Posts Tagged ‘football’

Reasons Sports Fans Love Christmas

December 25, 2012

Dodger jersey

Every good sports fan loves getting an autograph at a game, or a rookie card of their favorite player, or an authentic jersey. There’s just something about owning a small piece of merchandise that represents your team t

Why am I telling you this? Is it really worthy of a blog post? No, probably not. But I’m borderline giddy at some of the gifts I received this Christmas, so go ahead and indulge me, huh? In no particular order:hat brings a childish sense of glee to a sports fan.

Clayton Kershaw Jersey

Brownie points for the girlfriend! With my James Loney jersey rendered useless when the current Tampa Bay Ray was sent to Boston last season, I was down to zero relevant Dodger jerseys. Absolutely unacceptable. And with the influx of money through the new ownership, Kershaw should be a Dodger for life. Win!

Autographed Kershaw Photo

What are better than brownie points? Chocolate cake points? Because along with that jersey came an authentic, autographed picture of Kershaw delivering a pitch (undoubtedly a strike…) from his left arm. Sports fans LOVE getting autographs – even if it’s one in 100, it feels like one in a million.

Book of Dodger History and Photos

When you truly love a sports team, knowing everything about them becomes priority. I consider myself an expert on the Dodgers already, but this will only make me more knowledgeable. And the old-school, black and white pictures will give me even more respect for my team’s history.

Dodgers and 49ers Ornaments

A nice blue Dodger cap and a 49er football that lights up a snowman’s face when turned on? Yes, please! Ornaments are a Christmas tradition, and no matter how juvenile or otherwise-useless they may be.

Ballpark Calendar

With the exception of May 2013, every month in the ballpark calendar my sister got me absolutely rules (AT&T Park represents that horrid month). It even has old-school Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. I don’t usually use calendars, but this one will be run ragged.

Kirk Gibson Bobblehead and Bobblearm

Okay, so I got this one myself. I couldn’t help it! I’ve been wanting the greatest bobblehead in bobblehead-related history since it came out in the middle of this summer. Now, I finally own the 1988 World Series Game 1 bobblehead of Kirk Gibson, rounding the bases with his bobblearm fist-pumping away. Totally, awesomely worth it.

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Sanctioning the Wrong Squad: Penn State Football’s Unfair Punishment

July 27, 2012

We all know by now what happened at Penn State University.

A former assistant on the football team molested many young boys over a long period of time. Guilty.

Legendary head coach Joe Paterno, other coaches on his staff, and certain members of the school’s faculty and athletic department failed to alert authorities to questionable activity over all those years for a multitude of immoral reasons. Guilty.

And the football players on the team, then AND now obviously played a role in the incidents by knowing and playing for the coaches in question, and using the same locker room showers as the victims. Wait. Guilty?

HOW?

This was the big news this past Monday morning. Taken directly from ESPN.com:

The NCAA has hit Penn State with a $60 million sanction, a four-year football postseason ban and a vacation of all wins dating to 1998, the organization said Monday morning. The career record of Joe Paterno will reflect these vacated records, the NCAA said.

Penn State also must reduce 10 initial and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period.

I remember reading that text message alert and at first, thinking hmm, that seems fair. And then I got past the word “sanction” and began to have my doubts.

Cutting scholarships in half? A four-year postseason ban? “Vacating” wins, as if they never happened?

Absolutely, utterly, incredibly ridiculous decisions by the NCAA. 

Let me clarify, first of all. I get it. The NCAA needed to make a statement and they definitely did. They needed to crack down HARD on Penn State, and they did. They needed to hold someone accountable and dole out big punishment. And they did.

Only…they did it to the wrong people.

The people who needed to be punished have either been imprisoned or fired and completely humiliated in the court of public opinion. The punishments for anyone who won’t end up behind bars are that their names will forever be associated with this fiasco and they likely will never be hired or respected in any profession anywhere, ever again.

So why the extra sanctions that affect the entire Penn State football program, even though the remaining aspects of that program had absolutely nothing to do with the Sandusky situation, aside from wearing the same team colors as the disgraced ex-coordinator?

USC (one of the schools Penn State’s star running back, Silas Redd, has been rumored to be in contact about transferring, ironically enough) received punishment because the football program and one of its star players were irresponsible and broke rules. Okay, fair. That is football business.

This? Not so much. Just because it involved a member of the football team’s coaching staff and his disgusting off-the-field exploits, some of which happened in the facilities of Beaver Stadium, does not mean that it was football business.

