And Who Would You Entrust Your Franchise?

nflThe Houston Texans, The Jacksonville Jaguars and The Cleveland Browns all have one thing in common. Or they all lack one thing in common. In a quarterback crazed culture, these teams lack what most people refer to as the key to the franchise. All three teams, among others, will most likely chase a QB in the early rounds in the hopes that one day they will complete their franchise allowing their fans to sit around a fire place, hold hands and sing Kumbaya. This is not the year too make that chase though.

Johnny Manziel is the name on all the draft experts list and its easy to see why. The former Heisman trophy winner is flashy and ballsy. His playmaking ability is second to none in the 083113-CFB-AGGIES-JOHNNY-MANZIEL-DC-PI3_20130831155021857_335_220country. He is also second to none in another category though. He is an idiot. Do you really want your franchise quarterback running around starting bar fights? A broken throwing hand due to punching the guy whose girl friend he was hitting on wouldn’t read well on your fantasy updates, none the less a team sheet. This anger issue has also manifested itself on the field in the form of persistent taunting. Combine all of this with lack of respect of authority and questions about durability and as a GM you have a recipe for disaster.

Teddy Bridgewater seemingly lacks the character issues of his peer, but hasn’t lacked the publicity. Last year Bridgewater responded to criticism around the strength of schedule surrounding his Heisman run by absolutely demolishing Florida. This was after a month of saying that no Big East offense could possibly overcome the mighty defense that an SEC team could field (Because apparently we forgot about the romping West Virginia put on teddyGeorgia). Bridgewater has accuracy by the bucket-load and coming out of a Charlie Strong system most likely means he is very disciplined. First round picks are valuable commodities though, and to spend one on an undersized player who had a mediocre season isn’t the best option. Bridgewater has a lot of upside but the first 10 picks of any draft should be reserved for players that will make an immediate impact.

Blake Bortles and Derek Carr fall into the same category for me. Both players draft stocks have massively increased due to impressive seasons. It is also not impossible for an elite QB to come out of a small school. The likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, and Collin Kaepernick have all come from smaller schools outside of the elite conferences, and 2 of them have one Super Bowls and the 3rd went to one in his first season as a starter. However, to compare Derek Carr to Big Ben is not fair to either player. Blake Bortles struggled against Memphis, Houston and South Florida who aren’t what anyone would call tough opponents and Carr was upended by a weak USC side (the only real opponent the Bulldogs faced all year). With the body of work, there’s no way either one is a first round pick.

There is hope for the QB-less franchises that currently occupy the NFL, but its outside the first round. The likes of

Murray Between the Hedges

Murray Between the Hedges

Aaron Murray, Tajh Boyd and AJ McCarron should be available later in the draft since all three players lack the media attention. Any one that has watched Aaron Murray on film would put him well above Bortles and Carr, but his perpetually injured body of talent that surrounded him at Georgia this year put a damper on his NFL push. He also has a blown ACL but as a pocket passer this isn’t an overwhelming concern.  Tajh Boyd gets a terrible wrap because he was constantly beat up by FSU and South Carolina on the big stage but his wins over Georgia, LSU and Ohio State shows he can perform. Finally, AJ McCarron may be the best game manager in college football. Best of all, teams will be given a chance to develop these players since the pressure to start them will be considerably less.

hi-res-185381491-jameis-winston-of-the-florida-state-seminoles_crop_northQuarterbacks are important for the growth of a franchise and a great one can overcome a lot of flaws that exist in a team. The answer isn’t forcing a player not ready for it in that situation into it. The answer is simple. Build. If the player isn’t there, trade down and acquire picks. Picks are currency. Utilize the free agent pool and trade. Or wait and tank for Jameis Winston.  Football is a game of 3 phases, and a quarterback only affects one of those.

