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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Braves, Falcons, & Everything in Between

This is the time of year when the only thing going on in the sports world is baseball, but thanks to a thing called the Olympics a lot has been happening around the world. Still football is drawing near and clearly everyone is aware that soon their favorite teams will be trying to win that elusive trophy that everyone wants. Yet no sport ever dies the stories just go away for a month or two until something pops up that takes the action away from another sport for maybe a second or a full week. Take for instance the Atlanta Braves, who are in the thick of a playoff race and have just acquired another pitcher to bolster their rotation. As we know though once a fan says the Atlanta Falcons are back all that hype fades from the Braves and moves onto the Falcon's training camp held in Flowery Branch, Georgia. Remember a sport never dies, it just takes a back seat until something juicy comes around. So without further lets get to some sport updates.

Jason Getz

Atlanta Braves Surge into August:
The Braves recently had their 6 game winning streak snapped by the Miami Marlins. During the streak the Braves closed the gap with the Washington Nationals going from 4.5 games back to 2.5 games back. Currently the Braves are tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates for the two wild card spots and are slowly pulling away from the other National League teams. At the trade deadline the Braves acquired left-hander Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson from the Chicago Cubs for highly regarded right-handed prospect Arodys Vizcaino and right-hander Jaye Chapman. The move strengths not just the line up with another lefty to complement the team, but also gives them another bench player and adds more power to the outfield as well. Looking at the month of August, the Braves will have to battle a lot of division opponents, but at the same time face off against the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Diego Padres. So get ready Brave's fan for an exciting August of Brave's baseball and prepare for a showdown with the Washington Nationals.

No Jokes at Atlanta Falcon's Training Camp:
Last we left the Atlanta Falcons they were reeling from another embarrassing playoff lose this time coming from the eventual Super Bowl Champions, the New York Giants. From what we could tell the entire staff was shocked at how the team performed and promised that the Falcons would work harder than before to fix this HUGE mistake. Well so far the Falcons are living up to their promise, especially at their training camp held up in Flowery Branch, Georgia. As a spectator I went up to see how the Falcons were doing at camp and was shocked to see how physical they were being with each other, but how the coaches were letting each player have it for the smallest mistakes made. Every time someone did not try or if they missed their cue, a coach would gladly make the whole squad redo the exercise until it was done perfect and in this heat perfect was something very hard to achieve. Still the Falcons will need to be tough in order the brave the schedule they were dealt this year. Some of the teams the Falcons will face this year include the Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and Detroit Lions. Remember this schedule also includes the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saint, who both are not considered push overs this year. Still the Falcons look very strong on defense and looked to have improved on the new passing offense. It should be an interesting year for all the Falcons, especially for Head Coach Mike Smith and Quarterback Matt Ryan.

Kevin C. Cox

Georgia Bulldogs ready for the SEC:
As of right now the Bulldogs are ranked No. 6 in the USA Today Coach's Poll Preseason edition. Some people are question whether Georgia should be ranked this high heading into a season where the Bulldogs have one of the best schedules for an SEC team. The Bulldogs avoided LSU and Alabama and have only two big games this year, which are against the Missouri Tigers at Memorial Stadium and their big SEC East rivals the South Carolina Gamecocks held in Columbia, South Carolina. So even though the schedule looks easy, the Bulldogs are not making it easy on themselves. Already the team has dismissed troubled running back Isaiah Crowell and presently has players suspended on both sides of the ball. Even with all the troubles the Bulldogs have they look like a team ready to prove they can hang with and beat a LSU or Alabama and compete for an SEC Title and a BCS Title as well.

Hawks still trying to Land Dwight Howard:
Basically the Hawks traded away All-Star Joe Johnson and point guard Marvin Williams to save themselves a lot of money so the team could pursue big free agents in the summer of 2013. At first it looked like the team would only have Josh Smith, Al Horford, Jeff Teague and rookie John Jenkins. After closer examination, however, the pieces the Hawks acquired for Johnson and Williams really fit the team well and add tons of depth to the bench. The Hawks also traded for Kyle Korver to help with their 3-point game. All of this was so the Hawks could trade for Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard and really make a push for the playoffs next year. The plan has not really worked into their favor because other teams such as the Lakers and Nets can offer better deals for Howard, but the Hawks are not giving up and if somehow they acquire Howard look for the Hawks to make it deep in the playoffs and have an outstanding season as well.

