Space Jammin’ on The King

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Take that, Russia!

USA! USA! USA! What a way to wake up yesterday, America! Another episode in one of the classic rivalries in the history of the world. Starting with the 1972 Olympics when the Russians cheated us, to The Miracle at Lake Placid, all the way to Rocky and Ivan Drago, yesterday was yet another opportunity to show the world we are the Yankees to their Red Sox. Segue to this evenings NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans, where the biggest All-Star of them all takes the stage for the East against his Western Conference counterpart Kevin Durant and his gang of high-flying hoopsters.

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See you in April again, right?

LeBron James and Kevin Durant are the Wilt vs. Russell or the Bird vs. Magic of the new millennium. They are the best in the business and they are the clear cut leaders of the two best teams currently in the NBA. So, on this NBA All-Star weekend, it is time to reflect on one of the current great debates: The King or His Airness?

With each season that passes, many feel King James makes a bigger case for himself as the greatest the game has ever seen. I don’t think it is even close. In fact, I would argue Kobe Bryant is closer to Jordan 2.0 than the King. A lot of the debate circles around a wait and see approach, wondering how LeBron James will end his career. I don’t think it will matter. If Lebron were to win 4 more championships and tie Jordan, Jordan is still the greatest of all-time.

5 REASONS HIS AIRNESS REIGNS SUPREME

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So, seriously, are you a super hero or something?

5. The Stats:
The easy and lazy way to approach the topic is to merely whip out the numbers and whoever has better stats is clearly the best. That being said, I’m still going to do it. Not counting LeBron’s 2013-14 stats at the halfway point, let’s examine Jordan versus James through year 10 of their careers:

Michael Jordan: 21,998 points, 4,219 rebounds, 4,025 assists, and 2,445 steals.
LeBron James: 21,081 points, 5,553 rebounds, 5,302 assists, and 1,323 steals.

Well this just doesn’t help much at all. Jordan is tops in two stats and James ousts MJ in the other 2. Here’s something that may help separate the two. Jordan’s official tenth season was his first retirement which means to get stats for 10 seasons we need to jump to his ’94-’95 return, when played in 17 whole games. Nine seasons earlier, Jordan’s second, he broke his foot in the third game and wound up playing in just 18 games that season. James has never played in less than 62 games in a season. You give Jordan those missed games back or have him not retire and these numbers are ALL Jordan. To appease to the bling is the thing mentality, Jordan has three rings by year 10 and LeBron has two.

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C’mon MJ, we are the two greatest actors of our generation. Stick with us, kid.

4. Do you know, do you know, do you know?:
Sure, LeBron has his own line of sneakers, but that’s because Jordan paved the way. I was in middle school when Air Jordan’s hit the market and for those of you who weren’t alive, it was total pandemonium. People were getting killed for their shoes. Mars Blackman, aka Spike Lee, became Jordan’s sidekick in one of the more memorable ad campaigns of the 80s. (Incidentally, a few months back I found an It’s Gotta Be the Shoes Nike shirt at Rag-O-Rama in Atlanta and I snatched that baby right up!)

Yes, LeBron is Mr. Gatorade and even had his own gum flavor for a minute but EVERYBODY knew Michael Jordan. By the mid-1990s he had to be one of the most recognizable faces in the world. He was an actor, he was on the Dream Team, he was an adman, he sold out minor league baseball games, he IS one of the most famous logos ever which in turn made Nike into what we know it, and he made an awesome guest host appearance on SNL. Like Magic before him, Jordan knew he WAS the NBA and he stepped up to bat, put the NBA on his shoulders and carried the league to new heights. Sure he was smug and arrogant, but he was Michael Freakin’ Jordan. LeBron? We can’t even get this guy to dunk on All-Star Weekend. Which brings me to…

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3. The Slam Dunk Contest:
Imagine if you would, that the year is 1988. NBA All-Star Weekend is in Chicago. Bill Lambier, Mugsy Bogues, Kevin Johnson, and Terry Porter take the stage for the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest. A sold-out arena heads for the doors.

The Slam Dunk Contest is the Slam Dunk Contest because back in MJ’s day the best dunkers in the NBA participated. Jordan, Dr.J, Drexler, Nance, Spud Webb, and Dominque Wilkins all participated in dunk contests leading up to the greatest of them all, the 1988 ‘Nique versus Jordan showdown (which Dominque should have won). Last night was a bunch of bench or role players dunking. I grew up walking the streets of New York City where I could watch dunk contests with guys I never heard of quite often. I want to see the big guns go at it. If you are too good to be in the Dunk Contest then you are too good to play in the meaningless showboat game that the NBA All-Star Game is. Stay home and let someone else shine.

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2. The Hardware:
It’s not just what MJ has on LeBron in the rings and trophies, it is how he accomplished it all. King James beat up on 15 and 16-year-olds half his size to win some state championships and jumped right to the NBA. Jordan decided to go to college first but not because he couldn’t have made the jump. Want proof? In his first year at UNC, he won the 1982 Freshman of the Year en route to the National Title in which he hit the game-winning shot over Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas. 2 years later in 1984, he was the  NCAA Player of the Year winning the Wooden, Rupp, and Naismith Awards which of course earned him the honor of being drafted AFTER Sam Bowie. Imagine if Jordan had those three years in the NBA?

Both James and Jordan won the Rookie of the Year award in their NBA debuts. Jordan has 5 MVPs and LeBron has 4, so he may very well surpass him. LeBron has 2 NBA Championships while Jordan finished with 6. Make no mistakes, folks, the Rockets weren’t the ’93-94 and ’94-’95 NBA Champs because they were the best team in the league. They won because MJ “retired”. The Bulls would have won 8 Championships in a row if Jordan stayed. If that were the case this wouldn’t even be a debate.

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The Greatest Team Ever

1. The Joran Era:
I’m probably biased but I feel that I grew up in the greatest era of NBA basketball which is why I find it so hard to watch today’s NBA. The early 80s to the mid-90s was an amazing time for the NBA. They had characters like Sir Charles and Magic, they had classic player rivalries like Bird and Magic and Ewing and Olajuwon, and they had The Bad Boys. That era also had the greatest players to ever suit up.

This is what makes MJ’s 2 “three-peats” so amazing. His Bulls won 6 championships defeating the likes of Magic Johnson and James Worthy, Drexler, Sir Charles, Gary Payton, and John Stockton and Karl Malone. These aren’t just Hall of Famers, these are Top 50 NBA all-time players. Jordan and Pippen routinely beat up Ewing and Isiah Thomas in the East to get to the Finals. LeBron and the Heat lost to Dirk and the Mavericks their first go at the title. Jordan’s Bulls didn’t lose, and he made sure of it.

