well.  There will be no repeat performance of last year's record match.

American disappointment of the day so far is unseeded phenom James Blake being ousted in 5 sets by #32-ranked Marcos Baghdatis. Close match, and Blake had a chance to win but couldn't pull it out.

Bruins Tally $156,679 Bar Tab in Celebration with Stanley Cup

Saturday night the Stanley Cup Champion Bruins were at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods in the Shrine Nightclub. After a four hour celebration in which several Bruins drank out of Lord Stanley's Cup, their final bar tab registered $156,679.74.

The biggest ticket item was the $100,000 bottle of the Ace of Spades "Midas" Champagne.  

A tip of $24,869.80 was automatically added as part of the bill, making for some very happy wait staff that night.  

Photo courtesy of Elevate Communications.

Monday, June 20, 2011

New York's MMA Legislation Getting Choked Out

Today, in New York, it became obvious that the chances of the state legislature passing the MMA bill, allowing the sanctioning of events in New York, were quickly fading.

Although MMA is sanctioned in 44 out of 48 states with an official state athletic commission (Alaska and Hawaii are the states without), the states holding out are doing a fantastic job of stalling. 

It appears in New York that there is personal bias involved in not allowing this MMA bill to come to a vote.  Herman Farrell is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, where the bill has stalled, and recently was quoted as saying: 
"I don't think very much of the sport. Next we'll give them clubs with spikes on the end; that will be good."
I'm not sure how this will ever pass as long as Mr. Farrell is in charge of this committee.  Whenever someone tries to legislate morality (or stop legislation based on it), it's tough to quickly bypass it.  Unless this guy has some grandchildren that can teach him the sport is actually not as barbaric as he believes, this is bound to be a long fight.  It's too bad. Madison Square Garden would be an excellent venue for the UFC.

Concussion Blog

I want to point out a new link that I've added to the site.

Concussion Blog is written by an athletic trainer and is very well-researched and organized.

I will most likely link to this blog whenever any specific concussion news comes out, and considering how important it is in the sports world, this will be frequent.

NFL Player Wins Ground-Breaking Lawsuit With Supplement Company

In 2009, St. Louis Rams linebacker, David Vobora, was notified he had violated the league's policy on performance enhancement substances and was suspended 4 games.  At the time, Vobora emphatically stated that it was a tainted supplement he got from a supplement company.

Sure, yea right! "Tainted" supplement...we've all heard that one before, right?

Well, it turns out Vobora WAS right.  He sued Florida supplement company Anti-Steroid Program, LLC, claiming that a spray he had bought had been tainted with the illegal steroid, methyltestosterone.  Today he won his case and was awarded a total of $5.4 million dollars (to offset salary and endorsements loss, as well as damage to his reputation).

Of course, this still doesn't help Vobora with the NFL.  As of now, he still has a violation of the drug program and that's not likely to change.  The NFL position is clear: players are responsible for what goes into their body. If they select a supplement NOT on the approved list, they're on their own if the product is tainted.

Wimbledon First Day Action

Rafael Nadal won his first match rather easily in 3 straight sets, as did Milos Raonic.  This still puts them on track to play each other if they both win their next match.

Andy Murray needed 4 sets to defeat his Spanish opponent.  While it's just one match, Murray needs to make sure not to let it set a tone for him for this tournament.  He has a tendency to get down on himself early, and he doesn't end up using that negativity for motivation to try harder and play better. Instead it usually causes his defeat to come quicker.  He can be difficult to watch when he's having one of those bad days, and I do feel bad for his team when he yells at them all the time.

The rain at Wimbledon came early on Day 1, and they finally got to use the retractable roof over Center Court.  The roof has been ready to use since 2009, and (while it's been used a few times each year) perhaps this might be the year we see widespread usage of it.

If you're a Wimbledon fan like I am, try listening to the radio broadcast of matches on their internet radio channel.  It can be found here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Predictions for Wimbledon

With Wimbledon starting on Monday, there are all sorts of predictions being tossed out.  Currently Nadal and Djokovich are pretty even, with Federer close behind.  Looks like the betting world knows that this should be a tightly contested tournament.  Poor Andy Murray lingers quite a bit behind the top 3.

Is there anyone else who could possibly upset one, two, or three of these champions?  If a dark horse were to win Wimbledon, they'd most likely have to beat 3/4 of the top seeds.  I just can't see anyone doing that, but let's toss out a few names just to be safe.

