Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Skip Bayless Report's 2009 New Years Resolutions

Besides for losing weight and finding eternal love, I have other more accomplishable New Years resolutions that deal with sports. Sports have been good to me, but I have not really been that great back over the past year or so. Sports have given me entertainment, and all I have given back is well nothing really besides for writing satire articles that all consistently have been low blows to sports. So here are my resolutions this year in an attempt to be a better overall fan:

1. Actually pay more attention to the Super Bowl game rather than the commercials.

2. In accordance with 1, promise not to watch whatever terrible over the hill performer during the Super Bowl half time show.

3. For probably the first time ever research the teams in the March Madness bracket before picking my games. This is instead of my old methods of picking all 5-12 games as upsets and not having any number one seeds in the final four.

4. Watch all final four games...I only say this because for the most part I only care about watching the actual championship game.

5. Give Jay Marriotti one more try. (This is definitely going to be the first resolution I am going to break, but I will try).

6. Watch a full NHL game that is not a playoff game, or a Bridgestone Winter Classic.

7. Watch a full NBA game that is not a playoff game.

8. Stay up for all seven rounds of the NFL draft and not want to kill Chris Berman by round five.

9. Actually believe "There is always next year" when I am talking about the Cubs, because there is always 2010.

10. Not miss my fantasy football draft and if I do then I will not claim that I am genius at fantasy football when the computer picked the base of my championship team.

I am sure I am missing some other ones that I am missing, but for now this is a good starting list. Happy New Years everyone!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Legend of Mike Vanderjagt: Best Kicker Ever or Drunken Fool

Who is the best place kicker to ever play in the NFL? This question can not be answered without deciding which qualities determine who is the best to ever kick an oblong ball through two sticks.

One important factor must be about being the best to play during your time period and also being innovative while your at it. If you want to use those qualities, Lou Groza is the best ever.

It seems as though the place kicker is only in the game when the game is on the line, so the ideal kicker would have to be Adam Vinateri.

Maybe the "athlete" who had a very long career and was reliable enough to score the most points ever, and then the best ever would have to be one of the unbiological brother Anderso(e)n: Morten Andersen or Gary Anderson.

If you happen to be Al Davis then all you must care about is pure power, and then there is no question that Sebastian Janikowski takes the cake.

But when it comes down to it, you want a kicker that is going to get the ball through the uprights the highest percentage of times possible, and then, and only then may I add, is Mike Vanderjagt the best kicker ever.

Vanderjagt's humble beginnings started in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. His parents did not know it yet, but their son would become the greatest to ever play his position in a league they had never heard of, the NFL.

Vanderjagt's youth was a rough one. While all the boys at school where playing hockey, Mikey (as my sources say he liked to be called at the time), would be kicking a deformed rugby ball over and over in the alley's of Oakville. This of course led to him being called terrible names that an American like myself, has no use in saying and even trying to understand. But, to prove himself worthy, Mikey would kick his deformed rugby balls on ice during intermission periods of any local hockey games he could find.

Mikey would set up the ball at the middle of the ice and the people in the stands would of course start mocking him. Mikey would then go on to kick the ball at the heads of all his mockers with each them throwing the ball back at him, so he could continue his act until the zamboni would almost run him over.

This hard work of kicking people in the head, developed immense accuracy for Mikey, now known just as "Jagt". Jagt acquired many fans, and by the time that he reached high school, he was now the main attraction for all his schools hockey games.

In a recruiting trip to Canada, the hockey coach for Michigan State University had come to Jagt's high school and was so impressed by getting kicked in the head from such a distance, he gave Jagt a scholarship for the football team on the play quarterback.

Jagt did not do so well playing QB seeing as how he had no experience so he went to Community College for a year and then eventually found his calling as the punter and place kicker for West Virginia.

Jagt was so impressive that the Canadian Football gave him a call up immediately after his graduation. He was not that great in his first couple seasons in Canada, but this young man would not let pure stats hold him down. After four seasons in the CFL he was picked up by the Indiapolis Colts as a free agent.

The odds were against him to do well, but undettered as he always was, he went on to become one of the most accurate kickers the league had ever seen. In 2003, he made all 37 field goals that he attempted, and made the All-Pro team.

Peyton Manning once called called Jagt "our drunk idiot kicker" after Jagt said that Peyton was, in short, soft. But the fact was that Jagt was good enough to get away with saying that kind of stuff because of his performance. Unfortunately for him, once his performance started to decline, no team wanted him, not even the Cowboys, well not more than three years. Jagt's career ended in 2006 after a debacle of a season with the Cowboys.

