Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Links and New Announcements

Friday Night Lights is upon us once again (Photo by Evan Barnes 8/29/2013)
Just some housekeeping for you guys. I've gotten a little busier around these parts writing for other sites so while I may not be posting here as frequently, I decided that on Fridays, I'm gonna roll out all the links in one place so that you can see them.

First up, I started a new interim gig with UCLA 24/7 covering the football team so I'll be posting there about 2-3 times a week. 2nd, I'm also sharing my talents with the good folks at Bro Jackson helping them with Pac-12 football coverage as well as their wide variety of topics. My friend Shane is the publisher and I've been a fan of their writing for a while so I'm happy to join their stable of great writers.

Oh yeah, I'll still be on the scene for Friday Night Lights for the 7th fall in a row, my 4th with the Torrance Daily Breeze. So I'll be bringing you those prep football links on Monday (or Friday if I cover a Thursday game) as well as share some good news with you regarding them next week.

Without adieu, the links and images (after the jump.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Toast to Allen Iverson in Retirement

I remember this cover like yesterday. The beginning of an era we'd never forget.
With Allen Iverson's retirement announcement, his NBA career should read like this. One of the most important players in NBA history. A cultural touchstone. A lethal scorer.

For better or worse, he impacted the game and left his mark that will be felt for years to come. He's a Hall of Famer that made you respect him regardless if you liked him. I say that from my own experience.

I'm of the generation that grew up on AI. He got drafted the year I started junior high in 1996. Many of my classmates in high school rocked corn rows and our best hoops player had a game similar to Iverson - a fearless, high scoring, volume shooter without the crazy hops or speed.

All that said, I couldn't identify with him like other peers. I was in awe of how fast he was and how he scored with ease but in those early jr. high/HS years, I didn't like how he embodied the street culture. Back then, I was Mr. Smart Guy raised to be everything but hood so I couldn't relate to that. I related more to Grant Hill and Kobe Bryant.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hail to the Prince (A Reminder Clayton Kershaw is from Planet Koufax)

Max Scherzer might be killing it in Detroit with his arm but right now, there's nobody I would take over Clayton Kershaw. What he did today with the Marlins was remarkable in being dominant without having his best stuff early.

Kershaw By the Numbers After Win No. 13

8 - the number of scoreless innings he threw today. The 7th time he's done that (8 IP, 0 runs) in 2013. It's also the number of RBI's he has this year. He helped his own cause singling home the first run of the game.

1.72 - His Major-league leading Earned Run Average for the season. The last time a NL pitcher had it that low? Greg Maddux in 1995 (1.63). The last time anybody was close? Pedro Martinez in 2000 (1.74)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Yasiel Puig: Let The Wild Horse Roam

My Tuesday was a bit overwhelming attending a funeral for a close mentor. So I didn't get to check out much sports news til around 4 p.m. and sure enough, I saw four words ring out. "YASIEL PUIG GETS BENCHED."

Naturally, I rolled my eyes but I wanted to see what folks were raising a ruckus over. Turns out Puig was late to the stadium and was punished. No big deal. You're late for work, you face consequences.

Of course, people made a big deal about him being out the night before. But had he been on time, nobody would say anything. So it's no surprised that Puig - who's never been a fan of the media - cussed the media out and wanted to only talk baseball.

As Will Leitch mentioned this year, sports fans (and some media) have a problem with accepting youthful mistakes. People think folks should mature as fast as they did, not realizing it's harder when cameras amplify your every move. We expect too much of teenagers and 20-somethings with prodigious talent to act like adults instead of realizing adulthood is a process not based on age or talent.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Alex Rodriguez and the Overkill of Hate

Alex Rodriguez has gotten so much crap dumped on him that you almost start to feel sorry for him. Most of it is by his own doing - his vanity, insecurity, lack of awareness, being so good that folks are naturally jealous. But since MLB announced he'd face a 211-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogeneis scandal, I realized that he's become a bigger villain than he should be.
Then you step back and realize who's making him a villain. The same powers that made Barry Bonds one a decade ago.

Major League Baseball has used him as a scapegoat for their sins. The other dozen players who got suspended? Who cares besides Ryan Braun's arrogance catching up to him. MLB wants to punish A-Rod like he's the worst cheater in baseball history because he's an easy target and they've gone out of their way to make him look worse than he may be.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Johnny Manziel and the NCAA's Crumbling Empire

How many of these and other signed memorabilia are floating around for crazy loot.
I’ve been quiet on this Johnny Manziel autograph story because I needed to gather my thoughts. Not about him, but on the NCAA and their current state.

