Monday, December 12, 2011

Your Sports First: Buckle Up

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Hello my Ave, hope you enjoyed this past weekend in sports as much as I did. We had blockbuster trades, baseballs MVP alleged to have doped, and another wild week of football. And of course..... Tim Tebow.

Let's get started with..

Your Sports First: Week In Sports

This is what you are gonna get

The crosstown match-up between Xavier and Cincinnati had all the makings of a great game until the last 9 seconds. That is when guard Tu Holloway and another Cincinnati player got into a shoving altercation, that would ultimately turn into a benches clearing brawl. In the midst of the melee, players were bloodied, got stomped out and fortunately no significant injuries were sustained.

But what casted a darker light on the situation was the post game press conference, when guard Tu Holloway, in efforts of defending his actions, let his mouth run a little more than he may have liked to, as seen here. In a society where worldstarhiphop clips dominate popular culture, this does not surprise me. But to sully a would be promising career and marketing opportunity, I just don't see where this benefits anyone on the Xavier team, especially Tu Holloway.

The brawl

The press conference

Brawn or Braun
Milwaukee Brewers MVP Ryan Braun is latest member of the asterisk club. Braun tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. This sent a shockwave through the baseball community having been just weeks removed from earning the honor, and after maybe one of the Major League's best seasons outside of the steroid era. The third baseman faces a 50-game suspension and potentially a relinquishing of his Most Valuable Player award.

This echoes even deeper, Braun is coming off of a $105mil payday. Signing a contract extension with Brewers over five years. This on top of the MVP, on top of his past comments on players such as Alex Rodriguez who was caught juicing and denied until eventually cornered, has Braun potentially being the biggest dark spot on baseball since the Mitchell Report. Braun is also the first player who entered the MLB after standardized testing become mandatory to test positive.

Braun also has a unique set of circumstances in his favor. The league under guidelines have to respond judiciously and with haste as the blame solely goes onto the player after positive testing.

So basically guilty until proven innocent:

According to ESPN:

MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Policy calls for strict liability among players, meaning if a player tests positive, the league is "not required to otherwise establish intent, fault, negligence or knowing use of a Prohibited Substance on the Player's part to establish such a violation."
Add in the fact that Braun emphatically denies that he has used a performance enhancing drug or supplement, you have to be thankful that this is all taking place in the off-season. More developments to come on this.

Baseball's new 'look'

Major League Baseball's new labor contract will include some improvements, and lengthening of the All-Star break. The new deal includes a clause that will include more video replay. Which the MLB expanded to include fair or foul calls, "whether a fly ball or line drive was trapped", and fan interference all around the ballpark. Umpires still have the last call and it is uncertain whether or not it will be introduced on Opening Day.

Other notes of changes introduced in the new labor agreement are:
  • Allowing teams in the same division to meet in the postseason before the league championship series. 
  • A ban on players getting tattoo's with corporate logos (This will probably get some light)
  • The possibility of players wearing microphones during games
Another interesting note in the agreement, according to ESPN is,

"Any big leaguer who wants to change uniform numbers without switching teams better give eight months' notice unless he's willing to buy warehouses full of his overstocked jerseys."
We will see how this is implemented when the regular season is under way.

Week 14 Scores:
Thu: Steelers (10-3) over Browns (4-9), 14-3 
Broncos (8-5) over Bears (7-6), 13-10 
Cardinals (6-7) over 49ers (10-3), 21-19 
Chargers (6-7) over Bills (5-8), 37-10 
Eagles (5-8) over Dolphins (4-9), 26-10 
Falcons (8-5) over Panthers (4-9), 31-23 
Giants (7-6) over Cowboys (7-6), 37-34 
Jaguars (4-9) over Buccaneers (4-9), 41-14 
Jets (8-5) over Chiefs (5-8), 37-10 
Lions (8-5) over Vikings (2-11), 34-28 
Packers (13-0) over Raiders (7-6), 46-16 
Patriots (10-3) over Redskins (4-9), 34-27 
Ravens (10-3) over Colts (0-13), 24-10 
Saints (10-3) over Titans (7-6), 22-17 
Texans (10-3) over Bengals (7-6), 20-19 
Mon: Seahawks (6-7) over Rams (2-11), 30-13

