Sunday, February 28, 2010

Silver, But Not Disappointed

Quite possibly the Game of the Decade lived up to its high anticipation on Sunday. An overtime goal appropriately scored by Canada's "Chosen Son," Sidney Crosby, struck Gold for the Canadians in Vancouver.
To get that game to overtime, the United States had a series of heart-clenching goals scored late by Vancouver Canuck, Ryan Kesler, and another by New Jersey Devil, Zach Parise with 24 seconds remaining in regulation that can only be described by an American fan as a feeling of euphoria. Had the Americans won the game, that goal would have gone down as one of the greatest plays in American Olympic history. Right next to Mike Eruzione's goal in 1980.
The game had all of the above. It was emotional, nerve-racking, competitive. The players who would be teammates on Monday were not teammates on Sunday, and that was never more evident from the drop of the puck. This was a game between two countries that hate each other. And although the players from both teams will go back to being friends in the NHL, they were enemies for this one game.
But the U.S. should not be disappointed with the loss. Coming into the tournament, most would guess they were the 5th or 6th best team in the Olympics. They were undermanned talent-wise and it was obvious. But for them to show heart and determination despite the undermanned talent shows what the sport of hockey is all about. The U.S. team got out of Vancouver with a medal, which is more than any hockey analyst previously gave them credit for.
But the real winner of these Olympics was the sport of hockey. For one week, the world was a hockey fan, anticipating every shot taken and feeling every emotion possible. Casual fans were able to see the true appeal of the sport of hockey, speed, quickness, and skill. And now names like Ryan Miller and Zach Parise are household names. And although NHL team owners will complain about not obtaining any revenue during this Olympic break, which occured in the middle of the NHL season, hockey acquired a million new fans during this week. This Gold Medal game was just what the sport needed.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Stephen Curry... Rookie of the Year?

I do not agree with Charles Barkley often, but he made a pretty good point the other night during the TNT post game show of the Nuggets/Warriors game. Barkley said that Stephen Curry may seem like a good player with the way his stat lines are soaring in his rookie season, especially in the last month or so, but the fact that he is playing on a bad team who scores a lot of points and has a run-n-gun style of play is the reason why his stats perceive him as a Rookie of the Year candidate. Barkley described Curry's game as "someone on that team has to score the points."
The way Barkley described it was not the best for a Warriors fan like myself to hear, but it made a lot of sense. Night in and night out, we see different Warriors' players scoring in high figures, whether it is CJ Watson goin for 40 points or Anthony Tolliver scoring 29. It is just the way the Warriors' offense is run: score a lot of points, and play no defense; the quicker the other team scores, the faster the Warriors can get the ball back and score again. The Warriors lead the league in possessions per game, those possesions usually end with Mnta Ellis or Curry shootng the ball.
So what i am trying to say is don't over think Stephen Curry. Sure, he is a good player and will be one for years to come, but it seems like he found the right team with the right style to show off his skill sets. His stat lines are huge, but that doesn't mean his game is...yet.
I see him as a good #2 option in the future. Of course, since the Warriors do not have a true #1 option, it becomes #1-option-by-committee for that team, and Curry happens to be able to make plays that can put the ball in the hoop.
In the long-run, Curry is the basis for the future Warriors team (if that exists). Just don't over think him. He is a good player with great skills, but he would just be some other rookie putting up average rookie numbers on any other team.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