For more on the Quarterback Fallacy check out one of my other articles here.
Make sure to check out our Facebook Page and follow us on twitter @FSUfanatic2, or follow my Page and on twitter @TuckSauceSBDS

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Chelsea, He does Mata

Like any good sailer Mourinho has seen a sinking ship and offered a life line. Notmata that the life line will come cheaply because well lets face it if its between life and death cost doesn’t Mata. If you’ve yet to figure out what I am talking about from my thinly veiled PUNs, I’ll give you another hint. Its Juan Mata. And yes just like Mourinho has said all year, the Spaniard does have a price tag attached to his curly head. However the talk of Mata being transferred to Manchester United would be a devastating blow to Chelsea. Not only would they be giving hope to a squad that most Chelsea fans find deplorable, but sacrificing one of their best players with a busy summer upcoming could prove fateful. While Chelsea’s midfield is currently deep and deadly, it may not remain that way.

mourinhoLet’s start with why Mata is such a crucial piece to any teams puzzle. While he lacks the defensive prowess that Mourinho desires in a number 10, his ability to pick a pass, while just above average for a Spaniard, is world class. We haven’t seen much of it this year with his lack of playing time, but in the previous two years he’s been the lynch pin to Chelsea attacks. The chipped pass to Demba Ba last year is a perfect example of his capabilities. Mata opens up shut games and used to provide a spark to a sporadically flat side. For this he has been awarded with the love of the Stamford Bridge faithful, but not that of the special one.

Chelsea also has some questions they will have to answer this summer with

My New Favorite Player Frank Lampard

many of their stars. Lampard, Cole and Terry are growing closer to the end of their careers and are in the last years of their respective contracts. PSG is knocking on the door for Eden Hazard and it doesn’t look like Chelsea can put a price tag high enough on the Belgian to discourage the Parisian giants. Additionally, David Luiz, who seems to have found a home alongside fellow Brazilian Ramires, is a target for Barcelona. On top of that, Ramires seems to be on the wish list for Barca’s big rivals Real Madrid. Combine this with 2 strikers who have both admitted to exit strategies from Stamford Bridge, and you have a potential recipe for chaos.

chelseaChelsea do have some advantages. The obvious is the brilliant mind of Mourinho. The Portuguese boss actually seems to do better with change then consistency. Oscar, Willian and Schurlle also all look like they are set for the long haul at Chelsea. Plus a lot can happen in a month. However, Chelsea’s strength this year isn’t in their starting 11 but in their depth. And while fielding the strongest team possible is important, what Mourinho does best is working his way through a campaign. With 38 games, plus a Champons League push, hopes of an FA Cup, and a stab at the League cup, depth is important.

I am not saying that Chelsea can’t afford to sell Mata. In fact if he is not going to play, selling him for 40 million and in turn spending that money on a striker could prove beneficial for the Blues. I am also not an expert on whats going on in the minds of those at Chelsea. I do know that Hazard is a PSG fan. I do know that for many South Americans it is a dream to play at Camp Nou or the Bernabeau. I also know that all three teams have pockets deep enough to make those moves happen. Despite all this though, Chelsea can’t afford to sell Mata to Manchester United. The Reds are living on a prayer and the introduction of the Spaniard combined with the return of Van Persie and Rooney could prove to be just the spark that United need.

For more on possible January moves check this out!

If you also wonder what team does the best with their cash check out this Hambino article!

Event Organizers Need a Wake Up Call

The world sits with baited breath waiting for the most expensive Winter imageOlympics to commence in just a few days. In true Olympic spirit, the world’s countries have put aside war, famine and genocide to come together and celebrate expression threw sport. Not all is well in Sochi though, and many world officials stand on notice. While no event will ever be completely void of their terrorism threats, the question still begs to be asked. Why locate a high profile event only 250 miles away from one of the most active terrorism zones in the world? To be fair the Olympic Committee has done an excellent job in previous years finding friendlier venues then their FIFA counterparts. Additionally, the biggest attack on the modern Olympics occurred here on US soil. But still why do Organizers tempt fate?

