Monday, February 28, 2011

There is No East Coast Bias [Mondays with Gus]

As a sports fan born and raised in the Midwest, hearing people argue that there is an east coast bias in spots coverage has always confused me. Don't get me wrong, the Cleveland Indians helped put me through college so I hate me some East Coast teams. But seriously, shut up with the whole East Coast bias argument.

Let's first look at a map of the teams in the NFL. There are five teams in the 11 western states. New York and Pennsylvania alone have five NFL teams. That doesn't mean that there is an East Coast bias, it means that there is an east coast presence. The West Coast, for all intents and purposes, didn't exist in the NFL this year. If the major news outlets spent as much time covering the Raiders as they do the Patriots, the NFL would be the NHL.

What about MLB? Tell me where the championships are on this map. Again, you don't have a presence on the West Coast that's worth covering. This isn't a bias, this is the reality. If you covered the West Coast as much as the east coast, you would be ignoring most of the history of baseball. But that's not all. Even with most of the success being east rather than west, these leagues still go out of their way to please the West Coast viewers.

Take for example Monday Night Football. Typically, a Monday night game goes through midnight on the east coast. This is awful for the East Coast fans. Even when there are two East Coast teams playing, many people have to stay up late and lose sleep trying to support their local team. On top of that, the Sunday night lineup is much the same. If a true NFL fan stays up to watch all the games, on the east coast they will be likely to miss out on sleep. On the West Coast, it doesn't matter because the whole thing was designed for them and them only.

Now, one argument often used is that ESPN loves Boston because it's on the east coast. But, look at their coverage teams. NFL pregame consists of Keyshawn Jackson (USC), Chris Carter (Ohio State), and Tom Jackson (Louisville). What's east coast about that? NBA coverage is even worse. Magic Johnson (LA), Michael Wilbon (Chicago), and Jon Barry (Oakland).

The most outrageous part of all this is that the West Coast didn't even care about losing their two NFL teams. If Cleveland could fight successfully to keep a team, Los Angeles sure as hell could have too. But they didn't care. Goodbye Rams. Goodbye Raiders. Now, they use their market size to try to lure teams away from their cities.

So, if you're going to argue that there is an East Coast bias, please come up with new arguments. I'd love to read them in the comments.

-Gus Rafeedie

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


This is the perfect situation for the 200th meatball. Amar'e and Carmelo. Two of the five* current American ballers that are recognizable by first names only are on the same team. My team. The last time that happened, the Lakers three-peated. No, the Knicks won't do that, but they will make it to the second round of the playoffs this year after learning to fly on the fly together over the next few months. The Knicks, this season, CAN beat Miami, Orlando, Chicago and Atlanta in a seven game series. They have no shot vs. the Celtics, but that potential matchup just got a lot more exciting.

Blah blah blah, the Knicks gave up too much...maybe. I feel better and better about this deal with each tick of the clock. The previous starting five looked like this: Felton-Fields-Gallo-Amar'e-Mozgov. Now it's like this Billups-Fields-Carmelo-Amar'e-Turiaf. That's a playoff upgrade at point (big shots, better shooter, has a ring though he's slower than RayRay), unchanged at the off-guard, a big upgrade at swing, no change at four and a wash at center. Turiaf won't play very many minutes a game, which leaves the 'Bockers in a hole, but it was a hole before, so not much has changed.

The bench loses Ill Wil, and moves Turiaf to starter, but gains Corey Brewer and thats about it. Hopefully Azubuike actually suits up this year to some more shooting depth, but otherwise Toney Douglas and Shawne Williams get more minutes and Andy Rautins actually dresses on the reg. I just lost a sports Andy in my life, maybe it's time for Rauwdy to be that man for me.

Can't wait to watch the club on illegal internet TV tomorrow and see them run up and down in person on Friday.

*Amar'e, Carmelo, Kobe, Shaq, Lebron. Other NBA guys who can get away with it: Dirk, Nene, Yao, Darko

Monday, February 21, 2011

Knicks Need Dwight Howard, Not Carmelo [Mondays with Gus]

The New York Knicks, if they go after Carmelo Anthony, will be essentially trying to out-Heat the Miami Heat. While this move would easily put the Knicks into the top three in the East, I doubt they will win any rings from the decision. Simply put, the Knicks would have no way to match up well against the future of the East, the Miami Heat.