Jordan never had to leave and go join another team to win. People came to him. Dennis Rodman could have gone anywhere and probably had a bigger role but instead he decided to go to Chicago and form possibly the deadliest Big Three combo in history. If Pippen, Jordan, and Rodman had stayed together a few more years who knows what would have happened. On the other side of the debate, many experts already see James, Wade, and Bosh’s window quickly closing with more discussions weekly on where LeBron will sign next.

Dissecting it even further, look at the MVP awards we discussed earlier. Here are the second place finishers in Jordan’s MVP seasons: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler, David Robinson, and Karl Malone. That’s some pretty hefty competition. They were all members of The 1992 Dream Team and they are all Hall of Famers. LeBron has beaten out Kevin Durant three times and Kobe once. There just hasn’t been much competition for the MVP trophy  and it seems like lately it’s a two man contest. When it comes down to comparing the greatest ever, Jordan beat the greats to prove it, LeBron never will. He won’t get to play a Magic, a Bird, Mailman, or a Sir Charles. Yes, he ousted the Tim Duncan led Spurs, but what would have been if that Spurs team was in their prime like the Heat. Even Kobe had a few years to go at Jordan to prove his greatness. LeBron never will.

All in all, LeBron is no slouch. He will finish amongst the greatest to ever suit up. Maybe one day, Sega will make us a Jordan Vs. James throwback game to try and help the discussion. Until then, King James rules the current NBA but His Airness still rules the world.

I need to cool off. Until next time, remember, lucky wins are good wins. Refuse to lose Cuse! UNDEFEATACUSE!!!

How Derek Jeter Taught Me to Love Again

This was supposed to be a quiet week for sports bloggers. There was no more football, Spring Training is just about ready to begin, there was only a half of a week of NBA action, and for those of you that actually noticed the NHL is on a 2 week break for the Olympics. Then the fireworks started: Marcus Smart goes Ron Artest on an old fat guy, Michael Sam comes out as the soon-to-be first openly gay NFL player, and Tyler Ennis hits a miracle three to keep Syracuse undefeated. If that wasn’t enough, yesterday, via a Facebook letter to all of his fans, Derek Sanderson Jeter announced he was hanging it up.

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For the last 19 years, Jeter has represented everything good about baseball. He has never been vocally arrogant, he has always put the team above himself, and he has never been linked to steroids. If you have been a Jeter hater for the last two decades it is for one of two reasons: you are a Red Sox fan or you hate the Yankees and Derek Jeter is the epitome of everything Yankees.

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Photo courtesy of The Daily News

Until Jeter and The Core Four came along, being a Yankee fan was miserable. We were young fans of the winningest franchise in professional sports, but had never seen a winner. Sure, we had our Yankee legend in Don Mattingly, but they couldn’t win when he was our Captain; Not one first place finish and one lone playoff appearance in Mattingly’s last season. In fact, we endured some of the most awful seasons in Yankees history between 1982 and 1993.

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Then it all changed. Jeter and his three wingmen came along and taught Yankee fans how to love again. Five World Championships, 7 AL Pennants, and 11 AL East crowns later Yankee Pride was restored for my generation. Like I said, the children of the 80s had Mattingly, but he didn’t win. Yankee fans of my era finally had their Gehrig, their DiMaggio, their Mantle, their Munson.

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Getty Images

Jeter did it all with style, grace, a sense of dramatic flair, and the patented Jeter fist pump. Was he the best fielder of his generation? By no means, but he sure made some of the most memorable plays in Yankee history. Was he the best power hitter of his time? No where close, but he hit bigger home runs than Bonds, A-Rod, Griffey, or Big Mac ever did. Was he the best hitter of his era? Considering he played in a time of Tony Gwynn and then later Ichiro, I would have to say no.

That was never important to Jeter. He has no regular season MVP awards in his trophy case. The Yankees all-time hits leader has no batting titles to his name. All Jeter ever did was his job. He did what was best for the Yankees. He got on base more times and scored more runs than anyone for one of the most prolific offenses of our generation. His reward was ring after ring after ring.

He was always more about being a Yankee than being Jeter. The fact that he did it with Jorge and Mo by his side for 17 straight years shows family values. Throw in Pettitte for all but three of those years and you have a heart that beats strong. The Core Four could have signed anywhere throughout their career, for any amount of money they wanted, but they always returned home because together they could win. Alone, who knows what they would have been.

That was the environment that Jeter established in 20 years in pinstripes. Sure, some of the big-time free agents came to New York for the money, but they didn’t last. The ones that stuck were the ones that realized they came to New York to win. David Cone was a hired gun most of his career, but he left it all on the field every start for the Yanks. Roger Clemens had done it all, Cy Youngs, MVPs, back-to-back Triple Crowns, but he never won until he was a Yankee. It was something you had to accept on Jeter’s Yankees: winning and the fans happiness, no matter how bright your star shined, was always first. I still don’t think A-Rod gets that.

I’m glad that we get one last season together with Jeter as a Yankee family. He deserves every accolade, speech, and gift he will get on his Farewell Tour. I have no doubt that, just like Mo, the most emotional and touching send-off he will receive will be from the Red Sox because when you’re a stand-up guy, even your biggest enemies respect you.

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So I say thank you, Oh Captain, My Captain. Thank you for 1996 when Bisach, Bret, Ross, Varrass, Bull, Rosie, Andy, myself, and others squeezed onto the tiny Courtney Street couches to watch the birth of a dynasty. Thank you for all those sunny Saturdays and cool weeknights with Big Lar, D-Sant, and Greene at the old ball park. One of the writers I work with at YanksGoYard.com tweeted how Jeter’s retirement marked the end of his childhood. He’s 20. At 38-years-old, I feel the same way.

(For more on Jeter’s illustrious career, check out my piece on Jeter’s Top Ten Moments at YanksGoYard.com)

School’s Out: What We Learned from the NFL 2013 Season

What a week, folks. There was a lot going on even without football and baseball. Saban grabbed 19 of ESPNs top 50 recruits to form yet again, the top freshman class in the nation. A-Rod came to his senses and dropped the lawsuit, although I still think he’s a jerk and there is something more behind it. Syracuse beat Notre Dame to stay #UNDEFEATACUSE and remain #1 in the land. Lastly, over in Sochi, the most bizarre Olympics to date kicked off with the US, of course, capturing the first gold.

Despite all that, I still rather write about football. With the 2013 NFL season all wrapped up, one thing I learned it’s that I suck at projecting the Super Bowl! All I can say is Wow, tip my cap, and congratulate the Seattle Seahawks. They went out there and totally thrashed the greatest offense of all time. It was the most anticlimactic end to an otherwise exciting season, even worse than the infamous fade to black Sopranos ending. Seriously, the Seahawks had the lead for 59 minutes and 48 seconds. It was total domination.

