Posts Tagged ‘ New York ’

RAMBLINGS OF A MAD BLOGGER: SUPER BOWL XLVIII

As a general rule, when you begin a football game with a safety it’s probably not going to be a good day. It kind of foreshadows that things just aren’t going to go well that day. It’s like waking up to no hot water when you get in the shower. So when Denver’s center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball over Peyton Manning’s head and into the endzone it spelled a long day for the Broncos. But even at that point nobody could have imagined the last football game of the year, with the two best teams in the entire NFL would end in a 43-8 drubbing that looked more like a college team playing against an Pros instead of the two best teams in the world.

Time Square aka Super Bowl Blvd. (Photo via The Verge)

Unless you are a Seahawks fan, it was literally painful to watch. It was the football version of the Globetrotters and the Generals. Towards the end I was hoping the NFL would give fans a complementary game after the Super Bowl ended. For all the hype and talk that surrounded this game (the cold weather, the constant talk about Sherman, Peyton’s legacy etc) the end result fell short in more ways than one. The only thing the game made me sure of, the Seattle Seahawks were the deepest, toughest and most resilient team this entire season. And I need tickets to see Bruno Mars live in concert because dude killed it. And that 9/11 was perpetrated by people in our own government. Everything else is up for discussion, so lets start with…

MANNING’S LEGACY 

Peyton Manning is still one of the greatest even after his worst defeat. Photo cred: (USATSI)

On media day Peyton downplayed this Super Bowl as his “legacy game”. He was already considered one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever put on cleats, but this game was supposed to cement him as the greatest at his position. Because winning a Super Bowl one time, or being first (55) and third (49) for most passing touchdowns in a season, or winning league MVP five times just isn’t enough right? Peyton was outmatched in the in every way in his third Super Bowl. Seattle dared him to throw it and when he did they made him pay. A guy who looked superhuman on a regular basis looked nervous, flustered and just plain regular. He hadn’t looked that bad since the Patriots used to torment him when he was on the Colts. But to say that he isn’t one of the best QB’s ever because he didn’t win this game, or to say “he only wins in the regular season” is ridiculous.

When Peyton went down with his neck injury he became a sympathetic figure. When he got cut by the Colts people wanted to see him come back and prove the doubters wrong. The critics backed off because there was a possibility that he would never play again and in that moment people started to realize that Peyton was really good even with just one ring. So why should him coming back and losing change any of that? Is winning really the only measure of greatness? Does overall performance not count at all? Manning’ Boss, John Elway lost three Super Bowls, Tom Brady lost two Super Bowls, Roger Staubach lost three times, Dan Marino lost the only one he ever played in and Jim Kelley lost all four that he played in. All of those men are in the Hall of Fame with the exception of Brady – I think it’s a safe bet he’ll get in. The only Quarterbacks, currently in the Hall of Fame, to play in multiple Super Bowls and go undefeated in them are Terry Bradshaw (4), Joe Montana (5) and Troy Aikman (3).

Peyton Manning changed the game at his position. The way he calls audibles at the line and completely shifts plays on the go is unprecedented. One of the reasons that the NFL is now a passing heavy league is due to the success that Peyton Manning’s teams (Indianapolis and Denver) have had for his career. In his 15 years as a starter his team has made the playoffs 13 times. Peyton may not have won the “Big One” all the time, but Peyton Manning is a winner. That, to me, will always be his legacy.

WORST BEHAVIOR 

Was this the worst Super Bowl ever? Technically speaking no. Major let down? Yes. Lopsided from start to finish? Absolutely. But not the worst. I’ve seen every Super Bowl thanks to NFL films so I know. This game featured some very big plays, they just all happened to be in favor of Seattle. Percy Harvin’s kickoff return was dazzling to watch. I had almost forgotten how fast he was. Malcolm Smith taking it 69 yards to the house off of Peyton Manning was awesome. Jermaine Kearse broke four tackles on his way into the endzone and released his inner Beast Mode. Russell Wilson barely missed on his throws last night and threw for 72 percent. The 35-point margin of victory wasn’t even the most lopsided – the most is 45, but we’ll get to that later. This game was a bad one, but it won’t stand out as the worst when if people watch again it years from now. Super Bowl XX ended with the Bears winning 46-10 over the Patriots and New England looked way more helpless. Super Bowl V, also known as the Blunder Bowl has more clips that belong on NFL Follies than Sportscenter’s Top 10. Super Bowl I? Snooze-ville. The NFC championship game was more exciting. But the worst? For me it’s Super Bowl III. It might be the most important game in the NFL’s history, but the Jets and the Colts were not fun to watch that day.

THE BIGGEST LOSERS 

The irony here is just too real.

