Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Marshall Law

It looks like the Broncos will trade top wide receiver Brandon Marshall after trading away quarterback Jay Cutler earlier in the year. There is no way the Broncos will be able to move on with a distraction like Marshall.

Here is what the Denver Broncos offense looked like at the end of last season.

Coach Shanahan
QB Cutler
RB Nobody. They all got hurt.
WR Marshall
WR Eddie Royal
WR Brandon Stokley
TE Tony Scheffler

Here is what the Broncos should look like this coming season

Coach McDaniels
QB Kyle Orton
RB Knowshon Moreno
RB Correll Buckhalter
WR Eddie Royal
WR Brandon Stokely
WR Brandon Lloyd/Jabbar Gaffney
TE Tony Scheffler

The Broncos seem to downgrade on first glance, but if they can shore up the defense, in the weak AFC West, they don't have to be crazy in order to make the playoffs. The offense gets stronger in RB, which is something the Broncos didn't have last season.

I think the Broncos should trade Marshall as soon as possible, and it will be a blessing in disguise. Crazy right?

Here are Marshall's career numbers:


He was a Pro-Bowler in 2008. In each of the past two years, he has ranked in the top 5 in receptions, top 7 in yards, top 7 in receiving yards per game, and top 10 in yards per touch. He is an elite reciever, and a game changing type of player.


For SOME reason, guys who get in trouble, who happen to play in the NFL cannot seem to stay out of trouble. Pacman, Chris Henry, Ced Benson, Tank Johnson all come to mind. I absolutely LOVE watching Marshall play. He is a certified Grade-A Beast on the football field, but you would think that the Darrent Williams incident would have been enough for him to learn from. Apparently not. Marshall will end up getting a full season suspension from Goodell eventually.

Are there any teams that should pursue Brandon Marshall? Yes. Even though I believe he will get himself kicked out of the league one day, there are teams that should try to get him to make a push for the Super Bowl in the short term.

Baltimore Ravens - The Flac Attack needs more options on offense.
Tennessee Titans - The Titans won 13 games with Justin Gage (651 yds, 6 TDs) as their leading receiver.
Indianapolis Colts - Manning + Wayne + Marshall would be UNSTOPPABLE
Minnesota Vikings (if Favre) - Favre won't be enough to get this team to the Super Bowl. Maybe Favre and Marshall will be enough.
Chicago Bears - Cutler and Marshall will be productive right away, and could go crazy on the NFC North.
Carolina Panthers - Muhsin is solid, but is a #3 receiver at this point in his career. Steve Smith and Marshall would be an unbelievable vertical and possession receiver combo.
Atlanta Falcons - Roddy White emerged last season playing with Matty Ice, and Marshall would be a nice big target for the improving quarterback.

Whoever gets him, or if Denver keeps him: Your time is running out. This guy is a ticking time bomb. You'd better win as soon as possible.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Yao could miss the next season. He could miss longer. He's got a broken foot that should have been pretty much healed by now, but actually got worse. This could be the end of Yao's career.

This got me wondering. Where does Yao, who has only played 7 seasons and 481 games, rank among other players in NBA history? There's no doubt Yao wouldn't make the Hall of Fame if his career were to end today, but you would think that if he could manage to play 7 more seasons, he would be on a pretty decent Hall of Fame pace, considering his global impact on the game.

Strictly speaking in terms of totals, Yao is pretty umimpressive.

His 4467 rebounds is 241st all time. A few players with more rebounds are Michael Finley (4733), Troy Murphy (4618), and Rashard Lewis (4485) - not a single one of them a center.

His 912 blocks is good for 87th all time. Hey, in the top 100, pretty good right? Not so fast. Ahead of him are career journeyman and Cal Berkeley guest lecturer Adonal Foyle (1193), Pau Gasol (1000) and "Say Hello to" Raef LaFrentz (919). Also, just below him at 893 is Michael Jordan. Not players who jump out at you as being shot blocking machines, but makes sense given he's only played 7 seasons.

His 9196 points are outside of the top 250, so I have no idea who else is around him, but probably nobody impressive. Greg Ostertag maybe? Bill Wennington? Kevin Duckworth? Kevin Malone?

If you look at his averages, they're a bit better, but still not amazing.

His 52.5% FG shooting is 32nd all time, tied with Bill Cartwright, ahead of Bill Walton (52.08%) and Magic Johnson (51.97).

His 19.1 points per game ranks with Isiah Thomas (19.23) and Jamal Mashburn (19.06).

His 9.3 rebounds per game sits between Rony Wolfman Seikaly (9.47) and Derrick Coleman (9.26).

His 1.9 blocks per game hang with Jermaine O'Neal's 1.94 and Zydrunas Ilgauskas's 1.72.

So what did we learn here?

Yao, by the numbers, hasn't really made his mark on the game yet. If he is forced to retire prematurely, he will have fallen way short of his potential. The Rockets' efforts to build a team around him for the better part of the last decade will all be for nothing, as the Rockets haven't even come close to the NBA Finals.

On the other hand, Yao has opened doors. Many doors. 1.33 billion doors. Thanks to Yao, China has gone basketball crazy. The way Yao is an ambassador to the game, and the way he has learned the English language and been able to be appealing and marketable is everything David Stern could have wanted, and more.

