Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pick Your Poison

As far as this summer goes this has to be one of the worst concerning sports. The MLB has it's whole mess with Barry Bonds and the steroid investigation, the NFL has players constantly running it trouble with the law (Pacman Jones, Tank Johnson, the entire Cincinnati Bengals roster, and almost forget Michael Vick and his dogfighting allegations), and finally the NBA has a scandal involving a 13-year veteran referee possibly fixing games.

Earlier this week on OnSports with JP & Kevin on FoxSports 1230 WCWA, JP proposed the question which commissioner would you rather be?

Would you want to be Bud Selig of the MLB who is now face-to-face with Barry Bonds, a steroid user, breaking one of the most hallowed records in sports?

Or how about Roger Goodell of the NFL who now has PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) protesting outside his office for the immediate punishment of Vick following claims that the Virginia Tech grad was allegedly connected with dogfighting in someone way or another?

Or how about David Stern of the NBA? Since taking over as commissioner of the NBA, Stern has worked nonstop on the integrity of the game. He is now realizing that under his watch, 13-year veteran referee Tim Donaghy was making certain calls during games, depending on the point spread.

So if you had the choice of choosing which commissioner you would like to be at this moment who would it be? (And NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is not an option.)

Before you start brainstorming your thoughts take a look at my explanation for the poison I would choose.

First off, no way would I want to be in Bud Selig's shoes. Let's remember Selig knew that steroids where involved in baseball during the 1998 home run chase, but still let did not do anything. Even though Barry Bonds knowingly took steroids, it was Selig who did not step up and stop this mess from growing into what it is now - a disaster. In some ways, you can look at Selig as Frankenstein and this steroid investigation as the monster he created. (Just a little FYI, Frankenstein was the scientist, not the monster.)

As for the next person I would not want to be in the shoes off, that award would be given to David Stern. The reason for this is the referee scandal is something, like the steroid investigation, that will echo for more than one season. Also, it damages the one thing in basketball that could take some time to heal: the integrity of the game. Yes, Stern is not as responsible as much for this nightmare like Frankstein above, but Stern was still the man in charge.

By eliminating Selig and Stern, that leaves NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as the commissioner who's shoes I would have to be in. The reason for my decision includes two parts:

1. Even though there is a lot of controversy surrounding the NFL with Pacman and Vick's alleged dogfighting charges, these stories will only echo for this year. Granted they are terrible stories, but you will not be watching an NFL game several years from now questioning the integrity of the game like you will for the NBA and MLB. That's the key, the controversies in the NFL will not affect the integrity of the game.

2. Legal troubles are always present in sports. I am not saying this is in anyway acceptable, but it is a fact that professional athletes are always getting in trouble with the law. Look at the NBA, Ron Artest will miss the first 7 games of the 2007 season because of spousal battery, and then there's Stephen Jackson, a Golden State Warrior who will be suspended for the first 7 games of the 2007 season as well because of pulling a gun out in a parking lot dispute. As for the MLB there are the countless legal investigations of trainers, doctors, and players who were involved in the BALCO steroid ring.

All in all, choosing to fill the shoes of anyone of these men is one most people could do without. With that said, I am forced to choose the commissioner who I feel is facing more of the "normal" situations. That winner is Roger Goodell. Now by all means I am not claiming Goodell has an easy dilemma on hand. (PETA is at his office. PETA!) But his situation as compared to Selig's and Stern's never in anyway damages the most important thing for a professional sport: the integrity of the game.

And like I stated earlier, that truly is the most important aspect of a sport.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Magazine Downer

During the summer months there is a certain day all college football fans anxiously await. The day the elite college football magazine comes out. Street & Smith as this magazine is called comes out not too early or not too late into the summer, but rather at the perfect time. You have just enough time to gather all the season's information right before the football year finally kicks off.

Yes, I understand there are numerous college football magazines (Athlon Sports) out there from the beginning of the summer, but Street & Smith is in a different league. Best way to explain it is with a Street & Smith college football preview magazine, you the reader are actually interested in reading about "great" teams such as Duke and Temple.

That's powerful.

This past Friday my dad got home from being out of town. He said he had seen Street & Smith's at a airport newstand. My whole day was set. I was getting my Street & Smith issue and for the next 72 hours my eyes were not leaving that magazine. But more importantly, I would finally be able to cease watching reruns of the Cosby Show.

