Week ending May 22 WINNER: Steve Nash - Anyone who doubted whether he deserved the NBA’s MVP Award this season (myself included) is probably re-thinking their position following Nash’s performance in the Suns’ series against Dallas. In the clinching Game Six alone, he hit a three-pointer to send the game into overtime, then dominated the extra session with timely shots and pinpoint passing. His performance in the series as a whole proved that Nash, in fact, was extremely worthy of the honor he received. I humbly stand corrected. LOSER: Billy Hunter - The head of the NBA Players Association wins easily for this quote…."This was the same approach used by the league seven years ago," Hunter told ESPN. "At that time, the word was that [agents] David Falk and Arn Tellum and others were actually orchestrating and managing the negotiations. I thought it was repugnant and offensive at that time, and I think it's even more so now -- the fact the inference is that me, as a black man, cannot operate an institution such as the union without having some white man oversee and legitimate whatever it is I'm supposed to be doing." So, instead of placing the blame in the breakdown of the NBA’s CBA negotiations where it belongs (on the agents who are trying to flex their muscles), Hunter has opted to play the race. What is he thinking?
Week ending May 15 WINNER: Miami Heat - Yes, I might be a bit repetitive with this award, having given the Winner nod to the Heat just two weeks ago. But what they did in their series against the Washington Wizards is worthy of all the praise it can be given. Not only did the Heat sweep the Wizards, upping their record to 8-0 in the Playoffs, but they took the last two games on the road without the services of Shaquille O'Neal. So now, while their potential Eastern Conference Finals foes, Detroit or Indiana, beat each other up, Shaq and the Heat get to rest up and heal their injuries. And that might end up being their biggest win of the week. LOSER: National Football League - The normally media savvy NFL blew one this week. New San Francisco coach Mike Nolan asked the league for permission to wear a suit and tie on the sidelines during games, rather than the customary league approved (and Reebok logoed) garb. The league however, told him no, enforcing their rule and forcing Nolan to wear the sponsored gear instead. Nolan's motives were simple and classy - to honor those coaches that came before him and wore ties while coaching. Coaches like Lombardi and Landry. Sorry, NFL. This is one of your rare missteps.
Week ending May 8 WINNER: Kentucky Derby bettors - Forget about a 50-1 shot winning and paying a hair over $100 for a $2 bet. People actually won that one. Let's look, instead at the trifecta. There are 6,840 possible trifecta combinations in a twenty horse race, as was the case in yesterday's Kentucky Derby. The one that came in, with Giacomo on top, paid just over $133,000. Here is the perspective. You could have gone to OTB, bet $2 on every possible triple combination and walked out with a profit of around $120K. I have no idea if anyone even got the triple correct yesterday - it is quite possible no one did. But if they did, they are VERY happy today. And don't even get me started on that $1.7 million superfecta. LOSER: George Steinbrenner - Nice week for The Boss. First, his Yankees fall, albeit temporarily, into a tie with Tampa Bay for last place in the AL East. Then, his horse, Bellamy Road, goes of as the Kentucky Derby favorite, yet fails to finish in the money. I'm going to end it here, since we all know what a bad week for Steinbrenner usually means - a few additions to the unemployment lline.
Week ending May 1 WINNER: Miami Heat - With their four game sweep of the New Jersey Nets, the Heat have firmly entrenched themselves as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, if not the whole NBA. The fact that they handled the Nets as easily as they did with only a minimal contribution from Shaquille O'Neal is a scary sign for the rest of the teams in the post-season tournament. Dwyane Wade looks like a world beater right now and might just be a better complement for Shaq than Kobe Bryant ever was. LOSER: Terrell Owens - It is only April, but the T.O. Circus is already underway for 2005. The latest chapter in the Owens tragicomedy? He is complaining about his contract, skipping mini-camp, slinging arrows at Donovan McNabb and threatening to holdout from training camp. And the media is just eating it up, since it gets them headlines. This guy signed a seven year contract LAST YEAR and already wants it renegoiated....or else. He is bad news, folks. It is time we all realized that. Let him sit.
