Monday, October 26, 2009

Steroids Are Only Logo Deep

In a time where the word "steroids" has become somewhat of a swear-word in sports, it is amazing to look at how differently certain players have been portrayed and treated, based on the team(s) that they are affiliated with. When the topic of steroids is brought up among sports discussion-circles, there are a handful of key names that come up with it. There are the players of the HR era: Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds...and then there are the players of the common era: Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, and Andy Pettite.

The really interesting thing to look at is how the slugger-era players are looked at and treated. Sammy was all-but run out of the game of baseball, the media is already preparing to hound Mark McGuire about his past as he has recently landed a job as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, and Barry Bonds was essentially black-balled by MLB when he may have had another year left as a semi-productive DH.

Now let me provide a little self-interruption and say that I do not think that any of these players were/are mistreated. I think that steroids has ruined the game of baseball, even worse than the baseball-strike of my childhood did...and that did some damage.

Now onto the second set of players that I mentioned. The Yankees clinched the 40th Pennant in team history last night, and Pettitte was crowned one of the most successful post-season pitchers in history...oh yeah...he did steroids to rehab quicker from an injury didn't he? That has since been forgotten. A-Rod is finally turning into the hitter in the post-season that he always has been in the regular season. Another player who's past is being ignored due to the team that he is playing for, and the success that he is having. Manny served a 50-game suspension this season for testing positive for a banned substance, a drug typically used by steroid-users when coming off of a cycle. Did I mention he was still receiving All-Star votes while suspended and hardly playing the first half of the season?

I think it shouldn't matter if you have a white "LA", a red "B", or a white "NY" on your hat...if you took steroids you should be treated the same way as every other player that took special treatment...

~Golf Czar

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fathers And Sons

Sports bring people together. No, I'm not just talking about the weekend tailgate with the beer-drinking, bag-throwing, BBQ-ing hangout that happens all around America on Saturday and Sunday...but that is included. I'm talking about the "I was there when..." moments. I think it is a big reason why fathers and sons share live-sports experiences together.

Every year for quite some time now my dad and I have made it a point to get to at least one Notre Dame football game, be it at home or away. Even when I was (and am) living in Florida, we have always found a way to make it happen. This has always been a very special bond that we share, and as a result of it I have seen some pretty amazing football games.

  • Boston College @ Notre Dame in 1993. Notre Dame was fresh off of a victory over Florida State, the team believed to be the best in the nation. One more win and the unanimous AP National Title was theirs. After an amazing late-game comeback by Notre Dame, Boston College kicks a game-winning field goal...right into the endzone we were sitting in. I don't remember much of how I felt after that (being only 12 years old at the time), but I venture to guess I wasn't too happy. The AP goes on to give Florida State the national title, a decision that was way off-base, but that's a topic for another day. Anyone who thinks the BCS is a busted system needs to go back and relive those days...that was a mess.

  • USC @ Notre Dame in 2005. A game also known as the "Reggie Bush Push" game. Notre Dame comes in an underdog, USC riding a big winning streak and playing great. The Fighting Irish give them all they can handle, and towards the end of the game USC is faced with a 4th and 9. Leinart throws a perfect strike and USC gets a first down. Down near the goal-line Leinart tries to scramble into the endzone and fumbles the ball out of bounds. With only 3 seconds left on the clock and it running, 80,000+ think the game is over and Notre Dame has pulled off the upset...students storm the field, already eyeing the goal-posts...the refs saw the ending a little differently. USC got one more play from the 1 1/2, and it turned out to be a big one. Leinart wanted to go for it to win or lose the game right there. He scrambles, hits the pile, rolls over, and gets some assistance into the endzone. Notre Dame lost, but still the best college football game I've ever seen.

  • Notre Dame @ Michigan State in 2006. We left our rain-gear in the car...big mistake. The rains came down, and they came down hard. Notre Dame trailed MSU by 17pts at halftime, and it seemed like they were about to lose a second straight game to a Michigan opponent. Notre Dame rallied a furious comeback, and capped off the game with an interception return for a touchdown with 2:53 remaining to give Notre Dame the 40-37 victory. It was probably the single-most amazing comeback game I've ever seen...and the weather made it that much more memorable.

So there you have it. I have all of those great memories that I can tell my kids about someday, and I have my "I was there when..." moments. My dad has plenty of them to tell me, and his dad had the same things to tell him. It's a special bond that sports can deliver, and it's something that I am happy to be able to be a part of. It's the reason that we spend the money on a plane ticket, drive countless hours to another state, and pay the scalper a ridiculous fee for a ticket that he bought at face value...all for the moments...

~Golf Czar

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dear Brett Favre,

You're ruining the NFL, and this sports-fan is sick of hearing about you.


The Golf Czar

I think every person outside of Minnesota should feel the exact same way. The people of Green Bay should be looking for Brett's head on a platter.

Here's my take on Brett "Awe Shucks" Favre...

I had a great deal of respect for what he did in Green Bay. Playing a whole career with the same team is a noble gesture that is rare in sports today, and often-times overlooked by most. Favre played one heck of a game against the eventual champion New York Football Giants. It was a game that came down to the wire, and everyone was under the impression that it was his last hoorah on the football field...we were duped.

