Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Favre to Return

One more year, that’s what Brett Farve told the Green Bay Packers during phone conversations on Tuesday morning. That means the NFL’s only three times MVP will be around for one more attempt to work his magic.

This decision of Farve to return put to an end of months of speculation that was wearing thin on everyone. Since week 17 of last season people have been giving their opinion on what his future should be. Farve, who had his roster bonus pushed back several times during the off-season while he was riding the fence on making a decision.

Finally we can put an end to this whole farce, and I cannot be happy with the outcome. As a fan I get to watch Brett Farve play one more season. And after the disaster that was last season, I know Farve will so me something special. Last season Farve threw more interceptions in a season than he ever had. He had no backfield mates due to injuries, and not a single target to look for down field. Combine that with a Swiss cheese defense and you have the recipe for failure. The Packers will be better this upcoming season due to health if no other reason. A bevy of healthy running backs, and a few receivers who at least have game experience will take pressure off of Farve.

The Packers will not be a Super Bowl contending team next season. There is a good chance they will not make the playoffs if the Bears can return to form. What the Green Bay Packers do have is a chance for Brett Farve to regain some pride and go out with his head held high. He has a chance to show he still has a few bullets left in that gun, and he will be able to leave on his own terms, as it should be.

I look forward to watching Brett Farve strap it up one more time. Since I was young kid I’ve always loved watching Packer games. Not because I was fan, but I always wanted to see what Brett Farve would do, or what he may get caught saying over a microphone. Sure enough each week, he would provide me with a tidbit that proved there were professional athletes out there who still had fun at their job. That gave me encouragement to continue watching professional sports.

With Farve back for one last hooray, I have one last opportunity to relive a bit of my childhood, a chance to smile and laugh while I watch a football game with friends. Maybe it’s selfish of me to want to see him play one more season just so I can live out a childhood fantasy, but I don’t care. If you like football you have to like Brett Farve. Thanks Brett for coming, the fans thank you.

Draft top 10

With the NFL Draft only a few days away, there are plenty of questions and very few answers. We are not wobbling on our previous Mock Draft, but there are a few changes or possibilities that may alter the order of that draft.

Houston: The Texans are still eyeing Bush for the first pick. Despite the investigation into his families living conditions, Bush’s draft stock remains strong. The only thing keeping Bush from the top pick is a contract. The Texans want to work a deal out with Reggie Bush before the draft. If they are unable to do that, they would seriously consider working a deal with D-end Mario Williams who they have already contacted. If Bush is not the top pick in the draft look for a lot of draft boards to do some scrambling to compensate.

New Orleans: Earlier we had this pick slated to be D’Brickashaw Ferguson (OT). However that will not be the case. Everyone has become enamored with Mario Williams as he made his rounds across the league. His stock is peeking at the right time, and has the possibility of being the first draft pick. I guarantee if Williams is not first he will not drop past second. Remember though, if the Saints can they are willing to trade down a bit and snag Ferguson latter, while letting another team in desperate need for a DE take the spot. So far there are no solid trade rumors though.

Tennessee: Despite plenty of internal disputes with current and future players the Titians seem to have figured out what they want to do with their pick. With Norm Chow running the offense the Titans feel more comfortable turning to USC QB Matt Leinart. The Titians are also working on a deal with current franchise QB Steve McNair. The deal would allow Leinart to start immediately something you know he would be pleased with.

N.J. Jets: Despite plenty of talk of by player and team alike Matt Leinart will not be a Jet for the 2006/07 season. The Tennessee Titans have their eye set on making him the immediate QB of the future, thus leaving the Jets searching for a draft pick. If Leinart is off the board look for them to turn to OT Ferguson to sure up the offensive line, and provide some protection for Pennington and his bad shoulder. Also look to see if the Saints and Jets can work out some sort of a deal. Remember the Jets have some extra picks after releasing Herm Edwards from his contract.

Green Bay: Still looking for that impact player in A.J. Hawk.

San Francisco: Vernon Davis is still on top their draft board. He will provide an easier to find target for the struggling Alex Smith.

Oakland: Vince Young is too great a talent to pass on. Aaron Brooks is currently in Oakland and can tutor and hold the fort while Young finishes developing.

Buffalo: Despite a need for a solid offensive tackle (Winston Justice USC), the Bills will probably go with a defensive pick. FSU LB Brodick Bunckley fits their scheme perfectly and will make an immediate impact on defense.

Detroit: They want defense and Michal Hoff will provide a physical and athletic presence in the secondary from the day he steps into training camp.

Arizona: Jay Cutler should go at this position, but there has been some talk the Cards may pass on the Vandy QB. If they pass on him look for them to pick up a LB like Ernie Sims. Also if they pass on Cutler expect Minnesota to be jumping in line in anticipation for him. However, Cutler will be the QB of the future for the Cards. Young QB, young WR good RB, could mean Arizona is finally ready to make some strides in the right direction.