If David Stern was Dr. Evil, trying to take over the world with professional basketball, Yao would be his right hand man, Number 2. Ha Seung Jin would be Patty O'Brien (they're always after me lucky charms) suffering career death before it ever started, and Yuta Tabuse would be Mustafa (i'm still alive, only i'm very badly burned). If Ha Seung Jin or Yuta Tabuse would have been half as successful as Yao, they would have had a similar effect on Korea and Japan, respectively.

It seems like at best Yao will play only a few more years and have an abbreviated basketball career. This is a shame, but if there is anyone who can have a lasting impact on the game with largely unimpressive numbers, it's Yao Ming.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Lookalike Friday 4

Oh yeah, Lookalike Friday time!

I'm going back to humans and mascots. This week we have San Diego Padres utility infielder and older brother of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Edgar Gonzalez. I thought to myself, boy...doesn't he look a lot like...

The Arizona State Sun Devil?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Quick Hits

A few quick thoughts:

Shaq to Cleveland:
- On first glance, I don't think Shaq's arrival changes much for the Cavs. Shaq had a good season last year, but you can't ignore that he's 37 years old. Shaq will provide a presence in the offense, but LeBron is a slasher. He is much better going toward the basket than he is as a shooter. There will be times where he could draw the defense and dish to Shaq, but I think there will be more instances where LeBron won't drive to the basket because Shaq is clogging the middle, and will take a less productive jump shot instead. Mo Williams and Delonte West will get open looks because smaller teams will double Shaq, but that won't matter in the long run because the Cavs got Shaq to be more competitive in the playoffs, and the biggest contenders in the Eastern Conference, Boston and Orlando, are big teams who won't need to double Shaq. (sorry, crazy run-on sentence)

US def. Spain:
- Obviously the Confed Cup isn't anywhere near the World Cup in prestige, but it's a good win. It will be something US Soccer can build on. The US team needs to play Brazil in the Final. They need to play Brazil and play them well. They don't need to win, but playing them close will cement the confidence gained by this victory over Spain.
- Sergio Ramos is still the coolest soccer player around:

Only the best would have his entire name on his jersey.

NBA Draft:
- It should be pretty interesting. It seems like Ricky Rubio is going to go top-5, which he should. The kid is dazzling. A few players I'm going to keep my eye on to see where they go are Pitt Forward DeJuan Blair, high-school-star-who-skipped-college-to-play-for-a-pro-team-in-Italy-instead Brandon Jennings, UNC Forward Tyler Hansbrough, and Davidson Guard Stephen Curry.

- If DeJuan Blair falls below the 15th pick, it's going to be a steal for whoever gets him. He's a little short, but he's a beefman, straight up.

- Brandon Jennings could go anywhere in the first round. I haven't seen him play, but playing in Italy, learning the european style of game certainly couldn't have hurt the future point guard. I want him to do well so that more high school players will consider playing professionally abroad in lieu of college.

- I'm convinced Utah will take Tyler Hansbrough with the 20th pick. Do a player and a team fit each other better than Hansbrough and the Utah Jazz? I think not. I may cry if Hansbrough gets passed on by the Jazz.

- Stephen Curry is projected to go top-5. I think that's a reach. He's a great shooter, above average passer, and that's about it. A top-5 pick to a one-trick-pony? A short one-trick-pony, at that.

LSU def. Texas in the Collge World Series:
- It's interesting to see how college baseball is getting more popular, with more game coverage, and the draft being more publicized than ever before.

- I know how players can be filled with emotion and jump all over each other in the dogpile, but JEEZ that looks dangerous for the pitcher and catcher at the bottom. I'm honestly surprised nobody has gotten seriously injured at the bottom.

NL Westward, HO!

Finish the sentence:

The Los Angeles Dodgers are to the NL West as Turtle is to...


Turtle in Entourage is the guy who everyone thinks gets ladies only because he hangs out with Vinny Chase and other cool guys like Drama. Who would think any differently? He's chubby, he's kinda crass, and his job is to basically drive his friends around and not die. Everyone knows Turtle is who he is because of the people around him.

Then, you get thrown a curveball in Season 5. Turtle gets Jamie Lynn Sigler to be his girlfriend, all on his own. He doesn't get help from Vince, he doesn't impress her with his connections, he doesn't do anything like that. It's all Turtle. Then ladies begin to realize how awesome this guy truly is. But by that time it's too late for them.

The Dodgers share a lot of things in common with Turtle. They get unfairly judged because of the company they keep (NL West). People think the Dodgers have the best record in all of baseball because they get a lot of cheap wins from the NL West. People think when the Dodgers have to face the rest of the teams in the playoffs that they, like Turtle, will be unable to stand on their own two feet.

The reality is that the NL West is not the worst division in the MLB. In fact, the NL West is not even among the worst divisions. IN FACT, the NL West is one of the BEST divisions in the MLB.

If you look at the MLB Relative Power Index (RPI):
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
8. SF Giants
9. Colorado Rockies
21. San Diego Padres
28. Arizona Diamondbacks

Only the AL East and the NL West have three teams in the top 10

*As of the morning of June 25, 2009
If you take the winning percentage of each division:
AL East: 193-166 (53.76%)
NL West: 184-173 (51.54%)
AL West: 143-139 (50.71%)
NL Central: 210-212 (49.76%)
AL Central: 171-187 (47.37%)
NL East: 164-188 (46.59%)

Obviously there are more factors that have to be taken into consideration when ranking each division in baseball, but the above breakdowns prove that the NL West is at least in the top three.

