Monday, March 31, 2008

5 Questions With Lisa Guerrero

If you ever watched ABC’s Monday Night Football in 2003 you noticed the talented Lisa Guerrero with the envious position of interviewing players and coaches on the sidelines. Covering everything in her career from the NFL to figure skating, she has been a regular fixture on Inside Edition as well.

Lisa’s early career as a Los Angeles Rams cheerleader started her sideline presence. Later, she was entertainment director for the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots. A regular on The Best Damn Sports Show Period when it began, she earned the title of “hardest working person in sports” from the Los Angeles Times. Not just a pretty face, this multi-talented correspondent has philanthropic pursuits that include The Salvation Army and The Special Olympics. More recently, she has been pursuing her acting career and added the new title of producer to her resume. She so graciously came out of the spotlight for a moment to answer my five questions.

1. What do you consider the most significant event in sports that you have been a part of in your lifetime?

When Los Angeles hosted the Olympics in 1984, I was a placard bearer for the country of Belgium for the opening and closing ceremonies. In addition, I was basically a guide for many of the international athletes. At the time I was a Los Angeles Rams Cheerleader and I really enjoyed being involved with all of the other athletes and organizations to showcase Los Angeles. It was great that all Americans could come together on an international stage. I’ll never forget how proud I was seeing the whole community come together. The Los Angeles area changed traffic patterns so that spectators could get to all the events since they were spread out. It was a great indicator of how an economy can take time out to support sports.

2. What teams do you like to follow? How does one remain unbiased when reporting about a rival to your hometown favorite? Does it matter to be unbiased in sports?

Since I grew up in Southern California, the San Diego Chargers and San Diego Padres were my first favorites. My father took me to Padres games when I was like eight years old and taught me how to score baseball. In high school I was inspired by the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers since there was nothing like them that had every came out of the NBA. I’ve always been a bit West Coast biased in sports and became a huge fan of the Pac 10. Since most sports reporting came out of the East, the Pac 10 never got much attention as a viable division. Media personalities are only human and have natural bias. Since I’ve always been more of a “personality” and not a reporter that simply gives the headlines, I was allowed an opinion. When I was on The Best Damn Sports Show Period I was expected to have opinions and that really makes for better television. So, it really depends on your role as a journalist. I was the only woman in Los Angeles doing this fifteen years ago and I have a more glamorous look than the cookie-cutter image that is expected of women sports journalists. Men have very different personalities and looks – Stewart Scott, Jim Rome, John Madden, and the others are not the same and women should not be expected to be of the same mold either.

3. When did you know that covering sports was something you wanted to do? Do men in your field give you the same respect and courtesy they give male colleagues? What advice would you give other women aspiring to be in your position?

When I started, I was already and actress and model and I got into sports because I was a sports fan. I was very fortunate and got every single job that I auditioned for in sports – I was 12 for 12! It’s definitely changed now. Today, I would not start as an actress and model but would go to college and get the journalism degree. For me, I started acting when I was eight years old and was on-camera full-time in my teens and twenties and had a series of lucky breaks. I got a lot of respect from the men in the locker rooms and media since they knew it was more difficult for me. I had to know my sports. After I gained my credibility at the local level I never had any problems with sports media until Monday Night Football. They thought I was just some model hired to read cards and not a credible sports personality. As the ratings increased so did the negativity. I’m confident about my sports media skills and knowledge and wasn’t surprised that I became successful. I had worked many years to get to that level.

4. Other than sports, what else are you passionate about?

Acting is definitely my passion! My father put me in theater therapy when I was eight years old to deal with the death of my mother. I love how acting allows me artistic expression and connections with what is going on around me. I’ve been acting for some time and was on Sunset Beach, Frasier, and George Lopez to name a few. Many times I even played a reporter!

5. So what are you doing now? What can we see from you in the future?

Right now I am busy promoting my new movie, A Plumm Summer. I am really passionate about this project. It is a lot like the movies we went to when we were growing up – no animation and special effects – just a good story. I was so excited to get the role since it is very different than how people normally perceive me. The character is a mother in 1960’s Montana that is a strong woman dealing with a real family trauma. She’s far away from the glamorous faces of Hollywood for sure. One of the originally cast actors dropped out early in the production and then the financing fell through. My husband and I had been searching for our first production and this was the perfect opportunity. We recast everyone and got great actors like Henry Winkler and William Baldwin to sign on and we were off! We had to call in a lot of favors but we really felt the script was strong and that we couldn’t have fallen into a better piece for our first production! I’ve spent the majority of my life interviewing others and now I’ve been able to accomplish something myself that I will appreciate and be proud of for years to come.

A Plumm Summer opens April 25th in Los Angeles, Montana, the Twin Cities, and Birmingham, AL. The film will hit nationwide two weeks later if all goes as planned. Go out and support Lisa’s first production on its opening weekend and get the word out!

You can see the trailer and more on the website here. To keep up with everything Lisa is working on, check her official website here.

Update - check out what is going on with Lisa and A Plumm Summer at this post here.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Sports Wrap - March 30, 2008

Another Sunday and plenty of sports to go around! March Madness is in hyper drive and some brackets are still intact…somewhere…

Texas and Memphis go at it today for the right to play in the Final Four. UCLA is going for the third straight year with the win over Xavier yesterday.

There are a few MLB games going on today. Much more exciting is that Opening Day is tomorrow! I know I’m stoked about it since I’ve got some decent field box seats for the opener at Chavez Ravine.

There’s plenty of action in the world of the Beautiful Game today. In the MLS Dallas plays Chivas USA and is ahead so far 1-0. The Premier League saw Newcastle defeat Tottenham 4-1, Liverpool defeat Everton 1-0, and Chelsea over Middlesbrough 1-0. AC Milan fell to Atalanta today 2-1 in the Serie A. World Cup qualifying rounds are taking place also with British Virgin Islands v. Bahamas and Cayman Islands v. Bermuda.

The Zurich Classic is the news in the PGA today. Stuart Cink caused some hubbub with a questionable shot so far today. Oh, and look, the ubiquitous Peyton and more reserved Eli Manning are in the announcer’s booth being interviewed. Of course, Peyton did all of the talking while Eli sat there and smiling and nodding to his older siblings musings about golf and the NFL.

The International Surfing Association’s World Master’s Surfing Championships are going on now through April 6th in Punta Rocas, Peru. You can catch live webcasts on their site.

Today in sports history:

1990 – Jack Nicklaus made his debut in the “senior’s” golf tournament

1889 – John T. Reid, opens the first golf course in the United States

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Kobe Bryant is a Meany and Tiger Woods has Potty Mouth

Some big news this week in the NBA is that the Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant is mean to the referees. SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, and local news have all highlighted that he is reportedly the cruelest in the league to the refs and gives them the most bellyaching of any player. This is the same group of individuals that had a gambler fixing games in their midst. (Amazing how quickly that got swept under the rug…)

As much as we may have issues with players and referees in the NBA it could be far worse. Take the Premier League and Serie A for example. Prominent players in the Premier League have actual fears of the referees and question remaining in the League. Still others urge fair treatment of these often-battered fixtures of the game and try to protect them from rival clubs. The Serie A has been subject to very recent fixing scandals involving the refs. Unfortunately, throughout this sport referee scandals happen with frequency.

In other exciting sports news, Tiger Woods says the F word. The horror! This is nothing new in golf and I would venture to guess that many other beloved players have uttered profanities on the golf course. At the driving ranges I frequent, it is quite common to hear colorful expletives regularly.

Just once, let’s hear a happy news story about an athlete. Here’s a headline you can start with: LeBron James is still with his high school sweetheart.