That’s our look at our amended top ten for the 2006 draft. The rest of the draft should fall in line in accordance with our previous mock draft. Again it has been very difficult to predict this draft. There is a lot of potential for movement among those top five picks. Each team is just waiting for the other to make that first move and then the rest of the chips can fall into place. Look for Friday to be an active day among GM’s around the league.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Spring Football the recap

Orange beat Blue in the annual spring football game in Charlottesville Virginia this past Saturday. In a 10-7 victory the Virginia defense dominated scoring the only touchdowns. The first was curtsey of senior Jason Snelling who has spent time at both Tailback and Fullback and will expect to do the same this season. The second TD came from sophomore RB Cedric Peerman.

Coach Groh was happy with his team’s performance on the field on Saturday. “We made positive progress through this timeframe, and it’s been a good off-season program.” Coach Groh. The Cavs only held 15 formal practices before the spring game, leaving 29 practices left and available for the fall pre-season practices.

One of the other big announcements from the Spring Festival was the announcement of the captains for the 2006 football season. Senior QB Chris Olsen (Wayne, N.J.), senior WR Deyon Williams (Upper Malboro Md), senior CB Marcus Hamilton (Centreville VA), and junior DE Chris Long (Ivy VA), were voted to represent the Hoos leadership for the upcoming season. These four men will be looking to replace the leadership that was lost when Marcus Hagans, Wali Lundy and Brennan Schmidt graduated and junior Kai Parham left for the NFL. As captains of a young squad they will be responsible for leading the team both on the field and off the field, and setting that standard of Cavalier excellence for the younger players to live up to.

This is one of the youngest and perhaps the most inexperienced team Groh has had since he arrived at Virginia. However, despite that he still likes the talent level available on this squad. Coach Groh is looking to work the team hard in the fall pre-season so they can get as many reps in together as possible before the season opener.

Some players are already beginning to shine in the early parts of the season with their performances at Spring Practice. Mikell Simpson (RB), Clint Sintim (LB), and Jeffery Fitzgerald (DE), all showed growth and improved performance this past spring. The three men also earned the Rock Weir Award for most improvement during spring practice.

Sintim and Fitzgerald will be expected to step in this fall and perform well. Both will help Junior Chris Long anchor a young front seven, and a young defense that only host one senior in the starting lineup.

With his performance throughout spring practice, and being voted in as a team captain it seems that senior Chris Olsen will get the nod as the starting QB for the Hoos. Olsen spent one year on the bench at Notre Dame, sat out the required year and then spent two years as an understudy to Hagans. Now it is his time to step forward both as a player as a leader, and he is ready to accept this role.

The backfield for the Hoos will once again be RB by committee. This time the attack will be spearheaded by senior Jason Snelling who will spend the majority of his time as at tailback. Senior Michal Johnson will also provide a spark, as he is still one of the fastest members of the team and can break a play to the outside at any moment. Also look for sophomore Cedric Peerman to figure into the mix as he was productive last season as a freshman.

Once again wide-out will be the position of concern and question for the Hoos. Senior starters Fontel Mines and Deyon Williams will lead the receiving core while sophomores Andrew Pearman and Kevin Olgetree will look to be productive additions to the lineup. Both of whom are coming along and beginning to understand the full concepts of the game, and hopefully by September they will be ready to be a productive member of the team.

TE is still the strong suit of the UVA passing attack. With three players all capable of starting on most any team in the NC2A, expect Groh to utilize as many double tight end sets as he can.

With spring practice complete the Hoos will look to break for the spring and begin individual workouts, where players can hone their individual skills at their positions. The Cavaliers will reconvene as a unit in mid-August in preparation of their season opener against Pittsburgh.

Leinart's Distractions

Matt Leinart has been the golden boy of college football for the past three seasons, and he is looking to parlay that talent onto the pro scene in the upcoming season. However, quietly there has been a disturbing trend exhibited by Leinart. It has nothing to do with his arm strength, mobility or any of his on the field ability. The concern has been Matt Leinhart’s off the field activities.

Leinart won the Heisman Trophy in 2004 and led the USC Trojans to a national title. He was on top of the world. Then he shocked the world when he made the decision to return to USC for his senior year of college. A move that would almost certainly only hurt his draft stock, as he was already the top ranked QB in the country.

Why did Leinart return for another year of college? Was it to hone his passing accuracy? Or maybe work on his arm strength? Perhaps he wanted to increase his mobility? Nope, Leinart didn’t come back for football. He came back because he loved the college lifestyle, which for any of us who went through a light senior year knows it’s like one big party. I cannot count the number of times I have heard students refer to it as a victory lap, and living it up for one last hooray.

And so it began the degradation of Matt Leinart. He spent his senior year of college taking only one class. Ballroom dancing was how he chose to spend his classroom time. Hardly the strenuous class schedule that would keep a person locked for hours in the library. Maybe he is already planning for his post football career or a moonlighting career on Dancing with the Stars.

With all that free time during his senior year how did Leinart fill his time? Well he was spotted all across LA and Hollywood with an impressive list of who’s who. In December he was seen palling around at a Victory Secrets fashion show with a few of his teammates. While that may have been a workout in some ways it obviously did not help his performance in the Rose Bowl. Recently pictures of a drunken Leinart have appeared. They came from the night of the 2005 Heisman Trophy ceremony. Leinart claims he was celebrating teammate Reggie Bush’s Heisman win, yet we have not seen any pictures of Bush from that night. Leinart also reportedly spent late nights with former Boy Bander Nick Lachy who spent several nights crashing on Leinart’s couch and floor. Hardly constituting the life of the typical colligate senior.

