Tanking to Win

I am an extremely competitive person. The very thought of throwing in the towel for an entire season would have never been on my radar. The audacity to strategically bench players is one that my personal mindset has never been on board for. But alas, when my teams name is in the mix, I succumb to the “what ifs”.

If you look in the latest ESPN headlines, you will see that Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban openly threw out the option of the Oklahoma City Thunder benching injury ridden all stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for the remainder of the season in order to enter  the draft lottery at the end of the season, and have a high draft pick to build a Championship contending team in the near future. Kevin+Durant+Oklahoma+City+Thunder+v+Los+Angeles+XUfj5WoA-skl

This theme of tanking a season is in no way a new idea. In fact, Cuban refers to the 1996-97 San Antonio Spurs who benched All-Star David Robinson which lead to them drafting Tim Duncan. The rest is history.

If we look at teams such as the Clevland Cavilers, who after being gutted by the departing of LeBron James in 2010, tanked for a season. They went on to receive Kyrie Irving in the lottery draft, and have now built a showcase of talent, as they are now back in the mix of contending for a title.

When I consider the options of whether I am on board for this tanking season, I immediately think of kobe2the Los Angeles Lakers. Upon the loss of Kobe Bryant to injury in 2013, the Lakers, rather than tanking the season and seeking redemption in the lottery, chose to fight it out, made it to the playoffs and lost 4-0 to the Spurs in the first round. This past season, they tanked, but rather than doing it on purpose, they did it due to a pitiful season. Their lousy 27-55 record would have at least had a small portion of light at the end of the tunnel, except rather than committing to the tanking season, to increase lottery odds, they tried to win each night, playing the starters and having no regard toward resting key players. That record was a mere 12 games behind the number one lottery pick. 12 more losses would have increased their odds at a number one pick by 25%. Those are fantastic odds!

We look at the past. What if they had benched their starters? What if they had tanked the 2013 season, and would have had a top five pick in both the 2013 and 2014, which would have played perfectly into the fact that Kobe is on borrowed time in his NBA career. Now, they are coming off two terrible seasons with a mediocre draft pick, and on track (though early in the season) to have another sorry season. TANK!

This discussion gets heated when brought before a National debate. Should we be allowing teams to purposely tank their season? Are their circumstances that would make it ok, such as injury?

When it comes to me personally, I am torn for my Oklahoma City Thunder this season. Though the season is young, it is not looking too bright for the home team. With many players on the injury list, the Thunder are left scraping the bottom to put five guys on the floor. Do they tank it? Do they continue on for dignity sake? The thought of it is tempting.

The fact is that contracts are coming to an end. The buzz of KD leaving OKC for another team such as Washington once his contract ends at the end of next season has shot around the sporting world as of late. Westbrook has a little more time to consider his options, as he and Ibaka are both under contract until the end of the 2016-2017 season. Perkins and Collison are an unknown as this is their last contracted season. I expect the Thunder will offer Collison a two year deal to try and squeeze a few2014 Oklahoma City Thunder Media Day more seasons out of the legend (Yes, I said legend. Don’t debate it), and Perk will be shipped off to leave cap space in order to try and keep the big three (KD, Russ, and Serge).

As Bob Dylan once sang, the times… they are a changing. There are shifts that are about to take place, and the Thunder don’t want to be on the wrong side of things when they decide to settle. If (and it is a large IF) there were a time to tank a season, this would be the one. It sets you up on a position to get another young guy to drive this already young roster if things go south in the KD deal. It logically can be pieced together, yet I am not ready to jump ship just yet.

Sam Presti and Scott Brooks have masterfully drafted in recent years to keep this thriving team going on young talent. Steven Adams, Perry Jones, and Jeremy Lamb could be the next big three for OKC. Time under the belt of the current All-Star cast, concocts a beautiful scenario. I believe the Thunder don’t need to tank. Stay strong, let injuries heal, and post-All Star break is going to be a plentiful harvest. That’s right Thunder faithful, as The Five Stairsteps once sang “Oooh child things are going to get easier. Oooh child things’ll get brighter.”

Thanks for reading The Sports Dish. I’d love to know what you thought of the piece in the comment section below.

