Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category
What is “gonadotropin”?
Gonadotropin, also known as hCG, has been in the news lately as the suspected source of major league baseball star Manny Ramirez’ steroid troubles. The Los Angeles Dodger’s big gun was sidelined for 50 games after testing positive for a “performance enhancing drug”, which authorities refused to outright identify as a “steroid”. Ramirez, who is not planning to appeal, claimed that the substance he tested positive for was administered by a doctor for treatment for a “personal medical issue”, and that neither Ramirez nor the doctor knew the drug was on the league’s “banned substance” list.
Gonadotropin is a glycoprotein hormone produced by an embryo soon after conception. The role of gonadotropin is to enhance the production of progesterone – a “steroid hormone” – during a woman’s pregnancy. Gonadotropin has other medical uses, mainly as replacement therapy for people whose natural production of testosterone or estrogen is reduced either by disease or injury.
The implication is that Ramirez was receiving Gonadotropin to replenish testosterone levels. Unfortunately for Ramirez, one of the main reasons that otherwise healthy individuals need to replenish such a level is abuse of steroids. This could lead to an even bigger story, as Manny Ramirez has not yet been “outed” as a potential steroid case, though many in Major League Baseball have, including stars like Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, and Roger Clemens.
Added to baseball’s banned substance list a year ago, hCG is a hormone that is almost exclusively produced by the placenta or an embryo. Interestingly enough, hCG is the hormone that will signal that a woman is pregnant in home-pregnancy tests. Steroid users are attracted to hCG as a natural “restart” to the body’s normal production of testosterone following a cycle of steroids. Why is this necessary?
When you take steroids, the drug tends to “turn off” the human body’s internal mechanisms that produce testosterone. In essence, the testicles are “turned off”. They shrink in size leading to a severe decrease in the production of testosterone. The only way to get around this reduction in testosterone is to take a steroid-hormone to reverse the negative effects that steroids have on the testicles.
According to the website “anabolicsteroidsguide.com”, steroid users might take hCG injections for a period of two or three weeks during steroid use. A direct quote from that websit e– “Since occasional injections of hCG during steroid intake can avoid a testicular atrophy, many athletes use hCG for two to three weeks in the middle of their steroid treatment.”
Chemically, hCG is no mystery. Doctors often observe that during a combined steroid/hCG treatments, the athlete can see the best results in terms of gains in strength and muscle mass. The medical community has acknowledged that by taking hCG the athlete’s testosterone level increases rapidly while a large concentration of anabolic substances present in the blood is further induced by the steroids the athlete is taking.
It is unclear at this point whether or not Ramirez was taking steroids, though he has not yet tested positive for such a substance.
However, detecting steroids during an hCG treatment appears difficult. A paper published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine in 1991 depicted a case study where an athlete undergoing testosterone and hCG (illegally) before a competition tested negative for testosterone, but positive for hCG. In other words, hCG appears to have a masking effect on certain banned substances. The case against Ramirez is stacking up even while he sits idle until July 3rd.
There don’t appear to be any medical reasons for Ramirez to be taking hCG. It was thought in the 1950s that hCG could be used as a weight loss aid, although tests proved this theory false.
Rumors were floating around the mainstream press this past week that Ramirez was undergoing treatment for “erectile dusfunction” – a condition that is not treatable with hCG, and is in fact easier treated with more conventional ED drugs like Viagra. No ED drug is on the MLB’s “banned substances” list.
Sports news has never been easier to get than it is today. Online sports news makes it quick and simple to get up-to-the-minute sports information every hour of the day. In fact, with the proliferation of sports news, it’s hard to know where to get fast and reliable news updates from the world of sports.
So where is the best place to get sports news? First, I’d like to go over some of the most famous sports news sites and give my own critique of them. Some I use every day, but take their information with a grain of salt. Let’s start with one of those, the so-called “first name in sports”.
ESPN Sports News
ESPN specializes in sports news, so it’s now surprise that this sports website is a good place to get your sports information. Because athletes from most of the major American sports enjoy being on Sportscenter and getting the attention only ESPN can give, you’ll find more personal sports interviews and sports stories than anywhere else on the internet.
I’ve noticed something in the last few years with ESPN, though. Because there is a tremendous pressure to get “scoops”, it seems like ESPN runs with unsubstantiated news reports. They also occasionally go for the sensational story on the ESPN homepage, when there’s really not a whole lot of new information or much of a story at all. So when you’re reading ESPN news, you’ll have to wade through some useless news stories and a whole lot of fluff articles.
I cite ESPN sports news to point out that this is common throughout the sports journalism world these days, and therefore ESPN is a great example to cite. I think this is because sports news outlets want to be able to say “We broke the story”, so they don’t take the care to double-check stories, where they would have 10-20 years ago. The demand for sports news is that great, I guess, though I would prefer to have accurate news an hour later than erroneous news stories as soon as possible. Heck, I never remember who breaks the story, anyway, unless the story turns out to be false.
Sports News Websites
Sporting News Sports – SportingNews.com is a good place to get straightforward, relatively un-sensational news reports. The Sporting News is a big name in the sports news business, with a large infrastructure ranging from a newspaper publication to a nationally syndicated sports radio network. Their sports news website also has an interesting function, somewhat like what you’ll find on Digg (not quite like it, since you don’t give it a thumbs up), where readers can see instantly (next to the byline) how many other readers have commented on the story. Their “related stories” section to the right of the page is better than ESPN’s. Where ESPN simply plugs unrelated stories from the sports world, “Sporting News” give the latest headlines on the team in question and the league in question. For instance, I’m looking at a story on Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys right now. You’ll see in the sidebar “Latest Cowboys Headlines” and “Latest NFL Headlines”, with 8 stories each.
For those with a slower page-loading speed on their computers, Sporting News loads a lot quicker, because it doesn’t load down the home page with pictures and photos the way ESPN does. Also, you don’t have the annoying Sportscenter clips that automatically load up about 10 seconds after you log onto the site. Finally, you don’t have links to stories you can only read the first paragraph for, which is a huge problem with ESPN.com. On the ESPN website, visitors without the “ESPN insider” designation are not allowed to read a significant percentage of the material. Becoming an ESPN Insider is relatively cheap for a year’s subscription, but I resent the idea that ESPN is trying to solicit membership by teasing insider stories all day long. I’ve tried the service before and it’s really not that special, by the way.
USA Today Sports – Another good sports news website is “USA Today Sports”. Many people rank the USA sports page as the best daily sports page in the newspaper business, so it’s only natural that their online sports content would be first rate, also. USA Today lets you read their sports content (and other news content) without registering or signing up. Even when that’s free, I don’t like when websites want me to register to read their content. Personally, with so many sites out there (like the New York Times and Washington Post) that don’t require registration, I just move on to some place more convenient.
Like most of the sports sites, “USA Today Sports News” divides their content into major sports leagues or major sports. So across the top of the USA Today Sports homepage, you’ll see the following categories: “MLB”, “NFL”, “NBA”, “NHL”, “College Football”, “College Basketball”, “High Schools”, “Motor Sports”, “Golf” and “More Sports”. I was amazed that their “fantasy sports” is the first link you can click on, so all you fantasy football owners out there should know that USA Today Sports places a premium on fantasy sports.
One thing about USAToday Sports is the frequent advertisement when you click on links. You probably know the drill from other sites. You click on a news story and you’re asked to watch an ad or click “skip ad” before getting to the link you clicked on in the first place. Now, I understand sites have to advertise, so I’m not too upset when I have to skip an ad, but I am giving fair warning to readers who hate that kind of factor. I would much rather be able to click on the skip ad feature and read the sports story I wanted to read than get to the page and realize I have to be an “insider” to read beyond a few sentences.
Fox Sports – I’m going to mention “Fox Sports Online”, but I’m not going to recommend it. Fox Sports still seems to be the cheesiest major sports network in the business. Their silly robots and sound effects are annoying during the football season, but I noticed they were taking it to a whole other level during their recent broadcast of the Daytona 500.
There was a caution flag that came out after a minor spin-out early in the race. The Fox NASCAR broadcasters showed the wreck, but they had to put their animated gopher graphic, “Digger”, on the screen. The announcers laugh that Digger didn’t see the wreck coming, acting like this is a perfectly normal way to cover car racing. Very silly.
Another reason I don’t pay much attention to Fox Sports is their reliance on Jay Glazer during football season. I hold it against Jay Glazer from several years ago, when he was working for CBSSportsline on their fantasy football coverage. One Sunday morning, Jay Glazer had “breaking news”, where he indicated that Deuce McAllister had spent the previous night in the hospital and fantasy owners needed to take him out of the lineup immediately. Sure enough, when it came gametime, Deuce was in the Saints lineup, and the story about him being in the hospital the night before proved erroneous.
That’s what I’m talking about when I say the sports journalists these days rush to get the scoop, and you have to take their breaking news with a certain amount of skepticism. Many of these online sports news sites seem so concerned about breaking the news first, that they don’t break the news correctly.
So where is the best place to get sports news?
Don’t get me wrong about ESPN sports news. I look at their site just about every day. But I wanted to compare it to a couple of other sites and say I believe in stories submitted by USA Today and Sporting News more than I do ESPN or Fox Sports. Maybe I had a bad experience or two with these and the other two are just as bad, but I’m not so certain about that.
Planning a golf trip is harder than just selecting a decent hotel near a good golf course, then setting a tee time and golfing every day at that course. A successful golf trip often includes playing golf at multiple courses in the same area. It might involve brushing up on your golf game by hiring a golf instructor or even attending a golf school. Whatever expectations you have for your golf trip, a golf vacation has to be well-planned to meet those expectations.
Planning A Golf Trip
So here are some factors you need to keep in mind when planning a golf trip.
- Pick a Destination – Find the perfect spot for a golf vacation. Check out a full list of golf destinations before you start booking rooms and tee times. You’ll need to find a list of golf courses in your price range and that are worth the trip expenses. You’ll also have to choose a golf destination which is “in season” when you visit and has the kind of hotel and resort facilities you want. Of course, you will want to find golf trips that are in your financial comfort zone, so planning your next golf trip is more difficult than it sounds.
- Keep It Tight – Select a place with a high concentration of great vacation golf courses. Select a vacation area with enough golf course density that you can play different golf courses each day and still play memorable courses. Take the Pebble Beach area, for instance. You probably think of Pebble Beach as the famous golf course where the U.S. Open Golf Tournament is played every few years. But the Pebble Beach Resort is actually four golf courses, while the Pebble Beach area has some 25 different golf links. Golf Magazine voted Pebble Beach the number one golf destination in the country a couple of years ago.
That’s not the only solid golf destination, though. If Pebble Beach is a little too pricey for you, take a look at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama. The R.T. Jones Golf Trail has 25 golf courses of its own (468 golf holes in all), and people plan golf vacations throughout the countryside of Alabama every year. Once again, Pebble Beach and RT Jones Golf Trail are only two options.
- Book Your Trip Early – The sooner you know where you want to go, the cheaper it is to book flights, reserve hotel rooms, rent cars and set up tee times at the courses of your choice. Another big advantage of booking early is you make certain everything is available. If you wait until the last minute, you might find out the lynch pin of your golf vacation is overbooked and unavailable.
- Keep An Eye On The Weather – Since you’re going to be making plans months in advance, this can be overstated. You’re playing around with odds here, though, so study the weather patterns of the region you’re going to be golfing in. Don’t plan a trip during the rainy season or the cold months, because you’re just setting yourself up for a big disappointment. If you plan a great golfing vacation and you get a lot of off-season rain, that’s just bad luck. But don’t make your own bad luck with bad planning.
- Make Plans For the Family – Take into consideration the needs and wants of those you will traveling with. If the plan is a family vacation where you get to play a lot of golf during the day, make certain the family has a full vacation plan, too. Not only is it rude to let the family sit around the hotel room while you golf, but if your family is waiting on you, you’ll end up playing less golf or bringing along one or two non-golfers on your golf trip. So planning for everyone else is both selfless and self-serving.
- Choose the Right Golf Partner – Along those same lines, if you are taking a golf buddy or two along with you, make certain you choose the right golf partners. You want people with the same general expectations from their golf trip. These people should have a similar level of skill and a similar passion for golf. For instance, if you want a nice, relaxing golf trip with a laid-back approach to golf, you don’t want a hard-charger who wants to fit in 54 holes of golf per day. At the same time, if you enjoy 36 holes of golf per day on your golf trip, you don’t want to take golfers who want 18 holes and then head to the 19th hole.
Nothing ruins a vacation quicker than bad company. So when you plan your next golf trip, make sure you get not only the right golf destination, but also the right fellow golf travelers.
Live football scores on your Blackberry or iPhone is more important than ever, since you have internet access in more places now than ever. If you’re going with your wife or girlfriend to some Sunday afternoon party you didn’t know about until the last minute, getting live football updates on your cellphone is the only connection you have to the day’s football scores, injuries and events. Maybe you want to know why the backup quarterback is in the game, or how the team just scored two touchdowns in a 14-second span. Maybe you have money riding on your football game and you can’t enjoy the party until you know the bet’s going your way. Whatever the case, getting the latest and quickest live football scores for your Blackberry is more important than most people would know.
One of the best places to get live football scores is SI.com. Not only does SI (Sports Illustrated) offer some of the most comprehensive coverage of college football and NFL football, it offers specific services for cellphone users like “SI Mobile”, “Free Alerts” and “My SI”.
On “MY SI”, you can submut up to a total of 6 favorite teams that you get full coverage for. These include the categories NFL, College Football, NBA, College Basketball, NHL and MLB, but you can select all six from among the National Football League teams. You can even switch your preferences, so you can concentrate on NCAA football and then pro football.
When you take “Free Alerts”, you can choose to get scores and news alerts for your favorite sports, as well as the latest news from your favorite SI writers. If these don’t fill the bill, you can even create your own keywords and get alerts according to these key words. The news alerts allow football fans to get live football info such as late scratches or injury updates, so you know exactly why your team is losing to a big underdog (for example).
The “SI Mobile” feature offer special interfacing with Blackberry smartphones between the people at Sports Illustrated and Reality In Motion. All you have to do is download the SI icon on your blackberry.
Live Fantasy Football Stats
There are live football scores, and then there are live fantasy football stats. Any devoted fantasy football owner will tell you that the two are not the same. When you need a live football score, you’re probably satisfied with who is winning the game and how much time is left in the game. Some football fans are going to want to know who scored and how long a scoring drive was, so the fan can get an idea of where the team’s game seems to be headed. That’s usually enough for the non-fantasy football fan.
With a fantasy football fan, though, a person wants to know the stats for all the stars players, and a good number of some of the non-starring starters. Learning whether the Chicago Bears are winning might or might not be important to them, but you can be sure they’re interested in whether Matt Forte has a touchdown or five receptions. In fact, they will want the quickest sports stats they can get, and the fantasy sports owner will want to see scores and stats from every game on the NFL schedule, including those involving the worst teams in pro football. Seeing that Tony Romo threw a 5-yard touchdown isn’t going to be enough. They want to know who Tony Romo threw the TD to and who got the yards and receptions getting the team down the field.
If you’re looking for the latest sports stats from the day’s games, go with one of the big providers of fantasy sports support like CBS Sportsline. While I’m not a big fan of the CBS Sports Line fantasy football league sites, their many years in the ff support industry means they know what fantasy sports fans want.
Live European Football Scores
If you want good places to get live European football scores in English, consider Skysports or BBC News. Both Sky Sports (from Skynews) and BBC News are among the fastest and most thorough sports news sources for the English Premiership. They also cover all the other major soccer leagues in Europe, including the Italian Serie A, Spanish Primera, German Bundeslifa, Dutch Eredivisie, French Le Championat and all the other major football leagues in Europe. And, of course, you’ll be able to get the latest scores from the Champions League, the FA Cup, the EUFA Cup and any World Cup qualifying matches that might be going on.
This is an interesting question. I’m not sure if you’re wanting to know how you watch baseball broadcasts under certain challenging scenarios, or what the essential food, drink and other baseball-watching equipment you need when plopping in front of a television.
Let’s start with the essential baseball items you need: good snacks, cold drinks, comfortable chair (preferably a recliner) and good batteries in the remote. In other words, you need maximum comfort with minimum movement during the ball game. Light snacks are important, though they need to be tasty snacks. Cold beer is important, unless you don’t partake. If so, I would suggest a sugar free soft drink or a lemonade.
You might also consider arming yourself with a good radio nearby. A lot of times, your local radio broadcasters are better than the television announcing crew, and listening to a baseball radio broadcast is not only the traditional thing to do, but baseball radio listening enhances baseball tv watching.
If you’re still trying to get into your local baseball team, keep a team roster nearby complete with stats and background information. It would help doing the same with the other team, so you might keep your local sports page from the last day or two within arm’s reach. You don’t want to be clueless when it comes to watching your hometown baseball team.
I’m assuming most people wanting to watch baseball on tv are fanatics, though, so let’s get to the best ways to watch tv baseball in several difficult scenarios.
MLB Extra Innings
Get “MLB Extra Innings”. MLB Extra Innings is a satellite and cable package which allows baseball fans to watch up to 80 MLB games per week. Fans will be able to watch over 10 games per night through the Major League Baseball season, including all the games of your favorite team.
Watching Baseball on Your DVR or TIVO
Watching baseball on your DVR or TIVO is quite simple. Set your TIVO or DVR to record the game while you’re away from your house. DVR recording and TIVO recording is intuitive and simple these days, and all you have to do is look ahead on the guide for the station with your team’s broadcasts. Then click “record” on your DVR remote or TIVO remote. If you don’t want to search through the tv schedule, simply place the name of your favorite baseball team and the DVR system will automatically find and record all programs with your team’s name in it.
Baseball fans who are married need to know that “digital video recording” systems will save their marriages. When you think there are 162 games and each game is at least 3 hours of tv watching per night, we’re talking about a potential television commitment of nearly 500 hours of television watching over a half-year period. Few wives are going to put up with that, especially when the game happens to be at the same time as cookouts, pool parties and kids events. The DVR recorder not only allows you to watch the game when the family is in bed for the night, but you’ll be able to speed through the commercials and watch the game in around 2/3rds of the time.
Out Of Town Baseball
If you’re out of town and you want to watch your favorite baseball team, you’re going to have to find a place which accommodates your watching needs. Most major metropolitan areas have a few places which offer MLB Extra Innings in their establishment. Google “mlb extra innings local bars” and the name of the city you are staying. This should bring up options where you can watch Major League Baseball in your area.
Remember, watching baseball on tv is escapist fun, your release from cares and concerns of the everyday. So when you watch baseball broadcasts, you want as few distractions as possible. Baseball is like a good meal: it’s meant to be savored, slowly and in utter relaxation.
To build a soccer goal, you’ll need a specific list of materials. If you intend on building a regulation soccer goal, then you will need enough material to build a 24 ft. by 8 ft. soccer goal. You’ll also need a soccer net and the materials to erect the soccer goal. Let’s start with the list of materials you need.
Soccer Goal Building Materials
Here’s a list of soccer goal building materials.
- Post Hole Digger
- Enough 4×4 material (steel tubing, aluminum, or PVC tubing works best) for the two vertical bars
- Enough 2×4 material for the cross bars. This should be the same materials as the vertical bars.
- Enough material for the goal platform and backstays, which give the soccer goal stability and allow you to drape a net over the frame of the soccer goal. These poles can be smaller than the vertical bars and cross bar.
- Tape Measure
- Concrete Mixture
- Trowel or Shovel to Manipulate Concrete
- Bucket or Wheelbarrow to Hold Concrete Mix
- FIFA regulation soccer netting
- String for tying the soccer net to the post
Step-By-Step Soccer Goal Construction
Here are some instructions for step-by-step soccer goal construction.
- To begin with, you will need to take the post-hole digger and dig two holes 24 feet apart in which to place your two vertical bars. These holes should be large enough to fit a 4×4 post, but they must not be too large, or the soccer goal will be unstable. The hole should go about to somewhere between 20 inches deep to 36 inches deep. 20-24″ should be deep enough for most cases, but go 3 feet deep if you’re placing the soccer goal on unstable ground.
- Mix in concrete and pour it into both post holes. Stand the vertical posts into the holes. Remember to measure the depth of the holes with a tape measure and make certain that each hole is the same depth, so the posts will stand the same height once they are in the hole. Make certain the posts will stand up exactly 8′ tall apiece.
- Wait two days for the concrete to harden. Once you have both vertical posts standing upright, fasten the horizontal bar (the cross bar) onto the top of the vertical posts with elbow joints at either end.
- Create a platform base by fastening two smaller (diameter) poles to the vertical poles. This will create a more stable base. Then place backstays on the back end of the soccer goal. You’ll be able to hang a net on the backstays, so you’re soccer goal will catch the soccer ball when it is scored.
Soccer Goal With Wooden Poles?
If you want to build a soccer goal with wooden poles, buy 4×4 wood. Place the wooden posts in the post-hole, nail the vertical posts to the horizontal posts.
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Recent Sports Related Blog Posts
The following are recent sports related blog post we feel are relevant to our readers.
The first Saturday of May brings the Kentucky Derby, held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. It is a horse race that was first run in 1875 when it drew 10,000 spectators.
So you want to know how to become a boxer, eh? Boxers must be dedicated to the sport, with clear goals in mind. Still, there are very good reasons to take up boxing.
Those who want to know how to become a wrestler are probably interested in the sport because of its unrivaled combination of entertainment, drama and displays of pure athleticism.
Anyone who has ever played a game of paintball can tell you how fun and exciting the radical sport can be. Running through the course with paintballs splatting around you and your enemy in your sights can be thrilling.
To build a soccer goal, you’ll need a specific list of materials. If you intend on building a regulation soccer goal, then you will need enough material to build a 24 ft. by 8 ft. soccer goal.
Live football scores on your Blackberry or iPhone is more important than ever, since you have internet access in more places now than ever.
There are so many great Las Vegas sportsbooks that it’s hard to make a short list. I’ll try to list the atmosphere of the sports book, since the lines can change from one week to the next in Las Vegas.
I’m assuming when you’re asking who has the most Nascar wins, you’re asking about the NASCAR season that Fox broadcasts every week to millions of viewers.
Becoming a soccer referee is a whole lot easier than you think. Staying a soccer referee once you have crazy parents and even crazier coaches scream at you over a soccer match full of 5-year olds is the hard part.
If you’re trying to sell your tickets, try selling them to friends and family before you move on. When you scalp tickets to those you know, you won’t have to scalp tickets outside a stadium to who knows whom.
Buying sports tickets can be as simple as going to your local sports club and buying tickets at the box office or through Ticketmaster. But if you follow a contending team or a team with a rabid fan following, tickets sell out almost immediately upon going on sale.
When you think of a pump paintball gun, you probably are thinking of the semi-auto paintball guns that shoot a steady stream of paintballs at your enemy.
Football tickets start somewhere around $40 for an end zone or corner seat, but 50-yard line seats or skybox tickets can cost in the thousands.
Sports handicapping is used by casinos to create interest in sports gambling among casino patrons. A good sports handicapper sets a line with odds on a sports event.
Fantasy golf works on the same concept of other fantasy sports. Owners in a fantasy golf league get together to “draft” real professional golfers onto their golf teams.
The price of baseball tickets vary wildly in price. You can spend outrageous amounts on baseball tickets, if you want the premium seats on the premium levels.
Golf schools help to improve golf players through targeted golf instruction over a short duration, usually in the form of “golf vacations”.
Planning a golf trip is harder than just selecting a decent hotel near a good golf course, then setting a tee time and golfing every day at that course. A successful golf trip often includes playing golf at multiple courses in the same area.
Soccer jerseys are expensive, so you don’t want to replace soccer equipment in the middle of the season. So moms and dads need to learn how to wash soccer uniforms properly, to avoid placing more wear and tear on the uniform than their kids already do.
Sports news has never been easier to get than it is today. Online sports news makes it quick and simple to get up-to-the-minute sports information every hour of the day.
AAA baseball or “Triple A Baseball” is the highest level of minor league baseball. Most players who are on the verge of being moved into Major League Baseball (“the Big Leagues”) will be found playing on a AAA baseball team.
I’m assuming when you’re asking who has the most Nascar wins, you’re asking about the NASCAR season that Fox broadcasts every week to millions of viewers.
People who don’t enjoy watching sports on tv often don’t get why the rest of us enjoying sports viewing so much. For instance, why does someone get so passionate about a vicarious competition, since we have no particular affect on the outcome.
Reading a sports betting line isn’t hard once you get down what a few symbols and phrases mean. Sports betting lines are meant to give gamblers a quick idea which team is the favorite and the underdog and what the odds pay in case of a win.
People who don’t enjoy watching sports on tv often don’t get why the rest of us enjoying sports viewing so much. For instance, why does someone get so passionate about a vicarious competition, since we have no particular affect on the outcome.
Those who want to know how to become a wrestler are probably interested in the sport because of its unrivaled combination of entertainment, drama and displays of pure athleticism. Professional wrestlers are modern-day gladiators, using their skills not only as athletes, but as actors too.
Be Sure you Want to Wrestle
Wrestling is a dangerous sport, like boxing or football. While wrestling matches are choreographed, they are by no means safe. There is nothing fake about your 250 pound frame falling five feet straight down to the matt. The hurt is real. Wresters must be able to take an extreme beating, all the while making it look easy or difficult as suits the character’s idiom.
You really need to have a love for the sport to succeed in wrestling. Before the adoring fans can ever find you, you will have to work for very low pay at minor wrestling leagues for as little as $25 per match. To become a wrestler, you must also have patience. You will struggle for many years in independent promotions for little money. You must be determined and willing to work hard for your goals. The hope is that a talent scout will find you and help you to find your place in professional wrestling in the WWE.
Along with the poor pay are grueling travel schedules. You will be on the road constantly, traveling to matches. The life of the wrestler is much like that of the touring musician; cheap hotels, quick meals, publicity events and constant movement. If your family does not support your career, the constant absence from home can put quite a strain on your home life.
Get in Shape
If after reading the above, you still want to be a professional wrestler, there are quite a few things you need to do before you get in the ring. The first thing is to get in the best physical shape you can be in. Work on flexibility, strength training and endurance. Wrestlers will often focus on a different part of the body on a rotating schedule. Day one may be devoted to squats or leg curls for the upper legs and jump rope for calves. The next day will focus on pumping biceps and chest muscles. Cardio training takes place on the third day. One day a week is used for rest and recuperation. Stretches and flexibility training should take place every day to reduce the chance of injury.
Find a Wrestling School
Once you have a regular training routine and have formed a fit body, you will want to join a wrestling school or academy. Be prepared to travel to find a good school. Training is also expensive, costing around $100 per day. Choose a school with trainers who have had success in wrestling themselves. Find out the names of wrestlers who have gone on from the school to become professionals. Be sure there is a good safety and training program in place as well. Take the time to observe a training session to be sure the style of coaching is friendly and encouraging. Wrestling school should not be like boot camp. A school that also offers lessons in acting is also helpful since entertainment is a large part of a wrestler’s job.
At wrestling school, the coach will take you through wrestling moves, demonstrating how to perform them safely. The goal is to complete the move without causing any harm to yourself or your opponent. You will learn how to communicate with opponents and follow wrestling choreography. He will look at your style and help you develop a persona. You will become one of several wrestling personalities. The character you develop will be determined based upon the moves you excel at. You will have signature moves that you will perform regularly.
You may become a brawler; one of the heavy-weight wrestlers who focus on power moves or a technical wrestler who focuses instead on speed. You may also become a flyer who performs show-stopping moves to impress the crowd.
Other personalities focus on the good versus evil aspect of the wrestling drama. You may be a heel or villain, distracting the referee to get a chance at breaking the rules. You will entice the crowd into hating you. You can also be a “face” or “blue-eye”; one of the guys who the girls swoon over. These wrestlers are the good guys, playing up good feelings in the crowd.
Ohio Valley Wrestling School
If you have your heart set on the WWE, you should register with the Ohio Valley Wrestling School. This school is where the majority of WWE wrestlers get training. It is also a great place for anyone to start, offering a beginner’s class that is open to anyone interested in professional wrestling. The class consists of a thirteen-week training camp. Graduates who are successful will be invited to move on to intermediate training. Intermediate classes last for a year. The top athletes will be invited back for advanced training. The advanced graduates will go on to wrestle for the WWE and in other venues. The WWE often assigns personas to wrestlers that it employs, so you will have less say in the development of your character.
Others work their way up the ranks, beginning as amateurs. Kurt Angle is the best example of this, being an Olympic Gold Medalist who afterwards established a career in the WWE. He then moved on to a smaller wrestling organization, TNA. However, you don’t need to be an Olympiad to succeed as an amateur wrester. You can look for a local independent promotion at websites like Obsessed With Wrestling where you will find trainers and wrestlers who have been through the ranks and can provide you with invaluable information on how to succeed in wrestling. By joining an independent federation, you may be spotted at a match by a scout and be offered a dark match, which takes place before televised matches to warm up the crowd. Crowd pleasers can move up to the WWE’s webcast show, Heat.
Be a Wrestling Fan
While you work your way into the wrestling ring, you should never stop being a fan. You can learn a let simply by observing matches and applying what you learn in classes or in matches to what you see on television. This also helps you notice how certain moves and behaviors play out with the crowd.
There are so many great Las Vegas sportsbooks that it’s hard to make a short list. I’ll try to list the atmosphere of the sports book, since the lines can change from one week to the next in Las Vegas. Note that most of the sportsbook odds are going to be competitive with other parts of the country, given the proximity of so many competitors around Las Vegas. The one exception is the Wynn Las Vegas Casino & Sportsbook. It’s odds and lines can sometimes be outrageous, and not in your favor.
Top Five Vegas Sports Books
That being said, people often go to a Las Vegas sports book for the chance to watch their games and their bets in a special, memorable sports book venue. These are the top five Vegas sports books that you can brag to your friends about.
- Caesars Palace Sports Book – Caesars is a great sports book because it has bets for just about anything you can imagine. If you’re tired of the same old sports bets, then go to the Caesars Palace sports book.
- Wynn Las Vegas Sports Book – For people who want to wager on a sporting event and then watch the game as it happens, Wynn Las Vegas is probably the place to go. Wynn Las Vegas combines a great sportsbook with one of the most opulent hotels in all of Las Vegas. Combine great food and excellent service and you can enjoy your game in splendor. The one drawback is you won’t get the best sports lines at the Wynn Las Vegas, so you’ll have to pay for the opulence you’re enjoying. If you know that and agree to the game anyway, then Wynn Las Vegas Casino might be your favorite sportsbook.
- MGM Grand Sportsbook – The MGM Grand has several large screen 16′x12′ tvs in a reverse-amphitheater arena, so gamblers can enjoy their wagers. The MGM Grand Casino also separates the sports book from the racing book, so you won’t have to put up with racehorse gamblers if you don’t want to. High-rollers should know there are even “skyboxes” to suit their gambling needs, though most of us won’t be able to enjoy that luxury.
- Mandalay Bay Sports Book – Mandalay Bay has the same odds of the MGM Grand, because each is owned by the same corporation, so the essentials are the same. Mandalay Bay Casino isn’t quite as nice as MGM Grand, but the Mandalay Bay sportsbook offers an abundance of space, seats, display screens and bets. Mandalay Bay doesn’t have the grandeur of the three sportsbooks already mentioned, but it does offer everything you’ll want in a sports book. The staff is first rate and the food is excellent.
- Bally’s Sportsbook – Bally’s Casino has more of a sports bar feel to their sportsbook, but it has a large place to view games. When I say “bar”, I mean that the Bally Sportsbook is comfortable and feels like a sporting event. You can socialize or actually watch games, and there is access to plenty of food options just outside the room.
Las Vegas Sportsbooks Odds
If you’re looking for the best Last Vegas sportsbooks odds, that becomes a harder proposition, since the odds change all the time. Look for recent trends in the betting lines and money lines on bets on each casino before heading to Las Vegas. Go with the one with the best current deals. But if one of the above five casinos is near the casino you’re betting in, you should consider walking down the street and watching your game in that sportsbook.
