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The Open Championship Set for Amazing Finish

The Open Championship is set for an amazing finish. The top of the leader board is littered with Major champions but sitting in first is probably the best player not to own one.

20130721 071411 The Open Championship Set for Amazing Finish

Lee Westwood played a great round on Saturday and is looking to continue the momentum fellow countrymen Justin Rose and tennis star Andy Murray have going for England. It’s almost like the Year of the Cardinal, except for an entire country and only 2 sports! Westwood was marvelous battling the dangers of Muirfield and shooting a -1 3rd round. He was one of only 11 competitors to play in red numbers on Saturday and one of only 3 players under par through 54 holes. He was certainly in danger with 4 bogeys but he avoided disaster by carding nothing worse that +1 and rallied with 3 birdies and a fabulous eagle on the Par 5 5th.

He is being chased by some stiff competition, who know what it takes to win a Major Championship, with the likes of Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Angel Cabrera, Zach Johnson, and Phil Mickelson within 5 strokes of the lead. As yesterday proved, things can change quickly! If you saw Martin Laird, who was -1 through the first two days, you will know how fast and bad things can go. He birdied the Par 4 2nd hole on Saturday to move to -2 under for the Championship and then it all went wrong. He took 2 unplayable lies on the third hole and carded a 9. His round, and tournament were over as he went on to shoot a 10 over 81 and move from contention to an early tee time. He just finished his final round and his combined 1st,2nd, and 4th rounds he shot even par, so just one bad hole can change everything.

20130721 073556 The Open Championship Set for Amazing Finish

Westwood has every opportunity and a 2 shot cushion but a ton of pressure. This will be a day of maintaining and he can’t afford to flirt with disaster as he did on Saturday. Through the early groups on Sunday,only Jason Dufner has had a low round shooting a 67, so Westwood shooting even par could be all it takes. Mahan had a great Saturday and shot a 68 to move in to a tie with Woods in 2nd place. He will be paired with Westwood and can put direct pressure on the Englishman and his country’s hopes. Mahan is also looking for his first Major Championship and may be getting overlooked but he definitely has what it takes, flat bill and all! The next to last tee time may be where the cameras are most focused with Tiger Woods and Adam Scott…and of course Stevie. Either man has the ability to hoist the Claret Jug at the end of the day, but it will take Westwood stumbling. Woods has managed his way around the course, where a par is even a good score for him. Scott has also avoided any major damage and sits at E through 54 holes. Despite the names and talent sitting at +1 or +2, I think the winner will come from the last two groups. Today’s final holes will provide great drama and another amazing finish for the world of golf. Here are the tee times of the contenders in today’s Open Championship….of course the world’s greatest name is sitting at +2.

20130721 075745 The Open Championship Set for Amazing Finish

On a local note, Kentucky’s Josh Teater did make the cut. He had a solid first round at +1, but had a rough go since shooting rounds of 77,75, and 77 to cap off his weekend. He is currenlty sitting at 82nd.

Five Things: 2nd Half of the MLB Season

WIth the MLB season’s All-Star week over,let’s take a look at what to expect and watch the second half.

1. Division Races
The division races are in high gear and I expect that to continue until the last week of the season. Right now, 5 of the 6 division leaders have a 2.5 or less game lead over their next competitor. Only the NL East leading Atlanta Braves have a bigger lead at 6.5 over the resurgent Phillies. Of the other division leaders, i look for the St. Louis Cardinals to pull away from the faltering Pirates. Pittsburgh is 3-7 in their last 10, and looking to become the Pittsburgh we come to expect. The AL East may come down to the final week with the Red Sox facing Baltimore and Tampa Bay traveling to Toronto. I expect these 6 teams to win their divisions Tampa Bay, Detroit, Texas, Atlanta, St. Louis, and the LA Dodgers.

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2. Back to Back Triple Crown?
It’s unfathomable, but Miggy Cabrera can really win the Triple Crown in the back-to-back seasons. Currently his biggest competition to any of the categories is the Baltimore Orioles bopper Chris Davis who has a 7 hr lead on Cabrera. Yet Davis, in his 2nd big league season, already has more homeruns and rbi’s than last season and is hitting 40 points higher. Cabrera is at a pace that he can maintain and is used to the limelight. As great of a season Davis is having, i expect him to hit a cool patch and even face a lot of pressure as the season moves along. Teams will start to pitch around him, which teams can’t really do with Cabrera.

