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On Thursday night, seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong announced he would no longer fight the accusations from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his racing career. Almost immediately following the announcement, it was reported he would be stripped of all seven of his titles and banned from cycling for life. Yea, you read that right. He said he didn’t want to do battle with an agency that had been attacking him since the 1990s, and suddenly he’s been convicted and sentenced within hours.
This is unbelievable to me. Now let me say up front that I may be naive in thinking he was clean all these years, and he may very well have been doing what they accused him of. My issue is that they have been dragging his name through the mud for years, which had to have taken an enormous toll on him and his family, and when he finally said that this was a battle that he would never win, they stood on top of his broken reputation with their arms raised in the air and declared victory. Their tactic wasn’t to find evidence or a failed test to lead them to declare he was cheating – no, their strategy of relentlessness ultimately “won” the battle for the USADA, so they can pat themselves on the back for bringing a man to justice – oh wait, they didn’t actually win. His giving up the fight was not an admission of guilt, but an admission that his life, a life that was almost taken away from him by cancer, was not worth spending trying to fight back the attacks, but rather spent doing what he wants to do and continuing to help others.
Not to mention the ridiculousness of taking away wins after the fact. Much like the Penn State situation, what good does it do? We all know who won, and even if he was cheating during his seven-year winning streak, is it really plausible to think he was using PEDs for ALL seven Tours? Now that’d just be reckless and walking a very fine line. And not to mention he never tested positive during any of those races, or in any test he’s ever been given. So either he was very good at avoiding the authorities and cheating the tests, or (in my mind the more logical option) he was clean.
So do I blame Armstrong for giving up this fight, one that has lasted for over a decade and had no end in sight? Not at all. Do I think this is akin to an admission of guilt? Not even close. This is a man who has been fighting for both his life and his reputation for more years than anyone should have to. What he has overcome and the number of people with cancer who he as inspired are something to be lauded, not attacked. He won the world’s most grueling bike race seven times, AFTER overcoming a disease that very well could have taken his life. He began a foundation that has raised the awareness of cancer to unprecedented levels among Americans and has raised millions of dollars for research.
I know he’s not perfect. He very well could be guilty. But right now, in this moment, he has never been convicted, never failed any tests, and none of the allegations have ever been proven. Giving up the fight shouldn’t be the death sentence on his legacy, it should be the opportunity for him to move on and live his life without constant attacks from the public and the USADA.
The last I checked, our judicial system is founded on the principle of innocent until proven guilty. Not innocent until the prosecution pounds the accused into submission and declares victory when the person says they can’t take it any more.
The NCAA brought down the hammer on Penn State’s football program on Monday morning, handing down penalties that, while technically not the definition of the “death penalty” – shutting down all football activites for a period of time – mostly amounted to a similar fate for the program. The combined impact of the fines, postseason bans and scholarship losses (which I feel will hurt the most) the Nittany Lion football teams of the next 5-10 years will limp into their future, crippled by the sins of those who were entrusted to live by a higher standard and guide them to success, and who failed miserably in those and so many other areas.
While I am usually in the camp of siding against punishing those who had no involvement in the original transgressions, like the sentence of guaranteed mediocrity given to those Penn State football players and coaches currently on the team, who were seemingly in the dark about the devilsh actions going on behind closed doors, led by their coach who preached morality and doing the right thing, all while ignoring his own advice in regards to what was happening.
There is no doubt in my mind that the punishment warranted the crimes. Crimes. The key word in this whole thing. Crimes were committed. Heinous, unrepresentable, inconceivable crimes. Crimes against the law, crimes against the powerless victims, crimes against humanity. They smashed the expectations of common decency, swept the pieces under the rub, and snuck away, hoping nobody would notice and they would escape scot-free. Their out-of-wack priorities gave more care to the image of their program and the men at the top, instead of those silent sufferers who were forever scarred by a monster who walked in the midst of those who could seemingly help, unnoticed by most and ignored by the ones who knew.
