Friday, December 3, 2010

Ron Santo - Tough, Brave and Honest. RIP


This is a tough one to write about. Ron Santo, the voice of the Chicago Cubs Baseball Team, has died. He was just 70 years old and had suffered from diabetes for years.

Here's what you can chat up:
+ He was a Cub though and through. A 3rd baseman considered one of the best during his prime, he had a lifetime batting average of .277, 342 home runs and 1331 runs batted in.
+ Regrettably, he never made it into the Hall of Fame, though he came close and probably should have been inducted.
+ He became an announcer with the club and was a admitted "homer" = openly rooting for his team. Listening to him on the radio made you feel like he lived and died with each pitch, hit, run and error. There were times you didn't know what was going on because Ronnie was so over the top because he was caught up in the moment. He just couldn't find the words to tell you what he was seeing!
+ That's passion. That's love. That's who the Cubs and the fans will miss this season. And the next. And the next.

Summer nights spent listening to Ron on the radio often elicited stories from friends of the kind things he did. It also provoked sadness, like in 1998 when it appeared the Cubs were headed to the World Series and the "Bartman Incident" occurred. I remember his near-wail like voice, "no, no, no, no." Another dream, like the Hall of Fame, denied.

For the love of Ron, post some of your favorite memories of him. Let's send him out knowing he was a beloved baseball man.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wade Phillips Out in Dallas. Reading Between the Lines.

Friends, this is a lesson about sports, business and reading between the lines.

Here's what you have to chat up:
> Today, the Dallas Cowboys fired its head coach, Wade Phillips. The Cowboys are 1 - 7. That's unacceptable for "America's Team".
> His dismissal comes about a week after the owner of the Cowboys, Jerry Jones, said that Phillips would have the job for the remainder of the year. (You really can't say publicly, "Well, if Wade loses the next game, he's gone!"
> Then came the Cowboys' horrific loss to the Green Bay Packers yesterday, 45 - 7. Jones had had enough.
> Ask why Jones would express support for Phillips and then change his mind?
> What factors contributed to Phillips being shown the door? (Here's the answer: injuries to their starting QB Tony Romo, a ridiculous number of penalties, a porous defense and an inability to get the 'boys out of a terrible rut.)
> BTW, some thought the Cowboys could contend for the Super Bowl since they won their division last year. Adding insult to injury, the Super Bowl is being held in Dallas this year, which would be an owner's dream to have his team play that game in their own stadium.

Dream deferred.

Talk it up and enjoy!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Joe Pa Wins No. 400

Take note. Joe Paterno, the head football coach at Penn State, has just won his 400th game. He's the first coach in major college football history to do that. What that means is Division 1 football.

Here's what you can chat up:
> His team had to come from behind to win. They were down 21 - 0 in the first half.
> He's 83 years old.
> He's been head coach for 44 seasons.
> He's donated millions to the University.
> He's passed the big names: Bear Bryant of Alabama, Bobby Bowden of Florida State.
> Talk about how he HASN'T passed Eddie Robinson of Grambling. (He is, however, only 9 wins away.)
> He's affectionately known as Joe Pa, which is correctly pronounced Joe-puh, as in Puh-terno.
> Most folks think he IS Penn State.
> Most years, when he loses more than 2 games, people start calling for his head. But not today. Today, Joe Paterno is the Lion King.

Chat it up and hail the Lion King.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sparky Anderson - the Spark of the Big Red Machine


You can talk up the world series (which the SF Giants won), you can talk up football or you could mention the name Sparky Anderson around the water cooler.

Who? Ah, here's what you can talk about.

> George "Sparky" Anderson was a Hall of Fame major league manager who died today at the age of 76.
> He lead the Cincinnati Reds aka "The Big Red Machine" to World Series wins in 1975 and 1976. As you know, that was no easy task. He had a roster of superstars -- Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Ken Griffey, George Foster, Tony Perez, etc., etc. -- and managed to keep everyone happy.
> The Reds let him go a few years later after two 2nd place finishes.
> What'd Sparky do? Headed to the American League and won ANOTHER championship with the Detroit Tigers.
> He is still among the most highly regarded managers in baseball and one of winningest.

God Bless you, Sparky. I loved watching you work.

Chat it up, for Sparky's sake!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Randy Moss Is Released - Again

Gather 'round friends and lemme tell you what you should be chatting about this afternoon.

Randy Moss, the wide receiver who was released by the NE Patriots several weeks ago and picked up by the Minnesota Vikings has now been released by the Vikings.

+ First thing to say is, "Wow! How did that happen?"
+ Then say, "Well, it's probably because he appeared to bad-mouth both of his head coaches directly to the media."
+ Top it off with, "Isn't it ironic that the Vikings and the Patriots played last night?" BTW, the Patriots won.

Here's what you can also add:
+ Moss is a 7-time pro bowl selection.
+ He's a uniquely talented player.
+ He feels misunderstood. He probably is.

Questions to ask:
+ Will another team claim him off waivers?
+ Are there teams that can take that risk like Dallas, which is 1 - 6 and has lost their starting quarterback?

Wow. Chat it up and enjoy.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Monday Morning Watercooler - NFL

Hello friends,

Here's what you can chat up tomorrow morning around the office coffee pot:

> Ben Roethlisberger returned to play for the Steelers and had a good game, beating the Cleveland Browns. Ask if you think he showed any signs of rust, nervousness, etc. Do you think he's earning back the respect of his teammates?

> The Dallas Cowboys, often known as America's Team, are now 1-5 losing to the lowly Minnesota Vikings, who are 2-4. Something that you can have people mull over: whether Cowboy Coach Wade Phillips will last the remainder of the season.

> It took overtime (OT) for the NE Patriots to beat the Baltimore Ravens. Are the Ravens that good to push NE to OT or are the Patriots really living up to their 4 -1 record? Reminder: this was the Patriots first game without wide-receiver Randy Moss. They did, however, re-acquire Deion Branch, who spent 4 years with the Seattle Seahawks before returning to NE and he MORE than held his own today.

That's it! Chat it up and Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fall Ball - Major League Playoffs

So we begin the next round of the Major League Baseball playoffs. A few select boys of summer have managed to make it into the fall. Here's what you can chat up:

+ It's an interesting group, Yankees vs. The Texas Rangers.
+ What you should be saying is, "What? The Texas Rangers made the playoffs much less the American League Championship Series?"
+ Yes, Dorothy, they did. Here's why it's an incredible story. This is the franchise that literally bet the farm on now Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez taking them to the playoffs. Never happened.
+ A-Rod agreed to move on to the Yankees, even switching positions from shortstop to 3rd base.
+ What the Rangers have done, in part due to Texas pitching legend Nolan Ryan, is re-group, re-commit and, FINALLY, win.
+ Two huge additions: Pitcher Cliff Lee and Outfielder Josh Hamilton. I'll talk about them in a different post.

Phillies vs. Giants - what to chat up
+ Philly has been here and beyond before. This is a steady team with strength across the board from Ryan Howard, to Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley (altho, not his best year), Cole Hamels and a pitcher who refused to quit, Roy Halladay. More later on him.
+ The Giants have have superb pitching and it starts with Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum.
+ Talk about whether the Giants can match up against the Phillies, who had no trouble sweeping the Cincinnati Reds in their best of 5 series.

