A week ago I started to tell you about my plan to remodel the NBA All-Star game. The Friday and Saturday events are cool as they are, other than my idea of bringing H.O.R.S.E back. There’s another time and place for a dunk contest redo. Lets’ get this out the way first. I, along with Jeff Van Gundy think fans should not vote for the All-Star Game anymore. Mark Cuban commented on this recently and brought up some interesting facts.
Let’s look at the voting from 2009. Dwight Howard led the way with over 3 million votes. LeBron chimed in at 2nd place with slightly under 3 million votes. In the year of 2004, Vince Carter led the way with a little over 2 million votes. Fast forward to 2015, and the leading vote getter was Steph Curry with right about 1.5 million votes. So, in 6 seasons the votes for the leading vote getter have basically been cut in half. Shouldn’t that be the opposite? In a world where you don’t need the paper ballot, or only being able to go to nba.com as your voting, this makes absolutely no sense. This means we need to scrap the voting procedures, or scrap the game all together in lieu of a major overhaul. Adam Silver, who is being sold as a commissioner who acts very progressively with his stances on playoff seeding, gambling, etc., has to see this and think what the issue here is.
The issue is fans don’t need to vote, and the participation in voting count reflects that idea. In 2015 where the NBA is at one of its more popular levels, this years’ voter turnout was unacceptable. But never fear childrens and babies, ya boy has the solution(s) to what ails this problem. Now, as in life, there are options. You want the fan vote to count, since "it’s their game", cool. Lets’ scrap the game altogether and make the top four vote getters team captains in a 3-on-3 tournament with 6 players per team. Meaning this will have to take place over a 2 day period. Those captains then will draft from a pool of players that finished in top 5 of the voting. Then the tournament takes place, and the first one to 10 points wins. Take this year’s voting: Your team captains according to the top 4 vote getters would be Curry, LeBron, Davis, and Kobe. With Kobe now out, the highest vote total would then go to Harden.
They could draft from the pool of others that received votes.
You could also expand it and make 6 teams of 4 players, which would make the bracket weird, but there are enough smart people in the NBA world to figure out the logistics. However, in order for this to work you would also have to make the All-Star break a week long. If the break ends this Wednesday, then the next set of games shouldn’t begin until the next Wednesday; that echoes the remarks made by LeBron last year, which takes into account the various corporate and league mandated responsibilities the players have. For those of you who still like the current setup, I say allow the NBA awards voters to vote for the all-stars. None of this is perfect btw, but I dare anyone to find a better solution, after all it’s just an exhibition game.
It's official. I'm no longer a fan of the All-Star game, and you know what? It's not really anyone's fault, although there are a few theories that I'm going to run past the people. First off, there's nothing BAD, per say about the game itself, or the pageantry of it all. The NBA puts on quite a show for the weekend with celeb events, a rapidly improving Saturday night, and the all-encompassing All- Star game on Sunday. As the years have passed, the Sunday affair has taken a backseat for me in terms of “stop and drop” sporting events. Full disclosure, the game will be on my TV, but there won't be any undivided attention paid to it. Call it background noise if you will while I podcast, or I just won’t pay attention to the game in general.
I feel conflicted about this because this is one of those deals where you get the rare chance to see the NBAs best on one court. Except for one thing, I see these players on a weekly basis. In the Leagues attempt to expand its product and reach their arc, NBA games are on TV EVERYDAY of the week and this is even without mentioning NBA League Pass. There are Monday, Tuesday, Saturday, and in some cases Sunday games on NBA TV. And if those 4 days aren't enough, tack on extra doubleheaders on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday on ESPN and TNT respectively. That's 10-14 games on basic cable a week where I see all the stars play their craft.
The All-Star Game has now taken on a weird persona for me. Also, it's kind of boring if you really think about it. One side jumps out to a huge (15-20 point) lead and await the other sides’ furious comeback. There's really no need to tune in until the 4th quarter when the comeback actually happens. There's also some defense actually played here contrary to popular belief, although at times it’s just a periodic one on one pissing contest that usually involves Kobe. This leads to the 721 solution: Turn the All-Star Game into a collection of 3 on 3 tournaments. Now before you go all sensitive thug on me, read on. If all of you want to continue to sell this as an event for the fans and their votes, then stay as is. However, with Adam "Let's Gamble on Sports" Silver at the helm, it's now time for some high level tweaking with the All-Star game, and if you look at it there's already some experimental events scheduled on Saturday night.
