Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Did You Hear the One About the Raiders?????

Once, the name "Oakland Raiders" was synonymous with tough, gritty, sometimes dirty, but an always feared football team.

Now? The Raiders are more at home as a punchline than as a serious contender.

Owner Al Davis, in his kindest light, has long been known as a renegade. In layman's terms, however, he is just one crazy mo fo.

And....'Nuff said.

In the last 30 years, Davis has done some crazy things. He hates the NFL (see lawsuits one thru one million). He hates most of his head coaches (see Jon Gruden trade to Tampa for 4 draft picks, lawsuit against former head coach Tom Cable, and very public battle against Lane Kiffin). He hates Los Angeles (see moving team to LA from Oakland, demanding a monopoly on the LA TV market, and promptly moving the team back to Oakland).

But perhaps the most perplexing is the owner's head scratching trades of quality players juxtaposed against some of the biggest draft blunders in league history:

  • JaMarcus Russell. I've mentioned the former LSU QB and top pick in the 2007 draft a few times on here before. The big, burly player held out through training camp and the first week of the season before signing a multi-million dollar deal. And is now known as the biggest draft bust pick OF. ALL. TIME.
JaMarcus Russell

  • Marcus Allen. The former Raider, retired Chief, and HOF member had such a toxic relationship with Davis that he was benched upon holding out for a larger contract. When Davis finally granted Allen a trade to Kansas City, Allen went on to be named the NFL comeback player of the year.

  • Bob Buczkowski. The DE from Pittsburgh managed only 2 games and 1.5 sacks with Oakland before taking an extremely early retirement.

  • The Randy Moss trade. Yeah, that worked out well.

  • Darrius Heyward-Bey. Look, I like the former Maryland receiver. And as a WVU girl, that's tough for me to say. But the Raiders had no business drafting him as the 7th overall pick in 2009, especially over standouts Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin.

  • Todd Marinovich. Touted as the future of the team in 1991, the 24th overall draft pick (ahead of some guy named Brett Favre) would have made the perfect poster boy for Intervention: he ultimately failed three NFL drug tests due to marijuana use and left the league after 2 years.

  • Nnamdi Asomugha. When your team is mediocre, why on Earth do you get rid of your best player?

So with such an infamous history of questionable choices, the obvious question is this:

Will the taking of QB Terrelle Pryor in the supplemental draft be a genius move or just another Al Davis bust to add to the list?

It's no secret that running college quarterbacks tend to be unsuccessful at the same position in the NFL. Yet, that's what the Raiders took Pryor for. Obviously Pryor is a quality athlete, fast and tall, but many feel he doesn't have the arm strength and skills to make it as a top-rated passer. Does Pryor have the will to learn a new position, and more importantly, will the Raiders be able to develop his talent properly?

Pryor also comes with major baggage, namely a five game suspension to start out his professional career. Though he might have "officially" left his NCAA career behind, we all know that you can never quit a scandal (just ask Reggie Bush).

For now, the young, beleaguered player is saying and doing all the right things in his new California home. With some patience and maturity, I believe Pryor has the talent to become a successful player for the Raiders.

And hey, even if he's a bust, at least he can take comfort that he's no JaMarcus Russell.

Images provided by chicagonow , smartfootball, and static.foxsports.


So what do you think sports fans? Can the Raiders return to their glory days? Will Pryor turn out to be a good choice or a bust? Is Al Davis not the scariest thing you've ever seen? Hit me up and let me know!!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Attention Blog Readers

After the realization I'm too lazy some long and hard consideration, new Sports-O-Nista blogs will now be coming to you on Tuesdays and, of course, (fun) Fridays.

Unless, of course, inspiration strikes me and I write a post on Monday, Wed, or Thursday.

Really, it's a woman's perogative to change her mind on any given day.

So tune in tomorrow for a look at how the Oakland Raiders may or may not have the worst history of making bad personnel choices, and if taking Terrelle Pryor in the supplemental draft will just be the next one.

Til then,

Friday, August 26, 2011

There's No Talking in Baseball

Today is Friday, which usually means a Friday fun post. But guys? The topic for today is anything but fun. It's serious. Very serious. So put your serious pants on and bear with me.

Last Friday I went to a Pittsburgh Pirates game at the lovely PNC Park with two of the besties Leah and Jenny, my cousin Sara, and her fiance Andy. Despite some heavy rain/floods and a...shall we say....interesting 3 1/2 hour car ride*, the five of us spent six innings hanging out in some awesome right field seats enjoying each other's company.

