Archive for December, 2011

Are NBA “superstars” ruining the game?


BY DEREK BARSNESS, Couchsideshow.com writer

NBA stars are becoming bigger than the game itself. And it’s making fans bitter; quickly turning them into haters.

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony went from a fan favorite during his days in Syracuse to a trader after bailing on the Denver Nuggets last year. Photo by: Kevan Emmott/Flickr

Stars have always enjoyed special treatment. But when the power shift is so one sided that players like Dwight Howard can demand a trade the year before his contract expires, general managers are put in quite a predicament. Do they chance losing their star at the end of the season and have nothing to show for it or trade the core of the team that they’ve spent the past several years and millions of dollars building? And fans resent this. Not just fans of these teams, but fans of the game in general.

I’m a huge Denver Nuggets fan. I’m also a huge Syracuse Orangemen fan (yes, they are still the Orangemen to me, although the change to the Orange is growing on me). So When the Nuggets drafted Carmelo Anthony in 2003 it was a dream come true. He took Denver, a perennial lottery team, to the playoffs in his first season. But after what happened with Melo last season, I’m a hater now. I hate the Knicks, Amar’e Stoudemire (for no good reason) and Spike Lee (seriously, does anyone actually like that guy). I even hate the Lakers, and as I write this blog I’m watching the Knicks take on the Lakers. I’m rooting against the Knicks, but essentially that means I’m rooting for the Lakers!

Denver was between a rock and a hard place. Melo’s situation was different than the one the Magic are currently in with Howard. This was mostly due to the expiring NBA labor contract and the possibility that if Melo didn’t sign an extension before the end of the season he would lose millions of dollars in guaranteed money. He made it public knowledge that he would only accept a trade to New York so no teams were willing to trade away the draft picks and prospects that Denver was rightfully asking for in return. If the Nuggets didn’t trade Melo, they risked losing one of the top 10 best players in the league and having nothing to show for it. Personally, I think Melo was greedy enough and would have accepted an extension with Denver rather than lose millions. So Denver traded their star for a crop of young
talent, but none of them will ever fill the shoes of Anthony.

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A’s continue spending cuts, deal closer


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

The Oakland Athletics traded closer Andrew Bailey to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday evening. Photo by: ztil301/ Flickr

The Oakland Athletics were back at ruining their chances of ever sniffing the playoffs for at least the next ten years by trading all-star closer Andrew Bailey on Wednesday evening.

Oakland General Manager Billy Beane shipped the 27-year-old to the Boston Red Sox after trading starting pitchers Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzales earlier this offseason. The third major move by the Athletics this winter has now left the team’s pitching staff depleted and it doesn’t look as if Oakland will have one household name on its roster by the time spring training rolls around. They still could have guys like Daric Barton and Kurt Suzuki still around, but don’t pencil them in on your scorecards until at least opening day because Oakland changes its makeup more times than Lady Gaga at a sold out concert.

Once again, the A’s received a heap of very young prospect and the organization should be delighted that their farm system should be one of the best in baseball. But none of the guys Oakland has acquired yet, are considered everyday Major Leaguers by anyone’s standards. For Bailey, the A’s received outfielder Josh Reddick, first base prospect Miles Head and pitching prospect Raul Alcantara from the Red Sox. Oakland also shipped Ryan Sweeney to Boston after the outfielder spent the past four years with the A’s, primarily as a starter.

So it looks like Boston received the better end of the deal. No duh. That should be expected by this point by any Oakland fan. These moves seem like MLB suicide, but the transactions are completely necessary for Oakland’s future plans. It’s reported the A’s will move to San Jose sometime in the near future and to help pay for a new stadium, the club is trying to save money anyway possible.

That has left Beane in quite a predicament. I don’t think he’s ever seen a budget this small and now he’s going to have to fill a roster with only peanuts to offer. His three mega moves this offseason are just the start. And don’t be surprised if his highest paid player makes somewhere in the $4 million per year range. It’s always been like this is Oakland and it always will be, at least in the baseball market where money rules.