Friday, March 28, 2008

5 Driving Ranges to Try in the Los Angeles Area

There are a plethora of courses and driving ranges in Southern California, each with their own unique appeal. This post is about the five ranges I frequent in Los Angeles County with their pros and cons. One is sure to suit your needs for working on your game.

1. Long Beach Golf Learning Center: 3701 Pacific Place, Long Beach, CA. 90806. (562)981-7050. This is basically a Roger Dunn Golf Shop with a driving range attached. The retail store is a quite bit smaller than the others in the chain and the stock is limited. There are no women’s clothing items whatsoever and only a very small selection of women’s gloves – mostly right-handed. I’ve bought a Callaway baseball cap here and that’s really it other than range balls. However, it is a nice thing to have it attached to a range since you can try out all of the new clubs. Fortunately the club selection is adequate and the staff is always wiling to order what you need if they don’t have it in stock. The range has a grass section and a mat section that has both covered and open stalls for the mats. There is also a small cafĂ© that has friendly service and a small area where the Golf Channel is always on. One of the best golf instructors in the area, Paul Young, is also based here. The hardest part about the location is actually getting there. If you get off the 405 at Pacific, you have to make a u-turn in front of the Metro station and drive straight. It will look like you are going to hit a dead end or the freeway north, but just go straight and it will suddenly appear. There’s ample parking and mostly laid-back attitudes as well.

2. Rancho Park Golf Club: 10460 Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA. 90064. (310) 838-7373. The course here is touted as the busiest in the nation. It’s quite beautiful and right in the heart of the Rancho Park/Century City area of west Los Angeles. Parking can be problematic as this place is quite popular but I’ve always found a spot eventually. The putting green is frequently crowded and you often have to wait for a stall at the range. This is the only place in the area where I’ve been where random patrons will decide they want to help me with my golf swing. I always go with my husband, and it’s quite obvious we’re together, but men will still walk up and start telling me how I should be hitting the ball. In addition, this is the most pretentious range in the area. It’s a public course, but some of the players have an elitist attitude and will even talk trash if they think you are doing something wrong. One of the guys in the pro shop even told me that there were a lot of a**holes that went there. He was definitely right. Other than attitude, there are quite a few smokers at times and it can get overwhelming. As you can deduce, this is not my favorite place to hit but I’ll pop in every so often during off times to change things up. They have a small pro shop that has mostly shoes and gloves and a restaurant that serves your typical “range food”. O.J. Simpson used to be a regular here and Bill Clinton played a round when he was president. The historic locale has also hosted major PGA events in the past.

3. The Lakes at El Segundo: 400 S. Sepulveda Blvd. El Segundo, CA. 90245. (310)322-0202. This municipal range has a great little 9-hole par 3 course for when you just want a quick golf fix. I recommend getting a stall on the underside of the range if you go late in the day. The wind from the Pacific that comes over the dunes can make it quite frigid even in the summer months! There’s a decent pro shop that has both men’s and women’s clothing and shoes and a limited selection of clubs. The staff is laid-back and friendly in here and in the restaurant which serves “the usual” fare. There are many pros here to take lessons from as well and I would recommend Jennefer Jones (head pro) or Aubrey Shaw. Each has a different style but are highly qualified and patient. The range cards are a good deal also and recommended if you frequent the place.

4. Westchester Golf Course & Driving Range: 6900 W. Manchester Ave. Los Angeles, CA. 90045. (310)649-9173. This range has both mat and grass stations and fills up rather quickly. At times, it is seemingly impossible to get a spot but the turnaround is quick so be patient for a moment. The proximity to the Pacific is also a factor here so bring a jacket if you stay after dark, even in the summer. There are vending machines for drinks and a 15 hole course attached. If you can really hit your driver far you need to use caution since the other side of the net is a busy street. Keep it to the irons so you don’t cause an accident!

5. Majestic Golf Land: 4301 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA. 90029. (323)662-7979. This place is a trip. You are basically in a glorified parking lot surrounded by nets. There are three levels and the best feature is that the balls tee themselves and you adjust the tee height by hitting a button with your foot or club. Unfortunately, there are just a few stalls marked as non-smoking and there is always some goof with a cheap, stinky cigar (at least spend a few bucks if you’re gonna smoke one). Besides that, many of the other golfers chain smoke and there is really cheesy music blaring over the speakers. The pro shop is rather large, but I’ve never taken a look at everything they had so I can’t report much there. The staff was friendly inside and quite helpful when I had a question. The snack bar wasn’t open when I went and I’ve heard that the hours are sporadic. I really can’t recommend this place highly unless you are a smoker or like to smell others smoking. It’s worth checking out once if you can go during an off-time on a weekday.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Out of the Blue

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is one of those iconic stadiums in sports. First opening in 1923, it was built for just under a million dollars. When the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn in the late 1950’s, this was their first home field. Another $950,000 was spent in order to accommodate the team. While they occupied it, the Dodgers hosted an all-star game and three World Series games. In fact, the attendance for each World Series game was over 92,000 fans, a record that still stands today. The stadium was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1984, just before the start of the Olympics hosted in Los Angeles that year.

This Saturday, the Los Angeles Dodgers will host the Boston Red Sox at the Coliseum. The event sold out almost immediately (92,000) so the team sold an additional 20,000 “standing” tickets for people to mill about during the game in a particular area. This will be sure to break the previous attendance record. Parking should be more fun than it normally is at Chavez Ravine. Just in case you miss that bottleneck, they do offer free parking there for the event and a shuttle to the Coliseum so that you have the full Dodgers home game experience.

Before the Dodgers were anywhere near the venue, USC and Pomona College played the inaugural game back in 1923. It was the university’s commitment to play every home game there that was a primary reason for building the Coliseum. It only makes sense since they are right across the street from the stadium. The Trojans still use this as their home field in spite of a recent threat to leave and play in the Rose Bowl. If you live anywhere near Los Angeles you know how absurd this would be. UCLA also played their home games in the Coliseum from 1933-1981. Most notably, this is the only venue to host two Olympics, two Super Bowls, and one World Series. It was also the first home of the Los Angeles Charges before they moved to San Diego and housed both the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Raiders for home games.

Many other interesting events have taken place in the Coliseum as well. Billy Graham, the Pope, John F. Kennedy, The Rolling Stones, and Bruce Springsteen have all drawn in crowds to the venue. There are annual high school football events and many other happenings throughout the year.

Personally, I’m quite giddy about Saturday’s game. I have fairly respectable tickets in the lower level and already have my outfit planned. The idea is to get downtown early, wear comfy shoes, and take in the sights and sounds of what should be an exceptional event. Opening Day isn’t until Monday so it doesn’t even matter if the Dodgers lose, which I am sure they will since there is so much fanfare around their 50th season in the city.

This season will be one to watch since there are many new additions, including new skipper Joe Torre. Mr. McCourt also opened the wallet a bit and grabbed some new players in the offseason including Andruw Jones. Some fans predict big things, but I will stay cautiously optimistic. From April – July, I’m usually quite stoked on the team since they generally show signs of being viable contenders. By August, I’m usually quite disappointed because they’ll drop a bunch of games. September rolls around and they may be headed to the playoffs, but get bumped in the first round. Call me cynical, but this has happened repeatedly. Perhaps it is a new era – the ownership stopped bleeding the fans and is putting some money back into the team…

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wild World of Wednesday – March 26, 2008

So how’s your bracket? Six of my Elite Eight are still good. Only one of my Final Four picks is out – I still have UCLA, North Carolina, and Memphis…so I have a small glimmer of hope. Heck, 5th out of 19 in the pool isn’t so bad…is it? Yeah, I’m dreaming…

On another note, the Women’s NCAA hoops Sweet Sixteen includes all four number one seeds. UConn, Pitt, Rutgers, and Louisville are all in.