Talk it up and Enjoy!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

NFL: What to Watch

Hello friends,

Here's the NFL game I'm keeping my eye on today.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Indianapolis Colts. Here's what you can chat up:
> These are teams going different directions.
> The Chiefs won just 10 games in the past 3 seasons. Woah. Not good.
> This season, they are undefeated. In fact, they're the only undefeated team in the NFL.
> Indianapolis has won 1 Super Bowl and contended for another.
> Indianapolis has a losing record.

Talk about why the Colts are having problems. Is it with one of the NFL's best QB's? (Nope, it's not.) He's run a little hot and cold but the reality is, he's clutch. So talk about the Colts' defense and how it's not getting the job done.

Talk up why the Chiefs are doing well this year after YEARS of futility. He made huge changes to the roster. He got players to buy into a team mentality. He has veterans who are helping to lead the charge. BTW, he's got Charlie Weis, former coach at Notre Dame, on his staff. Weis has always earned points as a solid offensive coordinator.

So, talk it up and watch it today.


Friday, October 8, 2010

College Football and MLB Playoffs

Hello my non-sports loving friends. Here're some things to chat up this weekend:

College football
Alabama vs. South Carolina. Alabama is #1 in the polls i.e. the top rated college football team in the country. They're taking on #19 South Carolina. The Crimson Tide of Alabama have been tested and have had to come from behind.

Here's what you can chat up:
> The two coaches, Nick Saban of Alabama and Steve Spurrier of S.C. are crafty football veterans who aren't afraid to mix it up, call trick plays, pull out all the stops to win.
> S.C. is clearly the underdog and here's why: there's a lot of shake-up at the QB position for them.
> 'Bama has a Heisman Trophy winning running back, Mark Ingram. Though he didn't start the season opener due to injury, he make his mark.
> Count on the Tide winning but S.C. could give them a run for their money and an upset is possible.

MLB Playoffs

> Some teams are already down 2 games in the best of 5 series playoffs and it will take a heroic effort to climb back into the playoffs.
> Talk about the Cincinnati Reds. Manager Dusty Baker led the Reds to the top of the Central Division in the NL. But the Reds are now down 2 - 0 against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Reds started strong but then Reds committed 4 errors to lose.
> Talk about why DEFENSE is so important. As Dusty Baker said, we played better but lost the game b/c of the defense.
> The Reds must win the next game to stay in the playoffs.

Other teams whose backs are against the wall?
> Tampa Bay is down 2 to the Texas Rangers
> Minnesota is down 2 to the NY Yankees

Talk it up and Enjoy!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Big Ben Is Back

You've heard a lot about Ben Roethlisberger. This season, it hasn't been about his performance on the football field.

If you haven't heard, here's the (quick) skinny:

> He was accused of but not charged with sexual assault of a woman at a bar in Georgia.

> He was suspended 6 games by the NFL for violating the league's personal conduct policy. The suspension was later reduced to 4 games by the NFL Commissioner.

> Roethlisberger returned to the team this week.

Here's what you should be talking about:

> How will he play? He hasn't part of training camp and hasn't practiced with his receivers. Let's just say that timing between players, especially QB's and wide receivers is crucial.

> How will he be greeted by fans? Keep in mind, Pittsburgh is a great, proud sports town. Roethlisberger helped the Steelers win two Super Bowls. That said, lots of locals even my Aunt, one of the most loving and patient people I know (read: nun), thought Ben should be ashamed and should go. Terry Bradshaw, a Hall of Fame QB for the Steelers after winning FOUR Super Bowls, thought Big Ben should have been dumped.

> Has he changed? Is he a better man? Could he even be a better player?

Decide for yourself on October 17th when he is supposed to start against the Steelers' bitter rivals, the Cleveland Browns. It'll be in Pittsburgh and worth watching.

Thanks for dropping by the BBQ and talk it up amongst yourselves!

I'm Back in the Saddle


Sorry for the disappearance. I'm back on the radar and ready to add some lighter fluid to the coals and fire up the KQ Sports BBQ.

Here's what you should be talking about and why: the New England Patriots trading Randy Moss for a third round draft pick. Moss is a ridiculously-talented wide receiver in the National Football League. He makes ballet-like catches and should be a shoo-in to the Hall of Fame.

Here's what you've GOT to talk up:
> Why did he get traded? NE says it's a business decision and they wish him well. Others will say that he talked too much about his contract, disagreed with coaches and, perhaps, didn't get the ball thrown his way enough. It's telling that he was traded immediately AFTER a VICTORY on Monday Night Football.

> Why trade him back to the team that originally drafted him, the Minnesota Vikings? Well, he's already been there and done that but this time, he's paired with Brett Favre, a legendary quarterback. He WILL be in the NFL Hall of Fame. The Vikings know what they're getting.

> Balance that argument with the fact that Moss was already playing with one of the best quarterbacks in the league, Tom Brady. He will also be in the Hall.

Here's an opinion piece that you can check out too.

It's great to be back. Your patience and encouragement have meant the world to me.

Alright, my non-sports fans. Time for you to chat it up and Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's over for Lou Piniella and Bobby Cox


There's news in baseball to chat about. Here we go!

> The manager of the Chicago Cubs, Lou Piniella, is leaving at the end of this year.
> Talk about why he's leaving. He says it's just time. Maybe it is. I've liked Lou from his time playing for the Yankees. He's fiery, competitive and won a World Series when he managed the Reds. He's been around. He's probably ready to be around the house.
> Do you believe him? It's been a tough season for the Cubs who were expected to contend in some fashion. Instead, the #1 pitcher Carlos Zambrano had a meltdown, went to the bullpen, had another meltdown and underwent a suspension and is working his way back up from the minors.
> Perhaps you can say, "Maybe Lou just had enough." And see what kind of reaction you get.

Who will replace him?
> Joe Torre, formerly of the Yankees and currently with the Dodgers, isn't ruling anything out.
> Ryne Sandberg, currently the manager of the Cubs AAA team and a Hall of Fame 2nd baseman for the Cubs, is VERY interested.
> It's also believed that Bob Brenly, who lead the AZ Diamondbacks to a World Series and is currently a Cubs announcer, says he's interested.

Whew! Let the guessing begin!

Next, Bobby Cox, the manager of the Atlanta Braves is retiring at season's end.
> He's the legendary manager who has lead the Braves from the outhouse to the penthouse (bottom to top) of the division and won a World Series.
> He's known for getting tossed out of games but he's also known as being among the smartest managers in the game. Most players love him and hang around to play for him. Ask Chipper Jones. He's talked about retiring this season along with Cox. Some people just go together.

Enjoy and chat it up!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Red Sox Honor Steinbrenner

In the end, my friends, it's more than a game. Life is much, much bigger than any game. Last night, the Boston Red Sox proved that.

The Sox paid tribute to George Steinbrenner and former Yankees announcer Bob Sheppard last night at Boston's Fenway Park. If you don't know anything about sports, know this: it would be the equivalent of the Buffalo Bills (4 time losers in the Super Bowl) feting the teams that vanquished them.

The Yankees and the Red Sox are not friends. Maybe not as bitter rivals as in past years but darn close. The Red Sox kvetched that the Yankees out-spended them and stole players and the Yankees thought that keeping the Red Sox from reaching the World Series, was their job. Steinbrenner and the president of the Red Sox swapped some seriously verbal jabs. It wasn't pretty.