U.S. Hockey Does It Again

And so it continues. The United States Mens Hockey Team defeated the Swiss team this afternoon on 2 goals by New Jersey Devil, Zach Parise, and yet another outstanding clinic in goal by Buffalo Saber, Ryan Miller.
Miller was terrific between the pipes recording a shut-out, and having only one legitimate scare when a puck got past him in the 3rd period hitting the inside of the far post, yet not breaking the crease to the goal. It seemed extremely lucky at the time as the U.S. was only up 1-0 at that point, but arent those the breaks that every team of destiny has?
Honestly, i had a feeling that the U.S. was going to lose this game, as most people thought deep in the backs of their minds. San Jose Sharks fans know all too well how good Jonas Hiller can be, as did Canada when he forced them to a shoot-out earlier in these Olympics. Hiller has played unbelievable in goal and it seemed for a while that this game was going to be no different. But a goal early in the 3rd and an empty-netter at the end by Zach Parise was hard for the Swiss offense to overcome, as has been the story the entire Olympics for them. They simply could not score enough for Hiller.
But the U.S. are rolling. Theyre not blowing out teams as everyone wants to see from the tournament's #1 seed, but they are getting by comfortably. The U.S. may have the best combination of hot goalie, pesky defense, and timely goals. And that may be the type of recipe needed to take them to the gold medal game.
But above all, this team works. These arent the sexy names we hear playing for Canada. These are the working class, the second-tier NHL players. The guys like Brian Rafalski and Ryan Suter who work hard in the trenches and dont end up on the statline. This is a team full of workhorses and guys who will surprise you by checking that extra man into the boards or laying-out to block that shot.
The U.S. will have another tough game coming up against either the Czech Republic or Finland. If the U.S. prevail against either of them, they will have to face either Canada or surprising Slovakia, as Canada made a mockery of power-house Russia this afternoon.
I expect a ratings bananza of Canada vs. U.S. in the gold medal game. That would be the real test for American hockey. If you want to be on the national map, you will have to take down the best...when they're angry.
Meanwhile, do not overlook the Fin's as they are both hungry and ready to turn the carriage that is the United States into the proverbial pumpkin.
Hopefully the clock doesnt strike midnight on this team that seems hell-bent for the Gold.

Monday, February 22, 2010

D-Bruce Leaving Sportsphone

Damon Bruce of Bay Area sports talk radio announced that he will be leaving KNBR 680AM's Sportsphone after just over 4 years of coming across over 50,000 Watts every night.
For those who dont know who he is, Bruce is the host of Sportsphone on KNBR 680AM from 7-10pm on weeknights, where he preaches hard-edged reality to the Bay Area listeners who turn in every night to here him logically shatter their thoughts of their favorite Bay Area sports team.
Bruce IS sports talk radio. For the last 4 years, he has graced the Bay Area listeners with the truth even though no one wants to say it, but are thinking it. It's hard not to like the guy. Most listeners tend to disagree with him at first glance on most issues because he seems to bash Bay Area sports on a consistent level. But it is hard not to agree with the man when he backs up everything he claims with facts, not opinion. He was given a gift, and it's hard to find that in any sports radio host these days because it is more about entertainment (Uncle Gary) rather than hard-core facts and knowledgable opinion.
With punch lines like "No sound effect for Dave Feldhouse" and "Pound It, Pound It, Pound It" cleverly intertwined within a serious sports talk show, it's hard not to like the type of show he puts out over 50,000 Watts.
He will be missed from Sportsphone, but he is not going too far. He is airing on 1050AM from 12-4pm on weekdays and will take with him his dedicated listeners from his late night show on 680AM.
It is about time someone took note of this guy, and i felt a little spoiled listening to him everynight because i knew he was good, too good for local radio. There is no one more deserving to receive the promotion to bigger radio, and i wish him the best of luck. And remember "Sports dont build character, they reveal it."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Miracle on Ice? Not Quite...

The U.S. hockey team defeated the Canadian Ultra-squad tonight in a thrilling, back-and-forth game in Vancouver, Canada.
But is this anything to compare to the 'Miracle on Ice' in 1980? Kind of. The U.S. didnt send out a bunch of reject college players on the ice, these were professional hockey players from the NHL. But compared to Canada's team, this U.S. roster would seem like a bunch of college scrubs. The U.S. team is a gathering of the NHL's second-tier players with big names like Patrick Kane and Ryan Miller. While Canada's team is the NHL's elite, and possibly the greatest group of hockey players ever assembled with big names like...ummm...'Sid the Kid' Crosby and 'Jumbo' Joe Thornton. In fact, if Canada had won every game on their way to a gold medal in these Olympics, it wouldnt have surprised a single person. After all, hockey is Canada's game. And yet, they lost to the United States whose fans back home might not have been aware they were playing tonight.
Does this put U.S. hockey on the national map? Sure it does, to a certain extent. David has slayed Goliath, and who doesnt love a good underdog story? Canada can still win the gold medal, and woudnt be surprised id they did, but the fact that the U.S. got them one time is all they need to take back home with them.
After this game and the performance that they put on, it wouldnt surprise me to see the U.S. win gold in these Olympics. Of course, the Big Three still remain: Russia, Canada, and Sweden. But maybe add the underdog United States team in there as well. After all, they beat Canada at their own game.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Update: SJ Sharks in Vancouver

