Adam Auslund was a long time intern for multiple shows on the FOX Sports Network, but has now found his place, and a job, working for The Petros and Money Show.
Originally from Nor Cal, he’s been described as a bitter, broken sports fan ever since he experienced the rare "Hat Trick of Death" where all 3 of his teams (Sacramento Kings, San Francisco Giants and Carolina Panthers) all lost their respective sports’ championship game in the short span of a year and a half.
Adam now tries to look at sports from a less serious, more irreverent perspective, because that’s what helps bury the pain and keep him sober.
So earlier this week Sporting News released the results of a polling from 103 NFL players asking them various questions. It ranged from who was the “most overrated player?” (Tim Tebow, yeah no sh**) to the “league's worst organization?”, where in a tight race the Cleveland Browns beat out everyone's favorite team to inevitably move to Los Angeles, Jacksonville Jaguars, and the team with the "commitment to excrement", the Oakland Raiders.
But one of the more interesting answers was to the question, “who's the most overrated coach?”, which went to Rex Ryan of the New York Jets. (BTW, Kevin Figgers and I discussed this in our new AM570 RAW weekday podcast, “Fn’A”. Please listen and tell us we’re awesome. There's a link in the words you're reading right now).
I find Rex recieving the most votes a bit curious in some ways, but obvious in others.
Of course some of the negative reaction comes from the brashness, boldness and cockiness of a coach who has not won the Super Bowl, yet talks about it every year like the trophy is named after him. I could see him as a future Jim Rome smack-off title winner though.
To tie in with the biggest national news of the week, you could say Rex Ryan comes across as more of a politician at times (if he didn't have to use so many swear words) then some video tape junky that is looking for habits in an opposing QB’s snap count. He’s a players coach, a motivator, and is looking to excite the base and get his team to buy into his game-plan. He’s the guy you like when you're playing for him, but hate when you’re playing against him (unless of course some of those players polled are currently on this current Jets team). He actually embodies much of the personality of the governor of the state his team plays their games in, Chris Christie. They're both loud, blunt and uh...well Rex is at least slimmer now.
No doubt “Rex just being Rex” rubs some people the wrong way. And because of his style, because he's in New York (and Jersey), he's perfect for the "annoying, overexposure, curse" by ESPN. And with his lack of rings, well that always bothers some people too.
Players being annoyed with the constant media coverage of a coach that hasn't really won anything is what leads me to think it's more of an emotional reason to vote for him as #1, because whoever seriously considers him being the best coach in the NFL anyways? Now if that was the case, he'd clearly be the most overrated. Right now, he's just the most overexposed.
But if you take away his abrasive character, that attracts some, and just look at the teams he’s had and where he’s taken them, Rex really has overachieved.
He took a defense that was ranked 16th overall in 2008 and in his first year made them number 1 in the league. They also immediately became a top 5 rushing team in the league under his control. His ground and pound running game and aggressive defensive philosophies should get most of the credit for the Jets getting to back-to-back AFC championships, and doing it all with a young, inexperienced, Quarterback.
Now it seems Rex has become a victim of his own success. The Jets running game and defense took a step back last year after losing O-lineman Damian Woody, Kris Jenkings and Jason Taylor and most importantly, Mark Sanchez has not developed as fast as they thought he would. This season, with big injuries on defense to Darrell Revis and to one of the only playmakers on offense, with Santonio Holmes, the Jets are 3-5 and look like a team on the ropes.
Back in 2009 and 2010 the defense and running game picked up Mark Sanchez, now he needs to return the favor and raise his game and the play of the guys around him, but he hasn't shown he’s capable, yet. This week, with a game in Seattle, against a defense that’s been suffocating (especially at home with the 12th man behind them) this could be a make-or-break game for Sanchez. If he struggles early and they’re down two touchdowns and he’s thrown a couple of picks, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tim Tebow under center at some point. Yes, that’s how bad things have gone for the Jets this season.
The point is, between the injuries and the lack of talent, especially at the quarterback position, I don’t see how anyone coaching this team could be successful. In fact, as he has in the past with his AFC championship teams, i still think Rex Ryan is getting the most out of his players. There’s just much less ripe fruit to squeeze all the juice out of with this current roster.
