Posted on: March 20, 2010 3:20 pm
Edited on: March 20, 2010 3:22 pm

Anagrams for you

Ok ... here you go. My buddy from high school, who isn't as sports savvy, was given a list of anagrams that could be rearranged into athletes who play either football, baseball or basketball. He needed to find the answers for his Boy Scout troop. Once the players are determined, he has to find their jersey numbers. The numbers lead to another clue.

He called upon me to solve these mysteries. It required about an hour and 20 minutes of my time to figure them all out. I can tell you that I found some terrific resources on the internet. Also aiding me was my general knowledge of athletes.

Here you go ...

"My mean tickle"
"trombone re elect"
"a tiny ok arm"
"betray knob"
"roman owner"
"lunar hog pun"
"ice brook ninjas"
"jive ruling us"

I'll provide the answers next week.

Category: General
Tags: Anagram
Posted on: January 31, 2010 2:42 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2010 3:32 am

I take issue w/ basketball's blocking rule

Here is the NBA's description of the Block/Charge rule:

A block/charge foul occurs when a defender tries to get in front of his man to stop him from going in that direction. If he does not get into a legal defensive position and contact occurs, it is a blocking foul. If he gets to a legal position and the offensive player runs into him it is an offensive foul. In both situations, if the contact is minimal, no foul may be called. To get into a legal position defending against the dribbler, the defender just needs to get in front of him. On a drive to the basket, the defender must get to his position before the shooter starts his upward shooting motion. For most other cases, the defender must get into position and allow enough distance for the offensive player to stop and/or change direction.

I'm watching an NBA game right now between the San Antonio Spurs and the Denver Nuggets. There is no team in the NBA more skilled at forcing an opposing team into a "Charging" call than the Spurs. But I take issue with this rule.

The rule should be eliminated for several of reasons:

First, it seems like an unnatural act, as a defender, to plant himself in between the basket and the offensive player who owns possession of the ball. He is not moving his feet, but is planting them. It's what my middle high school coach used to refer to as matador defense. The defensive player is not defending the offensive player, but is in fact looking to force the offensive player into a penalty by creating contact with him. Basketball is suppose to be a non-contact sport, but yet the philosophy behind a charge is to unnaturally instigate contact.

Often times, it seems as if the offensive player isn't looking to create contact. In fact, he's looking to avoid contact by either moving slightly to the left or right of the defender. Typically, the defender will slightly adjust his position to what is described above as a "legal position" in order to force the penalty. I just disagree with the philosophy. I think it's unnatural and it slows down the pace of the game.

Second, there is inconsistency with the Offensive Charge call.

One example of this is when an offensive player takes a jump shot or drives to the basket for a lay-up attempt. Often times, a defender will wedge his way underneath an offensive player after the player has jumped. More often than not, in my experience, the penalty will be called on the offensive player. According to the rules above, the defensive player has to establish a legal position prior to the offensive player taking flight in theory, but the call is inconsistent in practice.

Another example is when an offensive player receives a pass in transition and then runs into a defender. The offensive player will be called for the penalty, but I don't think it's fair because he doesn't have enough time to adjust his dribble in reaction to the defender. Sometimes, the offensive player is oblivious because he's not even looking ahead, he's looking behind. I guess the offensive player, in theory, needs to be aware of where all the defenders are on the court, but the cards are stacked against him when he's looking to catch a pass and establish his dribble, while also attempting to adjust his body to the defender.

Third, the "Charging" call promotes cheating. European and South American players have perfected the flop and now it has clearly become a common strategy in the NBA and College Basketball. The flop is when a defender has attempted to establish a legal position but then flails his arms and overaccentuates contact between the offensive player and himself. This one frustrates me to no end.

My solution is that if an offensive player is clearly trying to create an advantage for himself by running over or into a defender, a penalty should be called on him. But if the offensive player is clearly attempting to avoid contact, a penalty shouldn't be called, regardless of whether the defender has established legal position. I firmly believe it would improve the flow of the game, keep the action moving along naturally, and ensure integrety in the rules of the game.

Category: NBA
Posted on: December 12, 2009 12:52 pm

I still like Tiger Woods, but let me explain

I like Tiger Woods ... There! I said it!

