Wednesday, February 29, 2012

State of Laker Nation: Why the Rush to Trade Pau?

There's a lot of elements to the wave of Pau Gasol trade rumors, and it's taken me a long time to sift through what's sensible versus illogical. I understand that the press perhaps over-reports it because it's a very sexy story. You have one of the best 5 big men in the game potentially going to another team and changing the face of the league. In fact, the December near-trade involving Pau and others for Chris Paul verifies that such a story has legs (This alone, is enough to justify the plethora of trade rumors).

I understand the fan's perspective too, and how they can get swept up in the hysteria of the Lakers being less than title contenders for even a 8 week stretch. A spoiled Laker Nation sorely misses a highlight-reel offense which is so far from the anemic post-up game that this Lakers team employs.

I even understand the logic of it; we have two gigantic trade pieces in Pau and Andrew, and Pau is the more expendable of the two. It's really quite simple. I'm able to wrap my otherwise cluttered and over-priced mind around all these wrinkles in the complicated business of basketball.

What I don't understand is how everyone seems to think that jettisoning a 4-time All-Star and completely remaking the face of a team that's won at least 57 games in every season he's been in LA is the only solution to the Lakers' problems.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

MAMBINO's NBA 2nd Half Preview

If it feels like the season just started, you're not that far off -- amazingly, opening day tip-off was little more than 2 months ago. However, even with only 33 games under our belts, this season has developed similar to every season we've seen before; teams have dissapointed, and teams have surprised, with the caveat of a insane schedule where guys are playing 5 games in 6 nights and back to back to backs.
We've each picked teams that will, in the second half of the season, wilt like LeBron in the 4th quarter, rise up like Dirk or are badly in need of a trade. Read on MAMBINites.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mambino's NBA Preseason Projections: Looking Back

We like to think of ourselves as NBA geniuses. For instance, BockerKnocker took a lot of heat for omitting Dwight Howard from his Eastern Conference All-Star team, but was rewarded with Dwight's predictable no-show production in last night's contest. At the outset of the season, we answered 20 Burning Questions, predicting the outcomes of the most juicy plotlines that the NBA had to offer. Some were right, some were wrong, and most, unsurprisingly, won't be decided until the end of the season. But we couldn't just keep you fools waiting. The following will summarize some of our rights and wrongs with regards to the first half of NBA basketball.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Instant Trade Analysis: Rasheed Wallace to the Los Angeles Lakers

I won't try to front with you loyal MAMBINO audience - this is a general sports blog, but we're focused on the Dodgers, Lakers, Yankees and Knicks. We just can't help it. It's in our DNA. We study these teams like it's our jobs. Doing so might be the reason why haven't moved on to bigger and better things in real life. Every signing is significant for us, no matter how insignificant it might be on the general sporting hemisphere.

And thus I bring to you the Rasheed Wallace Instant Trade Analysis. Earlier tonight, Wallace was signed by the Lakers, for what I expect will be the veteran's prorated minimum salary (seeing as the over-the-salary-cap Lakers can offer no other deal).

Weeks ago, the Lakers released injured forward Derrick Caracter, a move which many thought would precipitate either the trade for or free agent signing of a point guard and playmaker the Lakers so obviously lack. After weeks of speculation of everyone from Gilbert Arenas, to Ramon Sessions to Allen Iverson to Jonny Flynn, the Lakers finally laid their hand down and signed point guard and playmaker Rasheed Wallace.

I'm sorry, what's that? Rasheed is a 37 year-old outside shooting forward? Who at his best was one of the most skilled and unguardable big men in the league, but at his worst was a plodding, lazy, overweight 7-footer, shot 6 3-pointers a game and unleashed a record 41 technical fouls in a season? Oh, that guy. The antithesis of what the Lakers need.

If I Had to Pick the NBA All-Stars

A while back, KOBEsh and I picked the NBA All-Stars irrespective of conference, just like the NHL does. It was a nice twist on the boring rendition that still exists in the Association today. Below are the complete lineups for Sunday's All-Star Game:

G: Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade
F: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony
C: Dwight Howard

G: Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo (injury replacement for Johnson)
F: Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala, Paul Pierce
C: Roy Hibbert

G: Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul
F: Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin
C: Andrew Bynum

G: Steve Nash, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook
F: LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Dirk Nowitzki
C: Marc Gasol

But who should be the REAL All-Stars?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

2012 NFL Mock Draft, v2

UPDATE: Check out our third and final Mock!

