During the post-fight press conference, Quinton Jackson was asked who he thought could defeat Jon Jones, specifically if he thinks Rashad Evans could wrest the title from Jones.
“Rashad said he’s got his number though. That’s what he say. I don’t know. I’m looking forward to seeing that fight now.” To which Jones replied, “I will say this about Rashad: He does not have my number. He’s not even close to having my number. We sparred a few times, and every time we sparred, I know what could have happened. He talks about one day at practice where he held me down, and he lives that day in his head everyday. So we’ll see.”
Well, I’ll say this, the fight is very interesting to me because they used to be training partners. And while Jones is always improving, the same can be said for Rashad Evans. Even being out well over a year, he came in and dominated Tito Ortiz at UFC 133. Evans also possesses one-punch KO power and has a great wrestling base. It’ll be another tough test for Jones.
During an interview with MMAJunkie.com, UFC President Dana White revealed that Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has asked to fight Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. “[Jackson] and I just talked about [fighting 'Shogun' Rua in Japan] when he was back there getting stitched up. [Rua] is fighting Dan Henderson in San Jose, so we’ll see what happens there. What Rampage said to me was, ‘I want to fight in that Japan fight.’ I said, ‘Cool.’ I’m never going to argue with you when you tell me you want to fight.” Quinton Jackson later added, “It would be very special because I’ve got a lot of respect for Shogun. That’s been one that’s haunted me for a long time. So I want to rematch Shogun in Japan. That would be like a dream come true.”
I would love to see that fight. Or Henderson/Jackson 2 as well. Either one will work for me. But if the Rampage that showed up at UFC 135 shows up to the Japan card, he’s going to defeat either fighter. Even in his loss, that was the best Rampage I’ve ever seen. Who knows what would’ve happened had he let his hands go or used his leg kicks more.
Multiple reports are stating that Nick Pace and former WEC Champ Miguel Torres is in the works for UFC 139 this November 19 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA. Pace, himself, first revealed it on his Twitter account. This is a great fight for us fans. Both guys are coming off of losses and need to get back on track. And usually with the lighter weight classes, that means we’re in for a great fight.
During the post-fight press conference at UFC 135, Dana White was asked about the future of Matt Hughes. “He’s going to fly out to Vegas in the next month or so and sit down and talk, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to hang it up – without saying ‘retire.’ I’m almost 100 percent positive he’s going to retire.” You’ll never hear me tell a fighter to retire, but Hughes has nothing left to prove. And while he looked great, he was still dropped by Josh Koscheck. No reason to become a “gate keeper.”
Fight Night bonuses of $75,000 for UFC 135 were given to Nate Diaz for his Armbar submission win over Takanori Gomi, Josh Koscheck for his knockout victory over Matt Hughes, and Quinton Jackson and Jon Jones for Fight of the Night. Definitely all well deserved. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but especially Nate Diaz. He put on a clinic and his transition from Triangle Choke to Armbar was beautiful looking. Congrats.
Rating: Three stars out of four.
Since its release back in 2004, Moneyball has meant a lot of different things to different people. To some, it meant rejecting the old ways of viewing America's pastime in favor of a relatively new perspective, rejecting battering average and embracing nu-baseball through the lens of on-base percentage.
For others, it embodied something more meta—the economic concepts of market inefficiencies and arbitrage in action. To them, on base percentage was not the be-all-end-all; it was merely the market inefficiency of the day.
And for others still, Moneyball represented something arrogant and distressing. Some disliked the book because it painted scouts and managers in a pejorative light that oversimplified the rigors of the jobs, casting them as pawns and roadblocks.
Others disliked it—some without having ever read it (Joe Morgan)—because the book and the mainstream popularization of sabermetrics were more than a rude awakening to them. It was outsiders telling them they were fundamentally wrong in how they have perceived the game for over 100 years. John Henry's character in the Moneyball movie phrased this perspective well: "In their minds, this is threatening the game. It's threatening the way that they do things." No one likes becoming obsolete and expendable.
Moneyball, given the polarizing source material and following, could understandably have gone in many different possible directions. At one point in the development process, it was rumored to be something as drastic as a quasi-documentary about Billy Beane and the 2002 Oakland Athletics narrated by Bill James' talking head. What it ended up being, however, was an oversimplification of an oversimplification, and as a result, it is incongruous.
To be sure, Moneyball is a good film, but it is a bad baseball movie. More importantly, it lacks the soul of the novel. Moreover, it is a terrible piece of quasi-non-fiction.
The motion picture needs to be analyzed in three different lights—as a film, as an adaptation, and as a piece of non-fiction. It only works in one of these three veins.
As a piece of non-fiction, Moneyball took entirely too many liberties. In this regard, I think Keith Law's review is very fair. While you can ignore the simplification of three-way trades, anachronistic nicknames, and, to some degree, the appearance of number-crunching technology that was in fact a few years away from creation, it is hard to ignore the fact that Billy Beane did not walk into his clubhouse one day with a college graduate and say "we're going to blindly listen to this guy and his sabermetrics."
Rather, Beane's use of sabermetrics goes back to his days as an Assistant General Manager under Sandy Alderson, who turned him on to the numbers side of the game. Beane's relationship with, and influence from, Alderson are entirely absent in the film, however. As a result, Beane's motivation to use sabermetrics over scouting is left a mystery beyond creative necessity, when, in fact, it was something that was behind the scenes of the A's 2000 and 2001 playoff runs as well.
