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Greatest Team in Broncos History

Posted on February 5, 2018 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (0)
abecker9993@gmail.com

The Denver Broncos are one of the most successful franchises in NFL history. Along with having rich tradition and a dedicated fan base, the Broncos have been to eight Super Bowls, winning three of them. They have had two of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game win Super Bowls for them. But what was the greatest team in the Broncos 57-year history, dating back to 1960? The answer is the 1998 team that capped off their incredible season with a Super Bowl victory over the Atlanta Falcons to complete their quest of back-to-back championships. The 1998 Denver Broncos had it all, including Terrell Davis, the NFL MVP who rushed for over 2,000 yards to make him the fourth player in history to eclipse the 2,000 yard mark. This season marked the end of John Elway’s historic career, as he won Super Bowl MVP and rode off into the sunset. The regular season was a breeze for Denver as they started 13-0, and finished 14-2, despite backup quarterback Bubby Brister starting four games and playing the majority of a fifth. It should be noted that 1998 was the only season the Broncos won more than 13 regular season games in their history. Cruising through the playoffs and never being seriouslychallenged, the Broncos manhandled the Falcons in the Super Bowl with the help of the great offensive mind of head coach Mike Shanahan.Mike Shanahan was ahead of the times in the mid-to-late 90’s as his offensive play calling, along with the zone-blocking scheme the Broncos ran, opened up all kinds of holes for Terrell Davis to get North-South and run downhill. The Broncos O-Line, although small, was very athletic and the cut blocking tactics that offensive line coach Alex Gibbs installed allowed Davis to quickly get upfield after making one cut. The Broncos top two receivers, Rod Smith and Ed McCaffery, each had over 1,000 yards and were terrific downfield blockers. Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe was a matchup problem for defenses all year long and finished

with 10 touchdowns. When it was all said and done, the Broncos finished with 501 points, averaging 31.3 a game. The 501 points were a Broncos record and over the course of the season,the Broncos routinely trounced teams, having a +12 points-per-game point differential. After playing his entire career without a great supporting cast, Elway now had a potent running game and a relentless, physical defense. The Broncos were a force to be reckoned with in 1998 as they had 10 pro bowlers, including kicker Jason Elam, who kicked an NFL record-tying 63-yard field goal in week 8 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a feat that stood until December 8, 2013, when Broncos kicker Matt Prater booted a 64-yarder.In 1998, the Broncos set many records, including overall scoring, points per game, wins, and wins in a row, as well as winning the Super Bowl in back-to-back years. After the season, Elway retired and the Broncos finished a disappointing 6-10 in 1999, the season in which Terrell Davis tore his ACL in the fourth game of the year. Unfortunately, the Broncos have not come close to having another 1998-like season and may not for a long time. The 1998 Broncos season had a different feeling than the previous one in which the Broncos captured their first ever Super Bowl. This time around, the expectations were to go back to the Super Bowl and win it, and the Broncos delivered on those dreams as they turned in one of the all-time great seasons in NFL history.


The Rook Knows Best

Posted on January 28, 2018 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)
By Andres Atencio

The Colorado Avalanche's streak of ten games came to a close against the Montreal Canadiens. One particular rookie is in the spotlight and has bolstered the defense despite the streak coming to an end. Sam Girard is a rookie but is small.He is 192 pounds and that is considerably small by NHL standards today. In fact, Girard was part of the big trade involving one Matt Duchene who went to the Senators and sent Girard to the Avalanche. According to Mike Chambers; Denver Post, "The Avalanche rookie has shown improvement in every facet in the 34 games since he was acquired Nov. 5 from Nashville in the three-team Matt Duchene trade. Girard logged 19:45 in Colorado’s last game Thursday in St. Louis, and could soon be playing more than 20 minutes every night."The Avalanche are able to ride winning streaks because there is an improved defense. The Avalanche are a mere force much like the Calgary Flames were two to four years ago. The defense men are able to push the puck to the centers and wings and have outlet passes to center. But the defensemen are hounding the other forwards on the opposition causing all sorts of hell before, the o/ense breaks out past center.Girard meanwhile is one of the defensemen that attacks the puck with grit. In fact, Girard has been able to get a goal and that is to add 11 assists

to his season total. The rookies have been very impactful for the Avalanche this season. The average reader does not know that playing in the corners isa very demonstrative trait of being a skillful defensemen. According to Chambers, "The NHL ice surface is 200 feet by 85 feet and Girard seems to play equally as well in every corner — even the defensive zone where defensemen are traditionally required to knock the opponent o/ the puck." Girard seems to be doing just that at his own end of the ice. Defensemen are supposed to be bullies in the corner and get possession of the puck. Girard, is growing into this sort of brute-force defensemen. Defense is everything in the NHL and Chambers when he got Bednar's quote he really asked him if being a smaller defensemen means doom at the corners. But actually it is the opposite because a defensemen like Girard can weave in and out of tra9c and not get smashed by a bigger forward. Bednar is actually fully emphasizing that being smaller on the power play will not cause issue. According to Chambers, "“That’s the concern — you have to be able todefend in this league. You can’t just be a smaller, puck-moving guy whoplays the power play,” Bednar said. “Until you see him defend, that would beyour worry — that maybe he’d get in trouble with the big bodies. But he’s areal intelligent player and he’s got great feet and a great stick. We try toencourage our guys to close quickly — close plays down — and he just has adi/erent way of defending.”

Girard only stands 5 foot-10 and he doesn't let that discourage him. Heplays to his advantages and still has a ways to go but is looking productive as a rookie. So what makes him so di/erent?It is ability to be agile like a gazelle and if he gets trapped he can in pirouette away from a forward. This makes him elusive. (According to Chambers)According to Chambers, a lot of big defensemen exist in the NHL. Victor Hedman, Drew Doughty, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Cam Fowler to name afew.But the mini-mite defensemen that Girard is does not deter him from playing any harder. His quickness and pace to the game is his most mature quality about the young defensemen.“I would say my agility is one of my best qualities,” Girard said.“When I was in junior, every day, I would practice my positioning toprepare myself to be here.

 


THE SHAPE OF WAHTAH

Posted on January 28, 2018 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)

SUPER BOWL PREVIEW:

I went into my preview NOT being sold on The Hoodie and Brady. I tried to steer away from that bias. I tried to make MYSELF believe the Eagles would win and then try and back that up. But, in the end, it DID come back to some stats, some X’s and O’s, and The Hoodie and Brady. Here are my thoughts on the matchup:

The Patriots are vulnerable in only a few areas. Eric Rowe at corner, their LB’s, and big plays. The Eagles HAVE to exploit these weaknesses to be in the game.

Knowing from me being a Steelers fan for life, James Harrison WILL make a momentum changing play and that is that.

The Pats have weaknesses, but they are also like the Warriors in a respect. One guy can have a HUGE game at ANY time. Someone having a bad game? They have three other running backs and two other receivers who could light it up at any moment if Lewis or whoever is lead RB that night or Cooks is having a bad night.

If it comes down to special teams, the Pats have the experienced kicker and the more dangerous returner in Dion Lewis.

I like Max Kellerman’s opinion of the Pats. They are like Floyd Mayweather. They basically make you PAY for ANY mistake you make, and the Eagles are due for a few.

At least one fan base can’t say the other fan base is the most irritating. They both have their problems and are both very abrasive.

Think being so close like the Eagles were in the past means they will break through? No, unfortunately. The Bills lost FOUR straight Super Bowls, AND this is a different Eagles team that got close before (with ironically the same AFC guy staring them down).

The Hoodie and Brady combined age is 105 years old, making them possibly the oldest combo of all time.

The Pats are 15-0 against teams in the postseason they are playing for the first time that season. You need to experience the Brady Show and adjust the second outing. The Eagles don’t have that luxury.

Nick Foles is Nick Foles for a reason. A journeyman QB. And my bet is that he used up all of the Genie magic taking the stern Vikings defense to school amazingly.

This would be an epic matchup had the Vikings made it, only because at least the underdog was playing at home to equalize things a bit against Brady.

 

SHAPE OF WATER:

Don’t take this as a negative review. Take this as a METHOD of watching the movie.

I made a classic movie making mistake. I went in with my normal self of analyzing all realities in the movie, expecting realistic plot and character development, and logical movement. It was NOT this. It was a surreal story.

But, they made it JUST realistic enough that I STAYED in that frame of mind, and then walked out of the movie say “what the…”

I totally GET that movies are chances to tell stories in whatever way you want to. I love Del Toro, Pan’s Labyrinth was great, and this just went a direction I did not expect.

I still don’t get the THIRTEEN Oscar nomination regardless.

The movie did an excellent job at bringing into play race, gender, special characteristics of humans, and other conflicts in society without taking over the monster-love story.

Yes, and this is the closest I will get to saying a spoiler, she didn’t just feel bad for the lizard, she fell in LOVE with him.

She is an excellent cleaning lady, whether at the lab OR at home when her apartment gets taken over in water.

How did I get talked into going to the movie in the first place? I love water, I love Del Toro, and I have a curiosity about Oscar films where I have to know WHY they might win.