To be totally serious though, Vanderjagt has to be considered one of the best of all time. There is no doubting that his 88.5 career field goals percentage is the best the NFL has ever seen. No matter how you look at it, you want a kicker that is going to put the ball through the uprights at the highest percentage.

Jagt's performance on the field, even though mostly in a dome, gives him a good argument as being the best ever. Well, best ever if forget the fact that he missed a lot of important kicks...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Transition Of Power in the NBA From West to East

Here is a little something that I did in my spare time. It's lengthy, but has a lot of good stuff in it.

It seems as though that every professional league here goes through a pendulum swing of power, from one conference to another.

Here is an in depth look into the NFL, MLB, and NBA's history of dominance of conference's with most of the time spent on the NBA.

In the NFL from 1984-1996 the NFC won every Super Bowl and only lost one from 1981-1996. Then immediately following that stretch from 1997-2006, the AFC won eight out of the ten Super Bowls.

The MLB, after following a decent amount of research, probably is the most even when it comes to winnings streaks for a conference (yes the AL and NL are no longer real leagues because they both answer to one commissioner). But going back to 1975 the NL won six of the following eight World Series, and then immediately following that streak the AL won sixteen titles to the NL's only eight starting with the Baltimore Orioles in 1983 and the Boston Red Sox in 2007. Once again a lot more even the NFL and NBA, but still when you win two-thirds of the time it's a lot more uneven than the ideal winning percentage of one half.

The NBA has the longest history of domination by conference, and this can largely be explained by the dominance of single teams.

Of the 62 total NBA championships to date, four team, the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls, and Spurs have won 41 times! That is 13% of the number of teams in the league today winning 66% of every title played for.

To go even farther, if you add in the Pistons, Warriors, and 76ers, who all have won three championships, to the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls, and Spurs, you have 23% of the teams winning 80% of the titles!

These teams have all been a major part of the pendulum of power in the NBA as well. Let's start at the beginning so you can see the true swaying back and forth of power.

In 1947, the first season of the precursor to the NBA, the Basketball Association of America, the Philadelphia Warriors from the Eastern Conference defeated the Western Conference champion Chicago Stags.

The East would not see the title again until 1955. In that seven year stretch the West won every year highlighted by George Mikan's Minneapolis Lakers winning five of those doing it back to back and then the first three peat in the association's young history.

When the Syracuse Nationals, now known as the 76ers, won in 1955 the pendulum swung back to Eastern Conference. In a stretch of sixteen seasons the West only one the annual contest between the best of the East and West only once when the St. Louis Hawks defeated the Boston Celtics in 1958. This then inspired Bill Russell and Red Auerbach and their Celtics to win eight straight titles, with a total of 11 in that time period of Eastern dominance.

The West did catch up, but did not surpass the East. From 1971 to 1988, the West won ten titles and the East won eight. A 56 winning percentage by the West can by no means be described as dominant, with neither conference able to have a streak longer than two in a row.

The Pistons and then the Bulls took the pendulum back to the East side from 1989-1998, with the Pistons going back to back, then the Bulls three peated twice with the Houston Rockets from the West winning a title when Jordan retired for the first time.

From 1999 to the present we have seen a domination by the West, with the Lakers winning three in a row with Shaq and Kobe, and the Spurs winning four in nine years. There was a stretch of five in a row by the Spurs and Lakers from 1999-2003, and from then to now the Larry O'Brien trophy switched hands every year.

There is the argument that since most of these stretches of domination were by single dynasty-esque teams, that the competition in their respective conference was weak. And, this can be a very pressing point especially when you look at the NBA where seven teams have won over 80% of the time.

What I have to say against that is that winning begets winning.

There was no question that during this past stretch of domination by the West where only two teams won the title, that the Western Conference was far superior to their eastern counterparts.

During that stretch the Kings, Suns, Mavericks, and even the Timberwolves who were all considered not as good as the Lakers and Spurs, seemed to be leaps and bounds better than the middle group in the East. And the reason for this one-sidedness can be explained by European soccer, surprisingly.

Each country in Europe has a top soccer division, and the top team(s) in the each country gets to play in the Champions League. Now, to win in the Champions League you have to be as better than every other team in Europe.

Unfortunately for the mid-level clubs in each country, there is no way they can compete with the top teams unless they build a team that is comparable with all the top teams from all over Europe. So, what eventually happens is what has happened in England where there are four teams that are always at the top, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool.

Now, take that and compare it to the NBA, where the dominant conference is the Champions League and the other being the Premier League.

The teams in the Champions League have to all build up to play against the Manchester United's of the world mostly because they have to play them at least four times a year, and they get a shot to knock them out in the playoffs. On the other hand the teams in the Premier League only have to play the teams in the Champions League twice and they can play each other in the playoffs for a chance to take out the winners of the Champions League in the finals.