So if an NL West team ends up going on to win it all, don't be one of those who slept on them.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Put on your thinking CAP

You may be wondering if the Lakers can afford to keep Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom.

You also may be wondering if the Cavs can afford to get Yao or Shaq.

You may not be wondering either of these, but too bad. I'm telling you anyway.

The NBA Salary cap should be around $60 million next year, with the Luxury Tax cutoff at around $75 million or so. Basically each NBA team can exceed the salary cap, but they only have to pay the luxury tax penalty if they go over the luxury tax threshold. This penalty is dollar-for-dollar (i.e. if your payroll is $80M and the cutoff is $71M, you pay a penalty of $9M)

Here is what the Lakers' payroll looks like for this past season and the next few seasons. (from hoopshype.com)

Things to point out:
- The Lakers, even without Ariza, Odom, DJ Mbenga, Josh Powell, and Shannon Brown are already close to the payroll they had for this past season.
- A big reason is the $10M raise due to Drew Bynum

*Disclaimer: There are many exceptions when it comes to NBA salary cap figures, and I won't be taking these into account. Therefore, the numbers may be off by a few million dollars, but no more than that.*

First things first, Kobe is going to opt out and the Lakers are going to have to go FDR and get him a new deal. As it stands Kobe would make $23M next year. I honestly think he'll take a new deal that's backloaded with a heavy signing bonus, so the Lakers can have some more money to use on other players. I think Kobe's 09-10 salary actually will come back down toward the $21M he made this past year. Kobe would do that.

Ideally you'd love to bring down Walton and Vujacic at least 500K apiece, down to their actual value to the team, but that's unlikely.

Also, Fisher's $5M would be nice to play with, but his contract was too short and cannot be extended or renegotiated. Additionally, even if he retires, his salary counts against the cap.

The most intriguing player is Adam Morrison. He isn't playing. He can be good, but honestly is he any better or any different than Sasha Vujacic? You only need one of those types of guys on a team.

The easiest way to get his salary off the books is to trade him for draft picks. Alternatively, they could release him or trade him for cash, but some amount of his salary would remain on the books.

Sun Yue is probably gone, along with Shannon Brown, unless the Lakers are able to sign only one of Ariza and Odom.

It looks like the Lakers can free up about only $3.7M to $7.7M to pay Odom and Ariza, if that. Yowzas.

This begs the question: How much are Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom worth?

In terms of height, age, player efficiency rating and my own opinion, I think Trevor Ariza is similar to Tayshawn Prince, Richard Jefferson, and Ron Artest. If you take their average salaries, per year, you get $11M. Ariza is still young and has had injury problems and really only one solid year, so I don't think he'll go for $11M, but I think he'll probably get at least $8M.

I believe Lamar Odom wont get a huge raise and should probably end up around $13M per year, give or take $1M.

Combined, between Odom and Ariza, the Lakers are looking at around $20M, give or take.

There are only three scenarios under which the Lakers will be able to resign Odom and Ariza:
1. Kobe takes a significant paycut down to about $17M, and Ariza and Odom also take cuts to stay with the team, totaling $14M. The Lakers will pay luxury tax of about $4M.
2. The Lakers say "Eff it! We're doing it live! Bring on the luxury tax!," and sign everyone at their asking price and pay a luxury tax of $19M or so.
3. Find a way to get Vujacic and Walton off the books, most likely by trading them for draft picks and/or cash. This will free up another $10M, in addition to Morrison's $5M, and a small paycut from Kobe later, you are nicely right at the luxury tax threshold.

I don't think scenario 1 or 3 are going to happen. Though the team may not lose much by way of productivity numbers-wise, it's nice to have players like Vujacic and Walton on your bench to chip in every now and then. You just don't want to pay them too much to do it.

I think scenario 2 is actually most likely, and highly viable. In 07-08 the Knicks paid $19.7M in luxury tax and the Mavs paid $19.6M, so it's not like there is no precedence for it. Also, if you can bring back the entire roster, you figure to make it to at least the Finals again, and the revenue from playoff tickets and merchandise sales stemming from Finals gear and Championship gear may pay a good chunk, if not all, of the luxury tax.

In short, the Lakers could sign them if they really wanted, but given the numbers presented to them, it's going to be really hard unless they can get some guys to take paycuts.

Later this week I'll take a look at Shaq or Yao to the Cavs, both in terms of salary and if I think it would even make a big difference.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lookalike Friday 3

Oh yeah, Lookalike Friday time!

This week we have PGA Tour golfer Jason Day. I thought to myself, boy...doesn't he look a lot like...

Carmelo Anthony?

Disclaimer: Jason Day doesn't really look like Carmelo all the time, just on shots straight on to his face. Below is Jason Day from another angle.

What you talkin' bout Willis?

Today the Tigers placed Dontrelle Willis on the 15-day DL with an "anxiety disorder" for the second time, I believe, since he was traded there.

Remember when Dontrelle broke into the league with the Marlins in 2003?

He won Rookie of the Year, went 14-6 with a 3.30 ERA and he was a key part in the Marlins winning the World Series. His herky-jerky but effective delivery had ESPN and Fox flashing clips of Willis interlaced with clips of Fernando Valenzuela. Everyone thought the "D-Train" was going to be the cornerstone of the Marlins organization for years to come.