Get the MoviePass. You pay $10 a month for unlimited movies, and therefore you don’t get mad at seeing a less than par movie at the expensive theater.

 

HOSTILES REVIEW BONUS:

Instead of being long winded on this, I will just copy and paste the text I sent my buddy after I watched the movie Friday night.

Hostiles review. Good: plot was believable and set up perfectly, acting was incredible, scenery was awesome. Bad: tried to be Unforgiven, slow, too thoughtful in parts, too self-aware. Synopsis: your life will seem a lot better by watching this grossly depressing and brutal movie. Bale should have at least gotten nominated for actor.


 

Cinderella tales are fun. They make us feel good. But, sometimes, the other team is just better. And Tom Brady is wicked smart and good. Hope you are not bored with the dynasty yet. If it is any consolation, I think Philly beats the 5.5 point spread. I think the Pats might be behind (again) but once again take care of business late. Pats win 27-23.

Mad at my pick? Don’t be if an Eagles fan. I have picked horribly during the playoffs and had the Steelers and Saints in the big game. You have hope.

That’s it for today. Hope you enjoyed or are at least more informed. Will I blog again? That is a CLOWN question, bro. Peace.


ICE AND FIRE

Posted on January 28, 2018 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)

By The Fillerbuster

So, let’s chat. As sports fans, we have ALL been in a similar situation. Actually, most years, we ALL are in this situation since only one team raises the trophy.

What did OU fans do during the College Football Playoff title game after getting a chance to top a FG in the first OT, but then losing control of the game for the SECOND time? What do Steelers fans do this weekend when they know they should have been there but failed to logically stop any type of Jax offense at ALL? How does the sting go away fast enough for the literally miracle-beat Saints fans to tolerate just being a FOOTBALL fan and watch the Vikings-Eagles battle it out? How do the Falcons fans…never mind? They are pretty much the NFC Steelers. They are a team that not only loses, but gets fans to the brink of elation BEFORE they blow it.

But, let’s backtrack. I feel like I need to debrief myself and my site on the fallout of the Steelers:

They were only IN the game due to a couple of GUTSY calls on 4th down plays in the Jax end. They should have counted their blessings in the first place for BEING there.

You can take away everything else, and the Steelers didn’t STOP Jacksonville, even WHEN they adjusted to Jax coming out throwing early.

The absolute truth is that you are gutsy if you don’t kick FG’s early on and CONVERT, but an idiot if you don’t convert those same plays and come away scoreless.

Big Ben has NO QB sneaks since 2014, and MAKE him do that if that is what the play calls for.

He is a monster QB. He could probably get a few inches with following ONE guy up the gut.

I look back on the decision to NOT kick it deep after getting it to a TD and I still am SO confused how he even thought otherwise.

Overlooking a team for the next game is only overlooked if you don’t hold serve.

My joking, delirious rationalization was that at least Ben didn’t have to lose to Tom Brady AGAIN.

I said I would release Ben after his college bar incident. I have pledged my support in Tomlin. I don’t straddle the fence with these items. After THIS game, I am in support of firing the coaches who were involved in some of those decisions. You can’t have this much talent and fall this short.

Of course, Ben has come out this week, endorsing keeping the coaching staff. Figures. That is what I call covering all bases FLUFF (and smart).

Ben announced he is coming back, and that is great, but I didn’t really need to hear it RIGHT after the game. Glad you all CONTINUED to look ahead, even in pressers. Can’t you act a little upset for a few days?

The CADENCE of the Steelers (staying in bounds 3 times as an example) on the drive when down 10 was SLOW. You looked mopey, slow, unprepared, and you shouldn’t have even TRIED to drive if you weren’t going to be efficient about it. I have seen some miracles just in MY lifetime, and they should have at least set UP the chance at a successful onside kick and a FG.

Did Belichick penalize James Harrison for watching cartoons instead of game film during the future opponents’ game?

Glad the Bengals fans have the cash to give to the charity of Bortles to rub it in.

Think that lost game in Chicago earlier in the season the Steelers wouldn’t mind having back?

With all of the close one score games, I really only noticed the full breadth of the Steelers’ offense 3-4 times all year, with one coming to mind of the second half of the Titans game.

I could go on, but let’s get back to the issue at hand.

 

Wait, one more random thing on the Saints-Vikings game. Speaking from the angle of BEING one of those people, I bet with the whole miracle last play, no one was really paying attention to what was HAPPENING on the field during the “post” game pandemonium. I sure was paying attention. The kneel down extra point play? BIG time importance in Vegas. I had the Saints and 5.5 points. The kneel down saved me and a couple other hundred thousand people some cash. Should have technically been 30-24, but it ended up 29-24 because of having to get players back on the field again after the miracle.

So, what do I do this weekend. I can’t speak for everyone on this subject, but it will be painful. I will watch the Eagles-Vikings out of pure football love, and knowing what they do has no bearing on me personally. The other game? More of a problem. My advantage is my passion for sports. I will watch it because I NEED to watch it. Many reasons. I am witnessing perhaps the greatest player, coach and football franchise ever. I respect that in itself. Jacksonville would be the biggest season to season turnaround…like ever….in NFL history. That is fun to watch also. I love football. I plan on contributing to sports sites in the future. I can get over my Steelers pain for a few hours to watch the title game for the AFC. As I am not one to have to unplug my television the TV during the AFC Championship, on the flip side I also would not fault a Steelers fan who only liked the Steelers for NOT watching it.

I am probably also mad that THIS Pats run would have Brady beating underwhelming QB’s Mariota, Bortles, and either Keenum or Foles. Easiest road to the Super Bowl of ALL of their runs…IF it happens. They have The Hoodie though, so THAT team doesn’t need to worry about LOOKING AHEAD. That apparently is only a Steelers problem.

The Saints situation I can discuss from an unbiased view. I will say this. IF, the Saints had no Super Bowls to this point post Katrina or EVER, then I don’t know if I could watch the NFC title game. That would be beyond heartbreak (SYMPATHETIC PAIN if you read all of my blogs (read House of Pain)). That would be painful for other fans to see the pain of Saints fans, before their ring the lovable losers of the league. And, it still is painful to a POINT. But, they DID get a Super Bowl post-hurricane, and therefore I don’t think the pain is as deep as it could have been. Do I sympathize with them still? Heck yeah. (BAD BOUNCE pain per my House of Pain blog). But, it was a game you were down early big, were playing on the road, were meeting a team seemingly of destiny, and weren’t supposed to win. The end of the game was brutal. I get it. And, to be honest, my problem wouldn’t be just the fact the game had two other teams. I would have the MOST problem the fact that we have the weakest #1 seed in YEARS on either side. The Eagles are very beatable, and I am most upset that Brees couldn’t have the chance to outduel Foles easily.

I asked the biggest Saints fan at work today what HE would be doing this weekend. He told me another rationale besides watching for being a sports fans. He said he picks a different team to root for based on a particular reason. He had a connection with Leonard Fournette. He will root for the Jags. That is fine. I might too, but no connection and only because I want to see Tom Brady go down. Or maybe I want Tom Brady to lose to the NFC. Or, maybe I want TB12 to win because he is just increasing his legend, and cool to say I watched it ALL. Basically, I am glad he has his new temporary allegiance down, because I am still delirious slightly from the loss.

That’s great Fillerbuster, and thanks for splitting the atom on the above. But what about the theme? What gives with ICE AND FIRE. The Fillerbuster will tell you (I like to talk like Rickey Henderson here and there).

FIRE:

Permission to FIRE away, Rooneys. Not that you NEED my say, but I give it to you as one of the most passionate Steelers fans I have ever met. Let’s face the truth. Tomlin won his first Super Bowl early on and with Cowher personnel. I am not saying he hasn’t won the big one, and I don’t condone coaches who just don’t win it all, but I condone coaches who don’t win the big one WITH a team like his AND who makes very obviously faulty decisions in a big game like last Sunday. Everyone has a bad day, too, but what has been classified as gutsy in the past toeing the line NOW has to explain obvious decisions in a game that SHOULD have been played at Heinz Field had they taken care of business earlier against the Pats. I would still give Keith Butler more time, as he was heir apparent to LeBeau and is a young guy, but would have NO problem in firing Haley and/or Tomlin. And think about this. Tomlin made the up and comer status by leading a defense. Except for being a big play defense here and there, their weakness has been their defense. Underachieving defense combined with an offense never truly operating on all cylinders does not lead to big game wins. Sure, you don’t typically fire a coach who went 13-3 in the regular season. Sure, the Steelers have had THREE coaches since 1969 and I am proud of that fact. Sure, they were a game or bounce away from heading to Foxboro this week, but don’t we have to penalize game management also when you have the most potent offense in the NFL?

Tomlin’s record totally supports keeping him, and let’s differentiate this opinion: I am not saying I WANT him fired, but I am saying I won’t shed a tear if he IS and that I went from IN his corner to gray area with that game. The Steelers don’t need a rebuild, especially with Ben at the tail end of his career. What they DO need is self-acknowledgement of what DOES need to change. Examples:

Be a leader that people follow due to action. You TALKING about the Pats at ALL after your loss earlier gave your team leniency to do the same when mic’d up.

