Supreme Court: Join the Roundtable Debate on Today’s Sports Topics!
By Guest Blogger John Manuel & Friends:
Supreme Court is back in session. Justices have taken their seats and are ready to tackle today’s sports issues. Here are the justices again.
1- Any thoughts on the tourney’s first week?
Matzie- A bunch of B’s…..Bad loss, Big East and Bulldogs. The Pitt loss to Butler was the worst loss I’ve ever seen. Pitt has a chance to go up on Butler in the closing seconds and they get a shot clock violation in their final full possession. Even a bad shot and some good defense would’ve won the game. Then they get a correct yet miraculous call to put them on the line after a desperation inbounds play. The most egregious mistake. How to you foul a player on the opposite end of the court in a tie game with less than 2 seconds left to play? One word …pathetic. The Big East was the strongest conference in decades this season with 11 teams going to the big dance. Only 2 teams made the sweet sixteen. Horrible showing. The only saving grace may occur if UConn or Marquette makes the Final Four. How does Butler’s bulldog, Big Blue II, get banned from the first rounds of competition? I may be taking greater offense to this than most because I own a bulldog but come on now. BLUE TWOoth was allowed at the Final Four last year. I call bullshit….or dogshit.
Vic Vinegar- As I have done for many of the past 10 or so years, I spent the entire first weekend of the tourney in Vegas. If you are a hoops fan and have never made this trip, you don’t know what you’re missing. And if you do the trip properly (as we do), you will come out of feeling like you have been run over by a truck, but with many good tales of heart pounding wins (against the spread) and inexplicable bad beats (I’m looking squarely at you Bruce Pearl). For the Thursday and Saturday games, I was like some sort hoops betting Rainman, picking winners left and right (and left again). Friday, however, I was also like Rainman, but without the math skills….so in other words, pretty much a dullard. As well as I did on Thursday and Saturday, one would think it would be statistically impossible to lose 18 out of 20 bets placed on Friday. One would be wrong. I was beaten in every way possible. Unders, Overs, Money Lines, Parlays, I’m even pretty sure that I put money on a hockey game at one point (the drinks were flowing like wine at that point). In the end, the wins outweighed the losses, we came home with as many people as we went out with, and I saw some great games. Also, the Big East pretty much sucks.
Gib- A few things stand out. First of all, there is only one place to be for the first week of the tournament – Las Vegas. I’m telling you, if you have never been to Las Vegas for March Madness, there is nothing more exciting than being in a sports book when a game (or games) are coming down the stretch. Absolute despair and pandemonium on display. If I had just gotten off the plane, watched the last 2 minutes of the Pitt – Butler game at Planet Hollywood and then turned around and gone home, it would still have been worth the trip. Of course, hitting a money line bet on that game may have altered my perspective…
The Big East was very O-VER-RA-TED. Who is the dope who picked 4 Big East teams in the Final Four, right here, a few weeks ago? Oh, never mind. The Big East hype machine convinced me that they were not just another conference with a large number of pretty good teams, but that they were poised to lay waste to the NCAA field. Eleven Big East teams in the field, reduced to 2 by the Sweet 16 – meanwhile the much-maligned ACC had 3 of its 4 make it to weekend #2. Cue The Who – I promise I “Won’t Get Fooled Again!”
Officials should not decide games in the closing moments by making borderline calls – IN SOME CIRCUMSTANCES. If a player is not in position to score and there is little to no time on the clock in a tight basketball game, the officials need to interject some common sense into the proceedings. Let’s go back to the Pitt – Butler game again, I don’t think you make either of those foul calls because they were borderline to begin with and neither play was likely to end in points.
Bob- Hold on for a minute while I wait for the applause to die down as readers of Fanspeak reread in awe my pre-tourney predictions from our last post. In case you forgot, “Duke, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and BYU. Note to reader, no Big East teams. Enough talk that the Big East should have 11 teams in the tournament.” There was so much parity in the big east this year, that all assumed that everyone was great. Well guess what, besides Kemba Walker, the Big East was full of a bunch of subpar players being promoted as the second coming by their overpaid coaches. I think Maryland could have made the NIT if they played in the Big East. In hindsight, looking at my picks, I think I have an affinity for big doofy white guys. Ryan Kelly on Duke looks with his missing chin looks like the kid from my high school whose acne was so bad that you were afraid to sit next him for fear something would pop off his face onto your lunch tray. And Mike Bruesewitz from Wisconsin could be the best red head ever to play basketball since Dennis Rodman.
