Archive for September, 2012

Gilbert Arenas says he’s considering signing with Lakers

BY ROBERT LITTAL, syndication

Gilbert Arenas played is just 17 games last season for the Memphis Grizzlies. Photo by: Truthaboutit / Flickr

Gilbert may want to sign with the Lakers or the Clippers, but to my understanding neither team has any interest in him.

Agent Zero was tracked down at a gas station and was asked by the owner what was his plans were for next year (yes this is a true story). Here is what he said via Considering that Steve Blake hurt his foot on a parking lot spike (yeah that sounds fishy to me as well), I guess the Lakers could bring him for a look see similar to how they did last season before Arenas ended up on the Grizzlies where he barely averaged 4.2 points per game.

Arenas, 30, has played 11 seasons for __ teams, but fizzled out after bringing in a weapon into the Washington Wizards locker room. After that incident, it seemed as if Arenas never returned to his former MVPesque self. He did have a good season two years, however, averaging about 18 points per game. But in the offseason the point guard never really drew much interest from any NBA team.

Seems like everyone either wants to play in LA, Miami or NY, sorry Bobcats you simply will never prosper.

Be sure to check out other great articles at BlackSportsOnline.

Atlanta Braves would do well to skip Tommy Hanson in rotation

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson hasn’t looked like the team’s ace this season, posting a 4.46 ERA and a 12-9 record in 2012. Photo by: Walkboss ! / Flickr

BY CODY FIELDS, syndication

Tommy Hanson is scheduled for two more starts this season, but the Atlanta Braves would benefit from skipping the recently inconsistent starter.

Hanson’s most recent start on Sept. 21 was just the latest step in Hanson’s plagued second half of the year. He gave up five earned runs over 5 1/3 innings against the Philadelphia Phillies in the loss, even admitting that his recent outings have been poor.

“I feel like I’m battling my ass off to help my teammates out and to help my team win, and as of right now I’m not doing a very good job,” Hanson told Dave O’Brien after his last start. “It was a horseshit day. I’m not pulling  my weight around here right now.”

While admitting his problem is a good step (as opposed to when Dan Uggla denied he had issues when Fredi Gonzalez benched him earlier this month), no excuse can be found for the lack of command Hanson has experienced since the All-Star Game. The numbers don’t lie.

Going into the All-Star break, Hanson had already won 10 games with a respectable 3.71 ERA. The .254 opponents’ batting average wasn’t particularly spectacular, but he was getting wins.

Just like in 2011, however, everything fell apart after the Midsummer Classic. The second half has seen Hanson struggled to a 2-4 record in 11 starts with a ballooned 5.88 ERA with opponents hitting .293 against him. The 30 walks he has issued in that span are ninth most in the National League with seven of those coming July 25 against the Miami Marlins in a win.

The current options for his replacement include Ben Sheets, Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran. Since Delgado struggled early in the season and Teheran still hasn’t tasted the Major Leagues this year, it would seem Sheets is the most logical choice. (more…)

Couch Side Podcast 30: Replacement NFL refs need replaced

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BY staff

Couch Side hosts Wade McMillin (left) and Craig Paul reenact how NFL referees and the leagues head coach’s interact every week.

Sadly, the Couch Side crew didn’t see the ending of the Seahawks-Packers game. However, hosts Wade McMillin and Craig Paul wee chalked full of opinions about how the NFL officials need replaced anyhow in this week’s “Big Picture”. Our hosts also break down Week Three of the NFL and preview Week Four in our Monday Night Maestros segment. Also stick around for the end of the show for Fantasy Football advice, which insludes how to players who might be injured and the hot pickups on the Week Four waiver wire.

Click here to stream, download or subscribe Couch Side Episode 30: Replacement NFL refs need replaced via iTunes 

Click here to stream Couch Side Episode 30: Replacement NFL refs need replaced, via Talkshoe

Click here to download Couch Side Episode 30: Replacement NFL refs need replaced, via Talkshoe

NHL player lockout leaves league in a mess

BY IAN PALMER, syndication

Like almost all American professional sports leagues, the National Hockey League may experience a player lockout, putting this season in jeopardy. Photo by: jpellgen / Flickr

The NHL’s in a mess right now due to the player lockout. Players are jumping ship with many of them signing on with European teams to make sure they get a steady paycheck while NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players’ Union rep Donald Fehr try to bang out a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The old one expired on Sept. 15 and as soon as it did Bettman and the owners locked the players out.