The PGA world seems to be feeling sorry for Tiger Woods on one hand and excited that he didn’t come in first on the other. Over the weekend at the Doral, he made an admirable comeback to finish two behind the winner Geoff Ogilvy. He’ll likely get it back together for the Master’s as I am sure the “loss” is not the end of his career. Even when players don’t come in first place, they still get quite a purse from these events. In addition, I venture to bet that Tiger’s lifestyle will not change any if he is out a million or so. The usually calm Woods is also rumored to have launched a swearing attack at a photographer. The “attack” is rightfully so, what sports photographer would do that to someone in their backswing where it would disturb them? Snapping the pic was definitely amateurish, selfish, and rude.

It seems as though some folks are still in denial about Brett Favre’s retirement from the NFL. Apparently, since he hasn’t done some paperwork it means it’s not real yet. He’s probably procrastinating, hates paperwork, or just plain forgot. Seriously, we’ve all been there…he probably hasn’t done his taxes yet either.

The Dallas Mavericks are playing on without their star Dirk Nowitzki and bragging that they are doing fine since they won over the Los Angeles Clippers. Great! Let’s see how you fare against a team with a winning record now (Clips at 0.300). On Thursday they’ll face the Denver Nuggets who have a more respectable record (0.606) but still not in the top eight. If Dallas really is a playoff team, they should have a deep roster, right?

The Premier League shuffled a bit over the weekend. Man U def. Liverpool 3-0 to top the league at 73 points. Chelsea took over the number two position by defeating Arsenal 2-1. The best part about watching the replay on Fox Soccer Channel was the announcers. They were so into the game, singing and all, I thought my television had been hijacked by some overzealous fans! If you haven’t checked it out you must – GOLTV is rather fun also. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I really think we are missing something in America by not following soccer as much as the rest of the planet. The falls and spills are the best – each player is trained to do the over-the-top NFL punter performance when someone knocks them over.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Los Angeles is a Real Sports Town

As a Los Angeles native, I grew up knowing that I lived in a “sports city”. Yes, I miss having an NFL franchise, but this alone does not make or break a “sports city”. And yes, we aren’t littered with sports bars like many other places; however, you must look at the big picture.

First of all we need to put size into perspective. Depending on who you listen to, the city of Los Angeles has a population of around 4-6 million. Most natives/longtime residents include the whole county in “Los Angeles” as the other townships and cities are weaved in and out. At one moment you’ll be in Van Nuys while the next street over says Los Angeles in the address. My address is Los Angeles, CA but I am actually in an area that is considered unincorporated part of the County. Therefore, for the purpose of this analysis I shall include the County as the definition of “Los Angeles”. This bumps the population up to 9-12 million – again depending on who you ask. The County also covers 4,084 square miles, which is 800 square miles larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

At any rate, over the years we have not only had two NBA basketball teams, but for a time two NFL football teams. In addition, the Angels have moved around so much that they once actually played in Los Angeles so that makes two MLB teams. The Los Angeles Raiders won Super Bowl XVIII while here. In fact, the first Super Bowl was hosted here as well as five others. The Los Angeles Dodgers have won five World Series titles. The Los Angeles Lakers have won nine NBA titles.

There are also two MLS teams in the area – the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA. Oh, and don't forget, The Great One himself played for the Los Angeles Kings hockey team for almost eight seasons.

Also in Los Angeles is the historic Rancho Park Golf Course, known as the busiest golf course in the nation. Don’t forget that the Riviera Country Club is also in the County.

Pro teams not your thing? We have USC and UCLA football and basketball. The USC Trojans football team won the BCS National Championship very recently and more than once. The UCLA Bruins men’s hoops squad went to the NCAA championship game in 2006 and is making a go for it again in 2008. In fact, UCLA has a rather storied basketball history. USC men’s hoops teams have made it to the Big Dance on many occasions as well.

The weather in Los Angeles also presents many opportunities for other outdoor sports. There is abundant surfing, skateboarding, BMX, running, cycling, swimming, and nearly everything else you can think of! Boxing and MMA have a place here as well.

Los Angeles will never be a town like Green Bay where their NFL team is everything. Green Bay covers about 50 square miles and has a population of around 100,000 according to the Census Bureau. Entertainment overshadows nearly everything here as we all realize. The perfect weather, large population, and variety of things to do make it very likely that you will run into non-sports people quite regularly here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

5 Questions With An Amateur MMA Athlete

Making her MMA Amateur debut in August 2007, Lauren Feldman has continued on with a record of 2-1, her only loss coming by split decision. Dominating her last match in February, she continues to show that she is a force to be reckoned with. With experience in Muay Thai, Jiu-Jitsu, and boxing, her MMA future is definitely bright! I was honored when she came out of the cage long enough to answer my 5 questions.

1. I've always admired how MMA athletes incorporate so many fighting styles in their matches. What was your first fighting technique that you mastered and how easy is it to pick up others afterward? What is your favorite technique and which are you best/most comfortable with?

I started martial arts with traditional karate, but I'm certainly not a master at anything! I'm still hoping to find a fighting technique I can master (smile). That's the thing about martial arts that I love, actually. The more you learn, the more you realize that you don't really know anything at all. The one thing that my traditional background did teach me was how to learn. I used to get really frustrated if I didn't pick something up right away. My frustration got in the way of my learning and made it even slower. Recently, I've gotten over myself! I try to just take my time, pay attention, and learn every technical detail I can. In the long run, this has definitely made me a better student and, as a result, a better fighter.

My favorite technique is a secret! I try and expose myself to all kinds of disciplines so that I can feel comfortable against any type of opponent (striker, wrestler, submission specialist) and in any phase of the fight (stand up, clench, take downs, and ground).

2. I can't imagine the intense training you must go through when you are preparing for a match – take me through your typical day when you are preparing for an upcoming contest.

Well, it goes a little like this. I wake up at 6am and head over the jiu-jitsu school. In the morning I train no-gi with some very high level BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) students -- all guys (they beat me up; THANKS GUYS [sticking tongue out]). We do drills, live rolling, and take-downs. After class I get my rope and strength training in. From there I walk to my job. I am a software engineer in NYC and my days get pretty crazy there. I try to get out of work by 6 but...sometimes its closer to 7...sometimes much later. Regardless of what time I get out, I head over to the boxing gym. There I'll do 4 or 5 miles on the treadmill, heavy bag, sparring, speed bag, double end, mitts with my trainer and rope (depending on how I feel). After that I stumble home so I can do it all again the next day.

3. You explain on your web page that you want to help others remove the outdated legal barriers that would prevent them in participating in the sport that they love – Legal Mayhem. Tell me more about how this mission will be accomplished.

Not so long ago, I broke both feet and spent 8 out of 12 months with casts on. I wanted to stay up with the MMA world so I got involved with Legal Mayhem. My home state of New York has a ban on MMA fighting as do many others around the country. The goal is to show everyone that this sport is not the brutal, bloodthirsty event that the media makes it out to be. I think martial arts have many positive aspects to bring to the world of sports. It’s not about beating someone’s head in at all, it’s about self-discipline. I don’t like when I’m asked how I get myself “psyched up” for a match. Just like a football team has a game plan for the day, I’ve got a game plan for a match. I’m thinking about whether I’m executing my plan, are my feet right, etc. There is never the goal to put the hurt on the opponent in a vicious, bloodthirsty way. I want parents to realize that they can let their children learn MMA as a discipline in the same way that they send them to karate or other fighting disciplines. By participating in outreach and education, I intend to get the message out that this is a viable sport that everyone should be allowed access.

4. I see that you are also involved with Female Fighters Against Domestic Violence – can you tell me more about what that organization as well? What other causes are you passionate about?