Stinger- Idiots…I was talking about the women’s tourney because I know the Matzie spent his St. Patrick’s Day weekend on ESPN2 and not at a bar. As for the men’s, I wasn’t shocked Pitt was the first #1 seed dropped. See it every year, just thought ODU would do the honor. Ohio State looks like the team to beat but the tourney is crazy and luck can change. I picked Duke once I heard Kyrie Irving was back. I hate Duke and it killed me to write them in, but any #1 seed adding the #1 pick in the upcoming draft has to be a favorite. Imagine Ohio State or Kansas adding John Wall to start the tourney. And I guess you could say big time players help in the NCAAs. All three stars, Fredette, Smith and Walker, have their teams still alive.
2- Did you like the 4 channel system used compared to just CBS having games?
The Matzie- Give me simplified. I’ll take one channel all day. I like on stop shopping…QVC….and one stop viewing…CBS.
Vic Vinegar– Did I mention I was in Vegas? Here was the tough part about the old format. When you have some sort of sweet action on EVERY game, watching four games at once becomes a lot tougher than you would think. Finding a good seat with a view of four TV’s is tough, calculating four over-under run rates in real time is a challenge, and getting to a sports book window to re-bet a game at halftime (who hasn’t done that) can be tricky when all of the games are on at once. I liked that the games were a little more spread out, and I’m pro-Barkley, so what’s not to love. The only thing bad about the new format is that games were on too late on Sunday. It interfered with my stories (I never miss a good “Murder She Wrote).
Gib- I would have liked it more if all four channels didn’t show that “NAPA know how” commercial on heavy rotation. All sharp objects in my home have been moved into a box in my basement for the remainder of the tournament.
Bob- No, I hated it. I generally watch about 6-7 TV shows at the same time. The clicker stays in perpetual motion. On a typical night between the hour of 9-10pm, I will watch, one discovery channel reality show (Gold rush, Swamp Men, Survivorman), one non-outdoor realty show (Pawn Stars, Jersey Shore, How things are made.), two sporting events, one national broadcast sitcom, one national broadcast reality show (Survivor, Wipeout, Dancing with the Stars), and any Will Ferrell movie that is on. With the occasional skimming of HD Skinemax to see anything peaks my interest (Barbwire, Red Shoe Diaries). So when CBS goes ahead and puts the games on 4 different channels rather than cutting in for game breaks and the last 2 minutes of a close game, I found myself watching 5 seconds of everything and watching much more of the George Washington/Ohio state game then I really wanted to see.
Stinger-The new system is great although “Southern Fried Stings” and “Party Heat” being pre-empted on TruTV was a tough loss for a couple days. Barkley and Kenny the Jet have added to the coverage and showing which channel each game in on at the top is great. I can remember my old roommate screaming at the TV because we missed the first 10 minutes of a Terp tourney game, not happening anymore. Barkley ripping the Big East with Rick Pitino sitting right there was solid. He was a sex in a restaurant joke away from making him cry. And as long as Gus Johnson gets to call a close game or two everyone wins. Had to disagree with Bob on this one…being able to watch all fours games is better than seeing if they find the Glory Hole on “Gold Rush.”
3- Who is the best coach in all of sports today?
The Matzie- I’d like to make a case for JoePa but he simply hasn’t “coached” in the past 10 years. He’s been at the games sporting his awesome black Nike cleat and khakis but no coaching was done. And don’t give me Bill Belichick. Even though the NFL has the greatest parody of all the sports, you simply can’t deny that Bill cheated worse than Sammi from Jersey shore. It pains me to say this because I hate Duke and the Cameron Crazies, however, I have to go with coach K. He has over 900 victories (.762 win percentage) and 10 Final Four appearances in 35 years of coaching. His most important accomplishment though is his establishment of Duke as one of the premier college basketball programs of all time. And he’s done it with players that have an on court and in the classroom prowess. Those players are becoming increasingly rare yet Coach K’s wins are not.
