Why I Don’t Hate Ohio State… Anymore

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Image courtesy of AnnArbor.com

So I went to a school called Arizona State, far away from Middle America in the land of the Pacific-12. Palm trees, sunshine and hazy mountains were a far cry from the picturesque cornfields of the B1G Ten (is that how you write it now?).  However, I did always have an allegiance, albeit a blindly led one, to the University of Illinois though. This then became concrete when my best friend from high school attended the university.

Now, my very first weekend visiting her came in 2007. It was the weekend Illinois played Ohio State in Columbus when the Buckeyes were ranked #1 in the country. If you claim to be any degree of B1G Ten fan… you know what happened that night. The Illini went in there and buried those Buckeyes. Call it overconfidence on OSU’s part; call it Illinois being underestimated. I called it: glorious.

The years following I learned more of this Buckeye football program. Of Jim Tressel and that wannabe Bill Cosby sweater vest he liked to subject the viewing public to. I hated everything he stood for. I hated the overconfidence of his players. The way the fans acted as if he, and the program, could do no wrong. The way they referred to themselves as The Ohio State (which for the record I still don’t like). Yes, I hated Ohio State.

I quickly learned I was not alone in this attitude. No, no. Ohio State was the USC of the B1G Ten. Everyone hated them. Except Ohio State, of course. My best friend growing up ended up at Michigan State. She also hated that God-awful football program. Fantastic. It was settled.

Yet, today, with another heaven-sent season of college football looming, I find myself at a crossroads. Jim Tressel, and his woolen vest of vomit, is no longer the head coach. The program has paid its debt to the college football society in the sanctions imparted on them by the NCAA.  My two best friends from the B1G Ten are no longer in school. The Buckeyes were on ESPN’s Training Days– the damn white boy manager DID THE DOUGIE… and ya know what? He did it well. So tell me again, why do I hate Ohio State?

Not only is Jim Tressel not the coach anymore, Urban Meyer is. The same Urban Meyer who made me love the University of Florida and is responsible for my irreprehensible-one-of-only-a-couple athlete crushes on Tim Tebow. I feel those eyes of judgment. Just deal with it.

That episode of Training Days, Meyer got those boys fired up. ASU’s practices never looked like that. I didn’t see 250lb linebackers getting rewarded with mid-day naptime on air mattresses in the field house. This was adorable. This was real. This ladies and gentlemen, was college football.

While every fiber in my being is telling me “No! Carmen! Don’t do it! Think of the children!” I am forced to face the reality: I no longer hate Ohio State.

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Impending Doom for the NHL

Does anyone realize that the current Collective Bargaining Agreement in the NHL is set to expire September 15th and that no new deal has been reached so far? No? Didn’t think so.

I personally haven’t seen enough concern as of late considering the NHL is facing a full-fledged lockout in less than a month. I decided to post about it to at least get whoever reads my blog up to speed. I guess what I really want to know is has anyone been an NHL fan long enough to remember the 2004-2005 lockout? And how disastrous that was? Hockey wasn’t the same after that.

Growing up my dad and I always went to Chicago Blackhawks games, a tradition we still continue to this day. As a little tyke I was drawn to hockey. Of course, back in those days, the Hawks sucked and the only reason to go to games was to see the fights and puppy-dog eye my dad into getting me some cotton candy. Yeah, violence and sugar- my dad was winning on the parenting thing.

After the lockout though, things changed. Of course the only thing I was concerned with was that the rules for fighting changed. I knew nothing of the CBA and the implementation of salary caps and revenue sharing. I just knew that I didn’t get to see as many teeth being knocked to the ice. Luckily for me, just a few short years later the Hawks became awesome and then won the Stanley Cup. That worked out.

And yet, I notice that not all hockey fans are as passionate as Hawks fans are. There are certain teams that won’t survive another lockout. With the league struggling in comparison to the other three major sports, this is the absolute LAST thing it needs. Hell, the entire league might not survive another lockout, especially one of the 04-05 variety where the entire season is wiped out. That would make for two seasons within ten years, gone.

I don’t want to see this happen. When the NFL was in a lockout fans were in an uproar. When the NBA missed a portion of last season, fans were breaking down David Stern’s door, calling for his resignation and demanding the season be reinstated. Why isn’t there a similar uproar from hockey fans? Hockey fans are some of the most rowdy in the entire sports world. Now, when the league needs that battle cry- where is it?

