All posts by jyancich

Football’s back!

Brady Training Camp

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Well it’s not much, but tonight at least we will be able to tune into some football with the Hall of Fame game marking the start of the Preseason for the 2015-2016 NFL campaign. It’s been a rough two months for many sports fans because after the electric finals in both the NHL and NBA playoffs, we were merely left with the middle part of the MLB season where it seems like the games don’t even matter. I for one will tune in (at least for the first quarter) to the hall of fame game, just to get a little bit of the football juices flowing. Soon everyone will be back at school and everyone’s my weekends are going to be completely dominated by football, and I for one could not be more excited. Football season rolling into the winter sport season is without a doubt the best time of year.

This NFL season is going to be interesting to say the least. On one hand you have the whole deflate gate scandal which will impact the league in one way or the other, it’s too soon to speculate now. On the other hand there have been so many big moves this offseason, the landscape of the league is much different from this time last season. The Bill’s are now under the Rex Ryan regime, Chip Kelly changed everything about the eagles with a new quarterback and bringing in the best Running Back in the league last year in DeMarco Murray. This rookie class has the opportunity to be one of the best classes ever, starting that off right with the Buccaneers and Titans squaring off week one, those teams went #1 and #2 in the draft respectfully, both with young studs under Center that should be an interesting game.

I’m just glad that the season is coming back, the middle of the summer is a real dead zone when it comes to the sports world. Basically all you have is baseball, and while there is nothing wrong with baseball i Know personally I can watch football all day everyday but baseball can get a bit slow for me to dedicate most of my time to it. Not to mention with the season coming up the whole deflate-gate situation is bound to clear up soon which as a sports fan in general, I thank god it’s ending. It as gotten so tiring having to be teased for weeks for new information that we end up finding out isn’t even necessarily true. All the drama needs to end and we need to just go back to watching football, not having to listen to all these reports and bickering over some partially “deflated” balls.

Had to cut myself off from going on a rant. Anyways, I hope you tune in to the HOF game, because I know its just a preseason game, but seeing teams out there will get you in the mood for the season which is a lot closer than you’d think.

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Finals Preview

Steph LBJ Again

(Image courtesy of Getty Images)

Over the last few years, the NBA playoffs were a bore. Everybody knew LeBron and the Heat would overpower anyone in the East. Then It was up to the Spurs or the Thunder to come into the Finals from the West. Everybody knew what was going to happen and it started getting predictable. There is nothing worse than predictability in the playoffs. This years playoffs in my opinion brought back the excitement when it came to the NBA.

Let’s talk about the story lines. For starters, when the Spurs got knocked out by the Clippers it was the end of an era: For the first time since 1999 this years version of the finals will not include Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, or Dwyane Wade. That is what we call and end of an era, 16 years of dominance by a group of guys. It also seems like it is the end of an era for the Spurs and their incredibly long and successful run. The days of Tim Duncan bringing home 5 championships as the leader of this Spurs squad seems to be over. With Duncan saying he is willing to step down and take a bench role if the Spurs get other pieces to compliment Kawhi Leonard, a new era is upon the Spurs.

Another story line that I believe made these playoffs great was the return of Derrick Rose to boost the Bulls and give Lebron and the Heat a scare in the second round. Starting with Chicago starting the series stealing game one on the road in Cleveland, it looked like the Bulls could actually do it. With a strong return by Rose, and the Cavaliers getting used to life without Kevin Love, it seemed that maybe they could have slipped enough for Chicago to take it. In my opinion the Bulls were the only team in the East that had enough parts to actually challenge the Cavs. The Hawks were the #1 seed, but in my opinion probably the weakest #1 seed we have seen in years. Anyway, that was the most exciting series for me in the East, I expected it to go a full 7, but us basketball fans weren’t that lucky and the Cavaliers took it in 6.