In 2005 he went 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA and finished behind Chris Carpenter in NL Cy Young voting in a pretty close race. The sky was the limit, and future Cy Youngs seemed inevitable.

And then it all fell apart. In '06 and '07 he went 22-27 with an ERA of 4.49 over those two years.

So this begs the question: What the heck happened to this guy? I could understand if he had his best year when he was 30 and started getting roughed up when he got on the wrong side of 35, but Willis's best years were when he was 21-23. He had (and still has) his whole career in front of him to get better and rack up wins.

Theory 1: He indeed has an anxiety disorder.
From what I have read, the office of Major League Baseball doesn't allow teams to use psychological reasons to place players on the Disabled List unless the claims have medical backing. Also, it does make sense that if it was between a physical breakdown or a psychological one, you would more expect the latter than the former from a 27-year old. He did have the knee injury in 2008, but he should be fully recovered from that. The Tigers seem convinced that there is something definitely wrong mentally.

Theory 2: He has no problem. He's just not good anymore.
Dontrelle Willis, Byung-Hyun Kim, and Brian Fuentes have one thing in common - unorthodox deliveries. Willis's lanky arms and elbows flew around everywhere distracting hitters and making it hard for them to pick up the ball on its way to the plate. Kim's submarine style threw off hitters who were used to seeing more tradtional pitchers the whole game until then. Fuentes has a delayed delivery and has a low arm slot and really comes across his body more than typical pitchers, throwing hitters off just enough to be effective.

All of them had great years at some point in their careers. Kim crashed, Willis is crashing, and Fuentes is showing signs of crashing.

If there is one thing that seems to be true of Major League pitchers, it's that if you have a non-traditional delivery, there will come a time when hitters will figure you out, and when they do, you better be able to step your game up another level, or else you'll be done. Either that or become or stay a reliever to limit pitch samples for hitters.

I'm inclined to believe theory 2. Dontrelle Willis is a really likeable guy, and I really wish he can come back to his old success, but I think it might take a makeover of almost Ankiel-ian proportions for him to be successful again. I'm talking about tearing it all down and building it back up into a more stable delivery.

If he doesn't show signs of improvement soon, I think sadly his days in Detroit are numbered.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Not another Brett Favre story

I'm sick of Brett Favre.

Brett Favre, like steroids, only deserve one post from me on this blog. This is the lone post.

I feel like Favre could have played John Travolta's role in Pelham 123 because he's been getting pretty good at holding franchises hostage. He held the Packers at gunpoint for a couple of years, practicing his "I don't know if I want to retire" speech, and telling the media "I never wanted to retire, but they made me." The Packers finally stood up for themselves and moved on. Now they have a future.

Now Favre has the Vikings ready to meet his demands, and it's a shame that a franchise can be that desperate for a quarterback who is, quite frankly, mediocre at best. Most of the practice taking place right now on offense with the quarterbacks and wide receivers will mean very little when Favre comes to town because he has to establish timing and learn the tendencies of his receivers. Likewise, the rest of the offense has to learn how to play with Favre as well. Namely, they'll have to learn to keep and eye on the play because you never know when he's going to throw a careless interception and you'll have to make a tackle to keep the defender from scoring.

Brett Favre isn't even officially a Viking yet and already he's hurting the team.

The Vikings really are digging their own grave here. They have one shot to win it all, or else it really all means nothing. They're can't build a franchise off of Favre. Their only option after this season if they don't win the championship is to go out and sign or trade for another veteran quarterback. If they don't win it all and aren't able to find another quarterback to replace Favre, they're going to be in a bad spot, and I wouldn't want to be Brad Childress if that happened.

And really who do the Vikings have at wide receiver anyway? Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice? Really? Visanthe Shiancoe at tight end? Really? I suppose if you're going to put Favre with a certain type of receiver you'd put him with a couple of burners, but unless a defense is mentally challenged, the passing game seems like it would be easy to defend. But then again that's armchair quarterback me speaking.

I really hate to say it, but more and more it looks like a serious injury is going to be the only way Favre will be able to leave the game. The guy is just too stubborn. It really is a shame too because people in Green Bay love him. I don't want him to lose the only fans in the world he has.

As you can tell I'm definitely not one of them.

Go Sage.

Monday, June 15, 2009

You Reap What You Sow

They did it!


Very well done. From start to finish, it was a great season for the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Orlando Magic showed a lot of people that a) Stan Van Gundy is a great coach and b) they're going to be good for years to come.

The Lakers knew what they had to improve in, put in the work, and here they are, victorious.

If the Lakers can sign back Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza, there's no reason to believe that the Lakers don't have a shot at a dynasty.

Kobe is 30, Pau is 28, Lamar is 29, Fisher is 34, Ariza is 23, and Bynum is 21. That is a strong nucleus with a few players in their prime and a couple still getting better every day. Okay Fisher is probably just past his prime.

Being an Angelino I was very happy for the Lakers, and it was great to see them win the championship, especially after last season's NBA Finals. I was living in Connecticut at this time last year, and New England was a lonely place in June 2008 for a Lakers fan.

I am happy the Lakers got it done.


But I wouldn't consider myself a hardcore Lakers fan. Not as much as the Dodgers, not as much as the Philadelphia Eagles, not as much as Cal Football.

And that's the difference for me between a championship that's satisfying (2009 Lakers) and one that I can write down somewhere as being one of the best days of my life.