Be more in control of your team. I am not saying be The Hoodie, but don’t let players say less than intelligent things to the media. The messaging can be embarrassing or minimally ambiguous.

Acknowledge that you, Mike Tomlin, have now lost enough “gutsy” decisions to warrant becoming one of those more boring, less exciting, by the book winning coaches.

Have Todd Haley put in a QB sneak into the audible playbook.

Your players looking disorganized and listless for the first 10 minutes of game time is on YOU.

Maybe think about getting rid of Todd Haley (good, already done).

The Silver Lining on not winning this past weekend is that Bell doesn’t have that one title which he said he could “retire” on.

Today at our company meeting, we had ex-Navy Seal Brent Gleeson speak to our company. Maybe Mike Tomlin and the Rooneys should examine the takeaways from that speech.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

The easiest day was yesterday.

All in. All the time.

ICE:

We were saying that the Vikings were playing like a team of destiny BEFORE that Godsend (just saying that because it must be true since everyone was thanking God relentlessly after multiple times-not sure God watches football and if he does, he probably goes with the global futbol more) play from Diggs. Case Keenum is a confusingly consistent enigma wrapped in a puzzle. The defense seems to get BETTER each week somehow? The freaking Super Bowl is played at THEIR crib. What goes on outside of their pretty little new dome? Snow and ICE.

Scary things about the Vikings right now.

They play a dragon video theme each home game, which falls into line with my GOT theme

They have not one, not two, but THREE QB’s on their roster who all think they might start next year and who all will be available for other teams soon.

They don’t win with turnovers, glam, or stats…everything starts with what you NEED to win it all…the defense.

Case Keenum is right now the more mobile, slightly more flashy, less boring version of Trent Dilfer from back in his Ravens days.

Pretty sure they demolished the LA Rams season personally with their regular season win. So much so that they didn’t even have to play them again.

Case Keenum is basically playing himself, just with a better defense. Both Foles and Keenum started the season on the bench.

The Vikings are 8-1 at their new stadium.

Imagine if Dalvin Cook wouldn’t have had a season ending injury…wow.

Prince died within the last year and is from MN.

SIDE NOTE 3: I am a big naming convention guy, and VERY depressed of the names of that Diggs play I have seen. What about “Gopher Seven?” (play was called Seven Heaven) How about “The Wonderlake?” Whatever. Just had a few I thought of after thinking about it for 10 seconds. I know. Those stink too.

I am not writing off the Eagles by any means. I just don’t think they can beat a team of destiny WITH that defense trying to play in a home Super Bowl. And just saying the Vikings ARE the Ice Dragon from GOT. We don’t know what that means exactly, but we know it isn’t good for the people who have the regular dragons (Tom Brady). Plus, if the Eagles DO win, I will just write it off as they have ice going on most of the time during the winter too.

So, enjoy the games this weekend. I know I will. Right after I step fully out of my Steelers box and observe for the sake of being a sports fan overall though. And maybe flipping to the UVA bball game as quickly as possible later. At least THEY are more concerned with Wake Forest right now and not Clemson, Duke, and the rest of their schedule.

I didn’t have a big list of links I wanted to share this round, but here are a couple:

https://deadspin.com/brett-brown-is-as-perplexed-by-markelle-fultzs-shot-as-1822090458

https://www.avclub.com/the-a-v-club-s-50-most-anticipated-movies-of-2018-1822091007

 

Shoot. One more. https://deadspin.com/cops-say-an-eagles-fan-punched-a-police-horse-after-bei-1822129512

Hey, Tomlin. Got some parting GOT quotes for you and your next season:

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.” 

“Bran thought about it. 

“When you play a game of thrones you win or you die.” 

“Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you.” 

“If I look back I am lost.” 

“Different roads sometimes lead to the same castle.” 

And remember, Mike. You were warned that winter was coming and told it is now here. Note that. You don’t have ANY dragons.

It will be a sad weekend knowing what could have been, but Steelers and Saints fans will hopefully find a way to watch.

Hope you enjoyed or are at least more informed. Will I blog again? That is a CLOWN question, bro. Peace.


WAKING LIONS

Posted on January 28, 2018 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)
mark filler

What is happening as I start embarking in 2018 on this focused idea only blog is that I get triggered, think of a theme, and then just go down that road. I can’t stop thinking about it (usually I think of these things while swimming, which is where this one occurred also). I figure I will have plenty of future blogs, but I guess I should clarify WHAT triggered me in this case.

TRIGGER 1: My #1 workout song presently is Pop Evil-Waking Lions. It has the brilliance of being heavy and raw, but having the uplifting part of the song that will get it airplay. Anyway, I listen to this song a LOT while working out. Take a listen if you want. That’s also the scary guy in the pic below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOhsP6F2RmQ

TRIGGER 2: We had ex-Navy SEAL Brent Gleeson speak at our company meeting last Wednesday. To say the least, it has inspired a few changes in how I operate in work and life. I reached out to his site and commented, and the dude even texted me 1 hour later on a Saturday night thanking me and saying we could stay in touch. Very cool. Anyway, my workouts will be amped up starting tomorrow, as Brent stirred something in me also. I wanted very badly to jump from being a Surface Warfare Officer in the Navy to being a SEAL, but having 20/140 vision didn’t help back in 1995. Nevertheless, the lions stirred and the embers were lit. Key takeaways:  the only easy day was yesterday, get comfortable being uncomfortable, and all in, all the time.

TRIGGER 3: We are in the heart of conference play and approaching March quickly. This blog won’t focus ONLY on college hoops, but since we have had some upsets, and since March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, I thought I would break that down a little also.

 

So, first off, let’s cut to my initial chase, which was seeing where we were at on the college hoops landscape, give updated Final Four picks, and maybe give some clueless bracket pickers some advice from a college hoops junkie who will STILL find some way to not place in any March Madness pool.

So, thought about going through this whole list of rankings and lists. But, I will streamline that approach. I will put them in groups. When we get to this time of year, this is what I do. I take the present rankings, the preseason rankings, the injury list, and make a mental flow chart of pretender, good on paper, WILL be good, and under the radar teams and why they can and can not win it all. This is what I came up with in 20 minutes of research (my breakdown would be more complete if all I had to do was blog).

RADAR:

OVERACHIEVING/ JUST OUTSIDE:

Clemson, Tennessee, Michigan, Rhode Island, Butler, Marquette, UCLA, Baylor, Maryland, Minnesota, Washington, Georgia, St. Bonaventure

TEAMS THAT I WOULDN’T BE SURPRISED SEEING A RUN FROM BUT CAN’T WIN IT ALL:

Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Arizona State, Auburn, Ohio State, TCU, Miami, Florida State, St. Mary’s, Notre Dame, USC, Oklahoma State, Northwestern

CONTENDERS:

WILL BE DANGEROUS NO MATTER WHERE THEY ARE RANKED/ GOOD ON PAPER:

Wichita State, Kansas, Xavier, Cincinnati, Gonzaga, Arizona, North Carolina, Kentucky, Seton Hall, Louisville, Florida, Texas A&M

KU has no bench and just lost a future guy Preston, Zags is in between their danger years, Xavier has some injury problems, Cincinnati I have RIGHT on the brink, UNC has been inconsistent, UK looks bad sometimes, the Hall I think I am tired of treating them as a dark horse, UL would be a badly timed run after their saga, Florida is too inconsistent, and A&M has spent the year underachieving.

THE CREAM OF THE CROP:

Villanova, UVA, Purdue, Duke, West Virginia, Michigan State

I eliminate out of the last group:

UVA: No offensive talent like in years past, and someone will make them need to score in the six games. Plus, to be honest, they have a couple tough games coming up and I am not sold on my school yet.

Purdue: If anyone in the top 4 drops, this is the team right now I would replace them with. I have watched them play twice, and they are pretty complete both ways.

Duke: Too tight of rotation to my liking and if their young starting five gets fits from a mid-major experienced team with some bigger guys and shooters, they might get bumped early.

West Virginia: If they have good guard play and can make free throws, I like someone with ball handling, shooting (especially on the FT’s), and alternative rebounders to bump them in the mid rounds.

THE FILLERBUSTER FINAL FOUR:

Villanova: This is the most complete team in the country, on offense AND defense.

Michigan State: I am sticking to my guns with these guys. My preseason pick, believe they are underachieving and learning, and believe they will be picking it up here shortly for the duration. They will win it all. Miles Bridges didn’t have to stay, he did, and he will walk out with a title.

Arizona: I am sticking with Zona. They have WAY too much talent still I believe to not make a run, and just started the season like my ’78 Thunderbird.

Wichita State: Yes, two straight conference losses is odd and they may not even win their conference, but they are too good overall for me to dismiss fully yet. Experienced, well coached, sharpshooters, have size...