Now let’s talk about our NBA MVP. Steph Curry and the Warriors finally got over the hump and have gone deep into the playoffs and they haven’t missed a step. And what a fun team to watch! I can’t get enough of watching Curry dribble around everybody on that court to then just put up an impossible shot that then sinks like its nothing. I truly marvel at his craft. I think when its all said and done Steph Curry has the potential to be the best shooter we have seen. Having said that, he’s much more than a shooter. He’s that teams leader, and I think he’s a type of leader that this league needs. He won’t go to the media making excuses and talking about how great he is (cough, cough, LBJ, cough) he is calm, cool, and collected. He goes out, wins, goes home, does it all again. I was wondering how he would handle getting deep into the playoffs with all the pressure and what not but he seems to be taking it in stride. The only time he has been flustered was when he went flying over Trevor Ariza and almost suffered a big time injury.  I can’t wait to see him agains the Cavaliers and to see what they will try to do to defend him.

And of course, we have Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Knocking out my beloved Celtics first round was no problem. Losing Kevin Love in the process but everybody knew all along that wasn’t going to impact them as much as you would expect. Love already playing a role he wasn’t used to nor comfortable in, it didn’t really affect them that much when he went out. Then there was that somewhat close-call with the Bulls, then of course the sweep of the weak Hawks in Eastern Conference Finals everybody’s predictions were right and Lebron is back for his 5th straight finals. The biggest story line with these guys has been all the injuries. Kyrie missed a few games and Lebron has let us know all about how “hurt” he’s been all postseason so we should truly be humbled by his greatness, right? But with the finals coming up the only real injury that seems like it is going to affect the Cavs is K-Love’s, but they have already worked around that.

So basically what this series is about is can the “King” be dethroned (again, for the fourth time)? Will this be the beginning of the Steph Curry era? Or will it be another notch in Lebron’s belt as he tries to chase Jordan (yeah, right). All there is to do is wait and see. Will Curry be able to sink those unreal shots we all know he can hit to keep that Warriors offense alive. or will Lebron and Kyrie take over games like they’ve been doing, and then give the ball to JR Smith or Iman Shumpert who have been providing a spark ever since they were traded to Cleveland earlier in the season. To me, the most exciting match-up is how Draymond Green is going to defend Lebron. I think he’s the only one physical enough to be able to stop him driving the lane. Having said that, it usually doesnt matter who is covering Lebron, he will change his game somehow and yet again be the best player on the court,no matter how much it hurts me to say that. But strap in NBA fans because we don’t know how this series is going to play out, but we do know it is going to be exciting.

Realistic Prediction: Cavs in 7 (Ouch, I know)

What I really want to happen: Warriors in 7

Happy NBA Finals everybody!

Rajon being Rajon

Rondo Carlisle

(Image Courtesy of Getty Images)

Well it’s official: the Celtics won the Rondo trade. For years while he was on the Celtics Rondo was always looked at as a young kid who was going to step up and be the leader when KG, Pierce, and Ray were done, but never ended up truly getting his spot .Well Ray left for Miami first, then Pierce and Garnett were traded to Brooklyn so now it was officially Rajon leading the Green. Then there was injury after injury, a lack of a supporting cast, any excuse there could be made for Rajon, there was. Not saying Rondo isn’t a good player, because you can’t say that. What I am saying is I believe his demeanor and attitude is much more of an issue than it seems.

Rondo won a title his rookie year, where undoubtedly even Rajon Rondo knew to follow the leaders of his team in the Big Three. A pass-first guard placed with perhaps the greatest shooters ever, one of the best post-men in the game at that point, and let’s just toss in future HOF’er Pierce in that lineup, it’s hard not to succeed. That was before Rondo got a few years under his belt, made a few plays and developed his own personality. This was the beginning of a string of issues that led to the total resurrection of Boston. Concerns first started when Rondo and Allen started beefing in the locker room, it clearly put a strain on the team as a whole. Those issues were somewhat overlooked because it was clear Allen had checked out at that point, eventually losing his starting spot to the young Avery Bradley. When the big three was officially broken up it was his team and there were definitely high and lows of him leading this team which lead to him being dealt to the Mav’s.

Rondo being moved to Dallas looked like it could be a defining moment in his career. He seemed to be Dallas’ missing piece, with an aging Dirk (who still produces), and young scoring with Parsons and Monta, a defensive wizard down low in Tyson Chandler, and put Amar’e in the mix as well. On paper, that team is deadly.