I raced to the nearby Kroger, weaving through traffic like Stevie Wonder was behind the wheel. I ran into the store and looked down the magazine aisle. Nothing. Some NFL magazines, 400 fantasy football issues, and some low-quality college football magazines that seemed to only focus on the Big Ten.

I began to panic so I got in my stallion of a car and drove over to Barnes & Noble. As I raced inside, I bulldozed over any living creature in my way. Looked around and found the magazine section of the store. Once I arrived at my destination I saw to my dismay that again there was not a Street & Smith issue. Something was wrong. I called my dad asking for reassurance that he did indeed see a Street & Smith at the airport. I explained to him all I was seeing were Athlon Sport magazines.

Then I heard the words that will haunt me forever.

"Geez I thought I had seen one, maybe I was mistaken."

I bought the Athlon Sports copy and drove home. I still find myself waiting for the Street & Smith issue to arrive, but when I do I can't help but remember the day my dreams were crushed..

...crushed by a man who had simply mistaken one magazine for another...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Where's the Justice?

Today it was announced by the NCAA that the University of Oklahoma football team will be forfeiting all of it's 2005 season and for the next two football seasons the Sooners will lose a combined 4 scholarships. Once again it is crystal clear the NCAA did not rightfully serve justice.

As the story goes, Rhett Bomar the quarterback of Oklahoma at the time, and teammate J.D. Quinn were accepting money from a local car dealership, despite the fact the two men where not actually doing any work. Turned out the teammates had accepted around $8,000 a piece. Oklahoma found out this past season prior to the kickoff of the college football year. In response to the situation, Coach Bob Stoops booted Bomar and Quinn off the team.

The NCAA's so called "justice" in this circumstance is nothing short of garbage. That image we all use to have that the NCAA administration consisted of a bunch of righteous, noble employees is about as true as OJ Simpson is innocent. (Keep in mind these "noble" NCAA men were accepting $400 just to let people in through the gates without a ticket at the Texas/USC National Championship. How do I know this? My older brother went to the game and witnessed it.)

Remember back in 2006 when scandals were popping up involving Reggie Bush and how he accepted money while at USC? The figure was somewhere around $300,000. My question is whatever happen to that situation? Simple: it's USC. Before you bash me on my ridiculous comments let me assure you there are indeed certain teams that do get "favored." (Cough! Notre Dame for sure.)

So simply put the USC scandal "rolls over" and the Oklahoma one does not? Say what you want but even in the world of sports, the NCAA being biased towards another school does exist. If the NCAA wants to pose the image to the public that they are an effective organization, they must follow one rule: fairness. Favoring big time schools such as USC is not a myth, rather a well-known fact. Just look at Norman, Oklahoma where the University of Oklahoma is being severly punished for illegal actions by some former players.

As for Los Angeles, California home of USC? Well come on don't be silly! It's USC, they can do no wrong.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

My Rebuttal to Stewart Mandel's Comments

This past Friday on the front page of there was an article written by Stewart Mandel and his thoughts regarding LSU football coach Les Miles's comments about USC. I felt obligated to post my own thoughts because it seems Mr. Mandel is "confused" on certain aspects dealing with LSU and USC.

Mandel starts off by saying that Miles's claim USC has an "easy" schedule is not legit. Mandel goes onto to say that USC did have to play Arkansas, the SEC West champions, last year. USC would win that game 50-14.