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Why do we care about college football bowl season?


BY VIN CAPPIELLO, ballino.blogspot.com contributor
Is anyone (besides me) watching the early bowl games? You know, the ones that ESPN is careful to selectively telecast through a limited number of cameras and no blimp shots in order to hide the fact that the stadium, like the pessimist’s glass of water, isn’t just half empty. It’s dead … as a doornail. No overhead view revealing the nothingness below. Cameras only pointing at the 50-yard-line crowd, purposefully avoiding shots of the empty upper deck. Sad. Very said.
   Or is it?
   Seventy-two teams make a bowl game. No doubt, this explains why lifelong Wyoming Cowboy fans are crazy enough to drive for two full days to Albuquerque to endure a lashing by the mighty Owls of Temple, only to turn around and drive straight home. Attendance: 25, 762. Payout: $750,000 per team.
   At least the Utah State Aggie fans had the chance to drive only five hours up to Boise to watch their beloved WAC also-rans lose to the Mid-American Conference runner-up Ohio Bobcats, coached by deposed Husker headman Frank Solich. Attendance: 28, 076. Payout: $750,000 per team.
   And finally, let us not forget the always-competitive Beef O’Brady’s Bowl (formerly the St. Petersburg Bowl), which the Thundering Herd of Marshall won over the might-as-well-have-been-playing-at-home Florida International Panthers. You remember these guys … they were on the receiving end of a literal beating at the hands of the Miami Hurricane-Convicts a few years back. Attendance: 20,072. Payout: $1 million per team.
   Let’s compare these three blockbusters (hey, whatever happened to the Blockbuster Bowl?) to say, the granddaddy of ‘em all, the Rose Bowl Game, presented by Vizio. Jan. 2. Oregon versus Wisconsin. Pac 12 versus Big 10. Savvy versus strength. Two top 10 teams. Attendance: 100,00-plus. Payout: $22.3 million per team.

Megatron finally cementing himself as top NFL wideout


BY TREVOR GOULD, Couchsideshow.com writer

Detroit Lions star Calvin Johnson is emerging as the NFL’s best wide receiver. Photo by: DonkerDink.Flickr

At 6-foot-5, 230-pounds, and boasting a 4.35 40-yard dash and 44 inch vertical leap, Calvin Johnson has always been a man amongst boys.

Ever since being selected No. 2 overall by the Detroit Lions in the 2007 NFL Draft, the wide receiver known as “Megatron” has made opposing cornerbacks look like small children, compiling 5,628 yards receiving and 48 touchdowns since entering the league. For years he was the only legitimate offensive threat on a horrendous Lions offense that consistently ranked in the bottom half of total team offense every year. Johnson’s progression has been further hounded by minor injuries that plagued his first few seasons. Yet as the Lions emerge into relevance for the first time in over a decade, a healthy Calvin Johnson is reaping the benefits and establishing himself as the premier wideout in the NFL.

With one game left to play in the 2011 NFL regular season, Calvin has amassed 85 receptions, totaling a career-best 1,437 receiving yards with a league leading 15 touchdowns. In addition, he is 2nd in the league with 25 25-plus yard receptions and 1st in receptions of 40-plus yards with nine. Much of Johnson’s impressive production can be attributed to his stellar rapport with gunslinger Matthew Stafford, who has finally proved he can stay healthy over the course of a full season. Other offensive weapons include veteran wide receiver Nate Burleson, rookie burner Titus Young, promising tight end Brandon Pettigrew,
and the running back trio of Jahvid Best, Maurice Morris, and Kevin Smith (too bad they all keep getting injured). Now that the Lions offense contains other playmaking weapons, defenses cannot key in solely on Calvin, which has allowed him to take his game to a higher level.

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Wyoming college hoops rant (Dec. 27-Jan.8)


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

The world of National Junior College Athletic Association men’s basketball is on hiatus right now with the long college break.

