Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The 'Not So Gold' Cup

I had talked myself into it, I was pumped.

So Saturday came and I had prepared myself to watch the United States' biggest soccer match since the last World Cup. It was the CONCACAF Gold Cup Final. It was the championship for North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. It was the team that won over our hearts in the 2010 FIFA World Cup then tore those same hearts out with an early exit. But most importantly, it was Mexico. IT WAS MEXICO. Say what you want about soccer, but if you were an American sports fan you had good reason to have your interest peaked.

I hadn't had this feeling in over year but it was back. I was about to watch meaningful international soccer with my country playing a pivotal role. Little did I know they were going to reprise their role from last summer as the 'too-good-to-be-true' member of the cast who is the first to get killed off by the scary man in a mask. And instead of going on for the next 750 words or so on how much it sucked watching team USA blow a 2-0 lead and quickly shatter my excitement, I'm going with a different story. This was something that caught my attention before the game started, before the Rose Bowl romping. Can somebody explain to me how with no problem at all I can watch a reality chow about cooking (Cooking! They've actually made reality shows about cooking! Am I on crazy pills or something?) but can't find a channel that is playing the Gold Cup Final game in English. This to me raises a very serious question.

How are American's supposed to adopt soccer like the rest of the world if they can't even watch one of the most important games of the year on TV? In English!?!?!?!

I'll throw you all a disclaimer by pointing out that the Fox Soccer Channel (FSC) was broadcasting the game but how many of you have FSC? At this moment I'd like you to say "I" if you have FSC as apart of your cable package. (Cricket....cricket.....fart by awkward guy in the background who just ruined the silence....cricket) Yeah that's what I thought.

For years now American sports fans have been fed BS about soccer finally arriving in the US. We've had Freddy Adu, David Beckham, and Thierry Henry.  Too young, too old, and too old. How were they going to save American soccer? Simply put, they were never going to. So, in my opinion, we had a great opportunity to enhance American interest in soccer, even if it was just a little, and ESPN along with all the other major TV networks completely dropped the ball. Not just your ordinary dropping of the perennial ball, I'm talking about blowing a 2 nil lead against our biggest rival in a championship game type dropping of the ball. (Oh yeah, I went there. Had to throw in one more jab for that God awful defensive performance.) Why is it that the media continues to feed us garbage about individuals saving soccer while at the same time they ignore something real. That's some Grade A Bologna right there, folks.

And I already know what people will argue. "Why should the media broadcast something if the country doesn't already care much for it?" It's not untrue but then again no sport would be what it is today without the aid of media coverage. The NBA didn't take off until they struck a deal with a major television network. Baseball has gained so many fans over the years through independently owned networks that broadcast each and every one of their home games. And football, the most television fitted sport of them all, is tailored to fit not the live audience, but the TV one. You simply cannot argue the fact that a sports success and television coverage go hand in hand.

So here's my message to ESPN, NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX. If you are serious about the country adopting soccer as a major sport don't pitch to us flimsy individual 'heroes'. Do the right thing, the easier thing, and allow us to watch the important games. And I'm not saying give us something like 'FSC' to watch it on, put it on your standard cable package. The channels that everybody gets and that you don't already have to be a passionate fan to order.  There is some good soccer out there, give it to us! For me not to be able to watch a championship soccer game that my country is involved in on basic cable in the language I speak is depriving me of becoming a more enriched sports fan. For me it's complete nonsense.