Last month, we posted a Mock Draft right after the NFL season ended. Since then, the playoffs have shed more light on what last year's contenders need to get a little farther next season. The Senior Bowl also took place, featuring the country's best NFL prospects who haven't declared early as a junior or red-shirt sophomore, or whose draft stock is entrenched in the early first round.

This time, we changed up the format a little bit. First, we added two more mockers to the stable. Pucklius is a regular contributor to the Mambino franchise; his best Mambino post is on New Jersey Devils superstar Ilya Kovalchuk. Zimmy is also in the fold this go-round, taking time out of his regularly scheduled Tim Tebow ass-tasting.

Second, instead of alternating picks between everybody, each mocker was assigned 6-7 different NFL franchises. Each dude controlled the teams not only for purposes of drafting, but also trades. We thought it would add a nice wrinkle, especially for teams that had 2 1st round picks. More stability, accuracy be damned.

On with the show...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fear and Loathing on the Seven Train

If you've read my sporadic updates on this here fair blog you've probably gotten a clue that I am a New York Giants fan. As a result, well, this month's been pretty good, and my mindset has followed accordingly. But if anything can drag me down from these Monrovian few weeks it's the unsettling news that baseball season is just over a month away.

Don't get me wrong.

I like baseball. Love it even. I try to see at least part of all 162 games live on TV each season (provided I'm in the country), and I've actually seen my favorite team play in person in 14 different stadiums around the U.S. If making multiple trips to Milwaukee and driving from Chicago to Detroit and back in a day to see your team isn't evidence of love, I'm not sure what is. There's one problem with all of this, though.

My team is the New York Mets.

Don't blame me for this. I sure don't. I'm pretty sure the responsibility for this lies with my father, who took me to my first baseball game ever at Shea Stadium in 1991, got my name on the scoreboard because it was near my birthday and then hung a framed picture of the message above my bed for my entire childhood. Waking up every morning and seeing this left me no choice. All I could think every day was, "Wow, maybe this Bud is for me."

The ultimate irony in all of this, of course, is that my parents are actually Yankees fans. The fact that my first game was a Mets game was for me random chance, but not them. They had a choice, they chose poorly, and now I pay the price for six months every year.

On the plus side for me, this season the price I pay probably won't be that high. With what's looking like a potentially disastrous and certainly unpleasant season in Flushing, I can expect prices for tickets to torpedo pretty significantly on the secondary market -- beyond the five-game package I so foolishly bought already. I should note though that even the Mets acknowledge their tickets won't exactly be the most desirable on the market. My package breaks down to about $12 per ticket, which is pretty much what it costs to see a team in a small market like Pittsburgh, where I'm going to be in April for roughly the same price -- and standing room tickets at that.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why the NBA NEEDS Seattle

I grew up with two NBA franchises in Los Angeles. One program brought me continuous joy and excitement while the other brought me nothing. The Lakers have won 7 World Championships since I was born. I have seen the Showtime era (don’t remember it, I was too fresh), the Shaq-Kobe era, and the just Kobe era. All of which were fun to watch and follow throughout the years in LA.

Championships and deep playoff runs aside, I have only been to three Lakers games my entire life. I believe myself to be a huge fan of the team but I do admit that attending a Lakers “event” at the Staples Center is not your typical sports experience. For one thing, it is absurdly expensive to see the purple and gold play. Nosebleed tickets average about $100 and for all that money you are barely able to make out the grease in Pau’s hair. That’s not to say that the games are not a blast to attend. The celebrities show up late (along with everyone else sitting in the lower bowl) and leave shortly after the game is decided (regardless of time remaining on the clock). The Staples Center regulars are what I consider the quintessential LA sports fan stereotype. There for the scene, happy to lend a hand to the team when its trendy, but more or less there to be entertained and not part of sportsnation.