The lyrics of the song Waking Lions don’t exactly split the atom. But, if you are interested in running through an occasional wall, then maybe they are.

I wanna stand up, a hundred feet tall

'Cause fear will never lead the way

I'm ready to run, a hundred miles strong

I will never be the same

 

Waking the lions in me

Or, you can just catch one of Brent Gleeson’s speeches.

So, I ALSO wanted to chat about rising above. I wanted to take a look at 2017 and forever teams that had THEIR lions woken up. I came up with some great memories.

2017:

Jeff Horn will be a great trivia question someday, but note that HE beat Manny Pacquiao.

Fiji beat New Zealand in the quarterfinals of the Rugby World Cup.

Denis Istomin beat Djokovic at the Aussie last January, and he personally, most likely, made for a bad year for Djokovic. Denis was ranked #117 at the time and started a slippery slope.

Sergio Garica won The Masters, taking himself off the best to never win a Major list.

South Carolina beat Duke in March AFTER the #1 seed, Nova, had already bowed out and cleared the way.

UCONN women lost to anyone (Miss. St. in this case).

The Nashville Predators not only won against the postseason experienced Chicago Blackhawks, but SMOKED them 4-0.

The Indians won 33 of their last 37 games and bowed out to the upstart, young, oddly underdog Yanks.

College football. Syracuse beat Clemson. Iowa SMOKED Ohio State at OSU by THIRTY ONE. Iowa State beat Oklahoma IN Norman.

The Vikings did THEIR thing with a journeyman QB who has TWO top priced free agents in his rear view mirror the WHOLE year.

The Eagles did THEIR thing after losing NFL MVP candidate Carson Wentz. The defense basically reminded us “what about US?”

The Pats…never mind.

The Jags were considered a bad loss to teams early in the season, especially since Blake Bortles was at the helm. They grew on us. They went to Heinz Field and beat DOWN the Steelers. Then, they went to Foxboro and ALMOST (would have made this article brilliant timing) beat the Pats, up 20-10 late and allowing Tom Brady to happen.

EVER (not in any order and skipped some on purpose or accident):

NC State hoops beat Houston and Valvano couldn’t even pick someone to hug.

The Miracle on Ice had the hockey machine go down to the abrasive Americans.

Villanova hoops shot 78.6%, allegedly might have coked up also, and still only beat the Ewing led Hoyas by two points.

Buster Douglas was a 42-1 underdog to Mike Tyson, and knocked him OUT and not just out-pointed him.

The 1997 Marlins won. It all. Expansion boundaries out the window.

YE Yang beat Tiger Woods in a playoff WHEN Tiger was leading going into the final round.

VCU made the Final Four. George Mason made the Final Four. Mason beat the unthinkable combo of Michigan State, UNC, Wichita State, and UCONN on THEIR way. Kansas and that guy, Danny Manning, made an unthinkable run to a title as a #8 seed.

Mine That Bird won the Kentucky Derby at 50-1 in 2009, and “Upset” beat the unbeatable Man o’War in 1919.

John Daly smoked cigs and drank bourbon to the 1991 PGA Championship, where he was an ALTERNATE.

Milan (161 students) beat Muncie (1600) and they made the greatest sports movie ever from that.

Texas Western hoops beat UK and changed the way we think about race on the court forever.

In 1982, Chaminade beat Ralph Sampson and his UVA friends.

Leon Spinks jabbed Ali to a victory in 1978.

The Red Sox broke their own curse in 2004, but being down 3-0 to the Yankees in a SERIES and still doing it is ridiculous.

The Miracle Mets in 1969 earned their nickname as “Miracle.”

In 1955, Jack Fleck beat Ben Hogan in the US Open. Jack had three total victories ever, and Ben Hogan was going for his TENTH MAJOR.

In 2007, the Golden State Warriors beat the Mavs as an eighth seed, becoming the first 8 seed to win a 7 game series against the 1 seed (Knicks and Nuggets did it in 5 games, all).

Joe Freaking Namath in 1969.

Rulon Gardner beat the unbeaten Alexander Kerelin in wrestling in 2000.

Just a few, all. I only have so much time.

It doesn’t matter what happens today, all. The Vikings, Eagles, and Jags had some felines NOT wanting a nap any time soon.

I won’t bore you with motivational verbiage. I will just say go wake up some of your own lions, and sure as hell to ENJOY when it happens in sports.

I had links to share that were fun, but mistakenly erased them when moving in between Google Doc sheets and blogs and other. Sorry. Next time, I will make sure to have some.

That’s it for today, all. Hope you enjoyed or are at least more informed. Will I blog again? That is a CLOWN question, bro. Peace.


The Avalanche

Posted on January 23, 2018 at 2:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Alex Becker

abecker9993@gmail.com

It is time to start to start taking these Avs seriously. This young, energetic bunch is making some noise and people should start paying attention. The Avalanche finished the 2016-17 campaign with a measly 48 points, 21 points behind the Vancouver Canucks, the second worstteam in the NHL record-wise. Yet this resurgent young core has found itself in the midst of a spot in the 2018 NHL playoffs.Aside from the 2013-14 season when the Avs surprisingly made the playoffs under Patrick Roy, but lost in the first round, the hockey buzz in Denver has been non-existent since the NHL lockout in the 2004-05 season. From 1995 to 2004, the Avalanche made the playoffs every season and won two Stanley Cups. Since the lockout ended, the Avalanche have won two playoff series - a far cry from the glory days of the 90’s and early 2000’s. With the rise of 22-year-old center Nathan MacKinnon and the phenomenal play of late at the goaltender position, the Avs are poised to be a team to be reckoned with in the Western Conference.The Avalanche matched their win total from last season exactly halfway through their schedule this season when they got their 22nd victory against the Minnesota Wild, an impressive 7-2 thumping over their biggest rival. Just three days later, NHL writer Greg Wyshynski releasedhis “NHL Midpoint Awards” and MacKinnon was his frontrunner to win the Hart Trophy as league MVP. One reason for Wyshynski selecting MacKinnon as MVP at the halfway point is because his team is in the playoff race – you have to be in it to win it. MacKinnon is currently tied for second in the NHL in points and is second in points per game.If a team wishes to make a deep run into the Stanley Cup playoffs, you generally need exceptional play out of your top line. The Avs top line consisting of MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen has been playing as well as any line in the NHL. In addition,

the Avs special teams unit has been outstanding killing penalties and the power play has been equally tremendous as they have scored 36 power-play goals, good for 5th in the NHL.In early November, the Avs traded away Forward Matt Duchene, receiving a plethora of prospects and draft picks in the deal. Former second-round pick, defenseman Samuel Girard, a 165 lb, 19 year-old kid, has been terrific since coming over from Nashville. Girard is a great skater and looks the part of a solid player for years to come. Since the Duchene trade, MacKinnon has lit the NHL on fire, scoring 16 goals and assisting on 24 more, for a total of 40 points, while being a +10. Meanwhile Duchene has scored 6 goals and tallied 6 assists, for a total of 12 points, while being a -9. Not to mention, it was a relief to finally end the Duchene circus and trade a player who had little interest in playing for the team. The Avs also expect defenseman Tyson Barrie back in the lineup in a couple weeks, which would give a jolt to the special teams, as Barrie runs the No. 1 power play.Scoring 3.32 goals per game, the Avs rank fourth in the NHL and are 13th in goals-againstaverage at 2.91. Those are big strides from last year when they scored 2.01 goals per game and had a goals-against average of 3.37. The team is more responsible with the puck, turnovers are down, leading to less quality scoring chances for the opposition. The Colorado Avalanche are a confident bunch and if Joe Sakic decides to add a piece or two to help them make the playoffs, it would be one of the great turnarounds in recent memory for an NHL club

Can Ian Desmond have a bounce-back year in 2018?

Posted on January 15, 2018 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (0)
alexanderbecker@comcast.net

The Colorado Rockies have high expectations for the 2018 season, and if they want to make a run into October they will need better production out of Ian Desmond. After signing a five-year, $70 million dollar contract last offseason, 2017 did not go exactly as planned for the new Rockie. Desmond broke his hand in spring training, only played in 95 games, and posted a .701 OPS and -0.8 WAR. He also made a position switch, transitioning to splitting time defensively between first base and left field. Despite his struggles in his first year with the Rockies, Desmond’s track record in the MLB suggests he will turn it around this upcoming season and be the guy the Rockies hoped for when they signed him to his lucrative contract.

The Rockies have not yet re-signed Mark Reynolds to another one-year contract and have not acquired a free-agent first baseman, as some thought they might this offseason. For Desmond, this likely means more playing time at first base this season and not as much action in left field, especially with the log jam in the Rockies outfield. The only player who might compete for playing time at first base with Desmond is 23-year-old Ryan McMahon, who has 19 career at bats. With Carlos Gonzalez also anticipated to be out of the mix in 2018, Desmond is projected to hit in the middle of the lineup, likely to be penciled in anywhere from 3rd to 6th in the order.