imageLet’s take a step back and look at another bone headed decision made by a different organization that is risky in its own way. The NFL has broke its tradition of hosting Super Bowls in either warm or domb climates this February and instead will host its annual event in New York City. New York City is an amazing place, but not in February. This decision leads me to believe that the Super Bowl organizers have never been to the Big Apple during the winter. It’s cold and miserable. While I certainly don’t want anyone’s Super Bowl experience to be ruined, it is going to take an epic collapse to prevent such a stupid decision from ever being made again. And no I am not even talking about the quality of the game, which will be almost ruined if a blizzard hits. The concern should be is if a blizzard hits a day or 2 before the game and the airports shut down, forcing 100s of people to miss a game they’ve spent 1000s of dollars on. Or that public transport is shut down because of a storm during the game, stranding 1000s of people in New Jersey. Apparently no one thought of that though. The only more preposterous organizational decision is Budlights’s current marketing ploy. NO ONE WANTS TO SPEND FEBRUARY IN NEW YORK ON A CRUISE SHIP.

The NFL is made to look like geniuses by the mind boggling decision by the NHL to play an outdoor hockey game in LA. While the event lacks the transportation concerns that the Super Bowl faces, the NHL does seem to have overlooked one big crucial factor. People move to LA because it is warm and water at those temperatures no longer bothers itself to remain in its solid form. I was at the Pittsburg Winter Classic when it was 50 and rainy and they barely got that one off. The delay cost observers (ourselves included) 100s of additional dollars on expensive hotel rooms. That wasn’t a good enough lesson for the NHL though and hey maybe next year we can get one in Phoenix or Miami.

Both of the previous examples pale in comparison to the recent decisions made world-cup-arena-brazil-brasil-stadium-new-2014-fifajpg-83ffc9ff9a027a3a_largeby FIFA and its subsidiaries. The last World Cup was hosted in South Africa in order to help promote the game across the planet. While South Africa is a beautiful country and is home to many outstanding people, FIFA definitely took a risk. South Africa holds the title to the highest murder rate per capita then any Westernized nation. Luckily for FIFA, the native population saw the World Cup as a godsend and tried to show the world how amazing their country was. FIFA will not have the same luxury this year. Many residents of the greatest soccer country in the world have realized the toll that these large events put on its people. Local soccer matches, as well as last years Confederation Cup, have been protested against across Brazil. Many of these protests have unfortunately turned violent. I am willing to forgive FIFA though, since when the World Cup was announced in Brazil many celebrated the fact. Their next decision was just dumb though.

Fifa-World-Cup-2014-BrazilWhile all the events in this article so far will take place in the next six months, the event that confuses me the most will take place in 2022. FIFA has decided to host a World Cup in the Middle East, which I really don’t have an issue with. There are 2 things though that leave me vigorously shaking my head. The selection of Qatar as a location for the World’s most prestigious football tournament was due to one factor. It wasn’t growing the game. If that was the case Iran or Saudi Arabia, the countries with better footballing traditions, would’ve been selected. In fact, Qatar’s footballing traditions are almost completely non existent. No, this was done because of the money that Qatar threw around. And they threw around a lot. They even convinced the world they would be able to construct these massive stadiums that could be air conditioned to a point that would make the 120 degree external temperature tolerable for the players. Well they have now failed, prompting FIFA into trying to force the World’s soccer organizations into changing their schedules so the traditional summer tournament can be hosted during the winter. Combine that with the reports of slave labor used to build all the new stadiums and hotels, and you have a recipe for disaster.

I appreciate that each of these organizations, or at least some people in them, are trying to broaden the horizons of the game. However, I don’t buy it. The whole thing reeks. It seems that money now outweighs sense.

No matter where you put an event there are going to be issues. No large scale event is ever out of the scope of terrorist who wish to make their mark. All areas of the world are plagued by their own weather related issues. And yes even in the wealthiest of nations, protests can turn violent. However, minimizing the risks of an event should be a priority for organizers. Not only do they put athletes in a disposition or worse in danger, they also sacrifice the security of the people attending. While we can’t predict another Munich, putting a target event 250 miles from a hot zone, in a country thats plagued by terrorism, might not have been a good idea. I really do hope all of these events go off without a hitch, and this article isn’t meant to scare people. This is just a petition to the organizers to these events saying please, look past the end of your nose and see the scope of everything.

