Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Round Wrap-Up At US Open; Mixed American Performance

The first round of the 2011 US Open is wrapping up in New York tonight, and there haven't been any major upsets on the men's side.  All four of the top seeds advanced fairly easily (although Nadal seems to like to make things interesting in the early rounds sometimes).

The following Americans have entered into the second round:
  • Mardy Fish - still the USA's best hope to win by far
  • Alex Bogomolov, Jr - needed five sets to defeat fellow American Steve Johnson (this year's NCAA men's singles champion; a senior at USC)
  • John Isner - had a 141 mph serve in his match; second round match is against Ginepri
  • Robby Ginepri - wild card entrant; made it to the semi-finals of the Open in 2005
  • Donald Young - a straight sets victory; first win at the US Open in 4 years
  • James Blake - Has had a rough year, but this is a good start to the Open; second round match is against #5 seed David Ferrer
  • Jack Sock - the 18-year-old starts his first major senior Grand Slam with a win; unfortunately his second round opponent is likely to be:
  • Andy Roddick - currently winning 2 sets to one; up in the fourth set 2-1 against fellow American Michael Russell

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tim Tebow's Jersey Sales Fall As He Falls on Denver Broncos Depth Chart

Tebow-mania seems to be slipping in Denver and around the country.  Last year, Tebow's replica jersey was the top -seller at the NFL online store.  This year, from April 1 to this past Monday, Tebow's jersey is #10 in overall sales.

Now I would contend that the majority of Tebow fans that loved him from his University of Florida days bought his jersey as soon as it was available.  Denver fans came in and swooped up a large supply of them after he was both drafted and then performed decently in the final three games of last season.  

However, outside of Denver, there's little need for the rest of NFL fans to get a Tebow jersey at this time and that's how your market share tumbles.  


Monday, August 29, 2011

Video: Russian Pole Vaulter Crashes After Pole Breaks In Mid-Vault At World Championships

At the 2011 World Track and Field Championships in South Korea today, Russian Pole Vaulter Dmitry Starodubtsev was attempting a vault at just under 19 feet when his pole snapped mid-attempt.

Starodubstev was very lucky that he only injured his hand in the mishap, although it did cause him to withdraw from the competition.

Beer Vendor Saves Choking Child At Washington Nationals Game, Then Continues Working

There's an excellent piece on the Washington Post website tonight about a act of heroism that should not go unacknowledged.

It seems that last Thursday afternoon at the Nationals afternoon game, a young boy began choking on his food.  A nearby beer/water vendor, Emmanuel Marlow, set down his case and attended to the boy.  Assuring the child's panicked mother that her boy would be okay, Marlow patiently and skillfully performed the Heimlich maneuver until the offending piece of chicken was dislodged.

Marlow's mother then spent 10 minutes hugging and crying Marlow, thanking him for saving her boy.  After making sure that the child was alright, Marlow picked his case back up and continued working.

Kudos to this man's calm under pressure and knowing what to do in a scary situation.  When all the patrons around the boy panicked, Marlow relied on training he received in a CPR class.
“I guess they never had experienced a first-aid situation,” said Marlow, who had once worked a game at FedEx Field when a patron had a mild stroke. “[The boy] was actually going to a new color. I knew I needed to jump in and do it. There was no time for hesi­ta­tion. It had to be done right then and there.”
If you don't know how to perform CPR and other basic life-saving measures, check out your local Red Cross chapter for a class.

Michael Vick Signs New Contract, Should Be Able To Pay Off Bankruptcy Early Now

I can't help it that the bankruptcy was the first thing that I thought of when I heard today that Michael Vick got his new 6-year, $100 million contract.

After all, that's one of Vick's continued reminders of the mistakes of the past and it limits him greatly.  In July of 2008, in the wake of Vick being convicted of federal dogfighting charges the previous year (among other things), Vick filed for Chapter 11.   His debts were reorganized and a payment plan set up in according with the court.  Despite his sordid past, I commend him for filing Chapter 11 instead of Chapter 8, which would have allowed him to walk away from all of his debts.

Peyton Manning's Next Stage In Rehab From Neck Surgery: Will Practice With Colts This Week

In what it very good news for Indianapolis Colts fans, Peyton Manning was removed from the NFL's Physically Unable To Play list (PUP) today.  That in itself isn't the really good part.

Manning would have had to come off the list by the end of this week by NFL rules or be forced to miss the first six weeks of the season.  Head Coach Jim Caldwell also said that Manning would begin to practice with the Colts on a limited basis this week.
“He’s been throwing,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “It’s going to be a bigger amount, and I don’t think it needs a whole lot of explanation. The statement speaks for itself.”
That is great news for Manning, who hadn't been able to practice since his May neck surgery to remove a bulging disc.  ***Previous article: Is Manning's Neck Injury More Serious Than What Colts Are Claiming

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sports Illustrated Goes After ESPN Again, Specifically Craig James

I find myself agreeing with this SI article I read today, but am curious as to why SI published it.  It's basically a round table discussion analyzing college football coverage on ESPN/ABC/FOX.

Stewart Mandel, Andy Staples, and George Schroeder (all three write for SI) were questioned on who their favorite/least favorite analyst and play-by-play announcer.

There was virtual consensus that the team of Kirk Herbstreit/Brent Musberger were the best in college football, which I would agree with partially.  I like Herbstreit, but I find Musberger to be virtually impossible to suffer.  When Musberger actually does his job, he's fantastic (as long as this isn't the greatest game he's ever watched; he's seen a lot of those).  However, when he moonlights as an analyst, he usually won't let Herbstreit more than a few words at a time. Sometimes, it's almost comical.

Pro Cycling Challenge Draws 250,000 In Downtown Denver To See Levi Leipheimer Win

In what appears to be a highly successful return of Professional International Cycling to American soil, Levi Leipheimer won the inaugural Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado.

The seven-day, 518-mile race through the mountains and foothills of Colorado took the riders up and over previously un-raced peaks that reached over 12,000 feet (twice in one day).