I figured this would be the opportune time to start my newest weekly blog that will highlight and rank Wyoming’s eight NJCAA Division I men’s basketball teams. The hardwood has been full of excitement through about the first third of the Wyoming college hoops season and this week’s rankings indicate just how close a handful of teams are at the top. There are currently five (more than half) teams in the Cowboy State’s junior college ranks that have already hit double-digits in the win column. And if those teams can stay hot, this may just be one of the most exiting years in Wyoming junior college basketball.

Now without further holdup, here’s how Wyoming’s eight junior college teams stack up as of Tuesday, Dec. 27. These rankings will hold until at least Jan. 8 because of the holiday break. Records and stats are compiled from Njcaa.org and are upheld believed to be accurate information for this blog.

1. NORTHWEST COLLEGE (Overall 14-2 record)

• Top spot, top scorer: The Trappers may not have the best record of Wyoming’s eight teams, but they do have the NJCAA’s ninth best scorer in freshman Chris Hansen. The Fort Collins, Colo., native is tearing up the junior college hardwood this season, scoring 20.9 points per game and hitting a jaw dropping 52 3-pointers in NWC’s 16 games this season. For having such a dynamic player who only seems like he’ll climb up the scoring leader’s board, it’s the Trappers who get the No. 1 ranking in the premiere of the Wyoming college hoops rant.

• Taking down the Generals: NWC has also shown that it’s one of the top JUCO teams in the Cowboy State by sticking it to perennial powerhouse, the Sheridan Generals. The Trappers defeated the formerly ranked NJCAA top-25 ranked team 79-69 in their last game Dec. 10 in Powell. Any matchup against the Generals should be considered a statement game and the Trappers made theirs in early December. NWC has shown it can beat the state’s toughest teams and at least hang with some of the best in the nation. The only two losses the Trappers have suffered came to No. 5 Salt Lake Community College and the always respectable Western Nebraska Community College. And the NJCAA top-25 poll voters must gave noticed, casting NWC a few votes for the top 25.

2. WESTERN WYOMING COMMUNITY COLLEGE (Overall 13-1 record)

• Snubbed for top billing?: I must apologize to the Mustangs for not picking them as Couchside’s No. 1 team. After all, the NJCAA does have Western ranked No. 11 in its latest poll Dec. 13. But since the distinguished ranking, the Mustangs lost to Snow College 69-64 in their final final game before the holiday break. The loss was Western’s first of the season and just Snow’s second, proving that the Mustangs’ only defeat must have been a tough pill to swallow. Although perfection has surpassed the Mustangs, I expect big things from the squad and perhaps the matchup of the year when Western travels to Powell for a clash against the Northwest College Trappers.

• It must be chemistry: It seems Western’s power comes from more than just one player. Actually, it comes from every single athlete in the starting five. Led by D.J. Stennis, who averages 12.1 pointers per game, the Mustangs’ other four starters also average double-digit scoring figures. Greg Meacham is one of those threats and lights up the scoreboard from downtown, hitting 33 3-pointers this in 14 games.

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Mini NBA season preview


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder may just win the NBA finals with a shortened season. Photo By: Lorianne DiSabato / Flickr

With the NBA season ready to to tip off Sunday, it’s time to actually start thinking about basketball again.

The season, which was cut short due to labor disagreements, will jam pack 66 games into 124 games and test every single team more so than the regular 82-game campaigns. It may be hectic on the professional hardwood this season, but hoops fans should be excited about the shortened schedule because it’s sure to provide a playing field that is more equal.

Young teams that can come out of the gates blazing could end up winning the title this season with the advatages of young legs. Teams with larger cores of veterans may struggle because breaks will be short, off days will be erased and fatigue will hit harder than ever before.

This season should be one to remember. And there should be a plenty of curve balls thrown at the fans. But do not fear, Couchsideshow.com is here to prepare you for what should be a season full of surprises.  We don’t have quite the resources to preview all 32 teams, but here’s a look at the top sixsquads and how each one could win the NBA Finals crown in 2012:

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Nats bolster rotation, land Gio


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

The Oakland Athletics have reportedly traded starting pitcher Gio Gonzales to the Washington Nationals on Thursday for four prospects. Photo by: Mark Terranova/Flickr

It seems like the Washington Nationals of all teams could have the best rotation in the National League East next year.

