Category Archives: Sports

NHL All-Star Draft

As I am playing some catch up on my DVR I have to say yet again that I absolutely love the All-Star draft that the NHL started doing last year.

Concept is simple. Instead of a simple East versus West game (or North America versus the World!) they pick two captains and they do a school yard style pick from a pool of All-Stars. Other sports needs to adopt this. I’d be much more interested in the NBA All-Star game if they did this.
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NFL Playoff Predictions

With the games getting underway shortly I wanted to take a moment to post my playoff predictions. Looking back at my preseason predictions I ended up getting 8 out of the 12 playoff teams. If it wasn’t for the disappointing years from the Chargers and Jets they would look a lot better. I’m a 49ers fan and I didn’t pick them for the playoffs so I’m glad I was wrong on that one as well.

I am going to take the Bengals +4 to win outright against the Texans. Hats off to Marvin Lewis for the great job he has done with this team. The whole Carson Palmer situation should have been a big distraction for the team but not only did they pull off a great trade with the Raiders they still got to the playoffs with a rookie quarterback in Andy Dalton. Once Peyton Manning went down this really should have been the year of the Texans in the AFC. They should have locked up a bye but ended up being caught up in injuries themselves. They’ve done well to get to this point but I think their season ends today.

The Lions finishing 10-6 and making it to the playoffs is a great sports story given where that franchise and more importantly where that city has been but in a way even with the Green Bay Packers being in that division they almost seems like an underachieving team given the way they started the year. If Ndamukong Suh can keep head on straight this should be a start of great things to come for the Detroit Lions in the coming years. I think the Lions will cover the 11 point spread but the Saints will pull out the win. What a year Drew Brees had. I think Aaron Rodgers slowing down late in the season will help Brees pull out the MVP. The Saints probably are the one team in the NFC who can stop the Packers from repeating.

Even with a four game losing streak (and two additional losses to the Washington Redskins) the Giants somehow managed to make the playoffs and save Tom Coughlin’s job. For whatever reason people like to knock Eli Manning but he took a big step forward this year. With the game on the line there are very few quarterbacks in the league who you’d want guiding that two minute drill. He is one of those quarterbacks. The Falcons should be a lot better at this point with Matt Ryan. I understand that being in the same division as the Saints doesn’t help but this team doesn’t excite me one bit. They do have a sour taste from last year’s playoffs but I believe they lose again this weekend. I’ll take the Giants -3.

“Tebow Time” is finished. I made a post earlier in the season saying Tebow would no longer be a starter by the middle of next season but a loss today could very well push that up to the start of next season. The Broncos offense continues to look awful. I think if they lose big today the Broncos will bring someone else at least compete with Tebow for the job next year. Given how banged up the Steelers are right now things are laid out pretty good with Broncos, the Steelers could very well lose this week……but I just don’t think the Broncos have it in them. I’ll take the Steelers -9.

For the heck of it here are my picks for the rest of the playoffs at this moment.

Divisional Round

Packers over Giants
Saints over 49ers
Patriots over Bengals
Ravens over Steelers

Conference Championship

Packers over Saints
Ravens over Patriots

Super Bowl XLVI
Packers over Ravens
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2011 NFL Predictions

Are you ready for some football?

Who are you picking to make the playoffs this year? Here’s how my picks shape up.

NFC Division Winners – Saints, Packers, Eagles and Rams
NFC Wildcard Winners – Lions and Falcons

AFC Division Winners – Jets, Chargers, Ravens and Texans
AFC Wildcard Winners – Patriots and Steelers

AFC Championship Game – Jets over Ravens
NFC Championship Game – Packers over Saints

Super Bowl – Packers over the Jets

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Peyton Manning

Now that it has been announced that Peyton Manning will miss Week 1, would it really surprise anyone if he missed like 3-4 weeks?

Why am I bringing this up? A lot of people already had the Colts as just a 8 or 9 win team. Being without Peyton Manning for any length of time obviously lowers that number significantly. Say the Colts end up as a 2 or 3 win team. What do they do with the #1 pick next year? Do they draft Andrew Luck and let him learn from the best for a couple of years? Do they traded down and get a ton of picks so they can give Manning a lot of new toys to make a run with?
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Vin Scully announces his return as only he can

One of the greatest ever announced his return to return in 2012.

Vin Scully will his 63rd season as the broadcaster of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has had the gig since they played in Brooklyn. This news comes just days after it was reported that the Dodgers were asking season ticket holders to evaluate Vin Scully.

Watch the clip.