Screen Cap from
It's estimated that over a million spectators showed up for the week-long race, with 250,000 on the final day.  Colorado is a bicycle-crazy state, but the crowds exceeded expectations.

Miami Reaches New Low: To Celebrate Florida '99 BCS Title With Tim Tebow/Urban Meyer at Dolphins-Broncos Game

File this one in the "can you believe this???" department.

In what is clearly a desperate move to sell tickets, the Miami Dolphins have announced a special event that will take place when the Denver Broncos bring Tim Tebow along for their game on October 23.

They're celebrating the 1999 BCS Championship Florida Gators team.

Yes, you are correct that this is an NFL game.

Tim Tebow Has Typical Up/Down Performance In Broncos-Seahawks Preseason Game

Tim Tebow got some more work on Saturday night in the Denver Broncos preseason game with the Seattle Seahawks. Once again, there were good things and bad things to like about his performance.  Considering how much attention Tebow is getting (and not in a good way in Denver), I thought I would objectively take a look at his performance to see how he is progressing.

Photo: Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images

Eliminate The Screaming Matches: Five Things MLB Should Do Now To Improve Team/Umpire Interactions

Interesting article today out of discussing Joe Torre's plans to try and quell the discord between umpires and players.  Some feel apparently that the tension between the two sides is rising, and it's affecting the game.

Ultimately, what Torre wants to do to work on the problem is to get small groups of players together with an umpire or two so that they can come to understand and know each other better.

Nice try, Joe, but this lack of respect is a society-wide issue.  Baseball has this set of archaic unwritten "rules" that are accepted and allowed by MLB.  You have network coverage of baseball quick to point out umpire errors that the players can see in the clubhouses right after the game. Trying to simply get players to accept the fact that "mistakes happen" and that's it's just "part of the game" is difficult to swallow in a world where other leagues are trying to address this issues more aggressively.

Photo: Getty Images

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Video: Didier Drogba Unconscious For 30 Minutes Following Dangerous Blow to Head

Didier Drogba, one of soccer's biggest world superstars, was knocked unconscious today in Chelsea's match against Norwich.

Drogba was attempting to head the ball past goalkeeper John Ruddy, but instead a flying mid-air collision took place that dropped Drogba, boneless, to the ground.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Don't Use Fallen Soldier's Dog In Iowa Game: Pay Homage To Fallen Soldiers By Honoring Grieving Families

Millions of dog lovers nationwide were affected by the pictures this week of Hawkeye, a dog mourning the loss of his master.

Hawkeye, a labrador retriever, was owned by Navy Seal Jon Tumlinson, who was killed in that tragic helicopter crash in Afghanistan a few weeks ago that killed 31 other American soldiers.

Hawkeye was such a devoted dog to his owner that during Tumlinson's funeral, Hawkeye wouldn't leave the casket.  These pictures made national news, illustrating the bond between dog and master.

Tumlinson was apparently a devoted Iowa Hawkeye fan (hence the origin of his dog's name), and when former Hawkeye player Jon Lazar heard of this, he had an idea: have Hawkeye lead Iowa out onto the field for the opening football game.

After all, it will be eight days before the 10-year anniversary of 9/11.

I think it's a terrible idea.

Peyton Manning To Come Off The PUP List, But Not Because He Is Ready To Play

Hopefully, NFL fans won't read into the news tonight of how Peyton Manning is going to be removed from the PUP (Physically Unable To Play) list soon.

It's NOT because he's ready to play.  Rather, it's because if he doesn't come off the list before the September 3 deadline, he is ineligible to play for the first six weeks.

There is absolutely no way that the Colts would announce to the world that Manning can't play til Week 7 at this time, even if they thought that to be true.  It's pure NFL strategery (love that word).

I've written before about Manning's injury, and how the delay in his recovery is most likely due to weakness in his throwing arm from slowly regenerating nerves.

Photo: Andy Lyons, Getty Images

Lane Kiffin Tells Us What We Already Know: Al Davis Holds Back The Oakland Raiders

***Al Davis died today, October 8, 2011.  It's a very sad day for football, and my condolences go out to the Davis family and the Raiders organization.  Davis was an innovator and very instrumental in making the NFL what it is today.  It doesn't change my opinion on what I wrote below a few months ago.***

This week, current USC Head Coach and former Oakland Raiders coach, Lane Kiffin, had some very disparaging comments about his former employer, Al Davis:
It is almost impossible. I don't know why I didn't listen, [because] so many people told me that. That's why, if you ask [Steve Sarkisian], he didn't go. He had a chance to go. You're just so far behind other clubs. You're waiting for [owner Al Davis] to wake up and come to work at 2 o'clock in the afternoon to make decisions that the rest of the league is making at 6 o'clock in the morning. You're still running videotapes over to the hotel so he can watch practice at night.
Few casual NFL fans probably know that Davis started out his football career as a coach.  From 1950-1965, Davis served as coach for a variety of teams. He was an offensive line coach at schools such as the Citadel and USC before taking the offensive line coaching job for the San Diego Chargers (formerly LA Chargers) in 1960.

Sidney Crosby's Concussion Issue Huge Headache For NHL

Love him or hate him, NHL fans should know that not having Sidney Crosby on the ice when the NHL season starts on October 6 is bad for business.

However, that's a very real possibility as Crosby attempts to recover from a concussion suffered almost eight months ago.  It wasn't so much that the one concussion Crosby is known to have suffered following a hit by 6'6" Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Viktor Hedman was a bad one.  No, the issue is whether or not he was already skating with a concussion suffered a week earlier.

At the end of the second period of the Winter Classic, Crosby was on the ice and looking away when Washington Capitol forward Dave Steckman delivered an unintentional hard hit to the side of Crosby's head with his shoulder as he skated past:

NFL Joining The 21st Century: Playbooks On IPADs

In light of the Green Bay Packers playbook being strewn across the city of Green Bay where just about anyone could view it, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' approach to their playbook format is unique and ground-breaking.

Old School Playbook Strewn Across Green Bay

Behold, the IPAD playbook.