People who don’t enjoy watching sports on tv often don’t get why the rest of us enjoying sports viewing so much. For instance, why does someone get so passionate about a vicarious competition, since we have no particular affect on the outcome. When we’re watching sports on television, we’re pulling for or against people we’ve likely never met and likely never will meet.
The thing is, there are countless reasons people watch sports on tv. For those who think us sports fans are crazy, let me try to explain a few of the major reasons people view sports on television.
Why Do People Watch Sports on TV – A Sense of Community
Supporting the local team allows for a sense of community. Sports allows for a sense of common identity with people in your local city, state or community. The local fandom has something in common. If you hate sports but love some kind of music, think about meeting some other fan of your favorite band. The two of you have something to talk about, something in common. That’s the way it is with sports.
I always come back to that scene from the movie, “City Slickers”, where Daniel Stern’s girlfriend asks why guys love sports so much. Billy Crystal’s character mentions that, when he was 18 and he and his dad had nothing in common, the two of them could still talk about the Mets. That’s what I’m talking about when I mention a sense of community. Sports brings together people when they have nothing else in common. You get two strangers who love the L.A. Lakers talking about the team, and the next thing you know, these people are like old friends.
Why Do People Watch Sports On TV – It’s Unscripted
A lot of people enjoy watching sports on tv because it’s unscripted. They don’t know who’s going to win. With a movie or tv show, you generally have a pretty good idea what the ending is going to look like. With sports, you never know the outcome. Every game has a favorite, but sayings like “That’s why they play the game” or “Games are won on the field” exist for a reason. Upsets happen, surprise twists occur and it’s all unscripted and unrehearsed. Sports is organic. People might consider something like boxing barbaric, but there’s nothing like watching a big championship match when you never know what might happen with the next fist thrown. It’s just an entirely different dynamic than watching Rockey for the tenth time and knowing the ending.
That’s why the idea of sports athletes betting on games is such a big deal. The drama of sports is not knowing what’s coming next. Once you realize that players or referees are fixing games, then you are watching professional wrestling, not a competition. This hardly ever happens, and sports leagues are quick to stamp out any sign that a game is fixed.
Of course, you might reply that a good movie doesn’t tip its hand, either. Or you might say that most sports events don’t go down to the wire and therefore the ending isn’t dramatic all that often. This misses the experience of being a rabid sports fan. Whether you rejoice in a close victory or suffer the indignity of a blowout defeat, sports is about picking a team and following their story – no matter the outcome.
Why Do People Watch Sports on TV – Sports Fanatics
If sports on tv looks boring or mind-numbing, you need to know something about sports. Watching a sport is only interesting if you have something on the line. If you could care less about either team or competitor in a sporting event, you’re probably going to find even a close game fairly boring. Sports and passion go hand-in-hand. It lends itself to fanaticism.
Let’s equate it to a fictional story. Whether you like books, plays or movies, think what makes an entertaining story. You need to care about the characters. You want a protagonist you care about and empathize with. You want an antagonist or villain who you really want to see go down. To a sports fan watching tv, that’s what the game is like. They pick sides and the game really “matters” to them. That’s when it becomes interesting.
Think about it: “fan” is short for “fanatic”. Sports watching needs someone to care about the outcome of the game. The fan is on the edge of his or her seat. Emotions well up as a tightly-contested game sits in the balance. Win or lose, the sports watcher goes through an emotional journey. Sports becomes an outlet for unspent emotions. Sports allows for a certain amount of catharsis in people’s lives.
Of course, not everybody falls naturally into the role of the sports fan. To some people, caring about the outcome of a game seems pointless. Even then, though, certain people find new ways to personalize a sports competition for themselves.
Why Do People Watch Sports on TV – Money on the Line
Some people bet on the outcome of sporting events so they have something on the line. This is the only way they can care about the outcome of a game, or it “spices things up” and makes the average game really mean something to them. I’m not advocating that someone who doesn’t enjoy sports start betting on games to get interested; I’m only suggesting that’s one of the reasons people watch sports on tv.
The next time you see someone sweating over every play of a sports broadcast, ask them if they have any money on the line. A lot of the time, you’ll find out they do. It’s amazing how much more interesting a ballgame becomes when there a little bit of money riding on the outcome of the sport.
The same goes for fantasy sports. Fantasy football and fantasy baseball is another way people personalize the sports they watch. These people select teams of individual players and track the statistical success of the players themselves – not the teams involved. Often, fantasy sports owners have money on the line for the winner of the competition. Just as often, bragging rights mean as much as the side bet. There’s a lot to be said for “outsmarting” all your friends, even if it’s over something as random and meaningless as fantasy sports.
Why Do People Watch Sports on TV – Free Family Entertainment
I’m overlooking one major reason people watch sports on television: watching sports on tv is free. There’s also the fact that you’re never watching a rerun.
A third factor is that people started watching sports as a kid. Maybe they watch Major League Baseball because they play Little League Baseball. Maybe they check out the Premiership, because they play select soccer in their local community. Whatever the case, kids often watch sports, because it’s something they can relate to.
Also, parents look at sports as better entertainment than other parts of the pop culture. If you’re child is watching a movie, there’s no telling what kinds of nudity, violence or bad language they’re exposed to. A parent doesn’t have to worry about that when their kid is watching sports. The worst they have to concern themselves with are displays or bad sportsmanship or out-of-control athletes, but those are almost universally condemned in the setting of a game on tv and are often shunted to the side during tv broadcasts in favor of “the game on the field”. The family and child aspect of sports is one reason that sports commissioners are so quick to punish “morals” transgressions in their sports.
I know of a couple of people who love sports that grew up in strict, religious families. They couldn’t watch much of anything on television their parents didn’t disapprove of, so they started watching sports. They became sports encyclopedias, because that was the only “wholesome” tv watching they enjoyed. So when you ask yourself why people seem so obsessed with watching sports on tv, you need to remind yourself that most of them got in the habit at a really early age — and that sports is comparatively harmless tv viewing.
So sports is free to watch; it’s always something new; it’s unscripted; parents don’t have to freak out about what their kids are watching; sports gives people an outlet to vent; and being a fan of a sports team or competitor allows people to identify with something relatively harmless, and build a sense of community with like-minded fans around them. So the next time you watch a bunch of mindless sports fans watching tv at the local restaurant or sports bar and behaving like morons after every play, remember that sports is entertainment, that it’s a whole lot more entertaining when you blow off steam by acting like a moron, and that sports is harmless fun.
Buying sports tickets can be as simple as going to your local sports club and buying tickets at the box office or through Ticketmaster. But if you follow a contending team or a team with a rabid fan following, tickets sell out almost immediately upon going on sale. It’s even harder to buy tickets for a hot ticket concert coming to your town, because a band or musical act may only come to town once every several years. To get into the concert or big game, you may end up having to buy from a scalper outside the stadium or venue at a huge markup.
If you want to avoid ticket scalpers and crazy ticket prices, there are several ways you can buy tickets without that kind of uncertainty (an uncertainty which might be illegal in your local town or state). Here’s several of the best ways to buy tickets.
Where Can I Buy & Sell Sports Tickets?
Here are some of the websites where you can buy & sell sports tickets online.
Try Ticketmaster – First off, log on to “Ticketmaster USA” and see if you can buy sports tickets without have to buy scalp tickets. Ticket Master has tickets for baseball, basketball, boxing, bull riding, field sports, football, golf, hockey, mixed martial arts (often known as MMA or UFC), motorsports, rodeo, soccer, curling, skating, lacrosse, volleyball and wrestling. Ticketmaster.com has tickets broken down into MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL and NCAA Basketball and Football. At the top of the Ticketmaster Sports page are current popular events and sports that are in-season. Currently, there are tickets for the NBA, College Basketball, NBA and Nascar, for instance.
Go To Craigs List – Go to Craigslist and click on the link for your home city (or the city you want to watch your sporting event in). Look about halfway down the center of the next page to the “For Sale” column. Under this category, you’ll find a link for “tickets”, which has a list of tickets up for sale in your area. Don’t be fooled by the simple layout of Craigslist. Craigs List is an online classifieds page and one of the biggest, most famous and most profitable (for the owners) websites on the internet.
Post On Team Message Boards – If you can’t find what you’re looking for on Craigslist, you might consider posting on fan site message boards for the sports teams you’re wanting to watch. Simply go on and ask if anyone has tickets they want to sell. You might find season-ticket holders who have to be out of town the day of the game, who are looking for people to sell their tickets to.
Register at Stubhub – Stubhub is a major market for event tickets and sports tickets is a huge part of their business. In fact, Stubhub has gotten so huge in the last few years that NFL teams have begun to sell tickets through the internet ticket service. Stubhub is easy to use, with tickets broken down by the section of the arena they are found and by price range. You might have to pay a little more going through Stubhub than buying them when they go on sale or from some random fan trying to unload their tickets in a hurry, but it’s also one of the most reliable and convenient ways to buy sports tickets.
Buy Sports Tickets From A Scalper
There Are Scalpers – If everything else fails, you can always drive to the stadium or arena and track down and buy sports tickets from a scalper. Most every sporting event seems to have people willing to scalp tickets. Generally, I don’t recommend going through the scalping route, since the tickets can sometimes be outrageously priced for big events. Also, there’s the danger that’s always posed by pulling out your billfold and handling money in a public place with (hopefully) no security or police around. And then there’s the fact that ticket scalping is illegal in a lot of areas.
If you’re trying to sell your tickets, try selling them to friends and family before you move on. When you scalp tickets to those you know, you won’t have to scalp tickets outside a stadium to who knows whom. You won’t make as much money this way, but you won’t get busted for a crime and you won’t put yourself in danger.
Scalping Safely At Work & Classifieds
Post A Note at Work – If your office has a bulletin board, place a note on it stating you have event tickets and you want to sell them. Since you don’t have friendly attachments to many co-workers, you’ll probably feel comfortable asking for more money for your scalped tickets.
Place an Ad in the Classifieds – For really big games or concerts, do it the old-fashioned way. Place an advertisement in the local newspaper that you’re selling tickets. You’re sure to get plenty of attention this way.
Scalp Sports Tickets Online
Place an Online Ad – Even better, post an ad on a big online forum like Craigs List. This will get you noticed by a much larger demographic than the local publications will. Of course, local ads reach people within driving distance, but these people will also be searching the internet for tickets, too.
Post On An Online Forum – Go to a fan message board for the event you’re selling the tickets to. If you have tickets to the Chicago Bears @ New York Giants, go to a Giants message board and post that you have tickets to sell. You might occasionally have someone calling you a spammer (which you won’t be), but never mind that. There will be New Yorkers will to pay big money.
If you have tickets to a concert, go to a fan forum for the band in question. Search the forum for fans looking for tickets and reply. If you can’t find people who want tickets, then post your request for interest in buying tickets.
Try Stubhub – Probably the best place to scalp tickets safely is Stubhub.com. Many people think of Stubhub as a place you can buy tickets to events, but Stubhub has a function for people to sell their tickets online. All you have to do is post the tickets you have to scalp and how much you want for them. If someone is willing to buy, they buy them. Stubhub requires you to register and give them your credit card information, but Stubhub! is a huge company with top-rate security procedures, so you don’t have to worry about giving out your information. Just register at Stubhub and start scalping your tickets.
Football tickets start somewhere around $40 for an end zone or corner seat, but 50-yard line seats or skybox tickets can cost in the thousands. The price of football tickets depend on many factors besides location, including the team selling the tickets, the amount of fan interest in the home team, as well as the home team’s opponent and what’s at stake in the game. If you want great seats at a home game of a contending team with rabid fan support playing a bitter rival with a playoff birth at stake, then football tickets go through the roof. Season-ticket holders might end up scalping football tickets for late-season pivotal games or playoff games for thousands of dollars (though a real fan would never think of selling their tickets to such a game).
NFL football tickets vary between teams like the Dallas Cowboys, a traditionally popular teams with lots of stars and a brand new state-of-the-art stadium in 2009, and the Cincinnati Bengals, a team known for disappointing its fans and being cheap in the way they do business. So when you start to buy football tickets, you’ll have to go on a team-by-team basis. Let’s take a look at the Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas Cowboys Football Tickets
A quick look at Tickets.org shows a game vs. the Philadelphia Eagles in the new (unnamed) Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington on a date that’s yet to be determined. The cheapest seats available are in the corner endzone in the upper level, with tickets costing $207.00 per ticket. So if you want to buy tickets for a group of four Cowboys fans, you’re going to be spending $828 for the cheapest seats in the house.
The most expensive football tickets listed are the goal line seats for row 4, which costs $564.00 per ticket. Don’t ask what the 4th row 50-yard line football tickets will cost at the new stadium. You would have to go through a scalper to buy these tickets anyway, from a season-ticket holder. Given that season-ticket holders have to buy personal seat licenses (or “seat options”, as Jerry Jones calls them) will cost between $16,000 and $150,000 for a 30-year lease. Yes, that’s right. Someone with the fifty-yard line seat is probably paying tens of thousands of dollars for a seat license — and that’s not even mentioning the price fo the season tickets. While the seat licenses over $50,000 are for “club level seating” or seats in the sky box, that’s still an outrageous price. So don’t expect to be getting a seat on the 50 anytime soon, unless you have big money.
Of course, Dallas Cowboys tickets are a bit of an aberration. The previous record for club-level ticket licenses was $20,000 for the Carolina Panthers, so the $150,000 price should give you how out-of-whack Jerry Jones’s money demands are going to be. It should be the best stadium of its kind, at least until the next one comes along.
Where can I buy football tickets and how much do football tickets cost online?
Besides Tickets.org, you can buy tickets online at Stubhub.com. Stubhub is the premier football ticket vendor on the internet. Stubhub lets you buy and sell tickets to other other customers, so you don’t have to go through the iffy pre-game ritual of ticket scalping. Stubhub lets you scalp tickets online or (probably more likely) buys tickets from an online ticker scalper service.
Where can I buy football tickets and how much do football tickets cost for college football?
It’s NCAA college football where you see the biggest difference in the price of tickets. You’ll be able to get college football tickets for Division II and Division III games for a little bit of nothing, and there are even some of the lower-tier Division I schools that can’t charge too much for football tickets. But if you’re talking about major college football tickets for teams like Ohio State, LSU or Alabama, you’re going to be dealing with schools that have a huge study body, a large alumni section and a huge and fanatical non-academic-related fan base. These tickets will be on a par with some NFL football tickets packages. For instance, teams like the Michigan Wolverines and the Tennessee Volunteers play every week in stadiums that seat over 100,000 people, but they still sell out year-in, year-out.
Of course, college football programs also want to accommodate their current college students and many of these people aren’t going to have the money of middle-aged alums. So you’ll find a lot of affordable football tickets at college football games, too — just not for the best seats in the house.
Once again, the differences are stark from one program to the next. Let me compare the prices of Ohio State and Michigan for tickets in the mid-range for both teams (I would compare for the same teams, but both teams do not host the same team this year.) The Michigan Wolverine ticket prices when they host Indiana range between $119 and $515. Meanwhile, the Ohio State ticket costs when they host Illinois range between $144 and $1023. The cheapest football ticket for the most expensive Ohio State game (OSU vs USC) is $347, while the cheapest ticket for the most expensive Michigan game (Michigan vs Ohio State) is $252. So the tickets to University of Michigan games are just cheaper across the board.
Becoming a soccer referee is a whole lot easier than you think. Staying a soccer referee once you have crazy parents and even crazier coaches scream at you over a soccer match full of 5-year olds is the hard part. Seriously, I was a baseball umpire when I was younger and I have had nephews referee organized soccer, and refereeing games is not that bad, if you love the game. In fact, it’s a great way for teenagers to make extra money and be around the game and the type of people they enjoy.
How do you become a soccer referee if you’re a teenager?
First of all, to be a soccer referee, you have to be at least 13 years old in most locations. If you meet that qualification, you’ll need to get certified to officiate games. Soccer officials generally need to study the soccer referee manual in preparation for a written test for certification. This isn’t hard, especially if you already know most of the rules of soccer. You’ll go over some of the harder rules to enforce (like offside) and the more obscure rules, and then you’ll be refereeing soccer games in a short period of time.
Younger soccer referees will start out as an assistant referee calling lines (or a linesman). This job requires you know a few basic hand or flag signals, as well as the basic soccer rules for throwing the ball in from out-of-bounds and the aforementioned off side rules. Soccer referee assistants will be assigned one side of the side and one end of the field.
To make the offsides call, you’ll need to stay even with the defender (besides the goalie) nearest his or her own goal. If an attacking player is behind this defender (that is, closer to the opponent’s goal) when the ball is passed to him/her, then that play is offside. These are usually some of the most controversial calls in little league soccer and select soccer leagues, because coaches, players, parents and fans don’t have as good of an angle as the line judge does, and the player being called for the offside violation is likely to gesture and complain, stoking their side to do the same.
Soccer Refereeing Skills
It’s human nature that most soccer people won’t be able to watch a game in an unbiased way. Eventually, you’ll get comments and shouts in your direction after a particularly pivotal call. You have to have a thick skin and not worry about comments from the stands. These people are reacting in an emotional instead of rational fashion, so it’s best you keep your cool and stay rational. (Someone has to be reasonable.) Don’t let reactions from adults damage your confidence in your soccer refereeing skills. You’ll know you made the right call. Eventually, if you behave professionally, you’ll get the respect of your peers and any reasonable observers. You won’t be able to please everyone, because every game has a losing team.
Remember, though, the youngest and newest referees will start out in the youngest leagues, where the competition isn’t nearly as fierce. You’ll get seasoning before you’re calling select soccer matches.
The important thing is you hustle, stay in position, know the rules and know the signals. If you do this, you’re going to look competent and gain the trust and (sometimes grudging) respect of both sides. If you look like you aren’t trying hard or that you’re confused, people will sense that and make your job a lot harder.
Don’t lose your cool if you miss a call, either. The best veteran referees miss calls. Sometimes, soccer referees (or officials in other sports) make a bad call and then get flustered and try to make a “make-up call”. This leads to a series of calls made not on their merits, but in a desire to “balance out” bad calls. This is only going to make fans louder, because they’ll start to perceive you don’t know what you’re looking at or don’t know what you’re doing. So if you blow a call, stay in the flow of the game and do your best on the next call. These things will balance out in the long run without you needing to manipulate them.
Sometimes, you’ll have to red card players or throw a coach or parent off the field. Be sparing in your use of this power, but don’t be too sparing. This is one of the hardest jobs of the soccer referee. When a player is endangering other players, deliberately attempting to hurt an opponent or is verbally abusive to someone else (including you), you have not only the right, but the responsibility, to red card them. All of these actions keep dangerous situations of retaliation and escalation from happening.
Also, if you feel a coach or parent is trying to physically intimidate you (or makes contact with you in any way) or has disrupted a game with repeated abusive shouts or threats, or is stoking his or her team to play dirty or escalate a tense situation, you have the responsibility to take command of the situation by throwing the parent off the field. If a coach or parent is singling you out, talk to the other soccer referees on your officiating crew and decide whether they need to go. If they will not leave the field, let them know you are going to inform the league commissioner and your supervisor among the officials about their conduct, and you will call the police if they do not get off the field (in 30 seconds). It’s hard for a teenager to remember this when an authority figure like a coach or parent gets out of line on the soccer pitch, but you are the authority figure when it comes to officiating the game, and therefore you have to establish that authority if an adult gets out of line.
Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t going to happen every time you step on the field, but young or inexperienced soccer referees need advice on how to handle these situations in the rare case they do arise. Most of the time, losing teams might grumble a bit, but they will respect your role as game official. Also, you don’t need to abuse your authority by handing out too many yellow cards or red cards or by showing up the teams by being abusive or derisive yourself. In the end, the less said or heard about a soccer referee, the better of a job they are doing.
Something which was touched on in brief, but needs to be elaborated on, is that you’ll earn respect if you hustle. Stay in shape and run enough to be in the right spot to make good calls. Teams lose respect when they see you make an offside call and you’re lagging behind the play, for example, so running along with the play is very important. Also, don’t rush your calls. Sometimes, newer referees will make a call a split second before a play happens, which can look bad. You need to see the play, take the play in and then make the call. Obviously, you can’t wait to make the call before a split second, because you’ll look indecisive, so a good soccer referee has good timing. (In baseball, the taught you to take a split-second, like counting “thousand-one”, then making the call and making the call in a decisive fashion with a decisive, decided gesture. I’m not sure if the split-second rule applies in soccer officiating, since soccer is more fluid and happens at a more rapid pace, but I think you get the idea what I’m talking about when I use the word “timing”.)
Ultimately, if you are seen working hard and you show a command of the rules of soccer, people will be satisfied with your soccer officiating.
Who do you contact?
If you want to become a soccer referee, contact your local soccer leagues or look up soccer officiating in the yellow pages. Either way, you’ll be able to contact the head of officials in your area and begin working towards becoming an accredited soccer referee.
Soccer jerseys are expensive, so you don’t want to replace soccer equipment in the middle of the season. So moms and dads need to learn how to wash soccer uniforms properly, to avoid placing more wear and tear on the uniform than their kids already do.
Soccer coaches and soccer trainers have to take more care than parents do. They might have to replace a dozen or more soccer uniforms if not properly cared for, and they are likely to have one parent every season ask about washing instruction for soccer uniforms. Soccer coaches are usually worrying more about offside calls and defensive alignments than washing soccer jerseys, so I’ve made a guide for washing soccer uniforms you can print off and give to parents on your soccer team.
Basic Rules to Washing Soccer Uniforms
Here are some basic rules to washing soccer uniforms.
Read the Instructions – First off, read the specific instructions on the soccer uniforms. often, there will be special washing or drying instructions on the hang tags of jerseys, so make certain you read these and make sure to follow whatever instructions you read.
Wash Soccer Uniforms Promptly – Soccer uniforms are going to be sweaty and dirty, so don’t leave them lying around the utility room for a couple of days before washing them. This will let mold and mildew set in. This isn’t good for your soccer jersey, and certainly isn’t good for the smells in your house. If you don’t launder jerseys promptly, stains can set in that you won’t be able to get out later.
Don’t Leave in Gym Bags – Once again, you don’t want the mildew that comes from leaving a wet soccer uniform in a gym bag for a couple of days. While you’ll probably be able to wash out the nastiness from your soccer clothes, you’ll end up carrying these clothes around in a mildewed bag, which means you’re going to smell awful when you’re in those clothes.
How To Wash Soccer Jerseys With Stains
Pretreat Stains – Treat a stain before you wash it. Tough stains often set in after you wash it. The best idea is to spray and treat the stain prior to any washing (usually as soon as possible). Consider store-bought stain removers, seltzer or baking soda when trying to remove stains.
Wash Inside Out – One of the quickest ways for soccer uniforms to start looking prematurely old is to have the jersey number monograms and logo symbols start to peal off or break off. Soccer jerseys should be turned inside out when you wash them. This saves wear and team on the monogrammed numbers and letters, and preserve the longevity of your soccer uniforms.
Hang Jerseys Up Immediately – If you want to save time on ironing soccer uniforms, hang them up immediately out of the wash. If you do hang them up promptly, soccer jerseys are made where you don’t have to iron them. If you fail to hang up soccer uniforms quickly and they get wrinkles, look at the ironing instructions and follow them.
Don’t Iron Numbers, Letters and Logos – Don’t iron the monogram parts of your soccer jerseys. The heat tends to break down not only the letters and numbers, but often breaks down the adhesive which is holding these non-cloth parts onto the soccer uniform.
When you think of a pump paintball gun, you probably are thinking of the semi-auto paintball guns that shoot a steady stream of paintballs at your enemy. These guns are generally called “paintball markers”, and they use some kind of expanding gas (usually carbon dioxide or compressed nitrogen) to propel paintballs. “Paintball marker” was a politically correct term invented to replace “paintball gun”, because paintballers want people to know they are actually just marking people up, and not violently shooting them. These guns are fast (30 paintballs per second in competition) and have electronic firing systems.
“Pump paintball guns” are the original paintball guns, though. You won’t find these sold in most stores in your local area. In fact, you’re probably better off searching for pump paintball guns online and buying them over the internet from hard-core paintball fans and specialty stores.
Using Pump Paintball Markers
Pump paintball guns aren’t just for old-timers. Pump paintball guns (that aren’t for older players) aren’t just for people who can’t afford the newer paintball models. Some people enjoy using pump paintball markers for the challenge they offer to the paintball shooter. These guys love to show up at a paintball game with their old-pump action paintball gun, get the looks from all the kids with their semi-auto and electric paint guns, then shoot these doubters down with their old-style paintball gun. Here’s what makes the pump paintball gun a bigger challenge for paintball hobbyists.
- Honing Your Skills – The pump paintball gun can’t cover your weaknesses with a high fire rate. You have to hone your skills when using the single-shot pump action paintball machine, so your skills are going to improve as you focus more on each shot. When you start using the electric paintball gun the next time, these skills should translate to your electric paintball game.
- Nostalgia – Not only does the pump paintball gun let you get back to basics, but it lets you get back to the roots of the game. If everyone uses the same pump paintball weapon, you’ll be playing the game as it was originally imagined and originally played. For those older players, you get to recapture some of the magic of the early days of paintball, reliving your childhood a little bit. For the younger players, you have to show off your true skill without a machine doing all the work for you. It’s nice to add a little variety into your paintball adventures, anyway.
- Raise the Threat Level – For players who are so good and so accurate at paintball showdowns, using the pump-paintball gun against people using semi-auto paintball guns gives you a special challenge, because you’ll be firing versus much higher fire rates. This allows you to handicap your match against less-skilled paintball players. Just imagine how demoralized your paintball opponents will be when you beat them with an “inferior” paintball gun.
Paint Ball Gun Models
We’ve listed these paint ball gun models to show you how “pump paintball guns” differ from other paint ball guns.
- Stock Paintball Guns – These guns hold only 20-40 paint rounds at a time and uses a stock pump. The shooting mechanism is powered by a 12-gram CO2 powerlet. You reload after all the rounds are spent, you’ll have to rock the paint ball gun back gently forward and backward. Stock paintball guns were the original competition-level guns, but many believed these rules were holding back paintball technology. These days, only old-timers and purists use stock paintball guns, though there are still competitions using them.
- Semi-Auto Paintball Guns – Semi-automatic paintball guns can lay down up to 20 paintball shots per second. For many years, these were the guns used in competitive paintball tournaments. These guns were patented in 1985, but they did not take over sport for a few years, because paintball tournaments used the old stock guns.
- Electric Paintball Guns – These are the fastest paintball guns on the market. The main difference in the electric paintball marker and the semi-automatic paintball markers is that this gun has an electric trigger. This speeds up the shooting time because it is triggered electronically and competitive paintballers use electric paintball guns these days. These guns are powered by batteries. You can set this to semi-auto mode, where you still shoot one paintball at a time. In the electric or automatic mode, though, these guns shoot at a minimum of 15 balls per second.
Anyone who has ever played a game of paintball can tell you how fun and exciting the radical sport can be. Running through the course with paintballs splatting around you and your enemy in your sights can be thrilling. But have you ever wondered how paintballs are made? They are supposed to be soft enough to break open without causing you any serious harm. But if you don’t wear the proper padding and equipment, they can still hurt. Many paintball players show off their bruises like trophies. So what materials are used in making paintballs? How are paintballs made? Are the materials environmentally safe? If you have ever been hit by a paintball, here is some information that will make you appreciate that colorful splat a little more.
Old School Paintball
Paintball got its start way back in the 1950’s and was first developed by the Nelson Paint Company. The original device was designed for the U.S. Forestry service to mark trees. Later, the company devised a way to shoot a ball of paint for use in the cattle industry. Cattle owners used chalk to mark cows but this grew problematic when the cattle were out in the pasture. Owners could not always get up close to the cows to mark them. The paintball gun made this much easier because it allowed cattle owners to mark the desired cattle from a short distance. The earliest forms of paintballs were made of glass and filled with oil-based paint but later were manufactured by pharmaceutical companies using the same methods as making medicinal capsules, vitamins, and bath beads.
Modern Paintball Materials
Although most paintballs were originally manufactured by pharmaceutical companies because they were already set up for the process, the growth of the sport of paintball has since changed most of that. There are now many manufacturers that specialize in making paintballs as well as other equipment specific to the sport. There are now many top paintball brands such as the Brass Eagle Company and ZAP Paintballs, Inc. The paint used in paintballs is also no longer oil-based. Instead, it is a water-soluble paint and washes out of clothing easily. The materials that make up paintballs are mostly found in food and are actually edible even though they don’t taste like it. The basic materials that make up the paint are mineral oils, food coloring, calcium, polyethylene glycol, sorbitol, and iodine. The paint is enclosed in a ball that is made from a semi-soft gelatin, the same material used to coat medicines. But don’t let the color of the ball fool you because the color of the outside shell may not be the same as the color of the paint inside.
Most modern paintballs are described as .68 caliber. This is the common caliber used in most paintball games and tournaments in the U.S. Because of the gelatin shell, paintballs are very succeptible to heat and moisture and may warp. An especially hot or humid day may cause the paint to swell inside the shell. If you are playing outdoors and in the sun, proper storage is key. Many players use insulated coolers to keep the paintballs cool and dry.
How Modern Paintballs Are Made
The process for making paintballs is pretty universal, despite brand variation. The first thing to get manufactured is the paint. The type of paint used in the sport of paintball is specially mixed at a paint manufacturing plant and then shipped to the encapsulating plant. At the encapsulation plant, the shells are crafted out of gel strips. To make the shells, workers pour water into a massive heating bowl where sorbitol and various sweeteners are added. Next, so that the mixture can be transformed into a round hollow ball, gelatin is added. All of the ingredients are allowed to melt and mix for around 30 to 40 minutes. Once the gelatin mix is alowed to cool, it is rolled onto a drum to create a thin strip.
The next step in the process is to load up the gel strips and the paint into a capsulation machine. The gel strips move through two counter-rotating drums. These drums have half round indentions that mold the gel into half a round paintball shell. As the gel is molded, the machine lines up both halves of the ball and as it closes them together, injects an amount of paint into the hollow cavity. The two halves are then sealed together.
At this point the paintballs are still warm and soft so the gel needs to cool so it can harden. To accomplish this, the balls are dropped into a tumbling machine. The machine gently shakes the balls which cools them down. Also, the shaking allows the balls to harden to a uniform roundness. Once the paintballs are cool, they are placed in trays where they can finish drying and curing.
Once the balls are completely dry, they are ready to be packaged up and shipped out. The balls are visually inspected for any obvious flaws before being loaded into a hopper. Hoppers are large, funnel-like containers that fill the packages according to weight. A case of paintballs is advertised as holding 2, 500 balls but since the hopper uses weight to determine when a package is full, the actual number may vary.
Testing and Quality Control
As paintballs are manufactured, they are placed into numbered lots. This makes it easier for inspectors to perform their quality control. A percentage of each numbered lot is set aside for inspection and testing. After a visual inspection for any obvious signs of defects, the paintballs are placed in a machine that measures the weight and diameter of the balls. To determine if a ball is brittle, a drop test in conducted. This involves simply taking a paintball and dropping it from a predetermined height. A paintball that has been manufactured properly should crack open upon impact. The final test involves taking the batch to a target range for field testing. Better quality paintballs use a higher quality of materials, thinner shells, and go through more rigorous testing to make sure they are accurate.
Are Paintballs Environmentally Safe
Modern paintballs are safe for both the environment and for one’s health. The paint is non-toxic so if you get it in your mouth and accidentally swallow it, it won’t affect you. The paint dissolves in water so it won’t remain on your clothes or all over the outdoors where you play. Also, the shells are biodegradable, too. All those broken paintballs will soon dissolve with enough rain and weather.
The short answer is Richard Petty, with 200 Sprint Cup wins.
I’m assuming when you’re asking who has the most Nascar wins, you’re asking about the NASCAR season that Fox broadcasts every week to millions of viewers. It gets a little confusing, because NASCAR keeps getting different sponsors, so this racing league has been known as the “Sprint Cup”, the “Nextel Cup” and the “Winston Cup” over the years.
On this circuit alone, Richard Petty won 200 races and 7 Nascar Championships. Both are records, though Dale Earnhardt Sr. tied Petty’s record seven Nascar season titles. Because of these accomplishments, Richard “The King” Petty is considered the greatest of all Nascar drivers. Here are some of his Nascar stats.
