Wednesday, November 25, 2009

5 Things... I Would Change About The NFL

Just in time for Thanksgiving I'm unveiling a new feature here at EBH called simply, "5 Things...". Simple really, every week I will pick a topic and ramble on about 5 things I love, hate, can't stand, would change, etc. about said topic.

This week we take a closer look at the NFL and how I would change things if I had my way.

5. Sex Sells But Apparently Doesn't Pay

The NFL is built on the two things that most wildly popular entertainment-based entities in this country are built on, sex and violence. There are no two ways about it, people love big hits and big... well you know. And every Sunday, Monday and sometimes Thursday from September through January the NFL delivers both.

Yet while the players on the field are earning millions, albeit for putting their health and safety on the line every week, the pretty girls on the sidelines in their barely-there outfits are lucky if they see hundreds, plural.

As spelled out in great detail by ESPN's Gregg Easterbrook, NFL cheerleaders are overworked and underpaid to the point of exploitation. I'm not saying that the act of being a cheerleader, which entails bikini and lingerie photo shoots in addition to normal cheerleading, is exploitative. But for a league which brings in billions (with a 'B') of dollars each year to pay their performers as little as $100 a week is flat ridiculous.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sheer Randomness: Week 2

Several things to get to, so lets get started...


Giants ace and consensus best pitcher on the planet, Tim Lincecum, picked up his second straight NL Cy Young Award today after leading the league in strikeouts with 261 and finishing second in ERA at 2.48.

The win marks the first time since 1981 that a National League starting pitcher has won the Cy Young with fewer than 16 wins, and only the third time overall that feat has been accomplished. It's also a sign that baseball writers are finally starting to see the fallacy in using wins as the main statistic used to judge starters.

As a Giants fan this is also a very sweet victory after Pablo Sandoval was passed over for the Silver Slugger Award at third base.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sheer Randomness

With Mike on a short hiatus this week and no NFL picks article, I thought I'd take a few minutes to chime in on a few of the things going on in the world of sports in a new feature I like to call "Sheer Randomness".

Cutler Can't Cut It

Watching Jay Cutler hand the game to the 49ers Thusday night was brutal. I agree that at least two of those five interceptions were not his fault and that passing for 300 yards in an NFL game is nothing to sneeze at, but surely 2006 draft-mates Matt Leinart and Vince Young couldn't be any worse than Cutler has been this season.

Already one interception away from a career-high, Cutler is perilously close to going from strong-armed future star to overrated bone-head. I used to think Cutler had what it took to be the man, even with a sub-par supporting cast like he has in Chicago. But his petulant child act is starting to wear even thinner than his penchant for red zone turnovers, neither of which can be all that endearing to his new teammates.

It's true that quarterbacks get equal parts too much credit and too much blame for the successes and failures of their team, but the best quarterbacks learn to eliminate their mistakes and point the finger at themselves when they make them. Two things Cutler has yet to figure out.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Giants On The Hot Stove

Those who know me know that I am a die hard San Francisco Giants fan, and I've written on this blog just how excited I am for the 2010 season.

Much of that optimism and excitement obviously stems from the sudden uptick in the team's farm system as well as the major league success of home grown talent like Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Brian Wilson and Pablo "Kung Fu Panda" Sandoval.

On top of that is the stated intention of new managing general partner Bill Neukom to build a winning team on what he calls the "Giants Way". A greater emphasis on player development and sustaining success from within is the main focus of the "Giants Way", which in the opinion of this Giants fan is the way to go.

For too long standard operating procedure was to use the minor leagues as a breeding ground for trade bait as the big league club supplemented their ranks with veteran free agents. A practice that not only proved (for the most part) futile, but ridiculously expensive as well.

Big Ten Basketball Preview

With the college hoops season just around the corner, here's how I think the Big Ten conference will play out for the 2009-2010 season.

1. Michigan State Spartans

It seems like every year that Michigan State is always near the top of the Big Ten rankings, and this year will be no different. Even though the Spartans lost their best post player from a season ago in Goran Suton, they are still lead by head coach Tom Izzo and star point guard Kalin Lucas. MSU also happens to be one of the deeper teams in the conference, including a healthy Raymar Morgan, an up and coming post player in Delvon Roe, and the very streaky Durrell Summers.

Tom Izzo always seems to get the most out of his players. If he can keep his core group of players healthy, there's no reason why they won't win the Big Ten title, and quite possibly lock up one of the #1 seeds in the tournament.

