Earlier this week, the sports blog, Kissing Suzy Kolber, published an article on the 100 most average football players of all-time, listing former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver James Thrash No. 1 on that list.
The definition of average according to dictionary.com is “typical, common, ordinary.” Synonyms of the word average include mediocre, normal and generally boring. That reminds me of many players I remember watching during the Andy Reid era.
Here are 25, in particular, who stand out to me.
It was also their tenth straight win in the playoffs, tying the 2003 New Jersey Nets with the fourth-longest playoff winning streak in a single season. The only teams with a longer streak in one season are the '99 Spurs (12), the '89 Lakers (11), and the '01 Lakers (11).
Here is a look at the longest winning streaks ever in the playoffs (note that some of these were over two seasons)...
Data via Basketball-Reference.com
Southeastern Conference officials are holding their annual spring meetings in Florida this week.
They are primarily focused on scheduling the 2013 football season now that the conference has expanded to 14 teams.
Not one to shy away from being provocative, South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier took the time to let everyone know what SEC coaches have recently voted on.
This is not surprising, seeing as Spurrier got a few coaches to sign off on a similar proposal last year.
At that point he was referring to "game related expenses" as around $300 per game per player. We're not certain as to what's holding the proposal back. Although we have some educated guesses, i.e. being the first conference to go this route and enduring the inevitable backlash.
Regardless, we do know this: the standard bearing conference in college football has continuously held serious discussions regarding some version of a pay for play system for its most high profile athletes.
Sounds like this is merely the beginning for one of the many big changes coming to college athletics.
The scene in the upper deck of last night's Toronto Blue Jays game was a bit confusing at first. Some fans had arranged themselves to create the shape of a heart and either a "38" or a "3B."
Well, no. 38 on the Blue Jays is relief pitcher Darren Oliver, which would be odd. The third baseman for the Jays is the popular Brett Lawrie, but then why not just use his number (13)?
Well, it turns out the fans were from a local academy and one of their classmates was unable to attend the game due to an injury. The injured friend wears no. 38 for the school's hockey team.
The poor kid couldn't go to the game. But this seems like a pretty cool consolation prize (click on image for a larger view)...
Orlando Magic Give Dwight Howard An Ultimatum: We Won't Deal With Your Pouting Anymore So Sign An Extension Or Else
Without Dwight, the Magic never really had a shot against the Pacers, as they lost in five games.
Post-game the talk quickly turned to the huge offseason challenges Orlando faces.
Orlando TV reporter David Baumann caught up with Magic CEO Alex Martins after the game.
Martins basically gave Howard an ultimatum (emphasis ours).
"Well first of all, we want him back with the team. We want him to sign an extension this summer. And if he decides not to sign an extension this summer, then we're going to have to make the decisions that are necessary so that we don't go through a season like we went through this year."
Translation: "Dwight, we're no longer going to put up with your act. Either sign a long term deal in the next few months or you're gone."
It's a surprisingly strong statement from Magic brass, considering how long they coddled Dwight and his childish behavior.
It's also a very smart power play. The last Dwight Howard rumor said he once again wanted to be traded, but he's been known to change his mind. By coming out publicly, instead of through anonymous back channels the Magic give themselves the upper hand with both Howard and fans.
Perhaps management has finally come to its senses and will just ship Howard somewhere he doesn't want to go out of pure spite.
Will that make much of a difference? We have our doubts, but Orlando let it get to this point all on their own.
[h/t Pro Basketball Talk]
Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers became just the 16th player in big league history to hit four home runs in one game. He also added a double, going 5-5 and driving in eight runs in the 10-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Hamilton is the first player to hit four home runs in a game since Carlos Delgado did so for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2003. His 18 total bases is an American League record and is one short of the Major League record.
On the next few pages, we will take a look at all four of his home runs.
Home Run #1: Hamilton hit a first-pitch curveball in the first inning
Home Run #2: Hamilton took a sinker to the opposite field in the third inning
Home Run #3: In the seventh inning, it was a hanging slider blasted to center field
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
With the season nearing its end and the transfer window quickly approaching, the rumor mill has begun to heat up. One name linked to Arsenal that would be an ideal under-the-radar addition is Swansea City goalkeeper Michel Vorm.
Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail reports the Gunners are interested in bringing in Vorm to provide some competition for current starter Wojciech Szczesny. With Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski likely on the way out, Arsenal will lack depth between the pipes.
Damian Martinez is expected to get called up, but his lack of experience against elite competition means manager Arsene Wenger must find a veteran to provide some stability. Vorm, who will be looking to secure a spot on the Netherlands' Euro 2012 squad, fits the bill.
Swansea City exceeded expectations this season with a mid-table finish after getting promoted last summer. One of the major reasons for the Swans' success was Vorm's strong play in goal. He stole several points, which ensured the team wouldn't have to endure a relegation battle.
A move to Arsenal would come at a perfect time, considering it seems like the Gunners aren't completely sold on Szczesny being able to carry the team. The 22-year-old Polish star has battled inconsistency since being named the team's first-choice keeper.
That gives Vorm a chance to earn some playing time if he can turn some heads following a move. He's picked up 13 clean sheets in 36 league games while playing behind a far more shaky back line than he would have with Arsenal.
The competition should also bring the best out of Szczesny.
If he wants to maintain his spot, he'll have to earn it through his performance in practice and games. That hasn't been the case with Almunia and Fabianski behind him. He was basically guaranteed the starting job.
Maybe having an option like Vorm behind him will finally bring the best out of Szczesny. Nobody has ever denied his talent, but living up to that potential hasn't been an easy task, and complacency may have certainly played a role.
There wouldn't be any room for that if Arsenal brings in Vorm. He would have to play his best every time out, and there wouldn't be nearly as much margin for error.
The biggest winner of the competition wouldn't be either keeper, but rather the Gunners as a whole. No matter who's in net, the team would have faith the job would be handled nicely.
It's still early in the process, so things are likely to change. But as of now, Vorm seems like an ideal target for the Gunners.
The New York Giants were one of the more surprising Super Bowl winners in NFL history in 2011. They sneaked into the playoffs at 9-7 with a negative point differential, mainly due to the underachieving of the NFC East in 2011.
The point behind addressing this is they are not without holes—some of which can be fixed with coaching. Most of the fixes will come from the defensive side of the ball, and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell likely has these changes in mind already.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride did not get much credit for the Giants' Top-10 offense last season, mostly because the fans have grown to hate his inconsistency over the years. I have some possible changes for him as well that could turn the Giants offensive into more of a juggernaut than it already is.
Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comment section below.
Derek Jeter is having a bit of a career resurgence. The 37-year old shortstop for the New York Yankees, who many wrote off a couple of years ago, is now leading the American League with .397 average and 48 hits.
He now has 3,136 career hits, and all of a sudden, the idea of becoming just the third player with 4,000 hits doesn't seem so ridiculous.
If Jeter collects 200 hits this season (he is on pace for 278), he will finish the season less than 100 hits behind Pete Rose at the same age. And while reaching Rose's all-time record of 4,256 is unlikely, Jeter would only need to average 178 hits per season for four more years to reach 4,000.
Here is how Jeter's career compares to both Rose and Ty Cobb
Data via Baseball-Reference.com
Back in 2008, Georgia Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 before the season began, but did not live up to expectations as they lost three games including to Georgia Tech in Athens.
Since then, the Bulldogs have not gotten as much love in the rankings. In fact, they ended the season unranked in 2009 and 2010.
But this time the Bulldogs are back in the rakings spotlight as ESPN College Gameday came out with their preseason top 25 and have the Bulldogs at No. 6. This is not much of a surprise, especially when the Bulldogs win 10 games last year and have almost everyone coming back.
But are the Bulldogs really a top 10 team? Are there only five teams better than the Bulldogs in the country?
There are a few things to look at to figure out why the Bulldogs are considered a top-10 team. First, and probably the most important thing is the returning starters. On offense, the Bulldogs are replacing five starters, including three on the offensive line.