From 1958 to 1992, Richard Petty raced in 1,185 stock car races. He had 200 victories, over 700 Top Ten Nascar finishes and sat the pole 127 different times. He holds the record for most wins in a season by winning 27 Nascar races in 1967 alone. His last win came in 1984 at the age of 46, though he would continue to race for 8 more years. Today (2009), Richard Lee Petty is 71 years old.
Winning The Most Nascar Races
Dick Trickle holds the distinction for winning the most Nascar races, if you take in circuits besides the Sprint Cup. Dick “the White Knight” Trickle has races over 1,000,000 laps on race car circuits such as NASCAR, All Pro, USAR Hooters Pro Cup, USAC, ARCA, ASA and ARTFO, as well as others. It’s thought that Dick Trickle has raced in over 2,200 races in his career.
Dick Trickle’s NASCAR records are not as impressive because he didn’t start racing in the circuit until 1989 (at age 48), though he was NASCAR Rookie of the Year in 1989. Instead, he stayed in the short track racing circuit of Wisconsin for decades. He had raced selected races on the NASCAR circuit going all the way back to 1970.
Dick Trickle made fun of his lack of success in NASCAR, filming a 1997 commercial where it was noted that he was 0-for-243 in Nascar events. The eccentric race car driver also was noted for drilling a hole in his safety helmet, so he could smoke while driving. He no longer races in the NASCAR races, but he does race in smaller Wisconsin events.
The Most NASCAR Wins Among Active Drivers
Jeff Gordon has the most NASCAR wins among active drivers. Jeff Gordon has 82 wins, has sat on the pole position 67 times and has finished in the Top Ten 328 times in his career (which started in 1992). Jeff Gordon also has won four Sprint Cup titles (though the title went under a different name at the time).
If you want to buy Nascar tickets for your local event, call the track where the event is going to be held. Wikipedia has a list of the current stops on the Sprint Cup Tour and other Nascar tracks in use. Click on the blue link for the Nascar track nearest you, then scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link to that track’s home site. You’ll be able to get telephone, fax and online contact information at these sites.
Most NASCAR tracks have not only bleacher seat tickets, but have tickets on the infield. These infield tickets usually hold a whole lot more people than the bleachers and you can usually buy tickets there, if nothing else. Of course, a lot of people don’t want to spend their Nascar afternoon on the infield amidst “tent city”, so if you want to buy tickets in the stands, here are other options.
Buying Tickets For A Nascar Event
People who want everything done for them on the Nascar vacation should buy their Nascar tickets through a Nascar charter tour. This is a chartered tour which takes care of buying tickets for a nascar event including seats, the hotel accommodations in the town of the event and even the bus ride out to the races. Once you buy your way into the NASCAR chartered tour, you really don’t have to do much of anything but show up. The drawbacks are that the tour is going to cost more than a normal trip to watch a Nascar event would, and you won’t have the freedom to make out your own schedule throughout your stock car weekend.
Can I get tickets online?
You can find good deals on the internet, if you want to go through a scalper or an online ticket scalping service. The sites which scalp tickets, such as Stubhub and Tickets (dot com), are going to be more expensive. You can also go through independent online scalpers, but I would recommend going through one of the safe, established sites.
Perhaps your best online option if you want to buy tickets for close to face value would be to find a Nascar fan site and ask if anyone is trying to get rid of their Nascar tickets. A lot of times, non-scalpers who had something come up and can’t go to the event will be looking to sell their Nascar event tickets. In these cases, the fan might be willing to sell at face value simply to offset the original cost of the tickets.
Buying Scalped Nascar Tickets
When everything else fails, you can show up outside a Nascar event and buy tickets from a scalper. Buying scalped Nascar tickets can be a little nerve-wracking for some, though, because you wonder whether you’ll be able to get into the event, who you might be buying tickets from and how much they’ll cost. Know that scalped tickets are often going to be noticeably higher than face value, because this is how some of these people make a living (or at least supplement their income). If you have the nerve to wait until the event has started, though, you can get great deals, because the scalper will be trying to recoup money and ditch the tickets for a lower (maybe even less than face value) price.
Sports handicapping is used by casinos to create interest in sports gambling among casino patrons. A good sports handicapper sets a line with odds on a sports event. These odds are supposed to be weighted (or handicapped) where half the betting money is bet on one team and half the money bet is bet on the other team. If that happens, then the casino payouts are the same, no matter who wins. Because the casino has a house edge (called a vig or vigorish), if equal money is bet either way, then the casino makes money. If too much money is bet in either direction, then the sports handicapping didn’t work properly and the casino is exposed to chances for a losing bet.
How the Betting Line is Set
First, a sports handicapping expert is hired by a casino to set a betting line. A sports line is simply a bet with odds on either side of the bet. For instance, if the New England Patriots are playing the Indianapolis Colts, then he handicapper tries to determine which team is the favorite and which team is the underdog. A sports handicapper generally doesn’t reach the handicap at random. There will be a lot of factors put into the sports line.
For instance, homefield advantage is generally assumed to be a 3-point advantage in football. So if two teams are considered evenly matched and would be an even-money bet on neutral field, then if they met at one team’s home stadium, the home team would be a 3-point favorite. Look at the Patriots and Colts. If the Patriots were considered a 1-point favorite on a neutral field, then they would be a 4-point favorite if they were hosting the Colts. But if they were going on the road to face Peyton Manning and friends, then those 3-points would be assigned the other way, and the Colts (a 1-point underdog on a nuetral field) would be 2-point favorites over the Patriots at home.
There are a lot of other factors that go into sports handicapping besides home-field advantage, though. Certain star players might give their team special bonus on the betting line. Other factors, like weather or injuries, are taken into account. That’s why you’ll occasionally see a list of sportslines where a couple of games don’t have odds. One of the teams’ star players is probably injured and the sports handicapping expert is waiting to see what the injury news is later in the week. NFL Injury Reports come out on Wednesday, and you might see a casino wait until Wednesday to set a line. A casino wants to set a sports handicap as early as possible, of course, since waiting a couple of days means two days with no bets being made on that game.
Sports Handicapping Odds
Let’s go back to the Colts-Patriots game. Let’s assume the Patriots are at home and have are a four-point favorite. The sports line will be listed in the casino or in the newspaper as New England Patriots -4. The minus symbol means the Patriots are the favorite. If you see Indianapolis Colts +4, this means the Colts are a four-point underdog. If you bet on the Patriots, they have to win by 5 or more points for you to win your bet. If you bet on the Colts, they have to either win, tie or lose by less than four points to win. If the Patriots win by 4 points on the dot, then the bet is a push and both sides get their money back.
You might occasionally see a line where one team is favored by a number and a half-point. For instance, you might see the Patriots favored by 4.5 instead of just 4. You’ll see this listed as as +4 1/2. This eliminates the chances of a push, so one side is going to win the bet. So if the Patriots are -4.5 underdogs, they need to win by 5 or more points to win the best. The Colts, on the other hand, would need to win, tie or lose by 4 or less to win the bet.
Sports Handicapping Money Lines
Some gamblers don’t want to bet against the line. They don’t want to have to worry about favorites and underdogs. Instead, they want to be able to bet on team’s straight up. Unfortunately, it’s seldom that you see a game that’s a true even-money bet. That’s where the moneyline bet comes in.
A money line bet lets you bet simply on who wins. The handicap doesn’t factor in sportsline odds, or +/- points added to the final score of the game. The handicap instead is the amount paid out, with the winner being the straight out winner.
Once again, let’s go back to this imaginary Colts-Pats game.
If the Colts were the underdog, you might see the moneyline bet listed at Colts +200. If you bet on the Colts, they have to win for you to win the bet. If you win, then you get paid 2-to-1 odds. So if you bet $100 and win, you win $200.
If the Patriots are the favorite, you might see the moneyline bet listed as Patriots -150. If you bet on the Patriots, they have to win for you to win the bet. If you win, then you get paid at less than 1-to-1 odds. So if you want to win $100 on this bet, you have to bet $150.
Therefore, the odds are administered by how much you get paid out. For the favorite, you’ll end up getting less than 1-to-1 odds, such as the 1-to-1.5 odds of the -150 bet. For the underdog, you’ll end up getting more than 1-to-1 odds, such as the 2-to-1 odds in the previous scenario.
In the case of really big mismatches, you can see moneylines at +500 or even +1000. Sure-shots will have to bet between $500 and $1,000 to win $100 (or that same ratio for smaller bets, of course).
Golf schools help to improve golf players through targeted golf instruction over a short duration, usually in the form of “golf vacations”. There are golf schools and golf clinics throughout the warm weather portions of the United States and some of these are quite famous: the PGA Golf School, the Nike Golf School and the ESPN Golf Schools.
Each golf school is going to have its own philosophies for improving golf skills. Some will focus on putting and driving. Others will teach students proper golf mechanics or try to eliminate inconsistencies in the golf swing. Some try to teach about the flight of the ball or psychological factors. To one degree or another, golf colleges tend to include some combination of golf techniques, mechanics and even golf psychology. These golf teaching techniques are often founded by a golf pro or famous instructor such as Hank Haney.
Golf Swing Mechanics
Hank Haney is the latest golf coach for Tiger Woods. He wants his golfers to understand golf swing mechanics such as the flight of the ball and its relation to the golf swing. Too often, players will address the ball with one swing, but their real golf swing lacks the same mechanics of their address swing. Hank Haney makes certain his students’ game swing occupies the same “swing plane” as their address.
Of course, most people don’t study their golf swing with the dedication of Tiger Woods and Hank Haney. Most are looking for a few lessons about shortening their swing or a few techniques for improving their game. That’s what the golf school offers.
Golf Schools vs Private Golf Instruction
For one, a golf school is a whole lot cheaper than private golf instruction. Professional golfers like Tiger Woods can purchase the talents of professional golf instructors like Butch Harmon and Hank Haney, but most people don’t have the time, money or inclination for personal golf instruction.
What benefits do golf schools offer compared to a few golf lessons?
You can get a few golf lessons at your local golf club, which is a perfectly legitimate means of improving your golf stroke. But golf schools involve professionals who spend all year long teaching new golf skills, so their teaching skills are efficient and honed. These also follow a few core philosophies which are easy-to-teach and easy-to-learn.
Also, golf schools let you take a vacation and spend a few days in a beautiful golf resort on a golf course chosen for proper instruction. You get away, you spend a few days focusing on your golf game, then you return to your old golf course with a few new golfing skills.
ESPN Golf Schools
For instance, the ESPN Golf School offers a 3-day golf instruction course called the “Three Club Tour”, which instructs golf players in the use of three pivotal golf clubs in their bag: the putter, the driver and the wedge. Since these three clubs involve “75% of your score”, this golf class focuses entirely on techniques using these clubs.
These golf techniques cover chipping and pitching, the full swing and putting drills. Besides these drills (as well as alignment drills), players are instructed in golf fundamentals like golf posture, grip strength and stretching techniques. The ESPN Golf School costs $375 for three days of instructions.
PGA Golf Schools – TOUR Academy Golf Schools
The PGA golf schools are better known as the Tour Academy Golf Schools, with golf clinics at Sawgrass and Hilton Head, as well as in Scottsdale, Las Vegas and Weston Hills. The PGA maintains the World Golf Village in Scottsdale, as well as the TOUR Academy on the Road, which is a traveling golf school for those who can’t take a golfing vacation. There is even the TOUR Academy at Sea, which is a golf school on a cruise ship.
These golf schools offer instruction for players at every level, and help beginners with club-fitting. There are short-game clinics given, while players can also seek out private golf lessons.
Nike Golf Schools
Nike Golf Schools focus on the next generation of golfers with their Junior Golf Camps. Players find resident programs, parent-child schools for father and sons (or mother and daughters) who want to learn the game together, as well as golf coaches clinics. The Nike Golf School even offers Commuter Day Programs, for those who can only get away for a day of golf instruction.
Fantasy golf works on the same concept of other fantasy sports. Owners in a fantasy golf league get together to “draft” real professional golfers onto their golf teams. Every week throughout the golf season, each team owner will select a certain number of golfers to “start”. For that week, you track the stats of your golf starters and get fantasy points according to these statistics. For instance, you might get a certain number of points for a tournament victory, or a certainly number of points for a 10th place finish or so on. Alternately, you might be in a league which tracks birdies, bogeys and other specific stats in the golf scores.
Either way, your fantasy golf league sets up a scoring system and every team in the league follows the same system. Everyone knows the scoring rules before they draft teams, and they draft pro golfers accordingly. This puts every team on a level playing field. So you might be asking, how does a golf draft work and who gets Tiger Woods?
What Is A Fantasy Golf Draft?
A fantasy golf draft works much like a draft in the major sports leagues. First, you set up a draft order. This order is generally assigned randomly, either by drawing draft order numbers out of a hat or drawing numbers from a deck of cards. In either case, whoever gets the #1 has the 1st pick in the rotisserie golf draft (“rotisserie league” is just an old-fashioned term for a fantasy league).
The one difference between most fantasy drafts and most major sports drafts is the way the second round is ordered. Most fantasy drafts these days have a “serpentine” order. That is, draft order is reversed from round-to-round. If you chart the draft order on a piece of paper, the order snakes around like a serpent. So if you go first in the first round, you go last in the second round. If you go last in the first round, you go first in the second round (and therefore have back-to-back picks). This is supposed to even out the disadvantage of drafting last among the best golfers.
Many fantasy sports drafts these days use a modified serpentine draft order. Every other round, teams redraft their draft spots. They do this so everyone doesn’t get stuck in the same couple of draft spots throughout the entire draft. So you draft for draft order in the 1st-2nd round, then the 3rd-4th round, then 5th-6th round and so on.
This is less likely in a fantasy golf draft, though, because it’s not going to be nearly as long as a 20-round fantasy football draft or a 30-round fantasy baseball draft. After drafting 10 or more rounds in these other fantasy sports drafts, you get awfully tired of drafting behind the same guy every other round, especially when they keep wolfing your picks. As I mentioned, the modified serpentine or redraft fantasy draft is getting more popular, but still not as popular as the traditional serpentine draft. In my leagues, it always seems to confuse one or two people, which generally astounds me. (Guess those are the types of guys you want in your money league, anyway, right?)
Fantasy Golf Leagues
Most fantasy golf leagues are in the 6 to 8 player range, though I have heard those which include up to 14 and even 16 players. Some fantasy golf leagues will have as few as 3 or 4 team owners. I wouldn’t recommend anything less than 6 players, though, because the draft pool of golfers will be too deep and everyone will have a mega-roster of golfing superstars only. That takes a lot of the challenge out of fantasy golf and makes it mainly a contest of luck.
Having too many teams in your golf league is even worse, though. Teams that draft lower in the first round of a 16-team league will only be drafting the (theoretically) the 16th best golfer on the tour. Since golf is such a hit-or-miss sports and only the top golfers reach the kind of consistency to anchor a fantasy golf team, there will be a lot of teams that will instantly be out of the running. In my experience, a league of about 6 teams with 3 starters per week is best. This way, you’re starting the best 15-20 golfers every week and everyone has a chance to win, but everyone also has a bench of relatively talented golfers in case of injury or lack of activity.
For instance, think of Tiger Woods for a moment. Tiger only enters about 15 tournaments a year (even when he’s not resting from knee surgery). So if you have the #1 fantasy golf pick, you have to ask yourself whether you want to draft the best player for 15 weeks, or draft the 2nd-best player who might play close to twice as many tournaments. In a fantasy golf league, you’ll be starting a line-up every single week of the golf season, so drafting Tiger Woods might leave your team weak for the other tournaments throughout the year.
Doesn’t Fantasy Golf Sound Fun?
That’s a glimpse into the fun of fantasy golf. You’ll go throughout the list of PGA golfers, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each golfer. And when it comes time to watch the golf tournament on television, you’ll be able to enjoy the golf competition for its own sake, but you’ll always have in the back of your mind how the next shot affects you fantasy golf team’s results.
Whether for bragging rights alone or for a big wad of winner-takes-all money, fantasy golf lets you enjoy golf in a new way with your golfing pals. Have you always thought you knew more about the sport of golf than all your friends? With fantasy golf, you can challenge them to a golf knowledge competition to finally prove it once and for all.
The first Saturday of May brings the Kentucky Derby, held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. It is a horse race that was first run in 1875 when it drew 10,000 spectators. Today, the race draws approximately 150,000 race enthusiasts each year. This race is so prestigious that retiring Derby winners can be worth $60 million to breeders looking to make the next great racehorse.
History of the Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby has been called “The Run for the Roses,” referring to the bed of 554 roses awarded to the winner. It has also been called “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” because it is usually done in about 125 seconds. The race is 1.25 miles, run by 15 three-year-old thoroughbred horses. Many traditions have developed around this longstanding race. Some add charm and class, others are just plain odd.
Kentucky Derby Traditions
The “Triple Crown” is a tradition that began in the early 1900s. Kentucky Derby winners began racing consecutively in two other races, the Maryland Preakness Stakes on the third Saturday in May and the New York Belmont Stakes, run in early June or five weeks after the Kentucky Derby. Sportswriter Charles Hatton started calling these races the “Triple Crown” in 1930.
Box seats are traditionally available to those who can afford it. These seats are called “Millionaire’s Row”, attracting rich and famous spectators. There is a traditional dress code required in these seats. Men are found in tuxedos or sold colored suits. Women wear spring dresses, lavish and dramatic hats, along with white gloves.
Women Hats at the Kentucky Derby
Women’s hats are the subject of much talk at the Kentucky Derby. While some are designed with great care and artistic flare, others are simply gawdy. Some have been known to simply staple stuffed animals to a summer hat and wear the monstrosity to the event.
The infield is the part of the racetrack where general admission spectators sit. Very little of the race can be seen from this area, so there is less pomp and circumstance here. Instead, track goers arrive in common dress and attend for the traditional celebrations. The race takes a back seat to the celebrations.
My Old Kentucky Home
Before the race, horses are paraded in front of the grandstands while the University of Louisville marching band plays “My Old Kentucky Home” by Stephen Foster. Sometimes called “The Father of American Music,” Stephen Foster also penned the traditional songs “Oh! Susanna” and “Camptown Races”.
The Kentucky Derby’s official drink is the Mint Julep, consisting of bourbon, mint and sweet syrup on ice. A special Kentucky Derby commemorative glass is used to drink the beverage. The traditional meal of the Derby, burgoo, is a thick and meaty stew, similar to chili. The race’s official flower is the rose, because of the roses given to the winner after the race.
The Kentucky Derby is not just a race. There are two weeks of more than 70 events held before the race, collectively called the Kentucky Derby Festival. Events may include balloon tours, balls, concerts, children’s activities and various competitions. The Kentucky Derby Festival is kicked off with Thunder Over Louisville, the nation’s largest fireworks show, attended by more than 500,000 spectators.
Of course, betting is the longest standing activity at the Kentucky Derby but there are different traditions on how to bet. Some bet for fun hoping to win $1,000,000 on a $1 bet and that does occasionally happen. Some just throw darts at the lineup sheet. Others carefully analyze the horse’s breeding and racing history. This betting tradition is called “handicapping”.
Bets can be placed for horses to win, place or show. A win only pays if the horse takes first place. Choosing a first or second finisher will give you a payoff if you bet on place. Show pays if the horse is first, second or third. Other bets called “exacta,” “trifecta,” and “superfecta”. Exacta requires you pick the first two winners in order, trifecta pays if you pick the first three in order and superfecta only pays if you pick the first four winning horses in exact order.
So you want to know how to become a boxer, eh? Boxers must be dedicated to the sport, with clear goals in mind. Still, there are very good reasons to take up boxing. Some people find that learning to throw a strong, solid punch makes them feel confident and capable. Others enjoy the rhythm of an all-out physical effort. To find greatness in any sport takes hard work and dedication, but to do it while getting beat up is a special challenge that boxers face.
If you are ready to dedicate the next year of your life to relentless daily training and unending bruises, then boxing may be for you. The first step in becoming a boxer is to join a boxing club. From there, you have six months to one year of hard training ahead of you before you are ready to call yourself a boxer. So be sure you mean it when you decide this is what you want.
Choosing the Right Club
Choose a boxing club that is affiliated with USA Boxing. You are not looking for a health club that trains people in boxing workouts. You want a real boxing gym that trains fighters. Only here will you find the trainer that can turn you into the next great fighter.
When you find the club you would like to try, talk to the trainer. The trainer will explain the rules of the gym to you, the fees and the hours the gym is open. You will want to ask the trainer about his or her personal boxing experience as well. You will need a competent trainer who knows how to tailor a fitness and strategic plan to help you reach your goals. A good trainer knows how to match you in sparring with a fighter that will challenge you but also help you develop confidence in boxing skills.
At the gym, you will quickly learn the basics of boxing including footwork, balance, movement and rhythm. You will learn punches like the jab, hook, and uppercut along with combination punches. Lessons will be given in positioning and defensive moves. In addition to boxing fundamentals, you will begin your physical training. Part of this will include circuit training, mirror training, shadow boxing, heavy bag punching, speed bag punching, jump rope and strength training. You will learn diet, when and how to train and stretching to minimize injuries.
Training to become a boxer requires intense focus and a daily commitment. Exercises are geared to develop muscles in the neck, shoulders, chest, upper arms and legs. Gym workouts are done three to four times a week and consist of a two hour routine. The boxer will do 20 minutes of sit-ups and pushups to strengthen the arms and abdominal muscles. He or she will then ride a bike for 20 minutes and then jog for 30 minutes. The boxer will then spend about 10 minutes with a jump rope and finally 10 minutes sparring with either a punching bag or with a live person.
Become an Amateur Boxer
While there are no laws that say you must become an amateur boxer before moving onto professional boxing, to skip this step is almost suicidal. Amateur boxing allows you to learn the fighting techniques the professionals use while wearing protective gear to ensure you do not end up in a brain injury clinic. Learning to protect yourself is a big part of boxing and this is best learned in the amateur ring.
You will need to visit the USA Boxing website to locate your local amateur boxing organization. You then simple fill out an application to join and undergo a physical examination from your doctor. There will be many unsanctioned boxing events you can participate in through boxing gyms that will allow you to gain some initial fighting experience. These fights will not count towards you record, but they are an excellent place to start.
When you feel ready to enter the ring for real, you can find your first amateur fight. You will be matched according to your age group and class, which begins as “novice”. You will move on to local tournaments that will help you climb the boxing ranks as you win fights. You can work towards both the U.S. Boxing Team with the Olympics as a goal and compete in the U.S. Amateur Championships.
Becoming a Professional Boxer
To become a professional boxer, you will need a good boxing manager with connections to professional matchmakers. You will be matched with a fighter in your class that is likely to produce a challenging fight. 10% of your income will go to the manager and you will also have to pay the matchmaker. The goal is to have a good record of wins to losses, but the fights must also be challenging.
You will need to join a professional boxing association (IBF, WBO, WBC, WIBF) and there will be membership fees. You will have to get a boxer’s license from the boxing commission where you will be fighting. It is also good to read trade publications regularly to keep up on the business of boxing. Remember that boxing is more than just a sport. It is a money making business and a form of entertainment.
No matter which boxing association you join, your goal will be to become the World Champion. Each organization has its own championship in each division. From there you may challenge World Champions in other associations to become the Unified Champion for both organizations. To hold titles in three organizations, you will become a Super Champion. All four belts would make you the Undisputed Champion. Of course, this ultimate goal is a long way from stepping into the gym and beginning your training.
Reading a sports betting line isn’t hard once you get down what a few symbols and phrases mean. Sports betting lines are meant to give gamblers a quick idea which team is the favorite and the underdog and what the odds pay in case of a win.
How do you read a sports betting line with “plus” or “minus” symbols?
The plus or “+” symbol on a betting line indicates that a team is the underdog. The + will be followed by a number, which indicates how much of an underdog that team is. So if you see a sports line which reads Giants +7, the line is telling you the Giants are seven point underdogs. Why does the underdog get the + symbol?
The plus symbol lets you easily figure out if you won your bet. If you bet on the Giants +7, then if they lose to the Eagles 24-20, you simply add the +7 bet modifier to the total and see whether you won the bet or not. Add in the number and you get the total 24-27. That would be 24 for the Eagles and 27 for the Giants, and therefore you would win your bet.
It works the same with the minus or “-” symbol, except the – indicates you are betting on the favorite. Imagine in the Giants/Eagles game that you bet on the Eagles -7. When the final score is shown, you can subtract seven points from the Eagles’ total to see if you won. Once again, you could subtract 7 from 24 to get 17, so you would lose the bet 17-20.
Bet Line Sports Betting Terms
So far we’ve explained the following bet line sports betting terms
- Minus Sign (-) – Given to the favorite.
- Plus Sign (+) – Given to the underdog.
- Point Spread – The amount of points separating the favorite and the underdog in the bet. If it’s New York Giants +7, the point spread would be +7.
Money Line Sports Betting
To understand money line sports betting first we’ll look at what a money line is for. A money line shows the amount of money you win using the $100 scale. This line is used if you want to bet about whether either team wins straight out, without a point spread. The odds are weighted differently in this case. If you bet on a favorite, you’ll have to bet more than $100 to win $100. If you bet +100 on the underdog, the number shows how much you can win if your team wins.
Once again, the “-” sign indicates the underdog and the “+” sign indicates the favorite. So let’s go back to the Giants/Eagles game. We’ll stipulate the Giants as the underdog at +200, while the Eagles will be the favorite at -225.
So if you want to bet $100 on the New York Giants, you win $200 if the Giants win straight up. If you want to win $100 betting on the Philadelphia Eagles, you’ll need to bet $225 to win $100 in case of an Eagles victory.
Notice that the numbers won’t be the same on a money line. The difference in the two numbers is the vigorish or “vig” (or “juice” or “take”). The vigorish is the house edge of the casino you’re making the wager through. So if the casino pays out $100 to all the Giants fans, but rakes in $225 from all the Eagles fans, they are getting out pretty well. (Actually, that number isn’t likely to turn up, since the casino will be making huge money off that game. You get the point, though.)
Also, I’ve seen moneylines before where both sides of the bet were in the negative (-). For a really close game or match, you might see both contestants given the -125 designation. Essentially, the casino is saying these fighters or teams are evenly matched, so they will pay out the same on each. Because of the vigorish, these even-money fighters or teams are actually written out as favorites in the money line. (You won’t see two contestants at + in a money line. If you see one of those, bet both sides huge — though you won’t ever see that kind of mistake happen.)
The price of baseball tickets vary wildly in price. You can spend outrageous amounts on baseball tickets, if you want the premium seats on the premium levels. But baseball has the cheapest tickets in the major sports world, too, if you don’t mind seats in the outfield.
Price Of Baseball Tickets
Also, the price of baseball tickets fluctuates from one baseball market to the next. New York Yankees tickets cost a whole lot more than Kansas City Royal or Pittsburgh Pirates tickets, because it’s a team full of superstars with a huge payroll to meet and the cost of living in New York City is way higher than it is in most other U.S. cities. The Yankees have just built a New Yankee Stadium and the box seats go for outrageous prices, such as $60,000 for one game in certain instances.
What Baseball Tickets Cost
So let’s go around the American League and National League cities and see what baseball tickets cost and compare prices. Since some of these tickets are hard to get a hand on, I’ll go to Stubhub and compare prices there. Note that these tickets will cost more than the cover price of these tickets, so if you walk up and buy a ticket in most Major League Baseball cities, you’ll be able to get lower-priced tickets.
How Much Do Baseball Tickets Cost In Chicago?
As you can see, the prices range from one team to the next and from one day to the next, since there are certain days when the demand for tickets is higher. Rivalry games always cost more. Games against the worst teams cost less. The high end tickets in the best seats tend to cost the same from one game to the next, because these are usually for corporate types or the wealthy, and price is generally not an object.
Ticket Type – Lowest Price – Highest Price
- Cincinnati Reds – $9 – $999
- Colorado Rockies – $13 – $999
- L.A. Dodgers – $53 – $999
- Milwaukee Brewers (4th of July) – $65 – $999
- St. Louis Cardinals (July 11) – $85 – $999
- Season Tickets – $3,225 – $25,000
How Much Do Baseball Tickets Cost In Kansas City?
The Kansas City Royals have been a lower-tier teams throughout the 1990′s and 2000′s, so they cannot charge the price for tickets the Yankees or even the Cubs can charge. Their fans can’t scalp their tickets for as much of a price, either. In fact, Royals season ticket packages aren’t even being sold on StubHub, which I can only imagine is because you can buy them cheaper directly from the Kansas City Royals front office. There just isn’t a demand for them in the online market.
Ticket Type – Lowest Price – Highest Price
- Detroit Tigers – $10 – $88
- Boston Red Sox – $20 – $549
- New York Yankees – $67 – $1,099
- Season Tickets – Not Listed
How Much Do Baseball Tickets Cost In New York City?
Notice that Yankees fans can become season-ticket holders for less money than Chicago Cubs fans, because the New York Yankees pride themselves on their passionate fans.
Ticket Type – Lowest Price – Highest Price
- Season Tickets – $1,900 – $40,999
- Oakland A’s (April) – $9 – $10,000-99,999
- Boston Red Sox (August) – $89 – $50,000-99,999
- Cleveland Indians – $268 – $99,999
Looking at these prices, I guess we can see how the New York Yankees can spend $200 million on payroll every year, while teams like the Royals might spend something like 1/7th as much. When you consider that the television money disparity is even greater, you’ll see why the Bronx Bombers have such a competitive advantage over their other competitors. That’s probably why Yankees fans are so upset that their can’t seem to win the World Series anymore, despite having a huge advantage over every other team in the league – even the hated Boston Red Sox, for that matter.
AAA baseball or “Triple A Baseball” is the highest level of minor league baseball. Most players who are on the verge of being moved into Major League Baseball (“the Big Leagues”) will be found playing on a AAA baseball team. AAA teams (and all minor league clubs) are also known as “farm teams”, because they develop the players to be used by a major league franchise. All MLB baseball clubs have their own AAA farm teams.
Triple-A minor league baseball teams are usually found in the largest metropolitan cities without major league baseball teams. The Triple-A baseball season is shorter than the 162-game MLB schedule, with minor league seasons ending before September 1st every year. This allows for minor leaguers from AAA to be called up after September 1 to the expanded “40-man roster”, which allows teams to see how their most talented or promising minor league players look like against real major league competition. Before Sept. 1, major league teams only have 25-man rosters.
What is AAA Baseball and Where Are Triple-A Clubs Found?
There are two AAA baseball leagues where the main AAA farm teams for American League and National League baseball teams are found: the Pacific Coast League and the International League. There is a third league, the Mexican League, that is considered a AAA baseball league, but these 16 baseball teams are not directly linked to MLB franchises. You’ll see that the AAA-ball clubs are often (but not always) relatively close to the major league club, to allow quick call-ups and the ability of the team’s scouts and front office personnel to watch the farm system talent. See the Toronto Blue Jays for an example of a team which definitely does not hold to that philosophy (with its AAA team in Las Vegas).
AAA Baseball Teams and Their Major League Clubs
Pacific Coast League
- Albuquerque Isotopes – Los Angeles Dodgers
- Colorado Springs Sky Sox – Colorado Rockies
- Fresno Grizzlies – San Francisco Giants
- Iowa Cubs – Chicago Cubs
- Las Vegas 51s – Toronto Blue Jays
- Memphis Redbirds – St. Louis Cardinals
- Nashville Sounds – Milwaukee Brewers
- New Orleans Zephyrs – Florida Marlins
- Oklahoma City RedHawks – Texas Rangers
- Omaha Royals – Kansas City Royals
- Portland Beavers – San Diego Padres
- Reno Aces – Arizona Diamondbacks
- Round Rock Express – Houston Astros
- Sacramento River Cats – Oakland Athletics
- Salt Lake Bees – Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim)
- Tacoma Rainiers – Seattle Mariners
- Buffalo Bisons – New York Mets
- Charlotte Knights – Chicago White Sox
- Columbus Clippers – Cleveland Indians
- Durham Bulls – Tampa Bay Rays
- Gwinnett Braves – Atlanta Braves
- Indianapolis Indians – Pittburgh Pirates
- Lehigh Valley IronPigs – Philadelphia Phillies
- Louisville Bats – Cincinnati Reds
- Norfolk Tides – Baltimore Orioles
- Pawtucket Red Sox – Boston Red Sox
- Rochester Red Wings – Minnesota Twins
- Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees – New York Yankees
- Syracuse Chiefs – Washington Nationals
- Toledo Mud Hens – Detroit Tigers
As you’ll notice, some AAA baseball teams have made it into the pop culture. The Durham Bulls were the inspiration for the name of the movie, “Bull Durham”. On the M.A.S.H. television show, Corporal Max Klinger often mentioned he was a Toledo Mud Hens fan.