The NCAA needed to lay down the deterrents of all deterrents. They needed to strike down with the ferocity that would set back in line common sense of its members, and do all in their power to ensure that something like this never comes close to happening again. They owed it to those affected by this tragedy to prevent others from living a similar nightmare. Now we must hope it was not in vain, and this is the final chapter of a horrendously ugly chapter in history.
Watching the final seconds tick off the clock in the clinching Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals and seeing the crowd in Los Angeles get louder and louder, was one of those moments. I could only imagine how happy those people were in that arena, especially those who have stuck with the Kings through the entirety of the 45 years it took for them to finally reach the top of the mountain. There was relief, joy, bewilderment, excitement all rolled into one group of fans and all directed at the guys on the ice. I try to watch the final moments of every championship contest for exactly those reasons. It’s a blast as a fan of sports to see how happy it can make others.
But, this is hockey. This is the sport where the really great stuff happens once the final horn sounds. The NHL has championship celebrations down to a science. There’s the customary handshake line that takes place after every playoff series; where the same players who battled unmercifully throughout put any animosity aside and sincerely (some more than others) shake the hands of their opponents, those who have lost wishing the victors good luck and congratulations. There’s the Conn Smythe trophy, given to the MVP of the playoffs and one of the very few MVP trophies whose name is known by a majority of fans outside of those really into that particular sport. Go ahead, try to name the trophy given to the Super Bowl MVP. And no, you can’t say it’s the one where they get a free car. I’ll wait. No luck? Exactly.
Then comes the Cup. Again, the NHL is the only league where the actual playoffs are named after the trophy. It’s not the NBA Larry O’Brien Finals, or the NFL Super Bowl Playoffs. But for years, it’s been the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. That’s just great. The Stanley Cup is engraved with the names of every player who has played for a team that won it all, and is as sacred an item for hockey players as there is. People break down crying in its presence like they were a 14-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert. Players won’t touch it until they actually win it. It’s amazing.
Hockey is one of the most tradition-laden sports around, especially the NHL. So many moments are based on what has been done for generations. Players grow up knowing the history of the game and respecting it unflinchingly. And I think that’s one thing that resonates with sports fans – the tradition. Especially in the playoffs, and especially after a team wins the Stanley Cup.
We want tradition. We like knowing that what we are watching unfold following a game was the same images our fathers saw when they were growing up. The same images our grandfathers called them over to see, secretly allowing them to stay up past their bedtime with a “don’t tell your Mother” permission.
Maybe its easier for me because when it comes to hockey, I am honestly a bigger fan of the tradition than any one team. I do have squads that I will root for, but as the men in white gloves are walking out on the ice with Lord Stanley’s Cup, allegiance goes out the window.
At that moment, I’m simply a fan of one of those moments when sports elicits an unconscious smile, a “that’s awesome”, a feeling that you’re watching a moment that for some of those players will surpass any moment prior in their lives. You see the unadulterated joy, the sense of accomplishment and realization of years of hard work, all to feel what they are feeling right then. It’s… it’s just one of those moments.
In sports, “greatness” is the science class frog of attributes. Dissected, explored, discussed, it is taken apart and shown to the world by some as proof that they know every bit of what makes someone great. And the vast majority of the time, they refuse to bestow the title of “great” on anybody but the rare few. Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky (who even earned the nickname “The Great One”), Jim Brown – all elite athletes who are generally recognized as being great. But even these icons of sport aren’t without their detractors.
But one player, one figure in the sports landscape today, has felt the unwavering and merciless wrath of these “greatness distributors.” Every move that he makes is under the microscope, both while he is playing and in his daily life. He is second-guessed at every turn. Even his successes are turned into “well he could’ve done more” moments.
That player is LeBron James, the most criticized athlete in the world today.
It would take a lot longer than one blog post to document all of the times that James has been unfairly broken down by his critics. But I’m going to focus on the most recent incident. Facing another round of nonstop criticism for his play after his Miami Heat team lost to the Indiana Pacers to go down 2 games to 1 in their Eastern Conference playoff series, LeBron went out the next game and dropped a 40-18-9 line on the Pacers. That’s 40 points, 18 rebounds and 9 assists (which should have been 10 if not for Mike Miller missing a wide open 3-pointer off a LeBron pass). That is a ridiculous line. He carried the Heat on his back and got a must-have victory. It was proof why he deservedly won his third MVP award this season.