I started communicating with them when I had my casts on. They give self defense seminars, sponsor an all women’s fight card, and are starting some merchandising with Legal Mayhem. Their site also provides links to shelters, hotlines, and centers for domestic violence.

My friends at Feel the Pain Fightgear are donating some training gear and we are looking for a deserving recipient since my school already has it. You can say that I’m passionate about getting every woman, man, and child access to MMA.

5. What’s next for Lauren Feldman? Upcoming matches/plans/etc?

I have some tentative fights for the end of April and May and I’ll be training for Ringside Championships in August. Other than that I’ll stay in they gym and dream of the day I can quit my day job and fight full time!

Lauren would like to thank her sponsors and coaches for sticking with her. Sponsors and friends include ProFightWear, Feel the Pain Fightgear and the USKBA. If you are interested in Legal Mayhem, Female Fighters Against Domestic Violence, or simply want to learn more about Lauren, click here to go to her website.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday Sports Wrap - March 23, 2008

March Madness still surrounds us, however, the video I found for the post is not NCAA but some really great footage I found on Bahrain Basket of a 5’9” dunking phenom. I’m 5’10” and I can’t dunk anywhere near that well!

In the NCAA Women’s Basketball tourney – Cal achieved their first NCAA victory in fifteen years in the win over San Diego on Saturday. San Diego had previously beaten the Bears three times over the season which included the Pac 10 tournament final. Fat Louie’s Women’s Sports Blog recommends this site for some of the best NCAA Women’s hoops coverage. I also found a good roundup here.

As for NCAA Men’s March Madness – freakin’ USC played like a bunch of losers…growl…argh…darnit! They totally blew my bracket! I also find it quite amusing after Duke’s first round close call that Coach K claimed that they kept it close on purpose. Yeah, right – keep telling yourself that! What’s your excuse for the 2nd round loss, tough guy!? Were you making a statement that you're too good for the Final Four? Speaking of oops - UCLA got a bit lazy on Saturday and nearly realized the consequences! At any rate, my bracket is shot to heck! I could still pull out a 3rd place…maybe…

I’ve gotta give a shout to my girl Goon Squad Sarah for showing the March Madness love as well! Unfortunately, we’re both in the same boat now with crappy brackets…

As for the NBA, trash talking amongst fans is ramping up. Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns fans have been full of chatter about how much better their team is than the Los Angeles Lakers. Hmmm…it seems to me that the Lakers must be the “team to beat” since so many are focusing on them in particular! On the other hand, maybe the rumblings exist because the fans are trying to convince themselves that their team can actually get past the Lakers if they meet them in the final. As LABallTalk points out today, the L.A. boys are playing quite harmoniously as starters and the bench both had double-digit scoring last night against Seattle. I’ve followed this team my entire life and know there hasn’t been this type of synchronicity in some time…

Speaking of “divisive”…around the world, controversies take on many different twists and Sports Tsar has a great post that points this out. The story is about a swimmer’s t-shirt causing a big ruckus. The concern has to do with the continuing saga of the former Yugoslavia.

I’ve not been able to concentrate much on the NHL lately since my local team is completely out of contention. They’ll always be that team with the black jerseys that had Wayne Gretsky getting the city excited about the sport to me. That is, until someone decides to spend a few dollars and hook us up with a good team again. Go to my pal Casey Shea’s blog Bringing Hockey Back for some in-depth analysis and information on the league. He lives and breathes it far better than I…

Geoff Ogilvy has a substantial lead at Doral today at 16 under. Analysts are now questioning Tiger Woods as he is behind Ogilvy by five. One in particular believes that if would be good for him to lose to “get it out of the way” before the Masters. Win or lose, I don’t think it will affect his lifestyle either way. On a lighter note in the world of golf, check out my fun and flirty friend Patricia Hannigan aka The Golf Girl. She’s on a golf and sun getaway in the Sunshine State right now sharing her shopping, golfing, and bikini blogging exploits.

And now that the weather is getting warmer, get out and do something! Southern California has really come to life with the arrival of spring. I didn’t see an empty place to park on Pacific Coast Highway today and Santa Monica/Venice was absolutely packed! I just love this time of year…I just might get my prima donna self in the water for some surfing…with a full suit, booties, hood, and gloves. At the very least, I’m gonna strap on the skates and head down to the great sidewalk by the sea.

Today in sports history...

1994 - Wayne Gretsky sets NHL record with 802 goals

1968 - UCLA beats UNC in Men's Basketball Championship 78-55

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Rugby Anyone?

As someone always looking to learn more about sports, I was delighted to find today’s guest blogger. Lindsay Stordahl writes the blog That Mutt. She enjoys a variety of sports such as rugby, running, swimming, and backpacking. She was so gracious as to provide us with some insight on the sport of rugby. When you’re done reading this, shoot over to her site to find a wealth of dog (and some cat) information and links.

No one ever asks me if I still play rugby, because once you start, you're kind of in it for life. Yesterday was the warmest day yet this year in Fargo. The ground was saturated from melting snow, everything coated in mud. I could smell rugby.

This is the time of year when spring practices are finally outside, dozens of cleats hoofing the sometimes soft, sometimes still frozen fields.

Most people seem to know what rugby is, more so than when I first started playing. When someone hears I play rugby, I usually get a response like, "Oh, yeah, wasn't there a Friends episode about that?" Or, "So that's, like, football with no pads, right?" Or even, "Is that the game with those sticks?" Well, no, that would be lacrosse.

Rugby is rugby. But even experienced players admit they don't know all the rules. And let me clarify something: I don't know all the rules. I get penalties. I drop the ball, often. I get tired during the first half. I have just stood there while a younger, faster player went for a tackle I could've made. I am often slow to get up. I will call my opponent names when really she just stiff-armed me legally.

But explaining the rules of rugby isn't all that hard. This is what I say to new players: The ball cannot be passed forward. Play is continuous. You will get tackled, and you must release the ball when you do.

But try to remember that with six 200-pound women running at you during your first match. And you have the ball. Every rookie seems to forget the most basic rules. It never fails. I watch as she catches a pass and realizes the size of her opponents charging her at full speed. The rookie will either:

1. Freeze, get tackled and cling to the ball as people are kicking, raking with their cleats and screaming at her to let go.

2. Throw the ball straight up in the air, because she remembers no one can tackle her if she doesn't have the ball.

Both are bad choices. The first choice results in a penalty. The second is even worse, because the other team usually intercepts the ball. Getting tackled is not such a bad thing in rugby. Unlike football, play doesn't stop. Instead, you can place the ball so your teammates can run by and pick it up. No big deal.

I joined rugby because of its idea of toughness. But really, the best thing about it is how it's truly a team sport. The number I wear doesn't represent me. It represents my position, and that changes from match to match. It's a great feeling to be a part of rugby, so I will be out there each year, looking for a good match. I guess you could say I'm hooked.

Friday, March 21, 2008

How to Make Your Spouse Stop Nagging About Sports

…or at least leave you alone while you watch the game!

Alright, there is more than one way to get your non-sports-loving partner to lighten up and at least tolerate your obsession with March Madness, NFL Football, Soccer, or whatever your passion is. I even once dated a guy that would rather watch a romantic comedy than sports so I know where you’re coming from. Sure, he was fine if I took him to a game but watching it on television was a whole other battle. Fortunately, I’m now married to a wonderful guy that is an avid fan like me. In fact, I met him at a sporting event but that’s another story…

There are a few ways to approach an upset spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, etc. when you are trying to sell them on the idea of sports on the television.

The Teaching Method: Get them involved by teaching them the basics of the game. For March Madness, give them a bracket. For the NFL Super Bowl, give them the story behind each team. Whatever the event, whether a regular season game or final, make them feel as if you want them to take part. If you show them that you want them to enjoy it, they’ll likely try and it can be something you do as a couple.