Class Dismissed,
The Sports Undergrad

SoS

Oh, and by the way, I did watch the entire game and I did watch it in Spanish. I had not idea what was going on and had a hard time focusing to be honest. I will admit it was mildly entertaining to hear the announcer scream GOAL and hold the word for the time it took you to read this article. Admittedly, that was cool. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My 2011 NBA Draft Running Diary

I know last week I said that I was done with the NBA for awhile but... I lied. Believe it or not, I was in the process of writing a piece on Derek Jeter but due to his DL stint I figured I could hold off a week. So after deciding against my half written Jeter piece I really didn't have much time to think up another gem. I had pretty much chalked up this week as being postless. But then, as I was setting up to watch the first round of the NBA Draft, I thought a Bill Simmons inspired running diary would be fun. So I sat down on the couch, grabbed some popcorn and mountain dew, and prepared myself to share my personal thoughts of the draft with you the moment they popped into my head. I tried to cut out some of the boring junk and just kept what I though were quality thoughts. So let's start this thing. Hopefully you don't find being in my head too strange..

Bring yourself to 7pm, the start of the draft coverage on ESPN. And in my head I'm saying...

7:01: Adelle, Yes! I love this song

7:04: Jeff Van Gundy is a funny little man

7:11: It's very awkward if the prospects can hear the ESPN analysts right now...

7:12: Kyrie is definitely a good guy, wherever he goes I'm rooting for him

7:13: Jimmer doesn't even try to hide his whiteness..

7:17: Well, that was awkward Jon Barry.. (Prematurely saying Rambis is fired)

7:32: WE COULD OF HAD IT ALLLLLLLLL! ROLLING IN THE DEEEEEEEEEEEP


Finally! The pre-draft bs is over and we've arrived at the moment of judgement. At this point I had already downed two cans of mountain dew, a hot pocket, and half a bag of popcorn. (Surprisingly, a impressive 0 bathroom trips had been taken! HOOOORAHHH)

7:33: Here we go!  NEW JOISEEEEEEEEY!!!!!!!!

7:35: If Cleveland is reading this they should take Derek Williams and put all the pressure on the KAHHHHHHHN!

7:39: Would have liked to see how Kahn would have reacted to seeing Irving on the board with the 2 pick. Oh well, soild pick for the Cavs

7:43: Did the Cavs draft Kyrie or his dad?

7:45: Williams to the T-Wolves, not a suprise.

7:52: I love listening to foreign players take interviews.

7:56: Get'em Jeff Van Gundy!

7:57: Woah! Didn't expect Tristen Thompson here... I like him on his potential.

8:06: I have no idea who the Wizards take here...

8:07: Yes! More awkward foreign interviews!

8:08: Vesely seems like a poor man's Euro version of Blake Griffin...

8:09: "I like the John Wall game.." - Vesely (classic)

8:11: BISMACK BIYOMBO!!!!! 4 of the last 5 picks will give us irresistibly awkward interviews! Gotta love the NBA draft.

For me, this was the high point of the draft. We've gotten to see 4 awkward interviews with guys who barely speak English in the last 5 picks. Quality TV if you ask me. This is where interviewers maker their money.

8:15: (My girlfriend on trying to pronounce Bismack's name) "Why don't we just call him BB?"

8:18: I think Brandon Knight goes down as the steal of this draft. You'll see. Think Russell Westbrook.

8:24: I'm a HUGE Kemba fan. All this guys does is win. He will automatically become the leader for the Bobcats.

8:28: Jimmer..?

8:29: JIMMERRRRRRRRRR!

8:31: Any chance Jimmer converts DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans to Mormons and turn their lives around?

8:42: Am I the only one afraid of drafting a 2 guard who can't shoot?

8:46: Stu Scott might just be the coolest guy in sports.

8:48: One Morris down, one to go. On DraftExpress his best case scenario player comp says "Rasheed Wallace, without the crazy". Can't beat that.

8:53: Is that a Morris brother in the Coors Light commercial? Oh wait.. That's Ice Cube

8:55: Two Morris' down, none to go. That was adorable.

9:01: My best dressed award goes to.. Kawhi Leonard!

9:04: Schools should teach a mandatory public speaking class to potential NBA prospects.

9:09: Can the Knicks draft Jeff Van Gundy? #wewantdefense

9:12: Who did the Knicks just draft? Am I missing something? Is this an Isaiah pick? Did David Kahn just take over the New York Knicks? Is this real life?