But Aaron Murray is expected to have a 2012 season to remember, and the running game is expected to be better with new signees, Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley. If the offensive line is able to hold up, then everything else will fall in place.
On defense, the Bulldogs will have everyone back from last year except DeAngelo Tyson, who is now in the NFL. The only problem is the secondary is riddled with suspensions, so the front seven will have to work extra hard during the early stages of the season to have the same type of success they had last year.
Another thing to look at is the key players. Media experts like the Bulldogs this year because of Murray and Jarvis Jones. If any two players are going to win national awards this year, it will be those two, especially Jones who could be the best linebacker in the country. In order for the Bulldogs to have the success they desire, Murray and Jones will have to be on top of their game week in and week out.
The schedule also plays a factor in the Bulldogs' success. Like last year, the schedule sets up for the Bulldogs nicely to win over 10 games. The only team that Bulldogs will face that won over nine games last year is South Carolina (Georgia Southern did win 11 games last year, but let’s not count FCS teams for the sake of this argument).
The Bulldogs went on a 10-game winning streak last season with the similar schedule, but they don’t have to face Boise State this year, and they will face South Carolina with a team that should have all its suspended players back (hopefully).
The one game that should concern fans though is Missouri. On paper, Georgia is the better team, but because that game will be the Tigers’ first-ever SEC game, emotions will be running high, and Mark Richt has to be sure his players are physically and mentally ready for the atmosphere.
What it comes down to is the Bulldogs are looked at as a top-10 team because they have all the tools to compete for a national title. They have a solid quarterback, an aggressive defense and a schedule that gives them an opportunity to win 10-11 games. There are some fans that don’t like the Bulldogs ranked high because they feel like the Bulldogs play better when there is no hype.
That may be true, but when you have a season like they did last year, experts are going to give that team some love the following season if that team looks ready to take that next step.
So get ready, Bulldog Nation, because if everything goes well, it should be a season to remember. But if they come out falling out the gate, 2012 will just be another year where high hopes turned into broken dreams.
The brain trust at Fox has come up with yet another way to slowly drain the collective intelligence of this country. It's called The Choice, and it features a good amount of NFL swagger.
Entertainment Weekly reports on the newest dating show that will either sweep the nation and take my patience with it, or die a quick and beautiful death.
In each episode, four celebrities sit in spinning chairs and listen to non-famous prospective dates pitch themselves. Over the course of three rounds, the contestant pool is paired down until each celebrity has chosen their date for the evening.
You mean like The Dating Game?
It's The Dating Game meets The Voice meets every other show you may have caught in the last few years.
Why am I such a big fat sourpuss on this thing? Well, it's just sort of lame. Are we to expect that celebrities and athletes are going to find true love from a contestant pool of people that are looking more for a chance at fame than they are at a loyal partner?
I will play the part of vested viewer and will break down the best that the sports world has to offer this show. Rob Gronkowski, Ndamukong Suh and Warren Sapp are slated to feature. So let's power rank their date-ability for The Choice.
3. Warren Sapp
This is just what you need on a first date, an opinionated former athlete. That may not be the biggest issue facing the newly formed couple, though.
As has been reported by many outlets, Warren Sapp is bankrupt, despite a lucrative job with the NFL Network as an analyst. As long as you stay clear of the lobster risotto or anything above the house wine, you should be golden.
2. Rob Gronkowski
Oh, you might think hanging with Gronk would be nothing but wall-to-wall laughs, but there is only so much "Bro" one can take.
You might hit the club after chugging a 12 pack of Smirnoff Ice. By the end of the night, you'll smell like Axe Body Spray and will no doubt be part of an embarrassing viral video.
1. Ndamukong Suh
I am no woman, though my manhood has been questioned. So I can't say with certainty what women see in men.
I am hoping that a firm knowledge of the Star Trek universe and an affinity for 90s TV is among them. I will go out on a limb that being the best at your job as well as offering Secret Service-type protection may be valued.
That is why we have Suh, a heavy hitter, as number one.