3. All-Star Starters will not win Cy Young
As good as a season as Max Scherzer and Matt Harvey are having I don’t expect either to win the Cy Young. Of the two, Scherzer has the better chance but I really like the Rays Matt Moore to have a great second half after a really good first half. He sits at 13-3, 108 k’s, and an ERA at 3.44 in only 107 innings pitched. Scherzer has pitched 22 more innings with 152 k’s but I expect, as the season wears on and their lead grows over the Indians, Leyland will look to let his aces, Scherzer and Verlander, rest their arms for what Tiger’s fans hope will be a long playoff run. I expect Moore and the Rays to have a great 2nd half and with the race in the East to be tight, he will have lots of opportunity to hit the 21-22 win mark. Harvey on the other hand will push on despite the lowly Mets. I just don’t think he will have the numbers at the end of the season. ERA leader Clayton Kershaw will finally start picking up the wins he deserves as the Dodgers ship is righted. I also like the Nationals Jordan ZImmerman, Cardinals Adam Wainwright, and under the radar Diamondback Patrick Corbin who is 11-1 and an ERA of 2.35.

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4. Biogenesis will be biggest off-field story
As sad and awful as this story is, it has to be the main story because it involves the games biggest liars, Arod and Ryan Braun. MLB will hope players like Chris Davis and Yasiel Puig draw the headlines but in the end these players that have taken the fans money, with no regard for tradition or honesty, and will look to continue to push baseball farther from it’s heyday as America’s Past Time. Baseball has to address the issue with true punishment, they banned Pete Rose for betting on his own team but won’t ban these players who have stolen millions and sullied the game?

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5. MVP Winners
The AL race will boil down to Cabrera/Davis and which ever pitcher dominates the 2nd half. The NL race will be a little more complicated with several pitchers having good seasons and no single player dominating several categories like Miggy or Crash Davis. Currently the most prolific hitter is the venerable Paul Goldschmidt….who? He is hitting .309, leads the NL with 77 RBI’s, and has 21 hrs which is 4 behind the league leader. If Kershaw can end up 21-8 on the season and stay below a 2.00 ERA he may end up with 2 individual trophies this season. The Cardinals have 3 guys hitting over .325 in Molina, Carpenter, and Allen Craig. It’s going to be a toss up unless someone truly establishes themselves as the leagues best in the 2nd half.

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Confederations Cup Final: Brazil home streak hits 57 games

When the Confederations Cup began, there was only one final that would satisfy the soccer world’s hunger for a great match. The host Brazilians have seen a steady decline on the world stage and with the World Cup just around the corner, this was their chance to remind us of their glorious past.

20130630 210825 Confederations Cup Final: Brazil home streak hits 57 games

Despite their past, Brazil is ranked 22 in the FIFA World rankings, while their opponent entering were the clear cut #1 in the world. In fact, Brazil was only the 5th highest ranked team in the field entering the Confederations Cup. Yet, they dispatched each team they faced in the run to the Final with flare and confidence. Their great young player, Neymar fresh off a transfer to Barcelona, had the stage to prove that he was worthy of the 57 million pound transfer fee. He did not disappoint.

20130630 200027 Confederations Cup Final: Brazil home streak hits 57 games

He scored 4 goals in the 5 games and showed that he was very capable against some of the world’s best. The 21 yr old did not go at it alone as Fred led Brazil with 5 goals, including 2 against reigning World Cup champions Spain. The Final was not the instant classic we hoped for, but rather the ringing in of a new era in Brazil. Fred scored from his rear just 2 minutes in and set the pace for A Selecao. Despite Spain leading possession throughout the match, Brazil was clearly the aggressor. Spain has built a reputation on great defense, great passing, and timely goal scoring yet Brazil seemed to hold the edge in each of these areas. Spain was never able to put the ball in the net, even with 8 corners. Neymar put the first nail in the coffin by scoring just before half and just as he did to start the match, Fred started shoveling the dirt by scoring just 2 minutes into the 2nd half. It was a dominating and surprising result considering Spain was on a record 29 match unbeaten streak in competitive competition.

20130630 205556 Confederations Cup Final: Brazil home streak hits 57 games

Brazil has not lost a home competitive match since 1975 which bolds well for the host team in next years World Cup. For the Spaniards, this was certainly an alarm to rededicate themselves.

