Sunday, June 25, 2006

For Devil Rays: Madden Should Be One Night Stand

Not to sound risque, but the Tampa Bay Devil Rays should make manager, Joe Madden, a one night stand. With a record of 35-47, the Rays are heading towards another season of 90 or more losses. Madden justifies the log by pointing to all the injuries sustain by starters, Jorge Cantu, Rocco Baldelli, Aubrey Huff, also Julio Logo. Nevertheless with his roster in tack, Madden continues to rest his starters while playing reserves, Tomas Perez, Damon Hollins, and Greg Norton . Perez is batting .174 and shouldn't even be in the major leagues. Hollins, meanwhile, is a some-what reliable reserve but nothing more. Norton is wasting a roster spot which should be given to outfielder, Delmon Young. When the Rays hired Madden, the organization was under the impression the team would imitate the aggressive base running style of mentor, Mike Scioscia, but the Rays predictably bunt with runners on first, and they rarely execute the hit and run. To make matters worse, the Rays organization continues to leave its best players on the farm. Young should have been brought up from triple AAA last year after deservingly hitting over .300. He was left to sulk at Durham which led to him getting a fifty game suspension for throwing a bat at an umpire. Young should have promoted so he can learn from major league role models rather than men he doesn't perceive as equals. The Florida Marlins promoted most of their prospects, and the team is far more competitive than the Rays. Last year, former manager, Lou Pinella, inspired Tampa Bay to go balls out after the All Star break. The club responded by playing over 500 baseball that translated into 72-wins. With a healthy Baldelli and more experience players, the Devil Rays will be hard pressed to improve on last year's mediocre performance.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Stanley Never Loses Its Luster

With all respects to the coveted Vince Lombardi trophy, it will someday sit in an owner's closet collecting dust, the NBA's Larry O'Brian, trophy will one day become someone's door stop, but the Stanley Cup will never lose its luster. Perhaps that explains why the game Edmonton Oilers with nary a sharpshooter mucked and grimed their way to a virtual standoff with the talented Carolina Hurricanes. Time and Time again, Edmonton's, Ryan Smith, blew past the Carolina defense blinding passing pucks as if Yarri Kurri or Glen Anderson would blast it past the goalie, but these were the Oilers of Ryan Dvorak, Mike Pecca, and Raffi Torres....a group that clearly reminisent of the "Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight." The Oilers blasted just as many shots wide of the net as they put on goal, and that was the difference in an exciting Stanely Cup Final. Despite Edmonton's lack of talent, they were inspired by an opportunity for immortality by having their names inscribed on Lord's Stanley's Cup. For Hurricane captain, Rod Brind'Amour and Mark Kaberly, it means years from now they can take thier grandkids to the Hockey Hall and Fame and survey all the names until they scan the Carolina Hurricanes 2006 roster. They will live into the future in name only as the artifact travels the globe with curious children inspecting the signatures of Terry Sawchuk, Ted Green, Jean Belivue, Lester Patrick, Gump Worsley, Henri Richard and of course all those Hurricanes. It was this fleeting opportunity for etenal life that prodded the Oilers to leave everything on the ice, but in the end, it was the stiffiling goaltending of rookie, Cam Ward, that closed the door. He became joined, Philadelphia's, Ron Hextall, Montreal, Patrick Roy, also Montreal's, Ken Dryden, as the only rookies to win the Conn Smyth trophy as the Stanley Cup's Most Valuable Player. So the Carolina Hurricanes reap the whirlwind by becoming the second southeastern conference team to win the Stanley Cup. Somewhere in Hartford, CN, they're celebrating.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Does NFL Stand For Negro Football League?

