Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Trivia, RGIII, and Duke; aka the three best things ever

So I had big plans to write a really detailed article today.  Then I did computer science homework for ¼ of an eternity.  Here are some quick thoughts on the NFL and college basketball and then some recent sports trivia.  

This just in, RGIII is really good.  Well, not Andre Luck good, but maybe Cam Newton good and probably better than Sam Bradford good.  With the second pick in the draft, the Rams are in a position that I fail to recall any other team having in recent history.  Assuming St. Louis chooses to hold onto their rookie-of-the-year-turned-bottom-five-quarterback, they will be in a position to offer 30 other teams in the league the rights to a player who may be the number one overall pick in most other drafts.  If you assume that Peyton Manning will be a free agent as well, which is not a given, the stage is set for a riveting pre-draft period.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Meet Me at the Mall; It's Going Down: DUNK CONTEST 2012

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how the league can resolve its dunk contest problem.  What was long ago a conglomeration of the league’s most exciting players has become a gathering of it’s “rising stars” – that is to say, it is comprised of four players who are not yet above the banality of the event.  This year’s contestants, Paul George, Derrick Williams, Jeremy Evans, and Chase Budinger, are so unheard of that Arne Duncan, the 47-year-old US Secretary of Education fresh off a dazzling Celeb-Game, is seriously contemplating signing himself up as well.

Some have contended that it may be time to take a hiatus on the Dunk Contest.  After all, the 2000 Vincanity Dunk Contest came in the wake of a three year layoff and, perhaps because of a nation-wide longing for the event’s return, proved to be one of the greatest in history.  But if the questions is whether or not we should do the same now with the contest at perhaps an all-time low, the answer is a definitive no. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

LINSANITY!!!!!!!!!! (and other things)

From 1:00 in the afternoon to nearly midnight of yesterday, I parked my ass on the sofa and moved for only the real necessities of life: bladder developments, food, and to reposition onto another piece of furniture.  At 6:45 I got up to make dinner, moving quickly enough so as to be able to squeeze in the entire process prior to the start of the Denver-OKC matchup.  The day felt a whole lot like a Sunday in mid-October.

NBA fans around the league were treated to the best day of nationally covered basketball thus far in the lockout shorted, level-of-play-deflated 2012 season.  Over the three games between the Knicks and the Mavs, the Heat and the Magic, and the aforementioned Nuggets and Thunder, we got to watch three of the four best players in basketball (LeBron, Durant, Wade), six of the top ten (add Howard and Nowitzki -- who is finally playing as such), eight of the top fifteen to twenty (Westbrook, Bosh), and some guy named Jeremy Lin.  The typical trend when star-studded/playoff-caliber teams face off thus far has been disappointment, stemming from superstars “resting” on the bench (has anyone else noticed how painfully boring the Bulls are without Rose) or sloppy play in general.  All three of the games covered nation-wide proved to be riveting because teams were playing to their fullest potential. 

Here’s what I learned from this weekend.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Assessing LeBron's Miami Heat

I will be stunned if the Miami Heat do not win the NBA finals this season.  They are by far the best team in basketball, blowing away opposition with about as much concentration and effort as it takes to play Words with Friends.  Many asked last year if “The Big Three” was an unjust epithet, claiming that Bosh really didn’t belong in the classification of the other two.  Bosh-rippers lump him into the cornucopia of disappointing players who, before signing with a big market, shined seemingly only because of the inadequacy of their prior small-market, supporting crew.  Since when is 18.7 and 8.3 per game from your power forward the reason a team fails to perform?  Bosh is a good player, but he could leave Miami tomorrow and they’d probably win just as many games as they would with him.    

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Making Sense of the West

Attention: Basketball columns will be coming in hot. 

Picking up my coverage of the NBA midway through the season is going to have an inevitably awkward opening paragraph.  Rather than bore with banal introduction and stage setting…

I guess this is my exposition, homie, this shit is basic, welcome to NB-ation (good morning).

Youth is being served out West, at least thus far.  Although traditional West Coast powers like the Spurs, Lakers, and Mavs continue to win games, it is the upstart (and rightfully so) Thunder and Clippers, along with their four all-stars (Paul, Griffin, Durant, Westbrook) and one should-be all-star (Harden) stealing the headlines.  Of all the sub-plots of the season thus far, the one that intrigues me that most is whether or not these two young, seemingly fearless teams are legitimate.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ranking the Top 100 Players in the NFL; 20 - 1

After two columns, I have released the top 20 players in the NFL.  

Penciled in All-Pros
20. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE (NYG)
When the New York Giants used their first pick of the 2010 NFL draft on a defensive end despite having Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, some felt they were putting too much focus in one area.  Mind you, that area (pass rush) is what has won them their last two Super Bowls.  Others, myself included, loved the JPP pick and felt pretty confident, given their track record at the position (Strahan too), that Pierre-Paul would emerge as another talented pass rusher.  Nobody could have predicted how quickly that ascension would come.  It took him less than two seasons to surpass his all-pro mentors.  He has been in on a sack in all but seven games over his last twenty-two.  That’s only one more sack-less game than a certain soon-to-be named Cowboy.   
Seems pretty obvious Pierre-Paul was destined
for greatness.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Premier League Mid-Season Overview: Splash That Cash!