Jeter, Dubya, and America’s Pastime

When I tell people that I am studying Broadcast Journalism in order to pursue my dream of Sports Broadcasting, they often ask what sport I would like to be involved in. I have never really been able to explain why, yet I have always said I would like to do something in baseball. They ask if that is y favorite sport to watch… I can honestly say that apart from August-October, I rarely sit down and watch an entire game. I eat and breath the stats, yet just don’t have the patience to sit through an entire game. However, live Baseball is somehow my favorite. There is the glam and circus like side show of the NBA, and the flames and cheerleading of the NFL, but at the end of the day baseball is like a good steak… it doesn’t need a single thing to compliment it because it is perfect all on it’s own. 

But why baseball has become my go to answer has nevertheless evaded to explain itself in my mind. Maybe it’s because I have been able to see some amazing games in my lifetime. My first was McGwire, Sosa in the summer of 98′. My second was Royals, Yankees in the summer of 03′ when the Royals broke the American League record for hits in a game. I have seen Homers, Grand Slams, and Walk offs. I have seen a perfect game through seven innings, heck I have even sang in a choir that performed the National Anthem. I love the game, and there for would love to do this the rest of my life. Though I have been extremely blessed in my 20 years to see some amazing things in the game of baseball, my favorite baseball memory happened last week before a ball was even pitched. 

As we know, this is Derek Jeter’s last season in the game, and it has been quite the roadshow to pay homage to the great Yankee throughout the season. Last week my dad, brother and I went to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to watch Jeter’s last stand. Before the game I was talking to my dad, who lives in the area and goes to several games, and I saidBUSH “you have been to some good games here, Opening Day, and such… You need to come to one where George Bush throws out the first pitch.”.

As the Jeter ceremony began, out comes Pudge Rodriguez and Michael Young to honor Jeter. Then, the announcer says to turn the attention to the video board and says “On September 11th, 2001 and the days after, nobody in the country was focused on the game of baseball. Yet, one moment in the game brought a new meaning to the game, and what it meant to be an American.” A video of George Bush then begins to play and he tells of him getting ready to throw the opening pitch of game three of the 2001 World Series… in Yankee Stadium. He tells of Jeter telling him to throw from the mound not in front, as that is a sign of weakness. He tells him “Mr. President, don’t bounce it… they will boo you.” You then see George Bush walk out with Joe Torre and Bob Brenly of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the crowd chanting US????????A, USA, USA. He zings the ball right over the plate, and the place erupts. 

The announcer then says to welcome the 43rd President of the United States of America, and this time Rangers Park went wild. I looked at my dad, and we are both teary eyed and emotional from the sheer meaning behind the game in that moment in 2001, and what it means even today. Though Bush didn’t throw out the first pitch, it was a fantastic tribute to Jeter, the President, and America. And that is why I love America’s Pastime. That is why I cannot wait to do this for the rest of my life. 

Here is the link to the Opening Pitch,

http://youtu.be/lpey3pragGA

Thank you for reading the Sports Dish, feel free to comment and like. 

Clipping the Fat

With breaking news about an hour ago, there is quite a bustle surrounding all the drama known as Donald Sterling. Bottom line is there is no room for racism. At the highest level of the sport quite literally paved with names of great black athletes, Sterling should be thanking the greats for making him the mogul that he is, yet ignorance exists, and in this case is not bliss. 

The respect surrounding the game reaches its climax this time of year as the pinnacle of the playoffs is before us. The playoffs bring to mind playoff greats, MVP’s, champions, all of which have never yielded to color, race, or creed.

The playoffs bring to mind some of memories fondest, so let us take a quick dabble into these heroes of sport;

 

Bill Russell, 11 Championships

Michael Jordan, most points in a playoff game at 63

Wilt Chamberlain, most field goals made in a age at 24

Magic Johnson, most assists in a game at 24

 

All of these men have names that stretch so much further than what they once did on a court. Their names will forever be in the history books, and be posterized by men and boys alike. However, it is one name on this list above that could be a point of interest in the coming days when it comes to the involvement with the LA Clippers. 