This may sound selfish of me, but I like him not because of who he is but because of his golf accomplishments. If I knew Woods on a personal level, perhaps I may like him or not. Who is to say? That's immaterial to the point I'm going to make in this blog.

Woods has provided me with so many fond memories that they are difficult to keep track of. Simply put, I would not have been as big of a golf fan if Woods had never picked up a club. It is unbelievable what this guy has been able to do.

It's always exciting to serve witness to someone who elevates the sport in which he or she plays, and Woods has certainly impacted golf as few others before him have. As far as I know, Woods has done so without the help of performance-enhancing drugs.

I will note that steroid use, because it directly impacts an athlete's performance on the field, is the only thing that directly affects my level of admiration for an athlete. It implies cheating, which I'm against. Cheaters are bad. An athlete should excel on the field because of pure natural ability, and Woods has done so.

That's why I like him.

There have been a lot of athletes that I have been fond of because of their high level of skill on the field or basketball court. Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Sidney Moncrief, James Lofton, Reggie White and Brett Favre -- these are athletes who I have had profound admiration for during my lifetime.

Off the field, these guys had their issues or were controversial -- some more than others and some not so much. I may not have liked some of these guys if I knew them personally. Regardless, the things that occur off the field are of no importance to me. I don't care that Woods has cheated multiple times on his wife. I have always been able to overlook those things ... even as a kid.

It just doesn't bother me. I don't think about it. I don't condone it for people that I care about on a personal level. But I don't care about Woods on a personal level. I like him because he's a great athlete – plain and simple.

The only times I have truly been disappointed in athletes are when they failed in the line of play. I can't tell you how frustrating some of Favre's interceptions were. "Damn you Favre!" I remember Yount once struck out in the bottom of the ninth with runners in scoring position. "You're killing me, Yount. You're killing me." I recall Moncrief once missed a potential game-winning last-second shot. "Come on Super Sid! You're better than that."

Those are the things that really frustrate me as a sports fan about an athlete.

For me, it's very easy to draw the line. What happens off the field or basketball court does not directly impact me. It may have some indirect impact in that off-the-field problems may carry over and affect an athlete's performance, but it generally is none of my business. I could care less.

The reason that it's easy to draw the line is because of my family, friends and people I care for on a personal level. My idols outside of sports were my mom and dad, brothers and sisters, teachers, childhood friends, co-workers and members of my community, who are all really fine people in my personal opinion. These are the people who have impacted me the most because they have chosen to live their lives in a way that is extremely appealing to me on a personal level.

I think we're all wise enough to realize that athletes are celebrated, more often than not, for what they accomplish on the field. Some have done some terrific things off the field and that's great, but that doesn't mean they have flaws. We all have flaws. None of us are perfect.

I don't believe we should hold athletes to a higher ethical or moral standard than anyone else. I've never been fooled by Woods' Nike commercials or how any athlete is marketed. It's fiction. It's make-believe. It's not real.

Tiger Woods made some bad decisions by cheating on his wife, but I could care less about that. It doesn't impact my life.

Selfishly, I hope he gets his "stuff" together and makes it back to the PGA Tour as soon as he can. I'm looking forward to more unbelievable moments! The game of Golf will suffer without him.

Category: Golf
Tags: Tiger Woods
Posted on: August 2, 2009 9:39 am

Cycling in the United States

Over the past several years, I've become a casual Cycling fan. The Tour de France is so dang exciting to watch and it leads me to wonder how the sport could gain more popularity among United States fans.

Obviously, Lance Armstrong's success has lifted the sport to new heights in the States, and maybe the time is right to put together a "Tour of the U.S." How cool would it be to put together a 21-stage event that covers both ends of the United States?

The event, itself, could start on the Brooklyn Bridge, make its way west to Chicago, and then to St. Louis, and then from Colorado (Route 66) to Nevada.

The Pacific Coast Highway could also provide very scenic backdrops to a couple of stages.

On the trek back to the East coast, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, the Tennessee Mountains, among other great locales, would be challenging and beautiful sights to behold. The race would finish in D.C. as cyclists would do laps around the mall that connects the Capital building, the Washington monument, the White House, and the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials.

Okay, let's make it happen!
Posted on: August 1, 2009 8:19 pm

Aaron Rodgers is poised to have a great season

Aaron Rodgers is going to have a terrific season in 2009. There! I said it.

