Greg Oden is the Next…

October 31, 2008

odenMany people have filled in this sentence with the name Bill Russell over the past few years. Tenacious defender, great rebounder, solid offensive game, etc. But maybe it’s time we start filling in that blank with Sam Bowie or Bill Walton.

Each of those two men were top draft picks after stellar (and in Walton’s case, possibly the greatest ever) college careers. The Trail Blazers took them both and pinned their franchise’s hopes to them. In Walton’s case, Portland was almost immediately rewarded as the goofy hippie from UCLA led the Blazers to the 1977 NBA title. But as had been the case with his first two seasons, the rest of Walton’s career was filled with disappointment, injury and ultimately wasted talent.

Bowie was the second pick in the 1984 NBA draft out of Kentucky, famously ahead of Michael Jordan (though Portland did already have Clyde Drexler). He had been a member of the 1980 Olympic basketball team that never made it to Moscow, despite the fact that he was a senior in high school! But he too was beset with injury in college and left after three years despite missing significant time. Bowie never averaged much more than ten points per game and was injured for the majority of his first five years in the league.

So is Greg Oden one of those players? He doesn’t really measure up in one sense, at least with Walton, because Walton is widely considered one of the greatest basketball players to ever live if only his injuries hadn’t gotten in the way. But Oden has had this mystical quality about him that makes people love him. He’s a good guy (it seems) he’s gregarious and well spoken. But he has not played a full season since high school. At Ohio State he had an injured wrist and missed about half of the season. Still, he helped lead Ohio State to the national finals before losing to Florida. Then he went pro, was drafted no. 1 overall by the Blazers and immediately injured his knee, requiring micro-fracture surgery. He missed all of last season. This year he had a sprained ankle in training camp so he was limited to only a handful of games and just three minutes into the first regular season game of 2008/2009, he sprained his foot requiring him to miss the next two to four weeks (at least).

Maybe he’s cursed or maybe he’s just having a weird string of bad luck. Either way, Greg Oden is starting to become a sad story without having even completed a single NBA game. I really hope he comes back and can stay injury-free but that scenario is becoming less and less likely with each injury he sustains. The man can play, but will he get a chance?


NFL Picks – Week 9

October 31, 2008

Not a good week for me last week as a few picks I made (ie, Tampa, Indy, San Francisco) completely blew it in their own respective ways. Best game of this week is the Monday night game between the Steelers and the Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover. Steelers had a tough loss to the Giants last week so they should be ready to make amends against a Washington team that has barely beaten the Browns and Lions in recent weeks. Also, those Giants will play host to the struggling Cowboys in an important NFC East game. My picks:nfl

Sunday:
Jets @ Bills – Buffalo
Jaguars @ Bengals – Jacksonville
Ravens @ Browns – Baltimore
Texans @ Vikings – Minnesota
Lions @ Bears – Chicago
Buccaneers @ Chiefs – Tampa
Cardinals @ Rams – St. Louis
Packers @ Titans – Tennessee
Dolphins @ Broncos – Denver
Cowboys @ Giants – New York
Eagles @ Seahawks – Philadelphia
Falcons @ Raiders – Atlanta
Patriots @ Colts – Indianapolis

Monday:
Steelers @ Redskins – Pittsburgh

Results thus far:
Week 1 – 12
Week 2 – 7
Week 3 – 10
Week 4 – 6
Week 5 – 8
Week 6 – 9
Week 7 – 10
Week 8 – 6


Premiership Predictions – Week 11

October 31, 2008

epl

Energized by a draw in the North London Derby and with new boss Harry Redknapp, Spurs look to begin their march toward respectability. Liverpool are next up for Tottenham in a match tomorrow at White Hart Lane. Elsewhere, Hull City gets its second consecutive big boy match, this time at Old Trafford against Man United. Look for them to struggle again after the 3-0 whitewashing dealt them by Chelsea mid-week. Monday’s match could be interesting as well as Newcastle are starting to play better and will have Aston Villa visit the northeast. Villa are on quite a roll and currently sit in Champions League qualification.

Saturday:
Fulham @ Everton – Everton
Sundlerland @ Chelsea – Chelsea
Hull City @ Man United – Man United
West Ham @ Middlesbrough – ‘Boro
Blackburn @ West Brom – Blackburn
Wigan @ Portsmouth – Pompey
Arsenal @ Stoke City – Arsenal
Liverpool @ Tottenham – Liverpool

Sunday:
Man City @ Bolton – Man City

Monday:
Aston Villa @ Newcastle – Aston Villa

Results thus far:
Week 1 – 19 points
Week 2 – 16 points
Week 3 – 12 points
Week 4 – 13 points
Week 5 – 13 points
Week 6 – 27 points
Week 7 – 14 points
Week 8 – 22 points
Week 9 – 18 points
Week 10 – 19 points


Loan Ignorance

October 30, 2008

becksCan someone please inform the mainstream sports media that loans in soccer happen all the time? Please? From PTI to blogs and websites all over the internet, American sports pundits have decried the LA Galaxy’s loan of David Beckham to AC Milan. They’ve questioned whether he’ll ever come back or labeled it a “loan” inferring that it’s just a sale.