Desmond only hit 7 home runs in 2017, 2 coming at home and 5 on the road, while playing half of his games at hitter-friendly Coors Field. This was surprising considering Desmond’s power, as he has hit at least 19 home runs in five of his eight full MLB seasons. If Desmond plays a full season, meaning over 140 games, expect to see at least 20 big flies from him. Extra base hits were also markedly down last season for Desmond, as he amassed only 19 total XBH’s, but in seven of his eight full seasons, Desmond had recorded over 25 doubles. With his speed and aggressive nature on the basepaths, count on somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 doubles and 50 extra base hits.

Desmond’s worst year offensively in his eight-and-a-half-year career came in 2015, his last season as a member of the Washington Nationals where he hit .233 and had an OBP of .290. Moreover, that same year he made 27 errors at shortstop. However, Desmond came back with a vengence in 2016 while playing for the Texas Rangers. His batting average improved 52 points from 2015 and his on-base percentage improved 45 points. Even his defense improved as he transitioned from shortstop to center field. Desmond’s 2016 season suggests that he can rebound again in 2018, as he has a lot to prove to the Rockies organization. Desmond has the intangibles. For example, he is regarded as a leader both in and out of the locker room. He is the first guy to have his teammates’ backs in a scuffle, and gives back to the community, including raising awareness and support to end Neurofibromatosis (NF).

Many players in situations similar to Desmond’s, in which they came off an injury plagued season, have come back the following season with phenomenal success. Players such as Jason Giambi in 2005, Jim Thome and Nomar Garciaparra in 2006, Lance Berkman in 2011, and Prince Fielder in 2015 had terrific bounce-back years after struggling with debilitating injuries the year prior. Desmond never really seemed to get his timing down at the plate in 2017, but by starting the season healthy and remaining injury-free over the course of the season, his body of work suggests he will make positive contributions and be an important piece to the Rockies winning formula in 2018.

 


GET OFF MY LAWN

Posted on January 14, 2018 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (0)

By The Fillerbuster

This is long overdue, as my frustration has been building up. A week before my star preview of HOPEFULLY the Steelers and Pats, I need to get this off my chest. Thanks for listening. Writers who don’t work 65 hours a week might have more organization, more data, and more thoroughness, but it is what it is. I am a walking sports almanac who happens to sell software full time. These are MY thoughts with limited research, so some things are going to be safely on the tracks and others will be like I am…slightly OFF the tracks. Did I need a little online research to get the events all listed? Sure. Am I splitting the atom by saying LaVar Ball is irritating? Now. But, do I still want to state it in my own way? Yes. Let’s move.

As always (for at least 2018), the old blog still exists in quick hit, one sentence style. All of those numbered thoughts are under the This And That dropdown ON my site. You actually have to click once or twice to get to it. I know. Painful and tedious. Damn internet. This will be updated during the Saints-Vikings game, so that dropdown will be done by 5pm Sunday.

I typically stay away from politics in this blog. Sorry I have to make a couple of Trump comments in this Cast. What can I say? LaVar has made worlds collide magically.

 

LAVAR BALL EVENTS (not necessarily in order):

JETS PANTHERS DE/TE: I know more about LaVar Ball after the last few days than most people on this earth. While hanging out here and there, I have been reading articles and watching videos non-stop. Did you know LaVar was in the NFL for a couple of years? He was a practice squad player for a couple of years. Actually, shouldn’t he talk about his ability to PLAY on a major school roster and THEN switching and becoming a professional athlete at ANOTHER sport MORE than he brags about OTHER stuff? I think that is actually MORE impressive.

BROTHERS NAMED LA TOO: LaFrance, LaValle, LaRenzo, LaShon. I am not making this up. The whole FAMILY is jacked up. Roger Clemens can name all of his kids starting with K. That seems better oddly, steroids or not. LaVar’s four brothers’ names all start with “la.” Not lying. Then, he continues the “l” theme with his kids? Seeing La La Land ONCE as a dude was painful enough, but THIS family? Even worse version of La La Land.

DID NOT KNOW MB1 WAS FOR YOUNGEST KID?: Maybe you are more in the loop, but did you know that the MB1, a show at $400 or above is actually for the youngest, more unknown and unproven kid? The one still in high school (or was?). I didn’t. Extend the sadness.

2.2 WSU: This was his PPG average at Washington State. Washington State has perennially been a basketball powerhouse over the years, so this is understandable, but kind of less of a leg to stand on, IF he even had one before.

That was sarcasm. Washington State is not a basketball powerhouse except for a few years with my present UVA coach.

MAGIC JOHNSON WITH A JUMPER: He pegged Lonzo Ball early on as Magic Johnson WITH a jumpshot. Kind of like Blake Bortles comparing himself to the pain of LeBron James, non sequitur. And Magic did OK with his “non-jumper” and made some sort of Hall of Fame? By the way, 52% is a fine and dandy FG% for a non-front court player for a career.

GUARANTEED DIVISION I TOURNEY WIN: Didn’t look at the bracket, LaVar? He guaranteed his oldest boy would win the NCAA Tourney before it went on, and that prediction is about as accurate as him saying the Lakers WOULD be in the playoffs during Lonzo’s first year. Ran into UK in the tourney, and the Lakers are 15-27 and in the 12th slot in the standings.

ALL THREE SONS WOULD BE ONE AND DONE: Said before the below events, that didn’t exactly pan out either. I believe you need to go to college to actually be a one and doner.

COMMENTS ON UCLA’S WHITE PLAYERS: Hey, why not add race problems TO his cockiness, right? Let’s pick on the coach’s kid (Alford), one kid who was an All-American high school player and still is in school (Welsh), and a guy who was drafted in the first round (Leaf), and bring us back to cave man status by talking about white players and black players in a different light. Good idea of being abrasive AND ignorant. Really effective in getting across your point.

KILL MJ IN ONE ON ONE (2.4 MILLION VIEWS): You can’t truly fault the guy. Who is getting over on who actually? Sure, the idiocy of the comment we can take a look at, but 2.4 million HAVE viewed that video. The Fillerbuster is firmly in the court (no pun intended) that MJ is the best ever, and sure the comment irks him (talking like Rickey Henderson briefly evidently), but this was still when I was entertained by his antics and figured he had a broader plan overall.

LONZO BETTER NOW THAN STEPH CURRY: Sure, let’s compare your kid (not in the NBA yet at the time) to an MVP of the NBA. Sounds like a solid plan in your world dominance plan.

BIG BALLER BRAND ($495): When do you draw the line, no matter HOW much money you make? For example, no matter HOW much money I make, I still have a problem with spending more than $300 for ANY 2-3 hour experience of sports viewing live. It just doesn’t figure mathematically for me. So, I guess you could argue that sneakers at least are reusable. Ok. Well, I will say my limit on sneaks is about $200 (BEFORE I blew out my knee years ago), now would be about $100, and I will STILL stick with the $14.95 Starbury’s still in my car/gym bag and be fine with that price point. A court shoe should NOT be as expensive as what I sold my 1996 Cherokee for (although neither I guess got me to and from work successfully).

ON RECORD COMMENTS WITH MAGIC JOHNSON BEFORE LONZO DRAFTED: He PROMISED Magic ON record he would NOT be a distraction. Fact. The fact that he not only became a distraction, but became an independent side show in addition to that, is ridiculous. If you are going to be the loudmouth NBA father, at least respect what you promised.

JUNIOR BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION: They have the NBDL. They have the college game. These things will NOT go away. Creating a competitive league is NOT going to work. Good idea to give kids a place to go NOT overseas who don’t want to waste a college’s time? Ok. Not a bad one. In comparison to other stuff that comes out of his mouth, his best idea (not saying much). But, the reality? One, he doesn’t mention the resources involved in organizing this and how he will attract enough viewership. Two, in all reality, any kid who IS a one and doner, probably will make more than $10k UNDER the table anyway. As a viewer, I would rather Ice Tea’s league of wash-ups and 4 pointers before watching this unproven startup league.

LIANGELO’S CHINA DETAINMENT: No one cheers for a kid doing something dumb in a foreign country, but don’t tell me you didn’t chuckle when you found out who it was involved. Sounds like a logical plan. Let’s have the son of the most out of control father piss off a country we are not great with politically. Couldn’t WRITE this, and I would rather have Dennis Rodman keep leading the charge, and THAT is a problem. Oh, and the fact that his kid, the son of the guy selling overpriced sneaks, was stealing overpriced items from expensive manufacturers like Louis Vuitton? Even better. Never better (said in LaVar voice).

TRUMP COMMENTS: Then, AFTER the event shook out, he fires tweets at Trump doing the OPPOSITE of thanking him. The only redeeming part of this entire scenario was that we then linked the two biggest idiots in our society, LaVar Ball and POTUS.

LIANGELO PULLED FROM UCLA: LiAngelo then got suspended from school. What does LaVar do? Pulled him from school. Good example. Let’s go against a respectable institution because YOUR kid messed up.