But yesterday, it was beautiful in Boston. There were no more hard feelings. The Red Sox held a moment of silence to salute The Boss and then fans actually clapped for him. They also acknowledged Bob Sheppard, the longtime announcer at Yankee Stadium who died this week at the age of 99.

Kudos to the Red Sox organization and their fans for the tribute. Pure class. They knew the past was over and it was time to salute two men who made amazing contributions to the game of baseball and who lifted the community at large. Life is bigger than any game. The Red Sox proved that last night. Well done.

Chat it up and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Boss Leaves the Field

Hi Friends,

Quick posting about what you can chat about today. George Steinbrenner, the owner of the NY Yankees, has died.

> He is perhaps the most influential owner of any sports team ever.
> Nicknamed "The Boss", Steinbrenner bought a struggling franchise in 1973 and restored it to glory, winning seven World Series titles. How? He spent TONS of money acquiring top talent.
> He and his staff put together a great development program in the minors that produced Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and many more.
> Steinbrenner was known as a very hands on owner and some of his tenure was tumultuous. He had a history of unexpectedly hiring and firing managers. One of them, Billy Martin, was hired AND fired 5 different times.
> He was yin and yang: controversial -- pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to make illegal campaign contributions and was banned from baseball for more than a year -- and supported charitable causes, often anonymously.

He was MEMORABLE and a character and unforgettable.

Chat it up! And enjoy!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

LeBron Goes to the Miami Heat

So, it's over. LeBron James is going to the Miami Heat. Here's what you can chat up Friday at the watercooler:

> What's the upside of him going to the Miami Heat? Yes, they'll be instant NBA title contenders.
It will be amazing to see LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh together on the same court every night.
> Downside? Never count out injuries. If LeBron and Dwyane or Bosh go down, the Heat don't yet have the bench power to replace them. The Heat will likely have salary cap issues so they'll have lots of players who have been signed at the minimum.
> LeBron will have to share the spotlight with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Let's be clear, this is Dwyane Wade's team. He lead them to an NBA title in 2006. Is sharing the spotlight and the ball and the plays possible? Will he want to share the money?
> How does this bode for Cleveland? Not great. This is a city that's taken it on the chin.

In the end, it's a loss for Cleveland, Chicago, the Knicks, the Nets and the Clippers. But Miami? They'll party on tonight.

Stay tuned friends and chat it up!!

LeBron James: where's he going? What's he doing?

Hello friends,

Short post today but plenty to ponder and chat about:
> LeBron James, the most-talked about basketball player since Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, will announce tonight which team he will play for over the next several seasons.
> He's giving his decision tonight at 9e/8c on ESPN.
> You should be asking why. Why is he choosing to make this person decision so incredibly public?
> 1.) He does things in a big way. 2.) advertising dollars are being donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs. 3.) Because he can.
> This is how the entire NBA free agency discussion has flowed: What is LeBron going to do? So much attention has been paid to that that he's ABLE and WILLING to take advantage of that.
> Should that be the new standard? Creating a 1 hour special on a national cable channel to see who 1 NBA player is going to play for? Bill Simmons on ESPN calls it, "LeBronocalypse".
> How will he be viewed if he leaves his (nearly hometown) Cleveland Cavaliers? Villain? Traitor? Looking out for his best interests?
> Teams in the running: Chicago, Miami, Cleveland, NY Knicks and the NJ Nets.
> One duo: Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have teamed up in Miami. LeBron joining them instantly vaults Miami to instant title contender.

Chat it up! Tell me what you think! It's a big day on the BBQ.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sports Round-Up. Giddy up!


Big happenin's in the world of sports:

Tennis at Wimbledon
> This is the tennis tournament that is often considered the most prestigious. It's at the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. The Queen and royalty show up. People eat strawberries and cream. Players can only wear clothing that is more white in color than not. Anyway...enough with the formalities.

Here's why Wimbledon has been epic this year:
> The longest tennis match ever recorded happened here this year. Nicolas Mahut and John Isner slugged it out for 183 games over the course of 11 hours and 5 minutes. Folks, this was a first round match! These guys were playing tennis for 11 hours. A marathon lasts 2 - 5 hours. Amazing stuff. Talk that up!

> Upsets: the US's Andy Roddick is out as is Venus Williams, who's won the women's title 5 times there. Serena Williams and Roger Federer keep rolling as does Spain's Rafael Nadal. Talk up what another clash between those two rivals, Federer and Nadal, would mean. Last year was an epic showdown!

> Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs unleashed a tirade in the Cubs dugout last week. One target - first baseman, Derek Lee, who Zambrano didn't think hustled enough that inning. Zambrano was after for 4 runs in the first inning against the White Sox, their crosstown rival . The Cub's manager pulled him from the game immediately and the GM immediately suspended him.
> Zambrano has NOT had a good year. He's started the season as the Cub's ace and ended up being demoted to the bullpen after a few starts.
> Zambrano is going into treatment and will be placed on a restrictive list, meaning he's no longer suspended.
> Talk about the impact of Zambrano's behavior. How does it impact the team? Can they rally in the second half of the season despite him? Can he ever come back and be accepted? Would you trust him as a teammate? Stay tuned. This one will be interesting.

World Cup
> The U.S. lost a heartbreaker to Ghana on Saturday so they're out of the Cup.
> However, there are big surprises. Italy, the defending champ, was upset. Japan and Paraguay have been (as ESPN puts it) overachievers. They're each hoping to get into the quarterfinal round (top four spots) for the first time.

Enjoy and talk it up!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

NBA Draft, World Cup

Hello friends,

The NBA draft is tonight. That kicks off our list of what you can chat up:
+ The player who will likely go #1 is John Wall, from the University of Kentucky.
+ Talk about why he's going #1. He played only one year of college basketball but he already has the skill set of an NBA player.
+ In 1 season of college ball, he made first team All-American.
+ He's versatile, has a soft shooting touch and displays great athleticism on the court. i.e. He gets it done and isn't afraid to drive into the paint. (Paint = the rectangular area of the basketball court that leads to the basket. It's where the "big men" - centers and forwards - play so you've got to have agility to avoid them and/or bulk to match up against them.)

Now, World Cup:
+ Italy, the reigning World Cup champ, is O-U-T.
+ The U.S. survives to the next round. Pretty amazing given some of the "cardiac moments" they've provided so far, like coming back from 2-0 to win a match and the ties they've endured when goals have been nullified.
+ So the World Cup is offering upsets, emotion and patriotism equivalent to (or even surpassing) the Olympics.
+ Dial it up. Watch it. I dare ya.

Chat it up and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Cup Madness!


I mean that in a good way. And here's some unsolicited advice: Watch the World Cup!

> For the same reason the NCAA basketball tournament is so enjoyable. Anyone can beat anyone!
> Need an example? When a lowly team like Switzerland beats Spain on a crazy goal, it turns the tourney on its head because it's such a HUGE upset.
> This is a chance to watch some of the world's best athletes. These guys have endurance, poise, body control, speed, finesse and move and nearly all of them don't use their hands!