The difference between US sports leagues and the European club style is that the Premier Leagues don't have any Champions League teams in their conference. This leads to complacency, and also leads to one conference dominating the other, because you only have to be a little better than your top competitor within your conference. And if your top competitor is not in the Champions League, you don't have to be a Champions League caliber team for a shot to win the championship.

Another key difference is that US leagues allow for more competitive balance, and this is why there is a pendulum effect of one conference being better than another.

What I am truly saying is that bad teams are rewarded with top talent by means of the draft. In basketball one player can affect a teams performance more than any other sport. This is because is has the smallest amount of players playing at one time, and the top players can play for the whole game. So, by bad teams getting top pick after top pick, the bad conference will eventually get a lot better because the MJ, Magic, and LeBron's of the world make such a huge impact.

This all helps the Premier League become the Champions League, because the players in the Champions League get old and retire and do not get the top talent in the amateur draft, all the while the top talent for the worse conference go into their prime, and the pendulum goes back to the other side.

Now here is the point where I am going to give you, the much respected reader, an opportunity to understand fully why I say that the East has taken over the power in the NBA.

Sure I could be like all the talking heads on ESPN and talk radio and give you no reasoning and history behind why I say this. But if you actually have read this far, I just gave you the history, and I now going to give you the reasoning.

I can't put a finger on the exact moment when the pendulum started to swing back to the East, but I believe that there was a series of events that happened that caused it to occur in this order: when the Pistons beat the Shaq, Kobe, Karl Malone, and Gary Payton Lakers; Shaq being traded to Heat; and/or when Brian Colangelo took the job in Toronto.

When the Pistons beat the star studded Lakers it was an amazing thing.

Everyone thought that the Lakers could not lose after Derek Fisher's miracle game winning shot with .4 seconds against the Spurs. But, the Pistons took it to the Spurs and shocked the whole world.

This gave the East hope, because then they knew it was possible to actually take on the West, but they would have to do it in an unique way that really could not be duplicated.

The Pistons created the perfect storm of personnel, coaching, and management to win their last title. The whole concept of amazing defense and tenacity in a period of time when it was frowned upon by the league office, was revolutionary. As a side note I say it was frowned upon because of the changes of rules to take down the hardcore Pat Riley Knicks, original Bad Boy Pistons, and Dennis Rodman's of the 1990s, to inspire more points which leads to more fan interest and money.

The Pistons showed that beating the West was possible, and when Shaq was traded to the Heat for Lamar Oden, Caron Butler and Brian Grant, it told the East that it was OK to acquire top talent by other means not called the draft. I say this because I just can't recall any star players even wanting to play in the East during that time period, because most of the stars in the NBA were playing in the West.

Lastly, I really believe that Bryan Colangelo moving to the East was really the catalyst for the change we are about to see the in NBA.

What Brian Colangelo brought to the Phoenix Suns was an extremely innovative style of play that while it was copied from Don Nelson, was perfected in Arizona. Colangelo brought in Mark Dantonio who coached a fast paced style that was extremely conducive to winning. While that style has never won a championship, it allowed lower quality teams to compete with teams like the Lakers and Spurs who were winning championships.

Colangelo resigned from the Suns and signed with the Toronto Raptors to be their GM all in early 2006. When this happened Mark Dantonio did not have the proper support system around him, and as we have all seen this season, he left for the Knicks, and the Suns have been what can only be described as ugly without him.

Colangelo also brought the idea of signing players from Europe to the East. This was something that he did amazingly well with the Suns. It can be seen that the foreigners signed by the West such as Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker, Leandro Barbosa, and others were far more successful than the ones in the East; Darko Milicic comes to mind as the prime example.

So now, we are in a state where the Eastern Conference seems to be superior to the West. With the big three in Boston, LeBron in Cleveland, the Pistons being the Pistons, Dwight Howard pulling down everything for the Magic, the Bosh and crew Raptors, and now Derek Rose who is looking like he is going to be a star in Chicago. All of this is happening while it seems like the only up and coming team in the West are the Hornets.

So maybe I am wrong and the West will be able to keep up with the East, but if history has told us anything, the arm of the pendulum seems to be going eastward.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Andris Biedrins...WTF!?

Andris Biedrins, who the hell do you think you are? Shaq? Dwight? Kareem? Russell?

I mean really. You just put up 17 pts and 21 boards.

21 REBOUNDS, I mean come on!

I know you play for a team that is conducive to nice fantasy stats, but god damn. Why must you do it against my team.

But what is really scary is that this is the second time that you have grabbed 20 rebounds this season.