New School Gadget To Contain Playbook/Game Film

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Klinsmann Sets Roster For Next Two US Friendly Matches - New/Old Faces

The United States has two upcoming friendly soccer matches in the coming few weeks.  The first match is on September 2 against Costa Rica in Los Angeles.  The second is in Belgium against their national team on September 6.

US Men's National Team Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has set his roster for these matches.  There are some differences from the last match against Mexico, with some notable inclusions/exclusions.

Tim Howard
Bill Hamid

Chris Johnson - Tennesee's Titanic Headache: Five Reasons Why He Won't Get Paid

Chris Johnson is making the right decision for himself.  I don't know if anyone can argue that. In the past, other players have been criticized for holdouts.  Those are usually rookies who haven't earned those salaries and bonuses they're wanting.

However, Chris Johnson has been arguably the best running back in the NFL over the past three years.  Over the past three seasons, Johnson had rushed for 4,598 yards (1,538 yards/season), 34 touchdowns, and an excellent 5 yards/rush average.  

So what is Tennessee's problem? The best player on their team deserves a raise, right?

Well, it's a lot more complicated than just that.  Johnson might have wished he held out prior to last year's season rather than now.

Five Reasons Why Johnson Won't Get The Money He Wants

A Look At America's Chances In the 2011 US Open

There are several male American tennis players in the draw for the US Open starting August 29 in New York, but only two that are seeded. Some are true contenders, some have no chance to make it out of the first round, and some promising young ones lie someone in between.  A lot of the Americans are piled into the bottom quarter of the draw with Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer.

The Contender:

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Masters Helping Kids Fight Bullying In School

The idea of training kids in an MMA fighting form would seem, on the surface, to be a very poor idea.

The Gracie Family, however, would disagree with you.  Legends in the UFC, the Gracie Family created their own style of Jiu-Jitsu 100 years ago and have taught thousands of students around the world since.  As a martial art, its is more about wrestling/grappling and subduing an opponent rather than harming them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why Do Football Fans Care More About Rahim Moore's Fine Than Donald Jones' Concussion?

Do the fans actually care about the players? Or do they simply want to see big-time bone-crushing that separate players' heads from their bodies as if they're a character in Street Fighter?  

Living in Denver, I was subject to the opinion of many, many fans on the subject of the Broncos' Rahim Moore's hit on the Buffalo Bills' Donald Jones last Saturday in their preseason game.  Fans came down divided on both sides of whether the hit was to the head or not.  

I have no doubt that Moore's intention was not to hurt Jones, and he obviously learned a valuable lesson in how to approach a receiver in a position like that.  I'm not going to debate whether the $20,000 fine he got was justified or not.

Kerry Collins Joins The Indianapolis Colts - How Hurt Is Peyton Manning Pt. 2

In a surprising move today, the Indianapolis Colts signed veteran Kerry Collins to play quarterback.  After stating for weeks that they weren't sure Peyton Manning would be ready for the regular season when it started September 11, they made it official by bringing in Collins.

This reinforces the idea that Manning's neck issue is more serious than previously let on.  In a previous article I wrote a few days ago, I suggested that muscle weakness/slow nerve regeneration was the true cause of Manning being sidelined.  Recovery of that type can be frustratingly slow, and there's not much that can be done to actually speed up the healing of nerves.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What if Carson Palmer Comes Back to the Bengals Before The Season Starts?

The stalemate is still in place between Carson Palmer and the Cincinnati Bengals owner, Mike Brown.  However, things could change in a dramatic fashion very soon.

When last we visited this issue, nothing had changed since an off-season meeting where Palmer walked away saying he wanted the Bengals to trade/release him, or he would retire.

Brown is currently playing Palmer's (supposed) bluff, and has wished him a happy retirement.  The Bengals drafted Andy Dalton in the second round and, so far, look to be pushing him into starting in his rookie season Week One.

Columbus Blue Jacket Goalie Steve Mason Unveils Wicked New Skull Mask

Perhaps it's because Steve Mason is one of the youngest starting goalies in the NHL right now, but he recently unveiled an astonishingly wicked new design for his mask.   The Columbus Blue Jackets goalie won the Calder Trophy in 2008.

Iowa-Iowa State Cy-Hawk Trophy Gets Shucked, Back To The Drawing Board

Well, that thankfully didn't take long.

After massive outrage by football fans in the state of Iowa, officials have scrapped the new Cy-Hawk trophy that was unveiled last Friday.

The trophy, depicting a farming family of four gathered around a bucket of corn, will be sent back for a do-over.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mike Patterson Back In Eagles Camp, Takes Risk In Playing With Brain Blood Vessel Anomaly

When last we saw Philadelphia Eagles defensive end, Mike Patterson, he was flat out on his back on the practice field after a seizure.  Rushed to the hospital where a battery of tests were performed, Patterson was diagnosed with AVM (atrioventricular malformation).

AVM is an issue with the blood vessels of his brain where the normal flow from artery to vein in one spot is actually a tangle of multiple smaller blood vessels. I explained in an earlier post why it could be very serious for Patterson and why he shouldn't play.

Well, Patterson is back in camp now and has decided to postpone surgery for the condition until after this season is over.  He will be taking anti-seizure medications to try and prevent another seizure episode from taking place on the field or anywhere else.

Is this a wise move?

Count The New Cy-Hawk Trophy For Iowa-Iowa St Rivalry As One Of Sports Biggest Blunders

This goes right up there with naming the two divisions of the Big Ten Conference, Legends and Leaders.  In what has to be the worst new trophy idea in college football, the Cy-Hawk trophy (given to the winner of the annual Iowa-Iowa State game) went from showcasing a player with a football to a family of four surrounded a basket of corn.  Seriously.

Old Trophy:

New Trophy, co-sponsored by the Iowa Corn Growers Association (can you tell?):

Terrelle Pryor Goes To The Black Hole Of His NFL Career

It's not at all a surprise that former Ohio State University star Terrelle Pryor was taken in the supplemental draft today by the Oakland Raiders.  Perhaps it was a bit of a surprise that he went in the third round, but then again the Raiders didn't have a fourth round pick and might have been afraid he'd get away.  As it is, the Raiders just lost their 4th round pick of the 2012 NFL Draft.