Ever heard of Milos Raonic? I think you will soon.  Believe it or not, he's Canadian.  Currently ranked 28th in the world, he's the highest ranking Canadian men's player of all-time.  His strength is his serve, which tops out at 140 mph.  Only 20, he's been steadily moving up the rankings this year, making it to the round of 16 at the Australian Open and then beating #9 ranked Fernando Verdasco to win the San Jose ATP tournament for his first title.  If he wins his first two matches at Wimbledon, he will be matched up against Rafael Nadal.

Can Andy Roddick do it?  If he wins his matches, he would face Andy Murray in the quarterfinals.  Roddick usually plays well at Wimbledon.  This would also be a match to watch.

Honestly, outside of those guys, I just can't see anyone pulling a major upset.  The top 3 are playing far too well right now.

Which of course means that we'll have a monumental upset of one of these guys before the semi-finals.

My prediction is Nadal vs Federer in the Final.  Federer wins in 4 sets.

Photo courtesy of Yahoo UK; AFP Photo Jacques DeMarton/Miguel Medina

USA Defeats Jamaica 2-0

When I see the United States play the way they did today, it makes me mad sometimes.  Why don't they play that way EVERY TIME they go out onto the field? Granted, it wasn't a perfect game. We missed a few chances, and let Jamaica get a bit too close a few times.  We're still not fast enough to be able to pressure on defense the way other teams pressure us.  We also still don't have wingers with enough ball-handling ability to get past their man.

However, we did win.  I'm very pleased with Juan Agudelo's play, with his relative lack of experience in international play.  Jermaine Jones was another standout today, despite the flagrant dive he took in the second half.  Very lucky to not receive his second yellow card of the match, this German-American was a nice spark throughout most of the afternoon.

In the end, the biggest story of the game was what happened before the game.  Clint Dempsey did not arrive back to the team hotel until 2 a.m. Sunday, which was exceptionally late in itself.  However, it was team star player Landon Donovan, who apparently decided that he could show up whenever he wanted and did so at 7 a.m., barely 8 hours before the start of the match. Thankfully, America won, but that doesn't excuse Dempsey or Donovan, in my opinion.  Coach Bradley takes some of the heat for letting them go, but ultimately it was the players' responsibility for getting themselves back to their team at a reasonable time.

Donovan Not Starting Gold Cup Eliminator

Landon Donovan will be starting today's Gold Cup Match against Jamaica on the bench.  There is no reason as yet given for the benching.  Speculation will most likely be that something happened as a result of Donovan's trip back to California this week for his sister's wedding as Donovan apparently got in some time this morning from his flight.  Jet lag?

Starting lineup is Howard, Cherundolo, Goodson, Bocanegra, Lichaj, Kljestan, Bradley, Jones, Dempsey, Bedoya, Altidore.

Moneyball Trailer

Finally, it's here! I think the majority of the American Public will go see this movie because Brad Pitt is the star.  However, sports fans will recognize this story as the beginning of a new era, not only in baseball, but potentially in every other major sport.  Fans that have flocked to Fantasy sports and know the importance of stats in analyzing players. I just hope it's a good sports movie!

Tiki Barber Wants Your Attention Again

I have never been a big fan of Tiki Barber.  I initially found him to be a respectable player once he solved his fumbling issues (or rather, once Head Coach Tom Coughlin solved them).  I'm still amazed that he was able to amass as many yards as he was (10,449; ranked 22nd on career rushing list) given that fumbling problem earlier in his career.  Had he been in a rotational back system the way most NFL teams seem to operate now, that fumbling issue would have been a ticket to the bench or another team.  In his last year playing with the Giants, some said he was a future Hall of Famer.  I take huge issue with that.  There are some better running backs ahead of him on that list (most notably Curtis Martin and Jerome Bettis, two guys with much better stats and far more respected and liked). Barber's only chance to get into the NFL is going to be a senior nomination many years from now, and I still don't see him making it.

Barber retired at the age of 32, citing many reasons for ending his career at a time that most thought was premature.  Then he proceeded to alienate former teammates by criticizing Coughlin and making fun of Eli Manning and his leadership skills (or lack thereof).  Once leaving the field, he seemed destined for a television career.  First, he was able to get a job at NBC reporting on football, and then followed that up as a reporter for the Today Show.  However, those gigs were short-lived (in my opinion, Barber was a bit stiff and not very charismatic on the screen) and he was released from his contract.