Since his announcement to enter the 2006 draft Leinart has found many new projects to occupy his time. He is making all the rounds, doing the pre-draft talk shows. In early March Leinart fired his agent Leigh Steinberg, opting to go with the larger marketing agency CAA and agent Tom Condon. An agent company known for its work with crossover athlete/actors (because that’s what this world needs another Kazaam).

To his credit Leinart looked good at his pro-day workout at USC. He was in shape, showed a tremendous vertical, and great upper body strength. His arm strength was exactly what people expected and ended up being sub par, but scouts have been able to overlook that all this time.

The possibilities of where Leinart will go in this years draft are very much in the air. The Tennessee Titians have shown an interest in him, and the connections to Norm Chow are definitely appealing. However another possibility is Leinart moving cross country to be a New York Jet. Whenever that possibility is brought up people instantly conjure up references to Broadway Joe, and Leinart is already earning the nickname Broadway Matt.

Playing in the lights of New York would allow Leinart to maintain his high paced, big time lifestyle. It will also put him in a place where he can receive maximum exposure and work on his off the field projects as he’s already stated his desire to do.

Also lets remember that comparisons to Joe Namath necessarily a good thing. Broadway Joe’s crowning moment was Super Bowl 3 and leading one of the biggest upsets in NFL history. Yet his overall statistics were not impressive. Namath threw more interceptions than career touchdowns. Not something you want to be remembered for. Outside of that one game against an aging Baltimore Colts team Joe was an average QB.

Is that really what the Jets want to blow a top pick on? An average QB, you can find that in the third fourth and fifth rounds. However, that is the path Matt Leinart is embarking down. More career commercials and billboards than TD’s. He’ll be hosting Regis and Kelly and struggling to break a QB ranking of 100.

Matt Leinart’s focus is definitely something to be questions. More and more he is appearing to want all the perks of celebrity without the work and effort. Leinart will still be a top draft pick, but do not be surprised if you watch his stock plummet at an NFL QB as the hot lights of TV cameras catch his eye, rather than the safety sneaking over the top of the receiver.

Friday, April 21, 2006

playoff preview pt 3

Perhaps the strangest match-up we have seen in years comes in the Western Conference when the Denver Nuggets meet the L.A. Clippers. I know it is strange and kind of scary to think that the Clippers are in the playoffs and at a sixth seed nonetheless. However, that is not the strangest factor in this series. The Clippers will have home court advantage throughout this series despite being the lower seed.

Only in the NBA with the current flawed playoff format can this be possible. The Denver Nuggets won their division pretty easily. Then again look at the Northwest division and you see there is only one playoff team in division. The Trailblazers actually managed to finish worse in the standings that the Knicks. The SuperSonics and the Twolves are in disarray as franchises, so they provided little competition throughout the season. Leaving only the Utah Jazz as a potential playoff team in the division, and they are still a building franchise with plenty of unanswered questions.

The LA Clippers play in the Pacific division, a division that sent four teams to the playoffs this season. The Clippers finished second in the division behind Phoenix, not an easy task. They were rewarded with a sixth seed in the playoffs. This happens because the top three seeds in the playoffs go to division winners i.e. Denver.

So while Denver earned the prestige of the three seed, they still have to go on the road to open the playoffs against the Clippers who hold the better record. This makes no sense. Either the Clips are the higher seed, or finish screwing them over and let the Nuggets have home court.

This also led to the situation of the Memphis Grizzlies and the LA Clippers meeting in the final game of the season and actually wanting to tank the game. The loser of that game got the sixth seed and the winner got the five seed and a hot Dallas team. The result was we saw two teams full of players no one has ever heard of… terrible for the league. Nonetheless the Clippers were able to stink it up more (go figure) and take the sixth seed.

Anyways the Clippers are going to host the Nuggets in the first round. This is not your fathers Clippers, or even your older brothers. The new look Clippers are good. They are led by a double-double machine in Elton Brand. Brand has quietly made himself into a superstar while residing in the obscurity of Clipper land. He is currently averaging 24 and 10 every night and will give Kmart and Camby fits in the post. The floor general for the Clips is Sam Cassell, who is one of the most interesting players in the league. Rarely mentioned as one of the best at the point, but so many times he has been the X-factor in pushing a team over the hump. He provides veteran leadership and poise to a young Clips team that has no previous playoff experience. Cuttino Mobley is another rising star who can put up points, and is averaging just over 1 steal per game.

The Nuggets are a young squad who at times appear to be on the door of greatness, while at other times they seem to be one player blowup from destruction. Carmelo Anthony has continued his growth progression into a star player in the league, attempting to join the status of his draft classmates Dwayne Wade, and Lebron James. Anthony averaged over 26 points a game while taking his team to a division title. The Nuggets have also received a boost from the resurgence of Marcus Camby who has had an outstanding year in rebounds and defensive skill. Andre Miller is running the point for the Nuggets. On paper the Nuggets are a good team, who can beat most any team on a given night.