The annual rising stars challenge has been tweaked to now pit US 1st and 2nd year players vs. Non-US players. I like this! It also took me a minute to think of 12 non-US players but they have them and that'll be interesting. The best shooters have entered the 3 point contest this year. The All-Star Skills competition is pretty good as well, which brings us to the Dunk contest and back to the game itself.
With the explosion of Internet videos to the point where EVERYTHING IS on video, the dunk contest has been minimized because for the most part WE'VE SEEN EVERY DUNK OUT THERE. YouTube, Vine, and Instagram have opened up the world to a shit ton of dunkers that are both athletic and creative. Beyond some red tape waiver mumbo jumbo, what's stopping the NBA from taking 2 guys off the street, 2 D-League guys, and 2 NBA guys and let them have at it? It would elevate some of the non-NBA guys profile and force the NBA guys to get their dunk game right.
Lastly, now let’s get to the game. As I've stated before the game is boring. Let's turn it into a 3 on 3 affair. If we are going to keep the fans voting format the same (which I'm against) then those that are voted in need to have 4 captains and a have 3 on 3 tournaments. Make it half court, and first to 10 wins. I'd watch that for 5 or 6 hours. Winners check goes to charity. While I'm at it, bring back HORSE for All-Star weekend. You're in New York that weekend. That's 2 NBA certified arenas to do all this in. If y'all like the All-Star Game as is keep on. But, you should listen to the 721 because you know I'm right.
Through 45 games just a year ago the Miami Heat were 32-13, a full 8.5 games ahead of the Atlanta Hawks and were cruising towards another Southeastern Division title. They would eventually catch the Indiana Pacers for the best record in the East and return to the NBA Finals where they would lose to the San Antonio Spurs for the title. A year later, they are currently 20-25 with 14 of those losses coming at home. 11, 5, 4 and 9 were the number of Heat losses over the last 4 seasons.
Let’s start with the obvious. LeBron James’ departure has plenty, if not everything to do with the decline. James leaving revealed the typical "everyone has to slide up a ring" deal here. This means Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers we need more from you. D-Wade? Just fly to Germany sir like Kobe and Jermaine O'Neal and get some new parts for those legs. I was a fool for thinking that Chalmers was a top 10 guard, but that’s what LeBron does. He makes others look so much better than they really are. I’ll join in with the chorus and use Chalmers as an example. He’s averaged double figures this year, however only shooting 40%. Last year with LeBron he shot 48%.
If you stop and take a breath and actually look at this roster, the record shouldn’t be that surprising. Chris Bosh is currently your best player, but he’s over 30 and missed some time with injuries along with Wade. Luol Deng will be 30 this calendar year, but after those years with the Bulls his body may be the one of a 35 year old. Your other FA additions Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts haven’t panned out since McRoberts’ year ended early just after 17 games, acting as the only blue chip on the squad.
This Heat team has been blitzed with injuries; along with the improved squads in the Eastern Conference are just a few aspects of the current downturn of this season. Yet, on a team with Wade and Bosh, home losses to an equally damaged Pacer team, sorry ass Utah, Philly, or Orlando just won’t cut it. I always say good teams win the games at home over teams they’re supposed to beat. A 7th seed and a potential playoff series loom for the Heat. I could also see them finishing in 10th place, this alone should get LeBron a few extra MVP votes.
Purple and Gold Pain
Winning is intoxicating. When you win you want that feeling again, and again. My fellow Laker fans know this feeling and even some, like my Dad have experienced it over a lengthy period of time. My Dad also says that you must understand and appreciate winning because it’s a fleeting thing. Lakers. Yankees. Cowboys. Manchester United. Celtics. All franchises who have experienced winning over several generations of people. I bring this up because (my) Lakers are currently in one of those not winning phases right now and to some, Game 7 of 2010 seems a LONG ways away. The only player that was on the roster that currently plays for LA is The Shell of Pau Gasol. Kobe? Hurt. Derek Fisher? An OKC player. Lamar Odom? Not in the league. Andrew Bynum? Recently released after being acquired by the Bulls in a salary dump. Metta World Ballotelli? Toiling away in New York. After back to back titles to cement the Kobe legacy in LA, the Lakers have fallen on hard times, and that’s being kind.