How Alex Rodriguez Destroyed Baseball, for me.

It’s something most sports guys do several times in their life, they engage in a conversation about the “greatest”. An informed individual respects history and it’s greatest figures as they try to build their All-Time lineup. In baseball, you have to consider Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, and Babe Ruth to make your discussion relevant. Eventually though, you would get to the point of adding a current player. A player that in his career has separated himself from his peers.

20130630 142456 How Alex Rodriguez Destroyed Baseball, for me.

It was following the 2002 season, a season in which we saw Alex Rodriguez hit a monstrous 57 homers. He was going to bring respect and honor back to the game following the highly suspicious homerun race of the fabled 1998 season. He had signed his 1/4 Billion Dollar contract and people were now questioning if he was being paid enough. At 26 years of age he already had 298 homers. He just had back-to-back 50 home run seasons. In his first full season in 1996 he hit .358 and won the batting title and hit .300 or better in each season except in 1999, when he hit a respectable .285. On top of all his prowess at the plate, he also just won his first Gold Glove at shortstop. Sure we had Ken Griffey Jr. but he was plagued with hamstring injuries and was not going to break any of the untouchable records. We also had the infamous Barry Bonds, who by this time was as publicly disliked as he was apparently disliked in the clubhouse. He had just come off of hitting his record setting home run mark, despite never hitting 50 hrs in any season…so of course, his accomplishment and extremely recognizable body morph were immediately questioned.

20130630 150031 How Alex Rodriguez Destroyed Baseball, for me.

Alex Rodriguez was different. He was a smooth fielding, power hitting, legend in the making. He had caught our attention with the Mariners and was now creating his own mythical baseball career. He had power unlike any other shortstop. By 2002, ARod trailed Cal Ripken Jr.’s 345 HR’s at SS by only 47 (and would pass that mark the following year) and he was only 26. Ripken’s career at short spanned 16 years and Rodriguez was poised to surpass this mark within 7 full seasons! Ripken, like Ozzie Smith, was known more for his defensive gold standard but Rodriguez was not as far behind as doe eyed admirers may believe. The Wizard carried a .9782 fielding percentage and Ripken a .9793….ARod? How about a .9772!

So what happened? How did this sure fire legend, with his monument at Cooperstown already being chiseled in 2002, become such a pariah? Even worse, has he destroyed the game that for a century held our imagination? The game that mere mortals became epic legends with the swing of the bat. We were always taught, numbers don’t lie. Well, they have. The statistics compiled over the last 20 yrs have been a sham. From Ken Caminiti’s 1996 MVP season to Roger Clemens wins to any of the number of home run marks. It’s all been a lie and Alex Rodriguez was my tipping point. In 2002, he was going to be the person that made us forget about McGwire/Sosa and the person that would right the wrong of Barry Bonds passing Hank Aaron. He would be the guy who played through the steroid era and would come out the other side with numbers that we could trust. He was youngest player to hit 500 and 600 hrs and now it’s quite ironic that he has been sidelined with a hip injury at the age of 37.

20130630 154227 How Alex Rodriguez Destroyed Baseball, for me.

Alex Rodriguez was poised to be on the Mount Rushmore of baseball with the likes of Ruth, Mays, and Cobb. He took the trust that was left for baseball fans and used it to rest his feet upon while signing the 2 largest contracts in sports history. He was the person that made us realize that the history was just that, history. It no longer was America’s Past time because all the heroics were manufactured in a lab. We have sadly almost become numb to the idea of steroids as we regularly are introduced to a Balco, a Bio-Genesis, or some other scandal every couple of years. Alex Rodriguez was going to be the reason to remain nostalgic. In 2009, he finally admitted to rampant PED use during his career. He was the last hope I had in a game that held such high regard in my heart. The game that I studied my whole life. The game that traditions were of the utmost importance. It’s all gone for me. If he had any respect for the game that has made him wealthy beyond means, despite his cheating, he would simply walk away. His insistence not to go away has been the final blow. What does he hope to gain? Does he think that people will welcome him back in his chase to 700? They probably will, but I won’t. He will not care and will take his 160k a game pay check with a cheeky grin only a thief could appreciate. He has stolen the remaining sanctity of the game with his inability to accept his consequence.