The Nice Approach: Tell them that you’ll buy them that pair of shoes/piece of jewelry/tools/etc. if they’ll just let you watch the games in peace.

The Dealmaker: Agree to go shopping with them.

The Suffering Dealmaker: Agree to sit through “Atonement” or the new Sylvester Stallone flicks with them.

The Food Bribe: Take them out to dinner at their favorite restaurant and even order dessert! You could also cook a marvelous meal at home.

The Crybaby Act: Whine back, except louder

The Obnoxious Approach: Sit with them as they watch “Desperate Housewives” or “Grey’s Anatomy” and ask questions every 30 seconds. These questions should be about why a particular character said/did something. Continue by asking the overall meaning at every juncture and what the point of the whole thing is. Throw your arms up and exclaim, "It's just a stupid TV show!"

The “Deal With It” Method: Watch the games in spite of what they say and ignore the complaints.

The Rude Way: Insult them until they leave you alone so that you can watch the games.

The Really Rude Way: Invite your friends over to watch the game so that they’ll have to embarrass themselves if they want to throw a tantrum. This works best if you invite over 20 people.

The SBD Method: Eat lots of gassy foods so that you continually pass gas until you can hardly stand the smell.

The “No Manners” Method: Belch every answer to their incessant questions about the game.

The Easy Way: Camp out at a friend’s house until March is over and then return with expensive gifts. This also works for the NBA Finals and the World Cup. Of course, this is much easier for the NFL Super Bowl; you only have to disappear for that day.

I’m sure there are other ways to deal with this issue – both nice and mean. Let me know what your best remedy is! Whatever you decide to use, I wish you blissful viewing.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

5 Questions With An Expert Archer

I knew there had to be more than meets the eye when it came to archery. As someone who does not believe in hunting in any form, I suspected there was a broader application of the sport that didn’t involve bloodshed. Rather than passing judgment, I decided to find out more. I enlisted the help of Rena Michele Mascaro, or Shelly, as she is known to the world. Shooting for eight years now, Shelly is a National Field Archery Association Certified Master Coach that shoots compound, Olympic recurve, and traditional archery. Also the Florida NFAA Representative, she is the secretary/treasurer of Everglades Archers in Homestead, Florida.

Working in a civil appellate law firm by day for over sixteen years in Miami, this mother of three has one grandchild in Italy with her daughter that serves in the Air Force. She’s won her fair number of tournaments, including setting the state record in shooting Olympic recurve this year. Quite skilled in her sport, she even crafts her own equipment and was the only woman to do so at the Traditional Bowhunters of Florida contest in February. She placed second at this event which was an impressive accomplishment as she was unable to shoot much in 2006-07 due to an unrelated injury. She put the bow down long enough to be my guest for these five questions:

1. I've seen archery billed as a "family sport" - what is it about this activity that makes it family oriented? Is this really a sport for anyone? How young could someone participate?

It is family oriented because anyone – male or female can compete, or just shoot to have fun. You do not need to attend competitions or go hunting to enjoy this sport. It is the fun of making an arrow fly down range to hit the target that makes it terrific.

We have had kids (with their parents, of course) as young as 3 years old come to the range. They usually have a small bow, hardly any draw weight – barely enough to go 5 yards as a matter of fact. But, they can actually do it. As a coach or parent, you have to realize the attention span of the person you are working with. A 3 to 5 year old has about a 10 minute span within which they can focus. So lots of breaks and putting balloons or other things on the target face is done. I do not advocate lessons of any sort for a child under the age of 8 or so, and have only coached one at 5 (very, very unwillingly). Before that age, they really just need a few pointers or hints, but not lessons. It puts to much pressure to succeed (placed usually by the parent, not the coach).

2. So what are the necessary ingredients to be proficient at archery? Do you need exceptional patience, balance, etc? What are the biggest benefits to participation?

To me, the ability to focus is the most important ingredient. Tournament archery is a sport of consistency and practice. You practice to repeat the same shot over and over again. In essence however, you are just shooting one arrow, repeatedly. So you practice to make that one shot as perfect as you can. In order to do that, you have to focus on your target, your physical self, and your equipment. I also mean focus in the sense of blocking out all extraneous noises and things. It is you, your bow, and the target. When you focus like that, no one can beat you. When you don’t focus, it’s anybody’s game.

The biggest benefit is being able to be outdoors, with good people, doing something that is fun, keeps you sharp, and allows you to beat men at a sport. I like camping and hunting and other such outdoor type activities.

3. What are the different types of archery events/activities/variations? Are there limitations on who can participate in particular variations of the sport?

Target archery, 3D, Olympic, field and hunting would be the primary types of archery. Target archery is an archer standing in the same spot, shooting a set number of arrows at a target face. It can be shot with any type of bow. 3D is shooting a single arrow at a set number of targets which are actually foam shaped animals, with the scoring rings representing the primary “kill zone” for various type of animals. Lots of traditional archers really enjoy this form of archery. At our club, the traditional archers are sometimes the biggest group. I have an osage long bow that I made from a stave (a ¼ or 1/8 part of a lengthwise split of wood). I also shoot wooden or cane arrows I made, with turkey feathers that I received whole, and split to become the feather/fletching for the arrows. Olympic archery is very much the same as Target Archery. However, all participants in the Olympics shoot an Olympic recurve-type bow. Compounds are not allowed at the present time. Field archery is set up similar to a golf course. You have a minimum of 14 targets, set on a course at various distances from approx. 10 yards to 80 yards. You shoot 4 arrows at each one, score, and move on. Most ranges have a 28 target field round. This event is shot at 2 different target faces [white with a black center (field face), and black with a white center (hunter face)]. FITA Field is very similar, only it’s done in meters and not yards and a black face with a yellow center and ½ of the targets are set at unknown distances. Hunting is just that.

4. What is the most common misconception people have about your sport? How are you able to win them over? What would be the best way to get started in archery?

That most archers are hunters. My experience has been that more archers like target, field, or 3D. The other one is that it’s very difficult or hard to do. Just as with any sport, you need to practice, have a decent coach, or join a club where they will share information, and be willing to put some time behind the bow. Another is that you need to be strong in the upper body to shoot well. With archery, you start with a lower poundage and work up to higher pounds. You don’t need to be shooting a draw weight of 55lbs! 25 to 30 is more than enough to get you started. There are a fair number of disabled archers – some without an arm, leg, or whatever, or paralyzed from the waist down.

We win them over by being good people and making archery available to a wide variety of folks. The best way to get started is to come to either a demonstration (how I got started), or contact your local range. In addition, we do community programs where we take a target and lots of bows and let the folks there shoot. It is usually one of the best attended booths at every event we attend.

5. Who are the most prominent professionals/medalists in your sport? What are the major competitions throughout the year? What has been, in your opinion, archery's biggest contribution to the sports world?

Prominent athletes are Victor Wunderle (won silver in 2000), Bruce Johnson (lots of Olympics), and Jenny Nichols (tops for the women). Karen Scavotto and Khatuna Lorig are current Olympic hopefuls. Darrell Pace and Rick McKinney are known for excellence in the past (both won medals). Brady Ellison and Lindsay Pian are up-and-coming talent. Others include Dave Cousins, Braden Gellenthien, Dee Wilde, and Reo Wilde. One of these guys is just about always on the podium for Compound. For the Compound women’s events Jamie Van Natta, Kelly Ward, and Jahna Jurenka are well-known.