Not that any of this matters, because I will be watching real shows with far better value than this, like reruns of Charmed.
Terrell Owens On Junior Seau's Death: 'I’ve Been In That Situation Where You Do Feel Like Giving Up'
Asked for his thoughts on the tragedy, TO said he could definitely relate to Seau's situation (via Sports Radio Interviews, emphasis ours).
"My heart goes out to his family, dude. I went through it dude, I saw his mom’s interview. Dude, that’s gut-wrenching to know a mom has to go through that. Honestly dude, I’ve been in that situation where you do feel like giving up because nobody understands the world that you live in. Nobody knows the things that you go through on a day to day basis.”
If you recall, Owens gave a revealing interview to GQ in January, saying he's always been a social outcast and struggled holding on to relationships.
The ESPN Radio Dallas hosts then asked TO if he could elaborate on those comments about him being in a similar situation:
“I think there’s a lot of people that have been at that point. Me, other players. People look at us as invincible beings when we’re playing such a macho game. A game that we play as kids but we’re playing as grown men. And nobody understands that. Who knows what Junior was going through. Who knows.”
The feud between Cody Rhodes and The Big Show started off way back at Elimination Chamber, and I wasn’t excited about it then.
In fact, I haven’t been excited about it any point, and my frustration with the booking of this rivalry has turned into downright anger.
The Show/Rhodes rivalry started off as it should have, with the young, up-and-coming Rhodes consistently getting the best of the veteran Big Show. But it all started going downhill at WrestleMania.
For some reason unbeknownst to me, the creative team decided to have Big Show go over Rhodes and win the Intercontinental Title on the grandest stage of them all, ending Rhodes’ eight-month reign and robbing him of a career-defining moment in the process.
Rhodes never should have lost the title to begin with, but to make matters even worse, creative decided to flip the script and have Show consistently embarrass him and cost him matches on the road to Extreme Rules.
Rhodes eventually got his revenge when he beat Big Show to regain the Intercontinental Championship at Extreme Rules, but of course, it had to happen in fluke fashion in order to protect Show.
I mean, heaven forbid Big Show loses to a guy who the WWE should be building its future around, right?
It was incredibly disappointing to see Rhodes win by having Show slip and break a table, but hey, at least it got the Intercontinental Title back where it belonged: on Rhodes.
Yet, creative once again decided to push Big Show at all costs and had him defeat Rhodes with the Weapon of Mass Destruction in tag team action on last week’s SmackDown.
Not to be outdone, though, we got an Intercontinental Title rematch between Show and Rhodes on Monday night Raw that saw Rhodes walk away from the match in cowardly fashion.
Ugh. This feud must continue, I guess.
It’s been horrible pretty much from the get-go, has yet to produce an even decent match and has done a fantastic job of burying Rhodes.
Back in early February, Rhodes was in the midst of a lengthy Intercontinental Title run and looked poised to win at WrestleMania and then use that momentum to rise up to the main event scene.
So much for that.
The WWE has booked Rhodes like a complete loser ever since WrestleMania 28, and we can blame creative’s incessant need to protect The Big Show for that.
Newsflash, WWE: Big Show is 40 years old; Rhodes is 26.
Who do you think should be booked better?
It is a matchup barely worth playing for either side. Three days ago, Chelsea took the FA Cup from Liverpool, and for Liverpool, the only goal on Tuesday is to save a little bit of face by proving it is still capable of winning.
Liverpool currently dwells in ninth place in the Premiere League standings, and that is likely where the Reds will remain. The Blues technically could still finish in fourth place, but it would require them to leap over Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur. Though mathematically possible, it's very unlikely.
Pride—and negligible amounts of it—is the only thing on the line on Tuesday.
Chelsea, at least, has a tiny bit of momentum on its side coming off its win over Liverpool three days ago, but even midfielder Frank Lampard seemed willing to admit that there isn't much motivating his team toward a win except the luxury of feeling decent when it's all over.