Harrison Out

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison has been suspended for one game, after the hit he placed on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy. The hit ultimately took McCoy out of the game briefly and penalized the Steelers, who went on to still win the game. This was Harrison's fifth violation of the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, since the league enforced the helmet-to-helmet contact rule. Five is now thought of to be the limit until suspension is enforced. Harrison is the first player since the establishment of the rule to be suspended by punishment.

This also brings up a slew of other questions on the issue. The hit upon many reviews doesn't seem to be malicious in intent, or even appear to be the "head-hunting" in which the NFL is trying to suppress by creating hefty fines and now suspensions. What this has begun to come down to is reputation. Reputation and the fact that Harrison is a "multiple offender" and harsher penalties are thought of to be the remedy, in order quash what the league believes to be a blatant disregard for the safety of other players.

James is believed to be appealing the ruling, given the history and the fact that it was on one the league's young, future stars, I don't see Harrison playing this Monday night.

Tebow Time! Again.
Just when you think you have seen the end of the Tebow train, you look at the score, then you look at the time left. You then start to look at the circumstance at hand. Your team is tied with Tim Tebow, he has the ball, and a little bit of time to work with. No matter who you are, your gut starts to wrench. One completion after another, you look at the stat sheet and scratch your head as to why someone with such poor numbers in the other quarters is dissecting the defense like a surgeon. You can chalk it up to the other team making mistakes and letting Tebow stay in the game, or you can chalk it up to a team that keeps themselves in the game so when it comes down to crunch time they can let T2 do work.

That was much the case for the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Heading into Mile High Stadium to face the Tebowed Denver Broncos, the Bears looked to stop the Tebow train right in it's tracks. For much of the game, 3 1/3 quarters that is, the Bears looked to do just that. The Bears lead 10-0 until the game got to under 4 minutes in the 4th quarter. The Bears get the ball back with two minutes to go, all they needed to do was run the clock out, as Denver had no time outs. Bears RB Marion Barber took a run to the right past the interior, looked to rush for extra yards, then ran out of bounds. What? Tebow gets the ball back with 53secs left to play?

Tebow Time.

Tebow goes 3 for 5 for 39 yards and a scramble for no gain en route to tying the game, and sending it into overtime. They might as change the name from overtime to "Tebowtime" because that is when this guy does his dirtiest. The Bears get the ball to start OT, and march the ball with perfection down to the Denver 38, right in field goal territory. They try to inch the ball down a little more for a sure fire shot, and on the Denver 33 Marion Barber rushes for 5 yards, then fumbles the ball, Broncos recover the fumble. So now Tim Tebow has the ball, in overtime, with 12 minutes to spare.

Tebow Time.

Tebow throws 3 for 4 going 28 yards, and rushed for 6 yards. Willis McGahee ran for a one yard gain to get the Broncos within field goal range. Matt Prater came out and iced the game for Broncos. Sending Chicago home dejected and feeling very violated. After all those are the effects of victims that have been Tebowed.

Next week: New England Patriots

Week 14 Notable Injuries 

Cowboys RB Demarco Murray out for season; ankle injury
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger day-to-day; sprained left ankle
Cleveland Browns QB Colt McCoy day-to-day; concussion
New York Giants DE Justin Tuck day-to-day; groin
Steelers S Troy Polomalu left game vs Cleveland; hamstring
Titans QB Matt Hassleback day-to-day; hamstring
Packers WR Greg Jennings out 2 weeks; knee sprain

Notes and Updates

The NBA had another exciting week of transactions and drama. With the league obviously setting the tone by rejecting the Chris Paul trade to the L.A. Lakers, teams have went about trade requests a different way. Effectively using the amnesty clause to their advantage and being able to easily dispose of players and their contracts in pursuits of obtaining a higher caliber of player.