20130630 161630 How Alex Rodriguez Destroyed Baseball, for me.

Alex Rodriguez has destroyed baseball for me. I will still root on the my team but until this era is well in the rear view, I will not anoint another player as the greatest. It’s all been a sham.

Number 1 Draft Picks Rarely Bring Championships

As the NBA Draft analysts prepare their 784th mock draft and poor souls who continue to buy seats in cities like Cleveland, Washington DC, Sacramento, or Charlotte scour through the options their teams are going to leverage their futures on.

20130624 184628 Number 1 Draft Picks Rarely Bring Championships

For the 2nd consecutive year, the Cleveland Cavaliers had the luck of the ping pong balls. Every indication says the top pick will be center Nerlens Noel. The addition of Noel to last years no.1 pick Kyrie Irving is supposed to bring balance and excitement back to the jilted fans of Cleveland. The NBA’s lottery process is meant to be a kick start to the promised land of championships and wins. Yet, over the last 3 decades you will find that winning the top pick rarely brings a title.

20130624 192138 Number 1 Draft Picks Rarely Bring Championships

For some teams it has brought shame and ridicule. Top picks such as Michael Olowokandi and Kwame Brown were disasters. For other teams the top picks brought hope, yet no title See: Ralph Sampson (Hou), Shaquille O’Neal (Orl), Larry Johnson (Char), and even LeBron James (Cle). Sure many of these picks went on to win titles but not with the team that drafted them. Since the 1983 draft in which Ralph Sampson was drafted number 1 by the Houston Rockets, only 3 top picks went on to win a title with that same team. The ’84 pick of Hakeem Olajuwon paid off during Michael Jordan’s absence with back-to-back titles in the 90′s and the other top picks were actually on the same title winning team. The Spurs selection of David Robinson in ’87 and of Tim Duncan in ’97 resulted in the trophy being brought to San Antonio in ’99 and ’03 with both on the team and additionally in ’05 and ’07 with Duncan still on the team.

20130624 194342 Number 1 Draft Picks Rarely Bring Championships

In fact, no other team, other than the Spurs since 1983, has won a championship within 9 yrs of having the top pick! It really speaks volumes about the organizations who are “earning” these top picks. For many teams, having their ping pong ball pulled is the only hope they will ever have.

Strait Talk: MLBs best in St. Louis, Tebow, and more

Strait Talk is back with Indiana Vince. He is preparing for the College World Series by picking up his Candy Stripe pants at the dry cleaner. After the Sweet 16 Dance Party Tom Crean had, they needed to be cleaned.

20130613 175619 Strait Talk: MLBs best in St. Louis, Tebow, and more

1. The Cardinals have the best record in the MLB, are they best team?

@IndianaVince
There’s no doubt in my mind they’re the best team in the NL, playing in what’s arguably the toughest division this year. In MLB probably still the best just ahead of Boston and Detroit. They are winning games right now with small ball and good pitching. Now if their power hitters heat up look out. You can’t forget defense. St. Louis’ defense has been one of the best in the league this year. Right now they’re putting it all together pretty well

@StraitSportsG
They absolutely did not deserve to be in the playoffs last year with the additional 1 game series the MLB regretfully created, but this year they are playing great. The best move this team made for it’s future was not taking the bait on a long term Puljols contract. Mike Matheny has provided a continued stability following LaRussa’s departure and players like Carlos Beltran (.304 w/ 14 hrs) have been consistent each week. Of the other NL teams, I think the Braves have the talent but it’s mostly young and the inconsistency could prove fatal in a 7 game series with the Cardinals.

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2. Tim Tebow will play more snaps at what position?

@StraitSportsG
Tim Tebow is an experiment for the Patriots. They can do anything they want with him. He really is a luxury that they can put in different spots and see what happens. The guy is 100% hustle, a proven winner, and will do anything to help his team win…a perfect Patriot. He is an experienced playoff winning backup QB that will prove valuable in the locker room. Also, he will be a perfect candidate to run scout team offenses that utilize the ground game. Plus, they will be need of a big body at the end of the line with the Gronk dancing his way to injuries.