After weeks of rumors about several teams trying to acquire Oakland Athletics starter Gio Gonazles, it was the Nats who swung in and got the deal done. Via Twitter, ESPN.com’s Keith Law reported the Athletics will ship Gonzales to our nation’s capital for prospects A.J. ColeDerek NorrisBrad Peacock and Tom Milone. The acquisition of Gonzales gives the Nationals another strong arm to go with a projected rotation that also includes Stephen StrasburgJordan ZimmermannJohn Lannan and Chien-Ming Wang.

I predict Gonzales will probably wind up as the club’s No. 3 starter behind Strasburg and Zimmerman, but having him in the middle of the rotation is a lot more than most teams have. And if Gonzales pitches like he did in 2010, the Nats might end up as the winners of this deal after dealing four highly-touted prospects. Last season, he started out great, but blundered in the second half after making his first AL all-star team in just his second year in the pros. That might make the trade a bit scary for Washington if Gonzales continues down the path of mediocrity. However, if Gonzales can eat up 200-plus innings like he has done for the past two seasons and stay consistent with his 3.23 ERA during that same span, it will be the Nationals who reap the benefits.

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Fantasy football recap: Studs & Duds


BY DEREK BARSNESS, Couchsideshow.com writer

If you are fortunate enough to still be contending in a fantasy football league, chances are you had a little bit of good fortune this season.

For some managers, the benefit of a healthy team with minimal injuries is a recipe for smooth sailing into the league championship.  For others, it could be the result of drafting a sleeper or combing the free agents throughout the season.  Here’s a look at some of this year’s fantasy sleeper studs that likely have you playing in the championship and a few duds that may have ruined your season early.

STUDS

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was surprisingly a sleeper in most fantasy football drafts. Photo by: PDA Photo/Flickr

• Cam Newton: The rookie has had a sensational fantasy season.  Passing for over 3700 yards and running for another 600.  He has nearly as many rushing touchdowns (13) as passing (17).  Outside of a small percentage of leagues, Newton was drafted near the end of most drafts or picked up on the waivers after week 1. Just to show how good of a bargain Newton has been this season, take a look at these stats from a quarterback drafted in substantially higher rounds. 3900 yards passing and 30 total TDs (29 passing, 1 rushing).  Any guesses? Anyone? Bueller? These stats belong to none other than Tony Romo.  So Newton owners, you got your money’s worth.

 • Fred Jackson: Before going down in week 10 with a broken leg, Jackson had amassed over 900 yards rushing, 39 catches for over 400 yards receiving, and 6 TDs.  These are solid numbers for any back, especially if your league is PPR.

 • Rob Gronkowski: Are you kidding me? Gronk and his partner in crime Aaron Hernandez both have the capabilities to put up solid fantasy numbers.  The trouble that most fantasy owners saw in Gronk is whether or not he would be Brady’s go to guy on short yardage downs, or if Hernandez would get priority.  This scared most owners away from taking either him or Hernandez.  But those lucky enough to have gambled on Gronk saw huge dividends in over 1100 yards and 15 TDs.  These are much better numbers than the highly valued Antonio Gates who has just 600 yards and 6 TDs this season.  In our auction draft Gronkowski went for $5, Gates for $29.

 • Victor Cruz: The NFL sophomore out of UMass has put up great numbers for many fantasy owners.  His almost 1200 yards and 7 TDs put him in the top 10 in points scored for WRs, just behind Roddy White and AHEAD of Larry Fitzgerald.

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Hooray! The Humphries deal is done


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Fans worried about NBA player Kris Humphries after his divorce with TV star Kim Kardashian can finally rest easy.

The 6-foot-9 power forward reached a one-year deal with the New Jersey Nets worth a reported $8 million Wednesday morning. So it looks like it’s finally back to basketball for the Minnesota native. And I’m happy for Humphries and even more merry that another Kardashian won’t be on the NBA sidelines.