BONUS: Olympic Update:
It took the end of day six for the United States to overtake China in overall medal counts. The U.S. now has a total of 37 medals, 18 of which are gold. China has 34 medals, but also has 18 gold medals as well. The god news for Team U.S.A. is the men's and women's basketball teams are dominating each opponent they face and will mostly likely bring home two additional gold medals. The medals do not stop there either, swimming still has no concluded, so that means the U.S. can still bring home an additional  3 or 4 gold medals. Remember people this was only day six, we still have another week to go and things are going to get more exciting when track and field begins. Just give it some thought on how the U.S.A. could potential come back home with a lot of honor and pride for us cheering them at home.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The only Third Baseman I have know

Chipper Jones
Chipper Jones has been the only third baseman I have ever know for my entire life. Every time I watch an Atlanta Braves's game I always see No. 10 leading the infield in plays and as a leader for the entire Braves's team. So what will the Braves lose when Jones retires at the end of the season? Jones has a career batting average of .304 and is also considered one of the best switch-hitters in the game of baseball. But he is more than just a player to the Atlanta Braves's organization. Jones was and technically still is the face of the Brave's franchise since 1995 because he has seen it all with the Braves over the course of 19 seasons all playing for just one team. Not many players can say an organization stood by them for 19 seasons, especially since Jones has had his share of injuries over the years. Still no organization can let a man like Jones go, especially when he can play different positions and have great success at them. Jones has played a total of 5 different positions since making his Major League debut back in 1993 under his the jersey number, No. 16. Jones has not just played third base or shortstop, but has also played the entire outfield from right to left. Let us not forget that Chipper Jones is not just a player, but a symbol that represents the entire organization.

Over the years Jones has had his share of injuries, but each time has never quit on the Braves or let them down. Jones is a model player that all other major league players players should follow. He has never called his team out in the media and has never said two bad words about Managers Bobby Cox or Fredi Gonzalez. Jones has always placed the burden on himself to make the team better and at times has taken most of the criticism away from other teammates who are struggling. Jones had also done something not many players can say they have done, actually playing the game clean without using any type of steroids to give him an advantage over any opponent. So what can you say about the man Chipper Jones is and will be? Well how about inspiring to all children everywhere that you can succeed and live your dream with the team you have watched your whole life. That a man can change a team for the better with a little help from a great manager as well. That one man at the age of 39 can inspire a bunch of prospects that are half his age to give it their all day in and day out in all for one day being as great as Jones is today.

Atlanta Brave's fans everywhere will miss Chipper Jones. Eventually Martin Prado will replace him next season and will do a great job at taking over for Jones, but no matter who takes Jones's place; no one can fill the void that Chipper Jones will leave. So what will happen to Jones after he retires? There is always the possibility that Jones could comeback to the Braves as a hitting coach and could one day manage for the Atlanta Braves. Of course, that is a long ways off, but it could be a possible beginning for a new chapter for Jones. All I know is that Chipper Jones will be missed by all Brave's fans everywhere. The one guy I look for in every game to make an impact will be gone and someone new must fill the void left by Jones. Jones will always be an Atlanta Brave for life and will never forget the awesome times he had playing baseball for a team and fans that are considered one of the best in the country. So Chipper enjoy your last season as a player in a Brave's uniform, I hope it ends the way you want it to with a World Series ring.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Bounty Hunting is Over

Over the past four days, the NFL was struck with another lightning bolt of shame as the New Orleans's Saints have found to have a "bounty program" resting in their own organization. Now in the NFL, a "bounty program" is when defensive players get paid extra money for delivering game ending hits on certain offensive players, such as the running back or quarterback. In the NFL's investigative report, the league's agents found that a program which gave players extra money for game ending hits was found to be more evident in the Saint's organization. The money could be funneled by the players on the team or even by a coach on that team. The sad part about this whole situation is that 3 years ago the Saints were told to stop this program and instead continued it until now. To put this whole problem in perspective; remember how Spygate cost the Patriots a lot of money and a first round draft pick and that was just for illegally taping other teams. Magnify that situation by ten and you get the Saint's "bounty program." This is a very serious offense and the league, plus the commissioner will come down hard on the Saints. What I mean by that is this will not just affect players, this will affect current St. Louis Ram's defensive coordinator, Greg Williams, whom supposedly was the mastermind behind the program and current Saint's Coach Sean Payton. Even Saint's General Manager Mickey Loomis knew the program was going on 3 years ago and was told to stop it by the league, but never did. Now the Saints have their hands caught in the cookie jar and now the penalties will begin to pile up.

