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BY Couchsideshow.com staff
Couch Side’s usual trio of Wade McMillin Craig, Paul and Sean Schoonover take on sports topics including, the AFC and NFC Championship, the best All-Star festivities in sports and MLK Day in this week’s show. Click below to start streaming, downloading or subscribing to the Couch Side Podcast:
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 14,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals
BY JORDAN WHEELER, Couchsideshow.com blogger
NBA Power Rankings (week six) are organized with this week’s ranking, the team and last week’s ranking in parenthesis.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder (2) - The Thunder continue to improve. Kevin Martin is basically giving the Thunder what James Harden did. I think their biggest weakness is their rebounding; Durant shouldn’t be their leading rebounder. They are hot, winning their last 8 games.
2. San Antonio Spurs (3) - San Antonio has won their last four games with a solid win against Memphis. They also have the best road record in the NBA with 10 wins already; the next best team on the road has seven wins.
3. Memphis Grizzlies (1) - The Grizzlies have lost two out of their last four games. They lost to San Antonio and Atlanta. Zack Randolph is ballin out of control, he could be in the MVP talk at the end of the year.
READ MORE: For rankings 4-8 and Western Conference teams on the bubble, visit Couch Side’s NBA Power Rankings Page
1. New York Knicks (1) - New York is for real, they were able to beat the Heat by 20 points without Melo. I only have one concern for the Knicks — they shoot a lot of three’s. They were the first team in the history of the league to attempt 40 three-pointers in 2 consecutive games. At some point, I think this could hurt them somewhere along the way.
2. Miami Heat (2) - Miami still sits at No 2 because of their loss to the Knicks. I still think that Miami is going to win the East, but they are getting everybody’s A game simply because they are the Champs. On a side note, D-Wade is starting to look old.
3. Atlanta Hawks (4) - Hotlanta is 9-1 their last 10 games. They have won three games in a row, and they sit half a game behind Miami in the Southeast Division. They will be a tough match up for anybody in the playoffs.
READ MORE: For rankings 4-8 and Eastern Conference teams on the bubble, visit Couch Side’s NBA Power Rankings Page
BY Couchsideshow.com staff
Click below to start listening
A minor cold can’t even keep Couch Side host Wade McMillin away as he put down his box of Kleenex and joined co-host Craig Paul for yet another football heavy show. In this week’s episode, the gang introduces a new segment, The Monday Night Maestros, where they discuss the two biggest headlines from Week One of the NFL season (Robert Griffin III and the impressive play by the San Francisco 49ers) before previewing some of the top matchups (Chicago vs. Green Bay, Washington vs. St. Louis and Denver vs. Atlanta) for Week Two. In the Big Picture the duo discuss who offers the best sports website, debating between ESPN and Yahoo! And finally in the Head-to-Head Honchos, Craig and Wade serve up some Fantasy Football advice that includes Week One waiver pickups and bench positions. Click below to start streaming, downloading or subscribing to the Couch Side podcast (recorded Sept. 3, 2012).
Yesterday afternoon Clinton Portis officially retired from the National FootballLeague. Since Portis had been of the league for over a year his retirement was of no surprise to anyone yet it was still a somber occasion.
When it was announced on Wednesday that Portis would be announcing his retirement at Redskins Park I felt that there should be a cause for celebration. Sure Portis had his faults but for the past twenty years of losing and mediocrity no other player in burgundy and gold had thumped his chest more with pride in being a Washington Redskin.
Of course if you were listening to former Redskin linebacker LaVar Arrington on his afternoon talk radio show you would have thought Portis to be a bum. LaVar and his sheeple callers seem to rag on Portis and if anyone praised the man LaVar would offer up some conjecture. It’s no secret that LaVar doesn’t like Portis (and vice versa) but there are times when you have to put personnel feelings aside and give a man his due.
I had not realized that a lot of fans felt this way about Portis. Sure this shtick would get annoying from time to time. His multiple personalties or his YouTube videos him and tightend Chris Cooley would make, but Portis was just having some fun while playing a game we all watch for entertainment.