Seriously. Drop by a local watering hole, order a pint or a soda, ask the bartender to turn on the games and start chatting about the Cup. I dare ya :)

Chat it up. And enjoy!

Tom Izzo Stays at Michigan State, Voting with His Heart

Good morning,

Got to chat up Tom Izzo today. Here's the deal:

> He's the head basketball coach at Michigan State University. He's won National Championships and he's coached some great players.
> He had the chance to become head coach of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers. You know, the team that is waiting to hear whether their superstar, LeBron James, is going to stay or head to another team.
> He had the chance to make $6M (yup) a year with Cleveland. He already makes $3M with Michigan State.

My feeling? Great for him, Michigan State and College Basketball. Why?
> He voted with his heart. He forms connections with his players. LeBron wouldn't meet with Izzo during the interview process. Nope. No connection. Not from the start. Izzo said that was a factor.
> He pledged his allegiance to staying at Michigan State for life. I believe him. I can't say that of all NCAA coaches but I believe Izzo.
> He knows that he can make a difference in the college players' lives. Probably won't happen in the NBA.
> You know what else I loved? Izzo went through the process and, I hope, came out the same guy on the other side. He also realized that this decision was about life, not $.

More good reading, courtesy of Mitch Albom.

Chat it up. It's a big day on the BBQ! Enjoy!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chicago Blackhawks, Meet Lord Stanley

Hello Friends,

A quick note today about the Chicago Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup (Huzzah!) and what you can talk about.
> First Stanley Cup win in 50 years. Last time the 'Hawks won, JFK was President.
> Here's what is similar: Both times the 'Hawks did it with young, speedy, tenacious skaters. Back in the day it was Stan Nikita and Bobby Hull. Today it was with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane plus a mix of experienced and classy vets like Marian Hossa.
> Many people are ALREADY talking repeat for the 'Hawks next year but here's the reality: the 'Hawks are up against the salary cap and have some hard decisions to make. So, enjoy this year's win.

Oh and by the way, da da da da da da da da da da da da da.

Talk it up and enjoy!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Umps Blown Call Costs Pitcher Perfect Game


Here's the hottest story on line, on the air, on social network sites. A major league umpire blew a call at first base that cost a Detroit Lions pitcher a perfect game.

> A perfect game occurs when a pitcher doesn't allow any walks, runs or hits in a full game. It's one of the greatest feats in all of sports.
> Detroit Pitcher Armando Galarraga had a perfect game going the other night. 2 outs in the 9th inning and umpire Jim Joyce missed a routine call on a ground out. The batter was out by a full step but Joyce blew it. On replay video, it's not even close.

Here's what you can chat up:
> Why won't Major League Baseball reverse the call and award Galarraga a perfect game? (The Commissioner of MLB won't do it and the Detroit Tigers haven't requested it.)
> How Armando Galarraga has been a class act. He received an apology and hug from Jim Joyce.
> Jim Joyce admitted he was wrong. No small feat. He took the heat and faced the media. Most folks run.
> How a great moment transpired today when Galarraga carried out the batting line up to Joyce -- usually a job that the manager hires -- and Joyce broke into tears.

It's a game. Mistakes happen. Crap happens. People admit mistakes. People forgive. Discuss.

Ken Griffey, Jr. - The Kid Leaves the Field

Good morning,

First, a quick tip of the hat to the NHL Stanley Cup Finals. The Flyers climbed back into contention last night, winning game 3. It's Blackhawks 2, Flyers 1. Here's what you can talk up:
> Do the Flyers have the big "mo" - momentum - coming into game 4? (Yup, and the Hawks have to thump it out of them.)
> What do the Hawks have to do? Skate like they own the place and don't let down. Last night, the Flyers scored back to back goals in less than 2 minutes, a feat that the Hawks pulled off on Monday. Chicago's a lean, young and hungry team. They've got to come out big in game 4 tomorrow night.

Next, the Kid leaves the field.
40-year-old Ken Griffey, Jr. of the Seattle Mariners retired yesterday. To some, it was surprising that he even joined the team this season. He was last seen being carried off Seattle's Safeco Field.

Here's why you should care and what you can talk about:
> "The Kid" brought joy to baseball. At the height of his career, he was considered the best player in baseball. He roamed centerfield and made eye-popping, wall-crashing, wall-climbing Sportscenter-featured catches. He was The Kid and The Man all rolled into one.
> He had one of the sweetest swings in baseball. Still does; it just lost its pop.
> He ends his career with 630 home runs but early on, he was on track to break Hank Aaron's HR record, before Barry Bonds started pounding homers late in his career. Griffey's body broke down preventing him from catching Bonds but here's what he didn't do: he didn't juice (i.e. take steroids.)
> He was a players' player. He loved the game. Perhaps because he grew up in a baseball family. His Dad, Ken Griffey, played in the bigs for the Reds and Mariners so Junior grew up in the clubhouse.
> Why'd he leave? He loved his teammates, the game and didn't want to be a distraction. Unfortunately, he did become one. Recently, reports surfaced that when called to pinch hit in a game, he was asleep in the clubhouse. True or not, the deal was done.

So, look up some Ken Griffey, Jr. highlights on YouTube. Talk about the loss for Major League Baseball. And long live The Kid.

Talk it up and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

NBA, NHL Finals

Hello Friends,

Hope that you all had a great Memorial Day weekend that you took time to honor soldiers who serve, served and died.

This is a FABULOUS time of year. It's all about the FINALS for the NBA and the NHL. There are some great story lines that you can chat up.

> The Lakers and the Celtics are in the best of 7 NBA Finals. The Lakers have Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom and a lot of history on their side. This team won the Championship last year and is looking to repeat. What are their chances?
> Kobe Bryant is peaking at the right time. He's been injured but turned on the jets and played like the Kobe of old. Can anyone shut him down?
> Boston is lead by -- and some won't believe this -- by Rajon Rondo, the Celtics point guard.
> Yes, the Celtics have the big three: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen but this season it's Rondo who makes the Celtics go-go. Talk about how he managed to outplay LeBron James in the series against Cleveland and how he's vaulted to the top of his game. (Some hints: maturity, a new contract and a willingness to work and play harder than ever.)

> It's the Chicago Blackhawks vs. the Philadelphia Flyers.
> The Blackhawks are up 2 games to 0 and have a chance to put the Flyers on their heels tomorrow night with a win.
> Talk about how the Blackhawks have turned it around from being a bottom-dweller and lowly franchise to being within 2 games of clinching Lord Stanley's Cup. (Yes, that's the trophy ;) (One hint: Rocky Wirtz, the new Blackhawks owner who took over when his father died a few years back. He's energized the franchise and brought fans back to the rink.)
> What do the Flyers have to do to stop the 'Hawks? Better defense and find a way to break through Antti Niemi's fortress. The 'Hawks goalie has been on fire.

Talk it up and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Super (Brrr) Bowl

Seriously. Seriously?

The NFL announced today that the 2014 Super Bowl will be held in...New Jersey. Yup. I said it. The NFC and AFC champs will play in the new OPEN AIR Meadowlands Stadium. ESPN: "It will be the first open-air stadium in a cold-weather region to host a Super Bowl."