So ive been trying to keep in touch with hockey at the Olympics in Vancouver, but i must just miss the games everytime they are on TV. Fortunately, they replay the games on channels like MSNBC, so ive caught a couple of those and i do not miss Team Canada. They are absolutely stacked.
One reason why they are stacked is the "Sharks line" of Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, and Patrick Marleau. They are undoubtedly the best line in all of the NHL, and are making a strong case for "best line in the world." They have chemistry because they play on the same regular season team, but goal-wise they are carrying Team Canada in the Olympics. The line has a combined 4 goals and 3 assists, and Heatly leads the entire tournament with 3 goals. Not to mention, defenseman Dan Boyle has 2 assists of his own. Missing from this equation is Joe Thornton who is a key part in the "Sharks line's" chemistry, but not in the stat-line. He has registered 0 goals and 0 assists these Olympics.
Elsewhere, Evgeni Nabokov was supposed the be the make-or-break for Team Russia. Absolutely stacked in the offensive category (Ovechkin, Malkin, Datsyuk, and Kovalchuk), Russia is lack-luster in the defensive. But Nabokov was red-hot coming into the Olympics, until their last game against Slovakia where he only surrendered 1goal in regulation, but lost in the shootout. Russia is 1-1.
As for Joe Pavelski, Thomas Greiss, and Douglas Murray, not much has been said about them. Pavelski has made key contributions to the U.S. team and it will be good to see him go up against his regular season teammates and Team Canada this Sunday. Griess has struggled in net so far for Germany, giving them a record of 0-2, and Murray's Swedish team looks very strong at 2-0 and he seems to be meshing quite well on defense.
The San Jose Sharks' team has been very hyped coming into these Olympics. So far, they havent disappointed.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Reaction to Woods' Apology

Tiger Woods apologized in a prepared statement this morning in front of 40 people, 2 video cameras, and millions of people watching live on almost every major news station on television. He looked pale, stressed, and like a man who has been in rehab for several weeks.
But did you expect anything different? I said in my recent post that the man who was perceived as perfect was in fact not perfect at all, and now he had to make up for making the public believe that. And i believe he did that as best a prepared statement could. Woods has been seen as this flawless person for so many years, so what made you think that this statement he read this morning would be any different? Did you expect anything else? The statement was flawless, his emotions were flawless, and the material he covered was just about the perfect amount of sincerity mixed with trying to better himself in the future. He apologized to everyone possible and did not ask for forgiveness, but for his fans to believe in him again. There were no tears, just ones he tried to hold back.
He needed to apologize to various groups of people, and he did. He needed to clear up what happened that Thanksgiving night, and he somewhat did. He needed to come clean about his extramarital affairs, and he vaguely, but satifyingly did.
But this was a Tiger we had never seen before, a man on the defensive instead of a man in control of the situation. We saw the inferior Tiger, instead of one looking dead at the flagstick or sinking that 15 foot putt in the U.S. Open with no fear.
There were two quotes that will be heard over and over again on Sportscenter re-runs. The first, "I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated," is a quote that showed his sincerity and how serious he is taking this situation. He could have left that quote out or not even gone in that direction, but instead he did.
The second quote might have surprised everyone. Antiipation leading up to this was that Woods would give a certain point of return to golf, instead he gave a timetable, "I do plan to return to golf one day, i just dont know when that day will be. I dont rule out that it will be this year."
So when will he return? He left us in the dark on that one. Im not sure if he actually knows when he will return to golf. I felt he left us short there, and that there needed to be a smaller timetable to his return for the sake of the public and his fans, but i dont event hink he knows.
Yet, Tiger's apologetic speech made Mark McGwire's recent apology for steroid use seem ridiculous. But did you expect anything else from Tiger Woods? He wrote it, or had a part in writing it, thats for sure, and he looked into the camera with a look of sincere apology that was found to be very refreshing, but at some times corny.
Most people's reaction would be to feel sorry for him after hearing the statement. Don't. He brought this upon himself, and although he gave a compelling and sincere statement, im sure he did not mean for the public to feel sorry for him. He just doesnt seem like a man who would want that, but what do we know about him anyway these days anyways?
As for his return, there's no telling when he will come back because it seems like he himself does not know. He has 7 weeks until The Masters. It would seem obvious to come back and play one tournament before Augusta. But no one is sure what to think. I feel that this particular golf season means too much to him for him to sit it out. He has been eyeing 2010 for too long. This year is set-up for Tiger achieving the Grand Slam. At Augusta, he is dominant. At Pebble Beach, he has an amazing track record. At St. Andrews, and any British Open for that matter, he is flawless. And he loves the Whistling Straits course that will host the PGA Championship. Expect him back soon better than ever.

