Archive for March, 2011

A fund raiser for hope, but little lives in NFL labor
March 18, 2011

Last night on Purple Passion, our weekly Ravens round table on WBAL Radio, Ravens Safety Haruki Nakamura offered some perspective from a player that thoroughly resonated.  With friends and family stuck in the middle of an unprecedented nuclear / natural disaster, Nakamura naturally wants to help.

To do so, he calls on his teammates.  Nakamura sets up a fund raiser for April 2nd.  A giant autograph show at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen will create the funds.  He can’t do it at M&T Bank Stadium, or with the help of the team.  Not with a lockout shutting down business between franchises and players.  But it’s a good bet a giant anonymous check will be cut with Aerotek in the left hand corner. All the details have yet to be worked out, but we’ll have them for you when they are.

I share this of course to help spread the word of a way to those that really, really need it right now, but the conversation also clarified thoughts on the labor pains from a local level.

Nakamura went to his teammates and says they immediately have hopped on board to help. count  Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Ray Rice, Joe Flacco among the many that have committed.  Nakamura praised his mates relentlessly saying he’s heard the “horror stories” about other locker rooms around the league.  Selfish guys that would just as soon fight themselves as for each other.

But Nakamura didn’t stop there.

Next he praised the Ravens organization from top to bottom.  He says they have the  best owner in the league, and isn’t worried about getting the labor issues resolved.

No animosity, no calling names, no attempt to intimidate all of which we have seen from both sides outside of Baltimore.

Ravens cornerback Chris Carr also joined us on the program and in a very calm, non hyperbolic fashion, stated why the players chose to decertify.

For most of the talks the players had people in the meetings that were authorized to make decisions.  The NFL did not.

Carr claims the players still just want to know why a pay cut is necessary, and that if the owners are willing to show them, they will take it.

Okay, very reasoned thoughts from Carr, again without screaming or name calling. It leaves me to believe if the Ravens players and Steve Bisciotti were to sit down at a table, a deal could be worked out before anyone cuts down the nets at the Final Four.

This labor fight surely goes one of two ways.

Remedy A, the fans will like.  It has the players winning the April 6 court date ending the lockout forcing the the NFL to open back up for business and work on a new collective bargaining agreement while the game goes on.  It will probably take years to conclude the anti-trust suit, but fans don’t care.  We’ll have football.

Remedy B sees the owners win on April 6.  That victory would keep the game shelved, and the game of chicken alive.  A game in which the owners would be driving a Hummer and the players a Prius.  History says eventually the players will fold and succumb to a new CBA.  But they might hold out well into next season, or through it,  thus costing us all football.

The view from our vantage point remains annoyed.  Why the most successful sports league in the world can’t figure out how to share without a work stoppage boggles all our minds.

But remember, the two sides live in a completely different world.  They can afford to fight a cut throat battle because the game is so popular and valuable.  History also says as fans we will return without missing a PSL beat.  We will once again buy thetickets, the jerseys, go to training camp, and watch every moment on television.  The players and owners probably do feel a little bad about all of this, but nowhere near enough to sacrifice some of the pie for us.

We’ve treated them as gods, showered them in praise, and buried them in money.  And now we expect them to act like normal human beings?  Not a chance.


2nd to last AP Ballot this year, plus All America Team
March 10, 2011

The madness is among us, and thank goodness.  The NFL labor talks have me chewing glass wondering if we’ll have a season to cover, or just meetings in DC for the next eight months. So thank you college basketball, and all your flaws.

Despite problems with big time basketball like the inconsistent NCAA regulations, one and done kids leaving the game diluted, and referees actually getting worse, the sport continues to deliver.

Arkansas Little Rock, as one of only two games on nationwide, lived a lifetime moment when Soloman Bozeman drained a daring game winning 3. You don’t have to know UALR or Bozeman to love that moment too.

My wife heard me screaming at that moment, wondering how I had just injured myself. She must have forgotten it’s March.

