Monthly Archives: June 2010

“Another One Bites the Dust”

Red's pitcher Mike Leake pitching for the Arizona State Sun Devils last season.

I realize most typical American sports fans are not avid followers of the College  Baseball scene.  Everyone knows that in the NCAA, football and basketball reign supreme.  And rightfully so, as these are the two sports that bring in the most revenue to their Universities.  Now I will admit that I am not an extremely avid follower of the College Baseball scene myself.  But I do typically call a couple of a baseball games for my University from the booth every year and tune in to the College World Series, but other than that, the sport is very hard to follow.

Outside of the tourney in Omaha, College Baseball really gets no television time making it very difficult to follow a team other than your local University.  So I digress.  The number 1 seed heading into this year’s tournament was Arizona State.  The boys out of Arizona State are one of the most well-known and respected baseball programs in the country year in and year out.  They have made it to Omaha a staggering 22 times and won 5 National Championships (none since 1981 though).  In addition they have produced players that you may be highly familiar with such as Reggie Jackson, Barry Bonds, Dustin Pedroia, and most recently, Reds rookie phenom Mike Leake (he was pitching in Omaha just last year).  The Sun Devils had a remarkable year and finished 52 and 10 overall (mind you they were 52 and 8 before Omaha).  But somehow, this star-studded and heavily favored squad laid a big egg in Omaha and lost both of their games.

This is a prime example of what makes college sports so great.  Any team can go down on any given day.  Realizing that Arizona State was the heavily favored one seed really got me thinking.  When was the last time that the number 1 overall seed won the CWS?  You would have to go back over a decade to the 1999 Miami Hurricanes squad.  That is 10 plus consecutive years that the favorite has not taken home the crown!  Look at this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.  Everyone loves March Madness.  And one of the prime reasons, if not the main one is the unpredictability of the whole event.  Kansas, the overall number 1 seed was eliminated in the 2nd round by little known Northern Iowa.  The number 2 overall seed, Kentucky Wildcats, did not make the Final Four either.  The unforeseeable nature of the college sporting stratosphere is what keeps people coming back for more.

You have to love the unpredictability of college sports.  So if you get a chance this week, tune in to a game on ESPN and really check out how entertaining the sport of College Baseball truly is.  It is every fan’s dream of watching high level baseball with aluminum bats, big time hitting, and kids laying it all on the line.  I mean, who doesn’t like watching high scoring baseball.  The great thing though, this is high scoring baseball minus steroids. 

Or at least we hope..

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

“Should I Stay or Should I Go”

The NBA Finals just ended a little less than a week ago.  And now the fun is really about to begin.  The draft is just two days away, set for Thursday night in NYC.  And boy is it going to be a doozy.  Many of the experts have all the lottery picks as guys who have more college eligibility!  Not to mention this draft is lacking in foreign talent, therefore the League is back to mainly plucking from the NCAA.  This could be the most unpredictable draft in recent memory.  There will be more to come on this soon. 

Then of course there is the day everyone has been waiting for.  July 1st, the start of the NBA free agency period.  Names like Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, and Joe Johnson are on the open market just to name a few.  Also there are guys such as Carlos Boozer on the market, who in a typical free agency period, might be the most hotly sought after player.  Not this year.

Then a story that is starting to really come to the forefront.  Both NBA Finals participants are unsure if their head coaches will be returning next season. Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers have made it unclear on whether they will stay or go.  Phil has been saying for a while now that he is unsure if he will come back for a 12th title due to his health.  Doc also made it known before the playoffs that he wasn’t sure if this would be his last hoorah with the Celtics in that he wanted to spend more time with his family.

So will either of these coaches be on the sidelines next year?  I will state that is unlikely that they will both return for another go.  My thoughts on this coaching dilemma.  Doc Rivers is as good as gone.  The Celtics are an aging team that is very unlikely to all be together next year.  I foresee Ray Allen and/or Kevin Garnett both being gone next year.  Not to mention both have lost a step over the years anyways and will continue to as time goes on.  In addition, Doc came so close, yet was so far from capturing that title and going out on top.  I could only see him coming back if he had never won a title as a coach before.  He already accomplished this 2 years ago though.  In addition, his youngest son, Austin, is heading into his senior year of high school and is considered one of the top 10 players in his class.  I do not blame Doc for wanting to be there for every minute of this special time in his son’s life.

Then there is Phil.  Jackson has now won 11 NBA Championships.  The most in NBA history.  He pretty much is known as the consummate winner.  Phil has had the pleasure of coaching some of the greatest players of all time in Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal.  His triangle offense is legendary.  So after rattling all of this information off you are asking why would he come back then?  Well the man loves to win.  And why not go for the 4th 3 peat of his legendary career?  Phil does not have kids to watch grow up anymore.  He is currently dating his bosses’ daughter.  And all of his players are begging for his return to the sideline.  So if his health is okay, the Zen Master will be back for next season.

So the call here is that Phil Jackson will be back for another go and Doc Rivers will not.  But we will all find out soon enough.

Who will stay and who will go?

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

“Heart of a Champion”

Today is Day 2 of Wimbledon, the Championships.  The most prestigious tennis tournament of them all.  The most classy tournament in the world played in all whites on the beautiful grass court surface that only London has to offer.  And the Championships avoided possibly a most memorable of Day 1’s as Roger Federer, a finalist each of the past 7 years, staved off elimination to advance to round two.  The greatest Grand Slam Champion of all time nearly did get sent home on Day 1.  And really, what would this tournament be without Roger Federer coming out to Center Court on the final Sunday?  The man is a mar of consistency.  Definitely one of the greatest, if not the greatest of all time.