There are tournaments all over the place. Here in Miami we host the North American Field Archery Championship the 2nd week of December every year. There is the Gold Cup in New Jersey; the Texas Cup (in Texas); the National Championship (in Colorado Springs); The Vegas Shoot; Indoor Nationals; The Arizona Cup; The Redding Shoot; and various ASA (Archery Shooting Association – strictly a 3D organization). In addition, Europe has started televising various shoots and bringing more interest to the sport. I hope the US can follow their lead since archers are held in high regard as athletes over there.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wild World of Wednesday - March 19, 2008

It’s Wednesday again!

The most prominent thought on most every sports fan’s mind this week is March Madness of course! Did you fill out your bracket? I’m always amazed at how much money and productivity is reported to be lost this time of year due to college hoops. Imagine what happens all over the planet during the World Cup. Don’t they take whole weeks off or something? It just goes to show you, no matter what our social or demographic differences are, sports are a unifying force in life.

Alright, no soap box idealism here, let’s talk about the latest developments this week so far:

Dodgertown is packing up and moving from Vero Beach, Florida to Arizona. I think Tommy Lasorda actually shed tears over it. It certainly is a sad time for Vero Beach since they’ve named a number of locales after the team over the years. They’ll certainly miss the revenue stream every spring as well…

The Houston Rockets’ winning streak was put to an end last night at 22. I personally think it would have ended sooner had they played a full, healthy Los Angles Lakers squad.

Inter Milan sits atop the Serie A League, while Manchester United and Arsenal continually trade the top spot in the Premier League. Tottenham visit Chelsea today in a “rematch” of the Carling Cup held last month. Chelsea will surely want to exact revenge upon the Spurs who defeated them 2-1. Should be an interesting hooligan matchup as well! On another soccer note, I am still waiting to find a fanatic to guest blog/interview to explain the workings of the leagues, cups, and their interactions…so far I’ve had nothing but empty promises! In the meantime, I diligently watch FSN every morning and follow the BBC news so I’ll get it eventually! Phooey on Jim Rome…

Tiger Woods won again on Sunday after being behind the leader by seven strokes. This should not surprise anyone at this stage in the game. The guy is just unstoppable with a truly admirable work ethic and determination.

The MLB Players Association is looking into why Barry Bonds is not currently signed with anyone as part of their “annual review”. I really think he has more than enough money and no one needs to worry about his employment status…shouldn’t he be retiring…

The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach was delayed due to bad waves and event organizers are waiting for a decent swell before they pick up the competition again. It just goes to show you – just because you want to surf does not mean you will! When it gets going watch out for Kelly Slater, Andy Irons, and Rookie of the Year Bobby Martinez. Women to watch include Stephanie Gilmore, Sofia Mulanovich, and Karina Petroni. Slater is most impressive at #1 in the world - proof that you don't have to be 20 to be in your prime in sports! Check out the live webcast on the ASP website.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Problem With Los Angeles Sports

Posers! Yeah, you heard me – posers! I had this conversation with some other natives and relocated sports fans recently. It started with the topic of the newer seats near the field in Dodger Stadium. I lovingly call them the Poser Seats. Ever since they put them in I’ve noticed that they are nearly empty for about 80% of the game. While I sit in my used-to-be-good, beloved field box seats these are occupied with mostly transplants that want to make a “scene” out of things. They couldn’t care less about the team and can’t name any player besides Nomar Garciaparra. In addition, they are the ones who arrive in the second inning and leave in the 7th because they think “that’s what we do in L.A.”! These are the people that spend the game looking for Owen Wilson and Jimmy Kimmel between hitting the beer stand and searching for a smoking section. In case you didn’t recognize them, they’re that coworker/acquaintance that you run into who tells you all about the fact that they sat behind Matt Damon at the game last night but can’t even tell you who the visiting team was.

This is not reserved for Chavez Ravine folks, the Staples Center is even worse! Those of us who grew up here are lucky to score seats in the middle section to see the Lakers a few times a year. In case you wanted to try the Clippers, that would be problematic as well! Ever since Billy Crystal decided to make it vogue to be a fan, seats aren’t much easier to get. You think college football games are any better? Try to get USC or UCLA tickets that aren’t in the nosebleeds.

Unfortunately, there probably isn’t any cure for any of this and my rantings will be mocked and poked fun at. I just had to get it out to the world that there are a very large majority of us who really do love sports in Los Angeles. We come to the games during the warm-ups and leave when it’s over. We are natives, longtime residents, and other diehards that truly appreciate the teams and not who is watching them.

I would like to ask a favor of all the poser star-gazers out there: would you please stay out of my stadiums? You don’t see me buying $500 t-shirts claiming to be an agent/actor/singer/model. You stay in your element and I’ll stay in mine. Thank you!

Monday, March 17, 2008

5 Questions With a Class A Certified PGA Professional

If you’re a golfer in the Long Beach/Los Angeles area, you’ve likely heard of the Long Beach Golf Learning Center. At the Roger Dunn retailer within, ask the guys who they recommend for lessons and they’ll point you to the exceptional pro Paul Young. A Class A Certified PGA Professional for over 20 years, Paul has taught for the last 15. He was on the Tour in Europe for 6 years and played competitively in the States for another five. His impressive experience and expertise comes from spending time with some of the best coaches in the world. Just take a look at the demo he gave me focused on keeping your club from coming down too steep on the ball in the brief video I shot of him at the top of this post. He truly has remarkable proficiency and can help you make giant strides in improving your swing almost immediately. Paul was gracious enough to put the club down long enough to answer my five questions:

1. What is the single most common problem you find with someone’s swing?

Grip! The grip is the most common reason someone has a problem with their swing.

2. What is one small thing that one can do to improve their swing?

Improve fundamentals – this is really important. Keeping your body in the correct form with proper fundamentals really is the Holy Grail of golf. When your body is out of the right form, you have to compensate for it in your swing and this never works. At least, I’ve never seen it work – I’d love to know if someone learned how!

3. I know you’ve got some new technology coming that you’ll be using on your students. Can you tell me a bit about that?

It’s called the V1 Golf System, an elaborate video system that will allow me to compare my students to tour pros. I’ll capture the student’s swing on video camera, load it on to the system and then make a split screen. I can then compare in real time, slow motion, or frame-by-frame so we can see what needs to be addressed. I will even be able to turn left-handed players around so that I can compare them with right-handed pros. The system is made to be outdoors also, with a special screen that allows us to see it even in the bright sun during a lesson.

4. That sounds really exciting! How do you think it will help your students develop their swing?

This will give students a tremendous understanding of what they are doing and what they need to do for success. By seeing what is going on and comparing to the pros, problems can be addressed. In addition, I’ll burn a DVD that they can take home and watch so their learning is enhanced further.

5. So who do you believe has the best swing in professional golf today?

Well, since I’m not playing anymore it would be Steve Elkington on the PGA Tour and Annika Sorenstam on the LPGA Tour.

If you are interested in a lesson with Paul Young (which I highly recommend), get in touch with the Long Beach Golf Learning Center/Roger Dunn at (562)981-7050 and they’ll put you in contact with him. They’re located at 3701 Pacific Place, Long Beach, CA. 90806. You can also shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to give you his information as well.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Sports Wrap – March 16, 2008

In my quest to relay to the world that other sports exist on Sundays other than the NFL I have found my job to be quite easy this week! Yeah, it’s SELECTION SUNDAY! I’ll keep this short so you can get to your bracket strategies!

Other stuff to watch today:

Tiger Woods came back from seven under to be at the top of the pile at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He’s tied for the lead so it will be a good round of golf to watch him try to claw his way to the win.

Manchester City vs. Tottenham in Premier League Soccer – tied at nil as I write this

Today in sports history:

1991 – Tonya Harding wins gold medal in US figure skating championship. In spite her famous scandal, she has been allowed to retain this honor but not the title won in 1994.

