Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's Time To Can The Pro Bowl

The NFL played its annual Hawaii vacation All-Star game this past Sunday, not that you would have noticed. Seriously, half the big name players decline to attend, and the game itself generates absolutely zero interest. For that matter, All Star games in general seem to be on the decline - witness how baseball decided to spice things up by attaching home field advantage in the World Series to the winner, which will go down as one of the dumbest ideas of all time. The NBA game amounts to nothing more than a defenseless dunkfest, while the NHL version, while freewheeling, still places little to no emphasis on things that are important, like contact. Baseball, Basketball and Hockey have tries to make events of the games by celebrating All Star Weekends, or similarly themed Fan Fests, which were cool at first (like the Slam Dunk contest or Home Run Derby), but have seen interest on the wane.

The beef here, however, is with the NFL. By its very nature, football is a brutal contact sport. PLaying an actual game in which players clearly want to do nothing more than avoid getting hurt is never a good idea. Absolutely nothing is at stake for the participants, either. Seeing that the contract the league was under to hold the game in Hawaii each year is up, now is as good a time as any to call it a day and shut this game down. Would anyone actually care, other than the Honolulu tourism board? Quick: name the last 5 winners of the Pro Bowl? See, nobody cares!

The solution, then? We like the idea of integrating the All Star players with the events of Super Bowl week. Some have mentioned playing the game during the off week, but again, the game isn't the thing. Also, what about the players who are playing in the Super Bowl? No way in hell their respective coaches allow them to do this. How about naming the actual Pro Bowlers after the conclusion of the regular season? Once the All Conference players have been named, setup an event in the host city which honors these guys, and throw in the annual awards (MVP, Rookie of the Year, etc.) while you're at it, and make it the NFL Annual Awards Night or some such thing. A black tie event, with high priced tickets, right smack dab in the middle of the biggest self-congratulatory party week an organization can throw itself sonds like a winner to us.

So, to review: no more Pro Bowl, huge public high priced slobberfest instead, massive coverage, everybody wins. Mr. Goodell, you can contact us at the e-mail address provided for further details. We'll take a cut rate, because we care.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


This is a rough time of year to be a sports fan. Even though the NFL has managed to extend itself into February, thus shortening the space between the end of football and the beginning of meaningful hockey/hoop/baseball, the remainder of this month consists of….not much.
Okay, okay, stop it. "College Hoops", you say. Bleh. Wake us up when the conference tournaments start, and the March Madness seeds become a reality. "What about pitchers and catchers?" Again, nice, but not quite the real deal. Other than the first day when you begin seeing baseball players back in uniform, tossing balls and taking BP swings, we’re left with very little of interest amidst a barrage of spring training reports. Don’t you love those? After three weeks of hearing about your #3 starter’s new and improved slider, or the battle for the 24th roster spot on your local team, there’s not much happening.

"The Pro Bowl?" Please.

"NBA All Star Weekend?" You’re kidding, right?

"NFL Draft speculation?" Stop it. Stop that right now.

Hurry up and get here, March, we’ve got brackets to fill out

This Really Did Happen, Right?

Four days later and it still takes a minute to pause and realize that the Giants won the freaking Super Bowl, and Eli Manning is the MVP. This really happenend, right?
Pretty much everything that could have been said afterwards has been already, but a few things still stand out for us:

4th and 13, Coach Bellichick? Going for it on 4th and 13? If you can't trust your kicker to hit a 48 yarder, indoors, then he shouldn't be on the roster (recall that the terminally shaky Lawrence Tynes hit a 47 yarder in frigid Green Bay two weeks ago to get the Giants to this game?). It's unknown whether this was simple arrogance on Bellichick's part, thinking his juggernaut offense would bury the Giants with a TD, or just a lapse in judgement. It would be hard to understand the arrogance angle, given how his team was having all kinds of issues moving the ball anyway up until that point.
Seeing Tom Brady hit the turf time and time again was truly an amazing sight to see, especially when recalling how many times during the 18-0 run he just sat there, untouched, scanning the field for a receiver.
The Manning to David Tyree play, which is still awaiting a name for the ages. There are no words. Care to suggest what we call this play, a la "The Catch", or "The Drive"?
Tom Petty ripping through a note perfect version of "Free Fallin’" – just as the Pats dream began to crumble.
The racist stereotype salesgenie.com ad. Wow. Just, wow.
[Note: The ad has since been pulled due to the uproar it caused. Imagine that.]

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Now We Believe

He even wore the traditional blue hat. Let's Go Mets.

Really, Steve Kerr? Really?

In what already sounds like a done deal, the Phoenix Suns are set to acquire Shaquille O'Neal from the Miami Heat in exchange for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks.

Like most of the sports world, we're having a hard time figuring out why this trade would take place, specifically, why would Phoenix want to do this? Let's do a Pro/Con breakdown, from a Suns perspective:

Chemistry: Marion is unhappy, and has publicly said so.
Banks has an absolutely ridiculous contract for a backup.
Getting Shaq in the middle allows Amare Stoudamire to move to his more natural power forward spot, playing next to his idol.
A motivated Shaq can still be an unstoppable force (at least if he's healthy).
Having him in the middle provides better match-ups against the center loaded Western Conference (against which this team is only 14-12).
The window is closing for this group, and standing pat simply wasn't going to get them a title.
The Suns have been way too reliant on shooting three's of late, and dropping Shaq in the middle will force opponents to collapse a little more than they have been.

Have you seen Shaq play recently? The guy is a shell of his former self.
He's not healthy.
How does he fit into Mike D'Antoni's offense, which stresses run-run-run?
Does this signify a power shift or the very least, a change in philosophy for Phoenix? It would be hard to imagine D'Antoni being in favor of this move.
Why Shaq? He is owed $40 Million, and this is a team which is adamently opposed to paying any luxury taxes. Wouldn't Marcus Camby be a better, more athletic fit?
Is this just a panic move in response to the Lakers getting Pau Gasol over the weekend?

This could completely backfire, but the conventional wisdom says this team had to do something if it wants to go deep into the playoffs and bring home that title which has long eluded the city of Phoenix. We're still not convinced, but as Suns fans, will sit back and hope for the best.

Maybe Shaq won't pass his physical, and make the whole thing a moot point?

(UPDATE: He passed. It's a done deal.)

Sources: Suns a 'yes' away from acquiring Shaq for Marion (ESPN)