I know it's hard to believe, but there are sports in this world other than American Football (waiting... waiting... waiting...).  No, really, it's true.  Apparently there's this other game called soccer, which interestingly enough, is also called football.  Equally puzzling, there are people other than myself who have sports opinions and thoughts.  If you recall, one such person wrote a soccer (pronounced "soc-er") column last fall.  Well, he's back to tell us more about this riveting game.  The top 100 NFLers will conclude tomorrow.  Until then, let the below tickle your sports fancy.  I proudly present the second ever Late Night Thoughts article by Joe Dammann.  

      As the English Premier League enters the seventh month of its marathon season, the footballing cream has separated from the rest of the crop.  Only the two Manchester teams, City and United, have a real shot of winning the title, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other coveted prizes to play for.  Third and fourth place in the league are nearly as important as winning the whole thing, because those spots gain a team entry into the next year’s Champions League, the biggest revenue generator of all and how the “big” teams stay “big”.  Even in lean years, these last two Champion’s League spots are hotly contested.  And this is a year of plenty.  Never before have there been so many teams with ambition of greatness.  Along with the traditional “Big 4” (Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal), three upstarts have upset the natural order of the Premier League.  Manchester City, borne aloft on the wings of petrodollars, has bought their way to the top of the league.  Tottenham, through some shrewd business and burgeoning stars, are sitting pretty in third place.  Newcastle is by far the surprise of the season, continually beating expectations and delighting the crowds with flowing, continental soccer.  These last four months of the season will be defining for a number of these clubs.  Missing out on the Champion’s League could well spell doom for a number of traditional powers.  The balance of the Premier League hangs in the balance.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ranking the Top 100 Players in the NFL; 65 - 21

We pick up the rankings with Gregggggggg Jennings.  After this article, there remains only the top 20.

Conceivably Trade-able

65. Greg Jennings, WR (GB)
64. Michael Turner, RB (ATL)
63. Dez Bryant, WR (DAL)
I love the way Dez Bryant plays.  There’s just no way you can convince me that he doesn’t have the physical talents to be the best wide out in football.  He’s too big, too fast, and utilizes contact better than any other receiver in the NFL.    

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ranking the Top 100 Players in the NFL; The first 35

With the 2011 NFL season in the books, it’s never too early to look ahead to next year.  In what will be a multi-column article, I have attempted to rank the NFL’s top 100 players heading into the 2012 season.  It is my hope that at the conclusion of this I will accept that football is over, at least for a few months, and that I will be ready to write about other sports.  But until then…

This is not a prediction of who will be the best player five years down the road from now nor is it meant as a list of the players with the 100 best careers thus far (Ray Lewis will not be in the top 10).  I’m not giving bonus points for previous Super Bowls and I’m not reducing the value of players on underachieving teams.  This list is not meant as a preview of which players will have the best statistical seasons as ranking by this method would make certain players rely heavily on others (a running back and his line, a wide out and his quarterback).  In other words, a player’s position on this list would not change if he were traded into a better or worse situation.  The list simply answer’s the question, who are the league’s 100 best players? 

In creating this hierarchy, I attempted to treat all positions equally.  However, there’s just no way a team would ever trade the number 100 player on the list for even the best kicker, punter, or long snapper in football. As such, no one from said positions made the cut, although Sebastian Janikowski and Andy Lee topped the kicker and punter positions respectively.  Fifty-seven offensive players made the final list.  There are 13 quarterbacks, 13 half backs, one full back, 14 wide receivers, five tight ends, and 11 offensive linemen.  Two of the offensive players who I selected were chosen, at least in part, for their special teams talents.  The 43 defensive players were composed of 16 linebackers, 15 defensive linemen, seven cornerbacks, and five safeties.    

Comparing players of different positions is nearly impossible.  I found the most challenging aspect of this process to be correctly placing the offensive linemen as well as the recent surge of defensive talent that has made its way into the league over the last two seasons.   

Creating this was as inexact as it was opinion.  Anything formulated under these two pretenses should be seen as a subject of debate.  So… let the debating begin.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl Recap; Is There a Blueprint?

In a decade that has featured a slew of exciting and intriguing Super Bowl conflicts, Acts I and II of the Giants-Patriots showdown are the defining sports moments for the lives of every sports fan under the age of 25.  The Giants and Patriots might not even qualify as rivals - they’ve played just five times over the last 11 years.  Yet, you can throw away every other “rivalry” if you want to find one that can match the intensity, quality of play, and overwhelming degree of mutual respect that is displayed in these iconic games. 

The greatest sports organization over the last 11 years has dominated every team except for one that people too often dismiss and underrate.  The New York Giants, a team whose seasons are defined not by gaudy statistics and blowouts, but, rather, scrutiny, head-scratchers, and a constantly criticized head coach, have proven once again that they should be unquestionably placed among the NFL’s supreme, classy, and most cherished organizations. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Super Bowl Preview; Part 3: My Actual Pick

I can only beat around the bush for so long.  Eventually I need to take a strong stance.  Damn.  I was so good at playing both sides. 

I don’t really understand how television program viewership numbers and ratings are calculated, but I feel like Super Bowl 46 has a decent shot to become the most watched Super Bowl ever.  There are big markets, a big rivalry, and big time players.

Using my last two columns as a guide for the ebbs of the game, here is how I see Super Bowl XLVI going down.