Today, start your sports conversations with, WHY? Then move onto, WHAT IMPACT WILL THIS HAVE? IS THIS GOOD HISTORY THAT THE NFL IS MAKING? DO YOU WANT TO SEE A SNOW BOWL (not unlike a torrential rain in Miami a few years back when the Colts clobbered the Bears in the Super Bowl.)

(Ahem) Sorry for the shouting. Discuss.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

NBA Lottery, NHL Playoff


Let's cut to the chase. The NBA is holding its draft lottery tonight. That's when teams who missed the playoffs last year participate in a drawing to determine the draft order for the next draft. Without going into too much detail, there's more to it like a weighted system that gives teams with a worst record a greater chance of getting the #1 pick.

Here's what you can chat about:
> Who and what is at stake? Well, University of Kentucky freshman John Wall is widely considered the first pick. Who's considered a close second? Evan Turner from The Ohio State University.

> How have former #1's turned out? Some have been amazing. (see Dwight Howard and LeBron James). Others have been busts (see: Kwame Brown and Michael Olowokandi).

NHL playoffs are back tonight. The Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks are back on the ice tonight. Chicago slipped by the Sharks on Sunday on foreign ice, snatching home ice advantage. If they can leave San Jose tonight with a lead of 2-0, well, Chicago might stand a chance of being in its first Stanley Cup Final since 1992.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ya Gotta Love the Time of Year...

(non) Sports Fans, pay attention. Today's a day that you can add quite a bit to the conversation.

Both the NHL (National Hockey League) and NBA (National Basketball Associations) are beginning the Conference Finals so there's lots to talk about.

NHL first:
> Western Conference: Chicago Blackhawks vs. San Jose Sharks
> Eastern Conference: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens
Questions to ask:
> which team is more physical?
> which team is playing better? Are they peaking at the right time?
> which is more nimble and better on skates?
> which is more "puck" oriented?
> which is more important: youth vs. experience?

> Western Conference: Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers
> Eastern Conference: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic
> Each team has superstar(s) on it but what counts here: experience vs. youth?
> The Lakers are the defending champion while the Suns are reasonably new to the conference finals. Do they finally have the energy and defense to get the job done? They'd have to shut down Kobe Bryant and play well in the middle and Steve Nash has to be at the top of his game.
> The Celtics have Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce but their best player has been their point guard, Rajon Rondo. Can they dominate Superman, Dwight Howard, shut down crafty and diminutive guard Jameer Nelson and can Vince Carter rally?

It's a fun day so CHAT. IT. UP.

And, of course, enjoy!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

NFL "Voluntary" MiniCamp


Quick hit today re: "voluntary" NFL MiniCamps. Here's what to talk about:
> The Washington Redskins have shelled out $32M (that's million) in guaranteed money in the last 15 months to defensive tackle (DT) Albert Haynesworth.

> The pro bowl DT is one cornerstone of a franchise that is desperately trying to rebuild. They've brought in Bruce Allen, the new GM, a new coach (2-time Super Bowl winner Mike Shanahan), a veteran QB in Donovan McNabb and drafted an offensive lineman in the first round.

> So, here's what you can spar about: Haynesworth isn't showing up for workouts and voluntary minicamp. Why? Better yet, are these important? What do they do for the team? What does it mean?

> Here are your (possible) replies: He's maybe not showing up because he's: unhappy with the team, wants to play somewhere else and/or he's really working out on his own.

> Are minicamps important? Yup, they are. It's about re-bonding, getting back into the team rhythm, connecting with the new coaching staff, staking your place on the team, being in town so the fans know you're committed, etc. In essence, it's starting the season NOW and realizing that the road to the playoffs begins in April and May.

Talk. It. Up. And Enjoy!

p.s. Let me know if anyone's got THE answer of why Haynesworth isn't showing up.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Trey Hillman: 1st MLB Manager Fired


Trey Hillman has earned an unfortunate moniker this baseball season: the first manager to be fired. Hillman was in his third year with the Kansas City Royals. This is an American League baseball team with a proud history but, in the past several years, has fallen into a deep hole.

Here's what you can chat up:
> Does firing a manager really help a team? Especially with the Royals, Hillman is deeply respected and beloved. Isn't it the players responsibility to perform well and win games?

> You can also take another tact: How firing DOES help a team. For instance, Tony Pena replaced Tony Muser in 2002 and gave KC the push it needed the following year (along with a pitching addition) to end with a 3rd place finish.

> Here's my take: you clearly can't fire or bench every player. At some point, management feels they've got to make a change to shake things up, have someone else bring a new perspective, perhaps new players through trades and juggle line-ups to help spark a team.

Good luck, Royals and chat it up!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Brian Cushing: NFL defensive rookie of the year?

Hello friends,

Plating up some NFL news for you to talk about:
> Brian Cushing, a rookie linebacker for the Houston Texans, won the NFL defensive rookie of the year. But last week, he was suspended for 4 games in the upcoming season because he tested positive for HCG. It's a fertility drug that's on the NFL's banned substance list.

> So, after the suspension, a re-vote for the award was held. Guess what? Cushing won. Again. He won by a smaller margin but he won.

> Here's what you can discuss: does Cushing deserve the award? Should he still be suspended? Is it fair to have a player win an award yet test positive for a banned substance? Why does the NFL allow this? If you were a player, coach or member of the media, how would you vote?

Talk it up.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

LeBron James - Now or Never?

Hello friends,

Let's talk about the reigning NBA MVP, LeBron James. Last night, in Game 5 of the playoff with the Boston Celtics, the Cavaliers lost. At home. By 32 points.

Here's what you can chat about:
> What's wrong with LeBron's game? Is his elbow bothering him more than he's letting on?
> The Celtics lead 3 -2 so the Cavs must win Game 6 in Boston to stay alive. Can they beat Boston on their home floor? You bet. The Celtics have been known for squandering leads this season.
> If the Cavs lose, will LeBron stay in Cleveland? He's a free agent after this season (along with the Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade, Toronto's Chris Bosh and the Suns' Amare Stoudemire among others). What's a likely destination? (Hint: NYC would be a grand stage for him...)


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Celtics vs. Cavaliers

Look for a key match up tonight in the Boston vs. Cleveland NBA playoff game.

Rajon Rondo, the Celtic's point guard, has been on fire. His on court leadership has helped keep the Celts in the series against the Cavs.

Here's what you can chat up:
> LeBron James, the reigning Most Valuable Player in the NBA, is guarding Rondo tonight. What difference will it make?
> James towers over Rondo so it will be interesting to see if Rondo can jitterbug his way around LeBron or if he's shut down by LeBron's height and physicality.
> If LeBron can't shut down Rondo, who can?

That's it. Chat it up!

Starlin Castro and I'm baaaaaack

I plead temporary fatigue. I'll even plead the 5th. I'll also beg for forgiveness for leaving you hanging over the past 3 months. The flame for the KQ Sports BBQ was unexpectedly doused but, thanks to the briquettes and heavy duty lighter fluid, I'm back.

What's with the sudden return? A trip to the Friendly Confines.

I had the great fortune of being invited last night to the Cubs vs. Marlins game. This was the first home game for the Cubs' SS Starlin Castro. He had an impressive start last week, homering in his first major league at bat. A true rookie and just 20 years old, he enthralled fans with his glove, his range and his swing.

