Thursday, May 31, 2012

Geek Out Stat: Spur of the Moment

     The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo takes place annually around the middle of February. The two-week event is held at the AT&T Center, which is where the San Antonio Spurs call home. Led by future Hall of Fame center Tim Duncan, the Spurs are running rampart on the NBA like a rodeo bull and their current run has the sports world buzzing. San Antonio is currently 10-0 in the 2012 playoffs in which they made easy work of the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers. This includes a comeback from a 24-point deficit which saw the Clippers manhandling the Spurs 33-11 in the 1st quarter of Game 3 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Their undefeated postseason run is actually an extension of their current 20-game win streak. San Antonio hasn't lost since April 11 when the Lakers trumped them at home 98-84. The Spurs have currently backed the Oklahoma City Thunder into a 2-0 hole now, even though Game 3 at Oklahoma City on Thursday will indeed be San Antonio's toughest test of the year.
     But as head coach Gregg Popovich said of the current run: "That's the least of our worries." (ESPN)
     Believe it or not, San Antonio is winning basketball games in a very unorthodox fashion. Or at least by the Spurs standards. San Antonio has garnered a reputation amongst the sports world as a team that has won four championships with solid defense and rebounding. The Spurs averaged 43 rebounds a game as a team this year, which is ninth best in the NBA. From 1999 to 2009, San Antonio has allowed an average of 89.5 points per game and have finished in the top 3 in this category. In fact, they've led the league in PPG allowed for four seasons (1999-2000, 2003-2004, 2004-2005 and 2006-2007).
     Ironically enough, San Antonio's first NBA title came in 1999 in a strike-shortened season. The "Twin Towers" David Robinson and Tim Duncan manned the team to a similar run to the Spurs' current run, going 11-1 during the 1999 postseason against the Western Conference. They proceeded to beat the upstart eighth seed New York Knicks in the NBA Finals 4-1. They went on to win three more NBA championships, even sweeping LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007.
     But now, the Spurs are beating to a different drum. Popovich implored his Spurs squad to "get nasty" and put the nail in the coffin of Kevin Durant and the Thunder. San Antonio finished second (Denver was first) in the NBA in scoring this year, averaging 103.7 points a game. The funny thing about this stat is that both Denver and San Antonio didn't have a player that averaged at least 19 points in 2011-2012. The reason? They play and score like a team. Denver not only led the league in team scoring during the strike-shortened season, but they were tops in team assists per game with 24. The Spurs were fourth in the NBA in this category with 23.2 assists per game with Tony Parker finishing fourth on an individual basis with 7.1 assists per game. Parker was one of four Spurs to average more than ten points a game this season, leading San Antonio with 18.3 PPG. The other three were Duncan (15.4), Manu Ginobili (12.9) and PG Patrick Mills (10.3). Parker, Duncan and Ginobili have revved up their offensive game during the playoffs. They've scored more this postseason (17 PPG) than during the 2011-2012 regular season (15.5 PPG). If you thought San Antonio was scary during the regular season, look at them now.
     But the reason why Denver couldn't even make it out of the first round (They did give Kobe Bryant and the Lakers a lot of hell, though) is that the Nuggets are notorious for not defending anybody. Denver was 29th in PPG allowed with 101.2 points. Now the Spurs may have slipped a bit on defense as well, but they finished 16th in the NBA, allowing a respectable 96.5 PPG. The Nuggets' leader in blocks per game this year was center Javele McGee with 2.2 BPG. This is the same Javele McGee who had a tough time posting up a 5'9" Isaiah Thomas. As for San Antonio, their team leader in said category was Tim Duncan. Now the Wake Forest alum might have not posted as good of a number as McGee (Duncan averaged 1.5 BPG), but Duncan's career average is 2.5.
     I made a post about LeBron, Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat and how this could be the year that LeBron sheds the growing "No NBA Title" monkey off his back. But if Miami does return to the NBA Finals, they could be looking in the eyes of a hungry San Antonio Spurs team. Because Tim Duncan and the Spurs won't rest until they've won one for the thumb.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Five Seconds of Your Life Well Spent

     Being an umpire for a rec league, beer league, little league or any softball/baseball league allows for some crafty calls. It's one of the few referee jobs in all of sports where you can add a dash of your personality into your calls (the NFL referee is another). But what you're about to see might be the best five seconds of your life. Or it might be the most pointless.