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Vin Scully I Saw It on the Radio (A Tribute Book)

Mike Jacobs of Colorado Rockies tests positive for HGH, banned 50 games

Mike Jacobs of Colorado Rockies tests positive for HGH, banned 50 games – ESPN

What a shame. His career hasn’t lived up to the hype that surrounded him after he hit 11 homeruns in his first 30 MLB games and now this? He becomes the first player in North American team sports to be suspended for the use of HGH.

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Boston’s domination of the sports landscape

Congratulations to the Boston Bruins on ending their three decade long drought for the Stanley Cup. Remarkably the teams representing the Boston area have won championships in each of the four major sports in the last 7 years. Is there another city that has done so in such a short time frame?  I can’t think of one.  Remarkably the Patriots now have the longest championship drought in the Boston market. On twitter we came up with a few who had 3 in short period of time.

Jets, Mets and Knicks won in 69-70.
Oakland had Warriors, Raiders,A’s 74-77.
Mets, Islanders, Giants did it 83-86.
Yanks, Giants and Rangers from 91-96.

Any others?

Darren Rovell of CNBC points out that up until 1993 the longest drought Canada had was five years but now they haven’t won one since 1993.

Darren Pang of Versus had to get creative on the post game show to get a microphone up to Zdeno Chara who is 6’9″. Yes, that is a hockey stick attached to the microphone.

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Shaquille O’Neal Press Conference

Shaquille O’Neal announced his retirement this week marking the end of one of the greatest careers in NBA history.

There really hasn’t been anyone as dominant as him in a long time. To me he really was the total package. He was great on the court (even with his troubles on the free throw line) and hilarious off of it. He always seemed have “it”. He knew how a star like him should act and how he should market himself. I can’t think of another athlete in recent memory who was as good as him on the field of play and handled him or herself in a great manner off of it the Shaq always did. He was never afraid to laugh at himself and that was part of his charm.

He invited the basketball media to his mansion in Orlando for his press conference because he said he wanted to thank each one of them personally. I’m sure part of it that he wants a future in the media and he didn’t shy  away from that letting ESPN,TNT and CNN among others know that he was looking for a job. TNT needs to hire him immediately. Put him as the fourth member of TNT’s crew with Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. It would be must watch TV each and every time. ESPN has apparently reached out to him already.

You can watch the press conference here.
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Shaq Talks BackMcFarlane Toys NBA Sports Picks Series 2 Shaquille O'Neal (Los Angeles Lakers) Yellow Jersey Action Figure

“Americans don’t care about Soccer”

“Americans don’t care about Soccer.”