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@IndianaVince
I’d have to say the upback on punts. I don’t see a straight forward team like New England with a future hall of fame QB acting like they need tricks and gimmicks to win games. They may bring him in from time to time on special teams to mix it up but I bet they believe in him as a legitimate third string QB right now. Before Kapernick, Wilson, and RGIII there was Tebow and people said a scrambling QB wouldn’t work. Well Tim has only won doing it and it’s working for those other young guys now. Since his athletic skill set is a bit different than those other three he’s going to need to learn the pocket passer system and I think that’s just what he’ll do if he stays any length of time at New England. God bless the Patriots for giving that young man a job

3. 3 names in the US Open we should look to see in the hunt on Sunday?

@IndianaVince
We’ll have to give it to the Americans. Mickelson (his daughter graduated and needs some extra money), Fowler(likes playing in weird places), and my favorite(shares a family name) Scott Stallings. There’s going to be too much noise and distractions at Merion for Tiger to be in the hunt. He’ll spend more time backing off the ball in disgust than actually playing.

20130613 183124 Strait Talk: MLBs best in St. Louis, Tebow, and more

@StraitSportsG
Adam Scott is 17 strokes better in the last 5 Majors than any golfer and may be coming in to his own. The man 2nd on that list is Tiger, and if he stays out of the rough can certainly challenge. My final option would be Angel Cabrera. Merion will reward staying in the fairway and if any of these players struggle from the tee, they will not vie for the title.

4. With Fathers Day around the corner, who has been your favorite tv dad?

@StraitSportsG
Al Bundy …a legend at Polk High with 4 TD’s in the City Championship and founding member of NO MA’AM. Sounds like a perfect role model for any boy!

@IndianaVince
Jamie Lannister, what a father!

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Go Here To See More of TV’s Top Dads

Cameras in Locker Room…NFL’s Worst Idea

In an effort to drive attendance, the NFL has made a huge mistake.

20130604 165942 Cameras in Locker Room...NFLs Worst Idea

Roger Goodell and the NFL have decided to reward fans who attend games. Sadly, it’s not to lower the cost of tickets and beer, which now averages around $450 for a family of four. Rather the NFL’s big idea is too allow cameras, without sound, in locker rooms during pre-game, half-time, and post game. This is a terrible idea and grossly invades the sanctuary of the NFL player and adds little, to no, benefit for the fan. All home teams will have the camera’s in their locker room, but it will not be required to show the action…but i’m guessing it will “encouraged”.

From the fan’s perspective, what are we gaining? A silent movie of guys possibly hitting each other with towels, coaches who are seemingly yelling, or even worse players knowing where the cameras are and turning their backs. This adds no value and can even cause issues when parents have to explain to their kids what they just saw. They will have to talk about the fighting, or even worse if the kids can can read lips. It’s just a terrible idea, and for the players, it’s even worse.

20130604 171745 Cameras in Locker Room...NFLs Worst Idea

Any person who has ever been a part of a locker room environment treasures the sanctity and honesty that goes on when the fans and outsiders are not around. It’s a place where teammates find their zone before games, a place for the players to work through half time issues, and the place where post game emotions sometimes spill over. It becomes more disgusting when you really think the privacy the players already give up. The players of the NFL can’t go out to eat, can’t go to the grocery, and now can’t be alone in the locker room.

I truly hope the NFL stops this charade before it’s too late. For the cost of going to a game, a person can purchase a big screen HD tv. If the NFL is truly concerned with attendance, then the pure cost of going to a game must be reigned in. If players are making too much money to do this, then that’s where you start. If the owners are making too much money, then cut their share. NFL fans can only be stretched so far, and adding silent locker room video for in-stadium crowds is not going to help.

The Best of My Generation: NBA Cont’d

I have determined the definitive list to end all discussions of the best NBA players, by position, during my generation. Just a reminder “my generation” is 1985-2012. It removes the questions regarding era’s when one team had 6 of the top 10 players.

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Let’s recap the first three positions
PG Magic Johnson
PF Tim Duncan
C Hakeem Olajuwon

Now on to the final 2 spots to complete the greatest the NBA had to offer during my generation.