LIMELO PULLED FROM HIGH SCHOOL: Dominoes. If you pull one kid from college, you might as well pull your younger kid from HIGH SCHOOL, right? Sure. The only people happier than people who watch this side show eagerly with a roll of the eye are the kids who were ON that Chino high school basketball team. Listen, kids don’t get the training outside of the system as they do INSIDE the system. Too many examples in the past, and too much common sense. They might MAKE it to the NBA, but we will really never know what they COULD have done had they not had him ruling their lives. Shame.

LITHUANIA: Send them to Lithuania. Yeah. There are MORE slow white players over there, so that makes sense, right? Let’s put the most volatile family on earth in a system that is already established globally and feeds players into the NBA. Perfect. Just like a smirked when the Ball kid got busted in China, I also smirked this week when both kids, in one of the LOWER leagues LaVar probably can’t even pronounce, were both held SCORELESS in a game. I hate rooting against youth, but the guy has made that happen with me.

STAY IN YOUR LANE-HERD KRISTINE LEAHY: Watching this video is horrifying. The absolute disrespect he showed Kristine Leahy is a travesty and makes me less proud as a MALE. Telling her to stay in her lane WHILE having his back to her is a train wreck. Back in the stone age, LaVar. It took a while for us all to get adjusted to hearing them on mic’s, but I will say that the females in sports deserve ULTIMATE respect and have MORE than earned their due, and people in a media situation like LaVar can do everyone a favor and treat them with MORE respect, as we have a LOT of decades of being derogatory as a society whole to make up for in that arena.

MADE STAY IN YO LANE SHIRTS: Then, he made shirts. Once again, who is actually winning? And could he BE this stupid? Not sure, but I would like a list of the people who BOUGHT that shirt AND who bought his $400 sneakers and egg ALL of their houses.

AAU-WOMAN REF REPLACING: He REPLACED a ref in AAU ball. This goes hand in hand with the above, but come on, LaVar. You could tell me you could take down MJ and that your son is better than Steph Curry and I will take it with a grain of salt. You disrespecting women as a whole? Disgusting, and makes your funny side show embarrassing. We go with possibly laughing WITH his funny videos to laughing AT someone who has a mic and makes men look really, really bad.

LAKERS COACHING COMMENTS: He is undermining a respectable young coach, an old established organization, and the NBA overall. That roster is bad, your son added or not. Please eliminate insult to injury by saying that it is the coach.

REALITY SHOW ALL IN THE FAMILY: You would think I would have a lot to say on this, but we make reality shows about everything else under the sun, so this is not even really that funny overall. This is like the unfunny version of making an Ozzy Osbourne family reality show.

WRESTLING APPEARANCE: Well, of COURSE, he was on a wrestling event, given his style fits in that mold. We shouldn’t be surprised. Our hopes of him STAYING in wrestling were not to be. He came back to basketball. Downer.

PATRICK BEVERLEY WHO: One of his big things is asking “who?” This is NOT like a good salesperson saying “why.” Not even close. Patrick Beverley has been on some winning teams, and has averaged close to 10 points in his whole CAREER in the NBA after being a non-guaranteed second round draft pick out of Arkansas in 2009. Leave him alone. He has averaged for 8 years what your savior son has averaged in his first season. Patrick has shown longevity, and plays defense like an animal. He might not be a household name, but he has sure earned what he has.

TRUMP WHO: Oh, and while we are on this subject, he said “who” when asked about the Trump thing. The POTUS, bro. Idiot or not, I am pretty sure we all know who he is.

SENT TRUMP SNEAKS AND PICTURE OF HIM DUNKING ON HIM: After the China incident, he sent Trump sneakers AND pics of LaVar dunking on the POTUS. At least it progressed their Twitter relationship. There is the saying of competition playing down to its competition. Well, not in this case. They are each other’s equal. Want a reality show? Put these two in a room together and see what happens. Let’s throw in Bill Walton and Charles Barkley and we have must see TV.

BBB GIVES BBB AN F: The Better Business Bureau gave his company an F. Always quick with his dumb comments, LaVar cleverly said the only BBB is Big Baller Brand (HOW did we walk into THAT one?). As what’s his name on SNL said last night, the F was for Fenomenal. Not seen any of the SNL clips. They are pretty spot on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTrJJG_3ow8

(I have to say I am oddly impressed by him pulling the BBB line, and was kind of depressed his sneaker company DID have the same intiials).

HOW LONZO HANDLES ALL THIS (commercial): Feel sorry for the kids? I personally do. But, they seem to have a paradigm of reality I guess. Not seen the commercial? And this was made VERY early on in LaVar’s antics (as things obviously got worse). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBi6LHwokh0

RICHARD WILLIAMS/ EARL WOODS COMPARISON: This applies, very LOOSELY. Why loosely? Because when Richard and Earl started irritating us early on, most sports fans had been reading about the TALENT of Venus/Serena and Tiger for YEARS. We KNEW they would be all-timers. This was clear. Hell, if LeBron’s dad was overbearing and loud, I wouldn’t have minded it. If Zion Willimason has a father who wants to vent on a mic a little, I am also fine with it. Lonzo didn’t deliver a college championship (the one thing we can’t give Melo (the OKC Melo not LiMelo) flack for) and was just a high round NBA draft pick. He hasn’t DONE anything yet, except be really good. He hasn’t proved his SPECIALNESS yet. Therefore, the antics of LaVar are magnified and much more irritating.

So, who has he pissed off? Let see. MJ, Sir Charles, women, white people, black people, English teachers, his kids most likely, sneaker companies, the BBB, capitalism, Patrick Beverley, the President of the US, wrestlers, basketball coaches, refs, reality shows, T-Shirt companies, China, Chino High School, the NBDL, every college in America, Magic Johnson, Steph Curry, La La Land, baby naming books, the Jets, the Panthers, Washington State University, and the whole country of Lithuania. Probably Clint Eastwood too in some odd way. And I assume LaVar probably has a problem with gay people too, but the subject hasn’t come up. Actually, I better get to my point and post this before he does something new.

SYNOPSIS: This whole thing would have been bad enough without the racism and sexism. This whole thing would have been bad enough if it was some Podunk high school in the middle of nowhere and some college that simply had a program. But, this is magnified not only HOW he has stepped outside of his lane, how he is an overbearing father, how he thinks he can beat the system, and how he has called out anyone in his path, but because of WHO he has done these acts to. The Lakers and UCLA Bruins are arguably two of the greatest organizations/institutions of all time AND two of the biggest basketball factories we have ever seen. They were there before him, they are still there during him, and they will prosper well AFTER him. It is one thing to disrespect everything in this world, but to insult THOSE institutions? Absurd. Am I guilty of reading new material on him? Sure. I think most of us are. But, here is the deal. It is not like he is Ali and talking crazy smack about HIMSELF. He is living vicariously THROUGH his kids, and likely ruining his kids’ full potential in the same motion.

LaVar, I admire the fact that you have used the media to your advantage for exposure. I admire you started a $400 per sneaker company where SOMEONE is buying them. I admire the fact that I never know whether you are really that dumb or really that smart. But, please stop this. Be outspoken, but do me two favors.

Be respectful to race and gender. You will be amazed at the continued exposure you will get saying you can take MJ one on one IF you actually stay clean on the respect front.

Have all of the idiotic interviews you want, but respect the institutions your kids are representing. Don’t burn all of your bridges at one time. You can be the mad man on the sidelines, still get yours, but still recognize who the employer is. Listen, man. You need them, and giving them a little respect might even make them need YOU at some point. But not now, and the kids you live vicariously through need to accomplish a few things before you take the mic full time again.

Perhaps let your kids make a few decisions on their own. Maybe they kind of wanted to be big man on campus for a year. The system isn’t so bad. Tim Duncan and Michael Jordan are both HOF’ers. One went to college for ALL the time, and MJ went and won a title quickly and THEN left college. Ferguson, Mudiay, and Jennings aren’t exactly household names these days. Let them have their college time IF THEY WANT TO.

Basically, I am not saying you have to totally go into the background, and please speak your mind to a degree, but, for now…stay off my lawn.

 

HOUSE OF PAIN

Posted on January 7, 2018 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (0)

mark_filler@hotmail.com

 


In the 2018 of FOCUS for The Fillerbuster, I need obviously something to trigger my focus article.  Well, the sports world DID luckily.  So, here we go.

Saturday was an interesting day in sports.  A year removed from having a couple road NFL wildcards advance, we thought it couldn't happen again, right?  And when the Chiefs opened up a 21-3 halftime lead against the Titans, we thought we were right.  We weren't.  Pain was delivered to the Chiefs fan base, in an awkward and personal way no one thought was possible.

The Titans came back and won that game.  The Chiefs offense became a shell of itself, mainly because of the Travis Kelce injury, eliminating any middle of the field openings.  Kareem Hunt couldn't help solve this problem.  The Titans came back, and even threw in a Mariota pass and catch TD score (on the same play) to boot.  ALL before the eyes of home fans in one of the toughest home NFL venues we have ever seen.

On the same day, the Browns had a parade for being 0-16.  Who would you rather be?  A Chiefs fan SO close to playing the Pats next week and blowing a huge lead, or a Browns fan knowing that they will lose a lot...again...next year.