1996- Mike Tyson TKO’d Frank Bruno for the WBC heavyweight championship

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The State of the NHL

The State of the NHL

The best thing about the NHL hockey season has to be the length! Fans are treated to the action on the ice from September to June which means a hockey fix is never far away! One of the most exciting contests to watch live, it's also easy to be mesmerized by the action on a big screen at home.

A buddy of mine used to say how much he loved to watch a fight and see a hockey game break out. Fortunately, the NHL has taken steps to curb unnecessary violence in a season where heart-stopping injuries have taken place. There have been at least two suspensions recently and many other warnings dealt.

Due to the fact my Los Angeles Kings are totally stinking up the place and giving me a headache (I think you can get free tickets with a Happy Meal purchase), I have invited someone much more qualified to give you some insight on what to watch for in the remainder of the NHL season. Casey Shea writes about the Pittsburgh Penguins (who have a shot this year!) for and has his own blog – Bringing Hockey Back. He so graciously took the time to come up with some insight for us and for that I am truly grateful. Thank you Casey!

Hello all, it's great to be here. Quick little background on myself so you know I'm at least legit in writing about hockey. I've been following the sport for about 20 years as a fan and have just started the two blogs mentioned above to get back into writing. My current job as a national editor for CBS doesn't leave much time to write, so this is my chance.

I have been crunching the numbers and doing the math to see which teams in both conferences have a legit shot at lifting Lord Stanley's cup in June. What I've come up with are four teams from each, which will give me a 50% chance of being right about this. I'm not much of a betting man, but I like those odds. I must also say that these are not in order of who has the best chance, it's just the four from each with reasons why and why they won't win the cup.

Eastern Conference

Montreal Canadiens

Could this be the year a team from north of the border re-claims the Cup as their own? These same Canadiens were the last to do it way back in 1992-93. The Habs knocked off the Kings (coached at the time by Mr. Mullet, Barry Melrose) 4-1.

Why They Win: This is one of the deepest teams they've put together in years. They have a perfect blend of young talent and veteran players who have the playoff experience that is so valuable at this time of year.

The x-factor for this team so far this season is the play of Alexi Kovalev. This guy never seems to age at all. While his point totals over the years haven't exactly been consistent, the work ethic he brings to the rink every night is only matched be a few other guys in the league.

Why They Don't Win: Two words: Carey Price. In my post-trade deadline post, I chastised Montreal GM Bob Gainey for trading then No. 1 goalie Cristobal Huet only for a 2nd-round pick to the Washington Capitals. I also speculated that since they were rumored to be the leaders to obtain Marian Hossa from the Thrashers, that Johan Hedberg would also be going to Montreal in the deal. As we know now, the Penguins won the Hossa sweepstakes effectively killing any deal Montreal had in place.

Anyway, Carey Price is only 20-years-old and playing in quite possibly the most hostile home environment in the league. When you screw up, the fans never let you forget about it. He has all the makings of being a great goalie in the NHL, but his lack of experience may cost the Habs in the playoffs.

Pittsburgh Penguins

I feel obligated to throw them in for two reasons. One, they are the only team I've ever rooted for. Two, the guy who runs the Hockey Analysis site will question all of the material I've written for him recently about the Pens.

Why They Win: There is not another team in the playoff hunt with a more explosive group of young talent. None. Guys like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marian Hossa, and Jordan Staal. I could go on, but those names should suffice.

The talent of those guys isn't all they have either. Injuries have absolutely plagued the Pens all season long. Only two guys have played all 71 games for the Pens. Staal and Malkin, that's it. The farm system has stepped up in an unfathomable way and put the Pens in place to make a deep run in the playoffs.

Why They Don't Win: There's two answers that jump into my head every time this question comes up. Answer one, lack of experience. Yes, most of the guys on this team were around for the 4-1 series drubbing by the Ottawa Senators last year, but it was a quick five games. (Long and painful for me, but I was actually glad when the bleeding stopped for good.)

Answer number two and most importantly, they have failed to put together a full 60-minute game for all but a handful of games this season. By this I mean that the team shows a lack of intensity and goes into a fog at some point during the game and the opposition always capitalizes on this. This needs to stop come playoff time or it will be another early exit.

New York Rangers

My buddy Gopher will be thrilled I'm throwing his pride and joy into this for sure.

Why They Win:
Before the season started I picked this team to win the conference and without really telling anyone for fear of causing a cataclysmic event, picked them to win the Cup. The signings of Chris Drury and Scott Gomez make this team just plain scary on paper. Of late this team has been unbeatable going 8-0-2 in their last 10 games. It looks like they are gelling as a team finally.

Also with a goalie like Henrik Lundqvist, you have to like their chances. If you haven't seen him play much, go to YouTube and just search his name. Sit back, relax and prepare to pick your jaw up off the floor.

Why They Don't Win: I've said this all season long. This team has a hodgepodge defense corps. Lundqvist is a monster in net, but any goalie will tell you that he's only as good as the defense in front of him.

One other reason why I'm a little reluctant to say they will win. This team has had more ups and downs than the stock market recently. This season alone I've had to talk down Gopher from committing fan suicide and giving up on the team on two different occasions. Of course then they turn it around for a month and then take a month off again. They're on a high right now, but is this the real Rangers or is there a quick exit on the horizon?

New Jersey Devils

Every word I type here, the pain inside grows more and more intense. If there is one team I can't stand to watch it's the Devils and their trap system, but despite my personal angst they have a shot.


Why They Win: I honestly don't get how this team has done as well as they have this year. They currently lead the Penguins by one point in the division and sit on top of the conference by the same margin.

Everyone always says defense wins championships. I totally agree when talking about the Devils. Their trap system won them three Stanley Cups. Pair that with one of the best goalies of all-time in Martin Brodeur and this becomes a very tough team to score goals against.

Why They Don't Win: I'll make this short and sweet. If they run into a team that can dictate the tempo of the game and turn it into a fast paced series, the Devils don't stand a chance. Their lack of offense is what will ultimately be their downfall. Their leading scorer is Zach Parise with 60 points (30 goals, 30 assists). Only the New York Islanders have a lower number of goals scored in the Eastern Conference and they're not going to make the playoffs.

Western Conference

Detroit Red Wings

Why They Win: This is an easy one as well. This is probably the deepest team in the entire league. They've held a double digit lead in the conference since week 2 of the season and have only had one stumble, which was last month. The only reason for the slip was due to injuries and if anything the adversity made them stronger.

Why They Don't Win:
This is going to be nit-picking here, but hey what else would you expect from me? Goaltending. Yes, they have at least one hall-of-famer in Dominik Hasek and a case could probably be made for Chris Osgood, but these guys are two of the oldest goalies in the league. Hasek will continue to be Hasek in net, but with how Osgood has struggled recently they better hope the Dominator stays healthy and doesn't start to suffer from osteoporosis.

San Jose Sharks

Why They Win: It would be a shame if Joe Thornton never got his name etched on the Stanley Cup. It truly would. The guy is one of the best passers of all-time. Just look what he did with Jonathan Cheechoo after being traded to the Sharks, 56 goals. He hasn't come near that number since, but Thornton was the magician behind that feat.

Plus, they have Evgeni Nabokov in net who just might be the most sought after goalie in my fantasy league every year.

Why They Don't Win: It seems like over the last few years they let the hype around them get to them. Take last year for example. There was much talk (myself included) who thought they could actually win the Cup. They drew Nashville in the first round and breezed by in five games seeming to validate the hype. Only problem was they played Detroit in the second-round and were gone in six games.

So now that I've said they have a shot, it's probably dead. Please don't kill me Sharks fans.

