Thursday, May 30, 2013

Star Watch: Jordan Hand

     Today, I'd like to introduce to you a new segment called Star Watch. It highlights superstar athletes at the high school level who could become huge in professional sports. Today, I'd like to introduce to you an athlete that could become the next Joe Mauer. His name is Jordan Hand and he hails from Las Vegas, Nevada.
     Hand currently attends Shadow Ridge High School in Las Vegas and is graduating in 2014. He's 6'4", weighs 210 pounds, and is ranked #3 in Nevada. He currently plays catcher, but is also a great utility player. He bats right-handed and throws right-handed. His pop time is 1.90 and his 60-yard dash time is 6.87. The junior had twelve RBIs, scored 23 runs, and had seven stolen bases this year. Hand also had a .328 batting average (21 hits) and a .442 on-base percentage this season. The Shadow Ridge Mustangs baseball team went 30-5 in the 2012-2013 season. Hand was the 2012 Offensive Player of the Year and 2011 MVP in Nevada. He's also part of the West roster for the 2014 All-American Classic.
     Here's a look at what Mr. Hand is capable of:

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!!!

     In honor of the brave men and women who go to bat for our freedom, we'll honor a few athletes who sacrificed their careers to serve their country.

  • Pat Tillman: The former Arizona Cardinals linebacker left his NFL career to enlist in the United States Army in 2002. He enlisted in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and served for two years as a Specialist in the 2nd Ranger Battalion and 75th Ranger Battalion. Tillman was awarded the Silver Star, the Purple Heart, and the Meritorious Service Medal during his time with the Army. The cause of his death was from friendly fire.
  • Hank Greenberg: "The Hebrew Hammer" re-enlisted and volunteered during World War II and served for 45 months. This stands as the longest service of any major league player today. He was also the first American League player to be drafted into the military in 1940 and wasn't bitter about it, stating that "his country comes first". He was honorably discharged during the 1941 season when the United States Congress released men aged 28 and older from service.
  • Ted Williams: Williams' career was twice halted by his service as a U.S. Marines Corps fighter pilot. He fought in both World War II and the Korean War. He also served in the United States Navy while earning a National Defense Service Medal amongst many other awards for his service. 
  • Joe Louis: He enlisted in the Army during World War II and eased racial tensions in military units. He received the Legion of Merit Medal for his service.
  • David Robinson: The former center for the Spurs attended the U.S. Naval Academy and served two years of duty with the Navy. 
  • Willie Mays: Hall of Fame baseball player and former Giant was drafted into active duty in 1952. He served in the Korean War with the U.S. Army.
  • Jackie Robinson: Number 42 was initially drafted into a segregated unit of the Army in 1942. During his time, he had been court-martialed for refusing to move to the back of an Army bus. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The End of Tebow Time?

     It was only a month ago that the New York Jets parted ways with their uber-famous back-up quarterback Tim Tebow. The Jets drafted Geno Smith from West Virginia in the second round of the NFL Draft, signifying the end of a short-lived era in New York. It also ushered in the end of a quarterback controversy that surrounded the Jets all season long, stemming from the inconsistent play of Mark Sanchez. Tebow didn't actually throw many bad passes in spite of a very miniscule sample size. He played in 12 games last season, but only started two of those games. Out of the eight passing attempts he had last year, he completed six passes for 39 yards and a rating of 84.9. He ran the ball 32 times for 102 yards as well. This is compared to his time as a starter for the Denver Broncos in 2011, where he had a 46.5 completion rate and a 72.9 rating. He also threw for 1,729 yards, 12 touchdowns, and six interceptions. That year, he also ran the ball 122 times for 660 yards and six touchdowns while fumbling the football 13 times. His record as the Broncos' starting quarterback that year was 7-4.
     Tim Tebow's size (6'3", 236 lbs) makes him more reliable as a fullback or a tight end than a quarterback and it seems apparent that he can't complete passes on a consistent basis. He also seems more comfortable in a Wildcat offense, but not many teams are willing to shift over to such a format. Another problem that persists is that Tim Tebow wants to be a quarterback and nothing else. So which teams would be a good fit for Tebow? Is there even an NFL team out there that's willing to take on Tebowmania?

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: You know that your team's a front-runner for someone like Tebow when Chuck Norris says that Tebow and the Jaguars "would be a perfect fit." As a matter of fact, there was a presidential petition encouraging the Jaguars to sign Tebow that was shot down this month. It's gotten to the point where a group of Jaguar fans called the "Bold City Brigade" have started up a site called The site protests the potential signing of the quarterback and has over 31,000 clicks. Besides, Jacksonville DOES need a tight end and not a quarterback.
  2. Cleveland Browns: With the current legal problems that Browns ownership is going through right now, why not bring in someone to distract the Dawg Pound from Jimmy Haslam's troubles? If Brandon Weeden doesn't work out, it'll be nice to have a quarterback that runs. Plus, Trent Richardson would make the Wildcat offense run perfectly if they ever do go to it.
  3. Arizona Cardinals: There's no guarantee that the quarterback controversy in Glendale is over. The Cardinals also need to fill voids at fullback and tight end, not to mention that losing LaRod Stephens-Howling to the Steelers hurts as well.
  4. St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford's been dogged by horrific blocking, having been sacked 71 times in his last 26 games. He even suffered a high ankle sprain in 2011. Adding Jake Long to protect his left side helps, but adding Tebow will bolster the blocking even more.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Premier Paradox

     A tale made for Hollywood. The ultimate Cinderella story. From rags to riches. Call it what you want, but the story behind Wigan Athletic F.C. is most certainly unorthodox. They reached the F.A. Cup Final for the first time in franchise history and upended Manchester City 1-0 in the Final. Three days later, they lost to Arsenal 4-1 and became the first team in the Barclay's Premier League to win the F.A. Cup and be relegated in the same season. The 9-20 European football club spent eight years at the bottom of the Premier League.
     What's more is that on December 31, 2012, the club reported a net profit of 4.3 million Euros, the first time the club's earned a profit in six years. The biggest expense came from wages, which fell from 39.9 million Euros to 37.7 million Euros. This accompanied the club's increased turnover from 50.5 million Euros to 52.6 Million Euros.
     Wigan Athletic F.C. was founded in 1932, yet has seen very little prosperity and success in the European leagues. Their highest league position in the Premier League was 10th in 2006 and they only made the League Cup finals once, losing 4-0 to Manchester United. Could the F.A. Cup victory be a good omen for Wigan? Well, manager Roberto Martinez has them going in the right direction. They also beat Chelsea on September 29, 2009 by a score of 3-1. Captain Gary Caldwell has six goals in his third year with Wigan Athletic as well, so there seems to be a lot of promise for the club in terms of leadership. If you're a European football (or soccer if you're American) fan, you might want to keep a close eye on Wigan.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Going Back Onto Their Thrones

     A year removed from their unfathomable run to the Stanley Cup, the Los Angeles Kings are already coming out of the gate swinging. Defenseman Slava Voynov already has three goals this postseason (along with a plus/minus rating of 7), as does center Jeff Carter. Goaltender Jonathan Quick already has two shutouts in the 2013 playoffs and is 5-2 this postseason. The reigning Conn Smythe winner also has a GAA of 1.36 and a save percentage of .953. In fact, he shut out the Sharks in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals. So will the Kings return to their thrones in June?
     You can't deny that the Chicago Blackhawks are the most complete team on paper. Yes, the Pittsburgh Penguins have Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jerome Iginla (who have 32 combined points, by the way). The Penguins have also been carried by goalie Tomas Vokoun. But you also have the grit and guts of the Boston Bruins, who have four players in the top five of the plus/minus rating during the playoffs. The Rangers are riding the hot stick of Derick Brassard and his nine points right now as well. Don't forget about the Sharks and their balanced scoring attack from Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Thornton. And And the Wings? Well, they always play tough.
     The point is this: We're in for some exciting playoff hockey. Can the Kings get back on top of the hockey world? Or will they be tripped up on their way? At this rate, it seems like the Kings' only competition consists of the Penguins and the Blackhawks. But anything can happen in the NHL playoffs. That's why you should tune in.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Remember This: Mike Valenti's Rant

     Radio absolutely sucks these days (with the exception of Satellite Radio, podcasts, and internet radio). It's become a cesspool of "local" flavor, bad humor, Prepburger bits/jokes, phone scams, and song parodies. But on September 25, 2006, 97.1 radio personality Mike Valenti blew up on the air. The reason? His Michigan State Spartans blew a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter to Notre Dame. Some of his "fantastic" material includes an H.R. Puff and Stuff reference and "choking on applesauce".

     In fact, this rant made it into Sports Illustrated and was parodied by The Bang Cartoon Hour in Columbus, Ohio. The parody was done after the Ohio State Buckeyes had lost to the Fighting Illini of Illinois.

     So maybe there is hope for terrestrial radio after all. As long as Mike Valenti continues screaming and ranting into the microphone for no reason, then he could carry land radio all on his own (*sarcasm*). To all the other FM jocks out there, Mike's got two words for you:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

NBA: Where Parody Happens?

     Between the two arena leagues, the NHL is usually the league that has the most parody. It's not uncommon to see a No. 8 seed beat a No. 1 seed in the first round. As a matter of fact, the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings were an eighth seed in last year's playoffs. But the NBA might not be too far off in terms of parody.
     The entire sports world was shocked to see the Miami Heat lose Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Chicago Bulls 93-86. This is the same Chicago team that's uncertain about when point guard Derrick Rose will return and didn't have Luol Deng for Game 1. Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors are riding Stephen Curry's stellar postseason play. He scored 44 points in Golden State's double-overtime heartbreaker to the San Antonio Spurs 129-127. Curry has 27.1 ppg this postseason and led the upstart Warriors to a first-round upset over the Denver Nuggets 4 games to 2.
     Things are also looking up for the Memphis Grizzlies. Their semifinals opponent, the Oklahoma City Thunder, lost point guard Russell Westbrook to a torn meniscus in a first-round match-up against the Houston Rockets. But since the Westbrook injury, Kevin Durant has scored 35 points a game before the Game 2 loss on Tuesday. As for Memphis, they've been getting a healthy dosage of scoring this postseason. Marc Gasol is averaging 18.5 ppg during the 2012-2013 playoffs, including 24 points in Game 2 against the Thunder. PG Mike Conley scored 26 points in the Grizzlies' Game 2 victory and has been averaging 17.9 ppg this postseason.
     But this isn't the first time that this sort of parody has happened. In fact, last year's NBA playoffs saw the No. 8 seed Philadelphia 76ers upset the No. 1 seed Chicago Bulls in the first round 4 games to 2. Of course, this was where Derrick Rose got knocked out of the playoffs and the entire .2012-2013 regular season with an ACL injury. They almost pulled off another upset against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but they fell short in Game 7 by a score of 85-75.
     Could we see a team like Memphis, Chicago, or Golden State in the NBA Finals this year? Well, nothing's ever a sure thing. But this year's NBA playoffs might be more compelling than you think.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Watch This: Mini-Prince Fielder?

     This has got to be one of the most hilarious videos I've seen in a long time. Watch as this young kid celebrates his walk-off home run in style:

     Doesn't he remind you of a certain Tigers first baseman?