Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Hockey New Year!

Happy New Year's Everyone!

Today, as promised, a guest blogger takes the helm at the Sports BBQ.

Let me introduce Marc, a friend since about third or fourth grade (as I recall, he was a GREAT kickball player), a true sports hound (which, I truly heart) and knower of all things hockey.

So, hot off the grill today is what's sizzlin' on the ice tomorrow. Hope you have a happy and safe New Year's Eve and a prosperous, blessed New Year!

Tomorrow is a big day in the hockey world. Once a year, the NHL takes the game back to where is got its start, outside.

Most of the players on the ice were raised with skates on their feet and a huge part of that was going out on a cold winters day for a game of shinny on a frozen pond or river. Now, the NHL has come out of its shell and come up with a great idea to get more people to watch their game, even if it is only for one day.

The tradition started in 2003 as my favorite team, the Montreal Canadiens, traveled to the wilds of Edmonton to play the Oilers in Commonwealth Stadium. The outdoor game was renewed in 2008 as Pittsburgh traveled to Buffalo and, again, last season as venerable Wrigley Field hosted the Hawks and the Red Wings.

Now it is Fenway Park's turn as the Boston Bruins take on the Philadelphia Flyers. Players to watch on both teams:
> Philadelphia's leading scorer Mike Richards
> future Hall of Famer defenseman Chris Pronger
> goalie Brian Boucher
> Boston's Patrice Bergeron, 6' 9" Zdeno Chara
> goalie Tim Thomas.

Both teams started the year slowly, but now each hold a playoff spot going into the New Year.

> One of the more interesting items of the game is the team's jerseys. As has been the case in the past, the teams have decided to honor their past by wearing jerseys, or sweaters as they used to be called, representing each team's past.
> So if you want to see hockey as it was meant to be played, catch the game tomorrow at 1pm on NBC.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

First Woman to Ref College Bowl Game

A little known fact has been sizzling on the hot BBQ and it's time to plate it.

Here's what you can chat up:
> Sarah Thomas is the first woman to referee a college football football game. She's ref'ed other college games and a practice for the New Orleans Saints but this is another barrier broken when she was the line judge for the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl between Ohio University and Marshall University.

> Ria Cortesio was the first female to ump an MLB game -- though it was an exhibition game.

> There aren't a lot of women refs in the pro leagues. Violet Palmer is one.

> David Stern, the NBA commissioner recently responded to a question that in the next decade it's possible a woman could be playing in the league.

So often, I've talked about sports that are male dominated and, I'll continue to. But today, it's time to acknowledge the accomplishments of a few women. And in the future, I'll be finding more stories and bringing some guest bloggers in.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Colts First Defeat: Who's To Blame?

Hello friends,

So, here's something that you can chat up:

> Was it smart/wise/good coaching for the Indianapolis head coach to pull Peyton Manning from the game in which they suffered their first loss of the season?
> Jim Caldwell decided to yank Manning when the Colts held a 5 point lead. Why? Well, rest is one thing.
> The farther a successful team heads into the season -- and the Colts have had a GREAT season -- do you start to rest players so they are fresh for the playoffs?
> Some say yes; others no. But to NOT take a shot at an undefeated season...well, that's something to get people's opinions on.
> My two cents: keep the undefeated season alive. This was not a game that the Colts had in the bag and that it made sense to have Curtis Painter come into the game.
> It's also the classic "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation.

But that's enough for you to throw out around the water cooler and have some fun.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Colts Suffer First Defeat. What's up with Urban Meyer?

Happy Holidays from the Sports BBQ!

First course off the grill: NFL football.

> The Indianapolis Colts suffered their first regular season defeat today. That means NO team in the NFL will be undefeated this year.
> The Colts have had several games this season in which they've had to come from behind in the last minutes to win. They've always rallied until today.
> Talk about what it means that the Colts lost. Yes, they've still won their division and have home field advantage in the playoffs, but does this loss show their vulnerabilities against a mediocre team?
> What do the Colts need to do next week to put this loss behind them? (I say they've got to dominate. Look at what happened to New Orleans after their loss last week. They lost today to a lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneer team.)

Second course: Urban Meyer is quitting as the head football coach at the University of Florida. Wait, no he's not leaving. He's just taking a leave of absence.
> Talk about how Meyer's alleged change of plans impacts his team as they prep for their bowl game.
> Most college and pro coaches work year round, rarely taking days off. If they're not recruiting, they're developing game plans, prepping for opponents, scouting, etc.
> Meyer was hospitalized after the SEC championship game against Alabama. Today, he reportedly said that he had always put football first. Now, it was time to put his health and family first.
> Why is it hard for Meyer to walk away?
> If he does leave, will he coach again? Where? Meyer was a leading candidate for the Notre Dame job.

