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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Snyder not changing team's name

For over eight decades, the Washington Redskins have been in existence. All of a sudden, a group of Native Americans have come forward and stated that they are offended by the name. The Oneida Nation, who have brought forward this claim, defines the term Redskins as a racial slur. The Oneida had their chance to meet with NFL executives today. Neither Daniel Snyder (Washington Redskins owner), nor Roger Goodell (NFL Commissioner) attended the meeting. Ray Halbritter, the Oneida Nation leader, left disappointed after the meeting. He feels the executives he met with defend the use of the Redskin name.

Daniel Snyder jumped on a Public Relations opportunity and wrote a letter to the fans. He defends the use of the Redskins name and there is no inclination as to changing the name. Snyder had the chance to meet with Goodell in person yesterday. Synder made it clear to Goodell that he is not willing to change the name. 

As a result, Halbritter has called on the Goodell to exercise his authority as the NFL Commissioner. Halbritter wants goodell to sanction Snyder for "conduct detrimental to the rest of the league." The NFL execs that conducted the meeting, promised Halbritter and other Oneida representatives that they will have their chance to meet with Goodell, Snyder, and the rest of the league's owners around Super Bowl week.

So why now? Why are the Native Americans coming forward with their racist claim after so many years?Well, Native American leaders have met before with former NFL Commissioner, Paul Tagliabue, in 1992. The Redskins and the Kansas City Chiefs were the teams in question. Tagliabue simply told them he can't pressure the teams to change their names. This matter died out quickly after that. 

So will the matter die out, as well? Or will there be enough media-driven material to keep it alive until Super Bowl week? Keep in mind, Native Americans were polled and nearly 80% were not offended by the Redskins name. This is going to make it tough for the Oneida Nation to state their case.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ortiz, Red Sox 1 win away

David Ortiz, the 16-year veteran, has been with the Boston Red Sox since 2003. In his time with the Red Sox, Ortiz has gotten a chance to play with hall of fame-caliber players (Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, and Curt Schilling), break the bambino curse, and most importanly, rewarded with contract extensions for his consistent play. As mentioned, Ortiz has seen many greats come and go in the organization, but he is the only player remaining from the 2004 team that broke "the curse" and won the World Series.

So what has kept Ortiz, who turns 38 next month, with the Red Sox for so long?  Ortiz has remained productive- plain and simple. Since joining the Red Sox, he hasn't hit less than 23 home runs in a season. Aside from consistency, Ortiz is a great teammate and clubhouse leader. Big Papi, as nickname that was given to Ortiz since his first couple of seasons with the Red Sox, has always been respected by his teammates. He's also a fan favorite, which has made him marketable for the organization.

Is that it? Are those the only reasons why Big Papi is still a Red Sox after 11 seasons? Well, no. How about post-season performance? Ortiz is clutch in the off-season. Entering Monday's game, Ortiz had a .290 batting average with 17 home runs and 59 RBIs. Currenty, in this post-season, Ortiz is hitting a whopping .733 with five homers and 14 RBIs.

Jon Lester, Game 5 starter, who dominated the Cardinals like he did in game 1, has been key to the Red Sox being on the verge of winning the World Series. It is hard to take any credit from Lester after both starts, but it is equally hard to leave off 250-pound Designated Hitter off the line-up, as well. If the Red Sox go on to win the World Series, David Ortiz has my vote for World Series MVP.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Not-so stellar Seahawks come away with a win

As the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox were playing in the World Series across the street in Busch Stadium, another nationally-televised game was taking place. The Seattle Seahawks visited the St. Louis Rams. The Seahawks, led by quarterback Russell Wilson, entered the game as one of the best teams in the NFL with a 6-1 record. Although this game did not feature star players playing at their best, both teams managed to make the game exciting.

Wilson, who is a modern-day versatile quarterback, has the ability to beat you with his arm and his feet, as well. The Rams were aware of the threat. The Rams contained Wilson on Monday Night Football. Although Wilson had one big play, in which he threw a deep pass to wide receiver Golden Tate for a touchdown, he was sacked seven times. The Seahawks running game, led by running back Marshawn Lynch, was also contained. They were held to only 44 yards on the ground. Usually this wouldn't be a recipe for winning a football game.

So how did the Rams not win the game at home? Well,the Rams had 200 yards rushing, which can win you a game most of the time, but they didn't have an effective passing game. Kellen Clemens, who is replacing the injured Sam Bradford at QB, completed less than half of his attempted passes. The Rams offense, which is a far cry from the days of Kurt Warner and bunch, ranks 31st in total offense. It can only get worse with a second string quarterback at the helm.

What's the take-away for Seattle? Are they pleased they were able to win a game, they didn't deserve? If I were Pete Carroll, I would focus on the positives and correct what went wrong. A win is a win, after all. All good teams have stolen games in the past.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lester, Wainwright face-off again

Two teams that are fundamentally-sound haven't impressed in the World Series so far. The Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals are well-known for their solid pitching and defense. Unfortunately, both have committed more than usual errors and pitching hasn't lived up. Speaking of pitching, Adam Wainwright will get a chance to improve on his game 1 start in the World Series. Wainwright, Cardinals ace pitcher, only lasted for five innings and gave up three runs. His counterpart, Jon Lester will also make his second start in the series. Lester pitched into the 8th inning in game 1, without giving up a run.

Wainwright, once a top-prospect in the Atlanta Braves organization, closed out the 2006 World Series in Busch Stadium. He moved on to be a top of the rotation starter ever since. In fact, he took over as staff ace with the departure of his mentor, Cris Carpenter. Wainwright was definitely not pleased with his game 1 performance. All of his teammates know that he holds himself accountable. They don't doubt that he will pitch better. In fact, Wainwright, on four days rest, has been practicing his delivery in front of the mirror. His own assessment is that his delivery and mechanics were sub-par for game 1.