The cards are going to be severely stacked against the Nuggets though. The Staples Center will be packed for each home game. For once LA is no long strictly Laker country. The Clippers run a balanced half court attack featuring Brand in the post. If he can create double teams then Mobley and Cassell have the opportunity to roam the arc and find open slashing lanes. Also the mental frailty of the Nuggets is always a legitimate question. We have seen Kmart blow up in game situations, and twice Carmelo has been thrown out of games for tossing a ball into the stands. If the Nuggets get into that mind set this series will be a tank job for them. Other than that, I am sticking with the Clippers the home court advantage, along with the steady big man in the middle; they will win the series in 6 games. However do be aware that this is a prime stage for Carmelo to have his defining playoff moment and if that is the case all bets are off.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Plaoffs pt 2

Continuing our look at intriguing playoff match-ups we will stay in the Eastern Conference and shift our focus to the Indiana Pacers and the New Jersey Nets. This is a 6-3 match-up with New Jersey holding the home court advantage. Both teams are stacked with veteran players who have plenty of playoff experience. This will help to make this series a dog fight to the finish.

The Nets went onto a tear in the last two months of the season, stringing together a 14 game win streak. For the first time since this team was assembled they seem to be hitting a stride in unison and it is mainly due to the fact that their big three are healthy. Jason Kidd is a bet for 15, 12, and 7 every game during the series. Vince Carter has quietly put together the best year of his career. This is due to the fact he is finally able to be the player he always wanted to be, the quiet role player. Remember back to his days at UNC it was Antwan Jamison who was the star, and Carter just added the exciting spark. In Toronto and his early years in the NBA everyone wanted Carter to be the next Jordan, when he never wanted that pressure or responsibility. Now with Jefferson and Kidd surrounding him Carter is able to quietly get his stats while the rest of the world has their head turned. Now it’s time to see if Vincsanity can perform with the spotlight back on him, because there is no place to hide in playoff basketball.

The Indianapolis Pacers have been on a rollercoaster ride ever since the brawl in the Palace last season. Just when it appears they have righted the ship something new seems to come up. Despite all the distractions the Pacers seem to have found a winning combination in the post-Ron Artest-era. Peja Stojakovic brings a new dynamic to the offense that the Pacers never had with Artest. Artest was a post presence, and a slasher, he was just developing a reliable jump shot when he was shipped out to Sacramento. With Peja the Pacers have an experienced player who can knock down the open shot whenever he needs. Other than Artest this is the same Indiana team that went to a game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals a year ago. Peja has been in plenty of intense playoff situations back in the Kings v. Lakers days. Indiana under the guidance of Rick Carlisle is a well seasoned team. Jermaine O’Neal had 24 pts 13 points and 6 blocks in his final regular season game. He has healed from the injuries he suffered during the season, and is now healthy and rested having avoided a bulk of the wear and tear of the regular season.

The Pacers took the regular season series between these two teams 2-1. The Nets hit a hot streak in mid April, but they appear to have peeked too soon. Indiana still plays solid defense and will look to establish the half court set. Let O’Neal work in the post as Peja hangs out by the arc. New Jersey’s big men will getting better, are still very young with minimal playoff experience. They will struggle to keep up with the experienced O’Neal who knows how to find that extra gear for the playoffs. Kidd, Carter, and Jefferson are best when they can run the court. The execute best when they have space. Space is hard to come back in playoff basketball when the tempo drops out of the game, and teams have to grind it out. The Nets will struggle in this series, and eventually lose in 6 games. The Pacers are too tough, and have the pedigree of a winning playoff team.

NBA Playoffs pt 1

With the playoffs beginning on Saturday the intensity is about to turn up a notch around the NBA. For some teams they are simply happy to make the post season, and will struggle under the pressure of playoff heat. On the other hand there are seasoned teams who are used to the playoff pressure and they are looking to defend their crowns. And finally there is a third group of teams who are young and brash and ready to knock the established teams off their thrown and those are the teams we love. These are the teams that defy the odds and make the upsets that we remember for years.

We all remember the picture of Diekembe Mutombu lying on the floor after his eighth seed Denver Nuggets knocked off the high flying Seattle Supersonics. This year’s playoff picture is chalked full with the same sort of landmines for the unsuspecting teams.

Perhaps the best match-up of this seasons playoff season will not provide a major upset (seeing that its 5 v. 4) but it will be the most contested. In the East the Washington Wizards are making back to back playoff appearances for the first time since the 87-88 seasons. They will be taking on King James and his Cleveland Cavaliers. Two teams that closely mirror each other in playing style and personnel. The Wizards are a scrappy team that has made its living from playing small ball, at a frenetic pace. It is not as pretty or as organized as the brand of small ball that the Suns play, but it is effective for what they do. Led by Gilbert Arenas and his 28 ppg the Wizards can be a scoring machine. Arenas, Butler and Jamison are known as the big three, on any give night they can combine for 70 or more points for the Wizards.

The Cavaliers are carried by their superstar Lebron James. The league has been waiting for this moment for the past three seasons, how will Lebron react to the pressure of NBA playoff basketball? The whole world will be watching to see if he can rise to the occasion, so far he has met every challenge of pressure that has faced him. After Lebron the Cavs look to Ilgauskas and former Wizard Larry Hughes to provide an offensive spark. Hughes left the Wiz during the summer in search of more money. The only thing he has found this season is a year full of injury where he is just returning to be healthy. He will want to have a good series against his former team to prove a point, but everyone in a Wizards uniform will be looking to shut him down. Ilgauskas will be the wildcard in this whole series. Ilgauskas is a big man who plays solid D inside (avg. just shy of 2 blks per game) and he can score inside and more importantly outside. The Wizards are horrible at the center position. If Ilgauskas can take it to Haywood the chances of Cavalier success is great.