As Keith Law points out in his review, Moneyball the movie takes the book's pejorative perspective on managers and scouts to an extreme that is guaranteed to polarize audiences and further anger those who already took offense to the book's portrayal of "old baseball." The movie portrays scouts as entirely useless, arcane fixtures who are one-dimensional in thinking, and managers as being egotistical roadblocks to the process of sample-sized success.
Let me go on record and point out that I do believe scouting and management are important aspects of baseball. Scouts identify the viable mechanics of prospects and interpret other important things not present in Excel sheets. Managers, likewise, have some effect, albeit thus far an unquantifiable one, on the mental aspect of a game played by people rather than machines.
Some of the back-and-forth Beane has with his scouts is funny, but the film's portrayal of these two elements of the game as disposable is intellectually disingenuous and misleading, and it only takes an already controversial viewpoint to an illogical extreme. Art Howe, in particular, should take offense at his portray in the film as someone more obsessed with his own ego and one-year contract than with helping his team win games.
As an adaptation of a book, the movie also fails. While the source material does not necessarily lend itself to a cohesive narrative without taking some liberties, some of the book's most interesting elements were noticeably absent from the film. Some of these features include the 2002 draft, the tale of Chad Bradford, and the history of Bill James' influence.
Moneyball is a great work of literature because it weaves the history of an emerging perspective through a single season of baseball and the man behind the team's construction. While taking that approach to a film would result in a disjointing picture with little commercial appeal, it would have been nice to see some of the book's better elements woven into the plot in some capacity, particularly the draft.
As a piece of cinema, though, Moneyball works fairly well. It is one of the better movies involving baseball that I have seen, and it is one of the better movies in a shallow pool of quality so far in 2011.
Director Bennett Miller, in Capote-like form, executes the film in a cinema verite style that captures an alluring sense of realism that often loses the viewer in the fiction. I say often, rather than totally, because the rather loose editing of the film often serves as a distraction to an otherwise engaging execution. Its enduring shots certainly help nurture the viewer's insight and association into Brad Pitt's character to some degree, but too often too many scenes linger too long.
As a result, it is difficult to get truly lost in the film's expose, resulting in a disappointing conscious awareness that you are watching a film, rather than a suspension of exhibitionism, during the film's duration. Though Moneyball is only 126 minute long, it feels noticeably longer. The film probably could have been cut by 10 to 20 minutes and made more effective and engaging in the process.
Brad Pitt's performance as Billy Beane is the movie's high point. Pitt brilliantly portrays Beane as a subtly haunted character putting on a front for everybody. On the surface, he is a cool, calm collected General Manager who can spin coal into diamonds. To them, Beane is not in it for the money; he's in it for the challenge. He does not need to watch the games because he believes in his process.
In reality, however, Beane—at least as the film portrays him—is incredibly insecure. He does not attend games not simply because he believes in his process, but also—and perhaps primarily—because he cannot bear to confront the frustrating specter of failure.
It is true that Beane is not in the game for the money, but there is a lingering sense that Beane is only in it to prove something to himself—that he belongs in the game—and overcome his past demons as a failed five-tool prospect who never went to college. Every loss his team endures, especially those in the postseason, pain him much more deeply that the anger that he lets others observe him vent in frustration (e.g., by throwing chairs out of his office).
Beane never shows this side of himself to anyone, not even his daughter, until one very honest moment at the end of the film where he and Peter Brand, Paul DePodesta's antithetical film replacement, share a moment about the philosophies and reality of losing, and whether or not Beane should take the job as the Red Sox new General Manager. Pitt truly deserves an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal.
Beyond Pitt's performance, however, most of the rest of the cast is some combination of two-dimensional, underutilized or seemingly unnecessary. Jonah Hill, a generally charismatic and quirky comedy actor, plays a serious role as Peter Brand—who could not be any more unlike the Paul DePodesta-based character he portrays—with a depressingly wallflower abandon.
Brand, a first-job Yale graduate who drives the Moneyball movement of the 2002 A's organization in the movie, is understandably a fish out of water at odds with the "old way" of doing things in baseball, but Hill too statically anchors his character's performance in his initial motivation, and as a result the timid routine gets mundane.
Beane's efforts to develop Brand as a front office personality throughout the film seem lost and wasted on the character. Also, Hill does nothing to dispel the misconception of what baseball numbers guys look like, which is something that personally irked me. In this regard, Hill was more a caricature than a character.
Kerris Dorsey does a good job portraying Beane's daughter, Casey, but her subplot came off as entirely unnecessary and forced. It seemed entirely contrived that the movie would put any focus on Beane as "playing to keep his job" in 2002 after bringing the A's to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons on a shoestring budget. Had Beane been fired, there is no doubt he would have been scooped up by another organization in a heartbeat.
I am also not sure why his daughter, who aspires to make music, needed to sing a song that sounded an awful lot like the Moldy Peaches' tune from Juno.
I also would have liked to see more of Stephen Bishop (David Justice) and Chris Pratt (Scott Hatteberg)—who seemed tossed in as an oft-referenced afterthought rather than a centerpiece of the 2002 A's squad—but each served his purpose well.
Philip Seymour Hoffman probably issued the best supporting performance of the cast, though his portrayal of Art Howe should anger Art Howe. Whereas the book set up Howe as somewhat of a puppet of Beane's, the film portrayed him as an arrogant, self-obsessed roadblock that stood between Beane's preseason plan and its success. It made for an interesting dynamic and plot point for the film, but I wonder if Howe was aware of how he was being portrayed.