Enough about Super Bowl XLVIII. It’s in the books. Now we reflect on what was. My Houston Texans were the most overhyped team in years. They were projected to be in the Super Bowl by a lot of experts. I watched every game, folks, and they were literally two or three plays away from an 0-16 season. In the end, Kubiak and his entire regime paid the price. Despite having to endure the worst season I’ve had to sit through as a Texan fan – and that says a lot people – there were a few tidbits I was able to take away from the ’13 season.

WHAT WE LEARNED IN 2013

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Look, Tommy, were going to take Edelman and make him a star, ok?

1. Bill Belicheck is a genius and the best coach in football.
If you believe that there is a correlation between Spygate and Belicheck’s ability to win a Super Bowl, I’ll have the Easter Bunny come pick you up and discuss how the Red Sox were held title-less for 86 years because of a fat, dead Babe Ruth. Look at his resume this millenium: 158 wins, double-digit wins 11 years in a row, 11 AFC East Titles, a 3-2 record over 5 Super Bowls, and an undefeated regular season campaign. It’s not even about the numbers with Belicheck, it’s how he has done it. In the early 2000s, before Brady was merely super human and not a football god, he ran a run first, defensive minded team. Then in 2007, he got new toys he never had before in Randy Moss and Wes Welker, and they went 16-0 as Brady unleashed himself through the air as one of the NFL’s most dominating QBs. This season, he lost his best WR in Welker. He lost the NFLs best TE to multiple injuries and his back-up TE to the penal system. Vereen was down for most of the year, and it seemed he lost a key defender each and every week. He still won 12 games and the AFC East, and he still was on the cusp of making it to the Super Bowl. Belicheck seems to get it done with any combination of players, any style of offense or defense, and as long as he has Brady, even as he begins to decline in talent, the Patriots are a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

2. Chip Kelly was better than advertised.
I assume many of you were like me. Entering 2013, I thought Kelly was another great college coach who thought he could change the NFL with his crazy schemes. Through 4 and a half games, the skeptics looked to be right. The Eagles started 1-3, but late in the 2nd quarter of game 5 against the Giants, Nick Foles replaced an injured Michael Vick and changed the Eagles season. They would go 9-3 with Foles at the helm and capture the NFC East title. Kelly helped make Foles the next big QB (2891 yards passing, 27 TD, 2 Int, and a league leading 119.2 QB rating over 10 and a half games). His offense helped return LeSean McCoy to stud-dom as he lead the league in both rushing (1607) and total yards (2146) with 11 combined TDs. The Eagles still have work to do, but Kelly has them going in the right direction.

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Tony Romo and Jason Garrett walk into a bar…

3. The Dallas Cowboys are a joke.
I’m tired of hearing about these guys. Over the last 10 seasons, they are a mere 87-73 with 2 NFC East titles and a 1-3 playoff record. Compare that to the other team in Texas, the aforementioned under achieving Houston Texans. The Texans have the same amount of division titles and more playoff wins over the same amount of time, and until recently, they have mostly been an afterthought. It’s time the Cowboys are, too. Somehow, the Cowboys are always a “threat” for the NFC East even though they lose out on the last game of the season every year. Tony Romo is always on the verge of becoming and elite QB, but he simply is not. This team is good but needs changes from top to bottom.

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4. Megatron… You have company. 

Throughout Calvin Johnson’s tenure, there were many good WRs in the NFL. We have even watched quite a few future Hall of Famers like Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. None came close to the sheer talent that Calvin Johnson possesses… until now. Josh Gordon had a spectacular 2013 campaign. What is more remarkable? Was it that he led the league in receiving (1646 yards) in just his second season? Or was it that he did it despite missing the first two games of the season? No, it was that fact that he was the ONLY weapon on a terrible Cleveland Browns offense that provided Gordon with Brandon Weedon, Brian Hoyer, and Jason Campbell behind center. The debates have already begun in fantasy circles. Who is the best WR heading into 2014? It sure will be fun to find out.

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You’re an All-Pro, and you’re an All-Pro, and you’re an All-Pro….

5. The Seattle Seahawks 2013 defense is one of the greatest of all time.
Halfway through the third quarter of SB48, Jay Holloway turned to me and asked If you blogged that the 2013 Broncos team was the best offense ever, doesn’t this make the Seahawks the best defense ever? Well, Jay, they certainly have earned the right to be in the conversation. Let’s compare them to what many consider the top defenses of the Super Bowl Era:

1985 Bears: 4,135 yards allowed, 198 points allowed, 61 turnovers, 64 sacks, and 5 TDs
2000 Ravens: 3,967 YA, 165 PA, 58 TOs, 35 sacks, and 1 TD
2002 Bucs: 4,044 YA, 196 PA, 47 TOs, 43 sacks, and 5 TD
1974 Steel Curatin: 3,074 YA, 189 PA, 60 TOs, and 3 TDs
(sacks were not yet an official stat)
2013 Seahawks: 4,378 YA, 231 PA, 57 TOs, 43 sacks, 4 TDs

Their numbers are very comparable. The yards allowed and points allowed are inflated because, let’s face it, it’s a different NFL where offenses rule and defenses can’t hit. You could argue that makes their defense all the more remarkable. What can’t be denied is that the 4 teams listed above won their Super Bowls defeating Tony Eason/ Steve Grogan (Bears), Kerry Collins (Ravens), Rich Gannon (Bucs), and Fran Tarkenton (Steelers). The 2013 Seahawks completely dismantled Peyton Manning, one of the Top 5 QBs of all-time who just completed the single greatest season of all-time. Are they the greatest? Maybe, maybe not, but they are clearly now part of the argument.

Well, there you have it. The 2013 NFL season is officially wrapped up. It’s time to turn our attention to the NBA, college hoops, and the Olympics for a few weeks until the NFL Combine and Spring Training is under way. Until next time, GO ORANGE!!!

Why Peyton Needs to Win Super Bowl XLVIII

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Watch out, Atlanta, there’s more winter comin’!

Happy Groundhog’s Day, folks! As my home base of Atlanta finally thaws out and returns to normalcy, that little fur ball Phil popped up and saw his shadow. On top of that, my SYRACUSE ORANGE BEAT DUKE AND ARE THE NUMBER ONE TEAM IN THE COUNTRY!!! If that all wasn’t enough, today, we get to watch the Super Bowl.

If you have followed my posts this week, you know my thoughts. But a quick recap wouldn’t hurt: Super Bowl in New York = bad idea and Broncos are your Super Bowl champs. This Super Bowl means so much to Peyton, and I think the heart of the warrior brings home the Lombardi Trophy to Denver.

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Archie’s proudest moment

Why does Peyton need to win this Super Bowl? It’s simple. In the NFL, more than any other sport, rings define greatness. Notice I used the plural form. You need multiple rings. In other sports, you can be considered elite without any rings. Take the NBA for example. Many consider that the top Power Forward to ever suit up is either Sir Charles or the Mailman. They have a combined 0 rings, but it’s forgivable because they played during the Jordan Era, and no one could win rings unless you joined the Bulls. Baseball is mostly about statistics. Cal Ripken has one ring and barely even made the playoffs during his career, but many consider him the greatest Short Stop ever. Tony Gwynn never won a ring at all and many baseball enthusiasts will argue he is the purest, most natural hitter of our lifetime. But in the NFL, it’s all about the bling.