Despite any notable "blockbuster" trades, there were still plenty of transactions in the NBA. And there is still by many means big name players wanting to go to big time markets. Which leaves the question, when is the next blockbuster move going to happen, not if.

Dwight's Christmas List

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard has wavered more on whether he wants to stay with the team than I can perhaps remember ever with Favre and retirement. When he was resigned by the team in 2007, Howard joked that he and Mickey Mouse would be in Orlando forever. Now the league's most dominant man has a "wish list" of teams that he would prefer to be traded to.

Although he does say that he wants to stay with Orlando, he would prefer if traded, to be dealt to either the New Jersey (soon to be Brooklyn), Dallas Mavericks, or Los Angeles Lakers. With the exception of New Jersey, all teams a preferred big markets in the eyes of the NBA. But with the league fine toothing trade's and with Chris Paul still in New Orleans, it will be interesting to see if any of Howard's "wishes" will be granted. After all, to mimic David Stern, Howard's worth more in a Magic uniform right now than he would be in any other.

With teams such as the New York Knicks and Miami Heat getting bigger and better defensively, and the Boston Celtics (Orlando's conference rivals) swapping Glen Davis for Brandon Bass, it's hard to see where Orlando could improve to satisfy Howard's needs. Add in the fact that the Magic have halted negotiations involving the All-Star center, and I would presume that this drags well into the regular season.

Battlefield: LA

After the NBA nixed the Chris Paul trade to the L.A. Lakers, it appeared that the idea was dead in the water. Then all of sudden another Los Angeles team came into the picture, the Clippers. A team that has long been a floormat to the Staples Center where they share time with the Lakers. Now with second year dominant forward Blake Griffin returning at full health, and acquisition Chauncey Billups and Corey Maggette returning, the Clippers look to break into the fold as a force this season in the NBA. Landing Chris Paul would do just that.

But now there are reports that the Lakers have reopened the negotiations with the NBA owned New Orleans Hornets. Now more than likely with an even more favorable offer than the already pretty beefed up trade including Lamar Odom, and draft picks, also sending Pau Gasol to the Houston Rockets sending Kevin Martin to the Hornets. Other players were included but that was the meat and potatoes of the deal that the NBA decided to nix.

Now Lamar Odom is a member of the Dallas Mavericks and the Lakers just acquired Josh McRoberts last night to even out their Walton to Bryant ratio. They also signed guard Gerald Green. The Clippers may have more favorable leverage to make a deal with the Hornets given the bad taste that the league has left in the mouth of Hornets GM Dell Demps. With the amount of time now spent exploring other options, and after putting in so much work in efforts to send Paul to L.A. for Odom, it may be difficult for Demps to want to go back into working on a deal in L.A., add in there roster just took a significant step backwards, and it looks like Paul may be a Clipper before Christmas Day.

It is noted that New Orleans Hornets GM Dell Demps has stated that there is no deadline for the Paul trade, so I would expect this to drag late into the season as well.

Advantage L.A.

The Ole' Sandusky Special

Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky waived his right to a preliminary hearing on child sex charges at the last moment. A very risky, yet defensively smart play on his behalf. Sandusky is facing over 10 counts of separate sexual assaults on 10 different victims that have stepped forward. The move surprised the 10 lawyers representing the victims, but Sandusky's lawyer Joe Amendola says this fight hasn't even begun and that Jerry will be ready to defend his name,

"We're ready to defend, we always have been ready to defend. There will be no plea deal," Amendola said. "This will be a fight to the death, the fight of Jerry Sandusky's life."
According to ABC News, Amendola said that he and Karl Rominger, a prominent Pennsylvania defense attorney who is now co-counsel on the case, decided Monday night that it was not in their best interest to go through with the hearing because prosecutors made clear they would not allow him to question the credibility of the accusers and witnesses.

More to come on how this effects the case moving forward.

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