One of the film's strongest, though subtlest, features was its complementary cinematography. Moneyball's camera work was orchestrated by Wally Pfister, who you may know as the cinematography architect behind Christopher Nolan's visually dazzling body of work.
Though Moneyball is not as in-your-face stylized as The Dark Knight, it is loaded with gorgeous establishing shots and artful closeups of Beane driving around Oakland that capture a detached sense of intimacy, insecurity, and overwhelmingness that supplement the film's themes well.
The script, on the other hand, though written by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) and Steve Zaillian (Schindler's List), is by far the film's weakest attribute. Instead of bringing to light some of the book's more interesting elements, such as the 2002 draft, the film focused primarily on the problems of constructing the 2002 A's and their failures in the early season.
Rather than romanticize the A's ascent to the top of the AL West, only to see disappointment in the end—an anti-climatic approach that I strongly feel would have worked better and complemented Beane's frustrated character well—the film bookends the A's rise and 20-game win streak with their early and postseason failures, focusing primarily on the 2002 A's preseason problems, early-season failures and postseason ineptitude.
In effect, the film portrays the 2002 A's as pushing a boulder up a mountain rather than exploiting market inefficiencies, and in this regard it loses a lot of the soul of the book. The 2002 A's were fighting an uphill battle in some sense, using theory in place of conventional wisdom, but the challenge for Beane was more in how to build a successful team, not its ultimate execution.
Additionally, much of the film's baseball dialogue felt forcibly loaded with sabermetric buzzwords. The dialogue itself is well-written—it is not as though George Lucas wrote the script—but when the characters were talking sabermetrics, it felt as though they were obligated to drop token phrases. Sabermetrics is not as one-minded as shown in the scene where Billy Beane kept trashing scouts' opinions only to repeat the word "on base."
Most of the scenes that did not involve baseball jargon, however, were pretty brilliant. The best example of the film's quality of dialog writing, and my favorite scene in the whole movie, is when Billy Beane meets with John Henry to discuss the possibility of becoming the Red Sox's new general manager following the 2002 postseason.
The conversation between Beane and Henry is strong evidence that if Sorkin and Zaillian had a better grasp on how to incorporate baseball talk into the script, the film could have been something great. But they didn't, and it's not.
As a movie, as my star rating above indicates, I would recommend Moneyball, but I would not give it a glowing recommendation. Though certainly worth viewing, the film has plenty of flaws: It is not commercially adapted for wide appeal, it does not adapt the book in a fashion that fans of the literature will feel particularly satisfied with, and the movie drags on at times.
Moneyball is more than a rental, but it is certainly nothing to rush out and see, or drop $10 to watch after your theater's matinee time. Like David Eckstein, the film certainly tries hard to achieve, but it ultimately falls short of being anything other than above-average—especially in light of the source material.
Jeffrey Gross is a 24-year old law student (and die-hard Cubs fan) who currently resides in Madison, WI. In addition to writing for The Hardball Times, he currently writes baseball analysis for the Game Of Inches blog under the pseudonym David "MVP" Eckstein and has previously worked for The Daily Illini and Northern Star newspapers as a film critic and sportswriter (respectively). You can reach him by email at [email protected].
Get more great baseball analysis over at The Hardball Times.
The NFL has to be one of the most unpredictable sports out there. How many of you thought the Philadelphia Eagles “Dream Team” would be 1-2? Who else besides NFL Scout Jayson Braddock thought that Buffalo would be 3-0? There is parody all around the league and if you aren’t a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs, chances are that you have a chance to win on any given Sunday. That’s one of the great things about the NFL, every Sunday morning almost every fan has the legitimate right to feel that his team might win that day.
I love the NFL. I love football in general. I played the game through High School and my three boys all play it now at the youth level. Part of the reason I love it now however as an adult is that I get to enjoy rooting for my favorite team or playing Fantasy Football without being the one getting the crap kicked out of me on the field. You have to be certifiably nuts to actually play the game at a professional level, I don’t care how much they pay you.
I had the opportunity to have dinner with members of the NY Jets front office personnel along with their team doctors some time ago and one of the things I recall a team physician telling me that the list of injuries on an NFL roster of 46-players after a game isn’t much different than a list of injuries sustained from a 46-person sample of people that enter an emergency room at a hospital resulting from car accidents. The exact quote if I remember correctly was, “If you didn’t look at the names or know how the injuries were sustained, you would be hard pressed to distinguish the two lists.”
Think about that. Playing in an NFL game is akin to being in a car wreck! Let’s take a look at just some of the notable injuries sustained in Week 3 action on Sunday.
- Michael Vick (broken right hand)
- Jeremy Maclin (hamstring)
- Riley Cooper (concussion)
New York Giants
- Justin Tuck (neck)
- Kenny Britt (medial collateral ligament /anterior cruciate ligaments)
- Kerry Collins (Concussion)
New Orleans Saints
- Zack Striefand Olin Kreutz (leg injuries)
New York Jets
- Antonio Cromartie (bruised lungs)
- Jeff Cumberland (ankle)
- Mark Sanchez (broken nose)
- Aaron Williams (chest)
Vernon Carey (right shoulder)
- Phil Taylor (medial collateral ligament)
- Chris Gamble (head)
San Francisco 49ers
- Frank Gore (right ankle)
- Montell Owens (knee
Green Bay Packers
- Bryan Bulaga (knee)
- Michael Huff (concussion)
- Chris Johnson (groin)
- Marcel Reece (ankle)
- Jason Snelling (head)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Cody Grimm (knee)
- Geno Hayes (head)
Kansas City Chiefs
- Brandon Flowers (ankle)
San Diego Chargers
- Quintin Jammer (hamstring)
- Jacques Cesaire (knee)
- Antonio Garay (head)
- Haruki Nakamura (posterior cruciate ligament)
It’s one thing to see ankle injuries or pulled hamstrings, but when you see head or lungs, we’re talking serious stuff. When you have occupation that produces injury lists as part of its official business, one eye brow should be raised. When that list contains internal organs, eyes should be wide open. I can think of quite a number of risky thinks I’ve done in my life and I’ve yet to injure my internal organs.