It has been replayed numerous times on Sportscenter's Not Top Ten and I still get a good laugh every time I watch it. How wouldn't laugh at this video? Not even Jim Joyce could top that. It's sheer spontaneous expression at it's finest.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Stanley Cup Preview: Devils vs. Kings

     The Stanley Cup Finals are all set and it's now down to two teams: The New Jersey Devils and the Los Angeles Kings. New Jersey, behind the best penalty killing unit in hockey and Ilya Kovalchuk's stellar play, have given Marty Brodeur one more shot at Lord Stanley's Goblet. Meanwhile, the Kings are back in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1993 when the Great One Wayne Gretzky led the Kings to the Finals against Montreal (By the way, that team was coached by none other than the legend himself Barry Melrose). But this time, goaltender Johnathon Quick has been the reason for the Kings success, posting a 12-2 win-loss record and a 1.54 GAA this postseason. So who's going to be eating Fruit Loops from the 34.5 lb trophy this summer? Here's a brief breakdown:

Scoring: During the regular season, the Devils got plenty of production from left wing Ilya Kovalchuk. The ex-Thrasher led the team with 37 goals and 83 points. During the playoffs, Kovalchuk wasn't alone in the scoring department. While Kovalchuk leads the team in points this postseason with 18 (seven of those being goals), fellow left winger Zach Parise and center Travis Zajac have chipped in seven goals as well. Ryan Carter and Patrik Elias have scored four goals for New Jersey as well. As for Los Angeles, right wing and team captain Dustin Brown has manned the Kings' offensive production with sixteen points during the playoffs. Anze Kopitar has also aided L.A. with fifteen points of his own. But one of the most unexpected contributors to the Kings' scoring has been left wing Dwight King, who's scored five goals this postseason, including four goals against Phoenix in the Western Conference Finals. But the Kings are scoring 2.93 goals per game this postseason compared to New Jersey scoring 2.83. But the Devils have more experienced veterans than the Kings. Advantage: Devils
Goaltending: Both squads have terrific netminders this year. Martin Brodeur continues to prove to everyone that he's the ageless puck-stopping wizard that he's been all these years throughout the playoffs. An example of this is his Game 6 performance versus New York on Friday, stopping 33 of 35 shots in a 3-2 clincher over the top-seeded Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals. But Johnathon Quick has been spectacular throughout the playoffs, posting a .946 save percentage against the Canucks, Blues and Coyotes. Los Angeles has only allowed 1.57 goals per game this postseason. Expect a low-scoring series. Advantage: Kings
Coaching: Los Angeles has really taken off since firing Terry Murray 32 games into the 2012 regular season and replacing him with Darryl Sutter. The Kings were 26-13-11 under Sutter during the regular season and are 12-2 this postseason under him. This is the third year for New Jersey's coach Peter DeBoer and he has certainly revitalized Devils hockey. He has a way of exploiting certain teams' weaknesses as shown during the second round against the Flyers in which Philadelphia was peppered with shots on goal and many odd man rushes. Then he exposed the Rangers for their lack of offensive punch by blocking numerous Ranger shots. Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik ended up combining for only one goal for New York that entire series.
Advantage: Tie
Special Teams: New Jersey led the NHL in penalty killing during the regular season with an 89.6 % of power plays fended off. They've been more successful than the Kings on the power play as well, scoring 17.5 % of the time on the power play compared to Los Angeles scoring on 08.1 % of their power plays. Additionally, the Kings have had more opportunities with a man advantage, posting 74 PP shots on goal compared to the Devils with 63 shots on goal during a power play. Advantage: Devils
Intangibles: While the Devils have playoff experience with the likes of Brodeur, Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias, Parise and Brian Gionta, the Kings have yet to lose a game on the road. They're 12-2 this postseason and have won eight straight road playoff games, an NHL record. They've dismantled previous Western Conference Champion and President's Trophy winner Vancouver, St. Louis and Phoenix in the playoffs. These teams were seeded one, two and three, respectively. Plus the Kings might benefit from the extra week of rest after beating Phoenix in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday, 4-3. Advantage: Kings
Prediction: L.A. is literally en fuego right now. They're the most dangerous eighth seed that sports has ever seen. I'm leaning towards the Kings in seven. But, this series could go either way.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I'll Have Another... And Another...