Then came last night. Castro not only committed 3 errors, he made a mistake that no ball player should ever make: he stopped working hard. After he botched an 8th-inning ground ball, instead of hustling to where the ball skidded to, he turned his back and slowly walked toward it. Hanley Ramirez caught Castro napping and made it safely to 2nd base.

Don't get me wrong; Castro had a bad night. He should shake it off. I'm just hoping he's not going to be "that" guy. Don't be the player who only hustles when things are going your way, like last week. Do be "the guy" who learns from last night and promises long-suffering Cubs fans that it won't happen again. Be the guy who accepts help, constructive input from his teammates and a manager's scolding and channels it to be a better player.

Starlin's a great player to watch. Especially when he's working his butt off.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

If you're not watching...

The Puppy Bowl and the Kitty Classic on Animal Planet, it's a must see! Words cannot describe how utterly adorable and hilarious they are.

Trust me...not to be missed!

More on the game later.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Super Super Bowl QBs

Hi Everyone,

Big shout out to my beloved sister in law who gave me the idea for today's blog topic.

Here's what you can chat up:
> This weekend's Super Bowl (which is the game between the champion of the AFC vs. the NFC conferences) features two of the game's best quarterbacks, sportsmen and citizens.
> Peyton Manning is the son of former Saints QB Archie Manning. The family grew up New Orleans and grew up, of course, pulling for the Saints. Now, the entire Manning clan is pulling for the Colts. Not unexpected but not without some friction.
> Peyton is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He's won the league MVP 4 times, which is a record. He's also a good citizen, quietly donating money to charities and has his own foundation. He also has the reputation for being a gentlemen; there's no 'I' when he talks about the Colts. It's always presented as, "We". He's a superstar but he doesn't feel the need to say that.
> Drew Brees is also a stellar QB. A Texas-raised gunslinger who went to Purdue. Some people didn't think he'd do well in the NFL because he's smaller than a lot of QBs (including Manning) but he proved them wrong.
> The San Diego Chargers drafted him but opted to let him go in order to allow Philip Rivers to play. Drew took it like a man and had his choice of teams including the Dolphins but ultimately chose the Saints.
> With his leadership, focus and discipline, he's helped get them into the Super Bowl.
> He's also a great citizen, pouring his heart and money into New Orleans. He's proud to play there, loves the people and they love him right back. Oh, and he gives a lot of $ to Purdue as well.
> Both Peyton and Drew are going to received very BIG raises. I hope they'll both continue to give big(ger) as a result.

I don't care who you cheer for this Sunday or if you don't care about the game. But care about these guys (and other good men in sports) because they carry themselves the way champions should.

So, chat them up and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sports Round-Up

Lots of topics hittin' the grill this morning:

> Kobe Bryant became the all-time leading scorer for the L.A. Lakers with 25,208 points.
> He passed Jerry West who played his entire career for the Lakers, as has Kobe.
> Couple of factoids to throw around today: Jerry West has two nicknames, "Mr. Clutch", because of his propensity to make the big plays and hit the big shots at the right time, and "The Logo", because he IS that silhouette in the NBA logo that you've seen a million times. He is
> You know who else Kobe has passed? Magic Johnson, Elgin Baylor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

From West coast to the East coast:
> The Boston Celtics Kevin Garnett passed Larry Bird -- also a Celtic and NBA great -- last night on the all-time scoring list.

> The Washington Capitals have been on a tear, winning 10 in a row.
> This is a hot streak but are they peaking at the right time or too early in the season?
> Alex Ovechkin is leading the way and is a prolific and exciting scorer.

College Basketball
> University of Kansas is back on top of the coaches poll. It's all Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk (a chant used at UK games. More factoids on that later.)

The grill is on early today so so chat it up and enjoy!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Australian Open

I'm throwin' some shrimp on the barbie, mates because we're heading down under for the Australian Open.

Here's what you can chat up:
> Serena Williams captured the women's single's title. It's the first of the grand slams that she played since a meltdown at the U.S. Open, when she screamed at a line judge. Her tirade landed her on probation.
> She had to battle it out to win, going 3 sets. FYI - in women's tennis, the victor takes the best of 3 sets. In men's, it's the best of 5 sets.
> It's her 5th Australian Open title.

On the men's side:
> Roger Federer won the men's single's title.
> This is his 16th career grand slam, more than any man in history.
> How many more will he win in his career? He's 28 and has at least another few in him.
> His closest rival, Rafael Nadal, suffered an early defeat in the Open so, psychologically Federer has the edge.

Enjoy watching these two tremendous athletes. They're worth appreciating.

Chat it up!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Kurt Warner Retires

Hello my friends,

Today's news is from the NFL, where Kurt Warner, the QB of the Arizona Cardinals, announced his retirement. Here's what you can talk about:
> Will he make it into the Hall of Fame?
> There are arguments on both sides. He won 1 Super Bowl, 2 MVP awards, went to the Pro Bowl 4 times, is the fastest player to reach 10,000 passing yards, ended with more than 30,000 passing yards and completed 65%+ of his passes.
> Between 2002 and 2007, he had injuries, was dropped by the Los Angeles Rams, traded to the Giants where he was replaced by Eli Manning. Those years, for some, are reasons for him NOT to be in the hall.
> He spent 12 years in the league but has one of the most unlikely (and true) stories in all of sports. He played in the Arena Football League, in NFL Europe and, in between, worked as a stock boy at a Hyvee grocery store before actually playing in the NFL.

Finally, and this doesn't count on a HOF ballot, he's been a man of character. And that's, perhaps, one of the things that I've like best about him.

So, farewell Kurt. You've earned being chatted up today.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Andrew Dawson HOF Hat

Alright, Cubs fans. This hot tidbit fresh off the grill is for you.

Andre Dawson was elected into the Hall of Fame (HOF) and told the committee that he wanted to go in as a Cub, not an Expo. What does that mean?
> On his HOF plaque, his image is in bronze and includes a hat.
> Dawson wants it to be a Cubs hat and told the committee. The committee decided that he'd go in as a Montreal Expo.
> Dawson played 10 years for the Expos, 6 years for the Cubs.
> It was at the Cubs that, Dawson (nicknamed the Hawk) won the MVP award.
> Should his input carry more weight? (I say yes.)

In the end, I think it's a doggone shame and I'm on a slow broil over it.

Talk it up and enjoy!

Kentucky Falls

Hi Everyone,

It's tough at the top in college basketball. The unbeaten Kentucky Wildcats lost to South Carolina last night. Here's what you can chat up:
> How does this impact their season? In other words, can they shake off this loss and regain their footing in the conference and the upcoming NCAA tournament? (Be prepared for an emphatic, "No!")
> This may not be a big deal because it was a buzzer-beater.
> What's buzzer-beater you say? It's a last second shot that goes in the basket as time expires.
> How's they do it? Harassing defense that limited Kentucky's look at the basket and the 'Cats didn't help themselves by shooting only 38% from three point land.

Talk it up and enjoy!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Super Bowl Match up: Saints vs. Colts

Here's what you can chat up about this:
> how important it is to limit turnovers. The Vikings turned the ball over against the Saints 5 times and were driving in the final two minutes of regulation when Brett Favre was picked off.
> that set up overtime and the Saints won the toss and got the ball, drove the field and kicked a field goal to win the game.
> ask whether Brett Favre will come back and play again for the Vikings next season.
> talk about the importance of the kicking position. In the playoffs so far, we've seen steady kickers miss 3 consecutive times in crucial moments when they haven't missed 3 times in their career (hello, Nate Kaeding.)

