Monday, February 22, 2010

Olympic Hockey Spirit

I've been watching every bit the Winter Olympics over the past ten days and I have to say, the fringe sports are starting to wear on me. While I can actively watch (and actually enjoy) men's figure skating, the primetime ice dancing is turning me away. But what is this lazy sport on the non-HD NBC news channel? It's CURLING!!! But wait. I'm not going to waste time writing a blog about curling. (Curling is easy to pick up on. There are four simple rules:  (1) Get as many of your rocks closer than the other teams' rocks. (2) The target is called the 'house'. (3) The captain is called the 'skip'. (4) John Shuster of Team USA sucks.) But this blog is not about curling.

It has been my pleasure over the past week to become reacquainted with hockey. While I have been following hockey since roughly 1996, I have lost the passion I had as a young hockey-playing Avalanche fan. Here's a very brief history of my relationship with hockey... Quebec Nordiques come to Colorado and win the Cup immediately. City of Denver falls in love with the team. I want to play hockey. I watch the Avalanche religiously as a kid, but then once I get older, BAM! LOCKOUT! I've tried to phase back into the game, but I can't regain the same die hard passion I once had. So what I'm getting at here is what Olympic hockey has done to open my eyes again. It's all-star teams playing meaningful games with no commercial breaks. Very similar to the NHL playoffs in overtime, huh? I have always thought that if the NHL could somehow someway mimic the environment and intensity of the playoffs throughout the regular season, then they could be the best professional game of all the major leagues. We get a glimpse of that during the Olympics. The best players, with national pride on the line, playing in the most meaningful tournament. Now that's playoff drama.

Here's a few of the things I've picked up on...
NHL sized ice gives the NHL players more of an advantage than they have in past Olympics. In the past, NHL players would have to adjust to travelling to another country as well as a larger ice surface. This year, it's a short travel time to Vancouver, and a minimal adjustment period to the Olympic style. While it is a disadvantage for the European-based players, they aren't necessarily the premier players who decide the outcomes anyways. It's a little harsh, but if they were wouldn't they be playing in the NHL?

No commercial breaks... kind of...  Any sport without commercials is fantastic. It allows for the game to keep its flow. The players stay focused, the fans stay on the edge of their seat. But NBC still finds a way to squeeze in 30-second commercials here and there. It's an offsides on Slovakia! Hurry, get that commercial rolling before the faceoff!

NBCs coverage, or lack there of... I'm sure the 20 people that have MSNBC in HD were thrilled to watch the USA vs. Canada game with a crystal clear picture. The premier hockey game of the tournament is on the Keith Olberman channel... huh? Anyways, this is a pro-hockey column, not an anti-NBC column. I will stop there.

With that said, I can't wait for the elimination rounds of hockey. USA! USA! USA!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Winter Olympics, eh!?

Me and Kieran are chillin' like Apolo Ohno in this weeks podcast. We touch on our love of fringe sports and share our ideas in improving the biathlon. Later, Kieran shares his revolutionary idea to make the NBA All-Star game better. Remember: always avoid the penalty lap of shame.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Your first 2010 NFL Season Predictions

The double-zero decade of the NFL ended with a bang as Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints put a beatdown on Peyton Manning's legacy, and now we're in store for an equally unpredictable 2010 season. So it's as good of a time as any to make some very early fearless predictions for the 2010 season in the NFL.

Darrelle Revis will be on the Madden cover. While Brees is a trendy pick for this, it's not like EA Sports to pick the most obvious player. While I've given on playing Madden for the most part, (due to certain circumstances during my high school playing days) I believe that the video game passing attack has been refined to a tee. Who was the last cornerback pictured on the Madden Cover? Trick question. It's never happened.

Matt Leinart will be in the MVP conversation. I will conditionalize this prediction by saying that he will be a fringe candidate, but with those weapons surrounding him, all Leinart needs to do is party a little less and concentrate on football. He also needs to realize that he doesn't exactly have the weight of the world on his shoulders while playing in the NFC West.

Jay Cutler will lead the NFL in passing yards, touchdowns and interceptions. His double chin will also realize its full potential.

All those shenanigans about the NFL entering a lockout will disappear. Brett Favre will be the primary reason for this.

Super Bowl XLV in "North Texas" will be played during a freak snowstorm in Texas. Luckily Jerry Jones built that nice stadium with a roof.

Touchdown celebrations and props will still be frowned upon. But the fist pump will take the league by storm. I mean, did you see all the excessive fist pumping by the Saints' sideline during the Super Bowl. The J-Shore strikes again.