The NFL is a sport where in large part contracts are not guaranteed (you can see why). The next time an NFL player holds out for more money; think about what life would be like for you and your family if your occupation was getting into your car on Sundays, speeding up to about 45mph and driving into a brick wall. How much would you charge to do that week in and week out?
NFL players are talented athletic individuals, but they are entertainers getting paid to risk their bodies. Think about it, while one team is trying to move an inflated pigskin across a goal line, the other team is trying to hit the guy carrying the pigskin so hard that he falls down. If someone was walking down the street and you went up to them and did what an NFL defensive player does to a ball carrier, you would get locked up for assault.
As a kid, I used to be amazed when I would watch Evil Kenevil jump things on his motorcycle knowing it was almost certain to result in damage to his personal being. Hell, the guy strapped himself into a rocket and shot himself into the air! I’m starting to realize that running down to cover a kick and breaking a wedge isn’t much different then what Evil Kenevil did.
The founder and former owner of MC3 Sports Media, Mike Cardano is the Sr. Business Administrator for RotoExperts and the Executive Director here at TheXLog.com. You may email Mike @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @MikeCardano. Listen to Mike on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew Tuesday mornings at 10am ET.
Stoke City ended Manchester United’s 100% record in the Premier League after a well contested encounter at the Britannia Stadium that ended in a 1-1 draw. The big news before the match was the absence of Wayne Rooney from the squad, Sir Alex confirming that a hamstring injury in training was the reason. Jonny Evans was forced to pull out of the squad, after pulling a muscle in training. These changes allowed Valencia to come in at right back, alongside Phil Jones, the returning Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra, providing protection for David de Gea in goal. Fletcher, Anderson, Nani and Young completed a midfield quartet with Berbatov and Hernández starting up front.
The match began with a moment of controversy when after a lucky bounce off a Stoke player, Hernández found himself one-on-one with Begovic in the Stoke goal, only to be brought down by Jonathan Woodgate, in what seemed like a sure-shot penalty and a sending-off. Mystifyingly, the referee granted neither, and unbeknownst to the fans, such would be the case more than once later on. Hernández was forced to limp off with the leg, and unfortunate situation for the Mexican who has had an injury-filled start to the season. Carling Cup hero Michael Owen was his replacement.
After quite a scrappy start, United settled down and eventually took the lead after 27 minutes. A neat one-two between Nani and Fletcher found the former in some space, and after dummying past a couple of defenders, cut in from the right to slot into the bottom corner past the helpless Stoke goalkeeper. It was an excellent move, and the sort of moment of magic that would be necessary to unlock the resolute Stoke defence.
Stoke, as has been characteristic of their recent stay in the Premier League, picked themselves up after conceding and really, were the side on top for the rest of the half. David de Gea was United’s player of the half, after a couple of astonishing world class saves to deny first Andy Wilkinson and then Jonathan Walters from equalising for the home side. The media have been quick to slate de Gea at every opportunity, but there was no denying the quality of those saves.
Soon after the resumption of the second half, however, Stoke managed to restore parity in the scoreline. Matthew Etherington curved an in-swinging corner from the right, and new signing Peter Crouch, towering in between Ferdinand and Jones had the simple task of heading in from five yards out. Moments later, a rare instance of a lack of concentration from Ferdinand allowed Peter Crouch to simply knock the ball past de Gea, but the latter did well to close him down and parry for a corner. de Gea was called out to action once again when Stoke were awarded a freekick 20 yards out, but Marc Wilson’s rasping drive was directed straight at the United goalkeeper.
There was controversy to come when United had an appeal for a penalty turned down, after Ryan Shawcross appeared to handle the ball from Patrice Evra’s shot. Amusingly enough, the linesman did wave his flag, but to call for offside again Owen, who was not even active in play till after the ball came off Shawcross’s arm. Stoke had a chance to win it when Crouch brought the ball down well from Pennant’s cross, but thanks to the striker’s ineptitude with the ball at his feet, United were spared from going behind once more.
With just a minute of added time to go, Ryan Giggs had a golden chance to snatch victory from the Reds after some good work from Nani, but Giggs smashed his left-footed volley well-wide considering how well he was positioned to score. In the end, a 1-1 scoreline was probably just, although one might argue that United deserved a penalty or two. The absence of Rooney certainly showed, with Anderson and Fletcher doing good work defensively, but perhaps not as effective going forward without Rooney up front.
United next welcome FC Basel to Old Trafford in the second group game of the Champions League on Tuesday, 27 September.
Stoke City 1-1 Manchester United
Best Moment: Nani’s goal
Worst Moment: Crouch’s goal
Man of the Match: David de Gea
David de Gea’s saves vs Stoke:
Written by member Sownak27.