     Horse racing has had eleven Triple Crown winners (Horses who've won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes) since 1900 with the first being Sir Barton in 1919. But not since 1978 has horse racing had such a prestigious winner. Harbor View Farm's own Affirmed was the last horse to accomplish this. The feat is so rare that there have been plenty of Kentucky Derby winners who didn't win the Preakness. Fast forward 34 years later and the next Triple Crown candidate is certainly not one of the Vegas favorites.
     I'll Have Another, a foal by Flower Alley out of Arch's Gal Edith, only needs to win the Belmont Stakes on June 9th to cement his legacy and immortality in sports history alongside Secretariat and Seattle Slew as a Triple Crown winner. The way that the 3-year old horse has won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness has had a flair for the dramatic. Both races started off with 4-1 Kentucky Derby favorite Bodemeister rocketing off with the lead under jockey Mike Smith. I'll Have Another, who came into Churchill Downs with 15-1 odds, came out of the 19th post and was kept firmly in the pack by 25-year old jockey Mario Guittierez. But I'll Have Another came back during the final turn, beating out Bodemeister by 1 1/2 lengths with a time of 2:01:83 to seal the Kentucky Derby. What's even more incredible was that this was the first time Guittierez ever raced at Churchill Downs and was his first race later at the Preakness.
     But there certainly wouldn't be a case of deja vu on May 19th, would it?
     I'll Have Another entered the race as the second choice, coming in at 3-1 odds. The favorite? You guessed it. Bodemeister entered the Preakness with 8-5 odds, making him the early favorite. The race started the same way that the Kentucky Derby did: Bodemeister with the early lead and I'll Have Another sitting back in 4th place. But again came Guittierrez and his steed I'll Have Another in the shadow of the wire, beating Bodemeister by a neck length. I'll Have Another's winning time at the Preakness was 1:55:94.
     I'll Have Another set foot in New York about three days ago in preparation for the Belmont Stakes. Will I'll Have Another become the 12th Triple Crown winner on June 9th? Tune in and watch the most exciting two minutes of your life.

Monday, May 21, 2012

My Thoughts on... Marriage

     I know that this post isn't really about sports, but it's something that I had to talk about. Now what I'm about to say is only my opinion. You're entitled to your own opinion as well. I respect any opinion on this topic because it's the belief of that person. But here it is and it's about marriage.
     A couple of weeks ago, President Barack Obama addressed his support for gay marriage and the right for any gay/lesbian couple to be bound by marriage. This announcement shook America right to its core, stirring many emotions amongst American citizens. Many people applauded President Obama and even respected him for his opinion, while many others showed their disdain towards Obama's stance. Many of the opposition's arguments, which are used by numerous (not all) Christians, conservatives and Catholics, include the Bible stating that all homosexuals are "not allowed entrance into heaven", marriage should be between a man and a woman and that gay people are the "work of the devil". Ann Coulter even said that "You could pray the gay away." Now I respect the opinions of all religions regarding these issues, but this is way too extreme.
     I don't have any problem with a gay couple throwing their own wedding. But being a libertarian (Ron Paul 2012!!), I do believe that our federal government shouldn't have any say in how marriage is defined. Instead, why not leave it up to states such as North Carolina or Massachusetts? Did you know that George Washington was bisexual?
     The print don't lie. George Washington loved women and men. Let's remember that this is one of America's founding fathers that we're talking about here. Technically, this would be a big slap to the face of the first President of the United States if we banned gay marriage throughout all of America. Just let the states themselves decide and it is what it is in terms of how they vote. Let us separate church and state so much that the only connection that they have are the criminal offenses of bearing false witness, theft and murder.
     Many Christians who are disgusted by gay marriage often say that homosexuality is a sin and that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Don't get me wrong, I love women (And I hope to start a family one day. I promised my grandmother that I'd give her great grandkids). But didn't God also say "Don't Judge Others?" I think that we should embrace everyone regardless of race, gender, orientation, religion or upbringing.