Wes Welker – The GIF above sums up Welker’s career to this point perfectly. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. He’s been on three Super Bowl rosters and still has never tasted that sweet electrolyte filled cup of victory. Without question Welker has been one of the NFL’s best slot receivers, but he keeps getting the short end of the stick in the big game.

John Fox – Here’s a guy who had a heart attack mid-season heart attack, but managed to come back and coach his team all the way to the biggest game of his life. That alone is amazing, but imagine the story if he finishes with a win? Instead he’s now 0-2 in the Super Bowl. Also I’m not sure what you say to your team after a 35 point loss in the big one. There just aren’t enough clichés in the book.

Champ Bailey – All the Madden heads remember back in the day when you played with the Broncos and every Champ Bailey interception was an automatic pick-six? Not so long ago Bailey was Denver’s most popular player, but he’s become a forgotten man now that he’s 35 years old. It would have been nice to see Champ get a ring with the career he’s had.

The Orange Jersey – Denver has lost every Super Bowl they played in with the orange jersey. In fact they’ve never scored more than 10 points wearing orange.

Super Bowl XII (12): Cowboys 27, Broncos 10

Super Bowl XXII (22): Redskins 42, Broncos 10

Super Bowl XXIV (24): 49ers 55, Broncos 10

Numbers don’t lie son. Burn the orange jersey’s. Nothing good can come from them.

Commercials – Almost all of them were terrible. The one with Bruce Willis looked sort of promising, but then it got awkward with Fred Armisen wrapped around him. The only two that didn’t suck were the one with the puppy and the horse (tear jerker) and the Bull that was about to go to work. Also there was a Cure Auto Insurance ad that ripped off Sherman’s rant and and called out the Geico Gecko out that was pretty hilarious, but I don’t think that was shown nationally. The rest of you try harder next year.

BOUT THAT ACTION BOSS

Marshawn Lynch aka Beast mode took a lot of flack for not talking all year. Then he took a lot of flack for not wanting to be a part of Media Day. People really blew it out of proportion (like this guy) and it became a story about nothing. What was lost in all the hoopla was that Marshawn’s limited quotes were amazing.

When asked about why he didn’t want to talk to the media: “I’m just bout that action boss.”

On how he was mentally preparing for the Super Bowl: “I’m S.R. bruh (long pause) stay ready. So there ain’t no getting ready”

On assistant coach Tom Cable: “Well, being from Oakland, all I knew about him was that he punched people. That’s my type of person.”

And that was just the lead up. After Mr. Skittles himself won the biggest game of his life his post-game transcript ended up on the web.

Marshawn's quotes after Super Bowl XLVII

Marshawn’s quotes after Super Bowl XLVII

If you don’t love this guy, you’re the problem.

GOING TO DISNEY WORLD

Malcolm Smith is now in the same category as Chuck Howley and Ray Lewis as the only players to win Super Bowl MVP as a linebacker. He also got a free pick-up truck – did they run out of Cadillacs? As anyone with the last name Smith knows it’s easy to get overlooked when you have the most common name in America. Smith has been overshadowed for a while. His brother, Steve Smith, also plays football and won a ring with the Giants in 2008, he was a 7th round pick coming out of college and two weeks ago he made the game winning interception only to see his teammate get all the attention for his post game rant. But on this night in the stadium next to the greatest city in the world, Malcolm Smith stole the spotlight. 10 tackles, an 69-yard interception return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery. That return also made the game 21-0 and fully swung the momentum in Seattle’s favor. Cheers to you Malcolm Smith, you’re going to Disney World in a Chevy Silverado, ‘Merica.

All in all the Super Bowl was what it always is, a huge media circus that happens to feature a football game. Now go home everyone. I would like to walk down the streets of mid-town Manhattan.

What do y’all think…Is Peyton overrated? Did any of the commercials catch your attention? Would anyone pick a different MVP? Was this the worst Super Bowl ever? Feel free to comment away.

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THE HEIST

Photo via Hypetrak

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on Grammy night 2014

Irony was a big theme for the Grammy’s this year. Every year someone somewhere feels like they got snubbed, but this year’s biggest snub to me was Kendrick Lamar losing out to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for best Rap Album. It is truly irony at it’s finest. If there is one thing I love more than or as much as I love sports, it’s music. All kinds of music, no matter what it is. If it’s good I’ll probably like it – although the “good” argument is a whole other story. Hip-Hop in particular has a special place in my heart though. I still remember being wowed by Slick Rick’s (possibly my favorite rapper of all-time) ability to create a vivid picture in my mind on Children’s Story. When I was five years old I was rapping Wu-Tang’s C.R.E.A.M with my Dad and my brothers. I rode shotgun through the streets of Brooklyn with Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt, In My Lifetime and Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life as soundtracks. Hip-Hop is different from a lot of other genres of music in certain ways; no better, no worse just different. The quality of a rap artist’s lyrics are held to a higher standard, because a rap song is judged based on the ability of the MC to keep the listener engaged with their wordplay, flow, subject matter etc.

