Stanley Cup Finals…Red Wings Victory tour?

May 28, 2008

Here you go Bill…

This one was supposed to be one for the ages.  The series that everyone thought could put the Stanley Cup on televisions everywhere. A true showcase of the talent the NHL has, and most importantly what is to come.  So far, its been….EEeehhh….

The Redwings who are up 2-0 going to Pittsburgh tonight have goalkeeper Chris Osgood to thank. The Wings made the switch to bench the Dominater, Hasek, and Osgood hasn’t looked back since.  His 19 save effort in game one, and his 22 save effort in game two has put a stone wall between the pipes.  Oh by the way, that is the first consecutive shut out effort since 2003.  Osgood has been in a word: flawless.

The other notable point is the absence of dazzling play by the face of the league Sidney Crosby.  Crosby clearly has been having issues getting open shots and freeing up space to work in.  The Redwings ability to sit on the puck probably has something to do with it.  Just look at the Penguins 41 shots on goal in the two games.

For the most part the series has been all Redwings all the time.  The Penguins are yet to show up.  As the series shifts to Pittsburgh, the Pens will look to even things up as soon as possible.  They are yet to lose a game at home during the play offs.  Malkin and Crosby will be sure to show up and I expect to see them break the scoreless streak they have had going.  Don’t fret though Detroit fans, Ozzie and the boys will have something to say about it, no doubt…

 

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Proof our species should be extinct…

May 22, 2008

So do you ever have one of those moments when the world just slows down for you in order to see something just a enough for it to make an impact on you….You know what I mean, say Hmmm, or What the heck?  I find myself having more and more of those these days.  The latest, really made me question mankind and why our species isn’t extinct.

Forget the fact that we are the most advanced species that Earth has ever seen, with the ability to think and reason on our own, have feelings in addition to the primal ones, utilize aposable thumbs, quite FRANK-LY we can really be stupid.

So let me set the scene.  It is about 3 pm at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York(http://www.turningstone.com/).  I was there for my actual paying job getting ready to set up for a show.  As the white noise of the hotel began to engulf me, clanging of slot machines, dealers chatting it up, cocktail waitresses asking for drinks, I stopped to make sure I was walking toward the convention center.  My eyes, looking down at the solid strip of carpet began to move up slowly to look for signage to point me in the right direction.  The first sign that I saw was one that is getting more and more common these days, “This is a Non-smoking area, Thank you.”  It was placed just before a slot machine section toward the first row of the action, on the main entrance way into the casino.  My thought was, “they won’t even let you smoke in a hotbed of sin like this, were can you smoke?”  Then, the sign began to blur and my eyes moved on to catch a large puff of smoke rising above it.  Was it my body internally combusting? No.  Was it a slot machine getting ready to blow up, only to have it hit the triple jackpot as I stand before it looking for directions? No.  Snoop Dogg? No.  It was a blond women, roughly in her mid to late 30’s, sitting in a chair next to the no smoking sign and her father.  Her father was in the chair next to her, feeding the nickel slot.  When I noticed, the man was hooked up to an OXYGEN TANK.  So let’s recap.  Do not smoke sign, check.  Sign violator, check.  Sign violator with dear old dad, attempting to rush him to his maker, check.

I mean seriously, I would have loved to see the look on my face as I came across this scene.  The surreal moment left me scratching my head.  How can a species who went to the moon, invented the Internet, computers, the wheel, fire(an underlying issue of the problem at hand), eBay and TiVO, be the same idiots that can’t read a sign next to their father who looks like he and the grim reaper could have lunch any minute now.  So, your probably asking, Jon you were in a casino, how do you know she was related, she could have been an escort?  Yes, that is true, but I heard her say, “Dad, do you need me to push the chair up so you can reach the lever?”

I am in no way perfect, but doesn’t that just make you wonder…


Love affair with the AFL…

May 14, 2008

I recently had the opportunity to attend an Arena Football game.  I came away really impressed, and totally sold.  For those of you that don’t know, Cleveland’s arena team is the Gladiators.  Formerly the Las Vegas Gladiators, Bernie Kosar made a power play and brought them to Cleveland.  For this sportsfan, anything I can do to extend the football season.

The league is so fan friendly, I almost wasn’t sure what to do about it.  Come on, fan interference is embraced.  Jon Bon Jovi is one of the owners.  Ron Jaworski goes to every game of the team that he is partial owner of.(Philadelphia Soul) Which is more then I can say for Bon Jovi, that decided not to grace Clevelanders with is presence. You can pound dudes into walls, not to mention there are points, points and more points….Did I mention that Bon Jovi owns one of the teams.