The league announced on Sept. 19 that all exhibition games until the end of September have been officially cancelled. This represents 61 games in total. Training camps were supposed to start up on Fri. Sept. 21, but this won’t be happening and there are still 46 exhibition contests scheduled for October, with the league’s opening night pencilled in for Oct. 11. The October exhibition games, which were to run until Oct. 7, haven’t been officially cancelled as of yet, but unless an agreement’s made soon they’ll be the next to go.

One rumor circulating around is the use of replacement players if the lockout continues into the New Year. The league has previously lost a whole season and a half a season in previous labor disputes and this time it might try something drastic to keep itself in the public eye by using replacements for the NHL stars as they earn their money in Europe. (more…)

American League MVP Race: Trout versus Cabrera

L.A. Angels outfielder Mike Trout (left) and Detroit Tigers infielder Miguel Cabrera are clearly the two front runners to earn this year’s American League MVP. Trout photo by: Lauren Flickr — Cabrera Photo by: WEBN-TV / Flickr


Much has been bandied and ballyhooed about the AL MVP race lately. Will it be Mike Trout? Miguel Cabrera? Miguel Olivo? The race that some thought was over in August has revived a familiar narrative in September: The idea of September performance trumping everything else.

Cabrera in September has 1.261 OPS with 8 home runs through 17 games. Trout is merely hitting at a .726 OPS with 4 steals. Various fans and media members are pointing at these results and crafting this narrative that suddenly Cabrera is now the frontrunner, or about to pass Trout for the MVP.

Does this make sense?

Why does one hot week in September guarantee winning the MVP?

Oh wait, it doesn’t, or at least shouldn’t.

There’s no such thing as a benchmark for MVP, Mark McGwire finished second in the ’98 MVP voting to Sammy Sosa. If breaking the all-time home run record in a season (at the time) doesn’t automatically lock up the MVP, then I don’t know what does.

The proof here is in the narrative pudding, and it tastes terrible. Out of the blue it seemed like someone, somewhere needed to inject drama into this race, just so people could talk about again. Both the Angels and the Tigers teams are on the outside looking in regards to the playoff race, and it’s not as if Trout or Cabrera by themselves can overcome the flaws of the roster.


Expanded MLB playoff format could bolster baseball’s popularity

Although Eric O’ Flaherty and the Atlanta Braves have been atop the wildcard standings all season long, they would still have to play a one-game playoff with another wildcard team to reach the postseason with baseball’s new playoff system. Photo by: John W. Iwanski / Flickr


With the expansion of the MLB playoffs to include an additional wild card team in each league, baseball may finally be relevant to more than the diehard fan.

The wild card was first added in 1995 to expand each division to include 4 playoff teams. This was great for baseball and since its addition we have seen 5 wild card teams go on to win the World Series, most notably the 2004 Boston Red Sox. However, some might argue that what the St. Louis Cardinals did in 2011 (23-9 in their final games and overcoming a 10.5 game deficit to clinch the wild card) may trump the magical run that Boston put together just 7 years before.

By expanding the wild card to include two teams from each division baseball and its fans come out winners. Each wild card race is suddenly expanded to include more teams vying for a playoff spot. And with games happening every day, the races will no doubt play out until the final days of the regular season. Take the current season for example. If the playoffs still included just one wild card team, the Atlanta Braves would have a 6.5 game lead over St. Louis, and the L.A. Dodgers would be 8.5 games out of the lead. Instead, by including a second wild card team, the Dodgers are only 2 games back and have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. Even the Arizona Diamondbacks and Pittsburgh Pirates are still in the playoff chase just 4.5 games back of St. Louis (with only one wild card spot, these teams would be 11 games back and likely playing AAA call-ups to gain experience). With the current playoff format we now have a seven team race for two spots in the NL (6 teams if you consider that Atlanta holds a 8.5 game lead over the Dodgers, the closest team that could threaten their playoff chances) and a five team race in the AL. (more…)

One glaring weakness of all NFL teams

BY CHUCK blogger

After watching this weekend’s lineup of NFL games it is clear each and every team has one glaring weakness. Some larger than others. Some will keep teams out of the playoff race, while other teams will be able to overcome the obstacles. Here is a list of one glaring weakness for every team, in alphabetical order. Keep in mind, these are observations made after week two, there is a lot of football to be played and all teams will make adjustments.