Now that I understand more about the business end of sports this lockout is completely unnecessary. The changes the owners are demanding are outrageous. They want to cut the players’ revenue sharing from 57% to just 43%. The players union estimates that this would cause a $450 million shift in revenue from the players to the owners, according to an article on ESPN. That is just plain insane. You are going to take away 14% of the total revenue share from the players (who are the workhorses of your league) in one fell swoop? And I thought the NFL owners were greedy…

The owners proposal does suggest limiting player contracts to five years, which I can’t say I’m not in favor of. These 12 and 13 year contracts are getting a bit on the ridiculous side. I understand guys can play in the league longer than most other professional sports, but I’m not trying to see guys my dad’s age out there, and I’m sure the 16-year-old rookies aren’t either.

The players union counterproposal however is substantially more reasonable and could set balance to the industry. It agreed to a revenue share cut- but one that would be broken up over a three year period. It also urges the NHL into a revenue-sharing program that helps struggling franchises, which face it, there are a number of in the league. It was estimated that the league would gain $465-$800 million with this agreement if the players were allowed to switch back to the current system on the fourth year, according to the ESPN article.

While my sports business knowledge is limited, what the players are proposing seems pretty fair. But by default I think I’m always on the players’ side anyway. They are after all, the ones who are taking the ice… and the hits.

It’s time to step it up NHL fans. Let the league know that we aren’t enduring another black hole of a season this year. Show them you are on these players’ sides. Show them just how many ‘pucks’ we give.

The NFL Preseason: Why so serious?

Football preseason is in full swing. HALLELUJAH we have all survived the purgatory known as the NFL offseason. But before you get too excited- don’t. I want to talk about the fact that people can and will absolutely take the preseason entirely too seriously.

Preseason football has little to no implications on how the team will do in the regular season. I repeat: preseason football has LITTLE TO NO implications on how the team will do in the regular season. Notice I said team.

People, the preseason is an individual affair. Preseason games are for rookies clawing at each other like crabs in a bucket for a spot on the roster. Preseason games are a time to preview newly acquired players and see how they mesh with their units. Preseason games are a time to feel out how ‘in shape’ the players have stayed during the offseason. Preseason games are a time of evaluation. Period. It does a great job gauging the successes of individuals ON the team. However, for the team as a whole, not so much.

Yes, my Bears got blown out last week by the Denver Broncos who started Peyton Manning. The Bears, didn’t. They didn’t even start Veal Cutlet (otherwise known as Jay Cutler). So as far as I’m concerned the game, and point for that matter, is moot. Yet, the amount of flack I caught after that game was ridiculous. Scared of big, bad Peyton? Hell yeah we were. If you were a rookie corner trying to keep a receiver from catching a Peyton Manning pass you would be too. But so what? It was the first game of the preseason. Relax.

Last year the New York Giants went 2-2 in the preseason, losing to the Carolina Panthers and the New York Jets. In fact, they had a rather unimpressive regular season as well going 9-7 and just squeezing into the playoffs. You all know the rest of the story.

So before you get all caught up in the preseason games and results, save that sh*t talking for the regular season. Until then, I’m not going to waste my breath arguing with you. I’m nothing if not efficient, you know.

Traded, you are: Is the Dwight Howard Saga finally over?

According to ‘sources’ on ESPN.com a four-team trade deal is in place that will send Dwight Howard to none other than the Los Angeles Lakers.

In the deal, Howard will go to the Lakers, Andre Iguodala will go to the Denver Nuggets, the Philadelphia 76ers will receive Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson and finally the Orlando Magic will acquire Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington,Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless along with ‘protected’ first round picks from each of the three other teams. Um. Exqueeze me? The Magic will get 671417 (a.k.a three in addition to their own) first round picks over the next couple of years is what you’re telling me? Is that even legal? Talk about complex. Next time a man gives me flack about women being complicated I’m just gonna pull up the Laker roster and point at Dwight Howard.

Is it me, or was this completely anti-climactic? Anyone else want to see Howard have to stay in Orlando and begrudgingly play out the season before becoming a free agent? I didn’t not want to see that, I can tell you that much.

So the story is over? Ha, if only. Allow me to venture the next chapter in the saga… the debate. You’ve got Kobe, Nash and Howard- the latter two trapped in their own version of Lord of the Rings trying to capture that first ring to no avail so far, making up the new Big Three in LA. Then, you’ve got LBJ, DWade, Bosheraptor and Jesus Shuttlesworth himself becoming the Big Four in Miami. Just resign yourselves to the fact the NBA championship will be the Lakers and the Heat in the Finals this year… and the next… and probably the next after that.

Now Howard has said already that if he were traded to the Lakers he would sign a long-term deal. He is still ultimately a free-agent after this season. He did have an interest in going to the Dallas Mavericks, and according to the article on ESPN the Mavs are waiting on him. But you have to think after playing with Kobe and Nash, nothing else is going to compare. At the end of the day, while Howard wants that money- I think he wants those rings more.