Although we are all in our 20s and *gulp* 30s, there wasn't any alcohol being consumed. No vulgar language was being tossed around. We were just happy to people watch, laugh at the kid behind us who fell in a tray full of salsa, and occasionally cheer for the Pirates when they did something spectacular.

You know, a typical baseball outing. Right?


Around the 7th inning, just as Leah and I were (for some reason) doing our own version of the Barry Gibb Talk Show sketch on SNL, an older gentleman in front of us turned around and said, "Girls, you've been at it nonstop since you got here. This is a baseball game."

OK, granted our version of the sketch wasn't particularly very good, but we all sat for a moment dumbfounded just the same.

Did we seriously just get scolded for....talking?????

Honestly, what did the man expect? That we should sit in reverent silence for 54 outs, quietly and thoughtfully analysing each pitch and swing of the bat????

I consider myself a pretty thoughtful sports fan. For instance, I'm mindful of standing up too much in front of old people. They don't like it. They get cranky when you do it.

"Sit down! You're blocking the game!"

You know the people I'm talking about. And, no lie, I've seen a man use his crutch to hit a person standing in front of him. Ergo, unless something super exciting/intense is happening, I'm fine with sitting.

I'm also ok with not cussing in front of small children. Not that I cuss too much in public anyway (only in my car, and those people TOTALLY deserve it), but let's be real...it's not difficult to watch what you say.

I know, I know....kids can be a damper on the swearing streak you think is adequately expressing your displeasure at your team's playing, the refs, the coaches, the other team, etc. But, guess what? The people on the field can't hear you. The kids can. So yeah...you pretty much just sound like a jack-ass.

As for alcohol....I know a lot of adults like to enjoy an adult beverage or two (or three or four) with their sports watching. But, you know what? When you're passed out in your seat (or worse, vomiting on it), no one is happy with you. NO ONE.

Also not good fan etiquette?? Brushing the person's hair in front of you.
So, what's the moral of this story?

Sports spectating has an understood set of boundaries and ethics to which we should all try to adhere. People pay good money to go watch a game, and they want to be able to enjoy it. Don't be a drunk, potty-mouthed, "you make a better door than a window" nuisance.

On the other hand, clearly the guy in front of us had his grumpy pants on. Because, while there is no crying in baseball, talking is definitely allowed.

*For future reference, planning a Pirates game, a Britney Spears concert, a ZZ Top concert, and major roadwork all at the same is NOT a good idea. Also not a good idea? Drinking a whole bottle of water before sitting in 3 and a half hours of traffic.

So sports fans, have you ever been scolded at a game for being a "bad fan"? Have you ever scolded anyone? Hit me up and let me know!

Images provided by The Sports-o-Nista.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A League of Their Own

It's August in Williamsport, PA, and that means one thing:

The Little League World Series.

In fact, it's the 65th Little League World Series this year.

As I was getting the battery replaced in my car yesterday evening, I happened to catch a little of the Canada/Japan game on TV (Japan won 4-0 FYI).

Can you imagine being an 11-13 year old and playing baseball on national television?

Me either.

The Series has seen its fair share of future star athletes, including MLBers Jason Bay, Boog Powell, Jason Varitek, and Gary Sheffield, as well as NHL stars Pierre Turgeon and Chris Drury, and NFL player Matt Cassel.

The Series has also had its fair share of scandal. Remember when Danny Almonte kicked some major butt with his 70 mph slider, only to be proven too old to be playing?

And p.s., can you believe that's been 10 years ago?

With Japan's elimination win over Canada today, they become one step closer to repeating as World Series Champs.

But what about Pennsylvania, who no-hit the Louisiana team for a 10-0 slaying?

Or Montana, who are still perfect in competition play?

Whoever wins it this year, you can bet it will be exciting and memorable.

Especially to the youth that will have that experience for the rest of their lives.
So have you been watching any of the World Series? Do you have a favorite team out there? Let me know!

Image provided by baseballyouth.

Friday, August 19, 2011

An Open Letter to the NCAA...

Dear NCAA,

How's Indianapolis? I hear the weather's nice up there this time of year. Actually, I haven't heard that, because I don't follow weather patterns in Indiana that much. But I'm sure it's way nicer now than say....December. Right?

Anyhoo, I know you have your hands full right now with...shall we say...some problem children. Although, look at the bright side- you'll be racking up major frequent flier points in all those cross-country excursions from Oregon to Alabama to Miami (layover in Columbus, OH optional, of course).

But that's not why I'm writing. You see, I'm a little concerned with all the wheeling and dealing as it concerns conference re-alignment. First, Colorado left the Big 12 for the Pac-10. Then Nebraska departed for the Big 10. Utah decided to come over from the Mountain West to form the Pac-12. Boise St. then took their place in the Mountain West. And TCU has said they're coming over to join yours truly's alma mater in the Big East.