Photo: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Early news out of Oakland was that owner Al Davis fell in love with Pryor's straight-line speed.  He ran the 40-yard dash at his workout on Saturday in 4.41 seconds.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Amazing Bare-Handed Leaping Grab By An Atlanta Braves FAN - Video

Check out this amazing leaping bare-handed grab of a foul ball by an Atlanta Braves fan:

What if Tim Tebow Changed Positions, as Terrelle Pryor Says He's Willing To Do?

Living in Colorado, it is virtually impossible to go a day listening to local sports news without hearing a mention of Tim Tebow.  The guy is seemingly everywhere, from his FPS commercials on tv, to his bestselling autobiographical book on the bookshelves of Barnes and Noble.

There's one place where you won't be finding him soon: on the playing field as a starter for the Denver Broncos.

AP Photo
Call me harsh, but this pre-season should be a bit of a wake up call for young Tebow. Josh McDaniels saw in Tebow the pure desire and love for the game and thought he could turn Tebow into something special.  Once McDaniels was fired, however, and John Elway came into the picture, Tebow has had to start over without a head coach that considers him his personal project.

Philadelphia Eliminates Magicjack from WPS, Prevents Dream Final Against Western New York

Women's Professional Soccer missed a crucial opportunity for one last grab at popularity this season with their semi-final playoff game yesterday.  Instead of a dream matchup between the Western New York Flash and Magicjack (where both teams have several World Cup stars on their roster), the Philadelphia Independence will be the team playing the Flash come next Sunday.

Philadelphia earned their trip to the Championship game, defeating Magicjack 2-0.  Magicjack had their chances, with 11 corner kicks, but could only manage nine shots on goal.  Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone, both well-known for their play in the World Cup, earned yellow cards (highly unusual for them).

Nike Reveals University of Georgia's Pro Combat Uniforms

Nike and the University of Georgia just revealed the special Nike Pro Combat game uniforms that the Bulldogs will wear in the Chick-Fil-A Kick-off game Saturday, September 3, against Boise St.

Predictably, UGA fans are not terribly happy about the switch, even if it's for just one game.  My objection is calling these uniforms "Pro Combat."  First of all, they're (supposedly) amateurs, not Pros.  Secondly, and this is a huge issue with me, sports is not war.  This is not combat.  This is a game. A very violent, highly competitive game, but still a game.  Thirdly, I'm an alumnus of UGA, and I'm not that thrilled with this look but need to see it on the field.

What If Peyton Manning's Neck Injury Is More Serious Than What Colts Are Claiming?

Folks in Indiana are getting quite antsy after news was released that their star Colts quarterback, Peyton Manning, will miss the entire pre-season.  Apparently his neck is still not fully rehabbed from his surgery in mid-May, and the Colts are not going to rush him back to the field.  If I were a devoted Colts fan, I'd be more worried as to whether this injury signals the potential beginning of the end for the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback. (**Update 9/7 - Who Is Telling The Truth About Peyton's Neck?)

How serious was this injury to begin with?

Djokovic Loses For Second Time in 2011 After Throwing In The Towel Against Andy Murray

Novak Djokovic looked like a spent man today in Cincinnati at the Western and Southern Open Finals.  Playing with what appeared to be absolutely minimal energy and a very sore shoulder, Djokovic retired in the second set to give Andy Murray the championship 6-4, 3-0.

Anyone could tell that Djokovic came out tired and flat, as Murray broke him twice in the first set.  Towards the end of the first set, Djokovic's condition deteriorated even further as his serve dramatically dropped power (falling under 100 mph indicating a major problem).

Photo: Mark Lyons/

USA Pro Cycling Challenge: World's Toughest Climbing Stages

Starting tomorrow, 130 professional cyclists from all over the world will start the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge.  If you like to watch climbing stages, this race will showcase some of the best days of racing in the world as these elite cyclists struggle in elevations they've only rarely raced in before.

To compare, here are the highest elevations reached in the Grand Tours this year:

Tour de France - Col du Galibier - 8,729 feet
Giro d'Italia - Cima Coppi - 9,191 feet
Vuelta Espana - Sierra Nevada - 11,213 feet

Pro Cycling Challenge
Cottonwood Pass- 12, 126 feet
Independence Pass - 12,095 feet

By the way, the Cottonwood and Independence summits are done on the same day: Stage 2.

Video: Rahim Moore's Dangerous and Illegal Hit on Bill's Donald Jones

The Concussion Blog sent me a link to a brief article and video on the "fencing response." This is the posture that Donald Jones's body took immediately after the hit. Very informative.

Was it an illegal hit? Decide for yourself:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Illegal Hit By Broncos' Rahim Moore On Buffalo Bills Rookie Donald Jones Highlights Concussions In Week 2 Pre-season

I was watching with a large group of people tonight during the Denver Broncos-Buffalo Bills game when the Broncos' Rahim Moore hit/tackled Donald Jones of the Buffalo Bills. (*** Update: Video Of The Hit Can Be Found Here) (***Moore Fined $20,000)

By "hit/tackled," I could have said "helmet-to-helmet hit" or "unbelievably illegal shot to the head," and I wouldn't have been wrong.  Once I find a video replay, I will post it here, but for now, I will summarize the hit as follows: Moore zeroed in on Jones as he attempted to make a catch on an overthrown ball and hit him directly in the head with either his shoulder or his own head.

Bill Players React After Their Own Donald Jones Is Drilled In The Head
Photo: John Leyba/Denver Post

Brady Quinn Jump-Starting NFL Career In Denver; Tim Tebow Doesn't Have Chance To Be Backup

All of that hushed talk this past week about Tim Tebow being pushed to 3rd string quarterback by Brady Quinn appears to now be true.  Watching both quarterbacks in tonight's pre-season game between the Broncos and the Bills showed a massive difference between the two players both in their play and in what they're given to do by the coaching staff.

