Sunday, September 18, 2016
Monday, May 30, 2016
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Monday, March 21, 2016
Tournament Bracket Challenges have literally gone viral in the last decade. NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Basketball tournaments have taken off! We all pay attention to the men's side, filling out brackets, all thinking with our Regional wisdom, "We know the the upsets and 'Sure Shots!' "... Au Contraire my friends- we know Jack!!! Even ESPN's College Basketball expert, Jay Bilas is imperfect! Here we are... After kicking off the tournament on none other than St. Patrick's Day, 2 rounds in the books, and 99% of posted bracket picks are wiped out by long shot busters rising for glory that only Elle Woods, or tuned in 6th degrees of separation psychics would have picked in the initial round of play! In 2013, when Harvard stunned the field with a round 1 win, there were only 374 brackets that picked all 32 games correct out of 3.3 million brackets! That's 0.012 percent! I am sure the wins by Yale, Hawaii, Middle Tennessee, and Stephen F Austin created similar results this year.
The entertaining thought of 'Picking a winning Bracket' livens such a dormant time during American sports. The NFL just finished its championship at beginning of February, and Major League Baseball opening day isn't for another month. Thus, the collegiate national basketball tournament by default, has drawn interest from the idlest of sports fans.
ESPN has come to realize, majority of those aspiring for perfection become irrelevant within 24 hours of tournament play... Luckily, ESPN has wisely created a contest for all of us know-it-alls to pursue 'Glory' at perfection once again... I, myself, and many other compadres whole heartedly embrace and support their empathy in creating the 'Second Chance' Bracket!
You may think women are mostly ambivalent about sports... In actuality, there are more of us out there as competitive, and attentive, that either you overlooked, or just seem to invalidate as irrelevant... Well, my fellow sports brethren, a life long friend just created a group of such women and we are having a hoot! We look forward to entering the 2nd chance Bracket with ALL of you, and hope we persevere in our research, and hindsight! Watch out boys! 'Theee' March Madness Hot Chicks are in it to win it!
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Dear Coach Saban, we'd like to inform you there's a new god in college football... God's country has relocated to Ohio! Urban Meyer has brought his National Championship ways to 'The' Ohio State University winning the premiere playoff era in Division I NCAA Football as the underdog. Seeded 4th in a four team playoff bracket, Ohio State executed the unthinkable, knocking off heavily favored #1 seed Alabama with a third-string quarterback and sophomore running back thrashing through D- lines like a hot knife through butter. After halting the roll of the Alabama Tide, Ohio State mosied in to Texas' AT&T Stadium facing the 2nd seed team Oregon. There were over hyped concerns Ohio State would face defensive challenges, with the rapid no huddle offense led by 2014 Heisman winner Marcus Mariota. Fortunately, the extra days of preparation were well spent by the Buckeyes coaching staff. The sheer size discrepancy between Ohio State's defensive line and Oregon's Offensive line brought the Ducks' running option to a screeching halt! Even with four significant turnovers of OSU coughing up posession, Oregon could not capitalize versus Ohio State. Oregon, once more leaves college football's biggest show with a loss. Pac 12 has entered in to an A race with B class dog. As we shake out a better picture of College Conference power rankings, SEC has shown kinks in their armor. Ohio State's win has lifted Big 10, and Pac 12 remains teetering on the edge of greatness looking up at the power houses in the South and Midwest.
The Big 10 Conference will be a hot ticket in 2015-2016 with Jim Harbaugh leaving San Francisco 49ers for his Alma Matter, Michigan. Harbaugh brought instant recognition and viability to Stanford University Football Program (He mentored Andrew Luck, currently vying for NFL AFC Championship with Indianapolis Colts), as well as turning around the San Francisco Forty-Niners leading them to a Super Bowl appearance and two NFC Championship appearances in last four years. Coach Harbaugh walks in to Michigan dealt the task of turning around a flailing program in to a Championship contender. Michigan's number one rival? The Ohio State Buckeyes. The Big 10 conference game between Michigan and Ohio State (circle November 28 on your calendars!) just might trump ratings of any other game on the schedule!