Joe Paterno passed away. Sandusky is going to prison. The others associated with this mess are shamed and unemployed. So how is a four-year postseason ban on these college kids who are trying to win football games and continue their quests to the NFL, going to help anything?

How will cutting scholarships in half benefit the NCAA, besides allowing them to sit smugly behind a desk and say “Ha! Look what we did!” while flexing their muscles in the mirror? In fact, that will save Penn State money in the end. Oops.

And vacating wins? Hard-fought victories by the (former) all-time college football wins leader, Paterno and his players over the years? In which way does that have anything at all to do with Jerry Sandusky molesting young boys?

Sandusky’s actions did not give Penn State football in that time span any type of competitive advantage or break any football rules that would deem such action necessary.

So *poof* goes over 100 wins out of the record books. As if people will look back on that time period in Penn State football history and shake their heads: “Damn shame. If Sandusky hadn’t performed extra curricular activities off the field, away from the football field all those years, State would have 100 more wins.”

Please.

My interpretation of the penalties handed down by the NCAA is as close to the “death penalty” that SMU received in the 80’s as can be. How’s SMU doing, you might ask? Just recovering now…25 years later.

Penn State has the chops to survive these sanctions much better than SMU did, because they are a bigger, better program. But the fact that they are even that close to pure football apocalypse is pretty frustrating. SMU was paying its players through booster slush funds, resulting in the cancellation of the team’s entire 1987 season.

How is punishing players who played under a perverted, corrupt, immoral coaching staff, yet completely clean themselves, at all fair?

An umbrella organization like the NCAA in a regular business setting would never take this path. If a major corporation found that some of its top board members were involved in sex crimes and cover-ups, would they essentially fire every employee in the company? Never.

Look. Again, I understand the penalty needed to be harsh. In fact, I would argue that everyone involved in the scandal should be imprisoned at least temporarily. But the group of people taking the hardest hit in this punishment situation (aside from Sandusky himself) are the innocent players. Many of whom were not even in middle school when the crimes took place.

Now all the hard work they put together over their lives to play a sport they love and earn a scholarship to a high-profile Division I program is pointless. The scholarships they  earned are suddenly sullied. It isn’t fair, and it isn’t sensible.

Bill O’Brien, the new coach at Penn State, and one of his star linebackers know it too. And they aren’t keeping their mouths shut:

Mauti said Penn State players are being badgered because there are few rules on how opposing coaches can contact them. He said at least 40 schools have tried to contact him even though he’s maintained that he intends to stay at PSU.

“There’s been coaches hounding our players (with) 10-12 calls per day,” Mauti said. “(They are) on our campus, outside our classrooms. Even some coaches from this conference.

“At this point in time, the fact that there’s no rules — the door has been opened,” he added. “You don’t have to have ethics in this game. That’s the game they created.”

Asked how Emmert could say so much about integrity while handing down the punishments and then create this sort of situation, Mauti at first replied: “I think it’s kind of ironic.”

He was asked to elaborate.

“For them to say that is helping (the players), for them to say they’re doing us a favor to (be able to transfer) with no rules — I’m going to choose my word carefully here — it’s a joke,” Mauti said. “An absolute joke.”

These are sections of a story printed here, about senior linebacker Michael Mauti’s comments regarding the sanctions. Read on:

He also took exception to Emmert’s comments that Penn State football had not placed the proper emphasis on academics.

“Who said that?” Mauti said. “Penn State graduates eight of 10 players. No other school does that. To say my degree means less because of (the Sandusky scandal), no way.

“Hey, I was watching Barney when that happened,” he added, referring to the alleged 2001 cover up of Sandusky’s actions by school officials. “Our freshmen were like 6 years old.”

Here, you have a senior leader of this team who has dedicated the last four years to playing football for Penn State, ultimately to achieve a larger dream of being in the NFL. Here, you have a player who is dedicated, honorable, well-spoken and intelligent. Here, you have a player being punished for something he had no hand in. Something that occurred when he was ten years old. 

Take off the blinders, world. Crucify the people who actually played a role in the crimes. Don’t lump “Penn State” and “Penn State football” into one category with Sandusky. Yes, he wore the colors, but anyone in Happy Valley will tell you…

…Sandusky is NOT Penn State. The players are. Let them play, and give Penn State a shot at revitalizing its image. The only mistake the entire entity of the University made was hiring someone with strange sexual cravings.

There’s a hell of a lot more to this school and this football team. But with the sanctions against them, it could be years before people realize that again.

Best of luck to the Penn State football team. They will need it.