Week ending April 24 - NFL Draft edition WINNER: Maurice Clarett - After one of the most tumultuous post-college soap operas in recent memory, not only was the former Ohio State running back drafted on the first day of this year's draft (a year after fighting and losing a battle for inclusion last season), but he is selected by running back factory Denver - possibly the best possible team for ANY running back to go to. The Broncos turn out star after star runner and, if they can get Clarett into ideal playing shape and harness his talent, maybe he'll turn into a star after all. LOSER: Aaron Rodgers - From potential first pick overall to an endless stay in the Green Room. That is how Rodgers' day went in the Javits Center on Saturday. He was finally selected with the 24th pick overall, approximately five hours after the Draft got underway. Now, it is up to him to prove to the 23 teams that passed on him that they made a big mistake, especially since the ratings difference between him and top overall pick Alex Smith was marginal at most.
Week ending April 17 WINNER: New York Giants - The football Giants have joined the parade of New York teams getting a new stadium. What makes their situation a little different, though, are the terms. Private financing. More luxury suites and club seats. Same location. Radically improved fan amenities And, in stark contrast to the new stadium for the Jets, no PSLs. All this is subject to change, of course, but it certainly seems like it is the best of all worlds in this case - for the fans, the team and the NFL. LOSER: New York Giants - It is a good thing the Giants are winners off the field, because it is going to be tough on the field this season. They might be improved, but so is the rest of the NFC East. Where they really lose, however, is with their schedule. Have you seen it yet? FOUR games on the West Coast...At San Diego Sept. 25 (after a game at New Orleans the week before), at San Francisco Nov. 6 (following a home game), at Seattle Nov. 27 (after a home game against Philly) and at Oakland to close the season on New Year's Ever (on a Saturday, following a game Christmas Eve in Washington). Talk about brutal. The NFL couldn't at least try to give them one of those games following their bye? Good luck with all that...And win those home games.
Week ending April 10 WINNER: Tiger Woods - For winning his fourth Green Jacket. How about this contrast....On the 13th hole Thursday, he putts a ball past the hole, off the green, into Rae's Creek. On the 16th hole Sunday, he chips the ball from just inside the second cut of rough onto the green and it slowly rolls towards the hole before stopping on the hole's lip....only for the ball to juuuuuuuuuuust fall in. Yes, he let a very game Chris DiMarco back into the tournament by bogeying 17 and 18 before winning the playoff (and DiMarco deserves a ton of credit for his performance), but that shot is now the new defining Tiger moment. Until the next one, that is. LOSER: Arena Football - There are different types of losers. Those who do something stupid are usually at the top of the list, followed by those who lose a game or contest of some sort. This time, though, the loss is a lot more serious. Arena League player Al Lucas of the Los Angeles Avengers passed away Sunday following a hit in a game against the New York Dragons. For a sport that is still trying to carve out its niche among American sports fans, this could be a damaging blow. Football is a dangerous sport when played outside. But on a hockey rink, it has now proven to be fatal. While the league and the sport itself are certainly not to blame, hopefully the sport will be able to bounce back from this most unfortunate incident. Our prayers go out to Lucas' family.
Week ending April 3 WINNER: Baseball Fans - For one reason and one reason alone. It's Opening Day. Finally. Enjoy the season. LOSER: Alex Sanchez - For being the first person suspended under baseball's new steroid policy. Lots of words come to mind to describe this. Stupid is way up there. But I like Loser best.