The 22 to 27 players named in the report will mostly likely be faced with 2 to 3 game suspensions as well as heavy fines. Now understand, this will include players that are or were on the Saint's teams the last 3 seasons. Some players depending on how severe the hit was could even face 4 game suspensions. So lets say that half of those players still start for the Saints and that those 13 to 14 players miss the first 3 games of the season. The Saint's are missing half if not all their starters or back ups on defense. Which if you remember the Saint's defense was ranked third to last in the league last season. So now the defense went from bad to worse and let's not forget since the Saint's had to franchise tag Drew Brees, they will mostly likely lose one of his two wide receivers and could also lose his left tackle that protects his blind side too. So now the Saint's could go from a powerhouse offense to an average offense all because they lose 2 key players. Consider this step the first step in a row of dominoes. Once the first few go every domino begins to fall as well.

Still the players will suffer, but the coaches and general manager will suffer as well. Even though Greg Williams is no longer with the Saints, he will probably suffer the most because he is considered the mastermind behind this whole program. Everywhere Williams has been, the "bounty program" has been used by teams such as the Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, and Jacksonville Jaguars. The interesting part is when Williams arrived to the Saints in 2009 the 'Bounty program" was already in effect. Instead of stopping the program, Williams fueled it by putting his own money in the pot to give his players more motivation to hit hard and fast. Williams has came and said he regrets the program and is very sorry for what he done. Still what's done is done and now Williams, Sean Payton, and General Manager Mickey Loomis must be punished. Williams will mostly likely be suspended the entire season, which could damage the Ram's defense since his new system cannot be properly placed in the defense. Head Coach Sean Payton who supposedly turned a blind eye to the program will face a possible 5 game suspension and could even face a heavy fine as well. Some journalists are even going as far to say that Payton should be fired for letting this system continue this long. As for General Manager Mickey Loomis, he could be fined and suspended as well, but then again some individuals would like him fired or to step down. All 3 men knew the wrongs of this but instead let it continue all in the name of winning. Now it's looks like their championship run in 2009 will be tarnished forever.

The greatest impact this scandal will hurt the most is the organization itself. The Saint's organization could face a fine starting at $1 million and up. This could really hurt the Saint's when it comes to signing free agents or resigning some of their own players as well. Another big hit will be draft picks. The Saint's do not have a first round draft pick this year because they traded the pick to the Patriots for running back Mark Ingram. So the league will look at taking away their second, third, and fourth round picks, which could leaves the Saints with only 3 draft picks this year. The league will also look to take away their first round pick next year as well, so now if the Saint's are looking into fresh talent, they might as well forget it.

The funny part about the whole situation is there were a few players that never knew this program was going on and now they must suffer the mistakes made by individuals that thought they were above the system of the NFL. Not one player lifted a finger to stop this program all because they were either afraid of losing their teammates's respect or for fear of losing their position. Eventually someone talked causing all this to happen to an organization that everyone in the world thought was the next big team. Well, the Mardi Gras party is over now Saint's fans and now you must suffer for your team's mistakes. Good luck Saints, your going to need it because now your name means nothing.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tebow Mania vs Linsanity

I guess Tebow Mania wasn't enough for the world, now there is a new kid on the block who is just as cool and calm as Tim Tebow himself. His name is Jeremy Lin and Linsanity is in full swing. Both ideas are having major ramifications on the world of sports especially when it comes to the fans of the Denver Broncos and the New York Knicks. Both franchises were in terrible situations, the Broncos no longer being a great team in the NFL and the Knicks slowly becoming the laughing joke around the NBA. But that was then and this is now. Tebow has revived the Broncos and their fan base in not just believing, but passionately believing the Broncos can win again and again all with Tebow and God on their side. Lin has provided the catalyst the Knicks desperately needed a point guard to run the floor and a team without Amar'e Stoudamire and Carmelo Anthony. Still were not debating which team is better or which athlete is the better athlete. No we are debating which idea has really taken the world by storm.So let's break down each idea and see which one is the best.