Vic Vinegar- As much as it pains me to say it, I have to go with Coach K. College basketball coaches have a few distinct jobs. Recruiting, preparing your team, and game day coaching. Despite his rat like appearance, as a recruiter, Coach K never rebuilds. He reloads. Over and over again. (Except for the one season where he knew he was in trouble and then faked a back injury in order to sit out the year and not have those losses go against his personal W-L record, but even then, well played Cheese Eating Mousetrap Avoider). Besides being a great recruiter, how many times can you remember hearing that a Duke team wasn’t ready to play? They’re always prepared, and the refs are always more than happy to help them out during the games (again, great coaching).
Gib- Bill Belichick. For years I have refused to believe this citing 1) he has one of best QBs of all time, and 2) what about his awful stint as coach of the Browns? This year I was convinced. I thought it was simply amazing what he did with that young defense, his young wide receivers and the less-than-ideal running back position made better by the pick-up and masterful implementation of Danny Woodhead. The cherry on top was the perfectly timed Randy Moss trade which few others would have had the nerve to pull off – and then the star player sung his praises AFTER the trade.
Bob- Eric Taylor, Friday Night Lights. He has a hot wife, hot daughter, and a scrappy football team from the wrong side of the tracks that has won over the hearts of its disgruntled town and even the biggest booster from his biggest rival. He was able to deftly pair a lightning fast black QB with a bulldozer of a white running back to create a hybrid option offense the likes of which no one in football has ever seen. If anyone increased Cam Netwon’s trade value it was Coach Taylors showing the world how to tame the ultra talented and incredibly cocky running back Smash Williams. Oh yeah, when given the chance to play the West Texas High School footballs version of Michael Vick, Voodoo, he decided to kick him off the team. No one has influenced the sport of televised football coaching more. Is it fair that I picked an actor over a real life coach? No, I came up with this theory when CBS decided to show us both Jim Larranaga’s GW pregame speeches. They were so bad, that they made Dick Clark look like Patrick Henry. I’ll take the pretend coach over the real thing any day of the week.
Stinger– Although he will most likely retire in a couple months I have to say Phil Jackson. I thought about Bill Belichick or Coach K but Jackson’s titles win out. After he left the Lakers they started to fall apart. He comes back and the win two more titles. He has had superstars but so have other teams and not won a title almost every year. My favorite coach of all time can never be topped. Coach Finstock in “Teen Wolf.” Fanspeak readers there are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese.
4- Who is the Stanley Cup favorite right now?
The Matzie – I’d like to say the Pens, but who knows when Sid the Science Kid will return. Also, the loss of Malkin is too overwhelming. I hate Red, little Red riding hood, and Rockin the Red, but I think it’s the Washington Capitals. They have the best player….that’s healthy right now…although Ovi sustained an injury in the last week. The Caps have a good offense and a great defense. They are 3rd in the league in points against and they are very physical. Most importantly, they are getting hot at the right time (9 out of their last 10). I say the Caps break their playoff curse in 2011.
Vic Vinegar- I grew up a Flyers fan. That should tell you how disgruntled I am. I would say the Flyers are the favorite to win, but I know they won’t. They never do. And don’t give me 1975. I was four. Go Flyers…you suck.
Gib- The Broad Street Bullies. Last year they knocked on the door – this year they go through it. With the Flyers and the Phillies looking the way they do right now…. Philadelphia could be having a couple of parades this year – let’s hope the Mummers are polishing up those banjos.
Bob– I have to say the Capitals. At first, I thought they peaked too early, but now they have performed so well that they are actually resting players for the playoff run. I think Boudreau is a little wiser this year and knows that he cannot get by on just a high powered offense and motivational swear words. He needs to play team hockey up and down the ice. The addition of Jason Arnott from the Devils was a huge trade for the team effort. The Capitals have been clicking ever since he joined the team. I think this year Washington brings some joy to the sports fans of the Maryland/DC area which has suffered through some miserable years.
Stinger- I should be a homer and say the Caps but past playoff failures will keep me away for now. Going with Detroit. Just like the San Antonio Spurs, they seemed to win every three to four years. They have been the best sports franchise the past 15-20 years and are always a threat. The Caps defensive improvements should get them through a few rounds or X-factor will be if Sidney Crosby returns. I haven’t mentioned even the two conference leaders, Vancouver and Philadelphia. Picking Duke crushed me, can’t pick a Philly team also. I would be crazier than that Gaddafi fellow, or is Qadaffi or Khadaffi?