Coach Meyer said it best frankly following the win, in so many words expressing that their rise to become National Champions was historical, and story for the ages. Ohio State Buckeyes proved the theory literally, "Next man up!". As their starting players went down through out the 2014 Season, underclassmen stepped in to the line up and stepped up! Urban Meyer ran in to a gem in 3rd string quarterback Cardale Jones. Jones had incredible poise and no one of the 33.4 million tuning in to the game would ever have guessed that his 3rd start in his college career would be the game for all the marbles! The NCAA willingness to create a playoff system for an undisputed champion has been a success. The National Championship game had the 2nd largest viewing audience in history. I originally wrote in support for NCAA Division I College Football playoff when LSU beat Ohio State in 2007 (Will the real No. 1 Please Stand Up). Although I offered a far-fetched 16 team (or was it more?) example, I am proud that NCAA adopted the playoffs, even with just 4 top seeds. There will always be lingering debates regarding teams left out.
Now, lets turn our attention to the real debate: the god-awful National Champion Trophy! Why did NCAA transition away from the impressive and charming crystal football? The 2015 National Champion trophy looks like something that was won at the ring toss booth at the Country Carnival. NCAA definitely needs to re-assess that choice. I would be in favor of bringing the twinkling crystal football back!
Monday, November 3, 2014
When it comes to the San Francisco Giants, statistics, odds, and assumptions officially do not apply. There's a growing love affair between San Francisco and October. "Orange October" Particles align surrounding San Francisco and baseball when the Giants make it to postseason play. Based on team numbers displayed in box scores and spread smts, no one would have picked or expected San Francisco to represent the National League in the Major League Baseball World Series; even avid fans were suspect the latter half of 162 games! Based on a team that had challenges scoring runs , the least number of home runs belted out of ballparks, mediocre number of multi-base hits, league leading numbers in stranding runners in scoring position, and a mediocre at best starting 5 ERA amongst the Major League Baseball's best pitching, no way San Francisco in the Black and Orange make it to the Fall Classic with those lackluster stats.
Ahhh.... Luckily what creates a "Winning" franchise requires more ingredients than a triple crown winner, a Cy Young recipient, and MVP team savior... Just ask Hunter Pence, or should I say "Preacher Pence", whom coined trending tag of "Champion Blood", "We accept each other for who we are, and go out there and play for each other!" Since that eloquent pep talk (and he now gives one before each game), Giants have 'saddled up' and continued to pursue greatness this postseason, going on the road as underdogs to beat Pittsburgh in a one game playoff, upset heavily favored Washington Nationals sending Strassburg and Bryce Harper to book tee times, and finally strangling hopes and aspirations among St. Louis and Kansas City players and fans. What exactly makes San Francisco persevere and seem virtually as immortal as cock roaches alive in a nuclear Winter? That my friends, is a complex contest, which I am happy to break down. Its what San Franciscans (and Bay Area diehard baseball fans) like to call “Bochy Ball”. Billy Bean may have perfected "Money Ball" with mastering Saber metrics, there's no comparison with the execution implemented by Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy with "Bochy Ball" to out swindle and confuse opponents in a post season 'no script' mastery of moves establishing a mini-dynasty of World Series Championships in 2010, 2012, 2014, and possibly more.