Chicago Bears quarterback could either be a hero or a zero for his team this year. Photo by: SquaredB / Flickr

• Bears: While quarterback Jay Cutler‘s leadership skills have been under the microscope lately, I’d argue their offensive line is the team’s biggest worry. Since Cutler’s arrival to Chicago, the Bears always have a game like the one against the Packers, where the team looks sloppy and pathetic. Cutler isn’t going to change, he holds onto the ball too long, and will try to squeeze the ball into the tightest windows. But, if they can’t keep Jay upright or give him enough time to throw the ball, all the new additions to the squad won’t translate to wins on the field.

• Bengals – Cincy owns the largest offensive line in football and one of the youngest qb/wr combo in the league with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. The addition of BJGE (BenJarvus Green-Ellis) is paying off and surprisingly, slot receiver Andrew Hawkins leads the team in receiving yards. The secondary looks weak, but they made some moves and some guys are injured. Geno Atkins is a beast on the defensive line, but if someone else does not step up as a legitimate pass rusher, the Bengals will not make the playoffs.

• BillsC.J. Spiller has stepped up big time in Fred Jackson‘s absence, something he was not able to do last season. The defense has not looked great, but I will give them a couple of weeks to get it together and mesh. Even though he is a Harvard guy, Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s decision making scares me, but if he can string a couple of consistent games together, then he looks good. What will hold the Bills back is their lack of offensive weapons. Stevie Johnson will continue to be doubled and tight end Scott Chandler is only a red zone threat. With no one to stretch opposing defenses, the Bills’ offense may struggle in the passing game. (more…)

Can the Boston Celtics prevent history from repeating itself?

BY JEN POLASHOCK, syndication

Boston Celtics center Kevin Garnett is on the last leg of his career. Photo by: WordOfMouth / Flickr

There is a saying “the more things change the more they stay the same,” and while cryptic, there is a grain of truth in this piece of backward logic.

When one takes a step back and looks at the history of North American sports, forgetting for a moment that every event is an individual occurrence, it is alarming how often history repeats itself. The Portland Trail Blazers made one of the biggest mistakes ever in 1984 when they selected Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan, then did almost the exact same thing 13 years later, taking Greg Oden over Kevin Durant in 2007. The New England Patriots lost the 2007 Superbowl in heartbreaking fashion to the New York Giants, and then had the exact same thing happen again five years later, losing both games on last second drive be Eli Manning and spectacular catches by Giant receivers. One has to assume that these, along with countless other examples, are coincidences and nothing more. However with the way events tend to repeat themselves it is hard not to wonder, which is why one is forced to wonder if the 2012-2013 Boston Celtics are doomed to repeat the early 90’s once again.

There was still a good sense of optimism among Celtic followers going into the 1990-91 season. The Celtics had collapsed in the playoffs the previous year, losing to Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks despite holding a 2-0 series lead. Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish were all clearly on the back nine of their careers, and Danny Ainge and Dennis Johnson were gone at this point. However, the Celtics had still managed to put together a deep and talented team in the early 90s. Reggie Lewis was starting to come into his own, and he along with Brian Shaw and rookie Dee Brown gave Boston a much needed infusion of youth and athleticism, which they used to score fast break points in bunches. Boston jumped out to a 29-3 record, but slumped in the second half and eventually fell to the Detroit Pistons in the second round of the playoffs. The story was much the same for the ’91-’92 season. Bird, McHale and Parish were all slowed by age and injuries, but Lewis and Boston’s strong depth carried them to the Atlantic division crown once again. However in the playoffs they again bowed out in the second round, this time in a tough seven game series with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Does this sound at all familiar? Celtic fans may not want to hear it, but there is an eerie similarity between what was going on in Boston in the early 90’s and what is going on right now. Much like ’90-’91 the 2012-2013 Celtics enter the season with two dynamic stars who have admittedly lost a step or two in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Many argue that McHale was never the same after playing the 1987 playoffs with a broken foot just as they say that Garnett hasn’t been the same since injuring his knee in 2009. Pierce arguably has more left in the tank at this point than Bird did back in the early 90s. After all Pierce has been remarkably durable throughout his career while Bird was so hampered by back injuries in his final two seasons that he could barely stand up by the end. However, Pierce was never as good as Bird to begin with, so the comparison probably comes out pretty even. The early 90’s Celtics offset the aging process by assembling a younger, deeper, more athletic supporting cast thanks to the emergence of Lewis and the acquisition of Shaw and Brown. The 2012-2013 Celtics hope to do the same thanks to the emergence of Avery Bradley and the additions of Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, and Jeff Green. This could almost come right out of the script of Back to the Future. (more…)