Coach John Fox Shakes Brady Quinn's Hand Before The Game
Photo: John Leyba/Denver Post
Quinn went 10-16 for 135 yards with one touchdown and one interception.  In four drives, he directed a drive for a touchdown, a field goal, a three-and-out, and a long drive that ended in an interception on the goal line just before halftime.  The pass appeared to be a quick slant on a three-step drop, and the offensive line didn't appear to adequately block the defensive line. A Bills defensive end was able to tip the ball at the line of scrimmage, resulting in an interception.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Nadal And Federer Ousted Early Again As Djokovic, Murray Make It Into Semi-Finals Of Western and Southern Open

What is going on in the world of men's tennis?  For the second Masters 1000 tournament in a row, both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have been ousted before the semi-finals.

Getty Images
Novak Djokovic needed three sets to win his match today, but he made the semi-finals.  Djokovic improved to 56-1 and is 32-0 on hard courts this season.  He will play Tomas Berdych tomorrow.  Berdych upset a struggling Federer today.

Brady Quinn To Push Tim Tebow Further Down Depth Chart For Broncos

With all the talk about whether Tebow or Orton would be the starter in Denver this season (it sure isn't going to be Tebow), not much attention has been paid to the third quarterback on the roster: former first-round pick and Notre Dame-alum, Brady Quinn.

However, folks in Denver are saying that Brady Quinn has improved so dramatically in the off-season (an off-season that saw Tebow running around the country signing books rather than working with a quarterback coach) that he's now in position to be the long-term backup behind Orton.  Some might even say that he could be ready to start for a team soon.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A To-Do List For Football Fans: You Have Two Weeks To Get This List Done Before The Season Begins!!

Two weeks from tonight College Football (Bowling Green @ Idaho!!!) returns, and the week after that the NFL begins Week 1.  My fellow obsessive football fans, there are precious days left to get vital tasks done before the rest of the year will pass by in a blur.

To help you out, here's a checklist of things that you might want to get done now:

My Top Three Predictions For Who Will Take Terrell Pryor!

Terrelle Pryor will undoubtedly be drafted into the NFL come next Monday.  The major question now is who will take him?

My Top Three Teams:

  1. Cincinnati Bengals- The Bengals will have room on their roster once they release Carson Palmer's little brother (which they undoubtedly will).  They also have a need to re-engage the local fans, and having an OSU local legend on the team will fit that bill.  There's a possibility that Pryor could get into a few games after his suspension is over, just to run a few Wildcat-type plays, considering the possibility that the Bengals might have a problem moving the ball this season.
  2. Oakland Raiders - I could see where Al Davis would fall in love with Pryor's measurables.  That's all you need to know.
  3. Washington Redskins - Shanahan likes a challenge, and he has no need for Pryor this year if he's being truthful about how much he likes John Beck as his starter and Rex Grossman as backup.  
***Wildcard - Seattle Seahawks - Who knows what goes through Pete Carroll's head? He has Tavaris Jackson as his starter with Charlie Whitehurst as the primary backup.  Third string is undrafted rookie Josh Portis. 

Video Of Goals in Magicjack's Victory Against Boston In WPS Playoffs

This first video is Abby Wambach's first goal, followed by Megan Rapinoe's second half goal to finish the scoring at 3-1.

Terrelle Pryor Gets Curious Okay To Enter NFL Supplemental Draft

It seems extremely odd that with the evidence that has been publicly offered for/against Terrelle Pryor that the NFL would have gone against their usual decent judgement and allowed him into their supplemental draft.

What's even more curious is that, for the first time ever, a player will serve his college suspension in the NFL.  Now, why would he need to do that?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wambach and Rapinoe Lead Magicjack Past Boston In First Round of WPS Playoffs

Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe displayed some of that World Cup magic again tonight in helping Magicjack win in their first round of the Women's Professional Soccer League Playoffs.

Behind two goals by Wambach, and another by Rapinoe, Magicjack tonight defeated Boston 3-1 to advance to the semi-final round.

Explaining ESPN's New Quarterback Rating System (Or Trying)

If you watch ESPN at all, you're going to be hearing about a new Quarterback Rating System (QBR) that they have developed.  You're going to hear about it a LOT.  Trust me, they will ram it down our throats until we simply accept it as gospel.

I still think that virtually every NFL game will use the old quarterback rating system (which is equally as impossible to understand), but Monday Night Football will use the QBR.  I could see where Ron Jaworski will rave and rave about it.

So, in an effort to embrace and try to understand this insanely complicated new system, I am going to attempt to explain it to you here.  We'll be breaking it down into identifiable sub-parts to come up with the whole and then discuss some criticisms.  

Here goes:

Filling Out Your Bench: When To Play It Safe, And When To Gamble: Part 5 In My Fantasy Football Primer

I'm currently doing a slow draft in my Keeper Fantasy Football League.  A slow draft is usually done via text or email where each league member has a certain amount of time to make their selection, and everyone else in the league is notified at the same time who was picked.

It allows for a great deal of (over) analysis, but if you're a draft nut, this is the best kind of draft for you.  Because the draft itself can take a couple of weeks instead of a couple of hours, there is plenty of time to dig deep into player analysis.
One of the more difficult things to do as a fantasy league manager is to figure out what kind of depth you need on your team.  It can be difficult to know what to do.  These are my Four Keys to managing your bench during the draft:

Yahoo Video: Miami Booster's Motivation For His Actions; Unbelievable That Miami Didn't Stop Him

In an interview with Charles Robinson, the Yahoo reporter who interviewed Nevin Shapiro, Yahoo Radio discusses Shapiro's motivation and how he never got caught.

Al Golden Is Probably The Only Innocent Person At Miami And How He Can Get Out Of There

Current Miami Head Football Coach Al Golden is probably hoping he wakes up from this nightmare soon.  When Yahoo Sports revealed their 11-month investigation into several dozens hundreds of potential NCAA violations, Al Golden was probably the only Hurricane that could honestly say that he had no knowledge of what had happened.

Head Coach Al Golden
I'm not going to get into all the dirty details of Yahoo's amazing investigative story and interview with imprisoned Miami Booster, Nevin Shapiro.  Those can be found here.