Adding insult to injury, the New York Giants proceeded to win the Super Bowl in dramatic fashion the year after he retired. At the time, some of the Giants insinuated that the locker room was a more cohesive place after Barber retired. Perhaps, for the Giants, it was addition by subtraction?

Now Barber, after a divorce and not working for 3 years, is looking for attention again. Oops, my bad.  He's looking to restart his NFL career because he realizes how important football is to him.  I'm sorry, but I just can't see this as anything other than a money play.  Maybe he wants a reality show, maybe he sees what Michael Strahan is doing on NFL Fox and realizes he has to get his name back out in the public again.

I just can't see it going anywhere.  He was an unsympathetic character in his last year in the NFL, discussing retirement halfway through the season. He threw his former team under the bus to advance his (short-lived) broadcasting career.  I'm sure someone will give him a pity tryout, but I would be shocked if he was on a roster when the season starts.

Amazing Goal in Gold Cup

Javier Hernandez does it again for Mexico in the Gold Cup.

Why can't America find a great goal scorer like this?? Someone who is in the right place at the right time? An instinctual player who finds the open spot just when his team needs it.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Wrestling (not the fake kind) Growing In Popularity Once Again

About three years ago, I happened upon the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships while I was channel surfing one night.  It made such an impression that, when the Big Ten Network broadcast Dual Meets the following season, I started watching regularly (especially if Iowa was on the mat).  This year, to my immense happiness, ESPN broadcast not just the NCAA Finals, but the entire tournament on its various channels.  I was in wrestling heaven.

I hope that this increased exposure will cause a resurgence in wrestling popularity, especially as various forms of wrestling skills are used in MMA events, and the Olympics are just around the corner.

There's a great article from John Klein in the Tulsa World about this very topic.

Soccer Statistical Analysis - Wave of the Future!

Fantastic article on today about the use of statistical analysis in soccer in Europe (and possibly worldwide) and how it could revolutionize player evaluation.  There's a comparison to Moneyball, the book that started the statistical revolution in baseball, and some debate over whether soccer could be similarly changed.

The article discusses the history of statistical analysis in soccer and gives examples of how its been used.  Then it goes on to discuss future implications and how those teams that identify, and take advantage of, statistical weakness of opponents will benefit.

I wonder if USA Soccer is using these tools.  One would hope so, given the American obsession with stats.

Chicharito Leading Mexico While Donovan/Dempsey Do The Chicken Dance

This weekend the quarterfinal matches of the Gold Cup (the CONACAF tournament to crown the champion of North America/Central America, and the Caribbean) will be held.  Mexico, with their young superstar, Javier Hernandez (Chicarito to his millions of fans), is the favorite to win their 6th Gold Cup.

The American team has been under-performing in this tournament, with a record of 2-1 in the opening round. Only scoring 3 goals in 3 games, the Americans have struggled offensively to convert chances.  All the more shocking about the one loss to Panama is that the United States had won 26 consecutive opening round matches prior.

What's even more shocking, in my opinion, is that two of our top players, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, both left the team this week to fly home to be at the weddings of their respective sisters (not only that, but US Soccer is footing the bill for the plane rides).  Could you imagine Chicarito or Lionel Messi or, honestly...ANYONE from another country who would get time off (let alone THREE DAYS) right before an elimination game in a regional tournament??

Of course not, which is why American Soccer is still way behind the world in how we prepare and train for this sport.  I'm not saying weddings aren't important, because they are.  But why in the heck, as a bride, schedule your wedding for the month of the Gold Cup and still expect your brother there?

Unless said brother told her it wasn't a big deal. He would get the time off no matter what.

This is flat out wrong.  I love soccer, and I badly want our national team to perform well on the international stage.  However, when two of our best players are allowed by their coach to leave the team, fly across the country, miss just boggles my mind. These guys better have their best games in quite a while on Sunday, and the U.S. had better easily beat Jamaica.  If they don't, Coach Bradley should be immediately fired.  Even if they do, this sets a dangerous precedent.  As a soccer nation, we need to re-examine our priorities.

Friday, June 17, 2011

This Three Initial Sport That May/May Not Be Played This Year

Okay, I'm going to state for the record that I am a HUGE NFL fan (specifically Bears, but I live 5 minutes from the Broncos Training Facility so I also follow them pretty close).  However, I feel very reluctant  to discuss NFL matters until this lockout/labor dispute is settled.

I'm not getting into the mucky details on what this dispute is all about.  However, I do NOT, in ANY way, side with the owners here.