I remember you as a softy that only put up decent rebound numbers because the rest of your team refused to play defense, but bringing down 20 plus boards not once, but twice means you aren't soft.

What confuses me even more is that if you continue to put up the numbers you have so far this season (15 pts, 12 reb, and 1.5 blks), then you have to be considered one of the top centers in the league.

I mean sure, we are in a time when there are no real dominant centers, but to say that you are one of the best big men in the NBA no matter when it says something.

I look at the Western Conference, and you lead all centers, and every other position now that I actually look into it, in rebounds in a conference that has Yao, Shaq, Al Jefferson (he is good, I promise), Camby, Boozer, Duncan, Oden, and all the other dominant big men in the supposed better conference.

Biedrins, you are second in the league in rebounding to Dwight Howard. I never thought I would ever say that besides for maybe after the first game of the season, in which Biedrins had a career game.

They say the numbers don't lie, no matter how much as our soon-to-be-out-of-work-President would like to say otherwise. So, Andris Biedrins you are officially a beast on the boards, and have proven no matter how much I would love to say this fececiously, I just can't, you should seriously be considered for MVP.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gary Bettman Has Gone Too Far With The Avery Suspension, But Still Can Go Farther

David Stern, Roger Goodell, Bud Selig, and Gary Bettman.

Now ask yourself, who does not belong? And the answer is Bettman.

See, Stern, Goodell, and even Selig all have the respect of the players and coaches in their respective leagues. In every interview that you see a coach go off on a referee you will always say "I don't care if they fine me". This is because they know that their respective commissioner is does not let things like that slide.

Bettman is a whole other story.

He runs a league that basically celebrates fighting. Now, I will be the first one to say that fighting in the NHL is probably the only reason why I would watch a telecast of a game. Fighting is basically the lifeblood that keeps the on the fence fan, on the fence.

The problem is that if you are not going to fine or suspend a player for fighting, then you really have no reason to penalize anyone for anything besides for an illegal hit such as the Marty McSorley and Donald Brashear.

So when Gary Bettman suspended Sean Avery for saying that other players are getting on his sloppy seconds, a known fact, he, being Bettman crossed the line.

I mean really is calling a guy out for taking your sloppy seconds really worse then bashing a guys face in until he is flat on the ice?

This whole Avery thing got us at The Skip Bayless Report thinking about what else the NHL and Bettman is going to start suspended players for. Here are the ten most probable new reasons why a player would get suspended.

1. Not growing a playoff beard even if you are not in the playoffs.
2. Wearing the wrong color skates (I don't know if thats possible but hey, the NFL does it).
3. Being exciting.
4. Being a role model.
5. Getting on the news.
6. Getting on SportsCenter top 10.
7. Getting any publicity at all for a league that doesn't really have any now.
8. Going out in public.
9. Having a personality.
10. Being Sean Avery.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Untold Storylines for Jaguars-Texans MNF Game

The Jaguars and Texans...Really Roger Goodell?

I mean could you have thought of a better matchup than these two perennial boring teams? I suppose I can see how this could have been interesting when the game was announced. Houston was an up and coming team, and Jacksonville was a team a lot of "experts" were picking to go to the Super Bowl.

Besides for all of that, this game is going to suck, but as always, we here at The Skip Bayless Report like to give you, the paying consumer, the point of views that the mainstream media does not look at. So here are some untold storylines for this upcoming MNF game.

Andre Johnson in the wake of the Plaxico Burress shooting himself in a night will play for the first time without a gun tucked in the back of pants. How do you think he always gets so open?

On the other hand Matt Jones will continue to be packing because, well he is Matt Jones.

At half time Tony Boselli will be put in the middle of the field and have to choose which team he likes more, by going to their respective sidelines. The Vegas odds are about even right now because of the home field advantage, but Jacksonville is the team that drafted him in the rookie draft and let his career die in an expansion franchise, and Houston is the team that made him the face of the franchise and he repaid the favor of being injured that whole time.

The Jaguars are going to implement their own version of the wildcat offense, but will put DT John Henderson to get all the snaps. This is a result of Henderson saying that he could run a better offense than what the Jaguars have now. Did I mention Henderson will also be calling all the offensive plays as well? Expect a lot of running up the gut.

Look out for Kevin Walter, apparently he is the starting Wide Receiver for the Texans, who knew? I blame the East Coast sports bias.

Listen for Mike Tirico to sling out random stats on every unknown player that gets anywhere close to the ball for the whole first half. In the second half listen for Tony Kornheiser being an old conceited fool.

That's all folks, and as hard as I just tried I don't think I even convinced myself to watch the game, this overall is a terrible matchup and even though it may turn into a good game it won't be because these are two good teams.