If I ever get to watch (TV or otherwise) the Eagles, Dodgers, or Cal Football win the championships of their respective sports, those will be days I will cherish forever. I've been wanting those championships to happen for so much longer and so much harder than this Laker one. Don't get me wrong, I am very happy for the Lakers, but I hope you know what I mean.

And I think that's what makes me alright with bandwagon fans. (By the way, are you getting sick of my starting paragraphs with conjunctions?)

You know, bandwagon fans - the fans who you had no idea were fans of a team until they are close to winning the championship. The fans who would rather watch 24 or Lost or Desperate Housewives or American Idol than a regular season game. The fans who don't know the coach from the trainer, much less the starting players. The fans who buy their jerseys and shirts during the playoffs, not before. The fans who are the loudest when the team does well, but are nowhere to be seen when the team does poorly. Yes. Those bandwagon fans. I am alright with them.


Because bandwagon fans don't know what it feels like to truly be happy your team won. Maybe some are alright with the superficial cheering for a team they haven't invested their time, money, and heart into. Maybe some are just in it to be part of the big crowd of fans for the champions, getting drunk and shaking cars and burning down trees. Maybe some are pretending to be fans just to impress someone who is a more hardcore fan. Maybe some have never won anything, and this is their best chance to feel like a winner. Who knows?

What I do know is that you NEED bandwagon fans. If only the "true" fans cheered, there wouldn't be parades, there wouldn't be high television ratings, there wouldn't be sold merchandise, and there wouldn't be any excitement for the playoffs. Sport would not survive without bandwagon fans. If sport ceased to have bandwagon fans, there would cease to be sport. Guaranteed.

So yes. You read right. I love bandwagon fans. The world needs them. Leagues need them. Franchises need them. Players need them. I need them.

But you can rest assured, those who halfheartedly revel in the victories of the champion will never know the true feeling of finally being a winner. Of finally being able to call your team the best - the World Champions. They will never know. They won't have a clue.

But you will.

And maybe if you are a bandwagon fan now, you can hopefully evolve into a more passionate fan, and one day you may know for yourself what the difference is. It's like night and day.

So for those of you who have been with the Lakers through thick and thin, for the last few years, enjoy. It must feel amazing, and I am truly jealous.

Dwight the Bandwagon Lakers Fan

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lookalike Friday 2

Woops, forgot to update on Friday.

This week we have JJ Redick of the Orlando Magic. I thought to myself, boy...doesn't he look a lot like...

The Duke Blue Devil?

I know he went to Duke, but this is kinda weird...

Points of emphasis: The goatee, the pointy ears, and the spiky hair of Redick that resembles the Blue Devil's horns.

United Football League

So with the news of Michael Vick being formally released by the Falcons, talk of him playing in the United Football League has been thrown around.

I expect Roger Goodell to reinstate Vick after he finished his prison term on July 20. Though I don't expect a team to sign him before this season, I don't expect him to join a team in the UFL either. I expect an NFL team to sign him to their practice squad midway through the season or for an NFL team to take a flier on him before the beginning of next season, so he has a full training camp to get ready.

The part of this whole discussion that has me the most excited is this United Football League.

Here is a basic rundown of the United Football League, mostly taken from the league website and wikipedia:

- 2009 will be the inaugural season of the UFL
- The UFL will play its games on Thursdays and Fridays in the fall.
- There are four teams for the 2009 season: Las Vegas, New York, Orlando and San Francisco.
- These teams will play six games apiece, culminated with the championship game on Thanksgiving weekend.
- Games can be seen on Versus.
- The coaches are: SF - Dennis Green, Orlando - Jim Haslett, NY - Ted Cottrell, LV - Jim Fassell.

Now call me crazy, but I have a very good feeling this will work. I think it will work for a variety of reasons.

1. It's legit football
The thing that turns people off about Arena Football and the defunct XFL was how gimmicky they are/were. They figured they couldn't compete straight up with the NFL, so they had to create a gimmick. The problem is, nobody plays high school and college football under gimmick rules, so nobody wants to see professional gimmick football.

2. They're not shying away from the fall
Small football leagues don't play in the fall because they don't want to compete with the NFL. The fact of the matter is, sports fans, like people, are creatures of habit. They have modes they get into at certain times of the year. In the spring, they get crazy about March Madness. In the summer, they love watching baseball. In the fall, they wait all week to be rewarded with football on Saturdays and Sundays.

The thing other football leagues don't realize is that no matter how crazy a football fan you are, when February and March roll around, you're not in football mode anymore. You want basketball. Likewise, when it's September and October, you may still watch some baseball, but aside from the playoffs and World Series, you're in football mode. Give the fans football during the time of year when they can't get enough of it.

3. There is a surplus of talent.
I'm not just talking about players. I'm talking about coaches as well. When you can get guys like Jim Haslett, Jim Fassell, and Denny Green to coach your teams, you are off to a good start. There will be players out there who don't get drafted or get cut, who will LOVE to play for these guys. In fact, I'm pretty sure if you took a poll of NFL players, Denny Green would beat Tom Cable...by a LOT.

There are plenty of college football fans who are disappointed that their favorite players who graduated aren't playing professionally. Also, can you imagine if a player got cut from an NFL team and the very next week he showed up on a UFL team? I don't know why, but I think that would be pretty darn cool.