Let's begin with Tebow Mania. This idea began the day Tim Tebow became the starter for the Denver Broncos and led the team on a six game winning streak, which consisted of 2 miracle wins against teams they should not have beaten. Through each win Tebow did not give credit to himself, but to his team and to God for all the help in winning each game. The world turned its attention to Tebow and how his reputation was growing from quarterback to culture icon for people around the world that shared his faith. Ever where a person looked they saw Tebow followed by either the words winning or Jesus in the same sentence, which does not happen very often. The mania reached its peak when Tebow led the Broncos to a playoff win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which literally shocked not just the NFL, but the world. The unspeakable had happened, Tebow with his help just upset the Steelers in the playoffs. Now everyone believes Tebow is the man in Denver. But its just not about Tebow, its about how he brings a religious aspect to a sport that never really talks about religion or God. So that gives Tebow majors point, especially to everyone looking for a answer. Tebow has inspired a lot of people to never give up on their dreams and has really reshaped the NFL landscape permanently. For now however, Tebow Mania has died down until NFL training camps open up, then once again Tebow Mania will continue.
Just a few weeks ago no one nationally knew who Jeremy Lin was. He was just another bench player trying to make his way in the NBA and at this point not getting his fair share of playing time. All of this changed when both Anthony and Stoudamire went down due to an injury and a family matter. Lin entered against the New Jersey Nets and took complete control of the game. Since then, Lin has taken the NBA and the world by storm showing everyone out there that he can play some basketball with the best of them around the league and at the same time has pulled the Knicks out of a losing skid and into a chance to be a high seed in the playoffs. Lin is now referred to as Linsanity, which means Lin can not be stopped on the court of off it. Everywhere you look now you see Lin jerseys left and right in New York. Linsanity is literally taking the world by storm and showing that a man who slept on his room mate's couch and that graduated from Harvard can make his way in the world if he never gives up. If Lin keeps it up then the Knicks make just keep him and start him permanently saving the team from going out this off season and spending money they could to use fill other holes on their roster. In other words, Linsanity is not going anywhere anytime soon. 

Both Tebow and Lin have a long way to go if they want to make it in their respective sports, but which phenom truly is the best right now. I would have to give it to Tim Tebow. Why, because the NFL is bigger than the NBA. More fans follow the NFL and love the NFL like a dog. While the NBA is loved like a fish. You like it for a few weeks, but then you forget about it when the excitement dies down and then the fish slowly dies and you forget about it all together. So for the foreseeable Tebow Mania will be supreme.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

We Meet Again

Its the Super Bowl match-up no one saw coming unless you are a die hard Patriots or Giant's fan. Who would have thought out of all 32 NFL teams this season the New York Giants would go up against the New England Patriots for control of the NFL world? It all seems to real to be true, but we have a rematch of the 2007 Super Bowl. The Patriots are favored to win again, but this time the Giants are not considered a big underdog. Instead the Giants have everything going there way and this time around the Patriots know better than to underestimate them again. If anything the Patriot should be afraid of the Giants because the Giants are a more complete team overall. The Giants running game is now unstoppable and their defense is on fire giving every offensive line they played against fits. Plus they have a Manning playing for them and if there is one thing we have learned about the Manning family, it is they do not go down without a fight! Still the Patriots have Tom Brady, who we all know is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. The only thing that bothers me about the Patriots is there horrible defense, which is ranked second to last among the 32 NFL teams. They did good against the Baltimore Ravens holding them to 20 points, but then again this is the Ravens whose offense is always a roller coaster. Eli Manning will be a different story. He has weapons that can burn a team for major yards and can eat the clock up as well. Plus if the Giants's running game is on the mark then the Pat's defense really is in for some trouble.
Credit Brady to Al Bello, Getty Images.
Credit Manning to Ezra Shaw Getty  Images.

The neat part about this game is we as fans get to see a classic rematch from the past. Two teams backed by old school coaches in Belichick and Coughlin, who believe in the fundamentals of the game such as heavy hitting and playing smart when the chips are down. This match up will be more like a chess game and will come down to which coach makes the wrong move. Will Belichick go for the gold to early or will Coughlin play it safe to long and let the game get out of his hands? Only God knows that answer people. Manning and Brady will also decide the winner of this game. If Brady plays the same way he did against the Ravens then forget it, the Giants will dominate him, but if he becomes Tom Terrific then the Giants need to look out because when Tom Brady gets on a roll nothing can stop him. Same with Eli Manning, if Manning keeps the same momentum throughout the game then the Patriot's defense will not survive an onslaught of touchdown after touchdown. So if you cancel out the coaches's chess game and the quarterback battle that leaves only the Giant's running game versus the Patriot's run defense.
Credited to AP.