As crazy as all that was, I thought things had settled. But I guess I was wrong.

I know...me, wrong? Hard to believe. But it happens now and again.

Of course, I blame this whole thing on Texas. Well, Texas and TV, but TV and I are in a pretty monogamous relationship, so I'm definitely placing the blame on Texas. See, Texas having its own TV station (creativley named the Longhorn Network) has made little brother Texas A&M green with burnt orange envy.

Of course, envy and intelligence aren't necessarily related (in fact, in most cases they're mutually exclusive). The Aggies want to take their game to the SEC. Why? I don't know. If you can't hang in the Big 12, why would you want to move to the toughest conference in the country?

I heard the SEC politely offered a "Bless Your Heart" to Texas A&M upon hearing this request. As we all know, "Bless Your Heart" in southern speak means "Oh, aren't you a naive train wreck that we want no part of". But A&M didn't seem to get the message.

And let's be real, if that happens, all hell is going to break loose. Kansas might join up with the Big Ten (Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen...whatever they are now). Missouri still is waiting to join up as well. It's rumored that Vandy might depart to the ACC, which will in turn have to create 3 divisions. WVU has even been linked with its ACC, SEC and Big 12 counterparts. That is, if the Big 12 is still around.

Cause, like the "U", it might be facing a death penalty.

So what's the dealio? Maybe we should just draw a cross and divide the country into four parts. Or heck, if you think that's not gonna cut it, the Mason-Dixon line is a good place to split.

Don't be ridiculous, you might be saying. Well, this re-alignment is ridiculous. Does no one have loyalty anymore to old rivalries? Is it really ALL about money?

Ok, let's talk about money. Forget football and men's basketball for a minute. How is a lacrosse team from Texas going to find money to travel to South Carolina on a regular basis? That's over a 1000 miles, in case you didn't know. A little long for a bus trip, dontcha think?

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read my letter. I promise no athletes were paid off in the making of it.

Oh, and one more thing. If you're out and about in Indy, and you happen to see Pat McAfee swimming in a river again, just give him a towel and call him a cab. He's a good soul.


Hugs and Kisses,

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Good Bye NBA....¡Hola! FIBA!

Despite having a great year in the D-League (with a performance rumored to have become a springboard back to the big leagues), the 2008 Draft eighth overall pick Joe Alexander decided to take his talents to Russia.

And I thought there was distance issues keeping us apart when he played for the Milwaukee Bucks. Well...distance and that whole "he doesn't know me" thing. But I digress.

It seemed that the looming threat of a prolonged NBA lockout was enough to convince Alexander that overseas was the best bet.

His agent, Doug Neustadt, put it bluntly, "In the end, he just wanted to go play somewhere. That's what it came down to."

"So what?" you might be saying to yourself right at this moment. "Who cares?"

About Alexander? Maybe just me. And his family. And a handful of WVU fans.

But for the rest of you NBA followers out there, here's why you should care:

Joe's not alone.

In fact, don't be surprised to see some big name talent donning jerseys with names you can't pronounce in the very near future. Like Ron Artest. And Deron Williams.

Don't laugh. It could happen.
And J.J. Berea, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, and Kobe Bryant (to name a few).

Before you start to panic, however, most of these big time guys wouldn't dream of signing a contract without an opt-out clause. In fact, the FIBA ruling this past June that allows NBA players to play overseas despite their current contracts actually MANDATES that they must return immediately to their US team.

Free agents, of course, could stay or leave their international team if they so chose.

So.....good for the players. And good for international ball.

But as for the NBA.....well, goodbye, au revoir, and arrivederci for now.

I'm sure Kobe will send you a postcard.


So NBA fans, what do you think about the potential mass exodus to Europe and Asia? Is there anyone you wouldn't be sad to see stay abroad???? Let me know!

Image provided by otrsportsonline.

Monday, August 15, 2011

'Tis the (Pre) Season....

Welcome to NFL pre-season....where everything is made up, and the points don't matter.

Oh wait...that's Whose Line is It Anyway.

My bad.

I remember the years when I would REFUSE to do anything during a Redskins pre-season game, insisting that I must watch them as if their run to the playoffs depended on it.

Now? I saw the box score from Friday night's game in the paper (a 16-7 win over the Steelers, in case you were wondering) and my reaction was "Oh, well at least they won a game this season."

I kid, I kid.

But in all seriousness, pre-season means very little to anyone except for the third and fourth stringers trying to make the cut. Starters rarely play significant minutes until the third game or so. Offensive schemes are as basic as home-ec cooking lessons.