Portis ran for 6,824 yards with 46 touchdowns as a Redskins and is only second to the immortal John Riggins in franchise history. There are so many running back in Redskins history that we look back on with fondness and only Riggo can say he was better than Portis. And even with Riggins’ size he still wasn’t half the blocker Portis was. In an era where most running backs consider a block to be just shoving a blitzing linebacker, Portis summoned his inner Russ Grimm and would drill anyone who came his way. (more…)
Quarterback Christian Ponder is entering his second season in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings. Ponder had a sub-par year last season as he played in 11 games throwing 13 touchdowns and 13 picks. However, this year, Ponder is coming in with lofty goals for himself.
Earlier in training camp, Ponder mentioned to the media that it was his goal and the Vikings goal to score every time they had possession. What has he done so far this preseason? He has put the Vikings in position to score every time he has been in as they have scored four out of the five times he has been in. The only time they did not score was when rookie Blair Walsh missed a field goal. How about that for living up to a goal?
While this will obviously not keep up for the rest of the year, and it is a small sample size, it is a great start. However, Ponder made another statement. According to a blog by Mike Wobschall and NFL.com, Ponder said, “We want 75 percent completions on first and second downs. That’s the number we’re shooing for. Obviously, we were in a lot of third-and-long situations a year ago, and we want to get out of that.” This obviously is a lofty, lofty goal. (more…)
BY Couchsideshow.com staff
In this week’s episode Couch Side hosts Wade McMillin and Craig Paul begin their eight-part series that previews the 2012-2013 NFL season. In Title Talk our hosts discuss how good of a fighter Anderson Silva is. And in Quick Snippets, we break down the possible Dwight Howard trade to the Brooklyn Nets and the MLB Homerun Derby.
Click below to stream, download or subscribe to the Couch Side podcast, which now also airs on 89.1 FM every Wednesday at 4 p.m. across the Big Horn Basin.
BY ZAC CORDOVA AND JUSTIN MILLAR, Feedcrossing.com syndication
• LA Dodgers: Pretender. Matt Kemp should change his nickname to “Mr. April” because he gets everyone thinking he is the best player in baseball the first month of every season. He is great no doubt, but has little help outside of Clayton Kershaw and Andre Ethier. AJ Ellis will cool off a bit, but they are too top heavy to be considered consistent enough to be a contender.
BY JOE WHITE, Feedcrossing.com syndication
Almost exactly a year ago I wrote this article chronicling the early season struggles of the Detroit Tigers’ bullpen. Well, here we are again. Fresh off of the Twins (the TWINS?!) dropping an 11-spot on the Tigers last night and the bullpen allowing 5 earned runs in their 5 innings of work, fans are rightfully concerned.
The bullpen has been bad but certainly isn’t entirely to blame here. The offense has been suppressed for most of the season and the starting rotation has been decent, but couldn’t be categorized as world-beaters at this point. The defense has been predictably unsuccessful but ranking 21st in fielding % is probably more than what most expected. Although the fact remains that it’s hard to create an error on a ball your range doesn’t allow you to reach.
But man that bullpen is frustrating! By the numbers it might actually be even more troubling.
Senor Slider is making his way back
Across all of Major League Baseball the Tigers’ pen ranks dead last in ERA at 5.17. Worse than even the horror show on the north side of Chicago.
As an entire staff, the Tigers are doing a decent job not walking the opposition, but as a bullpen, only 2 teams have walked more. In 116.2 innings of combined work, the ever rotating 7-man pen has walked 58 hitters. Teams are hitting .270 off of Luke Putkonen and company, which ties them for 4th worst in the bigs.
BY MATTHEW VINSKO, Couchsideshow.com writer
Despite being a few upsets in the first round, it’s hard to call my first round predictions a failure. Who saw Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah getting injured in similarly gruesome fashions? Who knew a Memphis Grizzlies squad that impressed everyone last year would get upended by the up and coming “Lob City”? Not this guy.
Still, now that we’re onto the second round, we’re starting to see some contenders truly hit their stride, and some others happy to be here. Without further ado, here are some picks for the second round of the NBA Playoffs.