Friday, May 18, 2012

It Must Be the Bat!!

     Believe it or not, I picked the Texas Rangers to win the 2012 World Series (that is, if Yu Darvish lived up to his lofty expectations, which he has). The main reason why I picked the Rangers is because of their deep lineup headlined by 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton. Despite concerns over his alcohol relapse during the off-season, the former No. 1 overall draft pick hasn't disappointed so far.
     Hamilton went on a home-run hitting tear from May 6th to May 13th, hitting ten home runs and 19 RBIs in just eight games. That includes his historic game on May 8th at Baltimore in which he became the 16th player to hit four home runs. The center fielder also went five for five and had eight RBIs that game. He currently leads the AL in not just homers (18) and RBIs (45), but he also leads the AL in batting average (.399), slugging percentage (.826) and OPS (1.278). He currently has more dingers than the ENTIRE San Diego Padres team. In fact, his 16-game hitting streak was snapped yesterday. The possibility of a triple crown in baseball comes around very rarely, but Hamilton makes it more likely every day.
     So what has been the secret to Josh Hamilton's success? Why, it must be the bat!! The bat that Hamilton used during that week of May 6th is now preserved in baseball history. The piece of timber eventually broke on Sunday Night Baseball on May 13th against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on a flare single to left field. That hit drove in his 44th run and the bat's crack was minor enough to preserve. The bat is up there with Shoeless Joe Jackson and his "Black Betsy", George Brett and his pine tarred bat and home-run bats from Joe Carter, Bill Mazeroski, Carlton Fisk, Reggie Jackson and Bobby Thomson. Since the infamous bat was rendered unusable, Hamilton has four hits in eleven plate appearances, driving in only one run.
     Of course, Josh Hamilton really doesn't need a special bat to put up MVP numbers. But sometimes, a big piece of lumber can help make history and immortality in the game of baseball. Hey, it must be the bat!!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Geek Out Stat: King Me

     This year's Eastern Conference Finals is between the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils. That seems like a good reasonable match-up considering that Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg have been a great goaltending tandem for the Devils. Add the top penalty killing unit during the season to the mix and you got a New Jersey team that deserves to be where they currently are. As for the blueshirts, the Rangers have had a tremendous backcheck all season thanks to the likes of defensemen Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. Let's not forget that Henrik Lundqvist has helped the Rangers to back up their lofty expectations as a No. 1 seed of the Eastern Conference. And if you're a true hockey fan, you're likely to recall the previous Eastern Conference Finals match-up between the two teams in 1994. Thanks to Stephane Matteau's infamous wrap-around goal in double-overtime in Game 7, the Rangers knocked off the Devils and went on to beat the Canucks for the Stanley Cup. So the Hudson River rematch should live up to the hype.
     As for the Western Conference Finals? It's between...
     The Los Angeles Kings and the Phoenix Coyotes. Yep, I said it right. The Los Angeles Kings, who've only made it to the Stanley Cup Finals once (They lost to Montreal in five games in 1993) and the Phoenix Coyotes, who've never even made it past the first round of the playoffs before this season and are rumored to relocate this offseason. Phoenix has been a pleasant surprise this postseason, knocking off both the favored Blackhawks and Predators respectively. With the duo of RW Radim Vrbata and LW Ray Whitney providing the majority of the Coyote's points while Mike Smith minds the net, Phoenix is giving hockey fans in the desert a reason for optimism. But the Kings have been very hard to stop this postseason and invincible on the road, becoming the first team in NHL history to win their first six road games since Colorado started 7-0 on the road in 1999. Yesterday Los Angeles defeated the Coyotes 4-2 on a pair of Dwight King goals in Game 1.
     How did the Kings make it this far, defeating the No. 1 seeded Canucks and No. 2 seeded Blues in the same playoff year? They've gotten a major boost from netminder Johnathon Quick. Quick has been what his last name suggests, only allowing a GAA of 1.95 thanks to his quickness. The Vezina Trophy candidate (and likely winner) has been even more stellar in the postseason, going 9-1 and only allowing 1.60 GAA in ten games during the 2012 playoffs. The Kings have also killed off 24 straight power plays, including five power plays against the Coyotes in Game 1. Plus, the Kings outshot Phoenix in the first period of Game 1 by a margin of 17 to 4. They finished with a 48-27 edge in shots on net with Phoenix blocking 25 shots throughout Game 1. Dustin Brown has also proven to be a hot-hand for L.A. in the playoffs. The right winger has seven goals (three of them game winners) in the playoffs, including one on Sunday in Game 1.
     Thanks to their deep runs this postseason, both the Coyotes and the Kings have renewed interest in hockey for their respective markets. Goaltending's the name of the game this year and it looks to be leading the way towards a Stanley Cup.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Miami Viced?