For Hambino’s prediction on the World Cup Check Out

And have the US hopes been crushed in December?  Maybe not

Battle of the Fantastic Four

 

We’re down to the final four in what’s going to be one of the better conference championship weeks we’ve seen in the NFL for quite some time.  Ill call it the fantastic four so I can get my Jessica Alba reference out there.  For these teams sake we will say that in our first matchup we have LeGarrette “Ben Grimm” Blount and the Patriots taking on the Peyton “Sue Storm” Manning led Broncos.  I don’t think I need to explain why I gave Benn Grimm to LeGarrette Blount, but I went Sue Storm for Manning because often in the playoffs he becomes invisible but at other times he can cover up and shield the weaknesses the Broncos have on defense.  In our NFC Championship matchup we have the Russell “Reed Richards” Wilson led Seahawks hosting the Colin “Johnny Storm” Kaepernick led Niners.  Lets be honest Russell Wilson is a class guy so its just goes hand in hand with the goody two shoed Reed Richards.  Not to mention he gets the beautiful Jessica Alba!  Although in this scenario it would be Peyton Manning?  Yuck.  Colin Kaepernick gets the flame on boy not so much just because of him but because the whole 49ers team seems to be into themselves much like Johnny Storm.

Now let me get back on topic here.  I don’t think anyone is really shocked to see these four teams in their respective championship games.  Lets be honest the Seahawks and the 49ers were the two best teams in the NFC.  The only reason they aren’t the number two seed is because they are in the same division as the Seahawks.  On the other side of the bracket it comes as no surprise that we get a Tom Brady Peyton Manning game for the right to the Super Bowl.  However what is surprising is for a pass happy league that the NFL has become the 49ers, Seahawks and Patriots got to the championship game by utilizing the ground and pound game.  Who would have thought if the Patriots scored 43 points that Tom Brady would have ZERO touchdown passes? Well it happened last week versus the colts. It’s going to be interesting to see if the Patriots stick to this game plan.  People forgot that when the Patriots were winning the Super Bowls back in the early 2000’s they were doing it by establishing the run game and play action off it.  Cory Dillon has been reincarnated as LeGarrette Blount.

Our early game features the Broncos and Patriots at Mile High Stadium in Denver. The two met earlier in week 12 at Foxboro and it provided us with one of the best regular season games we saw this year.  Tom Brady and the Patriots climbed back from a 24-0 halftime hole to win 34-31 in overtime.  It was Peyton Manning’s worst statistical game during the regular season.  Bill Belichick dialed up an effective defense against Manning who went 19-36 for 150 yards.  Now part of that had to do with the fact that the Broncos were having such success running the ball.  But you would think with 36 attempts that Manning would find a way to reach at least the 200-yard plateau.  Brady finished the game with 344 yards and three touchdowns.  Score another one for the Brady Bunch over the Manning family.  But I have a feeling this game is going to very different in terms of the Patriot offensive game plan.  As we have seen the Patriots have recommitted to the run game of late.  And this is important to note because in all four losses the Patriots had this year not one of their running backs accounted for more than 51 yards rushing.  Furthermore in those games where they lost the Patriots had close to a 2.5-1 pass to run ratio.  If the Patriots find themselves with a 100 yard running back its pretty safe to say they will probably come out on top.  During the regular season every time they had a 100-yard rusher they won the game.  Going 4-0 in such situations.  Lets be honest the key to beating the Broncos has to be keeping Manning off the field as much as possible.  I expect a lot of running back by committee this time around. Defensively for the Patriots it has got to be pressure on Manning.  It seems the only thing that really gets Manning off his game is constant pressure early.  Bill Belichick is the master at getting in Manning’s head.  Hence why he is 4-10 against Belichick and the Patriots in his career.  I expect a lot of early blitzes to try and get Manning out of a rhythm early.  Maybe channel some inner Rex Ryan and stand everyone up around the line of scrimmage so not to give Manning pre-snap reads.