So lets recap what happened yesterday.  Roger Federer got matched up with Alejandor Falla.  A player that I will admit I have never heard of.  And I consider myself an avid follower of the pro tour.  Falla is a player out of Colombia.  He joined the pro tour in 2000 and has never been ranked higher than 58th in the world.  He is currently ranked 60th in the world.  Falla has never advanced past the 3rd round of a Grand Slam event and is just a lanky left hander not even weighing it at 170 pounds even with his 6 1 frame. Realize that Stalla had a crack at Federer at Wimbledon in 2004 and was unable to win more than 3 games over the duration of the match.  So was this the man who could slay possibly the greatest player of all time on his best surface?   He came very close.  But this is why Roger Federer is Roger Federer.  This is a prime example of why Roger has the heart of a champion.

The facts are lost on most of you to really understand the significance of what Roger Federer has accomplished over the past decade, which makes up the entirety of his opponent Falla’s career.  Federer has captured 16 Grand Slam titles, which is the most of any player ever. Going into the French Open last month, he had been to 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals.  That means that the French Open, earlier this month, was the first time he had not been to the semifinals of a Grand Slam in over 5 and a half years!  Just to let you understand how amazing that is.  No player had ever been to more than 10 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals in the Open era before Roger’s run.  Federer also held the number 1 ranking for 237 consecutive weeks which is a tour record.  He has been to 7 straight finals at Wimbledon, and won the event 6 times.  So do you think staring at a 2 to 0 set deficit really worried this phenomenal champion on a day where he was really not on his game?..

NO WAY.  Roger is a champion who refuses to lose.  Yesterday he demonstrated for the world why he has the heart of a champion and is probably the most consistent player of all time.  Also a final point that I would like to bring up.  Many people do not realize how slim the difference is between the level of players in the top 100 on the men’s tennis tour.  The actual talent of the number 1 player versus the 100th ranked player on tour is very slim.  It is all mental.  And Roger Federer holds probably the greatest mental game of all time.  But that is for another day.  The point being, any of the players in the top 100 could knock off anyone on a given day.  Upsets can occur at any time.  This is a testament to how mentally tough a player like Roger is in avoiding being upset more frequently. 

So Federer lives another day.  I am looking forward to seeing him on that final Sunday doing what he does best.  Wimbledon would not be the same without his presence on that final day..

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

“Proud to Be An American”

After a nearly 6 week hiatus, Sportskraze is back and ready to roll.  As I get more into the swing of things during the course of the next couple of weeks, my posts will become much more in-depth and analytical.  But for the time being, I have to catch up on what all has happened over the past month and a half.

So Europe was an amazing journey for me.  I hit 10 countries in nearly 6 weeks.  I went on countless company visits and really enriched my cultural awareness.  Not to mention I had more fun than I can ever remember.  It was truly a trip that I will never forget.  The one part that was tough about the Europe journey though..

NO ESPN..

A key underlying theme I learned from this trip.  Boy am I lucky to have grown up in America.  I cannot possibly imagine growing up with soccer being my country’s pastime and most well known sport.  Sure soccer is the world’s most popular sport and the World Cup is entertaining, but give me a break.  You really want to compare the European soccer leagues to the NBA, MLB, NFL, or any of the NCAA marquee sports?  If you love soccer, all the more power to you.  Other very popular sports in Europe are Rugby, Cricket, and Cycling.  Do these really sports really compare to what we have?  I realize that I have a major bias.  And truly I do not care.  I love American sports.  They are what I have grown to love and I cannot imagine growing up any other way.

Also, Europe has a very lackluster coverage of sports on television.  Yes some places will have ESPN.  But their two main sports channels are SKY Sports and Eurosport.  These channels are absolutely atrocious compared to an ESPN in every facet of the game.   There is no personality.  No constant updates.  No opinions or insightful analysis. They just are lacking in nearly every way and cannot compare to the pinnacle of sports coverage that is ESPN.

So I am home.  And I have realized what a time it is to be a sports fan.  This summer will be one for the ages.  For the entire world, you have the World Cup going on.  Which is a great event.  It is truly refreshing to see big time athletes laying it all on the line for their respective countries.  But I would still much rather watch the NBA, NFL, or MLB Playoffs over it any day.  But nonetheless, it is still a big time event that is entertaining for all sports fans.  Then you have the 2 major tennis Grand Slams that occur within a few weeks of each other (with the French having ended a couple of weeks ago).  The French Open, which is probably the most grueling tennis tournament of them all, and then Wimbledon, the most prestigious tennis prize in the world.

Then for the truly American sports fans.  The NBA Finals just finished with the League’s two most storied franchises battling it out to the very bitter end.  Thursday you have the NBA Draft.  This draft is very lacking in foreign players for the first time in a while, and is full of college players departing early to take their skills to the next level.  It is very hard to predict who will go where more so this year than I can ever remember.  Then in a little over a week, the most wild NBA free agency period this League has ever seen is about to begin.  This summer will be one that will have a heavy impact on the League for the next decade.  Seeing how this all plays out will be very exciting.  Also in American sport, you have the College Baseball World Series in Omaha.  This is always a great event with a lot of down to the wire finishes.  Next in college sport, we are in the midst of possibly the biggest shake up that we will ever see between the major conferences in our lifetime.  Should be very interesting to see what happens as the summer continues.  Then of course the MLB is in full summer swing.  And what American does not love to go to a ball game on a summer night and grab a hot dog?  Finally, the US Open for golf just culminated yesterday.  I mean it is truly a great time to be a sports fan, but especially an American sports fan.

So be thankful for the sports that we get to watch and enjoy each and every day.  I know that I am truly grateful.  No offense to Europe, but I am proud to be an American.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze