Monthly Archives: August 2009

The NFL Really Cares… About Making Money!

Oakland Coliseum Raiders

It’s looking like the NFL is about to see some hard times of their own due to the economy. Everybody knew it was coming, and we are seeing the first signs of it as there are 10 to 12 teams that may not sell out every game. This would mean mass local blackouts on TV broadcasts for many supportive fans.NFL blackout games Last season there were only three teams that didn’t sell out games and not surprisingly the list was Oakland, Detroit, and St. Louis. They combined for a total of nine blacked out games last season. I can’t blame any of the fans for not going to those games though, especially since I’m a Raiders fan and value paying to see them as much as going to see “Thunder from Down Under” for a bachelor party in Vegas. Despite the fact that there are about one third of teams finding it difficult to sell out, the blackout rule will stay in effect for it’s 37th straight year. The Jaguars have stated that they may not even sell out one home game all season. Sorry Jacksonville fans, you have to sign up for Direct TV and pay an extra $200 just to watch your local team for those eight games.

Tim Keown explored the reasons why the blackouts are out dated, and only hurt the league. I fully agree, as it deters possible fans that would have to watch the locally televised games. Many times a casual fan that lives in the area is exposed to the local team to the point where they start to follow them. I’ve had that transformation since my move to Southern California about three years ago. I used to root mildly for the Giants as a Northern California resident, but without being able to watch them, I now root for the Dodgers since I see them on TV nearly every day. I definitely never thought that I’d say four years ago when I was living in Northern California surrounded by that media market.thesilverblackouts Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fair weather fan, I’ll always be a fan of the A’s, Raiders, and Warriors which sholuld say enough looking at their track records this past decade. I’ll root for all the Oakland teams no matter where I live, but every sports fan has “other teams” or man crushes on a certain players so we follow them. If they’re in the local media market, they are certainly going to be watched. That won’t happen if eight of a teams games are being blacked out. How can anyone get attached to a player or team that isn’t shoved down your throat? It won’t happen, and that’s why this rule that’s older than Al Davis needs to be changed.

Sometimes we’ve been saved from these blackouts by local companies that will buy up the rest of the tickets, so that the game can be televised. In these uncertain economic times it’s much less likely that companies are going to open up their wallets to get a game televised. Teams that have had no problem selling out all their tickets in the past like the Cheifs, Dolphins, and Jets are struggling to sell tickets, and have noticeably ramped up the promotions to get people out to the games. San Diego, Miami, and Minnesota are on the list of teams that might not sell out all their tickets, and they were all playoff teams last season. If I was jobless, and couldn’t watch my team play on their way to a playoff run I’d be mad. The NFL is still in great shape either way financially, so why not give the fans a break. It’s bad enough that the fans are asked to spend taxpayer money on the ridiculously large stadiums, and they expect people to be okay with them not being on their local programming!

Goodell is too smooth of a talker to be able to trust!

Goodell is too smooth of a talker to be able to trust!

This quote pretty much sums up how much Goodell and the NFL care about the fans that support the game and teams of their home towns.

Sean McManus, president of CBS Sports and CBS News, said last week that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told him that “he is not going to make any major adjustment to a rule that has lasted a long time just because of a short-term economic problem.”

When asked if CBS had concerns about blacked-out games, McManus said, “I don’t think there is any way they are going to change it, so it is pointless to talk to them about it.”

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SJax on the Move?

Steven Jackson Warriors

New York City, Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington were at South Street Seaport for a block party put on by their sneaker company Protege. One of the MCs at the event asked Stack Jack in front of the crowd whether he thought the Warriors were going to make the playoffs. Jackson paused then smiled before responding, “Um…I don’t think I’ll be a Warrior next year. I’m looking to leave.”

Dime: You made a big declaration earlier today by saying you wanted out of Golden State. When did you decide this?
Stephen Jackson: It’s not about a decision I made. It’s just things are in the air right now. I really can’t get too much into it right now, but I’m just looking to go somewhere where I can go and win a championship.

