Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Love of the Game

Hello Friends,

Don't let ANYONE ever tell you that L-O-V-E has NOTHING to do with sports. You've probably heard that they're about money and power and success and fame. But it's also about LOVE.

Here's what you should chat up today.
+ NBA superstar Kevin Durant loves the game of basketball.
+ Rucker Park in NY is where some of the best players in the world have converged to play ball over the years. Some have never made it to the NBA but they LOVE the game and they are AMAZING.
+ If you didn't know it, NBA players are locked out.
+ The players and league are so far apart in negotiations right now, some players are talking about going to play overseas. Kobe in Turkey? Chris Paul in Beijing? Durant in NY? WHAT?
+ Last night, Kevin Durant played at Rucker Park.
+ The result was flat out phenomenal. Poetic. Fun. LOVE-ly.
+ He played for the love of the game. For the opportunity. For the fans. For himself.
+ He made zero $$ last night but oh, wasn't he rich? And the crowd and me are richer for it.
+ After watching this, may be you feel that way too.

Enjoy and chat. it. up.

At the same time, don't

Monday, April 4, 2011

College Hoops Championships

Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening,

College basketball is on my brain. The men's NCAA Basketball Championship Game is tonight. The women's is tomorrow night. Here's what you can chat up:

> It's Butler vs. UConn (University of Connecticut)
> Both teams weren't expected to make it this far and that's the beauty of the tournament. Anything can and will happen.
> Butler was in the championship game last year, which was also an improbable appearance. They nearly beat Duke on a last second shot.
> At one point, Butler lost 5 of 6 games in the Horizon League, which is usually not considered the toughest league in college basketball. No offense but the ACC, Big Ten and Big East are ranked higher.
> UConn has been to the big dance (= final ) before and has won.
> They have an experienced coach in Jim Calhoun.

Here is where it's personal, for me.
> This is sort of a David (Butler) vs. Goliath (UConn) and I'm pulling for the little guy. Why?
> I like the way Butler plays -- as a team and in the system that their coach designed.
> They never give up.
> They play tough, old school, Indiana style basketball. That means defense and offense.
> No one player is more important than the other. In fact, with one of their best players on the bench Saturday, they pulled away from VCU.
> I like miracles. I believe in them.

Which, leads me to the women's championship game.
> Notre Dame pulled off a HUGE upset last night, beating the women of UConn.
> Not only was UConn the defending national champs but they had the best player in the country, Maya Moore. She's won the Wade Trophy three consecutive times. It's the equivalent of winning the Heisman Trophy three straight years.
> ND kept its poise, scored when they had to and shut down UConn when they needed to.
> It was...miraculous.

Talk it up and Enjoy!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

NFL Lock Out, Sports Round Up

Good morning!

Amazing how income tax time can knock me off my game! All those papers, all the faxing, etc.
Well, the BBQ is back on with a plateful of topics, starting with the NFL lock-out. Here's what you can chat about:
> Will there be a NFL football season in 2011? The players have been officially locked out.
> Why? The players and the team owners are at an impasse. Some of the many issues involved: an 18-game season instead of 16 and how to divide (allegedly) $9B a year.
> The NFL players union has voted to decertify and has filed an anti-trust suit in federal court.
> Who's right? Who's wrong? Discuss.

Ohio State Football
> Head coach Jim Tressel has been suspended for 2 games because he was warned that some of his football players were selling their memorabilia. Tressel reportedly received an email from a former OSU player who is now an attorney. Tressel responded that he'd look into it ASAP but apparently didn't.
> When the players were found out, including star QB Terrelle Pryor they were suspended for
the first 5 games of the upcoming season.
> Now Tressel is suspended for the first two.
> Should he have been punished? If so, should it have been more severe?
> In a news conference, Tressel said he thought the email was supposed to be kept confidential. Is that a defense?
> Did you ever see this coming? Tressel's known as a class-act.

Enough for now. Discuss and enjoy!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What I'm Talkin' About

Today's post is about the American past time!

> I wonder how Don Mattingly, the manager of the LA Dodgers, is going to do in his first year at the helm. He spent years as the #2 guy to Joe Torre at the Yankees and then the Dodgers.
> Mattingly was a Yankee and a good ball player in his day. He hit well and fielded well and was a team guy. He probably won't make the Hall of Fame but he knows the game.
> But it's quite a different thing between knowing the game and being a good bench boss.
> How will players respond to him? What will his style be? How does he motivate his players?
> Do ex-players make great managers?