I like everything I've read about the UFL so far. I think they're going about this the right way. I especially like that they're having a "soft launch" to slowly show everyone their viability, instead of making a grand debut, only to fall flat on their faces.

If I were to give my nugget of advice to the executives of the UFL, I would tell them to get Fantasy UFL Football up and running as soon as possible. PAY Yahoo! and ESPN if you have to, but make sure to have fantasy football. Under no circumstances make some crappy underdeveloped fantasy football on your own website the only option for fantasy football.

It may seem silly, but there are so many fantasy football nuts out there who watch most games for their fantasy football team (yes, I am one of those nuts). The increased viewership from those people alone would give the ratings a significant boost.

I really hope the UFL does well. As I've stated in other posts, competition is good for any sports league, and I have a feeling the UFL will enjoy success eventually.

When they do, you can bet Vince McMahon will go into a 'roid induced frenzy and go Liam-Neeson-in-Taken style on whoever told him the XFL would be a good idea. That is, if he hasn't done so already.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Best Things in Life

What a gritty win for the Lakers. The only question seems to be if the Lakers close it in Orlando or if they win it at home in Staples.

How about the free throw performances this series?

Game 1:
LA: 15-18 (83.33%) - win
Orl: 21-29 (72.41%)

Game 2:
LA: 24-28 (85.71%) - win
Orl: 20-27 (74.07%)

Game 3:
LA: 16-26 (61.54%)
Orl: 23-30 (76.67%) - win

Game 4
LA: 15-20 (75%) - win
Orl: 22-37 (59.46%)

LA: 70-92 (76.09%)
Orl: 86-123 (69.92%)

The stats speak for themselves - the team that wins the free throw percentage battle has won each game in this series.

On another note:
It drives me crazy when people on TV mispronounce names, especially those of better recognized players, and those names that aren't especially hard.

Case in point: Mickael Pietrus.
It's MY-kal PEE-trus
Basically pretend like it's normal Michael and you'll be fine. Don't be fooled by the 'k', those of you who have been calling him "mick-ale" (almost like Mikhail...he's French, not Russian) and "mickle" (no, it doesn't rhyme with fickle)

TV stations have pronunciation guides for any and all confusing or even potentially confusing player names. This is unacceptable.

Looks like a parade on Fig is imminent.

So Manny Options

I've been trying to avoid the Manny/many pun for as long as possible, but every man has a breaking point.

So Manny is coming back in a month or so, and Joe Torre has said that Juan Pierre will be moving back to the bench upon Manny's return.


I know I'm a lowly sports blogger and Torre is a future Hall of Fame manager, so he'll probably show the world that he is right in the long run, but I personally think this is a wrong move on a couple of fronts.

1. Why would you risk deflating Juan Pierre's confidence? He's playing well enough to start on any other major league team, and quite frankly he doesn't deserve to go to the bench. Torre also went on to say that Kemp is the best center field option (which he is) and Ethier gives them good power (which he does) but that's basically saying that he values Ethier's power more than Pierre's speed and ability to get on base. I'm sure Torre had spoken to Juan Pierre personally, but it's another thing to announce it through the media. Most importantly, there's still about a month left before Manny comes back and anything can happen in terms of injury. Again, there's no reason to risk jeopardizing Pierre's confidence in case Ethier or Kemp get hurt and Pierre has to play full time.

2. Why move anyone to the bench? Health is a major concern in a 162-game MLB season. Why not rotate Pierre, Kemp, Ethier and Manny? I know Torre likes to bring Pierre off the bench to replace Manny in the 6th inning or so if the game is in hand, but the Dodgers haven't been able to put opponents away early enough in games to effectively use that strategy.

Each outfielder will play 3 games, rest one game, play 3 games, rest one game, etc.

The biggest concern is that players will lose their rhythm if they are hitting well, but I think this is an overrated concern. Teams have days off between series all the time. Also, health is more important than any perceived increase in production due to playing every day.

The best part of the plan is that you don't actually have to "bench" anyone.

Defensively, since Pierre can play all three OF positions (Pierre hasn't played much RF to my knowledge, but if he can play LF and CF, how much harder could RF be for him?), Manny can always play LF and Ethier can always play RF when they play.

LF Ramirez, CF Kemp, RF Ethier
LF Pierre, CF Kemp, RF Ethier
LF Ramirez, CF Kemp, RF Pierre
LF Ramirez, CF Pierre, RF Ethier

The only drop off defensively happens in the last formation, but it's only 25% of the time, and if the Dodgers are leading after 6 innings, Kemp can come in as a defensive substitution.

Obviously, this would be a moot point if the National League had a DH, but that's another topic for another day.

Of course, another intriguing option, with the decent, although thus far short-lived, play of Xavier Paul and Jamie Hoffman is to trade Juan Pierre, maybe for some starting pitching help the Dodgers have been hurting for.

The Dodgers can do any number of things, but in my opinion benching Juan Pierre would not be the most prudent choice.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Random Finals Observations

A mixed bag of thoughts that popped in my head while watching the first couple of games of the NBA Finals.

- The Magic could have really stolen game 2 like Cleveland stole game 2 from them. Great play from Stan Van Gundy. If Turkoglu had made a bit shallower of a pass, the shot isn't nearly as tough for Courtney Lee, and we would be talking about the last possession for the Lakers and Kobe getting blocked by Turkoglu when Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza were both clearly open.