When the Lakers won the title in 2009 I was in LA for the weekend and I headed downtown for the parade. There were over 150,000 Lakers fans there along the parade route. Judging by the fans in attendance, they were not the folks dropping $2,500 a game for courtside seats. These folks were “la gente”, or the people who really make up Lakersnation. Ask any of the folks along the route and they could tell you they had been to a handful of games in their LIFETIME and yet they were lifelong fans. I don’t think you could say that of any other successful franchise in the country. Dodgers and Kings fans have different connections to their teams than Lakers fans as they can interact and view games in person for a much more affordable rate than those trying to see Kobe live at Staples.

I have never thought this dichotomy of support and the ability to express it in person to be much of an issue. In fact, I have assumed (correctly) that for Jerry Buss to spend so much money on payroll year in and year out, he needs to charge ungodly amounts for tickets. It’s a formula that has been successful and I don’t propose changing it in the least. However, I was exposed to an entirely different type of fanbase when I moved to Seattle; the type of fanbase that the NBA needs if it is going to continue to maintain so many teams nationwide.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Trade Analysis: AJ Burnett to the Pittsburgh Pirates

Here on MAMBINO, we like to try and do Instant Trade Analysis posts, as to collect and document the immediate reactions that we have to impactful transactions in both baseball and the NBA. While time always gives us the objectivity to better reflect on any trade, the visceral reaction that we have to player movement as fans is always such a fascinating part of any trading deadline. Also, it gets us a lot of hits.

Yes, we blew it on the A.J. Burnett deal. But my reflections have gone largely unchanged since this was a reported deal on Friday. So here we go:

New York Yankees get: minor league outfielder Exicardo Cayones, and pitcher Diego Moreno

Pittsburgh Pirates get: RHP AJ Burnett, $20 million dollars

Friday, February 17, 2012

WWE Elimination Chamber 2012 PPV Preview

(For those enjoying our WWE PPV Preview posts, check out our Wrestlemania XXVIII preview post RIGHT HERE)

Unless you're invested (financially or emotionally) in the teams remaining, the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl is awful. It's just this long, droning saga, wracked with reporters and writers focusing on the same 4 story lines over and over again, even though none of those news items would be worthy of more than 20 minutes of coverage any other time of the year. Whatever little plot strings and morsels of interest there are in any little facet hanging from the game itself will get beaten to death, over and over again like a you shooting a defeated enemy in Goldeneye. It's just insulting. This is supposed to be biggest sporting (actually, television) event of the entire year. Why is it that the just two weeks of build can't be compelling? Don't we deserve better than this?

Well you know what, America? You do. That's right. You deserve the best build and climax possible. You're worth it. You deserve the Road to Wrestlemania.

MAMBINites. Lend me your eyes. Though the seeds were sown months ago, the final pay-per-view stop on the long and winding trip to Wrestlemania will be this Sunday night in The Good Land, Wisconsin, at the Elimination Chamber Pay-Per-View. What happens this Sunday will directly set up Wrestlemania 28, the biggest pro wrestling event of the entire year. It's like the Super Bowl for us wrestling fans, with the only difference being my massive erection from happiness that I don't get while watching the big game in January.

For those of you not in the know (nerds!), the Elimination Chamber was the WWE's answer to an old WCW construct called "War Games", which dominated the professional wrestling scene in the 80s and 90s. In it, two teams of four men would face off inside of a steel cage that would enclose the entire ring. The first team to score a pinfall or submission would win the match, in which the victorious team would receive nothing more than the rush of triumph.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

3 Things Lost in Linsanity

"These Asians don't even like basketball, and now they're coming out of the woodworks!"

If I roll up to the Garden, or even a Bocker bar, I'll hear some type of comment like that. All those hours I've spent having bad dreams about John Starks' 2-for-18 performance in Game 7 of the 1994 Finals, rooting for Jeff Van Gundy as he hung onto Alonzo Mourning's leg for dear life, and sitting in the exact same spot for every game of the 1999 run...gone. I'm basically just another slanty-eyed dude whose expected to bring a sign showing my ability to place the letter "L" in front of any syllable that sounds like "in."