What is AAA baseball and what do the AA and A designations mean?
The AAA, AA and A designations are meant to designate the level of play of minor league baseball. The more letters, the better the level of play. Often, a young player drafted or signed by a major league club will start in the Single-A farm system, then gain enough experience and skill to move to that club’s Double-A (AA) farm team. After more seasoning, the player will be moved to the AAA baseball club, and on to the major league roster.
Obviously, some players never make it out of one of these designations, and may spend years playing as a minor league baseball player. There are players in AAA baseball who are called AAAA-ballplayers, because they are experienced and skilled enough to be called up by the major league club for emergency fill-in spots (usually due to injury), but are not skilled enough to stay in the major leagues permanently. So-called “Quadruple-A players” are generally less talented than the younger, up-and-coming AAA players, but are older and have more experience in the game of baseball.
There are other designations besides AAA baseball, AA baseball and A baseball. These is the “short-season A-ball”, rookie ball and “rookie-advanced” ball. These are considered for players below the level of A-baseball, and usually for young and raw players to get playing time.
Who is Cristal Taylor?
Cristal Taylor is the Dallas woman at the center of an off-court controversy for an NBA star. Dirk Nowitzki and Cristal Taylor had been living together in Nowitzki’s Preston Hollow home – until she was picked up by the Dallas police for two warrants stemming from a probation violation and a theft charge.
The Dallas Mavericks 30 year old forward has been a huge part of the Mavericks seasons, averaging 26 points and 8 rebounds on 37 minutes of play per game. There had been whispers late in the season about “off court” trouble for the seven foot tall German national – but it wasn’t until the morning of May 6 that the general public found out just what kind of trouble Nowitzki was having.
Apparently, Nowitzki’s relationship with Crystal Taylor has been an issue in the Mavericks locker room and with the Mavericks ownership for some time now. Multiple Dallas Mavericks sources spoke with the media on Thursday to say that “people within the organization cautioned Dirk Nowitzki about his relationship” with Cristal Taylor, who was arrested at the star forward’s home Wednesday morning as the Mavericks were flying back from a playoff loss at Denver. The team sources said Nowitzki’s “own suspicion” prompted him to question Cristal Taylor’s past – after all, Nowitzki was allowing Cristal Taylor to live in his 6 million dollar Preston Hollow home.
Rumors are flying in the Dallas media that Taylor is pregnant with Nowitzki’s child, and that the two were engaged to be married. So far, these sources remain “anonymous” and the pregnancy rumors, as well as the information about their supposed engagement, remains unverified.
Cristal Taylor’s legal troubles started years ago in Missouri. In early 1999, Cristal Taylor was in court to answer to charges that she intentionally passed bad checks in two St. Louis-area counties. She pled guilty to four counts, including forgery and theft, and was sentenced to five years of probation. After moving to Texas and transferring her probation to Texas authorities, Cristal Taylor was once again busted committing theft by check and stopped reporting to her probation officer. The State of Missouri issued a warrant for her arrest on a charge of violating her probation back in 2001, and she has been wanted by the police ever since.
It doesn’t end there. Cristal Taylor allegedly stole checks and credit cards, even using one of the stolen cards to secure thousands of dollars worth of dental work in Beaumont, Texas, a city near the Louisiana border. This led to a charge of “theft of service” in Jefferson County. It is still unclear whether Cristal Taylor faces further charges, as she is still being held in Dallas jail – there is no bail allowed on probation violations.
Cristal Taylor could be looking at prison time for violating the terms of her probation – and that would be just fine with the Dallas Mavericks organization as well as their fans. Much has been made of the controversy and its negative effect on Nowitzki’s play and concentration. Without Dirk Nowitzki, the Dallas Mavericks have little chance of coming back from the 2-0 playoff deficit against the Denver Nuggets.
While most Mavericks fans probably regard the timing of the arrest as a negative, with Dallas trailing Denver in a tough second-round playoff series, Mavericks team sources characterized the news and timing as “good.” Basically, the team saw Cristal Taylor as a divisive influence between Nowitzki and his teammates and even his family members.
Asked to make a comment on Thursday, Nowitzki had little to say about the controversy: “It’s pretty obvious that I’m going through a tough time in my personal life right now. Like I always have, I want to kind of keep my private life private. I really am not at the stage where I can talk about it yet and feel comfortable talking about it. I’m more than happy to answer basketball questions, but I think at this point, I just can’t talk about it.”
Fantasy Football Top Picks
Let’s face it: the top picks in a fantasy football draft are the most important ones. The first couple of rounds are what we spend most of our time obsessing over, joining mock drafts to study, and read about in fantasy football magazines. Every publication and website has its “fantasy football top picks” list, and ESPN NFL Live and SportsCenter training camp reports are going to focus on these guys.
But when you read a fantasy football magazine, you tend to hear all the good things about these guys, and seldom hear why you shouldn’t draft people in the top two rounds. I’m a natural pessimist (call me a “realist”), so the first thing I do when I look at a top fantasy football prospect is to think of reasons why I should avoid this guy. Pessimism can be a real downer in many aspects of life, but it actually serves a fantasy football owner pretty well.
Fantasy Football Rounds 1 and 2.
You look at the Top 24 list of fantasy players from last year, and a whole lot of those guys sucked. Even if they weren’t terrible, their production didn’t warrant being selected in the first or second round of a fantasy football draft. Heck, I’d say that half of the guys drafted in the top two rounds in 2009 were “busts”, or at least disappointments.
Now there are those fantasy football experts who’ll tell you that the middle rounds are where fantasy football leagues are won, and they’re right, to a certain degree. Certainly, you can’t win a fantasy league with just your first and second rounders. But like they say in baseball: you can’t win a division in April, but you can lose a division in April. It’s the same in fantasy football: you can’t make the playoffs in the first two rounds of a fantasy football draft, but you sure can miss the playoffs, if those picks are failures.
With that in mind, we’re going to put all our focus in this article on the top picks in your upcoming 2010 fantasy football draft. Using an “Average Draft Position” or ADP list from a respected website using real data from online 2010 fantasy football drafts that have already happened, I’m going to go over what the first two rounds of redrafts look like this year, then make suggestions where I would like to be selecting in 2010. I’ll discuss each and every player who is being drafted by average draft position in the first 24 picks. I’ll tell you why I wouldn’t draft that player in that position, why I would draft that player in that position, and somewhere in between, you should be able to get good information to make your selection.
After it’s all said and done, I think this discussion should take you through the process of evaluating high picks in fantasy football, and give you some provocative thoughts on the top guys that you can consider – and either accept or dismiss – when you start building your 2010 fantasy football draft lists.
Fantasy Football 1st Round Picks
1. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans
2. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
3. Ray Rice, RB, Ravens
4. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars
5. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans
6. Frank Gore, RB, Niners
7. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
8. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
9. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
10. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions
11. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
12. Michael Turner, RB, Falcons
Fantasy Football 2nd Round Picks
13. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers
14. Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts
15. Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys
16. Brandon Marshall, WR, Dolphins
17. Roddy White, WR, Falcons
18. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers
19. DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles
20. Peyton Manning, QB, Colts
21. Randy Moss, WR, Vikings
22. Greg Jennings, WR, Packers
23. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs
24. Shonn Green, RB, Jets
Give Me the 12th Pick
I think I could start a pretty good fantasy football team with Michael Turner and Rashard Mendenhall at 12 & 13. Sometimes, those picks look awful, but I’d be pretty satisfied. Of course, Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene look like a good combo, too. The same goes for Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles, too.
This appears to me to be a pretty deep draft in the top rounds. I think the teams with high 3rd-round selections might have an advantage, since there are a number of 2nd-round talents falling into the third. Look at the next group of players on the ADP list.
Ryan Matthews, RB, San Diego Chargers
Sidney Rice, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints
Chris Wells, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers
I would be pretty thrilled drafting any of those six players as a third rounder, despite having some qualms about Beanie Wells (Hightower is still technically the starter, though I’m sure that changes by Week 1). But you could feel pretty good drafting DeSean Jackson, Randy Moss or Greg Jennings in the low-2nd, knowing some good runner has to fall to you in the 3rd.
Chris Johnson – Running Back – Tennessee Titans
Why You Shouldn’t Draft Chris Johnson #1 – Chris Johnson had about as big of a year in 2009 as any fantasy owner can hope to expect. Unless you were an absolute idiot GM, Chris Johnson at the very least assured you made the playoffs. But as I always say: they call them career years for a reason.
I’d be willing to bet a whole lot of money that Chris Johnson never has another year like 2009. That still leaves a lot of room for excellence, but there are good reasons to expect a disappointment from Chris Johnson in 2010. Between rushing attempts and catches, CJ had over 400 touches last year. That’s a tremendous workload for any back, and it’s especially large for a guy who was considered smallish coming into the NFL.
Sure, Chris Johnson has proven he can be an every down back in the NFL, but this goes beyond that. The mythical 370+ rushes plateau wasn’t technically hit, since Johnson only rushed 350 times in 2009. But his 50+ receptions mean he went significantly over 370 tackles, which take a toll on a running back. Statistics show that backs with that kind of workload just aren’t as good the next year. They tend to get nagging injuries. Some have major injuries. Even those who play 16 games tend to less explosive. They just look slower out there.
That happened to Michael Turner in 2009. It happened to Matt Forte, too. Both had the biggest workloads of 2008, with 370+ combined touches. Factor in the fact that Chris Johnson is considering a holdout – training camp holdouts also raise the risk of injury – and there are good reasons not to take Chris Johnson #1 in 2010.
Why You Should Draft Chris Johnson #1 – No, duh. Do you want to be the guy who doesn’t take CJ #1 overall, only to see him be the first guy in NFL history gain 2,000 yards? This is as close to a no-brainer pick as you’ll ever get in a fantasy football draft. Chris Johnson proved he was an absolute stud, performing when the Tennessee Titans were on their long losing streak, then performing when they went on their winning streak. Chris Johnson is more of a lynchpin for the Titans than any RB in the NFL right now.
Chris Johnson is the offense in Tennessee. He’s not splitting carries, like Adrian Peterson has at times in years past. He’s on a better team than Maurice-Jones Drew or Stephen Jackson. Chris Johnson doesn’t have the injury history of Frank Gore. Chris Johnson is clearly the #1 player in fantasy football coming into 2010. Take him with a clean conscience, and if things don’t pan out, then it just wasn’t in the cards.
Adrian Peterson – Running Back – Minnesota Vikings
Why You Shouldn’t Draft Adrian Peterson #2 – It always comes down to injuries with the running backs. There’s no bigger stud in the NFL right now than Adrian Peterson. But when Peterson came into the NFL out of OU, he had the injury-prone tag. Anyone remember that dive into the endzone that effectively ended Adrian Peterson’s college career?
In his 3 NFL seasons, Adrian Peterson has been remarkably healthy, considering the question marks at the time he was drafted. But he’s also had Chester Taylor as a reliable backup in Minnesota all this time. While Taylor took 3rd down production and a few TDs throughout the year (sometimes making Peterson’s fantasy owners crazy), Chester Taylor’s presence helped Adrian Peterson stay healthy and primed to perform. Now Taylor is gone in free agency to the division rival Chicago Bears, and Peterson looks like he’s going to shoulder the workload more than at any other time in his NFL career.
That isn’t a good thing. Toby Gerhart doesn’t look like a replacement for Chester Taylor, since Gerhart goes at 230-235 lbs. It’s Peterson’s show on 1st, 2nd and 3rd down, every down, as long as he lasts. The Vikings play an awful lot of games on turf, which is harder on players than grass.
You and I know, sooner or later, it’s going to happen. Running backs only last so long, and the big, upright runners like Adrian Peterson are always the first to go. Don’t be the one who’s stuck with Peterson when it happens.
Why You Should Draft Adrian Peterson #2 – Adrian Peterson is the lone guy in Minnesota for the first time. He’s going to get every touch, every reception, every down for the Vikings. Otherwise, the situation hasn’t changed in Minnesota.
We all know that Brett Favre will be back sometime in the latter stages of training camp. If anything, the receiving corps should be better, with Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin given an extra year to gain experience with Favre, and with Bernard Berrian healthier than a year ago. The Defense is going to be as stout as ever, with Jared Allen, Pat Williams and Kevin Williams still anchoring the most imposing defensive line in football.
The Vikings are ready to make another deep run in 2010. This is the year it all comes together. This should be Adrian Peterson’s career year. Don’t worry about injuries until they happen. It’s time for Adrian Peterson to peak.
Ray Rice – Running Back – Baltimore Ravens
Why You Shouldn’t Draft Ray Rice – Ray Rice surprised a lot of people in 2009, and a lot of people grabbed a nice sleeper in the 5th to 7th rounds, depending on how early your league draft was. I saw Willis McGahee go off the board before Ray Rice in one league (granted, not a league I’m too proud of winning), which told me it was time to grab the Baltimore Ravens starter. Through the first four weeks of the season, Ray Rice was getting all the production, and Willis McGahee led the NFL with 7 touchdowns. From Week 5 on, Ray Rice was about as good as you could get in fantasy football.
In 2010, the Baltimore Ravens are going to have some new pieces to add into the mix. Anquan Boldin dictates an expanded passing game. The development of Joe Flacco in his 3rd year suggests an expansion of the passing game, too. It’s time to let the young franchise quarterback take over more of a leadership role on offense.
Meanwhile, the Ravens Defense is getting older. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are starting to look the part of old NFL players, while the Baltimore Defense continues to evolve beyond the unit Rex Ryan was building up until he left 18 months ago. When a defense starts to falter, that almost always hurts the numbers of a running back.
Why You Should Draft Ray Rice – Oh, who am I kidding here? Ray Rice is about as safe of a draft pick as you can make in 2010. He’s only been an NFL contributor for 1 year. As far as running backs go, he’s as likely as any to stay healthy. Ray Rice has Willis McGahee and Leron McClain to spell him, so it’s not like he’s going to be worn to the nub.
And the Ravens are as well-run a franchise as their is in the NFL, under the guidance of Ozzie Newsome. The Baltimore Ravens have a young quarterback, additional firepower on offense, and there’s little to suggest they are going to falter in the AFC North. In fact, with Ben Roethlisberger out 4-6 weeks due to suspension, and the division champion Cincinnati Bengals almost certain not to go 6-0 against the AFC North again, I would say the Ravens have a better outlook in 2010, than in 2009.
In fact, I saw Ray Rice go #1 in a mock draft earlier tonight. I’m not so sure that isn’t a good idea. Chris Johnson worked miracles last year, but he’s on a worse offense and is coming off a huge load. Adrian Peterson has had two more seasons of full NFL pounding. I finish where I started: Ray Rice is about as safe of a pick as their is among 2010′s 1st round running backs.
Maurice Jones-Drew – Running Back – Jacksonville Jaguars
Why You Shouldn’t Draft – No matter how durable he’s been, Maurice Jones-Drew is still listed as 5’7″. You know how they tend to exaggerate the height of the small guys in the NFL. By any standards, Maurice Jones-Drew is a diminutive NFL player. Sooner or later, that has to catch up to him.
Besides that, the Jacksonville Jaguars are a team in crisis in 2010. They are imploring fans to show up at games, afraid they’ll have to leave the area. David Garrard is 32 and still hasn’t developed into the franchise quarterback they always hoped he would become. Mike Sims-Walker showed promise in 2009, but he also showed he’s a little crazy, after he was suspended the day of the Seattle Seahawks game. The Jags high round defensive picks haven’t been showing a whole lot in recent years, so what makes you think the new additions will be any better?
In the end, Maurice Jones-Drew is a small back carrying the full load on a bad team. The bottom could drop out in 2010.
Why You Should Draft Maurice Jones-Drew – Jones-Drew has always carried a chip on his shoulder about the height issue. He’s also about as wide as he is tall, and that’s a good thing. Maurice Jones-Drew has shown he’s a sturdy NFL runner, and it was years before Brian Westbrook, a similar player, began to wear down. Jones-Drew is still only 25. Besides, Jacksonville plays on grass, which reduces the risk of injury.
Besides that, Maurice Jones-Drew was statistically the #2 RB in many scoring formats in 2009, edging out Adrian Peterson in many systems. That was on a pretty bad Jaguars team. The Jags aren’t likely to be any worse this year. You’ve seen Maurice Jones-Drew perform to big standards in a worst-case scenario. All of the other RBs’s teams at the top of the draft have farther to fall than MJD’s.
Andre Johnson – Wide Receiver – Houston Texans
Why You Shouldn’t Draft Andre Johnson #5 – Never draft a wide receiver this high in a draft. Andre Johnson is great, but there are still top running backs to draft. The difference in the #5 running back and the #15 running back is stark. The difference in Andre Johnson and the #11 wide receiver just isn’t as big of a gap. The gap gets even wider as you go down 10 more spots.
The fact is, the wide receiver position is always deeper than the running backs. If there’s a top tier running back left on the board, you draft him. Frank Gore might not be as new and exciting as some of the guys further up the list, but he averaged as many points a game as Ray Rice in 2009 and Gore’s team is likely to improve even more in 2010, which usually helps an RBs numbers.
I’m not going to tell you that Andre Johnson isn’t great. He’s an absolute stud. But let me leave you with this. Matt Schaub has always been a little injury prone. In fact, he’s almost certain to get injured at some point in the season. And when he does, you’ll still be depending on Andre Johnson to be a 1st round difference maker, so much better than the other WRs that he’s worth drafting that high. In that moment, Texans backup QB Dan Orlovsky will hold your fantasy season in the palm of his hands.
Why You Should Draft Andre Johnson #5 – There is an ebb-and-flow to NFL careers. NFL players tend to enter their prime at age 26, and tend to stay in their prime until age 29 or 30. Those numbers shift down a couple of years, if you’re a running back. But for a 29-year old wide receiver like Andre Johnson, this is the prime of his life. He’ll never be any better than he is right now.
Often, a whole roster of players follow this ebb-and-flow. That’s the way it is with the Houston Texans. The team has slowly been building up a stock of NFL-caliber players over the past few years, slowly gathering a team capable of challenging the Indianapolis Colts. Every year, they play the Colts in tough games, only to fall short in the waning moments. But every year, the Colts stars get a little older. Every year, the Texans build the foundation a little stronger; their key players get a little more experienced.
Now, Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson have had time to grow into the players they are now. In 2010, they might be the most lethal QB-WR combo in football. 2010 is the year for the Houston Texans to break through and, if they do it, Andre Johnson has to be the #1 wide receiver in football. This is his year.
Frank Gore – Running Back – San Francisco 49ers
Why You Shouldn’t Draft Frank Gore – Frank Gore came into the NFL as an injury risk. Through 5 NFL seasons, Frank Gore has accumulated 1,392 combined touches (rushing attempts, receptions). He’s been a highly productive player, but that kind of workload has to take a toll on a runner. Now at age 27, Frank Gore is starting to enter the danger zone for NFL running backs. Any year could be the year.
The San Francisco 49ers front office seems to sense the same thing. The Niners brass drafted rookie RB Glenn Coffee in 2009. The team added rookie RB Anthony Dixon in the 2010 Draft. The Niners are preparing for the worst, because they know what you should know – 27 is leaning towards old for an NFL ball carrier.
Why You Should Draft Frank Gore – If you’re in a redraft league, you have nothing to worry about. If you had Gore as a keeper or in a dynasty league, you should be considering trading him this year sometime. But for a redraft, he’s fine and ready to go. In fact, he’s better than that.
The San Francisco 49ers play in one of the weakest divisions in football, getting four games against the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams. The Arizona Cardinals continue to win the division, but they are hardly what you consider an imposing defense. The Niners also get the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the schedule. Not only are those teams easy matchups, but that also means the 49ers are playing a lot of games on grass this season, which should help Gore’s chances of staying healthy.
This is the Niners year. That means Gore should get more touchdown opportunities. It also means he should rack up more yards in the 4th quarter against tired defenses.
Larry Fitzgerald – Wide Receiver – Arizona Cardinals
Why You Shouldn’t Draft Larry Fitzgerald in the 1st Round – Two words: Matt Leinart. The Larry Fitzgerald you knew may no longer be. Kurt Warner is retired, so Fitz has lost a Hall of Fame caliber passer. That’s a huge loss for his career, because Matt Leinart never has shown he can be a consistent NFL quarterback. Actually, that might be giving Leinart too much credit. Consistency suggests he’s good some of the time. Matt Leinart hasn’t shown he can be an effective NFL passer.
Besides that, Anquan Boldin is gone to Baltimore. That means opposing defenses are going to be able to focus on Larry Fitzgerald exclusively in their game plannning. While Steve Breaston and Early Doucet have talent, they simply don’t have the accomplishments of Anquan Boldin. Teams are going to blanket Larry Fitzgerald, daring Matt Leinart to beat them throwing to the other guys.
On top of that, Chris “Beanie” Wells should continue to develop. I get the suspicion that Ken Whisenhunt would like to turn the Cardinals into more of a running team, like the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise that Whisenhunt came from to Arizona. His remedy for the Matt Leinart concerns is likely to build a strong running game around Chris Wells and Tim Hightower. All of this spells a drop in Fitzgerald’s production.
Why You Should Draft Larry Fitzgerald in the 1st Round – Some players are just excellent. Double teams don’t matter. Mediocre quarterbacks don’t matter. Some players rise above it all, succeeding despite the odds stacked against them. Larry Fitzgerald is one of those talents.
I’m not arguing that the Cardinals Offense might not be the juggernaut that it once was. But the Cardinals Offense can falter and Larry Fitzgerald is still capable of putting up huge numbers. In fact, Leinart is likely to turn to Fitzgerald as his security blanket, forcing the ball into the tall wideout when Warner would have looked elsewhere. There’s nothing to say that Fitzgerald can’t continue to post huge fantasy numbers.
Besides, just because Matt Leinart wasn’t as good as Kurt Warner, doesn’t mean he can’t still be an effective NFL passer. Given a chance, he might show some of the talent that made him a Top 10 NFL Draft pick. And if he stinks it up, the Cardinals can always bring in Derek Anderson, who is known for throwing the deep ball well. What does it matter to Fitz’s fantasy stats, if Anderson throws a few interceptions along the way?
Aaron Rodgers – Quarterback – Green Bay Packers
Why You Shouldn’t Draft in the 1st Round – No quarterback is worth a #1 draft pick. The difference between Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees is slight. The difference between Aaron Rodgers and the #10 quarterback still isn’t that much. It’s just not worth it to draft a quarterback this high. Grab a solid RB or a stud WR instead, then grab the #6 QB three rounds later and be happy.
Aaron Rodgers has taken a beating these past two years, anyway. With the Packers ragged offensive line, Aaron Rodgers has hit the dirt a whole lot of times. He has weapons in Jennings, Driver and Finley, I’ll grant you that, but all these dropbacks means he’s getting dropped way too much. The Vikings Defense is going to be as fierce as it was in 2009, and the Chicago Bears pass rush should be much improved with Julius Peppers’ addition.
It might be different if Ryan Grant was a difference maker at running back. But despite good production in the fantasy playoffs in 2009, Ryan Grant isn’t a guy who is going to take the pressure of a pass rush off a young quarterback. Is it worth putting your season on the line for any QB?
Why You Should Draft Aaron Rodgers in the 1st Round – Aaron Rodgers put up huge numbers in 2009, and he’s still only 26. The 2009 campaign was with injuries up and down the offensive line, with a sub-par year from Greg Jennings, and a rookie dealing with nagging injuries in Jermichael Finley. All three of those factors should be improved in 2010.
In fact, Jermichael Finley is ready to break out as a tight end, if he didn’t in his rookie season. The Packers addressed the offensive line in the offseason, though it should improve just from an offseason to heal. And if the Packers o-line is improved, that means the Packers deep threat, Greg Jennings, should have time to run the kind of routes he excels at. Aaron Rodgers is just coming into his prime, and there’s every reason to think he’s going to be better in 2010 than he was in 2009. Aaron Rodgers is clearly the #1 QB in fantasy football.
Steven Jackson – Running Back – St. Louis Rams
Why You Shouldn’t Draft Steven Jackson – Two years ago, I had Steven Jackson pegged as a large ball carrier who ran upright and, as a result, had a lot of injury concerns. Jackson has been relatively healthy for a couple of years now, which is a major plus. But in the intervening two seasons, the St. Louis Rams have gone to being arguably the worst team in the NFL. To his credit Steven Jackson has been able to fight through the bad cast around him to put up 1st round fantasy football numbers. But I wonder when he stops beating the odds.
If you’re played fantasy football awhile, you know that running backs off of poor teams can put up solid numbers, but they aren’t likely to put up #1 overall numbers. That means Steven Jackson has a lower ceiling than someone like Adrian Peterson or Ray Rice. RBs on bad teams aren’t going to get as many touchdown opportunities, and they aren’t going to be on the field for as much time in a game. Jackson counteracts those facts with good reception totals and an all-around fantasy-friendly game. But a running back on a bad team just isn’t going to be as consistent, because there are going to be several games where the offense gets completely shut down.
In 2010, Sam Bradford enters the discussion. That means help is on the way. Unfortunately, most NFL rookie quarterbacks struggle. It’s not like Sam Bradford takes over a playoff contender the way Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco and Marc Sanchez did their rookie years. The best you can hope for is a Matt Ryan situation, where the QB transforms the situation. Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to happen in St. Louis. More than likely, by the time Sam Bradford is ready to lead the Rams, Steven Jackson is going to be winding down his fine career.
In the end, Steven Jackson represents a big runner who is racking up serious totals on receptions and rushes in his career, who is playing on a bad team. It’s bound to happen that he wears down, since big guys get hit more often and more solidly than smaller guys. That may not be this year, but I wouldn’t recommend betting on Steven Jackson.
Why You Should Draft Steven Jackson – Once again, you’ve seen this guy perform under the worst situation you could imagine him being involved in. The Rams have been awful later, yet Steven Jackson continues to produce big fantasy numbers. And while Sam Bradford might not be ready to lead the Rams to a Superbowl in 2010, that’s not the point. All Sam Bradford has to be is better than the Rams’ QB situation the last several seasons, when Marc Bulger couldn’t stay healthy and the team was relying on the likes of Kyle Boller and his ilk.
If Sam Bradford improves the QB position with the Rams, then the Rams are going to be better in 2010. The offensive situation is going to be better. Even some improvement dictates that Steven Jackson could improve on his numbers from 2009, which weren’t bad. Steven Jackson is still only 26, so put those injury concerns away for another year or two.
Calvin Johnson – Wide Receiver – Detroit Lions
Why You Shouldn’t Draft in the 1st Round – If you had Calvin Johnson in 2009, you’re not likely to be drafting him in the 1st round in 2010. That’s always a sign of where a player’s value lies, is to see if his owners from last year would want to draft him in the same place again.
Don’t get me wrong: Calvin Johnson has all the tools to be an NFL superstar. Most of his problems from a year ago stem from nagging injuries that lasted all year, along with injuries to his talented young QB later in the season. But what if Calvin Johnson’s injuries last year are an indication of a bigger problem? What if Stafford’s are? Either could derail a comeback campaign by Megatron.
Here’s the question: do you really want to trust your season to a Detroit Lion? That’s what you do if you draft Calvin Johnson in the 1st round of your draft. At the very least, hold off and draft this guy as your 2nd rounder.
Why You Should Draft Calvin Johnson – Once Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson have an offseason to get healthy, the two should return as one of the most dynamic young QB/WR combinations in football. Calvin Johnson should have had his breakout year in 2009, but injuries got in the way. It’s something to be saying “breakout”, when you say that Calvin Johnson had 12 touchdowns in 2008. Those are huge numbers for a 2nd year receiver.
Once Stafford and Johnson have a chance to get on the same page, they should be able to match that number in 2010. Also consider that the Lions added Jahvid Best, which should help distract defenses from focusing entirely on Calvin Johnson. To help bolster the offense and give Matt Stafford more options, the Detroit front office also brought in Nate Burleson and Tony Scheffler in the offseason. Slowly but surely, the Detroit Lions are putting together a team that isn’t a complete mess. If they can ever get to average, Calvin Johnson’s talent should make him a Top 3 fantasy receiver.
Drew Brees – Quarterback – New Orleans Saints
Why You Shouldn’t Draft Drew Brees in the 1st Round – Teams that win the Superbowl usually don’t make a return. Something happens along the way. Teams on top tend to fall off the top, and quickly. Maybe it’s a Superbowl hangover. Maybe it’s lingering controversy from the illegal drug scandal. Maybe the Saints Defense returns to being the Achilles heel it’s been in years past. Or maybe it’s what often gets teams: too many injuries after a year with 19 or 20 games.
Whatever the case, you can bet the Saints 2010 season isn’t going to be as good or as dominating as their 2009 season. Often, a Superbowl champ doesn’t even win its division the next season. The quickest way for the New Orleans Saints to falter is if Drew Brees falters somehow, either through injury or ineffectiveness. Since recent history suggests ineffectivness isn’t likely, a 30+ Drew Brees could flirt with injury again, like he did in his last season with the Chargers.
That’s idle speculation, though. The real reason you don’t want to draft Drew Brees in the first round of a fantasy draft is that quarterbacks just aren’t worth it. Far better to add a top WR or a stud RB at this spot, then grab an elite QB two or three rounds later. Elite runners won’t be there in the 4th or 5th, but elite passers will be.
Why You Should Draft Drew Brees in the 1st Round – Drew Brees has been the best fantasy football quarterback over the past 4 seasons. That means he’s had four combined better seasons than Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. He’s simply been the best during his time with the New Orleans Saints – bar none.
Nothing has changed for 2010. The Saints still have Marques Colston and Reggie Bush. The Saints have Pierre Thomas and Jeremy Shockey. Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson stepped up in 2009, while Lance Moore should be healthy for the first time since 2008. Drew Brees is only 31, while the line and defense are largely intact. Nothing has changed for Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
I could see drafting Aaron Rodgers as the rising star, especially since Rodgers had the best numbers in 2009 (but only arguably, since Brees didn’t play Week 17). I could see drafting Peyton Manning for the incredible consistency over a decade of work. But in a league where three years is a lifetime, Drew Brees has been the best of the bunch over that period of time.
Michael Turner – Running Back – Atlanta Falcons
Why You Shouldn’t Draft Michael Turner in the 1st Round – Michael Turner is 28. He’s a big running back who takes a lot of solid hit. He didn’t bounce back from the 376+ touches he had back in 2008. He was injured much of the season, and didn’t look so hot much of the season when he was healthy. Or maybe you’re in a point-per-reception league. Since Michael Turner gets about 10 receptions per year in a good year, you have to downgrade him in receptions leagues.
So there you have it: age, injury concerns, and no receptions. Add in the fact that Matt Ryan is in his third year and that he’s naturally going to take a bigger role in the offense, and there are reasons to be concerned about Michael Turner’s fitness to be a 1st rounder in 2010.
Why You Should Draft Michael Turner in the 1st Round – The most important fact about Michael Turner is he’s the sole ball carrier in Atlanta. Jerious Norwood can’t stay healthy long enough to contribute, and never got more than sporadic carries when he was healthy. Jason Snelling is more of a fullback type, though he filled in admirably when Turner and Norwood were both out of the picture in 2009. But when everyone is healthy and ready to go, Michael Turner gets the lion’s share of the carries. There just aren’t that many runners in the NFL you can say that about.
As for the age factor, Michael Turner is a special case. He’s 28, but he’s also been an NFL starter for only 2 years. A large part of being a late-20′s running back in the NFL is about the amount of carries accumulated. Think about it? Players don’t hit the wall at other NFL positions at age 29. Players don’t hit the wall in other sports at age 29. It isn’t the age; it’s the workload. Michael Turner hasn’t had nearly the carries that most 28 year old RBs have, which conventional wisdom tells you is getting old.