Darren McFadden was ridiculed constantly during the first two seasons of his NFL career for being compared to Adrian Peterson in college and leading up to the 2008 NFL Draft. His strong season last year quieted many of his critics and now those same critics are safely on the band wagon as McFadden looks poised to have a monster year.
After racking up 171 yards on the ground against the Jets on Sunday, Run DMC now leads the NFL with 393 rushing yards through three weeks, save Monday Night’s game. He is also averaging an impressive 6.4 yards per carry and has scored four total TD’s. Outside of All Day Adrian, McFadden is arguably the best and most talented back in the NFL.
One obstacle though remains before he can unquestionably stand behind Peterson and potentially challenge him for the title of “Best Running Back in the NFL”. He needs to convince new Raiders head coach Hue Jackson through action and words that he deserves to get the late 4th quarter carries in games that Oakland is winning. Currently that job is going to Michael Bush because he has only lost three fumbles in 397 career carries compared to seven lost fumbles for McFadden in 501 career carries.
You can’t be the best running back in the NFL if your own team doesn’t trust you to seal a victory.
Peterson may be king of the running backs but his Vikings are kings of nothing right now. They stand at 0-3 on the season and have blown double digit halftime leads in all three games. Blowing a 10-point lead at the half in San Diego, as they did in Week 1, is forgivable.
Following that up, however, by squandering a 17-0 lead at home against the Bucs in Week 2 and then topping that ineptitude by relenting a 20-0 lead at home again in Week 3 against the Lions is pathetic. The way things are going in Minnesota, the Donovan McNabb era may be quickly replaced by the start of the Christian Ponder era if the Vikings lose to the winless Chiefs in Kansas City next week.
It’s amazing how the outlook of a team’s season can change in just two short weeks. After a horrible loss to the Redskins on opening weekend the Giants were being written off, present company included, as a team that was headed for a disappointing year. Now after two wins in a row, including an impressive victory over the Dream Team Eagles in Philadelphia yesterday, the Giants season suddenly holds a ton of promise.
With the Cardinals, Seahawks, Bills and Dolphins on the schedule over the next four games, New York could realistically be 6-1 heading into New England in Week 9. I still think a brutal second half schedule and the injuries that have wiped out their depth will be enough to leave the Giants out of the playoffs for a third consecutive season. The fact, however, that they quickly righted the ship after a tough preseason and start to the regular season shows that at the very least they won’t go down without a fight.
Speaking of the Eagles, their franchise quarterback needs to get his head examined and not because he suffered a concussion last week. Michael Vick actually stated the following after Sunday’s loss to the Giants …
“At some point something catastrophic is gonna happen. Not to blame the refs, but more precautions should be taken. I’m on the ground all the time in the pocket.”
Mike, you’re “on the ground all the time in the pocket” because your offensive line stinks not because the refs or your opponent are doing anything wrong. And if you are going to attack the NFL on something how they protect the quarterback is not your best choice of topic. If the NFL does anything well it is making sure the quarterback receives preferential treatment in every scenario possible. If the NFL actually took more precautions, as Vick wishes, to protect the quarterback they might as well just forbid the defense from tackling the QB all together. Just put a flag on the signal caller’s waist and pretend the NFL is some Saturday afternoon beer league.
The Jets wasted a golden opportunity yesterday, in their loss to the Raiders, to get a one game lead on the Patriots in the division after the Bills shocked New England in Buffalo. Even though the Bills are suddenly in the AFC East mix, either the Jets or the Patriots will likely win the division. Psychologically the Jets need to play from ahead since the Patriots have won the AFC East seven of the last eight seasons. Their first opportunity to do just that is gone and it may not come back again.
With all the exciting games at 1pm on Sunday did anyone outside of Cincinnati or San Francisco pay any attention to the 49ers/Bengals tilt? Actually I think fans of both teams started watching the Bills comeback against the Patriots when Cincy and San Fran ended the third quarter deadlocked at 3-3. Where is the Ickey Shuffle and Montana to Rice when you need it!
A Staff Writer for RotoExperts, Tamer Chamma is a two time top 50 Finalist in the WFAN Fantasy Phenom contest as well as a weekly guest on the SiriusXM "RotoExperts" morning show. Tamer is also a fill-in co-host for the show. You may contact Tamer @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @RotoExperts_TC
In certain circles of culture, what Pittsburgh and Syracuse did last week, defecting from their long-standing conference affiliation, would result in some form of retribution. But, alas, this is a “civilized” society, where the victims are left to pick up the pieces and get on with their lives. And, it’s football culture, where excuses are worthless.
A lot of dust has settled in the past week, but for Big East commissioner John Marinatto and the remaining members of the conference, there are still more questions than answers. So what is current outlook for its teams and the conference at large?
The Bearcats are still new kids on the block in the Big East, having joined the conference half a dozen years ago from Conference USA. The program won the conference championship in 2008 and 2009, but lost head coach Brian Kelly to Notre Dame as a result. The Bearcats are on the western perimeter of the conference: seemingly in disadvantageous geography, because the program has not been rumored among teams sought for realignment.
The commissioner called an emergency meeting of remaining Big East football schools last Monday to confirm them all in unity. Presidents and athletic directors of all these schools attended … except Connecticut. New president Susan Herbst, a Duke graduate and a former administrator in the Georgia university system, which includes Georgia Tech, refused to pledge allegiance to the conference that put UConn on the map. Connecticut has acted as though an ACC invitation is forthcoming, but the wait may end in disappointment.