SF
If the list was “All-Time” it may be a little more difficult but because the time frame is specific there are actually only 2 people that can reasonably be considered for the best 3 man during my generation. The top two for me are Larry Bird and LeBron James. During the required time frame Bird won 1 MVP, while James won 3 in 4 years. Yet, if the time was expanded just a few more years James would have 4 and Bird would have 3 (consecutively)…but we’re not so James has a big advantage. Both won 1 title and were the Finals MVP of the championship run. Bird played 7 years in our time frame and had some tremendous seasons. Yet, in 3 of those years he played game totals of 60, 45, and 6 which really detracts from his value for our purpose. He had an amazing all around game and that is evident just looking at his stats if you don’t remember him on the court. He averaged over 9 rebounds pg in 5 of his qualified seasons, over 6 assists per game in 6 of the 7 years, and of course the Legend was a decent shooter. His top scoring season was in ’87-’88 with 29.9 ppg. If this was an all time list, then I would select Bird over James, but it’s not. His back didn’t just hamper his selection over James, it took him from the greatest player of all time discussion.

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King James is an amazing talent and his comparison to Michael Jordan will continue well after he hangs up his Nike’s. Yet his build and game are much more suited for comparisons with Bird and Magic Johnson. Bird was listed just a tad taller at 6’9″ and around 220lbs, Johnson at 6’8″ 240, and James stands in at 6’8″ in the 255lbs range. In his 10 seasons he has averaged 27.6 pts, 7.3 rebs, and 6.9 assist per game. He has been the best small forward of my generation.

SG
Shooting guard may be the most discussed position for some people with Kobe Bryant earning some votes but I will let a picture say a thousand words for me.

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What else do you really need to say? In reality it’s not close. Just in case some goofball does every bring this up again, here is a nice side by side comparison from TotalSports.com

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This has been my definitive list of the greatest players of my generation in NBA. There should be no reason to have this talk again and if anyone ever asks if Kobe is better than Jordan, please just pat them on the head and give them a quarter for trying.

The Best of My Generation: NBA

As the NBA post season lingers on like fingernails on a chalkboard, we are reminded after every shot by Lebron James of the comparison to Michael Jordan. Much like my feelings for the NBA, i’m over the discussion. So, I decided to make my list of the “Greatest” of my generation. We remove the era’s before because we can never know if Babe Ruth could hit 60 or if Wilt Chamberlain would have been able to handle an NBA with 7 footers on every roster. Each generation has to be separated because everything changes.

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Up until the 70′s many Major League Baseball players had to keep off-season jobs rather than working out in Arizona or playing winter leagues in a latin destination. Football players didn’t go to a training facility in Florida in the off season, they sold insurance.

Let’s start with a definitive time frame, 1985-2012. The players had to play predominantly in that time frame, not ending or beginning their career….and that’s it. Depending on the sport some selections will be by position and some will be a single player. Since the NBA is current story let’s start with that. I will look at 3 positions (PG,PF,C) today and will finish it off tomorrow with the most disputed positions (SF,SG).

Point Guard
To me this position comes down to 4 players. Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Steve Nash, and Jason Kidd. These 4 players all rank in the top 5 of assists all time, with Mark Jackson in 3rd. This position needs a dynamic floor general who can control a game from many different areas but a distributor who can also score is the most dangerous. For me the guy who put the showtime in Showtime is the best. Magic played about half of his career before 1985 but his 6 full seasons from 85-91 were top notch. He averaged between 18-23 ppg, 11.5-12.6 assist pg, and 5.9-7 rebounds pg. in each of these seasons. He was the complete package and at his prime during the required time frame. His retirement at the age of 31 due to the HIV virus cut out several years that would probably have made him the no doubt choice at this position. During this time, he also won 3 NBA MVP’s and 3 NBA titles. He didn’t revolutionize the position because in reality there has never been another point guard that could guard power forwards and shoot hook shots against centers. Actually the closest person would be Lebron James. In my opinion Magic Johnson is the best point guard
this generation has seen.

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Power Forward
This position boils down to two classy guys with two awesome nicknames! I think the best options for Power Forward are Karl “The Mailman” Malone and Tim “The Big Fundamental” Duncan. Both bring slightly different styles but both extremely effective. Malone averaged 25 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game over his 19 yr career, 18 with the Jazz. Timmy, in his 16 yrs has put up 20.2 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game, all with the Spurs. The points advantage for Malone is not such a big deal when you take in account Duncan also averaged 2.2 blocks per game to the Mailman’s 0.8.