Because of these glaring roster issues – barring a complete end of the season collapse where the team is getting blown off the field by the Rams, Titans, Jaguars and Bills (all still to come) – Rex Ryan should be able to hold onto his job for another season. As long as players still want to play for him, as long as the team is still fighting, i think his job is secure. Instead, the hammer most likely comes down on general manager Mike Tannenbaum for not improving the team enough through the draft and free-agency.
In the end, I could see a debate for Rex Ryan being overrated, but saying he’s THE MOST overrated? I tend to think his resume is stronger than that.
Personally, I voted for Andy Reid.
When I first heard about Major League Baseball adding a playoff team I was excited. I find it ridiculous that in a sport where you play 162 games, only 4 teams from each league make the playoffs. The NFL has 6 from each league and the NBA and hockey both have 8. Meanwhile, the long grueling baseball season only sees 8 teams TOTAL from both leagues enter their pretentious post-season.
I get it.
It’s about the purity and blah, blah, blah, history of the game. The fewer amount of teams that get invited make the party more cool and exclusive. Well tell that to a pirates fan that hasn’t seen their team in the playoffs since ‘93. I don’t think they would feel bad or apologize if they were the 6th or heck, 8th team representing the National League deep into October.
More teams in the playoffs really means more opportunities for fans to pay attention and care late into the season. It’s more drama and more meaningful games to play because maybe now your team is no longer out of it by July.
So you would think I’d be a staunch supporter of a 5th team from each league being added into the playoffs this year, right?
Well, the devil’s in the details.
See, the format for this extra “playoff series” is terrible. Because you have an odd number of teams (5) either someone is going to get a bye or there is going to be another series before the rest get started. And in this case, the solution is a one game playoff. You have the two Wild Card teams going at it Friday from the NL and AL. Whoever wins moves into the playoffs to the traditional 5 game division round series.
So in reality, this extra Wild Card team creates what is a play-in-game between Wild Card teams. At first that didn’t sound that bad. One-game-playoffs happen once in a few years (ok, only 13 times in the history of baseball) to decide who moves on.
The problem is, those teams were determining a tie-breaker based on having the same record. But in this case, you can have a discrepancy in the number of wins one Wild Card team has over the other. So the Braves can win 5 more games then the Cardinals, but they still get thrown into a one game showdown to see who moves into the tournament and actually participates in an actual playoff series.
Sure, the team with a better record gets home-field advantage in this one game cluster-f, but playing at home isn’t as critical in baseball and you still could be at a disadvantage depending on what pitching matchup you may luck into, given the lack of preperation between game 162, and what really is game 163.
So, if adding another Wild Card team means this kind of one-game-half-ass-kinda-sorta-pseudo-playoff game – I don’t want any part of it.
THIS is the kind of poor playoff format that makes the regular season more meaningless. There’s too much freakiness and randomness in a 1 game do or die situation. It's too abitrary and doesn’t give you the best indicator as to who the better team really is. Jeez, even a 5 game series is cutting it too close for my taste.
If you’re a fan of the Braves or Cardinals and you lose Friday, did you really feel like you were in the playoffs? Are you going to be proud of your season and count it as a success because you were in a measly 1 game playoff? And if you’re the Braves and you lose, wouldn’t you feel a little cheated knowing that with last years setup you would have had the possibility of 5 games to prove yourself?
I get the feeling baseball is doing this as some sort of marketing ploy to generate excitement with viewers to hopefully hold them over throughout the playoffs. Bud Selig saw how last season ended with the Rays, Red Sox, Braves, and Cardinals fates all being decided on the very last day of the season. He saw the exciting playoff tie-breaking 1 run games from 07-09. The league wants more of that and they’re now trying to generate it artificially.
No doubt a one game playoff format is exciting. It gives you the thrill of a game 7, where everything is on the line. We fall in love with this every year during March Madness. But this isn’t college basketball. Let them have their novelty. Going through a 162 game season should earn you more then 1 damn game to see if you move on or not.
In fact, calling it part of the MLB playoffs is just a cheap trick. It’s a way to try and appease those who are pleading for more playoff teams (like me) without really giving us what we want.