Brett Favre will always be in the conversation for the best QB ever, but despite his records, despite his 3 MVPs, most people still think Brady and Montana surpass him. Why? One ring. Jim Kelly led his team to four straight Super Bowls, a feat that in this era of parity, we will never see again. But he didn’t win a single one and he has a hard time breaking a lot of people’s Top Ten. Poor Dan Marino would be the greatest QB ever if he could have just gotten a few Super Bowls. Drew Brees has some of the most insane numbers any QB has ever put up since he joined the Saints and he’s not even in the Top Ten conversation despite his statistics showing otherwise. Why? One ring. One ring is the same amount that Brad Johnson, Trent Dilfer, Jeff Hostetler, and Jim McMahon have. No offense to those guys, but they are not even in a top 50 conversation.

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We got such a bum deal

Two or more rings, though, and all these crazy conversations start. Is Eli Manning elite? Seriously? This guy has two good drives in his life and people start anointing him better than his brother. Come on, people. This is why Peyton Manning needs to win. If he holds up that trophy tonight, not only will one of my good friends, Jay Scott, be thrilled, but Peyton Manning will solidify himself as the Greatest Quarterback of All-Time. It can be supported by opinion, it can be supported by rings, and it can be supported by FACTS. Let’s look at the facts, folks, and stack him up against the other people in the Greatest QB ever argument.

Who is in the argument? Brett Favre, based on rings is eliminated. Dan Marino, who was deprived of any rings, is also out. Bart Starr is hands down a Top Ten QB based on his winning pedigree, but he doesn’t have the numbers to compete, so cross him off. So, for me, that leaves Johnny Unitas, Tom Brady, Joe Montana, and John Elway in the hunt with Peyton for the best ever. Well, last night, while Syracuse was beating Duke to become number one in the land, Peyton took home his fifth MVP. That’s two more than anyone else has ever had and four less than the others in this conversation had combined (Unitas has 3, Montana has 3, Brady has 2, and Elway has 1).

Montana and Brady are in the argument because of how they played in the post season and especially the big game. So despite the fact that if Peyton wins his second ring tonight they will still have one more ring, I still think Peyton will best them. Why? In my opinion, all you need are rings. It doesn’t matter if it’s 2 or 3. Want proof? Terry Bradshaw has four rings and even a drunken Steeler fan knows he’s not the GOAT. So after that, we look at statistics, and Peyton dwarfs them all.

Manning: 64,964 yards at a 65.5% rate, 491 TDs, 219 Ints, 97 QB Rating
Elway: 51,485 yards at a 56.9% rate, 300 TDs, 226 Ints, 79.9% QB Rating
Brady: 49,159 yards at a 63.4% rate, 359 TDs, 134 Ints, 95.7 QB Rating
Montana: 40,551 yards at 63.2% rate, 273 TDs, 139 Ints, 92.3 QB Rating
Unitas: 40,239 yards at 54.6% rate, 290 TDs, 253 Ints, 78.2 QB Rating

(Johnny U only has one Super Bowl ring, but he has two pre-Super Bowl NFL Championships so he is allowed in the conversation)

You can see it’s not even close. If you do happen to be a statistics guy and want to argue Favre, you have a good case… right now. If Peyton’s neck is ok and he gets clearance to return, he will break Favre’s records. The only reason there is even a Greatest QB of All-Time conversation is because of Manning’s post season record and lack of rings. Tonight he can change all of that. Tonight he can cement himself as the greatest of all time.

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Photo from Getty Images

Well, folks, it’s that time for me to cool off. Enjoy your Super Bowl parties and to my people in the service industry stuck working, make that money. Let’s go Broncos, and remember: CUSE IS NUMBER ONE!!!

Super Bowl Prediction Special

For those of you that are unaware, this Sunday is Pooch’s birthday. He is one of my oldest friends, both in age (he’s one month older than me) and amount of time I have known him. What you are aware of, I’m sure, is that this Sunday is also Super Bowl XLVIII. The Peyton Manning led Broncos take on Richard Sherman’s Legion of Boom and the Seahawks for football supremacy. The question everyone wants to know the answer to is: Who will win?

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The truth is, folks, I have no idea. No one does. When I was a kid and all the way throughout college, I remember the Super Bowl was terribly boring. Almost every time the team that was clearly better would not only win, but romp their opponent. Then, the millennium switched over, Tom Brady became a QB, the Patriots somehow beat the Rams, and the Super Bowls have been pretty great ever since. The Buccaneers have a ring. No one gave the 2007 Giants a chance, but they won. The Arizona Cardinals were mere seconds away from stealing a Super Bowl from the All-Time Winningest Super Bowl team. That’s the beauty of what the Super Bowl has become.

That being said, it sure is fun trying to predict the outcome. I invited the members of The Thread to chime in with their predictions to give you, dear reader, some variety. If you are unaware of whom The Thread is, scroll up top to my Shout Outs and read up. Go ahead, I will be right here waiting for you to get back.

Ok, so now that we are acquainted, let me give you the background. I wanted to have a few expert opinions to go along with mine. The easiest group to get, and get fast, was The Thread. The best part about these guys is knowing how to address a question, because if you ask the right question, the debate will last for three hours. So, once they all gave me their scores and MVPs, I asked them to tell me why they chose the outcomes they did in one sentence. Sure enough, hundreds of texts messages later, arguing about the weather, defenses, and Wes Welker, some interesting side bets were made. These side bets led to trash talking about our soccer teams, which led to more side bets. Then finally, I got the sentence I needed.

THE THREAD’S SUPER BOWL XLVIII SUPER BOWL PREDICTIONS

Sperry Seahawks win 29-20
Why: “A “struggling” Seattle defense put up 23 points against a Top 5 defense in the 49ers. A record setting Denver offense put up 26 points against a mediocre Talib-less Patriots defense. Combine this with weather expectations that favor Seattle’s number one overall defense, and you have a recipe for another Manning let down. Records are great, but they don’t get you rings. Just ask Marino how nice his records look next to Flacco’s ring.”
MVPs: Marshawn Lynch and Earl Thomas III

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MMMM Skittles!!!!

Saucy T Broncos win 26-17
Why: “Wes Welker will be the difference maker in Peyton’s 2nd Super Bowl win.” Saucy T also mentioned he thinks Peyton grabbing the second trophy will cement him as the best ever.
MVP: Knowshown Moreno

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You got Knowshowned!!!