     It's so easy to poke fun at LeBron James now-a-days. You can make fun of his 4th quarter chokejobs. You can make fun of his hairline that's receding quicker than Hulk Hogan's. You can make fun of the fact that he has no championship rings. You can make fun of his far-fetched guarantees:
     "We're not gonna win just one title! Not two! Not three! Not four! Not five! Not six, seven or eight!!"
     But skeptics might not be laughing at LeBron anymore come mid-June. It's not like he's been the only member of the Miami Heat who hasn't been a clutch performer in the 4th quarter. Before game 5 on Wednesday, only Jason Terry shot as poorly as Dwayne Wade in the last minute of a one-score playoff game in 2012 according to ESPN Next Level. Did I mention that LeBron is the only player on the Heat to record an assist under these circumstances? Let's not forget that despite taking 31.4% of Miami's shots during game-winning possessions, Wade was only 5-for-11 in such situations. LeBron? 3-for-6. As a whole, the Heat shot 18-for-35 under this sort of circumstances.
     Another reason why the "haters" could be silenced after the NBA Finals isn't because of any particular player on the Miami Heat (No, not Udonis Haslem). Miami's biggest adversary in the Eastern Conference is none other than the Chicago Bulls, who are the No. 1 seed in the conference. They're on the brink of being upset by the Philadelphia 76ers, falling behind in their 1st round series 3-2. This is mainly due to the loss of their star point guard Derrick Rose, who tore his ACL in a game 1 victory 103-91. Losing Joakim Noah to an ankle injury doesn't help the Bulls, either. So even if the Bulls pull off a comeback in their 1st round series, they can't beat the Heat without Rose's production. Therefore, the Bulls won't be making the NBA Finals this season unless an act from above occurs. Who would stand in Miami's way after that? The Indiana Pacers, who rely heavily on Danny Granger to score? The Boston Celtics, who are too old to run up and down the floor with the Heat? The Atlanta Hawks, who won't even have a prayer to get out of the 1st round without Al Horford? Basically, this is Miami's NBA Finals trip to lose.
    Now the question remains, will they be able to defeat the Western Conference representative in the NBA Finals if they make it there? Oklahoma City has their own "Big Three", highlighted by Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. They also have a shot-blocking menace of a power forward (think Dennis Rodman, only without the bleached hair, goofy personality and cross-dressing style) in Serge Ibaka as well. Personally, the Thunder pose the biggest threat to Miami's title aspirations because they basically mirror the Heat, only they're slightly better on defense. As for San Antonio, I think they're a little too old to compete with the Thunder, although the Spurs are scoring more than usual. Tony Parker is quicker than ever and Tim Duncan hasn't lost a step. Plus, San Antonio has one of the best bench production in the NBA. Let's be honest, the Western Conference champion will either be San Antonio or Oklahoma City. The Lakers can't just rely on Ramon Sessions to provide scoring from the bench and Kobe's been just as bad as LeBron in the clutch this season. The Clippers really miss Chauncey Billups, for he was their go-to guy if L.A. was ever in need of a clutch three-pointer and ball distribution. Denver doesn't have a go-to guy as well, although they can score a ton of points as a team in one game. As for Memphis, they'll need to escape their brutal 1st round match-up with the same Clippers before even dreaming about making the NBA Finals.
     Overall, this could be the year that the Miami Heat win their first NBA title with the likes of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. Everything seems to be falling into place this year. Who knows, maybe LeBron and his receding hairline could be having the last laugh this summer after all.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Biggest Busts in Draft History... Of Any Sport