My only NFL topic I'll discuss until the lockout ends will be the Terrell Pryor situation and a potential NFL Supplemental Draft.  The one comment I want to make is shaking my head at his selection of agent.  This is a kid who needs to get signed to the right team, sign his contract quickly, and blend in with his teammates while he learns the system and how to be an NFL player.  Drew Rosenhaus does not seem to be the type of agent to expedite these things.  In fact, I fear a Maurice Clarett-type situation where Pryor will feel he is worth more than he will be offered, and Rosenhaus will feed into that.  This has disaster written all over it. favorite under three week event in late June/early July

I grew up watching Wimbledon every summer vacation.  There was something soothing and magical about watching tennis played on grass.  We were fortunate enough to have American tennis champs to root for...Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Billy Jean King, Chris Evert, Pete Sampras...Martina, after she defected.

In recent years, we've had little to cheer on the Men's side (I won't be reviewing the women's tourney; their grunting really puts me off).  Sure, Andy Roddick won a U.S. Open in 2003, but that was 8 years ago and although he's been to 3 finals at Wimbledon, you never quite felt he could win it.  Not when he was playing Federer each time (although that 2009 final was one for the books).

With Tennis' Big Three of Nadal, Djokovich, and Federer all playing exceptionally well right now (and Andy Murray lurking on the edge of that, as he is a perennial semi-final contender at Wimbledon), it's hard to conceive of a way that an American could reach even the semi-finals.  Roddick (8) and Mardy Fish (10) are the only Americans seeded.

As far as unseeded Americans...I only can take some hope that John Isner can advance a few rounds as he has been playing better tennis this year (and this fallacy of his "drawing" Mahut, a rematch of last year's record-setting match is about as staged as a pre-school beauty pageant; Wimbledon is stooping to trying to get attention on Day 1 with a stunt matchup).  Of course, Americans can only hope that Donald Young could advance to the round of 32 if he plays really well.  I think Young has been the future hope of American tennis for the past few years.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bruins Win It All

I confess that I am a bit of a hockey newb. I've dabbled in the sport a bit in the past, but I had a hard time grabbing the nuances of the game.  However, that all changed in the past year and a half, when I made a new hockey watching buddy.  Chris really took the time to explain what I was missing, both in terms of actual play and in strategy.

As a consequence, I really came to appreciate the play of the Bruins.  Chris is a huge Bruins fan, and consequently most of the NHL games I saw this year were Boston games.  I grew to appreciate and love the play of Tim Thomas, who was everything in the finals that Luongo wasn't: determined, fierce, and a brick wall.

I loved the feistiness of Marchand, and all the more when he started scoring.  I respected Chara, Bergeron, Horton, Lucic and so many others.  I started noticing how in so many other sporting events (NBA finals, MLB games) how fans in the stands wore Boston Bruin caps.

I just really appreciate the intensity of playoff hockey. There's really nothing like it in sports.  I hope that I can parlay this into a second great season of watching NHL next year.

SI's List of Top-Earning American Athletes

Sports Illustrated has just come out with their annual report on top 50 earners among athletes. Called the 2011 Fortunate 50, this list is comprised of 19 NBA players, 17 baseball, 8 NFL, 3 NASCAR drivers, and 3 golfers.

Tiger Woods once again leads the list with annual earnings of around $62 million.  The highest earning football player is Peyton Manning at #4 with $38 million (about to escalate once he signs his new contract). The highest earning baseball player is Alex Rodriguez with $36 million. The highest earning basketball player is Lebron James with annual earnings of $44.5 million, good enough for #3 on the list.

A few things of note from this list:

The highest earner (in annual salary/bonuses) is Matt Ryan at $32.25 million. The majority of this is coming from a roster bonus for this year that was detailed in his original contract. A-Rod is 2nd at $32 million even.

The highest endorsements go to Tiger Woods with $60 million. Phil Mickelson, however, is rapidly gaining ground and is just $3 million behind Tiger in endorsements ($1 million in overall earnings).  Tiger's fall, it seems, is Mickelson's gain.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

USA Soccer June 19

3 p.m. EST Fox Soccer

USA Vs. Panama

Must-win for the United States on Sunday. Taking the back-door into the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup, much in the way we got into the second round of the World Cup. This team is so frustrating. I love our fire when we are on our game, but that seems few and far between. Coach Bradley is on the hot seat with this one and deservedly so. I think the whole team needs to be on the hot seat. We don't play with the passion and drive of our worldly brothers.