• Writers Note: I understand two games have already been played in the second round, but in my defense, I wished to wait until the first round wrapped up before writing up this article. After all, it was pretty easy to miss out on the openers when there were two Game 7s to be had.
(4) Boston Celtics vs. (8) Philadelphia 76ers
Honestly, this is not the matchup anyone expected coming out of the first round. First of all, everyone thought Rose’s injury-prone season would be refreshed in the playoffs against a very sloppy 76ers team that was lucky to make the playoffs. Secondly, even without Rose, the Bulls managed to ride a wave of success during the season, earning the best record in the conference over much healthier squads. People forget Richard Hamilton was hurt a lot too, which forced Luol Deng and the Bulls’ front court to respond accordingly, and time and again, they did.
Just not in the first round against a 76ers squad that seemed to finally get back on track. Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand were beastly down low without Noah there, and Jrue Holliday, Evan Turner, and Andre Iguodala all proved to be too much for a severely limited Bulls backcourt. The Celtics, on the other hand, struggled more than I thought they would in the first round, but still came out triumphant despite a brief Rajon Rondo suspension and an injury to Ray Allen. Kevin Garnett is playing like “The Big Ticket” of old, and it’s hard to see anyone stop this squad, especially after a comeback performance in Game 1 this past Saturday.
The 76ers have showed glimpses this postseason of what they were earlier in the season, but against a veteran team that finally seems to be hitting their stride, it’s hard to see them winning the series. I expect a close series just because the Celtics’ legs will have to get tired at some point, but in the end, the Celtics are just too much for a team who have no place being in the second round.
Winner: Boston Celtics in 6 (more…)
Remember when the Colorado Rockies of old had the Blake Street Bombers (Larry Walker, Vinny Castilla, Andres Galaraga and Dante Bichette) and still couldn’t muster many wins in the mid-90s?
Well it looks like the Rockies curse of never having any pitching has bitten the Minnesota Twins in 2013. When comparing those aforementioned Rockies teams to what the Twins are now, the similarities are quite glaring. Minnesota has a plethora of pop at the plate with players like Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham, but without a decent staff of hurlers, the Twins currently sit at the bottom of the barrel in baseball. Sure, Mauer and Morneau are not the players they once were when the pair were winning MVP awards, however, this pitching staff doesn’t look even close to when the squad won six AL Central division titles from 2000-2010.
There’s a huge difference in those former rotations that carried players such as Johan Santana, Brad Radke, Eric Milton, Kyle Lohse and Joe Mays. The 2012 Twins’ starting five seem more like a hodgepodge of pitchers rather than a dominant force like the club had as little as two seasons ago. And the numbers further my case. The Twins are literally the worst team in baseball with a 8-22 record (Thursday, May 10).
So that automatically makes the pitching staff last in the league for wins and first in the MLB for losses. Furthermore, the Twins are last in the majors with a dismal 151 strikouts and are also the worst for ERA at 5.48. Minnesota is second to last for opposing team’s batting average at .287; runs at 165; and earned runs. That’s not exactly something manager Ron Gardenhire wants to write home to mom about. (more…)
Chapman dazzled baseball fans when he hit 103 MPH on the gun during his first outing on American soil. It seemed as if the 24-year-old Cuban Missile was destined for greatness. But injury and uncertainty plagued the young lefty early in his career. Although he tossed at speeds that are pretty much unheard of (including a 105 mile per hour pitch, which would be a Major League record), Chapman’s control was a question mark. Many predicted he would be a dominant starter, yet he couldn’t prove it to his own manager, Dusty Baker. And maybe Baker was right after he witnessed his 6-foot-4 hurler walk a disappointing 41 hitters in 50 innings last year.
But Baker better be second guessing what Chapman can do for his club in 2012. After losing out on a back-end of the rotation job to the formerly highly-touted prospect Homer Bailey in Spring Training because of control issues, Baker elected to throw Chapman back into the bullpen. The manager’s decision only proved to be a wake up call for the velocity-driven youngster.