It made me think about different TYPES of team sports pain fans experience.  I then thought about it today at breakfast, classifying different types of pain within the sports world.  Not saying this is the end all be all list, as I made it up as I went, but identifying mentally specific game examples of each occurrence helped me brainstorm.  I came up with the following.  The types overlap and the names of the pain aren't the catchiest, but you can write your own blog if you disagree.

JEALOUS PAIN:

Jealous is the feeling you get from OTHER fan bases from that situation.  With that, I mean that other fan bases might be JEALOUS you were even IN that situation.  They WISH their team was put in the same situation late season in a game that counted.  Basically, they won't feel bad for you.  This occurs most frequently when your team is IN the playoffs and at least has a shot at doing something special.  This occurs when at least YOU had that week of buildup of HOPE.  This occurs when you aren't a bottom feeder after the season.  This occurs with every team in every playoffs EXCEPT the winner.  This occurred this weekend with the Chiefs.  To be up that much at HOME, and blow it yet again (at home), is baffling to say the least.

SITUATIONAL PAIN:

Not the best name for this I am sure, but this is for OU fans (not like me who married INTO the fan base, but real, true fans).  Situational pain occurs when there is another step where YOUR team could have made the game better.  Not only does less of the population outside of Athens, GA care about tomorrow's college football championship game because A) it is all SEC and B) because UGA offense is one dimensional and falls into Bama's defensive plan, but OU would be the BETTER matchup.  What does Bama have trouble stopping?  Spread formations and mobile QB's.  What is OU?  That.  What is UGA?  Runs and a freshman pocket passer filling in the blanks.  My wife might not even WATCH the game tomorrow, and I don't blame her and probably wouldn't be able to either.  It will pain OU fans during tomorrow's game.  What could have been summarizes this type of pain.

SYMPATHETIC PAIN:

This is for teams who TRY and don't classify their efforts as "rebuilding."  This, is for teams like the Browns.  They draft, trade, and try to win every single year.  They just CAN'T.  Other fan bases sometimes can look at these fans and feel better about THEIR situation.  You feel sadness, because they have never or rarely been there, and there is no uplifting ceiling in immediate sight.  These are the lovable losers.

HISTORICAL PAIN:

This depends on your age sometimes, but these are teams where they USED to win all the time, but now somehow can't hit the side of a barn with their shots.  Typically, their "losing" is to a lesser degree, but the fan base is spoiled to some degree.  And now they are mediocre or subpar.  This could be UCLA basketball in a way.  This could be the 49ers to a degree.  This would be the Bears right now.  This could be the Bulls, the Lakers, the Suns, and the Mavericks in NBA basketball.  How about the Reds and Giants in MLB?  How about the Oilers or Canucks in the NHL?  The list goes on.

UNRECOVERABLE or SHATTERED PAIN:

This is when your team WAS on the doorstep and blew it.  This is differentiated with my first category because there was no OTHER step.  Examples of this could be the 90's Bills or the 2016-2017 Falcons.  The Bills made the final game four straight years.  They were the best of their conference by a long shot.  Then, they got blitzed in three of those championships, and had the other painful loss in the other one.  The Falcons were up 28-3 over a dynasty in the first half of the Super Bowl last year.  They blew it also.  Will they ever recover?  We will see, but even in meaningless games NOW when they get up big, you can feel the nervousness in the stands after last year.

PERFORMANCE PAIN:

This is when you run into a buzzsaw.  This occurs when you couldn't have done ANYTHING different and won.  All of your practiced methodologies went out the window.  Take the Brooklyn Dodgers against Don Larsen pitching a perfect game.  Take the Braves against Jack Morris.  Take the 76ers against Magic Johnson playing center in 1980.  Take the Devils and Canucks against Mark Messier in the 1994 Stanley Cup.  Take the Dolphins against Kellen Winslow.  How about Memphis against Bill Walton or everyone and their mother against Danny Manning in '88?  Or how about Christian's shot in '92 against Kentucky?

SELF-INFLICTED PAIN:  

This pain is rebuilds for an organization.  They know they have to do it.  Heck, maybe the FAN even knows they have to do it.  But, when you don't have enough chips to play with the chip leaders, you need to reboot.  It is nice to know when these rebuilds "end," but sometimes they don't.  The Astros did it successfully and are now the model.  The Sixers ARE doing it.  But, all of this rebuild time still doesn't take away from the necessary pain it inflicts on the fans.  You know it is happening, it is out of your control, you hope it ends well, and you know you have a few years of cursing at the television.

BAD BOUNCE PAIN:

Miracle plays.  Bad bounces.  Controversial calls.  Whatever you want to call them.  Sometimes things aren't totally in your control.  Whether you cite the Music City Miracle, Steve Bartman, the Hand of God, the judging on Roy Jones in the Olympics, the 1972 Olympics basketball final, the tuck rule, or the five downs given to the Buffs in 1990, sometimes the pain is out of your control.

DECISION PAIN:

This one I just thought of when the Bills just lost in front of me.  Pain that is created by a proactive decision on staff.  What if the Bills hadn't sat Taylor and started Nathan Peterman that one harmless regular season week?  They might have had home field advantage for Wild Card weekend.  The time I also think this applies is when a manager takes out a pitcher in the playoffs because of pitch count or hunches.  We will never know the answer to these questions, but one thing we DO know.  The pain is on THEM.

DYNASTY PAIN:

You are in the wrong place at the wrong time.  You are Ken Anderson and the Bengals.  You are the Karl Malone and the Jazz.  You are a playoff hockey team in the 80's.  You are a college basketball team during the UCLA reign.  You are any women's college hoops team in the last 15 years.  You were playing soccer against my Cavaliers in the early 90's.  Sometimes you just play at the same time where another team is making an unprecedented run.  This pain is unusual because you have a GREAT team.  But, that other person or team just is having THEIR time.

So, all of you pained people out there.  Know that you are not alone.  Hey, Chiefs fans, at least you aren't an Eagles fan years ago when they lost THREE straight NFC Championship games, finally DID win, and then blew it in the Super Bowl (TWO types of pain there).  We all have our own version of the House of Pain.

 

 




Focus 2018.

Posted on January 7, 2018 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

mark_filler@hotmail.com


No more random dribble. Not saying me focusing is BETTER, but at least you know whether to turn off the subject immediately or not. One focused article per week is what I am hoping to achieve. And, yes, my last one not only was WRONG (Baker’s Game), but ties immediately into THIS one. Plus, it is more fun and make a prediction than to straddle the fence as I always say. So, without losing my old school terminology or lingo, let’s turn and burn.

DISCLAIMER: In my random dribble days, I had “Airplane Rants.” These were rants written with no ability to look up backing stats or numbers during the writing. And, since I have a full time job and am just getting back from a packed trip, I didn’t have much “prep time,” so forgive some of the generalities of the post with less numbers. I have at least 50 more to write this year.

CONTROL

Control. Sometimes in our own lives, we have it, and sometimes we don’t. It is what it is. Same in the sports world. Sometimes a team or individual has it, and sometimes they don’t. And this blog isn’t splitting the atom, telling the teams or individuals HOW to get control, but I am pointing out a few times in the last few weeks where they DID in big situations…and blew it…or didn’t blow it…or simply kept it.

Let’s start by defining this blog’s term “control.” Not saying this is the forever definition moving forward, but this is what it is for this particular Cast. (Thinking as I am writing this impromptu on flight back from the Rose Bowl late at night on July 2nd…tired). Control is “not relying on someone else’s skill or lack of to control an outcome.” Control is “having the ability proactively to provide an outcome with limited feedback or altering activity from the competitor.” Control is basically “having more say in the outcome than your opponent.” How does that sound? Good? Ok. Well, let’s move this along then.

EVENT #1: Pittsburgh Steelers up 24-16 vs. New England Patriots midway through fourth quarter (Week 14)

Event #2 triggered this blog topic, but Event #1 has lost me sleep over the last few weeks without a doubt. Big Ben is a future HOF’er. He could quit today and would be in there. But, there are different LEVELS of being an HOF’er, and he had a big chance a couple of weeks ago. Problem was that the guy on the opposite sideline was ALSO a HOF’er. A higher LEVEL HOF’er than Ben. Ben had a couple chances late to close that level gap. He didn’t.