Why? All of the pressure from last season is behind him. He's stacked up 16 games of experience. He understands the offense and has a lot of talent at the skill positions.

Rodgers is truly a great guy. He replaced Brett Favre and did so with a lot of grace and respect for the future Hall-of-Famer. It wasn't an easy position to be put in. Some of the fanatics out there gave him a hard time last season, but I believe he's earned the respect of the fans, for the most part, based on actions both on and off the field.

Posted on: July 6, 2009 11:02 pm

Another car chase

What is it about car chases that we find so compelling?

There was another car chase today, this time in Houston, Texas. And ... everytime the national News networks (CNN, MSNBC and Fox News) break into coverage of one, everyone at the office stops what they're doing. With eyes glued to the TV today, we watched, talked amongst ourselves and tried to provide constructive advice to the police cars chasing the bad guy in the white van.

We scream out to the police: "Oh man! Why didn't you side-swipe the maniac? Flatten his tires with that spike strip! Come on! You can do it!"

We ask all kinds of questions ...

Will this crazy person get away? What can the Police do to improve their situation? What got the bad guy into this high-speed chase in the first place? What compelled him to drive at high speeds through busy traffic and what compelled the bad guy, or one of them, to jump off a roof to another roof 40 feet below?

Meanwhile, Shepard Smith always seems to be starting his shift at Fox News. The tone in his voice always seems upbeat as he provides play-by-play. It seems like he, more so than any other person, enjoys these things. That's probably not true, but the tone in his voice suggests otherwise. He called today's bad guy Mr. Speedy. It's laughable.

Also, it appears to me that these car chases typically occur in South Florida, Los Angeles and Texas.
Does that mean bad people are doing more bad things in these locales?

Inevitably, the good guys get their man (or woman in some instances), which is good. However, I would love to have someone explain to me why we are so interested in these damn things. 

Regardless, it truly is compelling television. I can't wait for the next one. I hope the police always get the bad guy and I hope the innocent bystanders stay safe.

Category: General
Tags: Car chases
Posted on: November 23, 2008 11:19 am
Edited on: November 23, 2008 1:03 pm

Wisconsin football program in critical condition

Bret Bielema already has a few strikes against him.

You see, it's difficult to replace a legend. Not only that, but Barry Alvarez left the Wisconsin football program in pretty damn good condition.

In 2006, the program was handed to Bielema, whose primary responsibility was to firmly grasp the rudder and steer the ship in the same direction Alvarez had in the previous 16 seasons. The ship has drifted off course since.

How long do we give Bielema before considering a change?

It was Pat Richter and Donna Shalala who played a primary role in hiring Alvarez, but it was the coach who followed through on virtually every goal he laid out in his initial press conference.  Alvarez is now in Richter's position and the weight of the decision to select Bielema as his replacement is clearly on Alvarez' shoulders.

As Wisconsin fans begin to call for Bielema's firing, the pressure shifts to Alvarez to make an educated and swift decision. Alvarez has already given the Wisconsin coach his important vote of confidence.  What will it take for Alvarez to change his tune?

In order to discuss the recent struggles facing the Wisconsin football program under Bielema, it's important and necessary to point out Alvarez' accomplishments.

Alvarez inherited a program that was in complete disarray. Wisconsin was one of the worst teams in the Big Ten for decades. One may look at his tenure and suggest that Alvarez' record (118-73-4) isn't too impressive, but he truly changed the perception that Wisconsin would always be a lower-tiered Big Ten program.

Wisconsin won one Big Ten title outright and finished tied for first in two other seasons during Alvarez' tenure. Under Alvarez, Wisconsin was 8-3 in Bowl games, including a 3-0 record in the Rose Bowl.

Alvarez was able to successfully recruit Wisconsin high school football players. Prior to 1990, these players were signing with schools elsewhere, including Big Ten rivals. It was difficult to land these talented home-grown players, but Alvarez changed the mentality that Wisconsin wasn't a cool place to play football.

Once he was able to lock in local players, others from around the nation began to seriously consider Wisconsin as a viable place to play football. Alvarez began recruiting Parade All-Americans. 

There was a plan and Alvarez never wavered from it.