Eh, well maybe this is the true meaning of a Wild Card.
You win Bud... this time.
Since 1999 – the first year he won the Tour de France – Lance Armstrong has been accused of cheating. For the past 11 years, he’s made a career of defending these allegations aggressively and with such ferocity that it’s turned even many of his skeptics back on his side. But a week ago after the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced they had the evidence necessary to strip Lance of his 7 Tour de France titles, Armstrong released this statement on his website, “There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough.' For me, that time is now.”
The rest of the 869 word statement includes him explaining the toll this ongoing fight has taken on his family and his organization (Livestrong). He questions the USADA’s motives and goes on about how they’ve been singling him out, not abiding by their own rules, and that they don’t have the authority to take away his accomplishments. He also repeats that the best evidence out there on the issue is that he's never failed a drug test in his career during which he claims he's been the most tested athlete in the world.
The agency maintains that it has gathered overwhelming evidence over the past couple months that Armstrong has used banned substances like blood booster (EPO), steroids and blood transfusions, dating back to 1996, AND that ten of his former teammates are prepared to testify against him. Some of the strongest evidence would be coming from a former teammate and disgraced cyclist, Floyd Landis, who claims an eye witness account of Armstrong performing a blood transfusion in 2004. Armstrong has also had a relationship with Michele Ferrari, also known as “Dr. Evil” for his linkage to doping dating back to the mid-90’s. He was eventually convicted of fraud and malpractice in Italy in 2004 in relation to doping and so Armstrong had to drop him. Before that though, Ferrari was his coach and training advisor.
In order for the USADA to fully strip Armstrong of titles and keep him out of future races, they will have to present the proof to the International Cycling Union (UCI), who is the sports governing body, and are the ones that would ultimately put sanctions on Armstrong, if they feel it’s warranted. According to the head of the USADA, Travis Tygart, the full details of the evidence will be released to the public in the upcoming weeks.
So perhaps Armstrong saw the writing on the wall, and instead of taking the USADA to another independent arbitration process (an open legal proceeding for him to challenge the evidence) and the possibility of him having to testify under oath again, he (along with his publicist) decided the best plan of attack was to lay down and not bring more attention to the case.
While not having all the information yet, I still have to lean towards common sense in regards to how I personally convict Armstrong. I suppose you could say I'm just jaded by sports in general and whether or not purity in these leagues can really exist.
Especially at the moment.
Yeah, it’s been a tough month for the wishful thinkers after Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon were recently busted by the MLB drug testing program. And just last year, baseball’s MVP Ryan Braun tested positive for a banned substance, but got off based on a technicality with procedure that would in no way have compromised the validity of that sample.
I’m not to privy to the ins and outs of the cycling game and I can’t really just do an eyeball test to see who the cheaters are, but I’m guessing from what the experts of the sports have said, winning the Tour de France 7 times in a row without some “help” is about as likely as a slugger hitting 73 home runs in a season.
And I’ve never cared about Armstrongs go to card, that he’s never failed a test, because we know the robbers are always ahead of the cops in this area. Until they know what to test for, they can’t really develop procedures to find any masking agents or whatever else athletes use to continually slip by. There’s a difference between, he's never tested positive and he’s never cheated.
Swiss cyclist, Thomas Frei admitted to doping for the a couple years agao and detailed just how easy it was for him to produce a negative test while using EPO. And until recently blood transfusions and HGH weren’t even tested for.
Drug testing in sports leagues feels so limited, archaic and inadequate that it’s really just a facade for gullible fans to have a chance to think their heroes are legitimate.
You might not even be able to use the excuse that “Lance Armstrong may have cheated, but so did everyone else at that time. So he was obviously still the best.” Yes, now another former teammate of Armstrongs, Tyler Hamilton, is releasing a book “The Secret Race” where in it he describes his time in cycling as “his initiation into a doping fraternity that operated in both reckless and sophisticated ways, and portrays Armstrong as an athlete whose will to win was matched by his drive to use performance-enhancing drugs more effectively than anyone else in the peloton.” So Armstrong may have just been the most sophisticated cheater and not necessarily just one of many athletes doing the same drug regimens – and so there wasn't necessarily an even playing field among the cheats.