     Two weeks removed from the NFL Draft, I've been reminded of many former #1 Picks. Not just in the NFL, but in the NBA, NHL and MLB. Hell, I even remembered a few #1 picks from MLS. With that in mind, I was also reminded of the various draft busts throughout sports history that were picked high. These draft picks never live up to their high expectations and tend to fall into complete obscurity and infamy. So I've comprised a list of the most notable high draft picks that had no machismo (draft busts):

  1. Ryan Leaf, QB, 2nd overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers: Enough said. It's a good thing that Indy went with Peyton Manning with their #1 overall pick in this draft because Ryan Leaf absolutely sucked. An episode of NFL Top 10 ranked him as the "No. 1 Draft Bust in NFL History" and he deserves it. At Washington State University, Leaf averaged 330.6 yards per game and threw for a Pac-12 record 33 touchdowns during his junior year. He also guided the Cougars to their first Rose Bowl in 67 years, losing to eventual national champions Michigan Wolverines 21-16. His NFL career didn't translate over so well. Many scouts lauded Leaf for his strong arm (stronger than Manning' as a matter of fact) and huge upside. But he never lived up to the hype, lasting four years with a career QB Rating of 50.0 while throwing for fourteen touchdowns and 30 interceptions. Notorious for hitting the golf links while the other quarterbacks on the team were studying film, Leaf was arraigned on May 3rd by Texas state authorities on drug possession charges and currently stands to serve fifty years in prison.
  2. Sam Bowie, center, 2nd overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers: The Chicago Bulls picked Michael Jordan with the 3rd pick in the 1984 NBA Draft although many experts thought of him as the best player in the draft. The teams that picked ahead of the Bulls? The Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers. Now it's easy to understand why Houston chose Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon with the No. 1 overall pick. He did win two NBA titles with Houston, after all. But Portland's pick turned out to be one of the biggest punchlines in sports history. A McDonald's All-American from Lebanon High School in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, Sam Bowie was picked by Portland from the Kentucky Wildcats. Bowie was a center for the Wildcats, standing 7'1" and weighing in at 235 lbs. On paper, the pick made sense; the Trail Blazers needed help in the post with Bill Walton suffering numerous foot problems. Bowie made the All-Rookie team his first season with 10 points per game and 8.6 rebounds per game. But he would be hammered by an array of injuries, eventually being traded to New Jersey in 1989 for Buck Williams. He went on to average 10.9 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game and 1.78 blocks per game throughout his nine-year career.
  3. Matt Anderson, RP, 1st overall pick in the 1997 MLB Amateur Draft by the Detroit Tigers: Matt Anderson was poised to become the second coming of Mariano Rivera. A Southwest Conference All-Star in 1995 and a First-Team College All-American at Rice University, Anderson also set Rice University school records for wins (30) and saves (14). He also posted a 1.82 ERA in his final year with the Owls. All was going well in his first season with the Tigers in 1998 as he went 5-1 with a 3.27 ERA in 42 appearances. In fact, he struck out 44 batters in 44 innings pitched. However, he tore a muscle in the armpit of his throwing arm tossing an octopus at a charity event. Since that freak injury, he's never been able to even hit 90 MPH on his fastball during his remaining days with the Tigers and hasn't posted an ERA under 4.72 in the majors. In 2005, which was his final season, he walked eleven batters and gave up 19 hits in ten innings of work with the Colorado Rockies.
  4. Kwame Brown, center, 1st overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards: Consistently rated as the "best high school player of his class", Kwame Brown was also the first No. 1 overall pick to be taken right out of high school. That's right. Not LeBron. Not Dwight. Kwame. The former McDonald's All-American's rookie season was clouded by immaturity issues and lack of production, averaging only 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Brown did improve in his second season, starting 20 of the 80 games he's played in while recording averages of 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. However, injuries and various feuds with teammates and coaches would force Brown out of Washington. His highest scoring game during his last year with the Wizards was only 19 points. Since then, he's played for the Lakers, Grizzlies, Pistons (The Pistons are known for signing former No. 1 picks i.e. Joe Smith), Bobcats, Warriors and currently plays for the Milwaukee Bucks. Kwame Brown has also been under an investigation involving rape charges in 2006 and had an incident where he threw a cake at a man in 2007. Let's just hope that John Wall isn't planning on starting any food fights any time soon.