He would spend one recruiting class building up the front lines. He spent the next accumulating skill-position players. Alvarez knew that in order to build a dominating team, he needed to build up the trenches. It was his philosophy that the offensive and defensive linemen needed one year to educate themselves on his system. It was essential to acquire game experience along the way.

There were several points in Alvarez' tenure in which Wisconsin would run the football and there was nothing opposing teams could do to stop it. Alvarez tipped his hand. He said I'm going to stuff the ball down your throat and there's nothing you can do about it. It was bold, it was egotistical and, most importantly, it was highly effective.

As a fan, there was nothing better than watching a ground attack that could not be stopped.

During the Bielema administration, Wisconsin fans have watched the talent pool slowly fade away. The offensive and defensive lines are no longer dominating the trenches as they once had. The big offensive line is not opening up holes in that zone-blocking scheme. The defensive line allowed nearly 300 yards rushing to Cal Poly.

The quarterback position is an embarrassment. It was never all that pivotal in Alvarez' scheme because the running game was so strong. But without a sustained ground attack, Bielema has placed a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks, who are clearly not equipped or skilled enough to make the types of decisions that can consistently sustain drives.

The running backs don't seem to possess that innate ability to find the holes in the zone-blocking scheme. Wisconsin fans were spoiled with Brent Moss, Ron Dayne, Michael Bennett and others, who had the ability to find the holes and run to daylight.

If Bielema makes it past this offseason, his margin for error will be minimal. Undoubtedly, Bielema needs to show that he can maintain the high level of recruitment that Alvarez established. Bielema needs to show that his team can move the football against teams Wisconsin has traditionally dominated. He needs to get this team back to a January bowl game.

Should Bielema's failures continue, it'll be up to Alvarez to make a swift decision. It was Alvarez' decision to hand the ship to Bielema and the ship is off course and needs to be righted, quickly.

Not doing so could reflect poorly on Alvarez as well.

Posted on: September 20, 2008 9:19 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2008 8:31 am

Being a Brewers fan is like being Charlie Brown

I've been following the Milwaukee Brewers for the previous 30 years and it is just too difficult and frustrating. The Brewers just can't seem to make it to the MLB Postseason. That 1982 World Series was 26 long years ago. Ughhhh! 

This is the second straight season in which Milwaukee has self destructed ... imploded if you will. I guess it's just not meant to be this year, but it's frustrating because the team has a lot of young, talented players. I think I need some advice from Sally.

It shows me that there is tremendous parity in the Majors. The competition is strong. For instance, I look at the Chicago Cubs and they're just so good. That's difficult for me to say, but it's true. They're so damn good and have a lot of talent on that team.  The Cubs play with more heart than the Brewers and that may be a reflection of the team's coach, Lou Pinella. I wonder if Linus has some intelligent answer in response to the Brewers' woes.

Milwaukee has failed to play well against the Major League's upper-tier teams. The Cubs have had their way with Milwaukee, as have the Mets and Phillies. Milwaukee seems to be intimidated by teams with better records. I'm not quite sure what the x-factor is, but I'll point out a couple of things:

One, we don't have enough clutch hitters on the team who can knock runners in. If you look at the RBI total of our Nos. 3 and 4 hitters, it's pretty embarrassing. Milwaukee needs to make a decision on Rickie Weeks. In my opinion, he's part of the reason the offense is stale. We need a leadoff hitter who can get on base more frequently. Ughhhh! 

Also, middle relief has been horrible. Milwaukee's starting pitching has put the team in a position to win, but the middle relief has failed to step up and serve in their set-up roles. The closer spot has been problematic. Ughhhh! 

This is a relatively young team and it seems like the offense goes into prolonged slumps together. It's either feist or famine. There isn't one guy on the team who has been consistent all season long, and that's problematic. Ughhhh! 

Granted, the season isn't over yet, but we don't deserve to be in the postseason. I'm not sure if Dale Sveum is the answer or not, but it is obvious to me that the issues I referred to above need to be addressed.

I felt this way about the Packers in 1995. The day the Brewers clinch a playoff spot is the day I will well up in tears. Meanwhile, I will spend another year wondering if the Brewers will ever make it to the postseason. I can't tell you how frustrating this is. I want this team to win so badly and it just doesn't seem like it will ever be meant to be.

Category: MLB
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