I also have a hard time believing that this many former teammates would risk perjuring themselves because of jealousy, or a personal vendetta against Armstrong. And wouldn’t it be in Armstrongs best interest to come after them strongly with defamation of character, lawsuits? I’m sure he has the money and the time.
But where there’s smoke there’s fire, and in this case I think the USADA will have it’s day in bringing down the most famous of the cheaters in the world of cycling, which is probably their objective. They're looking to create a starting point for cleaning up the sport. So what better way then to start with Lance?
The difficult part of this is (assuming Lance did use performance enhancers to achieve his success) well how do we reconcile that with all the positive things that have come through his lies. His cancer foundation Livestrong has raised close to 500 million dollars for cancer patients. There are countless people that have been inspired to keep fighting because of Armstrong’s ability to beat the disease.
The end seems to justify the means in this case.
Donators to the charity aren't likely going to ask for a refund. The cancer that has gone into remission thanks to the money raised isn't going to come back now that he’s been caught. These things can’t be undone just because they came from someone who turned out to be a fraud.
Real or not, people believed and that’s all that mattered. If one person was inspired enough to keep moving, keep coming to treatments and overcoming cancer, it was worth someone artificially pushing pedals a little faster on a bike. Sports just seem so meaningless next to a friend or family member suffering from cancer.
Of course this doesn’t make him a great person either, or even someone we should priase and admire. He was just the instrument used to accomplish something much bigger than his own intentions. Through God, or science or whatever you believe in, something good came out of his deceitfulness.
Maybe the Lance Armstrong story was just a little too incredible and we should have known better. A cancer survivor who comes back to dominate his sport at the highest level. But I guess that’s what a lot of people needed to hear at the time.
The situation reminds me a little of a line from one of my favorite movies, “The Dark Knight. At the end of the film, Batman takes the blame for Harvey Dent’s dirty deeds so the citizens could still have hope in Gothom's white knight. Batman (Christopher Nolan) put it this way...
“Sometimes the truth isn't good enough, sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded...”
Although I hated "The Dark Knight Rises" but I'll save that rant for later.
The Olympics ended Sunday – and for me it was over right about the time Liam Gallagher of Oasis, butchered his (errr, his brothers) most famous hit, “wonderwall” with nasally vocals that sounded like a dying cat being choked out by Jon “Bones” Jones – or just Paul McCartney’s singing at the opening ceremonies, which was also embarrassing. But even though the some of the surrounding festivities were unimpressive, the athletes didn’t disappoint, and there’s still a swirling wind left over on the track in London caused by Jamaican runner, Usain Bolt, who, at least according to twitter, was THE story at the summer Olympics. Of the 150 million tweets with Olympic mentions, Bolt was most often brought up. Hey, he even has ME blogging about track and field.
So let’s review how this happened. Bolt exploded onto the scene in 2008 in Beijing with his stunning performance in the 100 meter final, where he ran a new world record time (breaking his old record of 9.72 earlier in the year) with a time of 9.69. It was also a race where he slowed up at the end after being far ahead of the other competitors to beat his chest and start celebrating. Scientific analysis predicted he could have ran a 9.55 if not for letting up. Making this feat even more impressive, he had only begun fully committing and developing as a 100 meter runner just a year earlier. Then in Bolt’s more familiar event, the 200 meter, he also broke the World Record held by Michael Johnson from the ‘96 games, with a time of 19.30 – in a headwind. Before leaving Beijing, Bolt even helped the Jamaican 400 meter relay team break yet another world record.
The fastest man in the world was identified and soon Bolt was featured in commercials and quickly became a household name. People started to wonder what other sports his world-class speed could benefit. With his height and body type, football was the obvious choice and NFL teams were even joking about trying him out as a wide receiver. Ok, maybe the late Al Davis wouldn’t have been joking. Nothing came out of it though, but it does make for interesting water cooler conversation around the office.