  5. JaMarcus Russell, QB, 1st overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders: In spite of his impeccable talent, Russell is the new millenium's version of Ryan Leaf. Known for being indifferent with coaches, Russell only lasted three seasons with Oakland before eventually being cut. He was also 7-18 as a starter, throwing 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. He was arrested on July 5th, 2010 for being in possession of codeine syrup without any valid prescription. 
  6. Andre Ware, QB, 7th overall pick in the 1990 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions: Andre Ware was a ground-breaking quarterback at the University of Houston, becoming the first African-American quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy. Ware set 26 NCAA records during his junior year with Houston, throwing for 4,699 yards and 44 touchdowns. His pro career didn't last long, however. He only played in 14 games and started six of those games during his four-year stint with Detroit. He went on to play for the Raiders, Jaguars, spent time in the CFL and even played for the Berlin Thunder in NFL Europe.
  7. Alexander Daigle, forward, 1st overall pick in the 1993 NHL Draft by the Ottawa Senators: Alexander Daigle was coveted by the Ottawa Senators in 1992 as NHL scouts considered him a "can't miss prospect". In fact, they coveted him so much that they admittedly lost games on purpose during the 1992-1993 season. This prompted an investigation by the NHL. But it turns out that all the losing was for naught as Ottawa passed up the likes of Chris Pronger and Paul Kariya. To make matters worse, he only scored 20 or more goals twice (during his rookie season and in 1996-1997). He did play in the NHL for 13 seasons with the Senators, Flyers, Lightning, Rangers, Penguins and Wild. He played four seasons with a Swiss ice hockey club called HC Davos before retiring in 2010.
  8. Bryan Bullington, SP, 1st overall pick in the 2002 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates: Bryan Bullington was a star pitcher at Ball State, going 11-3 with a 2.86 ERA and walking 18 while striking out 139 hitters (a school record) in 104 innings during his senior year. Selected No. 1 overall by the Pirates in 2002, Bullington showed promise in the minor leagues, going 13-5 with a 2.52 ERA with two minor league teams. But his major league career isn't so stellar. Through the 2010 season, he has a 1-9 record lifetime with an ERA of 5.62 and only 54 K's. His career has been marred by various injuries and lack of performance. He's now pitching in Japan for Hiroshima Toyo Carp.
  9. Cleveland Browns 1999-2000 No. 1 Overall Draft Picks: It's not often that one sports franchise gets back-to-back No. 1 draft picks, but it's EXTREMELY rare that one franchise can botch both picks. In 1999, the Browns selected QB Tim Couch from Kentucky. The next year, Cleveland picked DE Courtney Brown from Penn State with the No. 1 overall pick. Despite throwing for 11,131 yards during his five-year NFL career, Couch completed only 59.8% of his passes while throwing for 64 touchdowns and 67 interceptions. He was mainly plagued by injuries and a weak Browns squad all-around. As for Brown, he did have a productive rookie season in which he recorded 70 tackles and 4.5 sacks. His second season was shortened by injuries, though he did record 4.5 sacks in five games. During 2002-2004, Brown went on to only play 26 games and record eight sacks, eventually retiring in 2006 with the Denver Broncos. Unfortunately, Cleveland hasn't had a very decorated draft history since then with their best pick being WR Braylon Edwards from the University of Michigan.
  10. Brien Taylor, SP, 1st overall pick in the 1991 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees: Long before Derek Jeter became the center of attention throughout the Big Apple, there was a ton of hype surrounding Brien Taylor. Taylor had a stellar senior year at East Catherat High School, retiring 213 batters in 88 innings while walking 28. The Yankees selected him first overall in 1991 and offered Taylor $300,000 to sign a minor league contract. However, his agent Scott Boras claimed that the previous year's top-rated high school pitcher Todd Van Poppel was paid $1.2 million to sign with Oakland. They used this as leverage despite Taylor's poor grades in high school preventing him from getting a major college scholarship offer. He signed a $1.55 million contract the day before his classes at Louisburg College, further delaying him signing with the Yankees until the school year ended. Taylor never made it to the big leagues, becoming the first No. 1 overall pick to never reach the majors. His career was muddled by a shoulder injury defending his brother Brenden in a fist fight. He was arrested in 2005 for misdemeanor child abuse and was charged in 2012 for cocaine trafficking.
     There are other memorable draft busts throughout sports, but there's just too many to name. Let's just hope that RGIII and Andrew Luck don't end up like these draft bums.