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Malone did win 2 MVP’s in a 3 yr span but could never get his Jazz past the Jordan led Bulls. While Duncan matched Malone with 2 MVP’s in back to back seasons (01-02, 02-03), he also helped the Spurs take home 4 NBA titles (’99,’03,’05,’07). In 3 of those championships, Duncan was also named NBA Finals MVP. In the end, Malone was a beast and a top 5 player at his position but against the Big Fundamental, the Mailman just can’t deliver. I’ll take Tim Duncan as the best power forward of my generation and he may have one more title left!

Center
The center position is a tough one because this was the first generation that saw multiple dominant big men across the league. The days of Mikan,Russell, Chamberlain, and even Kareem playing against greatly inferior opponents couldn’t compare to the level of giant talent in the last 25 years. My generation has been blessed with the likes of David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Shaquille O’Neal. The first thing these titans share is being first…All 4 were taken atop their respective drafts.

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Off my board first is the man who patrolled the paint in Madison Square Garden. Patrick Ewing had a great career, a Hall of Fame one even, but in this group that’s not enough. He never won an MVP or a title and when you get to discussing the “Best” these things matter. Next off my list will have to be the General. His offensive and defensive prowess are nearly unmatched in the game. He averaged just over 21 pts, 10 boards, and 3 blocks per game over a 14 season career. He also was the ’94-’95 MVP. Yet, his 2 titles didn’t come until the Tim Duncan era began and in both of the those championship runs Duncan was the Finals MVP.

The final showdown is between the “The Dream” and the “Big Aristotle”. At first glance, the public persona of Shaq makes people forget how good Hakeem was. When compared directly with Olajuwon, the big man may have met his equal. The Rockets center averaged 21.8 pts, 11.1 rebs., 2.5 assts, and 3.1 blocks per game over an 18 yr career. O’Neal put up 23.7 pts, 10.9 rebs, 2.5 assts, and 2.3 blocks per game over his 19 yr tour through the league. Both of the centers won 1 MVP award, multiple titles (O’Neal 4, Olajuwon 2), and multiple NBA Finals MVPs (O’Neal 3, Olajuwon 2). With such similar careers the tie breaker may be their head-to-head matchup in the 95 Finals. In that series the Rockets defeated the Magic 4-0, with Olajuwon going for nearly 33 ppg, 11.5 rebs, and 5.5 assts. It was a dominant performance against a youthful O’Neal who had an amazing season until he met up with Olajuwon in the Finals. In the end I not only changed my preconceived notion of Shaq easily being the best center but I would have to take Olajuwon and the “Dream Shake” at Center

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David Beckham is the most important soccer player, ever

Today David Beckham is known worldwide, mostly for his looks but believe it or not David Beckham actually played soccer, aka football, and was at one time a world class player!

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Becks recently announced his retirement from the soccer world, and at 38, it was certainly time. He began professional football at the age of 17 when he made his debut for Manchester United in 1992 in a League Cup match. He played on 6 Premier League champion teams and helped lead the Red Devils to a Champions League title in 1999. That same year he won the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year. He has also won domestic titles at Real Madrid in La Liga, MLS titles for LA Galaxy, and even finished his career raising a cup for France’s PSG in Ligue 1. David Beckman is a decorated mid-fielder who played at the top level of soccer domestically and on the international level for over two decades. These accomplishments are remarkable yet this alone would not make him the most important player during his time, much less ever.

Yet, David Beckham more importantly became a brand off the field. He has become a fashion icon, a Pepsi pusher, and a fragrance in himself!

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His marriage to Victoria Adams, aka Posh Spice, was another boom to his career and marketability. The couple has been found on magazine covers since their union in 1999 and has helped the soccer player amass a fortune of nearly $300 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Why does his off the field activity make him so important? His on field play would have been enough to make him known in soccer circles and soccer homes. Yet, his looks and ability to capitalize on it have made him a household name across the world. People who have never watched a match, or quite possibly a sporting event know who David Beckham is. His impact financially for clubs has been apparent as clubs have paid just for him to wear their uniform in his later years, as evident with his stints at Milan and Paris Saint-Germain. Though serviceable as a mid-fielder, it was well known that his appearances would draw fans and sell merchandise. Sometimes you hear that a person’s contributions are immeasurable, but Beckham’s actually are measurable.