In 2009 Usain peaked in the World Championships, once again breaking his World Record in the 100 meter with a time of 9.58, confirming what many thought, that if he hadn’t pulled up in Beijing, he could achieve a sub 9.6 time. After that though, Bolt had been quiet the last couple of years, with the biggest news being when he lost to rival Tyson Gay in 2010, and being disqualified for a false start at the 2011 World Championships. And most alarming, just 6 weeks ago he lost to his Olympic teammate Yohan Blake twice at Jamaica's Olympic trials.
It started to raise questions as to whether or not he was still on top of his sport or how much he cared about being the best. Bolt’s work ethic has always been questioned, perhaps because of his brashness, his swagger, the showboating AND of course his perceived natural abilities – or unnatural to those assuming like many great track and field stars of the past 15 years, he’s a cheater (Melky blog coming soon) – of a sprinter who can be that quick out of the block even with those long legs that accompany someone who’s 6’5.
Well, a few more paragraphs have been added to Bolt’s resume over the past 2 weeks that should answer many of his critics. In the 2012 Olympics Bolt has set the world on fire again, with a new Olympic record in the 100 meter (9.63) and becoming the first man to defend a sprint Olympic title since Carl Lewis in 1988. By the way, with winning gold in the 200 – where once again he let up at the end, holding a finger to his mouth and telling those same critics to shush – he’s now the only man to defend both the 100 and 200 meter titles in the Olympics, solidifying himself as the greatest sprinter of all-time and worthy of the legendary status that he gave himself, placing him on the same level as sports icons like Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali. You can say he's, "Usain in the Bolt Brain", but he's right. He has to be put at the top with the other greatest athletes of all-time now. Even if he only shows up once every four years. Or perhaps that makes it more meaningful.
What sets Bolt apart and puts him in that elite category is the type of performer he is on the big stage. While struggling at times over the last 4 years, Bolt was still able to step up when it mattered most, in the biggest event, when the most eyes were on him, and this time under more pressure, because we fully expected him to deliver – and he did. He’s consistently running the best time at the most opportune time, in the premier event at the summer games.
The buildup to the 100 meter dash feels like it even transcends the Olympics. The way the athletes are introduced before the gun fires, with the camera close up and the runners acknowledging it, or pumping themselves up, it’s different than everything else at the Olympic games. It's a showcase of personalities. You can see the cockiness and confidence these guys have with all that fast twitch muscle fiber ready to fire, like they’ve all already won because at worst, they’re still at least one of the top 8 fastest people in the world and that’s pretty damn special. And for the audience, the feeling of excitement is like you’re about to watch a Super Bowl. Granted, a Super Bowl that lasts 10 seconds.
It’s just the simple task of running, which is something most people are blessed to have the ability to do, making it the most relatable event. Anyone can go outside their house and clock themselves. It doesn’t take much equipment or effort. It’s so primitive, yet so intriguing. When you were younger there were always races in school to see who was the fastest kid in the class. We’ve always been obsessed and fascinated with speed, so it’s only natural to want to know who’s the fastest in your city, state, country, and eventually, world.
This is why you now have football players like Chris Johnson and Denard Robinson trying to get in on the action, saying they think they’d have a shot against Bolt in the 40. Everyone wants to think they’re the fastest guy in the room. I’m sure there’s a few guys that have a shot for 40 yards, but after that, when Bolt’s long stride comes into effect, giving him less steps to cover the same ground and that extra gear of his is locked in, it’s over. No one is touching him. Not even his peers that train in the same sport are even close to catching him on his best day...which seems to be whenever he needs it most.
Well, let’s answer one of the greatest philosophical questions of our time: If a relatively unknown sports blogger in SoCal writes about the Carolina Panthers, will he get any readers?
Let’s go back to last saturday night. During the 12:00 hour on AM570 Raw, Kevin Figgers and I discussed the Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil making the bold prediction of the Panthers winning the super bowl next season. It got me thinking, I should answer another question that many have wondered about, including someone on the "subtext line" (from 778 area code, ‘cause apparently we’re big in British Columbia) now renamed the “text me, maybe line", that can be reached anytime at 916-871-5080.
The text read, “How the hell did a boy from Nor Cal become a Panthers fan?”
Allow me to explain.