Of course, a 7-game winning streak makes it all worth it. Because deep down, my loyal Mambinites know that I dish and swish when it comes to dispensing hardwood smarts. And with that, I present to you guys, the 3 biggest things lost in the hullabaloo that is Linsanity.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why the Atlanta Hawks Deserve Your Hate

There are four types of teams in the NBA. Some of them fall into categories relative to your particular franchise allegiance, and some stay the same no matter what the colors you cheer for.

1) The franchises you love

A pretty easy one; the city you live in, the region your family is from, the college you went to or the place your spouse grew up. The team you live and breathe and die with, the one that gives you fits late at night and effects you deep into the summer.

2) The franchises you hate because of the franchises you love

Any team that would threaten the superiority of the team you love. Perhaps it's the crew that prevents your beloved franchise from reaching superiority. You hate them viscerally, like your DNA was programmed with the genomes that set your senses ablaze when those colors came across your corneas. You hate because you love.

3) The franchises you respectfully hate

And then there is the point where the rivalry is no longer a simple issue of them being better than you, or you trying to be better than them. It's a rivalry steeped in deep tradition that will permeate through the histories of both regions for as long as organized ball is played. Hundreds of games have been contested, and with it, championships and accolades for both of those teams have followed. But through it all, you come to hatefully respect them on the opposite side of the field. They know the thrilling rush of victory, and the desolate emptiness of defeat. In all of your hostility and antagonism, there's a unity of spirit that can't be denied. You hate them, with respect, because in the end, you're all a part of a shared tradition.

4) And then there's the franchises you just hate...because they're awful

There comes a point in your love of the game transcends the simple loyalty you have towards a certain team. You begin to love the sanctity of the sport that it inhabits. You start to see players as not just opponents, but also through the prism of how they represent the principles of the game you love so much. Oddly enough, the more you become invested in your team, it seems the more objective you become about the sport it's in.

As such, the hate flows from you like a barbed Tupac lyric. Teams, players and management that you would otherwise find benign, as they have no daily, weekly or even monthly impact on your sports-watching life, begin to anger you than you have any logical cause to be. They consistently make the wrong moves, misevaluate players, hire the wrong coaching staffs and say the most offensive statements possible in the media. You hate them because they violate the sanctity of the sport you take so seriously. You hate them because they are terrible. Simple enough.

This is why I hate the Atlanta Hawks. And you should do.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Politics As Sport : Republican Presidential Nominees Edition

I work in DC. Up until last week I was employed by the US Senate (took another job, didn’t take dickpics). Needless to say, much of my life is dedicated to following politics. In my new job I literally will be analyzing everything achieved in the Senate (newsflash: not a whole lot expected for this year). With that as a bit of background, I wanted to propose that sports are a lot like politics.

Not surprisingly, sports metaphors make their way into the political discourse every day. Some days Congressmen and Senators, I shit you not, spend time speaking on behalf of their favorite sports franchises and university football teams. Republicans and Democrats often talk about having a smart “gameplan” or playing strong defense during debates. In politics, as with sports, we are always watching who wins and who loses. Victories are determined by who remains in office and who gets caught hiking the Appalachian Trail.

All that being said, there is an election coming up. I don’t know if you heard about it but Barack Obama wants to be President for another four years. He is being opposed by a smorgasbord of Republican candidates. I view much of the world through the prism of sports and that is true for how I view many politicos.

Seeing as this is a sports blog, and KOBEshigawa wants it to remain clear to everyone involved just how apathetic he is, I want you all to know that I will not be overtly supportive of anyone. Posting about WWE doesn’t make him nervous (which it should because IT’S NOT A SPORT), but mentioning anything political makes KOBEshigawa sweat bullets!

So without further delay, my first in a many part series...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Saturday Reboot

Normally, we take some time over the weekend to act like idiots and pretend we don't have any responsibilities. In doing so, The Great Mambino goes dormant for a couple of days and gets rejuvenated on Monday morning.

This past weekend was a little different. KOBEsh and I viewed the incredible Friday night game between YOUR New York Knickerbockers and YOUR Los Angeles Lakers, in which overnight sensation Jeremy Lin outplayed Kobe Bryant in front of the loudest Madison Square Garden crowd since Larry Johnson's 4-point play.