- Despite being down 0-2, Stan Van Gundy has proven to everyone he is a really good coach. He puts people in positions to succeed, it's just a matter of if they execute.

- How good is Dwight Howard going to be over the next 10 years? If the Magic can get a big power forward with a solid midrange shot and slide everyone up and move Courtney Lee to the bench, how good can this team be? Maybe get a guy like Chris Bosh? Honestly I wouldn't be surprised to see Lakers-Magic at least one more time over the next 3 or 4 years.

- When did the Magic stop having Dwight Howard spin to the basket behind his man and dunk an alley oop from Turkoglu? I haven't seen every play of every game so far, but I don't recall the last time they did that, and the Orlando Magic LOVED to run that play in the regular season.

- How solid has Lamar Odom been? Honestly, if the Lakers go on to win it all, there should be (but won't be) serious consideration for him for Finals MVP.

- I don't know Kobe personally, but if I did, I would ask him who he likes playing with better, Shaq or Pau. If we were friends and he was comfortable telling me the truth, I think he would say without a doubt Pau. Their personalities seem to mesh, they seem to enjoy talking about strategy, and most importantly, Pau's ego doesn't seem to be hurt with Kobe in a leadership role the way Shaq's was.

Since I don't know Kobe, if I got the chance to ask him that question, he would probably say Shaq is one of the most dominant big men of all time, and Pau is a great player also, and that they bring different things to the table and that he is fortunate to have been able to play with both of them.

- I love Shannon Brown and I love when he gets a chance to play, but how much better is this Lakers team when Derek Fisher plays his game? For the record, Jordan Farmar I could do without, but that's just me.

- Andrew Bynum is giving this team just enough, and that's all they need. People forget he's only 21 and he's got a lot of growth ahead of him. How prudent was the non trade of Bynum for Kidd in retrospect?

- It's great to see Adam Morrison get excited and cheering on the bench. His enthusiasm alone is an upgrade over Vlad Radmanovic.

- The Lakers have to feel good being up 2-0, but this Magic team has proven to be resilient. I think this series comes back to Los Angeles.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Lookalike Friday 1

I'm starting a new tradtion on the Toni Broxton Blog. There's a lot of times I see an athlete on TV and think that he/she looks like someone else famous. I will share one with you each Friday, provided I have one to share.

For the inaugural Lookalike Friday...

This week we have Raul Ibanez of the Philadelphia Phillies. I thought to myself, boy...doesn't he look a lot like...

Billy Bob Thornton?

Randall David Big Unit Johnson

Congratulations to Randy Johnson on his 300th win yesterday.

If Randy Johnson doesn't make the Hall of Fame, I'm burning it down personally. As far as pitchers go, in this day and age, it's rare and special to have been able to watch a Hall of Fame quality pitcher. As far as active surefire Hall of Famers go, at this point you can only say Johnson, Tom Glavine, Trev Hoffman, and Mo Rivera.

A lot has been made over the past couple of days that there may never be another 300 game winner, and if there is, he hasn't been born yet.

I disagree. I think CC Sabathia has a shot at it, barring injury of course.

CC Sabathia has 122 wins so far at 28 years of age. He's been pitching in the big leagues for 9 years now, which is 13.55 wins per season. Let's say he keeps that pace for another 13 years until he's 41 and has 22 seasons in his career (Johnson is in his 22nd season). That will give Sabathia 298 career wins.

If Sabathia can get to 298 by his 22nd season, someone will pick him up for his 23rd to give him the chance to get to 300.

Carston Charles Sabathia, prove them wrong, and prove me right!

Something else that has been batted around is what hat Randy Johnson will wear on his Hall of Fame plaque.

That is a really good question.

Montreal? Seattle? Houston? Arizona? NY? SF?

Montreal, Houston, NY and SF are eliminated by lack of games, so it's between Seattle and Arizona.

The numbers are close:
1838.3 IP
130 Wins
3.417 ERA
2162 K

1630.3 IP
118 Wins
2.832 ERA
2077 K

Looking at the above, you would probably give the nod to Seattle. But after taking a look at the achievements, it's a no-brainer.

All Star Games: 5
Cy Young Award: 1
Cy Young Runner Up: 2

All Star Games: 5
Cy Young Awards: 4 (99-02; yes. four seasons in a row)
Cy Young Runner Up: 1
NL Triple Crown: 1 (02)
World Series
World Series MVP

I had forgotten just how amazingly dominant Randy Johnson was when he was with the Diamondbacks. His cap is a Diamondbacks one, no question.

Some people will remember Randy Johnson for his mullet.

Some will remember him for hitting a bird with a pitch and making it explode

Others will remember him for his "get out of my face" confrontation with the New York media

But I will always remember him for his Bodyblade commercials back in the day. (I couldn't find the commercial so I made a composite image in order to convey what this may have looked like)

Big Unit. Best lefty in the past 40 years. Congrats again.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


It's NBA Finals time!

I was thinking the other day how silly it is that the playoff format switches to 2-3-2 for the Final when the rest of the playoffs are 2-2-1-1-1.

The first thing I think of is how much more of a disadvantage it is for the lower seeded team to have to win 3 in a row, albeit at home, against one of the best teams in the league. And this is just to hold serve, as it were, in terms of home-court advantage. This doesn't seem fair.

Then I thought, well if the lower seeded team can pull off one on the road in the first two games, the higher seeded team could potentially lose the series without having another game at home the rest of the way. This doesn't seem fair either, although if you lose 3 games in a row, you deserve to lose the series, so I don't have as much of a problem with it.