He told the Bangkok Post:
We still have two league games to play before the Champions League final and we want to finish as best as we can. It will be a lot easier going to Anfield with a win than if we had lost. We will carry the confidence through and hope it carries on in the Champions League final. We have one more cup final to go, then who knows? It is nice to go into the next game— then the Champions League final—with a win.
Liverpool, on the other hand, doesn't seem to care at all about its lowly position in the standings because the time for caring came and went long ago. Even before Saturday's loss, the Reds have been in dire straits, going 3-6-1 dating back to March 21.
Captain Steven Gerrard knows it will be no small task getting his demoralized club motivated to put forth some semblance of effort on Tuesday. That is where pride comes in, he told the Post:
We haven't been good enough in the league this year. We deserve criticism and we need to take criticism like men. We need to do better. We're Liverpool Football Club; we're not seventh or eighth in the league. We're better than that.
With only two games remaining in their pitiable season, the Reds don't have much time left to show what they're worth. At least a win on Tuesday will show that they're capable of winning, even if it's only come in spurts.
Rangers’ defenseman Marc Staal scored a power play goal just 1:35 into overtime to take a 3-2 series lead. For the Rangers, the play was simple as they won the face-off back to the point and Staal just put the puck on net, which is what a team is supposed to do when they have the man advantage.
However, this game looked like it was going to end up a 2-1 Capitals win. However, Capitals’ forward Joel Ward took an ill-timed high-sticking double minor with 22 seconds to go on Rangers’ forward Carl Hagelin.
The Blueshirts were able to capitalize on the first part of the power play with 6.6 seconds to go when Brad Richards scored off of Callahan’s third shot past Braden Holtby to tie the game up. For now at least, this goal will go down as Richards’ biggest goal as a Blueshirt.
When overtime started, the team still had over a minute to go on the power play and again, the team was able to come through. If there was ever a time for the team’s power play to start clicking, it was this game. On both goals, the team threw plenty of pucks on Holtby, which again, is something that a team is supposed to do on the power play.
Granada faced an important match this weekend against league champions Real Madrid in Spain's La Liga. With just two matches remaining, all points are critical as Granada is trying to avoid relegation.
So, with Granada trailing 2-1 late in the game, you could understand if the players were upset that the referee ruled the game over rather than grant one final corner kick (typically referees in soccer will allow a trailing team to finish an attack before ruling the game over).
Still, no level of being upset can justify throwing what appeared to be a full water bottle at the face of the referee and than try to sneak away like a coward after the fact.
Here's the video. The water bottle comes at the 0:30 from the right side of the screen from a player wearing a long-sleeved white shirt...
The San Antonio Spurs are picking up steam and suddenly looking like the most dangerous team in the entire league.
Pretty good timing considering we are in the middle of the 2012 NBA playoffs.
After Monday night’s 87-81 road win to complete the sweep of the Utah Jazz, the Spurs did exactly what they wanted to do. With a cumulative victory margin of 65 points, no team was on cruise control quite like the Spurs.
Unlike the Miami Heat, they were able to close out their first-round opponent without wasting any time. They don’t need to play an extra 48 minutes, and the only other team to claim this feat is the much younger Oklahoma City Thunder.
OKC don’t need time off, the elder statesmen of the league do. It’s no secret that the 36-year-old Tim Duncan is on his last legs, and preserving him is essential. He only averaged 30 minutes a game in the Jazz series, so mission accomplished.
With Tony Parker registering his best season of his career, and Manu Ginobili back to his old self, the “big three” of the Spurs are looking just fine heading into Round 2.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies are in an absolute dogfight that will likely go seven, meaning San Antonio is going to have roughly a week off for rest before suiting up again.
The sweep proves last year’s first-round loss to the Grizzlies was a fluke, and that this has been by far the most consistent team this season (and the last decade).
They have more experience than any other team, the NBA Coach of the Year in Gregg Popovich, but also young guys that have bought into “Spurs ball” as well.
Rookie Kawhi Leonard provided outstanding defense in addition to seven points and 3.3 rebounds against the Jazz. Do you know who Daniel Green is? No? Well he’s averaging 8.5 points and four boards in the playoffs.