If Manziel accepted money for those autographs, so be it. I don’t care either way. What I care about is why this is a crime when colleges use player autographs for promotions and such? When autograph seekers can take gear signed and get crazy money for it while the athletes get punished for pennies.

When AJ Green sells his own gear, he was suspended several games. When Terrelle Pryor and his teammates traded their trinkets for tattoos –  currency – and got forced into playing in the Sugar Bowl, they barely got sympathy. Pryor’s name was dragged through the mud during his eventual suspension and I barely heard folks share any sympathy for him.

But let the school make far more money off their jerseys and those programs? It’s for the good of the institution. That's same lie that Wal-Mart sells when they ask you to overlook their unfair labor practices to spend their money.

Likewise, the NCAA cares less about protecting their players (workers) and more about witch-hunts and their own pockets. Why else do you explain Jay Bilas’ brilliant takedown of that site where the NCAA sold player jerseys? And their apology means they know their time is coming soon.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How Bout These Dodgers?: Another Day, Another WOW

 "Another incredible moment in the Magic Castle" (Vin Scully after Adrian Gonzalez's walkoff hit)

So after another exciting win at Chavez Ravine, how can you not watch every single game with these Dodgers? How can you see the Dodgers down by any deficit and not wonder how, but when it's going to be overcome? How can you see this team and not think "They just might get to the World Series"

When Chris Capuano pitched a terrible five innings and allowed four runs, it felt like a bad prelude to a good ending. When Adrian Gonzalez and a fresh-off-the-DL Hanley Ramirez led a 6th inning rally to cut the lead to 4-2, I sat back nodding.

And when Andre Ethier dusted off his Captain Clutch cape and tied the game on a pinch-hit bomb in the 9th? My calmness was validated and it erupted into cheers! It felt like 2009 again seeing him step up and swing away like he knew the ball was gone.

But oh there's more!! How crazy is it that freaking Carlos Marmol, the relief pitcher, stepped up to bat in the 10th and sent a ball to the warning track. Yeah, it's been that kind of run where a pitcher getting a walkoff hit wouldn't be the craziest thing.

Then you have the 12th. The Wild Horse Yasiel Puig doing what he does best to set up the win.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hyun-Jin Ryu: Rookie of the Year?

Quiet as kept, Hyun-Jin Ryu has injected himself into the National League Rookie of the Year debate. I know Yasiel Puig has gotten the lion's share of attention as a rookie but the Dodgers' other lefty pitching phenom deserves to get praise as well.

Ryu (11-3) shut down the Cardinals Thursday with another brilliant outing (7 IP, 5 Hits, 0 earned runs for his fourth straight win) as he pitched with no fear of one of the best teams in the majors. He came at St. Louis' hitters like a veteran and when I thought he was done after 6 innings, he went out and pitched the 7th to finish off his night and relieve the bullpen a bit.

Earlier this month, Don Mattingly tried to drum up support for Ryu as Rookie of the Year and I'm doing the same now. Let's spell out his case.

Tiger Woods: Major or Not, 2013 Is A Success

Phil Mickelson may have won a major but if you think Tiger Woods hasn't had a great 2013, you're crazy.
Tiger Woods shot a 1-under at the first round of the PGA championship today. He ended poorly with a double bogey on 18 and as usual, the question becomes if this is where he can finally end his 5-year drought of winning majors.

Maybe it's me but I'm still buzzing off that 61 he shot last Friday in the 2nd round of the WGC-Bridgestone, which he eventually won. I'm still in awe that even at a familiar course, he put in one of the best rounds of his career and sustained it the rest of the weekend.

Like I said earlier this year, it's hard for me to strictly judge Tiger on winning majors now. He's the No. 1 player in the world. He's won 5 tournaments this year and has 7 total Top-10 finishes. Yes, he set the bar high when he dominated the PGA Tour but why not lower it when you realized he's had to climb back up and regain that focus/adjust his skills as he's aged.

At 37, Tiger is still playing high level golf. He's going to break Sam Snead's record of 82 career wins by next year (Woods is at 79) and regardless if he wins another major, that record is pretty impressive too. Hopefully he can win the PGA Championship this weekend but if he finishes in the top-10, I'll accept it.