My 2nd to last ballot has Ohio State firmly at the top. I will be stunned if the Buckeyes fail to make the Final Four.

Also included here are my coach of the year, player of the year, and All America teams.

Steve Lavin took over a program at St. John’s that hadn’t been relevant since Marc Jackson and Chris Mullen ruled New York, earning 21 wins in the regular season that included 9 against teams ranked in the top 15. Getting kids to believe they can win when winning was such a foreign concept is for me the greatest measure of a coach. Others will vote for Thad Matta or Mike Krzyzewski because of continued excellence. And that’s fine, but so tremendously exceeding expectations, doing what so many others failed to do at Madison Square Garden, that earns my vote.

The player of the year comes from the same conference. Connecticut’s Kemba Walker carried so often a team that could have fallen apart under the weight of its coach’s NCAA problems and health problems. Instead, against the best conference in the land, Walker dominated. Sure he had a mid season stretch of mere mortal play. But aside from monster stats, he loves having the ball at the end of the game and delivers.

I put Maryland’s Jordan Williams as a 2nd team All American. The nation’s 3rd leading rebounder also averaged 17 points a game plus a block and a half. Imagine what he might do with a back court that occasionally made a jump shot.

1. Ohio State
2. Kansas
3. Pittsburgh
4. Notre Dame
5. San Diego State
6. Duke
7. Purdue
8. North Carolina
9. Louisville
10. BYU
11. Syracuse
12. Texas
13. Arizona
14. Florida
15. Wisconsin
16. St. John’s
17. Xavier
18. Utah State
19. Kentucky
20. Kansas State
21. Cincinnati
22. West Vriginia
23. Texas A&M
24. Temple
25. Georgetown

Player of the Year: Kemba Walker

Coach of the Year: Steve Lavin

1st Team

Jared Sullinger (OSU)
Jimmer Fredette (BYU)
Kemba Walker (CON)
Jajuan Johnson (PUR)
Nolan Smith (DUK)

2nd Team
Jordan Williams (MD)
Andrew Goudelock (COC)
Marshon Brooks (PROV)
Jon Leuer (WIS)
Kawhi Leonard (SDSU)

3rd Team
Talor Battle  (PSU)
Alec Burks  (COL)
Derrick Williams (ARI)
E’Twaun Moore (PUR)
Jacob Pullen (KSU)

Another week, another ballot, another number 1
March 1, 2011

The NFL rules the day when it comes to parity development. I’m convinced the biggest goal for Roger Goodell (after labor, player safety, and employing incompetent referees) is creating a league with 5 teams that finish 10-6, 5 that finish 6-10, and the rest in between. Parity breeds hope for fans, but mediocrity on the field.

In college basketball, parity may not be a goal, but with its top talent staying just one year parity reigns.

Continuous turnover at the top of the poll, and the same at the other end, leaves me sans a clue for what to expect in March.

I guess that creates a buzz for the tournament. It will certainly limit the blowouts from the early rounds, and maybe finally deliver the first victory for a 16 seed. But not only is the top of the game at its lowest point in talent the last 30 years, it comes at a time where they add teams to the bottom. Going from 65 to 68 teams will not enhance the product, but at least we won’t have to witness a tournament with 96 teams. Watching Virginia face Nebraska in an opening round game would not exactly inspire.

Sorry to apply the wet blanket, and here’s to hoping there’s madness regardless. And now, the ballot for our last day of February:

1. Ohio State
2. Kansas
3. Duke
4. Purdue
5. BYU
6. Pitt
7. Notre Dame
8. San Diego State
9. Texas
10. Louisville
11. Wisconsin
12. St. Johns
13. Syracuse
14. North Carolina
15. Arizona
16. Georgetown
17. Florida
18. Texas A&M
19. Vanderbilt
20. George Mason
21. Xavier
22. Connecticut
23. Utah State
24. Virginia Tech
25. UCLA