Brian Banks’ Big Break…Finally

May 26, 2012

Sometimes life just isn’t fair. Like when you drive to work and get a flat tire. Or you just have a really bad day, only to get home to realize you’ve had a booger on your cheek since breakfast. You know, things that can make you cry out of frustration.

For example, why can’t white people jump…except for this dude? Why wasn’t I blessed with those kinds of leg muscles?

Anyway, did you see that celebration in the video? That’s nothing compared to how Brian Banks must have felt the other day when he was finally cleared of all charges, stemming from a rape accusation that sent him to five years in prison. Even though there was no DNA test that proved him guilty.

“Life isn’t fair,” doesn’t even begin to do justice for what Banks has gone through since that fateful “makeout session” in high school. A once-promising prep football star had five years of his life ripped away by a conniving young girl, a corrupt legal system, and the worst lawyer of all time.

I’ll try to stay away from the details of the case, because my opinion really doesn’t matter at this point. Let’s just say that the accusation held about as much merit as Bobby Valentine calling another team’s coaches immature and unprofessional

So after all that torture. After seeing his dream ripped away from him on an evidence-less case by a robe and gavel he’ll never forget…what is the one thing Brian Banks wants to do as a free man?

He wants to play football. He wants a shot at NFL glory. And ohhhhh man, what a story that would be. I for one, am rooting for the kid. Anyone in a situation like this deserves a shot at reclaiming his dream. 

But would he be able to compete in the NFL? I did a little research. 

Initially, I could only find a report from ProFootballWeekly.com, that touched on his exoneration and included a little bit of background on his football career. And apparently, Banks was a star linebacker for Long Beach Poly in Southern California, an annual prep football powerhouse. 

He turned down scholarship offers from Ohio State and Michigan to verbally agree with USC. Linebackers from USC are historically good, most recently churning out Clay Matthews.

Video is hard to find. I couldn’t place any actual scouting tapes of Banks on-field. But anyone who gets scholarship offers to those three schools had to be taken seriously at some point. The game has changed in the last ten years, and it would certainly take Banks a while to get used to the NFL.

But if given a chance at a practice squad contract, and a little coaching, this guy could be a tackling monster. Check out his YouTube channel to see him working out at a local gym. The squats, box jump and dead lift are no joke. This guy is jacked, and could get even bigger and faster with an NFL training regimen.

He’s only 26, and could be had for at least 5 years or more once he gets used to the league. 

I’ll tell you one thing – I’m hoping Banks gets a shot. He’s a Californian, let’s have my 49ers jump on this and see if he can make an impact as a second or third-string linebacker. 

Life isn’t fair. But Banks being free, finally, is justice served.

Quarterbacks Galore

March 6, 2012

I know, I know. It’s baseball season. TRUST ME. I understand that. I spent half my day listening to the Dodgers’ Spring Training broadcast on my phone. But first of all, there are three big QB topics to discuss today. And secondly, I’m still a little butt-hurt that the aforementioned Doyers lost to the Giants…

…it’s gonna be a long season.

Let’s start with my boy Alex Smith. I’ve been hearing way too much on talk radio over the last few days that Colin Kapernick should “get a shot.” The only shot Kap should be taking right now is shots of Patron as he chills on the bench, watching Smith lead the 49ers back to the playoffs.

Wow, that was an awfully bad play on words. Give me a break, I’m off my game – that Dodgers loss is really getting to me!

Smith will be back with the Niners next season, he will be the starter, and Kap will get another full season to hone his skills and learn a little leadership under Jim Harbaugh. I’m fine with giving the kid a shot in the preseason and in blowouts, as long as he doesn’t throw the ball to Josh Morgan. Since he jinxed him and Morgan busted his ankle on that catch-and-run from Kap last year.

But for now, you can talk about Smith’s inability to throw the deep ball, his mediocre stats or his boring demeanor all you want. I’ll show you tape of the NFC Divisional playoff all day and challenge you to tell me that Alex Mother Beepin’ Smith wasn’t the biggest reason we advanced to the NFC Championship just a couple short months ago.

Now, he’s no Drew Brees or even post-neck-surgery Peyton Manning. Not many QBs are. But that brings me to my next point. The New Orleans Saints are just being plain STUPID lately. Don’t even get me started on the bounty nonsense, because this blog will turn into a very angry novel. I’m talking about how they pissed off their franchise quarterback by tagging him with that exact distinction: their “franchise” player.