Here’s the deal, clubs loan players out all the time. Often times bigger clubs with too much talent will loan players out to smaller clubs. Sometimes it’s between two big clubs. A good example is Fernando Morientes who was loaned from Real Madrid to Monaco in 2003. After starring for Monaco in the Champions League (and French Ligue Un), Morientes returned to Real and sat on the bench. Eventually he was sent to Liverpool. Anyway, it would not be unusual if Beckham performed exceptionally well for Milan for the Galaxy to demand his return at the end of the loan period (as yet unnamed).

In the meantime, MLS makes a large amount of money from the loan and loses a player during its off-season. Pretty tough to argue with those scenarios. Plus, Beckham will stay in shape and play against much tougher competition than he would here in the States.

So please, stop acting like this is some big deal. This is common, we just don’t hear about it here very often because there aren’t often high profile players who are desired enough for a big time European club to take one out on loan.


The Table – Week 10

October 30, 2008

Having lost to Chelsea in convincing fashion, Hull City slip down into the UEFA Cup position as their differential is lower than both Arsenal and Aston Villa. Man United are still looking up at European qualification and Spurs, despite having drawn both Chelsea and Arsenal away, still occupy the bottom spot. New friends in the relegation zone though as Stoke City and Newcastle jet out and Wigan and Bolton Wanderers crash in. Round 11 begins on Saturday, so look tomorrow for predictions for the week.

1. Liverpool 26
2. Chelsea 23

3. Arsenal 20
4. Aston Villa 20

5. Hull City 20
6. Manchester United 18
7. Portsmouth 14
8. Manchester City 13
9. Middlesbrough 13
10. Sunderland 12
11. West Ham 12
12. Everton 12
13. Blackburn 12
14. Fulham 11
15. Stoke City 10
16. West Brom 10
17. Newcastle 9
18. Wigan 8
19. Bolton 8
20. Tottenham 6

Champions League
Champions League Qualifying
UEFA Cup
Relegation


Phillies World Series Champs (How Weird is That?)

October 30, 2008

lidge

For only the second time in the 126-year history of the club, the Philadelphia Phillies are World Series champions. 4-3 winners in the truncated second half of Game 5 in Philadelphia, the Phillies scored twice to nudge the youthful Tampa Rays.

As previously mentioned on this blog (and damn near everywhere else on earth), the city of Philadelphia hadn’t had a major professional title since the 1983 76ers and their Fo’-fo’-fo’ team led by Moses Malone. The Phillies reached the World Series in 1993 but lost on Joe Carter’s famous Game 6 walk-off homer in Toronto. So this really is a huge deal not just for the Phillies but for the whole city.

Somehow the Phils managed to stay under the radar for most of the season, despite having the two most recent NL MVP winners, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins. Philly used another melt down by the Mets to claim the NL East, beat up the Brewers in four quick games, used five games to beat down the Dodgers and now just five to pass the Rays for the title. Pretty amazing stuff when you think about how dominant they were in this post-season. Obviously their ridiculous pitching, mostly in the hands of Cole Hamels and previously ruined Brad Lidge, did most of the damage, really limiting what had been an explosive and exciting offense in Tampa.

I really don’t like the Phillies and I like the city of Philadelphia even less but I’m happy for them for today. I’m glad they finally won it all and I’m glad they were able to do it at home.


Spurs to Replace White Hart Lane

October 30, 2008

Despite the recent financial troubles for many clubs and even countries around the world, Tottenham Hotspur have announced they plan to replace their 109-year old White Hart Lane with a gleaming new structure capable of holding in upwards of 60,000 spectators. The Lane holds 36,000 fans but is often overshadowed by Arsenal’s new ground, the Emirates Stadium that also contains 60,000 seats.

Spurs are clearly following the lead of neighboring Arsenal in this idea. The Gunners just replaced the grand old Highbury in 2006, grounds that held around 38,000. Clearly Spurs cannot afford to have a 22,000 person waiting list for tickets, especially in times like these. So the club will begin the planning stages of their new home early next year. The stadium is likely years away but the announcement should give a wave of excitement to a fan base that has suffered through the worst start to a season in the history of the club.