Through out Spring Training, and the marathon of months leading up to October, Bruce Bochy and the managing staff of the San Francisco Giants have creatively compiled a “Band of Ballers” that somehow worked through plugging holes in Season ending injuries to an All-Star Ace (Matt Cain, season ending elbow surgery assigning starting by committee between Yusmeiro Petit, and flailing starter Tim Lincecum), an All-Star Second baseman who never recovered from shoulder and back issues (Marco Scutero showed up for one game, and Bochy pulled an all risk move calling up a kid from AA ball, Joe Panik, that has turned out to be our future full time 2nd baseman), and worst of all, the assumed 'straw that stirs the drink' went down for majority of 2nd half of Season, as well as playoffs ( Angel Pagan and his perfect flowing hair, as well as Center Field and lead off position play seemed daunting to plug, until our 'White Shark' Gregor Blanco stepped up Defense in the outfield, and sprouted leading off at the plate to keep Giants in the conversation). Those were just a few of injuries, not to mention Mike Morse injured, Brandon Belt injured, and our clutch back up catcher, Hector Sanchez, who suffered back to back concussions, a back-to-back Cy Young Ace pitcher (Tim Lincecum's ERA blew up and seemed could not get out of the 3rd inning of a game without being handled by opposing offenses across MLB Ball Parks) along with yo-yo performances from the remainder of the starting pitching staff (Vogelsong, and Hudson became inconsistent from start to start; going from blowing up within 4 innings, to holding strong through 7, there was no assurances what pitcher was going to show up from start to start). One bright spot, and stopper the San Francisco Giants had in their back pocket was a 25 year old country strong mass of man leftie, Madison Bumgarner. Quietly, Madison amassed a 2014 winning record, only one shy of assumed Cy Young and MVP pitcher from Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw.
With the San Francisco Giants NL West nemesis, Los Angeles Dodgers' money men all healthy and performing (the blockbuster trade made a year ago between Boston and Lalala land sending Beckett, Gonzalez, and Crawford to the Dodgers, seemed to be paying off with all members healthy and contributing to the impending security of the NL West title), and a pitching staff that seemed to be mystifying opposing batting orders, it was assumed Brian Sabean had been backed in to a corner to do something, to pull some blockbuster trade at the deadline.
Despite hair pulling and "Its Over!" cries made by national sports analysts, as well as local franchise supporters, Sabean pulled mystifying moves boggling minds tuned in… Acquiring a struggling Jake Peavy from defending World Champions, Boston Red Sox, and re-signing Travis Ishikawa to minor league deal. That's it! Once again, the fans and all involved took a collective deep breath, and said, "Okay, well, Let's go!". The San Francisco Giants franchise had a positive outlook and faith in their GM, their Manager, and the coaching staff to make it work with the mixture of players they’ve groomed and acquired, to give them the best shot at making the postseason. The faith San Francisco organization has in its process, reminds me of a quote I've ran across, “It's not about what happens, it's about perspective. I may not be able to change what takes place, but I can always choose to change my thinking.” ~Michelle Sedas
It worked! It was a gem! In hindsight, After 3 World Series Championships, we should all trust GM and Bochy know not to screw with the chemistry brewing in the dugout. The combination of grit, a contagious never give up mantra, prime line up tinkering throwing out the script, a tightened up Defense, a pitching staff willing to adjust roles to get wins, were the perfect ingredients to make another World Series appearance. There is a philosophy Bochy brings to his line up most other managers heed from- he’s not afraid to bench a player, or put a player in, or move one to a different hole in the batting order, to achieve best results. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, it matters what you’re doing. Some of the greatest moves (his instict should be studied) recently have been calling up and starting Travis Ishikawa in Right Field (he's a natural 1st baseman, and has worked a whole 5 times in OF before this decistion, yeah.. He hit the walk off HR catapulting SF Giants in to the World Series), standing firm with Joe Panik as 2nd base, and having him hit 2nd in the Line up. Bochy has been nothing short of a world renowned conductor guiding all the instruments through a melodic masterpiece concerto with a crescendo final movement booming as strong as Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.
Once again, the pesky underdogs from San Francisco (I'd like to affectionately label 'Bochy's Roaches') are giving their opponents headaches, and unnerving frustrations. Somehow with a batting average hovering closer to .200 than .300 is beating the touted best pitching in Major Leagues. Somehow the pitching staff has figured out feared power hitters amongst MLB. How do they do that? A little bit of luck? A whole lot of faith? Well, maybe a sprinkle of those ingredients, and a masterful manager. All the San Francisco Giants needed was an in… A ticket to the Fall Show… From there, the players, the coaches, and everyone involved from the owners down to us fans believe they not only belong there, but can win it again! The Comissioner's trophy's back home boys! Thank you!!!