I now have to wonder if this is ultimately good for the league? If this predictability will hurt ratings and revenue? Granted, growing up I thought the B in NBA stood for Bulls because I thought it was their league and the Finals were made up of teams competing to play them. Come to think of it, that wasn’t really that far off base. I loved that era. It’s still talked about today as not only the Bulls’ golden years, but the league’s as well. That’s how I viewed it anyway. But now that the tables are turned and two teams who aren’t my home town team are the new age dynasties, I’m starting to understand how Celtics fans must have felt.

Tale of the Quarterback: Eyes on NFL Training Camp

My nose is acute with the smell of fresh practice field grass, my lips are already fixed for criticism on a cover two versus a man to man, my fingers are (wo)manned on my mouse ready for my impending fantasy draft in a few short weeks. Yes, ladies and gentleman, training camp is upon us, which only means one thing: FOOTBALL IS BACK- CAN I GET AN AARON RODGERS BELT THRUST!? And before you say anything, yes, I’m a die hard Bears fan but you just can’t hate him. Trust me I’ve tried.

This past week NFL players have been reporting to the confines of their cozy college dorms where they will study playbooks and play obscene amounts of NCAA and Madden 12 like the grown up frat boys they are. Throw in some two a days and we have got ourselves some content my friends. I would like to take a look at just which teams will have the most eyes on them this preseason. And so it begins…

Once Upon a Time, there was a quarterback of an NFL football team. His name was (insert really important football sounding name here) and he played for (insert team here), this is their story…

The Denver Broncos: If Peyton Manning doesn’t scream football player name, I don’t know what does. He was literally born to play this role: see related Mannings i.e. Eli and/or Archie. Following (a couple) hush hush neck surgeries and Manning sitting out the entire 2011 season, not only is he back, but he is back with none other than John Elway’s Denver Broncos, despite his already published legacy with the Indianapolis Colts. This Broncos team easily has the biggest target on their back as far as the media sh*tstorm goes. I have to say I have a good feeling about this, and not just because I’m listening to Avicii. The way I see it, Peyton wouldn’t even attempt to come back unless he had complete and total faith that he would return to Peyton Manning form. If Peyton Manning has faith in himself, who the hell are we to say or think otherwise? If Peyton says it, it must be so. End of story. I can’t wait for this next chapter in his career, and have to give a special shout-out to three guys from a certain southwest school I also attended who will be along for the ride. Brock- you learn everything you possibly can from that man, I know I don’t have to tell you twice. O, words can’t describe how excited I am to see you back on that field- and with the Champ! G-Rob, do your thing- and don’t you dare drop a Peyton pass! SD4L 🙂

The New York Jets: Ahh, The Timmy Tebow Saga continues. I can’t wait to see what Rex Ryan version .50 has up his sleeve. Wildcat? Convert Tebow to fullback entirely? Make him the starter entirely? I have to say when they picked Tebow up I totally thought that was it for Sanchez. He’s got the SC quarterback curse, all hope has got to be lost. But maybe Mr. Hard Knocks hasn’t given up just yet. And side note: seriously, can they make Hard Knocks permanently on the Jets? That was by far the most entertaining season. I’m not wrong.

The Washington Redskins and/or The Indianapolis Colts: Picking up the first two picks in the draft, both quarterbacks, mind you, you can bet these teams are on the radar. RGIII was pronounced starter out of the gate. With a definitive ‘guy’ you have to think Shanahan will show at least glimpses of those glorious Denver days. With the Peyton Manning departure, and Andrew Luck of the draw in place, look for the Colts to show up like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. They may not be effective right away, but with the ever accelerated learning curve of Mr. Stanford grad, you gotta think they will get it right by midseason, maybe in time to catch the playoffs? Wildcard at least?

And last but certainly not least, for my own personal benefit, The Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler is healthy. They have signed their workhorse Matt Forte to a sufficient deal. They have gelled their offensive line quite a bit as well as made a key offensive pickup in Brandon Marshall, a familiar target to add to their Cutler-y (ya see what I did there?). The defense, yes, is becoming increasingly more ‘veteran’ but with a more high powered offense hopefully we can preserve those guys a few more years by not having them take the field every 37 seconds.

All I can say is thank God we have the Olympics to hold us over til the real fun begins. Happy training season everyone!

Are You Not Entertained?

Patience is a virtue I will readily admit I do not have. When I get something in my head, I want it done. Like, right now. You can bet that if my neck and millions of dollars are on the line, I’m jumping in faster than LeBron’s hairline is receding. For this reason (among others), I wouldn’t be a very good franchise player.