I have left the official website below for you to check out.

http://www.arenafootball.com/

The AFL officially has a new fan…I can’t wait to cover the next game.


Happy Mother’s Day

May 10, 2008

This Sunday is Mother’s Day.  So as your local neighborhood sports blog, we are reminding you to acknowledge your mom.  She’s delt with every stupid thing that you have ever done, said, or thought.  She’s guided you from birth, even when you thought you new it all.

Most of the time, the mom’s of the world really just want to spend time with you.  So get your butt to the nearest American Greetings store and pick up a card for her. Schedule at least an hour to sit with her, tell her you love her, or do some manual labor…Your good for it…Besides, she’s been doing that stuff for you fo years.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!


Draft Recap…NFC Style

May 8, 2008

Here is part two of the Frank-ly sports draft recap.  The NFC was just as productive, if not more so.  Slowly but surely the NFC tightens the gap team by team to the AFC. Sorry this is awfully late, things get really busy when the weather gets nice.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys: Grade A: Jerry Jones was wheelin’ and dealin’ this draft day baby.  He loaded up on young talent.  Felix Jones from Arkansas will be instant impact as Marion Barber’s back up.  He’ll be that quick change of pace that every NFL team needs.  In addition to that, he’s pretty electrifying as a kick returner, so he’ll have plenty of chances to touch the football.  Staying on the same tip, I love the TashardChoice pick. Even though the backfield will be crowded, I watched a lot of Choice in college and he has NFL written all over him.  He as speed and quickness, but is as physical as they come.  He could probablybe a starter in the league someday.  Next is Mike Jenkins out of South Florida.  He was probably one of the top 5 CB’s in the draft, and Dallas was able to get him and Jones in round one.  He should see playing time early.  The Cowboys were also able to add some nice depth with Boise State corner Orlando Scandrick.  He won’t have to play early, but can learn the system and play in the nickel.  Tight End Martellus Bennett is another nice athletic target, and will be a great compliment to the Boys’ offense.  The rich get richer this year.

New York Giants: Grade B+:  The G-men’s class was solid from top to bottom.  They got the best safety in the draft in Miami’s Kenny Phillips, that will allow for yet another blitzer and playmaker to use on an already stout defense.  USC corner Terrell Thomas wasn’t a great pick, considering PSU’s Dan Connor was still on the board, but it added some nice depth.  USC guys are typically pretty “NFL ready” with the system that Pete Carroll runs in LA.  I think the steal for the Giants was Mario Manningham.  Manningham was by far the best WRin the Big 10(11), and easily one of the most dangerous in the country.  Although he was injured from time to time, Manningham will create some great mismatches for Eli Manning and the Giants offense.  With Steve Smith emerging, Amani Toomer, David Tyree, Plaxico Burress, DJ Hall and Sinorice Moss, it might be tough to get balls thrown his way.  Toomer is getting older, and Moss gets bit by the injury bug every year, so maybe it won’t be that bad…Unless Jeremy Shockey has something to say about it.

Philadelphia Eagles: Grade B: The Iggles covered all their needs this year.  Most importantly at Wide Receiver.  Cal’s DeSean Jackson will give McNabb a lightning target to go to.  Jackson  can make big plays on special teams as well.  My favorite pick for Philly was, yes you guest it, Notre Dame’s Trevor Laws.  Laws can play inside and out, and was probably the number 3 DT in the draft.  Dorsey and Ellis being one and two.  Laws has a great motor that the fans in Philly will love.  He led the ND defense last year with over 100 tackles.  He’ll be a solid pro, and has a great nose for the ball.  He uses his hands well, and runs good enough for a man his size.

Washington Redskins: Grade B-:  The Skins’ neglected to get a good defensive linemen, which they are in need of.  However, weapons were the name of the game for them, and they got three good ones.  Wide Receivers Devin Thomas and Malcom Kelly can fly.  They both have big play ability and can make an impact quickly with Randle-El hurt.  This will give the Redskins some nice targets when the entire group is together(Santana Moss, Randle-El, Kelly, Thomas, and Thrash).  Pair them up with Clinton Portis and you might reallyhave something there.  Tight End Fred Davis is probably the most talented TE in the draft, so more weapons for Jason Campbell. The pick I hate is Colt Brennan.  Sorry Colt, your a product of the system like Timmy Chang.  You didn’t play well in the Senior Bowl or its practices, you played in a less then desireable conference with weak competition, you got owned by Georgia in your biggest test of the year, and you don’t really have a strong arm.  Good luck in the AFL, that is much more your style anyway.