Except this time, it means that he gets paid a shit ton less than he should. That’s not even what Brees is “livid” about. He’s upset that he specifically told the Saints not to franchise him and wanted to knock out a long-term deal. Telling Brees no in this situation is like the animals on Noah’s Ark kicking him overboard. Brees saved the Saints’ franchise and brought them a Super Bowl title, yet they are going right at his knees with this contract crap. Ironic, considering…nevermind I won’t go there.

And in the biggest news of the day, the elder (and now less-prominent, as far as Super Bowl victories go…WTF?) Manning is out in Indy! The Colts declined to pay him $28 million to do nothing. Okay, so that’s fine. I can understand that business decision. And it’s too bad, because even though Andrew Luck may be a once-in-a-lifetime prospect, he’s still unproven.

If anything, you can expect a Sam Bradford-esque rookie season out of Luck. I’m sure the Colts will enjoy letting their new QB get beat up and rack up “L’s” while Manning does his thing in Washington, or Seattle, or Arizona or wherever the hell there is a GM smart enough to pick him up!

Don’t get me wrong – I like Luck and I think he’ll do great. But those are some gigantic, Hall-of-Fame sized cleats to fill in Indianapolis. As for Peyton? Don’t fret. He missed out on a cool chunk of change, but the dude’s gonna get paid a King’s ransom no matter where he goes. And chances are, he’ll probably be playing postseason football wherever he goes.

That’s all for today. Tomorrow, it’s back to baseball. I promise. Heck, I’ll even make a plug right here, right now.

Cretins! Read the Three Up, Three Down blog! Listen to the Three Up, Three Down podcast! Like the Three Up, Three Down Facebook page! And follow us on Twitter at @3U3D. You won’t be disappointed.

Until tomorrow, this is Colin Kaepernick…taking Jam Shots. (No? Not even a giggle?)

Not So Saintly

March 3, 2012

Ugh. This story disgusts me. For anyone who hasn’t already heard, the New Orleans Saints (ironic, now) kept a “bounty fund” that rewarded defensive players for inflicting injury upon opposing players. That is absolutely unbelievable, immoral and deserves exceptionally strict penalties.

I understand that defensive players are paid to knock the crap out of anyone who’s carrying a football. They are taught to use helmets, pads, and the hardest, sharpest parts of their bodies to do whatever it takes to get that guy to the ground. But “jacking someone up” or “knocking someone out” are phrases. That’s not truly what the mindset of the majority of players is.

Except, apparently, if motivated by an extra $1,000.

So these gigantic human WMDs who already pull in at least half a mil per year, need an extra thousand dollars as a reward for hurting fellow athletes and friends? It’s unfathomable. And to think, it’s an organization that I had come to respect greatly and even secretly root for when they weren’t facing off against the 49ers.

I don’t know how many dark, mysterious adjectives I can use in one post to describe my feelings, but the first  emotion I had when the story broke was just pure disgust.

I can guarantee you right now that the best, most fierce linebackers in the game are not on that field aiming to hurt anyone. Patrick Willis. Clay Matthews. Even Ray Lewis, despite his intensity, is a soldier of the game. He plays to win, but he does it with class and respect, as all athletes should do.

Look, in high school I fake tagged at second base and the runner injured his ankle sliding late to avoid the throw that never came. I felt terrible. I know fake tagging is done even at the Major League level, and as a 15-year-old it’s almost excusable as just an immature act, but that doesn’t change the fact that another player was physically harmed because of something I did.

Professional athletes are on the biggest stage in the world and have NO excuse for things like that.

So, what are the repercussions? Time will tell. But everyone who crapped their pants over the Patriots’ Spygate incident a few years ago is probably internally combusting right now. Because this is far, far worse. And far more disturbing.

I think, as the article states, that the Saints should be hit with at least three lost picks and a hefty fine. But perhaps more damaging to that team is the respect they will lose from the rest of the league and the general fan base. All I know is if any of those players on defense are carrying the ball at some point next year, they are going to get absolutely rocked.

And those hits will be for free.

Student-Athlete of the Year

February 26, 2012

Far too often, we wake up to the morning news screaming at us about a prolific college football program being suspended for illegal benefits. Or a star linebacker getting busted for dealing drugs. Or a point guard arrested on a rape charge. The thuggery of college sports dominates headlines in America.

Today, we have a beautiful break from that nonsense. We have a walk-on safety at the University of Virginia who is fighting for a worthy cause in the most selfless way possible. According to a Yahoo! Sports article, Joseph Williams is currently on a hunger strike that has lasted eight days thus far, in order “to protest the economic and social injustices perpetrated by the UVa administration against the vast majority of the University’s service-sector employees.”

