Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina

&NCS_modified=20160531073319&MaxW=640&imageVersion=default&AR-160539859

-AP Photo/Nicolas Aguilera

 

After a heartbreaking loss to Chile in the Copa America final on Sunday night, Argentina is left trying to recover and regroup.

It may have to move forward without one of the game’s greats, Lionel Messi, who announced his retirement from the international team on Monday.

The 29-year old soccer superstar is calling it quits on Team Argentina for now. If this is truly the end for him at the international level, he doesn’t owe Argentina anything more, nor should this year’s Copa America finals loss tarnish his legacy.

Some have already given him the title ‘greatest of all time,’ but others are holding off from doing so, pointing to his failures at the international level.

Well, it’s not completely his fault that Argentina has not won a major international tournament under his watch, since there are 10 other players on the field. However, most of the blame and attention gets placed on Argentina’s soccer messiah. Time and time again, pundits allude to the Albiceleste’s shortcomings in global play. When these losses occur, Messi is at the forefront of the blame.
(more…)

Advertisements

This is Not a Dream

Dream-vs-ReDream

-ballislife.com

USA Basketball unveiled its 12-man roster for the upcoming Olympic games at Rio next month, and quite frankly, this lineup is looking inferior in comparison to some of the past Olympic teams in recent history.

Yes, this year’s squad certainly has some top-tier superstar talent in Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, but it’s missing some other big names–LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden, just to name a few.

Granted, some players like John Wall, Anthony Davis, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Blake Griffin withdrew their names from consideration to recover from injuries or surgeries, but their presence will be missed. (more…)

How Far We Haven’t Come

13191

-altonline.tv

Nope, sorry, even if the United States had upset Argentina on its own turf, soccer in the United States still has a long way to go.

After a 4-0 beat down by the best player on the planet and his national team on Tuesday night, it became even more apparent that the United States needs a lot more work.

Yes, Major League Soccer, America’s domestic soccer league, has been on a gradual rise. A new, shiny broadcast deal with ESPN and Fox Sports before the 2015 season has helped the league get more coverage and attention, while putting more money into their pockets.

The eight-year deal between ESPN, Fox Sports, and Spanish broadcast network Univision, have an average estimated value of $90 million per season. 125 games will be shown annually across the three networks. This is almost five times larger than the previous broadcast deal between the MLS and ESPN, Fox Sports, and Univision, that was only averaging an $18 million value.

MLS franchises have become more valuable, with the average team worth $157 million, according to a 2015 report by Forbes.

While these upward trends are nice for the MLS, the league and the American cultural perception towards the sport still remain well in the back seat.

The United States’ professional leagues for football (NFL), basketball (NBA), hockey (NHL), and baseball (MLB) still trump the MLS.  (more…)

Zaevion Dobson: Remember the Name

1219_KCLO_Zaevion_Dobson-2

-Fulton High School

What were some of the choices that you had to make when you were 15?

Should I do my homework or watch T.V.? Which shirt looks better on me? Should I eat pizza or have a sandwich?

Personally, for me, one hard choice was picking between optional football practices in the blazing summer heat or playing Madden in the comfort of my air conditioned room.

Some decisions like that don’t bear much consequence, and yet, it may take a few minutes and even a few hours to arrive at a satisfactory solution.

15-year old Zaevion Dobson didn’t have a few hours, let alone minutes to think.

A sophomore at Fulton High School in Knoxville, Tenn., Dobson was like many boys his age. He hung out with his friends, played video games, and was a member of the varsity football team.

However, he made a quick, impulsive decision that was made in seconds and held a grandiose weight in comparison to the everyday choices young teenagers make. (more…)

Game of Thrones: Underdog City Rules the NBA Landscape

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 8.26.32 PM

-Jason Miller/Getty Images

There’s no doubt that Cleveland has been the butt of many sports jokes, but that was put on hold on Sunday night, when the Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in game seven to clinch the title.

The city itself had been known of its poor luck when it comes to its sports franchises. Before June 19, 2016, Cleveland’s major sports teams hadn’t tasted the sweet flavor of victory since 1964, when the Browns won the NFL Championship.

From 1964 to this past Sunday, Cleveland sports fans have had their hopes shatter before their own eyes time and time again.

Since their last run for the championship, the Browns haven’t come close to reaching the Super Bowl. Even more devastating, is the fact that the original Browns franchise was relocated to Baltimore and became the Ravens, where they have won two titles since the move in 1995.