However there is something that I’m sure has got Belichick staying up late at night this past week.  Julius Thomas.  If there was one KEY cog of Manning’s arsenal that was missing in the defeat in week 12 it was Thomas.  Thomas has been one of Manning’s favorite targets in the passing game this year in the red zone and key situations.  I mean lets be honest when it was 3rd and 17 late in the game in the fourth quarter versus San Diego it was Thomas who he went to.  He like Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez, and Jason Witten are nightmares in the red zone. His 12 touchdowns prove that.  Now when the Patriots went against a similar tight end in Jimmy Graham they decided to put Aqib Talib on him to shut him down.  It worked too, holding Graham catch less in the game.  However the Saints don’t have the same weapons around Graham that Thomas has in Welker, Demaryius Thomas, and Eric Decker.  If they decide to put Talib on Julius Thomas then the other Thomas should be in position to have a big game.  Oh did we mention that Knowshon Moreno rushed for 224 yards in their first meeting?  Yea so its just another weapon that the Patriots are going to have to try and shut down.  It’s a nightmare for the Patriots but its one they are going to have to figure out or it will be Peyton and not Brady taking a bite out of the big apple in New York.

At the beginning of the week I really liked the Patriots but I’ve talked myself into the Broncos. Sorry Patriot fans.  I started saying the Broncos were the Sue Storm of the Fantastic Four and I cant go against a Jessica Alba led character!

Jessica Alba’s Sue Storm takes out Ben Grimm in a doozie.

28-24

After Jessica Alba books her trip to New York we look to see if her brother joins her there or if her hubby will join her.  The Seahawks have owned the 49ers the last two meetings in Seattle by a total of 71-16 including a 29-3 beat down in week 2.  Colin Kaepernick had one of his worst games passing in that one going 13-28 for 127 yards and three picks and a fumble.  But he wasn’t getting much help either.  Frank Gore also was held in check rushing for only 16 yards.  Something that the 49ers will have to avoid so that Kaep isn’t left with long third down situations against that vaunted Seahawk secondary.

They really got back to this in the second matchup with these two squads.  Frank Gore rushed for 110 yards on 17 carries.  Including the big run that set up the game winning field goal late in the fourth quarter.  They were more committed to the ground game in this one rushing the ball 39 times versus 20 in the opener.  The 49ers are a whopping 10-0 including the playoffs when the former Miami running back goes for one hundred yards in a game.

So what we here’s what we need to look for when we watch these two teams go at it Sunday and this should tip the scale to the winning team.

1. Whose O-Line/Running back combo produces?

As we already mentioned the 49ers are undefeated when Frank Gore goes for over 100.  If the 49ers win the battle in the trenches that means they are taking the ball slowly down the field and keeping the 12th man at bay.  Where as if the Seahawks and Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch are controlling the line of scrimmage then it may mean he’s producing another earthquake at Century Field and sending the 49ers packing.  The team that has had more rushes and running yards in each game won. Not to mention the team that has won the time of possession in both regular season games also was victorious.

2. Can the 49ers set the edge on Russell Wilson?

The 49er combo of Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks has been deadly to opposing quarterbacks all year.  In the first matchup at Century Link Russell Wilsons lone interception came from Aldon Smith pressuring Wilson off the edge and forcing him to stay in the pocket and force a throw downfield.  Later in the game the pass rush of Smith created a sack for Glenn Dorsey.  Not to mention having two sacks of his own.   Ahmad Brooks sealed the opposing edge on both those sacks for Smith.  Setting the edge is key on Russell Wilson because when he gets out of the pocket he kills the 49ers.  Producing two plays of over 50 yards when escaping the pressure.  In a game where there wont be many yeards 50 seems like 200.

3. Can the Seahawk defensive line pressure Kaepernick?

In their week fourteen loss the Seahawks only had two sacks and ten quarterback pressures versus Kaep.  But in the Seahawks victory at Century Link they were able to get to him three times and pressure him 21 times!  It doesn’t take a brain scientist to know that the Seahawks need to get in his face early and stay there. According to Pro Football Focus Colin Kaepernick is statistically the worst quarterback in the NFL when he is being pressured.  And he’s not getting any better in such situations in the playoffs completing just 35 percent of his throws! We all know the trick to beating the 49ers is make Kaep pass the ball and not let him beat you with his feet.  Much like Russell Wilson it’s just about keeping him in the pocket and under duress.