Carmelo is a fantastic talent, and probably one of the best all-around players in the NBA. So, I understand how ridiculous this article may sound to some people. But, the playoffs in the NBA are all about match ups and coaching. Putting Carmelo and Amare against Bosh and LeBron just isn't going to cut it. Plus, by having Amare on the team, you can't have a good defensive front court unless you have a fantastic defensive center on the team. That's where Dwight Howard comes into play. He can change the future of the Knicks in the Eastern Conference.

As a Cavs fan, it's hard to admit that the Heat are the team to beat in the East, but it's true. The Celtics are aging quickly, the Bulls don't have anyone that can shoot the basketball (and not enough salary cap room to fix that properly), the Magic are pulling a Cleveland Cavalier and buying up old talent to surround their one great player, and Atlanta can't afford to improve because of their salary cap situation. Sure, one of the sub-par teams can score big on a draft pick and free agent, but the NBA wants a few great teams and a bunch of awful ones. Ratings baby.

Essentially, the Knicks have to turn into a better team than the Heat if they want to win a ring in the next three or four years. They can do that by creating match up problems that the Heat will be unable to deal with as long as they have their big three. Miami's salary cap situation is so awful, that it is possible (though very minutely so) that they will have to cut one of the big three to be under a potential hard cap. In short, they can't fix their problems. Specifically, Miami can't defend quick point guards or legitimate centers.

The reason that New York should attack the center position with the Heat is because LeBron and Wade rely on getting to basket. When LeBron and D Wade have to shoot the ball, the Heat will lose. Putting a defensive MVP in Dwight Howard in the middle will give Miami fits on the offensive end, and completely devastate any potential defensive strategies the Heat might have.

While the Knicks are likely thinking only about money (what teams aren't these days?), it's in the best interest of New York basketball to go after Dwight Howard. Perhaps signing Carmelo to a long term deal than immediately trading him to Orlando? Orlando sees the writing on the wall left by LeBron in Cleveland, so I say there's a chance that could happen. Getting Howard won't be easy, but if the Knicks want to be serious contenders over the next few years, they're going to need to find a way to get it done.

-Gus Rafeedie

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Knicks Need Melo/Melo Needs Knicks

As long as the Nuggets are talking crazy- asking for five Knicks rotation players plus a #1 pick for Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, the biggest trade of the year won't go down.

HOWEVA, if the Nuggets get real, or Donnie Walsh makes a legitimate offer to them (Curry, Anthony Randolph/a #1 pick he can be moved for and Wilson Chandler is not enough), Melo could be headed for the big city and bright lights. The Apostrophe has come through on his proclamation that "The Knicks are back," to a degree. He brought them back to relevance, and over .500. Now that's not something I'm happy to be proud of, or proud that I'm happy with, but it is what it is. The Knicks haven't won a playoff series (OR GAME) since Vinsanity was happening in TORONTO and they haven't made it to the posteason since getting swept by the Jersey trash my sophomore year of college. To put that in perspective, I've had four different residencies since then and am going on my fifth; I've had four jobs and one internship; George W. Bush was in his FIRST TERM as president; Mark Sanchez's girl was literally in elementary school...get the point? It's been a while.

So on one hand, I don't want to break up the nice little thing we've got going. All I want this year, from the fourth youngest team in the NBA, is a playoff win. Not a series, just a game. But then again, I've heard from multiple news outlets, friends, experts and so forth that my team will get a star player in the offseason before, and watched it NOT happen (LeBron James, Cliff Lee). So Melo saying he wants to play in NY, and actually playing in NY are not as close as some would have you believe. The scariest detail in all of this is the new CBA. Not a soul knows what it will entail and rumors of Franchise Tags, severely lowered salary caps among other things do not make me feel good about the future.