Nobody did that better on an entire album this year than Kendrick Lamar, and that includes the artists he looks up to: Jay-Z, Kanye West and Eminem. His album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, chronicled his transformation from a naive teenager, in the volatile and unforgiving streets of Compton, California, to a young man. Over 12 tracks he becomes aware of how bad his situation is and that he needs to be a part of the change that his city needs. The album’s crowning achievement in my opinion was “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”. It perfectly chronicles two damaging, but prevalent lifestyles (gang life and prostitution) that are apparent in his neighborhood and typically lead to untimely deaths. He raps about the different effects both of these had on him and ends hoping that once he is dead and gone someone will be inspired by whatever life he manages to live. As an artist Kendrick is extremely knowledgeable and present with issues that are very real without condoning or condemning them. His music speaks to people like him using what has happened  in his life and shows the consequences of those things. Very rarely can a artist make a song like Swimming Pools, that eloquently tells the listener about the dangers of binge drinking then turn around and have that song be a radio/club smash. The irony of that song’s message and resulting popularity and impact is proof that Kendrick is a different and gifted artist.

This album highlighted all of his talents. Storytelling (So now I’m down Rosecrans in a Caravan/Passing Alameda, my gas meter in need of a pump/I got enough to get me through the traffic jam/At least I hope cause my pockets broke as a promise man), wordplay (Hotboxing like George Foreman grilling the masses/Of the working world, we pulled up on a bunch of working girls/And asked them what they working with) and maybe most importantly the ability to tackle subjects about social issues (And you ask, “Lift up your shirt” cause you wonder if a tattoo/Of affiliation can make it a pleasure to put me through/Gang files, but that don’t matter because the matter is racial profile/I heard them chatter: “He’s probably young but I know that he’s down”). He also tried new things and experimented with different sounds. Possibly the most popular song, Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe, has a hook that makes him sound almost alien-like at times. The second half of the song M.A.A.D City you hear his voice go through a range of “the voice you use when you’re calling the cops for ransom” to “I just swallowed an abnormal amount of helium.” But it works to make you feel like you just smoked a joint laced with angel dust, which is the point he’s trying to make. In a word, Good Kid M.A.A.D City is effective. It paints a picture of his life then and why he is here now.

Photo via Celeb n music 247 website

Kendrick Lamar’s GQ shoot

Now with all that said I’m not suggesting that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis aren’t great artist or that they didn’t make an effective album. Those two managed to hit the top of the charts independently which is an amazing feat and their music is also very good. They have no intention of being anyone else but themselves. They tackled the huge social issue of equality, particularly gay and lesbian rights, on the song Same Love. But having three top-10 songs on Billboard and making the best rap album are two different things. Macklemore himself even said he felt Kendrick had the better album and blamed the voting process as to why he won. Ironic though that the album entitled The Heist stole an award away from someone. I mean seriously, you just can’t write that kind of thing. Kendrick got snubbed no doubt, but he seemed to handle it pretty gracefully. His Grammy mash-up with Imagine Dragons was dope on multiple levels and woke the show up after it got very boring – then they went to an acoustic country performance by Kacey Musgraves..like I said irony was a theme. He’s also had an awesome year as far as his career success goes – cover of GQ kind of puts you on the map if you weren’t already. At the end of the day winning a Grammy won’t validate how good he is or how great classic his album is. The Grammy’s will continue to snub artists and whole genres, as long as people keep watching (this year was the second-highest rated show in 21 years). Ironically Kendrick predicted this would happen in his song Good Kid (He don’t mind, he know we’ll never respect, the good kid, m.A.A.d. city).

THE UNFATHOMABLE JR SMITH

JR Smith is a superstar player. JR Smith should be a superstar player. JR Smith could be superstar. JR Smith has the ability to be a superstar player. JR Smith has the physical talent to be a superstar player. I think that’s enough modification. Should and could are words typically reserved for players who haven’t figured out the league yet. More times than not that’s players who have been in a professionally athlete for less than three or four years. JR Smith has been in the NBA since he was 18 years old. That’s nearly 10 years of experience on how the league works. I’ve never played 1 minute in the NBA, but I know that if my coach and the league warned me not to untie someone’s shoe during a game I wouldn’t do it the very next night. Therein lies the biggest problem with JR Smith. For all of his talent and ability, for all of his physical exploits and shooting prowess and “potential” he proves time and again that he can’t be that superstar player that he should, could or has the ability to be.