Am i satisfied with his apology? For the most part, yes. Let me know what your reaction is to seeing a different Tiger Woods at the podium today.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tiger to Speak on Friday

Tiger Woods is scheduled to speak on Friday about his not-so-distant past in a prepared statement that he will read to thousands of reporters and millions of fans that will be tuning in to watch him speak.
But for those who turned giddy at the thought of Woods speaking about what happened that Thanksgiving night, and the alleged 17+ mistresses, and about him coming back to golf soon, dont hold your breath. If anything has been known about Tiger Woods it is that he is as private a person as there is in sports. Every word out of his mouth and movement that he makes is strictly critiqued inside his head and thought out well before to protect his image.
So what makes you think he will say anything we dont already know or speculated before? It is a prepared statement and he asked for no follow-up questions which means that i highly doubt any significant new information other than a public "I'm sorry."
I see this happening one of two ways. The first being he will read the prepared statement where he speaks about how he is deeply sorry to his family, his fans, and his sponsors and then give a time table for his return to golf.
The second way is that in his prepared statement he will go into his sex addiction and the treatment he has received for it, but he will not go into the actual events, and how many mistresses he actually had, or how Elin has played and will play into the equation in the future.
Knowing Tiger, not much is going to come out, and if i were a betting man, i would bet on the first way of this playing out.
As for when he will come back to golf, i would bet that he gives a timetable and not an actual date for when he will be back. I am going to guess that he will play maybe one or two tournaments before the Masters.
But he is on the right course. It is good that he is coming out and speaking now, because the public was getting antzy waiting to hear something from him.
It is going to be a media bananza and viewers anywhere will flock to watch this man speak for the first time since hell froze over and the man who was perceived as perfect was in fact not perfect at all. He may have been just the opposite of perfect, and now he has to pay the consequences for leading us to believe in his perfection.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Top 6 Bay Area Sports Teams

So since my blog is new to the internet, i though i would let you get to know a little about where is tand on the sports teams we have here in the Bay Area. So without further adieu, here it is:

6) Oakland Raiders

As long as Al Davis owns that team, i am gonna have a hard time putting this team any higher. He simply just does not get it, and no one will ever figure out why. He is in his own little world. I was listening to KNBR 680 AM the other day, and Tom Tolbert or one of those guys said that Al Davis is like a friend of yours who has that one long nose hair, but you feel bad if you tell him about it. Except everyone is telling Al Davis that he has that one long nose hair, yet he doesnt listen! They have 2 talents on that team: Nnamdi Asomugha and that punter (whatever his name is). Jamarcus Russell is a scrub as long as he is a Raider, and the moment he is let go or traded, he will suddenly flourish into an actual quarterback. As long as Al Davis directs that team into no direction possible, the Raiders will go nowhere, as will their ranking.

5) Golden State Warriors

It might seem obvious, but there is no coincidence why the 2 teams at the bottom of my list are there because of their ownership. In the Dubs case, Chris Cohan is Al Davis. 1 playoff appearance in 16 years is a helluva track record. You would think after that many bad seasons Cohan would give up already. But there really has been no chance to get out. Now there is, and the savior's name is Larry Ellison, or so he is perceived to be the savior (W's fans will take anything over Cohan). Bottom line is the W's are one of the worst teams in the NBA because they have no direction, but it also doesnt help that they have all those injuries. It's not an excuse. If Don Nelson really was the greatest winning coach in NBA history, he would figure out how to win with this team. They have talent, or had talent, but pissed it away (Carter & Jamison to mention 2). They have two actual NBA players (Monta and Curry) but everyone else needs to go. Start over. New ownership, new coach, new direction. No more Nellie ball!!!!!! It dont work! the only reason this team isnt ranked 6th on this list is because Al Davis is still stuck in the 1970's.