A sweep at the hands of the Mavs in 2011, followed by another sweep by the hated Spurs has basically sealed the deal for the current incarnation of the team as we know it. The Lakers are in a similar boat that the 2012-13 Mavericks were in. Simply just a bunch of one year deal guys treading water until free agency, the draft or until some miracle drops in their lap to make them a contender again.
Gone are the days of Chris Wallace giving away Gasol for nearly nothing. Most GMs are smarter and even savvier about contracts these days. The Lakers currently have 2 players under contract for next season in Kobe Bryant and in the corpse of Steve Nash. Since the sweep by the Mavs in 2011, GM Mitch Kupchak has preached since 2011 that there wouldn’t be any deals that went past the 2013-14 season. We are now at this point and here’s the dilemma. Who are the Lakers going to give their money to? For all the hype-beasting about the "vaunted Free Agency class of 2014", no one on that list screams game changer that will realistically change teams. Before you can say Bronny James stop it right there. Give me 2 logical reasons for him to leave Miami?
He has the coach he wants in Spoelstra. I personally think Bosh will stay either by opting out and resigning or taking the player option at 2 years $40 million dollars. So who does that leave you with? Dirk? Duncan? Tony Parker? All aging stars with no discernible reason to leave their respective teams. Does Jordan Crawford excite you? Evan Turner? Looks as if Lance Stephenson will stay with the Pacers using the Larry Bird rule or whatever it’s called these days to allow the Pacers to have the most to offer. The rest of the list could be read to me and it would sound like Charlie Browns teacher. Wah Wah Wah Wah Wah. But fear not Laker fans, there are 2 names that may get the juices flowing: Carmelo Anthony and Eric Bledsoe.
Melo has an opt option out in his contract for this summer and the rumors say he will use that. Bledsoe is another option. He’s a restricted free agent so whatever he gets the Phoenix Suns will have the chance to match. Bledsoe fits the mold of what I want for a potential lead Laker: youth and talent. Melo is a star, not yet a superstar, but the numbers being rattled around don’t sing to me. A $20-25 million offer per year for a player that’s basically a scorer and nothing more. Granted, he’s a top 3-4 scorer in the league, however for me he’s not a difference maker for the Lakers. How far do you get in the West with Melo as your best player? Not very far. Plus, if the numbers are accurate Melo and Kobe will take up the majority of your salary cap for at least 2 years once Kobe’s deal kicks in next year. I’ll also remind you that they are both over 30. So for me that leaves us with Bledsoe.
Why not offer four years and $60 million for him and see what the Suns do? The Suns, a playoff contender this season, and will stay in the race for the season and they would have to make a decision on possibly their best player. Someone has to take this money they're going to have and why not give to Bledsoe? At least that’s a start. Another caveat to this is the impending retirement of Commissioner Stern. I'm going to put on my conspiracy hat on and ask what are the chances he allows the Lakers to get a top 5 lottery pick? 0%? Less than 10%? If the Lakers were somehow able to get one the top NCAA prospects allegedly about to come out, folks would be in a furor screaming conspiracy! It’s Patrick Ewing all over again! Well, Laker fans this is our team now, hope you enjoyed the winning. It may be a while. Pipe dream alert: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love are available in 2 years when their deals expire. Are they worth the wait?