This will be a highly contested series, that will go at least 6 games, probably 7. In the end, the Wizards will win out. Cleveland’s defense is horrible, and at times they are very streaky with their offense. Instead of running their set plays they turn into a fast breaking team, which is not their strong suit. The more touches Ilgauskas gets the better they are. The Wizards play scrappy and if the game becomes an up tempo run the court contest the Wizards are too deep with Antonio Daniels coming off the bench as another runner who can score 14 plus a game. The faster the game goes, the better the Wizards chances are. Wiz Kids win in 6 maybe 7.

Spring Football

This Saturday an annual tradition is set to take place in Charlottesville Virginia. Spring football is here, and that means the Orange and the Blue going head to head in the first preview of how the 2006 Hoos football squad is coming together.

Festivities will be held at Scott Stadium, and the gates open at 1:30pm. While this used to be a simple small time game that only a few reporters and hardcore fans, it has now grown into an event for the whole family. The Spring Football Festival will feature autograph signings from former Cavalier greats including Heath Miller, Alvin Pearman, and James Farrior. There will be tons of other activities for the kids and adults alike all of this will be capped off by the playing of the game and a look at the Hoos. Remember this is free, so it is definitely worth the trip out.

For the football fanatics out there, here are a few things they should look out for on the field. The QB position is surrounded by questions. For the past four seasons, the Hoos have had an established starting QB, or ready to bring up from the ranks. Making the transition from Matt Schaub to Marcus Hagans was fairly easy for the Hoos. Hagans had experience as a starting QB, and ready to take the reigns. This season there is no set backup. Keep an eye on Christian Olsen the senior out of Wayne New Jersey should get the starting nod. He has taken a few reps in real games and has looked solid. Saturday will give us the first opportunity to see how he performs with a little bit of pressure on him.

The Spring Game will also showcase the new look Cavalier coaching staff. After Coach Grogh lost his top two coordinators late last season he has revamped his staff including taking a more active role in play calling. The approach was successful for the Music City Bowl, bringing home a much needed victory for the Hoos. Let’s see if he can carry that success into the new season.

The 2006 football season is just around the corner, and its time to get ready catch the fever right now. Orange Fever 2006 Wahoo WA.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Charges in Durham

Finally we are seeing some movement in Duke Lax scandal. Early Tuesday morning two 20-year old lacrosse players were arrested in Durham North Carolina. The charges included rape, kidnapping, and sexual offenses according to a jail official.

Reade Seligmann and Colin Finnarty were arrested in the early hours of Tuesday morning. By 7:30 a.m. Seligmann had already posted the $400,000 bond. Finnerty was in the process of posting his own $400,000 bond. By posting bond it means both players will be able to avoid an initial court date.

These arrests come a day after the Grand Jury convened on Monday. The indictments handed down by the Jury were unsealed on Tuesday and resulted in the arrest, but they did not indicate what arguments or evidence was provided to lead to Tuesday’s arrest.

On Monday prosecutors also revealed that the alleged victim made positive photo I.D.’s on three of the players. Defense attorneys were informed that she identified two people with 100 percent accuracy, and a third player with 90 percent accuracy. It is believed that this may have led to the arrest.

The boy’s attorneys are still insistent their clients are innocent. He continually cites the negative DNA test as his reason for belief in his clients. Distract Attorney Nifong insist that 75 to 80% of rape cases lack DNA evidence, and he would not need it to prosecute this case.

Perhaps the most interesting component in all of this is what it means in the big picture. Finally there is a face on the Duke Lacrosse team. For the past month, it has been a victim’s word versus an entity that is Duke Lacrosse. People were upset with what the team was accused of (obvious from the protest), but there was no face to the team. This made it easier for the players to band together in a code of silence.

As of 7:30 Tuesday morning all of that was thrown out the window. Seligmann and Colin Finnarty’s image was plastered across every news publication in the country. From this day forward they will be known as the face of the evil that took place in that house. It makes no difference if they committed any crime or not. Their names will be associated with rape.

This changes the dynamic of the case. No longer can the players hide behind their lawyers, or the cover of the Duke name. Now they are individuals who live private lives that will be torn through in the next few weeks. They will be unable to hide, and every time either one of these young men turn around there will be a camera and a microphone in their face. Let’s see how long they can keep up a stone face and protect themselves and teammates through silence under the excruciating pressure of the media. Which we all know is a thousand times worse than a police investigation.

Like I’ve said so many times in the past I am not out to convict these kids or string them up on a lynch mob. Ill leave that for the jury and the court system, hopefully for once justice will be served. What I do know is Colin Finnarty and Reade Seligmann are about to enter the worse few weeks, or months of their lives, and if they are hiding anything now is the time to come forward with it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Nash for MVP

It doesn’t matter what you have heard so far, or who you talk to. Anyone who tries to convince you that Steve Nash is not the NBA MVP has never seen him play. Admittedly the list of possible MVP candidates is very deep. Despite that, the six foot Canadian stands heads and shoulders above the rest.