Nomi the Greek Seahawks win 24-20
Why: “In this era of ultimate offenses, an extremely cold weather Super Bowl with a very good chance of frozen precipitation is why the Seattle defense will win this fairly low scoring game.”
MVP: Marshawn Lynch

The Englishman 27-13 Broncos
Why: “It’s about timing, and Sunday is Peyton’s time.”
MVP: Peyton Manning

Kid Robot Broncos 35-27
Why: “The legion of doom has 13 members, the Legion of Boom only has 4 members. Seattle needs to start recruiting more players to the Legion of Boom because Peyton will shred them alive, regardless of the weather. P.S. Eli gave his brother some tips about playing in MetLife Stadium… Peyton’s experience > Seattle’s arrogant D.”
MVP: Peyton Manning, 320 yards and 4 TDs

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Peyton Manning is good

So, if my guys picks are correct, there is a slight edge to the Broncos. I know what you’re wondering, folks. What does The Wayniac think? Thing is, I agree with pretty much all of what they have said. So who will win Super Bowl XLVIII?

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Hopefully no bridges get closed coming into NJ!!!

Why the Seahawks can win: The Legion of Boom and Marshawn Lynch.
They are arrogant, they are cocky, and they have Richard Sherman as their clear cut leader. The Seahawks defense is the best at what they do and have earned the swagger with which they strut. Sherman and Earl Thomas were both First Team All-Pro defensive backs and Kam Chancellor snuck in on Second Team secondary. While the front seven puts intense pressure on the QB, the Legion of Boom will cause turnovers, as evidenced by their league leading 28 picks.
On the other side of the ball is Beast Mode. There is no other player in the NFL who wants one yard more than Marshawn Lynch. Gaining those first downs will keep the Seahawks on the field and Peyton Manning off of it.
Throw in the weather conditions (now projecting at 19 degrees at kickoff) and you have pretty good conditions for a defensive, run-oriented team to dominate.
Why the Broncos can win: Peyton Manning.
Defense wins championships, and in this championship bout we get to see the #1 defense in the NFL. The problem is, they are not just squaring off against the #1 offense this season, but arguably the best offense of all time, at least statistically speaking: 4 wide receivers with double digit touchdowns, a running back with 10 more on the ground and three through the air, and then there is Peyton Manning. We know his numbers by now. It was historical. I think there is some extra motivation behind Manning’s season. Saucy T hit it on the head. If Manning wins this Super Bowl, he has two rings, and in the NFL to be the “greatest” you have to have the hardware. Until now, Manning always knew that if they should lose in the playoffs, then there was always next year. He always made the playoffs. Now he’s older, and he is going for that neck scope. There may not be a tomorrow for #18. Imagine playing against a Peyton Manning that needs to win, a Peyton Manning with his back against the wall, a Peyton Manning who fears that this is it? That’s a scary thought. I think it gives the Broncos the edge. Throw the cold weather career stats out the window because this is a different breed of team.
The Wayniac Broncos win 21-17 Peyton Manning takes home the MVP.

Well, folks, I don’t need to cool down this week. I’m snowed in and everything inside 285 in Atlanta is a parking lot. Please be safe out there my fellow ATLiens. Hoping we all safely get through this.

The NFLs Colossal Blunder

Well, folks, it’s Sunday and that means Super Bowl week is officially upon us. It’s a busy week for the sports media, even small bloggers like myself, in keeping up with the whirlwind that ensues. For many, it’s the most fun week of the year, coming to a climax with the world’s biggest game. For the NFL and Roger Goddell, it may become at nightmare.

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It’s the most magical time of the year!

If you haven’t heard, which means you’re living under a rock or are just too concerned with the collapse of Justin Bieber’s career, Super Bowl XLVIII is being played up north this year. I remember at the beginning of the season everyone I knew was saying What are they thinking? With the game a mere seven days away, people are now saying What WERE they thinking? Aside from the replacement refs and the current concussion debacle, this could end up being football’s biggest mistake yet.

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Huh?

There are several reasons The Meadowlands may have been the wrong choice for the Super Bowl. The weather is the clear and obvious choice for reason numero uno. However, the one decision that was the deciding factor is clear: the almighty dollar. The Super Bowl is the World’s Biggest Game, and New York is certainly the biggest stage to play it on. The money the NFL, New York and New Jersey can profit from a Super Bowl if, and only if, it goes well will probably be enough to build the Statue of Liberty a boyfriend. That money won’t be worth jack if you blow the greatest game on earth. Seriously, think about it. The only event that compares, and perhaps surpasses the Super Bowl, is the World Cup. The last World Cup Final in 2010 had 619.7 million viewers, whereas last years Super Bowl had 108.41 million. However, The World Cup involves every major country in the WORLD and it’s viewers wait four full years to watch it. The Super Bowl is solely an American game, yet is still broadcast in 232 countries. Corporations spend up to $4 million for a 30 second spot in between drives whereas a World Cup commercial caps out at about $450,000. The average pay day for the World Cup has been just north of $100 million. The Super Bowl? The big game has an average yield of $379 million. Every bar and restaurant, not just Irish and English pubs and sports bars, are going to have some sort of promotion going on. And the parties across the nation will seem endless.

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Futbol or Football?

So, why would you schedule a Super Bowl in winter time in New Jersey knowing that the weather will be the real 12th man? It is supposed to be cold with highs between 35-40 and the lows that may hit 20. If you have ever been in MetLife Stadium, you know that once the winds start swirling, 20 degrees feels like 0. There is a 30% chance of freezing rain or snow, and NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman has announced the Super Bowl may be played anywhere from Friday to Monday.

Huh? Did I just type that? Super Bowl Sunday may be Super Bowl Friday. IT DOESN’T EVEN SOUND RIGHT!!! Why would you put all this money, all these fans, all these schedules at risk?

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Johnny U in The Greatest Game Ever Played

Maybe one thought (and the word thought is used loosely here, because it doesn’t appear many brain cells were used in this decision) was that this is how the NFL Championships used to be played. The 1958 NFL Championship Game has earned the nickname “The Greatest Game Ever Played” and that was successfully played in Yankee Stadium, but that was an extremely different NFL. Those were the games that defenses controlled, where the hard-nosed players were allowed to hit, the era where the old adage Defense wins championships comes from.

Today’s NFL is different. We want offense. It’s a passing game these days, and if you are lucky enough to have a feature running back, you want to see him explode. Want proof? Let’s compare this Super Bowl’s elite to that 1958 game. The 1958 Championship pitted the Colts versus the Giants. The quarterback was a one Johnny Unitas, whom many consider one of the greatest to ever play the game. He threw for 2000 yards with 19 touchdowns that year and a 90 QB Rating. I know, the seasons were shorter, but if you take his averages and extend it to a 16 game season, he throws for 3200 yards and 27 touchdowns. Now, take the guy who had to live in Unitas’s shadow for all those years, Peyton Manning. This year he threw for a record 5,477 yards, a record 55 touchdowns, and a 115 QB Rating. Want more? (Of course you do, you thirst for it!) Frank Gifford was the Giants running back in that game, and he was considered one of the premier backs in the NFL. That year, Gifford ran for 468 yards and 8 touchdowns while tacking on 330 yards receiving and 2 more TDs. Marshawn Lynch, aka Beast Mode, aka Yum Yum Give Me Some Skittles, aka one of the top backs in the game, ran for 1257 yards and 12 TDs while adding on 316 yards through the air with 2 more TDs.