A couple of days ago, you witnessed the unveiling of my first round preview for the Western Conference playoffs. Now you have the grand opportunity to indulge in my Eastern Conference preview. Enjoy.
(1) New York Rangers vs. (8) Ottawa Senators
The Rangers have looked like one of the NHL’s elite teams all season, and who could blame them? They have outstanding goaltending in Henrik Lundqvist, offensive firepower in Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan and a consistent blue line presence with Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. They are a solid team all around and have the “New York” aura around them.
The Senators, after missing the playoffs last year, are back and looking to play spoiler. Led by the always dangerous duo of Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa will always look to their mainstays to guide the team. Defensively, Erik Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar hold down the fort while goalie Craig Anderson has had a decent season in net (2.84 GAA, .913 save percentage).
In order for the Senators to at least stay competitive, they will need superb play from Anderson and have a point-per-game pace from their gunners, Alfredsson and Spezza, along with Milan Michalek. And that is just not happening. The Rangers are too good on all three fronts and should pepper Anderson with enough shots from all angles to make his head spin.
Rangers in 5
Its been said that the playoffs are the real season, when the men are separated from the boys and the regular season means nothing. Well, it is that time of the year for the NHL and after a grueling 82-game schedule, 16 teams are in and ready to battle for one of sports’ most recognizable trophies — the Stanley Cup. The following is a breakdown of the Western Conference first-round match-ups, with predictions provided below each series.
(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (8) Los Angeles Kings
Last year’s Western Conference champs, the Canucks, were a dominant force from top to bottom and appear to be at least 95% of their selves from 2010-11. They are a high-powered offensive club who prides themselves on their name and location, providing an intimidating factor. They blew through the Northwest Division and are the only team from the division to make the playoffs.
The Kings on the other hand blew their chance at the Pacific Division crown but played well enough down the stretch to be considered an upset special. They have a Vezina Trophy caliber goaltender in Jonathan Quick and nice offensive weapons in Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards, but their defense is suspect.
All in all, this should be the most entertaining series to watch with the abundance of offensive talent but the Canucks are rolling into the postseason. They are the more physical team and should wear down LA on both ends.
Canucks in 5
My reaction wasn’t because Santana doesn’t have the talent to be the lackluster Mets’ ace, but because of his injury issues. I had to ask myself, ‘Would he be ready?’ Santana certainly proved that he was more than prepared, throwing five innings of scoreless ball against the Atlanta Braves in a 1-0 victory for New York on Thursday afternoon.
So how much confidence can baseball fans have in Santana now? After all, he faced a mediocre Braves offense in his first start. But even I — and avid Braves fan — have to tip my hat to Santana. Although Atlanta’s offense is a huge weakness within the squad, the former two-time Cy Young award gave up just two hits while striking out five in his first start since the lefty suffered a tear in the anterior capsule of his left shoulder repaired on Sept. 14, 2010.
Talk about a comeback start. So how long should we expect Santana to keep this sort of dominance up? It’s hard to say, considering this was New York’s first game of the season, but if can resemble the pitcher he once was — like he did in the Mets’ win over Atlanta — we should expect a lot from Santana this season. (more…)
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow,com writer
Predictions are a great waste of time. They provide opportunities for petty arguments that will last from now until the end of time, now that the season is on our doorstep, it’s time to prophesize the 2012 winners and losers.
• Reasoning: The slightly biased Dbacks fan in me is fearful of a regression by the Snakes. After a modest overachieving season in 2011, whereas the Giants lost all semblance of offense in the stretch run, San Francisco is expecting a full season of superstar Buster Posey, along with the best starting staff west of the Mississippi. A normalized progression of events along with an improved Rockies bunch will make this west particularly wild.