Major League decided to honor the San Francisco's run, and I believe the captured quite a bit of our essence:
I've been asked by a very close journalist friend, which World Series championship means the most, closest to my heart. Of course, we'd all like to sit on a fence with that question, and reply 'They're all great, they all carry the same weight'... We all know that is false; there is always one that stands out above the rest! I never thought 2012 would be trumped in my heart. The 2012 World Series brought out national love for a couple of my favorite baseball players I always rooted for, Barry Zito, and Sergio Romo. I never thought the clutch performances would ever equal those stellar game on the line heroics made by those two incredible underdogs on the San Francisco pitching staff. I now can say, watching Madison Bumgarner, Travis Ishikawa, Joe Panik, and the Brandons just man up on take it to whomever they were opposing, brought me to greater appreciation of baseball, and its pure diligence pursuing excellence. I teased my Dodgers friends earlier in the playoffs (jokingly) with the following phrase, "Kershaw may get you to the playoffs... Bumgarner will win you rings!" In hindsight (like Sabean, and Bochy), my words were valid!
If its an even year, and you see 'San Franscisco' as one of the teams in the playoffs... Do yourself a favor, don't ever think we have 'no chance'... You're only fueling the fire!
Sunday, March 30, 2014
A funny action happened in the Bay at the beginning of the Millennium's 2nd decade that had every fan of Golden State Warriors scratching their heads. When Don 'Nellie' Nelson (his second stint as Warriors head coach, and last successful coach to take Warriors to playoffs in 1990's) brought The City a splashy entertaining team in 2007, a window opened leaning towards promise of repeat playoff success. Yet, brisk gales of staunch West Coast opponents quickly shut the glass panes, when it was clear the team Nellie and fans idolized was built one sided-run and gun offense. Realizing Golden State Warriors were continuing down the much too familiar yellow brick road to nowhere, fans and speculation pointed to Oracle tycoon Larry Ellison to invest and accelerate success in a solid Bay Area franchise. Before arguments could be formed on the pros and cons of an 'Ellison' owned NBA team, fans and Media were taken back when Joe Lacob and Peter Guber were announced as purchasing The City's NBA pride, Golden State Warriors. I know I was not alone at googling the new owners. Who are these guys and what intentions do they have with an NBA team? If we knew then what plans they had to bring us to what appears to be back-to-back playoff appearances, and best record since 1994, The City would have rolled out a Golden Carpet!
The partnership of Lacob and Guber acquired the Golden State Warriors in 2010. After short term success with Nellie's reprise coaching appearance that pumped up Golden State Warriors as potential playoff contenders 2007-2009, NBA fans and analysts quickly realized there were missing pieces for Warriors to be serious contenders at the next level. Little did anyone with a finger on the pulse of 'The City' franchise realize a venture capitalist teamed up with a Hollywood producer would have a winning formula hidden in their Gucci wallets. The Bay Area community were flipped upside down when news broke that two seemingly unknowns had the purchasing power stronger than Larry Ellison to acquire one of the hottest franchises in the Millennium, The Golden State Warriors. In the sizzling Summer of 2010, everyone within a 50 mile radius of Oakland, California became familiar with the likes of Joseph Lacob and Peter Guber.
Leading up to the team's sale, the franchise had some tangible products in place in Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, and David Lee. The obvious sore spot that everyone thought was locked up was a big man, a bona fide Center. Andris Beadrins displayed a minute of hope. In the "Believe" run in 2007, Andris had one of the most influential break out moments in NBA history. In one Season everything Andres did on the hardwood worked; he was everywhere on both ends of the floor blocking shots, retrieving rebounds off the defense and offensive boards. Every tip drill that he practiced Paid off in a dreamy contract. As far as anyone knew, the scrappy line up of Baron Davis, Monta Ellis, Andris Beadrins, Matt Barnes, and Stephen Jackson appeared stable to continue contention as one of the top eight Pacific Division teams in the NBA West. It only took a year for the Golden State Facade to unravel before everyone's glittery eyes at Oracle Arena. The next two Seasons were bitter disappointment for everyone invested in the Golden State Warriors. Baron Davis left for the Hollywood lifestyle, signing with Los Angeles Clippers. Matt Barnes left; and the most famous and fastest performance collapse occurred with Andris Beadrins. With a head coach more interested in hosting Who's Who poker games in Hawaii, and an ownership seeming content to keep with the status quo, a boisterous grievance was going to be heard across the NBA community regarding dissatisfaction of affairs regarding lack of direction present in the Warriors franchise.