9:16: Can Glen Grunwald, "future interim GM" of the Knicks, please look at the camera?

9:18: Jan Vesely now Chris Singleton, I'm loving the Wizards draft so far.

This was the part of the draft where I stopped knowing much about the players being taken.  That is probably what influenced my next entry..

9:20: THERE'S A FIRE STARTING IN MY HEART, REACHING A FEVER PITCH AND IT'S BRINGING ME OUT THE DARK...

9:23: Didn't they say after Chris Singleton the green room was empty? Whoops..

9:26: My girlfriend has officially abandoned me on the couch... For people who bet the under on if she'd leave by the 25th pick, congratulations.

9:27: Leonard for Hill, only the 2nd trade tonight. That's very disappointing. As Van Gundy would say,  I double hate that.

9:29: KAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHN.

9:36: Every year somebody get's drafted who looks like the could use a good meal, this year it's Nolan Smith.

9:40: Was kinda hoping Faried would be a Knick, damn...

9:58: I love MarShon Brooks for the Celtics, they automatically get younger at he guard position. He doesn't have any pressure right away, can learn from some of the best.

10:04: In an attempt to seem like I'm smarter than I am I'll say that I'm surprised Hamilton dropped that far, good pick.

10:05: Apparently the Nets are getting Brooks? That makes me look stupid...

10:08:  Drafted JuJuan Johnson with the Wizards in my NBA 2k11 chise last night. He had a solid first game against the Suns. That's the completely unrealistic reason I like this pick.

10:13: At 10:13 pm we finally have a high top fade off the board!

10:23: There goes the best story in the draft, Jimmy Butler.

10:27: Kinda was hoping for some more drama in this draft, Kahn you let me down.

10:31: Best tweet of the night: (On being called Carl Landry by ESPN reporter) Adopting the nickname "Carl" and and changing my last name to "Landry".. #alterego" -Landry Fields

10:33: Is David Kahn is trying to make up for his boring draft by making completely irrelevant moves before the end of the first round?

Overall, it was a fairly entertaining draft. I have to admit I was looking forward to a little more drama and trades but, oh well. I'll probably spend the rest of the night trying to figure out who the hell Iman Shumpert is. (OK, I know he is an athletic combo guard from Georgia Tech. But really? The Knicks took him with the 17th pick? Seems like a reach..) I think a lot of teams did a lot of good things, mostly the Cavs and Wizards but from what I can tell there were no Darko Milicic caliber fails. But, I guess time will be the ultimate judge of the draft and that's the way it always has been. You can fill your mind with all sorts of draft expertise but it all is just about as valuable as what the hot pockets, mountain dew, and excessive amounts of popcorn just made me do. (Oh yes! I went there.)  Time, like in all things, will be the end all, be all in this draft. Who knows? Maybe the next Kobe Bryant was just taken and nobody knows it, or maybe the next Dirk Nowitzki, or Kevin Garnet? Who knows? I'd be lying to you if I pretended like I had the slightest idea. I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed my running diary. In case you are wondering the final tallies were; 2 hot pockets, 2 bags of popcorn, 4 cans of mountain dew, and an amazing 1 bathroom break! (I have a bladder of steal!) If you really liked this and hope I do it more let me know! Feedback is always greatly appreciated. Have a great night and I hope you're happy with what your team selected.

Class Dismissed,
The Sports Undergrad

SoS

Saturday, June 18, 2011

8 Reasons Why the NBA NEEDS to Come Back Next Year

Now I know, Saturday night is a really strange time to publish a post, but believe me, I had my reasons. First off, although I am recovering quite nicely (thanks for all the good wishes), the surgery has crippled my ability to go out and keep myself busy on a night such as this. Second, my girlfriend is at a wedding so if I wanted to watch a movie or something I have nobody to do so with. And finally, chising (For the definition of 'chising' check out my post on Plaxico Burress and Randy Moss.) in MLB 2k11 can only occupy so much of my day. So, what better way to spend my Saturday night than to vent on some of the reasons I think the NBA NEEDS to come back next year? And by the way, I know 8 is an odd number to chose but I chose because I legitimately thought there were 8 great reasons, no more, no less. Sorry Ricky Rubio..