Kris Humphries is returning to the New Jersey Nets after signing a one-year deal with the team Wednesday. Photo by SportsAngie.com.

We’ll still have to see Khloe at Dallas Mavericks games, watching her husband, Lamar Odom, ball in white and blue. But I can sleep easy tonight, knowing that her sister won’t be court side in New Jersey this season. The split between Kim Kardashian and Humphries came just 72 days after the couple were married in a wedding blown completely out of proportion. And now with the prenuptial agreement in affect, Humphries can start concentrating on basketball.

Playing at an effective level was something I thought Humphries needed to do long before he met his reality star ex-wife. Now, with her out of the way, I hope a new spark of passion finds the former Minnesota Gopher so he can finally live up to his potential. And after seven years of mediocrity with four different teams, Humphries could do just that this season with New Jersey.

He should undoubtedly be the Nets’ starting power forward, sharing the paint with budding NBA superstar Brook Lopez. And a duo like Lopez and Humphries could be dangerous for other teams in the East. Add Deron Williams in New Jersey’s back court and this team could be playoff bound as early as this spring. The Nets might land the No. 8 seed, but that would be a godsend for New Jersey fans, considering their team hasn’t appeared in the playoffs since the 2005-2006 season.

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NFL playoff picture: Chiefs & Eagles


Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback Kyle Orton will probably have to defeat his former team, the Denver Broncos, for the Chiefs to have any shot at making the playoffs this season. Photo by: Jeffrey Beall/Flickr

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

There is always a handful of NFL teams with mediocre records that have high hopes to make the playoffs each season.

Most of the time, it’s teams with a .500 winning percentage (8-8 overall) or with one win over the .500 mark (9-7) that find the final spots in the playoffs. This season, there are 10 teams that could potentially post barely respectable records and still get in. With two weeks left, five squads from the AFC and NFC, respectively, are still in the hunt. It will make for an exciting finale to a season that was almost cancelled because of the lockout. The playoffs are where the excitement is at, but with so many teams on the bubble, the end of the 2011 season should be action packed.

I will be concentrating on the playoff hopes for the two worst teams of the 10 squads that could be playoff bound. With 6-8 records, it doesn’t seem like the Kansas City Chiefs or Philadelphia Eagles will be able to punch their cards into the wildcard round of the NFL postseason. The Chiefs and Eagles should be able to give others searching for that No. 8 spot a run for their money, though.

Here’s a look at what Philadelphia and Kansas City will have to do in order for the squads to make the playoffs:

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Ring ‘Em Up: Forgetting free agency


Atlanta Braves utility plater Martin Prado has been on the trade block this offseason and the Colorado Rockies are major players for the veteran. Photo by SD Dirk/Flickr

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

I absolutely love mlbtraderumors.com.

It’s a big reason why I started this website and it keep me leaps and bounds ahead of other Braves fans. Mlbtraderumors.com has an interesting sidebar on the right where you can search for the latest rumors about your team. I’m a Braves fan, but this offseason has been incredible slow for the choppers. So each time I make one of eight daily visits to mlbtraderumors.com to see the latest about Atlanta, I’m usually disappointed.

Today’s latest was especially gloom. To my surprise, after I clicked on the “Braves rumors” tab, two new rumors have came up about the team. At first, I though maybe the Braves were finally going after someone or making a trade. Unfortunately, one post was barely two sentences about a possible Martin Prado trade and the other was about how the Braves are one of four teams “sitting out of free agency.”

Still, like any baseball fan during the offseason, any piece of news about your team is exciting. Here are my thoughts on the latest from the Atlanta Braves:

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Tebow makes the Broncos relevant again


BY DEREK BARSNESS, couchsideshow.com writer

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is making his team relative once again. Photo by Jeffrey Biell/Flickr

As a once longtime Denver Bronco fan, my love for the team dwindled during the past few years.