NFC North

Chicago Bears: Grade C:  Quick public service announcement to the Chicago Bears: You should have picked Brian Brohm when you had the chance.  The grade is that low because they didn’t address their most glaring need, the quarterback position.  I like Rex Grossman, I always have and I always will, but he’s not the guy. Sorry.  Marcus  Monk is an interesting pick, he has the big play potential that they need in Chicago, but there is no guarantee that the QB will get him the football.  Tulane’s Matt Forte has an interesting position right now.  He could be the opening day starter if he protects the football and doesn’t get beat down by anyone.  This will be a running back by comitte early, as the Bears continue to look for an offensive identity.  Vanderbilt Tackle Chris Williams is a nice pick, and will be a starter in this league for a long time.  If he learns to play with better leverage, he will be an All-Pro.

Detroit Lions: Grade D:  What a mess, the Lions really needed Jerod Mayo or one of the other top LB’s to come their way, or they needed Jonathon Stewart to fall into their lap.  Neither happened.  The Lions best pick of the day was the University of Central Florida’s Kevin Smith.  Smith is a workhorse back, coming only 61 yards shy of Barry Sanders record of 2,628 yards in a season.  He should get every opportunity to push the other Detroit RB’s.

Green Bay Packers: Grade B-:  This class has depth, but most importantly it contains the heir to the QB thrown in Green Bay with Brian Brohm.  Brohm is a gifted passer that can throw it into tight windows.  He is a good leader, and can even make plays when the chips are down.  Brohmand late rounder Matt Flynn will push Aaron Rodgersall of camp.  He’ll either be the starter, or carry the clip board.  After some limited time last year, Rodgers looks ready.  We’ll see.  WR Jordy Nelso was an unneccessary pick, but is a Green Bay Style player.  Hard nosed, likes contact and can play all day.

Minnesota Vikings: Grade B:  I’m counting newly acquired DE Jared Allen in this draft as well.  He’ll upgrade this defense once again. Arkansas State DB Tyrell Johnson might get beat up a little bit due to the competition that he played against in college.  However, he’ll get a shot to be the nickel back for the Vikings early, as pass defense was a problem spot for them.  I like the John David Booty pick.  As I’ve said before, he’s NFL ready, and has a stronger arm then people think.  At USC, he played in a west coast offense and didn’t really have to throw the ball down field that much.  He’ll make the plays and command the huddle.  Besides, even if he’s a bust, he’ll look great handing the ball off to AP.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons: Grade B: Some experts graded the Falcons out lower because the failed to get one of the top defensive linemen.  Hey, you gotta replace Mike Vick man.  Matt Ryan is a solid guy with intangibles.  He can make the throws, and will certainly stay out of trouble.  OL Sam Baker and LB Curtis Lofton can make an impact quickly.  Filling the vacancy left by DeAngelo Hall will be LSU’s Chevis Jackson.  The DB is tall, talented, and can make plays.  Too bad he can’t return punts like Hall did.

Carolina Panthers: Grade A:  Oregon RB Jonathon Stewart will infuse some life into the backfield, and he could be the opening day starter.  OL Jeff Otah should move right into the tackle spot and help the offense immediately.  The steal of the day one came with Penn State’s Dan Connor.  No doubt about it, Connor has a nose for the football.  Connor can play inside or out, and is versitale enough to cover tight ends and RB’s.  John Fox will love him.

New Orleans Saints:  Grade B:  Sedrick Ellis will make plays all day.  He dominated in the Senior Bowl practices as well as the game.  He’ll fit nicely into the Saints defense that desperately need some inside presence.  He made an already good defense, better. North Carolina State DT DeMario Pressley will be another nice young player for New Orleans.  He has a reputation for being a little inconsistent, but if he stays on the field they’ll have a great pair of young DT’s.  A sleeper pick is the other Michigan wide out, Adrian Arrington. He probably could have gone higher if he didn’t have so many off the field altercations with ex-girlfriends etc.  Arringtonis tall and rangy and can make plays.  You could probably call him a poor mans James Hardy.  With the pass happy Saints offense, Arrington could be a nice compliment to make plays in the redzone.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:Grade C+:  The only big name they got was Aquib Taleb.  Taleb is talented, but he has character issues.  He can make plays though, with his high risk, high reward style.  Appalachian State WR Dexter Jackson is a burner.  He’s a bit undersized, but he’ll fit nicely in John Gruden’s west coast offense.  He’ll even help in special teams.  Jackson played in small time competition, but played big in the biggest game of them all, Michigan.  South Carolina RB Cory Boyd is a nice pick, and could see time mid-season with the oft-injured Cadillac Williams(remind me not to draft him this year in fantasy football!).  San Diego QB Josh Johnson is interesting.  He’s got a nice skill set, and can make plays with his feet.  Perhaps with some work, Gruden can make a nice starter out of him.  He’s definitely a project, but has a ton of upside.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals:Grade B: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is an explosive DB and should be a starter for Arizona.  Cromartie and Antrel Rolle give the Cardinals two nice shut down corners that can run and tackle. Clemson’s Calais Campbell is a nice player that will compete early in the season.  LSU wide receiver Early Doucet needs sometime to get used to NFL play, but he runs pretty good routes.  Fitzgerald and Boldin will be his biggest issue, not his ability.  Arizona also acquired LSU linebacker Ali Highsmith.  Highsmith was a disappointment in his pro day work out, but if his speed improves, he could turn out to be a nice outside rush player.  In an NFL that is big on specialists, I could see Highsmith doing some nice things there.