Week ending March 27 WINNER: Dieter Kochan, Bridgeport Sound Tigers goaltender - For finally saying it. Finally, an active hockey player has spoken out against the NHLers who are going to the minor leagues and Europe and taking jobs from players in those leagues. In an Alan Hahn article this week on the prospects of replacement players in the NHL next season, Kochan, a journeyman who has had a cup of coffee in the NHL but has spent the bulk of his career in the minors, was asked if he would be interested in being a replacement player. His reply was essentially this.....Normally I would say no, but since a lot of NHLers have taken jobs away from other players, yes. And since they've done that, they really have no right holding it against anyone who does. Thank you, Dieter, for saying what lots of hockey people have thought since this whole lockout mess began. May you get one more cup of the NHL coffee. LOSER: Barry Bonds - I can't stand the guy. I've passed on him in my fantasy leagues for years because I just don't like him. But I have absolutely no sympathy for this guy. He refuses to fess up about steroids. He has alienated himself from teammates and managers for almost his entire career. He is belligerent to the media, yet plays them like a fiddle whwnever he wants. But I, for one, have had enough of his act. Please retire. Please don't come back. Baseball will not miss you as much as you think. I know I won't. Of course, with that said, he'll probably be back early, just to piss everyone off and to tell everyone that they overreacted in the first place.
Week ending March 20 LOSER: Cablevision/Madison Square Garden - Yes, again. But in the form of the entire company this time. And it is for two reasons: 1. They are being sued by the Jets. Yes, there are a myriad of ways to describe why, but it all boils down to MSG's attempt to block the building of the new football stadium on the West Side. The greed of the Garden is the only reason they are trying to stop it, of course, since it would create a little competition for events. But in the big scheme of things, it might also cost NYC their Olympic bid. 2. For keeping Time Warner customers from getting MSG Network and Fox Sports New York, among other cable channels. Yes, there is a dispute with Time Warner over rights fees. But again, it is about $$$. Cablevision is trying to squeeze every last penny out of its properties and Time Warner is standing up to them. Of course, that does no good to fans of the Knicks and Mets. I guess I could have called New York sports fans the Losers of the Week for this one, but since baseball is still in spring training and the Knicks suck, maybe it is better that they can't be seen.
Week ending March 13 - NCAA Tournament edition WINNER: Illinois - The best teams in their bracket aren't that good - #2 Oklahoma State, #3 Arizona and #4 Boston College. Looks like a light road to St. Louis. LOSERS: Miami (Ohio), Buffalo, Holy Cross and Davidson - The four most deserving teams not int the NCAAs. If UAB, NC State and UAB were bumped for either Miami or Buffalo, as well as the other two teams, no one would have batted an eye. At least one of them (Northern Iowa) isn't in a power conference.
Week ending March 6 WINNER: Tiger Woods - He's baaaaaaack. After hearing the whispers (OK, loud roar) that his best days may already be behind him, Tiger is starting to begin Phase Two of his career. Today, he did the following: Win the For Championships at Doral; win Doral while playing in the final pairing with Phil Mickelson, the world's hottest golfer; and regain the World #1 ranking. That should quiet the naysayers for a little while. And if he wins at Augusta in a few weeks, I think we can all start watching golf biggest attraction regain the luster on his career, even though it never should have dimmed to begin with. LOSER: Davidson College basketball - Say hello to the new poster boys for the unfairness that exists in Division I basketball. 16-0 in their conference the season won't be enough to get the Wildcats into the NCAAs. Why? Because they lost in the conference tournament semifinals. And since small conference teams (this is not a mid-major program) need to win the conference tourney to get into the Big Dance, Davidson will be left out in the cold. Is it fair? No. But at the same time, when you go 4-7 outside of your conference, and three of the four wins are against non-DI schools, this is what happens. Now, they have to watch Chattanooga represent the Southern Conference instead of them, all because of one bad day. Just wait 'til next year, guys.