Chat. It. Up. Enjoy!

Friday, December 25, 2009

George Michael, The Sports Machine

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Sports BBQ.

Today, we mark the sad passing of an amazing sports journalist. George Michael, a talented storyteller who manned The Sports Machine died Wenesday. Washington, DC area viewers knew him well from his nightly sportscasts at WRC-TV, channel 4. However, I got to know George through his nationally aired program TSM.

George was a talented storyteller who knew how to find a good story. He knew the questions to ask and he was never shy about his opinions. His trademark line, "Let's go to..." and then he'd name the place or the city and hit the big PLAY button on the videotape machine that was part of his set, became part of many sportscasters vernacular.

He oozed passion. How many of us can say that about our jobs? He made me realize that great storytelling isn't differentiated by news, politics or sports. Give George a political story and he'd weave an incredible narrative. It just so happened that sports was his sweet spot. Maybe that's why I liked him and his style so much.

Thanks, George. I'll always remember you.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Round Up

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the BBQ!

Today's hot grill features a round up. Here's what you can chat up:

> College bowl games - these are the post-season trips that teams have earned based on their record and performance. There are a multitude of bowl games (and I am not kidding about these names): Pointsettia Bowl, Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Valero Alamo Bowl, AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Bowl and the Bell Armed Forces Bowl.

> Bowl games have already started so you'll be hearing scores daily.

> But here's what you really want to pay attention to: Citi BCS National Championship Game, FedEx Orange Bowl, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

> The Los Angeles Lakers play the The Cleveland Cavaliers tomorrow. Each team boasts a superstar: Kobe Bryant for the Lakers, LeBron James for the Cavaliers. Shaquille O'Neal also plays for the Cavs.

> This is an AWESOME match up! Kobe and LeBron are both explosive, creative scorers, amazing motivators, and they know how to get the best from their teammates.

Talk it up and ENJOY!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sports Round-Up

Good afternoon,

The BBQ is packed today! We're grilling up football.

Here's what you can chat up today:

> A first in college football. The Associated Press voted defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh the AP player of the year.
> This is huge! Notice that it didn't go to the Heisman winner, which is almost always awarded to an offensive player.
> He has won 4 other awards (bear with me...these names are worth tossing around): the Outland Trophy, the Nagurski (nuh-GER-ski), the Bednarik (bed-NAR-ick) and the Lombardi Trophies. Essentially, these four awards are given to the best defensive player and best lineman. In other words, Suh was a clean sweep.
> Could Suh be the #1 pick in next year's NFL draft?
> Should he be? Why and why not? (IMHO, you've GOT to consider him up at or near the top of your draft board.)

Enjoy and thanks for reading the BBQ. We wish you and yours happy holidays!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Saints Stumble Against the Cowboys

Here's what's hot today: NFL football and the playoff picture.

Here's what you can talk about:
> The mighty New Orleans Saints were shocked by the Cowboys last night, who handed the Saints their first loss of the season.
> What impact will this have on the Saints through the rest of the season and the playoffs?
> Could this loss be a "good thing" i.e. the Saints lose in the regular season, re-group and address their weaknesses and come out stronger for the playoffs?

More later but enjoy!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

NASCAR vs. Open Wheel

OK (non) racing fans, today's your day.

There's some pomp and circumstance about Danica Patrick, a female Indy car driver, who is going to tackle a NASCAR (i.e. stock car) race.

Here's what you can chat up:
> NASCAR and Indy car racing are very different style racing styles.
> The cars are VERY, VERY different.
> Stock-cars look like highly modified cars with HUGELY powerful engines, shock absorbers, etc.
> Indy style cars are open-wheel. Literally, the wheel area is open and outside the car.
> Why is Danica really doing this? Is she stretching her brand? Is she frustrated by her won - loss record? Is this a real opportunity for her? How well will she do?
> It's not the first time a driver's done this. Dario Franchetti (also known as Ashley Judd's husband) went from Indy style to NASCAR but returned to Indy style when his team shut down.

Chat it up and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hot Stove

Let's make today Slang Tuesday.

Today's phrase: Hot Stove. Use it in a sentence, you say? No problem. "The hot stove is roaring right now. There's lots of chatter about Roy Halladay and John Lackey."

> Hot stove is most often used in reference to meetings and discussions around major league baseball in the off-season as if executives are huddled around a hot stove during these cold winter months to discuss trades and acquisitions of players.