Rondo should have smartened up. He should be helping this team fight for a title, but as of this afternoon it seems that Rondo has played his last game in Dallas, at least according to head coach Rick Carlisle. After Game 2 versus Houston, Rondo was benched after 40-seconds in the second half after getting a total unwarranted 8-second violation and committing two ridiculous fouls against James Harden also resulting in a technical. This wasn’t Rondo’s first problem in a Mav’s uniform: there have been multiple verbal altercations with Carlisle. This leads us to the question, is Rajon Rondo officially a “problem player”?

I think he is a problem. It’s clear he wants to be “the man” wherever he goes. If he sticks with this mentality he is never going to succeed. The way he plays requires other pieces to produce offensively, the guy isn’t one to go out there and can give you 25+ PPG.  There are many rumors of him signing with teams like New York or the Lakers, the thought is if you pair him with another big name that one-two punch is deadly. But in New York you have Melo and in LA you got Kobe, both who have both proven they can’t work with other big names with big personalities.

Where does that leave Rondo? I don’t have the answer. Personally, I don’t think he cares, he knows he’s getting paid this off-season, the NBA has no qualms over signing big names and expecting immediate results. So he’ll go to the highest bidder and if history has any bearing on the future, we will be hearing of Rondo causing locker room issues for the remainder of his career just like many of the other NBA superstars who think it’s all about them.

I’ll always love Rondo for what he did in Boston, he was an vital part of that 07 team and truly was an electrifying player throughout his career here. Having said that I have accepted Rondo for what he is, and that’s why I have a hard time seeing him helping an LA or NY or teams like that to any championship success, but I have been surprised before.

Going Fo(u)r The Thumb

brady amendola

It has been a few weeks since the Super Bowl and everybody is starting to forget about football. Belichick has been on Letterman, Gronk was on Conan, and Edelman was with Seth Myers on Late Night. The parade was just as rowdy as we expected and it seems we are all moving on from this season. People might start talking about Baseball starting in a couple months or the push for the playoffs in the NHL, NBA, or whatever NCAA sport you’re into. Not me. I am still 100% in football mode so we are going to talk about what The Patriots need to do to bring home that 5th ring.

Offensive Line:

It is nothing new, the Patriots line was seemed to be the weak spot for the team. In all of their  losses the Offensive Line was a big reason they had trouble. I think the biggest question mark when it comes to the line is the anchor and starting Left Tackle, Nate Solder. A lot of people are probably thinking: Solder? What about the rookie center Stork? Yeah. He had some issues during the season but what do you expect? A rookie coming in to learn the Belichick system as a starter, there was no time for him to develop. Back to Solder, their were many times you could see hi being beaten off the ball or just being out muscled leading to pressure on Brady. This guys has been around for 4 years now and he is the anchor of your line and he is getting pushed around. Terrible. While he did shape up in the postseason you need to limit the hits on Brady because he is just going to be one year older next year. I don’t want to say the patriots should replace Solder or cut him or anything, but something needs to happen, your left tackle cannot be a question mark. Also, Stork played fantastic in the postseason and the fact that he was only a rookie makes me say they should definitely stick with him. There was a point I was very worried about who we should play at Center but for now we should leave Stork.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Okay Tight End there is nothing they really need to do unless they find a new Hernandez talented TE they could get for a steal. Of course I am not going to pick apart the Wide Receiver squad either, between Edelman and Amendola and a sprinkling of Lafell in addition to Gronk theres plenty of targets for Brady to throw too. Having said that, I definitely do not think it would be bad if they got a Randy Moss-esque receiver who does exactly what Moss said his job was which was to “take the ball deep, take the top off the defense.” You can make the argument Lafell did this but it was not his main weapon, whereas that was Moss’ main goal.

Secondary

Lock Revis up. He was the man this year. It is apparent that when the Patriots have big name players in the secondary it brings up the play of the other members of the secondary. We noticed this when we originally brought Talib in.  Personally, I am not worried about Revis coming back, I think he is at the point in his career he wants to win rather than just being the superstar of a team, but with these guys and the sometimes frugal New England front office you never know. Also they definitely need to either put the franchise tag on Devin McCourty or get him an extension.

While there were not many poor spots on this Patriots team, there is always room to improve. If they are able to keep this team together I think Brady definitely has enough in the tank for #5.

Is Kobe Done?

Kobe 8Earlier this week we heard that Kobe Bryant has a torn rotator cuff. When the news broke, many questions arose. Could he play through it? What about the All-Star game? If he sits out the rest of the year is he going to retire? Well, now we can answer one of those questions. Kobe Bryant will not be playing through this injury, at least for this season. Now that begs the question, Is Mamba’s career over? One of the most decorated careers in the history of the NBA, with 5 NBA Championships, 17 All-star selections, and a few scoring titles along the way, it has been an honor to watch Kobe suit up. Sadly, since 2013 his career has been in limbo; having three injury plagued seasons in a row.

At 36 years old, there isn’t much time for Kobe to compete for his 6th ring. And to that affect, this Lakers team is pitiful. Whether or not #24 is in the lineup, this team cannot win. In my opinion he should just hang it up. He is too old and beat up to lead a team the way he used to. And now his entire support system from when he was successful is gone. It is strictly Kobe and Nick “Swaggy P” Young who can win games for this team. And Swaggy P is the definition of inconsistency, you never know what you will get from him on any night. If I was Kobe i would call it quits and enjoy his retirement. I understand how competitive he is and wants to get all he can possibly get from basketball, but sometimes you need to know when to throw in the towel.

I am not saying Kobe cannot come back and play at a very high level. I am just saying with three straight years battling tough injuries and nothing to look forward to when coming back, what is the point? It is a weird thought, Kobe Bryant retiring. I grew up watching basketball and he was always a superstar. From the early years being an electrifying scorer, battling an aging Jordan with the ‘fro wearing number eight. To the aging villain with a shaved head wearing number 24 taking down my beloved Celtics in 2009, Kobe has always been at the top of his game which is what separates him. Sadly, I think this torn rotator cuff should be his cue to step down while he is still regarded as a great player. He is not the type of player I would like to see go out in a Brett Favre-esque manner.

Even though I have to hate Kobe simply because he’s a member of the Lakers, I have to put him in my top-5 players of all time list. In no order for me it goes: Jordan, Kobe, Larry Bird, Magic, and Kareem (Too many Lakers, sorry Celtics’ fans you’ll just have to accept it like I did)

Saying Goodbye to One of the Best

The 2014 ESPYS - Show

(Photo Courtesy of Chicago Tribune)

I am somewhat at a loss for words this Sunday Morning. Cancer took another great man today. Stuart Scott had been fighting cancer of the eye since late 2007, and this morning the terrible disease ended his life. For guys like me who grew up watching SportsCenter in the morning rather than the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon, Stuart Scott was the man. It is hard to pinpoint what exactly made him special. Maybe it was the respect he got from his colleagues and pro sports stars alike, or maybe it was his classic catchphrases that we can’t get out of our head. But what made Stuart Scott so special to me was simply how natural he was. He wasn’t doing a job when he was working SportsCenter, or NFL Countdown, or NFL Live or any of the many projects he had his hands in. He loved every second of it-you could just tell, and that is what made him special.

Stuart Scott is a big part of why I am writing about sports in my free time. growing up every kid wants to be a professional athlete. But, clearly the chances of that happening are unbelievably remote, however when that reality set in I could only think about people like Stuart Scott. This guy got to report what happens every day in the world of sports, and he did it with such a cool fashion, who wouldn’t want him as their role model? He certainly was my inspiration. I did not even have to know the guy to know he truly enjoyed his life, and what more could you want? I don’t want to get too gushy but I will say this, I sure am gonna miss him and Steve Levy going back and forth during the SC Top plays just trying to top each other with the one-liners. Of course, Scott would always win, but that will always be a fond childhood memory of mine.

Stuart Scott was more than a sportscaster, he was the good friend we had never met. Every morning or at the end of a long day we would bring him into our homes to give us the days sports scores and a few laughs along the way. It saddens me that such a young and vibrant man can get cut down at the age of 49, but that is the way of the world as sad as that sounds. He accepted it, and did what he could do to live with it. He said it right when he accepted the Arthur Ashe award for courage when he said “You beat cancer by HOW you live, WHY you live, and the manner in which you live” Well Stuart you truly are an inspiration to us all, and you will be remembered by my generation as the greatest Sportscaster we have seen. You truly were “as cool as the other side of the pillow.” Rest In Peace, Stuart. You will be missed.

The Airing of Greivances

festivusFor those who know me closely, you know how important December 23rd is to me every year. If you don’t know me I will catch you up to speed: I am a “Seinfeld” fanatic. If you have any knowledge of the greatest show every to grace a television set you know of the best holiday of the year, Festivus! Festivus is a great time where instead of all that “holiday joy” nonsense, your time is used more wisely by letting the people who let you down day-after-day know about it in a very direct manner. The main event, the “Airing of Grievances” is just a built up rant, and I intend on using it wisely.

Danny Ainge. Former Celtic player, he’s got a few rings with the team, and I personally enjoy when old players come back for teams and work in the front office. They went through the ringer, they know how the system works, and at the same time they used to play so they have a keen eye for talent. In many cases, situations like this work out swimmingly. In my opinion, bringing Danny Ainge in as General Manager for the Boston Celtics was a terrible move in the long run. I can already hear the arguments pro-Ainge “Well what about the ’07 team” “He brought the big three back to Boston.” Let me stop you in your tracks. That move was not as great as one might think. First of all, Kevin Garnett was unhappy in Minnesota, he wasn’t winning, and the organization was not bringing in any talent to support him. Also the General Manager of Minnesota at the time was Ainge’s former teammate and friend Kevin McHale. It would take a lot to convince me there wasn’t some influence there. Dealing 5 players and multiple picks for one aging player who was disgruntled on his current team does not make Danny Ainge a great General Manager. Next, making the move for Allen was a good move and I will credit him for that, but it is not difficult to convince another aging star who had not won a ring to come to a team with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

After the 2007 season, Ainge has been nothing put horrible in the decisions he has made and the timing that he makes them. Shall I remind you that in 2009 The C’s had the best record in the NBA coming to the trade deadline. Then “Trader Danny” thought it was a bright idea to trade their best low-post defender and starting Center Kendrick Perkins and the electric Nate Robinson to the Thunder for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic (?????) and a top-10 protected first round pick. So how did that work out? Jeff Green is still on the roster, and is one of the Celtic’s best players at this point (which is not a compliment), Krstic is not playing in the league anymore, and the draft pick did not work out. The Celtic’s who had been dominant up to that point of the season were noticeably softer. They made it to the finals but lost to the Lakers because nobody was skilled enough down low to defend Pau Gasol who was a monster. I put that on Ainge.

Now the most recent event that still blows my mind is the timing of this Rondo deal. Rondo had to go clearly, I am not saying thy should have kept him, he was simply not the person who could save the Celtics. My problem was he was trade bait for over two years and nothing happened when he was worth something. Now he had a bad team so he could not showcase his skills as much, and then an ACL injury and a hand injury definitely did not help his trade stock. Danny Ainge finally bit the bullet and traded him, clearly for the picks because the guys he got were not worth Rondo. That would be great if the picks were actually good, however with Rondo, the Mavericks have a shot to be a very good team. Very good teams don’t get high draft picks. There were so many offers for Rondo whether it was players right now, or draft picks from teams destined to be in the lottery, but Ainge never parted with him, and I think it set back this team a good amount.

I hope you enjoyed my rant, and I hope I am not the only one who feels the same, if the teams wants to succeed it is going to have to start making some serious moves, I do not think you can rely on this draft as heavily as the Celtics are. Either way, I hope everyone has a happy holiday season with your friends and family, and a Happy Festivus to all! I am about to go participate in the feats of strength.