Week ending February 27 WINNER: Million Dollar Baby - And another sports movie enters the pantheon. Was it the best sports movie ever? No. It wasn't even the best boxing movie ever - I still put Raging Bull and Rocky ahead of it. And I don't even think it was the best movie of 2004 - that should have gone to "The Incredibles", which wasn't even nominated for Best Picture. But I loved this movie. The acting nods were certainly warranted. I would watch this movie over and over - it is that good. Go see it and enjoy it. LOSER: Isiah Thomas, Knicks GM - Does he have a plan? More to the point, does he have a clue? What is he thinking and trying, let alone trying to accomplish? As if he wasn't hamstrung before, now he picks up more bad contracts. The Knicks are guaranteed to stink for the next five years, or until someone else comes in to clean up the mess he is making. Of course, none of this should come as a surprise - he was terrible as Toronto GM, then ran the CBA out of business before this debacle. My question is why the Garden even brought him in, because they should have known this was going to happen. Then again, the Garden's business acumen the last few years hasn't exactly shown through. You get what you deserve. Call it Marv Karma.
Week ending February 20 LOSER: NHL - Duh. No winner this week, since, as far as the NHL is concerned, everyone loses.
Week ending February 13 WINNER: Ray Charles - I'm breaking from the sports world for one week with this one. Eight Grammys are just the capper to his career and life. In the past year, however, something more important than awards was added to his legacy. A whole new generation was exposed to his music. That is something no award can ever top. And THAT is the way to go out. LOSER: Jose Canseco - He is selling a lot of books, but at what cost. The less said about this, the better. When the dust clears, he will end up in the same group as Pete Rose and remembered as nothing more than an attention seeking, money grubbing, selfish jerk who is more concerned about himself than the feelings of others or the repercussions of his actions. And with that, I'm never talking about this again.
Week ending February 6 CO-WINNERS: Bill Belichick and Tom Brady - The legacy is now set. Three Super Bowl titles in four years opens the debate for real now. The best ever? Only time will tell. The best of this generation? Consider Troy Aikman's comments during the game, saying how the Patriots winning three in four years is a better accomplishment than when his Cowboys did it in the early to mid 90's. For those who have refused to give them their proper due, though, it is time. They deserve mention with the all-time great coaches and quarterbacks, respectively. And remember, this is coming from a Jet fan. CO-LOSERS: Chris Chelios and Derian Hatcher - This one is more a blanket award, given to all NHL players that accept work as players with other teams, be them European or U.S.-based minor league teams. On Tuesday, perennial All-Star Detroit Red Wing defensemen Chelios and Hatcher, along with teammate Kris Draper, signed contracts with the Motor City Mechanics of the United Hockey League. So here are these players, refusing to sign a Collective bargaining Agreement (regardless of the terms of the deal), opting to play with a team three levels below the NHL instead. And it isn't for the money, either - UHL players receive a maximum of $1000 per week. Of course, these guys are probably hurting for money, considering it has been a while since they received their last million dollar paycheck. In the meantime, they are taking jobs from players who need the experience and, more importantly, the money. Nice union these guys are in. All my sympathy for these guys is gone (not that I had that much to begin with).
Week ending January 30 WINNER: Carlos Delgado - Imagine being chased by four teams, each throwing millions upon millions of dollars at you? Well, that is what Delgado got to Experience the last few weeks, and it all came to a head early in the week, when he signed a four year, $52 million contract with the Florida Marlins. Now that he is playing in the States, watch him finally get the attention he deserves as one of baseball's top sluggers. It's just a shame he isn't playing at Shea. CO-LOSERS: Sally Anthony (Owner) and Ashley McElhiney (Coach), Nashville Rhythm, ABA - It might seem like a cop-out, but I can never do this story justice. Just read this ESPN link and you'll see what I mean. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story? id=1979675
Week ending January 23 WINNER: Philadelphia Eagles - I was wrong. I'll admit it. This morning, I picked the Falcons to take the NFC Championship Game. I said, "Prove me wrong." Well, the Eagles did just that and finally got the monkey off their back by winning this game in their fourth try. Kudos to Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb, who were facing a world of pressure and a Falcons team that was, as Head Coach Jim Mora Jr. said during the week, "Playing with house money." The Eagles did it the old fashioned way - they went out and earned it, winning all facets of the game. Their offense was better, their defense was better, their special teams were better. Now, we get to spend the next two weeks listening to Terrell Owens injury updates every five minutes. CO-LOSERS: NHL and NHLPA - Can we please end the charade already? The 2004-05 season will not happen. Make the announcement and just end it already. Stop stringing along the fans. Give them their season ticket money back if you haven't already done so. But please, the game as you know it is over and done with. It is time to move on. The rest of the sports world already has.