After retiring from football and walking away from the game, the Packers made the obvious move, going with the kid that was being groomed to be Brett's replacement, Aaron Rogers. He had been riding the pine, learning all that he could, and waiting for his chance to take the reigns. In June Favre decided that walking away from the game just wasn't that easy...I really don't blame him. So he made a comeback to the Packers. The Packers stated that they were standing by their guy, and Rogers was the starting QB, but the job was open to competition. This answer was not good enough for Brett, who wanted to be accepted as the Prodigal Son with open arms and a blank check. So Favre decided that maybe retiring was the right thing to do. We were duped...again.

Old #4 finds his way onto the Jets, with the agreement that if the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets ever traded him to a team in the NFC North, they would have to pay the piper (in this case the Packers) in the form of draft picks. So Favre played a season with the Jets, looking every bit as old as we all know he is. Finished the season with some of the worst closing numbers in the league. The season ended, Brett retired...again. We were duped...again.

Brett negotiates a release from the Jets, allowing him to sign with whoever he pleases. He chooses the Vikings. The Lions had alraedy drafted Matthew Stafford, the Bears had Cutler already, it made perfect sense to choose the Vikings. But wait, this has NOTHING to do with Green Bay, right Brett? "Awe Shucks, I'm just a country boy that loves playing the game..."

So now Favre is a Minnesota Viking, with the matchup of the season coming up this Monday night. Packers @ Vikings. Favre has said that this "is just anther football game" and that he is "too old" to be playing games simply for revenge. Sorry Brett, we're not duped this time. Is he saying all of these things to try and convince himself? We all know what this is about. It's been all about this moment immediately after the Packers told him that he could compete for the starting QB job.

Brett Favre has taken over the NFL with his selfish spiteful attitude, and I can't stand it. If T.O., Randy Moss, or Chad Ochocinco did anything close to this, they would be killed by the media...but most of the media is afraid to call out the great Brett Favre. Man up, tell it like it is...he's a baby and an egomaniac.

Thanks Brett...looking forward to next off-season when we can do all this again...

~Golf Czar

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The College Football Machine Has Sprung A Leak

And no...I'm not talking about the BCS. We can leave that piece of crap for another day. There is something else wrong with college football that has a direct effect on how crappy the BCS is...and that is the preseason rankings.

A preseason ranking can make or break a team's season, simply based on how high or low they are ranked before a game is even played. Top 10? Top 25? Out of the top 25? How do we know any of this before we have even seen a team step foot on the field?

Here are the preseason rankings from this season (We'll use the AP Poll as the example):

1. Florida
2. Texas
3. Oklahoma
4. USC
5. Alabama
6. Ohio State
7.Virginia Tech
8. Ole Miss
9. Penn State
10. Oklahoma State
11. LSU
12. California
13. Georgia
14. Boise State
15. Georgia Tech
16. Oregon
17. TCU
18. Florida State
19. Utah
20. BYU
21. North Carolina
22. Iowa
23. Notre Dame
24. Nebraska
25. Kansas

So there you have the preseason top 25. It isn't so much that I don't think that certain teams are deserving of more "benefit of the doubt" if you will, it's just that the teams shouldn't be ranked before a game has been played. Here is how things have played out since then, and this is where the problem comes in.

  • Iowa squeaked out a win in week 1 against Northern Iowa...fell out of the top 25 (WIN and fall out?). As a result they are now 4-0 and ranked behind (in 1 of 2 polls) a 3-1 Penn State team that they just beat in Happy Valley.

  • Oklahoma loses to BYU, the current #20 team in the nation (without their star QB, we all know the sob-story) and they barely fall out of the top 10. BYU later goes on to get pummeled by an unranked Florida State team. Now Oklahoma is back into the top 10 and poised to make a run at the title if they win out.

  • USC loses to an unranked Washington Huskies team, who the following week goes and gets waxed by Stanford. But since USC destroyed Washington State (which they should) they climb back to #7 in the nation, and also poised to make a run should they win out.

  • TCU and Cincinnati look great, have both beaten quality opponents both inside and outside their respective conferences, but because they play in a "weaker" conference they didn't get the preseason ranking that perhaps they deserved.
The only teams that are up there and appear to be deserving of their spots are Virginia Tech (big win over Miami this past week), Texas, and Alabama. We'll see shortly when Florida has to play LSU if either team is really deserving of the early hype.

So I am proposing this. No rankings until week 3 at the earliest. Who cares if your team is #11 or #16 after week 2. If you win your games it doesn't matter who they beat that early. That would give pollsters enough time to base the rankings on the level of talent that teams have already beaten.

Here is an example (take a breather if need be): If team A beats team B (a "quality" opponent) in week 1, and then team B goes on to start 0-3 and loses to teams that are considered to be weaker opponents, were they really that good? Now if team B had received a high preseason ranking, it could have catapulted team A into a high spot in the rankings, without pollsters even knowing if they deserved it or not.

Those are my thoughts...take it or leave it.

~Golf Czar