(Quick side note: I promise this will be my last NBA post for awhile.. Just needed a way of wrapping up this truly sensational season. Expect a heavy dose of baseball after this post.)

So! Without further interruption.. The long awaiting official STUDENT OF SPORTS list for why the NBA NEEDS to come back next year. (OK, I'll admit this post probably did not deserve the hyping I just gave it.. 'long awaited'? really? ...I wish)

8. Blake Griffin - This is an easy one. Who doesn't want to see how Blakey Blake will follow up his insane rookie season? This guy is an absolute athletic freak and if there is a season next year, he'll be fun to watch. By the way, he'd be higher on this list if the Clippers didn't suck. (Another interesting story will be if Blake can beat the rookie of the year curse. Very funny video)

7. Dirk Nowitzki - After his all-time great playoff performance it'll be fun to see how Dirk follows it up in year two. This isn't as high on the list as maybe it should be because I think age will finally overtake the Mavericks next year and they won't be able to repeat. You gotta figure the Grim Reaper has been just sitting on Jason Kidd's porch for a year or two now waiting for his game to answer the door.

6. The Oklahoma City Thunder - This is a great story and possibly underrated by me. It'll be a great test to see how this young team matures after a tough defeat in the western conference finals. I'll be looking for two major things, Russel Westbrook's development as a point guard and Kevin Durant's growth as a leader. 

5. The Lakers - How will Kobe and the gang respond to being bounced out early in this years playoffs? How huge will the loss of Phil Jackson be? Will new head coach Mike Brown be able to earn the respect of Kobe and other veterans on the team? Will they land Dwight Howard? All extremely relevant questions. Absolutely captivating story.

4. Basketball is Back in MSG - After acquiring Carmelo Anthony at the trade deadline last season the Knicks became a legit playoff team, not a title contender yet, but a playoff team. You cannot under value the impact of meaningful basketball in MSG on the NBA. It'll be cool to see if the Knicks can find some sort of defense (preferably in the form a legitimate big man) and take the next step as a team. Hopefully the loss of Donnie Walsh doesn't slow down the momentum they've gained.

3. Derrick Rose - Last season's regular season MVP got bounced out of the playoffs in the eastern conference finals but the good news is, he's still 22! Unfortunately the bad news is that Carlos Boozer's contract is going to make it tough for the Bulls to give Rose a better supporting cast but hopefully he can overcome that. After proving he is one of the best players in the NBA this past season, if we have a season next year he'll be out to prove he's even better. No other way of putting it, I cannot wait to see more of D-Rose.

2. Where Will Dwight Howard Go? - This one wins the award for "Most Likely to Get Annoying if Dragged out". That aside you can't underestimate how important Howard picking a new destination will be for the league. In an era where there is only one elite center, where that player goes is a HUGE deal for the league. Let's just hope this all goes smoother than last season's Melo Drama.

1. Ricky Rubio Coming to the NBA! - (just kidding.. but I got your attention didn't I?)

The real number 1..
The Miami Heat - Believe it or not the Heat losing in the NBA Finals this year was great for the NBA. This pretty much means Miami's version of Two and a Half Men got renewed for a second season and all the scrutiny, media, and craziness that surrounded this years squad will be back for year 2! Love'em or hate'em you can't deny the Heat made this year an awesomely entertaining season of professional baskatball. Should make for a great 2012

Hopefully..

This is pretty much me, an NBA fan, pleading with the league to solve the labor situation and come back! This past season was sick and it would be torture to go a year without it. The NBA is more popular right now than it has been at any time since Michael Jordan. Taking a year off and killing that momentum would be terrible, not to mention the negative impact it would have on the careers of some promising young players. I've said it once and I'll say it again, the NBA NEEDS to come back.