However, this same ‘patience’ got quarterback Drew Brees a record-breaking $100 million dollar contract with his beloved NOLA Saints. It got Matt Forte a deal right before the deadline of his franchise tender expired with the Chicago Bears. It got the hungry Ray Rice the compensation he is worth.

Maybe I should get some of this patience stuff after all.

I have to wonder though, is this all necessary? As I have mentioned before, professional contracts have gotten out of control, see What Happened to the Nice Guys? Allow me to venture the idea that maybe, the teams, leagues and even we as fans, are actually responsible for all of this.

I mean, didn’t Drew Brees know that the Saints would do whatever it took to keep him? Didn’t the Bears know they didn’t have a fighting chance without Forte, even with Chicken Cutlet healthy? You gotta think the Raven’s knew that Rice’s contributions allowed Flacco the flexibility of a 9-year-old Chinese gymnast offensively.

In situations like Brees, Forte and Rice, these players made it blatantly clear they wanted to stay. When you as a team, know you are gonna give the players what they want anyway, why all the hoop-lah?

I have an answer for you: because it keeps people interested. At the most basic level, sports are just entertainment. Sorry to say it, but it’s true. While you men may think women are crazy for being so consumed with 50 Shades, is your constant monitoring of ESPN and NFL Network really any different? Three words guys: Dwight Howard Trade. Hashtag: #thingsmorecomplicatedthanwomen… can I get a trending topic??

Yeah, it’s patience alright, if patience is spelled D-R-A-M-A.

Maybe if we stopped and smelled the Old Spice we’d all realize that sports would exist without all the twisting plot lines and insane amount of money because of the simple fact sports are a love affair. But they build bonds, they forge new friendships and subsequently break relationships (if only on Sundays). The athletes themselves love to play and we as fans, love to watch. So in the end, that little bit of drama makes it all worth it, God help us all.

Just next time your girlfriend is on the phone catching up with her friend about the latest happenings of The Bachelorette instead of rolling your eyes, think about you and your buddies convos at the bar. You might just be surprised that with a few name changes and metaphors, the nature of the conversation isn’t so different after all.

America’s Favorite… Nap time?

This will probably be one of very few, if not the only editorial post I do about baseball because of my miserable apathy towards the sport, despite having not one, but two teams I could potentially root for in this city. The sad part is, I’m not alone in my lethargy. Granted it may be because my Twitter is inevitably biased but all I hear are cries of “IS IT FOOTBALL SEASON YET?!” all over my timeline. Why is that?

I recently read an article by Mr. Rick Reilly (I seriously think I love that man) on ESPN.com about baseball’s pace of play problem. It takes EONS to get through a game- no wonder no one watches it. It’s seriously on par with golf, acting as my non-narcotic sleep aid on a lazy Sunday afternoon. In the article Reilly pointed out that there actually is a ‘Pace of Play Procedure’ list which dictates time restraints on certain aspects of the game. Whaaat? You mean I don’t need to watch the batter step out of the box, adjust his glove 51,381 times before the first pitch, only to stand there motionless and then wait another 30 seconds while the pitcher delivers the next ball? The answer is no, I don’t, because it’s in fact AGAINST THE RULES which state as follows, according to the article:

“Umpires will not grant time for batters to step out of the box if to do so would unnecessarily delay the game.”

WHAT A CONCEPT.

But say the umps do wise up, start picking up the pace and shave off a few milliseconds of the game. Would that change how I feel? Better yet, would it make me feel something– ANYTHING- for such a historically rich and traditional sport?

The answer is probably not.  If I think back on alllll my 23 years (ha) do I ever remember a time when I cared? I don’t know- wait, maybe, almost… YES, got it! The only time I ever cared about baseball was when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were duking it out for the home run record. This epic battle would later be tarnished by the Steroid Papers, both Sosa and McGwire were on the juice. Sigh.

Still, baseball was exciting back then. Things happened. Sure, all the guys were juiced up on stashes of roids that would make Ronnie from Jersey Shore spontaneously combust on the spot. But people cared. People were excited. The MLB’s revenues were through the roof. The bottom line is that these guys were choosing to take these drugs. What if… and I know I may be chastised for saying this… but what if, we just let them?

Now hear me out. I’m not talking about the heavy duty illegal stuff, but what if we just allowed the guys to get a little more ‘creative’ shall we say in their supplements? If the players want to do it and it means producing more action and higher revenues, could it really be so bad?

Or forget the supplements, what about the uses of more technologically advanced equipment? Like bats? More home runs sounds all good to me. Bottom line is there needs to be something done about the state of the MLB. Probably starting with a commissioner other than Bud Selig.

The Steroid Scandal era was the Dark Age of baseball… isn’t it time for a renaissance?