Lebron James is the NBA’s golden child, and will probably win MVP because the league will do anything to make him be the next Jordan. However, he is leading a middle of the pack team in a terrible conference.

That brings me to my next point. No player from the Eastern Conference deserves to be an MVP, unless they play for Detroit or Miami. That being said it should rid us of the Lebron, Kidd, Carter, Arenas, or little O’Neal argument. None of those teams are good enough as a whole to constitute an individual award.

Chauncey Billups has had an amazing season for the Piston’s. His points are up, as are his assist and shooting percentages. However the Pistons are a stacked team. So much so, that to nominate Billups for MVP and you might as well nominate the Piston’s entire starting five.

Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat is one of the up and coming stars of NBA. However, he is still Robin to Shaq’s Batman. If you are not the top player on your team, you cannot be the top player in the league.

That puts us out to the Western Conference. And when we are talking out west you have to mention Kobe. Kobe has out gunned everything in the world. It is wonder he doesn’t have tendonitis in his shoot arm at this point in the season. Kobe lifted an average Lakers team into the playoffs a feat that many including myself did not think was possible at the season beginning. Yet Kobe has his flaws as a potential MVP too. Dec 28 Kobe Bryant hits Memphis’s Mike Miller with a vicious elbow to the face and a flagrant foul is called. Miller goes to the line hits two free throws and Memphis wins the game. Kobe goes on to talk about how tough he is, and in turn gets suspended for two games. Both games end up being loses for the Lakers. Can’t be the MVP when you just cost your team three.

Once again that brings us back to the little Canadian, Steve Nash. Once again leading the league in assist, and being the court general for the Phoenix Suns. The Suns lost 3/5ths of their starting lineup from last year’s Western Conference Finals team. Shawn Marion and Steve Nash are the only two remaining pieces. Amare never made it back from injury and everyone else was traded away. Despite that, Nash ran the Suns offense with a surgical perfection. When he missed time due to an ankle injury the Suns could barely crack the 80 point mark. Knifing his way through defenses, and setting up everyone around him to look like superstars. Nash has proven to be the ideal teammate, and a league leader. He deserves to be rewarded for his effort. MVP MVP.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Destroying a City

Is it just me or is the prosecutor in the Duke Lax case the worse D.A. ever? During my time in college I took several courses on law and have read a few books. I also watch Law & Order religiously, so I feel that makes me somewhat of an expert on law and how to handle a case. That being said the Durham district attorney has blown what could have been a lock case.

Earlier this week the results to the DNA case were announced, and there were no matches to any of the players, crippling the D.A.’s case against the Duke players. Despite that setback the D.A. insist on pressing forward and perusing the case. That is a noble cause, but he has gone about it the wrong manor.

One of the basic liberties of being an American citizen possesses the right to be innocent until proven guilty. More than two weeks ago, the D.A. to this case announced that he was sure a crime took place in the LAX house, and that someone was guilty. This has got to be considered a basic mistake, yet the prosecutor is allowed to remain on the case.

Now do not get me wrong, like I wrote in an earlier article, SOMETHING happened in that house on that night, and whatever that something was, it was not good or right. However, that does not mean a rape took place in the house. Just that those kids were liquored up, and being stupid, and probably even raciest, but sadly we do not have a criminal punishment for that.

Now the District Attorney for this case is pressing forward despite the fact that his case is collapsing around him. D.A. Mike Nifong is making a case at the expense of the Durham community. Risking racial unrest, and ruining a schools reputation, Nifong continues to try the case. Why? He is up for re-election in a few weeks, and this was to be his flagship case.

A shame an entire community is at the brink of crumbling so this one man can reach for a few votes in a in an election he will lose. Sad, what America has come to.

That being said, the behavior of the Duke Lax team is not excused. The season still needed to be suspended. While they may not have raped anyone, the fact they were able to put into that position is sad. I guarantee you Coach K never allow his BBall players to be put into that position. However, even if the players committed no criminal offense, other than being lewd and idiotic, they will suffer for what they did. The young man, who wrote a vicious email, will forever be remembered for that. The Duke Lax program will take years before it is able to regain the prominence it once held.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Meeting Of the Minds

After the brawl in the Bronx last week, it’s time for round two, and you can be sure to see some fireworks. During a season opening series Mets ace Pedro Martenez took the liberty of beaming five Washing National batters, including Jose Guillen twice.

Of course that led to Guillen coming to the mound, and Nationals manager Frank Robinson getting ejected from the game after arguing with the umpire over Pedro’s behavior. Guillen was suspended three games for approaching the mound (he has not begun the suspension yet) and Robinson was suspended for one game. Pedro was not disciplined for his actions.

The lack of discipline for Pedro has many former baseball players upset, and all of the Nationals angry. Pedro claimed he was having control problems with his pitches, and that is why he hit five batters. A closer look proves that to be a lie. Pedro is notorious for pitching inside, and brushing hitters back. Traditionally he has been in the top three in hit batters in the majors.