So Michael Turner should be good-to-go for 2010. He’s on a playoff contender which continues to improve its defense, meaning Turner should be on the field a whole lot more than in 2009. Sure, I don’t like the lack of receptions, which is why turner isn’t a higher 1st round pick. But when Michael Turner is clicking, he’s going to make up for that shortcoming with touchdowns.
Rashard Mendenhall – Running Back – Pittsburgh Steelers
Why You Shouldn’t Draft Rashard Mendenhall – Ben Roethlisberger is out for the first 4 weeks of the NFL season for sure, and possibly for 6 weeks. Almost half of Rashard Mendenhall’s regular season (fantasy season) production is going to be tied to either Dennis Dixon or Byron Leftwich. Then remember that Santonio Holmes is gone, and Limas Sweed is out for the season already. So is the Steelers starting right tackle. Their line hasn’t been so great for two years, which makes it miraculous they won the Superbowl a year and a half ago. Mendenhall’s numbers were inconsistent at times last year, because of the line’s inconsistency.
Meanwhile, Rashard Mendenhall’s NFL career has been spotty, so far. He made it through half of a game as a starter his rookie season, before a shoulder injury put him out for the year. That might seem like ages ago, but Mendenhall has only made it through 1 of 2 NFL campaigns. Consider that the front office drafted Jonathan Dwyer, a rookie who was being touted as a possible 1st round NFL Draft selection only a year ago. Dwyer is big, though not very fast. That kind of runner has flourished in Pittsburgh before. While I’m not suggesting Rashard Mendenhall has to worry about his starting job (he doesn’t), the departure of Fast Willie Parker doesn’t necessarily mean Mendenhall gets every carry.
Why You Should Draft Rashard Mendenhall – The Steelers are going to need to win with defense and a running game until Ben Roethlisberger returns. That means the Steelers are going to lean heavily on Mendenhall in the early stages of the season. If it works, then Mendenhall could easily remain the focus for the offense, even when Ben Roethlisberger returns. That’s the way NFL teams go: units get chemistry and they go with that chemistry.
Even if the Steelers have a rough start, Roethlisberger will be back for the home stretch and the fantasy playoffs. That’s when you need him to come through big time. Until then, you still have Mendenhall healthy, so there’s nothing that says he can’t be productive enough to be worth a late-1st, early-2nd round selection.
Reggie Wayne – Wide Receiver – Indianapolis Colts
Why You Shouldn’t Draft Reggie Wayne – Reggie Wayne is 31 now and he’s had some nagging injuries in recent years. Besides, Dallas Clark is in his prime and he soaks up a huge percentage of the receptions. Between Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, and Anthony Gonzales, the Colts have plenty of other weapons for Peyton Manning. As much as in the Marvin Harrison years, Reggie Wayne has plenty of other receivers to contend with. Back when Harrison was in his halcyon years, Reggie Wayne was being drafted in the 3rd round. Now he’s a consistent early 2nd rounder. Is he worth it?
You’re probably answering that question with a “yes”. But remember that the Colts are just as likely to be resting starters in the final weeks of the season, when you need those guys for your fantasy playoffs. Consider that Reggie Wayne is getting into his thirties, has plenty of other weapons to wolf production, and has concerns late in the season, and surely you can find a receiver more worthy.
Why You Should Draft Reggie Wayne – On the other hand, Reggie Wayne is the main receiver on the Indianapolis Colts offense, so you’re getting a hand on a large percentage of Peyton Manning’s production. Also, the unbeaten Colts streak is a bit of a fluke. You can’t account for which team or teams are going to go 14-0 in a season, though I would bet it won’t happen again in 2010 – especially with the Colts accomplishing that feat.
Reggie Wayne is one of the best receivers in football. His quarterback, Peyton Manning, is arguably the best QB. The Colts are one of the best offenses. That’s all you really need to know. Reggie Wayne is a pretty good bet to put up huge numbers in ’10.
Miles Austin – Wide Receiver – Dallas Cowboys
Why You Shouldn’t Draft Miles Austin in the 2nd Round – Miles Austin caught the league by surprise in 2009. Defensive coordinators weren’t gameplanning for him. In the latter stages of the season, teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins tried double-teaming him late in the season, and this had a serious effect on Miles Austin’s production in those games. In Austin’s defense, opposing defenses has nothing to worry about from the other receiver on the field (Roy Williams), who was being covered by every team’s fat kid. But the point holds true: Miles Austin is facing an entirely different defensive arrangement in 2010.
Besides that, Miles Austin seems to have gone Hollywood. He’s dating Kim Kardashian, fresh off the Reggie Bush experiment. Beyond that, Miles Austin is bucking for a long term contract, since he waited weeks and weeks beyond most of the players to sign his one-year tender offer. Despite the feel-good ’09 season, things could be better in Dallas, where Austin missed time as the voluntary workouts.
Then there’s Roy Williams. Jerry Jones has inexplicably announced that #11 is going to be the starting flanker opposite Miles Austin, meaning defenses have little to worry about across the field, despite the inclusion of Dez Bryant to the roster.
Why You Should Draft Miles Austin in the 2nd – Speaking of Dez Bryant, the Cowboys have a new weapon to add to the mix. We all know Bryant replaces Williams at some point. The situation isn’t exactly the way it was in 2009, when it was often Jason Witten and Austin and not much else. As far as Witten goes, the All-Pro tight end had what goes for a “down year” for him, so he should add more for defenses to consider coming this year.
Felix Jones finally stayed healthy long enough to put together several solid games in December and the playoffs. This should act as a springboard for him to become the starter, adding further punch to the offense. Even if Marion Barber and Felix Jones get dinged up during the season, the Cowboys still have Tashard Choice, so their running game should take pressure off Miles Austin. And what of Miles Austin himself?
Well, the Cowboys have been lining him up in the slot in O.T.A.s, which hides him from the double-team and pits him against a #3 cornerback on key plays. Dallas knows that teams are going to be gameplanning Miles Austin, and they’re making preparations. Besides, Tony Romo is a pretty good quarterback, so he and Miles Austin should be able to beat a few double-teams here or there, anyway.
As far as Kim Kardashian goes, the Kardashians are a good-luck charm. Think about it: Kim with Reggie Bush and Khloe married to Lamar Odom. That looks like 3-for-3 in world titles. So Dallas Cowboys fans should be saying: bring on the Kardashians. Maybe Miles should introduce Tony Romo to Kourtney.
Brandon Marshall – Wide Receiver – Miami Dolphins
Why You Shouldn’t Draft Brandon Marshall – Brandon Marshall is among the most talented wide receivers in football. I’m certain he’s glad to be out of Denver, where Josh McDaniels is convinced the Broncos don’t need a prima donna receiver (though they turned around and drafted a receiver the Broncs described as “like Brandon Marshall”). So he goes to the Dolphins, known for the Wildcat Offense and a two-headed running back monster named Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.
I wonder what Brandon Marshall is going to be doing all those plays the Dolphins are going to run without a quarterback. Maybe he’ll be loafing, like he did in the training camp practices that got him suspended by the team. I’m sure Brandon Marshall antics are going to go over well with Tony Spurano and Bill Parcells.
That’s my point: Brandon Marshall to the no-nonsense, run-first Dolphins seems like ill-fitting parts to me. Maybe the Dolphins completely change their offensive philosophy in 2010, unleashing the Chad Henne/Brandon Marshall combo. Maybe that happens, or maybe Brandon Marshall doesn’t get enough balls to be a 3rd rounder. In my mind, I might take a shot on Marshall in the 3rd, but not the 2nd.
Why You Should Draft Brandon Marshall – On the other hand, teams in the NFL usually don’t take the extra effort to trade for a player, only to knowingly waste his talents. So Bill Parcells and Tony Spurano probably decided they needed a #1 wide receiver and were happy to get one cheap from the Broncos. That could mean the Dolphins are ready to become 2-dimensional. Besides, even running teams often have enough production for one stud receiver, if he’s talented enough.
Chad Henne is still developing, but his development speeds up significantly with a big, strong receiver who gets plenty of run-after-catch yards. In fact, if you have a quarterback you’re not sure can be the big-time, big-play type, the best thing you can do for him is to collect receivers who give you plenty of REC yards. Like I mentioned earlier, I’d feel more comfortable with Brandon Marshall as my “3rd best player”, but he’s a huge NFL talent with big upside.
Roddy White – Wide Receiver – Atlanta Falcons
Why You Shouldn’t Draft Roddy White – Roddy White was battling injuries in the second half of 2009, which limited his production. In fact, that was a common theme with the Falcons Offense, since Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and Jerious Norwood each had significant injuries. Sometimes, injuries become a chronic problem with a team. That could be the case with the Falcons.
The problem isn’t drafting Roddy White. It’s drafting Roddy White in the right spot. You’ll probably have to get him middle-to-low 2nd round, but is he worth that lofty spot in the draft? Roddy White has put up 3 pretty good years, but would you rather have him than Anquan Boldin? Marques Colston? Steve Smith the Younger? DeSean Freaking Jackson? I don’t think so.
Why You Should Draft Roddy White – Of course, none of those players have put up three straight years quite like Roddy White has. You get the idea Anquan Boldin and Marques Colston would, but both of those guys have had bigger injury concerns than Roddy White. The Giants Steve Smith looked great last year, but he’s only done it one year, and Hakeem Nicks might overtake him as the man in New York this year.
While DeSean Jackson has looked great his first two years in the NFL, that was with Donovan McNabb throwing to him. I think Kevin Kolb should be able to do over 16 games what he did in 2 as a starter last year, but you never really know, until the player does it. So of all the guys listed, Roddy White is the surest prospect. Draft without reservations.
DeAngelo Williams – Running Back – Carolina Panthers
Why You Shouldn’t Draft DeAngelo Williams – Two words: Jonathan Stewart. Jonathan Stewart came on at the end of last year, making a case that he should be the Panthers’ main man at running back. At the same time, DeAngelo Williams started to wear down and get injured. It’s possible that was an early sign of what’s to come in 2010 and beyond. You just never know how much of a pounding a RB can take, and Williams has never been an imposing runner.
Along with those considerations, the Carolina Panthers Offense is without veteran Jake Delhomme. They’re going to have Matt Moore or rookie Jimmy Clausen at the helm, and that might not be a good thing to begin with. Sure, their rushing attack is powerful, but how long can one mid-level offense support two fantasty football running back studs.
If someone has to suffer, it could be Williams. Jonathan Stewart is coming into his third year and, for the first time in the NFL, he is pain-free in the foot. Offseason surgery helped relieve a chronic Achilles ache that had plagued Stewart for 2 NFL seasons. So Stewart is ready to take over the duties. Last year, it was 60/40 in favor of Williams. This year, it could be 60/40 in favor of Stewart.
Why You Should Draft DeAngelo Williams – But there’s a lot to be said for a team with two running backs. It’s a simple fact that it should keep both fresh, while giving DeAngelo Williams the best chance to stay healthy. John Fox loves to run the ball, and the Carolina Panthers are good at it. This year, they should rely on the running game more than ever.
Julius Peppers is gone, so running protects a defense that might be shaky to begin with. Steve Smith broke his arm, so it’s possible the passing game is a little slow to gel. Jake Delhomme is gone (and was pretty ineffective, anyway), so one of two young QBs should need RB protection with a strong ground game. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are going to share carries, but that could be good for both of them. Maybe it hurts their consistency, as you can’t tell which one is scoring 3 TDs this week. But at least your RB will have a chance.
You should be thrilled to draft DeAngelo Williams this low.
DeSean Jackson – Wide Receiver – Philadelphia Eagles
Why You Shouldn’t Draft DeSean Jackson – Given his first two brilliant years in the NFL, the only reason to be concerned about drafting Desean Jackson in ’10 is concern over Kevin Kolb. The weapons on the Eagles are immense, led by Jackson, Brent Celek and Jeremy Maclin. But the team has a brand new quarterback, after Donovan McNabb had manned the position for 10 years.
Now Eagles fans never seemed to like McNabb very much, which always mystified me. Sure, he “didn’t win the big one”, but Donovan McNabb was by far the Eagles most successful QB in the Superbowl Era. Jaworski got you to your only other Superbowl, but McNabb got you to a Superbowl and 5 total NFC Championship Games. In one stretch, Donovan McNabb got the Eagles to 5 out of 8 championship games, and McNabb went on I.R. two of the other three years. So 5 of the 6 years he was on his feet in those years, McNabb got you to the title game. I guess McNabb was the Danny White of the Philadelphia Eagles (never winning the big one), but Eagles fans didn’t have Staubach and Aikman to compare him against.
Regardless, Kevin Kolb steps into big shoes. He was great in two games filling in for Donovan McNabb, but then, Scott Mitchell looked great once filling in for Dan Marino for a few games. The point being, two games do not make a career. Until you see how Kolb performs as the unchallenged starter, you just don’t know what DeSean Jackson can do.
Why You Should Draft DeSean Jackson – The Philadelphia Eagles are a good franchise. They tend to make good decisions. Andy Reed is a solid football guy. He knows his quarterbacks. If the team is willing to ship Donovan McNabb out, they think Kevin Kolb is ready for prime time.
The Green Bay Packers cut bait with Brett Favre a couple of years ago, and despite the lack of playoff success, Aaron Rodgers has proven to be among the best fantasy quarterbacks. The same could be developing with Kevin Kolb. If so, DeSean Jackson is obviously going to be Kolb’s #1 target.
Also remember this is DeSean Jackson’s 3rd year. While he’s already “broken out”, Desean Jackson may show that he has another gear to kick it into this year. We may be seeing the start of DeSean Jackson’s prime years, as if 2009 wasn’t good enough. I would take DeSean Jackson and be happy I got the guy.
Peyton Manning – Quarterback – Indianapolis Colts
Why You Shouldn’t Draft Peyton Manning in Round 2 – I’m not going to insult you by saying this is the year Peyton Manning is going to slow down or become merely human on the football field. Peyton Manning has shown no signs of decline.
My arguments against Peyton Manning this high are strategic. Never take a quarterback in the 1st or 2nd round. Grab studs at RB and WR, then worry about the quarterback position. Is drafting Philip Rivers, Tony Romo or Matt Schaub in the 4th or 5th round that much of a downgrade? It’s insane to draft a quarterback this high. You’re just giving most of the rest of the league a built-in advantage.
Besides, Peyton Manning is likely to be sitting on the bench, or playing half a game, during your fantasy playoffs. Peyton Manning was a waste in Week 16 for fantasy owners in 2009. If you were fortunate enoguh to get to the fantasy title game, you had the decision to either start Peyton Manning, who was likely to play one half at most, or sit him for whatever backup QB you had. You’re just not as likely to have that dilemma with the other quarterbacks you’re going to draft as a starter.
Why You Should Draft Peyton Manning in Round 2 – Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne were two of the best fantasy options in 2009. Peyton Manning made Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie legitimate fantasy football players in 2009. Anthony Gonzales should be a factor, after a waste of a year in ’09. Joseph Addai looked motivated and healthy again, while Donald Brown should be ready to contribute to the team in his 2nd season. The Colts are absolutely loaded on offense.
Then there’s the consistency. No player is more dependable than Peyton Manning in fantasy football. He’s been like money in the bank for more than 10 years now. If you’re going to spend a high round pick on a quarterback, get the guy who was worth that slot every single year for the past 12 years. With Peyton Manning giving you certain production at QB, you can find the players to make a contender, if you know what you’re doing.
And don’t worry about the Colts clinching too early. That stuff is too unpredictable to try to factor in. Most years, even if they win their division by several games, they are still in a homefield advantage battle. Last year’s unbeaten streak was great, but it was a fluke, too. Those campaigns seldom happen twice in a row for the same team.
Randy Moss – Wide Receiver – New England Patriots
Why You Shouldn’t Draft in Round 2 – The Patriots are old and getting older. Randy Moss is fast approaching his mid-30s, when receivers start to decline rapidly. Tom Brady is 32 and hasn’t quite looked the same (except for a game here or there) since he’s returned from his major knee injury. Wes Welker may or may not be ready to go in Week 1, and the running game is still the afterthought it always has been.
More than ever with the Patriots, defenses can key on the Randy Moss/Tom Brady combination coming into 2010. The New England Patriots just aren’t the same team they were when they were running up an 18-0 record. That was three years ago. Teams get old. Players get old. Just because a player has a big name, doesn’t mean he’s the same player he was three years ago. That’s the way of the NFL. It happens to the best of them, and it’s happening to Randy Moss.
Why You Should Draft in Round 2 – Tom Brady is two years removed from his knee injury. That’s when a player is considered fully recovered. That means Tom Brady is ready to get back to being Tom Brady. Sure, he’s 32, but Peyton Manning is 34, and Manning shows no signs of slowing down. Tom Brady might have a half-decade left as an elite NFL quarterback.
As for Randy Moss, he was battling injuries in 2009. Wes Welker appears as if he should be ready to go by Week 1, while Julian Edelman should be improved with the experience he gained last year. Consider 2009 as a year the Patriots were retooling their team, reloading for the 2010 season. You know that Bill Belichick has obsessed about turning the tables on the New York Jets this season, so you shouldn’t count out Randy Moss just yet.
And if Tom Brady has to force a few more balls to Randy Moss? That might not be good for the Patriots chances of success, but it shouldn’t hurt Randy Moss’s fantasy numbers.
Greg Jennings – Wide Receiver – Green Bay Packers
Why You Shouldn’t Draft in Round 2 – Did you play fantasy football in 2009? Greg Jennings was a consistent Rd 2 selection last year, and the teams which drafted him were consistently disappointed. Meanwhile, those fantasy owners who took a flier on Donald Driver in the 5th and 6th rounds were putting up the big numbers at Jennings’ expense, at least the first 2/3rds of the season. If you had to depend on Greg Jennings last year, it was a mess.
There was the weekly question: should I start Jennings again? Making things worse, Greg Jennings came up weak in the obvious starts, like when he barely collected 100 yards in two combined games against the Detroit Lions. And you’re going to spend a 2nd rounder on that guy again? What makes you so confident Greg Jennings has a big rebound year in 2010?
Why You Should Draft in Round 2 – 2009 was an aberration for Greg Jennings. The Green Bay Packers offensive line had injuries everywhere, so Aaron Rodgers was under siege from Week 1. That meant that players had to break off routes, and Rodgers had to throw underneath more often than he did in 2008. Throwing underneath means Donald Driver and Jermichael Finley are going to get a whole lot more production than planned, while the big play receiver (Jennings) was a forgotten man in many games.
There are also injury considerations. Sometime early in ’09, Greg Jennings received a wrist injury that hampered his production through a significant portion of the season. Their were whispers that Greg Jennings just wasn’t right for a big part of the campaign. An offseason means that Greg Jennings comes into 2010 healthy, while the health of the Packers OL should assure we see more of the Cheesehead offense we saw in 2008. Greg Jennings’ 2008 campaign is what caused you to draft him in the 2nd round last year, so he’s a safe bet to have a big bounceback year.
Jamaal Charles – Running Back – Kansas City Chiefs
Why You Shouldn’t Draft in Round 2 – Jamaal Charles was arguably the 2nd-best fantasy football running back in the second half of 2009, after he took over for Larry Johnson in the Kansas City Chiefs backfield. No doubt those teams that had Jamaal Charles sitting on their fantasy bench got a big boost for the final push, and Charles probably helped a significant number of teams win their league championship.
So is Jamaal Charles likely to repeat that performance over the course of a full fantasy football season?
I’m saying no. Jamaal Charles fits the classic profile in my “Fresh Legs Theory” that I talk about occasionally. The idea is that fantasy ball carriers who come in midseason or later and look great aren’t always that good, but they are running with fresh legs against tired defenses. I’ve cited a whole list of running back who were half-year or one-month wonders in fantasy football over the past 10 years: Julius Jones, Ryan Grant, Derrick Ward. Going back a little further, I think of Troy Hambrick and Chris Fu’Amatu Ma’Afala. Heck, look at what Quinton Ganther and Justin Forsett did in the closing weeks of 2009, but you don’t see their teams suddenly announcing they are the undoubted starter on their teams. The list goes on and on.
The idea is, Jamaal Charles might not necessarily be as good as he looked at the end of last year. He might not be as quick or elusive. Jamaal Charles was working at an advantage against defenses, because those players had been worn down by 8 to 10 games. Maybe Jamaal Charles is that good, but maybe not.
On top of that, the Kansas City Chiefs brought Thomas Jones into to carry part of the load. Thomas Jones is on the other side of 30, but he was also a Top 10 fantasy RB in a lot of systems last year. In a situation where he can get some tough yards and wolf some touchdowns, he can’t be entirely dismissed. Jamaal Charles won’t get every yard, every reception, every touchdown, like he did at the end of 2009.
Why You Should Draft in Round 2 – Then there’s the fact that Jamaal Charles was highly productive in 2009. From certain pronouncements about Matt Cassell to his handling of Larry Johnson and Dwayne Bowe, Todd Haley is the type of coach who requires you to earn his trust. What Jamaal Charles did in 2009 is certainly worthy of Haley’s trust. That should mean something when it comes time to allot playing time in 2010.
Besides, Jamaal Charles is a young RB on an improving team that’s going to need to rely on him. Their most talented receiver (Bowe) is a complete mess right now, facing suspensions and calling out teammates for their extramarital affairs on the road. The team has no one but Jamaal Charles to hang its hat on. Besides, I trust Scott Pioli and Todd Haley to improve the team in subtle ways, as they acquire more of “their type of guys”. The Chiefs should improve in 2010, which means Jamaal Charles is a safe late-2nd rounder.
Shonn Greene – Running Back – New York Jets
Why You Shouldn’t Draft in Round 2 – If Jamaal Charles fit the “Fresh Legs Theory”, it goes even more so for Shonn Greene. Shonn Greene got his starts even later in the season, when teams had played 13, 14, 15 games of football. He was quite similar to Ahmad Bradshaw the year the Giants won the Superbowl, fresh as a spring rain. The 2009-2010 NFL Playoffs were no real indication of Shonn Greene’s talent.
It’s a whole different story when you start from Week 1. Just like those defenders, you take 20+ hits a game, get the same bumps and bruises, slow down and wear down. By the fantasy playoffs, Shonn Greene will be on the same level as the rest of the players in the NFL, unlike in 2009. Now Shonn Greene might have the talent to raise his game a level. He might be on a team where he’s running “downhill” all season, where the Jets are ahead and the defense keeps giving him the ball back. So maybe he excels.
Besides, he still has to contend with the likes of Ladainian Tomlinson. You don’t just sit LT on the bench all year. Rex Ryan knows that. That’s why Rex Ryan said the week LT was signed that he was going to go with the hot hand at runner throughout the season. Even if Shonn Greene is the primary ball carrier, Ladainian Tomlinson is going to be a factor. And that week you really need Shonn Greene to win the week for you, that’s the week that LT turns back the clock 5 years and scores those 2 touchdowns you needed.
Why You Should Draft in Round 2 – I’d be thrilled to draft Shonn Greene as a #2 running back with the last pick of the 2nd round. He would be a pretty nice addition as a sidekick to Chris Johnson. Greene has had a year to sit and learn, and he had a big playoffs last year. He’s done it when the games counted most, so he should be fine for the regular season.
Besides, the Jets are a team on the rise. Their vaunted defense only improved in the offseason, and they’re going to be getting the ball back for the offense quickly most of the year. Rex Ryan believes in defense and ball control, so Shonn Greene is set to be the man in New York City in 2010. You couldn’t want a better situation for your RB.
There’s Ladainian Tomlinson, for sure. But Ladainian Tomlinson is 31 years old. Ladainian Tomlinson is finished. Rex Ryan can talk all he wants about going with the hot hand at runner, but you know those were just words to stroke the ego of LT in the week they signed him to back up Greene. Everybody knows that Shonn Greene is the man.
Pick Fantasy Football Top Players
So there’s a full look ahead to the first two rounds on your 2010 fantasy football draft. Like I said earlier, the fantasy football top picks for 2010 seem particularly deep and strong, with a number of picks falling into the third that would be 2nd-rounders in most other years. This should make redrafts fun and exciting this year or, better put, more fun and exciting than usual. Training camps are almost here, so the best time of the sports year is just around the corner. Good luck picking fantasy football’s top players.
What sports are being considered for addition to the Olympics?
There are pretty strict rules about what sports get added to the Olympic program. Without going into too much detail about how new sports are added to the roster of games, the basic criteria are as follows: a new Olympic sport or discipline must be “widely practiced”. This means that a men’s sport must be played in at least 75 countries across at least four continents. For women’s sports, the number’s a bit lower — at least 40 countries participating on at least three continents.
For the 2016 Olympic Games, there is some exciting news about potential new disciplines. Soon, the International Olympic Committee will consider a short list of seven sports for inclusion. The sports under consideration are golf, rugby sevens (a smaller squad), baseball, softball, squash, karate, and roller sports. The 15 member board of the IOC is planning to submit two of these sports for full ratification by the 106-member IOC at their assembly in Copenhagen this October.
Golf and rugby sevens are the most likely sports to receive full support fo rinclusion.
An IOC board member had this to say about the new additions — “It will be a long and difficult discussion. I think there will be different opinions. We hope to be able to make a unanimous decision, but it will be hard to find a common denominator.”
While it is exciting to think of Tiger Woods and other young golf phenoms going for gold against the world’s best players, don’t buy your 2016 tickets just yet — every sport on the list has a long way to go. The first step — representatives of these seven sports made lengthy presentations to the IOC board this past June in Switzerland, the home of the IOC. These representatives have kept up their lobbying right up until this week, when a panel of IOC members will make their initial vote.
Though the majority opinion holds that golf and rugby sevens are well in the lead, other IOC members speaking anonymously suggest that softball has an equally good chance of being added to the Games. Still other board members left the door wide open, suggesting that anything is possible in the world of the Olympics negotiations.
Additions for 2016 aren’t the only big debate this week — the IOC board is also making rulings on some big changes for the 2012 London games. Debate is heated over the addition of women’s boxing, a new event in swimming (the 50 meter spring), mixed doubles in tennis, BMX freestyle bike events under the umbrella of cycling, and a new format for the modern pentathlon with an eye toward shortening the event for television coverage.
One of the big issues with the addition of gold is whether golf’s biggest names and brightest stars (already multimillionaires) would step up to compete in the Olympic Games. Professional golfers have a hefty schedule of majors and other tour events, not to mention international team competitions like the Davis Cup. To this end, a couple of big name players (specifically Annika Sorenstam and Colin Montgomerie) testified before the IOC in June that the world’s top players would certainly consider the Olympics “as important as a major”. The lack of celebrities has been an issue for other failing Olympic sports in the past, most notably baseball.
There is good news for gold — the game was played at the 1900 Paris Olympics and 1904 St. Louis Games. Where there is a precedent for a sport there is hope. Golf’s supporters say that bringing the game back into the Olympics would encourage the growth of golf worldwide. Why is that? In many countries around the world, a sport can only receive government funding and major attention if it is an “Olympic sport”.
Tiger Woods, probably the biggest sports name in the world, made his own plea for the addition of gold to the 2016 games, appearing in a video presentation to the IOC making a case for the sports to be added to the Olympics. Woods was asked by a reported yesterday if he would play Olympic golf –
“If I’m not retired by then, yeah,” said Woods, who will be just 40 years old in 2016.
The big argument for golf is that it is a global sport, played all over the planet (and even once on the moon).
Golf would be played in the Olympics much like it is played outside of the Games — a 72-hole stroke-play competition for men and one for women, with 60 players in each group. Another proposed rule to increase star’s participation — the top 15 players in the world rankings would earn an automatic spot in the tournament, and all major professional tournaments and tours would halth their schedules or remake them in order to avoid a conflict.
The case for rugby may be a bit more difficult — rugby is not a global game in the sense that golf is. Rugby has a precedent in the Olympics as well, in fact that game has been played even more recently than Olympic gold — at the 1924 Olympics rugby was played in a much longer “rugby fifteens” format. Rugby sevens would make the game faster and more interesting (and easier to follow) for sports fans.
Still, the issue remains undecided for now. Though the smaller group of IOC members has basically decided on golf and rugby sevens, it is entirely possible that a majority of IOC members will resist the recommendations, as they tend to resist any and all change to the Olympic format.
Who will win the NBA finals?
No one expected the Orlando Magic to be here. No one expected the Cleveland Lebrons, I mean the Cleveland Cavaliers, to fall so hard and miss their first serious chance at an NBA title.
Everyone expected the Lakers to be here, at the NBA’s biggest stage. The NBA finals may not be the matchup everyone expected, including sports analysts and bloggers, but it is going to be one hell of a matchup.
So what will be the outcome of this intriguing best of seven matchup? Who will be sipping Cristal champagne, and who will be hanging their heads on the sidelines?
As USA Today put it, “Bron-Bron is gone-gone”, and the NBA is surely a bit nervous about the loss of a potential high interest matchup.
Now we have the Kobe Bryant Show to look forward to. Bryant is one of the most polemic figures in sports – you either love him or hate him. But, like him or lump him, Bryant will be the focus of media attention now that King James has been slain.
The Kobe Factor
Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers guard with a killer jump shot and enough swagger for an entire entourage of gangsta rappers, calls himself the “Black Mamba”. The Mamba will have to share the stage with a fellow Olympic teammate, Magic center Dwight Howard. Howard, who is just 23 years old, was just a sixth grader when the most famous Laker turned pro at the even more tender age of 18.
In an interview, Bryant claimed he “[doesn’t] give a damn” that Lebron is out of the finals. It is obvious that Bryant just wants to win. He is pumped up. You may have seen the stinkeye he gave his last opponents, the Denver Nuggets, throughout their conference finals series. Despite the mean face, Bryant was obviously looking more than a bit fatigued. After scoring a massive 41 points in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against the Denver Nuggets, ESPN reported that Bryant needed intravenous fluids, and a call from his wife prompted him to really rest up, reportedly sleeping for 10 hours straight to rest up for the next game.
And he should be tired. Consider that over the last 18 months, Kobe Bryant has played (and almost always started) in well over 200 NBA regular season, playoff and Olympic games. In fact, his 211 games is the most of any NBA player. Why is he putting himself through this? Bryant is hunting for something has evaded him for the past few years – a fourth title ring.
Bryant is usually characterized as having the kind of competitive streak it takes to be a true leader in the NBA. He will no doubt energize himself to try to slay the dragon that has eluded him for seven excruciating years. Twice during that streak of title droughts, once against the Detroit Pistons in 2004 and again versus the Boston Celtics in 2008, he and his fellow Lakers just couldn’t pull it off. In fact, Bryant hasn’t won a ring since Shaquille O’Neal, his on again off again friend and former teammate, played with the Lakers. Even scarier for Bryant — he is no longer the overall best player in the NBA.
You could make the argument that Dwight Howard is that player, though this year’s NBA was in fact Lebron James.
Bryant is still considered the game’s best “closer”. The trainer for the Los Angeles Lakers, Gary Vitti, once remarked that Bryant “would play your 4-year-old daughter in a game of jacks — and cheat to win.”
Will Dwight Howard make a difference?
Dwight Howard has the body of a grown man, and he has grown into his game. In fact, it is difficult at times to forget that he’s just 23 years old and the Orlando Magic’s youngest player by some degree.
Dwight Howard’s young age explains a fascinating anecdote reported to the media after the Orlando Magic’s first team meeting after they qualified for the NBA Finals opposite the Lakers. Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was delivering a classic coach’s lecture about keeping your head in the game.
Van Gundy was trying to use the story of Dan Marino, himself a legendary Miami Dolphins quarterback who made it to a Super Bowl early in his career and apparently went into the game with a big head. Marino, if you believe the legend, figured this appearance was the start of his dynasty.
If you remember that Super Bowl in 1985, you know that Marino lost that Super Bowl with a seriously lopsided score of 38 to 16, and never made it back to the NFL championship. Though Marino was an excellent player, and is in fact a part of the NFL Hall of Fame, he never got a chance to get that ring again, all because he walked through the game as though he’d already won it.