We’ve heard that line for years. People who don’t like soccer have used one lame excuse after another to ignore the world’s most popular sports and the world’s biggest sporting event. We’ve heard people whine about the lack of scoring, we’ve heard them moan about the “diving” and we’ve heard them complain about the officiating. This time around we’ve even seen them try to knock the Vuvuzelas. I wanted to use this space to address some of these “issues” and hopefully give you some other reasons why you must tune in.
We’ve all heard people say that no one watches soccer right? The US/England game which was played on a Saturday afternoon drew over 17 million people to their televisions in the US. That number is higher then the average for the first six games of the NBA finals. Heck, it was comparable to the roughly 18 million people who watch NFL games from week to week during the course of a football season. To put that into perspective keep in mind  that “only 13.5 million tuned in to watch the finale of “Lost,” which is the same number of viewers who watched the “Dancing with the Stars” finale.” Through the first 14 games of the World Cup ratings on ESPN/ESPN2/ABC have seen “a 64% increase from the same period in 2006.” That number does not include people watching the Spanish broadcasts on Univision or the authorized live streams provided by ESPN 3 and Univision.com. That number includes millions more. 
The World Cup has dominated social media too. Twitter recognized ahead of time that the World Cup was going to dominate discussion on its platform for the month so they dedicated a portion of their site to the World Cup. A quick search of the terms “USA” or “USMNT” will provide thousands of tweets from around the country. It has always made it easy for fans who are at work or in classes to discuss the game from the comforts of their homes, desks or offices. 
ESPN needs to be applauded for their efforts this time around. At Euro 2008 they took measures to reduce costs and let announcers call games from a studio in Bristol, CT. Thankfully that is not the case at this World Cup. ESPN has gone all out and has sent out a very good team to South Africa. Darren Rovell of CNBC recently reported that ESPN sent over 300 people to South Africa to handle their coverage. That a huge improvement for ESPN from 4 years ago when they called 20 games from studios in the US. ESPN 3 (where available) has been a huge asset for them. Early in the World Cup there were 1.3 million people watching live online. That number has likely gone up now as they continue to advertise it on a daily basis. I am a big Olympics fan but get annoyed by their tape delayed coverage. For the 2nd straight World Cup the ESPN family of networks are airing all 64 games live
There is a segment of the population that believes that soccer is boring because there is a lack of action. I will never understand the fascination with high scoring games. I would much rather watch a 1-0 or 2-1 baseball game with great pitching and defense in the National League over a 7-5 American League game. High scoring hockey games get annoying as do most high scoring football games. Is a 127-125 NBA game really fun? Whatever happened to “defense wins championships?” Yes, there is less scoring but the ball is always in play. There are no lengthy “TV timeouts”. I don’t now how many of you caught this but Wall Street Journal had a great article earlier this year about there only being 11 minutes of actual action in a NFL game.  Just think about that for a second. That works out to roughly 18% of the actual game time and obviously far less once you factor in all the stoppages. I haven’t seen a similar study for baseball but I can’t imagine that the numbers would be much different there. How can you complain about soccer being dull when after every pitch the batter takes 15 seconds to adjust everything from his helmet to his cup? How can you complain about there being down time in soccer when the last 5 minutes of a basketball game take about 40 minutes to complete?  
Over the past two weeks I’ve seen people comment on not being able to watch soccer because players “dive” too much. These people can’t possibly be serious right? I can’t help but laugh at these people since many of these same people were just going on and on last week about the greatness of the NBA Finals. How can anyone be a NBA fan and complain about diving in other sports? We’re talking about a league where even the tiny bit of contact gets you a foul. We’re talking about a league where players exaggerate contact just so they can get to the free throw line. We’re talking about a league where players and coaches work the officials the entire game so they notice and call fouls on every little contact. Are these people seriously trying to tell me that a Wide Receiver in the NFL has never tried to sell a pass interference penalty? Have these people never seen a catcher move his glove after a pitch to try and sell a strike? How is any of this any different? Athletes and coaches have been working officials for a long time in ALL sports. 
Vuvuzelas have been a huge a subject on conversation at the World Cup this year. If you are not familiar with Vuvuzelas I wrote about them last week. Again, I have to ask you, how is that any different then what happens at sporting venues around the world? Part of what makes sports great is regional traditions. ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys said it best recently:

It’s part of the experience and flavor of football in South Africa. 

I couldn’t agree with him more. I was at a Raptors/Nets NBA Playoff game in 2007. It was Game 6 at what is now known as the IZOD Center. The majority of the fans in attendance though were Raptors fans. Nets players were getting booed throughout the game on their home court so for the final minute the Nets game day crew piped in crowd noise into the arena to drown out the Raptors fans. There was no way the Nets fans were actually that loud that night. Would you rather have that over actual noise being made by fans? Things like the thundersticks are widespread around North American sports. How is that any different? If you’re that bothered by it, buy ear plugs
I always get a kick out of US media trying to sell to us the idea that close to a billion people watch the Super Bowl. I can believe the 100 Million viewers in the US for the Super Bowl but if you try to tell me that people actually care about the Super Bowl in Buenos Aires, Seoul, Johannesburg, Madrid or Athens I will just laugh at you. Believe it or not there actually is civilization on the other side of the Atlantic and Pacific and they do have different interests. The FIFA World Cup truly is that global event. It has stopped wars and it is a passion followed closely around the world. 
Will this World Cup run help grow soccer in the US? Sure it will and it has been. People in this country have been embracing Soccer for the better part of the last 20 years. Hosting the World Cup in 1994 was big and stadiums were sold out from coast to coast.  MLS has definitely helped the sport in the US as well. Is it comparable to the big international leagues? Of course not, but it is growing. The success of hockey at the Olympics this year helped the NHL ride the momentum to record TV ratings, surely MLS can expect a similar bump? Average MLS attendance is expected to increase 15.4 percent in 2010, to about 18,500 fans per game. There are teams in the NBA and MLB who would love to have those attendance numbers. There are new soccer specific stadiums being built around the league and the MLS has been expanding across the continent. ESPN has been doing a great job promoting the sports while also appeasing the real fans. Coverage this year hasn’t been “dumbed down” like previous events were. 

How can you not like this sport? How can you not like the World Cup? I love the format. Pool play is great and the knockout stage is even better. ESPN has a great advertising campaign that says “One Game Changes Everything” and that couldn’t be more true. Just take the US win over Algeria that won them their group for the first time since 1930. The US was on the verge of elimination from the tournament but one great play, one great moment, one great game changed everything. The success of the at this World Cup will go a long way towards securing the rights to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup here in the US. FIFA is going to award those rights in December. 