Then what does he do for an encore? How about a little 30-point, 10-rebound, 8-assist night to lead Miami to the victory by 32 points, 115-83. So in the span of two games, with the volume of his critics louder than it had been since, well, a few weeks ago (they’re a pretty constant bunch), James scored a combined 70 (70!) points, grabbed 28 (28!) rebounds, dished out 17 (17! and should have been 18) assists and helped the Heat outscore the Pacers by 47 points. I’d say that’s a pretty good response.
But is it good enough for the detractors? Of course not! The guy won’t be exonerated or forgiven for his disastrous “The Decision” special until he is able to slip a championship ring on his finger. No matter how dominant he is on the court – I don’t think I’m going out on a limb saying he’s the best player in the world right now – or how much he’s working to repair his image, James will always be cast in the villain role or as the guy who can’t win the big game, until he brings home a title. It doesn’t matter if he’s playing with four guys he picked up at Bingo night at the local senior center, the 2012 playoffs are subtitled “Let’s See If LeBron Is Good Enough For Us Today.” Which, I have learned, will be almost impossible.
Don’t think. It’ll only hurt the ball club. – Bull Durham
What better way to kick off this new “write first, ask questions later” philosophy than to sit down and just start typing. Whatever is in my head is what comes out on the screen, with no extra pondering or searching needed. That’s how I like to write – it’s an outlet for my thoughts, a way to get out of my head and get them in a tangible destination, a place where they can be seen, read and shared.
Sometimes I fall into the catch-22 of writing: I want to write, but when I try, I obsess over every letter, every word, every sentence, until I either run out of time or run out of ideas. I get so caught up in trying to make everything I write the best passage imaginable, when my best work comes out of when I just let the words take over. When I have an idea come to me in the middle of the night and the words just start writing themselves. When I turn into Will Ferrell’s character in Old School after he rambles off a flawless debate, then snaps out of whatever zone he was in and ask “What happened? I blacked out.”
Now, I’m not saying I black out and don’t know what I write, but sometimes I come close. It’s a rush to come to the end of a run, go back and read for the first time what my mind had to say.
Yea, that’s it. In these moments, my writing is simply letting my mind do the talking. It’s a chance to let go of the outside world, distractions aplenty, and just release all of the thoughts from my day. We all have them: the chatter going on all around – reactions, thoughts, feelings, worries – everything our minds hold, flowing through my fingers. It’s no wonder whey writing songs is therapeutic for some people. Songs are the essence of putting our emotions out there for the world to hear. In my case, when I’m writing, I’m putting them out there for the world to see.
It’s my artistic release. Some people paint, some people sing, I write. It’s something I enjoy doing, and something I definitely wish I did more of (hence my conundrum of overthinkng). And, just like those crafts, I’ll never improve as a writer or have any impact if I don’t work at it. So this is the first post of what hopefully will be more blog posts to come – mostly about sports, but also a good number about just whatever is on my mind. And yes, I am always open to requests – if there is something you think I should write about/would have a good vantage point on, please let me know.
One more quote to finish up (I’m a big fan of quotes as well, which will be pretty obvious in upcoming posts). This is one of my mantras when it comes to writing, and one of the things that is going to drive me to be a better writer:
“Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.” – John Jakes
After a WAY too long absence, I have put together my first Fans’ Eye Five of 2012. It’s been a busy time, both in life and in the sports world, so I’ve tried to wrap up the past week or so of topics that have caught my attention and compelled me to give my point of view. Hope you enjoy, and hopefully this is the start to more regular posts giving my Fan’s Eye View.