5- Who was better James “Clubber” Lang or Ivan Drago?
The Matzie- Clubber Lang. He is the ghetto version Muhammad Ali and he helped inspire the hip hop image with his collection of gold chains. I pity the fool who chooses Drago. Clubber may just bite both of his ears off. It’s a fact that Drago was performance enhanced. To make matters worse….he dated Ludmilla (Brigitte Nielson). Clubber got his women the same way Lawrence Taylor did but let’s face it….neither one had Adonis DNA. Dolph Lundgren may have gotten a Fulbright Scholarship from MIT but that doesn’t save him.
Vic Vinegar- This is a great question. Both men were astounding pugilists (go look it up), but both were also beaten by Rocky (shocker). So while it might be a great discussion to determine who was better in the ring, I will base my decision on what I learned from Rocky III vs. Rocky IV, and each fighter’s role in this education process. Both movies taught us a valuable lesson that to be the best, you have to get back to your roots and sacrifice if you want to be the best. In Rocky III, in order for Rock to re-capture the crown, he had to move to the slums of LA with Apollo to train at his old gym. He also had to run on the beach with Apollo in a tight tank top. In Rocky IV, he lived in a barn in Siberia, lifted logs in the morning and climbed mountains in the afternoon in order to be the best. In this case, these astoundingly similar plot lines result in a push on the “who’s better” question. For my money though, the general premise of Rocky IV is that “Russians, by nature, are cheaters and can’t be trusted”, and that was a valuable lesson to learn as a young person. Drago was a product of the evil Soviet system, a creation of robotics and performance enhancing drugs, a true wrecking machine. He killed Apollo for crying out loud. So when Rocky took Drago down in Moscow on Christmas day, this was truly a victory of good (America) vs. evil (USSR) and a glorious day for our nation. But wait….Rocky took the mic in that ring after that fight and delivered a heartfelt address where he showed all of us that regardless of where we live, or what we believe in, we are, at the end of the day, all citizens of the world. Yes we are Rock. Yes we are. Advantage Drago.
Gib– Drago. Not even close. Mr. T’s hair is pretty impressive until you put him next to a white guy with a high top fade. In addition, when it comes to trash talk, a cold stare followed by “I must break you” is impossible to beat.
Let’s look at the tale of the tape.
|Soviet Union Laboratory
|56-0 (all KOs)
|Amateur (1-0) 1 kill
|I want Balboa
|I will break you
|He-man (worst movie ever)
|Practicing karate on beach with topless girls (Google it)
While both guys killed Rocky’s trainer, Clubber Lang was clearly the better fighter given his fight with Rocky. He took on Balboa in his Philly hometown and while Rocky was in his prime. He even beat Rocky once. Drago had home ring advantage, the support of the entire communistic nation, and enough roids to kill an elephant. The only reason we even mention Drago is because he killed one of the greatest fighters of our generation without breaking a sweat. However, if anyone had it coming to him it was Apollo Creed. I mean the guy spent 80% on his energy just on the Coming to America dance number alone. I think I could have beaten him by the time he drug his cement legs into the ring. Clubber Lang however was a “killer” and would have easily won if Rocky would have never heard Mickey’s voice from the grave urging him on to find that eye of the tiger and reminding him of all that work he put in chasing chickens.
Stinger– Hands down Clubber Lang. Lang beat Rocky handily the first fight. Drago lost. Drago also was a cheater. Plus, Drago didn’t talk. Google Ivan Drago quotes and you get a bunch of three word lines. Lang had maybe the best sh*t talk ever to Rocky’s wife, “Hey, woman, Hey woman! Listen here. Since your old man ain’t got no heart, maybe you like to see a real man. I bet you stay up late every night dreamin’ you had a real man, don’t ya? I’ll tell you what. Bring your pretty little self over to my apartment tonight, and I’ll show you a real man.” I couldn’t even see Floyd Mayweather Jr. pulling that off. Plus Drago is eskimo brothers with Flavor Flav, that can’t be good.