I hope you guys enjoyed the list and if you think there is something I missed, or if you don't like the order, feel free to let me know in the comments!

Class Dismissed,
The Sports Undergrad

SoS

P.S. For predicting that the Mavericks winning the NBA Finals in 6 games (Nostradamus has nothing on me!) SportShouting.com was kind enough to send me this awesome shirt. This picture will be up permanently in the bottom left corner of this page and will start a Student of Sports corner of Fame.



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cleveland Stop, Cleveland Stop!

(For those of you who do not understand the title, it's a play on this song by The Presidents of the United States of America.  Great song!)

And also before I start, I wanna apologize for not getting this post up sooner. On Monday I had surgery and it's been hard to function. Let's hope I can get through this without it becoming too apparent that there is Vicodin currently running through my system.

So by now me talking about how the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA title in game six (called it!) over the Heat last Sunday is not exactly breaking news. (And in the process won me a t-shirt from Sportshouting.com! It's great sports social networking site you should all check it out.) But, putting my spot on prediction and brand new t-shirt aside there was something about the aftermath of these finals that really ticked me off. Now, as someone who was rooting against Miami and for Dallas I get the excitement, believe me I do. But if I have to here about the city of Cleveland and psycho ex-girlfriend owner Dan Gilbert, and how happy we should all be for them one more time I might just throw up. (Actually that might be the meds making me regurgitate my breakfast, but who's keeping track?)  Like we get it Cleveland, last off season sucked, but will you get over it already?

Did you see Dan Gilbert's tweet after the Mavs won Sunday night? Saying something about no shortcuts? In my personal opinion that was a no class move. What Dan Gilbert should be doing is calling Mark Cuban to PRIVATELY congratulate him. Not posting a cute cliche on twitter like some 13 year old girl hoping to create drama to be talked about the next day at school. How about instead of taking a nice long bath in self-pity, Gilbert focuses on nothing but the next NBA draft.. WHERE HE HAS TWO TOP 4 PICKS! Come on Gilbert, get over it.

I did a little research and saw that the 5 stages of grief were;
  1. Denial and Isolation - This should have been the initial reaction to "I'm taking my talents to South Beach"
  2. Anger - This is probably the stage where you start burning jerseys.
  3. Bargaining - So I'm thinking this was the moment right before the regular season started where most Cavs fans thought to themselves "S**t, my team sucks... Can we have LeBron back?"
  4. Depression - OK this is probably when the Cavaliers up just one of the worst regular seasons in NBA history. I even feel bad that Cleveland fans had to suffer through that but last time I checked that season did end, so let's hope this stage does. 
  5. Acceptance - (cricket... cricket...) Yeah I'm still waiting on this one too..
Why does it feel like Cleveland is back at anger when they should be accepting this and moving on? I guess that's what really gets me mad. As much as I hate how they were screwed over last summer, I hate more that they are content wallowing in their own self pity and not moving on. This should make Cleveland fans stronger, not turn them into middle school girls. And let me just throw out a disclaimer that I'm not talking about all Cleveland fans, just the way their owner and a lot of the fans are responding. So what would really make me happy, and allow sports fans in Cleveland to grow, is if they could move on from this and look forward to the future. I know they most likely won't be where the were a year or two ago anytime soon but they WILL get better and I would hope the climb would be fun for them. All I'm saying is this; Forget about LBJ, don't follow his every move, look forward to the future, and for God's sake put this behind you! Let's get through this 5th and final step of acceptance, Cleveland. What do you say?

I'm sure this post was a little more disorganized and loopy than most but you know what, it was damn fun to write! But look forward to more posts without the influence of pain killers in the coming days.

Class Dismissed,
The Sports Undergrad

SoS

Thursday, June 9, 2011

If Wade is Batman than it Feels Like Lebron is 'Robin' us of our Lunch Money!