Dime: Are the Warriors aware of this?
SJ: Yeah they all know.

Dime: Is there anywhere specifically you want to go?
SJ: Either Cleveland, anywhere in Texas or out here with Al in New York.

As if the Warriors didn’t have enough problems in the locker room with Don Nelson’s sometimes stubborn methods. Jackson is the on, and off court captain of the team. He wants out of Oakland for a chance to join a contending team. Not that the Warriors are strangers to conflict as there seems to be some kind of negative off season drama every year in the front office or with players. Last year it was both as Harrington and Ellis had their disagreements with management, and it was enough of a distraction to keep them out of the playoff hunt. The news today about SJax worries me. He seemed to be the guy that held the team together no matter what the circumstances were. He went to Robert Rowell last year and asked for his contract extension, which basically told me he wanted to spend the rest of his prime in Oakland. If he truly wasn’t happy, why wouldn’t he just wait until his contract was up and sign somewhere else? It’s not like he signed his extension when they were competitive. I have a feeling if the Warriors do get rid of him, they’ll get a draft pick that they’ll blow or a player that doesn’t help the team nearly as much as Jackson. I hope he stays, we need at least one veteran leader! Cmon SJax, don’t you want to see the beginning of the Randolph era!


The Return of Benny Lava

Okay, so I guess he never went anywhere, but a friend recently pulled this one out of nowhere.  I hadn’t seen it in probably 6 or 7 years, but it’s timeless!  Needless to say, I’ve watched it no less than 10 times already today.  I even researched the history of “Benny Lava”. Seriously…. who put a goat in there?!?!


Trampoline Basketball

I like these kids.  Just when I thought we were gonna see a bunch of trick shots and dunks, these kids served a changeup!  I love the overuse of editing effects, often times before the shot is even taken!  Add to that the sweet aliases – those can’t be their real names – and the fact that it stars Chunk from The Goonies, and you’ve got an instant classic.  Ok, so it’s not a classic, but it’s a solid minute of entertainment. 


A’s/Giants Minor League Tidbits

I caught a few innings of the Sacramento River Cats vs. the Fresno Grizzlies last night – I can only take so much since I spend my entire day here as well.  Here’s a few things I noticed….

Chris Carter, who was the main reason for my attending the game, did not disappoint.  I missed his first at-bat, where he flew out to right field.  In his second at-bat, however, he came to the plate with the bases loaded, after a Matt Carson single, and back to back walks to Brett Wallace and Aaron Cunningham.  Perhaps the most important note is Carter’s music.  He walked to the plate to the tune of E-40 and Keak the Sneak.  Gotta love that!  Anyway, with the River Cats holding a 1-0 lead, he pulled a Ryan Sadowski fastball down the left field line for a bases-clearing, 3 run double that rolled all the way to the fence.  In his next AB, he roped a broken bat RBI single to left for his 4th RBI of the night.  I made my departure before his next plate appearance, but he finished the night 3-5 with 4 RBI.  Not bad at all for his AAA debut.  Let’s just hope he finishes out the year here, as opposed to being rushed to the majors for the pointless final month of the season. 

On the Giants’ side, Buster Posey looked TERRIBLE.  In the only AB I remember, he hit a very weak grounder up the middle, but he did manage to beat it out for an infield single. Behind the plate, there were three plays that stood out to me.  First, he caught a Sadowski fastball, with his facemask.  The batter didn’t even swing, so he must’ve been expecting a breaking ball.  Either way, it was NOT pretty.  Next, he tried to gun down Eric Patterson stealing second.  No catcher will have much chance catching him, but Posey bounced one in front of the bag that rolled into center field, allowing Patterson to advance to third, and a run to score.  The next inning, Posey did it again.  With Carson on the move – not exactly Usain Bolt on the basepaths – Posey rushed the throw and sailed it into center field, again allowing the runner to take third as well.

