Friday, September 26, 2008

Cavs owner wrong with LeBron-to-NY "insult" rant

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert attempted to stick it to the media on Thursday, blaming them rather than the ineptitude of the franchise for speculation that LeBron James will flee Cleveland after his contract is over for either the New York Knicks or future Brooklyn Nets.

He called the media's reporting of the issue out-of-line, "an insult to the city" and simple conjecture from bored soprts reporters.


Really, Dan Gilbert?!

Yeah, I guess LeBron James isn't best buds with Jay-Z, who just happens to be a co-owner of the New Jersey (soon Brooklyn) Nets?


I guess the Nets and Knicks haven't been making trades, cutting players and clearing cap space for 2010 when they can make max offers to James and bring him to NY?


Because Dan Gilbert isn't one of the worst owners in professional sports who didn't fall ass-first into the best player in the league and has YET to provide him with an acceptable supporting cast in order for him to take that sorry franchise all-the-way to an NBA title?


Because LeBron James (noted front-runner aside) didn't wear a New York Yankees cap to a Yanks/Indians playoff game...IN CLEVELAND?


When asked about New York, LeBron didn't specifically say he loves the city and thought it would be a great place to live and play?


Because LeBron didn't come out with a limited edition line of a New York style of his shoes...only sold in New York City...featuring many Yankees references?


Because LeBron is going to indicate his team's owner (who is currently paying him millions of dollars for the next two years) that he plans to leave? There is a max contract in the NBA, so the best the Cavs can do is match exactly what the Knicks and Nets will offer.


Because LeBron doesn't have a clause in his Nike contract that promises to DOUBLE his endorsement deal if he moves to a major city like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles?


Gilbert's not going to worry about a contract extension for the best player in the NBA who is disheartened with the lack of effort made and money the team has spent to fill up the rest of the roster with appropriate talent to compliment LeBron and help them win a title?


Sports reporters are bored because they don't have the entire NFL season to cover, NCAA football every Thursday through Saturday, tight MLB playoff races, Brett Favre, O.J. Simpson, Lance Armstrong, (locally) Derek Anderson/Brady Quinn, Ohio State, etc.?


THAT speculation is an insult to the city? Not the fact that the Indians made the playoffs last year and gave up on this season before the All-Star break? That Ohio State made it to two BCS title games and got whooped by superior opponents? That OSU just got bludgeoned to death by USC? That your 2008 gem of an NFL team is at the bottom of the league and about to lose their starting QB, coach, etc.

Really, Dan Gilbert?!

(Just for the record...I've been doing "Really?!" columns since the late 90s...so no posts about ripping off Saturday Night Live on this one. Thanks.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Oklahoma City fails to create excitement in unveiling name, colors

The NBA’s newest franchise is the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Oh, that was supposed to be a secret? Sorry, I’ve already known for a month…as have most of you and most of the media.

There are only a few ways to make a big splash as a franchise in professional sports outside of winning a championship. Moving a team is one of those ways, changing the name and colors are another.

So while every NBA fan already knows the name of the former Seattle SuperSonics franchise, Oklahoma City’s public relations and media staff still feel the need to make it a big spectacle. They just announced a huge downtown rally and unveiling on Sept. 3.

When you unveil something, it is supposed to have been a secret prior to that day. That is what creates the excitement. Even the definition of the word is “to disclose, reveal.” But if the world already knows what you are going to disclose, what is the point?

As if the name choice wasn’t bad enough already.

Look, I am all for getting creative in sports, but I draw the line on two points as far as naming teams goes. (1) Do not name a team after an inanimate object, and (2) Make the team name plural.

The NFL and MLB have figured this out. The NBA, NHL, MLS and (worst of all, not that anyone cares) WNBA got some ‘splainin’ to do.

The worst offenders are the weather group: the Heat, Lightning, Sky, Sun, Storm and now Thunder. Uck. I am sure Kevin Durant is happy to say, “I am delighted to be a Thunder.” “I have wanted to be a Thunder my whole career.” Not.