Like Cincinnati, Louisville came to the Big East from Conference USA, and it found success in its short tenure by winning the conference football championship in 2006. It also has one of the premiere basketball programs in the country, which likely would dispose the school to try to keep the Big East in tact for the benefits of its reputation in hoops.
The State University of New Jersey must have taken pride in being rumored among teams to be added to the Big 10 previously. Its proximity to the New York media market is its offering to potential suitors. The only problem with their presentation is that, despite the huge number of viewers in that DMA, New York sports fans don’t watch a lot of Rutgers football. It, too, hopes the ACC comes knocking. The Big 10 passed last year.
The Bulls are off to the best start in the conference this season, including an impressive win at Notre Dame. USF is the third team in the triumvirate that moved Conference USA to the Big East in 2006. The school’s football program is still very young, but it has developed substantially under head coach Skip Holtz and is one of two current Big East teams that enjoy a place in the AP Top 25. Its BCS opportunity may be short lived if the conference doesn’t expand.
The Horned Frogs are in either the best or worst of situations in the conference. Having pledged to become a full member next year, it expected to capitalize on the Big East’s AQ BCS status. Now TCU finds itself wondering if the Big East will be there at its expected arrival time in 2012. Because of its geography TCU may find an opportunity with the Big XII, or it could forego the AQ opportunity of the Big East or Big XII and stay on with its present affiliation, the Mountain West Conference.
The Mountaineers have a long history of winning football games. The program has 694 all-time wins but has yet to win a national championship. It was a charter member of the Big East football program in 1991 and has won the conference championship six times. The Backyard Brawl, its annual game against Pitt, has been one of the best annual rivalries in college football. To ad insult to injury, the Mountaineers were been rejected for membership by both the ACC and SEC this week.
The conference survived the high-profile defections of Boston College, Virginia Tech and Miami in 2003, but that was a different period. Conferences were not in chaos.
The Big East’s unusual distinction of having several basketball-only programs complicates the outlook. Football programs will want more depth in their ranks, but the conference’s roots are in its basketball schools, and historically successful hoops programs such as Georgetown, Villanova and St. John’s will suffer without the affiliation of the prestigious conference.
Though Big East football enjoys BCS AQ status for the present, the horizon is not looking bright. The losses sustained initially suggested further exits among football schools. The question now is: Where would they go?
The Pac-12 has closed its doors to expansion in the short-term. The Big 12 has replaced its commissioner and appears to be focused on finding stability. The SEC expects to welcome Texas A&M, but has been silent, except to deny rumors, about further expansion. The ACC is playing coy, waiting to cherry pick if the Big East fails and the Big 10 has been a spectator of all the attention and turmoil in the other conferences, probably enjoying a quiet chuckle at their expense. The BCS conferences, it seems, are no longer open for expansion.
It’s been rumored that the military academies have been invited as football only members of the Big East. Though a novel idea with the potential to claim of the most storied rivalry in collegiate football history – Army vs. Navy – as an annual conference matchup, will it bring more money to the Big East? Rutgers schedules both these teams yearly. Has television coveted the chance to broadcast those games? Do Army and Navy alumni travel, helping to fill opponents’ stadiums?
If the Big East is going to add, Temple now seems the desirable option for basketball, football and overall geography. Beyond that the best alternative seems to come again from Conference USA. Central Florida is a natural rival for USF. SMU and Houston could help solidify TCU’s move to the Big East. Marshall may be a desirable geographical addition for West Virginia, Cincinnati and Louisville.
To be sure, none of these programs tremendously enhance the conference’s football profile. They can provide for something more valuable in the short term however: Survival.
The luck has finally run out for “The Baddest man on the planet,” Joe Warren at Bellator 51. The current featherweight champion entered the bantamweight tournament in hopes to become a multiple Bellator title holder. Those dreams went dark just one minute into fight as his opponent Alexis Vila turned his lights out with a left hand.
The quarterfinal round opened with Ed West using his length to keep Luis Nogueira on the outside. The season three running up has his sights set on earning another shot at the Bellator bantamweight title and Zack Makovsky.
Coming off a controversial lose to Joe Warren in his Bellator debut, Marcos Galvao found himself in another tight contest against the veteran Chase Beebe. After surviving an early onslaught of submission attempts from Beebe, Galvao took over and earned a split decision victory.
The night’s fourth quarterfinal fight saw Eduardo Dantas make a successful Bellator Debut when he defeated Bellator veteran Wilson Reis. The fight never hit the ground until Dantas dropped Reis with a knee, followed it up with some ground and pound to advance to the semifinal round.
The exciting 10 bout Bellator 51 card only saw four fights go the distance, here is how the night played out.
135 lbs. Quarterfinal bout: Ed West defeated Luis Nogueira by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
- Nogueira tried to bully West at weight-ins but that didn’t help him in the fight. West used his length to pepper his opponent with punches and kicks from the outside to earn the win.
135 lbs. Quarterfinal bout: Marcos Galvao defeated Chase Beebe by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Submission attempts flew everywhere from both fighters early on in the fight. All those attempts zapped the energy from Beebe though and Galvao began to take over. Both were gassed by the final round and that made this bout much closer overall.
135 lbs. Quarterfinal bout: Eduardo Dantas defeated Wilson Reis by 2nd rd. TKO
- Kind of a sloppy stand up fight as the two BJJ black belt nullified each other on the ground. Dantas missed with a knee in the second round, but followed it up running knee to the chin that dropped Reis. A little cleanup work and the fight was over with a late referee stoppage.