St. Louis Rams: Grade D:  Chis Long can play.  He’ll make his old man proud.  The Virginia DE staked his claim as the number two impact player in the draft on the defensive side of the ball at the NFL combine.  There was even a month when experts thought that he’d be the Long that ended up in Miami.  Aside from him, there isn’t a lot to write home about for Rams fans.

San Francisco 49ers: Grade D: Wow, two D’s in a row.   The 49ers only had six picks this year, but that didn’t stop them from making zero impact on their team.  The only real bright spot is Oklahoma Safety Reggie Smith.  He was a little overrated in the draft, but will hit you in the mouth.  Don’t believe me, here watch this:  

 Seattle Seahawks:Grade C:  The Seahawks really needed wide receiver help this year or they needed to at least get younger at the position.  They failed there.  However, they did get a nice TE in John Carlson, who is a gamer with great hands.  Carlson is also a pretty good blocker and will fit the Holgren offense really well.  The other decent pick comes in the form of a full back.  West Virginia Owen Schmitt is as intense a player as you’ll ever see.  He is the type of FB that loves to hit you, carry the ball and catch it out of the back field.  He has deceptive speed, and is capable of getting 10-15 carries a game.  Cal’s Justin Forsett is looking to get playing time early with Shaun Alexander on his way out one way or the other.  Forsett is a bit small, but could be an OK fit with the lateral running in the west coast offense.


Rookies you should root for this year…

May 7, 2008

We have all had our favorite players.  Some of those players have gone onto greatness, some have gone onto sell used cars.  The exciting thing about sports is being on the bandwagon at the right time, and being able to hero-worship your brains out for those men and women that we love to watch dominate.  Most of the names are easy, our parents and grandparents watched Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Bill Russell, Gordie Howe, Arnold Palmer, Bjorn Borg, and Jim Brown to name a few.  My generation latched onto Michael Jordan, Barry Sanders, Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Tiger Woods, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.  Today’s kids have the new breed of athele like Shawn White, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Sidney Crosby, and Michele Wie.  But what about the guys people love during their 15 minutes, and forget like what they had for dinner lastnight. what about the unsung heroes. I’m here to give you a list of guys from the NFL draft this weekend that you NEED to keep an eye on.  You need to root for, and you need to hope see get a chance to fulfill a dream.  Just like you and I did as we won the World Series in the 9th with a grand slam, hit the game winning jumper as time expired, put a wrister top in a shoot out for the cup, or went “over the top” in the Super Bowl.

Pierre Garcon-WR Mount Union College-Indianpolis Colts:  Only the second of two Mount Union Purple Raiders to even show at the NFL combine, was a sixth round pick for the Colts.  I’m sure there is no place Garcon would rather be then in the pass happy Colts offense with Peyton Manning.  Garcon is a playmaker, being the all-time leading WR in Mount Union History.  Hopefully there are enough balls to go around for him to make the team.  Garcon can handle the deep ball, return punts, and is certainly tough enough to work the middle, standing at 6 feet, 210.  Garcon is hoping that he can step in and make an impact just as Anthony Gonzalez did.  He’ll have to be patient, make plays and have good mini-camp.