    Thursday, May 3, 2012

    On The Inge

         It seemed not that long ago that Brandon Inge was one of the most beloved athletes in Detroit sports. The one-time all-star and home run derby participant (Not lying, although he didn't hit a single home run) had played for the Tigers' organization for twelve seasons, dating all the way back to when the team nearly shattered the MLB record for most losses in a season. He was well known for his defensive prowess at third base and being a utility man for the Tigers. Some of his best seasons include:

    2004: .287 BA, 13 HR, 64 RBI, 72 strikeouts
    2005: .261 BA. 16 HR, 72 RBI, nine triples, 42 double plays turned at third base,
    2006: .253 BA, 27 HR, 83 RBI, 398 assists, played in the World Series
    2009: .230 BA, 27 HR, 84 RBI, AL All-star

        This is the same Brandon Inge who could hit a 360-yard drive on a golf course and could throw a lefty curveball with his right hand by throwing it from behind his head. You would think that this guy was the son of Chuck Norris.
        Instead, you have Inge playing for the Oakland A's as a second baseman. You have Brandon being heckled by Boston Red Sox fans: "Go back to the Tigers, Inge! YOU SUCK!!" You have baseball fans booing him and laughing at him at the same time every time he swings and misses. So why was he reviled so much by Detroit fans that the Tigers organization released him twice in almost a year?
        One complaint about Inge was that he was overpaid as a "defensive utility man" and this statement actually holds plenty of merit. Despite what the stats above tell you, Inge was playing under a two-year $11.5 million contract with a buyout option for 2013. Signed in 2010, the Tigers are now responsible for paying Inge's $5.5 million salary this year with Inge playing for Oakland. Plus, Inge was once sidelined with mononucleosis. You know, that "kissing disease". Considering that Inge batted .197 last year and started the 2012 season batting .100 in twenty plate appearances, why wouldn't a sports fan get pissed?
        Or perhaps it's Denny McLain calling Inge out by telling him to "get over it". On January 28 at a fundraiser for Madonna University's baseball team, McLain held up an autographed photo of Inge and showed it to 300 guests.
        "This was Brandon Inge's last photo before he began whining about playing time." McLain announced (Foster, Terry).
        He also stated that he'd "rather have a guy who bats over .300 and drives in 100 runs who boots some balls or doesn't get to some than a guy who's hitting .190 and not contributing offensively in any way." (Foster, Terry)
        This is all coming from an ex-felon who was arrested for embezzlement and associated with organized crime. That's sad to have that type of person call you out, although it's a case of "the pot calling the kettle black". Inge did ask for a trade when the Tigers landed third baseman Miguel Cabrera (though it wasn't granted at the time), so McLain had somewhat of a point.
        But maybe Detroit fans disliked Inge for his strongest suit: His fielding. Let's not forget that Inge's fielding percentage in his 1,001 games at third base was .961 (He started 926 of those games). Inge also committed 114 errors at third and was never comfortable as a catcher. You can argue that he had only one error in 2008, but his 63 errors between 2005 and 2007 suggest otherwise.
        Or maybe it's a combination of all of these. To me, Brandon Inge reminds me a bit of John Cena. Love him or hate him, his mere presence stirs up a myriad of emotions. Some people may hate him for his on-field miscues while others love him for his clutch moments. But Detroit fans can now rejoice that with Inge released, "they can't see Inge" anymore. Brad Eldred has been called up from AAA-Toledo to try and kickstart the Tigers' bats, although he's batting .188 so far.

        Did I mention that the Tigers still have at least one hitter batting under .200, even without Inge? Yessir, Eldred is and so is Ryan Raburn. He's batting a mundane .138 this season.