Martinez is also a very well known bad boy of MLB. After all this is the man that said, “I don’t believe in the curse of the bambino; if he stepped into the batters box now, maybe Id beam him one between the eyes”

Major League Baseball has already issued a warning to both squads before Wednesday’s game. Warning both teams that unnecessary force or any form of retaliation would not be tolerated, and players would be ejected from the game and probably suspended.

This brings us to one of the most intriguing match ups ever, a meeting of stubborn minds. Nationals’ manager Frank Robinson is an old school baseball player, who has been around for years. Throughout his career he was known for his toughness. During his rookie season he was beamed 20 times by pitches, because he refused to move back from the plate. He likes to see his players play with the same intensity that he showed as a player.

Robinson does not forget things easily, and I would not be surprised if he comes out in the first inning with his long reliever in the bullpen warming up. Meaning he is ready to use his opening pitcher and allow him to be thrown out for beaming a Met preferably Pedro. Robinson knows it’s early in the season and he is willing to send a message now. One of the most enduring memories of Frank Robinson from his first season as manager of the Nationals is the one of him staring a hole through an umpire after missing an easy call.

Pedro Martinez is one of the most stubborn players ever. The fact that major league baseball told him to watch his pitches is like daring a small child not to act up while their mother is away. The National batters will test Pedro by crowding the plate. They will want to take advantage of any edge MLB gives them. If the Nat’s begin to do that, you can rest assured that Pedro will want to regain control of the plate, and if that means beaming a batter, he will just have to do that.

When that happens watch for Robinson to send for the signal to the bullpen to get ready, because Pedro is going down at his next at bat.

And that’s the way it should be. Its not dirty play, or cheap play it is just good hard baseball. Intense sports early in the season. Because it’s Nat’s and Mets people scuff it off as hooligan antics, (not to mention a NY media that still hates Pedro). If the same situation came about and it was Yankee’s vs. Red Sox everyone on the eastern shore board would be into this rivalry and claiming that Robinson had the right to do this and Pedro had the right to do that. Remember its okay to have other teams play hard in April beside Yanks and Sox.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Marathon Season

Okay, here’s the deal. It is the third day of the MLB baseball season, and we have essentially done nothing to cover baseball. There is a reason behind that. It is a very LONG season, and daily coverage of baseball will wear out our staff and everyone around. So the teams have played two games that means there are 160 left, don’t worry we will keep you guys up to date on what to watch.

That being said, I will briefly take some time to make some predictions and brief observations of things to watch for in the up and coming 2006 baseball season.

The AL East always gets the most attention of any division in baseball and rightfully so. When it is home to the Boston Red Sox, and New York Yankees, the headlines write themselves 26 times a year. This may be the tightest race in the AL East ever. The Blue Jays spent serious money to update their roster. After watching newly acquired ace Roy Halladay out duel Santana of the Twins for a win it appears the Jays may have made the right decision. That being said the Jays will be competitive in the East for the first time in years, and will probably steal a Wild Card spot from the Sox. The Yankees will win the division. Surprise Surprise.

Across the midway to the AL Central, this may prove to be the most interesting division in baseball. The defending World Series Champions have made serious upgrades to their batting lineup as they look to defend their crown. Cleveland claims to have learned from last years late season meltdown, and they are looking for payback from the Sox knocking them out late in the season. And don’t forget the Twins lurking out there, always dangerous and capable of making a run. The race to the end in this division will be a war of attrition. I think the Tribe has a slight edge in the race, but Sabathia’s got to be able to bounce back from an opening day injury.

In the AL West we will see the rise of money ball once again. The Angels do not have enough depth, and health to go the distance of the season. The Oakland A’s have once again reassemble by law of the money ball. They constructed a strong lineup with solid pitching and hitting look for them to go through the West and wrap it up fairly early.

Now to the other league the NL West will suffer from another season of mediocrity on the field, but off the field it will be the most interesting site maybe in baseball history. The Barry Bonds saga will keep the Giants in the media throughout the season. What may be lost in the fray is if Bonds can stay healthy the Giants are a favorite to win the NL West. Remember this is the same division were .500 means success. And oh yeah Nomar is already on the DL go figure.

NL Central will be the most boring division in baseball. Expect to see the same results we see every year, Cardinals win. The Cards are still together, and Pujols swings the best bat in the majors behind Barry Bonds. The Cards have made a habit of wrapping up the Central by mid summer, and they will do the same this year. Now if they can just get over the hump in the post season.

The NL East will prove to be an exciting division to watch throughout the season. The Mets have spent like their New York counterparts and they are hoping to see similar results. Down 95 the Phillies are hoping to come up with some success and bring pride back to the City of Brotherly Love. The Atlanta Braves have been the golden standard of success for all sports really winning 14 straight division titles. If they want to win a 15th they will have a dog fight, and they are up for it. Last year the Braves showcase 9 rookies. Several of them have made the everyday lineup and have postseason experience. They are ready to make an impact on the Majors. Expect the Mets and Braves to fight it out in the East with the Braves barely nudging them out.

That is a quick look at the divisional break downs for MLB this season, but it is a long season and there will need to be other story lines to keep fans interested. Here is a brief listing of those ideas.

Barry Bonds. The TV show, Game Of Shadows, 714 you name it there are dozens of stories.