Dwight Howard had to pay close attention to Van Gundy’s story. You see, Dwight Howard was hearing the story of Dan Marino’s cockiness for the very first time. The Magic’s star player wasn’t born at the time of Marino’s infamous Super Bowl appearance – it was in January of 1985.
Speaking to the media, Howard acknowledged the impact of the story. “Coach talked about Dan Marino, how he said the first time he got to the Super Bowl, he was happy, he got caught up in being in the Super Bowl and the limelight and all that, and in the game he wasn’t as focused. And Dan said the next time he gets to the Super Bowl, he’s going to be more focused. But he never got back.”
Obviously Howard wants to enter this Finals series with the right mindset. Players have to remember that you never know what could happen in the NBA’s biggest games. Howard needs to remember that he’s going there to win.
The Orlando Magic have a similar story that Howard is well aware of. The Magic’s string of playoff failures goes all the way back to 1995, when the Magic had another megastar big man, but were barely a presence in the Finals. The dominant young center Shaquille O’Neal (who would later figure into the Laker’s own championship story) made it seem like the Magic were at the beginning of a lengthy basketball dynasty in the mid 1990s. They never even won a game in the 1995series – in fact, they were picked apart piece by piece by Hakeem Olajuwon and the dominant Houston Rockets, who would go on to produce a dynasty of their own.
Howard has recently been seen getting very emotional about the turnaround he’s seen in the Orlando Magic. The franchise’s luck began to turn around when the phenomenal Howard was chosen as the first pick of the 2004 NBA draft. The Magic were one of the league’s worst teams, on and off the court at the time of the draft. Their previous season resulted in a pathetic 21-61 record. Tracy McGrady, then the Magic’s only bright spot, demanded a trade out of Orlando.
Howard’s game eventually matched his enormous physical talents, and his body grew both more massive and more controlled. Slowly but surely, the Magic started establishing themselves as one of the beasts of the Eastern Conference. Howard, known as Superman, had the Magic in the playoffs by just his third season, led the team into the second round by his fourth season, and now finds himself at the helm of the league’s most exciting team in just his fifth season.
Howard survived a challenging six game series against the unlikely Philadelphia 76ers in the first round, won a very clutch Game 7 against a tough Boston team that was the reigning world champs in the semifinals, and did the impossible by destroying the Lebron James led Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals. Howard was visibly overcome near the end of last Saturday night’s Conference final clincher.
To help the Magic win the NBA title Howard so desperately craves, the Magic will have to accomplish a task that no other NBA team in history ever has. If Orlando can beat the Lakers (who won 65 games in the regular season) it would become the first team ever to vanquish three 60 win teams in one playoff go round. The Magic have already beaten the Celtics (with 62 wins) and did what no one thought was possible by vanquishing the Cavs (who had 66 wins) – still the Lakers present the greatest task so far. Should the Lakers win the first game, the Magic may have already lost. Under coach Phil Jackson, no Lakers team that wins game one of a series has lost.
The Lakers have the NBA’s deepest team, and certainly the best squad that the Magic have face thus far. They have the “ultimate closer” in Kobe Bryant, and a massive front squad that will try to wear down Howard with sheer brute force.
But Howard, the Magic’s 6 foot 11 center, is playing basketball like a man possessed. Howard has said that the feeling in the Magic’s locker room is that if they play the game they know, no one can beat them, including the powerhouse Lakers.
Orlando has already proved their mettle against the Lakers. They beat the Lakers twice for the first series sweep against the LA squad in the Orlando Magic’s 20-year history. And to top it off, the Magic have won at the Staples Center in each of their games in LA the past two years. Playing in the Staples Center shouldn’t be trouble for Howard and company.
Howard is realistic. He knows that Orlando is being given little chance if any on a national scale. Howard takes this in stride — he might be the biggest and baddest guy on any given basketball court, but he says he likes playing the role of the underdog.
How can Kobe get that elusive ring?
Kobe Bryant was once known as a loner, a guy who thought he could carry the weight of an entire team on his back. Bryant has apparently learned to play nice with others in recent years, even if just a bit. He is a better teammate on the court, and is being called selfless for the first time in his career. Last week, ESPN reported that Bryant texted teammate Pau Gasol at 3 in the morning, saying “be ready to play tomorrow”. Sometimes a leader has to be the bad guy.
Bryant has that withering stare all too familiar to players around the league and to his own teammates. When teammates make mistakes, they can expect to be admonished not with words but with a deadly stare.
There has been more than a little controversy around Bryant’s presence in LA. Lakers coach Phil Jackson penned a book in 2004, The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul, in which the coach gave Bryant a terrible review, calling him “uncoachable” and describing Bryant as a “callous gun for hire.” Bryant has since demanded to be traded, fought with his teammates and coaching staff, and feuded publicly with coach Jackson. Apparently, they have reached a happy medium.
Now that Bryant has a better supporting cast of players, the virtually unstoppable guard has settled into his “playmaker” style. In Bryant’s past, he alienated teammates because he felt he had to take the last shot.
Don’t count Bryant out because he is a celebrity. He might look flashy in public and he might have a nice boy image, but he is often called the hardest worker in the NBA – a league full of hard workers. His career playoff scoring average is 24.8, which is fifth all time among players of his caliber, meaning those with 2,500-plus points.
Bryant, besting his average by scoring 29.6 points this postseason, studies films of his opponents like a movie critic, looking for flaws he can exploit. In Game 5 against the Nuggets, Bryant blossomed before everyone’s eyes into a more traditional ball handler because of the Nuggets defense. The Nuggets tactic to stop Bryant was to challenge him to a possession game, telling Bryant in effect that he couldn’t beat them by passing the ball, and he couldn’t beat them being selfish. Bryant accepted the challenge, and cut them apart precisely.
In fact, after Kobe Bryant destroyed the Nuggets in a clinching Game 6, Denver coach George Karl had this to say about the league’s most notorious closer — “I think Jesus would have had trouble covering him.”
Who will win this series? It comes down to a battle of the big men. Both teams have a decent supporting cast. Can Bryant keep his selfishness in check? Can Howard become the dominant force we’ve been expecting?
It’ll be a blast finding out.
Why did Tony Kornheiser leave Monday Night Football?
The official reason for Tony Kornheiser’s exit from Monday Night Football is the analyst’s fear of flying. Kornheiser, who also hosts a radio show named after him and is co host of ESPN’s popular “Pardon the Interruption” program with Michael Wilbon, can frequently be heard complaining about his fear of plans, and relating anecdotes about his use of the anti anxiety drug Xanax to overcome this fear.
Many believe that ESPN wanted to go in a different direction with Monday Night Football, and cut a kind of shadowy “deal” with Kornheiser in which he could make it appear that he was stepping down. Fans of Monday Night Football were not exactly happy with Kornheiser’s work on the legendary football show, which was at times as bad as that of his fellow Monday Night Football alumnus Dennis Miller. Kornheiser simply couldn’t get along with the established Monday Night Football personalities.
Now, former NFL coach for the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jon Gruden will replace Tony Kornheiser this fall on ESPN’s broadcasts of Monday Night Football, the network announced on Monday.
Kornheiser is stepping down after three lackluster years in the Monday Night Football booth. In a statement released by ESPN announcing the move, Kornheiser cited his fear of flying and the increased need for him to travel via air this season as his reason for stepping aside. Famously, John Madden refuses to fly, and when he was an analyst for the NFL, he travelled the country by bus. Unfortunately, Kornheiser’s role at Monday NIght Football required much more cross country trips that simply wouldn’t give Kornheiser the time he would need to drive from game to game as well as continue hosting his popular radio and TV programs.
“My fear of planes is legendary and sadly true. When I looked at the upcoming schedule it was the perfect storm that would’ve frequently moved me from the bus to the air,” Kornheiser said in his statement.
Jon Gruden will join Mike Tirico and Ron Jaworski on this season, which is the 40th season of Monday Night Football. many fans of Monday Night Football see the move as a positive one. Though Tony Kornheiser is a popular TV and radio host, his work on Monday Night Football was often overshadowed by difficulties relating to his co hosts. Kornheiser’s jokes fell flat, and he was fond of going on long winded rants about individual plays and players, something that the rapid fire format of Monday Night Football just won’t allow for.
In a statement about the move, Jon Gruden said the following: “I grew up a fan of Monday Night Football, and whether I’ve coached on Monday night or watched, I’ve hardly missed a game all these years. To join Mike and Jaws in the booth and to work alongside this top-notch team is going to be a real thrill.”
Gruden was a head coach in the National Football League for 11 seasons between the Raiders and Bucs. Gruden won Super Bowl XXXVII with the Bucs, making him at the time the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl.
Tony Kornheiser will continue to appear on ESPN on “Pardon the Interruption”, and his recently resurrected radio show “The Tony Kornheiser Show” will air on XM Satellite Radio. The popular radio show has existed in one form or another since 1992.
Who won the 2009 Home Run Derby?
Its trendy to hate the Home Run Derby. Listen to sports talk radio, sports analysts on television, or the guy at the water coolor — the Home Run Derby is a has been, an event that is sandwiched between the excitement of mid season baseball and the duldrums of the All Star game.
For those of us that still enjoy watching the league’s best bat artists swing for the fences, last night’s Home Run Derby was a solid success. Not only were there plenty of long balls to ogle, but Major League Baseball raised a staggering amount of money for the Boys and Girls Club.
The most impressive hits in Monday night’s State Farm sponsored Home Run Derby were two gigantic homeruns by relative unknowns — a 503 foot homerun that the cameras nearly lost in the sky (hit by the eventual Derby winner Prince Fielder), or an early round homerun ball that slammed into the fourth deck in left field, hit by the eventual runner up Nelson Cruz. Never heard of Nelson Cruz or Prince Fielder? You’re not alone. While expectations were high for hometown hereo Albert Pujols, it was up to the little names to bring the Derby trophy home.
$665,000 — that’s how much money the Home Run Derby raised for the Boys and Girls Club in the span of an hour or so. Compare that number to last year’s $340,000 and you’ll understand why the Home Run Derby was a success. Not only were there highlights to enjoy for the rest of the season (really, Fielder’s gigantic moon scraping homerun is worth watching again and again) but MLB finally figured out how to increase the value of the Derby’s charity donation. What did the MLB do to increase the contribution? The league decided to add $5,000 per home run in addition to the standard $17,000 per “gold ball” hit out of the park. That minor change made a huge difference for a great charity.
Why the sudden change in contribution? According to MLB sources, the increase in donation was a direct response to President Barack Obama’s call for community service. The Home Run Derby donation is just part of what baseball is doing, through a program they’re calling “United We Serve”. MLB sees “United We Serve” as a way to encourage other Americans to participate in community service — the idea is that if fans see their favorite players contributing to charity, they’ll be more likely to do so themselves. What is MLB doing besides the Home Run Derby? They hosted an “All-Star Charity Concert”, the proceeds of which went to a program called Stand Up To Cancer, baseball hosted an All-Star Charity 5K walk/run, which also sent its proceeds to Stand Up To Cancer and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and a few other smaller charity events throughout the rest of the season.
After all, this year’s All-Star game and the various All-Star celebrations represent the 80th such contest. Major League Baseball is trying to keep itself in high esteem among fans who may be getting weary of steroid drama and players with multi million dollar contracts.
Prince Fielder won the home run contest with a grand total of 23 home runs — Fielder hit the balls an average of 439 feet. Fielder’s home runs accounted for a total of $139,000 for the Boys and Girls Club.
The Boys and Girls Club and Major League Baseball are constantly amping up the stakes during charity events, and last night’s Home Run Derby was no exception. The Boys and Girls Club attached one of their clients to each of the Home Run Derby participants, and whoever won the derby automatically assigned a portion of their winnings directly to that client’s club. Fielder’s kid, 14 year old Kylie Kochel from Bethalto, Illinois, will bring $50,000 back to her club that will be used for new computers, school supplies for students, and building renovations.
What Is Wii Fit?
Wii Fit is a video game designed by the Nintendo company for their Nintendo Wii video game console. Wii Fit is a fitness game, designed to lead players through an exercise program. The Wii Fit has been a tremendous success, selling the third-most copies of any console game in video game history (22.6 million and counting).
How Does Wii Fit Work?
Playing the Wii Fit game requires use fo the Wii Balance Board, a specially designed “platform peripheral”. The Wii Balance Board looks quite similar to a step-up body scale people use to measure themselves in their household. The device has a basic white top and a light gray base.
Wii Balance Board
When you play Wii Fit, you stand on the Wii Balance Board, which is outfitted with electronic sensors to record and chart your progress through the game. The board has about 60 hours of battery power, and it is thought to measure a person’s weight and center of balance more accurately than your average bathroom scale.
Though the Wii Balance Board is considered a top of the line, revolutionary video game peripheral device, the design is actually quite similar to the 1982 Atari Joyboard. Of course, the Nintendo Wii Balance Board is a great deal more advanced. The designers claim their device is based on the double scales that sumo wrestlers use to weigh themselves.
Does Wii Fit Simulate Exercise?
Wii Fit induces the player to get exercise in a number of different ways, involving both strength training and cardiovascular training. In fact, national health club chains have even bought Wii Fit devices to place in their gyms, while nursing homes have bought Wii consoles and the Wii Fit video game to help nursing home patients achieve better posture.
Wii Fit game play features mini-games involving aerobics, yoga, strength training, and balance contests. As the name implies, Wii Fit is meant to convince people to get a little exercise while they’re gaming. The main designer’s stated goal is to get the entire family to exercise together, though I’m not so sure the Wii Fit’s popularity has translated into family fitness games. As a single-person fitness game, the Wii Fit has had startling success.
While the Wii Fit has gotten gentle criticism from some fitness experts for the lightness of their exercise programs, the game has gotten generally positive reviews from most people–inside or outside the fitness world.
Wii Fitness – The Nintendo Video Game
Nintendo designed the Nintendo Wii to be inexpensive and to encourage people to become more active when playing video games. I know video game enthusiasts who have no desire to combine their video game sessions with gym sessions, the concept has been hugely popular with a large part of the video game community. Wii Fit is the current apex of electronic fitness gaming.
What Is Wii Fit Plus?
Wii Fit Plus is an enhanced version of the original Wii Fit, featuring all the original fitness games, as well as fifteen new areobics and balance games, 6 new yoga and strength training exercise games, the option to custom-build fitness regimens, the ability to register your babies (and pets) fitness profiles, and to keep track of calories burned with their own on-board calorie counter.
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- Good Movies on Netflix Instant Play
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- The Red Ring of Death on XBox 360
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Who Is Tiger Woods?
Tiger Woods is a world famous professional golfer (and a popular fantasy golf pick), whose sex scandal since November of 2009 has added a good deal of infamy to his personal biography.
Tiger Woods was born Eldrick Tont Woods oon December 30, 1975, to African-American Earl Woods and Kultida “Tida” Woods, of Thai, Chinese, and Dutch descent. From the time he was two years old, he was considered a golfing prodigy. When he was 3 years old, Tiger Woods appeared on The Mike Douglas Show, where he putted against legendary comedian, Bob Hope. He went on to appear in Golf Digest, as well as the hit tv show, That’s Incredible.
Tiger broke a score of 80 at the age of 8, and was already winning child tournaments by this time. He would win the Junior World Championships six different times. Tiger Woods became the youngest ever U.S. Junior Amateur Champion at the age of 15, and the first-ever repeat champion the next year (1992) at the age of 16. He attended college at Stanford University, where he was on their championship golf squad.
His first major professional tournament came when he was still at Stanford, at the 1995 Masters Tournament, where he finished an impressive 41st and was the only amateur to make the cut. In 1996, Woods won his third consecutive U.S. Amateur title, and won the NCAA Individual Golf Championship. After two years of college, Tiger Woods turned pro.
Pro Golf Career – “Hello World”
Tiger Woods was a sensation from the moment he announced his professional career in 1996. Before he entered a tournament, he signed a $40,000,000 endorsement deal with Nike and a $20,000,000 endorsement deal with Titleist, both records at the time. The hype surrounding Tiger Woods seemed to place impossible hopes on the kid golfer, as people were already talking about whether he was the greatest golfer ever. Amazingly, he not only matched, but surpassed, all expectations.
In April 1998, Tiger Woods won his first major (and first Masters Tournament), finishing an incredible 12 strokes ahead of the field, setting 20 Masters records and tying 6 other Masters records. In only 42 weeks of golf, he became the #1 ranked golfer in the world. This was an astonishing record, since the golf rankings take results from the past two years (or 102 weeks). This was just the beginning, as he went on to win 14 major tournaments, and has hopes of matching or surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 major wins. Below are the winning Major Tournament results for Tiger Woods’ career.
- 1997 Masters Tournament
- 1999 PGA Championship
- 2000 U.S. Open
- 2000 Open Championship (British Open)
- 2000 PGA Championship
- 2001 Masters Tournament
- 2002 Masters Tournament
- 2002 U.S. Open
- 2005 Masters Tournament
- 2005 Open Championship (British Open)
- 2006 Open Championship (British Open)
- 2006 PGA Championship
- 2007 PGA Championship
- 2008 U.S. Open
This gives Tiger Woods 4 Masters championship, 3 British Open titles, 3 U.S. Open wins, and PGA Championships, showing his ability to win playing the “links” game of the Open Championship, in the extreme conditions of the U.S. Open tournaments, and on the venerable Augusta National golf course. While he has slowed down in his title wins as he entered his thirties, few would have bet against him breaking Nicklaus’s major tournament record when he reached 14 at the 2008 U.S. Open Championship. In retrospect, this event may have marked a turning point in Tiger Woods’ career – and life.
Tiger Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open in dramatic fashion, hobbling around the course, often appearing to strike the ball off of one leg. The next day, he announced he would undergo knee surgery which would end his 2008 season. Tiger Woods has yet to win another major tournament in over two more years of golf. Much of that time, golf was a secondary part of Tiger Woods’ life.
Tiger Woods Scandal
Late on Thanksgiving night in 2009, police answered a call to Tiger Woods’ neighborhood, where Woods had ran his car into a neighbor’s tree. Woods appeared to have facial lacerations, while the back window of his SUV was busted out. Furthermore, Woods’ wife, Elin Nordegren, was reported carrying a golf club, which she supposedly used to try to bust out the back window of the vehicle, hoping to free Woods from the car. This odd set of events led to rampant speculation that Elin Woods had chased her husband out of the house with a golf club, and possible struck him and/or his car with the club.
This was denied by the Woods camp, but stories began to appear of Tiger Woods’ infidelity, and the stories piled up day after day throughout December 2009. The National Enquirer and (especially) TMZ made a killing on the Tiger Woods scandal. Eventually, a list of alleged lovers grew beyond a dozen, and he was forced to announce he would take a break from his golfing career to encounter sex addiction rehab and spend more time with his family. Tiger and Elin were unable to work out their differences, and the two agreed to divorce, with Elin Nordegren receiving upwards of $100,000,000 in the divorce settlement. The divorced pair share custody of their two children.
Tiger Woods and Public Opinions
Everyone seemed to have an opinion about the Tiger Woods scandal. Gloria Allred got attention for her comments. The African-American community was apparently offended by Woods’ choice of “white lovers”. Polls consistently showed that the American public now listed him on their Top 5 most hated list of sports athletes. Several corporations canceled their endorsement deals, who had become a billionaire more from endorsement contracts than his on-field golf prize money (which was substantial, in its own right).
Virtually overnight, Tiger Woods went from one of America’s most loved celebrities to a man who had to hold a press conference to “apologize” to Americans offended by his conduct – though this was mainly public relations management to keep his remaining corporate endorsement contracts.
Return to Golf
Tiger Woods hasn’t won a major tournament since his return to pro golf in 2010. He did tie for 4th in the 2010 Masters and 4th in the 2010 U.S. Open, which just about any other golfer (besides maybe Phil Mickelson) would consider great results. The criticism was an indication of how dominant he had been in a sport that is among the hardest to dominate (because you have to beat 120 opponents at a time, instead of just 1, any given day). Tiger Woods seemed to digress as the golf season progressed, though, as Woods finished 23rd in the 2010 British Open and 28th in the 2010 PGA Championship. After the season was finished, he announced he would rebuild his swing for the third time in his career, which is a sign that his golf game has serious holes in it. He will be 35 when the next golf season begins, so it’s left to be determined whether he has the five more major wins in him to surpass Jack Nicklaus.
Whatever the case, Tiger Woods is among the best golf players ever to have lived. Certainly he is the most successful golf pro in a financial sense. But whether he ever becomes a beloved figure with the general public is in serious doubt. When you hear the name “Tiger Woods”, the first thing most people think about is “sex scandal”.
Tips for Winning Your Fantasy Football League
Mastering how to win at fantasy football strategy requires a reassessment of talent and strategies every single season. Fantasy football continues to evolve, with a few of the old truisms not quite as true as they were even 5 years ago. Winning at fantasy football is about finding a few difference makers, then adding solid performers around them at every position throughout the season. While the fantasy football draft is the most important part of team building, what you do after the draft is often what separates your team from your rivals.
The best advice that we can give you about winning a league championship in a good fantasy football league is that it requires a commitment. It’s not as big of a commitment as some of the less active participants make it out to be, but you want to be plugged into the NFL news from at least late-July (if not year-around) until the last week of your fantasy playoffs. Beyond that, there are several aspects of fantasy football you want to focus on.
- Draft Preparation
- Drafting a Solid Team
- Work the Waiver Wire
- Work the Trade Front
You want to be prepared for your fantasy football draft, which requires setting aside time to read online publications, keep an eye on the latest NFL injury updates, watching a little preseason, staying abreast of training camp news, and studying the depth charts the weekend of the draft. This should keep you up-to-date on the latest trends in the NFL and fantasy football.
Next, you want to put together your own fantasy football rankings list. You want a separate list for each starting position in your league: quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, defense, and even field goal kicker. Study expert predictions and projections, and look over a magazine or online cheat sheets to get an idea what other owners and experts think. You might mix in a few mock drafts and “average draft position” lists, for good measure.
You want the pulse of the fantasy football world before you make out your lists. This isn’t to impress in your mind what you should be thinking, as getting an idea of the relative value of players and letting you plan your strategy for where you want to draft certain players. You don’t want to draft a player 5 rounds too high that no one else would have wanted for a while. That’s a bad value, no matter how well the pick works.
Once you have analyzed the date, make out your own draft lists by position. Next, draw a line between the 1st, 2nd and 3rd tiers, so you have a quick reference where (in your mind) the talent level drops off. Generally, you want to draft from a tier only when it’s starting to thin out, unless it’s your strategy to draft two players from that position in that part of the draft.
Drafting a Solid Team
Drafting a solid team requires you to plan your draft strategy based on value, and not on reaches for players. Don’t draft Drew Brees with the 2nd pick of the draft, no matter how good you think he’s going to be. If you want Brees, trade down and take him later in the 1st, but get something out of that draft position. Better yet, don’t draft a quarterback in the first 4 or 5 rounds, and see whether that produces a better final roster. You might be starting Philip Rivers or Matt Schaub every week, instead of Brees, but you’ll also be starting Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson, instead of Ronnie Brown.
That isn’t to say you should blindly draft marginal running backs high, but if you’re going to target high value non-runners high, target wide receivers.
I’ve written elsewhere that the gap in points production between the #1 quarterback in 2009 (Aaron Rodgers) and the #10 quarterback was 5 points-per-game, while the gap in points production between the #1 and #10 running back was over 9 points-per-game. The difference between the #1 and #10 wide receivers was roughly 7 ppg, while the difference in the #1 and #10 tight ends was roughly the same. It’s great to have that high-scoring QB on your team, but it’s a deeper position and less of a difference maker in fantasy football than running backs and wide receivers, and even tight ends (whom you get much lower).
Draft for value, then. Try to select players just before they go off the board, not rounds before anyone else would want them. It’s one thing to draft them a half-round higher than projected, if you’re afraid someone you think is going to break out or be a sleeper is going to be drafted before you draft again. Good fantasy owners do that all the time. Target the guys you want, but that’s why you look at all those projections, mock drafts, and ADP lists, so you have a feel for when a player is about to go off the board.
Work the Waiver Wire
Once the draft is over, hopefully you have a solid roster to work with. If you don’t, your season is probably over. But even if you have a great team, almost all fantasy rosters could use some improvement.
Think about it. If an NFL team drafts 7 players and 3 of them turn into productive starters (eventually), that’s considered a good draft. Less than half of the guys pan out, even for teams that scout players 365 days a year. So it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to hit on all 16, 18 or 20 draft picks you make.
That means you’ll need to add talent after the draft, and your best bet is to scour the free agent lists for guys who slipped between the cracks at the fantasy draft. Remember, not every NFL players is going to end up on fantasy rosters in your league, so the fantasy football waiver wire is a lot more useful than the in-season NFL waiver wire.
If you are aggressive to start the season and you have a little luck, you can add a couple of mix-in starters to your roster. You might get a breakout receiver that helps your playoff push. If a star running back or quarterback goes out for the year, you might add a free agent who is just as good as high round fantasy draft picks. You might think all the backup RBs got snatched up at the draft, but running back depth charts can be hard-to-predict in the NFL.
Most of these players won’t pan out. You’ll add a few one-week wonders along the way. If you realize that’s the case, it’s time to drop that player and add a new free agent. Keep trying. No matter how good your starters are or how much depth you have, you should be improving your roster by small increments all year. With the violence of the NFL, there’s never any telling when you need that depth. And if you don’t need it, you can package those extra players in a trade proposal for that extra star you want.
Work the Trade Front
Which brings me to fantasy football trades. This can be the most frustrating part of fantasy football, because most trade proposals turn into nothing. Owners tend to overrate their own players, which means they aren’t going to think as much about your players as you do. Many are paranoid that you know something they don’t about injuries or depth charts, especially if you’ve won a lot in your league. Some are afraid of trading a player who breaks out and helps someone else win a title, for fear they’ll look foolish. So trades are hard to make happen in certain fantasy leagues.
Trades also cause the most controversy. Invariably, someone makes a trade that seems one-sided at the time. This can cause hard feelings and require tough decisions and tougher talk on the part of the commissioner. This can dampen trade talk, too, since no one wants to be the dunce who made the bad trade. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Make trade proposals throughout the season, based on the other team’s needs (as you see them). Put yourself in their shoes and see how a trade might help their chances, while still improving your team’s chances. Reply to trade proposals from other owners, and make counter-proposals when it seems a deal can be done. But most of the time, you want to take the initiative, so you set the trade agenda. This way, you don’t have to be the one paranoid your trade partner knows something you don’t know.
Often, a well-timed trade is what puts a fantasy team over the top in their league. If you’ve had a good draft with a few sleepers and breakout players, and you add a few productive free agents, you can built up a roster that makes it easier to make trades. Teams with the best depth are the ones who are most likely to be big players on the trade front, so work to build up your team’s roster at every step of the way.
Getting Lucky at Fantasy Football
Of course, having a little luck doesn’t hurt when you’re trying to win at fantasy football. One huge dose of luck is being lucky enough to avoid major injury in a sports as violent as pro football. An underrated part of most NFL Superbowl Champions is the relative health they have. The New Orleans Saints actually had the services of Reggie Bush, Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey for the Superbowl, when all three players have had trouble finishing seasons in the past. (Just an example.)
Another piece of luck is having your players “go off” in the playoffs. You can dominate all season, have one bad week, and still come up short. I played in 5 leagues in 2009 and had the #1 point producing team in 3 of those 5 leagues, only to see two of those dominant teams get beat out in the playoffs by inferior teams. (Favre to Sidney Rice with :22 left against the Bears on Monday Night was the difference in one league. Argh.)
I shouldn’t complain, since I’ve had my share of lucky breaks throughout the years. I wanted to point out that not everything is under your control in fantasy football, though: your mission in fantasy football should be to make the playoffs (and get a bye, if that’s allowed). But once you get to the single-elimination round, anything can happen.
Winning at Fantasy Football Tips
So mastering how to win at fantasy football requires preseason preparation, good drafting strategy and execution, free agent additions, hard work in the trade market, and a fair measure of luck. Make it your goal in fantasy football to be a consistently winning team and a perennial contender. Set yourself up to win the big game enough times, and it’s bound to pay off.
For more information related to how to win at fantasy football, see some of the following pages:
- How to Manage a Fantasy Football League
- Where to Get Live Football Scores
- How to Play Fantasy Golf
- How to Start a Fantasy Football League
- How to Draft in Fantasy Football
- How to Cheat at Fantasy Football
- Fantasy Football Leagues
- Fantasy Football Sites
- Fantasy Football Advice
- Fantasy Football Tips
- Fantasy Football Strategy
Fantasy Football Commissioner Tips
Knowing how to a manage a fantasy football league lets your time as fantasy football commissioner run smoothly, and helps the team owners have a good time with the game. Managing a fantasy football league isn’t hard, if you have a good mix of league members and you take care of your own business. Like an sports umpire or referee, if you do your job right, the competitors should hardly notice you’re there. Run a fair game, while at the same time appearing to run to fair game, and everything should run like the proverbial well-oiled machine.
Below are tips for fantasy football league management.
Eliminate Problems Beforehand
Manage problems before they become problems. Anticipate the various sorts of trouble that might arise, then eliminate those trouble points when you can. Write a logical and comprehensive set of rules, so there aren’t questions every week about some rule you hadn’t considered. Have a rulebook people can refer to, so you don’t have to ask league members to “take my word for it”. Below are rules you should have in place before the draft.
- Draft Rules
- Scoring System
- Waiver Wire Process
- Trade Rules
- Playoff Qualification
- What Happens in Case of Tie
- How New Rules are Enacted
Buy League Management Website
Most fantasy football leagues have their own league website online these days. Go to a fantasy football league management site like “My Fantasy League” and purchase a league, which tends to be somewhere between $70 and $90, depending on what time a year it is. You can buy a league homepage from big corporate names like CBS Sportsline for $160 or $170, but in the opinion of most fantasy football geeks, CBSSportsline offers an inferior product (for twice the price) that MFL does.
In either case, having a league site lets you communicate with league members before draft day, since you can send out league messages that reaches everyone’s email address. You can discuss any rule changes or clarifications, and otherwise coordinate on the draft and the season in general. Also, you can trash talk throughout the summer.
Recoup the money for the site by taking up a $5 website fee from every team at the draft. This is in addition to the league entry fee. Add the two together and collect a lump sum from every owner. Don’t let anyone leave the draft without paying their money, or you’ll never see that money recouped. I don’t let one draft pick be made without a full accounting of league fees.
Managing a Fantasy Football Draft
Managing a fantasy football draft starts with the draft date, time and location. You want to settle on a draft date and announce it roughly two months before the draft, because everyone has to set aside time in the late summer for drafting. You want to have the schedule set before people fill their schedules with that final family excursion for the summer, school clothes shopping, or other fantasy football draft dates.
Find a good location for the fantasy draft, discussing it with the membership. Ideas include your living room, your basement, a private room in a local restaurant, a banquet hall, a church’s fellowship hall, the local civic club, or just about anywhere you can fit 10 to 15 grown men. You’ll probably want to have food and refreshments there, as well as tables, chairs, and room for a draft board. Consider the league membership and their likes, dislikes and habits, since you don’t want to bring 12-packs to a church.
Call everyone a couple of times before the draft, to make sure they’re still coming. Remember to call one week out from the draft, so you have a full week to fill a spot, if someone drops out.
Once everybody is on site, make sure the draft starts on time. If you need votes for rules, get everybody’s attention and get the vote over with. People are going to lounge around, if you don’t stay on the ball, so you want to keep things moving. Remember that at least one impatient wife is watching the clock at home, and remember that at least one league member “has plans for later”. So get the draft started on time, then keep a stopwatch to enforce the draft time rules. Generally speaking, you might allow 3-5 minutes per pick in the first round or two, 2 minutes per pick between rounds 3-10, and 1 minutes per pick in the final rounds of the draft. This tends to come out to 4 or 5 hours, anyway.
Again, remember to collect money.
Managing a Fantasy Football Regular Season
Now that the draft is over and the regular season starts, you’re main job is managing free agency, trades, and playoff brackets.
Fantasy Football Free Agency
Free agency is also called “Add/Drop” and the “Waiver Wire“. This is adding players who aren’t on team rosters to a roster, and dropping players to remain at the roster limit. As commissioner, this is an important aspect to keep the league running smoothly, because free agency is the most common way teams improve in the season.