The MOMENT last year’s playoff game was done between Pittsburgh and New England, I sat on my couch and proclaimed out loud, but probably only audible to me, myself, and I since I was very sad, that the resolution of this problem was black and white to me. We needed NE at OUR crib before venturing into conversation about how embarrassing our zone was against Brady. Before contemplating ANY field x’s and o’s, we needed to get them at Heinz. Ok. Super Bowl comes and goes, winter comes and goes, and schedules are released. I smiled as I read the full schedule, seeing New England late in the year. I literally sat there the first day of its release and mapped out wins and losses for both teams. I had it close. VERY close. Then, I get the MONSTROUS treat of NE dropping not one but TWO early games they shouldn’t have lost. One of them actually kicked me out of a losers pool early and I didn’t even care. I knew the bigger picture. That picture was to play those guys at Heinz. The year continues, and then the week comes along like I freaking WROTE the script. It is story book crap. Here we go. One game to have THAT team control its own destiny. A game is AT Heinz to play LATER at Heinz. Perfect. Fast forward to the fourth quarter, and it gets BETTER. Big Ben was taking the field UP 24-16 LATE in the fourth quarter. He was taking the field with time ticking down, and just needing a few first downs to get my year long dream taken care of. He had CONTROL of the situation. You can probably yell back at me “NO ONE HAS CONTROL WHEN TOM BRADY IS PLAYING.” Fine. But, you know what? My definition is A) my guy is a HOF’er B) he KNOWS what Brady can do and C) he has the weapons to close this thing out. He had control because if the given in this geometry proof is that no one has control in a Tom Brady game, then what he had WAS the most controllable situation he could have had in this real world.

What happened? They gave the ball back, Davis dropped an INT that gave Brady a second chance on a drive, a score, another score, and then the TD call back that was discussed at water coolers for a whole week. What did I contribute to these water coolers? Not much, except for the following:

-Yes, I admit that losing AB was big, but shouldn’t have affected the entire outcome

-It shouldn’t have even come DOWN to that TD call. Ben already had multiple chances to close it out while AHEAD. I didn’t even want to discuss the TD call. It was irrelavent.

-If the Steelers lose this year in Foxboro, no one will be sadder than me, but I will blow it off, because the fact remains that Big Ben tried to let Tom Brady GIVE him home field advantage, and Tom Brady simply pulled the rug out from under that weak plan. Ben had to TAKE it from him. The Steelers had a home game AND the lead in that game to get them to the Minnesota this year, and they BLEW it. Can they still do it? Sure. I get that. But, if THAT goes down like I fear again this year, I will know WHEN it ACTUALLY went south.

EVENT #2: Oklahoma Sooners up 45-38 vs. Georgia Bulldogs late in fourth quarter

This obviously triggered this whole control topic for The Fillerbuster, as he is currently on a plane coming home from Cali, with Pasadena being the focal point of visit. Sucks to be on the losing end of a great, great, legendary football game, but that is what happened. Midway through the fourth quarter is when I started feeling that I was watching a special game, but my allegiance was reigning over that feeling obviously at the time. Tough to enjoy when so stressed.

I am not mad at the Sooners losing the game. I am mad at the fact that I asked for ONE more simple Baker magic trick and it didn’t happen. But, my request wasn’t just for ONE drive, or asking anything from the defense either. I wasn’t being greedy. Down 38-31, you felt the mood shifting BIG time in the stadium. It was now or never. Fumble recovery TD tied it up, and Baker lead a long drive to take the lead after doing NOTHING in the entire third quarter. 45-38 OU. But here is where it gets loose:

UGA scores to tie the game up. All runs pretty much as they averaged 13 yards per carry between Michel and Chubb. Opportunity #1 for Baker magic JUST needs a FG after starting from the 25. Can’t do it. Zero points.

OT. OU wins the flip, and gets to match or overcome UGA’s drive total. FG by UGA makes it even more plausible. Baker fails. FG ties it. This is when I thought it was TRULY coming together. OU even got a free play on an offsides, and missed it. 1st and 10 at the 15 yard line, and couldn’t get it done.

2ND OT: Now, possession is in reverse order, and this was when control was LOST. Baker could have dictated what UGA did, but instead they missed a chip shot FG, giving UGA the chance to not just tie, but WIN. Baker had now lost control. And that was my first REAL feeling the game was done ( I successfully fought off that negativity when they were done 38-31 and told my wife I was in a “Positivity Bubble”;). Why? Because Baker is best with a FULL field. The college OT restricts everything to within the 25 yard line. Less space. What goes good in space? Blocking and running. Who is the best team in the nation at blocking and running? UGA. UGA not only scores the winning FG, but just scores from a run to win by 6.

Baker had THREE shots at winning with the game in his control. Two of them were WELL within his grasp, with the last being a little scary. Baker is already a legend. But, just winning that game and GETTING to the title game would have made him generation-less. He would transcend folklore. He would eternally back up his brashness with the eternal scoreboard. He would have been even more if he somehow was able to complete the title task. But, he lost control in that 2nd OT, and then lost all of that. He is more that just a hothead QB talking trash. Sure. But wouldn’t it have been GREAT to hear him talk some trash with a team trophy too? Love or hate him. You know it would have been fun. He lost control of that game.

And sure we could write this off to the defense or the three points their special teams gave up right before the half oddly (really odd sequence to watch live too). And sure a team that scores 48 in a playoff game SHOULD win the game. But, in the end, Baker had not one, not two, but three chances to make that game his, WITH control, but lost it. Once UGA had regained the control, it was over.

EVENT #3: Alabama realizing NUMBER of plays was a primary downfall vs. Clemson in previous year

This is a more gray area item, but included as it seems SO simple, but the delta was so REAL. Clemson, both the last two years along with this year, were very diverse teams. They had the very scary defensive fronts in all the games, but their offense had someone running the offense WITH weapons at various skill positions, making them dangerous on all plays. If you play more situational ball, and limit that sample size of danger, you limit the actual danger. Through better control on THEIR side, through strategic timeouts, clock management, and various looks on pivotal downs, they DRASTICALLY reduced the amount of plays Clemson ran on offense, and therefore limited that big play ability from those skilled players. Clemson ran about 90 plays last year again Bama (sorry-Airplane Rant, and more fun sometimes to go on my on the fly recall). This year? They ran only 51 plays before their last 16 play fourth quarter drive. At that point, the score was 24-6, so the game was already out of their hands anyway. Bama might not have purposely TRIED to eliminate the number of plays during the entire game, but they ended up doing so anyway, and that gave them SIGNIFICANT and very obvious control during that game.

EVENT #4: Jon Gruden evidently close to signing as coach of Raiders

If this WAS on Janet’s legendary album back in the day, this would probably be Nasty. This is a strong one. Jon Gruden has been called and involved in coaching rumors for YEARS. Realize that although we FEEL he has been around forever, his early winning actually alters the actual amount of years we think he has been in coaching. The guy is only 54 years old. He could be Bill Snyder’s CHILD and Bill is still trucking. Anyway, that is neither here nor there.

Gruden is in full control. Three reasons why in my opinion.

There are no upcoming analysts after his job. He is solid on air, well respected, liked by fans, UNDERSTOOD by fans, and has created an unmistakable niche. His is in a perfect bubble for job stability.

There have been past years when there were some other good options out there. But, he is hitting a PERFECT time in finally answering (allegedly) calls. Well, I say allegedly, but it is out that he is on the down low trying to put a coaching staff together. Anyway, think about it. There are less past pro candidates out there. They either have other jobs, have retired, or already have new jobs. Also, the college ranks had some MAJOR positions open up, so that took a lot of the up and coming assistants and out of work top profile guys. He IS the #1 option, hands down.

Some NFL jobs LOOK like a Rams turnaround possibility. Bottom line. Some of the openings are GOOD ones. Some of the openings DON’T look all that bad.

Oakland: Franchise QB. Check. Legit #1 WR. Check. Defensive focal point and leader. Check. Stable and young offensive line. Check. The rest of the D needs some work, and they could use a prime time RB, but overall, this needle is moving up and to the right.

Detroit: Franchise QB, fringe of playoffs, talent at skill positions, and opportunistic D

Chicago: Franchise QB and simply the coach lost the team

NYG: HOF QB…at least that is taken care of

INDY: Allegedly a franchise QB coming back

Overall? Not horrible situations. And the Browns and Bengals amazingly are bringing back THEIR guys, so they aren’t even in the conversation.

EVENT #5: Baltimore Ravens at home vs. lowly Bengals to make NFL playoffs

This was a late add, so let’s just keep it simple. Bottom line. When you play a couple inconsistent games during the regular season, and play a bottom feeding team at HOME with the playoffs on the line and needing NO other help from anyone, you need to close it out. They failed. They blew it. They went into Sunday morning WITH control, and let it slip away.

 

That is from the hip. The above are events that I realized were falling into the same category and didn’t even know it. The above events are sporting events where one team had control. And sure there are more. But I work a full time job and just have a little extra time, so this is what you get. What happens when something LOSES control of a situation? Things random like creating a possible championship team IN the year it is housing the event (Vikings, UGA Bulldogs are examples), and the tragedy of recreating the Roseanne TV show immediately come to mind. Another thing that comes to mind is traveling a far way to a game and knowing it will be one of the better games one will ever see. Happy to say that lack of control for my wife and I DID turn out well, even if we were on the losing side.

Well, I need to sleep for the second half of the flight. So, I hope you enjoyed or are at least more informed from Focus Article #2. Will I blog again? We will talk to you in Focus Article #3. No ideas yet, but they will come. Or events will come. Basically, that is a CLOWN question, bro, AND the topic of the next blog is A) needing some events and games to happen B) totally out of my control. Peace.



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