MLB investigation will be ongoing throughout the season, and there are bound to be some breakthroughs during the course of the season.

Yanks and Sox. It’s East Coast and the North East lives for this therefore the make the rest of the world think they should care too.

Will Clemons return? And if so which team will he play for?

Ana Benson, she has to be good for a few pictures if nothing else. She already filed for divorce and then re got back together with her husband and its just opening week. Who needs to hear about Nick and Jessica when MLB has this?

It is a long baseball season lets sit back and enjoy, and remember it’s a marathon not a sprint. So don’t overdue it on opening weekend.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A Letter to the Fans

Dear Baseball Fans of America;

I am writing this letter due to a growing concern I have as a result of the behavior you have exhibited during recent years and on Opening Day 2006. Your passion for the sport you claim to love is slowly but surely chocking the life from the game, and threatening to destroy everything you claim to love so dearly. I am asking you to please discontinue these disturbing behavioral trends and go back to simply being some of the most loyal fans in sports.

On opening day 2006 after the eighth inning as Barry Bonds walked toward the San Francisco dugout a syringe was thrown at him. The syringe fell to the ground near him as he exited the field; Bonds picked up the syringe in his glove and disposed of it properly. He said there was no actual needle in the syringe which was a good thing.

“I just put it off the field so no one would get hurt” Barry Bonds

This brings me to my point of baseball fans going too far with their behavior in the stands. Bonds was booed by the crowd throughout the game despite the fact he was in his home stadium. That’s okay; it is actually to be expected. Bond’s was booed before the investigation and he certainly expected to be booed now. It is common place in sports for athletes to be booed, and it is part of what makes sports so exciting, the presence of hero’s and enemies.

Throwing objects on the field is an example of a fan overstepping their rights. We have seen snowballs pelted at players and Santa Claus, beer bottles and dog biscuits thrown at referees, and everything under the sun thrown at John Rocker. None of this is warranted no matter how big an idiot the player may be.

However in the current age we live in, a syringe may be the worse and most dangerous object to hit a field. I am not an expert on terrorism or anything of that nature despite my degree. However in the current age of AIDS, Bird Flue, Anthrax, and countless other biological agents, accompanied with the known fact that there are people out there willing to use those agents against Americans, we cannot in good faith have American fans throwing syringes on a field.

It is stupid, and dangerous to the players on the field and the fans in the stands who want to enjoy a game. Maybe it’s because I live in the nations capital and I have a heighten awareness about terrorist threats and things of that nature.

Fans need to take responsibility for their actions. Go to the game boo Barry Bonds all you want. Make signs think up chants and yell your lungs out; that’s find by me. However, do not hurt the integrity of the game or put anyone in danger.

Remember it was twice in the last four years we have baseball fans interfere in the flow of a baseball game and one time they nearly injured a coach.

Baseball authorities need to step in and put an end to this now. If Bonds if facing these reactions at his home park there is no telling what he may see when he goes to New York, or L.A. all places that carry a greater risk and larger targets on the respected cities backs.

Rather than spending hours of time and money on investigating the past, how bout baseball investigate the security at their own parks. Deal with the problems that are currently at hand in the here and now.

Thank you,

Concerned Sports Writer

Dumont J. Walker III

Monday, April 03, 2006

Packers Held Hostage day 1158

Let me start by saying this, I love Brett Farve, he is one of the greatest QB’s of all time. I feel it was a pleasure to have watched him play through the peek of his career. He played the game hard and never ceased to put on a show for the fans rather it was good or bad.

That being said; Brett Farve has got to make up his mind, and put the Green Bay Packers at rest. I want to see him come back and play one last season more than anyone, but currently he is holding the Packers hostage, and destroying the franchise he brought back to prominence.

The NFL draft is less than a month away, which means mini camps and summer camp are not far behind. The Packers need to start game planning for the next season now. Aaron Rogers has taken virtually no snaps in the NFL, and the Packers have no idea if they really have a QB for the future in him. Now would be the good time to beginning grooming him, and possibly pick up a veteran QB like a Kerry Collins to have in the stable as Rogers takes his lumps in the learning process.

However with Farve sitting on the bench it is impossible for the Packers to make plans for the future. Further more Farve is becoming everything he said he would never be, an egotistical athlete. Last week he remarked that it would be impossible for the Packers to cut him. That may be true to an extent; cutting Brett Farve would be the worse PR move for the Packers since Bart Star ran coached the team. Everyone knows the Packers hands are tied when it comes to cutting Farve, but the unwritten rule is Farve cannot call their bluff on that subject. If that’s what he wants to do, then the Packers almost have to cut him.

Currently cutting Farve may actually work out well for the Packers. Even with Farve back for next season it will be a farewell tour that will not end as happily as Jerome Bettis’s did last season. The Packers are a team with dozens of holes across their lineup, and the Farve playing next season will resemble the one lackluster one we saw this past season. If the Packers let Rogers play next season, they get the opportunity to get him valuable in game experience. They also get an instant glimpse into their future, and decide if they need to go another direction.

All of this is contingent on what Brett Farve may or may not do.

Brett as one of your biggest fans I am asking makes a decision. I want to watch you play another season, but let the Packers off the hook, you are hurting everyone by riding the fence.