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. http://www.freep.com/article/201006152035/COL01/100615071

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!