Lastly, Ryan Sadowski, who impressed earlier this year with the Giants, was tagged for 9 runs, but on the bright side, only 6 of them were earned!

With the win, the River Cats can clinch yet another division title tonight, either by getting a victory, or a Reno Aces loss to the Las Vegas 51s.


The Raiders Outlook May be Bleak, but there’s Always a Silver Lining Before the Season Starts

Al Davis

With Raiders Camp concluding on the 27th, I thought I’d take a look at our chances this season. I usually try to talk myself into believing that we will do good, and keep a positive attitude. This year, in all honesty an 8-8 season would feel like we made the playoffs. I’m not saying we’ll win that many, but I hope that we play good enough to at least cover the Vegas lines!Tom Cable This off-season has been highlighted by Cable’s haymaker, but I’d say that last season’s Jevon Walker saga was much more dysfunctional. At least this season, it was football related. Plus, I really like that he did it. It makes me feel like he really cares. Whatever happens, I’m glad we have a coach that gets fired up enough to sock someone. If I was a player, he’d have my respect instantly. Anyways, if we’re going to win a significant amount of games this season it all falls on Jemarcus and his ability to lead this offense.

Entering his third season, he really needs to show the team something or their contingency plan (Garcia) will kick into effect. One thing about Russell, is he’s good at not turning it over, but on the same notion he doesn’t throw many TD passes and completes only %53 of his passes. I’m not a big fan of the pre-season telling you much since both teams are working out the kinks on both sides of the ball. I did catch some of the Raiders vs. Niners game, and was surprised to see Russell play pretty well with the exception of one wild over throw. He looked more comfortable than I’ve ever seen him. I’m not saying he won’t make bad decisions when the season starts, but at least he looks more comfortable/calm on the field.

As for their receivers, it’s definitely not completely figured out. I’ve read that #7 pick Darius Heywood-Bey (DHB), has seemed to be getting into a rhythm, and has made a memorable catch in mini camps.Darius Heywood-Bey DHB Jevon Walker made his first appearance at yesterday’s practice since last November after repairing his knee. He’s probably going to disappear more often than not whether he’s injured or on the field. Chaz Schillins, is not a # 1 receiver. Tight End Zach Miller, Russell’s favorite target last season, should be seeing just as much action. I just hope he’s not leading the team in receiving yards again, because we really need to get our receivers involved. If DHB is the highest rated receiver on the Raiders in Madden 2010 with an 81, then it’s definitely an area that needs a lot of improvement.

Our running game has been the one strong part of our offense for the past couple years, but we need some passing too. Having a clog in the backfield with Fargas, Mcfadden, and Bush, might be one to many backs. Not that they won’t be a great combo to put out there to force teams to stop,  but why wouldn’t you try to shop Fargas and Bush around?Michael Bush They could address a number of needs and still have a two headed monster that teams covet in the backfield.  They don’t even need to go for a receiver that I stated they need so desperately. They could upgrade the offensive or defensive line. In this scenario, I’d much rather see Fargas go as he runs into his own linemen more than tacklers, but if it takes Bush to make a drastic improvement in any of the above mentioned areas, I’m all for it. I’m not saying that Mr. Davis would make a sensible move such as this one, but we can hope. I’m ready for the Chargers on the Monday edition of season openers!


Chris Carter Has Arrived!

After being named Texas League Player of the Week for three of the last four weeks, IF Chris Carter finally has been bumped up to AAA-Sacramento.  You may remember Carter from the Carlos Quentin deal, where he was swapped straight up by Chicago.  Then, Arizona flipped him to Oakland in the Dan Haren deal.  Carter has been most impressive this year, hitting 24 HR and 101 RBI.  Perhaps most impressive, though, is his .337 batting average. 

No word yet if Carter is in the lineup, but if he is, I’ll have a full report on his AAA debut later tonight.