Dallas Stars

Why They Win: The trade deadline deal for Brad Richards increased their chances of winning by an immeasurable percent. Richards struggled in Tampa Bay over the last couple years. I attribute this to the team having only one line with Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. Combine that with no goaltending this year and it would be hard for the best players in history to be productive.

Richards still has plenty of good years left in him and has fit in perfectly with the Stars so far. His leadership will go a long way with this club.

Why They Don't Win: Marty Turco. I know he takes a lot of heat for how he's performed in the playoffs, but you have to wonder if this will be the reason that keeps them from glory once again. For the record, I do not blame Turco for their first-round loss to the Canucks last year. The series went the full seven games and was arguably the best series of the playoffs. The Stars did not lose because of Turco last year.

Anaheim Ducks

Why They Win: Again, simple. They won it last year in a completely dominating performance against the Senators. Also, Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer opted out of retirement to come back and help the Ducks defend the Cup. When you can add two guys like that and have a goalie like J.S. Giguere, you are poised to make a long playoff run.

Why They Don't Win: To borrow from the above. They won last year. Only two teams have successfully defended the Stanley Cup since the early 90's. The Penguins did it with their lone two Cup wins in 1990-91 and 1991-92. The other team to do it was the Red Wings in 1996-97 and 1997-98. Other than that it's kind of hard to find a flaw in this team now that the guys mentioned above are back.

Anyway, there you have it. Eight teams who can win the Stanley Cup this summer. I'd just like to extend my thanks to Apryl for bringing me in to do this. I had a lot of fun coming up with these teams and reasons and I hope you all enjoyed it

Friday, March 14, 2008

Return to Glory?

With a long and storied history, it’s no wonder Los Angeles Lakers fans become agitated when they haven't had a championship in a few seasons. Some die-hards remember the back-to-back championships in 1987 and 1988 with the near-three-peat in the following season. Many can still taste the excitement of the three-peat that ended in the 2001-2002 season. Since then, there have been some near-misses that resulted in conference titles but no big prize. The beginning of this season looked like there would be disappointment again…and then…

It all clicked with the arrival of Pau Gasol. While the sports journalists and locals weren't totally convinced, there were those that believed. His arrival turned out to be somewhat of a turning point and the team became unstoppable. With a two week long road trip in which they won almost every game, there was a new energy around the squad. The highlights were exceptional, with Harlem Globetrotter-like plays to score. Los Angeles had their gem back…

Hope is back in the City of Angels. No one is complaining about their salary or asking for a trade. The team is in sync and appears to be on the road to a championship. Daniel Sagal of looks at the Lakers' hopes this way:

The arrival of Pau Gasol has made a severe impact in team chemistry and the overall energy of the squad. However, the team's success goes back a few months before the now infamous trade. When the season started, the media was following the actions of the franchise very closely waiting to hear news break of Kobe Bryant being traded. The Lakers though had their own agenda.

Mitch Kupchak waited out the demands of Kobe Bryant, made a minor trade with Orlando by sending Maurice Evans and Brian Cook for high flier Trevor Ariza, and let Phil Jackson and the coaching staff (including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) go to work with the youngsters. The addition of Derek Fisher has been pivotal as well. The veteran presence among all the young 2nd, 3rd and 4th year players has been vital to the team's success.

Simply put, the Lakers have managed to gel at the perfect time. The growth of Andrew Bynum, Jordan Farmar, Ronny Turiaf, and Sasha Vujacic; the leadership of Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom; and finally the addition of Pau Gasol have filled the final pieces of the puzzle. An NBA starting line-up has five spots, and each spot is extremely important for different purposes. The Lakers, more specifically, the previously hated and now loved Mitch Kupchak, have found a way to fill each spot with a great starter, and a solid role player.

The remainder of the 07-08 season will be exciting and the Lakers will have a great chance to make some noise. The men wearing the purple and gold will fight every night during the playoffs and will make it deep into the bracket. The beauty of this team however lies not in the chance that it has to succeed this year, but the way that it has been built to stay competitive for years to come.

If for some reason Kobe can't lead this team to the Promised Land this year, he has another chance next year, the year after that, and probably the year after that. The team is built to go beyond the three-peat of the Lakers in the beginning of this decade. Campaign Lakers begins now and ends???

I’d like to thank Daniel Sagal for so graciously contributing to this post today. Be sure to check out his blog LABallTalk for all of your Los Angeles Lakers coverage. Look for more interesting collaborations with him and other independent bloggers right here in the future (next up – the NHL with Casey Shea of Bringing Hockey Back and! Don’t be shy; drop me a line if you are interested in a joint effort as well.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What's Next John Daly - Beer Commercials?

John Daly has been one of those interesting characters of the PGA. Thrown out of the mix about two years ago, he was given a chance to play again this week with a special exemption. Curiously, he missed his time at the Arnold Palmer Invitational – a time he was fortunate to even have a chance with. Since then, he has been disqualified from the event and will likely not be given this sort of opportunity again in the near future. In addition, Butch Harmon ditched him this week.

It really is a sad state considering his behavior that offended the golf world at the PODS Championship earlier this month. Apparently, he spent a considerable amount of time drinking at one of the sponsor’s tents. His choice of caddy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden, also raised some eyebrows. Equally interesting is the fact that Chucky would agree to carry someone else’s golf clubs around the course.

Many in the golf world are worried about Daly and wish to offer him help. The drinking is nothing new and he’s a smoker that doesn’t exactly take care of his overall health. At one point, he was on top of the world with his long drives and outside-of-the-mold image. Hopefully he can pull it together – bring back the big-hitting, mullet-sporting, likable guy!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wild World of Wednesday - March 12, 2008

Another Wednesday and there are plenty of interesting things to talk about.

Mark Cuban, blogger, denounced bloggers this week and will be denying them access to the Dallas Mavericks locker room from now on. Interestingly, he posted this on his blog. If you read his post, there are mixed reactions in the comments but seems to be a consensus that he is targeting one person in particular. Yeah, anyone can start a blog that has an internet connection, but there are viable sports bloggers that actually care about content and accuracy. I don’t think his opinion will change anyone’s blogging habits…

Aaron Rodgers says that he’s “not Brett Favre”…you think? His scraggly appearance made Brett’s usual unshaven look seem clean cut. Fans in Green Bay are holding their collective breath on this one…I wish them luck…

With Selection Sunday coming up, the field is narrowing and predictions are flying. UCLA, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Florida are all #1 seeds with the writers for now. There will likely be shockers and Cinderellas come Sunday as there are every year…

Fox Soccer Channel rates the world’s soccer clubs every week and Manchester United is ranked first this week followed by Arsenal, FC Barcelona, AS Roma, and Inter Milan. What would be nice is if DirecTV stopped blocking me from watching the UEFA games this week! The number of games that I get live coverage on seems to dwindle every day! It is becoming quite difficult to stay informed…Jim Rome certainly won’t be of any help…

Other interesting sports going on around the world this coming week include:

RBS 6 Nations Rugby Tournament around the UK, Spain, and Italy

Jeep King of the Mountain in Sun Valley, ID with skiing, snowboarding, and a bunch of entertainment

Major League Baseball is still in the thick of pre-season games in the warmer states

There are numerous (way too many to mention) Paralympic events going on around the world including swimming, table tennis, and alpine skiing in places such as Germany, Great Britain, and South Africa to name a few.

The Arnold Palmer Invitational is underway this week in Orlando. Hopefully there isn’t a strange cold front for this one that makes Florida feel like Pennsylvania (okay, exaggeration).

Oh yeah, the Los Angeles Lakers are shaping up to championship form again! Hooray! Catch them in New Orleans on Friday and Houston on Sunday.

And finally, Australia is filled with plenty of National Water Polo League contests all week.