That being said, there are a few story lines to keep your eye on as this August continues to unfold:

1. Cam Newton's debut as a NFL starting quarterback. The controversial Heisman winner and top draft pick was a little shaky in the Panthers' win over the NY Giants, but that's to be expected. Now let's see if Newton can overcome the stigma that previous players in his position have garnered in recent years (namely JaMarcus Russell, Alex Smith, and Tim Couch).

2. Plaxico Burress's return to the NFL. The NFL loves a good comeback, especially from its resident jailbirds (hi Michael Vick *waves*). Plax, who will be donning the colors of the OTHER NY football team this season, is hoping his return will be just as much of a success as Vick's.

3. The battle of big name free agents. According to recent reports, Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth are probably not going to both be on the Patriots' roster come September. Anyone want to guess as to which one is most likely to be cut?

4. The Detroit Lions. After being the paragon of consistency the last five to ten years (that is, annual basement dwellers), the Lions had a semi-decent year in 2010. Matthew Stafford is hoping to keep off of the "number one qb picks that suck" list. Ndamukong Suh (who I still think got robbed for a Heisman) is going to be back bigger and better than ever on the defensive side. It's a little early to call, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Detroit might just have themselves a playoff caliber team this year.

The Faces of the 2011 NFL Pre-Season

So....I guess there are a FEW interesting things to keep an eye out for. But me? I'll just be happy to see a kick-off come Sept 8, when the Saints take on defending Super Bowl Champs Green Bay Packers. 'Cause let's be real....the fact that there's a season to look forward to watching is the only preseason storyline that matters.


So NFL fans, have you been watching any of this weekend's preseason games? Are you just excited to be able to WATCH NFL football after all the lockout drama? Hit me up and let me know!

Images provided by weallscheme, fabiolatalkstv, marchpr, blacksportsonline, and helmet2helmet.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Coach's Decision....Not Playing

Hey guys!

So.......this happens to be a SUPER busy week for me, both at work and in extra-curricular activities. Ergo, I've decided to take the week off from blogging.

Now, I know this will not register at all sadden most of you. You'll just have to grin and bear it. At least I picked a relatively boring sports week and besides, absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

But, just to show you that I'm not completely uncaring and oblivous to your pain, I'll leave you with this intriguing story I read today about Oscar Pistorius, the first amputee athlete to compete in the Worlds Track and Field competition. Take a quick look at his fascinating story, then check out the controversy that is undoubtedly surrounding him...

Let me know if you think Pistorius should be able to compete or if he has an unfair advantage on the field.

Until then.....

Friday, August 5, 2011

Forget Love...Where's the Hate???

This past Sunday I was flipping through channels trying to find something interesting to watch.

And...ahem...TV really needs to work on their Sunday programming.

As I scanned the program guide, a feature on the NFL Network titled "Ten Things We Miss About Football" caught my attention.

"Well, this can't be any worse than Jerseylicious or Ice Loves Coco," I said to myself.

So I flipped it on.

And was immediately mesmerized.

I happened to catch the list at number 9.....barefoot kickers. Painfully (and ashamedly) unaware of this past phenomenon, I immediately grabbed my notebook to start jotting down ideas for my Friday Fun post. Cause let's face it....that's pretty amazingly awesome, no?

Why? And...oww.

But just as I was formulating thoughts in my head, number eight on the list appeared.

Too much love in the NFL.

What's that, you say? Too much love? No way!

Yes, way.

Back in the day, "dirty" was considered normal. If you were a member of the Cowboys, and you were playing the Redskins, you knew who the enemy was. Same goes for Packers and Bears. And Oakland and...well....everyone.

Most notable at not giving love to anyone is Conrad Dobler, who once said in an Esquire interview that "Some people get vasectomies. I used to give 'em". This is the same guy who invented the leg whip, the guy whose punch to Mean Joe Greene's solar plexus made him break down and cry on the field, and the guy who still to this day relishes his feud with Merlin Olsen, the Hall of Famer whom he kicked in the head.

Others who were on close terms with "hating" opponents? Dick Butkus, who would manufacture slights in his mind to get fired up for the game, is still regarded as one of the meanest linebackers ever. Jack Tatum, aka "the Assassin", was rumored to never have apologized for the paralyzing hit on New England Patriot's Darryl Stingley. And let's not forget the infamous dislike between Chicago Bears Mike Ditka and Green Bay Packers Forrest Gregg. Yes, even head coaches weren't immune.

Anyone want to be on these guys' bad side? Anyone? Bueller?

Now, though?

Present day NFL is defined by laugh fests, picture taking, and overall congeniality between opposing team players.