That is a good point Mr. Mandel, but you forget one important thing: injuries. Darren McFadden, the stud running back for Arkansas, was not even playing that Saturday. That alone made a huge difference in the final score. Plus, the quarterback was Robert Johnson a young man who would end up starting one more game the rest of the season. Very deceiving when you get down to the facts.
The other two USC opponents listed as "difficult" in Mandel's mind are Nebraska and Notre Dame. Notre Dame finished the year ranked 17th, but more importantly the Irish had three losses that came by an average score of 44-20. As the season ended "overrated" went right along with an Irish team that proved to be over matched in some of their biggest games. As for the Nebraska team I would say they are a solid team, but not yet an elite opponent.
So, Mandel those where USC's three "tough" opponents last year? Weak.
Good ole Stu would continue on by saying LSU had no room to talk considering they had played easy teams like Fresno State, Kentucky, and Mississippi State at home. That statement is indeed true, but again Mandel failed to point out some important bits of information. LSU played (for the first time in history) four Top 10 football teams on the road. Now try and explain to me that playing Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, and Arkansas on the road makes LSU's schedule "easier" than USC which included home games against Nebraska and Notre Dame, and (like LSU) a road game against Arkansas? But as you know LSU had to compete against a Razorback team with Darren McFadden on the field and a quarterback comfortable with his roll in Casey Dick.
Must of slipped your mind Mr. Mandel, it must of...
My second example of Mandel's idiocy comes later in the article when he asks the reader: "Why doesn't Pete Carroll bash LSU and how they have to play Vandy and Mississippi State?"
Well other than the fact Carroll is a soft spoken coach, the reason he does not criticize how LSU has to play those two mediocre-at-best teams is LSU has more difficult opponents. In an unbiased view it has to be realized the SEC is one of (my opinion the toughest) the hardest conferences.
Looking back at the final 2007 AP College Football poll, in the Top 15 the SEC had 4 teams (Florida, LSU, Auburn, and Arkansas). The Pac-10 had a mere two, USC was 4th and the next closest was California at 14th. The thing with the Pac-10 is numerous teams always start off the year good. This past year Oregon jumps out to a 4-0 record, but come the end of the year the Ducks would finish 7-6 and in that the Pac-10 loses credibility.
Stewart Mandel's misinterpretation of LSU's anger towards USC was most clear during his talk about the 2003 season. For example, Mandel states,"by virtue of [LSU's] victory over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, [LSU] earned the top spot in the coaches poll."
This statement baffles me because to me it comes across as saying LSU was given the top spot in the coaches poll because the coaches felt obligated to do that. Why is it not pointed out that USC claims themselves national champions even though the Trojans never won the BCS trophy? LSU did! Yes, Trojans had a very good team, but keep in mind that USC, LSU, and Oklahoma all finished with one loss. Someone was going to miss out. Overall, disrespect, is the best way to describe the way the media and snobby online magazine writers (cough!) treat LSU's 2003 National Championship. Credit is rarely given where due, but I do congratulate Mandel on making that segment of his article seem unbiased. Come on! Completely one-sided statement Stu!
All in all, let me say I do indeed think USC is one heck of a football team. They have got the talent and coaching to year in and year out compete for the National Championship. The problem I have is the relatively lackluster schedule the Trojans seem to play each year. USC does have there road tests, but it seems too often the Trojans are going up against Pac-10 teams that start strong, but finish poorly. Les Miles boldly said what so many coaches, analysts, and fans feel across the country. "USC is a great team, but they do not seem to be in a particularly difficult conference." For me, it is frustrating for a team of that caliber to not seem challenged in their own conference.
One more thing Stu, your Tiger Bait, so by all means continue your suckling of USC and stay the hell out of Louisiana...

Monday, July 02, 2007

Tainted Record

I work as a board operator at 1230 WCWA in Toledo, Ohio. This past week the two hosts of the station's sports show had a guest on air who said something I feel fails to be mentioned.

I consider myself a basketball and football fan. I do not pay particular attention to baseball, except during playoff time. With that said, I still do engage myself in the sport's national issues such as the steroids controversy.

The guest on the show was Christine Brennan of the USA Today and her comments were ones I can only begin to compliment. Paraphrased, Brennan said the Major League Baseball's handling of the Barry Bonds situation has been nothing short of pathetic. One of the greatest records in sports is being approached by nothing more than a cheater. Brennan continues to say Commissioner Bud Selig knew this was going on during the Sosa/McGwire homerun bash, but failed to act. A record has been tainted forever by a cheater.

As for my thoughts on Brennan's remarks, I could not agree more. The media and public fails to blatantly realize that Barry Bonds was and is a cheater. Yes, he was a solid hitter prior to when he began taking steroids, but once he started dosing Bonds was transformed into a power hitter. In fact his head grew three sizes in one season.

I understand lots of people still feel Bonds is innocent considering he has not been convicted. That is where your wrong. As stated by Brennan on the 1230 WCWA sports show, leaked information from a grand jury stated that Barry Bonds did indeed confess to a jury he had taken steroids.

So why has action not been taken? Simple, Bud Selig choose not to in 1998 and sure is heck is not going to be doing it now. He failed the sport of baseball, but more importantly the fans and the game. And it did not help that Barry Bonds cheated a record Hank Aaron earned rightfully.

There are three scenarios I hope happen to Barry Bonds:

1. A pitcher smokes him in the knee and his career is called before he gets the record.
2. No one cheers for his record breaking homerun.
3. Barry Bonds is never elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

It really is unthinkable how bad things have gotten for baseball. Selig failed to act, and Bonds desired to cheat. Result? A huge asterisk next to the 700 something homeruns Barry Bonds hits.