Friday, November 6, 2009

New Mexico 1 - Florida 0

Finally, a Mountain West school can claim a victory over the mighty SEC.

NFL Picks Week 9

Welcome to my NFL picks segment week 9 edition. Coming off an impressive showing last week in which I went 11-2, I look to keep up the trend and help you pick the winners and possibly win some cash. This week is full of intriguing match-ups so let’s get started and find out who will prevail.

Damage Control

In the winter of 2008 the Minnesota Twins traded (at the time) the best pitcher on the planet, Johan Santana, for a package of prospects from the New York Mets.  A trade that left most scratching their heads and almost everyone in agreement that the Twins screwed up royally in not pulling the trigger on a more lucrative deal at the 2007 trade deadline.

Today the Twins and GM Bill Smith did what they could to salvage that rare misstep when they traded the centerpiece of that Santana trade, center fielder Carlos Gomez, to the Brewers for shortstop J.J. Hardy.

Now clearly, what now amounts to a Santana-for-Hardy deal is hardly a win for the Twins, but you have to be impressed with their ability to acquire a young shortstop with a quality track record, 2009 notwithstanding.

Gomez was, for all intents and purposes, a complete waste of time for the Twins.  He had his moments, but they were few and far between, generally sandwiched between aggravating mental mistakes which killed his chances of ever becoming a full time player.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

2009 NFL Mid-Season Awards

I have returned from my week long hiatus to present to you the NFL awards to this point. There have been terrific achievements across the league already, but this list presents the elite. You will see familiar faces as well as fresh ones. Enjoy.

Rookie of the Year
Percy Harvin, (Vikings)

Harvin was an extraordinary talent coming out of the University of Florida. During his three year career with the Gators he showed the ability to score a variety of ways from any spot on the field. Fortunately for the Vikings that explosiveness has transported to the professional gridiron. The Vikings drafted Harvin with the 22nd pick in hopes for him to make an immediate impact on the return game, as well as offer versatility in the passing game, and special wildcat packages.


Congrats to the Yankees for winning the World Series and congrats to Hideki Matsui for winning the World Series MVP and in the process becoming the first Japanese-born player in history to do so.

Problem is, unlike the Yankees as a team, Matsui did not deserve that award.

Yes, I get that he hit .625 with 3 homeruns and 8 RBIs in the series and drove in the winning run in Game 2 and Game 6.  But I can't bring myself to say that a non-pitcher who only played in three of the six games deserves to be the most valuable player.  And on top of that, he doesn't even play defense (or run the bases well for that matter).

No, all Matsui can do these days is drag himself off the bench several times a game and swing the bat.  Sure he does it quite well, but how could he possibly be more valuable than say, Derek Jeter?  All the Yankee captain did was hit .407 with a .429 on-base percentage and play top quality defense while being the catalyst for nearly every scoring opportunity the Yankees had.

How about Johnny Damon, who before tonight was also in the middle of all the action for the Yankees, scoring six runs and driving in four.  Not to mention his heads-up base running play in Game 4 that many believe was the turning point of the entire series.

And last but not least, I have to mention Chase Utley who hit five homeruns and carried the Phillies on his back for most of the series.

All three of the players I mentioned affected all six of the games played, on both sides of the ball, and the MVP goes to a guy who didn't play a single game in the field all year and couldn't muster enough strength to stay in the lineup in the National League park.  To me, that's just not right.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Early Returns: NBA Edition

With the NBA season just a week old, I thought I'd go back and review some of the story lines heading into the new season, as well as my takes on several teams and the moves they made in the off-season to try to reach the NBA Finals.

So without further ado (and in no particular order)...

LEAST IMPROVED TEAM: Cleveland Cavaliers

In my opinion, the biggest story of the off-season was when the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Shaquille O'Neal from the Phoenix Suns. Now, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the Big Cactus didn't exactly fit in with Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, and the rest of the fast-paced Suns. But I'm not so sure that Shaq teaming up with LeBron James is the best fit either.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Save More, Win More

With two high-payroll teams in the World Series and the highest payroll team in the game on the verge of yet another championship, there has been a lot of noise about the seemingly unfair financial situation in baseball.

On one side you have fans of the Yankees and Phillies, among others, who are perfectly content to watch their teams spend freely and win.  While on the other, and more vocal side, you have the fans of lower-payroll teams who think baseball needs a salary cap a la the NFL.

I believe baseball is fine just the way it is and would argue that no amount of money is enough to overcome poor talent evaluation and player development.