This of course goes far beyond untying shoelaces. That act itself, under other circumstances, probably wouldn’t warrant much negative attention especially if a player was making significant contributions between the lines.  But JR Smith has always had character issues while in the league. His ability to get hot and play like an all-star for stretches of games kept him in teams’ rotations for a lot of years, specifically in Denver and definitely in New York. But JR’s play is way down this season compared to what he did just a year ago. Last year JR Smith had his best season on both ends of the floor. He averaged 18 points per game,  had a player efficiency rating of 17.6 and turned the ball over at the lowest rate of his career. Defensively he was just as stellar averaging career a career high in rebounds (4.5) and tied his second career high steals (1.3). All of this was done with Smith coming off of the bench for the Knicks and it helped them win over 50 games.

But ever since he elbowed Jason Terry in the first round of the playoffs he hasn’t even been close to the player who won the Sixth-Man of the Year award in 2012. He finished the playoffs shooting 33 percent and 27 percent from 3-point range. Just to illustrate how far he has fallen you can look at his advanced stats. Offensive Win Shares measure how many wins  a player has contributed to his team with his offense. Last year his number was 4 (the highest in his career) this year…it -0.4. He’s literally cost the teams wins with how bad he is playing this season. Oh and his OWS in the playoffs last season…-0.5!

JR Smith was ejected and suspended an additional game for elbowing Jason Terry during the playoffs. (GIF via SB Nation)

So if you couple JR’s terrible play since April with his many mental mistakes it becomes clear that he isn’t proving to be the “changed man” that people were painting him as last year. There is a third piece to this puzzle though. When a player doesn’t perform well for a significant, that player typically loses playing minutes. If a player shows that he isn’t focused on basketball he can lose playing games. So why hasn’t JR seen any changes in his playing time? Head coach Mike Woodson. Mike Woodson has been a very public supporter of JR Smith and sometimes to a fault. Him believing in JR Smith was a big reason for JR elevating his play last year, but Woodson also claimed when he became a coach that he would hold all of his players accountable. In a game against the Houston Rockets JR Smith took an ill-advised 3-pointer with 19 seconds left and the game tied. JR said he thought the Knicks were down by two (which makes no difference), but to make it worse Woodson blamed Beno Udrih for passing Smith the ball. Woodson has become JR’s enabler. You can’t possibly expect a player to become better if you constantly make excuses for every foolish thing he does.

But at the end of the day it comes back to JR Smith. He’s a grown man and shouldn’t need to be reminded of what that entails as much as he does. I’ve been begging for the Knicks to trade him practically all season. With Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. on the team you could easily make up what you would miss from a fully functioning JR Smith. The Bockers are reportedly looking for trade partners, which has brought up the question: Who would want him? It’s a valid question because after 10 years all he’s shown fans is that he probably won’t be all the things that should, could and has the ability to be.

STYLIN’ ON EM!

The Rookie of the Year award in baseball will probably end up going some guy named Stephen Strasburg. A fair choice, but minus the fan fare and hype he may not be the most outstanding player.

My choice for rookie of the year would be Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez was billed as the savior of the Pirates organization when he was called up mid-season. This team definitely needs a Messiah since it has not had a winning record since Barry Bonds left for San Fran (for the folks keeping count at home that’s 17 years).

Alvarez along with his other rookie teammates, Jose Tabata and Neil Walker, have brought a little bit of life back to PNC. The Pirates are nowhere near contenders — in fact they might extend the streak to 18-straight losing seasons — but they have players that are fun to watch.

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Not only has Alvarez brought a swagger to the team he has also produced while in the majors. Alvarez is hitting.243 with 10 home runs and 32 runs batted in after 48 games in the big leagues. Compare that to another outstanding rookie who also received much hype this year Jason Heyward — .262 12 homers 51 RBI’s — and you see why I say Pedro’s the real deal. Throw in the fact that he has very little protection in the line-up or good pitching — Pirates are 29th in staff ERA and batting average — and he might be the best rookie in the MLB.

My favorite thing about Alvarez was that he made a grown man do this: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=10740021

I’ll take Alvarez over the rest of the rookies right now as far as career’s go. He just has that it factor that can’t be ignored. Just watch and you’ll see it too.

Cano = My Man

Robinson Cano is easily my favorite player on the Yankees. Ever since his rookie year I thought he would be a superstar and lately he’s been proving me right. It’s also pretty cool that he’s named after Jackie Robinson and wears Jackie’s number backwards to pay homage to him.

As of today he leads the AL with a .363 batting average a d had 14 homers with 50 RBI. He’s also emerging as the leader of a team full of stars. A-Rod is in and out of the line-up because of injury, Jeter, as good as he is, has clearly gotten older and Mark Teixeira goes in and out depending on the month. Not only is his offense great, but so is his defense. He’s quietly become the best second baseman in baseball.

All of those factors makes Cano a very early candidate for AL MVP. What’s more interesting is he still has time to get better.