Chat it up!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Reggie Miller - Not on HOF Ballot?

Seriously? You've got to chat this up today.

Reggie Miller, the legendary Indiana Pacers forward whose clutch shooting took the Pacers to new heights, is apparently not on the NBA Hall of Fame ballot.

> The former UCLA star was MONEY at hitting last second shots, making mind-twisting 3 pointers and had the ability to get free (i.e. break away from tight defense) in order to get the shot off.
> He was a particularly deadly marksman when he played the NY Knicks in the 90's, often nailing a 3-pointer and then jawing with filmmaker Spike Lee, a die-hard Knicks fan who sat in the front row.
> Miller played his entire career with the Pacers -- who does that any more?
> Finally, the numbers: made 2506 3-point shots, averaged nearly 20 points a game, and according to the NYTimes, 3-times led the league in free throw percentages.
> If he's not on the ballot, why not?
> Why should he -- or shouldn't he?

Chat it up and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Baseball: Spring Training Basics

Good morning!

Can you feel it? Close your eyes and just imagine the smell of freshly cut grass, the feel of the dirt beneath your cleats, the "pop" sound of a baseball hitting the sweet spot in your glove. OK, maybe it's just me but I'm excited because it's spring training and pitchers and catchers have reported, which means that baseball is just around the corner!

Here's what you can chat up:
> Just like there are two leagues in baseball: The American League and the National League, there are two spring training leagues.
> The Grapefruit League - this is based in Florida (hence the name). Teams like the Yankees, Orioles, Astros, the Mets, the Twins, Red Sox, Cardinals and Pirates spend spring training in various locations and travel to play spring games against each other.
> Notice that National League AND American League teams play each other. In other words, spring training is not "League Specific" like the regular season.
> Then there's the Cactus League - this is based in Arizona, thus the name. This is where the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, the Giants, San Diego, Los Angeles, Kansas City, the Rockies -- among others -- play.
> Mention the two leagues, ask which pitchers are looking good and will they pull their weight this year and you've got an entire sports conversation sewn up!

Chat it up and Enjoy!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

RIP Chuck Tanner


Since spring training is just around the corner, it's appropriate to give a hat tip to Chuck Tanner, former manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who died yesterday.

Beyond the obvious, why should you care?
> Tanner took a Pirates team into the World Series in 1979 and promptly fell behind 3 games to 1. Remember, in baseball, the World Series is the best of 7. So they're 1 loss away from elimination.
> Tanner refused to fold and, more importantly, refused to let his team fold.
> With a line-up including Willie Stargell, Dave Parker and Bert Blyleven, the miracle Pirates fought back to win. And Tanner did it despite his mother dying during the World Series.
> Chuck Tanner was old school. His policy of never giving in was infectious and help will his players to win.
> p.s. Remember the Sister Sledge song, "We Are Family"? That became the theme song of the Pirates. Yes, it was played ad nauseum but, in the end, it was true.

G'night Chuck. Your entire family will miss you.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Super Bowl - 2011

Good Morning!

I'm writing from the frozen tundra of Chicago where my internet presence has been a bit spotty so my apologies.

So, this weekend is the Super Bowl in Dallas. Here's what you can chat up:
> the Pittsburgh Steelers will take on the Green Bay Packers. These are two storied and "smaller" town franchises. They reek of tradition and legend.
> 2 great quarterbacks: Ben Roethlisberger for 'burgh, Aaron Rodgers for the Packers. The edge may have to go to Roethlisberger because he's already won two Super Bowl rings.
> However, Rodgers has been playing like a champ. He has good footwork, is willing to opt for the short pass (gains of 6, 7, 8 yards) instead of forcing the risky long bomb pass down field. As a result, the Packers have been consistent.
> The Packers also have had a HUGE number of players lost to injury this season, yet they keep winning.
> Pittsburgh knows about loss: their QB Roethlisberger didn't play for the first 4 games of the season b/c of legal issues off the field and the Commissioner suspended him. Now that Ben is back, they've been playing well. It doesn't mean that Roethlisberger hasn't still been the target of some comments.
> Let's talk defense because both teams have great defensive coordinators and star players. First, Dick LeBeau of the Steelers is a master of shutting teams down. He'll have his work cut out for him against the Packers. Look for Troy Polamalu (paw-la-MALL-ooh), (he of the long flowing hair) who is the emotional heart of the franchise, to be in the middle of the action throughout the game.
> Dom Capers leads the Green Bay defense and their star is Clay Matthews. BTW, also wears long golden locks. Matthews is just the latest in a family line of NFL warriors. He's fast, strong and when he hits, players feel it into the next week. Capers has also developed different looks and schemes for teams this season that have just left teams absolutely confused.
> Finally, something to watch for. Aaron Rodgers has suffered 2 concussions this season. Not good. If by chance he suffers one in the game this Sunday, he'll be out so his offensive line is going to have to show up BIG this weekend.

So, enjoy and chat it up!

p.s. special thanks to Emilio to the nudge about the posting!

Monday, January 24, 2011

AFC and NFC Champions. Bears Down, Pittsburgh's Bound

Hello friends,

Sorry for the post-lunch edition. Let's get right to what you can chat about:
> First the NFC Championship, Chicago Bears vs. the Green Bay Packers. This was a story of two halves, 3 Bears quarterbacks and Green Bay's ability to persevere.
> Green Bay beat the Bears on their home turf.
> They came out and QB Aaron Rodgers stunned the crowd by having the Packers in the end zone within the first 6 minutes.
> On the other side of the ball, Bear's QB Jay Cutler was hurt and pulled from the game. Back up Todd Collins was ineffective but, surprise! Caleb Hanie, the Bear's 3rd string QB, came in in the 3rd quarter nearly pulled off an upset! His interception in the 4th quarter ended the comeback though.
> The question that's floating around today is whether Jay Cutler was hurt badly enough and couldn't re-enter the game. Throw that out topic out and you'll have plenty to talk about besides Hanie, Rodgers and rest.

Now to the AFC with Pittsburgh taking on the hot NY Jets.
> Pittsburgh beat the Jets last night in the 'burgh but this too was a game of halves. The Steelers scored all of their points in the first half, holding the Jets to just 3. The Jets really started to move the ball and score in the 2nd half.
> NY had a chance to pull off the win but it's tough when a veteran QB like Ben Roethlisberger is in the game.
> Roethlisberger has been in these "win or go home games before" and in waning minutes of the 4th quarter, knew he needed 1 final first down. It wasn't easy, but he got it and it showed how clutch = money = reliable he is in the big games.

Get ready for the Super Bowl in 2 weeks. We'll have lots to chat about before hand. It should be a great game.

Talk. It. Up! And enjoy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

NFL Playoffs

Whew! Could you believe the games this past weekend? If you happened to miss them, I'm here to catch you up.

> The heavily favored NE Patriots, seen as an unstoppable team, were soundly beaten by the NY Jets. Yes, the Jets who have driven their fans crazy through the years by not being able to win the big ones. Guess what? This time they did it and it was legit. Gang Green (NY Jets defense) stepped up and so did 2nd year QB Mark Sanchez. They take on the Pittsburgh Steelers next. More on that later.

> The Chicago Bears took the Seattle Seahawks to the woodshed. Jay Cutler was the QB Chicago hoped he'd be: calm in the pocket, nailing his receivers with short and long strikes and even running the ball into the end zone. Seattle was scrappy under Coach Pete Carroll, the most upbeat NFL coach in my opinion. Still, their late scores weren't enough to topple the Bears. Next up for the Bears are the Packers, their arch-rival. You can bet there's more to say on that match-up!

Chat. It. Up. And enjoy!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Auburn finishes #1

Good day,

Auburn won last night's game with Oregon, making Auburn the BCS National College Football Champion. Here's what you can chat up.
> For two prolific offenses, the score was relatively modest: 22 - 19.
> It was a fun game to watch. Oregon unleashed so many trick plays -- some that worked, some that didn't -- that there was never a dull moment.
> Auburn provided a counter to the creative Ducks, utilizing a no-huddle offense at times like Oregon has done throughout the season.
> For me, the difference was the offensive and defensive lines. Auburn's lines were so much bigger that it was clear that they dominated the game.
> And Oregon missed a major opportunity. Auburn stopped them on a goal line stand at 4th and 1, which came back to haunt the Ducks.

Chat it up and enjoy!