Couch Side Podcast — Episode 29: Wiki, Wiki Wildcard

Couch Side co-host Craig Paul (right) gives fellow host Wade McMillin a titty twister minutes before they start recording the podcast.

BY staff

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Couch Side hosts Wade McMillin and Craig Paul are back for another football heavy episode with a baseball twist. The duo discuss Week two of the NFL regular season and preview what could be an exciting Week three. In the big picture, our hosts examine the National League Wildcard and how baseball is a better game with its expanded playoff system. Click below to start downloading, streaming or subscribing to the Couch Side podcast!

Click here to stream, download or subscribe Couch Side Episode 29: Monday Night Maestros via iTunes

Click here to stream Couch Side Episode 29: Wiki, Wiki Wildcard, via Talkshoe

Click here to download Couch Side Episode 29: Wiki, Wiki Wildcard, via Talkshoe

Who’s to blame for Pirates post All-Star break collapse?

BY JASON HAVELKA, syndication 

Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Neil Walker has been one of the only highlights for the Bucs during their second-half slump. Photo by: Natalie Litz / Flickr

I have heard all kinds of speculation about who is to blame regarding the Pittsburgh Pirate Collapse? Well, it’s not just the Bucs.   Lots of blame to go around, but here is something else to think about before we lay out the blame. The L.A. Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals also have struggled mightily. Not as much as the Pirates, but nearly. So there is lots of Collapse questions going around.

As far as the Pirates go, the front office and the coaching staff can not pitch, hit, steal bases, or play defense. The pitching staff is the easiest to blame and probably where it should go. James McDonald has not pitched the same as he did in the first part of the season. Erik Bedard fell off the map and now is not even on the team. Jeff Karstens, who pitched well when he came off the DL, is now injured again. Kevin Correia gives up four runs to whomever he pitches against, whether it is the Bad News Bears or the NY Yankees. And Finally, A.J. Burnett has struggled a bit the second half.

Let’s go a step further and say the bullpen has also pitched poorly the second half of the season. Joel Hanrahan has been disappointing in the second half of the season and Jason Grilli has been brutal lately. We can talk about the hitting all we want and the injuries that truly have not helped and the fact that Andrew McCutchen has struggled mightily the second half of the season. The fact is when the Bucs did score runs, like today, the pitching staff blew it. (more…)

MLB playoffs: Don’t count out the Phillies just yet

Philadelphia Phillies fans would be up in arms if some how their team snuck into the playoffs after a disastrous first half of the season. Photo by: Keith Allison / Flickr


Dare I say I believe in the Philadelphia Phillies?

Philadelphia does too, apparently. Despite the NFL season starting up and many Philly fans shifting their fandom into the usual griping about Andy Reid’s atrocious play calling and Michael Vick, the Phightin Phils are staying relevant.

Expectations in March were nothing short of contending in the East while Ryan Howard and Chase Utley rehabbed their way back into the lineup, and they’d let the pitching staff carry the load. Much to the surprise of everyone, the offense was nothing short of awful for much of the season, Cliff Lee couldn’t buy a win, and Roy Halladay was struggling.

By the All-Star break, this team was dead and buried, they had traded popular Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, the pitching staff was up and down, and the investment in Jonathan Papelbon wasn’t quite working out.

With a 3-1 win earlier Wednesday over the Miami Marlins led by embattled ace Lee, the Phillies are a game over .500 at 72-71 and seemingly have new life. Is this surge the result of the players putting their foot down and deciding to play like the team that led baseball with 102 victories, or the convenience of having a healthy Howard, Utley, and Halladay healthy at the time? (more…)

Chuck Pagano sees positives in Indianapolis Colts’ youth

BY REBECCA PIERCE, syndication 

Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck threw for more than 300 yards and his first NFL touchdown in his debut against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Photo by: Angie Six / Flickr

Indianapolis Colts‘ head coach Chuck Pagano is never pleased with a loss, but following Sunday’s defeat at the hands of the Chicago Bears, he saw a lot of positives from his younger players.