My Dad is why I’m into sports. Duh!! In a land of sports clichés, that’s probably the most generic of them all. Alright, Alright! (Troy Ave vc) Back to the lecture at hand; I’m angry. Duh!! Part deux for those that know. But I feel legit with my claim of anger this time. At the risk of being called a bandwagon fan by sports socialists who like to legislate this NBA season, (and in some ways last year) I was going to be in "Laker neutral" mode. Ever since being (gulp) swept by the (sigh) Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers have been on a downward trend as far as being a NBA title contender. For a lifelong Laker fan, I’m ok with that. My Dad taught me about the bigger picture, and that there are peaks and valleys to life, even as a Laker fan. Another day will be dedicated to discussing Laker pain. (Yes children there’s Laker pain, see Smith, Tony). The last 2-3 years for me have been about watching and attempting to enjoy Kobe in the latter years of his career. I’ve been watching and reading about what the moves could be for 2014 when the payroll gets bucky naked and salary cap money is free to pursue big time players in free agency. Sort of like 1996 with the Shaq signing and Kobe trade. This year was to be the final year of me not being "quiet". Kobe’s Achilles injury further pushed me into the "quiet" corner as I don’t think they’ll be a playoff team. But after this recent loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, at home by 24, I snapped. Not at the loss particularly, the ‘Wolves may finally be a good team and the Lakers aren’t. I glanced at the stat sheet and look at one Pau "let’s run the offense in the low post" Gasol, and see a stat line of 11/11/4/4 (points, rebounds, assists, blocks) and say that’s pretty good. It is unquestionable that he is the best player on this team. His season start has been terrible, even by his standards. On the season so far he’s giving you 11.9 ppg 10.8 rebounds 2.8 assists on 36% fg and 35% on 2 point field goals. He and Serge Ibaka have apparently conspired together to see which big man can shoot the most three’s this year. (K-Love will beat them both). He’s shot 7 in 8 games this year, making 3. That’s 42%. In 2011-12 he shot a career high 27 threes. Last season he shot 28. Why? All the new age stats say that three pointers are a very efficient shot, and that’s true if you’re JJ Reddick or Stephen Curry. However, at 7'1" and after crying about running the offense through the post on several different occasions in his Laker years, he’s turned in a bad start this season when he knew he would be called on to shoulder the load. And to the point of "running the offense" or "sharing the load" look at his field goal attempts per game the last 5 years: 12.9, 13.0, 13.7, 14.1, 11.8. My theory of opportunity seems to apply here. This season he’s averaging 12.5 attempts a game but if you're fg stat lines read 5-12, 3-12, 1-10 in the last 3 games (2 losses) that doesn’t help your cause. A couple more things before I defend him. His shooting percentage has declined since 2008-09 and his free throw attempts per game have declined since 2009-10. Now, for his defense. He had to alter his game due to Andrew Bynum’s low post presence and there are always adjustments that come from playing with Kobe. His rebounding, assists and blocks have remained steady during his Laker run, supporting my theory of affecting the game more than just scoring. He’s 33 years old and the combined international duty has added wear and tear to his body. I’m thankful for his contributions to the 2 Laker title team’s although its only 13 games into the season, I don’t like what I’m seeing right now. Is it Summer 2014 yet?
D.A's (@gudad721) 1 on 1 interview @Ballup celeb game with SINGER/Songwriter/Entertainer RAY J! @rayj
"It’s real funny how things go in cycles, the way Bobby Brown is just amping like Michael". The great Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest uttered those words nearly 22 years ago, and yet that axiom has never been so true. As I told you all a week ago, the sports world is a second, minute, and hour turner. From A-Rod, to the white hot Dodgers, Arian Foster's health, your upcoming fantasy drafts, like the Dayton’s on Chris Rock's toaster, it keeps spinning. The latest foray into the spin cycle is Kendrick Lamar, rhyming his ass off (nothing new there) on his "Control" verse. My immediate reaction was that KDot NAMED NAMES, a rare occurrence amongst those that proclaim themselves as a King MC. I read the internets, as social media has become the de facto spot where the masses come to speak their piece about what’s going on in the world. Voices were split.
"My gawd Kendrick just murdered it".
"KDot dissed all those guys".
"The game will change after this. Kendrick bought it back to its essence".
Let's focus on that last line. This notion that KDot has "brought it back to its essence" is nonsense. If you peruse through Kendrick’s catalog, you’ll see that none of this is new in any way. Kendrick has always positioned himself as a top notch MC, as well as the one that will crush anyone in his path. Now, the hype beats and hyperbole spitters will jump up and down and insist that this is what hip-hop needed and all is well again. Hip-hop is trending in the right direction. I say STOP! Calm down and breathe for a minute.
Quick recap: I was born in 1976 AKA The Bicentennial. I am fortunate enough to experience life and witness things that allow me not to spew love juice everywhere whenever the next shiny object comes my way. I grew up in ''The Golden Era" of the 90s. I was there when B.I.G. busted on the scene, the birth(s) of Rap City, Yo! MTV Raps, the Source, XXL, etc., and I’m old enough to remember my Dad breaking down "Boyz N Tha Hood" verse by verse, VIVIDLY! Don’t get me wrong, I was excited by Kendrick’s verse and the subsequent reactions to it by various rappers. (Lupe! Chill man) As the great Prodigy of Mobb Deep said, "ya’ll don’t want beef, niggas died the last time there was beef like this."