I'm more interested in what will happen to Miami on the field and on the sideline this year.  Most certainly, before the football season is out, NCAA sanctions will come upon Miami stronger than any actual hurricane.

OSU Not Aware Of Terrelle Pryor's Newest Violations And Why All Of This Is Stupid

Interesting how the controversy around Terrelle Pryor is getting more complicated and more sordid by the day as he waits to see if he will be included in the NFL Supplemental Draft.

The latest revelation today was that Pryor confessed to the NCAA during their investigation that his "mentor", Ted Sarniak, gave him and his mother money and other gifts while he was at Ohio State.

Now, while I can totally believe that the above allegation is true, the timing of such revelation is curious.  On top of that, officials at Ohio State University are claiming that they had no knowledge of this.

Seven Reasons Why Josh McDaniels Will Turn Sam Bradford Into Tom Brady

The St. Louis Rams are about to undergo a vital transformation this year with the addition of former Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator. A transformation that should see the Rams finally regain their position as the clear top team in the NFC West.

Although McDaniels got chased out of Denver for decimating a once-proud franchise, his re-emergence in St. Louis will remind everyone just how much of an offensive genius he is.  Mark my words, Sam Bradford will be a top 10 quarterback this year.

Seven reasons why I believe Bradford will become a top 10 QB this year:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Abby Wambach: How She Prepares In An Inside The Edge Video

Be sure to watch Abby Wambach and the rest of Magicjack in the Women's Professional Soccer Playoffs!  Their game is tomorrow, August 17, against the Boston Breakers.

MMA Moves Mainstream; UFC Signs With Fox In Deal To Show MMA On Network TV

In the first deal struck between UFC and a major television network, Fox has agreed to show up to four MMA events per year.

Exact details are unknown, but the deal is thought to be for seven or eight years.  UFC will move shows such as "The Ultimate Fighter" and other shows currently airing on Spike TV and Versus to Fox-owned channels like Fuel and FX.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rex Ryan Can Say Mark Sanchez Has Arrived, But The Jets QB Is Still In A Holding Pattern

I've been trying to think of another starting quarterback in this league who gets more credit for something going right than Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets (Tim Tebow comes to mind but he's not starting anymore).

He plays with one of the best defenses in the league.  He has had an amazing offensive line in front of him.  His coaches are well-regarded and the Jets have made it to the AFC Conference game in his first two years.  Sanchez played well in the playoffs, yes, but had he actually played that well in the regular season, the Jets would have been the #1 seed instead of being the wild card. My contention is that a player like Matt Ryan would have gotten them that #1 seed and then taken them to the Super Bowl.

Women's Professional Soccer Update - Playoffs Set!!

The Women's Professional Soccer League Playoff teams are all set, and the unique format should allow for some fantastic games. In the WPS, winning the regular season is a HUGE prize, as the #1 seed gets two byes directly into the championship game.

Seedings (Playoff Format Below):

  1. Western New York Flash
  2. Philadelphia Independence
  3. Magicjack
  4. Boston Breakers

Graphic Courtesy Of WomensProfessional

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Novak Djokovic Is A Tennis Machine; Wins Rogers Cup, Sets Records

Today in Montreal, Novak Djokovic won yet another championship, defeating Mardy Fish to win the Rogers Cup.

Fish gave him a good fight, but ultimately Djokovic stepped up his game and won 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.

Here's some of the amazing things Djokovic did today by winning:

Dan Uggla's Hitting Streak Ends at 33; Fun While It Lasted!!

Dan Uggla's hitting streak has finally come to an end after 33 games.  Today against the Chicago Cubs, the Atlanta Braves second baseman went 0-3.

Uggla's hitting streak was the longest in the MLB since Chase Utley hit safely 35 games in a row in 2006.  He felt short of the franchise record set by Tommy Holmes in 1945 for the Boston Braves.

During the streak, Uggla hit 15 home runs and 32 RBIs, raising his batting average from .173 to .231.

The Braves are currently 9 games behind Philly in the NL East, and are leading the Wild Card chase (four games ahead of San Francisco).

Austin Collie's New Helmet: Can It Prevent Concussions?

Did the Indianapolis Colts do a disservice to their wide receiver, Austin Collie, last season in regards to his multiple concussions? One blog thinks so, and it's worth checking out the rationale.

The Concussion Blog is dedicated to concussion news in the world of sports, and it followed Collie's injuries closely last year.  There was a lively debate on whether Collie suffered two or three concussions in the course of the season before he was placed on IR.

Brett Favre Admits He's Done A Year Too Late

In a recent radio interview with a Buffalo radio station, future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre discussed his future.
"I don't have that feeling, that chip on my shoulder," said Favre, the NFL's all-time leader in numerous passing categories. "I mean, I could easily talk myself into that chip on my shoulder like, 'Hey everybody hates you,' ... I could motivate myself."
Indeed, that was one of the Five Reasons I stated in a blog post back in early July about why Favre wouldn't be coming back for another season. 

Favre also admitted that the 2010 season was a mistake on his part and that he should have retired following his amazing (and improbable) 2009 season where he led the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship Game.

Can we finally put this whole-Brett Favre-thing to rest now? I know ESPN likes to use him as one of their regular cash cows, but isn't everyone else already switched over to using Tim Tebow for that?

Tony Romo's First Five Years Bode Well For Cowboys Future: Better Stats Than Drew Brees

Entering his fifth season as an NFL starting quarterback, Tony Romo knows all about the ups and downs of the position.

If America's Team is really the Dallas Cowboys, then Tony Romo should be America's favorite quarterback. However, whenever most football fans make a list of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, names such as Manning, Brady, Brees, Rivers, Roethlisberger, and Rodgers are mentioned.

Romo is usually stuck somewhere in the second tier of top quarterbacks, along with Jay Cutler, Matt Schaub, and Matt Ryan.  Much of that has to do with lack of team results (only one playoff win since becoming the starter) and a perception that when the going gets tough, Romo can't stand up to the pressure.