Much more over the coming days on this. Super Bowl Sunday is February 7th. Stay tuned to the KQ Sports BBQ for all the relevant questions and information.


Vikings vs. Saints, We're Going to Overtime!

What a game! In the NFC Championship game, the Saints and Vikings end the game tied at 28 each so they go to overtime = sudden death. First team to score wins. (For more, see earlier posting this month for the difference between OT in college and pro football.)

This game has had its share of turnovers, which are never good but Brett Favre was picked off (intercepted) with just 2 minutes to go in the game and the Vikings were marching toward a score.

Now the Saints are on the move and face a crucial 4th and inches.

Whoever wins this game will take on the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl.

Stay tuned and enjoy!

Kentucky Stays Perfect, Big Game Sunday

Good morning,

The University of Kentucky stayed perfect in their basketball season but Texas fell to UConn, which was without Coach Jim Calhoun who is out by doctor's orders. Watch the rankings this week. It will be interesting to see how things shake out.

Next up, today's NFC and AFC championship games. Many pundits are picking the Vikings to beat the Saints and the Colts to beat the Jets. Talk about the potential upsets here. If the Jets upset the Colts, that will be HUGE! The Jets just squeaked into the playoffs but they have an outstanding defense and a very defensive minded coach. If they shut down the Colts passing game, it's going to be a tough game for the Colts to win b/c Indy doesn't have a strong running game.

It's going to be a great day. Chat it up and enjoy!

Friday, January 22, 2010

AFC and NFC Championships, College Basketball

Good morning!

Two things to chat about today: NFL football and college basketball.

NFL is up first:
> The New Orleans Saints take on the Minnesota Vikings. Both teams have outstanding offenses and can score well. New Orleans QB Drew Brees is considered a hero in The Big Easy but he's taking on Vikings QB Brett Favre (Farve), who grew up 50 miles away in Mississippi. This one comes down to defense: who can shut down these two QB's and their running games.

> The Indianapolis Colts take on the NY Jets. The Jets nearly didn't make the playoffs but they have a rookie QB, Mark Sanchez, who is playing like he was at the beginning of the season, meaning he's knockin' their socks off! The key here is also defense. Can the Jets shut down Colts QB Peyton Manning (te first 4 time winner of NFL player of the year) and his passing game? The Colts don't have much of a running game so they're only using the run to set up the pass. And the Jets have the best run defense in the league.

Now to college basketball, which has a new team at number one.
> The Kentucky Wildcats are undefeated at 18 and 0. They replace Texas, which lost for the first time this week. The Wildcats are coached by the controversial John Calipari. And they're lead by a freshman, John Wall. Wall is so smooth, so poised, so well versed that he looks like he could play in the NBA tomorrow and not miss a beat. Kentucky plays Arkansas this weekend. Look for Big Blue to pull another one off.

> Kansas is ranked number 2 and is the only unbeaten team in the Big 12. They play their next 3 on the road so look for whether Kansas can hang tough during this stretch.


Chat it up!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Steve Nash - NBA Star, Philanthropist, Man of the World

Today the BBQ serves up a sizzler - NBA superstar Steve Nash. Now normally, I don't do feature pieces but I've been following Nash for a few years now and this article shows how, over the years, he's made an effort to build a life beyond basketball.

Read a bit of this article while I whip up a post on college basketball. A follower's been ribbing me (rightly so) that I've ignored college basketball so that's next up on the BBQ!

How'd that happen?

Wow, the BBQ was shut for awhile. Perhaps it's best to categorize the time that I wasn't blogging in this way:
> stocking the shelves
> smoking meat
> cleaning the grill
> scraping the rust

What I'm trying to say is that the BBQ is undergoing some changes in terms of its look but I can't allow that to get in the way of posting good material.

So, thanks for your patience. New post coming shortly and stay tuned for the new look!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tiffin Leaves Vols for USC

Good morning,

Hot tips off the grill this morning:
> Tennessee Volunteers football coach Lane Kiffin is the new head coach at USC.
> This is a BOLD and BIG move for USC. Why?
> USC is already under scrutiny from the NCAA.
> Lane Kiffin has been at Tennessee only 1 year...1 football season...and he won only 7 games. He also committed a number violations, none of which earned serious punishment from the NCAA.
> USC made big news by hiring Kiffin but what have they given up in return?
> Kiffin was an assistant coach at USC from 2001 - 2005.
> What happens to the Volunteers? They're out a coach after signing someone who they hoped would stay for a long time.
> What about the high schoolers that Kiffin (and Pete Carroll for that matter) recruited? What happens to them?

This'll keep you and your co-workers talkin' around the water cooler for awhile today.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Big Mac Comes Clean, Carroll Leaves USC

Good evening,

It's been a busy day on the grill and I'm plating some goodies tonight!

First up, Major League Baseball and what you can chat up:
> Former St. Louis slugger Mark McGwire admitted that he took steroids during his career including the 1998 season when he hit 70 home runs in a single season to break Roger Maris' record.
> Why did he announce it now? McGwire has had plenty of opportunities to admit his steroid use? He refused to address it when called before Congress in 2005.
> Is it only because he's taken the job as hitting coach with the Cardinals and it's time to straighten up?
> Given this admission, can McGwire be considered a legitimate MLB coach?

Next up, college football:
> USC's head football coach, Pete Carroll, is leaving USC for the pros. (You may remember I talked about him a few months ago and why he's a great college coach.) He's decided that he wants the challenge of the NFL.
> This is not his first trip to the pros. Why is he going now?
> Be prepared for the answer: that he's running to Seattle because the NCAA is investigating USC for infractions.
> Will Carroll be successful? He wasn't his first time around in the pros. There's talk that Carroll is being given more control over football operations, which means he gets more credit -- and more blame -- with the team's outcome.
> Be ready for people who say Carroll is bolting when the team needs him the most. For the first time in 7 or 8 years, the team is facing an uphill battle. Carroll won 2 national championships and 7 conference titles while at USC but his team fell down this year and didn't win the league and didn't go to the Rose Bowl.

Talk it up and enjoy!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sudden Death vs. Overtime

Welcome back to the BBQ.

In light of today's NFL overtime game between the Green Bay Packers and the Arizona Cardinals, I thought it might be helpful to define the difference between overtime in college football and the pros.

> In college football, when teams are tied at the end of regulation play, each team is given a chance to score. The ball is put on the opponent's 25 yard line and, just like regular play, they have four downs in order get 10 yards and a first down or to score. Each team has an equal number of chances to score. The one that outlasts the other wins.

> In the NFL, teams tied at the end of regulation go to sudden death, meaning whoever scores first wins. That's why the team that wins the coin toss at the end of regulation is in the BEST position to control their fate. Score and go home.

That's it today. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

NFL playoffs - The Wild Card


It's NFL playoff time. Today it's the NY Jets vs. The Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. Here's what you can chat up:
> The Bengals haven't won a playoff game in 19 years and only played 2 playoff games in that time. It's the longest drought in the league. This franchise fell on very hard times and is starting to come back.
> The Bengals QB Carson Palmer has a bad left thumb. He's not even handing off with that hand so will he be able play well enough for the Bengals to win?
> Will the Jet's rookie QB Mark Sanchez be able to handle the pressure of an NFL playoff game?