At first glance the Giant's running game was not impressive at all. Ranking dead last in the NFL while averaging only 89 rushing yards a game, which is awful when you had teams like the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles punishing you left and right with great run plays. In light of all that, the Giant's running game came alive when need against the Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49er's letting both teams know that the offense was a force to be reckoned with. The Patriot's defense has only proven themselves on occasion having the offense bail them out time and time again, but as the old saying goes offense sells tickets and defense wins championships. 
So if your asking me who I am picking to win this years Super Bowl then my answer to you is the New York Giants. Why because balance is the key in the NFL and without both sides of ball being great your team will never make it in the title game. So if your looking for a score then my score is New York Giants 31 to New England Patriots 27. Good luck to both teams and let me just see Victor Cruz do his salsa dance one time.
Tim Farrell, The Star-Ledger 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Time to Purge the Indianapolis Colts

Darron Cummings - AP

This season was considered one of the worst seasons in Indianapolis Colt's history. Peyton Manning had neck surgery that cost him the entire season, leaving a team with no true quarterback to lead them. The Colts finished the season with the record of 2-14, but the only good news about finishing with the worst record in the NFL is securing the Number 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Still this a team needs a lot of work and cannot be fixed just by drafting Stanford quarterback, Andrew Luck. The Colts need an entire new defense and offensive line. Remember if the offensive line is terrible the quarterback will be terrible as well. Just look at Joey Harrington of the Detroit Lions and David Carr of the Houston Texans also know as the most sacked QB in NFL history. So what can the Colts do to start the change and healing process? Well the process has already started. Reported on Monday by ESPN, the Colts fired Vice Chairman Bill Polian and General Manager Chris Polian. A move that shook Peyton Manning and most of the sports world. Bill Polian was the man who drafted Peyton Manning in 1998. I expect the Colts are not done purging the organization and will mostly likely fire Head Coach Jim Caldwell once a new management team has stepped in to clean up a mess that can only be solved by starting at the top of the roster and coaching staff. The best course of action for the Colts would be to fire Caldwell and replace him with a defensive minded coach, such as Bengal's defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer to revamp a defense that according to the NFL's official website ranked 29th in stopping to run and 15th in halting the pass. Next step may be the hardest decision Colt's owner, Jim Irsay will have to make, which is to either trade Peyton Manning or cut him.

The bad part about this situation is that we all know trading Manning is the best option for the Colts. The trade or release would give Andrew Luck a chance to begin his career with a new coaching staff around him that would support him instead of Manning. If the Colts do decide to trade Manning, then the draft pick they would get for him would give the Colts a chance to rebuild in the right areas. A new and young defensive line would be a good start along with new secondary cornerbacks. If Luck is your starter, you might want to bring in a fresh offensive line to help him adjust to the NFL, instead of old and tired veterans that do not have much gas left in the tank. Another question would be where would you trade Manning? You obviously cannot trade him within the division and probably keeping him in the AFC is bad idea, since he might come back and haunt the Colts when it counts. So send him the NFC, where teams like the Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and possibly the Dallas Cowboys could trade for Manning and give back a lot for him if they think they can compete now with the team they have in place. So that solves the QB issue, but now you have the rest of the team that could also be traded away and bring salary relief or more top draft picks.
Jaime Squire - Getty Images

The Colts right now do not have the pieces in place to compete at a high level anytime soon, so why trade away players that could bring you high value and let them be happy finishing their careers on a high note with a better team. Players such as DE Dwight Freeney, TE Dallas Clark or WR Reggie Wayne could fetch the Colts high 3rd or 4th round picks in this year draft and high picks for the 2013 draft. Other players could be traded or released, but what is boils down to is Manning. If you keep him around the veterans, they will protect Manning instead of Luck and when the time comes to release Manning down the road, the scene will get ugly because all the veterans will support to keep him over Luck only because they know Manning more over Luck. Like I said before the purge for Indianapolis Colts has begun, but it will not truly begin until they make a decision on Peyton Manning's future with the team.