Theoretically speaking, my hunch is that Magic Johnson could be one of the candidates for the newly opened owner position in the coming weeks. Now, not to get ahead of myself, as yes, there is still a vote of whether or not Sterling will (which there is little doubt) be taken permanently out of the role of manager, and there are several months of work before this whole thing is settled, but none the less, there will be a new owner, and look for Magic to be a top contender and here is why. Image

Magic has proved a hugely successful partial owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He and Mark Walter of a huge LA cooperation have expressed huge interest in the ownership of the Lakers due to their numerous coaching misfires, and disgraceful seasons the past few years yet, the history behind the Lakers has made the purchase much more out of reach than once thought by the tandem. However, with this sudden door swinging open to another opportunity to make a West coast sports dynasty, Magic sits on the throne to take over, and rule this newly arising team. 

Whoever the new reigning man will be in LA, there is no doubt that commissioner Adam Silver made the right decision. It was time to take action, and it is good to see someone at the high level is Clipping the Fat. 

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Thanks for reading the Sports Dish!  

 

Completing the Trifecta

Each year I begin anew with a hope of eternal sports glory.

For myself? No, no. For a chance at sports fan history. A chance to gloat for a full 365 days, and forever on into sports fandom. This that I reference is noted as the trifecta. With three major American sports taking majority of the limelight, being basketball, baseball, and football, there is a chance for my favorite team to win in all three areas. This is no trivial matter, as any lucky sports fan can attest to the feeling of a single championship win, but how many can say that they achieved the trifecta? 

It begins this time every year. There is a wide open door come NBA Playoff time, and the first opportunity begins. NBA basketball is one of the more frustrating ones, as it truly can come down to the blow of a whistle. For me, the Oklahoma City Thunder hold the keys to open up the door to my first step in achieving the trifecta. Though the Thunder have yet to see their first championship, and despite the fact that they are down 2-1 to the Memphis Grizzlies right now, I hold out a glimmer of hope that this is the year. There is a chance to take a leap toward the first level. And then the waiting game begins until October. Image

Next, comes the most American tradition in sports. With the World Series bringing so much to the world of sports, it also brings with it the next step in sports fan history. Each year I as a fan endure three or four (depending on the wild card) rounds of pure joy, as my St. Louis Cardinals make their way toward the pennant. That glorious trophy means much more than just recognition for the year, but also, a second step toward my coveted prize.

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The weight is short between baseball and football, but boy is it agonizing. I have never been in the situation of waiting on the third and final championship being the only thing standing between me and fandom glory, but I can imagine the amount of excitement surrounding that time. As a fan of the Baltimore Ravens, I know what the feeling of glory is in my recent memory. Seeing Ray Lewis win his ring on the last season he would be playing, is a memory I won’t soon forget. Yet, with reconstruction, and a new team under the same coach, the Ravens have some work to do to achieve that Super Bowl again. 

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Each year I set out for the same goal. It comes in one form and requires complete perfection. Though I have had my teams win championships before, I, much like the players, am thirsty. Thirty for a satisfaction that only the trifecta can bring. 

God Bless Opening Day

What is it about Opening Day that is so spectacular? Baseball die hard or simply a casual fan, the start of a new season brings with it more than any sporting event opener there is. From the World Series champs to the lovable losers, every fan has a glimmer of hope on this day.Image

A hope that, that off season trade is the difference maker.

A hope that Global recruits are your ace pitcher.

A hope that injuries have since healed.

A hope that even the fans in Chicago may finally see their team win the pennant.

OK, so I knock on the Cubs a little too hard, but being raised a Cardinals fan has only lead me to find great delight in their misfortunes. That aside, the Curse of the Billy Goat, or even the name Steve Bartman can be put aside for this is a day of new hopes, new dreams, and new records. This is Opening Day.Image

Besides the beauty of a clean start, comes the start of Spring, comes patriotism at its core, and comes “America’s Pastime” in full force. It is simply American beauty at the ballpark as kids ride their fathers shoulders wearing matching jerseys, friends wrap arms as they sing an off pitch version of Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and the smell of fried food, and chili dogs stain your nostrils.

America needs Opening Day. Every President since Taft (with the sad exception of Jimmy Carter) has thrown out an opening pitch on Opening Day. It contests Independence Day as the most patriotic holiday there is, and though not officially recognized as a Holiday just yet, Opening Day gives freedom from the world, and offers a one of a kind experience.