In reality, I need to follow our World Cup Women's team. They are actually excellent!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2011 United States Open Water Swimming Competition Results

Results for the 5 km and 10km races here.

The 2011 World Aquatics Championships (top 9 from 10k race qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London) will be held in Shanghai, China.  The Open Water Swimming competitions will be held from July 19-23.

Monday, June 13, 2011

2011 USA Boxing National Championships June 20-25

One week from now, the 2011 USA Boxing National Championships will be held in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  For those who are in the area (including me), this is an excellent chance to see potential future Olympians in person.  

Seattle Times Article Lauds Adventure Racing

Excellent, fun article about adventure racing from The Seattle Times a few days ago.  Money quote:
Note to elected officials: Forget complex disaster modeling software or emergency kit awareness — adventure running is the way to prepare the general population to cope with impending doom.
There is a fun survival guide for getting through an adventure race, as well as a list of upcoming races in the Pacific Northwest area.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Stanley Cup Game 5

I would say tonight is a huge game for both Boston and Vancouver, but that's the most obvious statement in the NHL right now.  The series has been hotly contested (with the exception of the last two periods of game 3) and it's still anyone's series.  I'd say Boston has a bit of an advantage simply because of the play of their goaltender, Tim Thomas.

Thomas has been clearly the best goalie in these playoffs, and he should win the Vezina Trophy this year as well. His history is a truly amazing sports success story.  Declining backup positions in the NHL to start for teams in Europe in order to play and gain experience...well, not many goalies would turn down the NHL.

I love the grit and fire that Thomas has shown, especially in this series.  His team clearly feeds off of that, and I think that his crosscheck of Burrows at the end of Game 4 was a clear sign that Boston isn't gonna simply sit back and let Vancouver dictate the series.  Games 1 and 2 were fairly close, with Boston unable to find the net despite many good chances.  After  Nathan Horton was brutally taken out of the series early in Game 3, the Bruins finally seemed to wake up.  Playing the best hockey they have all year, they've outscored Vancouver 12-1 the past two games.  They've scored in every possible way: power plays, short-handed, breakaways, etc.  If the Bruins can maintain that fire while in Vancouver, this series will be over in 6.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mad Cow Disease!!!

I've heard from farmers around the world lately that their cows have been acting out aggressively in recent months.  Some say it's related to global warming and certain vegetarians trying to pin down their fragrant emissions as a major cause for the rise in greenhouse gases.  However, I'm being told that the bovines are now most angry about the recent accusations that they've been purposefully taking Clenbuterol in an effort to get various professional athletes banned from their sport. On one side, you have the cows who have been claiming for  years that various radical vegetarian groups are attempting to soil their good names.  On the other side, you have the athletes themselves who are blaming the genius mastermind cows behind the clever "Eat Mor Chikin" Chick Fil-A ad campaign.

First it was Alberto Contador who, after his dramatic win in the 2010 Tour de France, was found to have tested positive for Clenbuterol.  However, he was able to successfully prove that the eating of tainted beef was what caused his positive test.  Now, it's five members of the Mexican National Soccer Team who have tested positive for the same banned substance. If the soccer players get their bans reversed, it won't be in time to help their team in the Gold Cup.

A lesson to all...Eat More Chicken.

Thank God Dallas won tonight!!

How many of you thought Dallas had any sort of chance to beat the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals after the way the Heat played earlier in the playoffs? I don't have my hand up on that one.  I figured that Miami had finally figured it out and Wade and Lebron would team up together to smite the Mavericks in 6 games.  What I didn't count on was Lebron reverting back to the Lebron of the 2010 playoffs with the Cavs.  For someone who most feel is the best player in the game (at least in the regular season), Lebron sure figures out ways to NOT make a difference when it counts the most.

Blogging away

Hello all! I hope to be able to provide some witty, positive, and insightful...uhm...insights into the world of sports and other things that entertain me.  I'm single and live alone with my dog, so I need some sort of outlet to get my thoughts out of my head before I take an AK-47 to the top of the nearest tall building.  I think I have a common sense approach to the world and do not at all like the narcissism that prevails (especially online).  I think that we are all here to help each other, and that's a major reason why I'm starting up this blog.  Do you want good news? Do you want to laugh? Do you want something to make you think? I hope to provide content to do that here.  Please feel free to comment on whatever I might write, but please do it in a manner befitting this blog.  Thanks!