Lester, who had more than enough run-support, hasn't lost the zip on his fastball. Lester does well against both righties and lefties. Aside from having flame-throwing fastball, he locates the ball well on the corners. Although his ERA wasn't one of the best in the American League this year, he has had a strong second half. Out of his last 13 starts, 11 were quality starts. That's what makes him reliable for his team. That's what makes him the ace.

Will Wainwright get back to form? Or will Lester dominate again? I sure hope we don't have another awkward ending tonight.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Megatron outduels Bryant

Before week 8, the best wide-receiver in football, Calvin Johnson, wasn't playing up to par. Going into today's showdown with counterpart, Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys, Johnson had 33 receptions and 492 yards receiving. As far as the yards receiving, that ranked Johnson 20th in the NFL. Not bad, but not where Johnson has us accustomed to being. Thanks to Bryant, he had a little motivation to produce the way he normally does.

As part of the preparation during the week in the NFL regular season, players provide bulletin board material purposely or by mistake. Either way, it seems to always happen. This week wasn't the exeption. Dez Bryant, who has been surrounded by controversy since his days in Oklahoma State University, stated earlier in the week that he is as good as Johnson. In today's social media-advanced world, word traveled quick.

Megatron, Johnson's nickname, wanted to wait until game day to do his talking. Did he ever! Matthew Stafford, Lions Quarterback, had a total of 488 yards; 329 of those yards were received by Megatron. Not only silencing Bryant, but putting him back on the pedestal of the top receiver in the sport.

Dez Bryant is a great receiver. There is no doubt about it. In fact, he is in the upper-echelon of his position. The only problem is that Dez Bryant is playing football at the same time as Megatron.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

The ACC back from the dead

The South-Eastern Conference (SEC) has been collegiate football's most dominant conference in the last decade. In fact, the last seven national champions have come from the SEC- Florida, LSU, Alabama and Auburn. SEC schools have invested their money well by building modern gyms and bringing in well-known coaches, which most recruits take notice of. In turn, the SEC has gained national exposure through expensive TV contracts with CBS and prime-time games on ABC. As a result, all these universities in the SEC haven't taken their foot off the pedal as far as recruiting and winning.

The last time the an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) team won a national championship was in 1999. Florida State University, who beat Virginia Tech that year, was led by legendary coach Bobby Bowden. In fact, ever since he won that national championship, he was never able to recruit as well again. The ACC also made an effort to improve by adding powerhouses like The University of Miami and Vifginia Tech University in 2004. University of Miami, who last won the national championship in 2001, was then associated with the Big East conference. The U, as the Hurricanes are popularly known, has gone through NCAA sanctions on more than occasion in the last decade. Under new head coach, Al Golden, UM's image has changed. As a result, they have improved in recruiting, as well. In fact, they are ranked #4 by ESPN's Recruiting Nation.

Virginia Tech, led by long-time head coach, Frank Beamer, got off to a quick and impressive start. They won the ACC championship in their first year in 2004; Also, have gone on to win in 2007, 2008, 2010. One can conclude that they have been the most consistent team in the ACC in the last decade, but Clemson's not that far off. Clemson University, who has won the most ACC champions in conference history, has re-emerged in to a powerhouse, as well. Before losing to FSU last week, Clemson was ranked as high as #3 in the nation. It's no mystery that their success on the field is related to great recruiting classes.

Currently, the ACC has three teams in the top 10- FSU (3), Miami (7),  and Clemson (9). Virginia Tech is not far back at #16. The SEC has two teams only. So has the ACC caught up? Are they really back from the dead? Are these ACC schools using their resources (gyms, stadiums, equipment, etc.) better, in order to recruit better players?


Friday, October 25, 2013

El Clasico: A never-ending rivalry

When I was growing up, some of the most intense sports rivalries were the Detroit Red Wings/Colorado Avalanche (Hockey) and the Miami Heat/New York Knicks (Basketball). Those died out as players changed teams over the years. You can also throw in the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, but it has lost its steam a little with the Yankees missing the playoffs twice in 6 six seasons. So as I had the opportunity to live overseas, I was only exposed to soccer. ESPN became a distant memory and had to adapt to ESPN Deportes.

As I honed in on soccer, there were two teams that were exclusively displayed on TV: Barcelona and Real Madrid. After all, they are most successful clubs in all of World; They just happen to be Spanish. This means they have clashed in league competition, Copa del Rey, and in the Champions League. In fact, Real Madrid has won 90 matches; Barcelona has won 86.

This rivalry goes deeper than soccer. F.C. Barcelona, which plays in the capital of Catalonia, has always represented Catalan pride. Catalans have always opposed the centralized views of Madrid dating back to the 1930s. In fact, Catalans have pushed to separate from Spain and become an independent state previously. Madridistas, those that reside in Madrid, aren't too fond of the Barcelonans either. In fact, they are not pleased with Barcelonans speaking Catalan, as opposed to Castellano, which is widely-spoken through Spain.

The rivalry also extends off the field. One of the greatest Real Madrid players, Alfredo Di Stefano, was once pursued by Barcelona. The Catalan club gave up on the pursuit. Some players like Portuguese, Luis Figo, have caused controversies by playing for both clubs at one point in their careers.

There have been many memorable sports rivalries that included brawls, battles for a title, pursuit of free agents, and team executives publicly taking the fight to the airwaves. Unlike American sports rivalries, this rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid has never lost its intensity. There have been an infinite number of coaches, players, and presidents replaced and the new guys to the rivalry just pick up where their predecessors left off. On an international level, there's nothing like this.

I'll be watching this game comfortably and know that I won't be disappointed. This rivalry never does.