Then you get into the other oddballs: Magic, Jazz, Wild (though I like the name), Dream, Shock, Fever, Liberty and Mercury.

I just can’t wrap my head around the people making these marketing decisions, especially when starting anew in a different city. And in case you were curious, two of their other options were “Wind” and “Bison.” Who are these decision-makers?

With all of my complaining, I can already hear a few of you saying to yourselves, “Yeah, like he can come up with anything better!” I sure can. Here are two names, off the top of my head, which (1) Make more sense than Thunder, and (2) Follow my rules.

Oklahoma City Barons
Oklahoma City Slickers

Using the second name, in particular, would be fantastic. In addition to the double usage of “City Slickers” and “Slickers” alone, it is catchy, fun and is easy to utilize in marketing campaigns. Naming the restaurants and clubs in the area, creating a mascot, everything becomes easier with a good team name.

With all that being said, I guess it is too late to change it now. After all, there is a secret unveiling on Wednesday!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lovable Barkley ready to make you uncomfortable

If you’re a sports fan, it should almost be a requirement for you to love Charles Barkley. Aside from his greatness during his playing days in the NBA, Barkley is a cut-up, a character, he’s like the uncle that makes you laugh even though you sometimes roll your eyes.

And while you may not agree with his opinions on basketball or politics or his decisions on how to manage his money, Sir Charles is still there cracking a joke, smiling wide and making you feel comfortable.

Until now.

You see, it is not that Chuck is heading for a downward spiral or anything; he’s just going to be showcasing two pretty uncomfortable events in his life to the national viewing public: a colonoscopy and the attempted fixing of his golf swing.

To get a, well, “deeper” look at Barkley, be sure to tune in to the “Stand Up to Cancer” special being aired Sept. 5 simultaneously by NBC, CBS and ABC. Cameras will follow Barkley through his home state of Alabama while he prepares and completes the procedure that screens for prostate and other cancers. Barkley joked that the show’s producers probably wanted a celebrity with the biggest ass.

Then, if you weren’t shifting uncomfortably in your seat already, make sure your cable company or satellite provider carries the Golf Channel so you can watch Barkley’s newest unnamed reality series. The goal? “Fix Charles Barkley’s swing,” Sir Charles says.

Barkley, as well as the rest of the golf-viewing public, is embarrassed by his “turrible” swing and thinks Tiger Woods' swing coach, Hank Haney, can do some good.

“I was telling Hank that when I’m standing over the ball, I’m (expletive deleted) terrified. I have no idea what’s going to happen. He told me he used to have the yips, but not as bad as me. That’s what makes me think he can fix what’s wrong.’’

You’re not the only one whose “turrified,” Chucky. I wish you the best of luck on both because, well, you need it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Baby daddy champ Shawn Kemp to play in Italy

With the recent rush of NBA-level talent signing with European teams, one would assume the squads are looking for bright young stars that will help them win their league’s championship. Not Premiata Montegranaro, apparently. The Italian league team reached out and signed 38-year-old Shawn Kemp a few days ago to play for them beginning in November.

The best part about the signing is the quote from their head coach.

"I am happy that a player that has made basketball history would come to Montegranaro," coach Alessandro Finelli said.

What basketball history? Sure, Kemp is a six-time All-Star, but he hasn’t played since the 2002-03 season, and he hasn’t been the Reign Man since the 90s. He’s just not relevant anymore.

The only basketball history Kemp has made that I am aware of is being the all-time baby daddy champion--the record for fathering the most illegitimate children by one NBAer, ever. Shawn Kemp has more illegitimate kids than adoption centers. Kemp has had more kids than Jenna Jameson has had…well…you get the point.

Oh, and the last time Kemp played international basketball? Perhaps you remember the Olympics when he grabbed his crotch following a monster dunk? Face of a franchise right there.

Listen, I’m happy for the guy. He’s making some good money, playing basketball again and will probably get some endorsement deals over in Europe just because of his name and history. I’m sure he needs the money…especially if they have food and cocaine in Europe.