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Uh oh…

So why would you put these type of players in brutal weather conditions? The Super Bowl is being watched by thousands of people who don’t really care about football or are from other countries and want to see what all the hub bub is about. It is the ultimate billboard for the NFL. It is in my mind that we should then want to see the very best of what the NFL has to offer. I want to see Manning go off for 400 yards and 4 TDs on Sunday (or Friday, or Monday). So does everyone else except Seahawks fans. I also want to see Beast Mode rampage all 11 Bronco defenders all day long, and so does everyone else except Bronco fans. In the snow and cold, we won’t see that. We will see a lot of three and outs, and it will be a defensive stronghold, which is a huge advantage for Seattle because they are hands down the best in the business.

I get it the whole it’s football weather mindset, but that’s why we have the NFC North. That’s what makes Pittsburgh legendary. That’s why we watch the Patriots zamboni FGs for Vinatieri. But then, when those teams ravage through those tough conditions, they are rewarded by playing a Super Bowl in sunny San Diego or inside a dome where there is no weather at all.

Never mind the hypocrisy of the NFL preaching for player safety and then wanting an 18 game season. Forget about the fact that a league so concerned with the health of its players is possibly adding a team to the playoffs and prolonging their season (all because Jerry loses out on the playoffs in the last game of every season, but that’s another rant!). If you really want to go traditional like that 1958 Championship, if you really want to play in football weather, then you are truly putting our greatest players at injury risk and reversing every last thing the players union and lawsuits have been fighting. While there is no guarantee that injuries are less abundant in warmer weather than colder weather, it just seems that purposely placing the NFLs best in even the slightest possibility of treacherous conditions is a bit silly from a sport that is evolving into a player-safe league.

I need to cool off. We have a busy week in store. Keep an eye out for my Super Bowl predictions and a little bit more on Peyton’s greatness. And don’t forget to check in with my daily rants at @UofDWayne in the Twitterverse. Till next time, hopefully my internet won’t freeze over.

How Richard Sherman Became My Favorite Player in 30 Seconds

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And for my next number…

It’s unreal. You think you have an awesome blog in the works. You think, Nothing can make me angrier at sports than what I just witnessed. But then, as a sports blogger, you jump on Twitter and Facebook to see what the world is saying and BAM! I have a new topic. So, I am putting my post Brady/ Manning V rant on hold, because I feel it my duty to the sports world to talk about the NFLs newest bad boy.

As long as he isn’t playing my Texans, Richard Sherman is my favorite player in the NFL. In one night, this classless thug out of Compton made himself his own corporation. He was both blasted and praised on Twitter and Facebook, talked about on every sports network, and defended by sports bloggers across the nation in less than twelve hours. If you didn’t know who Richard Sherman was last night, you sure do now.

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U mad, bro?

None of this is new for Sherman. He called Roddy White an easy matchup, told Revis to pick up his game, and labeled Harbaugh a bully. He tweets and texts opposing players, and whether you’re the back up wide receiver or Tom “The Golden Boy” Brady, he’s going to tell it how it is. He is the new Terrell Owens. Instead of OchoCinco, we now have DosCinco. And much like his predecessors, he has the walk to back all the talk. Love them or hate them, these are the players people remember. Ten years from now, more people will remember Randy Moss than James Lofton or Tim Brown because there is more entertaining sound bytes from Randy than those two ever had.

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The Bank of Randy

And there is nothing wrong with playing the game as the likes of Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson do. They are two of the best at what they do and simply let their play do the talking. Tom Brady is from the Bellichek camp and never talks, but that isn’t what makes him better than Ryan Leaf. People want controversy, it makes them orgasm to have the opportunity to have a focal point of their rage. Richard Sherman gave everyone that last night.

If you don’t know by now, Richard Sherman is absolutely brilliant. He was salutatorian in high school, had a rumored 1400 score on his SATs, and earned a Communications degree from Stanford. On top of that, he was recruited by a one Pete Carroll, current mentor to The Legion of Boom, and while in high school, Sherman made Carroll, the coach of our nation’s best (and probably dirtiest) program amid a 34 game winning streak, wait over two hours to interview so he could finish an AP course. Yet because of his “antics”, because of his “trash talk”, he was labeled a classless thug.

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RRROAW RRRRRROAW like a dungeon dragon

Why? Because he is from Compton? Because he is a dumb jock who couldn’t possibly know what he was talking about? Because instead of saying the same watered down “I tip my cap to the Niners but this is just one game” garbage we always hear, he called out a guy he totally took to school and shut down possibly the most over rated QB in football?

Let me tell you what Richard Sherman is. He is an entertainer. He brought some life back into a game that the higher ups and union are trying to take away. He is a shut down, lights out defender who plays the game hard and extremely well. Oh yea, he also happened to save that game and put the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, which has been an after thought to his words. So, all of you people hating on him, stereotyping him, and trying to bring him down are just fueling the fire. And, folks, I can’t wait to see what he does next.

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Ta Daaaaa

That being said, I totally think it’s Peyton Manning’s year and the Seahawks won’t win the Super Bowl, but man, are we in for a great two weeks.

Maybe it’s because my idols are Howard Stern and Frank Sinatra. Maybe it’s because, like those two, I don’t know how to keep me thoughts to myself. But I think Richard Sherman is an alright dude. I need to cool off. Till next time, maybe I will actually have the chance to tell you about my thoughts on Brady and Manning.

Baseball’s Biggest Jerk

What a week, folks! For one, I entered this Twitterverse, so be sure to follow my daily rants at @UofDWayne (shameless plug). Of course, it is all climaxing with the Brady/ Manning Bowl, but there have been quite a few days leading up. The coaching carousel in the NFL is a spinnin’ round and round so fast, it’s hard to keep up. Wisenhunt chose the Titans, which made Frank Reich an Offensive Coordinator in San Diego. The Vikings got Mike Zimmer at the helm, and he brought good Ol’ Norval on as his OC. Jim Caldwell is getting a second chance in the Motor City, and there’s a new Gruden in the head coaching ranks over in the Capital. Throw in the big NCAA coaching changes with Strong, Pruitt, Grantham, and James Franklin, and it’s hard to believe the Cleveland Browns still don’t have a Head Coach. Well, Dawg Pound, I have good news for you, because I know someone who has absolutely nothing to do for the next year or so.

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This is my pretend regret face.

Oh, A-Rod. There was so much I wanted to write about this week, but you just keep giving us bloggers and the National media so much to get angry about. It is in my most humble opinion (and on my blog, that’s really all that matters) that Alex Rodriguez has become MLB’s All Time Biggest Jerk. He really is in a class of his own now. Pete Rose, over rated as a jerk. Sure, he gambled his way out of the Hall of Fame (which is another rant all in itself) but, man, that guy left it all on the field: He is the all time hits leader, a key cog in The Big Red Machine, and unquestionably the most deserving player of the name Charlie Hustle. Roger Clemens, total jerk. But he was always driven by that competitive spirit. First, he wanted to prove the Red Sox wrong when they said he was done. Then, after those two years with the Blue Jays when he was better than he had ever been, he wanted that ring. And then he got it and wanted another… And another… And another. He was just a big child, very Favre-esque, who simply never ever wanted to hang up the cleats. Barry Bonds, Jerkasaurus Rex. But his punishment was watching his Giants go from irrelevant to two time champs in what seemed like just moments after his retirement.

But, A-Rod, oh A-Rod, from day one, you have pretty much had it all, and it has never been enough. Trophies, championship rings, models and pop stars, strippers and hookers, and that money, all that stinking money… And it was still never enough. So without further ado, here are:

THE TOP 10 REASONS A-ROD IS THE BIGGEST JERK IN MLB HISTORY!

10. The bottom rung on the climb to jerkdom is personal.

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“Seriously, bro, chill out.”

I’m a Yankee fan living in the South who has a girlfriend that is a huge Boston Red Sox fan and I have to go to work every day with Teddy Ballgame, who is a huge Tigers fan. I take enough crap on a daily basis sans A-Rod, I don’t need his continuing stupidity to add fuel to the fire.

9. Game 6, 2004 ALCS vs. the Red Sox and May 30th, 2007 vs. the Blue Jays.

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In his first playoffs against the Red Sox for my beloved Yankees, he crushed a weak grounder, and instead of hustling it out, he slaps Bronson Arroyo’s hand to pry the ball lose and becomes the poster child for Yankee hatred by the growing Red Sox Nation. Three years later, in 2007, A-Rod was enjoying his sickest start to a season: he had a 23 game hitting streak, 14 homers and over 30 RBIs in April alone. But then in May, right when us Yankee fans really bought into the new A-Rod, he yells “Ha, I got it,” on a routine fly ball to the third basemen of the Blue Jays causing him to drop it. Nothing like the highest paid player in history using a little third grade antics.

8. In 2001, A Rod becomes Pay Rod and A Wad to Mariners fans when he bolts town to become the richest player in history with the Texas Rangers. That very same 2001 season, the Rodriguez-less Mariners set the all time mark for wins in a season, and the Rangers begin their two year reign of being dead last in the AL West.

7. Playoff chump. Did you know from 2004 up to the 2009 championship run with the Yankees, A-Rod went 0-29 with runners in scoring position and left 38 playoff runs stranded on base? That’s a Jerk with a capital J.

6. Although I did rather enjoy it, he did royally screw the Red Sox in 2003. The Rangers, who must have been tired of being worthless with the “best” player in baseball eating up their salary and not being able to get anything resembling a quality pitching staff, had a deal in place with the Sox to send them A-Rod. It required a voluntary salary cut… Yea, right! Well, I’m sure once A- Fraud cried about that, the union stepped in and rejected the deal and the Red Sox joined Mariner and Ranger fans in their loathing of Rodriguez.

5. To juice, or not to juice, that is the question.

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In 2007, Rodriguez denied taking steroids in an interview with Katie Couric, a news host and reporter that only a few million people watch on a daily basis. Not even two years later, in February of 2009, he admits to taking steroids with the Rangers due to the heavy pressure of living up to his contract, but stopped using by the time he got to the Yankees in 2004.

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A ROD SMASH!!!

In 2011, it was proven that A-Roid had contact with Dr. Anthony Galea, who pleaded guilty to bringing unapproved performance enhancing drugs into the country from Canada. And then there is Anthony Bosch, the founder of Biogenesis and all around scumbag. I mean, look at the guy:

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Does he look a little bit like Greg Brady gone bad?

The 60 Minutes interview was mind blowing, but in all fairness, keep in mind, this guy reached a deal with Major League Baseball to sing, so it is quite a song he has sung. But what can’t be denied is that in 2012, there are 553 text messages and 53 phone calls on record from A-Rod to Bosch. Rodriguez mysteriously had that Blackberry almost instantly deactivated so nothing can be proven. That seems like a lot of phone calls and texts about vitamins and natural supplements, which is what A-Rod’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, contends.

Now, and this is only my opinion (and as I mentioned earlier, this is my blog, so it’s all that matters) A-Rod knows what he is doing. Yes, he has passed 11 drug tests, but he is in the Mitchell Report, he has ties to Galea and Bosch, and he gets so defensive about it. He hops from dealer to dealer finding “supplements” and regimens that he knows can beat the tests and he will never get caught. But, I’m going out on a limb here and I’m going to say A-Roid couldn’t be a more accurate nickname.

4. The numbers he has tarnished. As of right now, A-Rod isn’t going to get into the Hall of Fame. This dislike of him isn’t a new thing, as fans, reporters, and baseball higher ups have never really seemed to like Rodriguez. This makes all those numbers and records he has achieved even more tainted. He is the first player to hit 150 home runs with three different teams, but we know for a fact by his own admission that he was juiced up for his Ranger years. He was the youngest to 500 home runs and surpassed the Babe as the fastest to 600. BABE RUTH! He passed another of baseball’s greats, Jimmie Foxx, to become the only player to go 10 straight seasons with at least 35 homers, 100 runs scored, and 100 RBI. He has more 100 RBI seasons than anyone (14). And lastly, in a league rich in Hispanic heritage, he is the all time leader in home runs for all Hispanic countries represented in the MLB (of course, he passed Sammy Sosa and Manny Ramirez on his way to the top, so I don’t know how honorable that achievement is).

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3. The money. In 2001, he signed a record 10 year, $252 million dollar contract. Six years later he signs a new 10 year deal for $275 million. Seriously? I don’t think there is a person alive who deserves to make almost $28 million a year, let alone a lying, cheating, little cry baby.

2. He’s always the victim. He didn’t take steroids to get better, but because of all the pressure the media and fans put on him. Last year, he claims he was ready to play, but Cashman and the Yankees plotted against his return to avoid paying him. Now, he holds a press conference in Mexico City, saying 2014 will be a year of reflection so he can come back stronger. Oh please, A-Fraud, no one believes you anymore.