That’s the genius of this team.
They are able to get every player to buy into the system and fill a role. Ego is something that is checked at the door (just ask Stephen Jackson), and sacrifice becomes the state of mind. They pass the ball beautifully, don’t take dumb shots, and communicate very well on defense.
In other words, they are every basketball coach’s dream.
While defending Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder would certainly pose a challenge (as it would for every team), the momentum and cohesiveness that the Spurs have played with for the last two months or so make them just as dangerous.
They earned the No. 1 seed, the sweep, and the subsequent rest for a reason. They are much more experienced than the Thunder, deeper and more rested than the L.A. Lakers, and without the insane baggage and crunch-time woes of the Heat.
With the pressure levels down and the intelligence level high…give me a good reason not to handicap the Spurs as the favorites to take the 2012 NBA Finals heading into the conference semis.
Right now, I can’t think of one.
Last weekend, the Ohio State Buckeyes football program received news that one of their prized recruits, linebacker Alex Anzalone from Wyomissing, Pa., was de-committing from his verbal commitment to the Buckeyes that he had made only a few weeks prior.
One of the top linebackers in the country, Anzalone has offers from many elite programs and settled on Ohio State as the college of his choice.
Yet a disturbing event occurred on his unofficial visit to Columbus last month, where a registered sex offender approached Anzalone and a group of recruits after the Buckeyes' spring game.
Charles Eric Waugh, a registered sex offender in the state of Kentucky, got to take pictures with Buckeye recruits and posted them on his Twitter account.
I'm not here to judge Waugh or his past, as I'm not rightfully qualified to do so.
I'm here to ask if the visiting process is flawed in college athletics. Does this aspect of the recruiting process provide enough safety for recruits?
It's really imperative that a recruit not only take just the one allotted official visit to a school they're interested in. I'd go as far as to advise the recruit to take at least three trips to a school, at different times of the year, before committing.
Anzalone was doing just that last month, as he was really interested in Ohio State and wanted to visit for the spring game weekend before committing.
Yet, when a recruit goes to a school on a visit, he's hosted by a current member of the team—but should added security be included?
You would think that these kinds of people would be kept at a distance away from recruits...The fact that he got close to recruits was the issue. Keep people like this away from them. I can't be everywhere.
Coaches really only spend so much time with a recruit on a visit, as they talk football and off-the-field things. Coaches know that a good portion of how a recruit feels about a visit is if he has a good time.
So, they have the hosts take recruits to parties and other hot hang-out spots, ensuring they have fun. At the end of the day, we forget these are just 17 and 18-year-old teenagers.
Yet, are recruits truly safe when they're not with the coaches?
Anzalone's situation proves that maybe they're not in all cases.
Sure, there was no way of knowing Waugh was a sex offender, but what if Waugh had a gun? What if Anzalone had gone to a party where a jealous Ohio State student who didn't make the team as a walk-on started a fight with him?
So much can happen on these visits, and coaches can't babysit recruits the entire time they are there visiting, to which I fully understand.
However, I'd like to see programs have security with recruits on visits.
Anzalone was with a group of prospective Ohio State recruits, so why not have an off-duty Columbus-area police officer escort them around along with the host for the weekend?
This is an unfortunate event for Buckeyes football, but Ohio State has a chance to actually improve its recruiting efforts.
The Buckeyes have a chance to send a message to the country, fans, recruits and parents of recruits by making a visit to Columbus and The Ohio State University safer.
They should take that chance.
Gary Bettman will update media on Coyotes at 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET tonight, about 1 hr. before game.
One day after tearing his ACL while shagging flyballs during batting practice, Mariano Rivera told reporters he will come back and pitch again (via The New York Yankees)...
"I'm coming back. Write it down in big letters. I'm not going out like this."
Rivera, Major League Baseball's all-time career saves leader, has hinted that this would be his last season.
After speaking with an orthopedist, Rivera concluded that he can be fit and ready to pitch in 2013. He will be 43.