I’m just wondering what guys like Allan Houston are doing. All of these retired players who need money should take advantage of these European teams and their deep pockets. Houston won the $100 million lottery by hitting one huge shot for the New York Knicks (one of the best sports moments of my life). He still wants to play…I don’t know if he can…but at least he can move better than the 310 lb. Kemp.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Patriots Actually Celebrating Imperfect Season with Rings, Banner

As if Boston-based teams have not already given us a plethora of reasons to despise them, the New England Patriots and owner Robert Kraft are now seemingly ignoring their historic Super Bowl (collapse, loss, what-have-you) and are presenting players with rings commemorating last year’s near-perfect campaign.

According to the Boston Globe, the Krafts are presenting rings which have “16-0 – perfect season” on one side and “18-1 AFC Championship” on the other.

I have heard about second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, hell tenth place being celebrated in youth leagues to boost the self-esteem of kids that way no one is titled a “loser.”

Guess what, Patriots players and fans?! This is the pros. YOU LOST! YOU ARE LOSERS!

As one former AFC East rival once said, “You play – to win – the game.” You lost the game. You don’t deserve a ring. You don’t deserve a banner in the rafters (which the Krafts are also planning). You don’t get to celebrate failure. 16-0 is not a perfect season; 19-0, however, is, and you fell short.

If Kraft is all about spending money to accurately represent the Patriots accomplishments, shouldn’t there be a little video camera/asterisk on their last three Super Bowls…or at least this past imperfect season?

The Patriots came 35 seconds away from winning a Super Bowl…but they lost. Where is the New York Yankees 2001 ALCS ring for 95 wins and being an out away from winning their fourth-consecutive World Series? Where is Rocco Mediate’s U.S. Open trophy for finishing just a stroke short in extra holes on Monday? Why aren’t the Miami Dolphins celebrating going 1-15 with a Jake Long sign hanging next to Dan Marino’s?

Because you do not celebrate failure, no matter how well you play up until you fail.

Where are Mercury Morris and his quotation-churning brain when I need them?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Injuries not excuse but reason for Yankees fall

While no one will be pulling out the world’s smallest violin any time soon and playing a sympathy song for the New York Yankees, the fact of the matter remains that the massive amounts of injuries this team has incurred are the main reason they will break their streak of 13 consecutive playoff appearances.

Yankee haters will turn to the “injuries are no excuse” or “every team has injuries” cards, trying to diminish the extent and effect that these have decimated the team. Instead, they will argue that it is the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox who will ultimately be responsible for the demise of the 2008 Yankees.

I am here to tell the Yankees critics one thing: You’re wrong and the Baby Boss is right.

That’s right, amidst all the comments by the media that Hank Steinbrenner is a blow-hard (or worse), he has been right more times than he’s been wrong since taking the reigns of the Yankees.

He was right to choose Joe Girardi over Don Mattingly (as a Mattingly fan it pains me to say that), right that Joba Chamberlain should be a starting pitcher, right that Mike Mussina needed to pitch “more like Jamie Moyer” and right that, “There’s only so much you can do. They’re not supermen. (These injuries) would kill any team.”

Injuries are expected when your roster consists of men with such a high average age, but no one could anticipate the extent they occurred this year with 20 trips to the disabled list—20!

Let’s start at the top. Ace and consecutive 19-game winner Chien-Ming Wang starts the season 5-0 then injuries his foot on June 15 in an interleague game while running the bases—something he shouldn’t be doing in the first place. Out for the season.

Veteran newly re-signed catcher Jorge Posada injuries his right shoulder early in the season and never recovers—now out for the year. Starting left fielder Hideki Matsui and starting pitchers Phillip Hughes and Ian Kennedy have also been out for the majority of the year, forcing the Yankees to sign Sidney Ponson and deal with a combination of Daniel Rasner/Dan Giese to fill the fifth rotation spot.

Aside from the fact that the Yankees lost the bats of Matsui and Posada, more importantly they lost Posada’s ability to manage the Yankees stable of veteran and inexperienced pitchers. What could be more important? Oh, I forgot, losing your ace. Give the Yankees a moderate 8 more wins to this point from Wang and they’re battling for the division lead.

GM Brian Cashman has done an adequate job of replacing the offense in making spectacular trades for outfielder Xavier Nady and catcher Pudge Rodriguez though, at this point, it looks like too little too late. While not an excuse, it is inequitable to ignore the Yankees massive amount of injuries as the primary reason for their 2008 failures.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Why Miami Dolphins fans shouldn't care about Brett Favre to New York Jets trade

To Miami Dolphins Fans: There is no doubt that the 2008 NFL off-season has been dominated by two stories: Jason Taylor’s exodus from the Miami Dolphins and Brett Favre’s decision to unretire (like he was actually retired in the first place) and return to the NFL.

As Dolphins fans, we thought we were in the clear with Taylor being traded to the Washington Redskins a few weeks ago. But then Favre’s situation worsened. It became more than a national story. The Favre Watch was on and, no matter how hard we tried, we could not get away from it. All that we could hope for was some type of resolution—anything to get Favre out of the ESPN.com top story, away from the PTI headlines, muting the mouths of our talk radio pundits and sports commentators that all had their own opinion on the situation. Something that would allow us to re-focus on real sports stories—our own team’s training camp and pre-season games, the exciting MLB season and the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

Then they (the Packers, media, God himself) go ahead and f*&k us again. Favre gets traded to our rival New York Jets late Wednesday night. Let’s stop right here so I can clear something up. No, this is not some rant about how Favre being on our hated foe is going to keep us from winning games or the division. In fact, the only negative of this entire situation is that we will not stop hearing about Favre no matter how hard we try. We play the Jets twice a year and follow our division closely—now there is no escaping Favre and the drama he drags along with him.

Aside from that, the fact of the matter is this: as far as Favre and the Jets are concerned, I could care less. I’m indifferent. It doesn’t matter. I could even argue it helps us. Let me break it down and show you The Silver Lining of this whole situation.

* I am going to start by matter-of-factly stating that the Jets are no longer my most hated NFL franchise. The New England Patriots, with the help of Bill Bellichick and the city of Boston, have taken that title with ease. The improvement of the Jets can only help to overthrow the villainous Patriots franchise, perhaps even knock them out of the playoffs all together with a little luck and some hard work. Maybe Favre can be instrumental in sending the Pats back into the dark ages.

* Favre’s first game in the green-and-white will be against our Dolphins at home in Dolphins Stadium on a hopefully hot and sunny Sunday afternoon. Aside from the fact that we can deal a strong blow to Favre’s celebratory return to the NFL by going out and beating the Jets, the game is going to be a LOT of fun! The stadium will be packed, the Dolphins will sell a LOT of tickets—it will be CBS’s 1:00 p.m. nationally televised game. If they allowed a Week 1 Flex game, it would be on Sunday Night Football.

* Favre’s tenure with the Jets will not be long. We’re looking at most likely a two-year run, three years max. (Interesting, considering he “retired” this year and may now play for another two.) The Dolphins are nowhere near close to seriously competing for a division title, conference title or Super Bowl championship in the next two years. Let’s stop kidding ourselves. We’ll be lucky to win 4-5 in ’08, 6-8 in ’09 and 9-11 in ’10…and that’s if everything goes right! Favre’s presence in New York does not affect the future of the Dolphins. Will we lose a few more games to the Jets over the next two years? Sure. Do the Jets have more time to find a suitable QB to replace Favre? Maybe. Aside from that, it doesn’t matter.

So, in the end, the Favre situation has come to impact us more than we would have originally hoped. Luckily, it will all be superficial. He is not a threat to the future of the Miami Dolphins, and the present isn’t promising enough for us to get worked up over anyway.

The goal of this edition of The Silver Lining is to qualm any concerns about Favre joining the AFC East before they arise—to put out a flickering, hopefully non-existent fire. To say, honestly, as far as Brett Favre is concerned, I no longer care and haven’t for quite some time—and neither should you.