> Feel free to use my example above around the water cooler or you could say something like, "What's going on around the hot stove? I heard Halladay and Lackey are on the move." Instant sports cred.

Chat it up and enjoy!

Heisman Voting

Hi everyone!

Apologies for the blog silence; I've been spinning a few plates but I'm I'm firing up the BBQ again.

Instead of 1 massive post, I'm going to spread them out a bit.

Today's comment is on the outcome of the Heisman voting:
> Mark Ingram from University of Alabama won. Something you can talk about is whether he was the best player this year. As my pal, Marc, pointed out, his stats were not as good as Toby Gerhart's from Stanford. Additionally, Ingram had a terrible game against Auburn earlier in the season. It clearly didn't hurt him when it came to voting.

> Sometimes a player's last game makes the biggest impression and Ingram had a good one against Florida in the SEC championship game. Also, many believe that the SEC is one of if not the toughest conferences in college football. Right or wrong, these things absolutely influence those casting the ballots.

> Who casts the ballots? Sports journalists from six different regions around the country (and there are concerns that East Coast voters don't get the same exposure to West Coast teams, thus the alleged "West Coast bias".) Also, former Heisman winners each get a vote.

Talk it up and enjoy!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Notre Dame Hires Brian Kelly


Sizzling hot tip from the BBQ.

If you haven't heard it by now, Brian Kelly from the University of Cincinnati, will be the new head football coach at Notre Dame.

Here's what you can talk up:
> What can and does Brian Kelly have to do differently than Charlie Weis, Tyrone Willingham and Bob Davie, who are the most recent previous coaches? (And don't just settle for the pat answer of, "He has to win.")

> Push people to go deeper than that. Kelly has coached at different places (including Division II football as well as Division I). But being the head football coach at Notre Dame is no cakewalk. This is a university that expects to compete for the National Championship every year.

> Kelly runs a high-octane spread offense and he's defensive-minded as well.

> Chat about whether he'll stick around with Cincinnati through the Sugar Bowl in January. His team is undefeated and competed for the national championship. Why should he? Why shouldn't he?

> Can he successfully recruit top-tier players to ND?

Enjoy and chat it up!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Heisman Trophy Watch

Alright, friends, it's down to the wire with the Heisman and here are today's hot tips:

> This Saturday, the Heisman (HI'S-man) Trophy is awarded. It's the most talked about award in college football. There are people who may disagree with me on that. Notice that I didn't say it's the most important or the most prestigious.
> The Heisman finalists are:
+ Colt McCoy, QB from Texas
+ Tim Tebow, QB from Florida
+ Mark Ingram, RB from Alabama
+ Toby Gerhart, RB from Stanford
+ Ndamukong Suh, DT (defensive tackle) from Nebraska

> Final ballots are due right after the league championship games so a player's performance in those games can cost them the Heisman.

> For instance, Tim Tebow had a great year but Florida's loss to Alabama likely means he's not going to win the Heisman.

> On the other hand, Mark Ingram from Alabama had a GREAT game against Florida and he stands a decent chance at winning.

> In other words, it's that last impression that can sway the voters.

Chat it up and keep comin' back to the BBQ!


Monday, December 7, 2009

NFL Upsets

Hello friends,

Hot tips for today are from a day of NFL Upsets. Here's what you can chat up:

> The Miami Dolphins beat the New England Patriots
> The Oakland Raiders beat the Pittsburgh Steelers

Near Upsets:
> Washington Redskins barely lost to the New Orleans Saints.

Still Undefeated:
> The Indianapolis Colts
> The New Orleans Saints

What are the chances 2 teams could go undefeated through the regular season? The Patriots did it a few years ago through the regular season, playoffs and right up until the Super Bowl, which they lost to the NY Giants. The only team to go undefeated through the regular and post season and win the Super Bowl are the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

Chat it up and enjoy!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

College Football Playoff Needed

Good morning!

Here's the hot tips from the BBQ:

> #2 Alabama will likely play #3 Texas for the national championship. (We'll know more tonight for sure) Both teams are undefeated.
> But here's the problem: TCU, Cincinnati and Boise State are also undefeated.
> Discuss whether (and how) the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) is flawed.
> Not every conference is a member of the BCS so not every team gets a shot at a major bowl game.

Gotta run. Talk it up and enjoy!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Alabama Upsets Florida, BCS Impact

Well, well, well. This is truly hot off the grill. Second ranked Alabama upset top ranked Florida in college football tonight.