4. Who wins the turnover battle?

The team that wins the turnover battle usually wins the game between these two.  In the first match up Seattle won it easily 5-1 contributing heavily to the 29-3 win.  However in the second match up it was even 1-1 but the Seahawks surrendered a blocked punt. Which to me is a turnover.  So we will score it 2-1.  Also something to note is who makes the turnover late in the game.  In the first meeting San Francisco had two fourth quarter turnovers where as the Seahawks in their defeat had a fourth quarter interception of their own.

5. Does Vernon Davis find the end zone?

Vernon Davis to me has been the biggest beneficiary of Michael Crabtree coming back.  It has opened up the middle of the field for him and taken away the abilities for safeties to key in on him when they get down to the redzone.  Since coming back Vernon Davis has a touchdown in six of the seven games.  Including a big touchdown to put the 49ers ahead in the win versus Seattle in week 14.  If he wins the battle with Earl Thomas and Cam Chancellor its could be costly for Seattle’s Super Bowl chances.

6. Who wins the Kicking game?

Plain and simple there’s not going to be a whole lot to separate these two teams so whoever has the best kicker may win the game.  The 49ers went out and got Phil Dawson just for this reason.  Make it when it matters, something that David Akers seemingly couldn’t do.  Steven Hauschka is having the best year of his career.  This year Hauschka is 36-38 kicking it through the ole goal posts.  Not to mention one of those was blocked because his tackle missed his block.  He’s three for three on kicks over 50 yards and made both of his game winning kicks.  So the question is who makes the mistake?  The answer may lie with the team who loses.

This is going to be a downright ugly defensive game.  Seattle hasn’t been clicking on offense of late. Since week 14 statistically they have been the second worst passing team in the league only averaging 144 yards.  It’s not going to get any easier versus the niners.  The 49ers can’t figure out how to attack this Seattle defense in Century link.  So all signs point to the under in this game.  I expect it to be a close one.

Richard Reed edges out Johnny Storm.

16-12

Thus creating a second honeymoon for Sue Storm and Richard Reed in New York City.

MLS Welcome to the World Stage

mlsFor years the MLS was a joke with football supporters across the world.  The League was famous for bringing in players past their prime to dominate players that just aren’t at the same level.  Heck, I am one of them.  I still feel that the quality of soccer isn’t quite up to the par of what I find entertaining.  However, it seems things are changing.  A few big moves already this season means maybe owners are accepting that the league is a little more stable then it was 10 years ago.  Combine that with the first generation of US Soccer players who had the international game readily available to them, the MLS looks like it is set up for some success.  While most of you know I believe that the league has to cast off the shackles of the salary cap before the MLS ascends to the heavens, I do have my reasons to believe this year will be different then others.

New Faces 

jermain-defoeLets start with the obvious names that have everyone buzzing in the US at the moment.  Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe’s introduction means the Eastern Division finally has big solid names that aren’t playing for New York Red Bulls.  Most importantly both of these players still have the capability of playing for some of Europe’s top clubs.  They elected to come to the MLS though, and while some European fans may scoff at the move, they should be concerned that MLS clubs are starting to flex their financial muscles.  This trend isn’t isolated to Toronto either.  The Seattle Sounders will have US mega star Clint Dempsey next year for his first full year with the club.

Rising Big Market Teams

NYCFCThe addition of New York City FC and Orlando City SC as well as the possible addition of a Miami team means big things for the MLS.  The collaboration of Manchester City and the New York Yankees creates a formula for the possibility of having a big time club in the US.  FC’s parent organizations are both known for spending exuberant amounts of money on big name players (but more on that later).

Orlando is a little less accustomed to the lime light than New York City but there are reasons to be optimistic about the club.  First off, the city has been asking for a team for years, and it momentarily being the only Southeastern based team could mean capitalizing on untapped fan base.  Orlando also lacks the athletic competition Tampa has since the Disney city is only home to the Magic.