• Reasoning: In all honesty, you can interchange the top three teams in the central, and you’d have a legit chance of making bank in Vegas. The Cardinals lost first baseman Albert Pujols, but they come into the season with a strong team, and ace Adam Wainwright as he returns from Tommy John surgery. The Reds had a busy offseason where they traded for the solid Padre Mat Latos, while signing closer Ryan Madson who is now out for the season. To sure up the back end of the pen, they acquired underrated lefty Sean Marshall, who will see plenty of end game action. And not to forget, they just resigned the premier first basemen in the NL in Joey Votto, who will be in Cincy for years to come. What’s wrong with the Brewers? Not much, I’m having a hard time pegging their success; they are returning the same roster minus Prince Fielder and adding Aramis Ramirez. Aside from that, the pitching staff is still very good, but for some reason, the Cardinals still feel like the team to beat in this division to me. Oh, and let’s not forget they are the reigning World Series champions. (more…)
BY DEREK BARSNESS, Couchsideshow.com writer
After returning from a weekend in Arizona for a few Cactus League games, I remain convinced that baseball is the true American sport.
Many aspects of baseball’s spring training are desirable to both the avid and casual fan. The first and probably biggest reason it’s so popular is the weather. For the majority of the country we are still suffering the end of a harsh winter in March. After six months of cold, snow and wind there are few things more appealing than sitting in 80+ degree weather drinking a cold beer and watching baseball under sunny skies.
For those of you who haven’t attended games at either the Cactus League or the Grapefruit League (in Florida) you need to put it on your bucket list. The atmosphere at the games is incredible. Literally every seat in the stadium has a great view. For the younger crowds, many new stadiums are including a second level “Party Deck” which is an excellent option for spring breakers. For more of the family atmosphere there is the lawn seating where the outfield bleachers usually are. Make sure to arrive early and claim your spot with a blanket or two. This is a great option if you have younger kids as there is usually plenty of room for them to run around and not have to sit still for two hours. (more…)
BY MATTHEW VINSKO, Couchsideshow.com contributor & BRETT MURDOCK, Couchsideshow.com writer
Although it remains a sort of cultural taboo, no one can deny the buildup to WrestleMania.
And while it’s not on par with the Super Bowl or any other championship game (or series), WrestleMania one-ups its opponents with sheer star powers. For example, people may not know what the Royal Rumble is, but they’ve definitely heard names like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, and even Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
It’s only fitting then that The Rock is making his in-ring return to pro-wrestling this Sunday, April 1st for WrestleMania 28, emanating from Miami, Florida. The event is being dubbed as the biggest and best wrestling pay-per-view in history, so read on for a list of WrestleMania 28 predictions from Matthew Vinsko and Brett Murdock, two (sort of ashamed) wrestling fans:
Maria Menounos and Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres
• Matt: Now I’m not saying this Divas match is going to open the show, but I figure we should get rid of it early in our predictions. Maria Menounos, host of TV’s Extra, is stepping in the ring for her first real match while teaming up with former Divas Champ, Kelly Kelly. Beth Phoenix has been on a roll lately, and Eve Torres’ recent heel (bad guy) turn makes this match more compelling than it should be, but considering Snooki competed, and won, at last year’s event, it’s hard to imagine the WWE bringing in a celebrity only to have them lose. Phoenix and Torres deserve better than this, but I doubt they’ll get it on “The Grandest Stage of them All.” Expect retribution come Monday Night Raw after a humiliating loss to a Diva with two first names and a current Dancing with the Stars competitor.
Winner: Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounous
• Brett: It’s unfortunate that the WWE is resorting to having the host of Extra step into the squared-circle, especially when it is going to overshadow the Divas champ in Phoenix. This is a fairly easy match to predict because at WrestleMania, celebrities will ALWAYS go over — just look at Snooki‘s appearance at last year‘s event. This will not be a technically-savvy match as those days are long gone with the current Divas division being more about looks and glamour than actual grappling. This match should occur in the middle of the event, so it is an opportunity to relieve your systems more than anything else. My hope is here is that after the match, Kharma — the new dominating force in the Divas division — comes out and destroys them all.
Winner: Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos (more…)
Coming into the shortened 2011-2012 season, it didn’t seem like the Phoenix Suns would be the relevant.
Just one look at the team’s depth chart raised question of if these “old guys” could hang with the young legs of other NBA teams. I’ll admit, I wrote off the Suns when I heard Grant Hill would return as a starter and from Phoenix’s lack of offseason moves. Now, I’m not completely wrong as of right now.