Soccer in the United States has been a holy grail, in the fact that it’s popularity has always seemed to escape the mainstream but the sport has continued to seek it out. There have been soccer legends like Pele who have captured the public’s attention but that soon waned after the initial novelty wore off. Beckham’s introduction to the MLS in 2006 with LA Galaxy is quite possibly the most important act for the sport in America. There had been serviceable players in the league that enjoyed notoriety but never a culture icon. His arrival marked a change on the landscape of the American sports world. Richard Luker, a social scientist, marks that professional soccer is the 2nd most popular sport in America behind only Professional Football in 12-24 yr olds.

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Beckham’s impact can also be seen in the MLS with the number of teams, salaries, and attendance all increasing dramatically since his arrival. More shocking is the creation of stadiums in the league from 2 to 13 since 2006. Much like the Yankees existed before Ruth and Yankee Stadium was the “House that Ruth Built”, can the MLS and it’s growth be known as the “League that Beckham Built”?

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The overall and lasting impact of David Beckham’s career in America will not be known for years to come but the growth of the MLS and ESPN’s continued involvement in soccer programming point to soccer finally having a foothold in America. He has possibly done what others before could not do…make soccer a prominent sport in the world’s most coveted market.

Did Kansas recruit it’s way out of a championship with Andrew Wiggins?

The most exciting part of the Kansas Jayhawk season is now over. The team seemingly had no regard for history and did not remove it’s name from the Andrew Wiggins lottery.

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The team was ranked #2 by Rivals in overall recruiting classes, just behind Kentucky. Bill Self’s 2013 class was anchored by top recruits Joel Embiid and Wayne Seldon, both individually ranked inside the top 25. As Wiggins signing grew closer, fan bases were becoming growingly impatient and strangely obsessed with the Canadiens college selection. Yet, most failed to realize that the one thing the top high school recruit doesn’t do is win championships!

Since 2003, the highest Rivals ranked incoming freshman to attend college has not won a championship. In ’03, the 2nd ranked Luol Deng (Lebron #1) failed to win a title at Duke and that trend continues today. The list of the Rivals top ranked high school recruit to attend college is as follows: ’04 Rudy Gay (UConn), ’05 Josh McRoberts (Duke), ’06 Greg Oden (OSU), ’07 Michael Beasley (KState), ’08 BJ Mullens (OSU), ’09 John Wall (UK), ’10 Josh Selby (Kansas), ’11 Austin Rivers (Duke), and ’12 Shabazz Muhammed (UCLA). Oden may have been the closest to buck the trend in the ’07 Championship game as his Buckeyes fell short against Florida.

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Despite the fervor the last few months over his selection, teams in the running like Kentucky should rejoice that they will not be hampered by history! They should retain the top ranked class with 6 players in the top 20, and for Big Blue Nation’s sake, not the top rated player! The list of top players has some amazing talent and many of their teams had great seasons but the goal is to win a title. I think Coach Cal dodged a huge bullet with Wiggins choice. Now, the state of Kentucky will have 2 teams looking to keep the trophy in the great state of Kentucky, thanks to Andrew Wiggins.

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Orb Wins The Roses

The 139th running of the worlds most prestigious horse race is in the books and it was certainly a memorable one.

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The rain started around 10am on the day as spectators were lining the fence with tarps, following Churchill Downs decision to ban tents in the infield. The weather, mid-50′s and constant rain, didn’t stop the amazing fans from filling the event. The stated attendance was just over 151k, the 9th largest crowd to witness the event. On a day that every dress and suit were covered in plastic and every step was accompanied with a splash, Louisville again showed why it’s one of the greatest sports towns in the world.

Throughout the day the track conditions turned from fast to sloppy before the 11th race. The early betting favorites including Orb began to fall in the eyes of the betting world. As the rain continued to fall the odds on Revolutionary and his mount, Churchill Downs cult hero Calvin Borel, began to come down. By race time the movement had caught the eye of some and Orb ended up the 5-1 favorite with Revolutionary going off at 6-1. As the horses began their pre race parade onto the track, the seemingly non-stop rain gave way to a hint of sunshine.

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The race and the crowd were amazing. Secretariat’s record is still well intact with the pace about 3 seconds off, but none the less it had all the drama and atmosphere. It was just the 5th favorite to win in the last 25yrs. Again we are set up for a possible Triple Crown with the best horse winning the first leg.

Here is a video and a few photos of Orb’s victory from my vantage point.

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