An addition of a Miami team, especially if the rumors are true about it being funded by Lebron James and David Beckham, makes sense as well.  The heavily Hispanic culture in South Florida could provide the fan base the team needs to expand on.  While baseball and hockey haven’t quite been able to make their marks, watching the crowd during the Real Madrid vs Chelsea game leads me to believe that if Miami attracts stars, the market will respond, much like they have to the Heat.

Big Name Rumors

My New Favorite Player Frank Lampard

My New Favorite Player Frank Lampard

This is what gives me the most hope for the MLS.  Up until this year David Beckham coming to play in the MLS was the biggest story the league had.  That is now shifting.  It is no longer the Robbie Keanes of the world that are being mentioned with a move to the MLS (I love the man but he did struggle to find a game on occasion at various European clubs).  Instead we are hearing about Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Xavi, all big name, big stage players that at some point may come here to play in the states.  While these players do have the curtain call stigma about them, they would still be able to contribute significantly to an MLS side.  There are other players as well, who are younger who have an interest here in the states including Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri.

Americans Coming Home

While I disagree that the moves for Dempsey or Bradley are good for their careers and US Soccer, it is definitely a Michael Bradleygood move for the MLS.  The return of prodigal sons may not end there either.  Maurice Edu seems posed for a return back to the states as he is unable to get a game at Stoke and is clamoring around in Turkey.  Jermaine Jones seems to be unhappy with his current roll at Schalke and may be able to be lured away for a large contract and guaranteed playing time ahead of the World Cup.  Both may be followed by Jozy Altidore, who Sunderland would have a hard time justifying on their books if they were to be relegated.  All of these moves bode well for a domestic audience that is predominately focused on its international team.

1393398_10151871757688941_1290986023_n

For me there are still a lot of issues the MLS has to work on.  For one, I think the league is too expanded in its current state and would do well with more proximity generated rivalries.  The low number for salary cap, and the grey rules that surround designated players also creates murky waters for potential investors and sponsors.  However, we will have powerhouse teams this year which will generate interest both at home and abroad.  Additionally, owners look like they are starting to crack open their pocket books to bring in some of these great players.  It definitely isn’t there yet but the MLS tide is pulling.  And its exciting.

To keep up with me follow my Facebook Page and my twitter account, @TuckSauceSBDS.  Additionally, follow our blog’s Facebook Page and twitter account, @fsufanatic2.

The Ugly Swan and Cowardly Lion Podcast 1.13.14

 

We start with Gene Deckerhoffs radio call for the Florida State National Championship game winning touchdown.

0:00-0:25

College Football

-Including our 4 teams that we think will make the playoffs next year!

0:25-24:45

 

NFL

-We talk NFL playoffs.  Who we think will win and what teams the hottest.

24:45-37:30

 

Premier League

-Suraez keeps up his run of goals. Another terrible officiating call costs a Premier League squad a chance at a point.  Even go over the game going on live in Aresnal v Aston Villa. We go over it all.

37:30-49:10

 

Transfer News

49:10-61:45

 

Lads Banter

Random chit chat.  The best part of our shows as always. Rory McIlroys future plans.  Whose hotter?  Messis wife or Ronaldos girlfriend?  We discuss Anchorman 2. CHELSEAAAA!

61:45-71:20

The PGA should tell the USGA to Sit on It

Northern Trust Open - Final RoundRecently the USGA and R&A passed a new rule banning anchored putters, a trend that has been evolving since 1924.  The first belly putter patent was granted in 1965 and for almost 50 years no large party had an issue with it.  That is until Keegan Bradley won the PGA Championship in 2011, the first player to ever use an anchored putter to win a major.  When 2 more unconventional putters were wielded the next year to win major tournaments, the USGA swooped in to put an end to it.  In light speed for the USGA, an organization that usually moves slower then a glacier, a rule was presented, tabled, passed and enacted in only 2 years.  Their new ordnance will ban the blasphemous belly putter from golf come 2016.  The USGA and R&A claimed that this monstrosity was out of the spirit with the game and gave the competitors that use it an unfair advantage.  What a bunch of nonsense.

