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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

United We Ball Has Moved

Thanks to our growing success, United We Ball has packed up and moved to its own domain.  UWB can now be found at http://unitedweball.org/

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Fall Classic is a Win-Win for Bengie Molina

A World Series ring.  The absolute pinnacle for any baseball player, regardless of what the playing level.  An entire lifetime of hard work and dedication is culminated into a single piece of historic jewelry.  However, there is only one way to attain such an accolade.  To be a member of the best team in Major League Baseball and earn it through your winning ways.  Well, not exactly.  Imagine if you could play in the World Series, but no matter what the outcome, you were guaranteed a ring.  Impossible, right?  I thought so too.

Texas Rangers' catcher, Bengie Molina, is guaranteed a World Series ring no matter what the outcome of the series.  He is the first catcher in Major League history to play in the World Series against a team in which he played for earlier in the season.  Molina appeared in 61 games for the San Francisco Giants in the regular season, before joining the Texas Rangers in which he played 57 games.  Therefore, he is considered a member of each organization, having held a roster spot for both teams during the season.

Still skeptical about the whole situation, I decided to do some detective work.  I researched the minimum number of appearances a player must make for a team in order to be considered eligible for a World Series ring.  The results are as follows.  The MLB has no eligibility rules regarding the allocation of rings.  The winning organization purchases the rings themselves and therefore distributes them at their own discretion.  Therefore, having been a contributor to the organization for more than one-third of the regular season, it is within all likelihood that if the San Francisco Giants were to win the World Series, Bengie Molina would be awarded a championship ring for services rendered during the regular season.

So, I now know two things are for certain this World Series.

1.) Bengie Molina will walk away with his second World Series ring.  Congratulations.

2.) The San Francisco Giants will not intentionally walk David Murphy to get to Molina.


 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sneakers that Make You Jump Higher? It's Like Finding the Fountain of Youth.

APL founders Ryan and Adam Goldston were walk-on basketball players for USC.

For years I've searched for a product that could increase my vertical leap, allowing me to soar through the air and put some poor defender on a poster.  However, the facts are just simply the facts.  I am a 5'7'' white kid from the suburbs.  I can shoot from anywhere on the court (I know that's a give in) and I have some pretty good ball-handling skills (I'm one of those odd Jason Williams types), but I was never able to dunk.  Who am I kidding?  I can't even tap.  But then I came across this article on ESPN.com.  Apparently, David Stern and the NBA are banning players from wearing a particular brand of sneaker because of its ability to increase the vertical leap of those who wear them.  Athletic Propulsion Labs' Concept 1 claim to do just that.

Really?  Where were these kicks when I was in high school?  I remember when the Strength shoe was supposed to make you run faster and jump higher, kind of like when Benny Rodriguez straps on his PF Flyers in The Sandlot.  Guys would parade around the gym, their heels hoisted inches off the ground, taking jump shots and running wind sprints in those ghastly platform sneakers.  When it came time to take them off and see the results, it was just as one suspected.  The guys who couldn't dunk before, still couldn't dunk.  Those who were able to dunk, well...let's just say they were no Vince Carters.

But the NBA never banned the Strength shoes.  So are you telling me that these actually work?

According to the NBA, "under league rules, players may not wear any shoe during a game that creates an undue competitive advantage."  In essence, the NBA is proposing that a certain brand of shoe can be a performance enhancing entity, similar to that of steroids in baseball.  The only issue I take with this argument is that sneakers are not an illegal, controlled substance.  I don't see how sneakers can give anyone in the NBA a competitive advantage.  In all honesty, it might make the game more exciting.  If guys are getting into the lane and posterizing big men like it's their job, fans are going to be more inclined to check out the games.  I mean let's be honest, these sneakers aren't going to have guys Slamballing each other.

There is only one major issue with this whole situation.  No one has ever seen a pair of these sneakers in action.  How do we know they really do what they say.  Granted, they have a phenomenally catchy slogan, "Stop Dreaming.  Jump Higher."  But I, never mind the entire NBA, can base my sole judgement on a single claim.  Therefore, I can only think of two reasons why the NBA would go through such measures to ban this product:

1) Someone at Athletic Propulsion Labs paid a large sum of money to the NBA to ban their sneakers as an extreme marketing technique.  Let's face the facts, once something has been banned or deemed illegal, demand for such a product skyrockets.  Don't believe me, just flip on an episode of Boardwalk Empire and see how alcohol was handled during prohibition.  APL has already picked up and ran with this NBA ban, blasting a large red stamp on the front page of their website and offering free shipping on all NBA-ban orders.

2) Someone from the NBA has seen these sneakers in action and they really do work.

If the latter of the two is the truth, then I will be placing an order for a pair of Concept 1s as soon as I get $300 of disposable income, or until I can talk APL into sending me a complimentary pair in exchange for my tireless promotion.  Either way, I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ore-Gone Wild

Ever heard of Jacob Rickman? I didn't think so -- but let's put a pin in that for a moment.