4) Oakland Athletics

I dont really have much to say on the A's, because it just seems to be the same thing over and over again: get a good player, see that player do well, trade that player for young talent, see that young talent do well, trade that young talent for another talent, see that talent do well, etc. Its like a big ol' never ending circle to GM Billy Beane. Although he'd be widely sought after if he ever left the A's, Beane has now found himself in a hole with no talent and nothing to bargain with to get more talent. Im also not sold on the Ben Sheets pick-up, they definitely overpaid for a picther who hasnt pitched in a year. The A's are at #4 because thye always seem to get good effort from their young farm system turned pro roster players. They'll find a way to stay afloat.

3) San Francisco 49ers

Here is where it gets good for the Bay Area. The Future. The 49ers may have the total package of any pro sports team in the Bay Area not named after something big in the water. The Niners have coaching, Defense, a mediocre offense, and a young, talented core. Mike Singletary has that team running on his terms and the way the game should be played: in your face football. We quickly saw that with the ay he handled the Vernon Davis situation. As long as that Freak of Nature they call P. Willy is on that team, they will always have good Defense. On the offensive side of the ball is where the work is needed. If they pick a quarterback or anything other than an offensive lineman in this draft, im gonna slit my wrists. There are no franchise-worthy quarterbacks in this draft, so wai til next year. Alex Smith is alright but not ur future. He will just be satisfactory for this next season.
But the main reason why the 49ers are an up-and-coming team, is because of something that didnt change any part of their roster. The fact that Kurt Warner retired never to be seen again in the NFL West is a great reason why it will be good to be a Niner fan this next season.

2) San Francisco Giants

The Giants are the 49ers of baseball. An accomplished coach, ridiculous pitching, and young, talented players. Teh biggest advice i could give to that team would be keep Buster Posey in Triple-A the whole season. Let him season like a slow-n-low steak. Benjie isnt that bad (80 RBI's a year?), and Whiteside can play some ball. The pitching staff is money, but i do feel like they need to go pick up one other starter just in cast Bumgarner isnt ready quite yet (the absense of Penny will hurt). All in all, the team looks good. They'll probably finish about the same as last year, with a shot at the wildcard. But the bottom line is they needed to upgrade their offense--and they did. They needed to sign Timmy--and they did. It just needs to mesh.

1) San Jose Sharks

There should be no doubt in your mind who the best team in the Bay Area is. For those who dont know, if the Sharks were a team in baseball, theyd be the Yankees. They are absolutely stacked head-to-toe with big-name talent. You can tell they have talent when their first line is Canada's first line. And Canada is the only country that cares about hockey. But go figure that the #1 team in the Bay Area these days is a team that has choked for the last half-decade in the playoffs. The Sharks and hockey in general will never be recognized in the Bay Area or the West Coast for that matter until the Sharks hoist the Cup. Good thing for us Bay Area fans, they are so good, young, and talented that every year is another chance to win the Cup...and soon be disappointed when they choke...again.

---Let me know what you think. Id love to hear your top 6 Bay Area sports teams.

Warriors Woes

Where do the Warriors go from here? They are one of the worst teams in the NBA and have a coach that seems to lack the dedication and actual care of his team (It seems like Keith Smart runs that tema these days). On top of that, you have a disgruntled star player who is overplayed on a nightly basis resulting in him now being injured and out of the line-up.
But the coach is not where the blame should be placed. It is not his fault that there have been too many injuries to count. It's not his fault that the team has 5 D-leaguers on their roster (most in the league, by far). For that, we go straight to the top, and two words that will make anyone who has been a Dubs fan for the last 15 years cringe---Chris Cohan. It is he who i blame, not Don Nelson, who has received most of the blame up to this point. He is a money grubbing machine. You always hear myths about the ridiculous sports team owners who dont care about the teams they own, just the amount of money they get as owner. Well this is the actual thing! Im sure he is a nice guy, but from a sports fan's point of view, enough is enough. 16 years of turmoil is enough! The only other figure in the Bay Area holding on to his job by a thin thread is Barry Bonds holding on to his active baseball career.
Now is the time, Chris Cohan. Larry Ellison is your way out. He wants the team, and he has the money to make it better, and will use it. He is the answer and the way to turn around 1 playoff appearance in the last 16 years. Or maybe he isnt, but a fresh face to a drowning franchise would be nice. Something to give fans hope that things will get better.
They need to empty house (with the exception of Ellis and Curry) and start over. And what better way to begin change than at the top. Oh, and the firing of Don Nelson if he doesnt get the record this season.