I never thought this was a diss song either, more of a call to arms. It’s in my iPod along with the 30,000 other jams and dope verses of MCs claiming their spot on the throne. Unlike a lot of you while "Hip-Hop was dead", I was finding dope shit because dope shit was actually being made. There has always been dope hip-hop out, just like there’s been wack shit out. If you don’t believe me, go check the hip-hop charts in 1990.
The comparison, while it may be a bit of a reach, is the AND1 b-ball craze that bubbled over 20 years ago. Stay with me here. AND1 was an athletic apparel company that catered initially towards "The Street Baller". Their infamous mixtapes, which were actually videos of various players doing awesome dribbling tricks, alley oops and excellent trick shots, produced some household names such as, Hot Sauce, The Professor, AO, Spyda, to name a few. The star of this was Rafer "Skip to My Lou" Alston, a ball player out of Queens, New York. The first tape that came out in 1998, "The Skip Tape" as it came to be called, blew the doors open and AND1 became the hot b-ball event. Video Games, other mixtapes, pro athlete endorsements (Stephon Marbury), and a reality show would follow.
The reality show did expose some things and this is where the tie in comes to play. One of the scenes that stick in my mind is where Alston goes off on his fellow AND1 comrades, Hot Sauce, about "only wanting to be a street baller". "You’re just satisfied with $60,000, one endorsement deal, and some street love!!" Alston had a point as he learned the hard way about the things needed to get to the top. He was the only AND1 alumni to get to the NBA and did quite well for himself playing for six teams and earning himself about $28 million in salary. I say that to say this will reignite the battle rap world. The last few years have been led by the URL movement as well as others has brought to the forefront an element of the MC that fans claim to miss: the competitive element. When the Smack DVDs were bubbling in the late 90s to early 2000s, one of the knocks was that they couldn’t make good music. They were all one trick ponies. A lot of me feels that this is one of the elements that "killed hip-hop"; an inability to make exceptional music while keeping a lyrical edge. Kendrick can do it. He’s done it since he busted on the scene 4 or 5 years ago. Not many can and that’s why we shouldn't overreact to this verse. I love the battle rap scene, but I wonder if in the back of their minds if they get bothered by being pigeon holed by some as a one trick pony? Rafer tried to tell his peoples. Can Loaded Lux make a great album? Should that matter? I admit I wanted to see a Hot Sauce show, his wares in the league just to see if he could cut it. I would also love to see Kendrick Lamar battle Joey BadA$$. That’s going be a pretty penny. I got $100 on it. Kickstarter maybe?
The sports world turns hourly, at times by the minute. The urgent needs of the fan for wanting up to the minute NFL training camp updates, pics of Dwight Howard with Hakeem Olajuwon, or how fit Wayne Rooney is, has turned us into “meat peepers” (word to Bomani Jones) of the highest order. For an aspiring "journalist" such as myself, the delicate balance of what to tweet or write about has been most challenging to date. I’m not a writer per say; no formal training, school or special skill. I mainly sit down, think, and write. It just flows. Most of my writing has been my thoughts, my opinions, how I feel and shit. Reading my "colleagues" blurbs for the most part, reads like a regurgitation of facts I see on any given (Insert sports channel here) crawl screen. I’m not a predictor; I’m an analyst (word to Bob Ryan). I know what happened; now tell me WHY you think it happened.
The ongoing saga of the NCAA vs. The World got my gears grinding as I’ve had several face to face and Twitter interactions regarding this topic. Quick recap: Ed O'Bannon, former UCLA basketball great filed a lawsuit vs. the NCAA in 2009 alleging unlawful use of his likeness in video games, NCAA gear, etc. He tells the story on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel (My Mans!!) about how the idea came from a friend of his while playing video games. In the last four years, from AJ Green to Johnny Manziel, the shift in paying amateur athletes (mostly focusing on football and basketball players) has reached a crescendo, pairing coaches like South Carolina's Steve Spurrier (for paying athletes) and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops (against paying athletes) on opposite sides of the argument. The main argument for paying athletes is that they receive room, board, tuition, access to high levels of education and the finest facilities. The people that agree with me contend that BILLIONS of dollars are being made off the backs of young men for free. The coaches make money. The schools make money. Athletic apparel companies are making money by the bushels. Fans and booster clubs also benefit financially. Everyone except for the players. Why? How come none of this can be shared?