Like any kid growing up in the late 80’s and 90’s in northern california, I was naturally a San Francisco 49ers fan. After all, they were winning from the time I was born and were the closest professional football team to Sacramento. So it was a pretty easy choice for a young sports fan to make. But, at some point, I started to get this strange feeling. It was like I didn’t deserve this success and I was turning into that same spoiled, entitled, sports fan that I hated.
It almost felt uncomfortable to have this dominating team in my back pocket to throw out at rival fans whenever I felt like winning a football argument of whose team was better. I certainly couldn’t do that with my other sports teams, the San Francisco Giants, who were good, but consistently came up short, and the Sacramento Kings, who at the time were downright awful and were more of a means as a way to see real basketball teams with real star players (sorry Danny Ainge) that would come into Arco Arena and routinely put on basketball clinics.
The final straw for me was having to watch the 49ers beat up on the rest of the NFC West every Sunday on TV when there were much more compelling games that regionally we weren’t able to watch because – we were close to San Franscico. There was no NFL sunday ticket to save you back then, so instead of being able to watch a Redskins, Cowboys classic, with Madden and Summerall on the call, I was forced to see the 49ers destroy the saints or falcons, again.
Yes, I was starting to become very bitter and annoyed with the Niners, and was looking for a way out, which in a way, came in the form of a motor oil giveaway mail-in-offer for a free T-shirt of an NFL team of your choice.
It was the summer of 1995 and the 49ers had just won their 5th Super Bowl over the San Diego Chargers. My dad had bought some new castrol motor oil and we sent in the proof of purchase redeemable for two NFL shirts of our liking. In looking through the teams the Niners we’re obviously the first choice, but two other names on the list to choose from caught my eye. The Panthers and the Jaguars.
From a young age I had always had a curiosity and affinity for expansion teams. In the NBA I was intrigued with the Hornets and Magic. In baseball it was the Rockies and Marlins. And so here were two new football teams for me to check out, and so a few months later, I had a couple new shirts to wear to show off at school, with football teams that had yet to play a single game in the league yet.
While I did like the Jaguars teal colors (after all teal/turquose were huge in the 90’s) something about the black and blue colors of the Panthers shirt had me wearing it a little more often and hey, they did beat the Jaguars in the hall of fame game to kick off the preseason that year. Also, being in the NFC West (geography be damned) I knew I would also have more opportunities to see the Panthers on TV the upcoming season. So clearly, they were already on my radar and then, it happened...
It was November 5th 1995, and the Panthers were coming into candlestick park for their first ever meeting with the 49ers, who were the defending super bowl champs. In a dramatic upset, led by Sam Mills, the Panthers defense held the 49ers to just one touchdown and won in a shocker, 13-7.
This was it for me. This was the opportunity and team I had been looking for. It was my chance to start fresh with a new franchise that I could forever be apart of. I knew it would be special to follow a team since the start of their existence. There was no longer the possibility of bringing up the success of seasons past or referencing moments where I wasn’t even born yet, or at least old enough to really be apart of that memory. It was the difference of not being around to see “The catch” with the 49ers, but now being able to experience everything that would happen with the Carolina Panthers.
Yeah, it’s been a wild ride. I’ve been through a 1-15 season, a close Super Bowl loss and everything in between. Pathetically, up until a few years ago I could give you the win/loss record of every panther season and where players ranked statistically all-time in the panthers record books.
And while I’m not a fan of any team anymore – ‘cause you know, I’m an objective professional – I still get hit with nostalgia now and then of what it did feel like in those times of fandemonium. When I felt like I was the only Panther fan in the entire state, and so basically, my entire world. Maybe to some degree it was me being an indie sports fan or something. Seeing who would recognize a Lamar Lathon #57 Panthers Jersey around town. But damn it, I did feel special.
Oh yeah, and Ryan Kalil may be right with his prediction of the season ending in New Orleans this year (where the Super Bowl will be held), because the Panthers will also be playing the Saints there in week 17. And that should line up perfectly in time for a crushing loss that will knock the Panthers out of the playoffs with a close, but no cigar, 9-7 record.
At least that’s my prediction for them this year.