While I celebrated the ginormous win for the Bockers, KOBEsh went home early. He stewed about the loss, and then put his words to life. What resulted was the fastest-growing blog post in Mambino's short history, excluding the two posts about The Challenge. Facebook friends re-shared the post with their networks to a level we have not seen before. Therefore, we are giving the post some heightened weekday run. At the bottom of this post is a link to KOBEsh's reaction. It is the best piece of work on this website since his famed LeBron James post last June, in which he blamed our own society (in ADDITION to LeBron, who shall never go blameless).

Read this Jeremy Lin post. It's good for you. It is unlike most of the things you will read about him.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Jeremy Lin: 2 Incredible Stories from Knicks-Lakers

I have been staring at my computer screen for 10 minutes. I have 22 e-mails in my inbox from the last hour. I've sent text messages to over a dozen people. I can't concentrate. I keep on trying to come up with a series of complex sentences and metaphors to describe what I've just seen and how I'm feeling and nothing's coming to mind. I write thousands of words a week, and somehow I can't find the words to adequately describe the one sports story that I've had the biggest emotional response to.

Jeremy Lin just dropped 38 points on Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Am I dreaming?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Why do the 76ers have the 4th-best Win % in the NBA?

I know a lot about the NBA. Too much, some would say. I know that Brandon Jennings of YOUR…Milwaukee Bucks shooting 44% this year is way higher than his career average. I know that Portland’s Luke Babbit was traded to the Timberwolves for Martell Webster in 2009. I know that Chandler Parsons of YOUR…Houston Rockets is an extremely versatile small forward, capable of shooting, passing and rebounding with equal proficiency.

YOUR…2011-2012 Philadelphia 76ers have the 4th best winning percentage in the league. They only trail Derrick Rose’s Chicago Bulls and LeBron James’, Dwyane Wade’s and Chris Bosh’s Miami Heat. The red, white and blue juggernaut from eastern Pennsylvania is here, with perennial All-Stars Spencer Hawes, Lou Williams, Jrue Holiday and Jodie Meeks leading the way. Wait...who are these guys?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ben Howland: The Tragedy Of Success In The Pac-12

I like UCLA Basketball Coach Ben Howland. In fact, I would say that I am a huge fan of his philosophy. I love that he employs man-to-man defense as the basis for his entire strategy. The depth of his playbook on the DEFENSIVE end has proved time and again to take marginally successful basketball players (Luc Richard Mbah A Moute) and turn them into valuable NBA assets.

Howland came in like a hurricane. He took over a program that had seen highly touted recruits and basketball players (Baron Davis, Earl Watson) languishing under Steve Lavin (Lavin’s defensive philosophy was him yelling “Hands up!” repetitively at players). Now of course, languishing is relative as Lavin’s players continued to manage their way into the Sweet-16 in spite of his ineptitude (big, non USC word there). His first years on the job were categorized by strong recruiting classes filled with athletic-tough players. By 2005, the Bruins completed one of the most magnificent and gratifying runs in the NCAA tournament of recent memory. I can still vividly remember being a freshman in college in Washington state when the Bruins did the unthinkable, in beating that mustachioed (now 2-time world champion) Adam Morrison. Howland’s tenacious defenders led by Aaron Afflalo and Jordan Farmer literally made a man cry like a little girl on national television.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Clippers Curse is Real: Billups out for the year

This is the part where I would usually do my "Life and Times of the Los Angeles Clippers", exhaustively detailing the most ridiculous and painful moments in San Diego turned Los Angeles Clippers history. With the news of Chauncey Billups' season-ending Achilles tear coming to light this afternoon, I would have just another footnote to write with some hilariously appropriate jab for LA's ugly red-headed stepchild. As a life-long Angeleno, I've had a front seat view as the Clips have taken what should be a luxury automobile and repeatedly crashed it head first into a brick wall, only to be repainted with the same red, white and blue colors whose stink can only be identified with one putrid source. They're best known for being the butt of late-night television punch-lines, or one of the first ten names David Stern reads in June. Of course I think of them as a pathetic joke, but mostly I view them as a sports tragedy. In a hotbed of basketball in the second biggest market in country, the infinite resources that other small market teams would kill for are routinely wasted at the hands of an owner who knows how to do nothing but kill what he has. I've gone on record as saying how despicable Donald Sterling is as an owner, but I truly think it's his flaws as a human that lead to the Clippers Curse.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

State of the Garden: Linsanity

Karate punch!
A big reason why there are a few Mike D'Antoni supporters to this day was that the Knicks didn't have an attacking point guard since Raymond Felton left town in the Carmelo Anthony trade. And after the past two games, MDA has a smile so big on his face, you'd think that Steve Nash had demanded a trade to the Apple. For the last half-week, all is good in Bocker Nation. Jeremy Lin has risen from 12th man to New York's best quarterback.