Amist the clamor over the World Cup, a startling statistic comes to mind. More than 80% of the players in the National Football League are African American. A fact not lost on coaches at St. Pete Catholic caught violating FHSAA rules by recruiting athletes from the St. Pete Green all black inner city football team.
Yet as more white males refuse to allow their masculinity to be defined by bulging muscles and a thick neck, growing economic independence for black males may translate into more skate boards, surf boards, and soccer balls. Especially since mothers are demanding their sons get in touch with their feminine side. For example, it's okay now for boys to cry, and they do. It's okay now for boys to wear pink shirts, and they do. The old stereotype of earning your manhood in the muddy trenches of high school football are declining. Just ask any football coach struggling to field a 40-man squad. Consider five years ago, soccer star, Mia Hamm, hosted a clinic that was sold out in three hours; meanwhile, All pro linebacker, Junior Seau, couldn't believe only 40-boys showed up for his annual football camp. Furthermore 20-sesons ago, 180 colleges had football teams, but high insurance cost reduced that number by eighty.
To make matters worse, a time honored football tradition, "Monday Night Football" was dropped by ABC due to diminishing ratings also exhorbiant production cost. On the flip side
from 1998 to 2002, the television audience for the World Cup increased 52%; a fact not lost on ABC/ESPN which paid over $100-million for the broadcast rights to this year's spectacle. At least half of the audience is now female; not surprising since one third of girls play soccer translating into a built in fan base for the international soccer federation. Football, unfortunately, gets no cross from girls who shy away from the bone crushing contact sport. Football may have maxed out with males, however a growing tide of immigration, ensures soccer's growth in this country. The NFL may soon face the same problem of baseball. In the 40's, 50's, and 60's, little league baseball produced Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Bob Gibson, also Ernie Banks. Each one a Hall of Fame African American major leaguer. Now the big leagues are looking at affirmative action to recruit black baseball players. Finally, as Americans redefine masculinity, African American males may soon follow their white counterparts into coed soccer. Just watching the girls, may convince boys to trade in their remote control video games for a pink soccer jersey.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

World Cup: Don't Bet the Brazilians

Despite a wealth of talent, Brazil faces an uphill climb towards an unprecedented 6th World Cup. No other team boast a squad featuring Roldodino, Ronaldo, and Cafu, but for all their offensive firepower, the Brazilians are backed up by an aging defense. This could bode some problems especially when they face the younger eager African squads. From Rio to the Amazon, the soccer power is expecting nothing less than perfection, and this team is accustomed to the pressure; however, there is an extremely big target on the back of those yellow jerseys; therefore, expect each opponent to try and make a name by beating the cagey South Americans. In this tournament, I think Brazil will be ousted in the second round. The United States, meanwhile, could be the sleeper. The young team advance to the quarterfinals four years ago before losing to the South Koreans. The Americans, nevertheless, are more tournament savvy, have good leadership, plus stellar goaltending. The USA is slowly cultivating a core group of outstanding soccer players who could step up and shock the world. I'm looking for the USA to reach the semi finals. In the end, the host nation, Germany will hoist the World Cup. With all the scandals rocking European officiating, don't bet against it.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Hurricanes Are A Real Natural Disaster

Its been a long time since hockey has staged a Stanley Cup semi-final with more excitement than the Carolina Hurricanes and the Buffalo Sabers. After so many years of intolerable clutching and grabbing, the NHL went back to the drawing board and outlined a new game full of animation, emotion, as well as thrills. With end to end action, the series showcased earth shattering body checks, miraculous goaltending, plus all star playmaking. It was everything ice hockey was intended to be for only hockey combines the grace of ballet with the danger of stock car racing. For seven games, Buffalo weathered the storm until 8:03 of the third period. That's when Carolina's Mr. Everything, Ron Brinamour, sneaked in front of goaltender, Ryan Miller, and slammed home a rebound for a 3-2 lead; Carolina's, Cam Ward, finally quieted all the saber rattling with his own stellar goaltending. Against Buffalo, Brindamour became the eye of the storm by winning face offs, scoring two game winning goals, and inspiring his teammates with a fiery pre game speech. Before the game, the fiesty veteran admonished his teammates to throw all caution to the wind. In the end, the Canes were a storm that never lost its intensity; but now a real man made disaster looms in the form of an oil slick cascading down from Edmonton. If the Hurricanes slip and slide, rest assure Ron Brindemour will be there to catch them.