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!