Caleb Campbell-Safety Army-Detroit Lions:  Campbell was a 7th round pick, but don’t be fooled, this soldier can play.  He tallied over 300 tackles, 6 INT, 9 pass break ups, had 6 forced fumble and one fumble recovery.  His 4.5 speed and tenacity had NFL scouts looking all the time.  The unique part about Campbell is that since he’s drafted his terms in the Army will be slightly adjusted.  He’ll work during his spare time as a recruiter in his area.  He’ll use his experience at the U.S. Army, love for his country and the fulfillment of his NFL dream as post to hang his hat on for future cadets.  I must say I ususally have a soft spot for the military, part of me thinks I probably should have been for a while, but Campbell will no doubt be an inspiration to the people of his native state Texas, children everywhere, but most of all, the men and women serving over seas that give us the ability to do what we do everyday.  Give em’ hell Caleb…


Notre Dame Spring Game

May 7, 2008

Clausen played pretty well for the Blue SquadThis year the Irish take on an entirely new way of life.  A coach that wants to spend more time coaching by giving up just about everything he’s responsible for, ridiculous alumni expectations, overcoming the worst record in Notre Dame history, polishing up the dome, and for the most part getting back to basics.  Some would call that a rebuilding process, some a pile of bull, but for the college football and  Irish faithful(like myself), it gives us a glimmer of hope that college football will be back sooner then later.

Everything seems to be new this year in South Bend.  The Irish have the same ornery coach, with some slightly different duties, the offense has a new OC, the defense has the same DC, but a new guy helping in the box, and that same guy is the new assistant head coach.  They even went out and got a new spring game and special teams ideas.  Will that result in a new and improved win-loss record, let’s hope so.

The final score of the game was 47-46, but don’t be alarmed, both offense and defense were given points for stops, first downs, 10+ yard plays, sacks, and turnovers among other things. The offense was lead by a bulked up Jimmy Clausen(now 212) and an amped up Robert Hughes.  Hughes won the MVP of the game, totaling 22 pumps for 100 yards even.  Most importantly, it showed that the young players could indeed play.  And yes we know, the defense is vanilla, no one is at game speed, and there is constant game stoppage, but people still have to make plays as practice goes on right?

The WR’s showed that the maturation process is on, and that there could be some gamebreakers in teh bunch.  Duval Kamara caught the game winning TD on a pass from Clausen and totaled 4 catches for 48 yards.  The guy that I really like and who definately needs to see the rock is Golden Tate.  Tate has got game no matter how you slice it.  Weis needs to have him return kicks, punts, in the slot, and going deep often.  His athleticism is something that makes me think back just a few years to when a guy named Samardzija was running around. Tate had 7 catches for 73 yards.  Overall the wide outs looked much improved, and that was without stud incoming freshmen Michael Floyd playing.  Floyd could be starting by the mid-way point.  Looking at Kamara, Tate, Grimes,  Parris, and West, there is a good mix of size and speed.  With Floyd coming in, I feel like West or Grimes could be the odd men out.  Grimes has got plenty of talent but had the drops last year.  West can never stay healthy enough to make an impact.  What gives them some breathing room is that Tate is still learning the position.  That will give one of them time to really step up.  So far, Grimes should have a slight lead.

All the RB’s can play, but Hughes has solidified himself as the starter.  He’s physical and quick, but most of all he finishes plays.  Originally I’ve always liked oft-injured James Aldridge, who totaled only 18 yards on 6 carries.  He’ll be there as a nice back to spell Hughes.  Armando Allen has really been disappointing to me despite a solid effort at the spring game.  Last year he didn’t show the speed and ability that head coach Charlie Weis said he had.  He’ll probably be the #2 back behind Hughes after his 11 for 50 day.

The defense also showed that they finally have some depth.  Especially in the secondary.  Darrin Walls had a quiet day, but a mainstay with the defense.  The starting four should look like this, Walls and Lambert at CB’s, David Bruton and Kyle McCarthy at Safeties.  Gary Gray should be the nickel back and Harrison Smith is a nice hybrid player that will see time at bot safety and corner probably.  Smith had  only INT of the game gripping it 15 yards for a TD.  Blue and Gold Illustrated said that emotion was emphasized bye Coach Weis this spring. Smith definatetly gave the fans something the cheer about.  The 34 defense of Corwin Brown and John Tenuta had 6 TFL, 3 sacks and 2 pass break ups.  What that shows me is that guys are settling into their rolls and its still early in the spring for the  offensive line.  Starters there should be Sam Young, Chris Stewart, Dan Wenger, Eric Olsen and Paul Duncan.  Don’t be surprised to see Michael Turckovich or Trevor Robinson though.  Robinson has been making some headlines with his size and strength in the spring.

All and all, the spring game gave us a good look at the actual ability that some of these players possess.  Gluing it all together and making it work is Weiss’ job.  You can see the potential staring us all right in the face, the question is will it boom or bust.

Please boom Charlie, please boom…