Here's what you can chat up:
> Did Mark Ingram, Alabama's running back, do enough to win the Heisman Trophy? He and his offensive lined bulled their way through the porous Florida defense.
> Alabama came out with a swagger and never looked back.
> Alabama will go to the national championship game.
> Who will play Alabama? That depends, in part, on the outcome of the Texas / Nebraska game (which kicks off in less than half an hour)
> Great story line: Tim Tebow, Florida's quarterback, was recruited by Alabama and Florida. He chose Florida. Alabama's QB, Greg McElroy, who wanted to play for Florida, but once Tebow committed to the Gators, McElroy went to Alabama. Tonight, he helped pull off a HUGE upset.

Enjoy and more to come tomorrow.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Shaking it up (a little)

Good morning!

Hot tips comin' off the grill this morning. Here are some things you can chat up this morning:

SOCCER (what most of the rest of the world calls futbol)
> The 2010 World Cup draw happens today.
> This means that the 32 teams that have qualified for Cup play will be paired up
> The World Cup will be played in South Africa and if you think the country isn't excited about that, think again. They'll pull out all the stops.

> This is a huge weekend. The #1 and #2 teams in the country play each other.
> University of Florida is undefeated and so is Alabama. They're in the same conference but different divisions sot this is the SEC championship game but the outcome will help determine the national championship.
> These are star-studded teams and the brightest are Florida's QB Tim Tebow (TEE-beau), who has one Heisman award and Alabama's Mark Ingram, a running back who, some say, has an outside shot to win.
> The game is played in the Georgia Dome, which is technically an away game for both team. Don't kid yourself. The place will be rockin' with Florida Blue and the Crimson color of the Tide.

Talk it up and enjoy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Give the people what they want

Good morning,

Recently a Sports BBQ fan asked about boxing and whether the BBQ would ever chat about it. I can't say that I'm a huge fan of the sport. However, there was a match recently that's worth talking about.

Here's what you can chat about:
> Roy Jones, Jr. is a legendary boxer. He's won championships in four different weight class divisions.
> He's 40 years old and is still fighting at a time when a lot of boxers have hung up their gloves.
> However, he suffered a crushing and somewhat surprising defeat the other night when he was going against Danny Green. Jones was in search of a title in a 5th weight division.
> Green needed only 122 SECONDS to beat Jones. In boxing, each round is 3 minutes long so Green handled Jones in just over 2 minutes.
> It was a TKO = Technical Knock Out. The referee jumped in to stop the fight. Jones wasn't knocked out cold but the ref determined that the fight needed to be stopped after Green landed a punch to Jones' head and then followed with more pummeling.

That's the pugilistic scoop today. Talk it up and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hat Tip


This morning, the BBQ offers a quick hat tip to Bobby Bowden, the legendary head football coach at Florida State University.

Here's what you can chat about:
> Bowden retired yesterday as the 2nd winningest college football coach in history with 388 wins. He trails only Joe Paterno of Penn State.
> He won two national championships and coached many players who made it into the NFL including Deion Sanders and Charlie Ward.
> His program was not without controversy. His teams were penalized by the NCAA, the governing body in sports.
> He is, however, colorful, a character and a showman. In his prime, there wasn't anybody like him. He enjoyed the spotlight.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

(Sigh) I Can't Help It

Hello friends,

I just can't help myself. I'm going to write about Notre Dame but I'm going to give this a new twist. By now you know that Charlie Weis, the head football coach, was fired.

Here's what you can chat up:
> The last time Notre Dame won a national championship was 1988 with Lou Holtz. That's a very long drought for a program that expects to compete for a national title EVERY year.

> ND is one of the last few independent football teams, meaning they're not in a league like the Big 10 or the Pac 10, SEC, etc.

> For whatever reason, the combination of players, execution and coaching just didn't work for Weis at Notre Dame. And, by the way, that's not all his fault.

> His firing doesn't mean Weis won't be successful elsewhere. For crying out loud, he has 4 Super Bowl rings from his time in the NFL. But perhaps he's just not a COLLEGE coach. (I've been wrong before but it's a viable theory even though he graduated from ND.)

> You know who wasn't a successful NFL HEAD COACH? Pete Carroll. He was the head coach for the NY Jets and the New England Patriots and was fired from both. Now, Carroll is the head coach at the University of Southern California and he's won a pair of national titles. Carroll is the PERFECT college coach. He loves the whole atmosphere, the recruiting, the legend, the lore, the spectacle that is USC football. And he's authentic; on game day, you can tell there's nowhere else that Pete Carroll wants to be than walking the sideline at the Coliseum. He's also among the smartest, move innovative coaches in the game.

> If ND wants to win, that's the type of coach they need. Truly, nothing against Charlie Weis. It just didn't work. He'll win again.

Talk it up and enjoy!