American Soccer Players Are Over In European Leagues And Kicking Butt (Scoring Goals!)

Unbeknownst to many Americans, there are currently 55 American soccer players playing soccer in European Leagues.  While most casual soccer fans know that Landon Donovan is a star player in the MLS, not many know that most of the men's national soccer team don't play regularly in this country.  Aside from the group that is currently playing in Mexico (many of which played in the friendly against El Tri)

Here are some of the names you might recognize and where they play in Europe:

Montreal Authorities Finish Investigation On Chara Hit; Will Bruins Captain Be Prosecuted?

In one of the most ridiculous misuses of government authority in the sports world, police investigators in Canada have concluded their investigation into the hit that Boston Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara, placed on Montreal Canadiens' Max Pacioretty on March 8 (video below).

The hit knocked Pacioretty out of the game and resulted in a concussion and a cracked cervical vertebrae.  Pacioretty didn't play again the rest of the season.

NHL officials declined to suspend Chara after the hit, causing Montreal Canadiens fans everywhere to almost riot (hey, they're not Vancouver).  That's no surprise given the heated rivalry that has existed forever between those two teams.  Authorities in Montreal were goaded into turning this into a criminal investigation after the NFL declined to punish Chara.

Could the Patriots Actually Cut Ochocinco? Or Is this One of Belichick's Mind Games?

Bill Belichick is known for many things: master defensive strategist, risk-taker with his roster (or seemingly apparent risk-taker), and master motivator.  So it was (and wasn't) a surprise this past month when the New England Patriots brought two new controversial players onto the team.

First, he signed former Washington Redskins disappointment and former NFL All-Pro Defensive Lineman Albert Haynesworth.  Then he traded for Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson from Cincinnati.

Notre Dame: Quarterback Battle Bodes Well For Future

After the first week of practice, Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly says that the quarterback race is down to Senior Dayne Crist and Sophomore Tommy Rees.

This was the expected ending all along, despite the "open" competition between all four of the Irish quarterbacks when practice started.  True freshmen Everett Golson and sophomore Andrew Hendrix would have had to be amazing in their first week to come close to Crist or Rees, as neither has any game experience for the Irish.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Will Terrell Owens Really Be Ready To Play Week One After ACL Surgery In April?

Last time we heard of NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens, he had torn his ACL in the off-season and had surgery, severely hampering the 15-year veteran's chance of playing in the 2011 season.

In 2010 with the Cincinnati Bengals, Owens had 72 receptions for 983 yards and 9 touchdowns in 14 games.  That's a really good season for any wide receiver, and was his best season in three years.  Owens' contract with the Bengals was just for one year, so he became an unrestricted free agent once the season was over.

Drew Rosenhaus, Owens' agent, reported that the injury occurred in early April (and wouldn't disclose how it happened) and that he had surgery a few days later.  What is strange is that the timetable for his return was given as 4-6 months and that Rosenhaus believes he could play in the preseason.

People Care Too Much About Pre-Season Football Results

One of the things that bothers me in the NFL preseason while I'm waiting for real football to start is the undue emphasis placed on preseason game wins/losses.

Theoretically, a team that does really well in preseason should have a good chance of an excellent NFL regular season, but it usually doesn't turn out that way.  There's a really good blog post from here that goes into more detail about this issue.

Friday, August 12, 2011

US Men's Soccer Team Reactions After Tie With Mexico

Several players interviewed by US Soccer after the friendly match with Mexico. One good point made by Donovan was how when the Americans picked up the pressure against Mexico, they really turned the game around. Juan Agudelo makes another point on how he appreciates new coach Jurgen Klinsmann's approach. Many players mentioned the increased energy on the field.

Rogers Cup Semi-Finals Are Now Set: Djokovic and Tsonga To Meet Again

Novak Djokovic played his best match of this year's Rogers Cup today in defeating Gael Monfils 6-1, 6-2.  This sets up a rematch against his Wimbledon semi-final opponent, Jo-Wilifried Tsonga.  If anything, this could be the match of the tournament.

At Wimbledon this year, Djokovic defeated Tsonga in a highly entertaining match 7-6, 6-2, 6-7, 6-3.

Here's a look at one of their best rallies in the match.  Think we could still see this sort of athletic diving on the hard court?

Could Tim Tebow Get Traded? Broncos Should Look At Possibility

How far we've come in just a few weeks!! From thinking Tim Tebow would get the starting quarterback position to now knowing that there's just no way that the Broncos are going to trade Kyle Orton and perhaps Brady Quinn should be the #2 QB.  In fact, now I'm beginning to hear a few things around Denver that suggest that perhaps the Broncos should consider just jettisoning all the drama that surround Tebow and trade HIM to Miami.

In the roller coaster of opinions over the past month, there's a couple things that are becoming more obvious to me:

Dan Uggla's Hitting Streak Reaches 32; Passed Streaks From George Brett and Stan Musial

Atlanta Braves second-baseman Dan Uggla has just done what only 24 other players in the history of MLB have done: had a hit in 32 consecutive games.

Twenty players were able to accomplish just 30 straight hitting games, while another 10 maxed out with a 31-game hitting streak.

Freddy Adu Is Back In the MLS With His Old Coach

Freddy Adu is returning to America to play in the MLS in what will undoubtedly be called his "comeback."  When he left the MLS four years ago, many thought he was headed to bigger and brighter things.

Photo: Bob Levey/Getty Images

If Stafford Stays Healthy, Detroit Lions Will Be a Force In The NFC North

For the past few years, the Detroit Lions have seemed to be on the cusp of a winning season.  However, some really bad luck and some unfortunate injuries at key positions conspired against them.  If they can avoid these pitfalls, I can see the Lions as a potential wild card.

Am I crazy? Let's look at why I believe this:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Washington Nationals Phenom Bryce Harper Ejected From Game: Video

This blog is following the minor league career of Washington Phenom Bryce Harper as he travels up towards the big leagues.  Harper shined in his time at Class-A ball, but has had to adjust to a more difficult standard of play in Class-AA.