135 lbs. Quarterfinal bout: Alexis Vila defeated Joe Warren by 1st rd. KO
- Vila landed a big right to Warrens jaw followed up by two left hands to the head before they clinch. They separate and Warren swings for the fences, which left him wide open for a counter left from Vila that would turn the lights out on the self-proclaimed baddest man on the planet.
Local Feature Fights
145 lbs.: Frank Caraballo defeated Dustin Kempf by 1st rd. TKO (knee injury)
Women’s (127 lbs) bout: Jessica Eye defeated Casey Noland by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
135 lbs.: Jesse Riggleman defeated Farkhad Sharipov by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
205 lbs.: Dan Spohn defeated Dane Bonnigson by 1st rd. KO
205 lbs.: John Hawk defeated Allan Weickert by 2nd rd. TKO (retirement)
155 lbs.: Joey Holt defeated Clint Musser by 1st rd. KO
- Bellator Fighting Championship Season 5 Preview
- Bellator 41 Eight Fight Card and Predictions
- Bellator 50 Results: Four Middleweights move on
- It’s the middleweights turn to cut the field in half at Bellator 50
- Bellator 47 Main Card Predictions
Get more great MMA news, recaps and analysis over at MMA Valor.
By Nick Tylwalk
The blog has been quiet this week because the wife and I are out in Las Vegas attending the wedding of two of our friends. On the plus side, that means I am out in Las Vegas, possibly my favorite place in the whole world (though not for long if the tables are as unkind to me as they've been over the past few days!).
Every time I'm out here, I like to take a gander at the betting lines on upcoming fights to get an idea of where the public is putting money. The two biggest fights on the fall schedule from a betting standpoint appear to be the Super Six final between Andre Ward and Carl Froch and the final chapter in the trilogy between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.
(Before I go on, I should mention that all lines mentioned in this article are from the sports book at the MGM Grand.)
For Ward-Froch, the line is moving in favor of making the American a bigger favorite. Ward opened at -270 and is currently at -300. Froch opened at +230 and stands right now at +250, and even though I slightly favor Ward to win, I must admit that I would be intrigued by betting on The Cobra. My big question would be if he can win emphatically enough to take a decision on American soil, especially in a fight that is not likely to be a pretty one and probably won't end in a knockout either way.
On that note, the major prop bet on Ward-Froch is whether it will go 11 full rounds, and the line has not moved: -450 for going 11 rounds and +350 for not going 11 rounds. Of course anything can happen in boxing, but even at +350 I wouldn't be taking the under. Both men are extremely crafty, and neither has shown much one-punch KO power against top competition - unless you count Froch's stoppage of Jermain Taylor, but I don't.
(UPDATE: Literally a minute after I posted this, I saw the report that a cut suffered by Ward during training has postponed this fight. As you may or may not know, all boxing action is only good if the fight in question goes on the specified date. So Ward-Froch bets are off, though I'd assume the lines will look somewhat similar when the bout is rescheduled. Maybe Froch will be a slightly smaller underdog if the betting public sees this as a sign of weakness on Ward's part?)
Meanwhile, Pacquiao is a heavy favorite to take care of JMM in their third meeting, opening and remaining at -800 to win. Marquez also in unchanged at +550, which might be worth a few bucks if you are a Pac-hater. Just don't be upset when it doesn't pay off.
The rounds prop bet is whether the fight will go 10 full rounds. The will go opened at even money and currently stands at +125. The won't go opened at -120 and has changed slightly to -145. This one's a little more interesting: Many fans seem to think Manny will have an easier time with JMM than he did in their first two battles, yet Marquez has been able to shake off multiple knockdowns in the past. I wouldn't be opposed to tossing some money on the will go 10 rounds bet and crossing my fingers that JMM can make it the distance even if he loses badly on the cards.
Get more great boxing news, recaps and analysis over at Boxing Watchers.
By Diego Quezada
Although the NBA announced the cancellation of all preseason games scheduled from Oct. 9 – 15 yesterday, some Miami Heat writers have wrote about a perceived benefit of the lockout negotiations for Pat Riley.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman have both said that an amnesty clause in the next collective bargaining agreement could provide Riley the opportunity to sign quality players for cheap contracts. Upon looking at the potential candidates, anyone with basketball knowledge would conclude that the amnesty provision would only give the Heat marginal help, though.
The NBA’s previous CBA had a one-time amnesty provision, allowing teams to remove one player each from their payrolls to avoid paying the punitive dollar-for-dollar luxury tax on those players. The released players would still receive all of their guaranteed money and become free agents.
Windhorst and Winderman said that Miami could sign amnesty candidates like Baron Davis, Brandon Roy or Brendan Haywood. Winderman also pointed out that the Heat could release Mike Miller, who is owed $24 million over the next four seasons.
Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported that prior to the February trade deadline, Riley offered to trade Miller for Haywood. The amnesty clause could give Riley the chance to essentially make the same trade. Both players had disappointing seasons last year, but Haywood doesn’t even look like an upgrade over Samuel Dalembert, a likely Heat free agent target. Releasing Miller would not be the best decision for the Heat, especially when considering that fellow 3-point specialist James Jones is an unrestricted free agent. Besides, the crop of swingmen available through free agency or the amnesty clause isn’t very appealing.