Meanwhile, the rebooted Cleveland Browns haven’t had the same success, leaving the city wondering what could have been if the franchise never moved to begin with.

The Indians last reached the World Series in 1997, but lost to the Florida Marlins.

Then there are the Cavaliers, led by Akron native LeBron James.  (more…)

The Madness of March

BREAKING: sports drive local man to the brink of insanity.  No news outlet would waste their time with this story because it simply isn’t news.  Every years countless of hapless individuals fill in their brackets religiously, daydreaming of a meager two-hundred dollar office pool prize.  Some could probably make more than their first place prize if they spent working the amount of time they invested in making their picks.  You go into March Madness every year knowing that hours of your life that you will never get back will vanish like Jay Cutler in a playoff game, but you embrace it anyway.  The drama that the tournament provides will make up for your shattered brackets and then some.

 

And, in case you weren’t aware, the NCAA is fully aware that they have created a masterpiece.  For every stat you research from a fourteen seed, another dimple appears on NCAA CEO Mark Emmert’s face.  College basketball craves the spreadsheet-hounding zombies; the “Madness” is the essence of their brand.  The top teams go back and forth in the rankings like tennis serves for the better part of four months.  Then, in the blink of an eye, while you were probably in class or at work, one of them is gone.  Speaking of fourteen seeds, you saw a prime example instantly this year in the Iowa State-UAB showdown.  Iowa State spent thirty-four games building up the Death Star, culminated by toppling perennial conference powerhouse Kansas in the Big 12 Final.  Suddenly, UAB flies in and shoots a laser into a six foot wide hole, and ISU’s season is over.   UAB moves on, without so much as a football program to their name (cue the sale of an authentic Roddy White UAB jersey for fifty cents).  (more…)

The Puck Stops Here

I spent the early afternoon yesterday watching my Penguins take on the perennial powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks.  The game was a thriller, though my Pens would ultimately fall short in a shootout 2-1.  Despite a wealth of elite talent on both sides, the red sirens rang merely twice in 65 minutes (the third goal being an arbitrary goal given to the Hawks for winning the shootout).  This got me thinking that the Sunday matinee might be a microcosm of a league-wide issue on a much larger scale.  It is no secret that hockey is the lowest scoring of our four major sports.  However, the rapid decline in goals over the years could be cause for concern.

 

Throw it back to 1981.  The Great One Wayne Gretzky scored a ridiculous 92 goals, which averages to over a goal per game.  The young superstar couldn’t even have his first legal drink until midway through the season.  To put things into perspective, only two players, Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos, have scored 60 goals in the past eighteen seasons.  The argument could be made that Gretzky’s production was a byproduct of skating alongside several hall of fame teammates, including Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Mark Messier, and Paul Coffey.  This is certainly true to an extent; it is a consequence of an era with no salary cap.  However, per quanthockey.com, the average team scored 4.01 goals a game that year, meaning that it was not just Gretzky’s dream team Oilers who were lighting up the score sheet.  By comparison, the average team scored merely 2.67 goals a game this past season.

 

Why is this a problem, you ask?  It becomes a dilemma of attracting new fans for the league, which is more readily accomplished via gaudy stats.  The NFL has become stringent (at times to a fault) in recent seasons in its calls on defensive backs.  Though the hardcore fan pines for lenience in this regard, the league just keeps chugging along, aided by its newfound penchant for big numbers and blatantly average quarterbacks throwing for 4,000 yards a year.  The MLB has had a similar quandary as well.  As the steroid era came to a close, runs became a premium for ball clubs.  New commissioner Rob Manfred even went as far as to publically ponder eliminating defensive shifts, which have become a brilliant analytical development over the past five years.  Though drastic and most likely implausible, the statement in it of itself shows the league’s commitment to shifting the balance of power towards its hitters.  (more…)

A Scandinavian Scandal: Trouble Lurks in Minny

As the NFL offseason essentially starts next week, one largely unanswered question lingers: will Adrian Peterson play again next season and, if so, where?  NFL commissioner Roger Goodell thinks that Peterson has yet to display contrition for his arrest for child abuse.  AP contends that he was justified acting as he did because his parents used the same methods on him when he was young.  Unfortunately, I cannot claim to have had any empirical experience on this issue.  I was not beaten as a kid, and my parents never told us any stories about receiving them.  However, this should not prevent me from having the capacity to question the methodology behind both the decisions of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and the perception of the league regarding them.

Firstly, the opinion that “Peterson simply acted out of some sort of parental instinct, no one knows the best way to raise a child”, is very much debatable.  Yes, there is no golden standard for parents to follow with helping their kids grow up.  However, it is not egregiously unreasonable limits for what boundaries parents should be permitted to exceed.  According to Peterson, the growth that he expects his son to experience legitimizes smacking him with an object.  But would he necessarily have been worse off without having been abused?  Correlation cannot simply imply causation; we cannot expect a person’s maturity and level of success to be dependent on how often and how hard he or she was struck with a wooden switch.  Cris Carter nobly deemed himself on ESPN an exception to this so-called “rule”.  He proceeds to give a passionate speech on how abuse specifically did not make him into a better person:

(more…)

Where They Are Now

Grab your wings, grab your booze, and grab your friends.  If your team is still in the race, don’t forget to perform whatever weird superstitious rituals you think will help.  It’s championship Sunday, ladies and gentlemen.  So buckle up, because it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.  Today we dive into the careers of the 4 quarterbacks who will be taking the field, both what they have accomplished and how far another Lombardi trophy will take them.

  1. Andrew Luck – the new kid on the block

This will be the grizzly-faced Stanford grad’s first appearance in pro football’s final 4.  Colts management took a monumental risk in prematurely terminating Peyton Manning’s career to draft this young stud, and he has not disappointed (3rd in the regular season in passing yards, 1st so far this postseason).  However, Luck’s conquest today will be the bane of his existence: Tom Brady, whom he is 0-3 against in his career, losing by an average of 68 points.  Despite the season ending injury to workhouse Ahmad Bradshaw and the relegation of Trent Richardson to special teams duty, the Colts running game has held its own, thanks to the rise of 3rd year running back Daniel “Boom” Herron.  The defense has been outstanding as of late, giving up just 33 points in its last 3 games since a week 16 collapse in Dallas.  Ultimately, Luck could throw for 5000 yards every year, but it will all be for naught if he doesn’t have a ring to show for it.  If Luck and the defense continue to play at elite levels, and the running game provides an ancillary spark, this team has a chance, and the roots for the conversation of Luck as an all-time great can begin to form.

  1. Tom Brady – seeking redemption

In the early 2000’s Brady appeared to be on his way to being the best to ever play the game.  His clutch antics led to 3 Super Bowl victories in his 1st 4 years at the helm.  In 2007, he came within a game of completing the 1st 19-0 season ever.  However, the Giants relentless pass rush would prove to be too much, as it would again in the championship 4 years later.  Brady has gone a decade without tasting football’s greatest fruit, though his squads have averaged 12.3 wins a year in that span.  The criticism remains that he has failed to capture a Lombardi since the “Spygate” accusations arose, so he certainly has something to prove.  However, this might be one of the best teams he has every played on thanks to the defense, led by superstar offseason acquisition Darrelle Revis.  They will have to be better than they were against Baltimore, a game which snapped a streak of 12 games without giving up more than 25 points.  The running game will have to be better, as it managed just 14 yards against the Ravens.  All things considered, I like Brady’s odds in this one. (more…)

Play the School

The name Coast to Coast Sports might insinuate that we’re not showing the Midwest enough love.  However, though the ACC’s Jameis Winston and the Pac-12’s Marcus Mariota command most of the spotlight, inaugural college football playoff champion quarterback Cardale Jones of Ohio State is holding things down in between.  With playmakers Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett on the shelf, he took the wheel and won three postseason starts on his way to the ‘ship.  The 22 year old faced a crossroads: to cash in on 180 minutes of immortality, or to return to Columbus and potentially risk falling down both the depth chart and the draft boards?  Ultimately Cardale bet on himself, deciding to “play school” another year.

It’s not just the numbers that trigger a Pavlovian effect amongst scouts whenever his name is brought up.  Cardale is a BIG BOY.  At 6’5, 250, he would be the heaviest quarterback in the league (somewhere, Jared Lorenzen sits on his couch with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and scowls).  The best pro comparison for Cardale would be Panthers franchise QB Cam Newton, another hulking figure who also won a title at Auburn.  Since he towers over most defenders, Cardale already possesses some crucial tactical advantages: fewer of his passes will be batted down at the line of scrimmage, and he won’t have to worry about leaving the pocket to see over defenders.  So, why would he not ride the momentum of the past month into the professional ranks? (more…)