Pagano had five players on offense and defense taking their first NFL snaps and a total of 11 players making their first appearances at members of the Indianapolis Colts. Facing a veteran Bears bunch on the road in their first regular season game wasn’t exactly a recipe for victory. Nonetheless, Pagano saw some good things from his crew:

“There’s a bunch of young guys that stepped up and made plays and the game wasn’t too big for them. We kind of expected it because we saw it in preseason, and you can say, ‘Well it’s preseason,’ but it’s the same thing. It wasn’t too big for them and Coby (Fleener) played as good a game as he’s played since he’s been here counting the preseason the catches that he made and then the run game. He did a nice job in the run game. Kris (Adams) made plays. So there were a lot of young guys that did a lot of great things.” (more…)

Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle is still right man for the job

BY, syndication

After winning an NBA championship in 2011, Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle went 36-30 in 2012 and secured just the No. 7 seed in the NBA playoffs. Photo by: Danny Bollinger / Flickr

When a team is completely remade just 15 months after winning a championship, some wonder if the head coach could soon be on the chopping block.

There is no need to worry about that with Rick Carlisle. As he begins his second four-year term with the Dallas Mavericks as head coach, he is the perfect man for this job, one that will consist of finding a way to mesh a roster with five new projected rotation players and three rookies.

Carlisle has the tools to make it work with this new team, one that has a completely new backcourt, as well as a new starting center. His reputation as a players’ coach will help this squad gel quicker than the average new-look team.

When you compare him to the other coaches of the Dirk Nowitzki era, Carlisle has the perfect mix of qualities. He knows when to push the buttons of certain players, as well as encourage them. He also mixes in his on-court strategies admirably.

Don Nelson was a great coach but did not nearly focus enough on defense to get his Mavs teams close to competing for a title. To this day, he is still known for his high-powered offenses and little-resisting defenses, as he moved that philosophy to the Golden State Warriors recently, a team that beat the Mavs in the first round of the playoffs in 2007.

Avery Johnson gained a reputation of not being the perfect players coach during his tenure with the Mavs. He often was too hard on his then-young point guard Devin Harris. He also made very bad mistakes, ones that could of been avoided with the common sense approach of Carlisle. The biggest one that comes to mind was during the 2006 Finals when Josh Howard called a timeout he couldn’t call. That resulted in two free throws for Dwayne Wade, eventually leading the Miami Heat to that win and the 2006 title. Even though Johnson had a great regular season record with the Mavs, he didn’t succeed well in the playoffs. Johnson didn’t have what it took to be a great coach at the most crucial times. One could argue that if Carlisle was coaching the 2006 team, the Mavs would have two titles. (more…)

Couch Side Podcast — Episode 28: Monday Night Maestros

The San Francisco 49ers were a team to watch in the opening week of the 2012 NFL season as they took down the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon. Photo by: Michael Wifall / Flickr

BY staff

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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).

Click here to stream, download or subscribe Couch Side Episode 28: Monday Night Maestros via iTunes

Click here to stream Couch Side Episode 28: Monday Night Maestros, via Talkshoe

Click here to download Couch Side Episode 28: Monday Night Maestros, via Talkshoe

Couch Side Podcast — Episode 27: NFL Season Preview Finale

BY staff

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After a week off for Co-Host Wade McMillin’s wedding, the guys are back to wrap up their 2012 NFL Season Preview, which breaks down the AFC South and East. Wade joins fellow co-host Craig Paul to look at those eight teams and dish out some Fantasy Football advice. And if that wasn’t enough, the duo also answers a couple of questions from Couch Side fan Brent Tremelling. Click below to start streaming, downloading or subscribing to the Couch Side podcast (recorded Sept. 3, 2012).

Click here to stream, download or subscribe Couch Side Episode 27: NFL Season Preview Finale via iTunes

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Click here to download Couch Side Episode 27: NFL Season Preview Finale, Talkshoe