1. Linsanity: What else is there to say that hasn’t already been said about Jeremy Lin? It has to be one of the best sports stories we’ve ever seen, watching a kid from Harvard who was undrafted and cut twice get his chance and explode onto the scene. I think that’s my favorite part of it – he got a chance and took full advantage of it. How many times have you heard guys who ride the bench say “if I only got the chance to get on the court, I’d show them what I can do.” Well, in Lin’s case, he was right. He didn’t shrink under the incredible scrutiny that came with being a star for the Knicks and having the NYC spotlight shining on you 24/7, or with the constantly increasing expectations that were brought on him by the fans and the media, or even the change of having other teams key on stopping his offensive onslaught night-in and night-out. Plus, he was winning. And winning makes every story better.
2. “Keep it in the Horseshoe”: This situation just keeps getting worse and worse for everyone involved. From Colts owner Jim Irsay saying those exact words about keeping it in the “horseshoe” regarding Peyton Manning speaking to the media about his contract, or then coming back a few days later and using the media to fire a shot across the bow to Manning, saying it is Peyton’s choice whether he wants to return, there are no winners in this one. My take on the whole situation is that Peyton has played his last game in the blue and white, and will be looking for a team who wants to take him once the new league year begins. The consensus seems to be that the Colts have to take Andrew Luck with the first pick of the draft, and it would be absolute madness for them to think about keeping both players. But in my opinion, I think they should keep Manning (given he is back healthy) and use the pick to try and stock up on players that will help fill the many holes in this team.
3. Phil’s Charge: It was a blast watching Phil Mickleson fire a final-round 64 to win at Pebble Beach. Besides the incredible round he shot – where he looked totally in control of his game, and tore through the course like a man on a mission – one of my favorite things about it was to see how much fun he was having. I’m a huge Phil fan, mostly because he honestly looks like he enjoys himself out on the course, and doesn’t just trudge through the round. Granted, when you play like he did it’s easy to have fun, but that trait is one I’ve seen him have his whole career, and like I said, it makes it fun to watch him win.
4. Day in the Mid-Major Spotlight: I am a HUGE fan of mid-major basketball. Maybe it’s because I spent my college career and the first two-plus years of my professional career at schools in the Southern Conference, but I always love when these smaller schools get their moment in the national spotlight. Therefore, one of my favorite events of the year is ESPN’s BracketBusters weekend, a span of three days in which the Worldwide Leader takes teams from around the country and matches them up, televising a good number of them on its family of networks. The full-day on Saturday of games between squads most people have never heard of is great – it’s a chance for the mid-major nerd in me to get his fix of games, and also it gives these schools some exposure that can help (or hurt, depending on how they play) both their NCAA Tournament chances this seasons, and their recruiting ability for upcoming years. Plus, there’s just something about watching a game in gym that looks about the size of the gym in my high school and sits in a small town that revolves around the university, with kids who probably aren’t going to play in the NBA and know this is their one shot for glory and will be telling their kids one day about the time they played on national television. I could wax poetic about this level of athletics for a while – and I just might do that in a future post…
5. 56-0: That is the record for North Carolina against Clemson all-time at home in men’s basketball. Read that again. The Tigers have NEVER won in Chapel Hill, despite making the trip there 56 times. I mean, what else can you say about it? That’s unbelievable. It’s an NCAA record for most consecutive wins against one opponent at home, and it just baffles me that each year, the streak just keeps growing. While this year’s match up wasn’t much of a game, there have been some close calls in the past, and you’d have to think that pure probability would come through and bring out a win for Clemson, but apparently not. I don’t bring this up to bash the Tigers, it’s just one of those stats that I find fascinating, and sort of hope continues for a while.
Thanks to my amazing wife and a surprise anniversary gift, this past Sunday she and I were in Lucas Oil stadium for the Panthers vs. Colts game – and luckily, we got to witness a victory. I’m working on a full post with pictures to come in the near future, but for now, I’ll give my Fan’s Eye Five observations on the game:
1. Just Keep Running.
That’s what I said to myself over and over during the second half of the game – it seemed like a no-brainer to keep pounding the ball on the ground against a defense that couldn’t stop the run and really could only rush the passer. Throw in the fact that Carolina currently has not one, not two, but THREE above-average runners on the team right now in DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton, and my plea to keep the ball on the ground came through. The Panthers were able to control the clock and keep a beleaguered defense off the field for extended stretches during the game, taking away any momentum the Colts were able to muster and sustain quality possessions.
