By Jeremy Blumberg
The bottom five… it’s a long way to the top.
5. Kicking Off New Rules: One of the rules implanted into the NFL at the owner’s meetings was that the Kickoff will now start from the 35 yard line. The whole point of this rule was to eliminate wedge blocking to reduce the number of injuries. But if that is the case, why is wedge blocking still allowed? Last year, a rule was added stating that no more than 3 players could be placed to form a wedge, in an effort to prevent injuries. If the goal is to reduce injuries because of wedge blocking on kick returns, then why not abolish the rule altogether? Making the kickoff shorter not only limits the returns of the all-time great return man Devin “Anytime” Hester, but the amount of touchbacks will drastically increase. Teams will be starting from their 20 yard line on almost every possession and what will become of the squib kick? Leave it to the NFL owners, who have probably never played a game of football in their lives, to create new ways to make it hard on their players.
4. Buck Rips Big Teams: Baltimore Orioles skipper Buck Showalter recently ripped the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees this past week about the team’s attempts to “buy” their championships. Showalter was quoted for saying “I’d like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with Tampa Bay’s payroll.” Does Buck make a point about spending the bucks? It seems there is some merit to this. The only way the Red Sox and Yankees get their big names is to spend more money than every other team in baseball combined. Showalter argues that this takes away from the competitive nature of baseball by having all the big name players on the same team. While the Yankees and Red Sox haven’t won the World Series in recent years, maybe it is time to have a salary cap in baseball to prevent these coveted free agents from signing with the same team.
3. Ochocinco Enters Fútbol: Chad Ochocinco, the notorious former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver, has been offered a tryout to make the MLS squad in Kansas City. One of the motivations for giving himself the opportunity is the event of a lockout in the NFL. While Ochocinco does deserve some applause for trying something new, the tired act of giving himself attention and being more of a diva than Brett Favre is way too redundant at this point in his career. Even Marvin Lewis, the Bengals head coach has insulted Ochocinco for his tryout in soccer. While Ochocinco has enjoyed dancing when he scores TDs, NFL players and coaches are finally starting to make fun of Ochocinco because of his antics on the field of sport, not his celebrations and constant whining.
2. The Sunken Pearl: After being eaten up by the Michigan Wolverines in their opening game in the NCAA tournament, the Tennessee Volunteers have given head coach Bruce Pearl the axe. During the season Pearl had to sit out several SEC games for violating the NCAA policy on recruitment. While this substantially hurt the program in terms of reputation, some of the losses they mounted resulted in a lower seed in the tournament (#8 seed to be exact) and were forced into a bad position. Entering the tournament, Pearl’s future as head coach of the Vols hinged on their run in the tournament. Losing in the opening round certainly did not help by being out without achieving any wins. Being blown away by 30 points also certainly adds insult to injury. The game was over at halftime and the players seemed to have lost interest in the game as the onslaught continued. It became clear that Pearl and his method of madness was no longer a part of the Tennessee basketball program and the Volunteers sent him quickly packing after their humiliation.
1. New Problem: Since acquiring Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups from the Denver Nuggets, the New York Knicks have actually been WORSE off than before getting the superstar. Following the loss Wednesday night at the hands of the Orlando Magic, the Knicks have fallen to 7-10 since the Anthony and Billups arrival. To make things worse for New York? Denver has won 11 out of 15 games since and has dramatically improved their playoff seed, starting from #7 and ballooning all the way to the #5 seed. The New York Knicks have stumbled down from the #5 seed to the #7 seed and are barely clinging to that. Defense has been as been invisible on this team more so than Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak which does not bode well for a team that looks like an easy knockout in the playoffs, should they get that far. The Harlem Globetrotters seem like a more formidable team at this point than the Knicks. The team is now 35-36 and if they do not produce wins for this demanding city and sport market, coach Mike D-Antonio can expect to be fired and some other players can expect to be on new teams next season.