Let’s go back to 1999 and the situation surrounding Andy Katzenmoyer. An All-American LB for Ohio State University in the mid-90s, he was one of the poster children for hypocrisy of the NCAA whenever they state their concerns regarding the student athlete. Katzenmoyer needed to pull his grades up in order to be eligible for the season. Ohio State enabled this by enrolling him in classes such as Golf, and AIDS: What Every College Student Should Know. These seem rather easy to pass, but it also shows the levels of concern and focus for these young men. Andy countered and said that he should be allowed to major in Football. There are certainly types of classes that could put you on the path to being an executive, or someone in the front office. Whether Andy was serious or not is not my concern, I thought it was an interesting approach to resolving a matter.
In 2012, Steve Spurrier said that coaches make enough money to pay players at least $300 a game. For 70 players, that equals $21,000 per game and $300,000 for a team that plays 14 games a season. While all teams can’t afford to do that, it is refreshing to hear a coach be a part of the solution as opposed to being the oppressor like Stoops for example. "Control the kids by keeping them poor" is what this smells like. Kudos also to Nick Saban, Will Muschamp, Dan Mullen, and Derek Dooley for riding with Steve Spurrier on this as well. Jay Bilas gets some love for his Twitter run a week ago in which he exposed the deception of the NCAA by broadcasting their website as a bunch of frauds for selling player merchandise on its website. Searches of McCarron, Mathieu, Clowney, and Murray for example turned up various jerseys and other memorabilia that can be sold to fans for large amounts of dollars. Not offended by that? Try this. The same website was selling Reggie Bush autographed items for THOUSANDS of dollars. The same Reggie Bush whom the NCAA eradicated from its history books for monetarily capitalizing on his skills while at USC.
The NCAA can and Bush cant? Did I miss something here? Also, on the site, for $1,500 you can get a LaDainian Tomlinson autographed TCU jersey. I’m sorry; does LDT get a check from that? He’s 15 years removed from college, how is that right? NCAA president Mark Emmert quickly got rid of the site, saying "It’s not something that’s core to what the NCAA is about, and it probably never should have been in the business". Really Mark? As the great Mike Wilbon says, the NCAA is Barney Fife (Google Youngins!) and so inept that they rely on the media to do their job. They have no power of subpoena and no legal standing to protect their tax status, so what are they paying Emmert $1.3 million for? I have no idea.
Maybe athletes would take academics more seriously if the lone reason they came to college (in this case football) would also be included in their academic pursuits. Financial classes for example, maybe a Sociology degree path of some sort. A pie in the sky thought sure, but what else has worked? There’s a lot of jealousy and envy at the heart of this. If you’re not on the side of the players, you’re with Barney Fife, and even in Mayberry, that’s Un-American.
With the news that baseball has handed down their suspensions in the BioGenesis case, fans, reporters, and now players will run to their laptops and profess their anger, outrage, shock, and disappointment about the latest news. They will say how "this will now level the playing field", and "baseball can now move in the right direction". This is such bullshit and smells of faux outrage. First of all, you ever wonder why all this anger is dedicated to baseball and only baseball?A sport unlike any other, baseball is and will be steeped in its history, traditions, and statistics forever. Baseball has been presented as an "everyman sport", where anyone can play regardless of size (Dustin Pedroia), or build (Steve Balboni). Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, two of the all-time greats, were both under six feet and weighed less than two hundred pounds, yet combined to hit over 1,300 home runs. A lot of this chatter seems to be centered throughout the increase of power in numbers that shatters the very fabric of why we love baseball in the first place: It’s about the statistics and records, and the high regard in which we hold these record holders. It is very narrow minded to think that this is just about home runs. Majority of the PED use from what I read seems to center around getting through the day to day grind of a 162 game season. Muscle recovery has been cited as one of the major contributions to HGH use. I’ll tell you this, as a paying customer of baseball I could care less about the use of HGH. For example, we demand that these multi-million dollar athletes must ALWAYS perform at the highest level or close to it. Is it humanly possible to do this for 162 games? While not all baseball lovers are like this, I despise the notion of "evening out the playing field"; this is the part where my gears get to grinding. To assume sports in general have an "even playing territory" is far from it on any level. Let’s take Michael Vick for example. While going through his infamous legal episode, one of the side stories exposed Vick’s lazy practice habits. "Last one to practice, first to leave", was how he put it. I set that up to