The bigger problem for the higher seeded team is not having game 5, which is typically a crucial game, at home.

Ideally I'd love to see a 1-1-1-1-1-1-1, but that's a logistical impossibility unless it's a Minnesota - Milwaukee Finals. Maybe in 2020 where grizzled vets Charlie Villanueva and Al Jefferson battle it out for all the marbles.

I just don't know what is to be gained by the change to 2-3-2. Why do it at all?

The reason is that in the 1984-1985 season David Stern, influenced by Boston coach Red Auerbach, decided that there was too much travel involved for both teams during a 2-2-1-1-1 series if it was West vs East. Hence, 2-3-2 and its maximum 3 flights, instead of 2-2-1-1-1 and its maximum 5 flights.

I don't care about flights, and I'm certain both teams would rather switch to the 2-2-1-1-1, even if it entails more travel time.

Here are some facts to consider:

Only 2 lower seeded teams have won all three games at home since the switch. 2 for 24 (8.3%)
One was the 2006 Heat, who beat Dallas 4-2 after losing the first two in Dallas.
The other was the Pistons in 2004, who beat the Future Hall of Famers + Devean George Lakers in 5 games.

There have been two lower seeded teams to win the first two games at home, only to lose the third. Those were the 2005 Detroit Pistons, who fell to the Spurs in 7, and the 1997 Jazz, who lost to the Bulls in 6.

It seems the only saving grace of this policy is that in the two cases in the past 24 years that it may have had an effect on the outcome of the series, it seems like the team that won would have won regardless of playoff format.

I don't see this policy lasting forever because nobody likes it. The higher seeded team doesn't have game 5 at home and the lower seeded team has to win 3 in a row to hold serve.

I think it will only get changed, though, after the following scenario:
Lower seeded team wins game 1 or 2.
Lower seeded team wins games 3 and 4 at home.
They lose game 5 at home.
They lose a close game 6 away.
They lose game 7 away.

The argument here is that the lower seeded team, up 3-2 after 5 games, should have had game 6 at home, but lost a close game away. A game that they may have won had they been at home. Instead of winning the championship in 6, they lose it in 7.

One of these days it's going to happen. I'll be the first one to send an e-mail to the commissioner of the NBA. Who knows, maybe if it doesn't happen for another 20 years there might be something much more convenient and advanced than e-mail. Maybe something where I can just think it, and David Stern will get it. *Grow the beard again, grow the beard again*

Honestly, who wouldn't want to see this make a comeback?

Finals Tidbit:
If Lamar Odom and Rashard Lewis match up (which they should), it's interesting to take a look at their stats in games where their teams played each other.

26 games (11 LAC vs SEA; 2 MIA vs SEA; 9 LAL vs SEA; 4 LAL vs ORL)

Lamar Odom: 37.7 mpg, 17.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 51.5% fg%
Rashard Lewis: 36.9 mpg, 17.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.3 3Ppg

In the 4 LAL vs ORL games
Lamar Odom: 37.2 mpg, 13 ppg, 10 rpg, 50% fg%
Rashard Lewis: 39.4 mpg, 18 ppg, 4 rpg, 44.7% fg%, 3.25 3Ppg

Looks like statistically Rashard Lewis has pretty good games versus the Lakers. Should be a fun matchup.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Je m'appelle Gael Monfils

I was watching Gael Monfils vs Andy Roddick play this afternoon in the French Open. If you know me, you know that I am a big fan of Gael Monfils. He's tall, he's lanky, he's unconventional, he's got enough charisma to make himself, Jeff Kent and Bruce Bowen likable, and he plays with amazing energy and enthusiasm. He's a whole lot of fun to watch, and in my opinion he's a breath of fresh air in a sport filled with guys who are entirely too serious about everything (Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, to name just a few)

During the course of his domination of Roddick, he waved to the fans to get them excited and cheering. Monfils is French. By wave, I mean the gesture that is analogous to telling them to "get up". I hope you know what I'm talking about.

Patrick McEnroe described his actions as "bush league" I disagree. Monfils is playing in front of his home crowd, he's beating a higher seed, and he's playing well. He's excited. Is it so wrong in tennis to show emotion and enthusiasm?

Andy Roddick didn't seem to have a problem with it.

What he did seem to have a problem with is the lack of light. The Monfils-Roddick match ended at right around 9:34PM. Had Roddick been able to extend the third set a bit longer, they would have suspended play and finished it up tomorrow. Even though Roddick was down by 2 sets, if he could have at least delayed the conclusion of the match his chances would have been much better to come back and win.

The possibility for this match to be suspended is simply unacceptable. The reason this happened is because they schedule 4 matches for a court, but only a strict start time for the first match. Each subsequent match starts after the conclusion of the one before it. The best matches are saved for last.

If there are no lights, you should schedule the first match of the day earlier, or make the best match of the day second to last and have a match of lesser consequence be the final match. The best players should not have to get their matches suspended.

Though I hope Federer can get a French Open title before he retires, I would love to see Gael move past him and go on to win it all in front of the home crowd.

Gael Monfils vs Roger Federer June 3rd. Should be good. You should witness Monfils for yourself if you get the chance.

*edit: Gael Monfils-Roger Federer should be on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD at around 8am Pacific, 11am Eastern.