If the playoffs started tomorrow, the Suns wouldn’t be dancing. But I may be eating my words in the next few weeks. Phoenix is somewhat taking the league by storm right now, posting one of the best records, so far, after the All-Star break. So I’m not a hater of the Suns anymore and residents of the desert can finally love a team that looked doomed at the beginning of the season.
After I heard that Phoenix is starting to impress, I asked myself, how? The Suns didn’t make any trades at the deadline and pretty much have the same roster they owned at the beginning of the season. And although they still look “old” on paper, it’s that veteran experience, led by coach Alvin Gentry, that has them playing with heart.
I’m not a part of the Suns’ locker room and I won’t pretend to know why this squad is playing the best basketball out of all their Western Conference counterparts right now, but I would like to believe it’s more than just having a favorable home schedule right after the All-Star break.
It’s never easy to quit something you love.
Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones know that all too well, announcing his retirement effectively after the 2012 season. There’s really no question that the hours following that warm afternoon must have been hard after the 40-year-old declared his decision when his beloved Braves wrapped up what would be one of Jones’ final games at Atlanta’s camp in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The choice was one that had been coming and one that any press member following the team was salivating to hear.
The Braves came into the Spring with the same ‘ol team that fell flat on its face during a September collapse that ended one game short of yet another playoff birth. Yet, the spring training attention wasn’t focused on how Atlanta would bounce back. Instead, for about the third year in a row, all eyes were on No. 10. And all ears were waiting to hear if Jones would continue to play another season despite his constant leg problems that have haunted the corner infielder. (more…)
BY STAYSON ISOBE, Couchsideshow.com writer
Couch Side’s own Stayson Isobe actually worked at the West Regional of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and was able to snap some shots for our site. We would just share the slideshow on this post, but Kizoa’s embedding doesn’t seem to be compatible with Word Press. You can still access Stayson’s slideshow from March Madness, however, by clicking the link below:
Last week, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work the NCAA Men’s Basketball West Regional in Tempe and what an experience it was.
For those that don’t know, when I’m not moonlighting as a Couch Side writer, I work at Northern Arizona University as a graduate assistant in the media relations department as the Sports Information Director for the Lumberjack women’s soccer and men’s and women’s tennis programs.
This past fall, Arizona State, the host of last week’s West Regional Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games at the U.S. Airways Center, asked our media relations department if we would like to volunteer at the games and really who would turn down an opportunity like that? Well the four of us in the department as well as our assistant AD for marketing made the trip down to the Valley last Wednesday and I can’t lie, I was stoked (and again who wouldn’t be?) (more…)
BY Couchsideshow.com staff
With the Major League Baseball season just days away, Couchsideshow.com has complied all 13 of its player ranking blogs, putting them in one convenient post for an overall look at the best players in baseball. This is a great post for fantasy rankings and a great way to simply see our prediction of who will be the best of the best in 2012. Just think, you can even come back here maybe midway through the year and comment about how wrong we were. So without any further hold up, here’s the list of links to past blogs about the top players by position in the MLB:
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com writer
The 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks were one of my favorite individual teams ever to track and follow throughout the season; they provided everything you wanted out of an upstart, surprise team. There was an equal share of surprise pitching performances (Ian Kennedy), an emerging star coming into his own (Justin Upton), a fan favorite with a unique perk (“Tatman” Ryan Roberts) and a bullpen that saw significant improvement from the previous year. Their torrid streak starting somewhere in mid-May, along with some lucky breaks in the division (Rockies giving up on Ubaldo, Buster Posey breaking his ankle, and the Dodgers being financially incompetent) allowed for one hell of a ride. Of course, as many remember, it all came to an end in game 5 of the NLDS in Milwaukee as Njyer Morgan lined a J.J. Putz fastball up the middle, and thus a run at the World Series title was over.
This offseason, general manager Kevin Towers decided not to rest on his laurels and continue to improve an already good team in an attempt to make them great. Did he succeed in this? Let’s examine his most significant moves. (more…)