What damage will the club do as a 5-7 seed if they give up a ton of guys to get Melo this year? He fills in on the fly, STAT has to readjust to a new PG, which hurts his production for two or three weeks, and an already short rotation gets shorter- exactly what STAT doesn't knee-d. They get Melo, I think Knicks can (not will, necessarily) definitely beat Chicago, Orlando and Atlanta in a series, but they'll still struggle against the Heat and Celtics.

When it comes down to it, Melo wants to be in NY, and not playing for the stepsister Nets in Jersey for another year or two. The Knicks want him in NY, but not at the expense of dismantling the team outside of STAT. Speaking of The Apostrophe, he went from NBA star to one of the biggest starts in sports after landing in NY and returning the Knicks to credibility. The same can happen with Melo. However, as bad press as he is getting now for whining his way out of Denver, imagine how magnified that will be if he and STAT are playing 42 minutes a game next year and the Knicks have no capspace in the new CBA to sign anyone else besides D-Leaguers. They'd be miserable in a situation like that and Melo needs to have the foresight to relax, quit pressuring the Knicks to get it done now and everyone will be happier in the long run.

This blog was all over the place, much like these discussions have been, and much like my thoughts on if we should get Melo now or wait, and what we should give up in that case. We'll know a lot more in a week's time.

Monday, February 14, 2011

College Basketball Sucks [Mondays with Gus]

College basketball, in an attempt to make more money has watered down the sport. One of the major reasons major league baseball will never get the ratings (or attention) that the NFL draws is because of the importance of regular season games. It's much of the same with college basketball.

Teams have a regular season, a pre-tournament tournament, then the actual college basketball tournament. A team with a pitiful record can actually get into the playoffs. Theoretically, a team can lose every regular season game and still win the championship. WHY??

I know the argument is that it makes the tournament more exciting because it gives more teams a chance. And that's a lot of fun. The problem I have with that is that the regular season is absolutely pointless. The seeding for the tournament is done by opinions, so having a great regular season is only important in that it can give someone a favorable opinion of you. How you can have a championship based partly on opinions is mind boggling. I feel like we're one step away from putting all the teams on an episode of “SportsNation” and determining the tournament games like that.

My solution to this problem is simple, albeit likely offensive to many college basketball fans. Eliminate the conference tournaments and base seeding on national regular season rankings.

By doing this, college basketball teams will take regular season games more seriously. It makes conference games much more important and exciting (since the winner of the conference will be based on these games). Also, by basing the tournament teams on national rankings, at least the opinion of the team is based on a national consensus rather than a room full of people that pick the best teams.

Give people a reason to watch the entire season, and you'll make the sport more exciting for the fans. And, you guys are in it for the fans, not the money right? Because if you aren't, than I guess that makes college basketball no different than the money hungry professionals...

-Gus Rafeedie

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Carmela and her Many Suitors

Much like we did in June 2010 with LeBron, we're going to throw some romance into this Carmelo Anthony trade speculation story. Inspired - just like most of my blogs - by a gChat with Major League yesterday, we'll look at the situation as it compares to a marriage on the rocks.

The Wife: Carmela Anthony
This gorgeous young lady brings a lot to the table for the better part of a decade in the relationship, but she's felt like she continues to give and give and not get what she wants back. On the horizon, she has an opportunity to jump ship and leave her husband for another man. the problem, as it stands now, is she has to stay with him for another five months. She made up her mind to leave several months ago, but doesn't want to get financially screwed in the divorce. She's whining and telling her friends that she only wants to be with one man, The High School Crush, even though a few other guys are asking for her number and trying to take her on dates.

The Husband: Denver Nuggets
He's given Carmela all he is capable of the past eight years, but she's just not happy anymore. He knows that she's checked out, and is stuck in a tough position: he can wait and throw money and lavish items at her for the next five months, hoping she has a change of heart OR he can flip the situation and try to grab himself a couple of young honies to keep himself occupied while getting over her, letting her go in the process. For now, they'll stick to awkward family dinners, and distracted, emotionless sex.