2. This is How a Drive Should Look.
The Panthers put together a drive on Sunday that I feel should become the textbook to all successful drives for the rest of the year. Using a simple yet effective formula, they drove 80 yards in eight plays, capping it off with a two-yard touchdown run by Williams to take a 24-13 lead to start the final quarter. During this drive, they leaned heavily on the run (a strategy I agree with obviously), peppered with some quick screens and a few downfield throws to keep the defense honest. They utilized their two-headed monster at RB in Williams and Stewart, switching the two out liberally to keep them fresh and to change the pace of the runs for the defense to have to deal with. Newton was given a few designed quarterback runs, which again kept the defense off-balance. After they pounded the ball on the ground, they took advantage of the openings over the top on a pair of beautifully thrown deep balls to Steve Smith and Jeremy Shockey, the second of which got them down to the two-yard-line, leading the way to the TD on the next play. In short, they used all of their weapons on one drive, and showed both the fans and future opponents that this team has a bevy of weapons at their disposal.
3. From Goat to Hero.
Sherrod Martin experienced both the disdain and the joy of Carolina fans within a one-quarter span. First, he looked like he was playing flag football (or practicing for a second career as a matador with his “Ole!” attempt at a tackle) when he whiffed on Reggie Wayne’s touchdown catch in the fourth quarter that brought Indianapolis within five points following a failed two-point conversion. But then, as the Colts were driving again to possibly take the lead, he corralled a tipped pass in the back of the end zone, dragging both feet in-bounds by inches, to seal the win. Good to see the guy redeem himself, even though the attempted “tackle” was something he probably won’t enjoy watching in the film room this week.
4. Celebrate Much?
One of the funniest things I’ve seen at a football game took place this Sunday, when fireworks erupted and confetti fell from the ceiling following the Colts’ first touchdown. Now, I’m all for celebrating scores and getting the crowd excited, but at the time they were still trailing in the game and had been helped mightily by a long pass interference penalty on Carolina. It was as if they knew that touchdowns were going to be a rare occurrence with this team, and thought they might as well make the most of it when they have the chance.
5. Recipe for Success
In addition to establishing (and sticking to) the running game, Carolina has a much better chance of winning some games the rest of the season if Newton plays just like he did against Indianapolis. He was efficient, explosive and smart with the football. He had zero turnovers – which is a pretty good indication that the Panthers will come out with a victory, as they are 3-0 when he doesn’t turn the ball over, and 0-8 when he does. At times, he let his superior athleticism take over to make big plays with both his feet and his arm, and other times he made the wise decision not to try anything too risky. This was my first chance to see him in person, and I’m even more of a fan than I was before. One thing I noticed when I got to watch the team warm up on the field prior to the game are his physical tools. He is like a linebacker playing quarterback. He’s a legitimate 6′ 6″ and moves like a wideout, with an ease that makes you think he’s just jogging, until you look again and he’s left everyone in the dust. If the guy stays healthy and continues to improve, In Cam We Trust will be a rallying point for Panthers fans for years to come.
1. Tebow Time:
Is there a more polarizing player in sports than Tim Tebow? The guy wins games, no matter how ugly they are, and people still bash him as if he just stole something from them. And then on the other side are those fans who are so blind to any negativity surrounding him that they get downright angry if something utters something as bad as that he had a bad hair day. I’ve never seen one player bring out such extremes in a fanbase, and whose opinions they will stick with until the very end, with no chance of even swaying them toward the middle ground, which is where I reside on Tebow. My thoughts (and hopefully this won’t solicit an avalanche of hate from either camp) is that he was an outstanding college player, and has the potential to be a middle-of-the-road NFL quarterback. There are some skills there, but I honestly don’t think he’ll ever be able to carry a team long-term at the position. But it is hard to deny that the kid knows how to win, at least so far.