Fans, journalists, and local media knew the team was stagnate, and there was a demand to transition the franchise in to hands of an owner who would give more than two cents about winning, bring Golden State Warriors back to legitimate contention for a NBA title. The request was granted in 2010. The Golden State Warriors changed hands to Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. Before exiting, one acquisition Don Nelson did make in the 2009 draft, was acquiring Stephen Curry from Davidson. It was a pick that was peculiar. Considering the assumption new owners would build the team around Monta Ellis, everyone wanted to figure out how two strong shooting guards would work in the line up. It wasn't long before ownership and a new appointed GM gave us a poignant reply, by trading away Monta Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks for big man Andrew Bogut (who was injured at time of trade). The 'Dream Team' we all adore in 2013-2014 began in humble and misunderstood beginnings of centering The Golden State Warriors Quest for a title around arguably one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, Stephen Curry.
Ownership began ruffling comfort when they made a head snapping change in the front office dropping Chris Mullin (a beloved former Warriors player, and standout Community member) and promoting upcoming whipper snapper Bob Myers as General Manager. Myers began overhauling the line up, coaches, and opinion. At the beginning of bold changes starting in 2010, there became looming doubt about new ownership and their intentions with Golden State franchise. Were they interested in winning? Or were they drawn by one of the most profitable NBA teams with a solid fan base? We quickly had our answer on their intentions when they announced hiring Jerry West as a consultant. Key pieces that were added were Klay Thompson, David Lee, Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes, Dramon Green, Festus Azeli, and recently, Jermaine O'Neil, and Andre Igoudala. Exits included Jeremy Lin, Stephen Jackson, and a very hefty contract unload to Utah Jazz, Andris Beadrins. In three years, three coaching changes, and multiple moves in a twelve man roster, it appears the front office team of GM Bob Myers and Consultant Jerry West have created a premier contender for NBA West Title. When Golden State Warriors are at full squad with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee, Andre Iguodala, and Andrew Bogut healthy and starting games, they're literally unbeatable!
Looking back, Golden State fans have been treated with a flashy and exciting product, always displaying highlight reel dunks, sky hooks, alley oops, crazy beyond the arc treys, and spinning layups. Considering Golden State Warriors have only made the playoffs twice in last 20 years, the stands at Oracle were always filled with supportive diehards enjoying Warriors brand of basketball. Were fans more interested in a great show versus wins? It appeared that fans and sports media may have been satisfied with a zesty show, rather than showing up in the playoffs. Of course, fans and sports media were leery if any vision of the team's outlook would change with new owners. An unfortunate assumption amongst jibber jabber loud mouth fans and analysts alike were if new sports franchise owners could (or even aspired to) execute success, where previous owners fell flat? One reflection never made was the owners' individual success they've both made to place them in a position to acquire an opportunity to manage a NBA franchise, in hopes of attaining the NBA's highest prize, the Larry O'brien trophy. Joe Lacob and Peter Guber obviously possess leadership and decision making attributes we admire. The owners know how to build a management team that will reach goals they've established for Golden State Warriors. It's obvious now, Golden State owners and their annointed General Manager have created a change in Culture and expectations between coaches, players, sports writers, and most of all, the best fans in the NBA helping protect "Warriors Ground". The landscape has changed perusing the Western/Division front, and The City has pried the window back open!
This fan (along with Warriors Nation) looks forward to that day I know will happen sooner than later, a Parade down Broadway, in Oakland with a well fought for Larry O'Brien trophy in The City's hands!
Last time Golden State Warriors won a NBA title? I wasn't even 10!
Enjoy a trip back to Rick Barry's year of glory!