Maybe it was going from the glory days of Elway to Brian Griese or Jake “The Snake” Plummer that was the catalyst for the loss in passion.  Then again, maybe it was just a spark in interest in fantasy football, a hobby that can cause any diehard fan to abandon their own team without remorse.  Call me a fair weather fan, but without Elway, the Broncos just aren’t interesting.

While the Broncos didn’t completely fall off the map, the team was never built for deep runs into the playoffs.  After an ugly loss in the 2005 AFC Championship, everyone knew Plummer wasn’t the answer, but a young gunslinger from Vanderbilt, Jay Cuter, was thought to be the perfect fit.  Garnering praise from scouts and many fans as the next Elway himself, Denver drafted “Baby Face” Cutler with the 11th pick in the 2006 draft.  Sure he wouldn’t be able to run the naked boot as good as Plummer, but the arm strength was a fair trade in qualities.  After Cutler nabbed the starting spot late in his rookie season, fans were practically booking flights and hotels to Super Bowl destinations for the upcoming seasons.

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Couch Side Episode 1: The Pilot


In the premiere of the sports podcast, Couch Side, hosts Wade McMillin and Jordan Wheeler explore NFL playoff hopes for teams in the tightest divisions; debate if players are still loyal in the NBA; and react to Albert Pujols’ monster contract. Click below to beginning listening to Couch Side.

Couch Side Episode 1: The Pilot


Lakers look OK despite Odom deal


The L.A. Lakers traded Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks for cash and a future first-round pick this offseason. Photo by Bridget Samuels/Flickr

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Lately I’ve been finding myself arguing or disagreeing with people about the Los Angeles Lakers.

It’s funny to me because I’m not a huge fan of Team Kobe. I’ll admit that the boys in yellow and purple are fun to watch. I would even like to see them win the NBA Finals again because I respect Kobe Bryant as a player. And because those are my feelings, I’ll go to bat for the Lakers from time to time. I have recently defended L.A. because a lot of their fans do not like the fact that the front office traded Lamar Odom for nothing and weren’t able to make successful swaps for either Dwight Howard or Chris Paul.

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Ring ‘Em Up: Braves may sign Cedeno, put fans to sleep


Ronny Cedeno may be the Atlanta Braves' first signing of the 2011-2012 offseason. The bad news for Braves fans is the nine-year veteran has only 33 career home runs. Photo By: Scott Ableman/Flickr

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

If the Braves make a move for shortstop Ronny Cedeno in the coming weeks, Atlanta fans will have to uncomfortably welcome in the team’s new No. 8 hitter.

The signing of Cedeno will be a move of mediocrity, failing to create any offseason excitement for the team’s followers. And no one could blame fans for feeling that way. If any team signed a nine-year veteran shortstop like Cedeno, it probably wouldn’t create any buzz. Fans can’t exactly start pumping their fists in excitement for a player who carries a .246 career batting average with a dismal 33 home runs.

But if Cedeno commits to the Braves, at least the front office will have fulfilled its goal of signing a veteran shortstop as insurance for rookie Tyler Pastornicky.

Cedeno’s arrival would serve its purpose, but the Braves need an older shortstop to mold the 22-year-old prospect. It’s just extremely tough to get excited about that temporary mentor being Cedeno.

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Introducing … Couch Side


Welcome to couchsideshow.com. This is a newly created website that includes blogs, podcasts and other online content strictly created by sports fans and followers who only watch from the comfort of their couches.

This website is for anyone, looking to express their opinions online about the wide world of sports. Regular contributors will be posting weekly blogs and contributing to the website’s weekly podcast, “Couch Side.” The 30 minute podcast is focused on the top headlines in all major sports and offers the fan’s perspective.

Couchsideshow.com is truly for the common fan. It’s our mission to offer a place for the average follower to sound off about their teams, bad trades, whatever. And if you’re interested in contribution, couchsideshow.com will edit and post your blogs, podcasts or other media. For the typical fan’s voice to be heard, they have to speak out somewhere. Let that be from your Couch Side and let couchsideshow.com help you to express yourself. Expect more to come from this website as it is currently under development. Thank you for visiting and we hope you enjoy!


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