Wait, really? A kid who graduated high school at age 16, earned a walk-on spot on a D-I football team and has all the open world ahead of him for the taking, is starving himself for men and women who serve the UVa community with their bare hands?

Damn.

That’s class. Apparently, Williams wrote a very nice essay (read it here) detailing the reasons he was striking. Among others, he cited his own past. One of four children raised by a single mom, living in 30 different places as he grew up, makes this a very personal issue for Williams.

And the general Charlottesville, VA area is truly an above-averagely expensive place to live. So $7.25 an hour for some of the hardest working people in the community is not going to cut it.

That’s unjust no matter where it’s taking place. But the fact that Williams and his comrades have the balls to strike and go public about it for the benefit of the workers who are being snubbed, is beyond admirable.

A huge problem in our country is the pay scales are all out of whack. Roger Goodell is making $20 million a year as the NFL commissioner. Oil tycoons make billions of dollars a year to poison the Earth, yet the thousands of teachers and professors educating the future generations of students who may take a stand against these very financial crimes, are struggling to get by.

Where is the justice in that? And a good chunk of student-athletes take their privileges and abuse them. Even if it’s not in an illegal manner, too many student-athletes openly abuse their social standing. That’s not to say that there aren’t good role models – but we only get flooded with negative news.

I just hope for two things. First, that the (vastly overpaid, by the way) powers that be at Virginia take serious consideration to what Williams and the 17 accompanying protesters are doing. And second, that student-athletes everywhere start to realize how much good they can do if fighting for the right causes.

Joseph Williams gets a standing ovation from this blogger. Keep it up, young man.

And I (hold it…) Will Always Love You (hold this one too…)

February 12, 2012

Believe it or not, Whitney Houston does merit a mention in a sports blog. Not simply because she was an incredible singer whose musical legacy demands I pay her respects (R.I.P. Whitney), but because she’s connected to the sport of baseball. At least for me. If you’re confused, grab a comfy seat and a blanket, sit back and let me tell you about the most embarrassing moment of my life.

If I don’t regularly make this clear, I’m a Dodgers fan. A big ol’ fat Dodgers fan. So naturally, I hate the Giants. So, naturally, when the Giants somehow lucked their way to the World Series in 2010, I was rooting for the Rangers. My friend decided she would root for the Giants, just to piss me off (it worked). In a fit of furor, I decided to bet her that the Rangers would win. I know I lost. No need to remind me.

See, the most unfortunate part, was the wager said winner picked a karaoke song for loser to sing on Taco Tuesday. She picked I Will Always Love You by Whitney. Personally, I thought I spit a killer rendition. Then I watched the video. I’m sure if you hunt deep enough into the layers of Facebook, you could find the documented proof. Please don’t. I’ll tell ya what, I’ve never hated the Giants more than when they forced me to vocally embarrass myself in front of hundreds of fellow drunk college students.

That’s my story. And I’m blushing now, thanks. Let’s move on.

So I’m breaking my promise. Again. Football time! I just can’t ignore two things in off-season football news. First, when another player makes fun of Tony Romo. Who doesn’t love that? Second, when I see a story suggesting blasphemy like this. The original link on Yahoo! Sports said “Romo a Hall of Famer?” I nearly lost my bowels when I read that.

I love to hate on Romo. I’m not shy about it. But I don’t think he’s necessarily a bad quarterback. Mistake-prone? Sure. Annoying? Definitely. Overrated? Absolutely. A bad player? Not at all. But a mother *censored* HALL OF FAMER? Give me a break. I’m more deserving of Sexiest Man Alive than Romo is of a plaque in Canton. If Romo can win a couple rings (spoiler: he won’t), he has a shot because he certainly can rack up the passing numbers.

Unfortunately for Cowboy fans, his penchant for throwing untimely interceptions and dropping holds on kicks will haunt his legacy forever.

On to the real football. What? Seriously? Dude, I’m talking about soccer. Anyways ya doofus, check out this story about the 1978 World Cup champions, Argentina. If this proves to be true (and it certainly seems like it might be), this is just a straight slap in the face to the entire sport. And shows exactly why politics and sports mix like oil and water.

If that story made you hate soccer more than you already did, then clear the kids from the room, light a few candles and put on some Barry White. Helllllllooooo Ms. Morgan!

I leave you today with the luckiest shot in the world.

I’m outta here. I’m gonna go dance with somebody (love you Whitney).


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