2. They Are Who We Thought They Were:
Unfortunately, this describes the Panthers right now. I’m not trying to be another downer fan, whining about the team, I’m just saying that I had expectations of this team to be competitive, exciting and frustrating this season. I thought they’d make life difficult for some teams, win games they weren’t supposed to win, but also lose games they had control of. They are young and inexperienced. Thanks to a rash of injuries, they are missing some key players and having others play out of position (I’m looking at you special teams). The game against the Lions seems to me to be a summary of the year so far. Carolina looked great in the first half, jumping out to a big lead and exciting fans everywhere (I was following along in Louisville), but the second half was a different story, when the talent and experience of the Lions took over and Carolina started making mistakes and saw their lead evaporate.
3. BCS Madness:
There isn’t much to say after this past weekend, other than hopefully this is another step in revamping the current system and moving closer to a playoff. It was baffling to watch so many top teams go down to underdog opponents this week, and now we are left with three teams from the SEC West sitting atop the standings, with only a few games remaining. I think the scenario (which is very possible) that would make all BCS-lovers cringe is if Alabama beats Auburn and LSU beats Arkansas, giving LSU the West division crown and having them play in the SEC Championship game as the runaway No. 1 team. In that instance, ‘Bama will be sitting comfortably at No. 2 with no remaining chances to lose and an almost nonexistent chance of being passed by a non-SEC team. And unless Georgia pulls the upset in the SEC title game – and even if they do, I don’t know if LSU will drop out of the top two – we will be left with an LSU vs. Alabama national championship game, possibly giving us two teams that didn’t even win the SEC, and in the Crimson Tide’s case, finishing out of the top spot in their own division. Wow.
4. Baseball realignment:
This past week, the MLB approved the sale of the Houston Astros, and officially announced the team would be moving from the National League to the American League, taking place as soon as 2013. The new alignment gives each league 15 teams, which means that there will be interleague series taking place all season long, instead of at designated times. I know it seems strange to be “old-time” about a concept as new as interleague play, but I personally feel it’s best suited for those times during the year when everyone is doing it, and it can be a special section of the schedule. Now, with teams crossing over all year long, it seems to me that it’s only a matter of time before the whole concept of only playing teams in your league (or at least playing them the majority of your schedule) is a thing of the past. Personally, that is one of my favorite things about baseball – the concept of AL vs NL and the two leagues being relatively separate until the World Series. It’s something that no other league has, and hopefully MLB will keep that in mind as more changes come about in the upcoming years.
5. NBA Lockout:
Oops: Remember when I saw a few weeks ago that the NBA was closer to a deal than many people thought? Well, I don’t think I could’ve been more wrong. As of right now, the league has cancelled games until Dec. 15, and any hope of saving the season is quickly going out the door. Both sides have tried to turn this into a battle of public opinion, and failed miserably. Fans are leaving in droves, and those who were on the fence before are bashing the situation as a rich-against-richer battle for billions of dollars, while those whose livelihoods depend on games being played are long forgotten in the minds of those negotiating. There is a lot of finger-pointing going on between both the players and the owners, and they are so far apart and so mad at the other that my hopes are shrinking that we’ll see any NBA action this year.
Sometimes, there is a gray area between right and wrong. Sometimes, when faced with a situation that requires a decision, the choice between doing the right thing doesn’t come easy.
This was not one of those times.
I am going to say right off the top that as it stands, we don’t know exactly what Joe Paterno did or didn’t know. But after reading the grand jury report, I’m going to say that if he did know the full extent of what was going on, there should have been no hesitation by him to make sure this ended up with the police and an arrest. That goes for all who were involved – from the grad assistant who reported it to Paterno, to the University President and anyone in between. There is no question what the right thing to do in this situation is. The fact that there was any hesitation from the G.A. on whether to report what he saw makes me sick. These men were in positions of authority with the power to right an unimaginable wrong, and they dropped the ball every step of the way. In my opinion, there is no doubt that all of these men should lose their jobs, and possibly face criminal charges.
But what strikes me as even more disgusting is how little of the fury is being directed at Jerry Sandusky, who is the center of these allegations. He is the one accused of committing the most heinous of crimes, and who should be the one feeling the vast majority of the rage that has been centered mostly on Paterno. There are no winners in this entire situation, but when a press conference is held to announce JoePa’s firing and not ONE “reporter” (more on why I put that in quotation marks later) even mentioned Sandusky’s name, you know something’s wrong.