The High School Crush: New York Knicks
Right down the street from where she grew up, this guy is the apple of Carmela's eye. She's been pining to go back and see if things can work out with him. He fell on some hard times for a while, but started seeing a girl that got him back on his feet and screwed his head on right. Now, everyone in town, including Carmela, can see he's ready for the next step. Carmela knows that she'll be adored in that neighborhood as a prodigal daughter of sorts, ready to give her all into a relationship that would be beneficial for not just the couple, but the whole community.

The Rebellious Biker: Dallas Mavericks
He's not trying to marry Carmela. He's fully aware that she wants to be with the High School Crush. That's fine by him, he just wants her for her looks and to get freaky and passionate in the bedroom with her for the next few months, see if they can't do something special before burning out.

The Rich, Handsome Guy: Los Angeles Lakers
You've seen him in just about every Rom-Com in history. He's quite the looker, dressed well with chiseled features and a phenomenal car/home/yacht. Comes into the picture a little late, making Carmela rethink what she's felt for the last several months. On paper, the guy is perfect and you know you have the chance to be on the big stage right away with him. Seen at the fanciest restaurants and be one of the hottest couples in town. However, the chemistry is just not there. It'd be nice if it was, but Carmela just doesn't know if she can handle being with a guy like that.

The Dorky, Heavyset Cable Guy: New Jersey Nets
Yeah, at first blush he's funny looking and weird. BUT, he just got some new cred after his foreign stepdad gave him lots of money. His old house is in a crap neighborhood, but he's using that new cash to build a state of the art crib in a young and exciting part of town. He hasn't had much luck with girls in the last several years, but all that could change if Carmela gives him the chance of a lifetime. Problem with that is, she is already somewhere she doesn't want to be, and can't stand the thought of doing that for another couple years before his new house is finished.

Who ends up with Carmela? We'll have to wait until February 24 to find out (two weeks, five hours and 19 minutes if you want to be specific).

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Owners, Build Your Own Stadiums [Mondays with Gus]

Owners of sports franchises are doing billions of dollars in damage to cities around America, and all sports fans can say is “Give me more!” If you've ever sat around and wondered why you're paying $7 for a beer, wonder no more.

This all starts from the day the stadium is built. It's standard operating procedure to demand money to build the stadiums from the city, or they will threaten to move to a huge market. In the NFL, this means Los Angeles. The cities almost always cave in and pay up. But here comes the most interesting part: Why does the NFL owner get to keep the income from the naming rights?

The Houston Texans signed a $300 million deal for naming rights to their stadium. The stadium itself cost $442 million, and included an increase in taxes of over $284 million. They didn't tax team merchandise either, which would only impact fans of the team. They taxed hotels and rental cars, making people from out of town pay for a team they will likely never care about. So why is it that the city doesn't get that money back? They're the reason that revenue stream even exists. The simple reason, the Houston Texans (and most sports teams) couldn't survive without the taxpayer money.

This is money that could go toward infrastructure, parks, libraries, etc. But it isn't going to the people of the community. It's going to one (usually billionaire) owner, who employs only a few dozen people full time (most employees of sports franchises are part time workers, and have terrible, if any benefits). Art Modell, former owner of the Baltimore Ravens once said “The pride and presence of a professional football team is far more important than 30 libraries.”

Maybe we're starting to see why Baltimore's high school student graduation rate was 34.6%.

-Ghassan Rafeedie

NFL Triva

I'm sure you've heard that only four teams have repped the AFC the last 10 years - Raiders, Patriots, Steelers, Colts - with the latter three of those clubs accounting for nine of said appearances. And if you kept listening, you probably heard that 10 NFC teams have made it to the biggest game the last 10 years. Can you name the six NFC teams that have NOT made it to the Super Bowl in the last 10 seasons?

The answers are below, upside down for fun.

suoɔןɐɟ ɐʇuɐןʇɐ 'suıʞspǝɹ uoʇbuıɥsɐʍ 'sʎoqʍoɔ sɐןןɐp 'sɹǝ64 oɔsıɔuɐɹɟ uɐs 'sbuıʞıʌ ɐʇosǝuuıɯ 'suoıן ʇıoɹʇǝp

BONUS NUGGET: Since 1995, the St. Louis Rams and the Green Bay Packers are the only NFC teams to have made multiple appearances in the Super Bowl.