So whether you are catching all 13 games while in the comfort of your home, office, or Sports Bar, or you have that golden ticket to see your team soar to victory giving you such high hopes for this season, celebrate today. Celebrate God’s gift to sImageports. 


God Bless America, and God Bless Baseball.

Taming a Tiger known as Richard Sherman

When I mention the fact that the Seattle Seahawks won this past Sunday sadly here is probably only one thing that comes to your mind… Richard Sherman. Yes, this street bred, Stanford tuned, top tier cornerback made quite a post game debacle due to his passionate words. What I took away however is more than likely the minority report as to what others may have seen. What I saw was this,

1. A player who made one incredible play.

2. A tiger who has been held by its tail, taunted, tormented, and poked at with the perfect chance to show his fury.

Richard Sherman believe it or not is not crazy. Richard Sherman believe it or not isn’t a thug. Richard Sherman believe it or not is one incredible corner, and is on track to a hall of fame career. Were his words a mistake? Absolutely not. When you watch football, and in particular your favorite team what do you expect to see? I expect to watch men snarl and tear at each other whether that be on the line, behind it, or deep down field. I expect them to play like every play will put them into the Super Bowl. I expect every thrown ball to be a chance at making a huge career defining play. Though I am not a devout Seahawks fan, I am a fan of a passionate play, a passionate player, and a defining moment. Richard Sherman though he only had two tackles and the lone pass defense, made one key play when it mattered. He made the play that put his team into the biggest game on the biggest stage sports can offer.  For that Richard Sherman I as a sports fan thank you.

In reference to the tiger, we expect our players to play like tigers on the field. We expect ruthless plays. So why should we expect anything different from them after it has been accomplished? Look at the interview with Erin Andrews. He was asked this question with full adrenaline, filled with testosterone, and just had the opportunity to put down every “hater” that has ever approached him (the likes of which are Michael Crabtree, numerous Wide Receivers, Steven A Smith, and arguably the most known Skip Bayless). The media has ragged on Sherman his whole career due to his obnoxious mouth. Yes he has a very loud mouth, but does he not back it up? Wide Receivers and Quarterbacks alike hate the kid yet they can’t seem to prevent him from a combined forty nine tackles, and eight interception season. He is incredibly talented, and until the day that he isn’t any more let the tiger roar. He deserves it. And when media beat his personality up and they want to throw his name in the mud, don’t be afraid when he turns around and bites. Image

Role Models

I wanted to try something new today that I haven’t done before. It will require a couple of things from the reader to be any bit successful, and for that I request that if you enjoy this bit at all you comment your opinions or reblog it for others to see it and comment. (I promise this isn’t a ploy for followers only wanting success here).

So without further adieu I present a debate question. 

Question: Should athletes be considered role models?

My opinion: Look at what the players stand for. Who can honestly say that they have never had a sports hero? I in particular still have a Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, and Mark McGwire poster in my own bedroom, and I am nineteen years old. I have idolized players both on and off the court or field for as long as I can remember. I’d whisper “and Tiger Woods has this putt left for the Masters” every time i would be on the practice green. I firmly believe there is a natural attraction to athletes that give us a hope as kids that we can be like them. We grow older watching them until they retire then we pick a new member of our favorite team, and talk about when “(insert name) hit that walk off home run in the 11th inning”.

The good ole days.

But, if we choose foolishly, our favorite players can really dig a hole in our heart as we watch turmoil of stupidity play out on a national stage. We can hear words like “I’m not here to talk about the past”, “I’ve made my share of mistakes”, or “I’m not the most believable guy right now”. (Mark McGwire, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong). We can get so wrapped up in the thoughts that they are superhuman that we forget that they are human, with human problems, and human mistakes. 

Where my opinion comes in is where you break down the whole role model idea. You can’t have a role model who hasn’t ever messed up. In taking one on, you have to be prepared for a halfway tainted view f them if something in the media surfaces that isn’t ideal. If you can honestly accept both their success and failures, then sports role models are perfect, and should be had by all. 

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Now it’s your turn to comment and tell me what you think! Even if you’re a person reading because my mom posted this to her Facebook (thanks mom) you can still comment. I want this to be fun, and the results will lead to whether or not I choose to do another debate forum. Thanks you for your time, the read, and participation with the Sports Dish.