(Kidding again.)

If you've read my stuff before, this is the part where I transition to telling you that things aren't as happy-go-lucky as they appear. But let's face the facts: I'm as Linsane as anybody else in these parts, if not moreso. (Can't you see the resemblance?) Against the cross-town rival Nets, Lin came off the bench and legitimately outplayed superstar point guard Deron Williams, netting 25 points on 10-19 shooting, with 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals in 36 minutes. The minutes, points, assists, and rebounds were all career highs. Last night, the former Harvard standout eclipsed that performance in his first NBA start. When the Knicks won the jumpball, the crowd was silent...until Lin received the ball from Anthony. Standing O. As Mike Breen so eloquently put it, his spirit has lifted the team, the crowd, and the city (well, the non-Giants fans, who NEED uplifting.) 28 more points at a 10-17 clip, and 8 more assists, in 44 minutes = 3 new career highs.

Monday, February 6, 2012

XLVI, the Microcosm of Being a Sports Fan

"I would turn back time and let bin Laden go, if it meant the Giants won the Super Bowl tonight."

So many times we declare that if we were ever blessed with the talents of a professional athlete, that things would be different. We'd shoot free throws better than Shaq, have more 4th quarter courage than LeBron, and that we'd do it for a salary that would give Scott Boras a heart attack. But have we ever stopped to appreciate how incredible it is to just be a sports fan? Take the quote uttered last night, for example. The comedy of it is debatable, depending on your ability to have fun. But it is that feeling behind the quote that makes being a sports fan so damn awesome.

It'd be ridiculous for me to recount what led to 21-17, how many passing yards Eli Manning accumulated, or the pros and cons of Ahmad Bradshaw plunging into the end zone as if he were taking a deuce. You can find that stuff on more established websites, with established, in-the-biz opinions. I'm here to tell you today that Super Bowl 46 made me realize that it's an amazing era to be a sports fan.

Follow us on Twitter, won't you? @TheGreatMambino

You know the only thing less cool than being on Twitter is? Having your own blog. So if you WANT to be cooler than us, follow us on Twitter, won't you? All the cool kids are doing it.

@TheGreatMambino features up to the week news stories you've no doubt heard before, but more importantly, will hold timely, humorous and insightful blurbs about our sporting world. If anything, I'd just follow us for the jokes.

Also, we'll follow the crap out of you on Twitspace as well. Not in a creepy way.

We actually can't promise that. We don't know how attractive you are yet.

& BockerKnocker
& Pucklius
& Que-Ese

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Essentials of a Super Bowl Party

From KOBEsh:

I met Que-Ese on the baseball field, with me as an obnoxious 17 year old and him as a precocious 15 year-old who thought the word "precocious" meant you could tell the future. We bonded on several levels, none of which having to do with our skills (or lack thereof) on the diamond. Over the years, we've stayed friends mostly on the strength of our irrational love for Matt Kemp, unnecessary criticism of the Lakers and my continual puzzlement on why he listens to so much Phish. Que-Ese will be covering a sundry of topics for MAMBINO, including college sports, MLB, NBA, NHL and whatever else his hungry mind touches on. Just don't mention the words "Frank" or "McCourt" to him. It sends him into a blind rage. I once saw a hot dog vendor ask if he wanted mustard on his frank and Que-Ese straight up kicked a baby. I thought that was a bit extreme.