Now, an explanation on why I put “reporters” in quotations earlier. The press conference to announce Paterno’s firing was one of the most hideous and unprofessional press events I’ve ever seen, and I don’t think I’m the only one who feels that way. What PR professional allows a press conference to get that out of hand? Their first mistake was allowing students in, knowing that there was little to no chance of their objectivity. But what struck me was that the professional journalists who were present were just as bad. Yelling out questions and accusations, making the decision look like a personal one, berating the Board of Trustees for their actions instead of reporting the news, and as I’ve said before, making the entire thing about Paterno instead of looking at the entire situation.
All in all, what is happening at Penn State right now is wrong on every level, and it is a situation full of people who failed to live up to the simple idea of right and wrong. They failed the victims over and over again, and will have to live with that the rest of their lives. And honestly, I have very little sympathy for them.
1. The Ultimate Fall Classic
Game Six of the World Series was, simply put, one of the most amazing baseball games I’ve ever seen. If I wasn’t such an anti-Cardinal fan, it would probably be alone in the top spot. The game was unreal – it had all of the dramatic, edge-of-your-seat, pace around the room moments that make baseball such a great sport. Like I said that night, for any baseball critics, I dare you to watch that game and not come away as at least appreciative of the sport. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been a fan my entire life.
2. World Series Wrap-Up
Even without the instant classic that was Game Six, the 2011 World Series did not disappoint. It gave us two of the best words in sports: Game Seven. Winner-take-all matchups, especially with a title on the line, are what fans live for, and it was only appropriate that the drama of the previous game led right into this contest. And while it wasn’t quite as riveting as the night before, Game Seven was a great finish to one of the best World Series matchups in a long time.
3. “Kasay Would’ve Made That”
How many times do you think that was uttered in Panther Nation on Sunday afternoon? When Orlindo Mare pulled a gimmie field goal that would’ve sent the Panthers and Vikings game into overtime, I know that was my first thought. But I think it’s unfair to place the whole blame for the loss on Mare, even though there is no doubt he should have made the kick. As it as been all year long, Carolina gave themselves a chance to win it at the end, but couldn’t get over the hump. This is a decent team, but not quite good enough to finish games, and not a team that has figured out how to win and win consistently. I do think they’re the best 2-6 team in the NFL, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. It’s only a matter of time before it all clicks and this squad becomes a lot of fun to watch.
4. It’s a Great Day to be a Mountaineer”
When the top team in the land comes to Kidd-Brewer stadium on a snowy Black Saturday afternoon, you know it’s going to be a good game. And for Appalachian State fans, last Saturday’s contest turned out to be a GREAT one, with ASU knocking off No. 1 and previously unbeaten Georgia Southern, and putting the Mountaineers in the drivers seat for a record seventh-straight Southern Conference title. If the Mountaineers can win out, they will take the league championship and the automatic bid into the FCS Playoffs, with the home-field advantage that goes along with it. One of my favorite stats that I saw following the win, and one that makes the possible home playoff games so enticing, is that with the victory on Saturday, App has won 60 of their last 63 games in Boone, an amazing record. Now all ASU has to do is take care of business the remainder of the season, and the path to the National Championship game will most likely run through Kidd-Brewer. I’ll take that!
5. Close to a Deal?
As expected (and predicted in a previous column), the NBA lockout has faded into the relative oblivion for sports fans, especially with college basketball just a few weeks away from tipping off. The latest from the talks are that they are still millions of dollars away, and that all games before Nov. 30 have been cancelled, erasing any chance of a full 82-game season this year. And honestly, I’m fine with that. I’ve always thought the NBA season was too long, and while I hope a deal gets done in the very near future, I am not too upset about the shortened season. Also, while most media reports make it seem as if the two sides are nowhere close to a deal, and there is a real possibility that the entire season could be lost, I’ve read some encouraging articles that say it has all come down to a few points of contention, with each side getting inching toward an increase in their willingness to compromise, and eventually, to a deal.