I’m getting ahead of myself. It was just one goal. But remember today when the bids are announced later in the year. If the United States gets the 2022 (or even 2018) World Cup, today was a huge reason why. Some ten year old kid out there who watched today’s match and ran outside to re-enact that goal over and over again in his backyard…he might just be thanking Donovan in 12 years. 

I would love the opportunity to go to World Cup games here in the US. It is one of the items on my bucket list.

I grew up in Karachi, Pakistan. I have been a fanatical sports fan all my life. It doesn’t matter what the sport. Cricket will always be number one for me but even as a 9 year old living in Pakistan I used to get up at all hours of night to watch the 1994 World Cup which was held in front of sold out stadiums around the US from  the Rose Bowl to Giants Stadium. When I moved to Toronto in 1995 the city was getting ready for the induction of the Raptors into the NBA so I quickly became a basketball fan. That fall the great playoff series between the Yankees and the Mariners was going on and that led me to embrace baseball. Living in Toronto I quickly became a hockey fan and remain a fanatical Maple Leafs fan to this day living here in New Jersey.. In international sports I generally root for Pakistan or Canada but I have been fully behind the US Soccer team since I moved here 10 years ago. 

Don’t try to tell me that Americans don’t care about soccer. There is nothing wrong with you not liking the sport but quit announcing it to the world. No one cares. It really has been a shame seeing some really smart people act like ignorant fools for the past 12 days. If you are that bothered by it turn off your TV and stay off of twitter. No one cares about your “jokes” about soccer being boring. It doesn’t make you cool.  I ran across a brilliant column on this subject from Andrew Kron. 




Oh, American Sports Fans…




It hasn’t even been a week and you’re already starting to complain about the World Cup.

There isn’t enough scoring. Why would I want to watch Ghana play Serbia? What in the world is that damn buzzing noise in the background of the television? I can’t understand the commentators. There isn’t enough scoring. Why do half of these guys only have one name? There isn’t enough scoring.

Just stop. Slow down for a second… Now do me a favor. Don’t like what you see? Then turn your television off. Don’t read the newspaper articles. Don’t watch the highlights on SportsCenter. Just, don’t watch anymore. Go watch baseball or motocross, or Hannah Montana, I don’t really care. To me, the more you rant and rave and complain the more you are embarrassing not only yourself, but your country as well. So again, do me a favor. Turn your television to the Disney Channel and keep it there.

I couldn’t agree with him more. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. Turn off ESPN but please let us watch in peace. You can’t tell us that people don’t care when we see US soccer jerseys everywhere. I was at a hospital today. It was an amazing sight to see doctors, nurses and other hospital staff spill into the waiting room to catch the closing minutes of the US game. Don’t try to tell me that Americans don’t care when World Cup talk has been dominating twitter in the US.

I leave you with this brilliant Youtube brilliance.

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2010 World Cup Soccer Team USA FASHION SOCCER Jersey SIZE ADULT LARGEFIFA Soccer 11

Would you walk away from $1.2 Million?

Can you imagine a scenario where you would get the chance to win $1.2 Million but would willingly walk away? Keep in mind that I’m not asking you to do anything illegal for that $1.2 million. Confused? Remember the name Ross Fisher. It is a name you might hear for a very long time to come. By the time you wake up this morning this story might have already been played out but read on anyways.

Ross Fisher is a professional golfer. Chances are you’ve never heard of him. But Mr. Fisher finds himself in a situation where he is willing to pass up on the $1.2 million in prize money that he would receive for winning the British Open. The win would be the biggest of his career by a long shot and would come at a tournament that you can easily argue is the biggest in his sports. He comes into the 4th and final round this morning just 1 shot off the lead. Tiger Woods didn’t make the cut. Phil Mickelson isn’t playing in this tournament and several big names also failed to qualify for the weekend’s play or are so far back that they are non-factors at this point. Seems like he has a legitimate enough shot at the win doesn’t it? Just one slight problem though. Fisher’s wife is expecting the couple’s first child. Talk about timing. Ross Fisher has said that his priority is to be there with his wife in England. The tournament is being held in Scotland so obviously not a long flight over.

It is very much possible that Fisher could be in the lead in the final round and about to wrap up the biggest win of his career….but walk away from it. Can you blame him though? How can you not root for this guy? We hear so much about selfish athletes who care about nothing but money, it really is nice to hear of a guy who’s willing to leave so much money on the table.

This got me thinking….any other scenarios under which you would walk away from $1.2 million?

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