Week ending January 16 WINNER: Miami Dolphins - I'm sure your reaction to this is "Huh?" Well, let me explain. This week, the Dolphins finally got rid of the name Pro Player Stadium from their stadium (Pro Player went out of business years ago). However, they did not replace with another corporate name, as one would expect. Instead, the stadium is now known as Dolphins Stadium. All I can say......It's about time someone eschewed the corporate money and instead gave their stadium a real identity! Since I've started this site, a number of people have asked me why I refuse to use corporate names on stadiums. I joke that it is because I don't get paid to use them, so until then, I won't. However, the real reason is this. You can't keep track of stadium names anymore, and I don't want to have to change the names every time a corporate name changes. Think about it. The new arena in Philly is on its third name in less than ten years. The old Candlestick Park in San Fran? What is it called this week? The highway exit signs don't even have it correct! The arenas in Miami and Dallas have the same sponsor, except one is "Center" the other is "Arena", and I have no clue which one is which unless I look it up. I just hate corporate names, so I am not dealing with them on this site. Of course, if one of the companies wants to pay me.............. LOSER: Doug Brien, Jets kicker - He missed two game-winning field goal attempts in the final 2:02 in Saturday's overtime loss in Pittsburgh. One hit the crossbar, the other wasn't even close. Miss one, that's life. Miss two? You are the game's goat. Pro kickers must make at least one of those kicks. Period, end of story.
Week ending January 9 WINNER: Pete Carroll, USC football coach - After twice failing as an NFL head coach, Carroll is proving his coaching mettle on the college level and now has consecutive NCAA Championships on his resume. While plenty of the credit for the Trojans 55-19 thrashing of Oklahoma Tuesday night should rightfully go to the players, the game also showed what a superior coach can do when given three weeks to prepare for an opponent. Carroll's coaching future is firmly under his control - he can stay at USC forever if he chooses, or take another stab at the pros. Either way, no one will ever question his ability again. HONORABLE MENTION: Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg, Met GM Omar Minaya LOSER: Brett Favre, Green Bay quarterback - I've long said that Brett Favre is one of a handful of NFL players I would actually pay to see play. However, while the legacy will never be taken away from him, I think its time to say the mystique is gone and he is now just another NFL quarterback. His four interception performance today on the frozen tundra leaves no question to that. He may still show flashes of his old brilliance, but another home playoff loss shows that, for as much as we love to watch him and as much as we appreciate him as a player, the end is near. It is a shame he couldn't treat us to one more signature run this season with the NFC so wide open. DISHONORABLE MENTION: Houston Astros, Denver Broncos
Week ending January 2 WINNER: St. John's basketball team - For their stunning 63-45 upset of #17 North Carolina State Thursday at Madison Square Garden in the Finals of the Holiday Festival. SJU held the heavily favored Wolfpack to just ten points (yes, ten) in the first half on their way to the victory. For a team picked to finish last in the Big East and with losses already this season to schools such as St. Francis, Niagara and Illinois State, this could very well end up being the highlight of the season. LOSER: Herb Sendek, North Carolina State basketball coach - Not for losing to St. John's at MSG Thursday. Upsets happen all the time in college basketball and will always be a part of the game. No, this is for his actions after the game. When called out to center court to accept the runner-up trophy at the Holiday Festival, Sendek instead opted to be a sore loser and pout on the bench instead, asking three of his players to go out to accept the trophy instead. Good to see a college basketball team being led by a baby. That should help those players learn about maturity.