What’s Wrong with Liverpool?

Two weeks into the new Premier League season: One win, two losses, five goals scored, six conceded, & three measly points. A start like that is enough to shake the confidence of the stoutest of Liverpool fans. After last seasons flirtation with an EPL title, Liverpool seemed poised to take the last step to the top of English football, thus far it’s been two very big steps back.

In the two losses against Tottenham and Aston Villa, Liverpool lacked cohesion and confidence that has been a trade mark of their football most notably seen in Europe under Rafa. Strong commitment, pressure on the ball, creativity moving up the pitch, and confidence in the back has been lacking. Its usual stars not withstanding, Pool have been bleak. The two most note worthy suspects who would seem to encompass all of Liverpool’s ills are Lucas and Martin Skertel. In three games since taking over for Alonso in the middle of the park, Lucas has tallied up more own goals then Goals scored and assists combined….he also leads the squad in fouls committed, the most notorious of which lead to an immediate own goal of his . Skertel meanwhile he been devoid of any presence in the back, slow of place, heavy touches and lack of positioning has been noticeable. Monday’s loss to Aston Villa however was a team effort, far to many passes were errant, set piece marking was horrendous by all, even Steven Gerrard chipped in with a clumsy challenge that was an easy penalty call.

It’s far too early for Rafa and company to sound the alarm, Liverpool has three very winnable games ahead of them, nine  points against Bolton, Burnley, and West Ham would quickly right the ship. But a quick return to the basics is needed, a solidifying of tactics, and some defensive touch ups maybe all that is needed.

The margin for error however is getting smaller by the week.


The Morning News

So two things I read this morning that really bothered me… 
You wanna piece of this?  I dare you...

You wanna piece of this? I dare you...

  JA Adande has an article about replacing Phil Jackson when he retires, calling him out for not molding any assistants into starters besides Cartwright and someone else.  Adande says he prefers veterans like Tex Winter… RIP. 

Shouldn't TEX be the one sitting in this photo?

Shouldn't TEX be the one sitting in this photo?

 He says Rambis doesn’t count because he’s now in MIN and actually had a chance to coach before Phil came and totally blew it. THEN, later on when he’s naming candidates, he mentions Brian Shaw. An up and coming coach who just happened to be an assistant to Phil, which Adande fails to recognize. He’s got a point about the lack of tutelage skills Phil has employed over the years, but let’s at least be real about the candidates you choose and where they come from. Totally hypocritical, but whatever, I like Adande. He’s epsn basketballs’ Michael Smith.

 

Then I’m reading about USC’s practice yesterday and how Corp “impressed” Pete coming back from his leg bone injury. Pete called it “remarkable” when asked about it, the one word quoted as a response according to the article. 

See that, over there? That's me taking your job.

See that, over there? That's me taking your job.

 Oh Pete… thanks for the lesson in how and why USC is so great at self promotion. Didn’t you just call Aaron out last week saying he MUST be back in practice by TUESDAY to have a chance at starting in 2 weeks? You did, Pete, and the only thing that would have made the situation truly remarkable about would be if Corp WASN’T at practice. He was going to be there with a leg brace on or in a wheel chair if necessary. Nice work Pete, Crown him a hero cause you need a reason to start the junior over the stud freshman. I like it.

And in other news, Pete’s old flame was named the Jets starter today.

I suggest staying away from the Jets, the media in NY will tear you to shreds!

I suggest staying away from the Jets, the media in NY will tear you to shreds!

You still think he should have stayed Pete? 

 Ok, I’m good now.


Japanese Fart Dance

Supposedly this little dance number is about farting….


PGA Player of the Year, Tiger Woods Once Again

Tiger WoodsWith the PGA Season wrapping up, it’s time to evaluate whether anyone not named Tiger has a chance to win the Player of the Year honors pending the FedEx Cup results. It’s almost a given each year that Tiger will win the award, but sometimes there are a few players that give Tiger a run for his money. I have no idea how they figure out who had the best season or what the exact criteria is, but here are some of my picks for players that had a good enough season to be considered!