The Heat’s 2011 first round pick Norris Cole stands as the only point guard under contract, so perhaps Baron Davis is worth a look. Although Davis does not have great 3-point shooting ability, he has some discernible skills that could help the Heat. He can post up any other point guard and direct a fast-break very well. And coming to Miami on a one-year deal coupled with the Heat culture could provide the former New Orleans Hornet the motivation to get back in shape.
A similar situation presented itself to Miami last March, when Mike Bibby joined the team. He struggled mightily with his shot throughout the entire playoffs and didn’t even get off the bench during Game 6 of the Finals. Players who have received a buy-out or who are amnesty candidates were banished from their old teams, so it’s naïve to believe that they will have huge impacts on a championship-contending teams like the Heat. All of the players who could become free agents as a result of the amnesty clause are well past their primes.
In a post I wrote in June, I said that the Heat should fill in the remaining pieces of their roster with young players who can contribute rather than having a bunch of dead weight sitting on the bench. Perhaps Davis can contribute next year, but the amnesty provision won’t provide Miami with the silver bullet to win the championship whenever the lockout ends. Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony had their moments last season, and Norris Cole and Dexter Pittman are waiting in the wings. A couple tweaks – like signing Dalembert and Davis – could give Miami more than enough to win it all.
Get more great Miami Heat news, recaps and analysis over at HotHotHoops.
After Florida’s shellacking of Kentucky Saturday night 48-10, the Kentucky football program might be at its darkest point since the early Rich Brooks era. While Kentucky was never supposed to win that game, they missed on many opportunities to make an early statement and hang with a top 15 program, yet they looked like a FBS school by the third quarter.
The players on this team look disinterested in the game of football more times than not, and there focus is elsewhere than the football field. While Morgan Newton has been sub par this season, he has had little help in the process.
Kentucky had a chance to put some early points on the board against Florida. The defense looked crazy good to open the game. They put pressure on John Brantley, they withstood Flordia’s running game (that would not last long), and came up with a couple big stops. Linebacker Danny Trevathan missed the biggest opportunity to come up with an interception that went right through his hands in Florida territory. Bad teams cannot beat good teams if they don’t take advantage of the good team’s mistakes.
Kentucky forced two Florida punts on their first two offensive drive of the game and most people were excited about the way things were going early, except for the Kentucky offense.
The Wildcat offense looked just as abysmal as it had all season early on. They were predictable and it was obvious that they had indeed scaled back their playbook. The offense was stale. Straight forward runs and short passes to incapable receivers. It was a frustrating game for everyone wearing blue last night.
After Florida’s first two possessions were duds, they remembered who they were and who they were playing against. The Gators opened up the passing attack and went after a weak Kentucky secondary as Brantley hit Gerald Christian across the middle for their first score to go up 7-0. Jeff Demps also ran in a 20-yard touchdown on their next possession to go up 14-0.
Then Newton started making bad decisions. He threw a bad pick to Matt Elam and it took Florida just two more plays to get back into the end zone, and they had built a 21-0 lead.
The Cats had a chance to come down and put some points on the board. They strung together a nice drive, but it stalled and they had to settle for a McIntosh field goal and it was now 21-3 heading into the second quarter.
The Kentucky defense did what they were supposed to do. After putting points on the board, the Cats got a huge stop and Kentucky took over deep in their own territory. Dropping back to the two-yard line, Newton was sacked and Jaye Howard scooped it up for another Florida touchdown leading 28-3.
After Florida added a field goal in the second quarter to go up 31-3, Kentucky’s offense finally found a rhythm. After Kentucky finally forced a turnover on a fumble recovery, Morgan Newton made a nice throw to Matt Roark and then found La’Rod King in the end zone for their first touchdown of the game. The Cats still trailed, however, 31-10. It would be Kentucky’s last score of the game, but far from Florida’s last.
Florida would go on to hang 48 points on Kentucky while the Wildcats continued to be miserable in the second half. It got so bad that Newton was pulled in the fourth quarter to give Max Smith some snaps.
Kentucky was hurt offensively. With Raymond Sanders already injured, the Cats lost two more running backs during the game. Freshmen Josh Clemons and CoShik Williams both left the game with injuries and they reached their fourth running back on the depth chart in Jonathan George. Meanwhile, Newton was the leading rusher on the team.
The offensive line looked better while all were healthy and in the starting lineup for the first time this season. Newton was sacked only twice, but the running game could never get going. They did, as a whole, look better than they had all season.
As the Cats enter into week five of the season, the biggest concern has to be who is going to make plays for this football team? While Newton was poor and threw some of the most ridiculous passes in the history of football Saturday night, he is still getting no help from his receivers. Receivers continue to drop balls right in their hands that hurt potential Kentucky scoring drives. This directly affects Newton because he has no confidence in himself or his receivers to get the job done.
This season, Newton has looked the most comfortable in an up-tempo offense where he is making quick throws in a no huddle, hurry-up type situation. Kentucky should go to this earlier in the game and not wait until they are playing from behind. Kentucky has rarely played with a lead this season, and that is largely due to the fact that the offense that they are running is not working. There is no creativity. There is no surprise. There is no success. Something has to change because what they are doing is just not working.
If they think this week was bad, wait until they have to go on the road to Louisiana State in Baton Rouge next weekend to face the #2 team in the nation Saturday. While there is little chance that Kentucky can pull off the upset, it would be nice to see them make some adjustments and play a better football game against one of the best teams in the nation. However to this point, the 2-2 Cats have had trouble making adjustments and changing anything that they have done to this point, and it looks like things may get worse before they get better.