Before I go any farther, let me premise my argument by saying I am a Class-A PGA Professional working on the front Me at Turnberrylines on a green grass facility.  I have worked in almost every golf environment and worked with a lot of different memberships.  I have held positions in Arizona and Scotland and everywhere in between.  I do not use a belly putter and never have.  I have putted with one but after a couple hours of screwing around, found that it didn’t make me any better and I was uncomfortable.  While I don’t claim to be an expert on everything in golf, I do believe my finger is a little closer to the pulse then the bureaucrats at the USGA who are still living in the time of Bobby Jones.  I see the game evolve, and its a good thing.  In fact it may be the only thing that keeps us afloat.  But more of that later.

If the belly putter was a weapon of mass destruction, every pro would be using it just like they all use large headed drivers and graphite shafts.  However at the end of 2013, only 3 of the top 20 of Golf’s World Rankings used an anchored putter of some sort.  A similar stat can be seen in the FedEx Regular Season Rankings where only 4 of the top 20 used a anchored putter.

World Ranking Anchored? Fedex Points Anchored?
1 Tiger Woods Tiger Woods
2 Adam Scott X Matt Kuchar X
3 Phil Mickelson Bradnt Snedeker
4 Hendrik Stenson Phil Mickelson
5 Justin Rose Bill Haas
6 Rory McIlroy Billy Horschel
7 Steve Stricker Justin Rose
8 Matt Kuchar X Jordan Spieth
9 Bradt Snedeker Henrik Stenson
10 Jason Duffner Keegan Bradley X
11 Zach Johnson Adam Scott X
12 Graeme McDowell Boo Weekley
13 Jim Furyk Kevin Streelman
14 Luke Donald Jason Day
15 Keegan Bradley X Jason Duffner
16 Jason Day Dustin Johnson
17 Sergio Garcia Webb Simpson X
18 Lee Westwood Zach Johnson
19 Charl Schwartzel Harris English
20 Jordan Spieth Steve Stricker

Now it is true that some of these players like, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia, win despite their putting.  However, if you look at the Top 10 in the 2013 Strokes Gained Putting statistic, none of the players there use a belly putter.  If anchored putting was this huge advantage you would think that these lists would be crammed with players who love the belly putter.  The answer is much farther then the truth though.

Adam ScottMany players see the belly putter as a resurrection of their playing careers.  No, right now I am no longer talking about the Adam Scotts.  I am talking about the normal people that keep golf in business, who now enjoy the game again because of the belly putter.  I have heard horror stories about the Yips almost forcing players to quit the game.  It was not enjoyable to them anymore.  However, this new look and feel gave them some confidence to stay in the game.  I have played with many of these people and statistically it hasn’t helped them much.  They still miss short putts and fan on long ones.  Call it the placebo effect though.  Even though this new tool is not helping their game too much, the confidence they gain from the switch does, and keeps them on the golf course.

Golf is in decline.  There is no way around it.  The NGF reported that in 2011, 157.5 of facilities closed while only 19 opened.  Both of which are the extremes of the bell curve so far.  Economically these numbers aren’t shocking.  Golf is an expensive, time guzzling sport in an era of fast movers.  Because of these factors consumers who consider themselves avid golfers, are now moving away to being occasional golfers, and occasional golfers are quitting.  Now these numbers aren’t the fault of the anchoring ban.  Ignored ladies and youth programs, as well as a dissolving middle class are the main issues we’re dealing with.  However, why pass a rule that discourages a group of people from playing while the game is in decline?  It makes 0 since to me.

The USGA is going to do what they are going to do.  Like all bloated, authoritarian bodies they live in a realm that is USGA-Logosometimes a far cry from reality.  Statistically, belly putters don’t seem to give anyone an advantage over the field.  In fact most of the best putters in the world still use a short putter.  Belly putters make the game more palpable to a mass of people who seem to be starting to shun it.  The PGA does have an option though.  Forget what the USGA says.  Run your tournaments, and allow the use of belly putters.  Pass a rule to keep them on tour.  Do anything, except let the USGA stifle innovation.  The PGA Tour is the only professional sport that is governed by amateurs, but why?  Because it has always been that way?  The game needs to evolve and adapt if the industry expects to survive, not be stuck in the stone ages.

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