Tiger Woods (0 Majors, 5 PGA Wins, and 1st in the FedEx Cup Standings)

Coming off his knee surgery it took him a whole three tournaments to record his first win of the season. He went on to win three of the next four tournaments that he played in. The only real scuff on Tiger’s season resume was that he didn’t win a single major. Many believed (myself included) that he’d be able to win one and probably two of the majors this year. This was the first year failed to win a major since 2004, which would be the equivalent of blacking out, and having money still in your wallet the next morning. He didn’t even make the cut for this years British Open, which I personally enjoyed. You can’t say it was an off year for him as he leads the tour in average round scoring, money, and wins. Pretty easy choice for POTY, but he did show that he is vulnerable.

Y.E. Yang (PGA Championship, 2 wins, 7th in FedEx Cup Standings)

Y.E. won his first two PGA events of his career this season, and seems to be on the path to a great career.Y.E. Yang Fist Pump He is the only player to post a win in a major and a win in another PGA tournament. His year will undoubtedly be known for beating the best player in the world in the final pairing of the PGA Championship. He showed us something that nobody else has, he can fist pump as good as Tiger when making a charge in the final round. He is easily the runner up for player of the year in my mind. I hope we get to see him and Tiger can battle it out again in the FedEx Cup.

Steve Stricker (0 Majors, 2 wins, 2nd in the FedEx Cup Standings)

He earned the “Mr. Consistent” award from me for his performance this season. The 42 year old has had one of his best seasons winning twice, and had eight top ten finishes. The technically sound Stricker should be a threat to Tiger in the FedEx Cup.

Kenny Perry (0 Majors, 2 wins, 4th in the FedEx Cup Standings)

Perry won the FBR Open for his sick father. Perry will tell you his father held on just to watch his son play some good golf.Kenny Perry He won the next weekend as well. Perry also had the lead in the Masters through 16 holes. He needed to finish with a par and a bogey to win. His chipping hurt him as he finished with two straight bogeys and handed the trophy over to Cink.

Zach Johnson (0 Majors, 2 Wins, 3rd in the FedEx Cup Standings)

ZJ, the guy I can never seem to like/root for, had a good season winning two events. He was consistently high on the leader boards finishing in the top 10 in 7 events.zach johnson He is also the golfer who played the least PGA events (21) on my player of the year list. He either needs a new pair of shades or to grow a little taller before you’ll find me rooting for him.

Honorable mention, Tom Watson, he probably would have been just under Tiger had he won the British Open. He’s a 59 year old, and almost won a Major. It was by far the most interesting major of this season, and probably the best since Tiger’s hobbled effort at the US Open last summer. If only he could have made that 8 ft. putt to avoid going into a playoff.

So it looks like Tiger should be Player of the Year once again. It will be his tenth POTY award that he can add to his always expanding trophy room down in Florida.


Pretty Sure I Cursed the Yankees

For those who don’t know – probably roughly 95% of you – I have a bit of a curse when it comes to sports.  The team I’m rooting for never really wins the big game.  We won’t even mention what happens if I put money on a team.  It’s for these reasons that I knew posting that anti-Red Sox rant yesterday would somehow propel them into a hot streak and the Yankees, Rangers, and Rays into a freefall.  Well, day one of the post-rant era got off to a predictable start.  A day after getting pounded 20-11, the Red Sox came back and destroyed the Yankees 14-1.  Fortunately, the Rays and Rangers played each other, so they both couldn’t lose, although they tried.  Both teams repeatedly squandered leads, and they ultimately went to the 10th inning before the game was decided by a Carlos Pena RBI walkoff single.


FINALLY, the Red Sox are fading away!