Unfortunately, the gun-issue will rise again in 2010. It's crazy how the when guns come up in the NBA the league is viewed as a league full of punk criminals (Gilbert and friends), but when guns come up in the NFL, the only person to be shown in negative light is the gun-wielder himself (Plaxico). What's the difference here? The NBA takes a public relation hit while the NFL remains unscathed.

Josh McDaniels will regain the hearts of Bronco fans. But then he'll rip it right out just like in 2009. 8-8.

Bill Simmons will see Avatar, and he will like it.

Congratulations to the Saints and the city of New Orleans. I was planning on being a supporter of the Saints during the Super Bowl, but after watching much of the pregame shows, I was hooked as a die hard fan for the day. The Drew Brees saga can finally be appreciated. The man had his throwing shoulder torn to shreds, and was outcasted to a franchise that had never tasted success. Four years later he's a champion.

Super Bowl pick conundrum: I picked the Saints at +5.5, but had the Colts winning by a small margin. I would have won in Vegas with this pick, but I don't feel as if I can take any credit for a correct pick. I will take a loss for the Super Bowl.
Playoffs picks: 6-5

Thursday, February 4, 2010

SuperCast One

The football season is coming to a close. But there's still time for one more podcast for Spen and Kieran. Contents include: Super Bowl XLIV, the Winter XGames and Kieran's NBA plan.

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Monday, February 1, 2010

The Super Bowl Picks Column

Most football picks columns pick a winner and a loser. That's why it's called a picks column, right? Sure... But here's what I'm doing for Super Bowl: picking both the Colts and Saints to win. Well not really, but I'm going to give the top three reasons why each the Colts and Saints will win on Sunday (then I'll pick the winner just to be official). 

Why the Colts will win:
1.) Peyton Manning. The four-time MVP is becoming the one of the greatest quarterbacks we have ever seen. While watching a game of one of the great QB's, there are times when you think to yourself, "he's not that good." I mean, Mark Sanchez can outplay Peyton Manning for a half. But viewing his career as a whole, you can see that he is that good. Manning is going to be able to tear apart the Saints' 26th ranked defense.

2.) Defense?! Yes, defense! When you least expect it, a team renowned for its offense may actually win with defense. It goes without saying that all NFL teams have playmakers on their roster. There's a reason some guys are in the NFL: they're freak athletes with a will to compete. The biggest reason that the Colts defense cannot be overlooked is that they showed up in the stretch run of '06, capping off the season with a Super Bowl victory over the Bears. They've done it before, and they can do it again. 

3.) Because this game will play out just like Super Bowl XLI. Thankfully the forecast for Sunday in Miami predicts no rain. It would be a shame if the high powered offenses of the Colts and Saints were slowed by any weather issues. I don't necessarily like the scenario of a crappy Super Bowl; especially when the two teams playing are so highly touted. But it can happen. A grind-it-out game that was over before it started; blah! We've been spoiled by two tremendous Super Bowls the past two years, but it's football, the game could be a flop. The Colts always win boring games.

Why the Saints will win:
1.) Offensive firepower. I'll see your Pierre Garรงon and raise you a Robert Meachem. The Saints have the ability to keep up with the Colts offensively. So far, the Colts have played two defensive running teams, and handled both fairly soundly. The Saints are a different breed. This time, the Colts can't feel vindicated when punting the ball for field position. If the presence of the Saints' offense on the sideline forces the Colts' offense to press too hard, then the Saints have a chance. 

2.) Touchdowns not field goals. The Saints have to remember one simple mathematical equation: 7>3. While it's no revelation that putting the ball in the endzone is better than kicking a field goal, I give the Saints a slight advantage in terms of their ability to put the ball in the endzone. Their offense is more dynamic and creative, and that creativity is paramount near the goal-line.

3.) The Saints will get the ball last. If the Super Bowl ends up being the shootout we are hoping for, then the Saints best chance is to end up with the ball last. This enables them to score without a rebuttal from the Colts' offense. 

Side notes: Both the Saints and Colts have won in Miami this season. The Colts defeated the Dolphins in week 2, and the Saints defeated the Dolphins in week 7... If this game is decided because an kicker misses a couple field goals, the NFL may need to rethink the policy on personal fouls on kickers (they may deserve to be personally fouled).

With that said, my official pick is (with line included):
Saints (+5.5) over Colts

Colts win 28-24, Saints cover.