This weekend there is a small American holiday known commonly as Super Bowl XLVI. As I am not good at math and really never paid much attention to Roman numerals I can make a best guess that this annual Sunday event has been taking place for something like 50 years. The pomp and circumstance involved with the most Super of Sundays now begins a full two weeks before the actual game takes place (thanks NFL, I always thought I wanted to wait until AFTER the Pro Bowl to watch funny Volkswagen commercials).

This year Indy was kind enough to include new features such as a zip line outside the stadium (because if you visit downtown Indy you really want to see it from a higher angle), a media day that you can pay money to attend, and the shambles of Peyton Manning’s career as a backdrop for why the weeks and days prior to the Megabowl mean absolutely nothing besides a reason to justify 24 hours of coverage from the sports media.

In the entirety of this whole dance I remember what matters the most. As a native of a land without an NFL sports franchise (though currently home to Matty Franchise), I learned at a young age that the Super Bowl is rarely a good game, always over-hyped, and really only a good time if you are enjoying a good party (or rooting for one of the teams playing). NOTE: if you are rooting for a team competing in the main event, these tips do not apply. Since I have a deep hatred for all things New England AND New York sports, I thought it would be helpful to explain the 5 most important essentials for a good Super Bowl party and ultimately, a pleasant Super Bowl experience.

Super Bowl Preview: The Anxiety of History

Many of you know -- or at least assume from the name -- that I'm mostly here to talk to you about hockey. I do love hockey, this is true. As a fan of the New Jersey Devils, I've been a dedicated and largely satisfied fan for most of my life. Their recent struggles aside, before last season the Devils hadn't missed the playoffs since before I hit puberty, and in my lifetime I had seen three Stanley Cups, which isn't too shabby. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when the Devils missed the playoffs for the first time last spring, but as I later discussed with a coworker who was equally as dedicated to his Detroit Red Wings, watching the postseason was, well, fun. And without stress. And kind of enjoyable.

Don't get me wrong, I would much rather see my Devils in the playoffs than not, but there is a dirty little secret about professional sports that the Leagues and teams would probably prefer you don't know: It's not fun to watch your team in the playoffs. Not one bit.

I bring this up because in 48 hours, the first sports team I ever fell in love with -- and the one I probably like more than any other -- is going to roll for all the marbles in Super Bowl XVLI when my Giants take on the New England Patriots. As I found four years ago, there is no greater high in sports than when your team wins an unexpected championship against a truly great foe in the waning seconds, but the anxiety leading up to those moments can be excruciating, and this time around the stakes are the same, but the expectations are wildly different.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Why the Lakers can't beat the Charlotte Bobcats

Here's one of my favorite NBA trivia questions: the Los Angeles Lakers have a sub-.500 records versus two teams in NBA history. Which are the two?

The first is archrival Celtics. Not unexpected. The other? You'd guess maybe the 76ers, Pistons, Suns, Rockets, Knicks or another decades-old rival.

The other team? The Charlotte Bobcats.

Since the inception of the Bobcats in the 2004-2005 season, the Lakers are a feeble 7-8 against them, including a 30-point battering Charlotte took last night in Staples Center. The sample size has been pretty small, but shocking none the less. Since the 2004-2005 season, the Lakers have gone 370-226 (a .620 winning percentage), been to the playoffs 6 times, 3 Finals and won 2 titles.

The Charlotte Bobcats have won 225 games against 371 losses, good for a .378 winning percentage. They have finished over .500 only once, which coincided with their only playoff appearance (a sweep at the hands of the Orlando Magic). They have already had four coaches and two owners in 8 years of existence. They are one of the least profitable franchises in the league. During the NBA lockout, the Bobcats were one of the teams most talked about in regards to team contraction. They are terrible, and have been so since their inception.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The NBA All-Stars, NHL style

In Pucklius' explanation of how the NHL has destroyed the other sports when it comes to All-Star weekend, he pondered the potential of the NBA adopting the Fantasy Draft format. Since David Stern won't return my phone calls, I have decided to give you, loyal reader, the best glimpse possible as to what could have happened if Stern didn't die 5 years ago. Voting for the real All-Stars ended yesterday. The starters will be announced tomorrow, live on TNT at 7 p.m. ET.

I will take over one squad. KOBEsh, the other. We will go back and forth with picks, until the 24th and final All-Star is chosen. At the end, you can decide who picked the better team.