Monday, January 10, 2011

National Title Game Tonight


Tonight's last college football game of the season is tonight and it's for all the marbles. Here's what to chat up:
> It's the University of Auburn vs. the University of Oregon.
> Both are undefeated.
> Both had finalists in the Heisman Trophy race, quarterback Cam Newton of Auburn (who won) and running back LaMichael James of Oregon.
> Oregon runs a fast-paced offense that rarely huddles after a play, which means they're in tremendous shape.
> Auburn relies on Newton who can run and throw and has engineered some amazing comebacks during this season.
> To me, this could be a toss-up. I think the key to the game is defense. Which team can literally shut down these two stars.

Chat. It. Up. and Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Homeless Man Turns Cavs Broadcaster?

Is there a more heartwarming story than this?

Want to see his "audition"?

Talk it up. You don't need any suggested questions from me to join conversation. It's all right here.


Raiders Don't Renew Cable's Contract

Another NFL Coach is not coming back. This time it's Tom Cable from the Oakland Raiders. He had 1 year left on his deal but the Raiders opted to not pick it up.

Keep watching the BBQ. More to come!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More Coaching News

Well, you can't say you weren't warned. There's been more turnover in the coaching ranks.

First, you can chat up what's happening in the college ranks.
+ Rich Rodriguez at the University of Michigan has been fired. The former WV University head coach just couldn't right the ship in Ann Arbor and big time programs like Michigan aren't patient.
+ What were the things that heavily weighed against him? He was there three years and never beat U of M's nemesis Ohio State.
+ He also never beat interstate rival, Michigan State.
+ Getting blown out in the Gator Bowl also didn't help.

Second, in the pro's, 1 coach who seemed to be on the bubble is coming back.
+ Marvin Lewis, the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, is getting an extension after a horrible season.
+ The Bengals won just 4 games and lost 12.
+ Here's the kicker to the story: Lewis negotiated with the Bengals front office and owner Mike Brown to make changes in how the front office runs (source: ESPN).
+ So Lewis may get more input on football operations and facilities. I say, "Go Marvin!" Growing up in Ohio, the Bengals became known as the "Bungles" over the years. This once proud franchise started by Paul Brown, a football legend, deserves some breaks.

Chat it up and enjoy!

Monday, January 3, 2011

No More Favre, NFL Coach Canning

Good Morning,

Time to throw some hot tips on the bbq.

Item #1:
+ Brett Favre says he's retiring. Yes, we've heard this before -- several times in fact over the past 5 years. So, do you think he will? Will he cave again in August and try to latch on with a team? Does he know how to live without the game of football? I think that's one of the biggest issues. When you've played nearly your entire life, it's tough to leave the game behind as well all the comes with it: the camaraderie, the locker room hijinks, the travel and being The Man. This year's been different though: injuries to teammates, a texting scandal, $50K fine and finally injuries that kept him out of the last games of the season. He was football's iron man, 297 consecutive starts. My money is on him retiring.

Item #2
+ In the next day of so, you'll start to see some NFL coaches get fired. Eric Mangini of the Cleveland Browns has already been let go. Also, pay attention to what happens to interim coaches like Leslie Frazier of the Vikings and Jason Garrett of the Cowboys.

Chat it up and enjoy!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

TCU Finishes Unbeaten. What Now?

Happy New Year!

Well, it's happened again.

Today, the #3 ranked college football team won the Rose Bowl. The Horned Frogs from Texas Christian University beat the Wisconsin Badgers to finish the season
13 - 0. Unbeaten. Unbelievable. But they're not in the National Championship Game. That's on January 10th between undefeated Auburn and undefeated Oregon.

Here's what you can chat up:
+ Is the Bowl Championship Series the right way to determine a college football champion?
You could argue both ways but I think it's not Just like in college basketball, there's a tournament with 64 teams and there's only 1 winner. (Clearly, there don't need to be 64 teams in a college football playoff but it's an example that you can use.)

+ In a perfect world (if there is one) should TCU get a shot at the winner of the Oregon/Auburn game? In a perfect world, yes.

+ Here's what I literally dream of: As long as the BCS system is in place and there are more than 2 undefeated teams, play the championship off the radar. Think "Friday Night Lights". Pick a field, strap on the chin guards and play. At the end, there's 1 team standing that's a true national champ and can say, "Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!"

Sure. Right. Never. Will. Happen. But a gal can dream, can't she?

Wishing you a joyous and Happy New Year and dreaming that you'll Chat. It. Up!