With the Cowboys / Eagles game:
> The Cowboys shellacked the Eagles just a week ago. How will they bounce back?
> Will Eagles coach Andy Reid go with a more balanced attack, meaning mixing up a running and passing game, in order to keep the Cowboys defense guessing.
> The Eagles QB Donovan McNabb has to direct this team. He's the go to guy. He needs to corral his team, take charge and be the one who will rally them.
> The Cowboy's wide receiver Miles Austin has been a really great surprise this season. If he has a break out game, the Cowboys could seal this game early.
> That would be good because the Cowboys have spent more than a decade without a win in the playoffs.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Alabama vs. Texas, Baseball HOF, BBQ Round Up

Good afternoon,

Well, if you haven't heard me mention is often enough, tonight is college football's championship game. It's the BCS title game. BCS = Bowl Championship Series.

Here's what you can chat up (in addition to what I've posted previously):
> Alabama's head coach, Nick Saban (SAY-bin), has coached in the NFL so he's familiar with throwing different looks at teams. He'll do his best to rattle Texas and its quarterback, Colt McCoy.
> Both teams have had close calls this season but they've managed to enter this game undefeated.
> Talk about what Texas has to do to win this game. Hint: they're the underdog so I believe they're going to have to come out and score on Alabama right away to make a statement. If they can limit their own turnovers while creating some, they'll stand a chance against the Tide.

Yesterday, the Baseball Hall of Fame welcomed Andre Dawson (finally!) of the Chicago Cubs and Montreal Expos, Manager Whitey Herzog and Umpire Doug Harvey. Here's what you chat up:
> Who didn't in: Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris and Edgar Martinez.
> In my opinion, Alomar should have made it. He hit .300 over 17 seasons, was a 10-time Gold Glove winner and was an MVP. In his first time on the ballot, however, he fell just 8 votes short. Some suspect that there are some who harbor hard feelings from 1996 when Alomar spit in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck. It was an ugly incident but Hirschbeck forgave Alomar.
> Talk about when Alomar and the others might make it in, including Bert Blyleven, who needs just 5 more votes.

A few hot treats off the BBQ:
> In the NBA, the Commissioner has indefinitely suspended without pay Gilbert Arenas of the Washington Wizards for pulling a gun on a teammate inside the Wizards' locker room. (No tip needed here. You can fill in what to talk about !)
> In the NFL, the Bears are keeping coach Lovie Smith but fired 6 of his coaches. A bit east of there in Cleveland, Eric Mangini is keeping his job with the Cleveland Browns after a disastrous season.

Have fun watching the BCS game tonight.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mike Shanahan and the Redskins, BCS Title Game

Good afternoon (non) sports fans!

Here a smattering of hot dishes to chew on this morning:
> Mike Shanahan is the new head coach and VP of the Washington Redskins. Chat about whether this well-known coach is going to be able to turn around a proud but battered franchise. Ask what he's got to do: better evaluation of talent, better scouting, acquisition of free agents, better offensive and/or defensive schemes?

> In BCS news, the Boise State vs. TCU game wasn't the showcase that I had hoped for. Though Boise State won, the consensus is that neither team played up to or beyond their potential.

> So, that means that tomorrow night's national title game between Alabama and Texas is for all the marbles. Chat about what Florida has to do to beat Alabama: contain Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and QB Greg McElroy? What does Alabama have to do: shut down the Colt McCoy to Jordan Shipley connection?

Talk it up and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Orange Bowl

Good evening!

Tonight is the Orange Bowl with Iowa taking on Georgia Tech. Here's what to chat up:
> Iowa's got a very strong offense. If Georgia Tech cannot contain it, it's going to be a long night for the GT Yellow Jackets.

> Georgia Tech has a great running game, averaging more than 307 rushing yards.

The BCS championship game, however, is Thursday night. We'll be serving up some hot tips in the coming days.


NFL Team Apologizes To Fans

Good morning,

I'm serving hot newsprint this morning!

One thing you can chat up this morning is how the Chicago Bears took out a full page ad to apologize to their fans after a lackluster 7 - 9 season:

>What's really behind this?
> Notice that they didn't mention the coaching staff.
> Sources say that the Bears will keep head coach Lovie Smith so does this really mean anything OR is it an acknowledgement that the fans really are important and essential to a team?

Chat it up. More later.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Black Monday - Slang Monday

It's a twin spin today from the Sports BBQ with a special edition of Slang Monday.

> In the National Football League, this is called "Black Monday" because this is the day after the end of the regular season, when teams often fire coaches.
> Today, the Washington Redskins fired head coach Jim Zorn.
> To be clear, this was NOT a surprise. Zorn was stripped of play calling duties just six games into the season and the Redskins had a woeful season.
> On top of that, Washington has had a revolving door of coaches. Possibly next up on the coaching carousel? Mike Shanahan.
> The Buffalo Bills fired its entire coaching staff and this is after they fired coach Dick Jauron BEFORE the end of the season. (Wow.)
> Other teams will likely make announcements i.e. changes in the coming days but Black Monday remains among the most anticipated days at the end of the regular season but before the playoffs begin.

More tomorrow.


Battle of the Undefeateds

Happy New Year!

Here's what you can chat up today with college football:
> Tonight's Fiesta Bowl features the battle of the unbeatens: Boise State and Texas Christian University.
> Notice that NEITHER team was invited to the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) title game.
> That's because their conferences aren't part of the BCS championship equation. So, they don't get to play for the championship.
> Talk about why it's time for a true national championship, that includes a playoff.
> This game tonight is not just about who finishes the season with an unblemished record. For sportswriters who are itching for a "real" champion, they could vote for Boise State or TCU if the Texas vs. Alabama game is a stinker with neither team establishing dominance. (For the record, that's unlikely to happen.)
> So, even if the planets don't align, this could be an amazing game. These are exciting teams.

Chat. It. Up.


Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Day Bowl Games!

Good Morning and Happy New Year!

College Football Bowl Games dominate the grill today. I'm not going to list all of them but here are some key match ups:

> The Outback Bowl: Northwestern vs. Auburn. Two tough teams who are fighters to the end.

> Gator Bowl: Florida St. vs. West Virginia. This is Bobby Bowden's last game at Florida State. Look for an emotional response from the FSU team.

> Capital One Bowl: Penn State vs. LSU. The surface at the stadium in Orlando is in question. Two traditionally great football teams square off. Get the remote ready!

> Valero Energy Alamo Bowl: Michigan State vs. Texas Tech. Tech is without their head coach, Mike Leach, who was fired a few days ago. Could be a game changer.

>The Rose Bowl: The Granddaddy of them all. Ohio State vs. Oregon. Must see game b/c of two unbelievably athletic QB's - Terrelle Pryor and Jeremiah Masoli.

> The Allstate Sugar Bowl: The undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats who's head coach headed to Notre Dame, get a chance to prove they are among college football's elite. They take on the Florida Gators, who suffered one loss this year. This will be a telling game for both teams.

Sit back today and enjoy!