Looks like last night Harper's frustrations boiled over when he argued a called third strike from the umpire.  The video below shows Harper turning around and throwing his helmet to the ground after the call, earning an immediate ejection from the home-plate umpire.

Harper's been criticized before for his immaturity, but I consider it another step along the path for an 18-year-old millionaire who has been in the fishbowl since before he finished high school.  He has another year, most likely, before he hits the big leagues, and he would be wise to work on his temper but he's still just a kid.

Rogers Cup Update: Path Now Clear For Djokovic As Federer Is Defeated By Tsonga Yet Again

In what is turning out to be a most unusual Masters 1000-level tournament in Montreal, today's results at the Rogers Cup were very similar to the previous days as #3 overall seed Roger Federer was upset tonight in his third-round match.

Jo-Wilifried Tsonga pulled off another stunner against Federer, winning 7-6, 4-6, 6-1.  Some may remember that Tsonga was also the one who knocked Federer out of Wimbledon this year in the quarterfinals.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Video: Rogers' Goal To Tie USA-Mexico Match

US Men's National Soccer Team Draws With Mexico In Klinsmann Debut

It was almost as if there was a microcosm of the past few weeks of US Soccer displayed on the pitch tonight against Mexico.  In the first half, the team looked disjointed and off-balance, in the way that they have played at times under former coach Bob Bradley.

In the second half, with some excellent substitutions, the US Squad made it a game by tying it up on a Robbie Rogers goal in the 73rd minute and then narrowly missing a few chances to win the game at the end.

Rogers Cup Update: Another Major Upset As Nadal Loses

Rafael Nadal, the overall #2 player in the world was upset today against Ivan Dodig, 1-6, 7-6, 7-6.

That leaves just two of the top four players in the world in this tournament: Djokovic and Federer.

Novak Djokovic, playing in his first tournament as the top-ranked player in the world, survived a close first set to pull out a 7-5, 6-1 match against Nikolai Davydenko.

Roger Federer defeated Vasek Pospisil (Canadian) 7-5, 6-3.

With both the #2 and #4 seed gone, the path would seemingly be clear for someone on that side of the draw to unexpectedly make the finals. My favorites would be Mardy Fish or Tomas Berdych.

Third round action starts on Thursday.

Video: Jurgen Klinsmann Discusses His First Camp as Head Coach Of the Men's National Soccer Team

Courtesy of US Soccer. Check out Tim Howard's two amazing saves made in this video:

Installing Turf Makes Financial Sense For Chicago; Soldier Field Needs To Force Bears To Make Change

In the ongoing raging debate regarding the surface of Soldier Field, it is starting to become clear that the Chicago Bears need to change their mindset.  If they won't change, then I believe that the city of Chicago or even the NFL should force them to do so.

Their current grass surface is heavily criticized (especially the weather turns rough) by Bears players and opponents alike.  Some players want to convert to the FieldTurf, some to a type of turf known as DD GrassMaster (a hybrid of natural grass weaved together with millions of synthetic fibers), and some simply want a higher grade of grass sodded on the field.

What Does Each Field Cost?
Current grass (re-sodded each year): $500,000 every year
FieldTurf (sodded once and can last for up to three years) - $750,000
DD GrassMaster (same as FieldTurf although might last less time): $400,000

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Denver Broncos Make Orton Their Starting Quarterback; Tebow Is Sent Back To The Bench

If the signs coming out of Broncos Training Camp are to be taken at face value, there is every indication that Kyle Orton will remain the starting quarterback with Denver for this season.

He has simply performed too well, too much like a professional, and far and away has had the best performance of all three qbs on the field so far this pre-season.

Chicharito Will Miss Premiere League Opener, Still Recovering From Concussion

Javier Hernandez (aka Chicharito) is still being held out of action by his Manchester United team in order to bring him along more carefully following a concussion suffered on July 27.  He's also been held out of the the USA-Mexico match on Wednesday for the same reason.

Recent reports revealed that young Hernandez apparently has suffered from migraines in the past, and some reporters are trying to link his current condition to this prior episode.

Rogers Cup Update: Second Round Begins With Huge Upset

The second round at the Rogers Cup opened today, with all of the top 16 seeds scheduled to play over today and Wednesday.

Apparently nobody told #4 seed, Andy Murray, that he was playing today.  How else could one explain the straight set drubbing he took at the hands of Kevin Anderson, a South African ranked 35th in the ATP standings?

Dan Uggla's Streak Hits 30; How Far Can He Go?

Dan Uggla is on the hottest streak of his life.  For 30 consecutive games the Atlanta Braves second baseman has gotten at least one hit.  How good of a streak is that?

Over the course of MLB's 142-year history, only 53 players before Uggla had been able to hit in at least 30 games in a row.  Uggla becomes the 54th, and possibly the most unlikely.  Uggla's batting average when he started the streak, .172, is the lowest average since 1918 of any hitter who has made it this far.  

If he extends his streak to 31, he will be in the top 34 of hitting streaks.   Honestly, it's a bit of a boring stretch in the MLB right now prior to the run-up to any remaining playoff races. I'd like Uggla's streak to go on for a while longer.

Ohio State Buckeyes Paid Tressel Over $21 million; Why He Was Actually Not Paid What He Was Worth

Today it's being reported that Jim Tressel was paid over $21.7 million over his ten-year contract with Ohio State University.  Sound like a lot? Not really when you average it out over the ten years and then look at what Ohio State actually took in via revenues during that time.

If you just average it out over his ten  years, it's roughly $2.17 million per year.

What's the expected budgeted revenue for JUST the football team for the 2011-2012 school year?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bryce Harper Update: Showing Improvement, Almost Hits For Cycle

With the recent news of Steven Strasburg's minor league comeback debut, it is time to take another look at the other Washington Nationals phenom, Bryce Harper.

When last we looked at young Harper, he was struggling in his first month at Class-AA Ball in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  After just nine games, he was batting a dismal .194.  This was in contrast to his blazing .318 average in Class-A ball.

Bryce Harper
Photo: Rudy C. Jones/