The last time I saw a player score 8 touchdowns in one game, I was 11 years old.  Granted, it wasn't an actual game, but for it's time, NFL 2K on Sega Dreamcast was pretty realistic.  That is of course barring the fact that you could stiff arm any and everything that came within two feet of the ball carrier.  I would break off 80 and 90 yard runs, stiff arming every would-be-tackler who approached me, with Emmitt Smith like it was my job.  If I took the time to play a full 60 minute game, it wouldn't be unbelievable for Smith to go for 500 yards and 8-9 TDs.

So, as I promised...back to Jacob Rickman.

Rickman is a sophomore running back at Pendleton High School in Oregon.  He's undersized, lacks any real outstanding athleticism and has gained the offers from exactly zero scouts to date.  However, what he accomplished just days ago will gain him a bevy of notoriety to say the least.  Against Ontario High School, Rickman led the Pendleton Ducks to a 69-61 victory, behind, get this, 357 rushing yards and eight TDs (the last coming on a 57-yard TD reception).

To no surprise, Rickman's eight touchdown performance is a school record.  Ironically enough, the previous record of six had been set just one week earlier, by...yup, you guessed it, Rickman himself.  For all you mathematicians out there, that is 14 TDs in two games.  Most running backs don't hit that mark in a season, nevermind two games.

So what do you think?  Jacob Rickman...the next Wes Welker?



Monday, September 20, 2010

Under Center: Ranking the NFL's Quarterbacks

I found myself in the middle of a heated discussion this afternoon.  The gloves were off.  Haymakers for opinions were flying left and right, each participant looking to deliver the final knockout blow.  The great debate was underway -- the unofficial ranking of NFL quarterbacks.

It is understood that the quarterback is the single most important position in the NFL.  Without an elite QB, teams suffer arduous, often frustrating, subpar seasons.  The entire offense runs through hands of a single man.  He must understand both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball and sell a persona that the whole team can buy into.  His charisma must be contagious, his work ethic, unwavering and his will to win, greater than the other 21 men on the field.

So without further adieu, I present you with the top 10 NFL QBs.

1. Peyton Manning
The consensus is in and No. 18 is number one.  At 34, Manning shows no signs of slowing down.  His ability to read defenses and audible at the line of scrimmage is unparalleled by any other leader in the league.  He has a Super Bowl ring to back and is a future Hall of Fame inductee.  Give Manning and inch and he'll take a yard -- or several for that matter.

2. Drew Brees
There isn't a QB in the league who throws a more perfect ball than Drew Brees.  The reigning Super Bowl MVP never locks into a single receiver, making any Saints' receiver a potential downfield threat.  This guy not only rejuvenated a team, but an entire city.

3. Tom Brady
There's not much to say except for -- Brady is a winner.  Welker and Moss make his job a little easier, however.

4.  Aaron Rodgers
Two more years and Rodgers will be number one on this list.  With a bevy of weapons in Green Bay and Rodgers at the helm, the Packers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

5. Tony Romo
With the playoff monkey off his back, the sky is the limit for Romo and the Cowboys.  Although off to a slow start, Dallas has too many weapons for the crafty Romo to fail.  Love him or hate him, he is always the topic of conversation, therefore, warranting a position on this list.

6. Ben Roethlisberger
With two Super Bowl rings, Big Ben has already proved himself as an elite quarterback.  However, QBs are supposed to manage distractions, not cause them.  This lack of leadership keeps Roethlisberger from the top.

7. Philip Rivers
Imagine how much better the Giants would be if they would've kept this guy in New York.

8. Brett Favre
It's unbelievable that Favre may have had his best statistical season at the age of 40.  So far this season, it looks like the sun is setting on Favre's career.  The gun-slinger looks to have no more bullets left in the chamber.

9. Joe Flacco
Big arm, good defense and finally a core of receivers, look out for Mr. Flacco this season.

10. Matt Schaub
If Andre Johnson could throw the ball to himself, he'd be on this list.  But since he can't, enter Matt Schaub.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Are the Wheels Coming Undone on the Lions' Bandwagon?

I have been a Dallas Cowboys fan since I could remember.  However, there is a part of me that wants to jump on the Lions' bandwagon this year.  Don't get me wrong, the Cowboys still are and always will be my team, but there is something about this Detroit team that is so alluring.

Going into the season, I couldn't sing enough praises about this young Lions' team.  Matt Stafford is a tough kid and has the potential to be "the guy" in Detroit.  Calvin Johnson is already amongst the top five receivers in the league.  Detroit also had the best draft, picking up both Jahvid Best and Ndamukong Suh.  Don't look now, but the Lions' could surprise a lot of people.

That was until bad luck reared its wicked head once again on Detroit football.  It's now been 53 years and counting.

First, Stafford suffers a shoulder injury that could sideline him for at least a month.  Then, Megatron makes, what appears to be, an incredible, game-winning catch, only to have to taken away by some foolish NFL rule.  So, the Lions' drop another season opener, to the Bears nonetheless, and Shaun Hill is under center and taking snaps as first string quarterback.

I don't want to sound like a pessimist too early, but Week 1 may be indicative of the entire Lions' season.   However, I'm not jumping off the bandwagon just yet.  If the Lions' can manage to win at least one or two games under Hill's command, they can put themselves in a favorable position with Stafford returning.

I predicted at least an 8-8 season this year, Detroit.  Don't let me down already.