One option is the waiver wire priority list, which usually gives priority to the teams with the worst record. Once a week, people put in their waiver wire claims and players are assigned, according to the waiver priority list. After this, add/drops are done on the first-come, first-served basis.
Another option is first-come, first-served free agency. This is the easiest for you, since you have nothing to transact. On the negative side, teams can and will drop valuable players, letting other teams get free upgrades, just for being online at the time the drop was made. This rule can be abused, since a failing team can arrange to drop a player, while a contender is online, allowing them the certain player upgrade for free. Leagues have “Can’t Drop Lists” to keep teams from dropping their star players, though this gets tricky, with injuries and bad performances.
Perhaps the best way to handle free agency is through the blind bid waiver wire. Everyone in the league is given an imaginary point pool they use to bid on players. Whoever has the highest bid wins the player. These bids are unseen by everyone else or “blind”, and the commissioner make the transaction at some appointed time in the week. This requires the most work on your behalf, but is the fairest, the most orderly, and the one that requires the most strategy.
Fantasy Football Trades
More league commissioners have lost support through fantasy football trades, than through any other issue. When a trade happens, teams are going to have a lot of opinions about whether it’s fair or not, or whether one side is profiting from the trade or not. When a contender is perceived to be getting a sweet deal in a trade, this often leads to hard feelings. The commissioner has to be on top of this aspect of the game more than any.
First off, the commissioner should avoid suspicious trades himself. If the commish makes bad trades that help his team, he’s on shaky ground trying to police others doing the same.
Second, make certain there are set rules in place to handle trade rules. One option is to have the commissioner review every trade for fairness or collusion. “Fairness” is a subjective area, while collusion requires you to call out two cheaters, without any real proof of their collusion. Some leagues prefer to vote on trades, or simply have unrestricted trades.
Other leagues select three random trade committee members to review all trades in the season. Others have the commissioner and two random trade committee members. Whatever you do, have it in the rule book in black and white what the rules are, then enforce these rules to the letter of the law. Consider a trade deadline to make sure losing teams don’t dump players to their friends.
Fantasy Football Playoffs
Once the fantasy playoffs arrive, you’ll need to set up a fantasy playoff bracket. Have rules in place to determine who plays whom (seeding), while also having a rule in place to handle ties. This should take no time to set up.
Once the playoffs are over, send out checks to the prize winners the Monday after the fantasy football championship. This efficiency will be noticed by the winners, who can use the money to buy the wife a gift for putting up with him throughout the football season, or help buy an extra Christmas present or two (since ff season tends to end in December).
Managing a Fantasy Football League
Learning how to manage a fantasy football league is as simple as that. Even if you are an exemplary fantasy league commissioner, there are going to be times where you get drawn into a controversy, or even when your integrity is called into question. That’s why I saw you need to be fair, but also “appear to be fair”, because you want the majority of the league owners backing you up when nonsense allegations are made. When you make a decision, it needs to be final, and the league membership should get on with the rest of the season. Handle your business and a commissioner shouldn’t “lose” his league.
For more information related to how to manage a fantasy football league, visit some of the following pages:
- Fantasy Football Advice
- How to Play Fantasy Football
- Fantasy Football Rules
- Fantasy Football Questions and Answers
- How to Manage a Fantasy Football League
Who Will Win the 2010 Tour de France?
American interest in the Tour de France is waning with the career of their hero, Lance Armstrong. There was a time when everyone in America was wearing one of Lance’s yellow LIVESTRONG bracelets. Kids looked up to him. Americans who barely remember how to ride a bike mentioned him in lists of great American athletes. People actually watched a group of grown men riding around on bikes, on ESPN no less.
Not so much anymore. Whether because of the intrusion of the World Cup or an actual loss of interest in the Tour, it is difficult to find Tour coverage (or predictions) of more than just a few seconds on even the most extended cable networks.
Here, then, are five Tour athletes who have at least a decent shot of being Tour de France winners. Since the Tour de France has a huge pool of competitors and since it seems that every year we report on dozens of guys who have a shot, we’re focusing instead of five fan “favorites”. Will the winner come out of this pool? It is tough to say. The Tour de France is like no other athletic contest in that the winner is just as likely to be a dark horse no-name rider as one of the sport’s stars. A little bit of team analysis, past performances and titles, and good old gut feelings led us to these five riders.
Never heard of Brad Wiggins? Don’t feel bad; you’re not alone. But we say that Brad Wiggins is a name to watch. He’s an up and comer with a great team backing him up. The Sky team will support the pride of Briton like no other team on the tour will support their leader. When you think of Britons at the tour, you may think of Cavendish, but trust us, the hills will once again take the wind out of Cavendish’ sails. The time trial favors Brad Wiggins in every way, and while riders like Cavendish will go into the trial winded by the past three weeks of hard work, Wiggins will pull through. Why Wiggins? He has so much to prove. He’s new to team leadership, and anyone who knows cycling well remembers Wiggins’ awesome performances at the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics. Olympic champions are hard to beat.
Australian Cadel Evans comes into the Tour on a strong BMC team. Evans has had plenty of heartbreak with poor teams in the past (look at the close calls in the Tour from 2006-2008 to see how a bad team can stunt a surefire winner) but BMC will not be to blame if Evans doesn’t win big this year. Poor team time trial showings kept Evans from winning all three of those close calls. Don’t let naysayers tell you that Evans never attacks — point them toward the World Championship he won and wait for them to see one of the most beautiful attacks in cycling history. A slow start isn’t a problem for Evans either — he is at his best during week three, another hallmark of Tour winners. A bad Tour last year shouldn’t stand between him, his new team, and cycling glory. As goes his teammate George Hincapie, so goes Evans’ chance at winning it all in Paris.
Alberto Contador is the Kobe Bryant of cycling. El Pistolero is the total athletic package and the world’s best cyclist right now. He is a natural, making the bike seem like an extension of himself. Contador has always been more than ready to show up the Lance Armstrongs of the world, and the Spaniard is still hands down the best in the business. And doesn’t he know it — if you look up arrogance in the English to Spanish dictionary, you’ll see a picture of El Pistolero with a nasty smirk on his face. Contador is the stereotypical “climber”, a term that Tour enthusiasts use to refer to an athlete who may not start strong but always finishes so. Want a cyclist who performs to the limit during time trials? Contador is your man. Where Contador could fail — stage three on the much hated cobbles. Should Contador see his way through the troubling third stage, go ahead and chalk him into the top three finishers. There’s no cyclist in the Tour that performs better out of the Alps. A glaring downside for Contador that must be mentioned is his team — Vinokourov is a problem in particular. Known as the maverick of the cycling world, “Vino” as his fans (he has fans?) call him will probably act out against Contador at some point. Remember, Team Astana is supposed to belong to Vino, not the arrogant Spaniard.
Tiny Luxembourg has much to be proud of in the Shleck brothers. Andy would have been a great pick for this year’s Tour if not for his terrible training accident. No, this year his brother Frank gets our nod for the most likely Darkhorse candidate for champion. Yes, Andy Schleck is the better climber, and climbing is crucial for a Tour victory, but Frank has something that his brother lacks — perfect cycling form. Watch the Tour to see if Andy is providing support for his brother — if you see Andry stepping up to the plate and giving selflessly, get excited about Schleck’s chances. As long as the brothers Schleck cooperate instead of gunning at each other for dominance, a Schleck should end up in the top three at Tour’s end.
You knew he was going to make the list, didn’t you? After again announcing his retirement from professional cycling, Lance Armstrong could just win it all one more time. Lance has a full year of Tour preparation at his back, unless his injury shortened 2009 ride. Remember that Lance cycles mostly from the heart these days, and his heart has been challenged over and over again, both by people who dubt that he has the physical strength necessary to pull off a Tour win and by people who still insist he was guilty of massive blood doping. His rivalry with Spain’s El Pistolero is another motivating factor. Lance Armstrong, age aside, has the ability to rip the leading group up on any given race day. Not a pure climber, not a pure speed man, sometimes Armstrong’s hybrid strengths are the best match for the grueling Tour de France.
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MLB Playoffs 2010 Predictions
Since most teams in Major League Baseball have now played their 81st game of this season, we are officially at the halfway mark. In the race for October glory, there are still plenty of tight divisional races.
Currently, the American League is led by the Yankees, Tigers and Twins, Rangers, and Red Sox. Those are the top five teams based on their position in their divisions. Don’t think of the Red Sox as just another wildcard team — the team they are second place in the division too is none other than the New York Yankees, who also happen to have the best record in baseball. The Rangers are enjoying their time in the sun after decades of playing awful baseball, and sports fans in Detroit are overjoyed (if not a little shocked) by the prowess of their starting nine.
The National League holds few surprises. Sitting pretty at the top are some familiar faces, including the Atlanta Braves, the Cincinatti Reds and St. Louis Cardinals, the LA Dodgers, and the Amazing Mets. The same story that holds true for Boston in the AL holds for the New York Mets, who sit just two games behind a dynamic Atlanta Braves team.
This season has its share of strange developments. From the 14-1 record and 2.27 ERA for Udalbo Jimenez in Colorado to the (nearly) three perfect games pitched within thirty days of each other. It has certainly been a wild season and we’re only halfway through.
Besides Jimenez’ fantastic season opening play, there are at least two entire club systems whose performances shock us on a daily basis. For the Cincinnati Reds to be a full game and a half up on NL powerhouse St. Louis at this point in the season is nothing short of an Ohio miracle. Should the Reds hold on to win the division while Cleveland’s NBA team somehow manages to re-sign LeBron James, there’ll be riots in Columbus for a week. The Reds have pulled off this surprising season by mixing the stellar play of a handful of veterans with plenty of talented new blood. The Reds have six players aged 26 or younger, mostlythem big-time prospects like first baseman Joey Votto (hitting .311 with 10 homeruns and 31 RBI), but much of the work is being done by otherwise “no name” young players, like outfielder Jay Bruce (.264, four homers, 16 RBI) and the Reds’ 2009 draft pick and starting pitcher Mike Leake (4-0, 2.91 ERA). Veterans like shortstop Orlando Cabrera and outfielder Jonny Gomes act as anchors to a fiery young lineup that punishes everyone they play.
There is no greater disappointment than the pain being felt in Philly land these days. The National League champion Phillies are beset with injury troubles and something you might call “whiff syndrome”. Their big players are hurting, and the supporting cast are swinging Wiffle bats. Put simply, a 43-40 record is not good enough for Philly nation. A dismal home record (23-18) means that home fans have seen plenty of bad baseball. Sure, there’s nothing you can do about injuries — or is there? Fans are grumbling that something needs to change, and some sources are already talking about “changes” in the front office.
Two other teams that are playing surprisingly bad are the Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs. The Mariners were 85 – 77 last season and already this year they’ve hit the bottom of the division and pretty much just sat there. When your team hits lots of losing streaks and has trouble on your home field, you’re going to be a basement dweller. As for the Cubs, they are under .500 at home. There are no fans like Cubs fans, stil waiting for that championship stolen what seems like an eternity ago by an errant fan maneuver. If any team in the league is cursed, it is the Cubbies. Any team that is 3-9 in twelve games against lowly Pittsburgh this season is in for some big changes come year’s end.
In the spirit of the halfway point of the season, here are our divisional predictions, along with 2010 MLB Playoff picks.
1st New York Yankees
2nd Boston Red Sox, 1 GB
3rd Tampa Bay Rays 2 GB
4th Toronto Blue Jays 8 GB
5th Baltimore Orioles 30 GB
1st Detroit Tigers
2nd Minnesota Twins 1 GB
3rd Chicago White Sox 1.5 GB
4th Kansas City Royals 8 GB
5th Cleveland Indians 11 GB
1st Texas Rangers
2nd L.A. Angels 4 GB
3rd Oakland A’s 8.0 GB
4th Seatle Mariners 12 GB
1st Boston Red Sox
2nd Tampa Bay Rays 1 GB
3rd L.A. Angels 2 GB
AL Championship — New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox. The Yankees win in a seven game series during which they lose at least one key offensive player.
1st Atlanta Braves
2nd New York Mets 2 GB
3rd Philadelphia Phillies 5 GB
4th Florida Marlins 8 GB
5th Washington Nationals 13 GB
1st Cincinnati Reds
2nd St. Louis Cardinals 1 GB
3rd Milwaukee Brewers 3 GB
4th Houston Astros 10 GB
5th Chicago Cubs 12 GB
6th Pittsburgh Pirates 17 GB
1st San Diego Padres
2nd L.A Dodgers 2 GB
3rd Colorado Rockies 4 GB
4th San Francisco Giants 8 GB
5th Arizona D’backs 19 GB
1st New York Mets
2nd L.A. Dodgers 0.5 GB
3rd St. Louis Cardinals 1.0 GB
4th Milwaukee Brewers 3 GB
World Championship: New York Yankees vs. Atlanta Braves. We say Atlanta wins in a tough seven game contest after tough competition in several long playoff series puts the Yankees roster on injury watch.
The MLB season is a little over halfway over. All-Star fever is here, and teams are hoping to make second half changes to improve their standings. The days are long and hot and the cool breezes of October seem forever away. Before you know it, the Astros will be making a strong second half run (ultimately unsuccesful) at the Wild Card and the Cubs will really start choking. That’s just how it goes in the second half of the baseball season.
To find more information related to MLB Playoffs 2010 Predictions, visit the following:
- 2010 MLB Baseball Playoff Predictions at Bleacher Report
- 2010 MLB Second Half Predictions at Sprung on Sports
- Fantasy Baseball Leagues
Where Will LeBron James Play Next Season?
He’s been called The Chosen One, highlighting the fact that he’s the “second coming” of Michael Jordan. You may know him as L-Train or King James. Whatever the moniker may be, LeBron James is the most exciting player in the NBA right now. Much like Jordan at the height of his career when James steps up to the microphone the entire world listens. Kobe Bryant may sell more jerseys (and win more championships) but LeBron James is the media darling.
That’s why news of James’ departure from Cleveland, the city that he’s called home since his NBA debut in 2003, is on heavy rotation on sports talk radio and cable television. Instead of spending the off season reporting the ins and outs of why King James and company failed to pull off yet another championship season, sports journalists are speculating wildly about James’ free agency status.
Where will LeBron James play roundball next season? There are two main answers to that question. Will James follow his heart or his wallet?
1. LeBron James Will Stay in Cleveland
If you miss the good old days of sports when players stuck with one or two teams over their entire career you may take comfort in the fact that many sports junkies are suggesting that LeBron James will play at least one more season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wild reports from Cleveland indicate that city officials and big wigs have offered James everything from free beer for life from a local microbrewery to a personal visit from Betty White (emphasis on the personal). Cleveland has fallen in love with James. It is not common to find a superstar athlete with a genetically freakish body that engages willingly and happily with the media and fans; more rare is that caliber of athlete who has some local connection to his team and seems content to play with them. Sure, there are those who say that James’ body language over the last two or three seasons indicates a “devil may care” attitude about his team, but Cleveland fans had little to smile about before James put on his red and gold #23 jersey.
Enough romance, what are the facts behind the thought that James may stay a Cavalier? For starters, the Cavs front office worked hard to secure the best available coach. The hiring of Byron Scott this offseason indicates the Cavaliers willingness to bend to James’ will. James has said many times that he’d like to play for a former player — Byron Scott fits that bill. Tensions between LeBron and his former coach (Mike Brown, a student of one of the most successful coaches in NBA history Gregg Poppovich) have been rising since the Cavs blew their first legitimate shot at a championship in the 2006 / 2007 season. Since Mike Brown was fired after his team turned in the best record in the league two year’s running, some people say that the firing of Brown was a direct result of James dissatisfaction with his team’s performance. The fact that the Cavs organization would hire and fire coaches at will based on James’ wishes indicates to many that LeBron has it made in Ohio.
2. LeBron James Will Play in New York
A report on James’ meeting last week with the New York Knicks is making the rounds on social media sites. In various articles and commentaries from around the world, people are freaking out about the Knick’s courting of King James. According to inside sources, the Knicks showed LeBron James a marketing plan that would put $1,000,000,000 in his pocket over the course of the next few years . . . should he sign with the Knicks of course. Put together by a room full of marketing wizards (and perhaps a couple of long nights with the bottle), the report on James’ possible earnings as the star of the New York sports scene suggests he could make a billion dollars. We’ve heard of big contracts in sports, but nothing with that many zeroes. Call me crazy, but the devil himself could dangle a billion dollars in front of me and I’d play small forward in hell.
Speculation about James wanting to play in New York comes from common sense. While Cleveland has entered the NBA spotlight since James’ signing seven years ago, it is still a relatively small Midwestern town. The big money in the NBA is in big-market towns. There are exceptions to every rule (including LeBron James who makes about $20 million a year) but for players chasing top dollar, markets like LA and New York are payday Mecca. Pay attention to the tone of those journalists who swear that James will end up in NYC — most of them are indicating that this is a player who doesn’t care about winning championships, only about signing checks. Whether or not you believe this, you’ve got to admit the instant appeal of those nine zeroes.
Are there other potential landing spots for LeBron James? Undoubtedly. Any team with enough money to pay him has been in contact with the King himself, and James has made visits with several teams though he has only technically been a free agent for a couple of weeks. There’s a lot of noise being made over the Nets — if there was ever a team that could use an injection of Vitamin L it is the lowly New Jersey Nets, and the high profile purchase of the Nets by a Russian billionaire (in cahoots with James’ friend, rapper Jay-Z) has really added fuel to the fire.
Speculation drives sports journalism. We don’t know what we know until we find out what we should have seen coming. The hiring of Byron Scott in Cleveland could be a sign that LeBron is still calling the shots for the Cavs, a situation that such a young player would be foolish to give up. Still, big paychecks and even bigger media markets are capable of starrying the eyes of even the most committed young superstar.
See also: Fantasy Basketball Leagues
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Who will host the 2016 Summer Olympics?
The 2016 Summer Olympics, known officially as the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, are in the planning stages. Many cities initially lined up to make a bid at hosting the games but only four remain.
Initially, 26 cities expressed some kind of interest in playing host to the games. Below is a breakdown of some of those cities and how their bids fell apart:
Bangkok, Thailand expressed much enthusiasm for hosting an Olympiad after Thailand’s excellent performance in the 2004 Olympic Games — but Thailand officials decided that an application for the 2010 Youth Games would better suit their abilities. They then lost the bid for the Youth Games to Singapore.
San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico discussed making a joint bid for the 2016 games, but discussions fizzled. No future plans for Olympics bids have been discussed.
Cape Town and Durban, South Africa both expressed interest. It is unclear if those countries Olympic officials ended the bid or if the Olympic committee rejected their plans.
Delhi, India was all set to enter a full fledged bid, but in April of 2007 that country announced it would bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics instead, probably wanting more preparation time.
Dubai, of the United Arab Emirates, was also set to make a serious bid for the games, but decided against placing such a bid, preferring to focus on future Olympic games.
Fukuoka and Sapporo, Japan were eliminated by the Japanese Olympic Committe, with the intention of focusing their time and money on Tokyo’s bid.
Houston, Texas and Philadelphia were eliminated by the United States Olympic Committee in favor of three larger cities. San Francisco then withdrew its bid when that city lost its Olympic Stadium funding. Eventually, Los Angeles lost out to Chicago for the country’s bid.
Montreal and Toronto, Canada abandoned their plans for a bid for the Olympic Games in 2016 after Vancouver won the bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Toronto is still considering an application for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games or the 2024 Summer Olympics if the 2020 bid falls through.
The following four cities are the finalists for landing the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Chicago’s plan is to use 15 existing sports venues plus one new building (already drawn up and funded). In the meantime they would build six new permanent Olympic venues, such as the Olympic Stadium and swimming arena, which would later be scaled down for future use. The city is also planning to incorporate the use of nine temporary venues in their Olympic plans — venues that would be scrapped after the Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee said that Chicago’s financing proposal represents a serious risk for that city’s bid. The city of Chicago has set a $750 million financial cap on the necessary guarantees to secure an Olympic games — that cap would cover any potential shortfalls in the Olympic organizing budget. It is still unclear what about that financial plan is risky for the potential Olympic bid, but their budget has been called “ambitious but achievable.” Chicago still has to generate nearly $2 billion in revenue from sponsors before the time of the games.
Chicago’s bid puts a heavy financial burden on that city’s Olympic organizing committee to deliver the necessary infrastructure and “temporary venues”, although if any city can pull it off, its the city of the big shoulders.
On a positive note, the IOC praised Chicago’s “thorough planning and . . . full understanding of the complexity” of any Olympic plan. The IOC found their plan to place temporary arenas in public parks “unique” and praised the city for thinking outside the box. Unfortunately, on a negative note, the IOC says that relying on “temporary and scaled down venues” will increase risks for that city’s ability to deliver a successful set of Olympic games.
The IOC also has doubts about Chicago’s public transportation — and the city’s ability to control the kind of traffic that the Olympics brings. The most dangerous area for congestion during a potential Olympics? The area around McCormick Place.
As for security during the games, the United States has stepped up to ensure the IOC that they would take “full financial and operational responsibility” for securing the city during the Olympics. The IOC warmed to this plan over time, but still want to see a clear description of exactly what this means for the city and the games.
Chicago’s bid isn’t as strong as it could be — for one thing, nearly 4 percent of the city’s population is “strongly opposed” to the games being hosted in the Second City. The IOC ranks Chicago’s bid as “third overall” out of the four remaining cities.
Madrid can boast the strongest public backing in the IOC Olympic host polls, with a solid 84.9 percent of residents fully supporting that city’s bid and only around 2 percent strongly opposed. The citizens of Madrid seem excited by the notion of their city hosting the Olympic games. The IOC ranks Madrid’s bid for the Games as second overall.
However, the Madrid bid team has suffered somewhat after the IOC determined that city’s organizing committee did not fully understand the responsibilities a city has when planning an event as complex as the Summer Olympics.
Madrid’s Olympic concept is seriously compact and appears to be quite efficient for large crowds. A full 23 of the 33 planned venues are in place and two more venues are already being built. This is a city serious about its Olympic bid. The areas where Madrid’s Olympic construction are lacking — the Olympic Stadium itself as well as the venues for rowing, flat water canoeing and open water swimming.
All but two of their planned competition venues will be accessible by public transit, and are within 6.2 miles of the city’s center. The shooting venue is planned for an area just outside the 6 mile radius zone, while sailing is 224 miles away in Valencia. That city plans to build its own athletes village to cut down on travel needs.
According to the IOC, Madrid’s organizing committee is “confused” at best, and that Madrid’s management structure is weak. Weakness in management usually results in financial challenges for a host city, and the IOC doesn’t look too kindly on a city that can’t financially handle an Olympic bid.
The finances for Madrid’s bid are well structured, with several national, regional and city governments stepping up to provide what the IOC calls “strong” financial support. This funding would be in place to cover any potential shortfalls in the city’s organizing budget.
The city of Madrid has been praised for its plan for use of the buildings after the Games. The city of Madrid would fully own the athletes’ village after the Games, and the media center would be used for social programs and housing after the Games.
Two major problems that stand in the way of Madrid’s bid? The IOC thinks that Spanish anti-doping laws lack the stiffness necessary to comply with the World Anti-Doping Agency code. Calling this issue of “utmost importance” to Madrid’s bid, the IOC made it clear that without some change to the anti doping laws, the bid would fall through.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio is in last place out of the four bids still on the table for the 2016 Games. Part of the problem for Rio de Janeiro is their lacking public support in the IOC polling date. A full 83 percent of residents do favor of the bid, but a rather hefty 4 percent of those polled are strongly opposed.
Like Madrid, the governments of Rio and Brazil have guaranteed the ability to finance the Olympic infrastructure costs and cover any obstacles in the organizing budget.
Rio’s venue plan would fit in well with their ongoing and expensive urban regeneration plans. Rio is working hard to revamp their infrastructure and public image, especially along the city’s waterways. This reconstruction is fully funded by the government of Brazil, to the tune of $240 billion. The IOC has said that reconstruction in Rio de Janeiro will certainly accelerate the delivery of the Olympic Games, but that the city needs “careful management and monitoring” of their reconstruction projects.
Brazil will play host to the World Cup in soccer in 2014, and this will certainl speed up the delivery on much needed infrastructure in Rio de Janeiro, however, the idea of hosting the world’s two largest sports events inside of two years presents a serious challenge in terms of marketing and communications.
Rio faces a shortage of hotel accomodations for visitors both for the World Cup and for a potential Olympic Games. The city plans to build four villages and use six cruise ships to house people for the Games.
Public safety and crime levels in Brazil are a major concern, so Rio has spent time attempting to engage local communities in various social revamping and sports programs.
Overall, Rio doesn’t appear to have what it takes to secure an Olympic bid. High crime rates, difficult geography, and questions about Brazil’s ability to host two major sports events inside of 24 months will probably keep Brazil out of the running for the 2016 Games.
The frontrunner for the 2016 Games appears to be Tokyo, Japan — even though only 55 percent of that city’s residents support their bid for the Games, and as many as 8 percent of the population lists itself as “strongly opposed”.
There is plenty of praise and criticism for Tokyo’s bid, and the lines of thought on their bid follow the same themes as other cities — for instance, finances are secure but public support is pretty low.
The government of Tokyo has guaranteed the finances for the games and set aside a huge $3.7 billion reserve fund. National and city governments have guaranteed to finance infrastructure changes the IOC deems necessary, and also to cover any potential shortfall in the organizing budget.
The bid aims to highlight the sucess of Tokyo’s hosting of the 1964 Summer Games. Tokyo’s plan is to create a socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable’ Olympic project.
The IOC has high praise for Tokyo’s plan to minimize athlete’s travel times, calling Tokyo’s venue plan “very efficient”. All but the shooting events would take place within 5 miles of the city’s center. Unfortunately, the IOC sees a “lack of clarity” on Tokyo’s claims that most venues are ready right now. Some venues that Tokyo lists as “existing” are actually closer to the “need to be built” phase.
Tokyo also faces questions about their ability to control traffic, and in a country composed of tiny islands like Japan there is the usual concern about the size of land area available to develop the Olympic Village.
Did the government go too far in pursuing steroid users in Major League Baseball?
Three of baseball’s biggest stars (Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and David Ortiz) have been outed in the past couple of seasons after investigators from the Federal government seized a list containing the names of players testing positive for steroids and other performance enhancers. These “leaks” have had something of a negative impact on the careers of these players, most notably Manny Ramirez who recently completely a 50 game suspension for his actions related to performance enhancing drugs. Those players who didn’t face these kinds of strict suspensions have felt the pain in other ways — loss of endorsements, a tarnish on their records, and negative reactions from former fans.
Unfortunately for those investigators, a Federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Wednesday that the seizure of that list of 104 players who tested positive for doping was illegal. While this ruling can’t do anything for players who’ve already faced harsh penalties, it may protect the remaining 101 players on the list whose names haven’t been released.
The seizure of the list took place way back in 2004, meaning there’s been plenty of time for further leaks. We may still see the complete list of cheaters, or we may not. Either way, players whose identities are improperly leaked from the “dope list” may now have grounds for action, or at least a safety net against the announcement of their names.
Federal agents who raided a Long Beach company in 2004 did have the right to search for information about a specific list of 10 players — a search warrant that named 10 players whose drug test results they had the legal right to obtain. This search warrant was part of the Federal investigation into the actions of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO, in Burlingame, California. Where these agents crossed the line, according to the San Francisco appeals court, was in their seizure of the complete list of 104 players who tested positive for steroids. These tests results are related to a drug test given in 2003.
The test was conducted by Major League Baseball, but the names were supposed to remain private and out of the public realm. In the past year or so, reports of the identities of various players have been leaked to the media. In a 9-2 ruling, a virtual judicial landslide, the San Francisco appeals court agrees that the Federal government should only have been allowed to go after the specific 10 players on their list.
A spreadsheet at Comprehensive Drug Testing, the company handling the test for baseball, contained the entire list of players and was seized, illegally, by the government. When the Federal agents saw the spreadsheet at CDT, the agents responded quickly, ordering and obtaining the necessary search warrants to take it with them. The agents went a step further, downloading the entire computer memory and taking it with them. This, says the appeals court, was where they broke the law.
Why was NFL star Plaxico Burress indicted?
There seems to be no end to the “star athlete as criminal” news this summer. Late in 2008, star NFL receiver Plaxico Burress accidentally discharged a weapon in a New York City night club, injuring himself and frightening the club’s patrons. He (and his fellow player Antonio Pierce, who drove him to the hospital and allegedly helped hide the gun) was arrested on gun charges, and New York law enforcement officials soon made it clear that Burress was facing serious trouble. You see, New York takes their gun law quite seriously.
On Monday, August 3, a grand jury indicted the former Giants receiver on two seperate counts of criminal possession of a weapon and one count of reckless endangerment — three charges for effectively shooting himself and ending his football career. The craziest part — Burress faces a minimum 3 1/2 years in prison if he is convicted. This seems like a stiff penalty for a guy who put a bullet in his own leg, especially considering what happened (or didn’t happen) to Donte Stallworth after that NFL player killed a person while driving drunk — and got less than 30 days in jail for it.
More player controversy is not what this league needed.
Giants linebacker, and Burress’ alleged partner in crime Antonio Pierce, was not indicted and will not face charges or any suspension from the NFL.
Antonio Pierce, just 30 years old, was at the Latin Quarter club with Plaxico Burress, who is not much older at 31, when Buress allegedly misfired a pistol he carried in the front waistband of his jeans and shot himself in the right thigh. Plax’s friend helped “arrange” for someone to remove Burress’ gun and the gun’s magazine from the crime scene, sending them over to Antonio Pierce’s home. Pierce then had the gun returned back to Plaxico Burress’ home the day after the incident, which is where the gun was when police recovered it. The big problem here is that Plaxico Burress is not licensed to own or carry a firearm in either New York or New Jersey, the state where he lives.
Shortly after Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau announced the grand jury’s decision, an NFL spokesman said: “In light of today’s grand jury decision, we see no basis for a suspension of Antonio Pierce.”
Burress faces a maximum prison sentence of 15 years on the two counts of criminal weapon possession, which is a class C violent felony. The one time big name football player also faces a maximum one year prison term on the endangerment charge, which is a lesser crime — a class A misdemeanor. There is curently no date set for Plaxico Burress’ arraignment in New York State Supreme Court. His attorney released a brief statement late yesterday, saying that he himself “doesn’t expect the trial to begin until spring”.
Reading the statement a little deeper, we find this gem from Plax’s attorney — “Although disappointed, we are not surprised, as the facts of this case have not been in dispute since the date of the incident. When you have the mayor and the district attorney both publicly demanding a maximum prison sentence, it was perhaps too much to hope for the grand jury to conduct a sympathetic review of the unique facts of this sad case.”
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before — but why should superstar athletes be held to any lighter standard when they commit crimes? These people, like it or not, are role models for a certain segment of the population, and now that it seems the entirety of the NFL has a mugshot, some (like me) believe it’s time that these players stepped up and held down that role.
Put simply — Plaxico Burress, who just happens to be a star athlete and something of a celeb, will be headed to prison like any person who carries an illegal weapon in New York. Burress’ actions show little regard for public safety — and why would a star athlete need a pistol anyway? Can’t he hire a bodyguard like the rest of the celebrity world?
I think we owe a debt of gratitude to the grand jury that decided yesterday to charge Plaxico Burress to the fullest extent that the law allowed. Think of it this way — if you or I hit a person while driving drunk, or shot off an illegal weapon in a night club, or ran dog fighting ring, what would happen to us? Who would be there to give us a soft landing? No one — and these players should face the full penalties available to the courts just like the rest of us. For Burress, the future looks bleak — and that isn’t something I’ll celebrate. Burress was a joy to watch, whether he was catching passes or answering media questions. Unfortunately for the one time Giants receiver, he will likely spend at least the next two seasons in a cell, and after he gets out (in his mid thirties) who knows if any team will have him?
I hope that Burress can see a silver lining here. Every day that he spends in prison watching his old teammates play on television, he’ll act as a kind of warning to those considering carrying illicit weapons. Like Michael Vick before him, Burress could become a warning of “what could happen” to teenagers across the country.