I grew up like any other Northern California baseball fan: LOVED the A’s, wanted the Giants to do well, pretended to dislike the Dodgers but still respected them, didn’t care about the Angels because they’re irrelevant, and HATED the Yankees.  Even during my baseball hiatus in the mid to late 90s, I still rooted against the Yankees any chance I got.  This continued into my baseball fandom resurgance in the 2000s.  See, as the A’s were returning to postseason glory, it was the Yankees (well, largely themselves as well) who sent them home packing two years in a row.  With their much-maligne payroll heavy approach, the Yankees destroyed the competitive spirit by paying for wins.  They would load up their roster with whoever was good that was available.  Ironically, this was the same approach that would also pave the way for my jumping ship from the 49ers bandwagon back over to the Raiders.  But that’s another story for another time.

If you hear Boston fans tell it, Youkilis kicked Porcellos ass!

If you hear Boston fans tell it, Youkilis kicked Porcello's ass!

Somewhere between the Yankees last World Series win and the Red Sox first (in any of our lifetimes), I did a 180.  I have an extreme propensity to root for the underdog, and so in the Yankees case, it often was the Red Sox.  However, one thing changed all that: Red Sox fans.  Years and years of losing kept them quiet, but all of a sudden, one World Championship and they became the most obnoxious fans in all of sports.  Despite my NorCal ties, I always respected the Lakers, despite the bandwagon fans.  The fact is, they’re still good fans and they have plenty of reason to be proud.  Boston FANS, however, are the first fanbase that I can think of that have caused me to completely turn my back on a team itself.  Despite the higher payroll, the better ballpark, and larger fanbase, I now find myself rooting for the Yankees to reclaim AL supremacy.  There’s a comfort in the Bronx Bombers being the team to beat.  It’s as American as steroids and strip club shootouts.  When the Red Sox hold the top spot, it’s pretty depressing.  That is why, I take great comfort in looking at the standings each day, where the Yankees continue to distance themselves from the Sawx, and currently stand with a 7.5 game lead in the division.  Boston does lead for the wild card, but the cinderella story that is the Texas Rangers is keeping the pressure on, only 1 game back at time of posting.  I have doubts that their pitching will be able to keep them in it, but one can still hope.  Hope that we can be fortunate enough to watch a postseason without the Red Sox.  I’ll be rooting for the Rangers, Yankees, and Rays.  It probably won’t come to fruition though, leaving me with a Red Sox – Angels matchup.  THEN who do I root for?


The Duke Shutting it Down For the Season

Justin Duscherer

Our two time All-Star pitcher, Justin Duchscherer has been a question mark all season. It seemed like he was on the road to making his A’s debut about a month ago, but he kept delaying his starts. I along with many A’s fans found it weird as we wanted to see our “ace” back in action for at least the last month or so of the season. He did make a few rehab starts in Sacramento that MCeezy watched in person, and it appeared he pitched good. He has been on and off the DL for a good portion of his career, so everyone just figured he wasn’t ready after having season ending surgery towards the end of last season.

It was made public today in the SF Chronicle that he will shut it down for the season due to “a very treatable clinical depression.” I’ve been outspoken about letting these guys just pack it in due to “depression“. Duke’s case is no different. I can’t understand why he’d jump ship at this point, especially since his contract expires after this season is up. Maybe he didn’t feel right when he was pitching in Sacramento. Maybe he thinks he can get a contract based on what teams remember of his good days. Either way, I think he’s made his last pitch in Oakland, so thanks for the memories Duke!


Favre Less Than Impressive

Brett Favre made his “comeback” Friday night in Minneapolis and left much to be desired.  Favre completed just one of four pass attempts, a four yard completion to rookie Percy Harvin.  I know often times a box score doesn’t tell the whole story, but did anyone in Minnesota or Kansas City catch the game?  Was their any silver lining in this performance?  Was their a lack of protection?  Or did Favre simply complete another phase in the decline of a legend?  Post a comment if you watched the game.