Juxtaposed with shots of hard hits, kicks, punches, and downright mean gestures from the NFL of the 70s and 80s, clips of the following were presented as evidence of this "softer" side:

"Hey man, call me! Let me get your number!"


"Hey, can you sign this hat for my son?"


"How are the wife and kids doing? You doing OK?"


"OK, we gotta get our picture taken!!"

Call Me. Luv you. Mean It!

Ummmm...alright then.

Maybe it's the fact that a franchise player has become an endangered (if not extinct) species. Maybe it's due to these young guys right out of college keeping in touch with their old buddies. Maybe "sportsmanship" has just been shoved so far down every one's throats that players can't summon up enough negativity to actually HATE their opponents. Maybe there's mandatory team yoga practices.

Whatever the case, though, the hard-nose, back breaking, face punching NFL of yore seems to be a thing of the past.

Just like barefoot kickers.


So NFL fans, are you happier with the kinder, gentler NFL? Or do you miss the days when teams really and truly despised each other? Hit me up (umm, not literally...remember, kinder and gentler) and let me know!

By the way...."Ten Things We Miss About Football" will be re-airing this Sunday, August 7th at 9 a.m. Check it out!

Images provided by 4.bp.blogspot, cdn.bleacherreport, thelipstickchronicles, sportsbore, images.quickblogcast, a323.yahoofs, and bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Voted Off the Island

Well, Islander fans (if there is such a thing), I have some bad news.

Your team has been voted off the island. Long Island.

Kinda, anyway.

On Monday, the referendum to increase taxes so that the NHL team could build a new $400 million arena was thoroughly and soundly rejected.

Owner Charles Wang, using the age-old tactic of emotional blackmail, has been hinting to move the team if a new facility isn't built.

Despite promises of new jobs, increased tourism, and all-around economic growth, the residents of Nassau County weren't ready to drink the Kool-Aid. And no wonder, considering they already pay close to $12,000 in property taxes annually.

So what does this mean for New York's "other" NHL team?

Commissioner Gary Bettman has said he will try his best to keep the team on Long Island after their lease expires in 2015. Wang, however, has kept relatively mum on the subject, other than to confirm the Islanders would remain until that time.

While I feel for fans of the team who no doubt want the issue resolved in a positive manner, I have to applaud the community members for not being bullied by a welfare tycoon (thanks to John Stossel for teaching me that term back in the day). And if Wang and the powers-that-be want to keep the Islanders actually on an Island, they'll find a way to raise the money and do it.

But for now, the tribe has spoken. Extinguish your torch. You may leave the Island.


So, hockey fans....what do you think? Is it inevitable that the Islanders are destined for a new mainland location? Do you agree with multi-millionaire owners relying on tax payers to fund new stadiums and arenas? Let me know!

Image provided by toomanymenonthesite.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Boys of Summer

I first posted this last summer after the FINA Championships. As I've been watching these first few days of swimming in the London games, I'm struck by how utterly right on I was concerning the US Men swimmers. I mean, am I right or am I right about how hot they are? They're like US Men's gymnastics hot, but normal sized people. So, I now present to you once more the Boys of Summer...you're welcome.


Guys.....it's hard to believe, but it's been 3 years since Michael Phelps went all gold crazy on us at the 2008 Olympics. Phelps won a record setting eight golds, including that still impossible-to-comprehend victory in the 100 m Butterfly over Milorad Čavić. Doesn't it seem like only yesterday that we were trying to figure out how his hand miraculously touched the wall a split second before Milorad's?

In just one short year, he'll be trying to get all fancy again in London at the 2012 games. But if Phelps wants to equal what he did in Beijing, he'll have to severly improve on his recent performance at the FINA 2011 World Championships.

Because, the big story this past week/end wasn't the golden boy of yore. That distinction went to fellow teammate Ryan Lochte, whose 5 gold medals included victories over Michael in the 200 m freestyle and 200 m individual relay.

Lochte taking down Phelps isn't the main scoop I want to share with you, however.

The most important thing I took away from the 2011 FINA Championships was this: the US Men's Swim team is HOT.

That's right, I said it. HOT.

Ladies, are you paying attention??? These guys are a-dor-a-ble. And just because I'm a giving sort of person, I now present to you the boys of summer.....

                                         Ryan Lochte

Nathan Adrian

Ricky Berens

Nick Thoman

You're welcome. And these aren't the scrubs that are just heat fillers. They are all actual honest-to-goodness medal contenders.*Le sigh*

Sooooo....show of hands. Who's now officially ready for the London 2012 games? Or at least a cold shower?

Me too, friends. Me too.

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