There were so many bad decisions on the night of November 29, 2008 — the first poor choice was when Burress decided to cross the state line from New Jersey into New York with an illegal .40-caliber pistol. Another bad decision — bringing the gun into the night club and hiding it in such a way that it would go off accidentally. The last bad choice — Antonio Pierce deciding to hide the weapon for his teammate and friend.
Surprisingly, the grand jusry gave the gun hiding Antonio Pierce a “get out of jail free” card — was it because Pierce eventually cooperated? Did Pierce cut a plea bargain? We don’t know yet. According to legal analysts, the grand jury likely saw Pierce as a victim of Plaxico Burress’ reckless behavior. Count your lucky stars, Pierce.
The jury also chose not to indict a security guard who transported Burress’ gun out of the club and into Pierce’s car — hospital staff, who were in trouble for failing to notify police of the shooting incident as required by law — also got off without so much as a slap on the wrist. The security worker for the night club merely exhibited “bad judgment” according to the grad jury panel, and the hospital staff? They committed a major screw up, but the grand jury could not find anything to charge them with.
Burress could still strike some kind of plea bargain himself, but according to NYC chief assistant district attorney Mark Dwyer this is unlikely, as the best bargain Burress would get is a year or 18 months off the charge he’s already been indicted for, still sidelining him for the next two NFL seasons. Burress is unlikely to bargain for a gift he doesn’t really want.
Both Plaxico Burress and Antonio Pierce testified before the grand jury last week. Only Antonio Pierce succeeded at making his case, as his lengthy two day court appearance may have been the final straw that cleared him of any charges. Some writers have indicated that if Antonio Pierce had not testified in front of the panel, he would have been indicted along with Plax.
Antonio Pierce, for his part, is sweating this one out at Giants training camp in Albany. Plaxico Burress’ decision to testify, unlike Pierce, may have hurt his case, and kept him from the chance of earning an acquittal if he goes to trial. Plaxico Burress is now locked into a specific story and timeline of events which takes away his defense attorney’s ability to plead his case. Testifying before the grand jury? Pierce, win — Burress, lose.
Did Michael Vick deserve a conditional reinstatement?
A couple of years after a conviction on animal cruelty charges related to dog fighting, one time NFL star Michael Vick has been “conditionally” reinstated to the professional football league by its commissioner Roger Goodell. Analysts were split on exactly what would happen to Vick, a quarterback with enough talent for three or four players. Some insisted he would be let back into the league immediately, having served a full two year suspension. Still others expected that Vick would never play football again, at least not for the NFL.
It turns out both camps were wrong. Though some people will quickly call Vick’s “conditional reinstatement” an error, arguing that Michael Vick should face more severe action from the league, still others are already lining up to point out what they feel is an obvious case of double jeopardy. For example, one prominent sportswriter is already on the record saying that Vick’s additional give game suspension is like “kicking a dead horse” — a line that makes me wonder if said writer could have possible come up with a less tasteful metaphor. You see, some people think that the additional five games added to Vick’s two year suspension (keeping him off any NFL field until the sixth game of the upcoming season at least) is addint insult to injury. “He’s already done the time,” they’ll say, and they may be right. But Vick’s crime was more than a petty crime — it has been charged that Vick personally abused dogs.
For his part, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell did what he has long promised he would do — look for actions over words. Besides just adding the first five games of the upcoming 2009 season to the length of Michael Vick’s suspension, Goodell promises that he’ll be watching Vick’s behavior, intimating that Vick will be on the shortest of leashes. Though he did conditionally reinstate Vick to the NFL, there is, as always, a caveat: “only actions matter”. Goodell has made it clear that Vick’s words will not be neough to act as a true “rehabilitation”. In my opinion, that is about the only way Goodell could have handled the Michael Vick situation. Goodell is taking time to watch Vick, judge the man by his deeds, and not fall back on listening to Vick’s promises.
This is not a crime that happened ages ago — in fact, Michael Vick’s nearly two year prison sentence ended last week (last week!) when his house arrest was ended. Who can be rehabilitated in a week — what person charged with cruelty to animals can change his or her ways in just a couple of years? If Goodell didn’t add a little “insult” to Vick’s “injury”, it would be absurd. Goodell would basically be saying “Okay, you’ve paid your dues, one week was enough, strap on your helmet.”
From the angle of Michael Vick’s supporters — and there are plenty — Vick has paid a very steep price for his dog fighting crimes. He missed two seasons (or so) of NFL football, and lost out on millions of dollars in contract money and endorsements, some of which he’ll never get back, and the rest of which he’ll have to PAY back, in cash. Vick’s supporters, for the most part, agree that his inhumane treatment of animals was disgusting and that his crime shouldn’t be minimized, but they argue that the man has already paid that debt and should be allowed back in the game ASAP.
There is another angle for Michael Vick and his crowd of yeasayers. Compare Vick’s sentence and penalties to those of other NFL athletes who have committed equal (or even more serious) crimes. Take the case of Leonard Little for example. After he left a friend’s birthday party (with a blood alcohol level of 0.19 percent) in 1998, Little crashed into the car of Susan Gutweiler, killing her instantly. For his crime, which amounts to murder, Leonard Little received just 90 days in jail. Now, we can argue about the value of a dog versus the value of a human, but a two year prison sentence for cruelty to animals versus a 90 day jail sentence for killing a human is downright laughable. Even this year, we heard the results of the case against Donte’ Stallworth, also guilty of vehicular manslaughter. Stallworth received around 20 days in jail — even less than Little — and settled with the family of the deceased for an unknown amount of cash. So sometimes the criminal justice system doesn’t make sense. I still think that misses the point of Vick’s case.
Michael Vick’s crime was premeditated — he knew what he was doing to these animals, and continued to do it until he was caught. You could say that Vick would still be choke slamming dogs and pitting house pets against trained fighting dogs if he hadn’t been busted. Vehicular manslaughter, though terrible, is not as premeditated a crime as the creation and maintenance of a dog fighting ring.
I guarantee you, the Vick debate will rage on for a few months until his first game — then, if he keeps his nose clean — we’ll all go back to thinking of Mike Vick the amazing quarterback. No matter what side if the debate you’re on, one fact that you can’t deny is that Vick hasn’t yet done enough to prove to the league that he’s mentally able to play the game of football. To determine when Vick is truly “rehabilitated”, the NFL needs to take some time to track Vick’s actions and make sure they’re in line with his vocalizations of remorse.
Roger Goodell has been nothing but consistent in his comments and opinions about Michael Vick and the dog fighting situation. The commissioner has never said anything but this — that he wants to see “real remorse” on Vick’s part before he is welcome back to the league. The problem for Goodell is and has always been that he’s selling a product, and Michael Vick simply makes that product more profitable.
Michael Vick may be out of the slammer, but he has clearly not done what the NFL wants him to do inorder to be fully reinstated.
Who won the 2009 Tour de France?
As predicted here at AskDeb.com, the winner of the 2009 Tour de France is Astana team member Alberto Contador. This is not Contador’s first time on the podium — he won last year’s seminal cycling event as well.
The battle for top prize in this year’s Tour de France (the 96th running of the race, by the way) ended in a mostly ceremonial conclusion event. Lance Armstrong was there — he took third place — and he was exhibiting stiff body language and looking rather uneasy. You get the feeling that Armstrong thought he had what it takes to win this year’s event. Third place isn’t too shabby for a cancer survivor who, let’s be honest, is getting a bit old for this sport. Armstrong stood to the left and slightly below his Astana teammate Alberto Contador — Contador, of course, was the man of the moment, wearing the yellow jersey and celebrating wildly.
Armstrong was on the podium for the eighth time in the past 11 years, but you could tell his heart wasn’t in it. In fact, reporters in France were shocked when Armstrong adsent-mindedly forgot to take off his cap for most of the Spanish national anthem. Later, Armstrong said that there was no disrespect intended by the move — he was distracted. Lost in though about what might have been, and probably considering another retirement from the sport he loves and made famous in America.
The “beef” between Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador is not news — and watching the procession towards the winner’s podium, it was no surprise that Armstrong was so cold toward Contador. In stark contract, he made a big show of warmly greeting runner-up Andy Schleck, even placing his hand on Schleck’s shoulder, offering enthusiastic congratulations. To be sure, Armstrong should exhibit better sportsmanship, but can you blame the guy? Armstrong is used to winning the Tour, not taking home a consolation prize.
So Lance Armstrong was denied his record eighth victory in France — and he readily acknowledges that Contador was the better rider during the 21 day competition. Brushing aside rumors of retirement, Armstrong (the 37-year-old record holding cycling champion from Texas) let everyone in the media know that he plans to come after the Spanish rider known as “El Pistolero” in next summer’s race — and he’s formed something of a dream team.
For the first time in a few years, Armstrong will be the team leader for a well funded American team. Next year’s team will be sponsored by Radio Shack and the team operator is none other than Johan Bruyneel, the Belgian cycling mastermind responsible for Contador’s second victory — it was Bruyneel’s ninth Tour victory as operator.
Contador on the other hand is still an Astana team member, having pedged his allegianc for another year to the team that got him his second win. One thing’s for sure, Contador and Armstrong won’t be attempting a revival of their at time uneasy relationship. Contador, for his part, has spoken directly to the face that he and the Texan phenom are “totally incompatible.”
Lance Armstrong has also made it abundantly clear that he didn’t like the way Contador won the Tour. Armstrong claims that Contador ignored the team’s plan of attack — a method of riding that could have left the championship open to Armstrong and would have probably “served the greater good”, according to Lance. One example — Contador’s chase after runner-up Schleck and his brother and teammate Frank Schleck during the last two climbs in the Alps probably cost one of Contador’s team mates Andréas Kloden a shot at the podium, and a shot for Armstrong to climb up one place to runner-up.
Much has been made in the media of Armstrong’s snub of the Contador/Astana victory party. What did Armstrong do instead? On Saturday night, Armstrong was seen partying and socializing with his new found Radio Shack friends. Armstrong told the French media on Saturday that he was “satisfied” with his third place finish, though he looked like a spoiled and angry child on the podium on Sunday. Let’s be honest — any podium position is a miracle for an older rider like Armstrong. In fact, only one rider (Raymond Poulidor), got a spot on the podium at an older age. Poulidor was 40 in 1976 when he won second place. In the Tour’s 106 year history, there is only one guy older than Armstrong who rode as well, and he should be happy with his finish.
What are the top ten college football teams heading into the 2009 season?
There are so many college football polls out there it is difficult to decide which one to rely on. It seems every newspaper and sports venue has their own ranking of the top 10, top 15, top 25, or even top 130 teams in the country.
To make things easy, we’re going to take a look at the top 10 teams in this year’s preseason Associated Press poll. While many of you are sure to disagree, this is the concensus opinion of a ton of journalists who tend to know what they’re talking about. We’ll break down the strengths and weaknesses of each team, as well as where we think they’ll REALLY end up at the end of the season. To keep things interesting, let’s start at the bottom — number 10.
10. Ohio State
A perennial poll darling, Ohio State has the tradition you’d expect from one of college football’s greats, not to mention a good deal of recent success — including a National Championship in 2002. Ohio State has one of the toughest schedules this season — a factor that can give your team a ton of respect (if they win games) or make them a national laughingstock (if they blow it). Just look at the matchup with USC on September 12 — one of the most intriguing games of the season. Also, OSU has road games at Penn State and at Michigan, not an easy task when both of those teams are close to their peak. With Sophomore sensation Terelle Pryor at the helm, the Buckeyes ought to put up big numbers. I predict they’ll end up much higher than their preseason number ten spot — look for them in a BCS game at season’s end.
Boise State made the Western Athletic Conference its bitch last season, plain and simple. An 8-0 conference record (and a 12-1 overall record) is what placed them in the AP top 10 this preseason. But do the Broncos have what it takes to stay in the AP’s good graces? Let’s take a look at their schedule for starters — they only play one other ranked team, and it is in their first game at Oregon. Let’s be honest, the Broncos will likely lose this first game and fall quickly out of their poll position. The running back Ian Johnson, who pulled off 13 touchdowns last season could offer some spark, but this team will not end up in the top 10 — heck, I’d be surprised if they ended the season ranked at all. Sleep on this team.
Much like Boise State, Texas Tech is benefitting from their amazing performance last season. You remember — they nearly swept the tough Big 12 conference, including an embarassing defeat of rival Texas (remember that last second catch by Michael Crabtree?) but got spanked by Oklahoma and moved from number 2 in the nation down to number 7 or 8. Tech lost plenty of talent in the offseason, including phenoms Crabtree and QB Graham Harrell. Put simply, this is a rebuilding year for the fans in Lubbock, Texas. This team simply won’t match up to last season’s record breaking season. Looking at their schedule, there’s some problems but some bright spots. Tech will face three top 15 teams this season — Texas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. Luckily for Tech, they face Oklahoma on their home turf — and Tech’s stadium can put an opponent in his place. Don’t forget about Tech’s awesome passing game — four of Tech’s last five QBs led the nation in passing, and new star Taylor Potts could follow in his fellow QBs footsteps. Time will tell — but don’t expect this team to remain in the top 10.
Poor Utah has been the victim of a BCS system that is crippled at best. In the past couple of years, Utah has been the little engine that could — they finished 13-0 overall last season and earned a spot in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama. If their manhandling of Alabama wasn’t proof enough that “non-BCS” schools should be given greater consideration in the polls, then nothing will be. The Utes have a pretty tough schedule this season, including three ranked teams all of which are away games. Plenty of experienced upperclassmen return to a high powered offense, including Senior running back Matt Asiata and Senior receivers John Peel and David Reed. All in all, the Utes chances at returning to a major bowl game look good . . . just don’t expect another undefeated season. I expect Utah to remain in the top 10 all season.
6. Penn State
Yes, Joe Paterno is likely the greatest college coach still in action. And yes, the Nittany Lions are a powerful team. I don’t think they deserve the high ranking they’ve been given by the AP. For one, the higher up you go in any top ten poll, the tougher schedule you expect, and Penn State’s schedule just doesn’t deliver. Sure, they’ll face three top 25 opponents, but look closely — those opponents are Iowa, Michigan State, and Ohio State. Let’s face it — Penn State can’t take on Ohio State’s talent, they’ll lose that home game for sure. The other two — Iowa and Michigan State, are at the bottom of the top 25 poll, and aren’t exactly big ticket items. For a team like Penn State to stay in the top 10, they’ll basically have to go undefeated, and the Big 10 offers plenty of opportunities for the Nittany Lions to blow it. I expect Penn State to remain ranked, just not in the top 10.
Another perennial poll topper, USC has a good shot at going all the way this season, even though they are only ranked 5 in the preseason top 10. Two tough away games — at Ohio State and at Oregon — aren’t the least of their worries. USC has two possible bracket busters — at Notre Dame and at home against Oregon State (the team that came out of nowhere to beat them up last season). Still, USC has plenty of talent to back up their number 5 preseason rank. Their senior QB Garrett Green has been waiting in the wings for his coming out party, and don’t write off Adam Goodman, the senior FB. His impact on the Trojans game may be the difference between a BCS game and a disappointing season. I expect USC to float around the top 5 for most of the season.
Sure, the Crimson Tide got shocked in last season’s Sugar Bowl by an underrated Utah Utes team. And yes, the schedule that Alabama faces is pitifully weak — just two games against ranked opponents. But the SEC gets mad respect from pollsters, and Alabama is a constant threat to win that tough conference. Rumors abound that the Crimson Tide are switching to a spread heavy offense, which means one of two things. Either the team will be confused by the new offensive tactics, or their opponents will be left looking silly. As the season plays out, the ability of this Alabama team to follow their new offense will determine their SEC dominance, and that dominance will in turn determine if they can stay ranked as highly as they are. Look for Alabama to finish in the top 10.
This is difficult for me to say — I believe Texas got the shaft in this year’s preseason AP poll. As an avid Texas Tech fan, I loathe the Longhorns — that doesn’t mean I don’t respect them. Colt McCoy is back for another year tearing up the gridiron, and if he can stay healthy, I expect Texas to beat out their rivals Oklahoma for the Big 12 title. If that happens, and if Texas can take down their tough schedule (four ranked opponents in six weeks and a tough away game at Texas A&M at season’s end), expect to see the Longhorns (sigh) playing for the National Championship. Obviously, I expect Texas to be highly ranked for the entirety of the season, perhaps landing as high as number one.
I just don’t get it. Oklahoma above Texas in the preseason AP poll? Sure, their schedule is as tough as any in Division One football — four ranked opponents amid a conference that’s getting better every year — and sure they ended last season well — ranked number 2 overall — but do they have the deep talent necessary to take out Red River rival Texas? Sam Bradford’s back, and he’s only a junior. Bradford is a force under center, and is a leading contender for the Heisman trophy. Don’t forget about the Sooners tough linebackers — two returning seniors (Ryan Reynolds and Keenan Clayton) will give the Big 12s QBs headaches all season long. However, I have doubts about the Sooners offense outside of Bradford. Do they have the receiving corps needed to catch Bradford’s masterful passes? I expect Oklahoma to end up in the top 10, but not to end up as high as the AP has them.
We deal with this every year. Florida fans (and many sports analysts) moaning about how Florida should be ranked higher than they are. Well here you go, Gator fanatics — you can’t get any higher than number one. What bothers me is that the Gators ended the season with a 13-1 record in a year when we had an undefeated team (Utah). I believe Florida unfairly benefits from their position as a “BCS perennial”. Another thing bothers me — a weak schedule. Florida only has two ranked teams in their sights, and these are lowly Georgia and Florida State, either one of which could potentially be a loss. Am I excited about Florida’s prospects at repeating as National Champion? No. I believe they’ll fall out of the top 10 and stay there.
What are Vibram Five Fingers?
When a piece of footwear occupies the top spot in Google’s web search trends, it may be time to pay attention.
I’ve been hearing about Five Fingers shoes for about a week now. First, a friend of mine (who does a lot of cross training) shows up for a short run wearing what look like river shoes. Before I have a chance to ask him what the heck he’s wearing on his feet he offers up an explanation — “They’re Vibram Five Fingers”. He extended his foot and wiggled his toe. The strangest shoes I’ve ever seen.
Vibram Five Fingers are shoes — you might be tempted to call them slippers, or socks with a rubber sole. They approximate the feeling of being barefoot while protecting and cushioning your foot. The flexible Vibram rubber sole on the bottom and the way the upper fabric wraps around each of your toes — that’s the gimmick here. The shoes have five toe cutouts and absolutely no “arch support” or any kind of foam padding you’d expect in the soles.
Vibram Five Fingers come in multiple varieties, but are all variations on a similar theme — some pair provide a little more foot coverage, there is one pair meant for use in the water, and the “classic” Vibram Five Fingers shoe that uses a system similar to pack webbing that you see hikers use. This bungee cord like “webbing” prevents the shoe from falling off when you use it in a more robust activity.
My friend who cross trains went on and on about his Five Fingers. He rattled off a list of activities he’d done in his new Vibrams — everything from free weight lifting, riding a sail boat, walks and jogs, frisbee games, and rowing to grocery shopping and just lounging around his house.
It is easy to see the instant appeal of Five Fingers shoes — I hate wearing shoes and have always preferred to go barefoot. Think back to your childhood — didn’t you always want to run around without shoes? Five Fingers are a great option for those of us that are active but just can’t find a comfortable shoe. Barfoot’s tough — you don’t want to risk walking around on glass or other sharp things.
Vibram Five Fingers minimize contact between the ‘shoe’ and the ground by design. This shoe has very little to get hung up on the ground surface. Runners and joggers often talk about “interference” of their shoe. The Five Fingers have a practically insignificant rubber sole that makes very little interference.
According to reviews on the net, and the glowingly positive review of my workout buddy, the Five FIngers shoe allows for a kind of “foot feel” that no other shoe can offer. When you wear Five Fingers outside, you feel the temperature of the ground, the curve of a hill, the crunch of grass under your feet. You get a real sense of the textures of the ground and feel hardly removed from the Earth at all.
So what’s the real appeal of walking around barefoot? Too many of us have been wearing large, restrictive, and just plain “clunky” shoes and sneakers during workouts or everyday life. It is a unique feeling to slide on a pair of Five Fingers and walk about, it is like a new freedom for your feet.
Another bonus to the Five Fingers is that your walk or run will work out different muscles in your feet, ankles, and legs. You can actually increase your agility by working out muscles that are normally kept mute by athletic shoes.
The truth is, if you are an active person who enjos going barefoot but wants a little more protection, you’re going to love Vibram Five Fingers.
These shoes are amazingly light. They are also very compact and ideal for travel. If you run cross country or encounter anything wet during your workout (or if you’re into water sports) these shoes are perfect for you. Regular sneakers will get soaking wet and could end up smelling of mold or weighing you down. If your Five Fingers get wet, there’s no problem at all. They dry ridiculously fast. Last but not least, these shoes are completely machine washable. Just toss them in the washing machine, then hang them out to dry like an old sweat shirt.
Now that you’re interested, you gotta go to some specific places to pick up your own pair of Five Fingers. You should look at the specific styles available at the official Five Fingers website, look around, determine what style is right for you. The “classics” I’ve just ordered set me back just $68. All of the varieties of Vibram Five Fingers can be picked up (free shipping!) at kayakshed.com.
One warning — there is a style of Five Fingers called “sprint” style. They include a strap that runs over the top of your foot, and the rumor on the web is that this strap causes some pretty serious chafing. My hiking buddy sprints in his “classic” Five Fingers and has never had a problem with them coming off. You probably won’t need the strap for sprinting.
Sizing is also different from traditional shoes. Again, check out the website (kayakshed.com) for information on how to order your size.
Sure, people are going to look at your weird new shoes and ask all sorts of questions. If they’re anything like me, they’ll be put off at first, but be quick to rush online and order their own pair. If you’re looking for a unique piece of footwear, Vibram Five Fingers has a pair of shoes for you.
What charges will Ben Roethlisberger face?
Ben Roethlisberger’s lawyer spent all day yesterday with any news source he could find denying adamantly any of the allegations that have been made against the Steelers quarterback. Big Ben, as Roethlisberger is known, is one of several men who have been named in a lawsuit by a woman accusing the men of sexually assaulting or contributing to her sexual assault last summer.
Roethlisberger, whose rise to fame in the NFL is the stuff of legend, has cancelled a news conference that was scheduled for today, perhaps to circle the wagons and have his team of publicists figure out how to deal with the accusation.
The woman making the accusation was working as an “executive casino host” at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe, California last July when she claims that Roethlisberger struck up a friendly conversation at her desk during a celebrity tournament. According to the lawsuit, the woman’s claim is that Roethlisberger charmed her into his penthouse hotel suit and raped her the next night.
Roethlisberger’s lawyer, David Cornwell, had this to say about the accusation — “Ben has never sexually assaulted anyone. The timing of the lawsuit and the absence of a criminal complaint and a criminal investigation are the most compelling evidence of the absence of any criminal conduct. If an investigation is commenced, Ben will cooperate fully and Ben will be fully exonerated.’’
You read that right — there was no criminal complaint and police are saying there will be no criminal investigation. This gives the woman’s case about as much weight as your neighbor’s opinion about the BCS.
The lawsuit levied against Roethlisberger and others seeks a minimum award of $440,000 in damages from the quarterback, another $50,000 minimum in damages from the Harrah’s staff and officials, and an as yet unspecified amount of “punitive damages”. As explanation for why she didn’t file a criminal complaint, the accuser says she didn’t file that all important criminal complaint with police because she feared Harrah’s would side with Roethlisberger and she would lose her job.
Details are starting to leak about about the alleged rape as the lawsuit’s paperwork leaks to the media. The woman claims she “went to Roethlisberger’s room to address a problem he reported with his television”. Allegedly, as she turned to leave, Roethlisberger physically blocked her exit and began to make sexual advances, which she claims she rejected.
“But instead of stopping,’’ these words taken directly from the law suit filings, Roethlisberger “held her against her will and physically moved the plaintiff and pushed her onto his bed’’ where he proceeded to rape her. The lawsuit adds to the punitive and other damage claims by insisting that the accuser suffered mentally, requiring hospitalization for treatment for depression and other mental illnesses after the alleged attack last summer.
One of the most common questions about the ongoing Ben Roethlisberger situation is why his accuser didn’t ever file a criminal complaint against Roethlisberger and the other men, opting instead to wait for a civil suit. A jaded individual might suggest that in civil court there is less requirements in terms of evidence and proof.
The answer we’ve heard from the woman, through her lawyer, doesn’t hold much water. If she felt she would be fired by Harrah’s for coming out against Roethlisberger when it happened, why would she wait only one year? Allegedly, the woman is still employed by the casino and would face similar persecution to the kind she feared last year. It just doesn’t hold much water.
Who took home an Espy award in 2009?
Surprisingly, the biggest winner at the 2009 Espy awards (put on by cable sports channel ESPN) was one of sports’ most controversial figures.
Michael Phelps, in trouble recently for his off camera behavior (including the circulation of pictures of him smoking marijuana), won four awards in last night’s show in Los Angeles. In a year when it seemed there were dozens of men and women eligible for multiple prizes (think Manny Pacquiao, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Serena Williams, Lorena Ochoa, Phil Jackson, Sidney Crosby, etc) Phelps snapped up all four awards for which he was nominated, including one group award for the US Men’s swimming team.
There were few surprises in last night’s event, hosted by veteran actor Samuel L. Jackson, ouside of Best Male Athlete going to Michael Phelps — many predicted Kobe Bryant had an easy route to victory. But even in Kobe’s best category — Best NBA Player — there was a bit of a shocker, as LeBron James walked away with the trophy. I assume that Kobe got shafted by the Espy’s because of the perception that the team he plays on is better than LeBron’s team, making LeBron’s game more of an uphill battle.
I was personally upset when Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree didn’t win the award for best play (full disclosure: Tech is my alma mater) after a once in a lifetime last second catch and touchdown to beat Tech’s rival the University of Texas. However, since Texas Tech didn’t do much with the last minute win (and the winner for best play went to a Super Bowl winning touchdown pass by Ben Roethlisberger) I can understand why the votes fell where they did.
Below there’s a full list of the nominees and winners by category.
BEST MALE ATHLETE
Kobe Bryant, NBA
LeBron James, NBA
Jimmie Johnson, Auto Racing
Michael Phelps, Swimming ***WINNER***
BEST FEMALE ATHLETE
Natalie Coughlin, Swimming
Nastia Liukin, Gymnastics ***WINNER***
Maya Moore, NCAA Basketball
Candace Parker, WNBA
Serena Williams, Tennis
BEST CHAMPIONSHIP PERFORMANCE
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
Michael Phelps, Olympic Swimming ***WINNER***
Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, Olympic Beach Volleyball
BEST BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE
Shawn Johnson, Olympic Gymnastics
Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons ***WINNER***
BEST RECORD BREAKING PERFORMANCE
Usain Bolt, Olympic Sprinter
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Phil Jackson, Los Angeles Lakers
Michael Phelps, Olympic Swimmer ***WINNER***
Mine That Bird wins the Kentucky Derby
Oregon State stuns then #1 USC
Tampa Bay Rays win the American League Championship Series
US Soccer shocks Spain in the Confederations Cup semifinals ***WINNER***
Federer vs. Nadal in the 2008 Wimbledon Final
Steelers vs. Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII ***WINNER***
Syracuse vs. Connecticut in the Big East Tournament Quarterfinals
Florida’s Tim Tebow’s speech
Helio Castroneves wins the Indy 500
US swim team wins thrilling finish in Olympic relay ***WINNER***
Ovechkin vs. Rangers
Pacquiao KO’s Hatton
Roethlisberger to Holmes Super Bowl Winning TD ***WINNER***
Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree makes game-winning catch vs. Texas
Connecticut Women’s Basketball
Los Angeles Lakers ***WINNER***
North Carolina Men’s Basketball
Phil Jackson Los Angeles Lakers ***WINNER***
Geno Auriemma Connecticut Women’s Basketball
Dan Bylsma Pittsburgh Penguins
Joe Maddon Tampa Bay Rays
Mike Tomlin Pittsburgh Steelers
BEST SPORTS MOVIE
The Express: The Ernie Davis Story ***WINNER***
BEST MALE COLLEGE ATHLETE
Tim Tebow Florida Football ***WINNER***
Sam Bradford Oklahoma Football
Matt Gilroy Boston University Hockey
Blake Griffin Oklahoma Basketball
Stephen Strasburg San Diego State Baseball
BEST FEMALE COLLEGE ATHLETE
Maya Moore Connecticut Women’s Basketball ***WINNER***
Kerri Hanks Notre Dame Women’s Soccer
Courtney Kupets Georgia Gymnastics
Danielle Lawrie Washington Softball
Dana Vollmer California Swimming
BEST MALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY
Jason Lester Ironman ***WINNER***
Jeremy Campbell Track and Field
Will Groulx Wheelchair Rugby
Oscar Pistorius Track and Field
BEST FEMALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY
Erin Popovich Swimming ***WINNER***
Jessica Long Swimming
Maureen McKinnon-Tucker Sailing
Asya Miller Goalball
BEST MALE INTERNATIONAL ATHLETE
Usain Bolt Jamaica, Sprinter ***WINNER***
Pau Gasol Spain, Basketball
Lionel Messi Argentina, Soccer
Rafael Nadal Spain, Tennis
Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal, Soccer
BEST FEMALE INTERNATIONAL ATHLETE
Lorena Ochoa México, Golf ***WINNER***
Yelena Isinbayeva Russia, Pole Vault
Marta Brazil, Soccer
Stephanie Rice Australia, Swimming
Dinara Safina Russia, Tennis
BEST BASEBALL PLAYER
Albert Pujols St. Louis Cardinals ***WINNER***
Roy Halladay Toronto Blue Jays
Ryan Howard Philadelpia Phillies
Dustin Pedroia Boston Red Sox
Francisco Rodriguez Los Angeles Angels/New York Mets
BEST NBA PLAYER
LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers ***WINNER***
Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers
Dwight Howard Orlando Magic
Dwyane Wade Miami Heat
BEST WNBA PLAYER
Candace Parker Los Angeles Sparks ***WINNER***
Deanna Nolan Detroit Shock
Diana Taurasi Phoenix Mercury
Lindsay Whalen Connecticut Sun
BEST NFL PLAYER
Larry Fitzgerald Arizona Cardinals ***WINNER***
James Harrison Pittsburgh Steelers
Peyton Manning Indianapolis Colts
Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings
Kurt Warner Arizona Cardinals
BEST NHL PLAYER
Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins ***WINNER***
Pavel Datsyuk Detroit Red Wings
Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins
Alexander Ovechkin Washington Capitals
BEST MLS PLAYER
Landon Donovan LA Galaxy ***WINNER***
Juan Pablo Angel New York Red Bulls
Jon Busch Chicago Fire
Kenny Cooper FC Dallas
Guillermo Barros Schletto Columbus Crew
BEST MALE ACTION SPORTS ATHLETE
Shaun White Snowboarding/Skateboarding ***WINNER***
Ryan Sheckler Skateboarding
Kelly Slater Surfing
James Stewart Motocross
BEST FEMALE ACTION SPORTS ATHLETE
Maya Gabeira Surfing ***WINNER***
Torah Bright Snowboarding
Sarah Burke Skiing
Ashley Fiolek Motocross
Norm Duke ***WINNER***
Jimmie Johnson ***WINNER***
Manny Pacquiao Boxing ***WINNER***
Lyoto Machida MMA
Shane Mosley Boxing
Anderson Silva MMA
BEST MALE GOLFER
Tiger Woods ***WINNER***
BEST FEMALE GOLFER
Lorena Ochoa ***WINNER***
Calvin Borel ***WINNER***
BEST MALE TENNIS PLAYER
BEST FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER
UNDER ARMOUR ALL-AMERICA MOMENT
Andre Debose & Russell Shepard Football ***WINNER***
Jake Bernhardt Lacrosse
Tara Glover Softball
David Renfroe Baseball
Hannah Werth Volleyball
Arthur Ashe Courage Award: President Nelson Mandela
Jimmy V Award For Perseverance: Don Meyer, Northern State University coach
Best Comeback: Dara Torres, Olympic swimmer.