(BA DUUUM CHHHHHHHHHHHH) ....This is the part of the post where you're either saying to yourself "Wow, what a funny title! (hahahahahahahah) I can't wait to read the rest!" or... "Really? That's how you are going to start this? Let's hope that's your last attempt at humor for the day."

Regardless of how impressed you are with the comedic value of the title, you cannot deny there is some truth to it. Through four games I can safely say that I've learned three things from these Hollywood script like finals;
  1. Dirk Nowitzki is straight up the man.
  2. The Miami Heat continue to be property of a Mr. Dwyane Tyrone Wade Jr.
  3. LeBron James is perfectly content with point number 2.
It's easy for me to talk about point number 1, I mean these entire finals have been pretty much a Dirk love fest. (I'm really starting to think that if Dallas pulls out this series there are several people in the media who will be waiting for Dirk at his locker after the game with their pants off.) I'll quickly say that it's amazing how every game as soon as you think he's just being bullied by somebody like Udonis Haslem, he flips the switch and just straight up takes over. His performance has been simply put, sensational. Let's just hope guys like Jason Terry, J.J. Barrea, and especially Tyson Chandler continue to show up for the rest of the series because God knows Dirk can't do it all on his own. (At this point I'm considering a helpful Jason Kidd performance a given, he can help Dirk without scoring.)

The next two points we can kinda cover at the same time. There was never any doubt going into this season that this would be D-Wade's team and LeBron would have to work at making it rightfully his. The thing we didn't know going in was that LeBron had no problem whatsoever with this being Wade's team. It honestly seems like he is perfectly happy being the Robin to Wade's Batman, being the Pippen to Wade's Jordan, damn it he's even content with being the Rob Schneider to Wade's Adam Sandler! Going into this series I though that was fine, I even told one of my friends after watching a 1st and 10 debate, "If I'm the Heat I don't care who's finishing, LeBron or Wade, as long as Dwayne Wade is the guy making that decision." Truth be told I believed that until I sat there watching game 4, honestly forgetting that there was a guy named LeBron on this Miami Heat team. Believe it or not I for a brief moment in time though to myself "If Dwyane Wade can't get open they need to give the ball to Bosh!" Please tell me you guys see what's wrong with that statement? How had LBJ actually fallen that far out of the picture in that game that the first thing I thought down the stretch was that if Wade was in trouble they'd need to get the ball to Bosh? I've spent the last few months making fun of Bosh for just about everything (insert Chris Bosh is ugly and/or Two and a Half Men joke) and there was actually a moment in time where I thought of him over LeBron, possibly the most talented basketball player on the planet! Unbelievable.

That's what, in a truly breathtaking NBA Finals thus-far, is heartbreaking about this series. We have one of the greatest athletes in the world on the court and instead if living up to his potential, he's OK with hiding out in the corner watching Wade try and win him a ring. I feel as if, up to this point, I had been fair with LeBron James. I wasn't going to compare him to MJ, I wasn't going to blame him for having no supporting cast in Cleveland, and I wasn't even going to blame him for leaving. But you know what? I will blame him if he doesn't bring it in the next few games of this series. I will blame him if he fails to play to what his potential is. I will blame him if he robs me of witnessing what should be an awe inspiring performance in crucial moments of big games. And the biggest thing is, I will blame him for appearing not to care.

Deep down part of me hopes that tonight, in game 5, LeBron's stats look like 35-12-10 and he just goes Cee Lo Green, F You, all over the Dallas Mavericks. Not because I want the Heat to win, I don't. Not because I'm even a huge LBJ fan as a player, I'm not. But because I want to witness something special. As an NBA fan I want to see the performance I thought I would see. I don't want to walk away feeling like I've been robbed of something, even if it's something as juvenile as my lunch money.

Class Dismissed,
The Sports Undergrad

SoS





Monday, June 6, 2011