1. HE IS SUING MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL AND THE PLAYERS UNION!!! He is fighting the beast that made him who he is. And I will admit, Bud Selig went about this all wrong, but that is not why he is suing. He is attacking Michael Weiner, posthumously, who can not defend himself from beyond, but defended A-Rod while he was here! His team of lawyers is attacking players, such as David Ortiz, who reached out, took A-Rod out to dinner and tried to console him. Tacopina said he would not name the other players accused of using PEDs, “but some of them are god-like in Boston right now.” He doesn’t want to serve a punishment that is just a little bit longer than all of the other players who served their suspension for Biogenesis without a fight or appeal. And it’s not because he wants to win, it’s not because he let Yankee fans down. It’s because he wants his money and records.

It’s time for Alex Rodriguez to go away. Maybe place him in exile, like Napoleon was on Elba. I’m telling you, when it’s his time to be in the Hall of Fame, and voters shun him, Tacopina will be suing them, too. I need to cool off. Special thanks to my new editor, The Varrass, and don’t forget to follow my daily ranting on Twitter at @UofDWayne

Till next time, folks. Hopefully Davone Bess doesn’t see anymore officers until then.

Happy Freakin New Year from the Hall of Fame

Hey there, sports fans. My name is Wayne, and I am a sportsaholic. With Chris Christie closing bridges, a united healthcare plan no one understands, religion starting wars all over the world, and Miley Cyrus reigning as the queen of pop culture, I don’t see much of a reason to follow much else. That being said, I feel like the perfect time to start a blog, especially one centered around sports rants, is the beginning of a brand new year. It isn’t because this is something I have procrastinated about for two years (which I have) and made some sort of resolution to start. And no, it is not because this is the time to start anew. It’s simply because in January, the biggest hypocrisy in all of professional sports occurs: the voting for the newest inductees into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Oh, dear reader, where do I start? Well, before I tear apart what has transpired, how about I say congratulations to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox. All six are very deserving of the honor and I truly believe they are all first ballot guys. If you were to ask me who the three best managers of my lifetime were, those three take the honor. Plus, are you going to tell a guy named The Big Hurt he doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall? I’m not.

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One of my big problems with this years votes is Greg Maddux. I’m 38 years old. I had the pleasure of watching Greg Maddux’s entire career and remembering it. Growing up in the New York City area, as a Yankee fan, I rather enjoyed watching him take on the Mets, often ruining any fantasy their fans had of being competitive. Mr. Maddux received 97.2% of the votes, and I have a huge problem with this.

There is absolutely no excuse for why Greg Maddux did NOT receive 100% of the votes. I would love the opportunity to sit down with the 16 people who didn’t vote for him and find out why. After they gave me some outdated explanation, I would take their votes from them… And then slap them in the face with the ballots.

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From around 1992 to 2000, if Maddux was pitching against your team, you pretty much chalked it up a loss. Take away his pitching for just a second. From 1990 to 2002, he won 13 straight Gold Gloves. After an “off year” in 2003, he came back to win the award 5 more consecutive years from 2004 to 2008. That means from the ages of 38 to 42, well past his prime in a sport that has 20 year olds sprouting up yearly, he was still the best fielding pitcher in the game. He had 5 career home runs and made us all aware that chicks do indeed love the long ball. He was also an 8 time All Star, but let me say something about All Star appearances. I hold no credence to All Star game selections except for pitchers. Fans vote in the offensive starters with as much, if not slightly more, credibility than the BBWAA, and I had to endure watching the likes of Cal Ripken and Ozzie Smith well beyond their time. However, managers pick their pitchers, and when an opposing manager picks you, well, that is just respect.

In case you forgot how glorious the commercial was, check out Chicks Dig the Long Ball here.

Now, let’s look at that pitching. Any avid baseball fan knows Greg Maddux won 4 Cy Young Awards. But it wasn’t just that he won those 4 awards, it was how he did it. Let’s just look closely at 2 of the seasons he won the award. In 1994, he posted a ridiculous 1.56 ERA and came back in 1995 with a 1.63 ERA. In both of those said seasons, he lead the league with 10 complete games and 3 shutouts (talk about consistency). He finished in the top 5 in THE MVP voting in both the ’94 and ’95 campaigns. He was a one man wrecking crew and arguably the MOST dominant pitcher of his era, yet 16 people felt he wasn’t a first ballot Hall of Famer. And all I can do is ask why?

 

It’s pretty simple, actually. There is absolutely no criteria to be in the Hall of Fame. For SEVENTEEN straight years, Maddux finished with 15 or more wins and in only one of those campaigns (1990’s 15-15 campaign) was he not well above .500. He has 355 career wins. That’s eighth all time, folks. EIGHTH! Do you know how many pitchers have thrown a baseball? And even though The Professor was all about finesse, he still finished with 3,371 strikeouts, which puts him at tenth all time. (Incidentally, many thanks to baseball-reference.com for all of this information!) Throw in an unreal 3.16 ERA over a 23 year career and we are looking at one of the all time greatest pitchers to ever throw a baseball. And again, 16 people apparently disagree.

One of the problems today’s inductees are facing is the whole Steroid Era, and how certain writers will not vote for anyone who played during the era under the unfair assumption that everyone abused the drug. Of course, the Steroid Era is kind of shaky on its official start date. In June of 1991, then commissioner Fay Vincent issued a statement making steroids officially illegal in clubhouses. Is that the official start? Or was it in 1992, when Curtis Wenzlaff was busted for allegedly supplying the likes of The Bash Brothers with steroids? No, I think most consider the real start of the Steroid Era the post 1994 strike, when not just anabolic steroids but new supplements were being used. Well, if that’s the case, Maddux already had 3 of his 4 Cy Young Awards sitting in his trophy cabinet, so I’m not ok with that rationale.

Other writers have admitted they simply won’t vote for players because they feel that no one should be a first ballot inductee. Excuse me? That’s a blatant bias, and people with any bias should not be on a panel deciding someone’s fate. I was a high school teacher for a few years. I couldn’t just sit there and grade my students based on assumptions or biases. There were scoring rubrics I had to make that set certain standards, elements, and points each student had to hit in order to gain an A, and not only did I create it, I presented it to the students so they understood what their goal was. The Baseball Hall of Fame voting process has none of this. If it did, Maddux hit EVERY standard and stat he needed to, as he is top ten in two huge stats. On top of the numbers, he has the awards, the championship, he was never linked to steroids, he was liked by his peers, the fans seemed to think he was a stand up guy, and as I pointed out earlier, thanks to the longball, chicks dug him.

Maybe you feel like you wasted your time reading this, because at the end of the day, Greg Maddux is now in the Hall of Fame. But 16 people feel he shouldn’t be. And Craig Biggio, one of 28 people with 3,000 hits in the history of the game, isn’t. And nobody is really sure why.

I need to cool off. Until next time folks. Hopefully The NBA won’t have another Nickname Night by then.

Welcome to the site formerly called the Wayniac Nation. Here you can find all of my work and writing samples as well as the ALL NEW WAYNIAC NATION PODCAST. Welcome back!

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