say this: If Vick would’ve practiced more and been diligent about his film study, wouldn’t he enhance his performance? My point is performance enhancing could be classified as anything. This could be extra film work, more weight lifting, extra batting practice, all which enhance your performance. I remember Shaq as a Laker taking Cortisone for his injured toe from 2002-2004. Cortisone, like HGH for example help you recover and get back on the field quicker. What’s the difference? I bet the answer is political, as are most issues that deal with drugs. One drug is legal and the other isn’t. However, in this case HGH can be legally prescribed, see David Segui. I had a GM who was prescribed a steroid for pink eye. Now I’m not naive enough to think that we should turn this into “Amsterdam in The Wire”, but to assume that you automatically take HGH and turn into A-Rod or Ryan Braun is missing the point. That’s why I don’t think they’re cheaters. Baseball has long been a game of cheating and using things to gain an edge. We STEAL bases, and we STEAL signs. The famous ‘Shot Heard Round the World’ has been wrought with accusations of sign stealing. Baseball was all white its first 50+ years. Greenies were prevalent. Grease, ointment, emery boards, nail files have all been used to gain an edge, while we laugh at Gaylord Perry’s spitball or Phil Neikro’s board falling out his back pocket. Such sanctimonious a-holes we are. We can’t have it both ways folks. You know what I wonder about? The player who took the illegal substance didn’t get the desired results performance wise, quit and just went on about his career never getting caught. It didn’t work for everyone. Lost in this amongst the common folk, is that pitchers were in on it too. You should Google Jason Grimsley and Roger Clemens. I’ll have more on this because this is far from over.
Do you want to win or be the reason for winning? As football (American and European) season descends upon us like Shark Week, I got to wondering about the aforementioned question. We are arguably in the finest part of the sports year, and a lot of blow hards as well as Yahoo Sports Contributors will bellow about winning and what it takes. I think about this as my friend The Unit as we have gone back and forth about the silly transfer season in soccer, and why players make moves versus those that don't. The example I’ll go with this time is former Arsenal, now Barcelona player Cesc Fabregas. Cesc made the move to Barcelona because he felt his chances of winning would improve, and he knew the guys he trained with back in his youth. His frustration with Arsenal grew and grew as Robin Van Persie, among others, flew the coop in search of greener pastures. For some reason, the Cesc issue got me pretty good and now I need to figure out why. One of the first things I thought about was Theo Epstein. The former Boston Red Sox GM who led them to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007, ending one of the most infamous title droughts in sports history. Not that there wasn’t tumult during his time, but if you look at the bigger picture he was a smashing success. He could’ve easily rested on his laurels and stayed there and been a king for life. His next challenge was an even larger one: GM of the hapless Chicago Cubs, whose title drought makes the Red Sox look like the baseball Giants. If Theo wins there, who tops that, getting World Series trophies for those 2 clubs? This is the logic I applied to Cesc. If you win at Arsenal, my goodness the goods that await you man! Then the homie Unit brings me back down to reality when he says "Arsenal will never win." Sadly he’s right; they are destined for 3rd and 4th place finishes for a while until the money situation is improved. (Higuain to Napoli??) For some reason this doesn’t sit well with me. He wants to win, but doesn’t want to be the reason for it. In his soccer prime at age 26 you’d think that he’s still in that mind frame of wanting to be “the guy” or, “the main guy” but he seems content to bide his time until Xavi hangs up his boots. Do you really think that sits well with him when the accolades are being handed out and they (Messi, Neymar, Iniesta, Pedro, etc.) are being lauded and his contributions are being relegated to minor status despite what his numbers tell you? The Lebron James and Dwight Howard issues come to mind as well when dissecting this question. As noted by the great Bomani Jones in his column, the Lebron and Howard decision were polar opposites even though they lied in the same vein. Lebron James clearly made his based on basketball and what team gave him the best chance of winning. On the other hand, Howard wanted to be the star attraction, THE REASON for winning. The fact that he and Kobe never got along also proves my theory on Howard. He underestimated the Lakers fans, the Lakers winning tradition and why those things were held in such a high prestige. He didn’t want to sit under Kobe’s proverbial wing and learn how to do it. He felt that he knew enough about winning without him. He will now have his chance with the Rockets. It’s not for me to say whether he or Cesc made the right call but I’ve learned that even though winning is the only thing that counts, we all have our own way of going about it.
Born in Dayton, Ohio but raised in Dallas. D.A. is no pushover